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"I watch their softly tousled heads slumbering on their pillows, and sadness wells up in me. Have I drunk in their smiles and laughter and hugged them, or have I just checked things off my to-do list today? They're growing so quickly. One morning I may wake up and one of my girls will be getting married, and I'll worry: Have I played with them enough? Have I enjoyed the opportunity to be a part of their lives?" -- Janet Fackrell

It's part of our job description as parents to guide our kids and keep them moving through the daily routine. All too often, that means setting limits, denying requests, correcting behavior.  Sometimes we're skillful enough that our child doesn't perceive our guidance as "negative."  More often, kids give us the benefit of the doubt because all the other loving, affirming interactions create a positive balance in our relationship account.  That's why creating those positive interactions with your child matters so much.

Research shows we need at least five positive interactions to each negative interaction to maintain a healthy, happy relationship that can weather the normal conflicts and upsets of daily life. So when we're short on positive interactions, our relationship balance dips into the red. As with any bank account, we're overdrawn. That's when kids resist our guidance and develop attitude, whether they're two or twelve.

Life is busy, and you don't need one more thing for your to-do list. Instead, why not create a few daily habits that replenish your relationship account with your child? After thirty days, any action becomes a habit, so you don't have to think about it.  Here are 20 things you can start doing today to build a closer relationship with your child.  READ POST

Wednesday, March 19, 2014 | Permalink

"Dr. Laura....In your last post, you warned parents against fighting in front of our kids. But as you always say, we're not perfect, we're human! What are we supposed to do when we disagree? And isn't it good for kids to see parents work out disagreements, and make up? And isn't okay if spouses don't always agree -- we can still love each other." 

Yes, Yes, and Yes!  The nature of human relationships is that we will sometimes disagree. It's wonderful for children to see their parents model how to work out disagreements. It's important for them to know that we don't always agree, but we always love each other. Kids need to see us ask for what we need without attacking the other person. And it's critical for them to see us make up, with affection and forgiveness.

That doesn't mean it's okay to yell at each other in front of our kids. The research shows that a civil disagreement followed by working things through to a solution, and affectionately making up, can teach kids valuable lessons about working through conflicts constructively. But the research also shows that yelling always affects kids badly. Yelling is not constructive conflict resolution. It's a tantrum.

And no, it's not "authentic." What's authentic is the tears and fears under the yelling. If we could express our hurt and fear, the anger would melt away. As the Dalai Lama said, "Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible."

But since most of us can't stay as calm as the Dalai Lama, how can you handle the inevitable disagreements that come up in a relationship -- when you live with kids?  READ POST

Thursday, February 20, 2014 | Permalink

"Yesterday my husband and I had an argument at dinner time in front of the kids. My four year old daughter yelled at us to ‘Be quiet!’ …  My two year old had a tough time going to bed, which is unusual for him. Could that have had to do with mommy and daddy arguing?”

In honor of Valentines Day last week, my posts this week are about the intersection between being a parent and being a couple -- specifically, how to work through conflicts when you're in front of the kids. Next week, we'll get back to our Beyond Discipline series, with 10 Alternatives to Consequences and When Kids Just Won't Cooperate.

Conflict is part of every human relationship. If we live with children, those conflicts will sometimes come up in front of the kids. In the past, most experts reassured parents that there’s no harm in children seeing them fight, as long as the kids also see the parents make up afterwards. However, recent developments in neurological research challenge this view. Not surprisingly, it turns out that when children hear yelling, their stress hormones shoot up. In fact, even a sleeping infant registers loud, angry voices and experiences a rush of stress chemicals that takes some time to diminish.  READ POST

Tuesday, February 18, 2014 | Permalink

"You will always be your child's favorite toy."  -- Vicki Lansky

“Kids may be screaming for the latest gadget, but what they want more than anything is time with the family. Make that your biggest gift this year.” – MidnightBliss

All of us want to make our children's faces shine by gifting them with something special, especially at the holidays. Isn't that what makes dreams come true?

Unfortunately, no. In fact, those material presents are a bit like drugs -- the lift is temporary, followed by a deeper inner craving, eventually tinged with desperation.   READ POST

Tuesday, December 17, 2013 | Permalink

"Let there be times when you don't tell someone everything you know about her problem, even if your understanding of it is better than hers." - Guy Finley

"Self Esteem comes from feeling capable in the world, as well as from being loved unconditionally." - Ty and Linda Hatfield

Ever notice how kids don't really want to hear your solutions to their problems?  Teenagers, particularly, often react with downright hostility when we give them our good advice. That's because they need to see themselves as capable. Every time we tell our child how to handle something, we're implying that he isn't competent enough to figure it out for himself.  We're undermining his confidence, which erodes his self-esteem.   READ POST

Thursday, January 31, 2013 | Permalink

"Currently, a fantastic evening for me is crashing into my son’s bath with my clothes on, chasing him around the house with a diaper on my aqua blue bubble bath covered head, cooking cheap crappy pizza (side of green beans too, don’t worry), and reading Llama Llama Red Pajama to him.  Pretty much all the same stuff I did when I was single, just now I do it with my son instead of my date. I used to run around the world looking for the exact thing I now have sitting in ... my home. " -- Mark Holder

If you're like me, you have a long "To Do" list, and at the end of the day you never feel like you've accomplished enough.  This is your official reminder that your In Box will never be empty, but your children will grow up.  Sooner than you think, you will be the last person they'll want to spend time with.  READ POST

Friday, May 04, 2012 | Permalink

"Perfect love sometimes does not come until the first grandchild."- Welsh Proverb
  READ POST

Tuesday, November 08, 2011 | Permalink