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Why Parenting is Not About You


Why Parenting is Not About You

When I was a child I dreamt of becoming a powerful attorney living in a high rise apartment in New York City. I wanted to use my relentless arguing skills and my strong sense of protection for the greater good. I did not see marriage in my future, nor could I possibly imagine having children. No interest.

When I did choose to get married, I wondered if I would ever follow the typical path of starting a family. It was hard to see giving up my independence and passion to do so. It wasn’t until I held a premature baby in my hands that I had the flash of desire to care for something so small and seemingly helpless. That was the moment everything changed.

When I became pregnant with my first child my friends had a hard time imagining me as a mom. I felt the same. Two weeks before I gave birth to my daughter, I cried to a friend that I might have made a mistake and wasn’t sure I could do it. Having tragically lost my own mother while a teenager scarred me deeply and I felt like my ability to mother may have died with her. My confidence in my abilities was non existent.

This is the part of the story where I want to tell you that the first time I looked in her eyes, I knew she was what I was waiting for. But that is not even close to true. I felt even more frightened when I met her and even more concerned I had no idea what I was doing. The fact that she was relying on me to pretend like I did was even more scary. I suddenly felt the weight of responsibility that terrified me.

What if I screwed it up? What if I hurt her with my lack of knowledge? What if she didn’t like me or worse, what if I didn’t like her? A lifetime of attachment fears fed my mind and I felt trapped. It intensified when I realized there was no turning back.

Despite my fear, I took the job seriously. I read as many books as I could on how to feed properly, what temperature to not scald the child in a bath, natural remedies for common ailments and what an irresponsible mom I was for letting my child sleep with me so I too, could sleep.

I listened to advice. I took it all in and practiced patience, openness, techniques to get my kid to listen, techniques to get my kid to talk. How to get her to use a toilet and how to get her to clean up after herself. I wanted desperately to do everything right. No one told me that having a child was the equivalent of taking my heart out of my body and holding it out for the all the world to potentially hurt it. The risks felt so huge and the fear so big.

The only thing I could not seem to learn from a book was how to fully love my child—courageously. That, it turned out, was all on me and has been the biggest challenge of all.

After 16 years now of watching my daughter grow and 13 years of watching my son, as well as a lifetime career of working with kids, parents and friends, I’ve learned a few things worth sharing.

1- It’s not about Me.

As egocentric humans we tend think EVERYTHING is about us. The choices our kids make. The paths they venture down. Their successes and failures. None of it is about us. None.

My job as a parent is to guide, to inspire, to create an environment I hope they will thrive in, and then, let them live in it.

The more I make it about me, the more I teach them to lose their confidence, independence and ability to trust themselves.

Does this mean I don’t make it about me? Not a chance. I often make it about me because that’s what we do. It’s what we’ve been taught and its a tough one to unlearn.

On the days they thrive, I pat myself on the back. But on the days I am challenged, I have to again check in with myself to see it’s my insecurities and fears that make it about me even when it’s not.

2- I am not in control.

I never have been. The illusion of control I have held is strong. On my most insecure days I am certain I am in control of their minds, their choices, and their guilt. Nope.

They always make the choice how they will respond. They will either buy into my tactics or they won’t. I have absolutely no control over either despite my best efforts.

They began making their own choices the minute they ventured from the womb. Whether to eat or not eat, to sleep or not sleep, to listen or to ignore. It’s all been their choice.

I control their environment, their belongings in my home, and their comfort in it. I control my words and my expressions. My behaviors and what I model for them.

I control how often I tell them I love and accept them as much as I control my eye rolls. After that, I’ve got nothing.

When I let go of my need to control them, I am rewarded with their trust in me, trust in myself and faith in the process of life. It is the flavor of true freedom.

3- We all came here to love and be loved. All of us.

Our biggest “lesson” in life is to experience love at its fullest capacity. We have the innate desire to be loved and to give it.

That means we have to feel fear if we want to feel faith. We have to feel anger if we want to feel compassion. We have to feel hate if we want to feel love. The extremes are how we experience the full gamut of what life has to offer.

My role is not to shield my kids from this reality, but to use my own experience and wisdom to support them through their own it. They came here to live. My job is to mentor them through it, not to do it for them.

Of course I want to shield them from pain. I want to put them in a bubble and solve all of their problems. And if I did, it would be the biggest disservice to them to not let them truly feel what will make them stronger, wiser, braver and genuinely more compassionate human beings. The same as all of my pains and hardships have done for me.

Protecting them from challenge does not make them happier. It makes them more vulnerable to deeper pains, insecurities and ignorances I can’t protect them from at all.

Loving them courageously means letting them learn to do the same.

Checking in with these truths for myself is what helps me to fully love my children (and my role as their mom) to the best of my ability. And so far, it’s working for us.

Parenting is the most amazing and brave experience I’ve signed up for thus far. The most challenging, the most scary and occasionally- the most rewarding. The attorney in the high rise I dreamt of would likely not have had the courage to work in this gig. I’m forever grateful she changed her mind.


Parenting- The Way We View The World


Parenting- The Way We View The World

Hello! Long time no write!

I realize it’s been an awfully long time since I’ve written anything for this website, but since I recently renewed the website itself and a friend of mine just asked me today to pull it together and start writing about parenting, I decided, fine…I’m in.

I can’t promise regular posts. I can’t promise I will offer you the best advice for your family. But I can promise to be honest and objective and share what I know for sure…this parenting gig is a lot of work, but damn, it’s pretty amazing.

I believe that parenting is simply teaching our children how we view the world.

Our parents were our primary teachers and they taught us how they view the world. They used the words and beliefs which were taught to them by their primary teachers and only changed them if they felt they didn’t work for them. We have the opportunity to do the same.

For example, if one or both of our parents were worriers, we learned how to worry. We learned how to speak and approach life with hesitation. We spent our days mimicking the distress we were taught and even though we didn’t know why, we learned, this is just the way it is. As we got older, we had a choice on if we want to continue with this worry pattern and training on how to perfect it, or if the worrying was uncomfortable enough to question why exactly we choose to partake in it. If the discomfort bothers us enough, we choose to learn something new, something that suits us better. A new belief, a new way of thinking, a new way to communicate. We alter the way we view the world.

All of this translates to how we parent. We share with them how we see life, the rules we have developed to live in it and the beliefs we hold around how we treat people, our loved ones and ourselves. We teach our children the manners we believe are important, our insight based on lessons we’ve learned the “hard” way, and a general appreciation of why people act the way they do. We teach them our fears, our prejudices, our shortcomings and our angst. We teach them where we find joy and just how to find it. We teach them what works for us. And, what doesn’t.

And this, my friends, is why I have not written in a while.

I am not the same person I was the last time I wrote. My views on life are not the same either. The more I experience and grow as a person, the more my view of life changes with it. And therefore, who I am as a parent is changing as well.

I’ve been a single parent for three years now. Scratch that- co parent- with my children’s father. I left my secure job as a school counselor to open a private practice in counseling and figure out what I want to do next for my career. I am changing and therefore, how I parent is changing.

I am growing into my authentic sense of myself and the more  authentic I feel as my own person, the more authentic I feel as a parent. My children are almost 10 and 13. They are no longer small children and I no longer treat them as such.

My daughter is a teenager and is extraordinarily insightful and sensitive and supportive, and I am learning to treat her as the person she is, not as I want her to be.

My son is turning double digits and he is double the fun he used to be! A wise little soul, he tells his momma how proud he is of her all the time…and then drives her nuts with his little boy behaviors that are a hallmark for exactly where he should be developmentally.

We are figuring out how to be a family within our means and how to successfully support each other, while bringing in the outside stressors daily- all of us.

I am incredibly grateful to be their mom and to teach them my view of the world.

And I’m also grateful to be able to share with you. Thanks for reading.


Learning How To Recognize Our Own Voice


Learning How To Recognize Our Own Voice

As a child, there was nothing more familiar than the sound of my parents’ voice. That voice guided my every move. I knew what the expectations were and what they wanted from me, and I knew exactly when I was ignoring it. Even when I was in trouble, the tone of disappointment was still proof that I was thought of and cared about and it was that tone I heard the next time I went to make the same mistake questioning whether it was worth it.

The voice of my parents was loud and prominent and as I grew older it was hard to decipher which voice was speaking to me when I was making decisions in my life. Are those my thoughts or the recorder of how I should think? It was hard to tell. I’d listen for the tones, but sometimes they all blended together.

As an adult and a parent in my own right, I hear the words of my father fly out all the time. They are tones of respect and expectation and authority. They speak words that symbolize strength and insight and responsibility. They are dominant words and I speak them with pride. Yet, there is a side of them that requires a softer touch and an explanation to compliment them. Those words have a tone I know distinctly as my own. I have grown to appreciate the balance between my words and his, and I’d like to think my children do as well.

The confusion for me sets in when life shifts in fast paces and I’m wavering on my feet. I hear my frantic voice looking for answers and instinctually the voice I grew up with pops in and guides me exactly where to go. But the older I get and the more life experience I gain on my own, I notice that those guides don’t fit me like they used to and I start to question that voice and wonder if it needs more independence, more depth and more of its own vocabulary to match the person using it.

And then the questions begin….

Is this the voice I want my children to hear?

What do I want to teach them?

What is the role I want to play in their life?

And most importantly, what do I want to teach myself?

So I step back and listen for the answers and sort through the words and listen for the tones and meanings behind them. And within those voices, I hear the not so distinct sound of my own. Softer and less confident, she’s in there and she actually has a lot to say. And when I listen, I really listen, I hear comfort and familiarity and honesty and bravery and I hear a woman who, in fact, is not wavering on her feet at all. And that’s her, the mother, the parent, the role model, the voice I want my children to hear and hold on to until their own voices are the loudest they hear. I like her, I respect her and I trust she will teach them well.

My hope is that when I hear my children use their own voices, which they give me snippets of often, I will make the effort to turn up the volume and let them explore just how loud they can be. And when it’s time to turn them back down again, show them that sometimes a harmony is exactly what we need.


What Would Jeannie Do?


What Would Jeannie Do?

Growing up I never imagined myself with children. I saw myself living in a high rise penthouse apartment in New York City using my expert arguing skills working as a lawyer and making tons of money while I waltzed through life with no responsibilities other than myself and whatever whim I had at the moment.  That dream changed when I fell in love for the first time.  I no longer saw my future as alone and independent, but with a companion to keep me company on my journey towards whatever dreams I’d conjure up next.  But still, no children in my future. I didn’t think I had it in me. No mothering instincts to speak of, no draw towards children, no inkling to take on any additional responsibility I didn’t know how to manage.

I remember the ride home from my mother in law’s house the day I invited in the idea of having a baby. I had just met a beautiful premie and held her in my arms gently and wondered what it would be like to hold my own. But I was terrified. I was clueless.  I had no idea how to be a mother.  I didn’t even feel comfortable around babies.  But being who I am, I made up my mind and was pregnant with my baby girl very shortly after that day. I spent my pregnancy listening to advice, reading books and then putting them down when it became overwhelming. I studied the mothers around me and watched what they did as though they carried the secrets of the universe in their interaction with their children. I prayed I’d figure it out. I did not want to screw it up.

I looked for models of what I wanted to be everywhere I went. I took memory shots of experiences I wanted to have and listened for words I wanted to use with my own child. I studied the behaviors of children I worked with and kept a mental journal of characteristics I hoped for in my own child and what I hoped I could steer them from.  I grieved the absence of my own mother and felt the void of experience I’d never learned from her. But I knew, somewhere, I’d find a match for me of who I wanted to learn from.

In retrospect, I couldn’t have been any luckier to have met my teacher.  Not only did she parent exactly the way I thought I’d want to, but she was beautiful, incredibly smart, insanely funny and had a heart like I had never seen. In so many ways, I wanted to be her. I loved the way she talked about her kids, the way she challenged herself regularly and her views on life nearly matched mine perfectly.  Being in her presence was calming, rejuvenating and inspiring. There was never a doubt that she was The One.

I feel so fortunate that her kids are a few years older and I have been able to watch her navigate through the trials of parenting at every stage up through high school graduation so far.  I have seen her dip into doubt and frustration and bounce back with an understanding that she is doing the best she can at every stage and that no “mistake” can ever overshadow the good that is consistent and true for their family.  I have seen her humanness and struggle in deciding what’s “right” and then make decisions she never thought she would. I have seen her build a suit of armor to protect her children and then take away the shield when she thought they could use the reality check of a quick jab, just enough to hurt, but not enough to harm.  And in case I ever needed proof to see if her “tactics” were effective, I have had the luxury of watching her children grow into amazing human beings I feel proud to know and simply like to be around.

I can not count how many times in the past 10 years of my parenting life that I have asked myself “What would Jeannie do?”  And each time, my inner Jeannie gives brilliant advice whether she knows it or not.

It will never stop amazing me how many incredible teachers we have in our lives when we ask for them.  When we step back and look at who influences us, who inspires and helps us develop into who we’ve always wanted to be, there is such a sense of gratitude and awe that accompanies that knowledge.  I can think of nothing better.

I hope to be half the teacher for others that Jeannie has been for me. In this month of thankfulness and gratitude, I give thanks to all my teachers that have helped guide me along the way, with special appreciation for my parenting guru and her parents who influenced her the way she influenced me.

Who is your parenting model who influences you the most…and when is the last time you thanked them?


Is it a Bird, a Plane, or Perry the Platypus?


Is it a Bird, a Plane, or Perry the Platypus?

A few weeks ago, I was enjoying the warmth of an early Spring morning on my front porch, saturated in peace and looking up at the sky. For some reason, I very randomly snapped a photo of a cloud formation that struck me as beautiful…maybe to capture the moment. Although I like to document events I find interesting with photos, candid cloud shots is not typically my thing. The other night, I was sifting through my photos and came across this cloud formation again. It still looked so beautiful to me. And then I saw it, vivid and bold, and couldn’t believe I hadn’t noticed the figure before.


What do you see?

I sent the picture to a few of my friends asking what they saw. Spongebob Squarepants, God looking at an elephant, Perry the Platypus, someone praying, people dancing and a child with a backpack were some of the visions my friends saw. Yet when I pointed out what I saw, they too, saw the figure as well.

I see the profile of an angel. A child angel specifically…with wings behind the head, holding a harp or perhaps a bow like Cupid, and legs dangling underneath. A reminder for me to look up, to notice what’s around me and to recognize that life isn’t always what it seems at first glance.

But this is my perspective. This is what I want to see. It’s also what I want you to see and I will try to help you see it. I want you to see it because I feel it is beautiful and I feel we all could use a little more beauty and spontaneous awe. So I share it with you.

Sharing our perspective is also the definition of parenting. When we are parenting our children, we are simply offering to teach them the ideas and values we believe in. We are teaching them our view of the world. We want them to experience bliss and comfort, just as much as we want to protect them from our learned fears and perceptions of angst.

When we teach them what we feel they need to know, we are educating them based on our experiences, our visions and our ideals. If we value honesty, we will teach them that lies taste bitter when they roll out of our mouths. If we value control, we will teach them that a tight grip is the equivalent of safety…even if its not. If we value independence, we will teach them that standing on your own two feet is possible, even if it means scuffing your knees a bit when you inevitably fall.

We will also teach them our perceptions of how we think life treats us. If we feel like victims, we will teach them to blame others. If we feel entitled, we will teach them to push others out of our way. If we feel gratitude, we will teach how giving is actually receiving. If we feel hope, we will teach them that although faith is invisible, it is the most prized possession we own.

Even when we want to offer them the scope of the world, we are limited by what we know and have been exposed to. We teach them our favorite past times in hopes they will share our joy. We teach them the difference between right and wrong the way we view it. We teach them what to fear based on what we were taught to fear by others or by our own experience. We teach them what we see and how we see it. And then ask that they mimic it back to make sure they are learning it well.

When we look around us, we notice that other people’s perspectives are different than our own. They parent based on their values, their experiences and their visions. It will always be different than yours and it will always be different than mine, because our experiences are designed to be different.

Just because I didn’t see Perry the Platypus doesn’t mean that I don’t see humor and that Perry doesn’t rightfully own his place between the clouds. His figure is still there and someone sees it, which make their perspective valuable and true. And if someone points it out to me, I get to see the humor too.

I chose to see an angel because I love angels. But I can also see the child with a backpack, Spongebob and even Micky Mouse if I squint my eyes. If you show me something I wouldn’t normally see, I am taking in your perspective and learning something new. I don’t have to like it or agree with it, but even if I don’t, I still get to learn something I didn’t have the vision to see before. If we all had the same perspective, what would we learn from each other…and really, what would we talk about?

And at the end of the day, don’t we all have similar goals for our children? We want to show them the angel in the sky, the child with a backpack and Perry the Platypus….the Hope, the Practical and the Fun.


Swearing in Front of Our Kids- Yes, No or Maybe So


Swearing in Front of Our Kids- Yes, No or Maybe So

As practice, I do not swear in front of my children because I believe that $h!t is wrong. They hear enough potty talk on the bus and on television, that I choose to refrain from adding to it.  Now around my friends, I use enough foul language to make a sailor blush, so it all evens out.

Okay, I don’t really believe swearing in front of your kids is wrong. I just choose not to… most of the time.  I do believe all words serve a purpose and I like to practice thinking before I speak…most of the time. Because on the rare occasion when I do throw in an “inappropriate” word when making a point to them, it packs a power punch like no other.  Their eyes light up in sheer horror that I must REALLY be mad to unleash one of the top no no’s on the naughty list.  And I can feel the power of the word when it comes out of my mouth. Tall, mighty, dominating, do not mess with Mom right now, words.  They are not used by accident. And they are heard.

Like all other words, swears have their place. Sometimes, no other word can get its point across like an F bomb.  I know you know what I mean. Other times, swears make a dull story that much funnier.  How many stand up comedians are rated G?  Anyone you’ve ever heard of? There’s a value there and some people make a living utilizing it.

I work with teenagers, who by the ripe old age of 14 have heard them all.  So when the conversation seems to be stuck and I’m trying to relate, I pull out the big guns.  Okay, they are not that big, maybe a small, ankle pistol.  When I tell you that every time I use a swear in front of a teenager their entire demeanor changes, I am not kidding. They laugh or smile, their shoulders go down and they sit back in their chair a bit.  I have crossed the line and invited myself into their underground world of inappropriate.  And then the real communication begins.

I run an anger management group for teenage boys.  Can you imagine if I didn’t allow swearing or swear with them?  We would sit for 45 minutes each week silent. No joke…raw, angry silence.

My point, there is a place and an appropriateness for even the “inappropriate.”

Not too long ago, my 9 year old daughter was watching a political drama with me that was really interesting and educational in a lot of ways.  I wanted her to watch it so we could talk about it.  However, every other word was a swear.  And every time they swore, which was every 15-20 seconds, I felt a pang of guilt and disgust that she was ingesting all these words and their context.  But when I looked at her, she seemed totally unfazed.  After awhile, I said I thought we needed to turn it off because their choice of words was making me very uncomfortable and I didn’t think she needed to hear them, to which she replied, “It doesn’t bother me, Mommy.  I know those words aren’t okay for me to use and I don’t use them. It’s not a big deal.”

Huh, wasn’t that what I wanted her to learn after all? They are words that have a time and place to be heard, but it doesn’t mean they have to be our words or be used at all? And she is choosing not to use them.  At least in front of me, perhaps she makes a sailor blush when she’s around her friends. I guess it’s not for me to know.

But she made a good point, and one that sticks with me.

As parents, we get so caught up on what we feel is “right” or “wrong” based on our experiences, which form our opinions.  But what’s “right” for me, may not be “right” for you, and it doesn’t deem it “wrong” either. It just Is.

Some parents swear in front of their kids constantly, never giving thought to how their children may respond.  And their children may not respond at all.  While other parents are horrified at the thought of their little ears being contaminated.  What makes one better than the other? I have no idea. Do you?

How lucky we are to be surrounded by so many other opinions and experiences to give us the opportunity to look at something in a way we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. And also the ability to embrace what we learn or discard it.  Education at its finest.

Hell yeah, mother lovers!

Smooth, I know. I’ll let you choose your own word.


Q&A My Perspective: Are You “Over Parenting” Your Child?


Q&A My Perspective: Are You “Over Parenting” Your Child?


I am a single mom of a 4 1/2 yr old boy who is handsome, insanely smart, small for his age and wears glasses. I also am guilty of overprotecting or overparenting, whatever they call it these days.  Yesterday I took him to a kids museum and he was playing with some cars and then he came over to me with this face…almost crying. When I asked what was wrong he said “that kid called me Lucy”. Now I have no idea what was said…the kid was probably talking to his sister Lucy for all I know but it stood out to me because my son always thinks everything is about him. I can be talking to someone about anything and he hears and thinks it has something to do with him. I know kids his age are still learning that they are not the center of the universe but I feel like this could potentially be a serious problem if his feelings are going to get hurt every time someone doesn’t react the way he believes they should or if he is going to take everything so personal.  I do not have any friends with children his age so really his only socialization is at preschool but he is there like 45 hours a week so I would think that would help, but it seems he has a very hard time and backs away from more out-going children. He wants to be the boss but is intimated very easily. Any thoughts on how I can help? He is going to be starting Kindergarten in August and I really want school to be a good experience for him.


Just a heads up, I’m going to start generalizing here, so bear with me.  He is an only child, which means he doesn’t have to share the spotlight when it comes to your attention or relating to other children in the home.  And if he’s not regularly socializing with friends his age in casual environments, his primary interactions with other children are in a controlled environment (preschool) where rules are clearly established.  Rules and structure are great for kids because they keep things safe and orderly, but they often sterilize social interactions where most kids learn the ebb and flow of communication.

I always think of the bus as the best means of social education for kids.  Many parents don’t want their kids on the bus because of the lack of control, the unruliness of kids and the influences they are exposed to.  In fact, most of my kids’ “best” negative lessons come from their bus rides and I am so thankful for that. There’s no other way to set up the environment where kids have been theoretically on their best behavior all day and then unravel when they don’t have to hold it together anymore on the bus.  They are unleashed animals and express themselves in ways they may not get to anywhere else.  And because they are unmanaged by the bus driver who is trying to focus on safely getting them back into our arms, they have the freedom to express themselves without fear of adult repercussion which leads to them handling it completely on their own.

Of course the only reason why I like this is because my kids sing like canaries when calling out other kids (and eachother’s) negative behavior on the bus. It then gives me the opportunity to talk to them about how they handled it, other ways to think of it and what they will do if the same behavior presents itself again.

I am not suggesting you throw your kid on a bus and let him figure it out, but I am suggesting that you help create more opportunities for him to be exposed to free play without social structure and continuous monitoring and then talk about it with him afterwards.  The more he experiences these interactions on his own and handles it on his own, the more likely his confidence will build on how communication works and how he feels about it.  We are there to wipe their tears when they cry, show them the alternative and give them super huge hugs when they figure it out.  The more they experience, the more opportunity they have to practice and the greater the possibility of them figuring it out in positive and rewarding ways.


Q&A My Perspective: How much control should we give our kids?


Q&A My Perspective: How much control should we give our kids?



I have 2 boys, ages 9 and 6. The youngest one is who I am asking about. He
is incredibly head strong and difficult to get to do things that he
doesn’t want to do. His brother is quite the opposite. I have found that
letting him have more control helps, but how much is too much? Do I let
him choose when to go to bed? Where is that magical line between letting
him have some control and mass chaos? He is also very temperamental so it
is easy to enter into a battle with him!




As I was venting over the frustration of one of my head strong children to my friend one day, she said “They say that the traits that irritate you while they are young are the traits that will best serve them in adult life.”  I love a good dose of optimism, but when my kid is annoying me, I am not thinking about how it benefits them…at all.

However, it’s true.  Most of us want our kids to think for themselves, to speak for themselves, and to make well thought out decisions based on how they feel. We give them responsibility so they learn how to be confident, independent thinkers, who can survive without us, but we also must teach them limits and boundaries so they know where they stand.

Teaching those boundaries is just as critical as letting them choose their successes and mistakes.  We have seemed to quickly turn into a society that has forgotten that one of the most valuable lessons we can teach our kids is to respect authority and the limits that go with respecting that authority.  In an effort to have law abiding citizens, our kids need to learn that rules are meant to protect us and serve us, not be flexible to our whims and desires.  In our homes, we, the parents are the authority and our limits are non negotiable, they are the law.

Bedtime is a law created to benefit their health.  The human body needs a certain amount of hours of sleep to function at its optimum level.  Our job as parents is to keep our kids healthy, so a bed time is chosen to allow them the opportunity to sleep for as long as their bodies need.  We can not force them to sleep, but we can give them a bedtime which is consistent and non negotiable ensuring their health and wellbeing. (and ours- post bedtime is ME time in our house and my ME time is equally important for their health and wellbeing) If they choose not to sleep, they will live with the consequences of lack of sleep.  And yes, that sucks for us too, but they figure it out. When they’re tired, they’ll sleep.  I have one of those and it can be torture. The only thing that helps is my consistency and non negotiable rules…and a ridiculous amount of patience.

Since so much of parenting is trial and error, the answer of how much control do we let them have versus mass chaos will come with experience.  For example, if you let your child dictate how and when they do their homework, but you learn that they aren’t getting it done “their way,” you establish rules and guidelines of how and when homework must be done.  For example, homework is done before TV or computer use, etc. If it’s not done within your rules, then relative consequences go into effect and remain consistent until the behavior is changed.

As for being temperamental, it goes with the personality territory of the strong willed child.  It’s so important for kids to learn how to express how they are feeling, but its also important for them to learn how to manage those feelings appropriately.  When kids express their anger aggressively, we need to teach them it is okay to be angry and frustrated, but it is not okay to express their anger in negative and aggressive ways.  And when they do, relative consequences apply.

So the magical line is where ever we draw it.  We establish rules and laws for a reason and most of them are designed to support and protect them.  Until they are officially their own protector, those rules and laws are ones they are required to live by while we care for them. We allow them flexibility to grow within our laws and rules, not outside of them.


The Key to Raising Successful Kids: A Lesson For All


The Key to Raising Successful Kids: A Lesson For All

Do you ever realize the lower you keep your expectations, the less likely you are to be disappointed? I don’t expect my children to be the valedictorians of their class, the top athlete in their school, or the most talented in pretty much anything.  But I do have strong expectations for them to be kind, courteous and use good manners because those are the skills that I know will get them anywhere they want to go.

The most impressive people, both young and old, that I have ever met are those who look me in the eye when they talk to me, who naturally use the words “Please” and “Thank You” and who show genuine concern and interest in whatever is going on around them.

Their mannerisms make me feel like they are acknowledging what I have to offer, which makes me drawn to them.  They make a connection and reel me in and I am open to helping them or supporting them in whatever capacity they need.  It’s fairly basic psychology. People want to feel cared for, listened to and appreciated, and using good manners is the most direct way to achieve this…and  the quickest way to get what you want.

Most people teach their children to say “Please” because we are socially driven to do so.  But the real meaning behind using the word “Please” is a polite and direct acknowledgement that we need something from the other person.  When we use the word “please” we are giving the other person perceived power that they are doing us a favor by responding in a way we desire. It makes them feel considered and important, and when used with kindness, it makes them want to help us and give us what we want.

On the flip side, if we instruct and demand what we want without using “Please,” we are implying they have no power and must give us what we expect, without any acknowledgement of appreciation.  You may get the same result, but it will be done so with less desire and possible resentment.

For example:

You are working customer service at the airport and a frantic mother comes up to you because she just realized she and her child have seats that are rows apart. She is panicked at the thought of separation.

Mother Demanding: I just realized that my son has a seat 7 rows up from mine. I need you to change it.  He can’t be that far away from me.  We are boarding in 3 minutes and I need you to do it now.


Mother Manners: I just realized that my son has a seat 7 rows up from mine. I am concerned about him being that far away from me.  Will you please look to see if there is some way I can sit closer to him? I would really appreciate it. We are boarding in 3 minutes and I am getting nervous.

Who do you want to help more? The end result may be the same, but one request makes you feel like you are helping (which naturally makes us feel good) and the other makes you feel underappreciated while meeting their demands. You will naturally work harder for Mother Manners because of the way she makes you feel, and you may even give her the 1st class upgrade to make you both feel even that much better.

The same goes with “Thank You.” Those simple words are an acknowledgement that we appreciate what someone has done for us.  When we show appreciation towards someone, it makes them feel noticed and worthwhile and they are more likely to want to help you again because of the way you made them feel.

And we can’t forget “I’m sorry.” I’m sorry is an acknowledgement that we have made a mistake and we are learning from it.  If said with authenticity, it gives the person you hurt solace to know that you feel badly for wronging them and they can continue to trust that you will work to not hurt them again.  Which is why, if we say “I’m sorry” too often, it becomes meaningless to those who tire of the broken promise of betterment.

If you are a person who directs your child to say “I’m sorry” frequently, it would also be wise to teach them the meaning of the words and decreased value of its overuse or when said without any emotional investment.

A technique I use with my children to remind them to use their manners, is to say “Manners” when the time is right, so they have to think and process which manners to use.  It’s like quizzing them to see if they can get  the right one, with the intent of teaching them how to figure it out on their own.

When they were younger, they spent a lot of time guessing, but they are developing their critical thinking skills more now and need a lot less reminding.  This, of course, in addition to modeling good manners everywhere you go.  If they don’t see us doing it, why should they?

When we are teaching our children good manners, we are also teaching them how to get what they want and how to get ahead.  If we speak to people with respect, they will feel respected and be more inclined to show us respect in return.  And the more we make others feel acknowledged and appreciated, the more doors and opportunities will open for us simply because we make them feel good. We can’t underestimate the importance of good social skills and consistent use of manners.  It may be the most under publicized key to success.

What techniques do you use to teach your kids good manners?


How Newton’s Law of Action-Reaction can Encourage Positive Behavior


How Newton’s Law of Action-Reaction can Encourage Positive Behavior

This week or maybe it was last week…my head is spinning these days, I guest posted again for Green Eggs and Moms. Have I mentioned how I much I love her site?

Here’s a sneak preview…

Once you have an understanding of why a child is choosing a negative or bad behavior, it is easier to respond and help them to find a different behavior that works better for both of you.

We choose behaviors for a reason.

We yell to get attention and be heard. We cry to show frustration and disappointment. We push and kick when we don’t have the skills or can’t find the words to express anger and resentment.

We steal when we feel we can’t get what we desire using traditional methods. We use the words “please” and “thank you” when we want to show respect in an effort to get what we want.

We use behaviors to communicate our needs.

Continue Reading… How Newton’s Law of Action-Reaction can Encourage Positive Behavior.