Joey, aged 7, pitched a fit at the grocery store when his mom wouldn’t let him have a candy bar. His mom was embarrassed and it seemed like every eye at the store was on her. She relented, and let him have the candy “just this one time”. Mary, age 15, came home one hour after curfew. Dad was furious and grounded her for two weeks. After two days, she begged and pleaded to be let out of jail. “I promise I will never be late again” she pleaded. Dad felt bad about the severity of his punishment. He relented. Bill’s bedtime was at 8:30 p.m. All games were to be shut off, teeth brushed, and in... Read More
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Children (and adults too) thrive on a recipe of 2-3 cups of “sameness” with regular pinches of “new experience” thrown in. Kids want to eat the same breakfast cereal every morning. They want to watch the same movie a hundred times. They want to go to the same playground. They want to hear the same bedtime story every night. Why?
There are many reasons for this need for predictability. But one reason is that kids are absorbing vast amounts of new knowledge and information every minute. Like sponges, they are soaking up new rules, values, norms, expectations, and social data in... Read More
My father, like most men of his generation, knew little about being a dad. As a parent in the 1950’s, he came home late on weekdays and on weekends he filled his day with chores. As a young child, when my father was holed up in his study paying bills, I would hide under his desk just be near him, secretly soaking up his company. When we did talk it was about school or activities. We had no language for feelings.
We spent so little time together that those moments, however mundane, were like a drink of water to a parched throat.
Fifty years later, men now have enough leisure... Read More
Late summer comes early to the Northwest. Those long, warmer days, lazily spent by the water, or in your yard, will soon be replaced by shorter, cooler days. The slower, more relaxed pace of summer will quicken as September comes into view.
By now, I hear children complain about the boredom of unstructured summer days. I can feel a slow, but steady build-up of energy and excitement as youngsters turn their attention toward the start of school---just a few days or weeks away.
Preparing children for school starts early. Back to school shopping sales are in high gear. The new... Read More
Kids are always pressuring their parents to watch the latest action movie or romantic comedy. “Come on mom,” they say, “everyone has seen it. It’s fine!” What will your children be viewing? How do these films influence youngsters? How will these images impact their behavior?
These new movies are often advertised with “G” rated trailers, so it’s difficult to know exactly what‘s in them. Pre-teens want to watch movies made for teens, and teens want to watch the “R” rated movies that older kids are watching. Youngsters want to be “older” and “cooler”.
Thoughtful parents are... Read More
I remember, as if it were yesterday, when my youngest daughter who was 7 years old at the time, stood in the kitchen, and pointed an accusing finger at me---“Don’t read the newspaper when I’m talking to you,” she demanded. “You’re not paying attention to what I am saying!”
I was listening. But during her short description of a Brownie meeting, my attention wandered over to the newspaper lying on the kitchen table. My ears were open, but my eyes were somewhere else. At that moment, 15% of me was listening to Naomi, 25% was reading the paper, 10% wondered when dinner would be ready,... Read More
When my oldest daughter was 3 years old, I had my first (pre)school conference. The teacher kindly explained to me that my daughter was “shy”, but otherwise was “no problem”. I was stunned! My entire parental life flashed in front of my eyes. She must be shy because we moved when she was 6 months old. Perhaps I was too strict, or maybe not strict enough? What had I done to make my daughter shy. I must have done something wrong. I was wracked with self-doubt.
After a few hours and more than a few gray hairs. I recalled that I too, was also shy. My natural shyness didn’t ruin my life... Read More
My close friend Sarah’s 28-year-old son is still living at home. He went away for college, but ended up back in his childhood room after graduation. Why? For one, he graduated in 2009, which was a terrible year for college graduates looking for work. Furthermore, he had no idea what kind of career or vocation he might pursue. Living rent free at his parent’s made sense to everyone while he figured it out. The problem—six years later he doesn’t seem any closer to knowing what he wants to do when he grows up!
Adam Davidson’s article (New York Times, June 20, 2014, “... Read More
After all of my years of practice working with kids, I’ve come to realize that there is one thing that has remained the same…children have the best insight on how adults should parent!
Recently I was reminded of the time when I decided to visit my daughter’s fourth grade class in search of parenting insight. The teacher, knowing I was a psychologist, allowed me to conduct an informal “consumer” survey. I asked the children simply, “What makes a good parent?” After all, they are the recipients of our parental services. Twenty years after my survey, their nine-year-old words of wisdom... Read More
My wife and I recently returned from a week-long trip to New York City to visit our adult daughters. They live two blocks away from each in the wilds of Brooklyn and are both doing very well in their chosen paths.
It seems like yesterday when they were young and like all parents, my wife and I worried about their future. What kind of adults would they turn out to be? Would we like them? Would they like us? Would they be happy?
Recently, a mom raised these same kind of child-rearing worries at the end of one of her visits: “Will my child have the same values as an adult... Read More