Saturday, April 30, 2011

This article reminds me how we are always finding a balance as a parent in quality time mixed with personal time mixed with never ending guilt.

Stop Putting Your Kids First

It wasn't too many years ago that parents believed children should be "seen and not heard." Now they've become the center of our universe. But these have not been good years for the parents who hover over their kids' every thought and action and become slaves to their every desire. According to recent studies, college students who have helicopter parents were more likely to be neurotic and dependent, and are "the least happy with college and ... are doing less well academically and socially."

I can read the T-shirt now: "I spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on tutors, enrichment classes and Baby Einstein CDs and all I got was a neurotic kid."

But, forget about the poor kids -- Margaret K. Nelson, a sociology professor at Middlebury College and the author of Parenting Out of Control: Anxious Parents in Uncertain Times is much more worried about the parents -- specifically, the parents' marriage:

Working a demanding job while paying painstaking attention to one's children leaves little time for maintaining a marriage. A study by Robin Wilson of the Washington and Lee University School of Law reports that women with MBAs get divorced or separated more often than those who have only a bachelor's degree, while women with law or medical degrees are more likely to divorce or separate than their male counterparts.

Those kinds of statistics haven't gone unnoticed, so it's not surprising that there has been an increasingly vocal group challenging parents to change their ways, among them David Code, an Episcopal minister and family coach. In his 2009 book, Put Your Marriage Before Your Kids, Code writes, "To raise healthy kids, simply put your marriage first and your children second. For many of today's couples, the children are priority No. 1 one and marriage is priority No. 10 -- and few of us make it past the top three priorities on our daily to-do list."

Psychiatrist Michelle Goland agrees: "The mistake many moms make is they believe that if they are a good mother, their husband will be fine and he will understand, but in reality, the husband may feel pushed out of the parenting role and begrudgingly gives up trying to have a relationship with his wife."

Adds author and cognitive behaviorist Judith S. Beck, "Parents need not, and should not, sacrifice their needs (and some of their desires) for the sake of their children. They should be able to make decisions based on what is good for individual family members, including themselves, and what is good for the family as a whole."

It isn't necessarily easy for the moms who do that, however -- just ask author Ayelet Waldman, whose proclamation that she loves her husband, author Michael Chabon, more than their four kids caused such an outcry that she felt compelled to examine modern-day parenting in her book, Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities and Occasional Moments of Grace. Still, more and more parenting experts are encouraging parents to chill and refocus.

But what if you're divorced, as I am? What if you have no marriage to work on, no spouse to pamper and put first? What if there's just you? Can a divorced person put his or her needs first, before the kids?

I wouldn't want to admit to doing that too loudly at the next PTA gathering.

"Good" single parents are supposed to sacrifice for their kids, or so says single mom Shoshana Alexander, a founding editor of the Utne Reader. Researching for her book In Praise of Single Parents, she found that, "All of the successful single parents I interviewed ... had, early on, decided to make their children the central focus of their lives."

Somehow, that doesn't seem right -- or healthy.

Why would single parents have to go beyond the normal sacrifices that make up good parenting? A single mom who's frazzled trying to put her kids first isn't helping her kids; she's just making herself unhappy and unhealthy. And, as the saying goes, if momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

But if single parents take care of our own needs, we're seen as selfish. Worse, we guilt-trip ourselves, believing that we're failing as a parent if we take time out for some personal indulgences, dating or even sex. It's worse if our kids don't see their other parent that much, or at all; it's easy to overcompensate while trying to take on the role of both parents. And so we fall into the single parent trap, forgetting that if we don't take care of ourselves, we turn into miserable, stressed-out, crappy parents.

I'd rather follow the advice of Kate Winslet, who says she started exercising post-divorce because "my way out of everything, has been really taking care of myself. I think that comes from an awareness that my children really need me, and they need me to be the healthiest version of myself that I can possibly be."

It's why airlines tell parents to put on their oxygen mask first before they assist their kids. You're not going to be much use to them if you pass out first.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sugar Plum Fairy doesn’t want apology from critic who called her fat

I posted an earlier article about Jenifer Ringer, having a baby and getting back into dancing. No one is harder on themselves than a professional dancer. Dancers do not need critics personifying their personal beliefs on a new, young mom.

New York City Ballet dancer Jenifer Ringer said Monday that she doesn't want an apology from a New York Times critic who called her fat in a review of "The Nutcracker."

"As a dancer I do put myself out there to be criticized, and my body is part of my art form," she said on NBC's "Today" show. "At the same time, I'm not overweight. I do have, I guess, a more womanly body type than the stereotypical ballerina."

Ringer said different body types should be celebrated in ballet, not criticized.

The dancer suffered from anorexia when she first joined the company. She left the company, recovered, and recently had a baby. Online, writers and fans leaped to her defense, which she said surprised and encouraged her.

"It did make me feel bad about myself, but I really had to tell myself it was one person's opinion out of the 2,000 people that were there last night," she said.

New York Times critic Alastair Macauley wrote in a Nov. 29 review that Ringer, as the Sugar Plum Fairy, "looked as if she'd eaten one sugar plum too many."

He defended himself in a follow-up column, saying that no one expressed outrage when he criticized Ringer's male dance partner for also appearing overweight. "Fat, apparently, is not so much a feminist issue as a sexist one. Sauce for the goose? Scandal. Sauce for the gander? No problem," he wrote, adding that he also has body image issues. "I am severe — but ballet, as dancers know, is more so."

Yahoo News, By Liz Goodwin, Mon Dec 13, 12:57 pm ET

Dancer Jenifer Ringer: Behind the Scenes

Having danced for years and now teaching dance, I found this article very relateable in trying to find the balance as a mom and dancer.

The Many Sides of Jenifer
Working Mother magazine, December/January 2011

A classic beauty, Jenifer glows with warmth and humanity on stage. In person she’s sweet, kind, real.

By: Barbara Turvett

It’s 7:58 p.m., and the high-stakes part of Jenifer Ringer’s workday is about to begin. As she hovers in the wings of the David H. Koch Theater in New York City’s Lincoln Center, about to present herself to an audience of thousands, the raven-haired, classically beautiful dancer calms and centers herself in a way most ballerinas can’t. “I picture my daughter, Grace, all curled up asleep in her bed,” she says. “Compared to that, all this doesn’t seem so big. Becoming a mom has definitely changed things for me.”

Click here for a behind-the-scenes gallery of Jenifer's life.

Opting to have a child has made the 20-year veteran dancer of the renowned New York City Ballet (NYCB) an exception to the ballerina rule. “Few dancers become mothers during their performing years because it’s such an intense, self-focused career,” says NYCB ballet mistress Kathleen Tracy, once a dancer and now a mom. “Having a baby can take you offstage for more than a year. And I know dancers who came back after a pregnancy only to develop a barrage of injuries—back problems, even serious ligament and tendon injuries—that they never experienced before giving birth.” But none of this deterred Jenifer, who knew she wanted to have children.

Her husband of ten years, former NYCB principal dancer James Fayette, helped make it happen for both of them in 2005 when he transitioned to a career as a union representative for performing artists. “James was offered a job, and he decided to take it,” Jenifer says. “He was ready to stop dancing, and it gave us more stability to start a family, because transitions out of professional dance can be iffy.”

So as she stands backstage before a performance, Jenifer is grateful for her enduring career as well as the chance to be a mom. “It’s a long day,” she admits. On days like this one, she takes a class at 10:30 a.m., rehearses from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., catches her breath for an hour before heading backstage for costume, hair and makeup, then stars in one full-length or two short ballets.

The past two decades have been both exciting and challenging for Jenifer. Now 37—an age when most of us may only be on the cusp of career success—this critically acclaimed senior principal dancer is several years older than most of the other top ballerinas in the company. And in a job where requirements are perhaps antithetical to the weight gain of pregnancy and the demands of motherhood, she’s one of only three moms among the current crop of nearly 50 NYCB ballerinas.

Success and Struggles
Jenifer wasn’t one of those little girls who dreamed of being a ballerina. Quite the opposite: “I tried ballet at age four and five and found it really boring,” she says. But when she was 10, she watched a friend take a class with a teacher who had been a professional ballet dancer and thought it looked interesting. So she went back to ballet classes. “I found out I love to dance—and I was good at it,” says Jenifer.

When her family moved from South Carolina to Virginia, she got the opportunity to attend the Washington School of Ballet in DC. “My mom drove me into the city and back, more than an hour each way, so I could get to class,” she recalls, adding that her parents were continually supportive of her dancing. Logistical luck hit again when she was a teen:Her father’s employer transferred him to New York City, and Jenifer entered the School of American Ballet, the official school of NYCB. When her parents moved yet again, Jenifer stayed. She attended the school on full scholarship, very quickly became an apprentice with NYCB and was asked to be a company member in 1990 at age 16.

The wide-eyed dancer was thrilled to join the iconic company and was given exciting solo opportunities early on, working with the accomplished choreographer Jerome Robbins and originating principal roles in new ballets. But she was very young—and very unprepared. “I didn’t know how to handle the pressures of this tough career, this adult world,” she says. “My whole sense of self was wrapped up in ballet and in my appearance. If things weren’t going well, my self-esteem would plummet.

I would eat to comfort myself, and I gained weight.” Jenifer insists dancers at NYCB are absolutely not asked to be underweight, but they do need to be fit and have athletes’ bodies to meet the demands of strenuous choreography. “I definitely got heavier than that,” she says, admitting that she struggled with bouts of both anorexia and compulsive eating. Although she was promoted to soloist in 1995, she continued to suffer. She put on her game face even as weight gain and injuries plagued and sidelined her. “I eventually got to the point where I couldn’t dance onstage anymore, and that was where I had found my greatest joy,” she says.

In summer 1997 Jenifer left NYCB by mutual agreement, with the assurance that she could always come back. “In my head, I quit ballet completely,” she says. The next four weeks were a total blur as she hid in her apartment, watched TV and ate. Some months later, she ran into a former ballet teacher who told her to come and take a class. “She told me, ‘I don’t care how you look. You need to dance.’ That was the start of my healing process.”

Back to the Barre
Her colleague and friend James Fayette, who was often her dance partner, was also a part of this process. Prior to her leave, he had asked Jenifer to costar in a performance of The Nutcracker with him in upstate New York. Her first reaction was no way. “At the time I was about forty pounds overweight, and I said to him, ‘I’m huge, and you’re not going to want to do this with me.’ And he said, ‘No, I really want to do this with you.’” So she said yes.

“It was a miracle that they could find a tutu that fit me!” Jenifer says, laughing. “That was the first time I had been onstage since I quit. I made peace with myself, and I know it’s corny, but I looked in the mirror and said, ‘You know, I’m beautiful.’” It was then, when she accepted herself at the weight she was, that she recaptured her joy in dancing. “James sweetly looked at me with eyes that were not the eyes of the ballet world,” she adds. “He was a real friend to me.”

As Jenifer regained her sense of self—one that was as much about selflove as about her love of dancing—she began to learn how to be a healthier person overall. She started losing weight. As she conquered her eating disorders, she also earned a degree in English at Fordham University (where she had already been enrolled), took odd jobs to support herself and danced a few more gigs with James. A year after leaving NYCB, she approached ballet master in chief Peter Martins and asked if she could return to the company. “They were very generous in letting me come back,” she says.

Forward with Family
Jenifer and James’s relationship evolved into a romantic one. “He claims he had been in love with me for eleven years; I was oblivious to it,” she says. They were married in 2000. Both were eventually promoted to principal dancer at NYCB, and they continued to be cast opposite each other until James left the company. “Overall, I don’t miss dancing,” he says, “but I do genuinely miss dancing with Jenifer, who is the perfect balance of self-sustaining execution and trusting abandon.” He’s especially proud of her as he watches her grow as a working mother. He knows full well the pressures and stress that can accompany being a principal dancer for a major ballet company. But, he says, “Jenifer’s efforts to make her family a priority give her life balance, and having Grace has only enhanced the sense of security and support she enjoys in a professional dance world where anything can happen and often does.”

The birth of their daughter in 2008 meant that Jenifer would take another full year off from dancing—but this leave was filled with happiness. “I loved being pregnant,” Jenifer says. “Many ballerinas dance into their eighth or ninth month. I danced until about the fourth month, and then I just stopped. I was kind of loving being pregnant and not being a dancer at the same time. It was another healing process, because I watched my body get big again, but this time it was for such a beautiful reason.” It took her three months after giving birth to get back to the studio to work out because baby Grace had colic and nobody slept much. Jenifer breastfed for six months and loved that, too. She returned to the stage after a year away. “It was emotionally difficult to resubmit to the confines of the ballet world because I had separated so completely,” she recalls. “But not going back was not an option for financial reasons and because I do
love my work.”

Balancing On Pointe and Off
During Jenifer’s nine-month day-and-night NYCB schedule, along with occasional out-of-town gigs during the off-season, life can be hectic. She has Mondays off; James works weekdays. They feel fortunate to have found a babysitter who works a four-day flexible schedule and is available from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. when they need her. “I often don’t get my final work schedule until 7:30 the night before, so I can text her then and say, ‘Tomorrow your schedule is….’ She’s been with us for a year, and it works.” Jenifer and James tag-team the rest of the days and evenings. “James is amazing,” she says. “He’s very much a hands-on dad who races home from work so he can be with Grace.” And the feeling is mutual: James praises Jenifer as a thoughtful, devoted mom who “plans and prepares, anticipating what Grace needs to keep her satisfied and happy.”

Jenifer is never happier than when she can spend time with Grace. They walk from their Manhattan apartment to a nearby park and play. “Grace is a wild child,” Jenifer says with a twinkle. “She loves to pretend and has a big imagination, so our time together is often pretending and acting out whatever book she’s into—lately it’s the Fancy Nancy book series.” Not surprisingly, Grace also loves to dance and is very coordinated, but her parents are wary of encouraging a dance career, knowing how tough it can be. “If she has a passion for it and really wants it, well, then…but we’re not going to push her into it!” Jenifer adds, laughing.

Since becoming parents, she and James haven’t quite figured out how to find couple time, especially because Jenifer often works nights. Occasionally they have a date night on Monday, if one of their parents is in town to be with Grace. Sometimes they’ll meet for lunch or even a movie if they can grab a couple of daytime hours. “We’re pretty low-key,” says Jenifer. “I eat dinner after performances. If he’s still awake when I get home, we see each other, but sometimes he’s asleep.” As for “me time,”

Jenifer says it’s simply about reading a book, or even turning on music and cleaning the house. “It sounds a little strange, but the house gets so chaotic that if I actually have a half hour and I can restore some sort of order, I feel better.” Occasionally she sneaks in a guilty pleasure or two, like watching Battlestar Galactica on TV while eating Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup ice cream.

Jenifer is well aware that she’s in the latter stage of her dance career. What’s next? “I’d like to write, which is another really hard career,” she quips. “I’ve written some children’s stories, so if there is a dream, it’s to get those illustrated and published.” Another dream: to have more kids and become a stay-at-home mom— “maybe until they’re in school.”

But for now, Jenifer remains an elegant and incandescent dancer. “I’m always amazed how she maintains her professionalism and ballet technique through each season, especially knowing that she’s had to deal with sleepless nights, illnesses and temper tantrums,” says her friend Kathleen Tracy.

In fact, Jenifer suggests that being a mom has freed up her dancing. “I think of the way Grace looks at the world with such joy and innocence and wonder, and I realize that I’m one of those people that maybe can express that. That I can give the audience a bit of that sense of joy and wonder. In ballet you of course want to be perfect, but I think that that’s not necessarily what gives the audience joy. Grace helps me let go of some of that perfectionism. Now my work is less about achieving perfection and more about what I’m giving.”

Jenifer’s fitness tips
Work on your center. Pilates, which does a lot of work on your core muscles, has been a huge help in getting me back into shape. In fact, any kind of stomach exercises you can do after giving birth, like exhaling and pulling your belly button toward your spine, are so good for you.

Keep stretching. I recommend stretching after your workout. you should always stretch after your muscles are warm and hold until you feel a stretch—but not pain—for 30 seconds. Be sure not to overstretch. Stretching at any time can help keep your body supple and youthful.

Walk off tension. To relieve stress, I like to take walks outside. Walking and just looking at the sky or a body of water immediately helps me feel better.

End Homework Hassle

I like how this article stresses routines. Kids need routines, no matter what they say, all kids need consistency in their lives. I hope you find some helpful tips here.

End Homework Hassle

After seven hours in the classroom, who wants to sit down and do homework? Certainly not most 6- to 8-year-olds. They would rather play with their friends, participate in an after-school activity, or simply unwind in front of the TV. Because let's face it: Homework may help your child learn, but it's still a major chore.

"Kids this age are getting used to the idea of having to do assignments on their own," says Cathryn Tobin, MD, author of The Parent's Problem Solver: Smart Solutions for Everyday Discipline and Behavior Problems. "And many of them are more concerned with socializing than with schoolwork."

So don't be too surprised if your child complains about her workload: According to a survey by Public Agenda, a nonprofit research organization, almost half of parents said they have serious arguments with their children about homework. But it doesn't need to be a source of stress. These strategies will make studying a lot easier on you both.

* Start with a snack and exercise. You can't expect your child to focus when he has an empty stomach. Robin Lanahan, of Portland, Oregon, keeps turkey jerky, protein bars, bottled water, and trail mix in the car for her son, Owen, 7. "He's always starving when I pick him up from school, so the first thing I do is give him something to eat," she says. Lanahan then lets Owen run around the playground for a while. "By the time we walk in the door, he's ready to do his homework."
* Establish a routine. Ask your child to suggest a regular time when she'd like to do her schoolwork (such as when you're making dinner). Have a backup plan in place for days when she has a piano lesson or soccer practice. If your child has a playdate, suggest that the kids take a break to do their homework together. And your child may want to do his reading assignment on the ride home from school, since this makes good use of "dead time."
* Help him get organized. Set up a well-lit work area that includes a desk, sharpened pencils and erasers, a children's dictionary, and color-coded folders for different subjects. And let your child do homework at the kitchen table if he wants to. Just make sure he works independently rather than taking advantage of this location to ask you endless questions.
* Put her in charge. The most important purpose of homework is to teach your child responsibility for completing an assignment. If she forgets to bring home her spelling words, have her call a friend to get them. While it's fine to offer gentle reminders ("Remember that you have math and reading assignments on Wednesdays"), don't nag your child to get her work done. Let her deal with the consequences if she doesn't.
* Free up his schedule. If your child has too many extracurricular activities, he'll have trouble finding time for homework. He'll also miss out on downtime, which is important for sparking creative thinking. To keep Owen from feeling overscheduled, Lanahan limits him to just one extracurricular activity that takes place no more than twice a week. "On the other days, he comes home, does his homework, then plays outside with his friends," she says.
* Don't break it up. Once your child begins her homework, encourage her to complete it before getting on the computer or playing "one quick video game." Rather than refreshing a child's focus, frequent or lengthy breaks can distract her and make it easy for her to procrastinate.
* Be a role model. When her son, Ari, 7, is working on his math homework, Julie Hoffman, of Baton Rouge, makes a point of sorting her mail and paying bills. "I want him to see me working alongside him and to know that what he's doing will have a practical application in his life," she says.
* Stay positive. Praise your child's good work, and don't overreact to his errors. When he asks you to test him on his spelling words, say "great" each time he gets one right. If he makes a mistake, say "almost," spell it correctly, and have him try again.
* Give her guidance, not answers. It's fine to assist your child with her homework, but never do an assignment for her. "This robs a child of her pride of ownership of the task and creates a pattern that is hard to break," says Cathy Vatterott, PhD, associate professor of education at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. "Homework is her job, not yours."

Does your child have too much homework?

The National Education Association and the PTA recommend a maximum of 10 minutes of homework per grade level per night. But according to a University of Michigan study, many kids this age are doing up to three times that amount. If your child seems stressed out by her workload, your first step is to attach a note to the assignment, indicating how much time your child spent on the work and why you think she had trouble ("It was too complex"). If you don't hear back, schedule a face-to-face conference with the teacher. This will help you understand her approach to assignments and is often the best way to work out a compromise. Your last resort is to lobby the PTA. Rallying other parents to the cause may force the principal to take action.

Copyright © 2006 Meredith Corporation. Originally published in the October 2006 issue of Parents magazine.

Win the Homework Wars

I like this article as it offers suggestions to parents on how to adjust homework time to the child's temperament.

Parents Magazine, February 2011

As a mom of seven, I'm a seasoned veteran of the homework trenches. I've valiantly soldiered on despite my kids' complaints about hundreds of take-home tests and hands-on projects. When it comes to hitting the books, it's clear from early on that what's effective with one child doesn't necessarily work with another. Knowing your kid's best study style can help reduce school-night skirmishes and set your young scholar up for success.
Studying Strategies

The Procrastinator

This kid dreams up so many things to do after school that there's just no time left for homework. By the end of the night, he hasn't completed any assignments, yet he feels that he's not to blame.

Battle Plan Tell your child he has just one hour a day to fill with other activities before buckling down to work. Set the timer, and strictly adhere to it. If he's constantly stalling by calling other kids to get the assignment, ask his teacher to give you a list of the week's work. (Some post the info on the school's website.)

You might think a procrastinator would be more efficient in a quiet place, but some do better in a noisy area, says Cathy Quinn, a tutor in Ossining, New York. One of her students works at the kitchen table. With his mom nearby and a lot of foot traffic, he stops making excuses and digs in. "Being in a busy environment helps him focus," Quinn says.

The Whiner

The minute she unzips her backpack, the gripes start to flow -- her teacher is too unfair, the work is too boring, her classmates are too bossy. She'll continue to nitpick until bedtime, when you'll realize that her homework is barely finished.

Battle Plan Suggest that she visualize putting all the unhappy parts of her day into a big box, and invite her to tell you about them once her homework is done. If she starts to complain before her assignments are completed, remind her that complaining isn't allowed until she's finished her work. Once she has, let her moan and groan to her heart's content.

That said, don't automatically discount your child's bellyaching. If she frequently doesn't understand the assignments or has a staggering amount of work, help her figure out what's expected and check in with her teacher about the level of the homework.

The Delegator

It seems like this kid is actually game to tackle assignments until you realize that you're the one doing all the work.

Battle Plan He's figured out that you can get his duties done faster -- and better -- than he can, so he'll nicely solicit your assistance. "If you find that you're always getting conned into doing your child's work, call him on it," says Tracy Dennis, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at Hunter College of the City University of New York. Boosting his confidence is key. "Reassure him that you're not leaving him high and dry and that you're willing to make it a team effort -- if he takes the lead," she says.

The Hurrier

She's so eager to get to the fun part of the evening that she rushes through her assignments. As a result, they're barely legible, riddled with errors, and often misplaced entirely.

Battle Plan Establish how much TV watching, video-game playing, or other entertainment your child is permitted during each weekday. Encourage her to take her time with her homework and remind her that even if she finishes it in a flash, she still won't be allowed additional time in front of the TV, for example. Once your child sees that there's nothing to be gained by rushing, she may pace herself on her own.

You might also try breaking her homework into parts. For example, give her three math problems to solve, then ask her to check her work before asking her to work on three more. "This will help your child get in the habit of slowing down a little," says Quinn.

The Perfectionist

This student hyperfocuses, spending so long on one project that other assignments go undone. As the night wears on and you both realize that there's a lot of untouched homework, he has a meltdown -- and you come close to one.

Battle Plan Help your child see the big picture by writing down the day's assignments on a large sheet of paper, using a different color marker for each subject. Together, map out the total amount of time he'll spend on his homework and roughly how long he should devote to each task.

"Let your child know that everything he does doesn't have to be flawless," suggests Dr. Dennis. Try to tone down your praise when he gets something right -- this should temper his emotions when he gets something wrong. Also turn his mistakes into lessons, Dr. Dennis advises. If he gets an incorrect answer, say, "That's not quite right. How else can we approach it?" Your question will invite him to think creatively about how to rework the problem.

Originally published in the February 2011 issue of Parents magazine.

Legal Eagle Gloria Allred

I was inspired by this quick story of a high school teacher turned woman's right activist.

By: Gloria Allred, Working Mother December/January 2011

She takes on many high-profile legal cases. But the former high school teacher and mom of an adult daughter sees herself primarily as a warrior for women’s rights.

I can’t afford to buy into fear. Fear doesn’t produce results. Only strength and power get results.

I gave birth to my daughter when I was in college. When I divorced her father, I moved back to live with my parents. If not for my mom’s help with my daughter, I would not have been able to finish college and get a full-time job.

I taught high school in Philadelphia while commuting to New York University to earn my master’s degree in english education. I was a public-school teacher for six and a half years.

While in my thirties, I attended law school and earned my law degree from loyola university school of law in L.A. this was during my second marriage. I thought everybody worked 14 hours a day, six days a week. My father always did and so did I.

I’ve had the same law partners [Allred, Maroko & Goldberg] for 35 years, since law school.

We take on women’s rights cases. No other private law firm in the country handles women’s rights cases and has won hundreds of millions of dollars for victims as we have.

I was called a lot of names when I successfully filed a charge of sex discrimination against the then all-male celebrity friars club in new york city. The club settled the case with me, and I became the first woman to have lunch there. In settlement, I required that the club accept women for membership.

I’m a warrior who lives in a war zone for women. I can’t be deterred or intimidated. People aren’t used to seeing women not governed by fear. I forge forward and win.

When women are outspoken, they’re called the b-word—bitch or butch. but that tells me the other side has no good argument. That’s why they resort to name-calling.

My clients are mostly women, and I stand up for them and with them if I find them credible.

There are lots of tears in my office. Women are usually in trouble when they come to see me. I tell them: “first we cry, then we fight.”

I raise awareness for easy access to legal resources. I am proud to be a spokesperson for, which provides names of attorneys in every state throughout the nation.

I’m proud of my grandson and of my granddaughter, who was born, fittingly, on women’s equality day.

I’m 69, but there’s no possibility that I will retire. there’s such a huge need among women to have their rights protected. I am driven to do as much as I can for them while I’m here.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Helping Your Child Deal with Criticism

It's hard as a mom to keep my "mama bear" at bay when I see my kids hurting from comments, but I also think many parents have gotten away from helping their kids deal with these comments. "Helicopter" parents tend to shield their child and deal with a situation themselves then allow their child develop skills on dealing with critism. I like this article because it offers suggestion on this sensitive issue. This article was found in Parent magazine, March 2011 issue.

Scenarios to Help Your Child Learn Constructive Criticism

My friend's 6-year-old daughter, Caitlyn, was at her BFF's house, and she began to whine about the board game they were playing. The other girl's mom jumped in and told her, "That's not how we talk to each other in this family." Caitlyn immediately shut down and said that she wanted to go home.
No one likes to be criticized, but negative feedback can be particularly difficult for 5- and 6-year-olds. Even if the criticism seems constructive, your child may lash out, blame someone else, or withdraw, depending on the situation. However, you can help her understand its true purpose: to learn about her strengths and weaknesses and work to change her shortcomings because this will help her become a successful adult, says Parents advisor Jenn Berman, Psy.D., author of The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy, Confident Kids. These scenarios will give you pointers to steer her in the right direction.

Scenario: Your Child Is Criticized by a Teacher
A teacher wrote your daughter's name on the board for talking when she wasn't called on. Your daughter tells you that she hates her teacher.
Handle It Right Your first instinct may be to punish or lecture her, but her heated response is your cue she's already upset. A better approach: Empathize with her feelings of embarrassment, suggests Rebecca Cortes, Ph.D., a developmental psychologist at the University of Washington, in Seattle. Resist the temptation to have a lengthy discussion. Keep it simple with something like, "I can see you're upset; that's how people feel when they're embarrassed. Sometimes when people feel that way, they also feel frustrated and angry. It's okay to have those emotions, and while you can always talk to me about them, it's not okay to express those negative feelings in the classroom."

Scenario: Your Child Is Criticized by a Friend's Mother
A friend's mother told your son on a playdate not to call a toy "stupid." You heard him reply, "Why not? My mom lets me use that word."
Handle It Right Yes, you've let him say the word on occasion, as long as he's not describing a person. But a child who is ashamed about being reprimanded often tries to deal with the feeling by arguing or being belligerent. This is a good time to talk to him about how there are different rules in different places and the importance of respecting them. Give him the words to explain next time why he acted the way he did ("Sorry, I didn't know about the rule"), and then teach him the phrase: "Do you mind if I ask why?" If he is curious (why shouldn't he call a toy stupid, for example?), it's a polite way for him to question something.

Scenario: Your Child Is Criticized by a Coach
The T-ball coach asks your child to stop daydreaming during practice, and she bursts into tears.
Handle It Right Once she's calm, help her see that the coach was looking out for her because she could get hit in the head by the ball or miss an important instruction. Ask her why she burst into tears. If she was upset about what the other kids would think, let her know that her reaction probably got a lot more attention than the coach's initial comments. Then teach her an appropriate response, like "Got it. Thanks." Says Dr. Berman: "Giving your child a response like that to use next time helps her take power back."

Scenario: Your Child Is Criticized by a Classmate
A classmate told your son that his picture is messy. He responded, "Well, your picture is ugly!"
Handle It Right First, you'll need to help your child make sense of his emotions. Ask him directly, "How did that comment make you feel?" Let him know that you understand why he may have felt embarrassed -- and even hurt. "You want to encourage him to accept, rather than dismiss, his feelings," explains Dr. Cortes. Talk to him about how words can hurt people, and ask him how he thinks his own rude retort made the other boy feel. Explain that if he reacts angrily to a hurtful comment, he can end up doing to others precisely what he didn't like having done to him -- and point out that now two people will be left feeling hurt and upset. Give him some options on how to respond in the future if this happens. For instance, he can ask the boy why he thinks the picture is messy, or he could tell the boy that the comment hurt his feelings. You might also suggest he just say, "Well, that's your opinion."

Scenario: Your Child Is Criticized by a Family Member
Your sister tells your daughter that she's not playing hopscotch the right way. Your daughter won't let her explain and later tells you she thinks her aunt doesn't like her.
Handle It Right Her reaction may seem extreme to you. But if you say, "Honey, that's ridiculous. Of course she likes you," you may make her feel worse. Reassure her that her aunt loves her and that she only wants to teach her how to play the game according to the rules. "The trick is to get your child to learn how to handle criticism gracefully and learn from it," says Parents advisor Michele Borba, Ed.D., author of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions. Use this opportunity to explain to her that criticism, although not always easy to take, is a fact of life. Help her practice how to respond if she's in a similar situation again. For instance, tell her it's fine to simply say, "Thank you" or "Okay, I'll try," and leave it at that.

5 Manners Every Kid Needs by Age 9

Ever wonder about proper etiquette when it came to your kids? I read this article in Parent magazine (March 2011), and then I found it posted on a blog and so I thought I would share.

5 Manners Every Kid Needs by Age 9

1. When asking for something, say “Please.”

2. When receiving something. Say “Thank You.”

3. Do not interrupt grown-us who are speaking with each other unless there is an emergency. They will notice you and respond when they are finished talking.

4. If you need to get somebody’s attention right away, the phrase “excuse me” is the most polite way for you to enter the conversation.

5. When you have any doubt about doing something, ask permission first. It can save you from many hours of grief later.

6. The world is not interested in what you dislike. Keep negative opinions to yourself, or between you and your friends, and out of earshot of adults.

7. Do not comment on other people’s physical characteristics unless, of course, it’s to compliment them, which is always welcome.

8. When people ask you how you are, tell them and then ask them how they are.

9. When you have spent time at your friend’s house, remember to thank his or her parents for having you over and for the good time you had.

10. Knock on closed doors-and wait to see if there’s a response-before entering.

11. When you make a phone call, introduce yourself first and then ask if you can speak with the person you are calling.

12.Be appreciative and say “thank you” for any gift you receive. In the age of e-mail, a handwritten thank-you note can have a powerful effect.

13. Never use foul language in front of adults. Grown-ups already know all those words, and they find them boring and unpleasant.

14. Don’t call people mean names.

15. Do not make fun of anyone for any reason. Teasing shows others you are weak and ganging up on someone else is cruel.

16. Even if a play or an assembly is boring, sit through it quietly and pretend you are interested. The performers are presenters are doing their best.

17. If you bump into somebody, immediately say “Excuse Me.”

18. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and don’t pick your nose in public.

19. As you walk through a door, look to see if you can hold it open for someone else.

20. If you come across a parent, a teacher, or a neighbor working on something, ask if you can help. If they say “yes.” Do so- you may learn something new.

21. When an adult asks you for a favor, do it without grumbling and with a smile.
22. When someone helps you, say “thank you.” That person will likely want to help you again. This is especially true with teachers!

23. Use eating utensils properly. If you are unsure how to do so, ask your parents to teach you or watch what adults do.
24. Keep a napkin on your lap; use it to wipe your mouth when necessary.

25. Don’t reach for things at the table; ask to have them passed.

written by David Lowry, PH.D. The list was published in Parents Magazine