Saturday, September 25, 2010

Avant Garde Parenting

The "perfect" mom in me adores this blog! It is full of research findings, fantastic tips, and "progressive ideas for parents of preschoolers". Day after day, her posts manage to fit my life perfectly.

Her "parenting quick tips" are so simple. And so valuable. We could all use those little reminders to "slow down" and "just listen".

Without further adieu... get to know Jamie! And follow her blog - you'll be glad you did.

List four words that describe YOU.1. Open-minded (does that count as two?)
2. Enthusiastic
3. Focused
4. Silly

Blog name?
Avant Garde Parenting

The writer behind the words? I’m Jamie. I’m a Psychologist and researcher: I study parents and kids. I was born and raised in Dallas, Texas and I’m still here- but not because I never tried to leave. I applied to 7 graduate schools outside of Texas (and got in) but decided the one in Dallas was my best option. I’d love to live somewhere on the east coast or, really, anywhere with more seasons than: 1. Hot and 2. Cold with ice storms.

I’m married with two dogs but no kids yet. (What?! She writes a parenting blog and she doesn’t have kids?!) Yeah, I know. I almost didn’t start my blog because I thought no one would take me seriously. I know that studying parents and kids isn’t the same as actually parenting a child. I also know that parents are the real experts on their children. That’s why I try to just give ideas and tips, not judge or change the way anyone parents. I keep things light and happy and I think you’ll like my perspective!

How did you decide to follow developmental psychology as a career? Oooh good question. I always knew I wanted to help kids but I was never quite sure in what capacity that would be.

When I was in college at TCU (Go Horned Frogs!), I volunteered in a Psychology lab that worked with parents and their kids who had been adopted into America from international orphanages. Most of the kids had attachment difficulties- they had trouble ‘bonding’ with their adoptive parents as a result of being in an orphanage for so long.

I loved working with the kids. They wanted and needed love and they had so much passion for life. But what I realized was that attachment, that special bond between parents and kids, starts with parents and how they respond and interact with their child.

I also realized that no one ever teaches parents about this kind of stuff. Really smart people go to school for years and years to learn about parenting and what’s good and what’s not. Then they publish their research in journals and other researchers read it. Ummm, hello?! It’s the parents who need this information!

So I guess that’s sort of my career goal. I study parents but I also want to help them. Which leads me into the next question…

When (& why) did you start the blog? I started my blog about a month and a half ago. I had actually been writing ‘posts’ for months and just saving them on my computer as word documents. Finally, I just went for it. Like lots of bloggers (I think), I wasn’t sure if anyone would get anything out of it or even read it.

My blogging goal is simple and cheesy: I just want to help parents. I want to give them ideas and tips and encouragement. Being a parent is the hardest job in the world and is often thankless. There’s no instruction manual for being a parent and there’s no grading system or any way to see if you’re ‘doing it right.’ My hope is that my blog can not only give parents some ideas, but also a little pat on the back every once in a while!

Name one surprising thing you've learned about children/parenting from your work. That kids are SMART! I guess I knew that already, but man! They really are!

The project I’m working on now is looking at how parents help their preschoolers develop self regulation- following the rules, listening, waiting for things they want, etc. We test this skill in kids with different ‘games,’ one of which involves a ‘present.’ It goes like this: I have a wrapped gift for the child and tell her that I forgot a bow and have to go to the car to get it. I say NOT to touch the present while I’m gone, then leave it right in front of her and leave the room. When I come back with the bow, I put it on and give her the gift.

The catch: we’re videotaping the child, so later I can watch the video and see what she did while I was out of the room. I can’t tell you how many kids unwrap the gift, play with the present (it’s a book) then wrap it back up so I won’t know! It cracks me up! Did I mention these kids are two and a half?! Smart. And sneaky.

What does "balance" mean to you? So, I love the name of Balancing Mama’s blog. Every time I see it pop up in my google reader, I read it like this in my head:

“3 moms in 1…(drumroll and spotlights)…A Balancing Act!”
in the voice of a circus ringleader.

I know that doesn’t answer the question, I just wanted to tell you.

Okay, balance. I grew up as a competitive gymnast. I could tumble on a 4-inch balance beam in my sleep. When I was younger, that was balance. Walking right in the middle, not stepping too far to either side.

As an adult, my definition of ‘balance’ is a little different. For me, balance is letting myself eat that Butterfinger but also making sure I get my five fruits and veggies for the day. It’s working hard all day and then watching two hours of reality TV at night (Jersey Shore, yeah, what of it?). Now, balance isn’t trying to stay right in the middle, but making sure things ‘average out.’ It keeps me sane.

If you had two hours of pure "me" time, what would you do? Oh girl. Honest answer? Okay. First, I would pluck my eyebrows. I have crazy man eyebrows, the kind that old men have that stick out in all different directions. Only you would never know. That’s how much time I spend on them. I refuse to get them waxed/threaded because I’m terrified that I would end up with A. No eyebrows or B. Really thin ones and I would look like a Neanderthal when they grew back in. Also, I get really embarrassed when anyone else sees me do them so I have to go in the bathroom and lock the door and sit on the counter real close to the mirror and do them.

So that would take about 20 minutes. Are we assuming that this ‘me’ time exists in a time vacuum that is completely silent? I sure hope so because next, I would read the book I started back in June and still haven’t finished. It’s really good and I still remember where I left off but I just haven’t had a good chunk of time to even make a dent in it.

So I probably have, what, like and hour left? Is it winter? Yes? Okay, I would snuggle up in my electric blanket, turn on an old musical (The Music Man, probably) and get to that place where you’re not quite asleep but not quite awake. I love that place. It’s so stress-free.

@avantgparenting on Twitter
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