Remember that old Beatles’ song “Can’t Buy Me Love”? If you’re a working mom with kids, you need to make it your anthem. Hum it as you walk in the door every night, as a reminder that, no matter how guilty you feel about the amount of time you spend away from your children, you can’t (or shouldn’t) try to “buy their love” by giving in to them when they have the gimme’s.
When we have children, we all have the same dream: We want to be ideal parents in an ideal world. Think Leave It to Beaver, with Mom at home baking brownies, while Dad is “making bread” at the office. That image is both outdated and unrealistic, but most of us keep trying to live up to it, and we end up feeling guilty when we fail. News Flash: The World Isn’t Perfect . . . And neither are you. Mom isn’t always home, Dad may have job problems, and our time and resources are often stretched thin.
“Nontraditional” family arrangements—single parents, “blended” families, same-sex partnerships—are becoming more and more commonplace. Even if you are in a “traditional” dual-parent family, if both of you are working, you’re still vulnerable to PGA. No, that’s not the Professional Golfers Association; it’s Parental Guilt and Anxiety.
PGA leaves us open to manipulation. We end up with a guilt button a mile wide, and our kids pick up on this early on. They learn how to push our guilt buttons to get what they want. I remember overhearing my daughter, when she was 4, whispering loudly to a friend over the phone, “Just beg. It always works.”
Giving in is easy
Is it bad for our kids if we always give in to them? Yes, in a number of ways.
- First, children need us to be their parents; they need adults setting limits; it creates a sense of security for them.
- Second, our kids need to learn to tolerate frustration. Instant gratification isn’t a mode of behavior that will work well for them in college or later in life.
- Third, we teach our children values in everything that we do. Do you want them to learn that buying presents is the way to say, “I love you”? That they earn privileges, or that they are simply entitled to them? Kids derive self-respect from accomplishment, not from having everything handed to them.
- Fourth, and most important, too many kids have too much “stuff” and not enough of us. Your kids will love you if you love them and spend time with them.
So with that in mind what better way of spending time with our kids then to do some baking together. This is a great way to have some fun with each other, get a little messy, which kids love, and have something good to eat at the end of the session. A win win for everyone.
If you are not a baker, don’t worry, follow this simple recipe!
Simply Elegant Brownies
Whenever I need an uncomplicated dessert in short order, I make these brownies and pair them with frozen yogurt, ice cream, fruit salad, applesauce, anything I happen to have on hand. I don’t remember where I came across the recipe, but it was many years ago. I know that, because I copied it using my trusty manual typewriter.
Don’t let the simplicity fool you. This is an amazingly good treat. It’s simple to put together, and it looks and tastes as if you spent far more time and money on it than you did.
- 6 tablespoons cocoa
- 1/2 cup (one stick) butter
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Melt butter with cocoa. Beat eggs, add sugar, and mix well. Stir in the chocolate mixture. Mix flour with salt and add. Add vanilla. Spread in a 7” x 11” pan. Bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes.
- 4 tablespoons cocoa
- 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoons evaporated milk (I substitute regular milk, if I don’t have an open can of evaporated milk on hand.)
About 10 minutes before the brownies are done, make the frosting. Mix cocoa and sugar. Cream butter and part of sugar mixture (it’s easy if you use an electric mixer, I personally use an Ankarsrum stand mixer). Mix in vanilla and half the milk. Mix in remaining sugar. Mix in remaining milk.
Cool the brownies for about five minutes when they come out of the oven, then spread the frosting on top. It will melt, glisten and become smooth. Don’t panic. As the brownies cool completely, the frosting will stiffen and look as if a professional pastry chef had applied it.
Before you’re ready to serve them, run a butter knife or dinner knife around the sides of the pan to loosen the brownie edges. Then cut into rectangles. I generally cut 18 pieces, but there’s no hard-and-fast rule. Cut them as large or as small as you like.