My grandson is in 4th grade and I am sometimes unable to help him with his homework, especially Math. Yesterday, he had to simplify fractions, determine the angles of a hexagon, round to the nearest tenth then subtract 8 digit numbers. What?! We won’t even get into Spelling on this post, words like Physiognomy. My issue is that homework is to practice what the student has learned in class. Apparently the teacher disagrees because when S. told her he did not understand, she just said, “that is not good” and refused to help him. So I am forced to be seek help elsewhere. Thank God for the internet. I do not say that frivolously, I really thank Him.   Here are some great websites I have found that are wonderful resources for Recycled Moms who find themselves in the same struggle as I am in.

Some of these will work out the problem and show the answer so the child learns how to do the work, not just get the answer. S. is learning what he did not during class and I am renewing my own knowledge from school. Alas, that was 40 years ago. Do I feel badly or embarrassed that I need help to help my child? Absolutely not!

http://www.mathwords.com/

http://www.coolmath.com/index.html

http://www.calculatorsoup.com/

http://www.mathsisfun.com/

http://www.mathopenref.com/index.html

http://www.webmath.com/

http://www.honorpoint.com/ I love this one. S. learned his multiplication table in one weekend using this site.

There are many more of course, but these are some of our favorites. Anything that tells me what an Asymptote is, becomes a friend!

Have Mercy!

We live in a tough world Recycled Moms. It beats us down, chews us up and spits us out. And all that is usually before lunch! We deal with so much pain, some of it old and new wounds that pierce the heart fresh every day.

The very fact that we are raising our grandchildren (or other family members for Kinship Caregivers) means our world changed in remarkably hurtful ways. Our children died, abandoned their kids, are serving in the Armed Forces somewhere across the world, or just don’t care to see these precious faces. Each Recycled Mom has a unique story and every one of them is founded on heartbreak.

Yet we care for all the people left in our lives, grown up and growing. At times we wonder if we will ever even recognize this place we now live in. Will we recover from the earthquake that uprooted us and establish footing again? How can we recover from the shock, the unexpected crushing, unfair blow that brought us here?

Our world is no longer safe and we cannot control it anymore. The actions of others have disrupted the predictable, orderly future we had designed. Our self identity has mutated into a whole new creature, one that changed diapers, scours Google for homework answers and goes to little league games instead of relaxing on a tour bus.

Faith and Patience. How can we be gentle with and on ourselves? We must learn to have mercy. We have it for everyone else. Practice faith in God and in yourself. Practice patience with yourself just like you do with your children. Time will pass at the same pace no matter how we feel. So we may as well be graceful and allow time to heal our brokenness. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) We know we hope for our little ones to grow up healthy and happy. We know we are working diligently toward that goal. Therefore we can envision a time in the future when we have arrived at that miraculous destination.

Let others love you. This is a tough one for women who are used to being the giver and seldom the receiver. Allow friends and family to babysit, cook, clean the house and take you to lunch. These loving reminders that we are important are ways we show mercy to ourselves.

Do not linger in the past. Even if we could go back there, we would choose to stay here where our grandchildren are. The new you is not bad, just different (likely with more grey hair!). The new you (me) has more treasure than the old one. The things lost are insignificant compared to the glory of refrigerator art; whispered I Love You’s and gap toothed smiles.

No pressure cookers. My mother used a pressure cooker when she was in a hurry to get something cooked. I remember seeing that lid blow off one day. It left a huge hole in the wall and would have severely injured any person in its path. Continued pressure to perform, to live up to the world’s expectations, leave us with the same unconfined impact when we finally explode. We can hurt someone including ourselves. So don’t worry if the kitchen counter is clutter, socks are all over the kid’s bedroom floor and the beds are unmade. In the big picture, none of that matters. Learning to let it all go relieves the stress and eases the pressure.

Share. Talk to others who have or are living through the same experiences. We can all share ideas, tips, resources, a hug, play dates and kid approved recipes. Somehow talking to people who understand is very therapeutic. Read books, peruse websites that contain information on child rearing for grandparents. Join a support group. If none is available, start one.

Take it easy on yourself. Relax and remember you are human. You will make mistakes. You will have incredible successes. Learn from the all and have mercy on yourself!

Focused Discipline for Smart Cats

Last night we were driving home from church on the narrow, curvy river road when a cat ran out in front of the car. I instinctively slammed on the brakes just as the cat changed its mind and dashed back to safety. We were all shaken up yet relieved that the cat escaped with one of its nine lives. That experience has stayed with me all night as I relate it to my child’s life.

The cat did not know to stop, look left, look right and look left again. Our children do not either. We must teach them how to be safe, how to live a happy and productive life. A cat who does not know the rules is often a flat cat. We do not want our children to be flattened by life and its unforgiving realities. Therefore we have the obligation to teach them structure and discipline. Yes, I used that word discipline. It is considered negative in our culture that caters to kids, giving in to their every whim, allowing them to run the household. Parents fear discipline will hurt the self esteem of children, saying “no” might make them feel worthless or deprived. However discipline properly administered is the greatest form of love.

Smart cats are do not become flat cats

Our home is NOT a democracy and yours should not be either. Parents should be in charge, they are the general; children are the troops. Is this fair? Certainly! One can not win without the other. As a leader, a Recycled Mom must be an example. Think before you speak because you must keep your word once a command has been issued. State the expectations clearly and simply so the child understands regardless of age. Even a one year old can clean up after himself and will learn to do so automatically once trained. Once soldiers have received basic training, the general can move on to more important maneuvers.

Set consequences for breaking the rules then stick to them. Never give into whining, complaining, bickering and crying. My boy knows these things make me irritable rather than amicable so he very seldom tries it. His cousin though recently discovered that our house rules are firm. He sleeps over enough to know how we do things. We were visiting a community church for a Scout occasion and J. was not happy about it. He complained several times and stated he wanted to attend our home church. I affirmed I heard him and said we did too but S. is committed to Scouts and needed to do this as part of the program. J. proceeded to whine about it twice more. I did give him some leeway since he was just a visiting soldier and not living with us. I then asked him to let it go because we were indeed going to the other church. As were were driving there, he again griped about it so I drove him home. I told him since he was so unhappy about my decision, he didn’t have to go. He stood there with a shocked look on his face as we drove away. Since then he does not complain.

Certainly we must allow children a voice and sometimes a rule or household habit will change because of their input. They cannot however be allowed to run the home or the parents.Ultimately the Recycled Mom has the final say and the child needs to know that. Actions have consequences. Smart choices have happy consequences, foolish ones do not. Structure and discipline create healthy families. Parents and caregivers are not worn out. Children feel safe and know they are being guided, not forced.

Consistent rules and discipline create a relationship between family matters. They are not concrete walls that place barriers between people, but  windows that protect against the elements of the world and shelter a family in a coy environment.

Raising smart cats is fun. Burying flat cats is heartbreaking. It is worth the hard work now to know our little kitties are growing up to understand the danger but are not afraid to stop, look, listen and then cross the road.

Concrete Support for Recycled Moms and Kinship Caregivers

More and more grandparents and other kinship caregivers are taking on the gigantic responsibility of raising children. Most are unprepared for this life altering addition to the family. Most have not raised children in many years, others have never had children to care for. Child Protective Services are doing a better job of providing resource information, they do background checks and home visits. They make certain a child has a safe home, a bed and adults who are in the home. The grandparent receives little help to prepare them for parenthood. How does a grandmother learn to enroll her child in school, set up play dates or how to interact with teachers and other parents? There is no intentional training, no support, no help for these daily life issues that arise.

These support and educational systems must be accessed by the individual who has just become a parent again, a guardian (I love that word), a kinship caregiver for them to be successful without becoming worn out like a dishrag. Many communities now have support groups. Ask the local schools, churches, senior citizen centers and people in the grocery stores if they know of a support group. Many times Social Services will not be aware of the many opportunities that exist in the community.

Find a group that fits your needs and the needs of your child(ren). It can make the difference in having food on the table or going hungry. The other group members will become friends, support and provide a safe place to go when you need to talk. Without strong support, a house will be weak and eventually crumble. People are the same way; we require continual building up. Do not be afraid or too proud to ask. Every other grandparent, aunt, uncle, brother or sister who has become a surprised parent has felt the same way. No one is exempt from feeling overwhelmed and unsure, regardless of their circumstances.

For further resources on this subject go to: https://www.childwelfare.gov/preventing/promoting/protectfactors/concrete_supports.cfm

Another great place is Generations United. You can find resources, information, tips and ideas for coping and an idea of how others are doing this successfully.  http://www.gu.org/

I will be posting more about this subject. As I get older and my grandson also grows, new developments keep me on my toes. I find the type of support I need also changes. Enjoy the journey. I certainly am!