Questions From You

Parenting questions submitted by our community members and answered by a YOU Program facilitator.
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Mother’s Days: Two Days for Mom

May 8, 2014

By Amelia Orozco

A "Happy Mother's Day" banner surrounds a bouquet of red, pink, and blue flowers.

On Mother’s Day, we celebrate the woman who gave birth to or raised us, and for some cultures in the United States, there are two days to do just that. This year, the United States celebrates Mother’s Day on Sunday, May 11. In Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala, May 10 is the official day to honor mothers, regardless of the day of the week on which it falls.

For families with roots in those Latin American countries who have now assimilated to U.S. culture, it is best to acknowledge mom on both of those days, even though it means celebrating twice. Besides, can there ever be too much love for mom?

In some Hispanic homes, Mother’s Day is more of a religious event where mom is regarded as highly as the Virgin Mary. Many plan to celebrate twice, starting on May 10 to make both mom and grandma feel beautiful and youthful. They may wear new outfits, get their hair done, and then their family takes them out to a special dinner. If these things are not in the budget, any mom always appreciates a clean house, a nice dinner, and a homemade greeting card.

Then, on the second Sunday of the month (U.S. Mother’s Day), many make a point of attending church with mom. This gesture is something of utmost importance for most Latina mothers, who have often turned to their faith in their pursuit of being good mothers to their children.

Afterward, there is usually a big family barbecue to celebrate all the moms in the family, with grandma as the top matriarch, of course. There is nothing more rewarding for a mother than to see her family together having a good time, eating, and appreciating her.

As a parent, you can help spread the culture of honoring mom, whatever your background may be. Volunteer to work with your child’s school to plan an event around Mother’s Day such as a pageant, making special gifts, or a special classroom visit for moms. The possibilities are endless when we work as a community to not only honor a vital member of the family, but also teach our children about different cultures and important family bonds.

Amelia Orozco is the senior editor and writer at the Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo and a community and entertainment reporter for TeleGuía Chicago. A mother of three, Amelia also maintains an active role in her community and church by working with youth and promoting education and diversity through her writing and volunteer efforts.

Tags :  culturesocialmotherhoodfamily fun

The Gift of a Card – Free Download

April 23, 2014

By Sunny P. Chico

Card illustrations by Leah VanWhy

Today is my birthday, and while I don’t normally tell everyone that, I wanted to share it with you for an important reason: to share a story of why cards are so important. To celebrate and help your children share cards with their loved ones, the YOU Parent team created these card templates that you can download and print for your use.

Now, for my story:

I was recently visiting with my beautiful 81-year-old mother and came upon a colored box, which she kept near her bed. I asked her about the box and she told me that its contents helped her relax when she got anxious, helped her go to sleep when she couldn’t sleep, and helped put a smile on her face every day.

Is it a magic box? No, but it’s a very special box! It was full of birthday cards, Mother’s Day cards, and retirement cards. I asked her which ones brought her the greatest joy and she said that she only kept the ones with handwritten words inside. Greeting cards come with beautiful and thoughtful messages pre-written, but the most special cards are those that have an extra handwritten message by the people you love.

I immediately realized that I had been mimicking this behavior ever since my children were born over 30 years ago. I have an old hatbox that I keep my cards in! Anytime I receive a handwritten card, I put it in my hatbox instead of throwing it away. My mother helped me realize that there is still joy and comfort that these cards will bring me in the future.

We live in a very busy world that is dominated by technology. We text, we email, etc. It makes us more efficient in many ways—I know it helps me a great deal—but this communication cannot take the place of the very special messages inside my hatbox.

After finding my mom’s box of cards, I took a look inside my hatbox. I was surprised at what I experienced. I laughed, I cried at the beautiful memories, and I also felt like I touched many people’s lives. It was a journey looking back. I particularly paid attention to the handwritten messages and I have to say that those became more meaningful.

I quickly started searching for only those that had handwritten messages. Reading the cards made me pause and think. It made me slow down for a short time and reflect.

I believe I will go through my hatbox from time to time but I now know that it will be one of my prized possessions by the time I am 80. It will help me relax, it will help me go to sleep, and it will put a smile on my face every day.

Take those extra minutes to write your thoughts in the cards you give, and encourage your children to do the same. Those handwritten cards will be a gift that lasts a lifetime.


Teen Pregnancy: Prevention and Support

April 17, 2014

By Nely Bergsma

A pregnant teen holds her baby belly.

All stages of a child’s development have its challenges and the teen years are, by all means, no exception. By now, you have introduced life to your children, guided them as they explored and tried new things, and stood in support through the challenging times they faced. All in hopes that they will make good choices, be successful, and reach their life potential: Plan A. That is all a parent wants for his or her child.

Now that your child is a teenager, you continue to introduce, guide and support his or her growth. You talk about the importance of making good decisions. You’ve discussed topics such as drugs, alcohol, and sex. What about the topic of teen pregnancy?

How do you help prevent your teenager from becoming pregnant or getting someone pregnant? In my personal quest for direction, both as a mentor to teenage girls and a parent, I went straight to the source with these questions: teenagers themselves. The main theme in all of their responses was honesty. They want their parents to be honest with them. They don’t want to be lectured or threatened. They want realistic information. They welcome parents having ongoing conversations (examples below) with them about the challenges of parenting:

  • Becoming a teenage parent means you will be responsible for another human being for the rest of your life, even before yourself.
  • It means you may need to leave school, perhaps not go or hold off on going to college. You may have to delay or give up on the career you chose
  • You will need to find the means to financially support your child. What job can you get as a teenager that will allow you to do this?
  • You will need to decide where you want to live. Is the expectation to marry? Is the expectation to live with your parents?

So you’ve done everything you feel you could have to prepare your teenager. How will you, as a parent, address this issue, should it occur? Again, I asked. The overwhelming answer was again that they wouldn’t want to be lectured or threatened. They would want love, support, and understanding. They know they have disappointed you. They again welcome parents having conversations with them about Plan B:

  • Show him or her what a supportive parent you can be.
  • Help him or her to stay in school. Education is key to your child’s success.
  • Help your child create a budget to manage the care of his or her child. Can you help?
  • Help him or her determine where is the best place to live and where is the best place to raise a child. Can she or he remain at home until graduation?

While U.S. teen pregnancy rates are decreasing, teen pregnancy is a reality that parents need to consider. Just because you speak to your child about pregnancy does not mean that you are encouraging sexual activity. Your teenager may appear not to want to hear your perspective, but having ongoing conversations may prove successful in getting him or her to the finish line.


Couple Chat: Gender Roles

March 3, 2014

By Ana and Mario Vela

Ana and Mario Vela

Photography by Jennifer Schaffer Photography

In the Couple Chat series, we pose one or two topical questions to a couple and ask each person to answer privately. Each person then reads the other’s response and the couple discusses their thoughts on the topic. They share their discussion together in the reflection.

For today’s Couple Chat, we asked expectant parents Ana and Mario Vela about gender roles. Here’s what they said.

What traditional gender roles do you feel are important to honor with your child, if any? Why?

Ana: Growing up, gender roles were very prominent. The ones I enjoyed seeing celebrated the strength of the mother of the family. The mother tends to get the family unit together, and all members would respectfully obey their mothers’ wishes.

My daughter will be free to choose to live whatever life she wants, and I want her to feel confident and demand respect wherever she is. Women tend to be seen as a source of knowledge and compassion, and I would like to instill that in my daughter as well. She should learn to be thoughtful in the decisions she makes, and understand how it impacts others.

Mario: Before we knew we would be having a girl, we both always thought we would have a boy. One of my concerns was not having a traditional father figure. I created my archetype of a father figure through a collection of influences from role models and family influencers.

Now that we’re having a girl, I need to reflect on what my daughter will need from me as a father. I feel I have to be an even stronger figure for a daughter. I felt content and ready to be an example for a son, but I now have to be even better for my daughter. I need to reformulate my idea of a role model and use both male and female examples. For instance, my grandmother, who fought and led her life the way she wanted, is an example of a strong role model for my daughter.

What traditional gender roles do you want to ignore with your child, if any? Why?

Ana: Growing up in the Latino culture, there were several things I disliked about gender roles. My father constantly pushed me away anytime I wanted to spend any quality time with him. Several times I requested to go fishing with him and my brother, asked to help him fix the car, or just sit and watch some of his favorite western movies with him. He refused and would say that I was a girl and that I should be in the kitchen helping my mother.

That’s what I ended up doing—all the activities that were expected of me as a female: cooking, cleaning, playing with dolls, and wearing dresses. I ended up resenting it growing up, which caused friction between my mother and I as I constantly challenged these roles my parents and society were placing me in.

When I found out we were having a girl, I was excited that I had the opportunity to challenge gender roles with my daughter. I do not want her to experience these situations that only caused me heartache and confusion. As an adult, I am very grateful for the life skills my mother taught me. I just wish it had been something I wanted to learn, not a forced expectation of me.

Mario: Many times I’m at a loss for what a woman should strive to be. I always felt my son was going to have a responsibility to be a good man. I still struggle with what it means to be a good woman. Fortunately, I married Ana.
How do you think you can honor and ignore those roles when raising your child?

Ana: I think the best way to honor and ignore these roles with my daughter will be through not pointing them out at all. Modeling positive behavior and not limiting her interactions with either my husband or I should demonstrate to my daughter the best way we’d like her to interact with others and us.

I can’t imagine having any kind of conversation with my daughter in which I tell her that she has to be a certain way because she is a girl and not a boy. Now that my parents are grandparents and are helping raise my two nieces, I can definitely see that they have relaxed a bit regarding gender roles. I’m hoping that by adding another girl to the family, they will focus more on encouraging them to be strong, responsible, smart women, and encourage any interests they may have.

Mario: I want my daughter to learn from the strength and passion of my grandmother. I want her to learn of the irrational success of Ana. How she has become an amazing social climber, regardless of the poverty and abuse she faced, the limitations placed on her, the poor education she received, and the environment she lived in, all while being a woman. Ana is an amazing role model.

I can honor the positive gender roles by providing examples and a strong archetype of both men and women who help society, help their families, and help others. I can also teach her to care for herself and to understand the inherent value she possesses as a person.
I can teach her to understand the limitations of others and to not let them affect her own sense of self, her progress, and her potential to improve this world and the world around her.
Ana: Mario and I always thought that we were going to have a boy. This made Mario very comfortable, and me secretly uncomfortable. Since we found out we were actually having a girl, Mario has been worried about this role and I have felt very secure.

In this exercise, Mario expressed that he needs to be an even better father now that we’re having a daughter. We both agree that we want our daughter to feel strong and confident, and not be confronted with limitations.

I was surprised to discover that we both are worried about some of the interactions our daughter will have with our families, as they still engage in some of the gender roles that we do not want to promote with her. Mario wants to utilize his grandmother and myself as role models for our daughter. On the other hand, he was very surprised with my answer that gender roles do not have to be pointed out to our daughter at all. And he agreed with that concept.

Through this emotional exercise, I finally understand why I wanted to have a daughter – because I now have the opportunity to change the definition of gender roles with her. And now I also understand why Mario wanted a son – because growing up without a father, he wanted to change that experience into a positive one with a son.

Mario and I have both used our anger, frustrations, and struggles growing up to drive us to the successful lives we now live. Although that helped my success, I do not want my daughter’s success to be out of anger. I would rather her success be out of empowerment and through us as positive role models.


You’re Not Failing As a Parent

February 12, 2014

By Jessica Vician

There are good days and there are bad days, but at the end of the day, when you put your child to sleep, you know you did something right. You did a good job.

Parenting is tough. Sometimes it’s exhausting. You’re trying to raise a child to be better, brighter, and happier than you are. But no one, even your child, is perfect. Give yourself a break. You’re not failing—you’re on this site to seek answers, advice, or better yourself as a parent. That’s a great step and demonstrates your desire to be a better parent.

If you’re feeling down or struggling with parenthood, read on. I asked several parents, from newbies to grandparents, for advice to those feeling the pressure of being a perfect parent. Here’s what they said.

“Parenting is really hard. Parenting changes everything but it doesn’t change who you are.”

“Everyone feels that they’re failing as a parent at some point or another.”

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Look at acquaintances or friends who have older children and ask them how they handled situations that are similar to yours.”

“There are good days and there are bad days, but at the end of the day, when you put your child to sleep, you know you did something right. You did a good job.”

“Know that each child’s success is different and that’s okay.”

“Don’t be afraid to seek professional help if you need it.”

“Take a time out. Take a breather. If you’re mad, don’t react right away because once you say something, you can’t take it back.”

“It’s okay if some days you say ‘Being a mom is too hard.’ It happens.”

“Each situation is different. Just because something worked in the past with one child doesn’t mean it will work with another. Learn to adapt to new situations and don’t blame yourself if one approach doesn’t work. Try another.”

“You’re not alone. We can always do better, but sometimes we only have enough in us to give ‘good enough.’ And that’s okay.”

Thanks for reading, and thanks for visiting the site. Remember that just being here makes you a good parent. You care so much about your child that you’re seeking additional help and advice. Meet other parents and exchange advice in the forum.

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