Two Spoonfuls of Parenting Books

No matter your parenting needs, I’ve got you covered. Here are two books that approach parenting slightly differently. Look under the “Publications” menu or click on each book for more details and how to order.

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Inspirational and Insightful.
This book examines the lives of scriptural parents like Adam and Eve and what they can teach us by their examples. Truly, the scriptures are the Perfect Parenting Manual! 
Keep-it-Real-Grab-a-Plunger_9781462116324
Fun, friendly and informative.
  This book addresses a variety of topics from talking with your teen, creating memories around the table or bedtime, and how to stop yelling and start listening  (plunger not included). Book trailer here.

                                 

                       

               

                 

             

                                

Just what the doctor ordered

I’ve seen the following article shared and reposted on facebook and blogs. Like the “telephone” game, somewhere down the line the wrong author is cited. In most re-posts, it’s attributed to Dr. Ovid, but is in reality, it’s written by a Canadian occupational therapists named Victoria Prooday and called, “A silent tragedy affecting today’s children.” She stated:

For the past 16 years, I have been working with ‘misbehaved’ children. While most parents believe that their kids’ misbehaviour is intentional, I haven’t yet met a child who WANTS to misbehave. A child’s misbehaviour is just a manifestation of a deeper need. It is a desperate call for help. As a society, we address very differently physical and emotional challenges. If a child has physical challenges, we help our child strengthen the weak muscles. However, if a child has emotional challenges, we put them in time-out! Why? Children with emotional challenges need our help too! They need our help strengthening their emotional muscle – self regulation!

https://yourot.com/parenting-club/2017/5/24/what-are-we-doing-to-our-children

There is a silent tragedy unfolding today in our homes, and concerns our most beautiful jewelry: our children. Our children are in an emotionally devastating state! Over the past 15 years, researchers have given us more and more alarming statistics on an acute and constant increase in childhood mental illness that is now reaching epidemic proportions: Stats don’t lie:

• 1 in 5 children have mental health issues

• A 43% increase was observed in ADHD

• An increase of 37% in teenage depression has been observed

• A 200% increase in the suicide rate among children aged 10 to 14 has been observed.

What’s going on and what’s wrong with us? Kids these days are over-Stimulated and over-given material objects, but they are deprived of the foundations of a healthy childhood, such as:

• Emotionally available parents

• clearly defined boundaries

• Responsibilities

• Balanced nutrition and adequate sleep

• Movement in general but especially outdoors

• Creative gaming, social interaction, informal gaming opportunities and spaces for boredom. Instead, the last few years have been filled with the children of:

• Digital Distracted Parents

• Pampering and permissive parents who let children “rule the world” and be the ones who make the rules

• A sense of law, to earn everything without earning it or being responsible for getting it

• Inappropriate sleep and unbalanced nutrition

• A sedentary lifestyle

• Endless stimulation, technological teddy bears, instant gratification and absence of boring moments. What to do ?If we want our children to be happy and healthy individuals, we need to wake up and get back to the basics. It is still possible! Many families are seeing immediate improvements after weeks of implementing the following recommendations:

• Set boundaries and remember that you are the captain of the ship. Your children will feel safer knowing you have the government in control.

• Offer children a balanced lifestyle filled with what children need, not just what they want. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to your children if what they want isn’t what they need.

• Provide nutritious food and limit junk food.

• Spend at least one hour a day outdoors doing activities such as: Cycling, hiking, fishing, bird / insect watching

• Enjoy a daily family dinner without smartphones or technology distracting them.

• Play table games with the family or if the kids are too small for board games, let your interests be carried away and let them be the ones sending in the game

• Involve your children in a task or housework according to their age (folding clothes, ordering toys, hanging clothes, unwrapping food, setting the table, feeding the dog etc.

• Implement a consistent sleep routine to ensure your child sleeps long enough. Times will be even more important for school-age children.

• Teach responsibility and independence. Don’t overprotect them from frustration or error. Being wrong will help them develop resilience and learn to overcome life’s challenges,

• Don’t load your children’s backpack, don’t carry your backpacks, don’t take them the task they forgot, don’t peel their bananas or peel their oranges if they can do it themselves (4-5 years old). Instead of giving them the fish, show them how to fish.

• Teach them to wait and delay gratification.

• Provide opportunities for “boredom”, because boredom is the moment when creativity awakens. Don’t feel responsible for always keeping kids entertained.

• Do not use technology as a cure for boredom, nor offer it at the first second of inactivity.

• Avoid using technology during meals, in cars, restaurants, shopping malls. Use these moments as opportunities to socialize by training the brains to know how to function when they are in “bored” mode

• Help them create a “Boredom Bottle” with activity ideas for when they’re bored.

• Be emotionally available to connect with children and teach them self-regulation and social skills:

• Turn off the phones at night when kids have to go to bed to avoid digital distraction.

• Become an emotional regulator or coach of your children. Teach them to recognize and handle their own frustrations and anger.

• Show them to greet, to take turns, to share without being left without anything, to say thank you and please, to recognize the mistake and apologize (don’t force them), be a model for all these values that it instills.

• Connect emotionally – smile, kiss, kiss, tickle, read, dance, jump, play or spoil with them.

Real Parents-Real Advice

In a university parenting class I teach, students interview their parents and ask them a variety of questions about what it was like to raise their children.

If we could have brought in these parents to class and lined them up in front, they would represent decades of experience and a rich “lessons learned” dialogue. I wish we could, but in place of that, I took some of what advice they shared and will anonymously excerpt what they said below. There’s so much outstanding advice they shared that we can all absorb, and if we do, we’d be better people and parents. They summed up all they learned in a few sentences and they are GOLD. Take note of how many times the word “love” was used and and the context spoken. Look for other repeated themes that indicate it’s important to a lot of parents looking back on their lives. 

“Everybody’s different and every parent will do it a little differently. But if you decide to have kids, recognize the responsibility that it is. A good parent only punishes out of love. Make sure you do all you do with your kids from a place of love.”

“We all just keep learning. We learn first to be parents to little kids, then teenagers, then adults… you’re never a pro at it when you start a new stage.” My mom added, “and we’ve made mistakes at every stage.” My dad’s advice was “don’t sweat the small stuff.”

“Everyone has bad days and good days. Sometimes you’ll feel really patient and others you won’t have any patience left. Don’t be too hard on yourself.” My mom said, “If you say it, do it. If you have an expectation, expect it.”

“It’s a hundred million times worth every single effort that I put into being a mom, and it is so joyful. I would not trade it for anything.” There have always been ups and downs, but there are things he has learned as a parent that would not have been possible any other way. My mom said, “ Just because you’re a parent doesn’t mean you’re perfect now. Give yourself grace and make sure you yourself are taken care of.”

“Have fun and enjoy your children.” It’s important to enjoy the time you have with them because one day they will grow up and you’ll wonder where the time went.

“Love. Show love to your kids and they will be ok. Love verbally by saying it, physically with hugs and kisses, and love in action. Show them by loving their mom. I believe in and love you very much. You will be a great parent. “

“Show them all the love you can muster and more. The world is a scary place, but knowing you love them and that there is always a place for them at home is the best thing you can do for them.”

“Don’t be too hard on yourself and don’t be too hard on your kids. You aren’t going to do it right, the most important thing is that you do it.”

“You are never going to be ready or prepared. If you wait to be ready to be a parent you’ll wait forever. It stretches you more than anything you ever experience, but also will bring you more joy than anything you’ll ever experience.”

“I would encourage you to enjoy every single second of every age and never wish a stage away. I enjoyed every stage of every one of my children and I would encourage you to do that same thing.”

“Start a journal during the pregnancy of each  child, and to continue that journal throughout their life.  Write everything down because you think that you will remember it, but you won’t.” 

“Never yell at them and show them unconditional love. He said yelling does not get you anywhere, and is a lot more hurtful than helpful for both the parent and child. He also said to let your kids know that mistakes happen and mistakes are okay. My mom said her best advice would be to show them love at all times.”

Make sure that you and your spouse are in agreement on how certain things should be, you don’t want to have somebody that’s “Well we’ll just let it go this time. Well, no, we need to do this.” Be consistent, work together with your spouse.

She also talked about how as a parent, mistakes are going to be made and it’s important to forgive yourself and learn from the experiences and be conscious of what is happening. It is okay to tell a child that you made a mistake and are wrong and from that, kids will be able to recognize and learn to apologize and that it is okay to be wrong. With admitting wrong, children will learn they can be vulnerable and how not to be stubborn and proud.

“DO IT!” My mom said, “You aren’t going to know the best days until you are out of them, so enjoy every moment and just know that everything is going to be O.K.”  My dad said, “Always remember that they are each their own individual person.  It is so easy to make them feel small and insignificant, so don’t be too blunt or hard on them.  Your job is to support, provide guidance, and protect them.  Always make sure they know they are loved.  Just breathe and relax and know it will work out.  What is significant now won’t be significant later.”

“Each child is an individual with individual wants, needs, abilities and goals.. Although families are a group dynamic, each child needs and deserves specific care and nurturing. As the child grows into a teen and then a young adult and then an adult, the parent’s role changes to allow the child to make more and then all of life’s determinations.  A parent becomes more of an advisory than an instructor. 

“Don’t beat yourself up if children don’t always choose what you would want them to choose. Enjoy each stage, because it will pass quicker than you think. Diversify yourself outside of being a parent. Don’t lose yourself in becoming a parent. Keep your own identity.”

Mom’s advice is to not worry about control and work on fixing the power struggle between herself and her kids. Validate the child’s opinions. Their feelings are valid even if they are different from what I may think they should be. She would also focus on less fear-based parenting, but rather parent her children with hope. Let them experience life, and let them feel how they are feeling.

Take it one minute at a time
– Make sure you are super united with your husband, teenagers will destroy your marriage if you let them. Be united!
– Pray with kids, don’t lose your temper
– Hug them several times a day, tell them you love them every day
– Do activities with your kids, no phones, just quality time with siblings.
– Don’t entertain them to death, then they can’t interact with each other. Go boating, hiking, camping
– Religion is so important! Believe in something bigger than yourself, have hope!!
– Don’t over indulge kids, don’t buy their love, don’t just be their buddy, be their parent
– Eat dinner together with your family (or at least a meal)
– Your spouse is #1, their needs come before the kids. Prioritize your relationship with
them cause they will be there for you after the kids are gone.

“I would tell people the thing I learned is don’t be afraid to ask for help from other adults or professionals, read books about it. I also think that families are really important and that extended families are really important and to be involved with them.”

Animal Moms

Humans aren’t the only ones to have little ones, or really bad days, or feel the delight and burden of caring for dependents. Whether they are fur babies or human babies, moms have the most rewarding, best, and toughest job in the world.

Do animals-particularly moms-feel and express emotion? You be the judge by the following parent-child photos.

What single word emotion would you use to caption each situation?

“Annoyed”
“Overwhelmed”
“Tenderness”
A Mother's Love: 40 Adorable Animal Mom and Baby Photos
“Protective”
Funny animals annoyed by their kids
“Alarmed”

17 Animal Moms Being Proud Of Their Baby Animals - Funny Animals - Daily  LOL Pics

“Exhausted”

“Hanging by a thread”
Pig
“Drained Dry”
Funny animals annoyed by their kids
“Smothered”
These 21 Animal Expressions Accurately Sum Up What It's Like To Be a Mom
“Proud”
20 Animal Moms Who Have Had Enough of their Children
“Wary”
10+ baby animals driving their mom crazy but overwhelming us with cuteness
“An Earful”
30 Cute Baby Animals Pictures Following Their Moms - Tail and Fur
“Brave”
animal mothers with babies | Mother & Child Reunion: Too-Cute Photos of  Mother & Baby Animals ... | Animals beautiful, Super cute animals, Funny  animals
“Loved”

In Every Moment a Seed

The Night Before My Daughter’s 13th Birthday
by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
If I could do it all again,
I would—every blooming bit of it.
Every bout of pink eye,
every snotty nose, every
late night waking, every
single reading of Good Night Moon,
every fairy house, every
drive to every ballet class,
every singalong to the entire
soundtrack of Hamilton,
every wobble and stumble
and blunder and lapse
to arrive at this very moment
when we lie on her bed
in the dark and talk about
this miracle, this astonishing
life, and watch dumb videos
and curl into each other.
In every moment, a seed.
It surprises me now,
how beautiful the field.

If this school year isn’t what you hoped it would be

It’s hard to parent in a pandemic. There are so many casualties, not the least of which are uncertainties, disappointments, and crushed expectations. Today I’m sharing a post about high school graduation by @Brooke Romney Writes from Thursday, April 29, 2021. I have a child who recently graduated from a pandemic-pocked high school. It would be good for me to remember Brooke’s wisdom to “embrace reality & individual timing” and be patient with the process of becoming.

Here is the link https://brookeromney.com/2021/04/if-this-school-year-isnt-what-you-hoped-it-would-be/

It’s that time of year.

Your feed is full of kids winning elections, going to prom, making teams, collecting awards, opening mission calls & heading off to dream schools surrounded by the

“Best group of kids EVER.”

It’s an exciting time…for some. But not for all.

So, I’m just popping in for a little reality check.

It’s okay if your kid didn’t win, didn’t get asked, is sitting the bench, or is never recognized.

It’s okay if their now doesn’t include a mission or a dream school or if their future feels hazy.

It’s okay if there are just medium friends or if they are ready to bust out of high school and never look back.

It’s also okay to feel a little sad about it.

But most parents don’t post about that, so you might also feel a little lonely about it.

It’s been such a weird year, in every way.

So be happy for the kids that DID get that great experience, who had the loyal friends, all the memories and a future that looks picture perfect.

Then, find peace knowing that millions of people have found success, happiness and fulfillment without ever going to junior prom or a top tier university.

Twenty years from now, no one will remember who the quarterback was on their mediocre high school football team or care about who graduated with a 4.0. I promise.

Life doesn’t end after high school. It begins. Remember that.

So cheer your own kid on, passionately, in just the way he or she needs it.

Don’t spend the next few months drooling over the filtered photos of your friend’s family or wishing your kid’s experience was more like someone else’s.

Embrace reality & individual timing.

Recognize that your child’s life is exactly as it should be in order to become the person they were always meant to be.

Celebrate the good things, the lessons learned, the growth achieved, the relationships that mattered.

Talk about the endless opportunities the future holds & how cool it is when everyone grows up.

Help them look forward with focus, faith, openness and adventure.

And reassure them, with certainty, that the best is yet to come.

Is this photo realistic in your home?

Do you and your children smile while doing chores?

Do you whistle while you work?

Is everyone happy and helpful in maintaining the home?

Stock photos on Google Images can be so staged and fake, right?

Reality may be more like your kids’ bedrooms look like a bomb went off and your emotional fuse exploding.

Read this instead of cleaning your room. | Messy bedroom, Cleaning my room, Messy  room

This is SUCH a common problem. It can’t be addressed in one article, or be applied to every situation. However, I’ll offer some general principles that work well and can be helpful in informing your approach.

Here are the basics of setting up family rules. I’ll model this by suggesting only 3 rules.

  1. The fewer the rules, the better.
  2. Rules should be adapted and evolve as children grow. For example, here’s how a rule about cleaning their room would change over the years and a child’s maturation grows.
  • Preschooler: pick up their toys each day and make bed (with your help), and put dirty clothes in laundry basket.
  • School Aged Child: pick up their toys, vacuum carpet (or sweep floor), make bed and change out sheets every week, and put dirty cloths in laundry and put clean clothes away.
  • Adolescent: pick up floor, sweep or vacuum, make bed and do their own laundry.

May I speak up from experience as well? On the “clean your bedroom and do laundry” issue, I have raised a few teenagers (five, to be exact) and some kids were less sparkling clean than others. They weren’t bothered by wearing wrinkly, stained clothes or living in a bedroom mess. Their bedroom became a battleground and I wasn’t ready to die on that hill.

There were other issues and rules that were much more important to me, and essential to their safety (such as curfew and electronic use). I had to decide that if I needed to stand my ground, it had to be what really counted. If I have too many rules and go Dolores Umbridge on everything, it makes every rule something for my teen to resist and our relationship to break apart. During rough times when I needed to back off and focus on our relationship, I just said, “Just keep your door closed so we don’t have to see it. So long as cockroaches and rodents are not roaming your room to eat leftover crumbs, you can live as you wish.” I figured that natural consequences (set by the world) rather than logical (set by me) would be a better teacher, navigator, and motivator. If their friends gave them negative feedback so much the better!

3. Children should also become more involved in creating the rules, rewards, and consequences as they grow. When there is “buy in” and more power given to kids, it is so much easier for everyone to feel validated and part of a team. It’s also surprising how kids can come up with brilliant ideas and solutions to problems that might not have occurred to a parent.

There are several categories of rules and I can’t cover them all (each family can decide what they want to prioritize). Categories can be:

  • Electronic use
  • School and homework
  • Household chores, bedroom clean up and laundry, etc.
  • Curfew and time home for dinner and bedtime
  • Personal hygiene and dress, grooming, etc.
  • Safety with drugs, alcohol, dating, social media, and healthy sexuality. Of course these would be ongoing subjects, introduced early in a very general way, and becoming more specific and relevant as the child becomes a preteen and teen.
  • Respect for others and property, honesty, individual value, etc.

Rules can part of a weekly family meeting. If discussed weekly, these can be addressed in smaller segments so as to not overwhelm the family. Just talk about one topic or issue at a time. Celebrate successes and problem solve together. Calendaring weekly in a family meeting is essential so everyone is on the same page, the family can coordinate activities, and kids can know what is expected for the week.

Here’s a pdf of how to establish general family rules.

This a more detailed list from a Christian-oriented family. I wouldn’t post this one but discuss it since it’s too much. If you have family rules posted, they should be a short list. This one example:

15 Best Chore chart template ideas | chore chart, chores, chores for kids

A posted chore chart is easy to rotate responsibilities each week. Kids can be paired up to do household chores if they work better with a sibling. If it takes longer and they just end up arguing, working alone or with a parent is just fine. I like to have daily chores done by dinnertime and weekly chores get done whenever the child chooses, just so it’s done before the weekend and before they go out on the weekend to hangout with friends.

Here’s another nice worksheet that may be helpful for your family.

I’m not a fan of paying kids for their chores, such as an allowance, but there are several ways to give kids money to help them learn financial literacy and responsibly. One way is to offer extra jobs (more involved than regular chores) for money:

Family Chore Chart Center | All Things Target

You may also reframe the negative perception of chores by re-naming them. The word “job” or “chore” feels heavy, like a chore or hardship. How about “Family Contribution, “Helping Time,” or “Home Improvement Time”? I once asked my brother in law how he enjoyed his job. He said, “It’s called ‘work’ for a reason. It isn’t called ‘play.’ It’s really hard.” So your own attitude and the words you use make all the difference. Rather than saying, “Go do that job” why not say, “Come help me get this done.” I highly suggest watching this video https://www.byutv.org/player/7657cf0a-c3bb-4e1d-852a-4be61c6398f8/real-families-real-answers-effective-parenting

Finally, keep the big picture in mind. The long view is to remember we are guiding and teaching our children to become responsible citizens, to be wise stewards of our communities, earth, and natural resources. And to be good workers to keep our economy strong. The home setting is a microcosm for where to learn the small, essential skills in daily living. We are the world in a nutshell, where we grow and nurture our kids. And that’s no small chore.

Managing Expectations in Marriage…

…or in any relationship. Between two business partners, a parent and child, siblings, or best friends. This topic is for everyone. Even between a pet owner and his furry little animal.

Think about it. When do you NOT have expectations on a daily basis? Nearly every thing we do is laden with an expectation whether we are aware of it or not. Managing finances, raising children, doing chores around the house, maintaining a car and home, communication styles, and on and on. Every interaction involves two people who expect the outcome to be one way or another and for each person to act in a certain way.

In any disagreement on any topic, I assert that is has everything to do with unmet expectations. If you are angry, frustrated, disappointed, or just plain ticked off, just fill in the blank: “I expected that you would…”

Because expectations are part of everything we do and the source of unhappiness, I chose this topic when I was asked to be interviewed for The Growth Marriage.

Enjoy!

Covid (Idiot) Kids

I have a friend who I greatly admire. She’s bright, funny, intelligent, articulate, and (dang it all), beautiful and refined on top of it all. She has it all together with a husband and four amazing children. They are the picture-perfect family. Until everything fell apart.

Enter Covid-19.

The pandemic hit her family hard. Like wrecking-ball hard. Her youngest son took a nose dive and she recently wrote about him and what they’ve gone through this past year. As I read it, I thought, “We are two mothers with the same story. We live in parallel universes.” It certainly makes me realize how her words will resound with other mothers.

She writes, “Done with the quarantine almost before it started, my son was desperate to reclaim a sense of agency he felt had been ripped away from him. Confined in an environment he already viewed as restrictive, dubious about claims of what the virus would do to him, he pushed back…What I saw all around me were kids suffering from lethargy and restlessness by turns, limping through school under the constant shadow of overwhelm, while services and infrastructure faltered.”

When you read her story (link below), you may want to cry out #MeToo. Welcome! Join the Covid Club. We are living as a village of parents scratching our heads and pulling our hair out, trying to raise the village idiots. But…she also offers level-headed, brilliant advice for how to handle Covid Kids. Something true to hold onto in this time of uncertainty.

https://becky-davidson.medium.com/how-the-pandemic-sparked-an-identity-crisis-in-my-high-schooler-and-the-counterintuitive-approach-ce8544372452