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.
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.
…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.
My child has all the signs of ADHD and is driving us crazy. He is like a tornado, can’t finish any project, has trouble with his peers, and is failing in school. What are your ideas for us, his parent?
ADHD has been around for a long time. Many decades ago, it was look at disapprovingly, like some mental defect. The children adapted by being the class clowns or dropping out. They felt dumb and were treated as having a disability. In the early 60′ drugs became available on the market, mainly Ritalin, but the side effects could be severe.
“My child has turned into a zombie,” was the most frequent complaint.
Parents often opted out of medical interventions with no other recourse. Nowadays, there are at least 10 drugs that are effective to one degree or another, Adderall, being the one I’m most familiar with. They have less side effects depending on how they are dosed and monitored.
The good news is that medicine isn’t the end of the story, or even the main character. Just like your child is not just his brain, his “disorder” is interconnected to other parts of his body that can be helping or hurting his condition. Treating the other parts can pull all his body organs together into a well-functioning organism.
I can get you started on a journey to find resources to approach ADHD (or ADD) from many angles. Depending on the severity and origins, it may require your child’s lifestyle be examined and altered. Similar to having a child diagnosed with asthma, parents look holistically at diet, air quality, dyes and perfumes, pets and inhalers.
The same holistic approach should be taken with a child with ADHD. I believe a medical examination (or two) by trained professionals is the first step. Start with pediatrician and then consider an integrative medicine doctor, nutritionist, and other specialists as necessary. In that process, parents should always be in charge and weigh all the information they get to try what they feel is best. If something isn’t working, they keep trying.
Working with your son’s classroom educators is critical. If the teacher does not appreciate or understand ADHD or know how to structure the learning environment, it can become a frustrating, demoralizing place for that child. He/she may become ridiculed and felt to be stupid. Get an IEP if necessary and follow through that accommodations are appropriate and successful.
If your child’s educator needs a little coaching, start with structuring your son’s desk or table with “nesting.” Nesting means to set up your child’s workstation so it surrounds them. Sometimes children will struggle if they can’t find something that helps them to stay on task. For an example, having all the writing implements they need at their grasp is important. If they get up to find something, they may not sit down and refocus for a very long time. Having everything surround them, helps them to remain in place.
Depending on the severity, many young children can be trained with biofeedback and CBT/DBT, or other behavioral modifications from a trained coach.
Here are a few some websites.
In the city where I live we have a well-respected business called Brain Balance that is found nation wide: https://www.brainbalancecenters.com/
There are also plenty of books and podcasts to listen to on this subject. Get educated as parents! Talk to others with children with similar needs and find out what they recommend. Get on Facebooks groups. However, be cautioned that one miracle cure for one child does not necessarily do the same in others.
Central to behavioral therapy involves learning organization tricks, establishing routines and schedules, taking frequent breaks with grounding (sensory grounding, not the punishment kind) and vigorous exercise, mindfulness, as well as examining the diet. If tested, many find that certain processed food, most sugars, dyes, and food common to allergies will spike the ADHD.
Video gaming and device use must also be examined. I find that children, particularly those with mental/cognitive deficits, can help their brains to rewire by working closely in nature and with animals daily.
Sleep also needs to be examined because the brain needs to go into REM to restore and regenerative cells each night. So if the child is not getting deep and adequate sleep, that is another angle to address.
If the child is older and responsive to medicine, it takes time, practice, and patience to see what works. One medicine may do loopy things to the child so that means you just need to give that feedback to the doctor and try again. There are many safe and effective medicines, but everybody responds differently so it’s a trial and error to find the right one at the right dose.
Most importantly, it’s important to learn that the best perspective you can have as parents is that your son isn’t weak-minded, stupid, wrong, broken, or doing this to make everyone’s lives miserable. To be sure, the child knows that he is missing something and like having dyslexia, needs adaptive and coping mechanisms. These children are some of the brightest, most creative, and compassionate. People with ADHD can be extremely focused when they find something they are passionate about and worth diving into.
To that end, when raising a child with any “disorder” it should be framed or stated a positive way so there are no negative perceptions with which to burden a child and distort their self-concept. They have a special way of thinking, processing, and doing things that make them super. I believe fictional geniuses like Tony Stark as Iron Man
and real people like Robin Williams
embraced their creative ADD minds to become marvelous inventors and entertainers. Kids needs to see that they are super like that, too.
I said goodbye to my 5th, and last, child this fall. He left for college. Some parents find this a heart-wrenching time and cry for days with the covers pulled over their head.
I get it.
My mom said when my last sibling left home, she closed the door on the house and the “click” sounded like an echo chamber in a tomb—
hollow, claustrophobic, and terrifying.
It’s a huge life transition to change from a parent fulltime to a parent… hardly ever. I mean, of course I’m still a parent forever, but not hands-on, blood, sweat, and tears rolling down my face anymore. I won’t know if he’s eating or sleeping enough, washing behind his ears, turning in his homework, and being kind to people or not.
It’s funny that you’ve only become successful at the job of parenting when you’ve been fired from it. You want to eventually get “out” of the job, the same one you’ve immersed yourself in 24/7 for decades, to see that your young adult is adulting now. Even though we’d like them to be under our protective wings forever, that isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. They’re meant to grow up and make their own decisions; they’re meant to distance themselves from us to become capable, independent people who don’t need to call home to ask if Skippy or Jiff is the better peanut butter.
I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders when I shut the door. An invisible weight I hadn’t known was there for the past 33+ years. I’m not done parenting yet, but launching my last was a huge relief.
He’s a good person. He works hard. He serves others. He is responsible, just like his older siblings. There is no dossier about a parent who does the magnificent and improbable task: to raise an infant to adulthood in this wild, wild world. There needs to be more bands and parades. There needs to be confetti (or money) showering from the sky. There needs to be an Olympics Gold Medal for every parent who makes it this far.
Since he’s been gone, it’s been quiet around the house, for sure. The house stays clean. I can wake up and do whatever I want. My husband and I feel like we are back in the honeymoon years with just ourselves again (but with more money).
I highly recommend this stage to everyone.
My hat goes off to any parent who raises a responsible adult. I know just how hard it is and there are no guarantees that after all the good parenting, the child will grow up to be a good person. I guess the more accurate thing to say is my hat goes off to any parent who loves their child, and loves some more, who knows when to say “no,” and who never gives up.
Now…if you want to find me, I’ve gone to Disneyland.
I am on the board of the Utah Marriage Commission. It’s a privilege to work with academics, agency directors, educators, policymakers, and others who promote successful marriages. It’s under the director and appointment of Governor Gary Herbert. These are people who volunteer their time, talents, and energy to helping people like you and me have happy loving relationship with others. What better mission could I ask for?
I was asked to write an article for their blog and I’ll share a link to the results. Although it’s not about parenting, the purpose of my website, marriage is usually what brings about children (funny, that!). Children deserve two happily married people to raise them in a loving home. Even when their is one parent raising a child, that adult needs to foster healthy adult relationships with their intimate others.
I saw an intriguing and thought-provoking question the other day: “What is your definition of a ‘good mom'”?
Think about that for a minute.
Take a moment to jot down what you think are the essential qualities.
At the same time, please acknowledge that parents confuse this question with the daily self critique of “not being good enough.” Why is that? I believe that we are trying to measure up to an unrealistic ideal in parenting. Not being “good enough” in this sense really means “less-than-perfect” when perfection is the way this person feels worthy as a parent.
That is where we confuse and defeat ourselves. We shortchange our kids with what they really need: us. Flawed. Imperfect. Us.
If we are so busy tearing down our best efforts because they aren’t up to some imaginary measuring stick, that is wasted energy. How is it we accept flawed, imperfect attempts by our kids (and find them adorable, by the way), but we don’t afford ourselves the same appreciation.
Stop and review the list you wrote of the things that nourish and flourish little people into healthy adults. I doubt you had on your list, “Cook a homemade healthy meal every day.” “Never raise my voice.” “Have all laundry folded neatly and put away (with socks that found their mates) all the time.” No? Well why do we get discouraged when we don’t do these?
Here are some insightful “good mom” responses from real moms who answered this questions honestly and thoughtfully. There are 20 responses and you’ll see quite a few repeated ideas. I will bold repeats to scream, “Pay attention!” It’s surprising, really, how being good enough is quite simple.
As you read, please consider if you can do these things and how to do them as often as possible. If you concentrate on these, let go of the rest and just do your best.
I encourage you to add the bolded words to the list you made. When we boil all down this messy work of parenting, it comes down to these few things. “Welcomes imperfection” is one of my favorite phrases. What a GOOD thing to strive for each day.
It’s a good time to visualize a better future. Having so many restrictions in our lives during the coronavirus stay-at-home quarantine helps us appreciate what we can do when we’re able to again.
For one, I can’t WAIT to go back to the fitness center and swim again. It’s a small wish, but oh, how I’ve missed doing it.
We were going to take our son our our traditional family “senior trip,” the one where we let our high school senior child dream, plan, and do with us. We’d been dreaming and planning on a trip to Iceland for the past year. We were supposed to be there this week. It would be our last senior trip with our last child.
Ya. That isn’t happening. Rather than seeing waterfalls and Blue Lagoon geothermal mineral spa, we’re visiting the family room, bathroom and, for some new scenery, the kitchen sink.
We’re not letting that get us down (not too much). As my friend said, our dreams right now are not cancelled, just postponed.
You might have heard of Dream Boards. Some call them “Vision Boards” because they help us envision, or tangibly see what we want. They can help us visualize goals. It would be a great activity to do as a family while stuck at home. Help our children see what are the possibilities of a post-coronavirus life. A dream depends on hope; a hope is a lifeline to a brighter tomorrow. What do you miss and want to see yourself doing again in the near future?
Here are some pictures I could post on my board:
Hugging people, shaking hands, and being close again.
Dressing up to go to a nice event (I’ve forgotten how to put on mascara).
Eating at a restaurant.
Going to a sporting event and cheering loudly with thousands of others, all crammed together with reckless abandon.
Going back to a classroom with a real, live teacher who is being paid a billion dollars.
Buying food and supplies and finding them well stocked on shelves.
But what do we do beyond just staring at those pictures of the physically fit person we want to be or the vacation we want to take?
Here’s a interview I did on the Matt Townsend show on BYU radio. After the first interview (about 1 hour) I follow on the topic of on Doing Not Dreaming. Matt and I talk about helping our children achieve their goals.
If anyone is not feeling stressed right now, please raise your hand.
I didn’t think so.
This COVID-19 pandemic, earthquakes, economic downturn, social isolation, being home 24/7, trying to educate stir-crazy kids, constantly sanitizing and cleaning every surface and anything that moves, (and the list goes on), is wrecking havoc on our health. Mental, physical, social, and emotional health is taking a nose dive.
Some of the common symptoms in this uncommon time are irritability, lack of motivation, fear, frustration, anger, hopelessness, and insomnia. Lack of sleep just exacerbates all the others. I’ve had insomnia off and on my whole life, thanks to genetics and an overactive mind. Every time I lay down my head on pillow and try to fall asleep, thoughts pour into my head like a flowing faucet. Literally a river of thoughts that won’t turn off. I’ve tried counting sheep, but that doesn’t work.
Once I took a vacation to Puerto Rico and did not sleep for 5 days. And that was on vacation when I should have been the most relaxed!
However, during this pandemic, I have slept incredibly well. That’s because I have learned how to fall asleep without drugs or counting sheep. On rare occasions, I’ve taken a Tylenol P.M. or Melatonin, and it’s been years since I’ve taken Ambien. I’m handling the current situation better because I get a full-night’s sleep. I know there are some who need to take sleep medication, but for those who want to explore other options, I’d like to share 10 tips with you. I start with the most obvious, small ideas and work up to the most powerful, big ones.
Eliminate any food and drink after 8:00 p.m. or earlier, if possible. No caffeinated drinks in the evening. Avoid drinking water right before bedtime so you don’t have to get up to go to the bathroom.
No naps. Keep a regular daily schedule as much as possible. Sleep, or circadian rhythms, is your body’s patterns of knowing day from night. If you take a nap longer than 30 minutes, you disrupt that pattern by going too deep into sleep during daytime hours. If you must take a power nap, make it 5-10 minutes.
Regular exercise. Even with the COVID-19, we are (especially ) encouraged to get outside, drink in some Vitamin D, and move our bodies. This is true All. The. Time. not just during a pandemic. With gyms closed for the time being, you’ll have to get creative and more determined. Every day I try to do some gardening, exercise on the stationary bike, or walk for 30 minutes around the neighborhood.
Do not take a device to bed with you or watch TV in the bedroom. If you have trouble like I do, it could be that you are inputting to much information for your brain to process. My mind is like 101 computer tabs open, holding me hostage. Use the few hours before bedtime to NOT watch a movie or scroll through social media, watch the news, or anything that would open another tab to deal with. There’s a lot of science that cautions us to not have the light from screens tricking our eyes to thinking it’s daytime.
Relax and stretch muscles. You can have a body massage if you’re lucky enough to have someone to do that for you every night. If not, I’d suggest taking a hot bath, a long hot shower, and stretching. Yes, that’s right, I said “stretching.” There are amazing benefits to stretching out our muscles. You may be doing this before or after a workout which is great! If you do it before bedtime, you’ll find that stretching out releases endorphins, a great “feel good” chemical to your brain. Static stretching increases activity in the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting relaxation. I can literally feel my body relaxing while I stretch. And when I wake up, I feel So. Good.
Meditation apps. This tip is becoming rather popular now, with the Mindfulness Movement. I love that we are using our powerful minds to harness energy and direct it for good. Another similar idea is to have white noise to help soothe the mind.
Insomnia is a by-product of anxiety for many people. Many people with anxiety and sleep disorders swear by weighted blankets. This may be the cure for you. Weighted blankets are filled with small objects like glass beads or metal pellets to make it heavy. The feeling of having something holding or hugging you close, like a blanket, is very calming. Research shows that weighted blankets are used in therapy known as “deep touch pressure stimulation” which aids in the production of sleep-help hormones.
Years ago, before cellphones, I was working full time in a very demanding job. My boss taught me a great trick to clear the mind at bedtime. She had a hand-held voice recorder with mini-cassette tapes inside. She kept it on her nightstand and when her faucet-thoughts started flowing, she reached for her recorder, and put those ideas on the tape. Once she could clear her mind by having something else keep her thoughts organized and safe, she could fall asleep. Today, we can use any app or “voice memo” or reminder on a cellphone. Some people prefer to get up and journal or write down their thoughts to have the paper remember it for them. Whatever you need, use it.
Deep breathing. This has been a game changer for me. It came out of guided meditation practices. I don’t normally go through guided meditation these days, but I do the breathing that is so essential to relaxation. Like stretching (#6), deep breathing stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system and the supply of oxygen to your brain. Rather than counting sheep, I lay in bed and do the slow breathing in, counting 1-10, then hold, and release like slowing blowing through a straw, 1-5. Doing this helps me re-center, and focus on the breath. If my mind begins wandering, I bring it back to the breath. I don’t judge my wandering thoughts, or dwell on them, but gently guide them back with the breath. If you concentrate on this exercise, you will probably find, like me, that you have fallen asleep without even realizing it. It literally wears you out.
Drum roll….Number 1.
Make friends with insomnia. This is something I discovered on my own, but it’s backed up by research. I had been fighting my insomnia like it was an enemy I took to bed each night. I wrestled with it, coaxed it, bribed it, bargained with it, resented it, and felt powerless by it. Insomnia was like a living presence that had control of me. I decided that the energy it took to fight it and the resentment I felt because of it was part of the problem. I decided that I needed to take back control. So I made friends with it. I didn’t judge it or myself anymore. Quite a few nights, I just lay there, at peace. I was in state of total relaxation all night and I didn’t let that upset me. The goal wasn’t to “get to sleep” anymore. I just enjoyed resting. I enjoyed the quiet. I began thinking of my blessings. I filled my mind with gratitude, and for the chance to spend just laying there. I welcomed it. When I did that, it changed my life. No longer did I feel a victim to insomnia. I fact, I never acknowledge I had insomnia anymore. Instead, I have a chance to lay in bed filled with gratitude.
These are the secret tips of a lifetime of trial and error. I feel compelled today to share them in the hopes it might help someone else who struggles with sleep disorder. Life is hard enough without being tired of the fight to sleep. I wish you all the best in your quest for rest.
Good luck, and good night.
In honor of the novel coronavirus that is named “Covid-19”, I have collected 19 of my favorite memes that lighten things up at this serious time.
2. This next one is all-too-true. I went to Costco one day and got there before it opened at 10:00 a.m. The store had opened early and I could see a line of shoppers with carts that wrapped around the side to the back of the building. Call me crazy, but I got in that line. It felt like the “Indiana Jones” ride at Disneyland without the ride at the end. People were a bit frantic and pushing their way in the store. I couldn’t believe it. All that, and there was no toilet paper or baby wipes! I then went to Winco and there wasn’t a line, but EVERY SINGLE shopping cart and red basket was being used inside the store. I couldn’t put my groceries in anything. There were 2 lines to the checkout stands, each wrapping around the sides of the store and ending in the back, by the dairy or fish counter. I stood in line for 45 minute with my little handful of items before I could pay for them.
I made some nice friends, standing in the line for so long. One guy offered to put my groceries in his cart so I didn’t have to hold them. He said he was looking for ways to be extra nice to people during this stressful time. He reminded me we all have a choice and hardship can bring out the best or the worst in us. I choose best. My neighbors have been texting each of us to see who needs anything from the store if they are going out. It’s so heart-warming to see how we take care of each other (with or without the WW II gas mask outfit)
3. Who’s with me on this? I can’t believe how often I touch my face. If I hear the words, “Don’t touch your face,” my nose immediately starts to itch.
4. I love Tom Hanks and the movies he makes. Some have compared him to a modern-day Jimmy Stewart. A class act and an every-day man. I find it not a coincidence that this ordinary man who played “Mr. Rogers” could get the Covid-19 virus. He is just like us: he bleeds like us and gets sick like us. I am truly sorry he and his wife are under quarantine. I wish them a full recovery.
5. Funny how his movies all tend to be about catastrophes while traveling.
6. Speaking of travel. Just don’t. This is a floating cesspool of germs. I don’t know how the cruiseline industry (or airline/hotel/restaurant/rental car, for that matter), will survive. This virus will have such long-reaching, economically devastating effects. I had to cancel a family trip to Iceland for spring break and my son, who was going to China this summer to teach English, will miss out on that opportunity too. This has changed everything. Which brings me to how I feel about everything with the next meme:
7. Earth is closed today. And every day for who-knows-how-long.
8. I’m not whining though. That meme reminds us how others have been through terrible times. We are not anywhere near that category. So what if I can’t find milk or T.P. on the store shelves? We are not starving. We are not in a war. Life is good.
9. Yes, this.
10. This one cracks me up. So do the next ones.
11. Bring Your Own Toilet Paper.
12. I totally watched “Scooby Doo” as a kid. It was the ultimate reveal at the end when it was discovered that “Old Man Withers” or some other nefarious person had masterminded the appearance of a ghost. Now we know the culprit is the T.P. industry. They are making a mint off this.
13. Or maybe it’s Dolores Umbridge who’s behind this. I wouldn’t put it past her. She was creepy mean in that movie.
14. Since I love “Harry Potter” so much I had to put this in here too.
15. And I also like “Jumanji” so this one made the list. It did feel a little like a cosmic trick being played on us. To add insult to injury, those of us living in Utah had an 5.7 earthquake during the quarantine. I’m just waiting for the rhinos to come stampeding through.
16. Such weirdness…it’s like all these random acts all spawned from an ADHD child’s imagination.
17. Speaking of kids, we are acting like them these days. We are having to learn the basics again of how to wash our hands? C’mon, people, this is what we should have been doing all along.
18. As a Utahan, this one was classic.
19. Hope you got a good laugh today. We all need it to help clear our minds and put things in perspective.
Here’s a bonus one just because it’s too good not to share.
Stay safe. Stay well.
Re-connect with those you love…
In groups smaller than 10
And at a social distance of 6 feet or more
And after you’ve washed your hands for 20 seconds…
Looks like we’re all going to be home with our kids for a while.
Let’s all sit down and take a deep breath.
This news may be more intimidating and stressful for parents who are used to sending their kids to school for others to teach, keep from fighting, and chase boredom away.
“Social distancing” is another catch phrase for “You can’t play with friends so you’re stuck with me.”
Now it’s our turn. It’s 24/7 Covid19 Parenting Time. Desperate times call for desperate measures. We’ve got to be as creative as an elementary school teacher, as entertaining as Nickelodeon, and enticing as a vending machine.
My cousin is a fabulous parent of four. She uses the outdoors to teach her kids a healthy respect for nature and books and other materials to teach them how to use their minds. She came up with this chart to schedule learning and keep everyone on track while they are out of public school. Notice how they helped.
Do you remember the daily schedule your 5th grade teacher had on the board? Rather than falling into boredom and brain atrophy, why not keep the daily schedule going at home? Kids may resist at first, but you never know. If you let them come up with a reasonable schedule and goals, it may just catch fire.
Plus, did you see the win-win? She has them up and doing chores first thing. Yay for this clever mom sneaking that in.
P.S. Her name is “Sara” and “Rob” is her husband. I want to give her props for including him on house duties so the kids see their dad pitching in as well.
Here’s another generic chart that you could start with. But personalize it to your family so they are all creating their own learning plan. Home school kids do this every day.
This schedule was also posted by a parent who took a more realistic approach to her “home school schedule”
Does that resemble yours? Or maybe, by default, your day will look more like this:
Being real is my thing (see book I wrote on home page). However, life shouldn’t unravel to the point that we give completely up. The little terrorist shouldn’t win. We are, after all, still in charge. Check your driver’s license and remind yourself who is the adult.
This time of quarantine may just be a wake-up call that we needed to have more structure to begin with. It’s hard to go from zero to hero in a matter of weeks.
Baby steps, people.
Start somewhere. Anywhere.
I suggest having a 1:1 ratio of media to learning if you need for younger kids. For every hour of school or subject study at home, children can to do either 1 hour of earned outdoor/physical play or 1 hour of “free” time (translate: media) or anything they want to do for fun like crafting, playing a board game or with toys. They have to alternate the physical play with media play.
I know, it’s going to be hard. T.P. may run out and you’ll have to start being creative.
Just remember that school and public events and gatherings are cancelled (what, no Disneyland?) but kindness is not cancelled. Family fun is not cancelled. Laughter and jokes are not cancelled. This may be a wake-up call and opportunity to give your child the one on one time with you that they’ve been missing.
I’ve been studying research about children’s inability or difficulty in expressing their feelings. Part of this is developmental, the other part is experience and learning. In many cases, when a child is out of control (for no apparent reason), the best thing to do is to say, “I see you. This must be hard,” and wrap them up in your protective arms. They feel frightened, out of control, and need to feel safe again. They need emotional connection.
Just this week I was reminiscing about a daughter who had frequent melt downs as a toddler. I tried my best, but sometimes, I just let her be. I have a vivid memory of her sitting at the top of the stairs, bawling uncontrollably. What I wouldn’t do to go back in time, scoop her up in my arms, and rock her until she calmed down. I have this regret, and I will never get that moment back.
Childhood is short.
Being a parent ends quickly.
Eat Halloween candy together.
Take a son or daughter out of school to go on your own “field trip” to the park, a museum, or to a foreign country.
Run through summer sprinklers.
Wrap them up in your arms because too soon you’ll be letting go.