Parenting & The Guilt Trap: The Side-Effects of Picky Eating

Parenting & The Guilt Trap-The Side Effects of Picky Eating; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #parenting #pickyeating #motherhood #radio

Parenting & The Guilt Trap-The Side Effects of Picky Eating; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #parenting #pickyeating #motherhood #radioDo you have a picky eater? Or a child who just won’t seem to eat what you’d like him to? Do you ever feel guilty, stressed, or fearful about your child’s eating and nutrition habits?

After talking about “Help for Picky Eaters (and the Moms Who Love Them),” on this week’s Motherhood radio show, with Jenny McGlothlin, MS, SLP, co-author of Helping Your Child with Extreme Picky Eating, I invited her to do a guest post to help us better understand, as mothers, fathers, and parents, what we can do to help our children eat healthier and help ourselves let go of the guilt.

Jenny has dozens of excellent tips and suggestions to help us help our children to eat in healthy, happy ways, and it all starts with us. So, check out Jenny’s article, below, and give yourself permission to “ditch the parenting guilt!”

 

Listen to “Help for Picky Eaters (And the Moms Who Love Them)” on Motherhood, www.WebTalkRadio.net,

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The Guilt Trap: The Side-Effects of Picky Eating

Guest Post by: Jenny McGlothlin, MS, SLP

 

Stress. Fear. Anxiety. Guilt.

 

Any of these sound familiar? If you are the parent of a picky eater, you probably experience some or all of these emotions each day.  Meals keep on happening, and your child must be fed, so there is no rest for the weary. If your child has extreme picky eating, your life may feel like one big guilt- and worry-fest.

 

Why so much guilt?

For one thing, our society has become an incubator for comparison. From social media to online forums, parents are more than willing to judge and give advice based on their own experiences with their kids. But it doesn’t stop there. Family doctors, teachers, family members, and good friends all seem to have an opinion about what children should eat and what tricks will get them eat. It even begins before you have a baby- the decision to breast or bottle feed is a personal choice that somehow ends up being everyone’s business.

 

All of this guilt can be devastating to our self-concept as parents.

 

One scenario looks like this: a 9-month old infant has trouble transitioning to pureed foods, gagging on each bite, so her mom decides she needs to really make presenting the purees a priority so she can “get used to it”.  She is worried about her daughter’s intake because her growth has been slow over the last two months. Mom pressures and begins forcing the spoon into her daughter’s mouth, and within a few days, the baby has begun refusing food altogether, and even starts fussing when presented with the bottle. When she asks the doctor about it, he advises to “get it in her however you can” because “she needs to gain weight or we will have to do something drastic”. The fear and worry have now been intensified and Mom feels like a failure, but hasn’t gotten any actual help.

 

Fear and worry feed feelings of guilt.

One of the biggest jobs we have as parents when our children are infants is to feed them- we Helping Your Child with Extreme Picky Eating, on Amazon.comliterally have to keep them alive.  What a huge responsibility! So when feeding doesn’t go well for a variety of reasons (many having everything to do with the unique traits the baby brings to the relationship), it is natural to blame ourselves.  And others are more than ready to do it for us. Finding ways to channel those feelings into productive change is the key to becoming a competent and confident feeding partner for your child. (Tips for overcoming Fear: “Fear Does Not Prevent BAD, It Prevents Good here. Tips for overcoming Worry: Be Worry-Free with The Worry Tree'”)

 

Creating a supportive and peaceful environment where your child can learn the skills for eating for a lifetime (because isn’t eating a life skill?) can be done. Easing your anxiety (and guilt) about your child’s eating habits starts with understanding where they are coming from. Children are learning every day, and our job as parents is to provide opportunities to learn. Following the Division of Responsibility in feeding provides a framework within which parents can move from ‘getting’ their child to eat to ‘letting’ them learn at their own pace.

 

Seeing your child grow and learn to eat a variety of foods will ease those feelings of guilt and worry. But in the meantime, if things aren’t going as well as you’d like, consider approaching feeding differently. There is much advice out there about feeding your children, but often the advice is difficult to put into practice and can make you (and your child) feel even worse. Our STEPS+ approach strategically walks you through the journey, guiding you when you feel lost and empowering you to take control of the areas you can to support your child and let go of the guilt.

 

And when we feel like we are able to do something—and it actually helps—we can move forward and be the best parents we are able to be, guilt-free.

 

~Learn more about Jenny, her work, and her book, Helping Your Child with Extreme Picky Eating, on her website, extremepickyeating.com

 

 

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Link for this episode: Help for Picky Eaters (and the Moms who Love Them)

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Parenting & The Guilt Trap-The Side Effects of Picky Eating; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #parenting #pickyeating #motherhood #radio

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“Old School Parenting” on “Motherhood” Radio: Values, Discipline, & Authoritative Style for Modern-Day Families

Old School Parenting on "Motherhood" Radio: Values, Discipline, & Authoritative Style for Modern-Day Families; www.DrchristinaHibbert.com #parenting #motherhood #books #skills

Old School Parenting on "Motherhood" Radio: Values, Discipline, & Authoritative Style for Modern-Day Families; www.DrchristinaHibbert.com #parenting #motherhood #books #skillsThis week, I had an intriguing discussion on my new radio show, Motherhood, with Dr. Michael Mascolo, professor and author of 8 Keys to Old School Parenting for Modern Day Families. One hour was definitely not enough time for us to discuss all we wanted to on this topic!

 

As a mom of six, four of whom are teenagers, I was excited to read Mike’s book and even more excited to bounce ideas off each other on what “old school parenting” means and how we can spice it up for our modern day needs. A few things stood out from our conversation that I wanted to share with you. I hope these will spark a few new, or old school, parenting ideas and strategies that will help your modern-day family!

 

Listen to the full episode of Motherhood: “Old School Parenting for the Modern Day” on demand now, or download the podcast at www.WebTalkRadio.com/internet-talk-radio/motherhood/!

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Old School Parenting for the Modern Day

1) Modern-day parenting tends to focus on a “child-centered” approach, which isn’t necessarily the best method.

I agree with Dr. Mascolo on this one. Though it started with good intentions, child-centered parenting puts the child’s values and wishes at the center, making the child the head of decision-making. Initially created as a backlash against the old ways of “adult-centered,” “My way or the highway” parenting, child-centered parenting has left children without the direction and values they desperately need. While we may want to foster creativity, individuality, confidence, and initiative, there are other, more effective ways to do this. Putting children at the center of parenting decisions may not be the best approach.

 

 

2) There are actually three well-known parenting styles, and the best approach lies in the middle—authoritative.

Family and parenting experts have long identified three styles of parenting: 1) Authoritarian—high direction and low warmth/support (“I’m the boss. Do what I say,” or adult-centered parenting), 2) Permissive—low direction and high warmth/support (“I love and trust you. You can do whatever you want,” or child-centered parenting), and 3) Authoritative—high direction and high warmth/support (“I have high expectations for you, and encourage you to set high standards for yourself. I will do all I can to help you achieve them.”)

Authoritative parenting has long been shown to be the most effective parenting style, helping children gain confidence and feel loved and supported while also holding them to high standards and values and directing them in how to live up to them.

 

 

3) We are responsible for teaching our children morals and values, and we must model and start the conversation about these—today.

Unfortunately, in today’s world, it’s become almost taboo to talk about morals and values. Yet, we can from "Old School Parenting on 'Motherhood' Radio-Values, Discipline, & Authoritative Style for the modern Day" www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #parenting #quotes #education #valuesrespect one another’s differences while still teaching and expecting our children (and ourselves) to live up to high moral values. Values like kindness, goodness, virtue, compassion, contribution, peace, spirituality, and so forth, encourage our children to become the best they can be and to help make this world better.

One of the best ways to teach children morals and values is to live them ourselves. Ask yourself:

  • Am I modeling for my child/ren the things I want them to embrace and become?
  • Do I talk about/discuss these things regularly with them?
  • Do they know which values I value most?

If not, isn’t it time to start the conversation? It’s never too late to begin.

 

 

4) We can also, and should also, help children discover who they would like to be.

Sure, we can watch and help them identify the traits, talents, and possibilities for their future, but what about asking them what they think? This was a point Dr. Mascolo brought up in our interview, and it really struck me. It made me wonder if I had truly taken the time to ask and listen to what my kids feel about this.  You and I can both start now, and ask our child/ren:

  • “Who would you like to become?” “How would you like to be in this world?”
  • “What does it mean to you to be a good self?”
  • “What does it mean to you to be a good person?”

 

 

5) “We’re in the business of making children care. That’s what we do.”

A direct quote from Dr. Mascolo, from our interview, and one that I love. Yes! We show them, “Like this. Don’t like that. Do this. Don’t do that,” and it’s okay! It’s not only okay to show our children what to like, do, and care about, it’s our primary responsibility as parents to show them the way. As Plato said, “Education is teaching our children to desire the right things.” Yes! If we don’t show our children what is right, then who will? It’s our job. It’s one of the best ways we can love our children–guiding them, directing them, showing them the light. Then, we teach them self-discipline and motivation so they will choose to follow it.

 

 

6) Understand the difference between punishment and discipline.

Discipline teaches something. It’s about helping the child learn to ultimately discipline him/herself. It’s "8 Keys to Old School Parenting for Modern Day Families" on "Motherhood" radio, w/ Dr. Christina Hibbert; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #parenting #motherhood #books #skillsabout instilling self-discipline in the child, about creating motivation in the child to follow what’s right and good on their own.

Punishment, on the other hand, focuses on instilling a negative consequence to discourage unwanted behavior. Dr. Mascolo is not a fan of punishment and states that it only works when 1) the punisher is around, and 2) the punishment is severe enough.

I still believe in helping children face consequences, and Dr. Mascolo does, too, in some situations. Often, kids need a good old consequence to help them learn from their mistakes. Additionally, I do agree that our main focus should be on teaching our children through discipline. This means that we don’t go too easy on our kids, but also that we seek ways to motivate them toward good behavior, versus punishing them out of bad behavior.

 

 

7) This model, “Authoritative Discipline in 5 Easy Steps,” is a helpful way to know how to discipline our kids in ways that promote learning, motivation, and self-discipline.

Dr. Mascolo outlines 5 Steps that can be helpful in healthy discipline, in his book (from key 3):

  1) Stop the unwanted behavior. (Stop walking away from me when I call you to dinner.)

2) Acknowledge the child’s feeling/interest (I know you don’t want to eat with us because you don’t like the dinner and you’d rather stay in your room.)

3) State what they did wrong or the rule the child violated. (The rule is that we eat dinner together, even if you don’t love what I make for dinner, and especially that you do not ignore me when I call you to eat.)

4) Provide “interest-relevant consequences,” as needed. (If you continue to ignore me, then you will have to sit on the porch until you’re ready to come and sit with us.)

5) Provide an alternative response. (When you’re ready to treat me with respect and come to the table,   you may join us, and I’ll help you find some food you like from the choices I’ve provided for dinner tonight.)

 

 

8) One of my very favorite things from this book is the following statement, which in my opinion, summarizes all of this up. I’m actually planning to sit my older kids down and read this to them; it applies so perfectly to where I currently am in my parenting journey!

“I am your parent. I’m not your friend, your colleague, your maid, or your chauffeur. You are not my      equal. I am responsible for your safety and development. I am here to teach you how to be successful in the world. Why is this? For one thing, I brought you into this world…For another, I love you and don’t want anything bad to happen to you. But more important, it’s because—right now, and for the most important things—I know more than you do. I know things you need to know to be successful in the world. And I have a better understanding of what’s good for you than you do…I’m going to make mistakes, but when I do, they will be honest mistakes, mistakes I’ve made because I did what was right for you in the moment…However, know this: If you fail to do the right thing, you’re going to find me right there, showing you the way until you can get it right…You are my son or daughter and you’re stuck with me…I’m here to help you get what you want out of life, but to help you to do it in the right way…Why? Because I am your parent. I’m not your friend, your playmate, your maid or your chauffeur…” (page 3)

 

Old school or not, that’s my idea of courageous, valiant, loving, modern parenting.

 

 

 

~For more on these and the other “8 Keys to Old School Parenting for Modern Day Families,” check out Dr. Michael Mascolo’s book, on Amazon or Norton.com!

 

 

What do you think about adult-centered, child-centered, and authoritative parenting styles? What are your thoughts on these “old school for modern day” parenting ideas? How do you feel it’s best to discipline children? What strategies feel most successful for you? Leave your opinions and suggestions below, in the comments!

 

 

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Postpartum Psychosis + Mental Health Stigma= 40 Years in Prison: It’s time to speak up!

Postpartum Psychosis + Mental Health Stigma= 40 Years in Prison; It's time to speak up! www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #ppd #MH #stigma

Postpartum Psychosis + Mental Health Stigma= 40 Years in Prison; It's time to speak up! www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #ppd #MH #stigma“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world…would do this, it would change the earth.

~William Faulkner

I’ve been working as the expert evaluator on a postpartum case for over five years. Because the case is still active, and because I’m still the expert witness, I’ve had to keep silent about it all this time. But, I can keep silent no longer. Her attorneys and advocates and I all feel the same: we must speak up. Something must be done. (Though I have permission from the client to use her name, at the advice of her attorneys I refrain from doing so, because I don’t want to endanger her case in any way.)

 

2001…

This woman, at 23 years of age, was sentenced to 40 years without parole for child abuse. After evaluating her case these past years, it is clear to me she was suffering from significant postpartum mental illness at the time, including postpartum posttraumatic stress disorder (as a result of a horrific childbirth experience), postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder, postpartum depression, and eventually and most prominently, postpartum psychosis.

The baby recovered from her injuries and was adopted away into another family after this woman’s parental rights were severed. She could never have children again, thanks to the emergency hysterectomy she’d endured while passed out from blood loss during childbirth, and thus, another punishment was inflicted—sentenced to a childless life.

She was never evaluated for postpartum mental illness in her initial trial. In fact, she was hardly evaluated for any mental illness at all; it certainly wasn’t mentioned at her trial, even though the judge stated that clearly she had to be mentally ill to do what she had done. Because it was considered a “child abuse” case, the stigma was strong. She was an “abuser,” and seen as a criminal. The prosecutor threw the book at her. The judges’ hands were tied. Even though he stated his vehement disagreement with the sentence, by law, he had to impose it—four back to back sentences of 10 years, or 40 years total.

 

2014…

Now, after serving thirteen years in the state prison system, and with the help of dedicated advocates, attorneys, and experts who are working pro bono, she was finally given the opportunity to seek “clemency,” or a commutation of her current ten-year sentence. Each sentence would have to receive clemency, so this was really only seeking her release for the last six years of this sentence (with two more 10-year sentences to follow for which clemency would have to be reevaluated).

Last Monday, we finally had the hearing. The room was full of attorneys, advocates, family, friends, and we were there for six hours. I was grilled on my findings, report, and expertise on postpartum mental illness (something I am very confident about). We were also all grilled on multiple small details that seemed insignificant to us, but on which they seemed stuck. I could see their ignorance about mental illness, though I did my best to educate them. I could feel the stigma speaking louder than any of us, shouting even.

In the end, judgment was swift and harsh. Clemency was denied.

 

After…

I left feeling beaten up. Exhausted. Depleted. I drove the two hours back home in silence, going over everything and praying for a way to let it go. In the back of my mind was the sense that this was one of those life-changing days, the kind of day you don’t forget. The kind of day that forces you to change.

It somehow reminded me of my sister’s death; a result of depression and alcoholism, she ultimately died by her Postpartum Psychosis + Mental Health Stigma =40 Years in Prison; It's time to speak up! www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #MH #stigma #ppdown hand, an overdose of alcohol and acetaminophen. She was too drunk to know what she was doing. It reminded me of my close friend’s suicide, only five months ago, also a result mental illness—depression and intense anxiety. It reminded me of the great stigma attached to suicide and to the mental illnesses that led them there.

It made me think of my oldest son, away at college on his own for the first time, and the loss I’ve been feeling since he left. It made me think of my five other children at home, especially my daughter, who’s only slightly younger than this woman’s daughter would be now. It made me grateful for parents who raised me with safety and opportunities and education—who didn’t expose me to trauma, but sheltered me from it. It made me want to crawl into my husband’s arms the second I returned home and let him hold me. It reminded me what a blessed gift it is to have freedom and family and love.

 

And, it made my heart break. I kept picturing her, alone in her cell, feeling like this was all her fault. It made me feel guilty I could just drive back home and be with my family. She couldn’t do that. Why should I be able to? She’d been present at the hearing, via teleconference, and we could see her trying to be strong (she couldn’t see us) as the board interrogated her with question after painful question. She was definitely feeling broken at the time, and I could only imagine how broken she was feeling now.

How could this happen again? I kept asking myself. How could any one person be so misunderstood, mistreated her whole life, and flat-out discarded so many times? How does she carry on after all these blows? She’s made of stronger stuff than I; she must be. I don’t think I could survive all she’s been through.

 

It’s not that what she did wasn’t wrong. No one was saying that—least of all the woman herself. She even said she felt she deserved 40 years for a long time, like she was willing to trade her life for her baby’s survival. She had told me many times she was grateful she had been arrested. Fate had intervened and stopped the hurt and pain for her baby; even if it meant she would have to suffer in prison, at least her baby would survive.

No, it’s not that it wasn’t wrong. And it’s not even that she was trying to give an “excuse” for what she did. It’s that we were all trying to help the courts and judges and boards, and whomever is in a position to do something, to understand that there was a reason she did what she did: extreme mental illness. There is a clear, explanatory reason—posptartum psychosis.

 

Postpartum Psychosis

Postpartum psychosis is a potentially life-threatening illness affecting about 1-2 of every 1,000 births, in which a mother becomes detached from rational thinking, in which she experiences hallucinations (hearing or seeing things), delusions (false beliefs), extreme agitation, inability to concentrate, and waxing and waning episodes of feeling like “I wasn’t myself.” Like, “someone else took over,” as many women describe it. Not all mothers with postpartum psychosis harm their babies or themselves, but 11% do, making it essential these women are immediately hospitalized and put on antipsychotic medications to bring them back to reality.

Yes, this is what this woman, this friend of mine (as she has become over the years), was experiencing all those years ago. And to punish someone with, essentially, a life sentence for suffering such trauma at the hands of postpartum psychosis is a tragedy. It is appalling.

 

Today…

I get it if we fail a soul one time. There was little education and understanding back then, and clearly no one understood what was really happening at the time. One time, maybe, though even that is a tragedy and can wreck a life.

But to fail a soul time after time, despite the education and understanding now available, to have a recognized top expert in postpartum mental health standing right in front of you, explaining every detail as clearly as humanly possible and yet to dismiss that expert’s years of work and data and clinical expertise in favor of one’s own opinions; to say, “While I highly respect the good doctor, and even commend her on her excellent report and work,” to state, “I agree 40 years is a very long time,” and then to state, “but…” and recount one’s own preconceived judgments with blatant disregard for all that was said those past 6 hours, and to ultimately “deny” the clemency, is a tragedy. And it fires me up. It fires me to speak up.

 

Right now…

We must not sit idly by as injustices abound around us. We have a voice, and we must use it. Especially those who have experienced mental illness, suicide, pregnancy/postpartum depression, anxiety, OCD, psychosis, etc., first- or even second-hand—we must share our stories. We must advocate for those who no longer have a voice. We must love greatly.

And perhaps, some blessed day, this world will open, and understanding will be the norm, and compassion will be our language, and we will hold off judgment so we may instead exercise that great love.

This is my hope, and my prayer, and my life’s work. In honor of this dear woman whom we have failed again, may we speak up now so perhaps next time, we, she, and those like her, will succeed.

 

 

 

Has your life ever been touched by mental illness, suicide, or the stigma that covers these things? If so, I’d love to hear your experiences and insights. If not, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Let’s speak up, everybody! It’s more than time. 

Please leave a comment, below.

 
 

#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
Be sure to check out Dr. Hibbert’s Award-Winning memoir, This is How We Grow!
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Parenting, Loss, & Letting Go as Children (& You) Grow; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

Parenting, Loss, & Letting Go as Children (& You) Grow; www.DrChristinaHibbert.comMy oldest child is now officially away at college. After weeks of buying supplies, packing, and trying to teach him all the last minute lessons I could think of, we unpacked his dorm room, I squeezed him tightly, and then I got in the car and drove four hours back home, bawling the whole way.

 

I’d heard of moms who cried when dropping their “babies” at college, but honestly, I never thought that would be me. I’d mentally prepared for months, after all—envisioning what it would be like, and reminding myself often that time is short and to soak it all up when I had the chance. And I was mentally prepared. Though more exhausting than I could have realized, it was smooth sailing getting everything ready for him to go—until I drove away and the emotions took over. Yes, though mentally prepared, I was definitely not emotionally prepared.

 

And how can we be, really? How can we be emotionally prepared for the many times we’re called upon as parents to let them go? We can’t really even know what to be prepared for until we’re there, in the moment, feeling it, like I was last weekend.

 

 

Parenting, Loss, & Letting Go

Now, as I write this, it’s been 5 days, and though I’ve finally stopped crying, it’s taken some time to figure out what I was actually feeling about my son leaving home. I’ve discovered a few important things, and I believe they apply to all the times of parenting loss—letting go when they wean from breastfeeding, when they start preschool or Kindergarten, when they move on to high school and start distancing themselves as teens, when they leave home, get married, and yes, when they have babies of their own. These are all exciting transitions. AND they’re loss. And loss is hard.

 

 

10 Lessons on Letting Go as Children (& We) Grow

I don’t have it all figured out yet. Heck, I’m still not even through this letting go experience. But I have learned some valuable lessons I hope will help you through your times of parenting loss and letting go, too:

 

 

Lesson 1: Seek support, because truly, you’re not alone.Parenting, Loss, & Letting Go as Children (& We) Grow; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

I posted this picture (right) on Facebook two hours into my drive home—because I felt like a crazy woman, literally sobbing while listening to heart-wrenching songs like Jason Mraz’s version of “It’s so Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday,” and the killer, Taylor Swift’s “Never Grow Up.” It felt like it used to after a tough breakup, but this was just my son moving on, doing what he should be doing, and I felt happy and excited for him. So, why all the tears? Really, I was posting this photo because I wanted support. I wanted to know I wasn’t the only one who cried like a baby all the way home (and yes, pretty much all weekend, too.)

 

 

Lesson 2: Give yourself time and space to figure out what this life transition or loss means to you.

By the morning after the drop-off, however, I no longer wanted to hear any of the very sweet and considerate comments on my Facebook post. It was starting to feel like everyone was telling me how I should feel, but I still had no idea what I was really even feeling yet. The most common comment, “I know exactly how you feel,” while comforting at first, started making me think, “Really? Well, if you know how I feel, then maybe you can tell me what I’m feeling, because I have no clue!” Other comments just missed the mark for me: “This is good for him, so don’t be sad,” for instance. I wasn’t sad, exactly, and I didn’t even feel like I missed him yet. I thought, “Yes. I know! I’m actually happy for him, but I’m still crying!” And some very sweet friends encouraged, “Now you’ll have more time for your work that you love!” “Uh…” I wanted to remind everyone, “I still have five kids at home!” I couldn’t go with what this meant for anyone else. I had to figure it out for myself.

 

 

Lesson 3: FEEL what you feel.

This was one of my strangest experiences, because I had no thoughts about what I was feeling. Just pure emotion. When I tried to think about and figure out what I was feeling, my mind was a complete blank! I wasn’t thinking, “I miss my son,” or even “I’m so worried,” or really anything. I can’t recall a time in my life when I felt such an outpouring of emotion with no thoughts attached. That led me to realize I just need to FEEL, which, in my book, means Freely Experience Emotion with Love. That’s exactly what I’ve been trying to do. (More on how to FEEL here.)

 

 

Lesson 4: You’re experiencing loss, and that means you need to grieve.

I eventually identified what I was feeling as “loss.” I’ve had a lot of experience with loss and grief, and this felt very similar. A friend asked, “Does it feel like heartache?” (which, I must say was a very helpful question since she wasn’t telling me what to feel but rather trying to understand what I was feeling). Yes, it has felt like heartache and loss and grief and some sadness, but again, none of these feelings were related to any thoughts. It was like my body had just reached a marathon finish line and it was exhausted and pouring out emotion. It has mostly felt like loss, and I know that all loss must be grieved. (More on “How to Grieve,” here.)

 

 

Lesson 5: Letting go as kids grow is all about change, and change is hard, even when it’s positive change.

First day of school for my middle/high schoolers. They're getting so big so fast!

First day of school for my middle/high schoolers. They’re getting so big so fast!

I’ve come to realize, for me, this is all about change. It’s a major life transition—not only for my son, but for me and for our family. Things are changing, and they’ll never be the same again. Yes, he’ll come home, but not like before. Even having “only 5 kids” feels strange, and they are feeling it, too, praying for their brother and missing him already. My next son is a senior, so he’s leaving in a year, and it’s just going to keep coming. Though I welcome the future and I really do love and encourage personal growth (which this is) for my kids and for me—growing and changing is hard, and yes, can even be painful. Change is hard, even when it’s good change.

 

 

Lesson 6: Actively choose to let go.

Right after I left my son, I said a prayer as I was driving. I told my Heavenly Father, “He’s all yours now. Love him and be there for him when I cannot. I know You will. I know You love him even more than I do.” I could physically feel myself letting go, and that’s when the sobbing began. Like losing a piece of my heart, I could feel it stretching and growing me.

 

 

My baby isn't a baby anymore=More "growth" for me! First day of second grade, a few weeks ago.

My baby isn’t a baby anymore=More “growth” for me! First day of second grade, a few weeks ago.

Lesson 7: It’s good to “Live in the Paradox”—to feel the positive emotions while also feeling the hard stuff.

As I wrote in This Is How We Grow, “Human brains don’t do so well with paradoxes…When faced with two contradicting…feelings…the brain tends to feel stressed…We feel elevated joy and deepest sorrow all at the same time. This is just the way mortality is, and I have come to understand that it is okay to live in the absurd contradiction of paradox.” (p.59) These past days, I’ve been experiencing all these wonderful positive emotions—joy, excitement, and especially deep love and gratitude—all while experiencing the loss. I’ve tried to remember and feel the good stuff even while feeling the hard stuff.

 

 

Lesson 8: The hardest parts of life can help us appreciate the “normal-” and “good-hard” parts—like letting kids go as they grow.

My family has definitely known the “bad-hard” stuff—like death and suicide, traumatic loss and pain. I know better than to take for granted the “normal- hard” stuff, like teenaged pushing back or parenting troubles, and the “good- hard” stuff, like kids growing up and moving on. In fact, that has been my prayer this summer, that we would have a break from the hardest stuff and get to experience the “normal-” and “good-” hard stuff instead for a while. This is an answer to my prayers, and I do not forget that, even through my tears. I’ve also been very mindful of all the moms who will never see their babies again. Those who have had to do the ultimate letting go. It’s not lost on me that what I’m experiencing as my son goes to college is a blessing and a gift. I must never take these experiences for granted.

 

 

Lesson 9: Just because it’s not “bad-hard,” doesn’t mean it’s not real; it doesn’t mean it’s easy or in any way less meaningful than other’s losses or life transitions.

Don’t compare to what others have had to endure. Your loss is your loss, and as I said before, all loss is hard, even the “good-hard” stuff. At first, I told myself I was “ridiculous,” because this wasn’t as hard as other things I’ve been through. But that is ridiculous. Just because it’s not as hard as other experiences doesn’t mean it’s not valid. Life is hard, and we can do hard things. Honor your own experience. Feel and take it in. Some day, these memories will be a comfort to you.

 

 

Lesson 10: When we let go as they grow, it forces us to grow, too.

That’s the ultimate lesson for me at this time of my life. It’s hard to grow, but I’m doing it. Learning to let go is hard, whenever we must do it, but we work at it because we know it forces us to grow right along with our children. A later curfew here, a driver’s license there, more freedom in their own choices—we let go, and they, and we, grow. That’s what parenting, and love, and family, are all about. (Read Parenting Success: It’s More about the Parent than the Child)

 

 

Have you had to “let go” with your child(ren) lately? What did it feel like for you? What lessons have you learned about parenting, loss, and letting go as they (and you) grow? Please leave a comment, below!

#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
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“My Kids are Driving Me Crazy!” (again) Why Parenting is so darn Tough.

"My Kids are Driving Me Crazy!" (Again) Why Parenting is so Darn Tough; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #parenting #motherhood #fatherhood

"My Kids are Driving Me Crazy!" (Again) Why Parenting is so Darn Tough; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #parenting #motherhood #fatherhoodI don’t usually post this often–3 times in one week–and I don’t usually hit the keyboard furiously the second I finally get all my kids out the door. But today, I can’t help it. My heart is racing, my head is pounding, and I feel like, if I don’t write, I may just hop in the car and head to an undisclosed location for an undisclosed amount of time.

 

Why is parenting so darn tough?

Today, I lay the “psychologist” aside and speak as “the mom,” and really, just as “me.” Why is parenting so tough?? It shouldn’t always have to be tough, right? We should feel like it’s tough only sometimes?

To me, it feels like it’s always something. Maybe it’s because I have six kids. Maybe it’s because with so many, the needs just keep flowing like a never-ending river. Maybe it’s because my four oldest are all teenagers now, and that means they live in a universe in which they are the center and everyone else must fall into orbit according to their daily gravitational pull (or mood). Maybe it’s because my husband’s been out of town most days the past weeks, with another trip coming up, and I’ve been going solo for too long. Maybe it’s because, try as I may, I never seem to get a full night’s sleep (except a week ago Saturday when my husband “took charge” for a day and I actually slept for 11 hours!) The more tired I am, the more “crazy” I feel (and act). Maybe my hormones are starting to kick in again (let me check the calendar—a little over a week away? Maybe. Maybe not.)

 

My kids are driving me crazy—again!

Yes, my kids are driving me crazy–again–and it’s a cycle that seems to repeat about every six weeks or so. They get incredibly lax on things like, oh, chores, getting to bed, getting up on time, remembering to do homework or take it to school, personal hygiene, etc, etc, and I get pushed and pushed by the piling of these “little things” until I go on a rant of some sort, which makes them listen and makes me feel guilty (I really do not like getting so frustrated with my kids!). This motivates us all to regain some order in the home, to make apologies, to work a little harder. And this brings peace once again…ahhh…until we start to get too tired and too busy and too lax again, and voila! The cycle repeats.

 

It just makes me feel better to let it out…

I know I may be facing social media mockery and isolation by writing my true feelings—or rather how I truly feel today

Left the milk out, and their breakfast. And, two "forgot" their lunches this morning, again.

Left the milk out, and their breakfast. And, two “forgot” their lunches this morning, again.

—about my kids and parenting. All I ever seem to see on Facebook are posts about how great other people’s kids are. Yes, I have posted my fair share of “success moments” with my kids, too, so yes, I get it. But most days I really want to post, “I’m so proud of my six little kiddos! They stopped fighting in time to actually listen to me (the fourth time they were asked) and do their chores! How did I get so lucky? What a proud mama I am!”

I know, that’s sarcastic, and so far I’ve refrained, because I don’t believe in shaming my kids. Instead, I believe in encouraging them to do better, and today, I did just that. Instead of going on a rant, yelling about all the things they’re not doing right now, (and by yelling and rant, I mean a very long, intense talking to in which they sit perfectly still because they can see if they push even one bit my head might just explode). Instead of this, today, I tried a new approach. Ok, yes, I did “rant” a little after they left by taking pics of all the things I’d asked them to do a million times–for proof, later, if I need it. But, overall I was very impressed with my non-ranting solution.

 

“Kids!–Do This!”

Like my “Lame-o-list”—which I made when I reached a similar point of frustration with my husband and myself (yes, I

It's not pretty, and you can see from my handwriting I was working through some issues. But my "Kids! Do This!!" list is definitely effective.

It’s not pretty, and you can see from my handwriting I was working through some issues. But my “Kids! Do This!!” list is definitely effective.

expect all of us to do what we’re supposed to do—even, and especially, me). Similarly, I grabbed a colored pencil (because of course all my pens are lost—again), and in my building anxiety, began to scribble all the things my kids need to remember to do each day and each week, and all the time.

I wrote at the top, “Kids! Do this!” and underlined it twice. Yes, instead of ranting about all my kids have not done, like I would usually do, today I focused on what my kids should do. This is a great psychological and parenting principle I learned long ago: teach kids what to do instead of telling them what not to do. So, I did just that. I wrote a list of all they need to do, because, maybe they just can’t remember on their own. Maybe they just need to be reminded. A million times. Yeah, right.

Well, now, they are officially reminded, as you can see, to the right. They are reminded to change their underwear and put away the milk and do their homework before before school the next day. They are reminded to take the lunches I wake up very early each morning to make for them (because I’m nice like that), and to thank me for making them. They are reminded to turn out the lights and pick up the toys and shoes off the floor so the dog won’t chew them to bits while they’re at school (like she did to every one of her leashes and the items pictured below!). They are reminded to remember everything they need for school before they leave or they just won’t have it, and to actually

The remains of a maraca, Pinkie Pie pony, pants, packing tape, and a sleeping bag after our dog, Coco, had her fun this morning.

The remains of a maraca, Pinkie Pie pony, pants, packing tape, and a sleeping bag after our dog, Coco, had her fun this morning. This is why we pick things up, kids!

listen when their dad and I are trying to help them or give them important advice. (Seriously, why don’t kids just listen to us? It would make life—theirs and ours—so much easier, wouldn’t it?)

You get the picture.

Writing this list calmed me, and I even saw a few of my kids read the list, and behave extra respectfully to me after they did. Apparently, they can get the picture without me having to say one single ranting word. They can, instead, read my suggestions and do them—or not, but we all know what the end result of that choice will be.

 

Parenting is tough, by nature, but it makes us grow.

The hard truth is that parenting is tough, and sometimes, it’s really tough. It pushes us in ways we never expected and

This "zone" was supposed to be cleaned last night. My husband and I both asked two kids to do this three separate times. Ugh.

This “zone” was supposed to be cleaned last night. My husband and I both asked two kids to do this three separate times. Ugh.

can make us feel things, and act in ways, we never wanted.

Writing this, I feel like both a terrible parent and a great one all at once. Terrible, because I wish I could just handle the stress that is a natural part of parenting (and especially parenting six kids) without getting pushed to the edge of sanity. Great, because I am learning to handle these frustrations in more and more creative and healthy ways. Yes, parenting is tough because it forces us to grow.

In fact, I am now recalling I posted something similar to this not too long ago. Let me check… Yes, the last time I wrote about this was in my “Parenting Teens” article, 9 ½ weeks ago. So, maybe I am actually improving. If I can last almost 10 weeks in between my parenting meltdowns, I must be. Yippee!

One more time: Parenting is tough because it forces us to grow.

In my first Skype-in This is How We Grow book club, the other night, the group asked eagerly, “How are all the kids

Yes, my sons were making dorky faces on purpose, ruining an otherwise cute pic, but I still love these crazy kids. They sure do help me grow.

Yes, my sons were making dorky faces on purpose, ruining an otherwise cute pic, but I still love these crazy kids. They sure do help me grow.

doing now?” It’s the most common question I get after people read my memoir. I told them the truth—that they are great kids, trying to do the right thing and be their best, working hard to excel in life. And, they struggle. They’re going through the regular ups and downs of teen and tween years; they make mistakes, grief still hits at times, and they argue just like normal siblings. “It can be hard for us, as parents, to know how to parent each of them in the individual ways they need and not just treat them as a group whole,” I said. “But, I try to see them as individuals and give them individual attention, even while holding them accountable to the same rules and expectations. It’s tough,” I admitted.

“So, it’s just parenting. Still,” one woman wisely said.

“Yep,” I replied. “It’s just parenting. Still. Forever.” And parenting is just hard sometimes–because it forces us to grow.

There are so many moments of beauty and joy and delight as a parent, and there are all these other moments just trying to keep up and get it as right as possible. Parenting is a tough job, but when we dig in and plant ourselves, it’s the best ground to make us grow.

Here’s to growing as parents! And, may the force be with you; if you’re anything like me, you’re gonna need it!

"My Kids are Driving Me Crazy!" (again) Why Parenting is so darn Tough; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

Ok, let me have it. Do your kids ever drive you as crazy as mine seem to? How do you handle yourself when they do? What are your thoughts on the tough job of parenting and how it’s designed to make us grow? Leave a comment, below! 

#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
Be sure to check out Dr. Hibbert’s Amazon Bestseller, This is How We Grow
available now on Amazon.com!

 

 

"My Kids are Driving Me Crazy!" (Again) Why Parenting is so Darn Tough; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #parenting #motherhood #fatherhood

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Parenting Teens-Am I doing a good enough job? www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

Parenting Teens-Am I doing a good enough job? www.DrChristinaHibbert.comWe officially have four teenaged sons as of this week. We still have two younger daughters, but much of our time and energy lately has been focused on the teens. Are they making good choices? Keeping themselves out of trouble? Are they learning the skills they will need before they head out into the world? These questions are on the mind of every parent of teens, and it’s hard.

 

It’s hard because they do mess up, and they do make poor choices, and they do get into trouble. It’s hard because we don’t know for sure if they’ve learned everything they’ll need. It’s hard because it makes us wonder, “Have I been doing a good enough job as a parent?”

 

That’s what I’ve been pondering this week—“Have I been doing a good enough job?” It feels like I’m doing my best, but it can be tough to see my kids make mistakes. It can be tough to hear their criticisms and complaints. Though I know, especially for the teens, it’s kind of like their job to complain and criticize; it also gets to me. Don’t they appreciate what I do for them? Don’t they see how hard I work to ensure they become the best people they can be? Don’t they realize how tired I am and how much I deserve a break?!!

 

That’s what I yelled at them this morning. All six of them—because the younger ones, while not causing nearly as much trouble, are picking up the same habits as their older siblings. I called them together right before they left for school and yelled many things that sounded something like this…

 

“You have no clue how hard Dad and I work for you. Why do we work so hard? Because we love you! And what do we get? Whining. Complaining. Criticizing. Well, guess what? We deserve your respect! And that means you don’t talk back, and you do your chores even if we don’t ask you or force you to do them, and you obey our rules, and when you mess up and get in trouble, you suck it up and take the consequences! And you realize that you’ve got it good, and you have no privileges unless you earn them, and we decide if you’ve earned them, and you don’t criticize us! I can’t take any more criticisms! Do you want to tear me down? Because I feel torn down. It’s not my fault if you’re getting a bad grade or forgot your lunch or if you’re grounded or you didn’t wake up to your alarm. Do you want me to show you what you’re taking for granted by blaming your problems on me? Because I can stop all the cooking, cleaning, driving, money-giving, homework-helping, problem-solving, listening, hugging, and loving I do every single day, if that’s what you really want. Maybe then you’ll see how clueless you’ve all been lately! Dad and I deserve respect! Do you hear what I’m saying? Do you get it?” They nodded silently. I asked my husband to please get them out the door, and stomped into my bedroom, where I did some deep breathing and said a prayer for help!

 

I’m not proud of yelling. It always makes me feel terrible after. I work hard to control my emotions and express them in healthy ways. But sometimes I just lose it, and today was one of those times. I felt embarrassed as I came out and watched them all walk out for their day. I don’t like making them feel bad. But, as my husband said after they’d all left, hugging me, “Thank you for handling that, dear. All those things needed to be said.” They did.

 

Sometimes tough things do need to be said, especially with teenagers. We’re parents, for goodness sake! Not their friends. Parenting Teens-Am I doing a good enough job?; www.DrChristinaHibbert.comWe don’t need them to be happy with us all the time. We need them to learn from us, to obey us, to let us love them and help them and guide them so someday they can do these things for themselves. Sometimes, the best love is a firm “no,” or a tough talking to, or a hard-to-bear consequence. Because if we don’t do it, who will?

 

As I said in my rant this morning, “It is my job to raise you guys with morals and standards and to teach you how to be good people and inspire you to live up to your potential, and I take my job seriously! If you don’t like how I do my job, well, tough! I’m doing the very best I can.”

 

After writing this out and giving it some thought, I believe it’s true: I really am giving this my best. I make mistakes and mess up, but I open my eyes and learn as I go. I correct myself, and I keep on trying. I may have let my kids have it this morning, but I did so out of love. When I check in with myself on how I’m doing as a parent, I can feel that love working in me—pushing me out of bed early in the mornings, driving me all day long—working to grow me into a better person so I can be a better parent. That’s the best we can do as parents, I believe–keep checking in, correcting, and striving to do and be our best.

 

 

How do you know if you’re doing a good enough job parenting? How do you handle parenting teens? Leave a comment, below, and share your wisdom. We can use all the help we can get!

#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
Be sure to check out my bestselling memoir,
This is How We Grow, available now on Amazon.com!

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Parenting Success Skills-Inspire Kids to Grow w Family Goal-Setting (plus video); www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

No, it’s not usual for me to post three days in a row, but today I simply had to share our New Year’s tradition: family goal-setting.

I started doing New Year’s family goal-setting several years ago, hoping to teach my kids how to set goals they could achieve, and to inspire them to want to grow. Physically, kids definitely grow on their own–too quickly and too big. But emotionally, cognitively, spiritually, and socially, they, just like us, have to work on it. And, just like us, they must be taught how.

I made a short video, below, that explains it all–part of my brand new “3-Minute Parenting” YouTube series (which goes along with my 3-Minute Therapy Series). I hope you’ll take three minutes to check it out, then read the bottom paragraphs. Your kids will thank you for it. (Someday.)

 

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A few More Tips on Family Goal-Setting

The point is we can do better than just hoping our kids figure out how to “grow” on their own. We can model personal growth for them and we can teach them the skills they need to succeed.

  • Obviously, you don’t have to do family goal-setting like we do. Whatever works for your family is great. Focus on teaching your children how to improve and you really can’t go wrong.
  • Here is the form we use for our family goal-setting, in case you’d like to adapt it for your family, too: “Plan for Change”
  • Keep in mind I started this when my kids were 1-12 years old. They are now 6-17 years old, and remember, I have six kids. So, this can be adapted to work for kids of all ages. For my little ones, I would help them fill out the form and then we would pick one thing they could work on, like “sharing my toys.” I would then praise them each time I caught them working on their goal, or we used a bead jar and they could put in a bead each time they handled their goal well. When the jar was full, we would select a reward. When they made a poor choice, I could teach them coping skills. For older kids, we do goals at the beginning of each school year and again in January. It’s a great way to check in and help them grow all year long.
  • At the end of the year, we do “Hibbert Family Awards” to celebrate how each of us has grown through the year. The kids love it and I love that we get to recognize their efforts. (Even if my teens roll their eyes, they still keep their awards in their nightstands!) This 30Second video explains it all.

 

We can be the inspiration for our kids. We can show them the way. And that, to me, is the definition of parenting success.

 

How do you help your kids “choose to grow?” Share your ideas by leaving a comment, below!

Be sure to check out my bestselling memoir,

This is How We Grow, available now on Amazon.com!

 

 

Parenting Success Skills-Inspire Kids to Grow w Family Goal-Setting (plus video); www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

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Parenting Success Skills Top 10: #2 The #1 Rule of Parenting–Consistency

Parenting Success Skills Top 10-#2, The #1 Rule of Parenting--Consistency; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

If you ask me, “What is the number one rule of parenting?” I will say, “Consistency.” So, why is it #2 on my Top 10 Parenting Success Skills? Well, as I mentioned in my article, Parenting Success Skills Top 10: #1 “Do Your Own Work First,” I had to move it to number two on my parenting success skill list because if you haven’t done your own work, none of the other tips will help. Doing our own work first is the number one skill of parenting.

 

That being said, I still believe the number 1 rule of parenting is consistency.

 

Consistency–The #1 Rule of Parenting

Kids need to know what to expect. They need structure in order to thrive. And, structure and expectations only work if they’re consistent. You can’t create household rules or family laws if they are not enforced, just like we could never have safe roads if no one obeyed the traffic laws. Consistency is the key to discipline. How can we teach kids to improve behavior when the rules and consequences constantly change? It’s also important in helping kids know what to expect as far as the rules of the house, family values, and consequences go.

 

But consistency is also important in our own behavior, as parents. Kids need to be able to count on the fact that Mom won’t completely lose it if they make a simple mistake, or that Dad will be loving even if he’s too tired. That’s why it’s so important to “Do our own work first”–so we can model the behavior we desire for our kids, so we can make sure our own “issues and mistakes” don’t get in the way of our parenting skills, and so we can love our kids even better. When we are consistent in our behavior toward our kids–in how we discipline, teach, and model behavior for them–our kids will not only behave better. They’ll learn and grow more successfully too. (And so will we parents.)

 

 

What prevents consistency?
Let’s be honest. Sometimes, we feel “sorry” for our kids, and that affects our consistency. We give in, go back on our word, give up! But, most of the time, we fail to be consistent because we’re just plain worn out! It’s tiring be a mom or dad, and following through is a tough job. That’s why it’s so important to work on our methods for consistency before trouble hits—so we’ll know exactly what to do (and have the strength to do it) when the time comes.

 

 

6 Ways to be more Consistent!
Here are 6 things I have learned and used to help me be more consistent with my kids. I hope they will help you be more consistent in your parenting skills too!

 

1) Know why you’re doing what you’re doing.

It’s hard to be consistent in discipline, rules, and expectations when you don’t really know why you’re doing it, or don’t really believe in what you’re doing. Ask yourself, “Does this rule really matter to me? Why or why not?” If it doesn’t, what does matter? If it does, remind yourself of why you’re following through on it. This goes for values you want to teach too. Get in touch with what really matters to you as a parent and consistently do those things.

 

2) Learn about the principles of reinforcement.

This is an area of psychology that helps us understand how human and animal behavior becomes Parenting Success Skills Top 10-#2 The #1 Rule of Parenting--Consistency; www.DrChristinaHibbert.comconditioned. It has helped me tremendously as a parent. In very simple terms, continuous reinforcement (giving a reward or punishment every single time) is the quickest way for us to learn a behavior. Think of training a dog. If he knows he gets a treat every time he rolls over, he’s more likely to learn to do it. Kids are the same. They need continuous reinforcement if we want them to learn something new. After a while, though, spaced out rewards are more effective. This is intermittent reinforcement. Intermittent reinforcement is a great way to keep a behavior going after it has been learned. Think of a slot machine, where you’re always hoping for the big payoff! That’s intermittent reinforcement.

The thing is, these principles work for negative behavior too. If your child knows there’s a consequence every time he misbehaves, he’s more likely to stop the negative behavior. If he knows he might not really get in trouble every time he talks back, however, you’re dealing with a slot machine. He’s gonna take his chances and hope he wins big! And, get this: Being inconsistent with consequences even one time can give your child hope for the slot machine payoff, making her more likely to roll the dice with bad behavior. That’s why being consistent, especially with discipline, is so important!! Remembering these principles can be highly motivating to us parents when we’re feeling too tired to follow through.

 

3) Create household rules or family laws, write them down, and post them.

If they’re in writing, they’re much easier to enforce, helping you be more consistent. It also prevents you from having to decide what to be consistent on, because it’s already settled! We created family “laws” several years ago in a family meeting. I asked for input from all the kids, we created a list, then consolidated little rules into main “laws.” I typed and printed them, and they’ve been hanging on our fridge ever since. We’ve updated them as the kids have gotten older, but for the most part, they’ve stayed the same. If a kid breaks a “law,” I simply point to it on the fridge and say, “Sorry. You know you better,” and implement the consequence that’s right for that kid. It makes it so much easier to be consistent in my discipline and in my own behavior when I have to discipline.

 

4) Think about the consequence before you say it.

If you’re not willing to follow through with a consequence, don’t say it! The best way is to give yourself time to figure out what you’re willing to do before you speak. In our house, we try to “make the consequence benefit us” (the parents). I know I don’t usually want to ground my little kids from play dates (I want some free time!) or my teenagers from going out (they just lay around and sleep!) but I DO love extra help with housework, early bedtimes, or help babysitting siblings (more free time!). Always give it thought before you commit. Because once you say it….

 

5) Once you say it, you must do it.

That’s why #2 is so important. (If you don’t remember why, go back and re-read #2!) Saying you’re going to do something and not doing it opens up the casino for business!

 

6) When following through, try to keep the emotion out of it.

It can be tough, for sure, when kids break the rules and you have to consistently follow through. It’s actually tougher on the parent than the child, most of the time! But, doing so in a matter-of-fact way is the best. Having written rules helps take the anger, frustration, and emotion out of following through. (If it’s there, in writing, you know they know about it. Often, you don’t even have to say a word—just point to the rule and the written consequence!) Keeping your own emotions in check not only models good behavior for kids, it: 1) shows kids you mean business, 2) helps them see they’re not “bad kids” and you don’t “hate them” for what they’ve done, and, 3) teaches them this simple fact: That, in life, when we make a mistake, there are consequences. That’s just the way it is.

 

 

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.drchristinahibbert.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/square-head-shot1.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Clinical Psychologist, Mom of 6, Postpartum Couples DVD Producer, Non-Profit Founder, and expert on Parenting, Women’s Emotions, Pregnancy & Postpartum, and Grief & Loss, Dr. Christina Hibbert loves songwriting, learning, and teaching what she learns. (And trust me, she’s learning a lot about parenting, raising 4 sons and 3 daughters!)[/author_info] [/author]

 

Parenting Success Skills Top 10-#2, The #1 Rule of Parenting--Consistency; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

 

 

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Parenting Success Skills Top 10: #1 Do Your Own ‘Work’ First

Parenting Success Skills TOP 10: #1 Do Your Own 'Work' First; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

I’ve always said the number one rule of parenting is consistency. And, I still believe that’s true. But, as important as it is to be consistent, there’s one thing even more important: doing our own work first.

 

 

What does it mean to “do our own ‘work’ first?”

As every parent knows, parenting is work (and lots of it!). But, often, we focus so much on the work of making our kids behave, or improve, or be better, that we forget to do the same.

 

Until we see our own faults, strengths, mistakes, limitations, expectations, it’s always going to be a challenge to parent our kids. We won’t be able to model the things we want them to do. We won’t be able to be consistent, or practice any of the other parenting success skills we want to learn. Until we do our own work, we won’t feel successful as parents.

 

I learned this skill years ago, when my kids were little (and before I had so many). I began to see the irony in asking them to do something I wasn’t doing. It didn’t feel right to expect my kids to work on becoming their best, if I wasn’t doing the same. For example, if I don’t want my kids to complain, I’d better curb my own complaining. If I want them to follow their hearts and pursue their dreams, I’d better get pursuing; I’d better show them how. It’s great to expect great things for our kids. But, isn’t even better to model great things for them?

 

 

Why is it so important to do our own work first?

1)   Doing our own work first helps us improve. And, the more we improve, the better parents (and people) we will be. Parenting is as much about growing parents into better people as it is about helping children grow.

 

2)   Doing our work provides a model of self-improvement for our children. Do we want to discipline our kids to be better, or inspire them? Do we want them to have to figure it out on their own, or show them the way?

 

3)   Doing our work gives us understanding and insight into our own values, beliefs, and expectations, helping us be more effective as parents. For instance, it’s hard to set consistent rules, structure, and discipline when we’re not clear on our own limitations and expectations. (How many times have we said, “If you do that one more time, we’re going home!” but didn’t really mean it, so didn’t follow through?)

 

 

How do I know what my “work” is, and get working on it?Parenting Success Skills Top 10: #1 Do Your Own 'Work' First; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

I’m lucky. I’ve always believed in self-improvement, 100%. I naturally look for ways to be better, and I’m continually working on something or another. But, when it comes to parenting, I always have room to improve and often see the need to step it up. This doesn’t mean I have to feel like a “bad” parent. No. In fact, when I find something I’m doing wrong, I do my best not to judge myself, but rather to see it is a positive step in helping me be better, and therefore, in being a better parent for my kids.

 

That’s the first step in doing your own work: Be willing to see what your “work” is. If you’re not sure, ask yourself the following questions (I ask myself these all the time!):

  • What are my strengths, as a parent and personally?
  • What are my weaknesses?
  • What kinds of behaviors am I modeling for my child(ren)? (health-wise, temper-wise, character-wise, etc.)
  • Is there work I need to do, but have been putting off or been unwilling to do? If so, what is it?
  • How does putting off my own “work” affect my parenting skills, and my child(ren)?

 

Second, choose one thing to work on, and start today. We’re not seeking perfection here—just a willingness to do your own “work,” to consistently seek small improvements. Ask yourself the following:

  • Am I willing to give 5% more effort today to being the best I can be, as a parent, and as a human being?
  • How might this 5% affect my parenting skills, and my child(ren), over the course of their lifetime?
  • What is one thing I can start working on today that will improve me and help me become a better parent? (Write it down and put it somewhere you’ll see if often.)

 

It’s not as hard as we think. Even 5% more effort to do our own work first can have a magnificent parenting payoff down the road.

 

 

Disclaimer: This is not meant to make anyone feel like a “bad” parent!

In no way am I trying to lay a guilt trip on parents, or to say everything our kids do is the fault of their parents. No. I do not believe that, and that is not what I am saying. We parents certainly don’t need anything else making us feel “not good enough.”

 

Instead, I’m saying maybe we all need a little nudge to look more closely at ourselves—to improve, acknowledge our weaknesses, increase our strengths, and to show our children what personal growth and self-actualization really look like, so they will want to follow in our footsteps.

 

 

Do Your Own Work First, and Discover Parenting Success!

As long as we are honestly checking in with ourselves and working to be our best, we will be doing our best. And, that is definitely good enough. It’s not only bound to make us successful parents. It’s bound to help our kids feel a little more success in life too.

 

 

 More “Parenting Success Skills Top 10” to come!

So, check back often, SUBSCRIBE (below), and/or follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, and Don’t miss a thing!


 

 

 

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.drchristinahibbert.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/square-head-shot1.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Clinical Psychologist, Mom of 6, Postpartum Couples DVD Producer, Non-Profit Founder, and expert on Parenting, Women’s Emotions, Pregnancy & Postpartum, and Grief & Loss, Dr. Christina Hibbert loves songwriting, learning, and teaching what she learns. She’s definitely learned a LOT about parenting so far, but still has a LOT to learn![/author_info] [/author]

Parenting Success Skills TOP 10: #1 Do Your Own 'Work' First; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

 

 

Do you agree it’s important for parents to “do their work” first? If so, why? If not, why not? How does this affect our parenting and our children? What are some barriers you think prevent parents from doing our work? What “work” do you see a need to do in your own life? I’d love to hear from you, so leave a comment, below!

 

 

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In Praise of Fathers: 10 Research-Based Ways Dads Impact Kids for the Better

In Praise of Fathers-10 Research-Based Ways Dads Impact Kids for the Better; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

I specialize in working with mothers. I also happen to be a mother. But I’ve always held a deep respect for fathers. I am, of course, the daughter of a father, the daughter-in-law of a father-in-law (who died three years ago and I deeply loved), and the wife of a father—the father of my children. I’ve also worked with countless fathers—fathers supporting mothers, fathers doing it on their own, fathers who want the best for their children, who work tirelessly for their families, who nurture and love and inspire.

 

Fathers Are Important

We all know that kids need their dads—that we don’t want a society of fatherless children, that we don’t want kids to grow up feeling unloved, abandoned, and unwanted. But, most of us probably do not realize just how important a loving father is to a child’s development, choices, and overall life experience. Studies show that, without a father, children are:

  • 5 times more likely to be poor
  • At an increased risk for sexual abuse[i]
  • 2 to 3 times more likely to use drugs
  • Twice as likely to drop out of school
  • 2 to 3 times more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems
  • More than twice as likely to be incarcerated[ii][iii]

Statistics like these remind us that fathers who are present and love their children make a noticeable difference in a child’s life.

 

10 Research-Based Ways Dads Impact Kids for the Better

We need strong fathers. And strong fathers deserve our attention, encouragement, and praise. The following ten facts will show you just what I mean. According to research:

1)   A loving father is the best predictor of the level of compassion a child will develop.

It feels counterintuitive because mothers tend to teach compassion more directly than fathers. But, in fact, it’s dad who makes the difference. Kids who interact regularly with a loving father—a father who may seem “tough” on the outside yet is able to soften and show love and compassion to the child—show greater levels of compassion than children without a father.

 

2)    Having a stable father is associated with greater confidence in children.

Mothers and fathers actually compliment each other in the characteristics they teach their children. Fathers are more likely to let children branch out on their own, while mothers are the stable place for children. Fathers encourage exploration of the world, trying new things, and “getting out there,” all of which lead to greater confidence in their children. It has been said “A mother gives her child roots; a father gives his child wings.”

 

3)   Children with involved, caring fathers have better educational outcomes.

Kids with involved, nurturing fathers show better cognitive and linguistic skills and tend to have higher IQ’s too. They also seem to be more able to manage the stress of education than kids without a father.

 

4)   Kids with caring fathers tend to be more emotionally secure and stable.In Praise of Fathers: 10 Research-Based Ways Dads Impact Kids for the Better; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

Children with an involved father have half the rates of depression than those with no father. They’re more likely to feel secure exploring their surroundings, get in less trouble overall, and seem to be more socially skilled and comfortable.

 

5)   A loving father is associated with lower levels of violence and greater respect for women, in boys.

Boys without a loving male role model show increasing levels of violence and tend to act with greater hostility toward females.

 

6)   A loving father is associated with self-worth and virtue that leads to less sexualization of young girls.

Girls without a non-sexual male in the home tend toward early sexualization and promiscuity. Fathers who show true love to their daughters help protect them from seeking approval and love in sexual ways. In fact, kids with a loving father have 75% lower rates of teen pregnancy than those without.

 

7)    Fathers are associated with increased relationship success levels in children as they mature into adulthood.

It makes sense, doesn’t it? Whether or not the child’s mother and father are together, children who have invested fathers tend to have higher success rates in their own relationships as adults.

 

8)    One of the most important influences a father can have on his child is the quality of their relationship with the child’s mother.

Fathers who treat the mothers of their children with respect and deal with conflict in an adult and appropriate manner are more likely to have: a) boys who understand how to treat women and are less likely to act aggressively toward females, and b) girls who see how they should expect men to treat them and are less likely to become involved in violent or unhealthy relationships.

 

9)    Fathers are associated with greater success in children.

One study that spanned four decades found that, dads who developed an emotionally close relationship and encouraged their kids to excel had daughters who were more successful in college/careers and sons who achieved greater career status later in life.

 

10)  Kids need healthy interaction with their fathers, and Mothers tend to determine how much interaction fathers have.

Mothers are the gatekeepers to how much interaction a father may have with his children. This means we mothers need to be aware of all incredible benefits of fathers and let them be fathers! It can be tough as a mother to watch dad let your little girl go out with tangled hair and mismatched clothes, to let your little boy ride his bigwheel down a steep incline and spin in a circle at the bottom or dangle precariously from the top of the slide before speeding down (all of which my husband has done on numerous occasions). But I can tell you moms from experience: When you stand back and let dads “do their thing” you can see your children learn in a whole new way, and you just might feel in your heart how good it is for them to be pushed in a way only a father can do.

 

In Praise of Fathers

The point is: We need wonderful fathers. And there are many wonderful fathers out there. There are fathers who, at this moment, are rocking a sick child, reading, playing, and teaching them. There are fathers who are doing homework, exercising patience, and coming home a little early just to be there. There are fathers wrestling, disciplining, and doing yardwork with their children.

We need all of these fathers. Our children need them. We mothers need them. And the men who are stepping up as fathers need their fathering role too. For, fatherhood doesn’t just create better children—it creates better men.

Thank you, Fathers. For everything you do. You truly deserve praise for who you are and what you do for our children, for we women, and for the world. Happy Father’s Day!

 

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.drchristinahibbert.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/square-head-shot1.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Clinical Psychologist, Mom of 6, Postpartum Couples DVD Producer, Non-Profit Founder, and expert on Parenting, Women’s Emotions, Pregnancy & Postpartum, and Grief & Loss, Dr. Christina Hibbert loves songwriting, learning, and teaching what she learns. She loves great fathers, especially her husband, OJ, whom she considers to be one of the greatest fathers of all.[/author_info] [/author]

 

In Praise of Fathers-10 Research-Based Ways Dads Impact Kids for the Better; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

 

 

Have a father you’d like to praise? Share your thoughts on how dads impact kids (and you) for the better by leaving a comment, below!

 

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[ii] Project Fatherhood: Making a Positive Difference in the Lives of Children, retrieved 6/13/12. http://www.projectfatherhood.org

[iii]Canfield, K. The Inestimable Value of Fathering. Project Fatherhood, retrieved June 11, 2013.

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