Washington, USA: The Magic Room

Washington, USA: The Magic Room

TheMagicRoomRSIn my home, we have a room that my sons, ages 4 and 8 years old, refer to as “The Magic Room.” It’s probably not what you are thinking. It’s our formal dining room. Truth be told, we didn’t use the room all that much for eating, as we have a kitchen table steps away from where I prepare meals. Still, we occasionally used this formal eating space. It was a treat to gather there for holidays and any other time that a special meal seemed in order. This all changed when my husband introduced my older son to the game Magic, The Gathering. (more…)

Tara B. (USA)

Tara is a native Pennsylvanian who moved to the Seattle area in 1998 (sight unseen) with her husband to start their grand life adventure together. Despite the difficult fact that their family is a plane ride away, the couple fell in love with the Pacific Northwest and have put down roots. They have 2 super charged little boys and recently moved out of the Seattle suburbs further east into the country, trading in a Starbucks on every corner for coyotes in the backyard. Tara loves the outdoors (hiking, biking, camping). And, when her family isn't out in nature, they are hunkered down at home with friends, sharing a meal, playing games, and generally having fun. She loves being a stay-at-home mom and sharing her experiences on World Moms Blog!

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GUEST POST:  Raising Children in India

GUEST POST: Raising Children in India

Indian kidsMotherhood is one of the most beautiful experiences of a woman’s life. Raising children makes life full. I am raising my children in India and I feel that the environment in India helps a lot in inculcating a strong set of values.

I read a lot about the many ways children are raised in various parts of the vast Indian subcontinent. Here are some of the enriching reasons I find raising a child in India so wonderful:

1. Family Help: India is a country where the joint family system is prevalent. Children grow up having a lot of fun surrounded by generations of Grandparents, Uncles, Aunts and Cousins. This helps the child in her personal growth and instills great concepts like teamwork and adjusting to different kinds of people, with different mindsets. It also helps a child understand how to receive and give unconditional love.

Sadly, the joint family is breaking up nowadays and giving way to nuclear families. The nuclear family comprises of just the husband, wife and children. Sometimes, the husband’s parents come to stay. This helps build a strong bond between the children and the grand parents, which should be encouraged. The child will learn to respect traditional values which are an integral part of the Indian social fabric.

2. Learning to Respect Your Elders: Indian children are taught to respect their elders and extended family at a young age. Being around so many family members, children learn to show respect and love to one and all when they grow up. Some communities in India make it compulsory for the young people to touch the feet of the elders as the mark of reverence.

This custom is rarely found in any other culture across the world. This custom is instilled in the child’s mind from a very young age and it becomes second nature. This custom hasn’t changed even after western ideas and practices stealthily crept into India.

3. Kids Are Taught How to Save: Children in India are taught to save and not spend unnecessarily. Due to the conservative economy, Indian children learn at a very young age to prioritise their expenses. They learn to buy things which will give them value for money.

Nowadays many banks offer the option to open minor accounts for very small children. Instead of having children save their pocket money in piggy banks, they can save it in real banks. This teaches the child banking procedures at a very early age. Children can even maintain a separate copy for calculating the total expenditure. This will teach the child that it is not good to waste money.

4. Family Values: Children are inculcated with strong family values as they grow up among numerous family members. These family values help develop strong moral fiber. In the long run, they help in creating a strong personality which helps in their growth.

5. Character Development: Character defines how the child leads a holistic life. Parents in India work hard on character building for their child. Since all parents’ desire that their child grows up to become an honest and good human being.

6. Spiritual Discipline: Indian children are raised with enormous spiritual discipline. India is the land for spiritual growth and developing the spiritual qualities in a child helps him/her grow up to be a better individual. Children are taught about the importance of religion and customs. They are also taught to respect other religions as well, since the common idea of all religion is to achieve peace, moral strength and happiness.

7. Freedom When They Play: There is no requirement for an organized play time. A child will always find a group of children playing outside his house. So they can always find fun. They can step out any moment and experience a joyous playtime. Open spaces or children’s parks are still there and are not encroached by developmental activities and high rises.

8. Sharing and Caring: There is a lot of sibling bonding in Indian families. Parents teach children tolerance towards each other, love and patience. By sharing and caring for each other, this turns them into well-adjusted human beings.

9. Celebrating Traditions: India has one of the richest cultures which dates back more than 5000 years. So India is a land of festival and colors, cliché as it may sound, it is true. These celebrations are elaborate. All the kids are involved in the celebration of the festivals with the other children in the community. The children celebrate the festivals with their families and extended families.

10. Healthy Eating Habits: Emphasis is laid on eating healthy food. Children are allowed to eat junk food once in a while, but mothers cook at home. They are happy to feed the children with home cooked food. This makes the child health conscious. Mothers teach their children to choose healthy fresh fruits and vegetables. This also increases their knowledge about what is good for them.

The above stated facts hold true for a small portion of the Indian population, as the phrase goes ‘the privileged few’. Economically, India has progressed considerably in the last 60 years. The bigger picture, however, is quite different: a farmer hangs himself from a tree because he cannot provide for his family; a child is shunned from temples and public places due to his lower caste label; the rampant poverty in villages and lack of health amenities lead to reduced life expectancy; more children are seen carrying bricks and working in factories than in classrooms. These are children who don’t have access to formal education at all.

But for increasingly more kids, growing up in India is a blissful experience which helps them develop into amazing individuals. The calmness of spirit and the enriching environment in India is what gives these children an opportunity to explore life and themselves. The liveliness of the child is based on the amazing cultural forum that the Indian child inherits.

In contrast, malnourished children peddle the streets and somehow make a living. They are deprived of things that my child claims as basic rights. We have small children selling chai when they should be drinking a warm glass of milk instead. Yet from children like these, a leader has emerged – Narendra Modi. The contradictions and ironies of my country keep me enthralled. I trudge forward in earnest hope that my child will triumph in all spheres of her life.

Also, the technological development and fast paced life have made us so busy that we are finding less and less time for each other but still Indians never forget to smile at one another. Children brought up in India will never lose heart, since they have learned to struggle and attain victory in all fields of life. But to make that happen, we need to remember the wisdom Dr. Seuss imparted:

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” — The Lorax

The image used in this post is credited to Ryan Ready. It holds a Flickr Creative Commons attribution license.

This is a first-time, guest post from Aradhana, a mother in India.  Aradhana also is a passionate writer, who focuses on topics like yoga, wellness, health and lifestyle. She has contributed posts to Natural News, Wiki How, MomJunction, and Elephant Journal. Through her writings, she hopes to motivate people to develop healthy habits and adopt natural ways of living to achieve sound health.

World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

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UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: Israel & Palestine: The War on a Tween’s Facebook Page

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: Israel & Palestine: The War on a Tween’s Facebook Page

The Art Of Facebook

Like many twenty-first century parents, I have ongoing battles with my kids about “screen time.”  They think they don’t have enough of it; I think that if they stare any longer into a computer screen, they will start bleeding from the eyeballs.  My thirteen-year old son P. generally spends more time with computer games than he does with Facebook, but when the always simmering tensions between Israel and Palestine exploded this summer, his Facebook page became a much more interesting, and complicated place that–surprisingly–ended up teaching us a great deal.

Facebook screenshot

My son’s Facebook friends are pretty evenly split between his Manhattan friends and his Abu Dhabi friends, and they usually all post the same sorts of things: video clips from soccer games, Vines of stupid pet tricks, grimacing selfies, ridiculous quizzes.   You wouldn’t know, to look at his page, who was from which city, other than perhaps from their sports-team affiliations.

In June, P.’s US friends began to post about the three Israeli teenagers who were kidnapped and killed. Then his Abu Dhabi friends began to post about the escalating violence in Gaza and suddenly, right there on P’s Facebook page was the knotty, terrifying, devastating sadness of the Israel-Palestine relationship.

Some of P’s New York friends are Jewish and some are not; some of his Abu Dhabi friends are Arabs, but most are not. The people who populate his page hail from almost every continent, regardless of the place they now call home. But pretty consistently, it seemed, the New York friends posted on behalf of Israel and the Abu Dhabi crew posted on behalf of Palestine.   As each wave of articles washed across his page, P would first think one thing and then another: like all of us, he wanted clarity and answers. He wanted a clear apportioning of blame and swift justice; he wanted resolution.

At thirteen, my son and his friends are none of them too far removed from the realm of childhood, where everything is clear-cut, like in comic books and fairy tales. In those worlds, there are good guys and bad guys, heroes and villains, and usually the good guys win.  It’s one of the hardest things about growing up, isn’t it, the realization that life doesn’t arrange itself into such tidy categories?

This summer is the first time that P has had to think about what it means to have a religious identity.  When we lived in New York, all he saw is that some of his Jewish got eight days of Hanukah gifts while he only got one measly day of Christmas loot. This year P tried a few days of Ramadan fasting (a sort of Ramadan lite, in that he ate breakfast at the regular time but then ate nothing until after sunset) but all he seems to have learned is that being really hungry makes food taste better.  As politics heated up on his page, however, he started to think more carefully about religion, and to consider not only the difference between religions but also their similarities.

The clashing views that appeared in P’s facebook feed led him to many conversations: why was Israel created and by whom, why did Israel have such strong US support, who drew the embattled boundaries and why, what is Hamas, who lived in Israel before it was “Israel?” The questions went on and on: how could Hamas use civilians as shields, how could Israel fire into supposedly protected spaces like schools and hospitals, and how could people kill in the name of religions supposedly dedicated to love and compassion? I found myself trying to unspool sixty years—a century—of politics and greed, from World War II backwards to 19th century English imperialism, and even further.   I showed him this article, and this one, and many more.  The more I talked, the more I realized that I was trying to explain the unexplainable: how does anyone, in any war, reach a point where violence against children gets, if not justified, then somehow discounted in the service of larger goals?

As the war ground on, P’s friends on both sides stopped posting and his Facebook page returned to its standard scroll of shark attacks and kitten pictures. But P kept scanning the newspapers, looking for the latest news about cease-fires—and the cessation of cease-fires.  He asked me recently if I thought peace might be possible.  I told him I wasn’t sure, which is a pretty grim message to give a thirteen-year old.

I don’t know when, or if, a livable resolution can be found for the conflict in Israel and Gaza—as my own explanations to my son showed me, the roots of the conflict run in tangled  webs far below the surface of the present moment.   What his Facebook page taught me, however, is that even if we ourselves aren’t in physical danger, the war between Israel and Palestine isn’t just their problem, it’s ours, as well.

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Deborah Quinn in the United Arab Emirates of “Mannahattamamma.”

Photo Credit to: MKH Marketing

Mannahattamamma (UAE)

After twenty-plus years in Manhattan, Deborah Quinn and her family moved to Abu Dhabi (in the United Arab Emirates), where she spends a great deal of time driving her sons back and forth to soccer practice. She writes about travel, politics, feminism, education, and the absurdities of living in a place where temperatures regularly go above 110F.
Deborah can also be found on her blog, Mannahattamamma.

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SOCIAL GOOD: World Moms Social Good Fellows & #Blogust Bloggers

SOCIAL GOOD: World Moms Social Good Fellows & #Blogust Bloggers

We are so proud that three World Moms have been selected this year to be United Nations Foundation Social Good Fellows and to take part in #Blogust to benefit Shot@Life.  Two other World Moms also wrote posts for #Blogust as Shot@Life Champions.  #Blogust is a social good relay sponsored by Walgreens to benefit the United Nations Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign which provides life saving vaccines to children around the world.

World Moms Blog Social Good Fellows

World Moms Advocating for Global Health: Nicole Morgan from “Sisters from Another Mister”, Jennifer Burden (World Moms Blog Founder), and Nicole Melancon of “Thirdeyemom” will all be heading to NYC this September as Social Good Fellows with the UN Foundation.

Every child deserves a Shot@Life, and we at World Moms Blog are thrilled to be able to use our voices for social good. Each day for the month of August one writer will share their story of Happy & Healthy Firsts.  Every time a post is commented on or shared on social media a vaccine is donated by Walgreens to a child in need. We encourage you to read, comment on, and share our posts, and know that when you do, you are using your voice for social good as well.

United Nations Foundation Social Good Fellows & #Blogust Bloggers:

Nicole Morgan on the Shot@Life Blog:  “Honored and humbled to be among 25 Social Good Fellows chosen by the United Nations Foundation and shot@life for Blogust 2014 because social good is dear to my heart and teaches my girls to pay it forward. Accountability and looking out for others is part of day to day parenting.” Read More…

Jennifer Burden on World Moms Blog:So, tell me now, have you ever experienced any “firsts” growing up that were better than you ever expected or were highly impressionable on who you are today?  Many highly anticipated first experiences often come and go forgotten or don’t really mean anything today in retrospect, right?  But, here’s a story of one first in my life that made an impact, and I admit to even going back for more!  It’s not chocolate, but could have been chocolate, but no, it wasn’t.” Read More…..

Nicole Melancon on the Shot@Life Blog: “We all remember the firsts: those monumental moments that shape your life and those around you. The moments that take your breath away. The first word. The first step. The first “I love you”. The first day of school. The first kiss. The first goodbye. Firsts that impact our journeys down the long and sinuous path of life.”Read More…..

Shot@Life Champions:

Sarah Hughs on Finnegan and the Hughes: “Today is my birthday!  It’s a big day and my last year before I start a new age group, 40 and up!  It’s my first time ever turning 39.  I think 39 is a milestone.  I have heard many that claim to have turned 39 over and over again. It’s funny how they never get to 40.  I’m ok with the big 4-0 and have decided I will celebrate and be proud of 40 because that is a huge milestone!” Read More…..

Elizabeth Atalay on Documama: “This is my first time. My first time letting go. My oldest child goes off to school in another state next week, and I have to admit, I’m having a tough time with that. The thought that for the first time in her life she will not be living under our roof. For the first time I have to trust her to the outside world. For the first time I won’t be right there for her for whatever she needs, and let’s face it, I can’t check on her whenever I need for my own piece of mind.” Read More….

Nicole Morgan on Sisters from Another Mister: “Blogging has blessed my life more than I ever could have imagined. It started as a way to kill time while waiting on my younger homeschooler, in lieu of my then obsession with Farmville … (and OMGawsh reading thro the comments from that post reminds me of the great friendships born) altho as for games, now whisper quietly”. Read More…

Nicole Melancon on ThirdeyeMom: “I’m honored that my Shot@Life post “Blogust: Reaching Firsts and Making a Difference” is live today on the United Nations Foundation’s website. Blogust is a month-long digital dialogue, bringing more than 25 of the most beloved online writers, photo and video bloggers and Shot@Life champions (me!) together to help change the world through their words and imagery throughout the month of August. For every comment and/or social media share, Walgreens will donate one life-saving vaccine to a child in need around the world.” Read More…

AND, WAIT, THERE’S MORE!!

World Mom, Cindy Levin, the Anti-Poverty Mom, has an appointment this week with US Representative Wagner’s Office in Missouri this week to lobby for life-saving vaccines. Way to put things into action, Cindy!!

During Shot@Life’s Blogust 2014—a month-long blog relay—some of North America’s most beloved online writers, photo and video bloggers and Shot@Life Champions will come together and share stories about Happy and Healthy Firsts. Every time you comment on this post and other Blogust contributions, or share them via social media on this website, Shot@Life and the United Nations Foundation pages, Walgreens will donate one vaccine (up to 60,000).  Blogust is one part an overall commitment of Walgreens donating up to $1 million through its “Get a Shot. Give a Shot” campaign. The campaign will help provide millions of vaccines for children in need around the world. Today’s #Blogust post is by our friend and photographer Anne Geddes!

Elizabeth Atalay

Elizabeth Atalay is a Digital Media Producer, Managing Editor at World Moms Network, and a Social Media Manager. She was a 2015 United Nations Foundation Social Good Fellow, and traveled to Ethiopia as an International Reporting Project New Media Fellow to report on newborn health in 2014. On her personal blog, Documama.org, she uses digital media as a new medium for her background as a documentarian. After having worked on Feature Films and Television series for FOX, NBC, MGM, Columbia Pictures, Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, and Castle Rock Pictures, she studied documentary filmmaking and anthropology earning a Masters degree in Media Studies from The New School in New York. Since becoming a Digital Media Producer she has worked on social media campaigns for non-profits such as Save The Children, WaterAid, ONE.org, UNICEF, United Nations Foundation, Edesia, World Pulse, American Heart Association, and The Gates Foundation. Her writing has also been featured on ONE.org, Johnson & Johnson’s BabyCenter.com, EnoughProject.org, GaviAlliance.org, and Worldmomsnetwork.com. Elizabeth has traveled to 70 countries around the world, most recently to Haiti with Artisan Business Network to visit artisans in partnership with Macy’s Heart of Haiti line, which provides sustainable income to Haitian artisans. Elizabeth lives in New England with her husband and four children.

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BELGIUM: Parenting Changes

BELGIUM: Parenting Changes

4289324169_93abdfaa2f_zWhen you become a parent things change.

Obviously.

Saying that children turn your life turns upside down, inside out and back again is most definitely not an understatement.

Bodily changes, sleep deprivation and related mental breakdowns aside, one of the major changes is the relationship with your own parents. Because in a weird way you are suddenly equals. You are both parents.

Granted, your parents might have a bit more experience on the job, but you might consider yourselves employees of the same company now.

You are the newbie and they are the old stalwarts who will insist on explaining how the coffee machine works. Even though it has only one button. And just like in the office, you each have your own way of going about the daily job that is parenting.

It was my father who pointed this out to me when he remarked that I was a very different mother to my children than my mother was to me.

Of course this is true, mainly due to the fact that I’m NOT my mother (no, really, I’m not my mother, I might have started to look a lot more like her, use the same phrases, and have taken up some of her habits, but I AM NOT MY MOTHER).

Characterwise my mom and I are poles apart. She is one of those patient, focused, well-organized, grownup creatures we all secretly wish to be. And I am an impatient firecracker, who is working on a million things at once and who can never be bothered about matching socks.

But I have to admit that my parenting style is different too. Some of it is deliberate and some not.

For instance, I never deny my children a food or beverage using the words ‘it will make you fat’, opting instead for ‘it is not healthy’ or ‘it is bad for your teeth’. I know this is no guarantee for avoiding any body-image/food–related trouble but I like to think it gives them a better chance for avoiding the damage some of us (myself included) went through.

Neither do I use spanking as a means of punishment. My parents spanked, but I quite frankly don’t see the point. Within a few years withholding privileges and time outs will probably looked upon as barbaric and the toddler shock collar might be all the rage but for now the “Go to your room and no movie” or “Pull out all the weeds from the garden” work for us.

My girls enjoy a greater amount of freedom then I did at their age. For instance there are A LOT of unscheduled play dates. Especially during summer, it is not uncommon for me to walk into the kitchen and find myself confronted by five children. My friends were welcome to come and play, but there had to be a call and confirmation from both sets of parents in advance. Permission still has to be asked and we need to know approximately in which house they’ll be. But planning… nope.

I won’t even begin to describe the difference regarding electronics and their use. Remember I was born in a time when a phone with push–buttons instead of dial ones was considered cutting edge. The mobile phone was something straight out of a science fiction movie. Plus I lived in Africa, where there was no such thing as TV. Although we did in fact own a television the only thing it played where VHS cassettes (remember those!?) which were sent to us by friendly relatives left behind in Belgium.

The one thing we do have in common though is that we both do our best.

We do our best to ensure our children grow up happy. We try to avoid ‘mistakes’ of the past. We try our best to make sure the little humans in our care grow up to be level-headed adults and can only hope our pottering along will turn out all right in the end.

Do you ‘parent’ differently compared to your own parents? If Yes, how so?

This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes. Photo credit:Eric Danley. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.

Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes

Born in Belgium on the fourth of July in a time before the invention of the smart phone Tinne is a working mother of two adorably mischievous little girls, the wife of her high school sweetheart and the owner of a black cat called Atilla. Since she likes to cook her blog is mainly devoted to food and because she is Belgian she has an absurd sense of humour and is frequently snarky. When she is not devoting all her attention to the internet, she likes to read, write and eat chocolate. Her greatest nemesis is laundry.

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