by Ron Huxley, LMFT
One of the most magical moments of my life was being at the birth of
my child. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. I remember
watching him squirm and cry as he met the world. I remember how he
paused to listen to my voice as I whispered my love for him and
commitment to him. To this day, spending time with my kids continues
to be one of my favorite activities. To not spend time with my
children is unfathomable.
For many fathers, this isn’t the case. They sit in hospital waiting
rooms, clapping each other on the back and congratulating one another
on a job well done, while their child enters the world without their
father next to them. The day after the delivery and every day after
are filled with missed opportunities to bond with their child and
influence the directions they will take in life. They rationalize
that they are sacrificing for their family by working long hours and
justify their emotional distance as modeling how to survive in
the “cold, cruel world.” Food on the table and a roof over head is
nice but nothing makes up for loving, nurturing relationships with
How do fathers build this bond? What barriers stand in the way? And,
what are some practical tools to help fathers strengthen their
children intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, and physically? To
help me answer these questions, I asked for advice from dad’s who
have a close bond with their children. How do I know they have a
close bond? I asked their wives! What’s more, these wives are
webmasters of active parenting and family oriented websites.
How do you bond with your child?
In response to this question, all of the fathers answered alike. They
stated that the best way to bond was simply to spend time with a
child. What you do is not as important as doing something.
They divided activities up into four main areas: Physical,
Intellectual, Social, and Spiritual. A balance of these four areas
would result in a child having a happier, healthier life. Physical
activities are the most familiar to fathers and include working
around the house together, sharing a hobby, coaching an athletic
team, exercising together, and going places together.
Intellectual activities focus on being involved in a child’s
academics, participating in school related activities, encouraging
hard work, and modeling yourself as a their primary teacher of life.
Social activities centered on talking with children, sharing feelings
and thoughts, demonstrating appropriate affection and manners, and
getting to know your child’s friends. Spiritual activities are used
the least by dad’s but have the most power to influence a child.
These activities incorporate reading spiritual stories together,
going to church or the synagogue, praying with children, establishing
rules and order, being consistent and available, and exploring the
mysteries of nature.
What is difference between the father/child bond and the mother/child
It was quickly apparent from the surveys that dad’s have a different
approach or style to bonding than mom’s. Dad’s have a more rough and
tumble approach to physical interaction or may spend time in more
physical activities such as play or working on a project together.
Competition was also seen more in father/child bonding and was
considered healthy if used in small doses and with sensitivity to a
child’s temperament and abilities. Sportsmanship, but not necessary
sports activities, was regarded as an essential ingredient in the
development of a child’s characters. While the approach may differ,
the need for bonding with mom and dad is equally significant. One dad
joked that other than a couple of biological differences (e.g.,
giving birth or breastfeeding) he couldn’t see one as more important
than the other.
What barriers prevent fathers from achieving a bond with their child?
All of the fathers agreed that work and the mismanagement of time
were the biggest robbers of relationships with children. No one
discounted a father’s responsibility to provide for his family, but
all of them maintained that a healthy balance is needed between work
and family. They felt that society makes it easy to use one’s career
as an escape. Social influences tend to value the bond a child has
with mom to be more important than with dad. But none of the dad’s
questioned felt this barrier to be insurmountable.
Eliminating barriers in society begins in the home. Dads must
demonstrate that being involved in the home is important to them
before society will start treating dads as important to the home.
Dads need to take the initiative to change a diaper, clean up after
dinner, give the kids their bath, and do the laundry. The collective
effect of these “small” acts will ripple out into society to
create “bigger” change.
Can a father bond with a child if they did not have a father growing
The entire group affirmed that not having a father would make it more
difficult but not impossible to bond with a child. According to one
dad, bonding is more of an innate need or spiritual drive, than
simply a learned behavior. Therefore, fatherless fathers are not
doomed to repeat their own childhood experiences. Another dad
suggested “getting excited” by the little things that make a child
excited or happy. Getting down on the child’s level, regressing to
those early moments in life when you were a child, and sharing simple
pleasures with your child will foster the bonding missed the first
In summary, it is clear that the bond between a father and a child is
an important one. Barriers, such as social values and absent fathers
make bonding with children difficult but not impossible. Children
need the unique style of bonding that fathers can provide and fathers
can build that bond by spending time engaging in physical,
intellectual, social, and spiritual activities.
'My Daughter Lies -- What Should I Do?' -
In truth (pun intended), children live very much in the moment. They are largely motivated by either avoiding pain or experiencing pleasure. This is why telling kids that too much sugar will give them cavities has little impact on their decision to swipe that handful of brownies; the enjoyment of sweets far outweighs any later costs, like someday having to succumb to the dentist’s drill.
Here are some tips for helping your daughter speak more truthfully:
• Consider the payoff. What is your daughter getting when she tells a lie? It may be that she is avoiding the drudgery of boring tasks; this is often the case with kids who pretend they have showered or brushed their teeth when in fact they have created elaborate schemes to avoid doing so, like wetting the toothbrush or running the shower without getting into it.
• Avoid shaming and blaming. Putting a child on the defensive by “catching” her in a lie will not further your cause in any way; in fact, it may simply teach her to become a better liar. Avoid the temptation to step into lawyer-mode to prove to your daughter that she’s being dishonest.
• Speak from your heart. “Sweetheart, I know I sometimes get upset, and it may be hard to tell me what’s really going on because you might be afraid of how I’ll react. But it matters to me that we’re close, and when I think you may not be saying something true, it affects the trust we share.”
• Tell the truth. If your daughter routinely sees you telling lies, it will be hard to insist that she speak honestly. ‘Nuff said.
• Think Big Picture. Ultimately, you’re not raising a child; you’re raising an adult. While it may be tempting to focus on sending your daughter to school fresh and clean, it is far more important to help her learn that being dishonest is not a quality consistent with being the wonderful person she is meant to be.
• Make it safe to speak openly. Invite your daughter to share what is behind some of her choices, assuring her that you won’t get mad or deliver lectures or ultimatums. Be that the calm, confident captain of the ship that I talk about, focusing on solving the problem rather than speaking from your own anger or hurt.
11% of U.S. Children Are Diagnosed With ADHD: What the Increase Means:
The rates of U.S. children affected by attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are skyrocketing, according to a recent report, but experts caution that the latest numbers require a bit of decoding.
That information shows that 11% of children ages 4 to 17 were diagnosed with ADHD, a 16% increase since 2007, the last time that researchers at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) did a comprehensive survey for the prevalence of the neurobehavior disorder. The rise was especially dramatic among boys, with an estimated 1 in 5 boys in high school diagnosed with ADHD. What’s more, about two-thirds of the children diagnosed were treated with stimulant medications that can improve attention but also come with side effects.
Are rates truly climbing at such an alarming rate? Possibly. But many experts believe that’s unlikely. The data was collected by the CDC and analyzed and reported by the New York Times; the CDC plans to publish its own report on the data in the coming months.
Read more: http://healthland.time.com/2013/04/02/understanding-the-rise-in-adhd-diagnoses-11-of-u-s-children-are-affected/#ixzz2PPF7CdRv
7 Amazing Ways to Be Creative Like a Child -
Creativity is like the ebb and flow of waves in an ocean.
There are periods in your life when you may feel very creative.
But there may be other periods where you experience the creative doldrums.
Ideas stop coming to you.
You attempt to sit down with pen and paper but it seems like an exercise in frustration.
If you are like me, you might have wondered how to jump-start the creative process.
“Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.” ― Socrates
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, In the expert’s mind there are few.” ~ Zen Master Shunryo Suzuki
“Truly wonderful the mind of a child is.” ~ Master Yoda in the movie Star Wars-Episode II - Attack of the Clones
“May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.” ~Rainer Maria Rilke
• Assess your child’s risk. A youngster who is generally doing well in life — happy, well adjusted, engaged with the family — generally poses less risk for potential problems than one with a family history of drug or alcohol abuse, depression or in the midst of a family crisis. If your son falls in the high risk category, I would urge you to get outside professional help to nip any serious problems in the bud.
• Be cautious about punishments. If there is no history of addiction in your family tree and you are certain that your son is generally doing well socially, emotionally and academically, focus on keeping the lines of communication open. If your teen is afraid of your reaction, it is unlikely that he will continue to confide in you. Punishing him may simply encourage him to become better at hiding any future use from you.
• Strengthen connection. When we feel seen, understood and cherished by someone, it is much harder to keep secrets from them. Teens often give us signals that suggest they aren’t interested in having us around, but look for ways to keep nourishing the connection you and your son share — cooking together, walking the dog or even chatting about music or sports while you unload the dishwasher together. The more he feels anchored to you as his North Star, the less influenced he will be by peer pressure.
• Talk with him about how he felt when he smoked. If he tells you that he really liked it, discuss why drugs and alcohol make people feel better. Explain the way the brain works, and the impact these substances can have on lowering inhibition or lifting mood —temporarily.
• Model healthy ways of unwinding. Consider what your son sees you doing to relax at the end of the day, or when you socialize with your friends. If you have a glass of wine the minute you get home from work or immediately open a six-pack when friends show up, you may be “teaching” him that enjoyment cannot happen without some kind of substance. Show him you can enjoy life without leaning on something to help you lower your inhibitions or numb out, and you will send the message that he can do the same.
• Don’t force unwanted advice. Instead, ask him if he would be open to listening to your concerns. Explain that while you understand “everyone” may be smoking weed or drinking, the stress relief many kids experience while under the influence of pot or alcohol can quickly become at least psychologically addicting, and that there are better — and healthier — ways of handling social anxiety and pressures. Show him the impact these substances have on the brain; there are some great scans at brainplace.com.
•Keep your eyes open. If you start to sense that your son’s use has escalated beyond normal experimentation, do not hesitate to set guidelines that send him a clear message that it is not okay. At 15, his brain is still in a vulnerable and formative stage, and it is your responsibility to help him make sound decisions that preserve his health and safety. Some kids tell me that they actually appreciate it when their parents tell them that they might start conducting random drug tests; it makes it easier way to say “No” at a party if they can tell their buddies, “I can’t; my parents are drug testing me.” — How Should I Handle My Teen Trying Marijuana?
Are you the type of parent you thought you would be or are you everything you said you would NEVER be?
Are you wanting to be a better parent starting immediately?
Parenting can be hard and is often full of disappointments but it is never TOO LATE to transform yourself and your children into the family you dreamed you would be.
If you are serious about wanting to make some big changes in your family relationships, take our 10 Day Challenge by following the steps by clicking here.
Post your successes and difficulties on our Facebook page at to get more support and success tips along the way.
By Ron Huxley, LMFT
Journaling has long been a tool to achieving better emotional and
mental health. The need to express oneself in a safe and controlled
manner is a powerful means to improving self-esteem and personal
relationships. Parents can use this tool to increase their
effectiveness and satisfaction with family members. Here are ten ways
that a journal will help parents:
1. Tell your family story. What better way to immortalize your life
than to write about it in a journal? You can create a memoir of your
life growing up, describe the many branches on your family tree, or
just make a scrapbook of your life. Children can benefit by learning
their family history and discover whom they are in relation to past
generations. Parents will find clues to family dysfunction and
strengths by exploring their familial history.
2. Share yourself with family members. Most people keep their
journals private but choosing a sister or child to share a journal
with can close the gap on distant relationships or bring close one’s
even closer. Swap separate journals for family members to read, keep
a family journal that is free for all to read and write, or create a
journal to express thoughts, feelings, and dreams with a particular
3. Organize yourself…emotionally and spiritually. Whenever I go to
the store, I make a list. If I don’t I am sure to forget something.
Probably a few “something’s”. Writing things down helps me recall
what I need to buy. Journaling will help you remember the emotional
and spiritual items you need in your life. Some of this items you may
not have known you needed and others will be one’s that you know you
need but haven’t had the courage to go out there and get it.
Journaling is the first step in that spiritual grocery store
4. Track your emotions, moods, and experiences over time. Monday was
a high-energy day. Tuesday, I felt depressed and lethargic.
Wednesday, I started to climb out of it. Thursday, I felt better but
had difficulty focusing. You get the picture, right? Journals will
help you map the highs and lows of your week, month, or year so that
you can plan your life accordingly. What mood ring can do that for
5. Unburden yourself and let go of old hurts. You’ve carried that old
emotional baggage for how many years now? Isn’t it time to let it go
and move forward feeling a little lighter on the emotional load. You
can let go of the hurts and fears you inherited from childhood that
have clung to you through adulthood and affected all of your
important relationships. Release them into a journal and really live
life to the fullest. Because you are anonymous, this is your
opportunity to say it all and unburden yourself so that you can have
freer, more productive relationships with your family instead of
venting it all at them.
6. Clarify and achieve your dreams, goals, and aspirations. Any
successful life planner, motivational speaker, or therapist will tell
you that in order to achieve a goal or dream you must write it down.
Journals are a great way to realizing that goal or dream. While the
path of life and relationships seems confusing and chaotic, a look
back, into your journal, will reveal some very clear patterns that
will help you in your future journeying.
7. Share your wisdom (life experiences) with others. I may not be an
expert on life but I have had my share of successes and failures. So
have you. Together we can learn and grow more than either of us could
have done alone. Use journals to write down your mistakes so your
children do not make the same one’s or share a few tips about life
that you wish your parents had shared with you. It’s not too late.
8. Glimpse the world through the eyes of another person. Journals
allow you to see life from the perspective of another’s culture,
geography, beliefs, age, and gender. Take a trip around the world or
through time simply by reading a family journal. Ask family members
to describe you or your childhood. You may be surprise by what you
learn when others look at you and your life.
9. Challenge your beliefs and enrich your life. Master therapists
tell us that in order to change your life you must change your
thoughts or beliefs. Doing this on your own is difficult if not
impossible. Journals are a great way to analyze those thoughts that
get in the way of good mental health and better family relationships.
10. Realize you are not alone! Have you had a loved one pass away?
Suffered a divorce or financial loss? Had a prodigal child leave
home? Anyone who has suffered a loss or felt the weight of depression
knows how lonely that can be. It feels like no one could possibly
understand the pain you feel. Family Journals remind you know that
you are never alone and that hope is just one entry away!
The Psychology of Hope
How much do we need this in modern families today?
Unfortunately, only half of us measure high in hope, Lopez notes in the book. Fortunately, however, hope can be learned. Hopeful people share four core beliefs, according to Lopez:
Hope includes a range of emotions, such as joy, awe and excitement. But it’s not empty, tunnel-vision enthusiasm. Hope is a combination of your head and heart, Lopez writes. He describes hope as “the golden mean between euphoria and fear. It is a feeling where transcendence meets reason and caution meets passion.”
What does this saying mean to you as a parent? How does it inspire us in our parenting ideas and methods? Share here or at http://www.facebook.com/parentingtoolbox
Children with strong positive beliefs about their own social skills, learning skills and emotional skills have such a great resource to take them forward allowing them to not only create a wonderful life for themselves, but also to contribute positively to the lives of others.
So what are some of the things we can do to develop a strong belief system in the unconscious of our young children?