Thursday, April 1, 2010

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

Parents who grew up in dysfunctional homes are far more likely to abuse their own children. The financial pressures of a tight economy, joblessness and underemployment only make it worse. Many of the parents today never learned how to be parents themselves, because their parents didn't know how to be parents.

Many Native American families have been crippled by boarding schools and religious brainwashing. Tens of thousands of children in past generations were removed from their homes, sometimes by force, and raised in boarding schools. Whether or not this original generation was abused at their school (many were), the fact is that they didn't grow up in a family environment means that they didn't learn how to be parents. They were marched around like little soldiers everywhere, and often suffered dire consequences for misbehaving.

So the parents, grandparents and great-grandparents of today who were raised in a religious or government boarding school may over-react to typical childhood behavior, or simply not know how to show love and compassion, because none was ever shown to them. Those who were raised in a brainwashed religious environment may be just as damaged as those raised in a military-type school. Their children and grandchildren often suffer, due to this history of family-deprived living.

What we need to do is flip this around, and teach parents today how to be good parents. That way, their children will learn how to be good parents, and they will have broken the cycle of child abuse and neglect. This can be done in one generation, once the problem is recognized and the behavior is changed. The following are some tips for today's parents, who may have been raised in a dysfunctional environment themselves. These tips were taken from the following website:

Five Parenting Tips For Today's Parents from Dysfunctional Homes 

1)  Remember that children are NOT miniature adults. They are little children with immature minds. Laura Ramirez, author of the award-winning Keepers of the Children: Native American Wisdom and Parenting, says "kids... don't come into the world knowing how to behave... Instead of punishing kids (which only teaches them what NOT to do), kids need parents to teach them what to do, when and why."

2) Figure out what triggers your angry over-reaction to your kids. When you learn to recognize these, you can be in control of your behavior, and your kids won't be able manipulate you to make you react. Remember to ACT - not REACT.  If they throw a screaming fit in the aisle of the grocery store, don't REACT to their behavior, just ACT calmly and walk to the next aisle. They'll soon realize that their bad behavior won't get them what they want, and they'll stop it. Then praise them grandly when they behave well, and they'll get the idea and it's a whole lot nicer to behave than it is to misbehave. Deep down, kids want to please their parents.

3) Take a timeout yourself. When the kids are driving you to anger, go to your room & shut the door, walk outside or lock yourself in the bathroom. Make the kids learn to respect your limits, and to leave you alone with you need time to cool off. Ask a friend or neighbor to watch the kids for a while if you need a break, there are a lot of people around who would be happy to give you a break, if you'll only ask. Empty-nesters without grandchildren nearby might cherish the opportunity to have kids around for a couple of hours.

4) When you over-react, accept responsibility for it and apologize to the kids for yelling at them. Spend some time with them after you cool down. Don't try to buy their love, even younger kids will feel cheated if you try to buy their affection and trust. You can explain to the older kids why you get so upset; they might not always understand, but they will appreciate your honesty. When you have older children who don't understand why you don't want them spending time with strangers, you may need to explain why you are so afraid of the situation. Kids can be very understanding if you teach them that you are human too, and can make mistakes just like them. I used to tell my daughter "I'm not perfect, but I'm doing the best I can". 

5) Respond appropriately to your kids. Try not to react instinctively based on your own dysfunctional upbringing, and recognize the triggers and patterns that didn't work for you when you were growing up. You may not have learned HOW to be a good parent, but chances are that you learned HOW NOT to be a good parent. Overall, think of how you WISH your parents had treated you. Don't be afraid to show your children love, no child was ever spoiled by showing them too much love. As they get older and start needing their independence, they will start pushing you away when the time comes.  

Laura Ramirez is the author of the award-winning parenting book, Keepers of the Children: Native American Wisdom and Parenting. The book teaches parents how to overcome the negative aspects of their upbringing and raise children who are strong, happy, healthy and resilient. Contact her on her web site or by calling 775-815-2872.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Janet's Easy Method For Adding Yarn To A Grass Dance Outfit

As powwow season rapidly approaches, many parents will begin the annual quest to dress their kids. This blog entry is for the brave souls who make their own grass dance outfit & struggle to put yarn on it. These steps will walk you through MY WAY of doing it. After many years of making outfits, I've figured out what I think are the easiest ways of doing things. If you don't attempt to do this yourself, at least you can appreciate the amount of work it takes to make these outfits.

This photo shows a completed grass dance outfit that's ready to wear. It has 2 aprons, pants with yarn at the bottom, a shirt with yarn & 2 cuffs for the wrists. I usually make a front/back yoke for small boys instead of a shirt, because they won't outgrow it as fast. Yokes should be about as wide as their shoulders & come down to their waist, to make it through a whole year without being outgrown. Make the aprons about the same width & make them reach from the waist to the knees. You can put an extra wide casing a the top that can be let down during the summertime as they grow, and give yourself a couple more inches of growing room. Those wide thick athletic shoestrings are great for tying on boys grass dance aprons.

Older boys & men may also want beaded or cloth side-drops and a beaded or cloth harness that hangs in front. I'll have to address those in another blog post.

1) Start out by making & decorating your pieces. Finish the pieces before you start adding the yarn, because the yarn will get in your way afterward.

2) You also need something to wrap the yarn around. I like to use a plastic clipboard like shown in the photo at the right.

You need good sharp scissors that will cut your yarn, not chew it. 

3) You'll need 2 LARGE skeins of yarn for a toddler boys outfit, 3 skeins for an older boy & possibly 4 skeins for a teen or adult size outfit. I like to use multiple colors of yarn on a lot of my outfits, especially the ones for young kids. You'll need a skein of each color, and one or two skeins of your main color (red is the main color here). Mark the center points on the back side of your pieces with chalk or soap or a disappearing fabric marker. Use a ruler to measure out your sections accurately, so that your colors are evenly matched when you're finished.

4) Get ready to start sewing the yarn into place before making your first yarn loop. Place your finished apron piece with the back side up, underneath the presser foot of your sewing machine. Position the needle going through the apron about 1/2" from the edge. Start your stitching & backstitch to hold the thread in place. Remember to use thread that matches the front side of the aprons in your bobbin, so that it looks neat on the front side.

5) Figure out how long your yarn needs to be. Start wrapping it around your clipboard or hard surface that's the approximate length you want the yarn. Wrap it about 20 times around the clipboard at one time. Don't try to do too much at once, you'll have a hard time if you wrap it more than 25 times.

6) Slide the yarn off of the clipboard & center the top of the yarn loop underneath the presser foot, up against the needle that's already positioned in your apron.

7) Spread the top loop of the yarn out nice & even in front of the needle. Don't get it too thick, because it's going to be doubled over on the finished apron. You can spread it out into a single layer on a small boys outfit, but keep the yarn close so that it doesn't look skimpy.

8) After you've sewn through the top loop of the yarn (approximately 20 strands), then pull the yarn forward, and cut the bottom part of the loop evenly.

9) Continue wrapping the yarn & sewing it down around the edges until you've gone around all the edges and completed each piece.  

10) This photo shows the yarn sewn down once, all the way around an apron.

11) Now flip the yarn on the inside over and smooth it out evenly on the outside of the apron.

12) Put the apron back under the sewing machine at your original starting point, and stitch down the yarn about 1/8" - 1/4" away from your original stiching. This will insure that all yarn is stitched down twice, making sure it's secure & won't pull out easily.

13) Continue sewing down the folded-over yarn, all the way around the apron. Remember to back-stich when you start & end, so that your stitching doesn't unravel & allow the yarn to pull out of the stitching.

14) Flip your piece over & trim up the yarn evenly. It's done!

 15) If you are adding yarn onto a solid surface (not an edge) like on the yoke of a shirt, it's easy to outline your area with low-adhesive painters tape that won't leave residue on your shirt. Stitch the first time right next to your tape. The second stitching will be about 1/4" below the tape.

You can also use a sliver of soap or fabric marking pen to mark your sewing line on a shirt yoke when your sewing line is curved instead of straight, like the outfit pictured below. Trim up your yarn & you're done!

We recommend hand washing your grass dance outfit. Some dancers put their yarn pieces into a "delicate fabric" bag on gentle cycle in the washing machine & that seems to work okay too. Just don't throw your yarn pieces in with a regular load & expect the yarn to survive in a regular washing machine load - it won't! 

Happy Dancing!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

What does anyone want to know about?

I've been so busy that I haven't kept up with this blog for a while. Powwow season is fast approaching, so tell me what you want to know? Questions about powwows? Does anyone want help learning to make ribbonwork, put yarn on a boys grass dance outfit, or what??? Send me an email & let me know!