Posted tagged ‘parenting’

What’s your biggest parenting problem?

July 23, 2012
do your kids use computers, video games , TV, texting and cell phones too much? Do you as parents have trouble regulating your children's and teen's and tweens use of electronics such as video games, online gaming, sexting, texting and cell phones?

Do your kids spend too much time online and using electronics? Do you often argue with your kids about how often they are hooked up to computer and video games?

Readers —

What’s going on in your families today? I’m interested in your most difficult problem as a parent right now that you wish you could solve by waving a magic wand. Include the ages of your children with the comment.

You can share the hardest problems you’ve faced in the past year, the past five years and/or since your child was born. LIMIT of three big problems per comment.

Be general and concise when describing the problem.  “Discipline” is too general. “Not listening” would be more specific.

Here are examples gleaned from my own parenting challenges.

  • Power struggle between me and my daughter, until she left home.
  • Sibling rivalry — kids fighting, all ages.
  • Telling the truth, lying and trust issues, teens.
  • Morning and bedtime routines.
  • Food and mealtime issues.
  • Toilet training.
  • Excessive screen time — computers, cell phones, gaming, television.

I realize that parenting problems are a moving target. Give a snapshot of Vancouver MLS where you are now, and/or a really big problem you faced since you had your kids. I’m looking forward to your responses.


It’s not what happens but how you handle it

September 13, 2010

On Sunday, a 13-year-old stood up at our Unitarian Church [a modern church community with no religious dogma except our seven principles] during candles of caring and announced that he had been kicked out of a summer camp and had decided to attend church more often.

His honesty, courage and willingness to handle his shame impressed me. As with most teenagers and children who make a bad decision, he felt bad for what he did, which is worse punishment than any parent can inflict.

The youngster really suffered for his bad decision, and we have ALL made them! Afterward, I shared with him that one of my teens was arrested for shoplifting. “Dana” felt remorseful and self-critical for what happened. Dana really learned from getting arrested for shoplifting and never got into trouble with the law again.

We never grounded Dana, however we did shorten Dana’s leash and starting doing more family activities. The incident was a wake-up call to me, the parenting expert. I had to ask, “What did I do to contribute to this situation?” The answer was hard to swallow — I had become a slacker parent. Parenting can be grueling! After 25 years, we had gotten tired.

Dana felt so bad that we didn’t inflict a “punishment.” The trouble with punishment is that it leads rebellion, revenge and resentment. It erodes the parent-child/teen relationship.

There are so many other ways to discipline/teach children how to make better decisions. Most of them start with mom and dad showing mutual respect for children and taking time to listen, share meals and do things together.

A way to belong through El Sistema

April 16, 2010
belonging, children want to belong, gangs provide a place to belong, the importance of belonging to a group, alfred adler + belonging, we all want to belong. Belonging is one of our fundamental human needs. To belong is to be. Without belonging, we're log. Gustavo Dudamel found a place to belong as a poor kid in VEnezuela

Gustavo Dudamel is one of the most charasmatic conductors of the 21st century. He learned to play violin through El Sistema to reach poor children on the streets and train them in classical music.

“Exclusion is the problem of our society. When you give a child an instrument, you are including them immediately,” said superstar conductor Gustavo Dudamel,  in the Boston Globe of April 16, 2010.

Dudamel discovered the violin and classical music through a 30-year old program, El Sistema, which provides an alternative to poor children in Venezuela. Some 70 percent of the 400,000 young musicians come from families with below-poverty incomes.

For a few hours a week, they leave poverty behind and belong to something bigger and more beautiful than the environment from which they came.

The young musicians in the Venezuelan youth symphonies start playing in groups immediately so when they play in groups of 300 or more, the music has an ensemble feel to it, according to the Globe. These children know how to belong and be a part of something bigger and more beautiful than they could ever achieve alone.

The need to belong is crucial to our human nature according to psychologist Alfred Adler, M.D. We want to belong so badly that we make great sacrifices and sometimes bad decisions to ensure membership in a group. Our whole society is set up on the “in group” mentality, reinforced by status symbols.

We demonstrate status by the groups we belong to, by buying certain cars, houses and  clothes. We talk a certain way to demonstrate allegiance to our social class and group.

Our children yearn to belong somewhere in life. The family is the first and most fundamental place for them to belong. When parents count on children to do chores, it says, “you’re important. We need you. You belong.” Insist on their presence at family dinner, especially for teens, because it reinforces YOU BELONG HERE.

Think about how you feel as a newcomer to a group versus when you have been accepted. You have a place. You’re appreciated by others who care if you show up or not. Other people witness and greet you.

Children want to feel that sense of belonging in a family. Family dinners-chores-&-meetings, encouragement, witnessing them and setting boundaries all reinforce the sense of belonging.

Gustavo Dudamel conducts with charisma and enthusiasm that is beyond compare.

Routines provide a backbone to family life

January 11, 2010

CHildren and routines, children help cook, children like jobs, chores and children

Children enjoy routines around mealtime, school and bedtime.

One of my new year’s resolutions is to follow a daily work routine. Distractions often tempt me in my home office. A routine provides a structure that gives me focused work and play time. Routines help me feel better and accomplish more.

Children and teens thrive upon a routine. They like to know what is happening next. It helps them make sense of the chaotic world we live in. Even if the routine isn’t followed 100 percent of the time, it is a backbone that can bend, twist and support daily tasks.

My friend Ned is newly separated from his wife. The family is establishing a new routine in which the teenagers are learning how to manage living at Dad’s house part-time. “My son has adjusted, but my daughter doesn’t always want to come and visit me. She finds it hard to come to my house for the weekend,” Ned said.

Ned has established a place for his daughter at his place. Adhering to regular visitation and creating a system to track belongings can help his daughter feel more secure. A milk crate or basket kept near the door can hold her belongings that must be transported to both homes. It’s all about developing new routines.

Children are constantly evolving and their routines evolve with them. A toddler’s morning routine to get them ready for the day is different from a teen’s morning habits. The younger the child, the more the parents are involved in setting and maintaining the routine. Children like structure at home and at school/day care because it gives them a sense of control.

What are the routines in your family? How can they be tweaked? What situation at your home could benefit from a routine?

Start with a family meeting to discuss the situation and ask the children for ideas on how to solve it and implement the solution. I like the idea of a “30-day free money back guarantee” for new ideas to make the family run more smoothly. When the children suggest a strategy at a family meeting, give it a try. It may work and implementing it will develop your child’s self-esteem.

Don’t kow-tow to little emperors and empresses

December 21, 2009

Little Emporers and Little Empresses in China can become quite self-centered. Only children. Good parenting book. Good Parenting Advice, Good parenting advise, parenting, how to parent.

“Look Daddy,” said the “little emperor” at the Beijing Zoo at left. One-child family are still the norm, according to our guide, Owen, of a 9-day tour of China I just took.

The Chinese still prefer boys over girls. I saw groups of adoptive parents getting ready to export their baby girls to new homes overseas.

Whether a little emperor or empress, parenting one child is different from raising two or more children, as the Chinese have discovered.

Only children have the necessity and tendency to learn to navigate an adult world and get used to having life catered to their whims and desires.

Saying “no” is one of the best gifts a parent can bestow to their little emperors and empresses. If not, the desire for power will only escalate and could explode when the child enter adolescence.

Little emporers and empresses are not used to being told “no,” thinking about others or doing chores for the common good. Implementing a family chore system will combat the “little emperors/empress” syndrome, common in China and the USA.


  1. Teach children discipline when they have to do something they don’t feel like;
  2. Fuel children’s self-esteem when people depend on them to contribute to the household; and
  3. Empower children to make good decisions because chores teach children how to manage time, and projects, and life skills.

My book, “Raising Able: how chores empower children to make good decisions” will be published in 2010. I describe the advantages of childhood chores, including taking mom and dad out of the servant role and de-thrones little emperors and empresses.

Children can start doing chores as young as soon as they’re interested — as early as 18 months old. Parents can expect children and young adults who live at home to contribute to the running of the household on a regular basis.

It’s up to parents to create a family chore system and follow through. It’s worth the investment of time and trouble, even if the children don’t do the chore up to your standards. Doing chores teaches children and teens valuable life-lessons and combats the entitlement of little emperors and empresses.