I originally started this series on my Inner Circle membership for the Parenting Toolbox a couple months ago. The short story is that I didn’t finish it. It also didn’t get as many eyeballs as I would have liked so I decided to put it out here, on the main blog page, to get a better conversation going. It might also get me to be more accountable about writing more.
I call this series, the “Dream Parenting” because we all want to be the kind of parent we dreamed of but usually fall short of… I hope these thoughts help you and your family. Share your thoughts by leaving a comment here or on our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/parentingtoolbox
Dream Parenting: Taking Inventory
What is your biggest strength as a parent? What is your biggest weakness? This isn’t a time for denial to rear it’s ugly defenses. Be honest. What is your best plus or minus when it comes to parenting? Perhaps you don’t like your child. If that is it, admit it. Perhaps you are a horrible cook. Time for the truth because the truth, as they say, will set you free. Be honest about your strengths too. Don’t minimize them…blow them up. You will need this strength to get you through the days ahead. What do you love more than anything else about what you do as a parent? Love crafts, snuggle time, early mornings, weekend walks, trips to the park, reading stories together. Let’s build on those strengths and “do more of them”. This will make your journey to becoming the parent you “dreamed” you would be more of a reality.
Share your thoughts with us…
Your child does homework on time, helps you clear the table after dinner, and even helps with housework on the weekends. So can it be true that this same child is stealing?
Before you react, it helps to know a little about why kids steal and where to get help.
Why Kids and Teens Steal
Kids of all ages — from preschoolers to teens — can be tempted to steal for different reasons:
- Very young children sometimes take things they want without understanding that things cost money and that it’s wrong to take something without paying for it.
- School-age kids usually know they’re not supposed to take something without paying, but they might do so anyway because they lack enough self-control.
- Preteens and teens know they’re not supposed to steal, but might steal for the thrill of it or because their friends do. Some might believe they can get away with it. As they’re given more control over their lives, some teens steal as a way of rebelling.
And other complex reasons can be factors. Kids might be angry or want attention. Their behavior may reflect stress at home, school, or with friends. Some may steal as a cry for help because of emotional or physical abuse they’re enduring.
In other cases, kids and teens steal because they can’t afford to pay for what they need or want — for example, they may steal to get popular name-brand items. In some cases, they may take things to support drug habits.
Whatever the reason for stealing, parents need to find out the root of the behavior and address other underlying problems, like drug abuse, that may surface.
Ron Reacts: This is one of those “tough” parenting issues that go above the regular family issues. What have you done to deal with a child who steals? Tell us your story by clicking post reply…
Sisters protect siblings from depression, study shows
Something about having a sister — even a little sister — makes 10- to 14-year-olds a bit less likely to feel down in the dumps according to research by Brigham Young University. Credit: Mark Philbrick/BYU
Something about having a sister - even a little sister - makes 10- to 14-year-olds a bit less likely to feel down in the dumps.
That’s one of several intriguing findings from a new study on the impact siblings have on one another. Brigham Young University professor Laura Padilla-Walker is the lead author on the research, which also sorts out the influence of siblings and the influence of parents within families.
“Even after you account for parents’ influence, siblings do matter in unique ways,” said Padilla-Walker, who teaches in BYU’s School of Family Life. “They give kids something that parents don’t.”
Padilla-Walker’s research stems from BYU’s Flourishing Families Project and will appear in the August issue of the Journal of Family Psychology. The study included 395 families with more than one child, at least one of whom was an adolescent between 10 and 14 years old. The researchers gathered a wealth of information about each family’s dynamic, then followed up one year later. Statistical analyses showed that having a sister protected adolescents from feeling lonely, unloved, guilty, self-conscious and fearful. It didn’t matter whether the sister was younger or older, or how far apart the siblings were agewise.
Brothers mattered, too. The study found that having a loving sibling of either gender promoted good deeds, such as helping a neighbor or watching out for other kids at school. In fact, loving siblings fostered charitable attitudes more than loving parents did. The relationship between sibling affection and good deeds was twice as strong as that between parenting and good deeds.
“For parents of younger kids, the message is to encourage sibling affection,” said Padilla-Walker. “Once they get to adolescence, it’s going to be a big protective factor.”
Many parents justifiably worry about the seemingly endless fighting between siblings. The study found hostility was indeed associated with greater risk of delinquency. Yet Padilla-Walker also sees a silver lining in the data: The fights give children a chance to learn how to make up and to regain control of their emotions, skills that come in handy down the road.
“An absence of affection seems to be a bigger problem than high levels of conflict,” Padilla-Walker said.
Provided by Brigham Young University
How has your sibling helped you buffer the stressors of living? Share with us…
For some time, people have known that using cannabis during adolescence increases the risk of developing cognitive impairment and mental illness (e.g. depression, anxiety or schizophrenia) later in life. Importantly however, the mechanisms responsible for this vulnerability are not well understood. A new study, published in Brain, shows that long-term cannabis use that starts during adolescence damages the neural pathways connecting brain regions, and that this may cause the later development of cognitive and emotional problems.
Ron’s Remarks: I think most parents get the fact that marijuana use is bad for teenagers. Unfortunately, I think some parents might consider it just “experimentation” and don’t take any action for this behavior. Each parent must decide for themselves how to deal with this but this research reiterates the realities of drug use on the brain. How have you dealt with teenager drug use/abuse?
Psychologist and author Joshua Coleman is an internationally recognized expert on parenting and marriage, among other topics. Today we are pleased to present the first installment of his Greater Good blog, in which he explores the roots of conflicts between parents and their adult children.
Stay tuned for Dr. Coleman’s subsequent posts, which will explore strategies for overcoming parent-child conflict.
According to a recent Pew survey, a high percentage of today’s parents report fewer serious arguments with their children in their late teens and early 20s than they had with their own parents at a similar age.
However, not all parents experience this kind of closeness. Some parents complain of ongoing tension and conflict with their adult children or, worse, complain that they are completely estranged from them.
In my work as a psychologist, I’ve witnessed many families experiencing these kinds of conflicts. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about why these conflicts arise, and how parents can best handle them. (I share many of my observations in my recent book, When Parents Hurt: Compassionate Strategies When You and Your Grown Child Don’t Get Along.)
New grounds for conflict
Part of the problem stems from the fact that parents today invest far more in their children than did prior generations of parents. According to sociologist Scott Coltrane, fathers do three times as much parenting as fathers in the 1960s; sociologists Suzanne Bianchi, John Robinson, and Melissa Milke report that mothers spend far more time parenting than did mothers in the 1960s.© Steve Debenport
Among other reasons, this increased investment by both mothers and fathers comes as a result of parental anxiety about their children’s future, guilt about spending less time with their children than they believe they should, education about children’s developmental needs, and a desire to be a better parent than their own parents were.
We have also radically altered our views about what we expect from children. Surveys in the 1920s showed that parents valued conformity, loyalty, and obedience; they wanted their kids to respect them, if not fear them. Today’s parents value individuality, tolerance, and the ability to think for themselves. They want their children’s love and are worried that they can easily jeopardize that love by not being a good enough parent.
How have these changes affected parents’ relationships with their children as those kids get older and progress through adulthood themselves? On the one hand, better education about children and parent-child communication has increased the potential for positive long-term relationships between parents and children, as the recent Pew survey details. Children, overall, appear to be doing better as judged by test scores and declines in youth crime, teen pregnancies, and suicide.
On the other hand, the onset of clinical depression occurs much earlier than in prior generations of children, and college health centers complain about not being able to handle the volume of students who are struggling with psychological issues.
The environment for parenting has also changed. In comparison to the past, parents have far fewer support systems of kin and neighbors to help them strike the right balance in their child-rearing. With people spending less time with their friends and communities, many parents turn to their offspring for fulfillment, intimacy, and long-term security—and those children are far more likely to be at home with their parents than they were in prior generations: Historian Steven Mintz has observed that between the early 1980s and late 1990s, unstructured play and outdoor activities for children declined nearly 40 percent for children ages three to 11.
While more time with children creates more opportunities for bonding, a more intense relationship increases the potential for conflict, resentment, and disappointment on the part of both parent and child. As sociologist Annette Lareau observes in her book Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life, middle class children are encouraged to develop a perspective of mutuality or equality in their relationships with adults. In a study, she found that these children frequently and comfortably passed judgment on the adults around them.
“In general the children of middle class parents have a sense that they are special, that their opinions matter, and that adults should as a matter of routine adjust situations to meet their children’s wishes,” writes Lareau.
Watch Joshua Coleman discuss parent-child conflict on a recent Today Show episode.
A greater degree of entitlement and comfort with adults can be highly adaptive in a world that requires autonomy, assertiveness, and comfort with authority. And in most cases, these children grow up to be highly respectful of their parents and other adults.
However, this entitlement is problematic when it’s combined with a prevailing cultural notion that children’s outcomes in life depend largely on how their parents raise them. Because while parenting is important, it isn’t the only experience that shapes children. Current studies show that class, genetics, peer group, and sibling relationships are also powerful determinants of how kids turn out. A culture that over-attributes parenting behavior to children’s outcomes may confuse adult children about the formative influences on their life, and may make them more likely to blame their parents when things don’t turn out the way they’d hoped.
Overstating the relationship between parenting behavior and child outcome may also cause politicians to wrongly attribute blame to the family for conditions that are better understood as having an economic basis. As historian Stephanie Coontz observes in her book The Way We Never Were, blaming parents for how children turn out is especially unfair when applied to the poor and working class, since research shows that the social dynamics of poverty and low status give them less influence over their children in relation to peer groups than parents in other classes.
And as sociologist Frank Furstenberg has noted, the financial and emotional costs for American parents are much greater here than in many European countries where the government takes a more active role in health care, education, and job training for young adults.
While parents in the U.S. are expected to provide an even greater investment in childcare, entertainment, protection, college, and after-college care than prior generations of parents here and elsewhere, there are fewer guidelines for what they might expect in return. Parents may feel hurt or betrayed if they do not get the love and gratitude they look forward to and believe that they deserve, and this may cause them to strain the relationship with their children even further by complaining or criticizing about their lack of availability or attentiveness.
Improving parents’ relationships with their adult children
Fortunately, in working with the parents of adult children, I’ve found that there are effective ways for them to overcome these conflicts. While every family is different, I believe that the following principles are the most important.
- Take responsibility for whatever mistakes you have made as a parent. If there’s a kernel of truth in your child’s complaint, speak to the kernel of truth.
- Honor the “separate realities” nature of family life. Just because you made decisions with your child’s best interest in mind, doesn’t mean that they were experienced in the way that you intended. Don’t try to prove them wrong.
- Avoid guilt trips: a) They don’t work and b) When they do, you’ll pay a high price for the resentment you’ll generate in your adult child.
- Try to hear your child out. Don’t be defensive. Ask questions.
- Don’t give up too soon. If there’s been an estrangement, you may need to reach out for a long time before you see an improvement in the relationship.
- In general, avoid giving advice that isn’t asked for.
- If you don’t want to give money or help, say so in a loving way, not as a complaint or criticism.
- Don’t criticize their spouse, their significant other, or their sexuality.
- Don’t tell them how to parent. You had your turn. Let them have theirs.
Each of these recommendations has its challenges. Therefore, my next several posts will go into more detail on them, exploring precisely how parents can strengthen their relationship with their adult children.
Are you estranged from your adult children? How have your tried to bridge the distance and rebuild the relationship? What advice would you give parents who are just attempting this journey?
Hear Ron Huxley, founder of the ParentingToolbox.com, and many other Central Coast speakers talk about Adoption and Foster Care from a Faith-Based Perspective:
5 Tips for Understanding Children’s Dreams
Do your children wake up and tell you about the wild dream they just had? Many parents may not realize it but their children’s dreams may have significant meanings. Most adults tell their kids to grow up when they share big dreams they had. But we really want to help our children to pay attention to their dreams. Dreams like flying without an airplane can show they have strong creative abilities.
Nightmares with children might be frightening but there is a good chance that they have a high destiny to fulfill in their life. Why else would something evil be trying to stop them from being big dreamers! After working with children’s dreams for over a decade, I found some simple ways to help children record, remember and understand the dreams they are having.
5 tips to help record and remember children’s dreams
1. Encourage you children to openly talk about their dreams, particularly in the morning when it’s easier to remember them more clearly. Make a habit of asking them what they dreamed at the breakfast table.
2. Keep a dream journal for your child if they’re not able to do so themselves. If they are not yet able to write, have them draw the dream or act it out. They might create a collage or another type of artwork to help them communicate a complicated or highly detailed dream. Then they can display it somewhere as a reminder of that dream.
3. Remember that your children’s dream language is going to be simpler than that of an adult. They may see things in cartoon form or associate cartoon or superhero characters with Angels or even God in their dreams.
4. Pay attention to the tone of the dream. Is it light and colorful or more dark and shadow-like? Oftentimes, darker color dreams reveal hidden fears or things that may be trying to stop them from advancing.
5.Ask your child if he or she knows what the dream meant. Sometimes they actually know the meaning.
Here’s a good example of a four-year-old child’s dream that the parent did not understand. The dream was actually quite prophetic.
I dreamed that me and daddy were driving in his car. There was a big bump and the car boom and daddy was scared but then Jesus came said, “Don’t be scared daddy, it’s going to be all right.”
After asking more questions of Sam’s dad, we found out that he had just lost his job right around the time his son had the dream. Cars can represent our career, job or aspects of our life. Sam dreamed that his father had a car accident but it was symbolic of him losing his job. Seeing Jesus in the dream was reassuring that things would work out and, sure enough, they did. Sam has a prophetic dreaming gift, but most people would have missed the meaning of that dream because of Sam’s lack of language to describe it.
If you are interested in how to understand your children’s dreams and your dreams too you can find out more and take a free online dream training course by visiting www.dreamcrashcourse.com
Raise your child Gluten-Free
Build Children’s Self-Esteem
Child-Custody Strategies- Psychologist Advice
Mrs. Roosth was tall and gaunt, uncomfortably quiet, with small eyes and angry hands.
I leaned back too far in my chair and landed with a thump on the classroom floor. She wrapped her bony fingers around my arm, yanked me up to my feet and just about threw me into the nearest corner to stand for the rest of the day. A few hours. I was in the first grade.
My stomach hurt. My muscles spasmed in my back. My chest grew tight. I thought I might die. But I didn’t say a word.
That’s my earliest memory of serious anxiety. But not my last. Or worst.
I missed a Homecoming dance in high school because anxiety so debilitated me that I couldn’t stand and walk.
I was so heavily medicated on my wedding day that I slept through the first night of the honeymoon!
I turned down my first offer of a record deal because I fear traveling. And just the worrying about it doubled me over in pain and sent me to bed for the better part of a day.
But since eventually signing that record deal, I’ve traveled to around 100 cities every year for twelve years. As a musician and speaker I’ve stood on stage and done my thing in front of tens of thousands of people. Sometimes all at once. As a spokesperson for Compassion International, I’ve traveled to ten developing countries with questionable airplanes, eaten grub worms and guinea pig, and lunched with posh dignitaries and mobs of slum children.
No more debilitating anxiety. How’d that happen? And how can we as parents stave off the anxiety of our children?
My mother is as close to a perfect parent as there is. But even she made mistakes. Just two.
When I became anxious she made it worse by doing two things:
Telling Me To Stop It
I couldn’t stop being anxious any more than I could stop being a boy. It didn’t feel like a choice. Telling me to stop being anxious made me feel defective, abnormal, like I couldn’t do something everyone else could. Telling me to stop worrying gave me more things to worry about! Does my mom think I’m a weirdo? Will everyone else think I’m a weirdo? What’s wrong with me?
Telling Me What Would Happen If I Didn’t Stop
My mother is a worrier too. And when I worried to the point of dysfunction, she worried out loud. On my wedding day: What if you don’t get better…people are already at the church…we can’t move a wedding…you don’t want that do you? And of course I didn’t want that and I didn’t want my mother to worry either so I tried to reassure her, which is quite the opposite of relaxing.
Photo by Pink Sherbet Photography
Today I have four children and one of them is anxious. Here’s what I do when her anxiety prevents her from fully living:
I don’t push her to play in the piano recital that has her in knots. Making her feel like a lot is riding on her getting over her anxiety will only make it worse.
I ask her what she’s feeling and listen. When she takes a breath I hand her a tissue and listen some more. The feelings are the effect. I want to listen until I hear the cause.
People with chronic debilitating anxiety are often ruminators. They are people whose thoughts get stuck in a groove like a needle on a record, going round and round playing the same anxious thoughts again and again until it’s all they can hear. So it’s important to interrupt my daughter once I think I understand her feelings and what’s causing them. I tell her what I think she’s said to me and ask her if I’m right. If she says I am but then tries to restate it all again – ruminating some more – I cut her off.
Imagine The Worst
This is counterintuitive but I ask her to imagine the worst thing that could happen at the piano recital. I’ll freak out and forget my music and everyone will stare at me and I’ll be embarrassed.
I ask her if there’s anything she could do to prevent this from happening. In the case of the piano recital, does she have to play the music from memory or would the teacher let her have sheet music nearby just in case?
We figure out together what we’ll both do if the worst actually happens. I promise I won’t laugh or be embarrassed or love her any less or think she’s any less talented. Recitals are bad measures of talent. And talent isn’t why I or anyone else in that concert hall loves her.
But what will she do is the worst happens? She may decide that she’ll take the sheet music with her and use it if she forgets the notes. She may come up with a self-depreicating joke she can make to ease the tension and get the audience on her side (I still do this all the time). If she can’t come up with a plan, thenI help out but I really want this to be her idea, because I want her to be able to do this for herself when I’m not around.
When the piano recital ended without disaster we talked about how brave she was, how proud I was of her for facing her fears, and we had dessert. We celebrated the success. For me, successes, even the smallest ones, give me confidence that the worst rarely – if ever – happens.
Parenting myself this way over many years has destroyed anxiety. There are still things I’m afraid of, worried about – especially when bills are due. That’s normal. But I’m no longer disabled, half-living because of severe anxiety.
The next time your child is too afraid to live fully, please don’t push. Instead, help them understand their fears, make a plan and move forward. Who knows what kind of life is waiting on the other side of their anxiety? Help them get there.
Do you struggle with anxiety? What has helped you break free?
SHARE: Do you struggle with anxiety? What has helped you break free?
Kindergarten Readiness Checklist
by Peggy Gisler, Ed.S. and Marge Eberts, Ed.S.
While there’s no perfect formula that determines when children are truly ready for kindergarten, you can use this checklist to see how well your child is doing in acquiring the skills found on most kindergarten checklists.
Young children change so fast — if they can’t do something this week, they may be able to do it a few weeks later.
- Listen to stories without interrupting
- Recognize rhyming sounds
- Pay attention for short periods of time to adult-directed tasks
- Understand actions have both causes and effects
- Show understanding of general times of day
- Cut with scissors
- Trace basic shapes
- Begin to share with others
- Start to follow rules
- Be able to recognize authority
- Manage bathroom needs
- Button shirts, pants, coats, and zip up zippers
- Begin to control oneself
- Separate from parents without being upset
- Speak understandably
- Talk in complete sentences of five to six words
- Look at pictures and then tell stories
- Identify rhyming words
- Identify the beginning sound of some words
- Identify some alphabet letters
- Recognize some common sight words like “stop”
- Sort similar objects by color, size, and shape
- Recognize groups of one, two, three, four, and five objects
- Count to ten
- Bounce a ball
If your child has acquired most of the skills on this checklist and will be at least four years old at the start of the summer before he or she starts kindergarten, he or she is probably ready for kindergarten. What teachers want to see on the first day of school are children who are healthy, mature, capable, and eager to learn.
More on: Kindergarten