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Are you a Perfect Parent?
by Ron Huxley, LMFT
How many of the parents, reading this column, are perfect parents? None? Well, how many of the imperfect parents, reading this column, have perfect children? Still none? While it may be that perfect parents don’t need to read this column, I think the real truth is that there are no perfect parents or perfect children.If that is true, then why do so many parents act as if there is such a being as the “perfect parent" or "perfect child?” To illustrate my point, try completing the following sentences. Just say the first thing that comes to mind:1. A good parent always… 2. Good children should…    3. As a parent, I must… 4. My children ought to be more… 5. If I were more like my own parents, I would be more…If a parent falls short of these standards, and so, is not a "good" parent, what does that leave the parent to be? Parents are left with the belief that he or she is a “bad” parent. These beliefs are responsible for why parents feel so out of control and powerless in their parenting roles. Parents need more realistic beliefs about parenting.Realistic Beliefs about ParentingBeliefs are expressions of parents’ values about themselves, other people, and the world. Unrealistic beliefs create a feeling of demand that pushes and drives parents unnecessarily where realistic beliefs create a feeling of inner stability, even when circumstances aren’t always stable.One way to create more realistic beliefs is to evaluate the evidence for your unrealistic thoughts about parenting. Ask yourself these questions: What law states that a child will always listen and be respectful? What evidence really suggests that all parents must be available to their children at all times? What edict states that I must be perfect?For one day, make a list of all the negative thoughts that come to mind as you go about your parenting duties. At the end of the day, look over the list and write out alternative, positive counter-thoughts. Whenever the negative thoughts come up, immediately state the alternative thought to break its power over you. If it is too hard to remember them all, pick one or two of the negative thoughts that create the most interference in your parenting and counter those only. Do that for about a week and then move down the list to the others.Changing what you say about your parenting will change how you feel about your parenting. Try this experiment: complete the following incomplete sentences and notice the emotional difference between these and the first list.1. A responsible parent always… 2. Good children sometimes… 3. As a parent, I can be… 4. I desire my children to be more… 5. If I were like my own parents, the positive qualities I would like to have…Only one word was changed in each of these sentences and yet it dramatically changes how you think and feel. If you are going to accept the fact that you are imperfect then you will have to eliminate “perfection” language from your thoughts and words. You will need to accept the fact that you are acting “good-enough.” This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t strive for more out of yourselves or your child. Self-improvement is not the same as expecting perfection."The Courage To Be Imperfect"It takes courage to be a “good-enough” parent. This is what the child psychiatrist, Rudolph Driekurs, calls “the courage to be imperfect.” While there are plenty of perfect parenting standards to fall short of, there are no rules for how to be an imperfect parent. Here are ten un-commandments for developing the “courage to be imperfect”:1. Children should be encouraged, not expected, to seek perfection. 2. Accept who you are rather than try to be more than or as good as other parents. 3. Mistakes are aids to learning. Mistakes are not signs of failure. Anticipating or fearing mistakes will make us more vulnerable to failure. 4. Mistakes are unavoidable and are less important than what the parent does after he or she makes a mistake. 5. Set realistic standards for yourself and your child. Don’t try correcting or changing too many things at one time. 6. Develop a sense of your strengths and your weaknesses. 7. Mutual respect, between parent and child, starts by valuing yourself. Recognize your own dignity and worth before you try and show your child their dignity and worth. 8. Unhappy parents are frequently discouraged, competitive, unrealistic in their standard for themselves and their children, over ambitious, and unbalanced in their love and limits. 9. High standards and expectations are frequently related to parents’ feelings of inferiority and lack of adequate parenting resources. 10. Parents need to develop the courage to cope with the challenges of living, which means, they must develop the “courage to be imperfect.”

Are you a Perfect Parent?

by Ron Huxley, LMFT

How many of the parents, reading this column, are perfect 
parents
? None? Well, how many of the imperfect 
parents
, reading this column, have perfect children? Still 
none? While it may be that perfect parents don’t need to 
read this column, I think the real truth is that there are no 
perfect parents or perfect children.

If that is true, then why do so many parents act as if there is 
such a being as the “
perfect parent" or "perfect child?” 
To illustrate my point, try completing the following 
sentences. Just say the first thing that comes to mind:

1. A 
good parent always… 2. Good children should…    
3. As a parent, I must… 4. My children ought to be more… 
5. If I were more like my own parents, I would be more…

If a parent falls short of these standards, and so, is not a 
"good" parent, what does that leave the parent to be? 
Parents are left with the belief that he or she is a “bad” 
parent. These beliefs are responsible for why parents feel 
so out of control and powerless in their parenting roles. 
Parents need more realistic beliefs about parenting.

Realistic Beliefs about Parenting

Beliefs are expressions of parents’ values about 
themselves, other people, and the world. Unrealistic beliefs 
create a feeling of demand that pushes and drives parents 
unnecessarily where realistic beliefs create a feeling of 
inner stability, even when circumstances aren’t always 
stable.

One way to create more realistic beliefs is to evaluate the 
evidence for your unrealistic thoughts about parenting. Ask 
yourself these questions: What law states that a child will 
always listen and be respectful? What evidence really 
suggests that all parents must be available to their children 
at all times? What edict states that I must be perfect?

For one day, make a list of all the negative thoughts that 
come to mind as you go about your parenting duties. At the 
end of the day, look over the list and write out alternative, 
positive counter-thoughts. Whenever the negative thoughts 
come up, immediately state the alternative thought to break 
its power over you. If it is too hard to remember them all, 
pick one or two of the negative thoughts that create the 
most interference in your parenting and counter those only. 
Do that for about a week and then move down the list to the 
others.

Changing what you say about your parenting will change 
how you feel about your parenting. Try this experiment: 
complete the following incomplete sentences and notice the 
emotional difference between these and the first list.

1. A 
responsible parent always… 2. Good children 
sometimes… 3. As a parent, I can be… 4. I desire my 
children to be more… 5. If I were like my own parents, the 
positive qualities I would like to have…

Only one word was changed in each of these sentences 
and yet it dramatically changes how you think and feel. If 
you are going to accept the fact that you are imperfect then 
you will have to eliminate “perfection” language from your 
thoughts and words. You will need to accept the fact that 
you are acting “good-enough.” This doesn’t mean that you 
shouldn’t strive for more out of yourselves or your child. 
Self-improvement is not the same as expecting perfection.

"The Courage To Be Imperfect"

It takes courage to be a “good-enough” parent. This is what 
the child psychiatrist, Rudolph Driekurs, calls “the courage 
to be imperfect.” While there are plenty of perfect parenting 
standards to fall short of, there are no rules for how to be 
an imperfect parent. Here are ten un-commandments for 
developing the “courage to be imperfect”:

1. Children should be encouraged, not expected, to seek 
perfection. 2. Accept who you are rather than try to be 
more than or as good as other parents. 3. Mistakes are 
aids to learning. Mistakes are not signs of failure. 
Anticipating or fearing mistakes will make us more 
vulnerable to failure. 4. Mistakes are unavoidable and are 
less important than what the parent does after he or she 
makes a mistake. 5. Set realistic standards for yourself and 
your child. Don’t try correcting or changing too many things 
at one time. 6. Develop a sense of your strengths and your 
weaknesses. 7. Mutual respect, between parent and child, 
starts by valuing yourself. Recognize your own dignity and 
worth before you try and show your child their dignity and 
worth. 8. Unhappy parents are frequently discouraged, 
competitive, unrealistic in their standard for themselves and 
their children, over ambitious, and unbalanced in their love 
and limits. 9. High standards and expectations are 
frequently related to 
parents’ feelings of inferiority and 
lack of adequate parenting resources. 10. Parents need to 
develop the courage to cope with the challenges of living, 
which means, they must develop the “courage to be 
imperfect.”

You didn’t yell at your child when they fell down when they were learning to walk. You celebrated each step. Why do we yell at them as they are learning more complicated things like social interactions and human responsibilities? Celebrate the steps of success not the failures.
Ron Huxley, LMFT

thenearsightedmonkey:

Dear Students,

THIS!

Sincerely,

Professor Bootsy

(via diyparent)

How do you feel about your child today?

Are you feeling love or are you feeling anger or sadness or disappointment?

Our feelings are responses to events that occur in us and around us. They are not definitions of the relationship status or the amount of affection we can direct towards our children. When they mess up and they are good mess makers, we never change our affections toward them regardless of our emotional state.

Emotions come and go. The word emotion comes from the French term “to stir up” and stir up they do but they also settle down. Our emotional statement is based on our state of mind about our intentions to love our children in unconditional ways no matter what emotions have been stirred up. 

The good news about emotions and relationships is that they are new every day. Today is a new day to start fresh and re-store new emotional experiences. Don’t let emotions drag yesterday into todays thoughts and actions. Yesterday is a drag…it drags down your ability to parent from a fully charged emotional purpose to love and cherish your children.

Give yourself permission to feel freely, in love, with your child today. 

Parents need to stop thinking about how to “fix” their children’s behavior problems and begin to look at how to “re-source” them instead. Stop trying to stop tantrums or talking back and start re-connecting them to the source of the problems. What is your child needing that he or she cannot get or getting that he or she doesn’t want? Decode and recode your children to add social skills, self-soothing, understanding, competence, attention, love, affection, security that is driving the behaviors in the first place. 
It is time to put away punishment and use discipline which is to disciple or teach/guide a child to appropriate behaviors. The goal is not “stop irritating mommy” today but learn to live life successfully tomorrow! You can never deal with a negative by using a negative and expect a positive outcome. 
Visualize who and what your child is becoming and connect them to that source of choice-making, problem-solving, character. 

Parents need to stop thinking about how to “fix” their children’s behavior problems and begin to look at how to “re-source” them instead. Stop trying to stop tantrums or talking back and start re-connecting them to the source of the problems. What is your child needing that he or she cannot get or getting that he or she doesn’t want? Decode and recode your children to add social skills, self-soothing, understanding, competence, attention, love, affection, security that is driving the behaviors in the first place. 

It is time to put away punishment and use discipline which is to disciple or teach/guide a child to appropriate behaviors. The goal is not “stop irritating mommy” today but learn to live life successfully tomorrow! You can never deal with a negative by using a negative and expect a positive outcome. 

Visualize who and what your child is becoming and connect them to that source of choice-making, problem-solving, character. 

inner-healing:

What does your heart desire?
by Ron Huxley, LMFT
A desire is defined as a “strong want or wish.” An even deeper meaning is to have such a longing for or yearning for something that everything else dims in comparison and the pull created by the desire shifts everything in life toward it. It can cause some very positive reactions in people to work toward a desire despite challenging odds or it can create some very distorted actions to get those desires met. 
These desires might include power, influence/significance, acceptance, challenge, curiosity, order, safety, honor, competence, fun/playfulness, connection, community, status, and peace. There are many more ways to describe these deep longings but this gives a simple list to focus on. 
Ask yourself what is the yearning of your heart and how do I get that desire met? Is this a healthy or unhealthy means to a legitimate end? Who provides this for me and how do I provide it to others? 
It is easy to focus on the emotions that accompany these desires or even more frequently, to focus on the behaviors they produce. All behavior, to one degree or another, is driven by a deeper desire. What does your behavior or the behavior of your children/family reveal to you about the desires of the heart? 
After you have made this internal inventory, ask yourself how you can met or get this desire met in a healthy way that will eliminate the inappropriate feelings and behaviors?
For example, a parent may be dealing with a defiant teenager who desires power, independence or competence. How can a parent help met that need in a way that is agreeable to both parent and child? Can more choices be offered or freedom allowed or rules re-negotiated? Address these desires in your heart in reaction to their yearnings: “I need to feel safe and honored in order to give your your desires” and vice versa. 
Try this for a week or two and see what difference it makes in your family?
» Need more help on clarifying your desires and finding real answers to life problems and parenting issues? Contact Ron Huxley today at rehuxley@gmail.com

inner-healing:

What does your heart desire?

by Ron Huxley, LMFT

A desire is defined as a “strong want or wish.” An even deeper meaning is to have such a longing for or yearning for something that everything else dims in comparison and the pull created by the desire shifts everything in life toward it. It can cause some very positive reactions in people to work toward a desire despite challenging odds or it can create some very distorted actions to get those desires met. 

These desires might include power, influence/significance, acceptance, challenge, curiosity, order, safety, honor, competence, fun/playfulness, connection, community, status, and peace. There are many more ways to describe these deep longings but this gives a simple list to focus on. 

Ask yourself what is the yearning of your heart and how do I get that desire met? Is this a healthy or unhealthy means to a legitimate end? Who provides this for me and how do I provide it to others? 

It is easy to focus on the emotions that accompany these desires or even more frequently, to focus on the behaviors they produce. All behavior, to one degree or another, is driven by a deeper desire. What does your behavior or the behavior of your children/family reveal to you about the desires of the heart? 

After you have made this internal inventory, ask yourself how you can met or get this desire met in a healthy way that will eliminate the inappropriate feelings and behaviors?

For example, a parent may be dealing with a defiant teenager who desires power, independence or competence. How can a parent help met that need in a way that is agreeable to both parent and child? Can more choices be offered or freedom allowed or rules re-negotiated? Address these desires in your heart in reaction to their yearnings: “I need to feel safe and honored in order to give your your desires” and vice versa. 

Try this for a week or two and see what difference it makes in your family?

» Need more help on clarifying your desires and finding real answers to life problems and parenting issues? Contact Ron Huxley today at rehuxley@gmail.com

"He Never Acts This Way At School!"
by Ron Huxley, LMFT

"The energy which makes a child hard to manage is the energy which afterward makes him a manager of life." — Henry Ward Beecher"

by Ron Huxley, LMFT

Have you ever heard a parent say this or perhaps said it yourself? Why do some children misbehave at home and not other settings, like school? While the opposite situation might be true, where the child misbehaves at school and not home, let’s look at this common parenting frustration.

Teaching is a good definition of balanced discipline. In fact, the word discipline comes from the root word “disciplinare” which means to teach or instruct. Most parents understand discipline as reducing inappropriate behaviors (punishment) instead of helping children achieve competence, self-control, self-direction, and social skills. Of course, all parents want this but reinforcing appropriate behaviors seems like a luxury or fantasy when parents are having big problems with their children.

The Parenting Juggling Act

One reason for this may be the act of juggling work and family that so many contemporary parents find themselves performing. In this situation, only the most annoying or irritating behaviors are sure to get a parents attention. Children quickly learn that good behavior or even quiet, self-directed behavior rarely gets the attention of overloaded parents. Good behavior is one less thing a parent has to deal with while bad behavior guarantee parents attention. This is what educators and therapists call “negative attention” - a powerful reinforcer of children’s misbehavior.

What’s the Model?

So when parents wonder why their child doesn’t misbehave in school we should investigate the school/teaching model a little closer to see what frustrated parents can use at home. Of course, as any teacher will admit, perfect behavior from children never occurs at school or anywhere else but let’s compare school behaviors to home discipline.

Schools are learning environments. Discipline requires a learning environment characterized by positive, nurturing parent-child relationships. Is your home a learning environment or an entertainment center? Are their books, activities and private spaces for children?

Teachers use a curriculum. Discipline occurs when a plan or structure is in place for children. Do you know what you want to teach your children? What values or ideas do you want your children to believe? Is there a set time or routine for learning these things? Are you available to the child for help and instruction? Do you have materials available to educate you about topics you want to teach your children? Are there regular discussions about daily responsibilities, spiritual ideas, personal dreams, and problem areas?

Grades are used to evaluate a child’s progress. Discipline can be both an instruction and a measurement of children’s behavior. What grade would you give your child in hygiene, social ability, responsibility, etc.? What rewards (physical or verbal) are given for “A” grades? Are parent-child conferences held to discuss strengths and weaknesses and make a plan for improvement? Do children get regular feedback from parents on how they are doing at home?

Teachers are in charge of the classroom and model appropriate behavior. Discipline is most effective when parents remember that they are the leaders of the home and “practice what they preach.” Are you firm and consistent in your discipline with your children? Do you model appropriate behavior for your children? Do you give the things, to your children, that you ask for, from your children, such as respect? Do you say what you mean rather than threaten or bribe children? Do you have a list of rules posted where children can see them? Do you allow children to “raise their hands” and ask questions? Do you listen attentively to those questions and give an appropriate answer?

Children are given opportunities to explore and understand the world and themselves. Discipline is about internal control and not just external control. Do you give your child choices that require him or her to think about consequence? Are children recognized for behaving in an appropriate manner? Are there any “field trips” that children go on to inspire, instruct, or experience appropriate behavior? Are children give opportunities to act in a responsible and trustworthy manner? Are children encouraged to help their siblings and work as teams? Are there any parties for celebrating hard work?

Classrooms have rules that children must follow. Are their assigned seats at the dinner table or car? Are there any rules about waiting, talking, and seeking help? Do children get to “line up first” or “pass out the snacks” for exemplary behaviors? Are consequences given for inappropriate behaviors? Do children get warnings about misbehavior? Do children get to go to recess when they misbehave? Are the rules discussed with the children, posted where everyone can see them, and frequently reviewed?

Schools have recesses, school holidays, and summer breaks. Discipline is about doing nothing as much as it is about doing something. Do you allow your child to make mistakes and decide difficult (but not dangerous) situations on their own? Are there healthy balances between fun and chores, rest and responsibilities, work-time and playtime? Do you allow your child to simply be a child? Are developmental expectations appropriate to the age and abilities of your child? Do you allow yourself to be off-duty by having other adults to watch over your children? Are plans made, in family meetings, for fun as a family? Is quality time a regular part of your time with your children?

Novel Situations

While this may not cover all aspects of school routines or discipline practices, it does ask some very reflective questions. It is possible we missed the most basic reason for children’s different behaviors, namely, novel situations and conditional love. Novel situations refer to a phenomenon that affects a child’s behavior when in a new environment. A new environment is unpredictable and may require a child to be on his or her best behavior until the child learns what the rules and consequences are or what they can get away with. Home is often predictable. The child already knows what they can or cannot get away with.

Conditional vs Unconditional Love


Conditional love refers to the communication of worth a child will get from another individual based on their behavior. A teacher may only consider certain behaviors to be worthy of his or her love and care. At the root, this is a good strategy. It advocates reinforcing only positive behaviors and ignoring negative behavior but the long-term fruit can have devastating consequences for children’s self esteem. A child’s sense of self should never be based on conditions. A child is worthy of love, dignity, and worth regardless of what they do. Reinforcement and even approval can be placed on a child’s behavior to communicate what is appropriate or inappropriate. A child may not feel this conditional love at home, knowing that mom will always love him or her and so manipulate this to their advantage.

Take a few moments to review these questions. If you are one of those parents who have said, “My child never behaves this way at school?” maybe now, you can finally find out why, and be able to say your child behaves appropriately at home as well as school.

> Get more tools for the job of parenting with an online consult. Contact Ron today at rehuxley@gmail.com for more information…

Parenting Toolbox Dream Project: Choices

"Are you stuck. What if life presented you with a new choice every day. Make a conscious choice today about which direction you and your family are going to go…Get better outcomes and have the family you dreamed of having. Start believing that a dream family is possible."

Have Ron speak at your event or conference today by clicking on the “Need a speaker” link on the right side of the screen!

Spending money! The perfect setup for real-world learning and natural consequences!

There are many methods for giving kids an allowance — tied to chores, tied to age, bonuses-for-extra-work, etc. How (or if) one gives an allowance is rooted in one’s family culture, and doesn’t lend itself to pat directives. But, no matter how you decide to give your kids an allowance, I find the key to increasing its power as a teaching tool is to put your kids in charge of how they spend their money.

Putting buying decisions in my kids’ hands has done wonders for their money savvy, consumer awareness, and math skills. Specifically:

  • Addition and subtraction (“How much to I still have to earn to buy x? How much will I have left if I buy y?”)
  • Percentage (“Hey, Mom! Museum members get 10% off in the gift shop!”)
  • Fractions (“Hey, Mom! X is on sale for half price!”)
  • Decimals (dollars and cents)
  • Quality vs. value (“It’s cheap, but it might break the second time I use it.”)
  • Needs vs. wants…or wants vs. other wants (“I want that video game, but maybe I should save my money for an iPad 2.”)
  • Long-term goals (“I want to buy a car when I get my license.”)

A few key details make this strategy work:

Allowance must be big enough to be meaningful.

I got two bucks a week when I was a kid, but it was more of a token payment than anything else. We pay our kids an allowance equal to their age. Half goes to “spending money,” and half goes to “long-term savings” which they get when they move out. They choose what to do with money they receive for jobs or gifts (spend it all or save part of it).

If they ask, I also “cash out” gift cards. That is, if they receive a store-specific gift card but would prefer the cash, I buy it from them, knowing it’s a matter of time till I shop at that store myself.

We choose not to formally tie allowance to chores or work, except for specific jobs such as lawn mowing or washing the car. For us, changing the context from “family responsibility” to “cash for work” decreases teamwork and increases conflict and loophole-finding.

We no longer buy treats and trinkets.

This is essential. No more lollipops in the checkout line. No more cheap toys. The only way kids learn to assess value is to pay for impulse purchases themselves.

This also goes for “upgrades” to purchases we cover. For example, we have a certain budget for school clothing. If our kids want the too-expensive pair of shoes (or whatever), they kick in the extra.

We advise our kids on purchases if they ask, but we don’t judge what they buy.

My kids decide what’s valuable to them. Beyond the most basic guidelines (nothing unsafe or offensive), they can buy whatever they want with their own money. Sometimes they buy candy or crap toys, but rarely…they decided early on it’s a waste of money.

We track allowance and spending electronically.

The roadblock we kept hitting was the actual handling of cash. We never had proper change when it was allowance time (or we’d forget to pay it). Someone would forget their wallet, or forget to put their money in the wallet, etc. We’d buy stuff for the kids, forget to get paid back…you get the picture.

An iPhone app solved the problem: Kiddy Bank. This simple app is little more than a smart ledger, automatically adding allowance each week, with the ability to debit for purchases and credit for earnings and gifts. We’ve created separate spendings- and savings “accounts” for each of the kids, as their allowances and savings rates are different. The app is not connected to an actual bank account, so no money actually moves around.

So there you have it…our allowance strategy. I’d love to hear what’s working for you.

Ron Huxley’s Remembrance: I remember getting $1 every Sunday, as a child, for my allowance. I would walk my brother and sister down to the corner market and we would spend that dollar. I would get three comic books and a chocolate malt. The day the comic books went from twenty-five cents to thirty-five cents was devastating for me. I had to make an important decision. Did I buy one less comic book or skip the malt? I ended up getting one less comic book.

This was math for me as a child. The ideas in this article can help you teach some simple life skills to your child as well. It covers some of the common obstacles and manipulations that might come up.