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6 entries from April 2014

Points to Ponder (100 Words or less)

The sensible alternative to overparenting is not less parenting but better parenting. The alternative to permissiveness is not to be more controlling but more responsive. And the alternative to narcissism is not conformity but reflective rebelliousness. In short, if we want to raise psychologically healthy and spirited children, we’ll need to start by questioning the media-stoked fears of spoiling them. (60)

 Kohn, Alfie (2014-03-25). The Myth of the Spoiled Child: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom about Children and Parenting (p. 8). Da Capo Press. Kindle Edition.

~Looking forward to reading this book. I imagine I'm going to love parts of it and hate other parts of it.


Two words that will change your relationships. Seriously.

Two words can change your relationship? Admit it, you’re a touch skeptical. I admit that I was when the principle was first shared with me.

But not now, because now I’ve seen it work.

When I was in grad school studying to become a counselor, I would often have people engage me via social media for free counseling. Start out with, “Hey, you’re studying to be a counselor, I was wondering what you thought about….” The sentence would be finished in a variety of ways.
The most common finish to the sentence involved someone’s spouse not getting something done that the person wanted them to do. To be honest, I would deflect and not answer most of the time.
People tactics would change. They would ask my wife.

Especially, her married female friends. The conversation would inevitably go something like this:

Friend: My husband never does _____________.
My wife: What have you tried?
Friend: Well, you know I pretty much nag him non-stop. (Laughing)
My wife: How’s that working?
Friend: Not well
My wife: Well, here’s the secret….

They typically didn’t like her advice. At  best, they were skeptical but often they would try it. The majority of the time, they would come back and exclaim to her how well it worked.

What I’ve discovered in my practice, implementing this strategy with my clients is that it not only works to get more done around the house it also improves relationships.

Just say, “Thank you.” Thank-you-33

When your husband does something that you want him to do, thank him. Yes, even if you’ll feel he should be doing it. That’s irrelevant. Almost everyone enjoys being thanked.
When you get home from a crazy day, thank your wife for putting in her crazy day.
Your wife fixes the car? Thank her.
Your husband cooks dinner? Thank him.

Try this with your children. It won't completely stop them from still being kids but it will improve things. My assumption is that there are very few people who truly feel as though they are being over appreciated for what they are doing in life. I think most people feel under-appreciated.

Seriously, give this a try. Instead of lamenting what isn’t getting done, praise what is getting done and see what happens. I think the results may surprise you.

Dealing with Mommy guilt. Part three (4 steps to change)

This is part three of three in a short series dealing with parent guilt, commonly referred to as mommy guilt. Part one can be found here, and part two can be found here.

For all of the parents feeling guilty about being away from their child, I want to offer these four simple steps to dealing with that guilt.

  1. Detect what is going on in your own head. What is the narrative running through your brain? What do you hear? Often our inner narrative drives our guilt. Many times our inner narrative is driven by negative thoughts and beliefs that have been fostered through society, media and our own upbringing.
  2. Debate what is going on in your own head. This begins with the process of looking at other parents, and realizing that we know good parents who work. Debating our inner narrative is about pushing through the emotion to look honestly at the logic and options of our choices. Many of our choices as parents are driven by necessity.
  3. Diffuse what is going on in your head. This is where things start to get tricky. Ask them how they have dealt with their guilt in the past. How have you dealt with guilt about other things in the past? Make a list of the reasons that you are working. What are the benefits to your child from you working? Diffusing our guilt is a fancy way to say that we need to shine the light of truth onto the darkness of our guilt.
  4. Discover a new narrative. What do you control about this situation?  What choices are you making that are not driven by necessity? What happens when you’re not working? How are you utilizing that time? What can you let go in order to be able to spend the time you want with your children? These questions focus on things that you actually control. The key to changing the narrative that runs our lives is to focus on the parts of the narrative that we control.

For many of us work is not an option. Your working may provide you the opportunity to teach your children a fantastic lesson; in life there are things we do because they are best for those we love, not because we want to do them.



Dealing with mommy guilt; 3 key realizations

In my last post, we dealt with mommy (parent) guilt that stems from envy. While, I believe this type of guilt is not the majority, I do think it has too much space in our world.
Today, I’d like to discuss parent guilt that comes from not being able to do the things that we’d like to do for our children and from the mistakes we make throughout the normal course of our parenting duties.

Not being able to do what we want to do for our children
Mary believed highly in the value of a private education. She hoped it would give her children a leg up in what she knew was a competitive college field. She couldn’t afford to do what she wanted to do on her single salary.
Frank worried as he pulled out of his driveway to head to work that his kids were going to resent how much he was working, but with the recent increase in his insurance premiums and the loss of his old job in this struggling economy he had to take whatever job he could find. The job he found was second shift, which paid the bills but kept him from his kids.
This was the perfect formula for some parent guilt.
There are three things we have to realize when we are dealing with parent guilt because we feel caught in the middle of what we want to do and what we have to be doing.

1. The difficult realities of life are that we often have to do things that have to be done and that sometimes we can’t do the things that we want to be doing. We teach our children this with our words, and often try to teach them the exact opposite with our actions. Life is hard. It’s OK to teach our children this as they grow up so that they are properly and realistically prepared for adult life.

2. We have to realize that our children are not as fragile as we are constantly being told that they are. Children need love. Not things. Children can overcome difficult circumstances in more ways than we can imagine. We are so afraid that we are going to “ruin” our children by making them live life. But, in truth, we’re going to give them the opportunity to be stronger because they experienced life.

3. We need to realize that our kids are watching us as for our response to adversity.
Life is hard. There is no two ways about it. So often, I see parent guilt radiating from a place of trying to keep that truth from our children. This is a bad choice, because it doesn’t allow our children to grow up into the adults we will want them to be because resilience is a skill that’s developed. It grows over time. It grows from being faced with the harsh truth that life can be hard. Exposing our children to this truth isn’t something to feel guilt about, it’s something that we need to expect. Children look at our life, not the things in our life. They learn from our character, not the places we can take them or the opportunities that are privileges that we can or cannot provide them.
My next post will deal with actions that we can take in order to eliminate parent guilt from our life.