Thursday, December 26, 2013

Let's Talk About Parenting

I hope you all are having a wonderful holiday season this year and enjoying some quality time with family and friends. Here are a few interesting articles I recently found on parenting and connecting with your kids.

Reconnecting with Your Child During the Holidays
by Cindy Reed (via
Taking risks is a normal part of growing up, and worrying about the risks our children take is a normal part of parenting. The parts of the brain that govern impulse control do not fully develop until a person is almost 25 years old. So parents need to spend some time and energy evaluating where in the developmental stage the child is and communicating with the young person. The holidays are a good time for this assessment. Younger children are on winter vacation and older kids are home from college. The trick for a parent is to communicate in a natural way. The Centre for Suicide Prevention lays out four things that a parent needs in order to effectively have meaningful and important conversations. Holiday activities are a perfect way to set the stage.
Read the entire article>>

Don’t Yell at Your Children. But If You Do, Don’t Yell at Yourself.
By KJ Dell'Antonia (via Motherlode: Adventures in Parenting at
Personally, I wouldn’t yell at my children if they would just do what I’ve asked the first time, or maybe do the thing I’ve asked them to do 463 times in the past. Or if they didn’t chase one another through the kitchen at dinnertime, brandishing light sabers. Or if they got up when the alarm clock went off in the morning, or put their shoes on so we could leave the house, or moved that glass of milk, the one that’s right by your elbow and … too late.

This week’s lively online parent conversation revolves around a relatively recent study from the University of Pittsburgh in which researchers found that negative impact of “harsh verbal discipline” (defined as shouting, cursing or using insults) on adolescents could be “comparable to the effects shown over the same period of time in other studies that focused on physical discipline.”
Read the entire article>>

7 Tips for Helping Your Child Manage Stress
By Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. (via
Like adults, kids also struggle with stress. Too many commitments, conflict in their families and problems with peers are all stressors that overwhelm children.

Of course, “a certain amount of stress is normal,” said Lynn Lyons, LICSW, a psychotherapist who specializes in treating anxious families and co-author of the book Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents: 7 Ways to Stop the Worry Cycle and Raise Courageous and Independent Children with anxiety expert Reid Wilson, Ph.D. It’s normal to feel stressed about starting middle school or taking a big test, she said.

The key to helping kids manage stress is teaching them to problem-solve, plan and know when to say yes and no to activities and commitments, she said. It isn’t to “make everything smooth and comfortable.”

“If you don’t teach [your kids] how to manage stress, they will self-medicate with food, drugs and alcohol.” In other words, kids will reach for something to make them feel better right away, and usually it won’t be something healthy, she said.
Read the entire article>>

Thursday, December 19, 2013

'Tis the Season of Gift Giving

On a bitterly cold December weekday, driving to Curves, I happened to see a breathtaking vision of snowy white silhouette of Mt. Rainier highlighted by a brilliant sunrise of golds and reds. With all the stress of the holidays, the weather, and the pressing worry for the health of my best friend battling cancer, that one moment was a gift, a moment for me to be grateful to be alive. Doing the circuit at Curves, one friend told me her grandson did not attend the high school Tolo dance, cancelled because of a student’s suicide. Fifteen minutes later, another friend told me her son had donated his kidney to his childhood friend. The one, an act of despair, by definition the absence of hope; the other, an ennobling act of courage and a possibility of a future, the gift of life.

Curious Pandora of Greek mythology, opened a jar releasing all evils into the world; but the last remaining  of the daimones in the jar was Elpida, the spirit of hope. For all the ills of our world--disease, hard work, misery, and mortality that plague mankind--what is given to us to overcome our nature and fate is hope, a wish that something better will come into our life. Especially during this season of traditional gift-giving, we have opportunities daily to do small acts of kindness. Each of us can make a difference in another’s life, from the ultimate sacrifice of a part of one’s body, to the intrinsic selfless acts of taking the time to be with someone, to say a kind word or compliment a friend, family or stranger, and to exchange thoughtful, material gifts.

During this season of gift giving, I encourage you to consider the gift of life: donate blood, give non-perishables to the local food bank, plunk some change into the Salvation Army red kettle, and cull out the usable clothing and household items for charitable donations. Give the gift of time and yourself to a lonely person in a nursing home or volunteer at your local shelters or food banks. Bake cookies for a neighbor, give of yourself to family and friends with time spent with them. And be kind to yourself, so that you may nurture your own spirit as well as that of others.

I wish all of you the blessings of our daily lives, the love of family and friends, good health, and faith in a wondrous New Year.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Around the Web: Surviving the Holidays

While writing and researching last week's article on surviving the holidays when you have bullies in your family, I found so many interesting resources on a variety of topics around surviving the holidays that I wanted to share with you. Enjoy.

Coping With Holidays After the Death of a Loved One
By Kim Kenney (via
Grieving for a loved one is never easy, but the holidays seem to deepen sorrow, loneliness, guilt, anxiety and depression. These feelings are completely normal during the holiday season, according to the website Hospice. According to the Office for Victims of Crime, you can manage the holidays better by taking charge of the season instead of letting it take charge of you.
Read the entire article>>

Helping Someone With a Mental Illness Through the Holidays
by Natasha Tracy (via
The first thing that loved ones need to do is to respect the coping mechanisms the person with the mental illness has developed all year long. This means, respect their routine. Respect their need for space. Respect that they don’t drink. Respect that they need to exercise and eat and sleep on schedule. And so on. It’s tempting to say to the person, “oh why can’t you just loosen up for the holidays?” but it’s exactly that attitude that will get them into trouble. It’s critical that you support them in their healthy decisions because it’s hard enough to make healthy choices already without the support of the people who love you.
Read the entire article>>

Interfaith Family Bullying: When Do You Stop Fighting And Just Give Up?
By Rachel Figueroa-Leviny (via
My father’s family is very large. My mother’s family, like too many post-pogrom and WWII Jewish immigrant families, is very very VERY small. My recently deceased grandfather was the last of his surname. So most of my relatives are of the non-Jewish persuasion. My mother insisted that my brother and I engage with the family to the best of our ability, so that we would “have family.” So we did. My mother put up with constant bullying, and my brother and I tried to sort through the lies (straight up lies) that our paternal grandmother spread about our mother. Say what now? Bullying?
Read the entire article>>

How to Deal with the Verbal Bully Over the Christmas Period
By Alex Gadd (via
If you happen to be one of those people for whom the bully is a family member, then the Christmas holidays might not be that much of an exciting time at all.  Throughout the rest of the year, you might have been able to keep your distance from such a person but come Christmas, you may be expected to attend the family functions (along with the bully).  And if the person in question is a verbal bully, they may openly be attacking you in the form of nasty comments right under the noses of others. A perfect example of such a bully is the family member who openly makes comments about you in such a manner that while others in earshot would hear a perfectly innocent interpretation, only you and the bully would get the real interpretation behind the comment.
Read the entire article>>

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Surviving the Holidays with Family Bullies

Ah, it's that time of the year again when we are often encouraged, cajoled, or even forced into spending time with relatives who may have made our childhoods miserable...and who may be continuing that treatment even today. Trust me when I say that I've never met someone who HASN'T had at least one story about family abuse around the holidays. Perhaps it was a cousin who shoved them aside at the holiday buffet table or an aunt who never let them forget the time they accidentally spilled the gravy all over the pumpkin pie (when they were 5 years old). Or any other number of seemingly funny-in-the-retelling but not-so-funny at the time incidents.

So what can you do? Avoid the holiday gatherings? Confront the bullying family members? Laugh at "yourself" while you seethe inside? Family bullies are still just bullies. And the methods for dealing with all bullies are the same: if  it's safe, stand up for yourself without being hurtful or, if you're afraid of being physically hurt, remove yourself from the situation. Remember, you DON'T have to stand there and take it, even when it's family.

And, don't forget to be a good bystander this holiday season: stand up for the cousin who's being teased and don't laugh at the hurtful jokes or stories.

Here's an excellent article I found at with some helpful advice:

When Bullies are Home for the Holidays Too
By Katherine Prudente, LCAT, RDT via

Families bring up powerful feelings and interpersonal dynamics. It’s inevitable that old family dynamics are stirred up around the dinner table and that’s what makes the holidays so difficult, our past is present…AGAIN. Sometimes the bullies of our childhood were not kids on the playground but our siblings, parents, and extended family members.

As a child, you may have felt unable to find allies and keep yourself safe. Perhaps no matter how often you told your parents that your older sibling was being mean, it was dismissed. Or what if you were told to, “Turn the other cheek, it’s your brother/sister. They don’t mean it.” Worse, what if your parent was the aggressor?

Read the entire article here>>