Parenting

Parenting

The Art of Negotiation

The Art of Negotiation

While there’s no “magical” way to halt or reverse the aging process, there are ways to embrace it. Start by admitting that you’re getting older. Stop fighting it. Own it. Love it. Adopt a positive attitude. The world is going to move forward with or without you. Where some people get hung up is with the misconception that as they age, they have to fit in with the younger generation. This simply isn’t true. A more helpful attitude is, “I may not be young anymore, but I’m still capable of growing and I will continue my process of evolving until the end of my life.” Each time an individual acquires a piece of knowledge or improves upon a skill that helps them deepen their relationships, appreciate their past and current experiences, and leave a more robust legacy, that’s a change that matters.

Do you believe in free will or destiny? (Peru)

Do you believe in free will or destiny? (Peru)

Do you believe in free will or destiny? There is a lot that has happened in my life that I had no control over. In one sense, I believe my path was chosen for me. But in another, equally important sense, I know I have always determined for myself what to make of my life. No one—not the Nazis, not my parents and certainly not the rules of society—chose the kind of person I would become. Destiny may have charted my course, but I chose the pace. Destiny may have written much of the script for my life, but I’m still the executive producer.

Positive thoughts produce positive results

Positive thoughts produce positive results

ositive thoughts produce positive results. Your attitude plays a major role in the success you achieve throughout your life. ☺️
You can improve yours by
☺️
1) Recognizing your competence
2) Developing a strong sense of personal security or self-esteem
3) Being dedicated to the pursuit of your life’s dreams. ☺️
Maintaining a positive attitude takes guts, grit and gusto. You can do it!

The Impact of Helicopter Parents

The Impact of Helicopter Parents

Did You Know…what the impact is of parents who take an overprotective or excessive interest in the lives of their children?

Parents who take an overprotective or excessive interest in the lives of their children are called “helicopter parents.” I believe the only good that comes from being such a parent is that maybe your kids are slightly less likely to be abducted. Some say other advantages of being a helicopter parent include having kids who are always prepared, forms are always filled out, bags packed correctly, supplies purchased in advance, and books returned on time. And, yes, those are advantages—but not worth the downside (need for constant feedback, high sense of entitlement, undeveloped life skills, etc.) that comes with it.

What gets lost in all of this overbearing parenting is the most valuable gift a parent can give a child: self-reliance. Lessons taught during the formative years of childhood are so significant to who the child becomes later.

So, parents, take a step back to make sure you’re not doing the work that could be addressed by your children. I realize that when push comes to shove it’s easier to handle these tasks without involving your kids. Take the tougher road and teach kids how to handle daily tasks themselves. My guarantee is the payoff will be worth it in the long run.

What You Should Never Say to a Child Whose Parent Just Came Out of the Closet

What You Should Never Say to a Child Whose Parent Just Came Out of the Closet

Sometimes well-meaning friends and relatives don’t know what to say or do when they discover that a parent of someone close to them just came out of the closet. Here is a piece written by my teenage grandson, who was faced with this situation several years ago. I find his words to be profound, important and timely.

Joshua writes:

I never really felt connected to the LGBT community, until my dad joined it. My parents told me my dad was gay three years ago, shortly after they divorced. It was hard at first, but I am happy that he is living the life he wants.

Being the heterosexual teenage son of a gay father puts me in a somewhat unique community of which I am both happy and proud to be a part. Yet, I believe my role within that community is actually to guide those outside of it, helping them to know what or what not to say to help foster understanding.

Here are five things you should never say to a child whose parent has come out of the closet – from someone who knows:

 I’m sorry. Condolences are entirely unnecessary. He’s gay; he’s not under the weather.
 “Your poor mother.” I offer that it’s better for her to know than to live her life in the dark. My mother is recently remarried and on great terms with my father. We still take family vacations together, and my dad attended and danced at my mom’s wedding.
 Does he help you choose what to wear? Does he like sports? No, he never offers clothing advice, and yes, my dad is a huge sports fan. He even once coached my soccer team.
 Can you talk about girl stuff with him? Not really, but honestly, I don’t know a single teenage boy who actually enjoys talking to his parents about that stuff.
 Silence – The worst and most common offense: the averted eye glance or quick change of subject.

While I am fairly new to the community of kids of LGBT parents, I do hope these tips help others understand our place within it.

Raising Self-Reliant Children

Raising Self-Reliant Children

Raising self-reliant children should be a goal of all parents. Self-reliant children are youngsters who learn to use their own powers and resources rather than those of others. Parents can begin teaching self-reliance at a very young age by encouraging children to learn to do things for themselves. Let them struggle. Let them fail. Watch, observe, be patient and then enjoy the delight they experience when they accomplish something new. For example, one way parents can foster self-reliance in children is by teaching them to participate in routine household activities. Even young children can clean their rooms, make school lunches and do laundry. When they perform these tasks successfully, they need positive feedback and recognition. When they don’t, they need to understand the consequences. If they don’t make their school lunch, they will go hungry that day. When they don’t do their laundry, they will wear dirty clothes. When children do these activities for themselves, it fosters independence and confidence, leading to a richer and more fulfilled life as they become self-reliant adults.

Finding Balance: The Challenge for Working Mothers

Finding Balance: The Challenge for Working Mothers

Today, not all mothers have the option of staying at home to raise their children. Whether they are single or married, there are financial considerations that necessitate working outside the home. Even for those who have the choice, many opt to pursue a career or other job opportunity. In the end, I believe women should have it all—enjoying motherhood and careers in order to experience life to its fullest.

To support working mothers, here are three tips that will make life easier and more rewarding.

Be organized. Know what you have to do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to run your home. Have your contingency plans written and share them with others, whether it is your spouse, your parents, siblings or friends. Keep shopping lists, to-do’s and appointments close by and convenient. If you do not have to store everything in your head, you can relax more.
Delegate. You don’t have to do everything yourself. Get help. Share responsibilities with others, including your children and your spouse. Give up control of some aspect of managing the household, whether it’s chores, extracurricular activities, managing finances or other routine functions. You’d be surprised how one play-date can free you from having to entertain and care for children, even if it’s just for a few hours.
Abandon the perfectionist’s script. You can’t be perfect at work or at home, so don’t expect it. Set aside some time every day for yourself, even if it’s 30 minutes. Deep breath, meditate, do yoga. You will be better equipped to address life’s daily challenges if you are patient and accepting with yourself and your family.

On Raising Children

On Raising Children

Parents who have more than one child can see differences from the very start. Is it nature or nurture, genetic encoding or environmental influence that contributes more to character and personality development? The age-old debate is far from resolved. The majority believes both genetics and environment have a role in determining who we become as adults.

The latest research indicates that although genetic programming is very important (25%), environmental influences and choices far outweigh (75%) the ancestral DNA effect on our personality formation. Yet, it’s hard to separate the impact differing parental styles have on child-rearing practices. The traditional style, “Do as I say” was popular until the 1960s when a more permissive style, “Anything goes” emerged. At the present time, democratic parenting seems to be favored among educated people. The premise is that in our complex world it is important to empower our children with negotiation skills and to give them choices that include clear-cut consequences for the decisions they make. Children who grow up in this environment tend to become more self-reliant, empowered adults who take responsibility for their actions.

The end result of effective parenting is the transmission of values from one generation to the next and the effective processing of childhood experiences. This involves three strategies. One is fostering wellness in children. To accomplish this means providing opportunities and environments for children to experience safety, trust, affection and nurturing. When parents notice and reinforce good or desirable behavior, children have a positive learning experience. When parents distract or ignore children who behave unacceptably or provide them with clear-cut consequences for broken rules, they help children become more socialized. Second is the commitment to teach values, set limits, and encourage tolerance for life’s frustrations. By providing the messaging for these behaviors, parents are shaping character and promoting virtues such as patience, postponement of gratification and cooperation. The third strategy is fostering self-reliance through empowerment… in other words, involving children in the decision-making process pertaining to their lives and activities. In this way, children learn that their choices and actions have consequences and they will understand they have to take responsibility for them. The self-reliance that comes through empowerment is built on successes. No task is too small to experience the joy of mastery at any age.

Raising Children, Part 3: How to Shape Character and Promote Virtues

Raising Children, Part 3: How to Shape Character and Promote Virtues

I’ve written previously about what we can do as parents to promote self-reliance in our children and about developing wellness and social skills in our children. Today I’d like to discuss what parents can do to shape character and promote virtues in children.

Commitment to teaching values, setting limits, and encouraging tolerance of frustration are essential to shaping character and promoting virtues such as patience, postponement of gratification, and cooperation.

There is a reason for the popular saying “Patience is a virtue.” Being patient implies that you have self-control. Thomas Jefferson said, “Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.” Patience allows us to accomplish that. Patience is a powerful virtue, the possession of which can make a person’s life more manageable.

We live in an instant gratification kind of world, but being able to work hard at something now for a benefit to be arrived at later is a virtue to reach toward and to instill in our children. Research has shown that a child’s ability to delay gratification is an indicator for success later in life financially and otherwise. The famous Stanford marshmallow experiment demonstrates this.

The value of being able to cooperate is obvious. As humans, we are constantly interacting with other humans, beginning at a very young age and continuing throughout our lifetimes. Being able to cooperate allows us to work productively with others to reach a common goal and to do so peacefully. It’s easy to see that the absence of this virtue would be quite detrimental to a person’s life, especially in adulthood.

We can instill these virtues in our children through an ongoing commitment to teaching them. We have to be ever mindful of encouraging our children to not become frustrated when tasks are difficult or when things take longer than expected. Praising patience and rewarding demonstrations of cooperation are good tools to implement.

Limit setting is critically important as well. Children crave boundaries and do very well when they know what those boundaries are and what the consequences of crossing them are. To set limits with children, you have to communicate what the rules are very clearly, describe the consequences, and follow through when a rule is broken. Leaving out any of the components can compromise the effectiveness of your strategy so be sure to do them all.

What have your experiences been with instilling virtues in your children? What do you think are the most important virtues we can teach our kids? Share your comments.

-Dr. Erica Miller

Raising Children, Part 2: How to Develop Wellness and Social Skills

Raising Children, Part 2: How to Develop Wellness and Social Skills

I’ve written previously about what we can do as parents to promote self-reliance in our children. Today I’d like to discuss how parents can help their children develop wellness and social skills.

Safety, trust, affection, and nurturing are essential ingredients in the process of developing wellness. Wellness can be defined as a state of emotional and psychological well-being in which an individual is able to meet the ordinary demands of everyday life.

Safety is a basic need for all human beings, but ensuring it is critical to your children’s sense of wellness. It is your job as a parent to take necessary steps to ensure your child’s safety, from strapping him into a car seat to childproofing your home. When children feel safe and secure, they can focus their energies on other things, like learning and socializing.

Establishing trust early on involves showing your child that you are always going to be there when she needs you. If your child cries, you must go to her. If she is hungry, you must feed her. Filling children’s emotional and physical needs is how we establish their trust, which positively impacts their wellness.

Children should be given loads of affection and nurturing from their parents. Cuddles and kisses solidify the bonds between parent and child that will last a lifetime. Being affectionate shows your children that you love and care about them, which naturally promotes their well-being.

Your child’s social skills will come into play at school, on the playground, in sports or other extracurricular activities, and in his professional and love lives well beyond childhood. How you help him develop these skills in childhood will shape who he becomes and what he can accomplish later in life.

It is important that parents notice and reinforce a child when she is showing good, desirable behavior. Call her out for doing what is right instead of only commenting when she is doing something wrong.

Distracting the child, ignoring undesirable behavior, and setting clear-cut consequences for broken rules are also essential ingredients for an effective process of socialization. Make consequences logical once it is appropriate; typically this is when the child is around three years old and up. An example of a logical consequence would be having the child clean up the mess he made rather then taking away a toy to punish him for making a mess.

What are your thoughts on the best ways to promote wellness and good social skills in children?

-Dr. Erica Miller

Raising Children, Part 1: Developing Self Reliance

Raising Children, Part 1: Developing Self Reliance

In the Western Hemisphere, where we reside, the authoritarian style of parenting (“do as I say”) and the permissive style of parenting (“anything goes”) are extremes that have moved in and out of favor over the decades.

At the present time, democratic parenting is definitely favored among educated people. The premise is that in our complex world, it is important to empower our children with negotiation skills and to give them choices that carry clear-cut consequences. Such children will become the self-reliant, empowered adults who can take responsibility for their choices and actions and become the leaders of tomorrow.

How do you do promote self-reliance? You do so through empowerment. That is, you involve children in decisions pertaining to them and foster and expand their negotiation skills. They will learn that their choices and actions have consequences and will take responsibility for them.

When assigning chores to your children, allow them to have a say in which ones they take responsibility for or what time of day they take care of them. You can tell your child which chores need to be taken care of on a particular day and let your son or daughter decide whether to complete the chores right after school or after dinner instead of watching television, for example. You can allow multiple children to sort out among themselves who will take of what tasks, so long as everything gets done.

You can start at a very early age with little things. No task is too small for a child to experience the joy of mastery. Let your small children learn to dress and feed themselves. Starting with these small tasks early sets the stage for more difficult tasks later.

I know, I know. You have a million things to do on any given day. It is much faster for you to pick out clothes and dress your toddler. Letting her feed herself takes more time and leads to a bigger mess for you to clean up. Think of it this way. You are investing a little extra time now in order to save yourself a great deal later!

Won’t it be great when your child can help you out in a meaningful way with the household chores? Having those extra hands on deck for the cleaning and organizing and tidying up of the house will save you loads of time later, not to mention you will be teaching essential skills to your young ones. (For more on the benefits of sharing these responsibilities, see my previous post on running a household.)

The most precious gift parents can bestow upon their children is to steer them toward self-reliance. Do not do for a child what the child can do for himself or herself—age appropriately, of course. Doing so instills a sense of responsibility and accomplishment, which are lessons to last a lifetime.

You can also see me thoughts on raising children in this video. Thanks!

-Dr. Erica Miller

Running a Household: Sharing Responsibilities Is Essential

Running a Household: Sharing Responsibilities Is Essential

I wrote in an earlier post about gender roles and how women, in particular, have to make choices about what roles they will play in society and in their family. Today I want to talk more about making those choices with your partner in how you will run your household.

I have always believed that every member of the household has to contribute in order to make the household function successfully. Any person enjoying the benefits derived from the smoothly running home should contribute his or her share.

This becomes especially important when both parents are working, as is so often the case in modern times. A career woman pays a price. Society expects her to handle the household work that is still waiting when she gets home. But there is no reason why husbands and children can’t participate in the household chores, and in fact, there are ample reasons to support both her decision to work outside the home and the sharing of responsibilities.

There is a widely held belief that full-time homemakers are better parents than those in the workforce. Research does not support this, however. Depending on job satisfaction, support with housekeeping chores, and child care, women who contribute significantly to family income report more self-esteem and power of decision making in the family than do full-time homemakers.

If the woman is taking on a larger burden than everyone else, she will become burned out, overtaxed, and ultimately unhappy. If the children are not contributing, not only are they not removing some of the burden from the parents, they are also missing out on learning an essential life lesson about responsibility that will serve them in every aspect of their personal and professional lives.

Dividing and conquering with shared responsibility among all members of the family leads to a healthier, happier family with a household in good working order. Everyone wins!

It’s important to discuss these things with your spouse before you begin your life together in one household and again before your family grows with the birth of a child. These questions go far beyond who will do laundry and who will do the cooking. Determining whether one or both partners will work outside the home is a huge decision that requires careful consideration by both affected parties. Get these issues on the table early and help ensure a smoother transition into this new period of your life and ultimately help make for a happier household!

-Dr. Erica Miller