#shout shout, let it all out

Have you ever had the feeling that you need to scream your lungs out? We do. Not very often. But still, quite often. Kids, husbands, colleagues. They all have secret talents to drive one crazy.

Being yourself and being honest towards your children- and others for that matter – is very important. When it comes to anger, rage and fury it is not that easy. Screaming and shouting is not compatible with the picture of the patient and understanding mum, or the calm and diplomatic colleague one usually wants to be perceived as.

From time to time it just explodes – not from inside the head – but from deep down within – and there is often little opportunity to consider beforehand the pedagogical sides of the outburst. Because it just happens.

And just to be clear – we are talking about non-violent anger here. Corporal punishment – even if the offspring did unspeakable things – hitting your child (or an annoying colleague) is a no-go.

 

So – to what extent is it ok to show anger – and to be angry? Especially considering our parenting role? Tantrums are common at an early age – they are our way of strongly saying we disagree with our surroundings. Being part of our social vocabulary anger is a tool to make our voice heard. It earns respect – but can also create fear. The first you would want from your children – the second preferably not. How to make that balance? Our kids should experience the full menu of human emotions – otherwise they will grow up believing it is natural not to show your feelings. This could be much worse than having your mother screaming at you (occasionally). However a golden rule for the times we’re out of line is to make sure to explain why Mummy turned all red in the face and different profanities and unknown words came out like pearls on a string. At the same time they see that Mum is a real person – with normal feelings and reactions. And they might already guess where their tantrums are coming from.

Anger is seen differently in various cultures. Being from Mediterranean and Scandinavian cultural backgrounds we have references to quite distinct and differing approaches to the legitimacy of anger. What can be perceived by others as loud shouting is a normal conversation among Greeks. However for a Norwegian, being yelled at is being perceived as a slap in the face. The southern way seems to follow a rationale of getting it all out there. The more cool and Nordic approach highly values reaching a consensus as implicitly and silent as possible.

Working in an international environment there are numerous examples of how irritation – and yes also anger – is being expressed differently. A requirement when you work in such a place is to be open for a whole range of different kinds of outbursts: from the top-of-your-lung-screams-down-the-hallway to the more silent aggression responses. And not take anything especially personally. And being able to laugh about it later. There are lessons to be learnt. Some situations call for direct and maybe even a loud intervention. Other contexts benefits from a silent-treatment, or maybe just a slight frown.

Shouldn’t there be an equivalent to the “good cry” when it comes to anger? And how much rage could be considered constructive? If at the end of the day it leads to a good discussion or increased positive inter-family (or inter-collegial) understanding it definitely can.

Conclusion is: Adults too are allowed to have tantrums.

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Reversing the #disconnect

What happens when you mash-up the parenting styles of a Norwegian and a Greek mother, and then transfer it to the digital world? Interesting things happen!

Empowering confused parents to be good parents is already quite difficult. What makes a good parent, what are the criteria that need to be fulfilled and who sits on the jury? But being real role models in the digital age is another challenge.

 

Kids nowadays spend tons of time online, at home, on the bus, when they hang out with friends and even at school as part of the new wave of digital education. And what about the adults? Us? We are equally spending a lot of our time on our laptops or beloved tablets or smartphones.

When trying to figure out how to succeed with the balancing act of parenting a digital teen, tween or toddler – challenges like parental lack of awareness and parental apathy are brought up as central challenges. And it’s true; these are real problems that we hardly pay a closer look at. But as an additional exercise it might prove worthwhile also to engage in some self-reflexive thinking. That’s the hard task to do. We’re good at saying where others fail, because it justifies our approaches.

But to what extent are we, the parents, good role-models in terms of showing when and where it is ok to get absorbed into their device and when to turn off and engage in the physical social context. There is face-time and there is face-to-face time. Our engagement as parents probably has room for improvement. We need to engage in conversations with our kids. One of the main reasons for this is that one size certainly does not fit all. The recipe that worked wonders with one of the kids might fail miserably with the next one. Why? Being siblings might mean that the hair-colour is similar and that the noses has the same curve – personalities however are in our experience wildly differing. Having a simple set of rules works well in some families where kids obey and are disciplined. We firmly believe that by listening more and better to our children is the better approach. Hoping (and praying) that the need for regulating every single step they take online, might evaporate. It could be interesting to have a set of digital tools, a toolbox of useful apps/add-ons that help both us the parents to get rid of our mostly unjustified fear of the potential threats online, but mostly company our kids through their online journeys and explorations. Those tools should help them in navigating safely, but most importantly, help them to develop skills and resilience to master unknown tempests.

 

Some important issues require us parents to be up to speed in order to be able to help our kids. Not knowing necessarily everything it should still be possible for most of us to discuss for example bullying and sharing inappropriate pictures. Management of personal data and sharing is only a small part of the big picture; as there are also more complicated issues. The blurring between paid and sponsored contents as well as getting tracked are matters that are difficult also for adults to grasp. So who can help the parents?

At the end of the day how are the practical implications of our views on where to draw the lines: restricting activities and content online as opposed to a more open and free internet. Or should we leave our kids alone?

Working with these topics on a daily basis, allows us to reflect and try to implement as best as we can the good advice we hear from researchers, children, parents and other experts.

Interested to learn more? Have a look at what some good researchers have published.

 

#talkingmonkeys

Months ago we decided to write a blog together. Long months in which we almost started, but then discovered that we needed a title for our blog. So we went into a journey into ourselves, and then into google, trying to search for all the nice sounding words, even tried out a word-generator. And then, after having read something about humanitarianism, we thought, if there’s one thing that defines us, than that’s being women in their early forties, trying to change the world – our own little spots of the world – for the better. And no, we aren’t about to deliver a ‘Miss World’ speech, as we don’t aim for world peace. We just want peace with our inner selves.

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Coming to a point, where we no longer can rest uncomfortably in our comfort zone, we know that we need to change ourselves in order to change things around us. But how?

So how to get things off our chest? Writing a blog, we thought is a great way to express ourselves and tell the world how we feel about things. Everybody’s blogging. So why shouldn’t we. No, we don’t really hope for our 15 minutes of fame, nor to advertise cosmetics or clothes – not even to show off our philosophical brilliance, which we could. By harvesting our everyday opinions, our countless comments and (usually) interesting conversations, we will try to leave our ‘comfort zone’. Being women, mothers, wives, friends, customers, co-workers and sometimes bitches when the situation calls for it, we have tons of experiences – good and bad that we think are worthwhile sharing.

At the same time our challenges to tidy up in some 21st century complexities; handling everyday-life of full-time work and juggling the home-sphere while being true to ourselves and our values plus ideally manage to develop intellectually at the same time. This takes some effort. Serious amounts of effort. But we want it all to work and we are prepared to muster the energy to do so.

Through this blog we aim to support and encourage each-other in managing to muddle through our challenges and in having a great time while we’re at it. Blogging we hope, will allow us to experiment with and to engage in social interactions.

Bear with us, as we just started..