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"Dr.  Laura....I've already given up on my New Year's Resolution to be a more peaceful mother because I've blown it over and over...and it's only the first week of the year! -- Sylvia

How are you doing at keeping your New Year's resolution? 

(a) Great!
(b) Not so great.
(c) I've given up on keeping my resolution.
(d) I gave up making resolutions a long time ago because they always fail.

If you answered anything other than (a), join the club.  Change is hard.  If it were easy, we wouldn't have invented the idea of using the new year to give us some momentum.  READ POST

Thursday, January 09, 2014 | Permalink

"The moment one commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred...Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now." - Goethe

Did you make a New Years Resolution to stop yelling?  Surveys show that's the #1 Resolution for parents everywhere.

Or maybe your resolution was to transform your relationship with your son or daughter because you know that's the first step toward your child changing. Or maybe you're working to shift the tone in your house from sniping and snotty to laughing and loving.

While we have the ability to create change at any time, there's something about the symbolic fresh start of the new year that gives us a little extra momentum. But if you're like most of us, you've had the experience of making resolutions only to give up in frustration and self-disgust within a few weeks. You may even feel like giving up already, and it's only January 8!

The truth is, most new year's resolutions fail. Not because we're not good enough, or we don't try hard enough. But because what we're trying to do is HARD. And often we don't know how to support ourselves with a step-by-step plan, or we don’t revise our plan to accommodate reality when we hit a wall. Or maybe we never really commit ourselves aloud and in public, so our resolution never gets the chance to grow roots, much less flower.

So resolutions are not enough. Habits are hard to break, and resolutions by themselves are a wish without a plan.  Intention by itself is a great beginning, but it's only the first step of the journey.

But there are a few lucky folks who actually make their New Year's resolutions come true.  What can we learn from them?  READ POST

Wednesday, January 08, 2014 | Permalink

Years ago, I read a book that Dr. Dan Siegel wrote with Mary Hartzell, which is called Parenting from the Inside Out: How a Deeper Self-Understanding Can Help You Raise Children Who Thrive. I became an instant fan, and still constantly recommend this book. Since then, I can't wait to read each of Dr. Siegel's books as soon as they come out.

So I'm excited that today's the launch of Dr. Siegel's new book: Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain And I'm delighted to be able to give you a gift from Dan Siegel himself -- An audio interview in which he talks about the brain. In fact, he was gracious enough to let me interview him twice -- once about teens, and once about emotion in younger children. So you get to take your pick between these two audios -- or, I suspect, you'll want to listen to both!  READ POST

Tuesday, January 07, 2014 | Permalink

"Dr. Laura....My new year's resolution is to be more patient. But when I told my family, they reminded me that I made the same resolution last year. I feel like a failure, even though I know I've become a better mother over the past year." -- Christina

If you make the same resolution every year, join the club. That doesn't mean you're a failure. It means you're headed in the right direction, and you aren't perfect yet. (Shocking, I know!)

The bad news is, you won't be perfect this year either. The good news is, you don't have to be! Kids don't need perfection from parents. What they need is a parent who accepts them with all their imperfections, models compassion and respect, and apologizes and reconnects when things go wrong -- as they inevitably do.

This is tough work, because it's about regulating ourselves. That's why resolving to be more patient rarely works.  By the time we're gritting our teeth to stay "patient" we're already sliding into the stress response of fight, flight or freeze.

But if you want to become a more patient parent – and a happier person – it’s completely possible.  Here are 5 Resolutions to support you in that goal. Practicing these is the work of a lifetime, so you still won't be perfect in a year -- in fact, you might make these same resolutions next year! But I guarantee you'll be a more peaceful parent, with a happier, more cooperative child.  READ POST

Wednesday, January 01, 2014 | Permalink

“We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives, not looking for flaws, but for potential.” - Ellen Goodman

In the United States, New Years is not really a family holiday.  Too often it's an adults-only event, more focused on alcohol than reflection, no deeper than watching TV waiting for the ball to drop.

But kids are actually fascinated by the passage of time, which seems magical to them. They LOVE the idea of a new year, a fresh start, a celebration of life.  And every family deserves the regular opportunity to pause and consider their life.  Why not celebrate the new year by connecting with your family about the meaning of life?

Some ideas to give your kids both roots and wings as they head into the new year:  READ POST

Tuesday, December 31, 2013 | Permalink

"In fact we often don’t feel the wonder and beauty because we're too busy trying to live up to the ideal in our head....The cost of perfection is that it stresses us out to the point where we no longer enjoy the moment we're living in." - Pastor Jon

Most of us aspire to give our kids a fairy-tale holiday. We have a secret fantasy that this will make up for all of our imperfections as a parent.

And there's an even deeper fantasy driving most of us at this time of year. On some level, we hope that giving our child a perfect holiday will somehow repair everything that wasn't perfect in our own childhoods.

Like most unconscious needs, this one fuels a fierce frenzy of activity that's destined to fail.   READ POST

Friday, December 20, 2013 | Permalink

"Believing in the true spirit of my December holiday, I commit myself to:
Remember those people who truly need my gifts
Express my love in more direct ways than gifts
Examine my holiday activities in the light of my deepest values
Be a peacemaker within my circle of family and friends
Rededicate myself to my spiritual growth."
- Jo Robinson & Jean Coppock Staeheli

"Love is what's in the room with you if you stop opening presents and listen." -- Bobby, age 7

If you have a deep faith and keep the rituals of your religious tradition, then you’ve probably given a lot of thought to your child’s spiritual development and have your holiday religious plans all mapped out.

If, on the other hand, you wonder how to put what you believe into words and aren’t sure what spiritual beliefs you want to pass on to your kids, this post is for you.  READ POST

Wednesday, December 18, 2013 | Permalink