Monday, 28 July 2014

The Importance of Dressing our Children well.

Fads come and go among the sisters of my church. The most recent one that I have seen is Carol Tuttle's "Dress Your Truth" Programs and Books. Below is an exert from the Carol Tuttle website where this 'service' is describe:

"Dressing Your Truth is an educational service designed to teach you about your unique Type of beauty, give you insights and tools to feel more confident and look more beautiful, and provide products that make your shopping experience easy and affordable.
This practical, intuitive beauty makeover system empowers you to look and feel your best."
The concept of our appearance representing something about our personality is something that is universally recognized. I personally love the below synopsis from the website

"Its totally true that the clothes we wear represent the perfect reflection of who we really are. Besides all the instruments we have in order to communicate, our clothes represent probably the most important one. They show our personality, the way we see ourselves and the social group in which we want to be included. Before any verbal contact, a special communication takes place, which is made through the clothes we wear. These will say a lot about you, about your lifestyle and personality."

I would like to delve into how our dressing can affect our KIDS!
Firstly, lets look at a scenario....

Miss 10 has a mother that does not dress up. She rarely wears makeup and prefers bare feet to heals. Her hair is pulled back in a pony tail routinely every morning and remains that way until she flops into bed at night. This mother is busy, she has kids to get ready for school, church callings and a household to maintain. This results in her wearing her standard uniform of Capri's and a Tee day in and day out.......

Sound familiar?

There is nothing wrong with having bad days, with deciding that today I am going for comfort instead of looks. It is when this is your go to look every day that there is a problem. You see, Miss 10 is learning about the world of  a woman through your eyes. If we don't show our daughters the importance of grooming, than what values are they going to carry into adult hood with them? Whether we like it or not, we live in a superficial world. Whether we like it or not, the way we present ourselves will have an impact on how we are treated. ESPECIALLY as women.

So, what can you do? I have 4 girls. I make sure that at least every other day they see me dress in something that they think is pretty. This may just be a cute necklace or a skirt. I wear perfume and I make sure that I have lipstick in my purse at all times. I want my girls to grow up taking pride in themselves and the way that they present themselves to the world.

Which brings me to the second part of this post....

How the way we dress our children affects them.....

I have dealt with this first hand. I have children that I love very much visit in dirty, ugly clothes. Sometimes they will visit right after school and let me tell you, what they wear to interact with their peers is NOT acceptable. They frequently get ready for an outing and forget footwear and brushing their teeth is not something that is habitual for them, we have to remind them.
When the kids turn up looking scruffy and unkept it could just mean that they have been having fun being kids, right!?This is true,  It is  when family vacations are taken and the kids are wearing "grubbies" the whole time that I get concerned. No one is too busy to teach their child the importance of wearing unstained clothes. Mothers, if you have clothes that are faded and torn, throw them out! Or reserve them for yard play only... DO NOT dress your child for school in faded pants that look like they have been in use since the 1980s. Take PRIDE in the appearance of your family. When we negate to teach our children how to groom themselves properly we are setting them up for ridicule. Their friends, especially pre-teen to teens age bracket, will judge them on appearance, so while it is very noble to carry the motto "beauty is on the inside", this is not going to help a 12 year old find acceptance among their peers.

What does this say about the person who should be caring for them?
When your children present to the world in old clothes, unkept and shoeless it really does say alot about you as a parent. When I see little girls with ribbons in their hair , shoes on their feet and a smile on their face, I can see that her parents take pride in caring for their child and presenting her to the world in her best light. Remember, the people who see us dressed up on Sundays will likely see us during the week as well..... When we show up one day a week looking our best and look like hobos the rest of the time, it says that you are about keeping up appearance rather than maintaining a standard for the family. When a child has clothes that are 3 sizes too big for them every-time I see them, It tells me that you are too self absorbed to take your child's clothes in so that they fit.

We live in a world where whether we agree with it or not, appearance is defiantly important. Isn't it only fair on our kids that we present them, us and the whole family, as best we can?

How my Daughters Step-Mom helped me become a better Mother!

How my daughter's Step-Mom made me a better Mother
I know there are many pieces out there about mothers and step-mothers at war. This, to me, seems to be one of the most selfish things either of the children's parents (yes, step-parent IS a parent) can do.
The children have already seen far too much unnecessary heartache with the divorce of their parents. No matter how young the child was, or how long ago the divorce took place, believe me, the kids still feel the effects long term. Every holiday that is spent with just one of their parents, every weekend handover, every time they have to explain to friends that they are busy when a particular event is on because they are spending the weekend with the non custodial parent, their little hearts feel it. So why would anyone want to create unnecessary conflict for the kids to be wedged in the middle of?

This woman below has taught me a lot about being a step-mom. Before I go any further let me address a few things you might be thinking right now. 1) sure you have a great relationship with her, but you should meet MY ex's new partner. 2) I am the mother, I shouldn't have to share my role with anyone 3) The kids don't need her, they have me....

My daughters step mother is in fact the woman that my ex-husband was having an affair with while we were in marriage counselling trying to save our marriage (she was not aware that this was the case at the time). Logically, I should resent her..... I don't!  Why? Because she is a wonderful person and, more importantly, she has been wonderful to my daughter.

Best step mother I could have ever wished for my daughter, This is Kathryn with her Daughter.
Kathryn went above and beyond to ensure that my daughter was loved and cared for while in her home. She read stories to her at night, played dress up, taught my baby how to cook and amazingly, she spoke about me often in my absence and build a bridge between my daughter and I. HER attitude towards me is what made my daughter feel safe in speaking about her love for me, and prevented her from feeling as though she had to show loyalty to one side of her family versus another. This resulted in my child being free to love all the people in her life. Me, her dad and her step mum and dad. She knew that she had 4 parents and that we all loved her. Why did Kathryn, or rather how did Kathryn show this grace? Shouldn't she feel threatened given I was the EX. Why like a lot of step mothers didn't  she have 'something to prove'?
Kathryn made a choice. She chose to be to my daughter, what she would want a step mom to be to her child. She sent me mothers day cards and we could talk openly over the phone about my baby's progress. We worked together on issues that came up, because lets face it, DAD's play a different role to Moms. While it was between me and my childs Dad as to what decisions were made regarding our childs care and upbringing, it would be naive to think that our partners who we were forming a life with, and whom would be affected by any decisions, woudn't have a say. Some parents don't feel comfortable talking to the step parent about the big issues, and prefer to just talk to the ex. Either way issues are addressed, I was well aware that any decisions that my ex would make and consult me on, would first be talked over with his partner. Whether I liked it or not, either directly or indirectly, this woman was going to be contributing to the decision making. I could do it with her, or I could allow her to do it from behind the scene through my ex. Thank-fully we were able to talk. We both loved my child and wanted what was best for her....and this meant that most of the time we could work well together, infact, she was often my Ally when my ex was being unreasonable. She was my daughters step mother, and she became one of my best friends.

As wonderful as Kathryn is, I cannot give all the credit to our family functioning. I had a part to play too. I could have refused to talk with her. My ex was never good at being organised and this would have meant a lot of quarreling between the two of us. I chose to talk with Kathryn and allow her to work with me on what was planned for my child, instead of having massive arguments with my ex. This meant that instead of fighting around the my daughter and conflict, she was  watching two people who loved them very much, work together for their benefit. It also meant that my baby was not able to play one against the other. What happened in one home, happened in the other. If there were issues raised we could talk directly and not get a biast story from a little girl trying to be an opportunist.

Kathryn taught me that being a Mom and a step-mom is about getting past our own insecurities and hurt. How we feel towards step parents should come second to what is best for the child. Being a parent is about putting your children first. Lets face it, if Kathryn was going to be my daughters step mother there was no use in me pretending she didn't exist, ESPECIALLY when she would be providing care for my child. It took courage for Kathryn to take the high road and stretch out the olive branch for the sake of my daughter. It took courage for me to accept the olive branch... but how could I not? the fact that she was willing to extend a hand of friendship showed me that she did love my daughter and have her best interests at heart.

For those who are scared of being replaced... a child's real mother can never be replaced, so long as they are being just that... a MOTHER. Mother's put their children first. They avoid conflict and what their children to grow into stable, emotionally reliable adults. This means creating a family for them... one that includes the step parent!