Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Teaching tolerance: 'My dad told me not to play with black kids'

Teaching tolerance: 'My dad told me not to play with black kids'

 http://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Family/Modern-Parenthood/2013/1003/Teaching-tolerance-My-dad-told-me-not-to-play-with-black-kids

Teaching tolerance: Raising tolerant children requires a willingness to assess one's own internalized stereotypes about race and the time to explore the riches of diversity.

By , Guest blogger

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“My dad told me not to play with black kids,”  quietly said Kid A, hesitating to share the ball with Kid B.
“B-b-b-ut, what’s wrong with black kids? I am black,” Kid B said with tears rolling down his cheeks, not understanding.
I was dumbfounded as I stood in between the two 6-year-olds. I wanted to shout to Kid A, “Well your dad is a nasty racist and he’s wrong!” But I knew better.

Both children were upset and confused; they both wanted to play with each other. Unfortunately, both kids will always remember this incident. One kid will remember how he was exposed to racism and segregation when he was in kindergarten. The other kid will probably hear more revolting remarks from his parent as he grows older.
I, as an Arab-American, remember being told to “go back to your country” when I was in middle school. My youngest brother was called a “terrorist” when he was in elementary school. And we will always remember how we were made to feel as if we didn’t belong to American society.
But whose fault is it?
Surely, you can’t blame the children. In the end, children will echo what their parents say and do. If your circle of friends are solely people who look like you, you don’t expose your children to different cultures and teach them about diversity, and you’ve made racist jokes in front of them, then why should you be surprised when your child gets in trouble at school for picking on the minority kid?
Here are some basic ideas for how parents can help their kids celebrate diversity and cultures:
1. Expose them to different cultures. Check out local international festivals, go to authentic restaurants where they serve ethnic foods, and befriend your neighbors. I still remember eating scrumptious desserts and watching Bollywood videos at my Indian-American neighbor’s house. Simple gestures can leave lasting impressions.
2. Be mindful of the cartoons and shows they watch. Many Disney films stereotype minorities. I’m not saying to ban these films at home, but to have conversations with your children, depending on their age, about the messages embedded in these films.
3. Talk to your children about what it means to live in a diverse society. Don’t be colorblind or tell your kids to ignore the colors of each other’s skin. Children will always be curious about the world and people around them. Simply explain to them that we all look different but we live with each other peacefully. I like using the salad analogy when explaining this to children: Some of us are tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, cucumbers – we are all different but we are mixed together and get along well.
4. Read books with your children that talk about diversity and culture. With teenagers, watch films about minorities, cultures, and discrimination, and discuss together.
5. Be a role model and be careful of the words you use in front of your child. Telling a random person you just met, “Wow, your English is so good, where are you from?” basically says that just because you look different you must not be an American. Celebrate diversity and culture by accepting one another and showing your children that it’s perfectly OK to look different.
The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Aya Kalil can be contacted at www.ayakhalil.blogspot.com.

School supplies: How to give, and receive, supplies in time for the first bell

School supplies: How to give, and receive, supplies in time for the first bell

 http://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Family/Modern-Parenthood/2014/0812/School-supplies-How-to-give-and-receive-supplies-in-time-for-the-first-bell

Some families grumble over the hassle of purchasing school supplies, while others struggle with how to pay for their supplies. Thanks to programs that donate supplies, parents can help each other.

By , Correspondent

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The National Retail Federation estimates that this year, an average family will spend $669.28 on back-to-school items, up from $634.78 from 2013. For many families, the cost of back-to-school clothes, shoes, and supplies is one that they cannot afford.
As a teacher, I have learned firsthand the costs for school supplies, and have learned a few tips to help families cut back on costs.
First, there are many national programs that distribute and help with supplies such as Kids in Need Foundation and United Way. Moreover, many chapters of The Salvation Army partner with local organizations to provide free school supplies to children in need. Also, Back-To-School Brigade works with Dollar Tree stores to supply millions of dollars of free school supplies across the nation.

Many of the above organizations provide multiple drop off locations throughout local communities to collect school supplies to distribute. Make sure to check their Facebook pages, as well as your local newspaper and television news to find information to see who is distributing supplies this year. Often, schools will also have information about local programs.
Col. Ron Busroe, community relations and development secretary for The Salvation Army says that parents who need help with school supplies should contact their local Salvation Army. "Many Salvation Army locations provide back to school assistance, and for those looking to receive support as the school year begins, it is best to contact your local Salvation Army by visiting SalvationArmyUSA.org and typing in your zip code," he wrote via e-mail. "In addition, those looking to help are encouraged to drop off commonly needed items at their local Salvation Army."Often, the local branches of national organizations have different ways to distribute school supplies. For example, the  Massachusetts Salvation Army  hands out backpacks and supplies at a Back to School Celebration, which includes activities and educational booths. Families must pre-register for the Back to School Celebration, which is taking place on Aug. 26.
My good friend, Reshma Khan, who founded a free women’s clinic in Charleston, S.C., organizes a Back-2-School Giveaway, under  ICNA Relief USA, and through her local program, passes out hundreds of dollars of school supplies and book bags every year. Cities in 12 states across the US participate in the program.
I encourage parents to have their children to volunteer at such events. Khan always takes her three young children to help where they directly pass out the book bags with school supplies to other children. As a result, her kids are more socially-conscious of the world around them and are more appreciative of their own blessings.
As for those who want to save money on the back-to-school list that many schools produce, stick to the must-have basics. Always make sure to check if there is any leftover supplies from last year’s supplies. Think about buying certain items in bulk, including items from Costco or Sam’s Club, for the whole family to use. Also, don’t throw out the list once school begins – keep it for the end of the school year when school supplies are on clearance.
Plus, do-it-yourself items, like book coverstotes, and pencil cases. are always a good project to make with kids to help personalize their school supplies, and will save families extra cash.
As for clothes, shoes, and uniforms, having that First Day of School outfit is important to many children, especially if they are starting middle school or high school. Have them choose a decently-priced outfit, but if your budget is tight, explore local thrift shops and local Facebook shop-and-swap groups. My favorite coupon and cash back apps and websites are GeoQponsRetailMeNotSnip Snap,Ebates and Shopkick.
Most importantly, remember that in many parts of the world, teaching and learning are done with very little supplies. If you cannot afford some of the extra items on your child’s supply list, talk directly to your child’s teacher about what items could be missed, and then check with local organizations for the must-haves.
Before submitting to sticker shock from a cartload of items at the checkout, think first about what can be re-used, refreshed, and refurbished from your current supplies. And if you are in a position to fill your cart, be sure to grab extra to donate to others and have your children directly participate in giving school supplies to community members in need. 

Manners should be taught at home, not in the classroom

Manners should be taught at home, not in the classroom

 http://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Family/Modern-Parenthood/2014/0707/Manners-should-be-taught-at-home-not-in-the-classroom

A teacher - and mom - says that teachers often nurture children's use of manners. But parents should be the primary source of teaching manners to kids.

By , Correspondent

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I overheard a conversation between 4-year-olds at a school I worked at a couple of years ago that has stuck in my head ever since. A child was sitting in the nurses office and expressed to a classmate that he was afraid. His classmate reassured him everything will be fine, that it was OK to be scared, and offered to hold his hand. It made me realize how compassionate, caring, and respectful children can be at such a young age.
Manners are taught. When I was a child, manners were greatly emphasized and taught by my parents. Nowadays, as a teacher, I often have to constantly remind students to say such things as “thank you” and “excuse me.”
I always remember those students who were respectful long after they leave my classroom. Students who always asked to help carry books or supplies, who greeted their classmates in the morning, or who always said "excuse me," "thank you", "please," and "ma’am" and "sir."

I do not believe teachers are required to teach their students how to have manners. I consider it part of the parents’ job to teach manners and respect - especially to older students. Reminding pre-schoolers or kindergarteners to say “please” and “thank you” in the classroom is fair, but beyond that, children should understand the basics.
One of the basics a parent should teach their older children especially, is respect and not to laugh at someone else if he looks different. I remember a couple of years ago at a school I worked at, a child pointed to my hijab, while giggling, and said "Why do you wear that on your head, do you have cancer or do you think it's just cool?" I was startled, but calmly explained to her how we are all different and we should respect one another.
As a first time parent I realize the importance of instilling manners now more than ever before. I remember when I used to deal with a rude child, I would tell myself I would never let my child do that, and how dare his parent let him act like that. As a parent, I now understand that children have good and bad days. Sometimes they will express their anger and frustration through tantrums and yelling. And often times they will be finicky if they're hungry or sleepy or in a new environment.
However, it’s really never too early to start teaching children how to be respectful. We have been teaching our 1-year-old daughter how to say "please" and "thank you." Every time she hands us something, we tell her thank you. We also teach her respect by being respectful to her. Similarly, when we ask her to do something, we ask politely, even if we are being firm with her. For example, in toddler terms I would say, “Please stop throwing the broccoli on the floor because you are wasting it and making a mess. Please eat the broccoli.”
In today’s fast-paced world, mobile technology and social media are two factors slicing full conversations down to shorthand, with little room for niceties. I'm in awe when I go out to eat and see all members of a family using their smart phones. Or when a parent repetitively ignores their child's pleas, while updating her Facebook status about how much she loves her adorable child.
It’s not surprising when I meet children in the classroom who don’t have manners, because many adults don’t. I often have to stop myself and take a step back and remember my own manners.
For example, I have been making an effort to ask sales people and cashiers how they’re doing and greet them before I ask them a question. Even by sending an e-mail to a friend or colleague by starting off with a “how are you doing” is part of my Internet etiquette.
I recently moved to Pittsburgh from South Carolina and went to the Department of Motor Vehicles to re-apply for a new driver's license. While waiting with my daughter and husband, I saw a man standing, clearly angry that his number hadn't been called yet, cursing. Here I was, in a new city, trying to teach my daughter to pronounce the word "please" and this man was using explicit language in public (something 55 percent of adults do - according to a Schools.com report on bad manners from 2012).
When children see their parents using manners, whether with strangers, other children, or adults, they will pick up on it. My parents taught us to address people formally when speaking to adults.
Likewise, they always told us to stand up and give up our seat if we saw an older person walk in a room, or riding public transportation. Although these are quite formal in today's standards in America and times have changed, these practices helped me succeed and be aware of my every day manners.
Children don't need to take classes on etiquette or learn from a TV show the significance of manners. Rather, they need discipline to practice manners and reminders from their parents. Parents should be extra respectful to others while their children are with them so they can see and learn. And most importantly, parents should treat their own children with respect so they can reciprocate it back to them and to everyone they interact with, including teachers. 

Father's Day: Driving lessons with my Egyptian father

Father's Day: Driving lessons with my Egyptian father

 http://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Family/Modern-Parenthood/2014/0612/Father-s-Day-Driving-lessons-with-my-Egyptian-father

A young mother remembers driving lessons from her immigrant father as an example of his principled, patient teaching and care. 

By , Correspondent

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Driving lessons with my dad were not a joke when we were teenagers. He would wake us up at the crack of dawn on Sundays and take us to an empty parking lot to practice. And even though the K-Mart parking lot we practiced in was entirely empty, he would scowl disappointedly and say, “you just hit five cars – how are you still driving?” if we drove on or even came close to the empty parking spaces.
But dad continued to be patient, yet stern when we made mistakes. When we improved and stopped "running over" pretend cars in the parking spaces, he would finally let us take charge of the wheel on the drive back home as the sun was rising.
Besides teaching me how to become a defensive driver, my father has taught me other numerous lessons throughout the years.
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He taught me to: always remain principled, even if others aren’t; treat others justly, even when it’s easy not to; never turn down someone who asks for help, even if you are struggling yourself; continuously give, and do so humbly; work hard – do your best; remember that vacations are important — take care of yourself. Most important, he taught me to take care of the family.
Fathers who care for their families – whether they are single parents, homemakers, step-dads, immigrants, or otherwise – aim to protect, support and love their families unconditionally.
My parents immigrated to the United States from Egypt when I was just 1-year old and my brother was 2. They left everything behind and were exposed to an unfamiliar culture and language, no friends or family, and worked long days to try to cultivate a fuller life. Besides seeking a better future for his children and wanting to better provide for his family, he strongly disliked the corrupt economic and political practices back in Egypt.
My baba (the Arabic word for dad) has always been a hardworking man with strong ethics and upright values. Growing up, we watched him take on 24-hour-long shifts at his job, and for the past 15 years he has commuted a total of three hours every day.
With all of this, not once did my siblings or I ever hear him complain about his challenging job as a doctor. Instead, he always strove to fulfill his job wholly, and by doing so, he strove to make a difference in whatever community in which we found ourselves when we relocated or traveled.
When we traveled with him on a business trip or on vacation, and we rode in cabs, Baba would casually chat with the cab driver about life and family. I remember he would always give the drivers extra cash and tell them it was a little gift for his children. He has a deep appreciation for the hard-working family man, regardless of social stature or occupation, who struggles to provide for his family.
But above all that, his main reason for working was for us – to support my strong, selfless mother and my three other siblings. Over the years my caring mother has been a community organizer who makes endless sacrifices with her time, skills, and resources. She's faced discrimination and ignorant comments in regards to her Muslim faith and culture, but has always remained steadfast and forbearing.
However, no matter how hard he worked, work was never my father’s  first priority.
Family always was his first priority, and he made that clear as soon as he stepped into the house after a day at work. My siblings and I would playfully hide from him when we heard the car pull up, and he would always walk in and pretend to search for us (even though we consistently hid in the same places) and act surprised when we popped out and scared him.
He made up silly songs for us that we loved to hear and recited them back to him proudly. Baba took us to the park with him and let us play on the playground while he walked, allowing us to explore enough so that we felt independent, but still connected to him.
Although he eventually became a US citizen, my father has held on to his roots.
He continuously gives back to his community in Zagazig, Egypt. He makes sure my grandmother who still lives there is well, calls her several times a week, and brings her over for summer-long visits to the US every year. Since she speaks no English, whenever she visits, he goes out of his way to book her layover flights at Arabic-speaking airports.
One year, he tried booking too late and the only layover available was in New York City. So he booked the same flight for himself to NYC, dropped her off, made sure she got on the international flight to Cairo, and flew back to Ohio on the same day.
A couple of years ago, Baba suffered a cardiac arrest while at the office, and thankfully survived. His recovery has been a long and trying process. During those initial tough days after the incident, I realized truly how much people around us respected, loved, and cared for my father.
Friends and family flew from all over the country and even from Egypt to see him. During that time, I dropped my graduate class and left my job for several weeks to be close to him.
It was hard to imagine life continuing as usual as my family and our friends focused entirely on his recovery, with the same fervor he used to care for all of us.  
In a way, we all felt this: my mother, husband, and sibling all put everything on hold at the time so that we were near him.  We simply did what he had always taught us: family is irreplaceable; family always comes first, no matter how we’re doing with our  career or education. Everything else can wait.
Happy Father’s Day to all the hard-working fathers out there who always put family first.

Six ways to encourage summer reading for kids (+vide

Six ways to encourage summer reading for kids (+video)

 http://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Family/Modern-Parenthood/2014/0610/Six-ways-to-encourage-summer-reading-for-kids-video

Summer reading is a treat for some kids, and a chore for others. Here are ways parents can help encourage reading and make it a fun activity during summer vacation free time.

By , Correspondent

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It’s finally summer vacation for many kids across the country, which means staying up late, going to the beach, hanging out with friends, and sleeping in. But for some kids, it also means catching up on reading for fun and enjoying their favorite books.
Unfortunately, many kids have a long list of required summer reading that they usually only start a couple days before school begins (or use Spark Notes to skim through their assigned reading).
As a teacher, I always encourage parents and students to continue to read over the summer. As much as I appreciate seeing students getting excited over using technology in the classroom, I love it when students choose to read independently or read to one another in the reading corner.
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When I was younger, I took my summer reading time quite seriously – getting comfortable, having a drink and snack nearby – and would get irked by people who interrupted my precious solitude. I would often stay up all night long during the summer reading my favorite books.
Sadly, I have noticed that many kids I know these days rarely read for fun. They would rather play on their iPads or watch YouTube videos.
Parents can help encourage reading for fun and support their children’s literacy development over the summer in several ways.
Read to your children at a young age 
As soon as your baby arrives is an ideal time to start reading to them. Studies show many benefits to reading to newborns. Singer Dolly Parton has a reading program called Imagination Library where children receive a free book every month, depending on their location and eligibility. Eligibility is based on age – from birth to age 5 and locations are predetermined based on whether or not the county or town has local affiliates that manage and fund the program. My 17-month-old daughter has received a book every month from Imagination Library since she was born. Older kids can look forward to a “surprise” book in the mail just for them every month, addressed with their own names, adding a personal touch that singles out older readers.
Freebies for readers
Pizza Hut started the “Book It!” program in 1984, when the company’s president started the program to encourage his own son’s reading. Thirty years later, parents who once participated in the program will be happy to learn that it is still rewarding kids for their voracious reading habits.
Book It! rewards students with a free one topping, personal pan pizza when they achieve the reading goal their teacher has set for the month. The program also offers a a summer reading challenge where kids can register online and explore reading with fun activities and games, and use the #BOOKITSummer hashtag on Instagram to participate in a scavenger hunt.
Make your local library or bookstore a home base for reading adventures
Many libraries and book stores across the country have fun and special summer programs. For instance, Barnes and Noble has a summer reading program where kids can earn a free book by reading several books and recording online their books read.
Check out your local book store’s web site to see if it has a weekly story time for children, and review your local library’s special summer programs, perfect for filling long summer days with some down time beating the heat with a good book.
Add to the world record for minutes spent reading
Educational publisher Scholastic is trying to set a world record this summer for reading, hosting the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge, taking place from May 5 through September 5.
As of June 9, readers registered for the challenge had already read more than 119 million minutes. Parents can make the Scholastic challenge a fun competition between their children to see who reads the most books over the summer.
Embrace the written word on digital pages
Kids love technology, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. There are lots of educational apps that encourage reading, plus Apple’s iTunes library has many free books available for download. Google Play and Amazon also offer free book downloads as well.
E-readers can be fun to use while traveling. Also, audible.com lets users download their favorite books onto their smartphones as audiobooks to listen to them.
Be your kids’ reading role model
If your kids see the way you value reading, so will they. If they see you on your iPhone and laptop all day long, then they will most likely want to do the same. A recent Common Sense Media study reports that children who read often usually have parents who read and set time aside for their child to read every day.
Encourage your children to read over the summer, from all different sources, including newspapers and magazine, and books, and even online sources as well.
Reading should be fun and enjoyable for everyone, and supporting children’s literacy development begins at home. Take time in the summer to encourage your child’s reading skills and to nurture a love of reading for the entire family that will last longer than a few short months and into the school years ahead.

How to make teacher appreciation last all year long



How to make teacher appreciation last all year long

 http://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Family/Modern-Parenthood/2014/0513/How-to-make-teacher-appreciation-last-all-year-long

Teachers in the US are typically recognized for one week in May, but students and their parents can take inspiration from global school traditions that make teacher appreciation a daily practice.

By , Correspondent

Teacher Appreciation Week, May 5-11, prompts the beginning of end of the school year appreciation gifts and celebrations for teachers in the US. Many are flooded with cards, flowers, and other goodies. There’s no doubt that being a teacher is one of the most challenging, yet often under-appreciated jobs in the US.
I’ve had some pretty remarkable teachers throughout my life, as I’m sure many students have. But one thing I regret not doing as a student was to show more appreciation to those teachers. Sure, I have given my favorite teachers small gifts throughout the years, but I wish I had thanked them, from the bottom of my heart, for all their hard work and care, especially since I myself am now a teacher, and realize the time and effort spent inside – and outside – the classroom.
My friends from different countries have shared with me how teachers are appreciated – daily – in their cultures.

In Singapore, whenever a student sees a teacher in school, the student will greet and bow to their teacher.
“Asian culture is quite strong and we respect elders,” writes Hani AlleSandria, a laboratory technician at a school in Singapore in an I.M. conversation.
Ummi Kaltsum, an accounts assistant from Singapore, also writes in an IM conversation that showing respect to teachers is a must. “We Asians are quite conservative and our culture is more to respect the elderly.”
In the Philippines, students use formal honorifics when speaking to their teachers, by addressing them as "sir" or "ma’am," according Dee Harper, a Filipino-American, English as a Second Language instructor at the University of South Carolina.
Ms. Harper says that students take turns to erase the board for the teacher. On Teacher’s Day in The Philippines, celebrations last all day long. “Many times, students show respect and appreciation by giving the teacher a gift like food or flowers or even some kind of card,” writes Harper in another I.M. conversation. “The students perform and put on various shows for Teacher’s Day. They like to sing and dance there.”
In Turkey, when the teacher walks into the classroom, the students stand up, to show respect. The students only sit down when the teacher tells them to, writes Sumeyye Coban, an architect from Turkey, in an email exchange.
“And during the lesson, if [the] teacher talks to a student or asks a question, he/she stands up to answer. [The student] can never talk while sitting [at] his desk,” writes Ms. Coban. Students never call their teachers by name, but instead use the Turkish word "öğretmenim" which translates to “my teacher.”
In Egypt, students give their teachers gifts on Mother’s Day (in March) if she’s a female, to signify their recognition and respect to the teacher as a motherly figure.
In Japan, at the beginning of each lesson, students stand up and tell their teacher “please teach us.”  At the end of each lesson, the students stand up and thank the teacher for teaching them, says Kasumi Yamazaki, an instructor and PhD student at the University of Toledo.  
Students also bow to their teachers as a sign of respect. Students in Japan are not only taught to respect teachers on a daily basis, but to appreciate the school by keeping it clean. “Everyone is responsible for cleaning and we even clean the toilets and bathrooms. Not a single outside business cleans it,” she adds.
Sure, teachers are grateful for flowers and chocolate, but a teacher will most likely remember a student for their respect and kindness towards them, their peers, and to the school. A student will also leave a lasting impression when they show gratitude towards education and an eagerness to learn. And yes, Starbucks gift cards are nice, too, because let’s face it, teachers deserve a little treat every once in a while.

Baby-led weaning and parent-led sanity

The Christian Science Monitor

Modern Parenthood 

Baby-led weaning and parent-led sanity

  http://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Family/Modern-Parenthood/2014/0402/Baby-led-weaning-and-parent-led-sanity

One mom approaches baby-led weaning with optimism and success, until she ventures to ask a question on an online forum, only to be harshly criticized by other parents. 

By , Correspondent

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When I first learned about baby-led weaning (BLW) I was beyond excited that I could give my baby the same food we were eating at dinner. I read more about this type of introduction to solid foods to babies and was intrigued by it.
The more I researched, the more I learned about the benefits. Studies suggest that BLW can make a child more independent, creative, lower chances for obesity later in childhood, and help with fine-motor skills.
Being a first-time mom, I joined Facebook groups on BLW and found out how “serious” this whole BLW movement was. Baby-led weaning had some pretty strict rules. You can only serve your baby food that they can put in their mouth by themselves, starting when they are about six-months-old.
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I learned that I couldn't help my daughter out, even if she seemed frustrated and couldn't hold on to a slippery piece of pear. I could only use a spoon if I pre-loaded it and handed it to her.
It’s a messy, yet fun, process to watch your baby explore food and try to feed themselves. But, it can be pretty scary when the baby starts gagging, then you are not “allowed” to do anything when they gag, because that’s how they’re learning how to eat solids. You must also learn the difference between choking and gagging.
I enjoyed giving our baby bananas, avocados, and sweet potatoes. I watched her carefully, and when she became better at chewing and swallowing, I introduced more food such as fish, pasta, and bread.
I remember we were invited over to a friend's house for dinner when our baby was about 8-months-old. She was getting the hang of BLW, but she was still making a huge mess around her, and on her clothes and face.
So I asked a question on one of the BLW Facebook groups: "Will our baby be OK if I give her baby food puree when we eat at our friend’s house, to avoid the mess?"
And I was attacked. I was told if I feed her pureed food from a spoon, then it would not be called BLW anymore. It would be called “traditional weaning.” To put a finer point on the message, one mom wrote, “If a vegetarian eats meat once in a while, will he still be called a vegetarian?”
I didn’t know one method of feeding a baby was that serious. Is a baby who does BLW smarter than a baby who does traditional weaning? Of course not. Just like a child who reads before his or her classmates is not necessarily “smarter” than the rest of the class. 
One is not a better mom for giving her child pieces of steamed, organic asparagus rather than a jar of pureed, mashed bananas. Every family’s situation is different – whether comparing social and economical circumstances, or values and traditions.
Despite the rude “advice” I received from the group, I did a combination of BLW and traditional weaning for dinner with our friends. I usually try to feed our baby healthy, nutritious food, but she’s tasted french fries, ice cream, baklava, Nutella, and even coffee. We eat out occasionally, and I still give her baby food pouches for snacks.
I’ve learned that to be a mother is to be flexible and open-minded to different ideas and suggestions. 
Shaming parents just because they don’t follow “the rules” in one area of parenting is nothing short of immature. Mothers and fathers make their own rules – and hopefully they quickly learn not to abide only by the rules from Facebook groups sometimes comprised of competitive, uptight, and judgmental parents.
The mommy wars and competition seem never-ending, whether it’s about breast-feeding vs. formula, BLW vs. traditional weaning, stay-at-home vs. career moms, and the list goes on.
Since becoming a first-time mother, I have learned to do my own research, to listen to different points of view, and to stop asking potentially controversial questions on online forums.