Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tip of the Day: A Father's Biggest Job

"The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother."

Author Unknown

This should go without saying, but the reverse of this is true as well. If you are blessed to have a two parent household, spend at least as much time cultivating that relationship as you do working on your parenting. To a child, there is nothing more comforting than knowing that all is well between mom and dad, so don’t allow your children and your concern for them to dominate your marital relationship.

If you are divorced and find yourself co-parenting, this quote is still just as true. By treating your child’s other parent (regardless of how you feel about them) with respect and love, you are giving your child a true gift. As difficult as it may be, work your hardest to keep that relationship positive so that your child doesn’t have to shoulder your burden as well as their own.

Doing the Hokey Pokey: Life with a Teen

Have you ever had one of those moments where you wonder, is this really happening? You know, something so strange that you are sure at any minute, you are going to see the Cat in the Hat playing badminton with Hilary Clinton and you'll realize that you are dreaming. I recently had one of those moments....

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tip of the Day: War Wounds of Motherhood

"Think of stretch marks as pregnancy service stripes."

Joyce Armor, U.S. television writer

Jenny here. I wouldn't let Hal touch this one... That would just be wrong. The same kind of wrong that happens whenever men say the most ridiculous sentence they could possibly utter... "We're pregnant."

Back to the issue at hand...stretch marks. First there was the Battle of the Bulge, then D(elivery) Day. How could you NOT end up with some war wounds? Your body did an amazing thing and you should be proud of any collateral damage.

Now that you’re on the other side of the border and in the trenches for real, its time to reevaluate how you’re taking care of your equipment. Your bod is the only one you’ll get. Big or small, flab or fab, you’re doing a disservice to everyone around you if you consider it your enemy rather than your friend. Be thankful for the action you’ve seen and I guarantee you'll see the better kind of action in your future.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tip of the Day: End Game

ScreamFree Daily Tip

"If your children look up to you, you've made a success of life's biggest job."

Author Unknown

We all want our children to respect us. The difficulty is this: you can’t MAKE someone feel respect towards you. In fact, the more you try to force that respect, the smaller you become in their eyes. And it’s awfully hard to look up to small people.

So, think of this. Who do you look up to and why? I’ll bet that they are people who treated you with respect and through their actions and their integrity earned yours in return. A quiet calm in all of your actions will draw your children towards you and will enable you to access the best parts of yourself. Who won’t respect that?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Tip of the Day: The Letter After Z

The ScreamFree Tip of the Day:

"My alphabet starts with this letter called ‘yuzz’. It's the letter I use to spell yuzz-a-ma-tuzz. You'll be sort of surprised what there is to be found once you go beyond 'Z' and start poking around!"

- Dr. Seuss (1904-1991)

We live in a culture of instant answers and immediate gratification. Have a question about something? Just jump online and find an expert. Ask your Facebook friends. Tweet your followers. You’ll find many “solutions” to common issues you may be having with your kids.

But the best solutions will come from within you: a place that takes time to develop and it takes patience to mature. So, don’t get frustrated when we won’t tell you exactly what to do in a specific circumstance. The more ScreamFree you become, the more outside the box you are willing to look. Being creative takes work, but the payoff is tremendous. It keeps you from being lazy and taking your relationship with your kids for granted.

Brand Spanking New Study

This week's Time magazine features an article that bears mention. It's called The Long-Term Effects of Spanking.

Spanking is one of those topics that we get asked about quite often, but we do our best to skirt the issue. Why? It's not because we are unsure of our position or anything of that sort. Rather, it's because the discussion is so rarely productive. Strong proponents of spanking are not usually open to even hearing what science is now saying about the practice. Instead, they shake their heads at what they deem as "permissive parenting" - i.e. anything besides spanking.

So, if you are a hard core spanker and you feel good about doing it. This post isn't for you. I recognize that whatever I say or whatever evidence I present, you will not agree with me. That's your right. But, if you are on the fence about spanking, or if you've done it begrudgingly and thought to yourself - "there has to be something better" - then you might want to keep reading.

The Time article by Alice Park describes the findings from a new study conducted by researchers at Tulane University. The study followed two groups of 5 year olds. One group was spanked twice a month and the other not at all. The findings were remarkable. "The children who had been spanked were more likely than the nonspanked to be defiant, demand immediate satisfaction of their wants and needs, become frustrated easily, have temper tantrums and lash out physically against other people or animals." Just how much "more likely"?


That's 5-0.

I get the urge to spank. Trust me. The appeal is evident. It will generally stop the behavior you are bothered by. Quickly. But at what cost? Look again at the findings of that study. When we spank, we are creating the very outcomes that we are hoping to avoid.

We want our kids to be respectful. Spanking produces defiance.

We want our kids to have self control. Spanking creates a demand for immediate gratification.

We want our kids to be compassionate. Spanking causes frustration and temper tantrums.

Here's the truth. When we give up what we want most (see above) for what we want right now (our kids to behave, feel remorse, shut up) we fail. We have to work hard to remember what it is that we're doing. We are raising the next generation. We owe it to them to teach them right from wrong without resorting to the quick fix of spanking. Discipline is valuable - it is even necessary. But it doesn't have to be done with force. Face it, eventually you'll have to give up spanking anyway. Why not now?

I'd love to hear from you. What methods of discipline work for you? Let's start talking specifics and help each other out.

Tip of the Day: Your Window of Opportunity

"I was cesarean born. You can't really tell. Although whenever I leave a house, I go out through a window."

Steven Wright, U.S. comedian (1955- )

We are interesting creatures, are we not? We do strange things and if we look closely enough at our past, we can probably gain some insight as to why we do those things. But if we spend too much time trying to figure out the past, we’re missing the whole point. After all, explanations and excuses are two different things.

If you find yourself in a pattern that you don’t like with your spouse or your children, it’s fine to spend some time trying asking yourself why it’s happening. But a better question might be: Is it helpful?

If the answer is no, then take steps to change the pattern. You are in control of you, no matter what happened in your past. Period. Sure, change won’t come easy, but good things never come cheap.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Dust Has Settled

Wow. Has it been forever since I last posted or what?? I went all ostrich on this site for a while and buried my writer's brain in the new ScreamFree Marriage book. Well folks, it is finished (at least the first round of editing is) I am happy to report that Hal and I made it through the manuscript with our relationship relatively unscathed. Time to emerge with the coming of spring and get back to the fun stuff...blogging and talking to you.

We've had an eventful month or so with the highlight being our family trip to Washington, D.C. I know that in some of our articles, we say that the term "Family Vacation" is an oxymoron. I would like to go on record as officially changing MY position on that. I think there might be a small window when traveling with your kids might actually be easy and fun.

Theory: Between the ages of 9-13, kids are:
1. self-sufficient enough to feed, clothe, bathe, and amuse themselves.
2. curious about the world and interested in learning.
3. not yet loathing your very presence.

We are in the sweet spot of those years with Hannah and Brandon and we had an absolute ball with them. We stayed with wonderful friends, toured monuments, explored museums, ate loads of ice cream, and laughed until our sides hurt. All in all, it was fantastic. I actually returned from Spring Break refreshed and ready to face the world. And it's a good thing that I did, too, because awaiting me in the front yard when we pulled into it was an enormous sink hole from our septic tank. Mmmm, mmmmm, good.