Posted tagged ‘connection’

“You’re perfect…” And other lies parents tell

April 25, 2013

As you can tell from my blog, my goal was for my children to become independent, resilient, hard working [thus the emphasis on chores] and capable.

They were far from spoiled. Lone Coombs book, “You’re perfect…” and other lies parents tell; The ugly truth about spoiling your kids caught my eye at the library. Hurrah, someone else besides me is against praising kids’ every breath, crayon scribble and effort.

She believes in family connectivity  and offers 13 steps to build a better family, including some of my favorites. Number 1 on the list is Eat together, then establish a regular family night. I call these family meetings. Others include: build a family identity, schedule family service projects [one more thing on the to-do list, but valuable], laugh together [essential – I add PLAY TOGETHER], create one-on-one parent-child time [I regret not following this at least once a month], never play favorite, build traditions, share values, and know when to seek outside assistance.

Author Coombs is a lawyer, mom and step-mom who isn’t afraid to tell the truth about how over-coddling leads to dangerous and destructive teenage behavior.

Treasure and take advantage of the first twelve years to connect with your kids, teach them how to handle disappointment. Expect them to sweep the floor and scoop the dog poop. Allow them to experience cause and effect of their less-than-perfect decisions.

Coombs warns that pampered kids who are given everything Mom and Dad never got “are setting up an insidious mentality in their kids, instilling in them both an overwhelming sense of entitlement and a lack of empathy for others. The combination of these two factors can pave the way to completely ruin a child’s life because it robs them of two crucial influences: the concept of rules and consequences and a concern for other people’s feelings.”

Get this book and read it, no matter how old your children are. Then follow the suggestions. Fear is a great motivator. I lived on the fear of messing up my kids and the guilt that I was too … whatever. Today, my kids might be too independent. They are not entitled, drug-addicted, or living in my basement. We have the foundation for a life-long relationship, in part, thanks to family meetings.

Schedule your family time TODAY. Put up a blank family meeting agenda [see tip sheets]. It’s worth the investment and prevention of future problems.

Kids have more time for chores in summer

July 2, 2012
Kids and chore are important, especially during summer when they have more time for chores. Get children and teens to choose their own chores at home during a family meeting to help out. Use encouragement, not praise.

Borrowed this wonderful photo from http://fabandfru.com/2009/10/kids-chores/.

Kids like structure. Kids like to feel connected and competent. Summer disrupts those opportunities at school, so parents have to work a bit harder to compensate.

Summer is a great time to teach kids good habits and life skills by involving them in what you’re doing — laundry, yard work, cooking, dishes, fixing things, or anything else around the house. The earlier you start including them in chores, the more natural it will seem. The younger they are, the more they love to help out. Ironically, the older they get and more skilled, the less likely they are to contribute.

We raised our four kids frugally — probably to a fault. However, they learned how to manage  money and avoid the debt epidemic. We didn’t hang-dry laundry when they were growing up. It’s an excellent kid-chore because the youngest kids can do it.

I created a hang-dry system near our washing machine to give up the dryer. It took some time to install and some help from Reliable Bob.  I saw instant savings in my electric bills since we’ve started hang-drying most laundry. I like coarse air-dried towels — they’re like a spa, and soften up after a few uses. Sheets dried outside have a wonderful smell. Usually I’m too lazy to go further than our little dry furnace room right next to the washing machine to dry sheets.

Here I am creating a new energy saving system that the kids got used to to hang dry laundry and save money. it's an excellent chore for kids to hang up laundry, be frugal and save the planet. Using less energy is what we all need to do.

I’m attaching a thick cable to the wall to install a strong indoor clothesline.

Take some time to set up energy-efficient systems this summer.  A work ethic, frugality and knowing how to fix things can take your kids a long way in life. Take the time this summer to set up green systems. Let your kids take apart some old appliances and electronics to see how they work and challenge them to put them back together.  See if they can fix things. Find appliance parts at PartSelect if needed.

Let them make a mess. Encourage them to experience trial and error by taking apart appliances, tinkering with old computers, cooking, growing seeds, sewing or whatever interests them. Investing in messes and chores plant seeds that will grow for a lifetime.

The anti-drug abuse: Family connection

February 13, 2012
Drug abuse is the biggest fears for parents who want to do the best for teens, tweens, adolescents, teenagers and young people. Good parenting is all about connection and setting up a positive parent-child relationship from early childhood on. Drug addition for teens and tweens and teenagers is one of the most dreaded outcomes of childhood. Discipline doesn't always work nor does punishment. Family dinner, family meetings, encouragement, mutual respect and cause and effect are the best ways for children to learn to mature and develop good judgment.

The cause of death for Whitney Houston is unknown. Drug abuse and addiction were among her demons, a tragic by-product of success and fame.

Did Whitney Houston feel like anyone loved her for being HER? Would they still love her if she was penniless and unknown? Who could she turn to for unconditional love, when she felt alone, scared and inadequate?

Drug abuse and suicide ranked high on my list of fears for my children. Kids with depression sometimes self-medicate with drug and alcohol abuse. Some carry the burden of depression alone, weighed down in shame, loneliness and lack of connection to an adult.

The best defense against drug/alcohol abuse is a good offense: Prevention. This takes time and attention over decades. YES decades. Parenting is not for the weak or faint-hearted. We hold a vision for what we want our kids to become for a long time. We must follow up with diligence and vigilance.

The actions to stay connected to kids are simple, and you probably already know them. They bear repeating because parenting is about repetition, day after day.

  • TIME. Do you spend time regularly with your kids, one-on-one and as a family? Having fun together will connect your family forever. Fun can be as simple as playing Candyland, ping-pong or Wii followed by a dish of ice cream from your freezer. Or a candy bar. Simple, cheap, readily available fun.
  • LOVE. This means accepting your children as they are. For example, my daughter Kristen is an art major. “Mom, you’re a good art parent because you don’t ask I’m going to get a real major to make money,” she says. I accept her vision for her life, even if I disagree.
  • LIMITS. We are the guard rails on our kids’ bridge of life. The guard rails have to be reasonable, related and respectful (Three Rs-Jane Nelsen, Ph.D.). If a child acts up in a restaurant, instead of “No video games for a week!” (totally unrelated), offer a quiet warning, “Your actions are showing you might not be able to stay in the restaurant. It’s up to you. We can leave now if that’s what you need.” The second might “punish” parents who have to open a can of soup at home. Do it anyway because such a response is respectful, related and reasonable. The kids will either straighten up or choose to behave better next time.

Parents can regularly dispense time, love and limits like a good habit. Family meetings, family dinner, family chores and the language of encouragement provide structure to connect positively with your children.

Studies show that regular family meals and family connection are the best prevention to drug/alcohol abuse and to promote good judgment. Use the first decade to establish a strong connection and maintain it through adolescence, even under protest.

If you have tweens and teens, you can set up structures to spend time together. Start with a family meeting and ask them how and when they want to spend time together as a family and one-on-one. Make sure kids have a turn at conducting the family meeting. See my

Happiness as the pot of gold at the end of childhood

January 30, 2012
I highly recommend "The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness" by "Ed Hallowell, MD"

I highly recommend "The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness" by Ed Hallowell, MD

Dr. Hallowell is a super writer and has much insight into childhood and childhood happiness. It’s about positive parenting and our overall approach to parenting. Dr. Hallowell tells some marvelous stories and shares research about childhood and how to have a happy childhood, the roots of happiness. Dr. Ned Hallowell has written a number of books on ADD and ADHD. This book isn’t about ADD or ADHD. It is a good parenting book. Good parenting books are hard to find. I like his tone, his ideas and his approach.” When I ask parents to list the highest aspirations for their children, many often say “happiness” and “to be happy.”

We must turn to a leprechaun to find this elusive and pot of gold — Dr. Edward Hallowell. His book, “The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness” contains stories, research on happiness, and insight from raising three children and advising families for several decades.

Here are the five childhood roots of adult happiness: connection, play, practice, mastery, and recognition. Notice the absence of the words discipline, consequences, praise, reward and punishment. Dr. Hallowell gives many wonderful examples of the importance of connection and how to get more of it without instilling fear and punishment.

Hallowell’s research on happiness adds credibility to the book. Even though happiness is subjective, many researchers have studied this enigmatic state. The fundamental fact that he uncovered is this: a strong parent-child connection is the foundation to happiness.

Hallowell’s book and my parenting approach nestle together like two spoons. What I call mutual respect and encouragement is called by Hallowell creating “confident can-do kids” by allowing them to try, to fail and to recognized efforts. This foundation for a positive parent-child connection also nurtures resilient children.

Kids who are allowed to fail and who are encouraged to practice more will find more happiness because they can bounce back from setbacks. Kids can take risks when they are confident they can fall back the mattress of unconditional love because they are not beholden to please parents or make them proud.

Dr. Hallowell gives many examples of how to nurture the parent-child connection. Here are a few key ideas we share:

  • to do family chores — without pay, with an allowance that’s not connected to chores;
  • to foster free play time — which could lead to the next possibility;
  • to allow boredom and to encourage the child to figure out what to do next;
  • to recognize effort and accomplishment without praise;
  • to share family meals, rituals and traditions;
  • to read together as long as possible; and
  • to nurture the belief that “you can do it.”

This book will make you feel good about how you connect to your children now and how to improve it. I loved reading it because of Dr. Hallowell’s informal writing style. It feels like he is talking to you and sharing what he has learned — from a not-so-perfect childhood and not-so-perfect parenting, that we can all relate to.

BTW — Come to a one-night positive parenting workshop tonight, Monday, Jan. 30, 2012 in Acton, Mass. Act don’t Yak. Walk-ins welcome. 7-9 pm at the R.J. Gray Junior High on Charter Road, off Route 111 in Acton.  Hope to see you there.

Mother guilt & father guilt are delivered with the baby

January 23, 2012
every mother and father, mommy, mom and dad have experienced guilt when we realize we have messed up with our children. It goes with the territory of parenthood. Parenting is about learning and forgiving our selves even when we're not perfect.
Every parent strives to be good and create happy memories like the one above. All we have to be is good enough. There is no perfect parent or perfect childhood.

“I’m a bad mother,” said “Zoe” a  young mother of three children, 7, 5 and 2, at my “Act Don’t Yak” workshop on how to cut the yelling last week in Littleton.

“Zoe” repeated that statement several times during the workshop on positive parenting techniques. “I’m doing so much wrong,” she said sadly.

I empathize with Zoe’s guilt, pain and desire because I have lived it. I started taking parenting workshops when I recognized what I was doing wasn’t working.
RECOGNIZING is about 80 percent of the process. Buddhist nun Pema Chodron says that after recognize comes refrain, relax and finally, resolve.
This means we parents must manage our emotions — including guilt. We only have to be parents for 24 hours when the guilt sets in, along with new empathy for our own parents. It hurts to realize that WE have messed up because we care about our kids so much and we want the best for them. We all mess up.
I usually start my programs with a story of one of my major mess-ups. My story of a horrible-no-good-terrible-day frees up parents to share theirs. And all parents have those moments, words and days that we regret.
Zoe resolved to start the journey to change, to take more workshops and improve her parenting skills. It will take time, attention and worse, backsliding and starting over again after failure.
That’s where self-encouragement comes in. Sarah, the mother of six, shared at a workshop how she handled a difficult situation with her teenage son. We gave her feedback on what she did right — which was a lot. Sarah walked away feeling better about how she responded to the situation. This is priceless. We can practice self-encouragement when we recognize-refrain [the hardest two to achieve] then find the path to relax and resolve.
Taking a step back from parenting at a workshop allows insight, camaraderie with other parents, laughter, forming a positive parenting plan and starting self-encouragement to better manage the inevitable parent guilt. I hope to see you at one — with a friend.

Raising Able Workshops this week

January 21, 2012

Come and get it — get a dose of positive parenting this week by Raising Able at these locations.

Act Don’t Yak – how to cut the yelling in half. Monday, Jan. 23, 7-9 pm at Roudenbush Community Center. $25. Call to register 978-692-5511 or go online.

“Do I have to?” How chores teach the priceless gift of self-discipline. Wednesday, Jan. 25, FREE at the Pollard Middle School 200 Harris Avenue, Needham. 7-9 p.m. Sponsored by the Needham Women’s Club.

Act Don’t Yak — how to cut the yelling in half. Thursday, Jan. 26, Harvard, Mass. Community Education, 7-9 pm. Email jcavanaugh@psharvard.org to register. $25.

Hope to see you at some of these workshops this week. Repetition helps when learning new habits. Bring a spouse or friend, ready to laugh as you learn.

Presents or Presence?

December 19, 2011

your presence is the best gift you can bestow upon your children. Forget presents. Give them 3 from santa. Encourage your entitled kids to give each other gifts of time. This will require slowing down and spending time with each other without electonics. Kids can learn to play, spend time together without video games.When my oldest daughter began spending time with her high school boyfriend’s family, she announced, “We don’t have any traditions.

The best gift you can exchange in your family is time.  Some of my favorite gifts of all time have been certificates for experiences and deeds done together.

Give them three gifts from Santa and spend the rest of the day cultivating a holiday tradition that will last long after the batteries die out from the high-tech gifts. Here are some of my favorite simple traditions.

  • Take a long walk in the woods or in a park on Christmas Day.
  • Make a special treat together, like cinnamon buns, Christmas cookies or hot cocoa.
  • Build a fire inside or out and sing carols and other songs. Kids of all ages LOVE fire. Even if it’s frigid outside, spend some time together gathering firewood and creating the fire pit. This memory will last much longer than any gift you will ever purchase.
  • Play some games together that don’t require electricity. Cards, dodge ball, ping-pong, board games, charades, make up a skit, let your imagination go.
  • Do a craft together, even if it’s messy. Keep it simple or not. Have fun.

Be present with your kids. SHUT OFF your electronics when you’re with them and ask them for the same courtesy.

Slow down and make the days last. It might seem like your kids will never grow up. The days will morph into years, and they will leave home sooner than you can believe. Childhood will be sealed in a time capsule that can never be revised. The special memories can be retrieved and relived.

What are some of your family traditions?

PS — If you have a difficult child, spending 5 to 15 minutes a day with him or her can dramatically change your relationship and their behavior. Choose the positive attention as prevention, instead of negative detention afterwards.