One of the reasons that we are seeing anxiety and depression increase at such alarming rates is because children are so over programmed that they do not get the downtime they need. Additionally, getting kids to their additional activities adds stress to the whole family system. Parents feel a lot of pressure to provide their kids enriching opportunities, but that learning is coming at a very high cost.Read More
Joyful Musings--a weekly blog
Joyful Parenting Coaching is focused on clarity, consistency, connection, being an effective parent, finding balance as a parent, and above all being a confident and joyous parent. Topics include communication, having difficult conversations, having constructive conversations, chores, routines, family meetings, I teach parent education and parenting classes because parenting is a skill—not something we are born knowing. Get the parenting skills you need today!
Filtering by Category: Letting go
Parenting a teen is a new game! The main goal of parenting a teen is to raise an adult. That means your main parenting task between roughly 12 and 18 is to make the shift from being the captain of the ship to being the wise guide. After all, it is simply not possible to drive down the street for you child and to claim that your child is learning to drive. Before he or she can get a license, your child has to get behind the wheel and drive down the street without you in the car. Keep these three metaphors in mind in helping you be the parent of a teen.Read More
Feeling that you are the primary parent is a significant challenge that seems to fall mostly to moms— even today. Part of that is still a vestige of time when women being in the workforce was the exception not the rule. And part of it is that the role of perfect mother has so been put on a pedestal that women feel enormous pressure to be responsible for everything in their family—even when they have full responsibilities at work.
Feeling like or being the primary parent adds tremendous stress to already stressed families, and it is worth it to find more balance in taking responsibility for the running of the family and household. Read on to find out ow I support parents with that.Read More
Every once in a while I publish a guest post—either because the person’s expertise in a given area is much more sophisticated than mine or because they offer a perspective I cannot. In this blog, dad Tyler Jacobson shares how he handled it when his 13 year old daughter broke some big family rules. I especially love the understanding he shows his daughter as well as the problem solving, all while keeping her accountable for her poor choices.Read More
Are you concerned that you are a helicopter or lawn mower parent? Do you know that you are one but don’t know what to do differently? One of my favorite techniques for giving our kids some space and encouraging some independent thinking is What’s your plan for that? Instead of mapping out how our child should tackle a homework assignment or chore or even a conflict with a friend, we give the problem to them for consideration. Of course, if they are floundering too much, we step in and help with some course correction (but resist the urge to take over!)Read More
According to the National Survey of Children’s Health, anxiety among children 6-17 is steadily on the rise. Data from 2011-2012 found that 1 in 20 US children has an anxiety diagnosis. That represents a statistically significant increase since the 2003 data; and one can only imagine that were the same data taken in 2018 that there would be a further increase. The numbers only go up with adulthood: 18.1% of the over 18 population every year is found to have an anxiety disorder (This includes anxiety diagnoses like OCD and social anxiety in addition to General Anxiety Disorders, making it the most common mental illness in the U.S.). Data on whether or not rates of anxiety have increased in general in the United States are inconclusive. But from my own experience, that was one of the main reasons I made a shift from teaching kids to supporting parents, and I think my experience sheds light on what is typical.Read More
Once the shine of the new school year wears off, it is time to settle into the routine of school. Here are steps for helping your child figure out how to handle the homework the teacher’s give her. Aid her in problem solving but recognize that if you tell your child how and when to do her homework, chances are it won’t work. At this stage, it is more important to help her develop her own tools for managing her work.Read More
Have you heard the cry of,
OMG, YOU ARE SO EMBARRASSING!
Has your young teen shifted from skipping down the street holding your hand to acting as if you have the plague? Such behavior is so teen-movie, situational-sitcom cliché we almost don't fully expect it to happen to us. But if your child is developing normally and as he needs to do, he will have that moment when he acts as if you are an alien creature he has never seen before.
Your frontal cortex is fully formed: You have the big picture and long-term perspective. That makes it your job to keep calm and parent on. Repeating the mantra, This is a stage, it will pass, and it has nothing to do with me personally, it will help.Read More
Tyler Jacobson, today's guest blogger who writes about the struggle to find the balance between protecting our kids without falling into helicopter parenting, is a proud father, husband, writer and outreach specialist with experience helping parents and organizations that help troubled teen boys. Tyler has focused on helping through honest advice and humor on modern day parenting, struggles in school, the impact of social media, addiction, mental disorders, and issues facing teenagers now. Follow Tyler on Twitter | LinkedinRead More
Isn’t that the truth! Parenting gets so exponentially harder when we are in a hurry or are tired. That’s why I’m such a big believer in creating systems and routines for as much of the day as we can. When we have good systems and routines to fall back on, we can let habit lead us.Read More
11 teen suicides in 9 years. In one community. In my community.
How does that happen? Your first answer might be to blame the parents. Where were they? Didn't they know they were putting too much pressure on their son? Why didn't they do something?
But it's not that simple.
Sure, it is your job to protect your children? But are you being too over protective? And if you are, what is the cost of that to both your younger kids and to teens? And what can you do about being overprotective?Read More
Even many adults don't learn the skill of having difficult conversations effectively. Most people just want everyone else to be happy. Certainly, no one modeled for me how to stay present even when conversations got uncomfortable. It was so much easier to just give up or give in. Now, of course, there are times when going with the flow is the name of the game, but if you want your kids to learn the balance between keeping the peace and learning to advocate for themselves in a constructive way, they are going to learn that much sooner if you teach it to them explicitly.Read More
The first question to ask yourself, when considering how to keep your teen from rebelling, is what am I doing to help foster my kid’s independence and sense of autonomy?Read More
Perhaps you grew up in the days before the playdate. As you went out the back door, letting it slam behind you, you shouted over your shoulder, “Mom, I’m going out.” Her “Be back by dinner time” drifted after you. You then found someone on the streets to play with. Or perhaps you went to a neighbor’s house and called in the door to a friend. Then the negotiations began. Did you want to climb trees? Shoot hoops? Create fairy villages in the shade of the bushes? (I seem to remember that my best friend and cross-the-street neighbor and I liked to do the same things but never seemed to want to do the same thing at the same time.)Read More
Both as a teacher and as a camp counselor, I have dealt with plenty of separation anxiety in older kids.
In early elementary kids, it is still common to have a transition period as a child enters a new classroom. Even if the child was perfectly happy in the classroom next door the year before, he may spend the first couple of weeks crying in his new classroom. Intellectually, he knows he was happy the year before and will probably be happy again, but in between then and now, he has spent a lovely, long summer in the bosom of his family. For him separation anxiety is wrapped up in feeling uncomfortable with a new routine. Once he has cycled through the weekly schedule a couple of times and feels he knows his teacher, he is fine.
Separation anxiety is a normal stage for kids to go through. It starts around 6 months and usually tapers off around 2 years old. During these months a baby is first gaining the cognitive recognition that you still exist when you are not there, which means baby can now miss you when you are not there. The problem often intensifies because at the same time baby realizes that her primary source of food and comfort can leave her, she is also testing the ways in which she is an individual. That's scary! A lot of separation anxiety is about finding that fine line between growing more independent and at some level still knowing she is fully dependent on you for survival.Read More
Concern over what your child is or is not eating is a common one. And it makes sense that we are concerned about it. Our fundamental job is to keep our children alive; and eating well is fundamental to thriving.
What makes the topic of eating especially charged is that it is one of the areas where children have control. You cannot force food into a child’s mouth, and even if you do, her upset about food being forced down her throat will often cause her to throw it right back up again.Read More
"Show me a child who
knows nothing about sexuality,
and you've just introduced me
to my next victim."Read More
EXPANDING THE PARENTING CIRCLE
I LOVE THAT I AM MOM. My daughter once pointed out that she holds the special spot in my life of being the only child to grow in my womb. That does give us a bond that says I am her primary parent. I love being her primary person.
But her dad and I have been divorced since she was three, and her stepmother has been in her life almost as long (and her stepfather a few years after that). That means that while I am her primary parent, Julie has a lot of other parents. And a lot of other parent figures.
Now, that could feel threatening to me. But it’s not. Instead, it is a source of supreme comfort. Seriously. Parenting is a lot of pressure. I can think of dozens of ways—mostly small but some large, too—that I have messed up. On the other hand, I can also think of ways that Julie’s stepmom or aunts or grandmothers or good family friends have gotten it right. They have been able to provide what I wasn’t at the time Julie needed something.
The biggest example of other adults providing help where I couldn’t was when I got remarried. Because I got married in India and didn’t know I was getting married (long story!), that meant that a) the kids were not with us and b) we did not prepare the kids for our marriage in the way that I normally would have. You can imagine the guilt I have felt over that—guilt that was reinforced by how long my daughter stayed mad at me. Thank goodness Julie had my friend Leslie during this time. Julie spent lots of hours at Leslie’s (supposedly to play with Leslie’s daughter, but I know that she saw Leslie as someone who absolutely understood and who (unlike my family) didn’t take my side but just kept agreeing with Julie that having your mom remarry must be really hard).
Think of who the special adults have been in your life. Middle school is a stage where kids begin to examine the world through their own lens. Up until that point, they follow their parents’ views on things pretty closely. I was miserable in middle school. But my school librarian was a big help. She seemed to get me. She was ready to listen to me without lecturing. Even when I complained about my mother, she acknowledged my feelings but didn’t make me feel bad for feeling them. At that stage in my life, I was busy trying to pull away from my mother in order to get some space to figure out who I was. No matter how much she wanted to, she was not the person who could help me at that point. It took an outside, caring adult.
It was just lucky that I found Mrs. Anderson, the school librarian, but I also had my godmother. She was someone my parents had deliberately chosen to be an extra adult in my life. She loved me and cared deeply for me, but because I wasn’t ultimately her responsibility, she could love me exactly as I was. Unlike a parent whose job it is to civilize a child (to set expectations for him, to hold him accountable, to push him beyond what he can see for himself), a godparent’s job is mostly just to be there as a wise advisor. The godparent can give counsel, but the child has no obligation to follow it. That means the child is much more likely to listen (even if the message is pretty much what the parents have been saying al along. Whereas my godmother clucked over her own boys like a nervous mother hen, with me she could be supremely confident that “only nice things could come to such a nice girl.”
Parents can do much to extend the family circle beyond the nuclear family. Obviously, how you interact with adults around you will signal to your child how comfortable you are with particular adults as people. You can go one step farther, though, by helping your children to connect to potential caring adults. Point those people out. Guide your children when they might have an interest in common with a caring adult. Maybe you find out that a teacher at your child’s school exhibits her own art. You yourself don’t know Jackson Pollock from a Kindergarten project. By suggesting to your child that she show the artist teacher her work, you are telling your child that you honor her interest in art even if you don’t know anything about it.
Populating your child’s life with a circle of adults to love and support her is an excellent example of being the architect of your family. You don’t have to do all the heavy lifting yourself, but the design will be yours.