Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Guest Blogger Jenn Neilson talks about Gender Stereotypes.

“I like your hat, that colour looks great on you,” I catch myself saying to my niece when I see her rosy 2-year-old cheeks on the iPad, as she runs in from playing outside to say hello. I could have said “Did you see any interesting bugs out there?”, “What did you plant today?”, or “What’s your favourite book right now?” instead, but I didn’t, and neither will 99% of the people that start a conversation with my niece or my daughter over the next 8 to 10 years. And that’s a problem.

It’s a problem because when the first thing almost every adult says to a little girl is something about her clothes or her hair. Even if it’s a compliment, little girls quickly get the idea that their looks are what matters, and that looking good and dressing well is what they should aspire to. It’s what adults (and society at large) expects them to be interested in, to be good at, and to want to talk about. And that’s bad news for the future of our girls. If we want the next generation to grow up striving to be kind, capable and confident rather than popular and sexy, we need to be mindful of the messages we’re sending to kids.

With kids growing up surrounded by advertising, movies and TV, toys, books, and clothes that tell them that some things are for girls, and others are for boys, we’re already fighting an uphill battle if our goal is to raise girls who know that they can solve tough, real world problems, and boys who are interested in collaboration, not just competition. The only solution is to recognize that gender stereotypes doesn’t reflect the “natural” wants or interests of kids or the adults who shop for them, to acknowledge our part in creating this environment, and to vote against it with our voices, and more importantly, with our wallets.

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We are finally starting to see a backlash against labelling toys to do with domestic life as for girls, and science and building toys as for boys. Since it’s clear that stereotypically boy toys like Lego and K’nex help build spatial development skills, skills that help prepare kids for in-demand careers in science, math and engineering, it’s no wonder that parents want to offer their daughters the chance to practice those skills as well.

Of course it’s great that we’re starting to see skill-building toys being marketed to girls, as well as boys (Goldieblox being the prime example). But this is really only a tiny part of the change that we need to make in kids’ environments to stop reinforcing the outdated gender stereotypes that limit their opportunities in life. If we want kids to want to engage in play that develops new skills, they have to see that kind of play as acceptable for kids like them. This will be easier with some kids than others, but how easily it comes depends both on the examples and influences that they see around them, and on their sense of self--their sense of how they’re supposed to behave, what sort of interests are seen as acceptable for them to have, and what options are open to them. A child’s sense of self is shaped by a combination of his or her own personality, along with a wide range of social factors.

To change the environment that kids grow up in enough to stop reinforcing outdated gender stereotypes, we’re going to have to do a lot more than market skill-building toys to kids who are already independent enough, who already have a strong enough sense of self, to be interested in them. If we want to see the level of real, widespread change that stands a chance of eradicating gender inequality as we know it, then we have to start earlier. We have surround kids with influences that will help them to develop a strong and resilient sense of self, so that they will be secure enough to choose toys and clothes and books and movies based on their true interests, instead of choosing according to what society expects of them.

So how do we do that? We start by changing the messages that kids receive from role models in books, on TV, and in movies--ending the era of the traditional Disney princess, where adventure, curiosity and personal strength are reserved for boys. But that’s not enough. If we want to change the messages we’re sending to kids, we need to recognize the communicative power of the things that are closest to them--the very clothes we dress them in. Gender conventions in children’s clothing reinforce the idea that building, discovery and active play are for boys, and that girls should be concerned with home life and aesthetic appeal. Bows and ruffles and hearts and frills teach girls about the importance of looking pretty, and dark colours, and truck and sports motifs show boys that they’re destined for competition and adventure. We should strive to make our children’s worlds reflect our hopes for a future where men and women are treated with equal respect, and have equal access to and responsibility for all aspects of life. Only our own choices as consumers and business-owners can make that change happen.

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Jill and Jack Kids is a new kids’ clothing company that’s inspiring the next generation of leaders to think beyond pink and blue. We make playtime-worthy clothes in fun, bright colours that change the messages we’re sending to kids, and we’re launching on Kickstarter right now. If we reach our goal, we will be expanding to offer a complete line of gender neutral kids’ clothing free from outdated gender stereotypes that both boys and girls will love to wear. Please check out the campaign now at, and buy a shirt for a kid in your life who dreams beyond pink and blue.

Jenn Neilson is the founder of Jill and Jack Kids (, a new company that makes playtime-worthy clothes that change the messages we're sending to kids. She is a graphic artist with a PhD in philosophy, and a passion for gender equality.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Children should be seen and heard.

 Most of us are familiar with the phrase, “Children should be seen and not heard”.  What does that actually mean? It means that children should behave the way society wants them to. It means that their voice, opinion, ideas, etc…are not as valued as adults.

Some of you may think this is totally outdated and people don’t think that way anymore – but the reality is that children are still expected to “behave”.

I find the word "behave" so loaded. Children are expected to "behave" in a way that is basically not disruptive to others (and by others... I mean adults). And, parents are expected to make their children "behave" so that others don't think that they are terrible parents! The problem is that society’s expectations of children are based on how adults behave (and let’s face it - not all adults). We want children to be polite, calm, reasonable, logical, patient, kind, quiet etc... Children are just not built that way. Children do not possess logical, rational thought. They start to develop some reasoning skills after the age of 3 years old, but until then, expecting them to have the ability to “behave” on command is just not developmentally possible.

Being a child should really be the most carefree time in their lives, but they are bombarded with rules and expectations from the time they are born.

How many times do we ask new parents, “Is your child sleeping through the night?” As if somehow this is the mark of a good baby, or at least a good parent. Children are not built to sleep through the night, they have needs for food, attachment and survival that adults no longer have (or have been taught to ignore). Yet - we put that expectation on them from the time they enter the world, because we forget what it means to be a child.  We expect them to sleep for 8 hours a night, because that’s what adults do. Children don’t sleep like adults, because they have different sleep needs. And when they don’t sleep like us our response is to sleep train them – because being heard is not always on our priority lists when it comes to children’s needs, especially when we are tired.

And that’s just the beginning.

Children need to sleep like an adult, eat like an adult, work like an adult, play like an adult, sing like an adult, draw like an adult …I could go on for pages.

It is not ok to eat with your hands, wake up several times in the night, have limited concentration, play without rules, sing out of tune, and colour out of the lines (and if they do, they are often labelled with some kind of “disorder”).

No wonder children are having tantrums by the time they are 2 years old! They have had two full years of rules, expectations and reminders.

You will often see young children “behaving badly” or as I like to call it, “behaving like children” in places like the grocery store, the mall, school, daycare, visiting grandparents etc…because the expectations on them are so high. These places have so many rules and children are not “rule based”.  As parents, we want so desperately for our children to “behave” and not cause problems, because we will be judged if they are disruptive. We are so desperate that we look for any kind of "strategy" that will keep our children quiet and obedient. Perhaps the only strategy we really need is to allow our children to be heard? Give them a voice and show them that what they say, feel and think really matters. Instead of teaching them to silence themselves in order to meet society's unrealistic expectations.

Ironically, children are actually built to be heard! That’s why they cry. It is built right into them as a means for survival. Babies would cry if they sensed danger and someone would pick them up and protect them – so they wouldn’t get eaten ( There doesn’t seem to be too many animals around these days trying to eat our children, but that survival instinct is still quite strong. Babies cry for all kinds of reasons, but most of them involve getting our attention for a need that they have. And, as they grow, they only seem to get louder.

So, here is a very important point that I would like to make…ready? Children are disruptive! They are loud, demanding, rambunctious, hyper, fun, silly, playful, inventive, curious, energetic, talkative, imaginative, intelligent, and wonderful.

No, not all children are all of these things. But as a society, if we fully understood the nature of a child – perhaps we would become a more “child friendly” place.

Sometimes I resent the fact that I have to find “child friendly” places to bring my daughter. Shouldn’t the world be “child friendly”? We discriminate against children and parents all the time.

If we want to eat out at a restaurant with our child, we are very limited. We are mostly limited to places that are very unhealthy – because apparently that’s what it means to be “child friendly”. I can see why everyone ends up at MacDonald’s with their children! No one stares at you with that “children should be seen and not heard” look. Your children can run around and play in the indoor playground, while you watch them and attempt to enjoy your meal.

Wouldn’t it be nice if fancier restaurants had indoor play areas for children? I can just see myself ordering my salmon on a cedar plant with mixed vegetables while peering through the glass to make sure our daughter is still having fun. Not just an indoor play area, but a whole different mentality toward children and families.  That would be nice.

Because we want children to “behave”, we are constantly pushing them toward maturity and adulthood. For a child, it seems like their ultimate goal is to become an adult. What’s the hurry?

Unfortunately, we are in a hurry, because it is easier to manage children when they meet society’s expectations. And, as I stated earlier – those expectations are to be calm, polite and reasonable (among others).

I recently looked up the origin of the phrase “children need to be seen and not heard” and it actually dates back to the 15th century (and was about both women and children being silent and submissive – but don’t get me started on that! We have progressed in so many ways since then, but we have so much further to go when it comes to respecting children for who they are.

So, in the meantime – parents are stuck eating in unhealthy restaurants (or not going out at all), and dealing with the disapproving stares of those with limited perceptions of children whenever their child “acts like a child” (loud, rambunctious, demanding etc…).

I am not saying that children should not have any rules or expectations – that would be unrealistic and wouldn’t help them become strong members of society. But, the very society that we want them to be a part of doesn’t seem to honour them and their differences.

So, the next time you see a child running around the grocery store not listening to their parent,  or a child screaming in a restaurant – don’t give a disapproving stare. Just look the other way and pretend you don’t notice – give that parent as much privacy as you can manage. Because raising humans is hard enough without trying to meet unrealistic expectations. Help parents honour their children by giving them room to sort out life’s challenges - remember that it is a process. Children will grow and develop into healthy, strong, compassionate, productive members of society if we give them the chance to be seen and heard.

Dealing with tantrums in public

As parents, most of us have experienced those moments. You are shopping at a store with your children and something upsets them to the point of tantrum. They scream, throw their arms around – they may even throw themselves on the floor. You try and reason with them, but now you are embarrassed and wish you could just get out of there unnoticed.  These situations can be quite challenging to navigate, but here are some tips to get you through these tough times.

Plan Ahead:

Before you leave the house, talk to your children about what your expectations are while you are shopping. Use positive wording when describing how you would like them to behave.  For example: Instead of saying, “Don’t scream”, say, “We use our quiet voices”.  When planning to take your child shopping, keep in mind that most children can handle shopping for no more than 1 hour at a time. Think about your child’s best time of day. Most children are at their best in the morning. This is a good time to take them shopping. If that isn’t an option, make your shopping trip shorter. At the end of the day your children may only be able to handle a 30 minute trip to the store. Make sure you bring plenty of snacks, water, diapers, whatever it is you need to ensure that you child will be comfortable. Often times children get upset because they feel like their basic needs are not met (e.g., food, water or rest). Planning ahead will give you the best chances at a successful shopping trip.

Make it Fun:

Shopping has the potential to be a lot of fun for both you and your children. Involve your child in the process. Let them help you make a list of the things that you need before you leave the house. When at the store, remind them of the list and have them help you pick out some of those items. For younger children, you can draw a picture of the item that you need (apples) and the amount (6). This is a fun way to keep them involved and a wonderful learning opportunity. Children love to help. Giving them a job to do and making it fun will keep your children engaged in the process and therefore less likely to become distracted. Children are much more likely to become impatient and frustrated when they are bored.

Bring Back Up:

You have packed your snacks and have plenty of water so your child’s basic needs are met. That’s great! Now, there are a few other items that could be good to have as back up. If your child is restless and doesn’t feel like helping you with the shopping you can bring out the “grab bag”.  I call it the “grab bag” because it is good to have things in there that your children can play with and manipulate. Getting your children involved with their hands will take their minds off of the fact that they don’t really feel like shopping.   A “grab bag” is best to be used while your child is sitting in your shopping cart.  In your bag you could include: books, toys that have buttons to push (ones that aren’t too loud), squishy toys, photo album of family and friends, dolls and toy cars.  Each child’s interests are different, so you should have a separate bag for each of your children.  This will also help to reduce fighting over the items in the bags.

Remain Calm:

You have done everything you can to ensure that your little one stays busy and content, but something still triggers them to get upset. They start to scream and cry (perhaps because they want something that they aren’t allowed to have) and now you find yourself in the middle of a full out tantrum. You look around and it feels like everyone in the store is staring at you, you start to get embarrassed and feel like people are judging you (Most people are not judging you. Many of them are parents and know what it is like to be in your position).  Just take a deep breath and stay calm.  If you remain calm, it is less likely that you child will escalate even further. It is also important to stay calm because children can sense when you are uncomfortable and therefore more likely to give in to something you normally wouldn’t. The rules should be the same in public as they are at home or children will know that they can get away with more when you go out shopping.

 Allow them their moment:

When children start to scream our natural instinct is to try and be louder than they are in order to get their attention.  You will have much more luck getting their attention if you are quiet and calm.  Keep in mind that your child is still learning about what is an appropriate way to express their feelings.  All they know is that they are upset and feel unheard.  We all know what that’s like to feel like no one is listening to what we want (regardless of whether our demands make sense).  Give your child their moment to be upset.  Don’t try and make it better by giving in to your child’s demands, just listen to why they are upset and validate their feelings.  If they continue to scream and cry that’s ok.  Yes, it might be embarrassing – but it is an important part of learning that they won’t always be able to get what they want.  Give them a few minutes to be upset (you can take them out of the store if they continue to escalate or you don’t feel comfortable dealing with the situation where you are), then get down at eye level, encourage them to take some deep breaths and work on a solution together, and then return to the store (if you left).

Teach your child:

After you have taken some deep breaths and are able to get your child to focus. Use this opportunity as a teaching moment. Easier said than done, I know, especially when you are tired and frustrated. But, it will help your child understand what your expectations are and make other outings in the future easier.  Avoid giving your child a time out in public spaces.  Your child is already upset and feeling unheard.  Fighting with them over sitting in a time out will only cause them and you to become more frustrated.   After you have listened to why your child is upset, work on a solution that will work for both of you.  This also encourages problem solving skills.  Once you have figured out something that will work for both of you, go over the expectations you have while you are shopping (same ones you went over before leaving the house).  Remind them that how they feel is important to you, but that they also need to communicate their feelings without screaming or hitting.

Move on:

Give your child some affection, a hug or a silly handshake.  This will affirm for your child that you still love them regardless of how they behave and help you move on and start again.  Once you have moved on, don’t bring up what happened in the store. Focus on what your child is doing well and what they are doing that is helpful.  If your child continues to escalate or have several tantrums and there is no way to get them to calm down (after 5-10 minutes), be prepared to abort your shopping mission.  Your child may be too tired or uncomfortable to continue shopping.  Sometimes you will need to leave the store, go home and regroup.  This can be very frustrating and inconvenient, but may be necessary in order to properly deal with the situation.

Remember that shopping can be fun, and try not to dread taking your toddler to the grocery store. As children get older and understand how to express themselves in appropriate ways, tantrums in public will be a thing of the past.

 Happy Shopping!




Monday, 23 December 2013

The Naughty List - A Christmas Tradition

The Naughty List – A Christmas Tradition

Santa Claus is coming to town…or is he?

It is that magical time of year again. The malls are pumping out Christmas tunes and stores have all their Christmas decorations out to remind us that we don’t have much time left before the big day.

Unfortunately, Christmas songs are not the only thing you hear while shopping. It is also the time of year when many parents pull out the threat of the “naughty list”. The threat that Christmas will not happen and Santa will not come if you are bad. They say things like, “Santa is watching” and “Santa won’t come if you are naughty.” I realize that parents are desperately trying to keep their children in line before Christmas – and that the whole hype around the holidays just makes children more and more excited and less and less manageable. But, it is not fair to children to threaten to take away their holiday traditions, just because they are not behaving in a way that is acceptable to you.

It’s funny, because I am pretty sure that people who celebrate Christmas and do the whole “Santa thing” are the only ones dishing out the threats. I have never heard people who celebrate Hanukkah saying, “There will be no lighting of the menorah if you are bad” or what about Kwanza, are there parents out there saying, “No Kwanza for you!” I doubt it.  It seems to be a part of the whole Christmas tradition. It must be the Christians who came up with the idea of Santa watching us. Apparently we always need someone to watch us, just in case we step out of line. Basically, as adults there is the threat of going to hell which keeps us on our toes, and for children it is the threat of no toys (which, let’s face it – is their own idea of hell).

The whole concept of Santa being able to see us is a bit creepy. I can remember as a kid lying awake waiting for Santa to come and my mom saying, “Santa can’t come until you are asleep…he can see you.” So, you are telling me that I have to go to sleep so that a strange bearded man can sneak into the house, eat my cookies and leave me some presents…hmmm, made sense to me.

I have to say though, that I love Christmas. It is such a fun and magical time.  And, not only Christmas - but all of the holiday traditions that people share. The holidays are really about children. So, why are we threatening to take that away? Next time you want to pull out your “Santa isn’t going to come if you are bad card” – consider this.

Here is what your children hear when you threaten to take away their presents.

1)    The only reason to listen to my parents and be caring and considerate of others is to get what I want (presents).

2)     The way that you behave has so much power that you can change holiday traditions.

3)    Getting presents is the most important part of the holidays.

4)    As your parent, if I don’t like the way that you are behaving, I have the right to take away something very special to you.

5)    Santa won’t like you if you are bad.
I know that it is very tempting to use Santa as a means of getting your children to behave – but it is not a holiday tradition that you want to pass on from generation to generation. Besides, we all know how empty that threat is. Would you really take away your child’s imagination and love of that jolly old elf, just because they had been “naughty”? My guess is, no.

Think about all the wonderful things that you want to share with your children. The fun - the magic…and leave Santa out of your discipline strategies.

Here is a really fun way to make the idea of Santa come alive for your children – oh, and make sure that you put all of your children on the “Nice” list.

Happy Holidays!



Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Ridiculous (and hurtful) things parents say – and what children actually hear.

What we say to our children has a huge impact on how they see the world and more importantly how they see themselves. At times we can lose our patience and say things that we don't really mean - things that may seem harmless to us, but what do our children actually hear. This is a list of some commonly used phrases that parents use and the messages that are being received by our children.

1)      You better do _____or else.


“Something bad is going to happen to you if you don’t ______”


2)      Don’t talk back to me.


“What you have to say is not important to me.”


3)      I’ll give you something to cry about.


“Your feelings don’t matter to me.”


4)      Think about the starving children in Africa.


“You should keep eating, even when you are full or don’t enjoy it.”


5)      Don’t make me come over there!


“If I have to come over there, something bad will happen to you.”


6)      When I was your age we didn’t have________.


“Don’t be so selfish.

7)      You are getting on my last nerve.


“I don’t enjoy being with you.”


8)      You are going to get it!


“You are not going to like what I am about to do.”


9)      Why can’t you be more like your sister/brother?


“Who you are isn’t good enough.”


10)  Well…if all your friends jumped off a bridge would you want to do that too?


“You are not smart enough to make your own decisions.”


11)  You are cruising for a bruising.


“What you are doing makes me want to hurt you.”


12)  Life isn’t fair.


“Fairness is not something that we value.”


Choose you words carefully and protect your child’s self-esteem.

What ridiculous things do you find yourself saying to your children? Post them below.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Great Tips on Travelling with Children

Travelling with Children

These tips will be most helpful to those travelling by car, but can also be used when travelling by plane, train, bus etc...
Travelling with our children is inevitable. Instead of dreading that trip to Grandma’s house, try these tips for a smoother ride.

If you are travelling with a young child, who still has naps – try and plan your trip around their nap time. If it can be avoided, try not to plan your trip so that your child will be over-tired and therefore harder to reason with. It is best to travel just before their nap time, so that 30 minutes into the trip they drift off into a nice sleep, and you get 1-2 hours of quiet time. Remember to bring everything that your child will need to feel comfortable having a nap – blanket, stuffed animal, soother (if you use one), milk, story books etc. You want to create the same feeling of comfort and safety for your child that they would get at home. (Some infants will get quite upset when they can’t see you, so travelling in a car can be tricky. If you are travelling with another adult, sit in the back with your baby and play with them, read to them or sooth them to sleep. You can also give them a bottle, soother and/or sing them some songs).  
Ok, so all has gone according to plan (it might not) and now your child is awake, but there is still time left in your travels. Bring a goody bag – this is a bag of toys, books, activities that your child has never seen before. You can either tell your child beforehand that they will be getting a “Goody Bag” or surprise them with it. Each child should have their own goody bag, expecting them to share will only cause conflicts. Make sure that each bag is based on each child’s individual interests. I like to go to the Dollar store and load up on colouring books and other great activities (last time I was there they even had travel sized Mr. Potatoes Heads).

When in doubt, bring a video for them to watch. Some of the mini-vans now have DVD players in them which I am sure that many parents find quite handy. Try to make watching videos in the car a special thing that you only do on trips, so that your children have something to look forward to (of course this is only for children 2 years old and up). If you are not travelling by mini-van, with built in DVD player – as many of us aren’t – bring a laptop or portable DVD player with you. This may save you…especially if your children don’t nap.
Remember to bring snacks. We can all become quite cranky if we don’t get enough to eat in a day and children need to eat even more regularly than we do. So…make sure that you bring enough to eat and drink, so that you won’t have to make too many stops and hear too many complaints about being hungry. When you are packing snacks, keep them healthy and sugar-free as much as possible. There is nothing quite like having all your children jacked up on sugar and then trying to confine them to a car, train or plane. That is not going to be much fun for anyone.

Know your limits and your children’s. If your child hates to travel, no matter what you do…then limit the time that you travel. I realize this may be easier said than done, but do what you can to limit the amount of hours that you need to travel in a day. If you are travelling by car, plan to stop along the way and let everyone stretch their legs and use the washroom. And, if you need to – plan some overnights along the way. Travelling with your children doesn’t have to be about just getting from point A to point B…maybe there is something interesting in between.
Give yourself plenty of time. Now, when I say “plenty of time” – I don’t just mean give yourself enough time on the clock…I mean, give yourself and your children enough time to get to your destination in one piece. That will look different for every family. Some parents might have a child who needs to use the washroom frequently, or a child who gets car/plane sick or even a child who needs time to stop and run around every hour. Know the needs of your family and then plan accordingly. If you are travelling by car, do not give yourself a time that you need to be at your final destination. Example – If you are visiting family or friends…don’t tell them that you will be there by a certain time. This only puts pressure on you and causes you to feel rushed…which of course makes us rush our children. Children hate to be rushed. So, just tell people that you are hoping to be there by a certain time and that you will call them if plans change.

Have fun. To quote Hemingway (which I don’t often do): “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” – Ernest Hemingway. What does that mean? Well…it means that you want to have fun and enjoy the travelling part of your journey as much as you can. Play games, talk about things that interest your children and enjoy each other’s company. There are several website that give great ideas on travelling games – see what you can find!
Treat yourself and your children. Our child never gets chocolate…ok, she gets chocolate cookies from time to time…but never pure chocolate. So, her treat for doing a really good job when we travel is a Kinder Egg. If you restrict the candy that your children get in general, they will be much more excited about getting some at the end of a trip. You should also treat yourself!

You made it…you are all in one piece and actually had fun along the way – it is now time for your treat.  Although, getting through a travelling day with your children without any huge hiccups is a treat in itself! If you often travel to the same place, ex. Grandparents – find a place near their house that you can all get out and celebrate with a little treat. Maybe there is an ice cream place nearby? A nice little bakery? Make it part of the journey…

After all, “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” – Ernest Hemingway

Safe Travels Everyone!


Wednesday, 21 August 2013

20 Things I wish I knew before becoming a Mom.

1.      The word “love” will take on a whole new meaning.

2.      Your relationship with your spouse will change – but time will bring you back to each other.

3.      Sleep will become a luxury, not a right

4.     You will wonder why you ever had children – and also wonder how you could ever live without them.

5.      It is okay not to have all the answers.

6.     You will hear your own mother’s voice come out of your mouth.

7.     Time goes by much faster when you are a parent

8.      Having children – gives you permission to let lose, have fun, be silly and embrace life through new eyes.

9.      At times you will feel very alone – and yet you will never have enough alone time.

10.  Patience and humour will get you through many difficult situations.

11.  You will worry…you will worry a lot.

12.  Be creative – children get bored easily. Try new things and explore every possibility.

13.  Having children will dig up all kinds of doubts and insecurities that you never knew you had.

14. Perfection and parenting do not mix.

15.  Your children do not belong to you. You are there to love and guide them as best you can - the rest is up to them.

16. The stakes will seem very high and you will wonder if your choices will somehow damage your children. If you give your them love, respect, empathy, freedom and consistency…they will be just fine.

17. Parenting is not something that you can just try out. It is a life-long commitment – there is no return policy.

18.  Having children will shine a light on your own mortality.

19.  You will need help raising your children – there is a reason why they say “it takes a village”.

20.  Be gentle with yourself. You will be a great mom and your children will be lucky to have you. After all the sleepless nights, diaper changes and personal struggles – you will know that you are doing something amazing.

©Professor Mom (M. Wright), 2013.