Note: This article was scheduled for today’s publication months ago, well before the world turned upside down with the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike ever before, it’s nearly impossible not to feel the weight of stress and worry bearing down. If you’re like me, there was always “enough” worry to contend with before the pandemic erupted. How much harder it is today to breathe deeply and stay calm while stuck indoors, digesting the daily news and facing the unknowns of coronavirus fallout. This personal story includes wise words from a friend and from a seasoned therapist, but if needed don’t hesitate to call the CDC stress-anxiety hotline for help.
IMAGE CRED: @KatieAbey
On social media I recently posted the meme, “Didn’t get much sleep last night but I did get a few solid hours of anxiety in,” followed by a trail of laugh-cry emojis. Many responded, piling on with a lot of LOLs and high-fives, much as I’d encouraged.
But truthfully, I wasn’t laughing on the inside. Worry wasn’t just waking me at night. Its presence was coloring my mood and clouding my judgment about what to say and how to say it. My worry was more than my problem — it was seeping into my family life and poisoning the air. It started innocently enough when my first child was born and intensified as my second appeared.
Read in full on AARP The Girlfriend.
With all the confrontation and strife around us, who doesn’t wish for a more peaceful world? I’ve watched people become embroiled in polarizing issues and hope that they’re paying attention to the sphere of influence where they are in control. As one concerned parent, I’ve decided to look first into the place where I can directly stir-up peace: my own home. Here are some straightforward tips to help encourage other parents in the realm where they hold significant influence.
Resist yelling around the house, no matter the size of your home. Walk into the next room and talk face-to-face with your child.
With her characteristic transparency Lori Borgman, grandmother of eleven, syndicated columnist and author of, “I Was A Better Mother Before I Had Kids” pleads guilty to sometimes raising her voice around the home. But, she says, that though it may be momentarily expedient, in the long run, it’s “a horrible habit to develop”. So, if we mess up from time to time, don’t give in. Work intentionally—like Borgman does—to prevent this oops from morphing into a hardened habit.
“Face-to-face is always better,” Bellaire High School counselor Susan Childs told me. She continued, noting that when one person’s voice is raised, it’s reciprocated and pretty quickly, no matter the topic, the point of conversation is lost. Meredith Bodgas, mother and editor-in-chief of WorkingMother.com agrees that the message is affected by its delivery: “Get down on their level so you’re talking to them, not at them or above them. Not only will they may be more inclined to listen to what you’re saying but you’ll also be less inclined to raise your voice since you’ll be so close to their little face.”
Read in full on Houston Family Magazine.
“I’ll only pay attention to your argument and how effectively you state your case. I don’t care about spelling, grammar or punctuation,” I said. My son’s shoulders relaxed. I could sense him exhaling the tension. Friction between us over writing assignments abruptly came to a halt and I could breathe more easily, too.
My son’s weekly assignment quickly became a hit because it released him to write freely without fear of messing up. Spelling in particular had paralyzed him but now he wrote, unrestrained. I also let my son choose the topics that interested him, so long as he defended his position on the subject.
Since I gave him control over the topic, he owned his work in a new way. He felt energized and motivated. It was still an assignment, but it felt less like ‘school’ for him. In fact, it went so well that I gradually nudged him towards two, sometimes three, posts per week.
Read in full, Review, Texas Home School Coalition, pg 19.
Published by The Washington Post, On Parenting. If you want your children to have good relationships with each other, make sure you’re modeling the same with your own siblings. Kids are learning from our actions!
‘My teenage son and I left the house to walk the dog just as my phone started buzzing. “It’s Aunt Bren — I’ll call her back later,” I said, letting it go to voicemail. My son wondered how long it had been since I last spoke with my younger sister, and encouraged me to return her call that afternoon.
“Have you always been close?” he asked. I opened up and told him about our stormy relationship as kids. His fun-loving, attractive aunt was the one who got blamed for everything that went wrong. Guilty or not, she bore the brunt, and was probably punished numerous times for things I’d slyly pinned on her.’
Read in full here.
Sometimes when great plans fall apart, something just as beautiful emerges.
It’s an honor to publish again with Grown & Flown on the topic of teens and spring break~
“Our senior daughter asked to fly out-of-state for a spring break trip to visit her best friend in Indianapolis where we used to live. “With college coming, I need to say my good-byes,” she said. She planned on attending college overseas and the significance of leaving friendships behind was real. We appreciated her intentional care for the good people in her life and this particular friendship was rare. After giving it some thought, we gave our permission for her to take this trip.
Yet, I smarted with this abrupt departure from family tradition. As a tight-knit family, we’d never vacationed separately and I tingled with a bittersweet mixture of emotions. It was her last spring break before college and she wanted to do something without us. Much as I understood her desire to see her dear friend, it was enlightening that she was willing to forego a family vacation and the host of memories and inside-jokes that would invariably be added to family lore. This was a signal among others that she was readying herself to leave. At her age, I knew her desire was a healthy one, this eagerness to chart her own course.”
Read in full here. Thank you for your comments!
It’s #ReadAcrossAmericaDay and appropriately, my essay “My Daughter-Who-Doesn’t-LIke-To-Read” is up on Red Tricycle today. #books #reading #relationships #writing #motherhood #daughter
“Thumbing through an old journal, my eyes landed on a paragraph written after my daughter, then 13, emphatically announced that she did not like to read.
I felt the same raw emotion as when I first wrote the entry, though years had passed. From my earliest moments as a new mother, I’d longed for my daughter to experience the same enjoyment from reading and falling into a good book that I’d felt in my youth. I pictured us walking in tandem in our mutual appreciation for stories, unpacking plots and characters for each other as we bonded in conversation. Like opening up a secret tunnel, reading would be my path into her life just as it would be her path to healthy adulthood.
But somehow, for all my best efforts, I apparently wasn’t raising a daughter who loved to read. Yet what she had said on that day long ago in fact didn’t match her actions. Perhaps, in her floundering place somewhere between child and young adult, she had issued that statement as a challenge.
Wanna fight, mom?
Whatever the case, I was deeply grateful she felt safe enough to speak her mind.”
Read in full here. http://redtri.com/my-daughter-who-doesn-t-like-to-read/
It’s really fun to remember this trip, taken so many years ago during the early days of family adventure. Germany will always have a special place in my heart. Glad to join Today Parenting Team’s discussion on travel & kids.
“We lived in Germany as a young expat couple and gave birth to our first child a mere ten days before returning to the US. Ten years passed before we could travel back to introduce our daughter to her birthplace, and show her and her seven-year-old brother our favorite haunts. I thought it promised to be a sweet walk down memory-lane.
I hoped our kids would enjoy stepping squarely into the footprints my husband and I had left years ago. Instead, they insisted on pulling us in new directions, almost as if they, first-timers in Germany, were the tour-guides. A huge dancing mess of little prints resulted, sprinkled wildly around our larger ones. I should have known the kids would insist on making their own footprints, creating original memories driven by them.”
Read in full here.
So very honored to be published on Grown & Flown today, a top-tier magazine focused on parenting kids in the 15-25-year-old range.
She was as messy as she was amazing and this combination challenged my categories. It was hard for me to see past the messes to what mattered most: my daughter…
Read my essay in full here.
I’m on pg 33 in the print version of Seattle-based ParentMap this month. The editors included a shortened version of my online essay (published last December).
I love how this turned out! My essay is newly released in Dallas Parent (and other editions of Suburban Parent), Feb 2017, pg 16. What an honor to work with Mary Ellen Caldwell and Suburban Parent Magazines.