Archive for June, 2010

>Baby on Board: Paving the Way for your Family’s Newborn Days

8

>Some of the most magical moments for any family involve the arrival of a newborn sibling. There is joy in the new birth and excitement over the possibilities of this young life. The former “babies” of the household elevate their status overnight to become “big” brothers or sisters. The luckiest ones may even score a larger bed or bigger bedroom in the process. Yes, there are many wonderful changes that come when a new baby enters a family, but sometimes the adjustment period holds some rough edges for the littlest of family members.

The following tips are offered to help your older child(ren) transition well to your expanding family:

Set clear expectations

When my second daughter was on the way, my older daughter was thrilled at the prospect of having a live-in playmate. Her hopes were dashed by Day 2, however, when she realized that this new “live-in” did a whole lot of sleeping, dominated Mommy’s time with round-the-clock feeding, and—least tolerable of all—cried a heck of a lot.

Prepare your older child for the ups, downs, and realities of life with a newborn. Tell stories about his own days as a newborn, visit with other families that have infants, preview what your home’s daily routine will be like, and read books about life with a new sibling. One of my daughter’s favorite books during our newborn transition was Mercer Mayer’s The New Baby. It made her laugh and seemed to normalize some of the tougher newborn moments.

Give a Promotion

Allow your older child(ren) to take on the role of “Special Helper” in the family. Even toddlers can provide a much-needed set of extra arms for fetching diapers, handing over out-of-reach bottles, grabbing spit-up cloths in a jiffy, and selecting bath toys. Older kids can get involved in making bottles, changing diapers (who doesn’t want help with that?) and reading to the baby.

There are countless ways to involve siblings in caring for a newborn baby. Be sure to express your appreciation for all that they do. Also, reassure them that the place that they hold in your heart is as special as ever—and that your love for them will never change.

Gifts Never Fail

Newborns are often showered with gifts—adorable baby hats, booties, onesies, and cozy blankets seem to arrive by the armful with every new visitor. While parents appreciate these precious items, the newborn has no meaningful awareness of the cascade of presents. But older children sure do. While there are lessons to be learned for older children about their sibling being deserving of gifts and that they are not always the center of attention, the best-learned lessons are also those that are well-timed. In the overwhelming moments of the newborn transition, it’s difficult for siblings to take in the imbalance of gifts—the feeling that they are missing out on Christmas. When well-meaning guests arrive with gifts for baby only, parents can have on hand a cute hat, stuffed toy, board book, or simple dollar-store item that your older child can unwrap and enjoy.

One of my favorite moments of our family’s newborn transition was during the thrill of our first Christmas as a larger family, when my older child asked if she could pick out presents for the baby. Initially, I was suspicious that we were going to go on a thinly-veiled shopping spree for her own holiday list, but as it turned out, her shopping list was shockingly thoughtful and right on the money for what her three-month old sister would enjoy. ‘Tis true what they say; it is better to give than to receive, even for young ones!

When a new baby enters the family, everyone’s life changes! A little advance planning, helper-cultivating, and gift-stashing can go a long way toward making this one of the happiest periods in your young family’s life.

Now that we’ve covered ways to help older siblings adjust to their expanding families…let’s take a turn to the Passive Aggressive side of things.  What stories do you have of children “welcoming” newborn siblings, in sugarcoated but hostile ways?

>Baby on Board: Paving the Way for your Family’s Newborn Days

823

>Some of the most magical moments for any family involve the arrival of a newborn sibling. There is joy in the new birth and excitement over the possibilities of this young life. The former “babies” of the household elevate their status overnight to become “big” brothers or sisters. The luckiest ones may even score a larger bed or bigger bedroom in the process. Yes, there are many wonderful changes that come when a new baby enters a family, but sometimes the adjustment period holds some rough edges for the littlest of family members.

The following tips are offered to help your older child(ren) transition well to your expanding family:

Set clear expectations

When my second daughter was on the way, my older daughter was thrilled at the prospect of having a live-in playmate. Her hopes were dashed by Day 2, however, when she realized that this new “live-in” did a whole lot of sleeping, dominated Mommy’s time with round-the-clock feeding, and—least tolerable of all—cried a heck of a lot.

Prepare your older child for the ups, downs, and realities of life with a newborn. Tell stories about his own days as a newborn, visit with other families that have infants, preview what your home’s daily routine will be like, and read books about life with a new sibling. One of my daughter’s favorite books during our newborn transition was Mercer Mayer’s The New Baby. It made her laugh and seemed to normalize some of the tougher newborn moments.

Give a Promotion

Allow your older child(ren) to take on the role of “Special Helper” in the family. Even toddlers can provide a much-needed set of extra arms for fetching diapers, handing over out-of-reach bottles, grabbing spit-up cloths in a jiffy, and selecting bath toys. Older kids can get involved in making bottles, changing diapers (who doesn’t want help with that?) and reading to the baby.

There are countless ways to involve siblings in caring for a newborn baby. Be sure to express your appreciation for all that they do. Also, reassure them that the place that they hold in your heart is as special as ever—and that your love for them will never change.

Gifts Never Fail

Newborns are often showered with gifts—adorable baby hats, booties, onesies, and cozy blankets seem to arrive by the armful with every new visitor. While parents appreciate these precious items, the newborn has no meaningful awareness of the cascade of presents. But older children sure do. While there are lessons to be learned for older children about their sibling being deserving of gifts and that they are not always the center of attention, the best-learned lessons are also those that are well-timed. In the overwhelming moments of the newborn transition, it’s difficult for siblings to take in the imbalance of gifts—the feeling that they are missing out on Christmas. When well-meaning guests arrive with gifts for baby only, parents can have on hand a cute hat, stuffed toy, board book, or simple dollar-store item that your older child can unwrap and enjoy.

One of my favorite moments of our family’s newborn transition was during the thrill of our first Christmas as a larger family, when my older child asked if she could pick out presents for the baby. Initially, I was suspicious that we were going to go on a thinly-veiled shopping spree for her own holiday list, but as it turned out, her shopping list was shockingly thoughtful and right on the money for what her three-month old sister would enjoy. ‘Tis true what they say; it is better to give than to receive, even for young ones!

When a new baby enters the family, everyone’s life changes! A little advance planning, helper-cultivating, and gift-stashing can go a long way toward making this one of the happiest periods in your young family’s life.

Now that we’ve covered ways to help older siblings adjust to their expanding families…let’s take a turn to the Passive Aggressive side of things.  What stories do you have of children “welcoming” newborn siblings, in sugarcoated but hostile ways?

>Kathy Griffin & Renee Zellweger's Passive Aggressive Moment

60

>

In The Angry Smile, we talk abut passive aggressive behavior as part of a cultural norm.  This clip (between 1:58-2:58) is a perfect illustration of what we are talking about in the book, as Texan Renee Zellweger sends Kathy Griffen a gorgeous bouquet of flowers, which, as Kathy points out, is really just Southern for “F-you!”

The Angry Smile: The Psychology of Passive-aggressive Behavior in Families, Schools, and Workplaces

>Kathy Griffin & Renee Zellweger’s Passive Aggressive Moment

665

>

In The Angry Smile, we talk abut passive aggressive behavior as part of a cultural norm.  This clip (between 1:58-2:58) is a perfect illustration of what we are talking about in the book, as Texan Renee Zellweger sends Kathy Griffen a gorgeous bouquet of flowers, which, as Kathy points out, is really just Southern for “F-you!”

The Angry Smile: The Psychology of Passive-aggressive Behavior in Families, Schools, and Workplaces

>In Honor of Father's Day: Seeing a Penguin Through my Husband's Eyes

2

>I learned something new last week: how to see the world through my husband’s eyes. What a nice trip down his memory lane. What a great cure for the irritation I had been feeling!

It all started with our first-grade daughter’s end-of-the- year project to write a report on an animal of her choice and to create a model of the animal. The guidelines were loose; kids could make the models out of any materials they wanted, so long as they didn’t just buy a stuffed animal or cut its picture from a magazine.

In a rare moment of decisiveness, our daughter quickly settled on the penguin as her animal-of-choice and starting scribbling ideas for its construction on paper. “This is going well,” I thought. She asked me to bring up Google on the computer, so that she could find out some facts about penguins for her report. “This is going very well,” I decided. I didn’t even know she knew what Google was!

I assisted her a very little bit with picking out interesting penguin facts (did you know that the smallest species of penguin is called the Fairy Penguin?) and making sure her spelling was correct, but she really and truly wrote her report all by herself. Responsibility for own work encouraged. Check. Independence cultivated. Check. Pride in her work fostered. Check, check, check.

Now, on to the model of the penguin, otherwise known as “Daddy’s department.” My husband and our daughter enjoyed a mini-spree through our local crafts store, though while I was browsing with our younger child, I did notice our first-grader skipping to keep up with her dad as he efficiently grabbed items off of shelves and moved briskly from one aisle to the next. At the check-out counter, when I asked her what materials they bought, she smiled excitedly and said, “I have no idea.”

I watched in abject horror as my husband spent the day (the entire day) painting, gluing, cutting, running to the hardware store (!), beading, cursing, and studying his penguin model. Our daughter was sort of in and out of the room—eagerly checking in on what her Daddy was doing, then happily going back to her own fun.

My heart was sinking and my irritation was rising. I was flooded with memories of my own sixth grade design-a-mode-of-transportation project, when my mom hijacked my model. I vividly recall taking a finely-crafted wooden bobsled to school and having it be the best project on the table—and feeling mortified because it was so obvious that a sixth grader never could have built a model of that quality.

Watching my husband build the penguin on his own, I was terrified that our daughter would face the same humiliation. Pride in her work? Out the window! I needed to protect my daughter from the miserable experience I had had.

I explained my sixth-grade horror story to my husband who, in turn, relayed his fondest third-grade memory of his father carving an eagle’s head into a section of a totem pole that he was tasked to create. In his case, his father’s obvious contribution to his project was a source of tremendous pride—a happy experience that he wanted to re-live by helping our daughter.

One first-grade animal project, two very different perspectives—both entirely legitimate. How to proceed? What do you do when two people have opposite perspectives on a subject, yet both are 100% correct?

We let our daughter take the lead. She seemed thrilled with how the penguin model was going and didn’t appear to feel any of the angst I experienced so many years ago. In fact, she was named “Assembler-in-Chief” as she glued all of the individual pieces of the penguin together to create the final model. On presentation day, she was beaming. I heard the pride in her voice as she explained to her teacher and the other visiting parents about how her and her Daddy built the penguin and I knew, looking in her eyes, that her memory of this experience would be a happy one.

I was wrong, I admit it. Not about how I felt with my own project (still bitter after all of these years!) but about how someone else would feel in a similar situation. Looking through the window of my husband’s experience helped me view a world I hadn’t known was possible. From our daughter’s unique perspective, here is what I witnessed:

Full responsibility for her written report. Check. Confidence and pride in her presentation. Check. Lifelong fond memory of her Father. Check, check, check.

The Angry Smile: The Psychology of Passive-aggressive Behavior in Families, Schools, and Workplaces

>In Honor of Father’s Day: Seeing a Penguin Through my Husband’s Eyes

1117

>I learned something new last week: how to see the world through my husband’s eyes. What a nice trip down his memory lane. What a great cure for the irritation I had been feeling!

It all started with our first-grade daughter’s end-of-the- year project to write a report on an animal of her choice and to create a model of the animal. The guidelines were loose; kids could make the models out of any materials they wanted, so long as they didn’t just buy a stuffed animal or cut its picture from a magazine.

In a rare moment of decisiveness, our daughter quickly settled on the penguin as her animal-of-choice and starting scribbling ideas for its construction on paper. “This is going well,” I thought. She asked me to bring up Google on the computer, so that she could find out some facts about penguins for her report. “This is going very well,” I decided. I didn’t even know she knew what Google was!

I assisted her a very little bit with picking out interesting penguin facts (did you know that the smallest species of penguin is called the Fairy Penguin?) and making sure her spelling was correct, but she really and truly wrote her report all by herself. Responsibility for own work encouraged. Check. Independence cultivated. Check. Pride in her work fostered. Check, check, check.

Now, on to the model of the penguin, otherwise known as “Daddy’s department.” My husband and our daughter enjoyed a mini-spree through our local crafts store, though while I was browsing with our younger child, I did notice our first-grader skipping to keep up with her dad as he efficiently grabbed items off of shelves and moved briskly from one aisle to the next. At the check-out counter, when I asked her what materials they bought, she smiled excitedly and said, “I have no idea.”

I watched in abject horror as my husband spent the day (the entire day) painting, gluing, cutting, running to the hardware store (!), beading, cursing, and studying his penguin model. Our daughter was sort of in and out of the room—eagerly checking in on what her Daddy was doing, then happily going back to her own fun.

My heart was sinking and my irritation was rising. I was flooded with memories of my own sixth grade design-a-mode-of-transportation project, when my mom hijacked my model. I vividly recall taking a finely-crafted wooden bobsled to school and having it be the best project on the table—and feeling mortified because it was so obvious that a sixth grader never could have built a model of that quality.

Watching my husband build the penguin on his own, I was terrified that our daughter would face the same humiliation. Pride in her work? Out the window! I needed to protect my daughter from the miserable experience I had had.

I explained my sixth-grade horror story to my husband who, in turn, relayed his fondest third-grade memory of his father carving an eagle’s head into a section of a totem pole that he was tasked to create. In his case, his father’s obvious contribution to his project was a source of tremendous pride—a happy experience that he wanted to re-live by helping our daughter.

One first-grade animal project, two very different perspectives—both entirely legitimate. How to proceed? What do you do when two people have opposite perspectives on a subject, yet both are 100% correct?

We let our daughter take the lead. She seemed thrilled with how the penguin model was going and didn’t appear to feel any of the angst I experienced so many years ago. In fact, she was named “Assembler-in-Chief” as she glued all of the individual pieces of the penguin together to create the final model. On presentation day, she was beaming. I heard the pride in her voice as she explained to her teacher and the other visiting parents about how her and her Daddy built the penguin and I knew, looking in her eyes, that her memory of this experience would be a happy one.

I was wrong, I admit it. Not about how I felt with my own project (still bitter after all of these years!) but about how someone else would feel in a similar situation. Looking through the window of my husband’s experience helped me view a world I hadn’t known was possible. From our daughter’s unique perspective, here is what I witnessed:

Full responsibility for her written report. Check. Confidence and pride in her presentation. Check. Lifelong fond memory of her Father. Check, check, check.

The Angry Smile: The Psychology of Passive-aggressive Behavior in Families, Schools, and Workplaces

>Bedtime Wars

4

>I have not yet been blessed with one of those “sleeper-type” babies. Sleep training, shmeep training; when my daughters were infants, I tried everything the books said, the neighbors said, my mom said, my friends said. My head was spinning with advice, but my brain was not getting any rest, as both of my girls instinctively knew how to sleep in my arms and wake the moment they were put down. “Let them cry it out,” you say? “Relentless!” I answer you.

The good news is, I made it! They are now ages 7 and 4, and except for the typical, “I’m not tired” protests at bedtime, they find their own way to slumber these days and are even sampling the fine art of sleeping in. No, this Passive Aggressive Diary post won’t actually be about sleep, but rather the epic (and different) ways my husband and I went about approaching our older daughter’s bedtime routine, back in her baby days.

When Hannah was 19 months old, I had grown weary of spending an hour (plus!) each night rocking her to sleep, so my New Year’s resolution that year was to get a more reasonable bedtime routine going. I put her to bed every night for six weeks and got our family into a new groove: three books, a loving song, and in-the-crib—all in under 20 minutes. My husband was totally down with the whole thing until the night in late February when I asked him if he could follow the simple routine and put Hannah to bed.

He looked me in the eye, asked in detail about the number of books and timing of the routine, and then agreed to my request.

About a half hour went by (not that I was watching the clock or anything), when I heard uproarious laughter from upstairs. I felt a stab of impatience, but then chided myself for being so strict on the time, thinking sweetly, “How nice that they are enjoying their time together.”

Five minutes later, loud music began: Dan Zanes on full volume! I could hear Hannah’s bed springs squeaking. It was a Dance Party! Any “isn’t that sweet” thoughts drained from my head (probably through the steam seeping out of my ears.)

At the 50-minute mark, I heard dresser drawers slamming. I couldn’t stop myself anymore. I went upstairs and opened Hannah’s bedroom door. She was out of her fleece jammies and decked out in her stripy bathing suit, Dora sunglasses, and a pair of brand new hot pink water shoes. It was a BEACH dance party…in February…at 9:48pm…

My heart melted a little when Hannah ran up to me with her huge wide-awake smile and shouted, “Bedtime so fun!”

But it froze up again when Richard came downstairs 35 minutes later (that’s an hour and a half later, for those of you (like me) who are counting) and met my stony glare with feigned shock, “What? We were just having some fun!”

Five years of decent night sleeps later, the situation that February evening is now all clear; Richard didn’t want to be bothered with bedtime routines. Rather than tell me this fact and risk an argument over sharing childcare responsibilities, he chose a passive aggressive response to the situation.  He verbally agreed to the task, but carried it out in such a way that he knew would excuse him from having to repeat it for quite some time.  Classic intentional inefficiency.

The cunning of his personal choice was unmistakable: when I argued with his stated intention of having fun with his daughter, I got to star in the coveted roles of “uptight, no-fun mother” and the always delightful-to-be-around “controlling wife.” My husband’s strategy in the situation was a winning one for both he and our daughter; Hannah thought her Daddy was the coolest in the world and Richard was not called upon to help with this evening responsibility for months.

At least I got a good story for my book!
The Angry Smile: The Psychology of Passive-aggressive Behavior in Families, Schools, and Workplaces

>Bedtime Wars

967

>I have not yet been blessed with one of those “sleeper-type” babies. Sleep training, shmeep training; when my daughters were infants, I tried everything the books said, the neighbors said, my mom said, my friends said. My head was spinning with advice, but my brain was not getting any rest, as both of my girls instinctively knew how to sleep in my arms and wake the moment they were put down. “Let them cry it out,” you say? “Relentless!” I answer you.

The good news is, I made it! They are now ages 7 and 4, and except for the typical, “I’m not tired” protests at bedtime, they find their own way to slumber these days and are even sampling the fine art of sleeping in. No, this Passive Aggressive Diary post won’t actually be about sleep, but rather the epic (and different) ways my husband and I went about approaching our older daughter’s bedtime routine, back in her baby days.

When Hannah was 19 months old, I had grown weary of spending an hour (plus!) each night rocking her to sleep, so my New Year’s resolution that year was to get a more reasonable bedtime routine going. I put her to bed every night for six weeks and got our family into a new groove: three books, a loving song, and in-the-crib—all in under 20 minutes. My husband was totally down with the whole thing until the night in late February when I asked him if he could follow the simple routine and put Hannah to bed.

He looked me in the eye, asked in detail about the number of books and timing of the routine, and then agreed to my request.

About a half hour went by (not that I was watching the clock or anything), when I heard uproarious laughter from upstairs. I felt a stab of impatience, but then chided myself for being so strict on the time, thinking sweetly, “How nice that they are enjoying their time together.”

Five minutes later, loud music began: Dan Zanes on full volume! I could hear Hannah’s bed springs squeaking. It was a Dance Party! Any “isn’t that sweet” thoughts drained from my head (probably through the steam seeping out of my ears.)

At the 50-minute mark, I heard dresser drawers slamming. I couldn’t stop myself anymore. I went upstairs and opened Hannah’s bedroom door. She was out of her fleece jammies and decked out in her stripy bathing suit, Dora sunglasses, and a pair of brand new hot pink water shoes. It was a BEACH dance party…in February…at 9:48pm…

My heart melted a little when Hannah ran up to me with her huge wide-awake smile and shouted, “Bedtime so fun!”

But it froze up again when Richard came downstairs 35 minutes later (that’s an hour and a half later, for those of you (like me) who are counting) and met my stony glare with feigned shock, “What? We were just having some fun!”

Five years of decent night sleeps later, the situation that February evening is now all clear; Richard didn’t want to be bothered with bedtime routines. Rather than tell me this fact and risk an argument over sharing childcare responsibilities, he chose a passive aggressive response to the situation.  He verbally agreed to the task, but carried it out in such a way that he knew would excuse him from having to repeat it for quite some time.  Classic intentional inefficiency.

The cunning of his personal choice was unmistakable: when I argued with his stated intention of having fun with his daughter, I got to star in the coveted roles of “uptight, no-fun mother” and the always delightful-to-be-around “controlling wife.” My husband’s strategy in the situation was a winning one for both he and our daughter; Hannah thought her Daddy was the coolest in the world and Richard was not called upon to help with this evening responsibility for months.

At least I got a good story for my book!
The Angry Smile: The Psychology of Passive-aggressive Behavior in Families, Schools, and Workplaces

>Real Housewives of NJ…AGAIN

7

>Where should I send the Thank-you note? To the Bravo network? To a Real Housewife?

Last night’s episode of The Real Housewives of NJ delivered yet again, when it comes to this collection of hilariously conniving examples of passive aggressive behavior. Though the hostility is barely hidden and rarely sugarcoated amongst these Housewives, the behind-the-scenes chatter and this e-mail exchange, in particular, are great examples of passive aggression on the set.

My favorite line in this clip comes at the very end: Danielle’s classic, passive aggressive 2-word/phrase answer to Dina’s long e-mail. Let me know what you think in the “Comments” section.

http://www.hulu.com/embed/PE7T7kSFBxmMl2V9NO3rUw

http://www.hulu.com/watch/156204/the-real-housewives-of-new-jersey-dinas-not-done-with-danielle?c=81:234

The Angry Smile: The Psychology of Passive-aggressive Behavior in Families, Schools, and Workplaces

>Real Housewives of NJ…AGAIN

808

>Where should I send the Thank-you note? To the Bravo network? To a Real Housewife?

Last night’s episode of The Real Housewives of NJ delivered yet again, when it comes to this collection of hilariously conniving examples of passive aggressive behavior. Though the hostility is barely hidden and rarely sugarcoated amongst these Housewives, the behind-the-scenes chatter and this e-mail exchange, in particular, are great examples of passive aggression on the set.

My favorite line in this clip comes at the very end: Danielle’s classic, passive aggressive 2-word/phrase answer to Dina’s long e-mail. Let me know what you think in the “Comments” section.

http://www.hulu.com/embed/PE7T7kSFBxmMl2V9NO3rUw

http://www.hulu.com/watch/156204/the-real-housewives-of-new-jersey-dinas-not-done-with-danielle?c=81:234

The Angry Smile: The Psychology of Passive-aggressive Behavior in Families, Schools, and Workplaces

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