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My 13-year-old daughter literally cringes when I touch her. Any attempt at showing affection to my once cuddly and affectionate daughter is now met with resistance. You know, the I’m-a-teen-and-I’m-way-too-old-for-this attitude that consumes our children sometime between the ages of 11 and 16.


When I fall victim to this melancholy temperament, I’m quickly driven into a mental frenzy, trying to determine what I did wrong to deserve this. Is she still upset that I said Piper couldn’t sleep over this weekend? Is it punishment for the divorce that was finalized six years ago? Did I forget to say I love you this morning or did I say it too loudly as she left for school?

As a self-admitted control freak, I take the obvious next step to getting my desired outcome of capturing a small hint of the younger, softer version of my daughter: I try too hard. I ask too many questions and the tension grows.

“Who did you sit with at lunch today?” I don’t really know what else to say to get the conversation started.

“I don’t know, Mom,” she replies.

“Well, did you sit with Megan?”

“Mom! Why do you care?” Her agitation grows.

She’s on to me. I’m trying too hard. Reel it in, Mom, reel it in. New approach: bribery.

“Do you need something new to wear to the dance this weekend?” Bribery always works.

“No, I have something.”

Damnit.

“Who wants to go get ice cream?” I ask, thinking if I excite her two younger siblings with promises of hot fudge sundaes, she may lighten up too. She agrees. Ice cream it is.

I turn the music up and think how lucky she is to have a mom who listens to Selena, Taylor, and even DJ Khaled. Does she know what other moms listen to? She doesn’t have a clue just how cool I am. I sing loudly, dance as I drive, and think about what a cool mom I am. I may be 40 in age, but I’m only 27 in spirit.

“OMG Mom, that guy is watching you dance. Stoooop!” She says at the first red light.

Hey, I’m trying here! Doesn’t she realize that everything I’ve done since I picked her up at school was an effort to feel like her mom again? The mom who she would crawl into bed with every night at four years old? The mom she used to dance with in the living room? The mom she used to ask for help with homework? What has happened and how can I stop this? I want my daughter back, now!

I often view the symptoms of adolescence as evidence that I’m doing something wrong. I think I can control my daughter’s actions and reactions. Through trial and error, I’ve learned that the more I try to control her, the farther away I push her. Teens are unpredictable. One minute, they are chatty and happy and full of laughter and the next they’re sulky, withdrawn, and lethargic. Overnight, our precious and dependent children transform into mini-adults, struggling to become independent thinkers who desperately want to rely less and less on Mom and Dad.

My daughter is coming of age. This is a crucial time in her life and, though I may not recognize the 13-year-old whose shorts are getting shorter and legs are getting longer, I realize that I must let go and embrace these transformative years. They are, after all, practice for adulthood.

When a simple conversation feels more like pulling teeth, remember that this is not personal. It’s more likely that your teen feels safe with you, and she’s testing the boundaries of independence while asserting her individuality more. It’s not about your parenting skills or lack thereof, it’s not about the clothes you wear or the dance moves you bust out in the living room. It’s simply a symptom of adolescence. This is a good thing. When the going gets tough, remember these tenets:

This is temporary

This will not last forever. Your teen will mature into an independent adult. It’s inevitable. One day, you will look back and laugh at the moodier days and how it all went down. So when it feels like the storm is too big to battle, hold strong, Mom and Dad, for this too shall pass.

You are enough

It’s very intimidating to witness your child morph into a teen and young adult before your very eyes. It can feel like the entire relationship has changed. It’s okay to feel lost at times. Do not overthink it. Do not force conversations. Quiet air is okay. Distance is okay. Just be you. Discipline and love with consistence. Tell your corny jokes even if she rolls her eyes. All she wants you to be is the person she loves: you! She may not say it or show it, but she loves you unconditionally for you. Do not believe anything less.

She wants to be loved

She may cringe when you hug her or never be the first to say “I love you” anymore, but don’t stop on your end. Say “I love you” just as much as you always have, more if you’re brave. Find new and creative ways to show affection if hugs don’t do it anymore. Put post-it notes with words of encouragement on her mirror. Text her jokes or riddles from work. Let her pick the menu for dinner.

Find ways to express your love that don’t require a formal acceptance from her. It’s tempting to back off when your attempts at affection are met with resistance, but challenge yourself to find new methods of expressing your love. Respect her boundaries, but never stop showing her you love her just as she is, moodiness and all.

Put your fear aside

Underneath my parental anxiety is fear: fear of losing the relationship as I know it, fear of losing her unconditional love, and fear of failure. Fear is a liar. You will not lose your teen or her love. As she matures and learns life’s lessons, your relationship is sure to go through its own transformation, but trust the process. Trust that the love and bond you share will survive whatever is to come. Believe with conviction that you are a great parent. Recognize your underlying fears and put them aside. Offer your daughter the space and unconditional love she needs to become her adult self.

Your teen is on a journey to independence. You are her coach, mentor, and number-one fan. Love her with all you have and trust your parental instincts. The bumpiest journeys offer the best lessons, so buckle up and enjoy the ride.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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Three was not enough for Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. Mom and dad to North, Saint and Chicago are expecting again.

The story broke earlier this month, but this week Kim appeared on "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen" and confirmed everything People and E! have been attributing to inside Kardashian sources.

Host Andy Cohen, a father-to-be himself, asked Kim to confirm if the leaked sex of the baby was also accurate.

    "It's a boy," Kim told him, revealing that she's the accidental source of the leak. "It's out there. I got drunk at our Christmas Eve party, and I told some people, but I can't remember who I told."

    Like Chicago, this baby will be born via surrogate, and Kim says he's due quite soon.

    Kim has previously talked about how the decision to grow her family through gestational surrogacy was a hard one, but the only one that made sense for her after two difficult pregnancies.

    "Anyone that says or thinks it is just the easy way out is just completely wrong. I think it is so much harder to go through it this way, because you are not really in control," she told Entertainment Tonight when expecting Chicago.

    "Obviously you pick someone that you completely trust and that you have a good bond and relationship with, but it is still … knowing that I was able to carry my first two babies and not my baby now, it's hard for me," she explained at the time.

    One of six kids herself, it's not surprising that Kim wants a large family (considering how close she is with her siblings) and, according to Kim, Kanye's been campaigning for more children for a while.

    "Kanye wants to have more, though. He's been harassing me," Kardashian said on a 2018 episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. "He wants like seven. He's like stuck on seven."

    Four is still pretty far from seven, but maybe Kanye and Kim will compromise a bit on family size. Kim has previously said four children would be her limit.

    [Update: This post was originally published on January 2, 2019. It was updated when Kardashian confirmed the news.]

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    Toxic masculinity is having a cultural moment. Or rather, the idea that masculinity doesn't have to be toxic is having one.

    For parents who are trying to raise kind boys who will grow into compassionate men, the American Psychological Association's recent assertion that "traditional masculinity ideology" is bad for boys' well-being is concerning because our kids are exposed to that ideology every day when they walk out of then house or turn on the TV or the iPad.

    That's why a new viral ad campaign from Gillette is so inspiring—it proves society already recognizes the problems the APA pointed out, and change is possible.

    We Believe: The Best Men Can Be | Gillette (Short Film) youtu.be

    Gillette's new ad campaign references the "Me Too" movement as a narrator explains that "something finally changed, and there will be no going back."

    If may seem like something as commercial as a marketing campaign for toiletries can't make a difference in changing the way society pressures influence kids, but it's been more than a decade since Dove first launched its Campaign for Real Beauty, and while the campaign isn't without criticism, it was successful in elevating some of the body-image pressure on girls but ushering in an era of body-positive, inclusive marketing.

    Dove's campaign captured a mainstream audience at a time when the APA's "Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Girls and Women" were warning psychologists about how "unrealistic media images of girls and women" were negatively impacting the self-esteem of the next generation.

    Similarly, the Gillette campaign addresses some of the issues the APA raises in its newly released "Guidelines for the Psychological Practice with Boys and Men."

    According to the APA, "Traditional masculinity ideology has been shown to limit males' psychological development, constrain their behavior, result in gender role strain and gender role conflict and negatively influence mental health and physical health."

    The report's authors define that ideology as "a particular constellation of standards that have held sway over large segments of the population, including: anti-femininity, achievement, eschewal of the appearance of weakness, and adventure, risk, and violence."

    The APA worries that society is rewarding men who adhere to "sexist ideologies designed to maintain male power that also restrict men's ability to function adaptively."

    That basically sounds like the recipe for Me Too, which is of course its own cultural movement.

    Savvy marketers at Gillette may be trying to harness the power of that movement, but that's not entirely a bad thing. On its website, Gillette states that it created the campaign (called "The Best a Man Can Be," a play on the old Gillette tagline "The Best a Man Can Get") because it "acknowledge that brands, like ours, play a role in influencing culture."

    Gillette's not wrong. We know that advertising has a huge impact on our kids. The average kid in America sees anywhere from 13,000 to 30,000 commercials on TV each year, according to the American Academy of Paediatrics, and that's not even counting YouTube ads, the posters at the bus stop and everything else.

    That's why Gillette's take makes sense from a marketing perspective and a social one. "As a company that encourages men to be their best, we have a responsibility to make sure we are promoting positive, attainable, inclusive and healthy versions of what it means to be a man," the company states.

    What does that mean?

    It means taking a stance against homophobia, bullying and sexual harassment and that harmful, catch-all-phrase that gives too many young men a pass to engage in behavior that hurts others and themselves: "Boys will be boys."

    Gillette states that "by holding each other accountable, eliminating excuses for bad behavior, and supporting a new generation working toward their personal 'best,' we can help create positive change that will matter for years to come."

    Of course, it's not enough for razor marketers to do this. Boys need support from parents, teachers, coaches and peers to be resilient to the pressures of toxic masculinity.

    When this happens, when boys are taught that strength doesn't mean overpowering others and that they can be successful while still being compassionate, the APA says we will "reduce the high rates of problems boys and men face and act out in their lives such as aggression, violence, substance abuse, and suicide."

    This is a conversation worth having and 2019 is the year to do it.

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    Teaching a young child good behavior seems like it should be easy and intuitive when, in reality, it can be a major challenge. When put to the test, it's not as easy as you might think to dole out effective discipline, especially if you have a strong-willed child.

    As young children develop independence and learn more about themselves in relation to others and their environment, they can easily grow frustrated when they don't always know how to communicate their feelings or how to think and act rationally.

    It's crucial that parents recognize these limitations and also set up rules to protect your child and those they encounter. These rules, including a parent's or caregiver's follow-up actions, allow your child to learn and develop a better understanding of what is (and what is not) appropriate behavior.

    Here are a few key ways to correct negative behavior in an efficient way:

    1. Use positive reinforcement.

    Whenever possible, look to deliver specific and positive praise when a child engages in good behavior or if you catch them in an act of kindness. Always focus on the positive things they are doing so that they are more apt to recreate those behaviors. This will help them start to learn the difference between good and poor behavior.

    2. Be simple and direct.

    Though this seems like a no-brainer, focus your child using constructive feedback versus what not to do or where they went wrong. Give reasons and explanations for rules, as best as you can for their age group.

    For example, if you're teaching them to be gentle with your pet, demonstrate the correct motions and tell your child, "We're gentle when we pet the cat like this so that we don't hurt them," versus, "Don't pull on her tail!"

    3. Re-think the "time out."

    Many classrooms are starting to have cozy nooks where children are encouraged to have alone time when they may feel out of control. In lieu of punishment, sending a child to a "feel-good" area removes them from a situation that's causing distress. This provides much-needed comfort and allows for the problem-solving process to start on its own.

    4. Use 'no' sparingly.

    When a word is repeated over and over, it begins to lose meaning. There are better ways to discipline your child than saying "no." Think about replaying the message in a different way to increase the chances of your child taking note. Rather than shouting, "No, stop that!" when your toddler is flinging food at dinnertime, it's more productive to use encouraging words that prompt better behavior, such as, "Food is for eating, what are we supposed to do when we're sitting at the dinner table?" This encourages them to consider their behavior.

    The above methods help create teachable moments by providing opportunities for development while making sure the child feels safe and cared for. It is important to mirror these discipline techniques at home and communicate often with your child care providers so that you're always on the same page.

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    To the mamas awake in the middle of the night,

    If you are one of the many moms with a little darling who doesn't sleep through the night, I feel your pain. I really do.

    Having been blessed with two wonderful sleepers (aka my first and second babies), my third baby has been a shock to my system. He hasn't slept through the night since he was born and he's now 16 months. I do everything "right." I put him down sleepy but awake so he can settle himself to sleep. I keep the room dark and quiet.

    But one simple fact remains: When my son wakes up in the night, he wants me. And he'll scream the house down if he doesn't get me.

    Last night my 1-year-old woke at 3:30 am. He was stirring a bit at first, then started to really let it rip, so I got him up out of his crib and brought him into bed with me. We cuddled for a while. Then suddenly, he wanted to get off the bed and I said no. Then he started to scream and throw himself around on the bed before eventually being sick everywhere.

    It was now 4:30 am. I dutifully changed the sheets, changed my son, changed myself, and then we climbed back into bed, the smell of vomit still lingering.

    I tried to put him back in his crib around 5 am but he woke right up. I brought him back into bed with me, but quickly realized this wasn't what he wanted either. He was thrashing around again, trying to figure out a way off of the bed.

    Finally, close to 6 am he decided he wanted to go to sleep. After about 10 minutes of watching him sleep, I felt brave enough to try to put him back in his room. I gently lifted him up, placed him in his crib and quietly crept back into my bed.

    This left me with just enough time to fall back into a deep sleep, which meant I felt exhausted when my alarm went off just after 7 am.

    Sadly, last night wasn't a one-off. This is a fairly frequent occurrence for me (although dealing with vomit is luckily quite rare!). Which means that when I say I understand what it's like to have a baby who doesn't sleep, I really mean it.

    So here's what I want you to know, mama.

    If you are awake in the night because your baby needs you then you are not alone. Despite what you might read, it's common for babies to wake up through the night. So if you're sitting in bed feeling like you're the only mother in the world awake, trust me, you're far from it.

    There are mamas like us all over the world. Sitting there in the dark. Cuddling babies or soothing them to sleep again. Some, like me, might be changing sheets or abandoning any hope of getting sleep that night at all. Others might be up and down like a yo-yo every few hours. The rest might just be up once and then will be able to go back to sleep.

    There will, however, also be mamas who are sound asleep. Mamas who have older children who no longer wake in the night. And they would want you to know that it will be okay. It won't be forever. One day, you'll realize that your baby no longer needs or wants you in the night.

    And while you'll be so glad for your sleep you'll probably also be a little sad that there are no more night time cuddles.

    It's hard to cope with a baby who doesn't sleep well at night. Really hard sometimes. You may feel like you can't deal with it anymore or you may be wishing that this phase would just stop already so you can get some rest.

    Exhaustion often means that you struggle to get through the day. It can mean that you find it hard to drag yourself out of bed. Or if you're anything like me, you might be irritable and snap at the people you love. Or maybe it means relying on caffeine, sugar and Netflix to get you and your kiddos through the day.

    But here's the amazing thing about mothers—no matter what has gone down during the night, we get up as usual. We go about our day just like everyone else. We care for and love our children, without giving them a hard time for disrupting our sleep. We don't moan, we don't complain. We just get on with it.

    And when night comes, we go to bed knowing that there's every chance we'll be awake in the middle of the night again...

    We get up without fail when our babies need us and we do what we need to do for them. Because we are the nighttime warriors. We are mamas.

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