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Parenting stress

Bad Parenting Day: 10 Tips for Making Tomorrow Better

Yesterday was one of my worst parenting days.  You ever have one of those?

Coming off a night of tossing and turning I just shouldn’t have gotten out of bed.  But with a 3 and a 4 year old, you really don’t have that option.  So groggy with a bit of cotton-head I got up at 6:45 when my daughter called for me.  Both of my kids always love to get up deliciously early.

My daughter got up on the wrong side of the bed.  Everything from her dreams to her outfit were wrong.  She didn’t even want to wear the underwear I had put out for her.  Really?  “It’s freakin’ underwear,” I could hear myself repeating in my head.

My son had just gotten up with my husband and was playing one of his new birthday games, Hungry Hungry Hippos.  As my kids are allowed to open 2 gifts per day in the days following their special day to control the indulgence avalanche, he was ready to open his second gift.

It was a remote control car.  Harmless enough—but a source of great argument when you have two children who are raised in a home where there is no such thing as a “girl toy” or a “boy toy.”  They both wanted to play with it.

Two extremely “Type A” children, one car, one remote. You see where this is going?  If they weren’t arguing with each other about whose turn it was, they Read more

Family Rules: Top 10 Rules To Post on Your Fridge

The other day, I was asked for some ideas regarding “family rules.” Below is an example of 10 rules to get you thinking of what you’d like to post on your fridge and discuss in your family meeting.  However, I encourage you to ask your children to contribute to the family rules as I’ve continued to learn that when working with young people; if you say it, it can be ignored or challenged, if they say it, it becomes the gospel truth.

You can ask directly;

What family rules (do’s and dont’s) do YOU think we should follow in our house?

You can prompt;

How do you think we can show respect for  other people’s property or other people’s feelings?

You can elicit response to your contribution;

What do you think about “cleaning up your own mess?”

Ensure that everyone is heard.  Write down the brainstorm on a piece of paper and then compile them into 5-10 family rules that are clear, easy to follow, and displayed publicly.

Here are 10 family rules that you can bring to the table and incorporate into your family’s brainstorm or discussion;

(1) Treat yourself and others with respect: The Golden Rule applies first and foremost in our family. For example; no put downs, yelling, hitting. kicking, pinching, name-calling. This applies to what you say to others and what you say to yourself in the mirror! Say please, thank you, sorry, you’re welcome, and excuse me when Read more

Are you a back-seat-driving parent? 7 Ways to Keep Micromanagement of the Other Parent in Check

We all get annoyed when someone becomes a back-seat driver in our own car. “Slow down!” “Speed up!” “Why are you going this way???” Back-seat drivers can make us feel like bumbling fools or they can just simply drive us crazy.  But how can the same type of dynamic play out in the parenting relationship?

“You can’t say that!”

“Do it this way!”

“Just let me handle it.”

Gosh. Isn’t that annoying? Frustrating? Degrading? When one parent continually tries to tell the other parent where to go and what to do when it comes to the kids—or just takes the proverbial wheel out of his/her hands, it creates an unhealthy dynamic– one parent who constantly feels shamed, unsure and/or on the defensive and, what I call, a “back-seat-driver parent,” who hovers, corrects, and micromanages his or her partner.

We all only want the best for our children and our families.  So how can we keep our back-seat driving tendencies in check when it comes to our co-parenting style?

(1) Don’t auto-correct: When you see the other parent handling a problem or interaction differently that you would, pause. Cut the other person some slack! Nobody wants to feel that they can’t do anything without shaming, comparing, and immediate commentary. Remember–Just because they do things a different Read more

Dr. Robyn Silverman Announces…The Powerful Word of the Month is Responsibility!

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The Powerful Word of the Month is…responsibility! I love this word– and what a great time of year to discuss it.  Homework is in full thrust and summer, at least in this area of the world, is most definitely behind us.  It’s nose to the grindstone time.

Or it should be.  There are enough distractions these days to drive our children and teens (oh yes, and us too) right off course.  This month we need to reiterate our goals, set our plans, take responsibility for the things we committed to– and be accountable when things go wrong.

I’m on board too. Read more

Dr. Robyn Silveman introduces December’s Powerful Word: Open-Mindedness

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Open-mindedness Quotes

“Stay committed to your decisions, but flexible in your approach.” — Tom Robbins

“Don’t fear failure so much that you refuse to try new things. The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have.” –Unknown

“As we grow better, we meet better people.” –Elbert Hubbard

“Beware when any idea is promoted primarily because it is “bold, exciting, innovative, and new.” There are many ideas that are ‘bold, exciting, innovative and new,’ but also foolish.” — Donald Rumsfeld

“ I don’t like the word tolerance. I prefer the word respect. If you’re comfortable with what you are, you can mix with others, because they can enrich you, culturally and spiritually.” — Alain Elkann

“A mind, when open, creates a door to possibilities. When closed, it builds an insurmountable wall. Only we can decide which one we construct.” –Dr. Robyn Silverman

Daddy’s Little Girl and Mama’s Boy: Bonding with your Opposite Gendered Kid

father and daughter

Dr. Robyn Silverman

As I’m writing my body image book, due out in October of 2010, I’ve been thinking about the relationship between mothers and sons and fathers and daughters. Powerful Parenting certainly must deal with more than just same-sex relationships within the family structure.

We often hear about the special relationship between parents and their same sex child. Who hasn’t heard of a daughter trying on her Mommy’s high heels and a son mirroring his Dad while he shaves? Our sons and daughters are figuring out how they are supposed to act and who they are supposed to be like. While children are able to connect with emotionally available parents of either gender, it’s only natural for children to identify with their same sex parent whose “femaleness” or “maleness” is a commonality they both share.

mother and son

But while a child might identify with a same-sex parent, as Powerful Parents know, that doesn’t mean that the child is any less bonded with the opposite gendered parent. In fact, between ages 3 and 5 years old, the opposite sex parent often becomes a focus for a young boy or girl. It’s common for a daughter to become “Daddy’s Little Girl” and a son to become “Mama’s Boy.” This powerful attachment doesn’t replace the same sex relationship but rather helps the child to learn that s/he doesn’t have to reject anyone to love both parents. This healthy resolution helps to set the foundation for resolving feelings and establishing relationships as s/he grows.

The opposite sex parent-child relationship provides a template for opposite-sex relationships as adults. What can a mother teach a son? Aside from the unique qualities the mother might have personally, such as an artistic flair or an athletic predisposition, a mother shows her son how to treat a girl and the special qualities and nuances of the opposite sex. What does a father teach a daughter? Studies repeatedly show that girls who have a strong relationship with their Dads are more confident, self-reliant, and successful overall compared to those who have distant or absentee fathers.

So how can we foster these bonds within the family?

  1. Take the cultural labels with a grain of salt: While we might not like it much, society often shames a boy who has a strong attachment to his mom. Girls relationships with their Dads are typically viewed in a more positive light yet still branded with labels such as “tomboy.” Be aware of these cultural messages and don’t let anyone taint your special relationship with your opposite sex child. A strong mother-son and father-daughter relationship is not only acceptable but beneficial to your child and to the family.
  2. Open up communication: Just because you might not understand some of the things your opposite-sex child is interested in doesn’t mean you can’t. If you don’t know something, ask questions. Even if something might seem goofy, silly, or so “not you” it’s vital that you validate your child so that s/he knows what he says and does concerns you. Never trivialize or make your opposite sex children feel strange and be sure to answer their questions.
  3. Spend the time: It’s been shown that fathers tend to spend more time with their sons and mothers spend more time with their daughters. Take interest in your opposite-sex child and find something that both of you like to do together. For those of you who have sons and daughters in a Powerful Words Member School that teaches martial arts, gymnastics, dance, swimming, or another activity be certain that both parents are part of their opposite sex child’s experience. Maybe you can even take classes with them! Outside of these activities, find other ways to connect even if you find activities that are new to you and perhaps a little out of your comfort zone. Read more

Helicopter Parents Following Children into Their 20s?

helicopter parents

My Parents are Still Hovering! When does this Helicopter Parenting stop?

Boy oh Boy. Anytime I post something on helicopter parenting, the comment box goes nuts. Usually those who are commenting are the children themselves—the ones trying to get out from under their parents’ thumbs when it comes to school, new situations, going out, dating, and more. But get this—these children are hardly children anymore—they’re in their late teens, their 20s, or their 30s! When does this helicopter parenting stop?

Young adults are being treated like they’re still children:

Like Dee:

I am 18 years old, and I don’t know what to do anymore. I don’t have a license and I don’t have a job. I am totally dependent on my parents. My dad is extremely overprotective. Sometimes I feel that he is deliberately holding me back from getting my license, because he hates it when I go out of the house and he prefers driving me to places himself. He wouldn’t let me ride with my friend who already has hers. Lately I feel that I would rather not go out at all than have him drive me everywhere, because he still makes me feel guilty for going out, as if I am letting him down or betraying him. –Dee

Or Christina–

I think I’m also a child of a pathologically overprotective parent. I am, however, in my early 20s. I live with my mother as my parents are divorced and things have got really bad lately. My sister and I are treated like 13 year olds. When we go out our mother calls us every 30 minutes to check up on us. Recently I had 96 missed calls on my cell when I didn’t reply. She has also threatened to send the police to the club we go to and has slapped and shouted at a guy (friend) who brought my sister and I home. Could you please give some suggestions about what we should do? We have already tried talking but she doesn’t want to understand. She thinks that what she does is right. –Christina

Of course, if I called my daughter 96 times and she didn’t answer, I would probably be panicked too. But I think there are 2 main problems here: (1) Parents wanting to know their children are safe and (2) the need for adult children to individuate and separate from their parents. It’s a control issue—but probably enforced out of live (not that love makes it any better or easier to deal with). There is also likely a trust issue– either parents are not trusting their children or they are not trusting who their children are with at any given time. Some of this we can understand– we want our children to be safe, warm, dry, happy, and loved– but some of it seems excessive. Some of it can be helpful– and some, detrimental.

Where it gets complicated is the living situation and in Dee’s situation, the lack of good transportation. The young adults still live in their parents’ house so the parents have made the assumption that the rules and the level of protection stay the same. Of course, this is a ridiculous idea. Children grow and change into adults and therefore, rules must change as well. Rules still should apply—but they should be commensurate with the developmental age of the people who live there. We all have rules—even spouses have rules for one another—even if they are unspoken (i.e. call when you’ll be late, don’t track mud into the house, clean up your own mess). Clearly everyone in the household should be respectful of one another and that means both giving people space and freedom and being respectful of feelings and the need to know that everyone is safe.

There are consequences of helicopter parenting. As we know from previous articles, helicopter parenting can lead to:
(1) Undermining children’s confidence

(2) Instilling fear of failure

(3) Stunting growth and development

(4) Raising anxiety levels

(5) Anger and resentment

But even our commentors had some consequences to add. Be forewarned—it’s not pretty.

Complete breaking of the ties:

I am an adopted child, and my adoptive mother is.. er was… extremely over-protective. We even lived in a very small town simply so she knew where we were at all times. Thankfully, I like to say that I”m “Grown-up”. I may only be 21 years old, but I am married, have two children, and even own my own home! Sadly, I’ve had to cut most of my ties with my parents, simply so I could live my life, the way I wanted to. Although it hurts to know that I’ve hurt them, the feeling of being my own person, after the 13 years I lived with them, for the first time! –Mikki

Stunted Growth, rebellion, frustration:

Well as I read over on what you wrote and what the topic points out I have to agree fully that they do exist. I’d say I might be the youngest person whose commented on this site. Truth be told I’m only a 14year old girl. I don’t really like the fact that there are overprotective parents out there, but I do know that they could be doing this because they love us and want to see us grow up in a safe environment. Though of course nothing goes as exactly planned. I have over protective parents and they both can be pretty annoying at times. I also have an older sister who’s about 20 years old and they won’t even let her date guys! /=o They said to me that I can’t date until I’m 24 and that’s only on a double date. Though the thing that really backfires on parents who are overprotective is that the child might feel a lack of faith from the parents, or it might cause a spark of rebellion in the child causing the child or teen to commit crimes or go to drugs and friends for relief. For me, well I just look up sites on the internet to see what the professionals have to say about this topic. I mean I’m not really allowed to go outside my own house unless it something that’s related with school or church. So to put this in a simple sentence. I got to the internet or television to blow off steam, but right now I really want to at least go out and exercise. Well thats about it. Man I feel better after writing this!

Parents—we must move forward to meet our children where they are. As they grow, new rules must develop and change with them. We don’t want to push our children so far away that they find it unpleasant to spend time with us or talk to us! We also don’t want our adult children to believe they are incapable of taking care of themselves. You can still be a great parent without being a hyper-overprotective one.

I’d love to hear your comments on the topic. Let’s hammer this out. As previously discussed, I am planning to lead a teleconference on the topic as it’s become a very important and popular issue on our blog. Let me know of your interest through Facebook or here on our blog.

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Ask Dr. Robyn Silverman: Teach My Kid Some Courtesy!

Video: Teaching Children Courtesy

Dr. Robyn Silverman answers a reader’s question about how to teach courtesy to her children who talk back and yell.

How can parents teach their children courtesy? All parents want their children to be polite, considerate, and respectful of others both in and out of the family.  This addition of Ask Dr. Robyn features a letter from Paula in Scituate, Massachusetts.

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This month, our Powerful Words Member Schools will all be partnering with parents to teach children to be more courteous at home, at school, and out in the community. Many of the articles and videos on our blog will feature the character concept, courtesy– so please check back! contact us with any of your questions and let us know your ideas of how to help your children become more courteous and considerate!

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When Divorce Threatens the Family Team

sad girl of divorceBy Dr. Robyn Silverman

Lately I’ve been hearing about a lot of marriages breaking down and leading to divorce. Several of you have written me privately wondering how you can keep divorce from wearing down your children. As a marriage is one of the ultimate “teams” in our lives that relies on incredible teamwork, it deserves to be discussed in these terms to help our children to the best of our ability.  It just so happens that the Powerful Word of the Month this Month is Teamwork and marriage is a great example of a team that often needs maintenance.

How can we teach teamwork when the most obvious team in a child’s life, the marriage of his or her parents, is breaking down?

Nobody’s perfect. No marriage is perfect. No couple is perfect. But when it comes to our children, we must show them that the marriage team can deal with problems, grow and change. Even if the parents feel that they can no longer be together as a couple, as a parental team, they can still be strong (barring issues of abuse, of course). It’s not the marital issues that become the biggest problem but rather how the parents handle the issues that threaten the marriage or the divorce itself.

How are you handling the stress? Are you bashing your “teammate” in front of your children? Are you refusing to take any responsibility for the problems or issues you are having? It’s time to stop. A team relies on the behavior of more than one person. Think of any sports team. If teammates are screaming at one another, playing the blame game, and ducking responsibility, they are not being a good teammate themselves. It’s time to take a different approach.Reach out for help.  Find a way to blow off steam.  Talk to a mentor or a friend.  Get involved with something constructive and find a way to face the issues without pointing a finger.

Are you listening to the other person? Are you talking but refusing to open your ears? The best conversations typically happen with more listening and less talking. As part of the marriage team, it’s important to take a step back, get some perspective, and allow the other person to have their say. If you need help listening to one another, a marriage counselor or success coach may be in order.Your children must see you talking and resolving issues if you expect them to be able to do the same in their lives.

Are you dragging in your children to be pick sides? Be careful. This typically backfires in more ways than one. Not only are you asking the child to take a swing against the other parent, you are sending confusing messages that can break trust and leave your child feeling vulnerable. I know of plenty of parents who’ve taken the approach of “turning their children against another parent” (called parental alienation) and wind up finding that their approach hurts everyone involved.

How do you deal with parental issues such that the team stays intact or gets stronger despite the issues? In the end, the parental team does not only affect 2 people but rather, the whole family including the children who rely on you for strength, love, support, and security.

Would love to hear your take on the topic.

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

Ask Dr. Robyn: How do I teach respect in my home?

Ask Dr. Robyn Silverman: Creating a Respectful Environment in My Home (Video)

Every parent has trouble with disrespect in the home from time to time.  Children are going to test boundaries, push your buttons, and learn about risk and consequences. It’s part of growing up! Of course, parents need to teach children respect, expect respect, and model respect if they’re going to get it! Dr. Robyn Silverman answers a reader’s question about how to create a respectful atmosphere in the home and provides 10 tips on the ABCs of respect.

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Everyone has New Years Resolutions. The one thing I want to concentrate on this year is making sure my home is a place of respect. With 3 growing boys, it can get kind of rowdy in here. I don’t mind the noise but I do mind disrespect in the house. Even my husband and I have gotten caught up in it. It’s got to change. How can I set the tone for respect in my home for 2009?         –Lisa B, Tulsa, OK

Related articles:

Mommy, I hate you!

You’re Bothering Other People!

Dr. Robyn Introduces the Powerful Word: Respect

10 Tips on Teaching Respect

Send Dr. Robyn a question!

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs