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An Old-School, West Indian Parent, Talks Black-and-White Parenting

As a child of Old-school parents, I can tell you first hand, they don’t ‘play.’ Translated into Western parlance, this means these parents did not mess around where it came to disciplining their children. There were no gray areas.


Growing up, there was no ambiguity about the rules and what would happen if I contravened those rules. And I certainly don’t remember too many family conferences taking place because one of my siblings or I had been asked to sweep the kitchen floor.

These were the days when the edict, “Because I said so!” was reason enough to do something you had been asked to do. It would not have occurred to my parents that this no compromise approach would, in later years, be considered suspect parenting, along with the laying on of hands to discipline unruly children.

My parents’ style of discipline, however, was not the only one I was exposed to growing up, and it was interesting to compare my black and white parenting with that of Jane, my white English friend who lived next door with white English parents that I desperately wanted for my own.

Jane’s worst punishment for a ‘serious disregard of the rules,’ would be a “sitting-down” and a “chat.”

“Jane, come and sit down with mummy for a moment. Hasn’t mummy spoken to you before about using your words to articulate your feelings rather than lashing out indiscriminately?”

“Yes.”

“Do I have your assurance you understand me?”

“Yes.”

And that was it!?! No grounding, no curfew, no nothing – and it didn’t work. Jane would go back to doing whatever it was she wasn’t supposed to be doing faster than I could pen a note to her parents begging them to, “Please adopt me.”

However, there is also a truth here I must set down in the interests of balance. My punishments as a child compared to Jane’s were onerous and often painful but, like Jane, I too would find ways to continue breaking the rules – I just got better each time at not getting caught.

Years later, though, I suppose I’m taking issue with liberal, gray parenting styles, which do not explore the notion of consequence with children – even if both sides of the parenting extremes could, perhaps, learn something from the other.

Those of us who are the product of old-school parenting, however, understand that term to mean: consequences and tough love – and it didn’t come any tougher than with an old-school parent. Should you happen to be messing up when your parents weren’t around? Well, then you had the neighbors and other sundry adults more than willing to do some drive-by, old-school parenting in their absence.

“Child, what are you doing on the streets at this hour? Get back to your home right now and tell your mother I’ll call her later.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Old-school parents played a mean game of poker and held a Royal Flush every time. Let me give you seven examples of other cards old school parents would deal their children:

Adults are not peers

Growing up, if you tried to enter a conversation adults were having without being invited, you were in danger of that being the last thing you ever said. Children were not permitted to give their world view on ‘adult happenings’ and adult happenings were anything the adults were talking about.

The Look

The Look was one that froze you at a hundred paces and generally meant: I don’t know what you’re doing, or what you think you’re doing, but whatever it is, you’d better stop. The Look had the gentle and persuasive power of Mother Theresa and the follow-through of The Terminator, and you ignored it at your peril. Even with your back to your mother you could feel The Look boring through the back of your neck like sunlight on glass. There was also no ‘three-strikes-and-you’re-out’ foolishness. You ignored The Look only once and your head was quickly connected with a flying shoe or any other object which came to your mother’s hand. It was especially foolhardy, then, to ignore The Look if your mother was ironing, putting plates away or laying a fire.

Pocket money allowance

Old-school parents did not understand the concept of free money. As far as they were concerned they worked to come home and pay the bills, not to pay you for being, well, you. It was also futile to expect money for doing household chores, since their stance was if they could afford a maid, they’d get a good one and not pay your sorry self to do your usual half-baked job.

‘Yes’ and ‘No’ handles

When being called to attendance by an old-school parent, you were never permitted to answer with a bald “Yes” or “No”. It was “Yes, mum” or “No, mum.” Old-school parents called this putting a handle on a response to an adult. Even now, my children know better than to answer me without a handle, but this is the first rebellion they have all tried on for size. They soon come around though, since an old-school parent will not respond until a child ‘handles’ themselves correctly.

Teachers as kings and queens

To an old-school parent, teachers could do no wrong. There was little point in going home to tell an old-school parent that a teacher had been unfair, too harsh, or had caned the crap out of you. Old-school parents lived by the simple premise that if a teacher had to correct you, your were definitely in the wrong. You would also get a second telling-off or spanking for doing whatever it was you were doing which caused a teacher to discipline you. The teacher sadists in those days had a field day with the children of old-school parents.

Television

Old-school parents didn’t need a Board of Censors rating guide when it came to watching TV. The News was a particular favourite, and would magically appear if any program began to show suggestive content. Two actors, even if they looked like they were thinking of kissing, would suddenly turn into Big Ben chiming in the 10 o’clock News, accompanied by the words “Let’s be having something a little more educational around here.” The choice was that or be sent to read a book, and when I say ‘a book’ I of course mean The Book, the Bible. My old-school parents would have imploded at programming which passes for acceptable child content today.

Faith in something greater than oneself

Old-school parents would typically have the rod of discipline in one hand, and a Bible in the other. They believed in, and you were never allowed to forget, there was a higher purpose than mere existence. It was annoying at the time. In adulthood, however, I take comfort in it and it makes profound sense to me.

Although I have been a little more liberal with my own children, favoring discussion and understanding before punitive measures are taken, I am definitely old-school. As a proponent for ‘tough love’, the old-school parent loves her child no less. In fact, she loves her child so much she is willing, whenever and wherever necessary, to say “No,” and to say it without apology.

Were I required to take the stand in defence of old-school parenting, I would summarize it as the notion that children should indeed not rule the world, simply because they do not yet have the experience to do so.

I believe there is something to be said for clear, black-and-white, old-school parenting, and it gets my vote every time over seeing our children become irretrievably lost in multiple shades of gray.

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When you become a parent for the first time, there is an undeniably steep learning curve. Add to that the struggle of sorting through fact and fiction when it comes to advice and—whew—it's enough to make you more tired than you already are with that newborn in the house.

Just like those childhood games of telephone when one statement would get twisted by the time it was told a dozen times, there are many parenting misconceptions that still tend to get traction. This is especially true with myths about bottle-feeding—something that the majority of parents will do during their baby's infancy, either exclusively or occasionally.

Here's what you really need to know about bottle-feeding facts versus fiction.

1. Myth: Babies are fine taking any bottle

Not all bottles are created equally. Many parents experience anxiety when it seems their infant rejects all bottles, which is especially nerve wracking if a breastfeeding mom is preparing to return to work. However, it's often a matter of giving the baby some time to warm up to the new feeding method, says Katie Ferraro, a registered dietician, infant feeding specialist and associate professor of nutrition at the University of California San Francisco graduate School of Nursing.

"For mothers returning to work, if you're breastfeeding but trying to transition to bottle[s], try to give yourself a two- to four-week trial window to experiment with bottle feeding," says Ferraro.

2. Myth: You either use breast milk or formula

So often, the question of whether a parent is using formula or breastfeeding is presented exclusively as one or the other. In reality, many babies are combo-fed—meaning they have formula sometimes, breast milk other times.

The advantage with mixed feeding is the babies still get the benefits of breast milk while parents can ensure the overall nutritional and caloric needs are met through formula, says Ferraro.

3. Myth: Cleaning bottles is a lot of work

For parents looking for simplification in their lives (meaning, all of us), cleaning bottles day after day can sound daunting. But, really, it doesn't require much more effort than you are already used to doing with the dishes each night: With bottles that are safe for the top rack of the dishwasher, cleaning them is as easy as letting the machine work for you.

For added confidence in the sanitization, Dr. Brown's offers an incredibly helpful microwavable steam sterilizer that effectively kills all household bacteria on up to four bottles at a time. (Not to mention it can also be used on pacifiers, sippy cups and more.)

4. Myth: Bottle-feeding causes colic

One of the leading theories on what causes colic is indigestion, which can be caused by baby getting air bubbles while bottle feeding. However, Dr. Brown's bottles are the only bottles in the market that are actually clinically proven to reduce colic thanks to an ingenious internal vent system that eliminates negative pressure and air bubbles.

5. Myth: Bottles are all you can use for the first year

By the time your baby is six months old (way to go!), they may be ready to begin using a sippy cup. Explains Ferraro, "Even though they don't need water or additional liquids at this point, it is a feeding milestone that helps promote independent eating and even speech development."

With a complete line of products to see you from newborn feeding to solo sippy cups, Dr. Brown's does its part to make these new transitions less daunting. And, for new parents, that truly is priceless.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

The shape appeals to kids and the organic and gluten-free labels appeal to parents in the freezer aisle, but if you've got a bag of Perdue's Simply Smart Organics Gluten Free Chicken Breast Nuggets, don't cook them.

The company is recalling 49,632 bags of the frozen, fully cooked Simply Smart Organics Gluten Free Chicken Breast Nuggets because they might be contaminated with wood.

According to the USDA, Perdue received three complaints about wood In the nuggets, but no one has been hurt.

The nuggets were manufactured on October 25, 2018 with a "Best By" date of October 25, 2019. The UPC code is 72745-80656. (The USDA provides an example of the packaging here so you'll know where to look for the code).


In a statement on the Perdue website the company's Vice President for Quality Assurance, Jeff Shaw, explains that "After a thorough investigation, we strongly believe this to be an isolated incident, as only a minimal amount of these packages has the potential to contain pieces of wood."

If you have these nuggets in your freezer you can call Perdue 877-727-3447 to ask for a refund.

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Mealtime can be one of the most stressful times for parents and kids, especially when there's a picky eater in the house. Your little might get anxious about their food touching, requesting a completely new meal. Or, they might avoid the foods altogether, leaving you concerned about their nutrition. While helping your child develop healthy eating habits is the ultimate goal, you can also incorporate products that will make mealtime more fun for everyone involved.

Here are our favorite products that help picky eaters be, well, less picky (or at least enjoy mealtime enough to not worry about certain foods!).

1. Food cubby

These silicone separates suction to the plate to keep separate foods from touching, or to keep runny foods from spreading. Say goodbye to tantrums from peas and corn touching, mama.

Food Cubby Plate Divider, Amazon, $14.99

BUY

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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[Trigger warning: This essay describes a woman's emotional journey with postpartum anxiety.]

I see you, mama.

I know you don't want to feel this way. I know you're terrified of everything in the world right now. I know you want to wrap your baby in a bubble and keep them safely in your arms forever. I know you can't "sleep when the baby sleeps" because you are too nervous to drift off in case they stop breathing. I know you don't want to let anyone near your little one because they could be carrying an illness. I know you've cried in the bathroom and begged for the voice to stop. And I know you love your child more than anything in the world.

I know because I was you.

I was in the 10% of estimated women who are affected by Postpartum Anxiety (PPA) but had no idea what I was experiencing. I worried about EVERY little thing but just brushed the fears aside, thinking this was just normal of first-time motherhood. But it was something more.

I lived in constant fear that my son was either going to get hurt or he was going to die.

It started the first week of being home from the hospital. I was so scared of SIDS that I actually googled "How much sleep do I need in order to survive?" I would only get two to three hours, not because my child was keeping me up, but because I was scared he would stop breathing and I wouldn't be awake to save him.

I would religiously wash all of his clothes with baby detergent and if I thought I mistakenly used regular detergent, I would rewash everything. I was afraid he would get a skin rash if I didn't. If my husband had the slightest hint of a cold, I would banish him to the guest room and handle all of the baby duties on my own until he was fully recovered.

I would wash and rewash bottles because I was afraid they weren't clean enough and convinced myself if I didn't then he would catch a rare illness. When we supplemented with formula, I wasted multiple cans because I was so scared I didn't measure it correctly, so I would dump it and start over.

I didn't want to be this way. I didn't want to let PPA be the thief of my joy, but anxiety doesn't care who you are or what you've been through. I knew my previous miscarriages attributed to my PTSD, which manifested into anxiety.

I knew I needed help.

I cried so many nights as my husband and baby boy slept because I just wanted to feel "normal." I didn't want to overanalyze every bump or rash or cough, I wanted to enjoy being a first time mom, but I felt like I was drowning.

On top of the anxiety was guilt. I had wanted this baby so badly—I wanted to feel joy, happiness, and gratitude, and yet I felt overwhelmed, sad, and miserable. What was happening?

I would tell myself not to worry, I'd try to convince myself a regular cold was just a cold. But then a voice would come into my head and make me second guess myself. What if it was a serious infection and became fatal if I ignored it? So I rushed my baby boy to the doctor every time I thought something was wrong.

I went to the pediatrician over 20 times in my son's first year of life. One time I went because I thought he had a cancerous mole, which turned out to be a piece of lint stuck to his hair. I felt like I was losing control of myself.

Eventually, when my son was 3 months old, I went to a therapist for help. I needed someone to hear me and give me the tools to overcome this. I am not without daily anxiety, I still have many fears and I have to bring myself back to reality, but I work on it every day. I cope and I make an effort to continue with my therapist so I can beat this.

Even though this topic is hard to write about, I have no shame in my story. Carrying a child is hard, giving birth is harder, and jumping onto the roller coaster of motherhood is one hormonal, wild ride.

Mamas, we are allowed to not be okay and we have every right to make that known. I wasn't okay and it took every ounce of strength I had to get myself out of the darkness.

If I could tell you anything about struggling with this, it is this: PPA is real, it is not normal, and getting help is okay. Do not feel ashamed, do not feel embarrassed, and don't for one second think you owe anyone an explanation.

Do not let a single person make you feel like you are less of a mother. You are a magnificent human being, a loving mama bear, and you will get through this.

I see you, and I'm holding space for you.

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Ready to bring a baby on board? Feelings of excitement can often be met with those of financial concern as you prep for this milestone. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as of 2015, the cost of raising a child is $233,610—a number that can make anyone's jaw drop to the floor.

But before you start to worry, here are ways you can become more financially savvy before the baby is born:

1. Budget for healthcare costs

The cost of delivering a baby can vary by state, but suffice it to say it can be thousands of dollars. Castlight Health found that the lowest average cost of delivery was $6,075 in Kansas City, MO and the highest average cost $15,420 in Sacramento, CA. Costs are even higher for a Cesarean delivery.

The first thing you want to do is check your insurance and see what they will cover so what you will be responsible for. Then create a separate savings account so that you can cover any costs that you're on the hook for. You can set up automatic savings after each payday up until the baby is born to help assist with any healthcare costs associated with delivery.

2. Cut your expenses

Before the baby arrives, do a spending audit and see where you can slash some expenses. Free up any leftover money to help cover the increased costs that will come, such as food, clothes, and formula.

If you're struggling with how to do that, take a look at all of your expenses and write next to each either"want" or "need." Look at your "want" list and see which expenses are ones you can either eliminate or cut back on. If it doesn't bring you joy or add value, ditch it! You might even find subscriptions that you didn't know you had.

3. Go for second-hand goods

Of course, there are some things you definitely want to buy new for baby, but things like clothes and toys you can get second hand and save a lot of money. Your baby will grow so fast and buying new clothes every few months can add up. If your family members or friends have old baby clothes or toys they're willing to part with, it will save money and you can pay it forward down the line.

4. Look for sales or coupons

Clothes and toys are items that you can buy second hand, but products, like a car seat and crib are best new. You want to be up-to-date with safety and know what you're getting. Before going shopping, search for sales or coupons before you head out. A little research online can go a long way and save you hundreds.

5. Have a garage sale

If you need to make room for baby, it's time to get rid of items that you no longer use or need. Take all of the stuff you are planning to get rid of and have a garage sale to make extra money. You can also try selling online on Craigslist, Poshmark and OfferUp too.

Take the money you earn from selling your stuff and put it in your savings account earmarked for your baby.

6. Get a 529 plan

It's never too early to save for your baby's college. You can open a state-sponsored 529 plan which is a tax-advantaged savings account for education-related costs. Instead of asking for gifts or toys from family and friends, you can request money to go toward a 529 plan. It will be an impactful gift that will help your child in the future and help lessen the financial burden on you.

7. Prep now instead of later

Your whole world will change when your baby arrives, so in order to save money, time and stress, create a plan now. Is there a family or friend close by who can babysit if you need some rest or have to run an errand? Ask them now if they can help out.

Start preparing meals in bulk that can be in the freezer and easily made so you don't have to think about food. Put your bills on autopay so that you don't miss any payments and get hit with late fees. Know how long you can get maternity or paternity leave and understand how that will affect your income and budget. Getting all of this ready ahead of time can help you in the long run.

8. Purchase life insurance

While thinking about why you need life insurance can be a bit stressful, preparation is essential, especially when you're adding another member to your family. Life insurance will provide financial support if you had a loss of income due to something happening to either you or your partner.

9. Understand any tax benefits

The birth of your baby will affect your taxes, which can actually end up putting more money back into your pocket. Do some research online and see how a dependent will change your taxes in your state, such as new exemptions available. Or, find a trusted accountant or tax specialist in your area who can walk you through your options.

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