Five Bergen women share parenting tips. Read on!
Circle of Love
Alison Turen, Englewood, with sons, Hayden (3) and Tyler (5)
For Alison Turen, raising two spirited boys keeps her on her toes. She finds that what works best as a mother is to surround herself with the love and support of her family, particularly the boys' grandparents.
"We spend so much wonderful time together," Turen says. "Hayden and Tyler have playful natures, and we all have so much fun. My parents and in-laws live close by, and we see them often. I believe that it's important for children to spend time with the entire family to create an everlasting bond among them."
Lorraine Baratta, Upper Saddle River, with daughter Sami (17)
An environment of mutual respect is the cornerstone of Lorraine Baratta's relationship with her youngest daughter, Sami. Baratta, who also has two grown daughters who are out of the house, believes that her children determine the individuals they wish to be and that it is her role as their mother to guide them toward sound choices.
"I approach parenting very similar to the way my mom raised me," says Baratta. "I believe in meeting our daughter Sami halfway. I believe there is a time and place for everything. I believe that Sami needs space and a place to continue to grow up into the responsible young lady we know she is.
"I respect and love our daughter very much and I expect respect in return. Not just for me from her, but for her father, family, friends and mostly herself."
I share words like:
R – RESPONSIBILITY
E – ENDURANCE
S – SPIRITUALITY and SACRIFICES
P – PATIENCE
E – EDUCATION
C – COMMUNICATION
T – TOLERANCE and TIME
Using these few ingredients of respect, Sami could go a long way in life."
The Ties That Bind
Susan Rhee, Ridgewood, with daughter Sasha (6) and son Nicholas (4)
It's hard to teach little ones how to tie their shoes, but according to Susan Rhee, if you can get them to put their shoes on by themselves first, multi-tasking moms can save themselves some significant time. Rhee suggests this simple tip: "Draw a smiley face on the rubber sole of your little ones' shoes (one on each shoe, by the big toe). Tell your child that when the smiley faces are facing each other, then their shoes are on the correct feet. Hopefully, this will get your little feet out the door in no time at all!"
Gwen Keeble, Allendale, with son Patrick James (6) and daughter Penelope Shannon (8)
Spending time alone with each of her children is an important element to Gwen Keeble's parenting style. On a rainy day, she sometimes brings up all the empty shipping boxes from the basement and decorates them as lemonade stands or movie house concierge stands. "We take turns 'selling' each other movie tickets, drinks and snacks," says Keeble, "and as a bonus, we practice counting change! Then we snuggle on the couch together and watch a movie!"
Being flexible is key for Keeble. Her son's favorite hobby is creating new Lego buildings and people, but he has so many Lego pieces he sometimes doesn't know where that perfect piece is. "Sometimes we get out a big blanket and dump out all his Legos and make a game of sifting through them all while we talk about our day," Keeble says. "If I spend time helping him with his favorite activity, he feels loved and knows that I value him. Best of all, he is much more willing to help me when I ask for help!"
A Perfect Blend
Eloise Shepherd Khoury, Franklin Lakes, with daughter Lynn and granddaughter Madeleine Halsey (1)
"As a mom of all four kids, I remember very early on that I made a point of never distinguishing between the two groups of children," says Eloise Shepherd Khoury of her happily blended family. "When Lynn and John's dad was still alive, I remember my son Alex was so sure that he had two dads! He didn't see him much, but heard them refer to him as dad so that he assumed he was his as well. We celebrate as one, everyone's birthday and life's accomplishments as well as our disappointments.
"I have included Joe's family (my ex) in a place of honor, as we have celebrated Lynn and John throughout the years. I can go on, but the bottom line has always been to build from me a strong foundation from which the family will grow solid – branching off but always connected.
"I am so blessed to have Aldo by my side, supporting us all and very generous with his love. He loves them as if they are his own, and has proven his dedication and commitment to us all."