6 Tips for Independent Kids

Independence is the ultimate goal of parenting.  We all want to raise kids who are capable of moving out and taking care of themselves as fully functional adults.  Yet, we tend to baby our children and dote on them longer than we need to.  Our kids are far more capable of doing things for themselves than we tend to give them credit for.  We put on their coats and shoes for them because it is faster when we do it, or we don’t want to fight them to do it.  However, when we continually do things for our children that they are capable of doing themselves, we are stunting their personal development. We aren’t allowing them to practice the life skills they will need when they are older. Children want to be independent, and here are 6 ways that you can give them that freedom.


6 Ways to Help Your Child Become More Independent:

  1. Let them get dressed.

    Allow your kids to pick out their own clothes and put them on.  You may have to help a 2-year-old with getting their shirt on, but other than that, they should be able to do it.  Will you need to correct some backward or inside out clothing? Yes.  Will they sometimes look ridiculous? Yes.  The other day my 3-year-old wore a red Christmas sweater, orange and black dinosaur “comfy” pants, and then topped it all off with a navy blue clip-on tie. True story.  My rule is that as long as their choices are weather appropriate, I will not interfere with what they choose to wear.


  1. Make the kitchen more accessible.

    Move the kid’s dishes, cups, and utensils to a lower cabinet so that your kids can easily get their things. You can then ask them to set their places at the table for you, put clean dishes away, and even get their own cup out when they are thirsty.  Additionally, add a step stool in your kitchen so your kids can reach the sink.  This allows for easy access to rinsing dishes or washing hands.  Move around the kid’s food so it is accessible as well.  Put milk, juice or water into a container with a pour spout so kids can easily serve their own drinks.  Move the kid-friendly snack foods to the lower shelves of the fridge and the pantry so the kids can easily reach them.  You don’t want to bend over to get stuff from those shelves anyway.


  1. Give your child chores. What?! Giving a child a list of daily and/or weekly chores allows them to practice life skills.  You can also award an allowance to older kids who do their chores.  Chore charts are an easy way to keep track of which chores are done, and which ones need to be done.  In my house, I have a list of daily chores for my 3-year-old, and a list of daily and weekly chores for my 6-year-old.  I keep these lists in a cheap dollar store picture frame, and we use a dry erase marker to mark the chores they have done. Chores teach responsibility, and responsibility is a good foundation for independence.


  1. Let them play.

    Free play is important for a child’s development, both socially and emotionally.  However, this play needs to be completely free of adult interaction.  It is when the adults are not around that children develop skills for themselves.  Like problem-solving, cooperation, sharing, empathy, emotional strength, and resilience.  They also get to develop their creativity.  They learn by doing, by figuring things out.  If you allow them to have the space to develop and explore their world on their own, then they will be better equipped and more confident; more ready to live an independent life.

  1. Give them extra time.

    If you want your kids to get dressed by themselves, then you can’t be asking them to get ready 5 minutes before you need to be out the door; the same goes with putting on shoes.  They are new at these tasks, and they will take (what seems like) forever to do so.  You need to allow them extra time to figure out how to do it, and how to do it right.  If you want them to help you in the kitchen, know that they will cause a bigger mess than you would, so you will have to allow extra time to clean up.  Have them help you clean up, but it will take longer.  Learning to complete any task is something that takes time and practice.  If you do not allow them that extra time, they will become frustrated and give up.


  1. Allow them to make mistakes.

    When your child makes mistakes, in homework, play, or whenever, they are given the opportunity to learn from their mistakes.  Mistakes allow kids to learn cause and effect, they allow the opportunity for a child to reflect and rethink a situation, and they learn how to better do something the next time.  When you see your child struggling with something, or see that they are about to make a mistake, don’t jump in to correct them.  If you do, you are only robbing them of independent thinking and reflection.  Observe what they are doing, and after a while, you can offer assistance (if necessary).  Maybe all you need to do is talk to them about their choices or actions after the fact.  But mistakes are a part of life, and they need to know that a) it’s ok to make mistakes, and b) mistakes are good learning opportunities.

Child Behavioral Problems: A Parenting Guide for Toddlers

Parenting is not an easy task especially when raising tots with behavioral problems. In addition, parents face difficulties determining the cause of child behavioral problems. According to data published by the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, the rate of tots who develop behavioral issues ranges from 7-25%. Here are some parenting tips to help you deal with child behavioral problems:

Overview of Child Behavioral Problems

For parents, a good grasp of behavioral problems in preschoolers is very important. With this in mind, Julie A. Rinaldi, Ph.D., staff psychologist, child and adolescent psychiatrist at Ann & Robert H. Laurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine says all children experience behavioral problems at some point.

For 2-year-olds, common behavioral issues include aggression, anger tantrums, adult rule or request defiance, annoying others deliberately, fussiness, crying, and annoying others. However, the good news is most tots who exhibit such behaviors do so occasionally. The bad news is a publication by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh states that studies have shown that 50-60% of two-year-olds who exhibit such behaviors continue to do so up to school going age.

Risk Factors

toddler laying on slide throwing tantrumThere are various reasons why toddlers exhibit disruptive behavior. Firstly, some tend to be fussy, irritable, and temperamental right from birth making them difficult to manage, according to the Laurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Secondly, a child may have behavioral, issues tied to autism spectrum disorders, learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or learning disorders. A third risk factor is growing up in a highly stressful environment. A good example of this is children who grow up surrounded by poverty, drug abuse or physical violence. Fourthly, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh reckon children can become behaviorally difficult as a way of reacting to environmental changes such as moving to a new house or city. Fifthly, the need for preschoolers to assert their independence. Finally, faulty parenting can also cause young kids to develop disruptive behaviors.

Tips for Managing Child Behavioral Problems

3 year old having a temper tantrum

1. Exploiting play to build positive relationship with your kid

An effective way of curbing and managing behavioral issues is by developing a positive child-parent relationship via play. This approach, according to Dr. Rinaldi, can lead to cessation of disruptive behaviors because pre-kindergarteners learn that they do not have to ‘act out’ to attract the attention of their parents or others.

For this reason, it is advisable to play with your kid several times every week. Such interaction makes kids feel loved, bolsters their self-esteem, and makes them feel important. At the same time, parents can use playtime to model essential social skills such as sharing, cooperation, and asking. This is in addition to helping kids hone their problem-solving skills, develop and use their imagination, and develop their vocabulary.

In spite of these positives, Dr. Rinaldi states some parents barely have time to play and interact with their kids due to tight/demanding work schedules and resentment/anger related to their child’s behavior. Rinaldi encourages such parents to try to overcome these obstacles and become more involved in their toddler’s play activities. Studies have shown that kids who spend regular playtime with their parents tend to be more creative, have fewer behavioral problems, and have higher self-confidence, according to Rinaldi.

2. Do not encourage over whining

Although it is natural for children to whine, encouraging your kid to do so is counterproductive on the behavioral issue front. If this is the case at home, the author of “The Big Book of Parenting Solutions” Michele Borba, EdD, recommends never give in to whining because doing so only encourages your kid to repeat the same attention-getting behavior in the future. Unless whining turns aggressive or disruptive to others, Borba recommends ignoring your child’s attempts to have his/her way. He/she will soon figure out that whining does not work.

3. Consistency

Three-year-olds are always trying to figure out the world around them. As such, they will become confused and probably engage in disruptive behavior if your routine in relation to their daily life and activities lacks consistency. A good example is letting your preschooler play with a certain object and then objecting in the future. He/she will not understand why you allowed playing with the same object in the past and have now changed your mind.

To avoid upsetting your child and triggering behavioral problems, adopt consistency across the board. This includes consistency when feeding, bathing, playing with your kid, and putting the child to sleep. According to Tanya Remer Altmann, one of the top authors in this field,” behavioral aberration occasionally is acceptable if your parenting routine is consistent 90% of the time.


If your 3-year-old has developed behaviors such as throwing temper tantrums, screaming, and defying parental orders, intervention is necessary to avoid progressive growth of the same problems up to school-going age. You can nip child behavioral problems early by developing a positive child-parent relationship via play, discouraging whining, and adopting consistent parenting routines.

7 Tips For Parents of Young Children

It can be quite daunting to raise young children who have behavioral issues. Through the years that I have worked as a parent coach, I have developed lots of tricks and tips for parents. I’m going to share some of those parenting tips with you today.

With the right strategies, parenting can become a much more manageable task; by understanding how to effectively “train” your toddler, you can help them become healthy, happy, humans that are tolerable to live under the same roof with.


The Parenting Tips

In no particular order…

parenting tips tag cloud

1: Encourage Appropriate Behavior

Doing this will lessen the opportunities for unfavorable behavior. The lifelong wiring of the brain is affected by every positive, and negative, behavior in the first 10 years of life. Therefore, it is essential to encourage appropriate behavior during those formative years.

You can tell when your child is about to get into a situation where bad behavior can happen.  By stepping in and encouraging the appropriate behavior, the difficult situation is prevented from happening. And your child takes the win of remembering the correct  behavior, rather than dealing with the consequences of their mistakes after the fact.

2: Show Love for the Child Even When Showing Disapproval for Their Behavior

It is important for your child to know that you love them, even when they display challenging behavior.  One way to build that bond is to set aside an appropriate time of day to have fun with your child. This can be done while walking home from school, at bath time, or any other time you deem appropriate.

Let your child pick the activity, and give your undivided attention to them during that time. Ensure they know that you enjoy spending these special moments together. The child’s self-esteem is nourished during these periods of positivity, and it can pave a path to more positive times together.

Then, when an issue does arise, be sure that you are using words that are condemning the behavior, and not the child. Rather than saying, “I’m not happy with you,” say, “I’m not happy with your behavior (or your choices).”  The alternative is also true; when praising your child say, “I love it when you do this to help (or make this choice),” rather than saying, “I love you when you do that (or make that choice.”  Your choice of words can go a long way in communicating your unconditional love for your child.

mother with 2 young kids

3: Transform Your Home into an Environment of Success

To do this, you can create relaxed, child-friendly play areas.

Add some toys in which you child has an interest, keep them within reach, and teach him or her how to keep them organized when playtime is over.  Place step stools in the kitchen and bathrooms so your child can have an easier time helping with the dishes or washing their hands.

4: Stick to the Routines You Create

Creating a routine is great, but only if you stick to it. It is a fact that children find great comfort in knowing what is coming next.

In addition, creating routines assists in giving advance notice when activities will be changed. For example, you can tell your child that they can swing across the monkey bars two more times, and then it will be time to leave.


5: Consistently Set and Enforce Clear Limits

What you expect of your child should be consistently enforced until it becomes second nature. However, ensure that you have the energy and time to keep at it.
If you are running late, it is alright if a toy is left on the floor.

6: Activities Should Be Planned Around the Needs of the Child

If your child exhibits negative behavior when they are hungry, do not go shopping without ensuring they are fed.

Additionally, if meals are usually served on the kitchen table, then use the coffee table for puzzles instead to avoid a meltdown when it is time to clean up before eating.

7: When Trouble is Brewing, Offer Limited Choices

When it comes to colors of cups, we as parents know that the wrong color can ruin a kid’s day.  So when the favorite color cup is in the wash, and you see your child on the brink of a meltdown, offer up a simple choice.  Ask your child if they want to drink from the blue cup or the yellow one. You will guide the behavior by telling them what to do, rather than what not to do.  If they don’t like the choices you offer up, tell them that if they don’t choose, you will.

Exercise patience if the same instructions are needed shortly after. Practice is necessary when dealing with a young mind.

When things do not go as smoothly as you planned, endeavor to keep calm. Count to 10, take some deep breaths, and show your child you can deal with problems while remaining cool. By doing this, you will become a great role model for your child. When every method seems to go wrong, and the child loses control, allow them space to calm down, and then deal with the situation once things are calmer.



The Age Gauge

Brittany Begley of WBNS 10TV News

Last week I was interviewed by the vivacious Brittany Begley, for a series they are doing on the challenges of parenting in this day and age.

There will be a different segment each day starting on Monday, July 20, 2015 on the early morning news.

Brittany is a parent of an 8 year old son, so she can relate to the challenges of parenting personally. She had some great questions about about children growing up too fast that I wanted to share:

WBNS 10TV, Columbus, Ohio

When should we let kids have a cell phone?

Children really don’t need a cell phone until they are in 8th or 9th grade.

Waiting until they are responsible enough to have a phone also eliminates the challenges associated with social networking.

Although as adults we prefer to have the latest phone, it is not necessary for our children. It’s okay to get them a cell phone that is less expensive and simple. In time they can move up to a more trendy phone once they have proved they deserve it by taking care of their phone (not breaking, losing, or abusing it).

When should we let kids have their own car?

What do you think about taking kids to get a manicure/pedicure?

I think it is appropriate when they can purchase these things themselves.

Taking the responsibility to generate income and save money to buy a car or treat themselves to a manicure builds character, provides a sense of accomplishment and helps your child set goals for themselves.

Having a car or getting a pedicure/manicure are privileges and children need to understand and value the difference between needs and wants. When they pay for those privileges themselves they appreciate, take care of, and value them more.

Would we take our kids to get a massage?

Probably not because getting a massage is a luxury that people buy for themselves as a reward. So why are we taking them to get manicures/pedicures when more appropriate rewards can be just as fulfilling?

When we provide rewards that are extreme, we encourage our children to expect more and feel entitled.

Girls… growing up too fast?

When should they wear makeup, wear contacts, shave their legs?

Here is where we have a big influence on our child’s decision making; children are always looking at our actions and they want to follow in our footsteps.

If they see mom or other women in the family or circle of friends wear excessive makeup then they are likely to want to start wearing makeup early. Each one of these questions are associated with physical necessity, social self-esteem, and self awareness.

In my experience, as a parent coach and previously as an early childhood educator, I discovered some commonalities around children’s behavior and maturity.

I’ve learned that children can be complicated or difficult to understand especially for older parents. After years of education and work, parents become disconnected with their own childhood and find it harder to relate to their young children.

Another difficulty is finding a good balance between parenting, mentoring, and guiding our children to become independent and responsible individuals.

If you are looking to reward your child give them love, compassion, respect, understanding and quality time. Focus on those core values and everything else should be secondary.

For more information about addressing difficult questions, concerns, or challenges or to learn more about the services that Working with Parents provides visit our website at www.ourparentcoach.com.

Making Family Relationships Work

Happy family after visit from parent coachI recently read an article called “5 Reasons Marriage Doesn’t Work Anymore,” written by Anthony D’Ambrosio. Most of his five reasons were due to the instant gratification, self-centeredness, and eye candy that social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram perpetuate.

He attributed troubles in relationships to the fact that people were too involved in their social media, and not involved enough in their real lives.

Good points, I thought, but then I started thinking… If THIS generation is having trouble connecting within their relationships, and making lasting bonds with another person due to the overuse of social media, do my kids even have a prayer at a lasting marriage?

The answer is yes.

D’Ambrosio may have a bleak outlook, but the group of people he is talking about is a generation that basically had to learn social media themselves.  They didn’t have parents that used social media and could model a balance of appropriate use and actual human interaction.

So, here is my list of 4 ways you can teach your children what a working marriage should be, even in the midst of social media:

1). Check your media and devices at the door

Make a docking station for all cell phones and tablets in a central location of the house (in the kitchen, by the front door, etc.) and make sure that when entering your home, all electronics are surrendered. Once your family is home, you should use the time to catch up and bond with each other, not worry about what others are doing. Make your kids talk to you at the dinner table.  Engage in conversations in the living room, read a book together, or just help your kids with their homework. Home time should be family time, and if you make it a priority, they will learn that it is one.

2). Discuss the difference between self-esteem and self-involved

I hear a lot of kids talking about how they post selfies to get “likes” because it helps to boost their self-esteem. Well that’s just ridiculous. Self-esteem comes from within, it comes from feeling proud of your accomplishments and achievements, it comes from your confidence in your own being because of your knowledge of who you are.

Self-esteem is not superficial, nor can it truly be built up based upon what others “like” or don’t “like” about you. It doesn’t come from posting cute or trendy pictures. Teach your children what real self-esteem is and what it feels like to have it.  Do this, and they will go through life knowing the difference.

3). Be involved in your children’s social media accounts

Be their friend and follower, check on them to see what is going on in their and their friends’ lives. Discuss what you see, and discuss what you may not see. Don’t just do it behind their backs, be open and honest.

Kids are kids, and as kids they need to me monitored and guided throughout their life’s journey. This includes social media. Talk with them about the dangers, the temptations, the good and the bad. Let them know that social media isn’t everything, and teach them how to be social without the media too.
family having fun playing together

4). Be a role model

Your kids will learn more from you just by watching what you do than they ever will from just listening to what you have to say. So be a role model when it comes to social media, and be a role model when it comes to showing what a good, working marriage should be.

Check your phones at the door. Be open and honest with your media accounts. Make conversations and eye contact with your kids and your spouse.

Share affectionate touches or kisses with your spouse when your kids are in the room (it may be fun to gross them out a bit).

If you argue in front of your kids, resolve it in front of them as well. When you have an argument in front of your children, you demonstrate the fact that nothing is perfect, marriage is hard work, but it is also attainable.

When you work through and resolve your problems, your children will see compromise, sacrifice, and teamwork. They will see that there are ups and downs in life. Then, they will learn to expect them in their lives, and work through them.

Your kids are likely to model the type of family they strive for based upon the type of family they grew up in, and they will work for a marriage that they grew up seeing.

Be your child’s best chance to have a loving and lasting marriage by putting the time and effort into your own.

Why Are Parents So Stressed?

frustrated young motherI was reading an article the other day about parents who have been using Uber (an on-call cab service) to drive their kids to or from activities. The link is below if you’d like to read the full article. I’m sorry, but I just think that that is insane!

Yes, life as a parent is busy, and even more so if you have two or more kids, and sure, it gets more hectic when your kids start getting into after-school or weekend activities. But at some point you just have to say, “Stop.” If you and your kids’ lives are so hectic that you cannot find time to pick your kids up from or take them to an activity, then YOU need to clear some space in the schedules.

April is Stress Awareness month, and most parents are stressed for one reason or another; some of it we cannot control, but some of it we can.

And your schedule is definitely something you can control!

Kids need structure; it helps them know what to expect and what is expected from them on a daily basis, but they also need to have free time too. They need free time for them to play, explore, experiment, or read just for their sheer enjoyment.
stressed soccer mom and kids-

Reducing The Stress Of Over-Commitment

While scheduled activities are good for socialization and skill development, children should not be so overloaded with them that it consumes all of their (or your) time. When you are constantly racing around trying to get your family from one event to another, you are stressed, admit it. You are probably a little frantic, you may be a more irritable, you may have more road rage, and you probably don’t eat as well because it is more convenient to grab something from a drive-through.

The stress you feel and express transfers to your children. They take cues from their parents on how they should feel and act, and so if you are stressed out, they probably are too.

I’m not saying that your kids should not be involved in any activities, but maybe just limit it to one.

I recently heard a speaker named Jill Savage speak about stress in the home, and she suggested (even for parents) to only have one “major” and one “minor.” Meaning, you can have one extra activity that you give your all to, your “major” being on a team, or organizing an event, something that you work hard at and take home with you.

Your “minor” would be something simple, baking cookies for a bake sale, or volunteering once a week at a shelter; something easy that you can do and be done. Clearing your schedules and your kids’ schedules is not only stress relieving, but it also opens up more time for family, and who doesn’t want that?

Empathizing With Your Spouse

The other day, while listening to a speaker at our MOPS group, the speaker asked:

How many of you are on the same page with your husbands?

To which a tablemate of mine replied:

Same page? Please! We’re not even in the same book!

All of us moms had a little laugh about that, but I think that we all could relate to her feelings just a little as well.

How many of you feel like you are on the same page with your spouse or partner?

How many of you feel like you’re not even in the same book?

They say opposites attract, but you don’t want to be on the complete opposite end of every decision you and your partner need to make; that just adds stress and tension to a marriage or partnership.
couple talking on bed

Communication is the Key to Successful Relationships

When going into any big decision, you and your partner should have a little meeting where you each can discuss your wishes, goals, and the general direction you want to go in. Make sure that you BOTH are able to communicate your wants and needs, and are heard by the other.

Then, with it all out on the table, the two of you can work together to decide on what is truly important to you, and where you can make compromises, or sacrifices. From there, the two of you can make a plan, and move ahead, both on the same page.

Having a plan takes the guess work out of things; it saves time because you and your partner can keep moving forward even if the other is not around because you just have to follow the plan!
father teaching his daughter

Improving Communication With Your Children

This is sound advice for any facet of a marriage or partnership, but it is also great advice for parenting. As parents, you and your spouse need to make a plan as to how to raise your kids.

  • What behaviors are acceptable, which ones are not?
  • What are your parenting goals?
  • What sort of discipline techniques do you plan on implementing?

If you don’t have a parenting plan, you can’t be on the same page, and then the rules you work so hard to enforce when you are home may go right out the window when you leave. When you leave the house, you want to have the peace of mind knowing that your children will be taken care of, and will abide by the same rules you have set.

It’s not only good for you, but it’s good for the kids too! Every night, when my husband comes home from work, I sort of debrief him on the day’s events. If I have begun a new discipline technique, I let him know so he is caught up and can use it too. Kids need consistency, and you and your spouse, or you and your partner, need to give that to them.

Some couples are freakishly in sync naturally, but for others (most of us) it takes a little extra work and effort. Don’t be afraid to make that extra effort, to speak your mind and share your goals. The only way you two will for sure be on the same page is if you sit down together and “write the book.”

4 Ways to Incorporate Valentine’s Day Every Day

man and woman on beach at sunsetValentine’s Day

February 14th comes and goes every year, but why is it that we tend to think of only one day out of the year to be romantic?  There is no reason you and your spouse can’t put a little of the Valentine’s Day spirit into your everyday lives. Especially when you have kids, it is important to maintain and work on your relationship with your husband or wife. A strong marriage, or relationship, gives your child a great sense of stability and support at home. Also, it keeps you and your spouse feeling connected, satisfied, and loved.  So take these tips, and put a little Valentine’s Day into your every day lives.

4 Ways to Incorporate Valentine’s Day Every Day

1) Don’t allow media at the table. T.V., phones and computers can be distracting, and isolating. By not allowing them to be on or near you and your spouse at the table, it allows more opportunity for talking, and as we all know, good and open communication is a key component to having a strong relationship. It is also a good way to reconnect with your spouse on an intellectual level. Bonus: if you are eating with your kids, they will be witness to (and hopefully participant in) your conversations.

2) Kiss, hug and hold hands. When you and your spouse are reunited at the end of the day, show that you are happy to see each other with a hug and a kiss. While watching t.v., or reading a book, hold hands, or overlap your feet. Even the smallest of touches can remind you of your physical attraction to one another. A nice little back scratching session can go a long way!

3) Every day, do at least one thing for the other person. Gifts are great, but it is the message behind the gift that is always the best; knowing that someone you love was thinking about you and what you would like. Think about what your spouse would like, and try to do something nice for them. It could be as simple as taking out the trash, cleaning up a mess that they were too busy to get to, cooking a meal, or simply not leaving your socks on the living room floor at the end of the night. You don’t have to make a grand gesture to show that you love, care, and think about the other person; small, everyday acts will build up, and paint the bigger picture of love.

4) Never go to bed angry. This is a classic, but it’s that for a reason. Couples argue and fight, but strong couples will take the time to work out their differences. Sure, you may not come to an agreement on your argument before you go to bed, but you can make sure that the two of you are calm and reassured that the love between you is strong before you fall asleep. This will allow you to sleep better, and wake up without any resentment towards your spouse.

The Myth of the Picture Perfect Family

mother with misbehaving kids driving her crazy
The other day I was just getting done feeding my 10 month old when my 3year old decided to climb up in the chair with us; we were having a nice cuddly moment, so I decided to take a picture of it.

That’s when all hell broke loose.

My big kid became squirmy, claiming, “I don’t want to smile, I just want to play,” and my baby began exploring the features of my face; I had fingers up my nose, in my mouth, pulling at my lips and gouging my eyeballs.

I quickly snapped a picture of the three of us, my oldest pouting, and me making a painful face as my baby poked at my eye. I instantly put it up on Facebook because it was real; it was a picture of my everyday life.

Our social media outlets are littered with pictures of perfect families in sweet poses with majestic backgrounds, children sweetly smiling as the sunlight bounces off their faces, and siblings lovingly holding hands or hugging one another.

But these pictures are just of just one lucky moment in time, a fleeting moment of perfection hidden among thousands of chaotic moments. Every mom knows the feeling when all you want is a nice picture of your kids and they just won’t cooperate!

You have your finger ready on the trigger and you try to get them to stay still in one place, look at you and smile all at the same time. “Baby, look over here! Look at Mommy! Smile for Mommy! LOOK OVER HERE!!” You make the weirdest sounds and faces just to get them (all of them) to look your way at the same time.

What you end up with is roughly 20 pictures of blurry faces, half smiles, uncooperative glances, and if you’re lucky, one that is worthy of being shared on your Facebook page.

The point is, that no one’s life is as perfect as it may seem on Facebook. You may see all of the perfect pictures, but that’s because no one ever posts the horrible ones.

Especially when you don’t get to actually see your friends as much as you used to, and social media is your way of staying connected to the world, it is easy to get down on yourself about not being as perfect as other families seem to be.

One of my favorite quotes, and I apologize for forgetting who said it, says, “Don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outside.

Pictures don’t tell the story of the struggles a family is facing, or how many sleepless hours they had the night before, or how many times they were just poked in the eye. Pictures are just fleeting moments of perfection that people want to remember because their lives are filled with imperfection.

You should love and embrace your imperfections as well as your perfections, and do NOT forget that nobody has it all together for more than a moment at a time.Written by, Jamie Strauss

Making Your Marriage Work

Family is important. Period. If you have a good, stable family life, your children will have the emotional support and positive role models they need to help them grow and develop into stable, functioning adults. We all know that family is important; we all strive to create a loving home for our children, but according to the American Psychological Association, 40 to 50% of marriages end in divorce.

Some divorces are inevitable and for the best, as in cases of abuse, or other serious issues, but many divorces can be prevented. That’s what I want to discuss here.

Many people are in love with the idea of being in love.They grow up constantly searching for “the one,” and when they find themselves in a serious relationship, they tend to want to rush into forever.Well, what you need to understand is that forever is FOREVER.

Marriage Meets Reality

Why rush into something when you have your whole life ahead of you to figure it out?

Before you marry someone, you need to get to know them on the most personal of levels, you need to understand that there can be no secrets (past, present or future), and you need to have open and honest conversations about what you want out of life, where you want to go, what you want to do, what your values are, what you are willing to compromise, if your partner has the qualities and values that compliment and support what you want, and vice versa.
happy family reading a picture book on the couch
The only way to truly get to know someone and their core values and beliefs is through time; though many people will become engaged after only a year of dating, and that is simply not long enough.

If you’re already married, about to be married, or someday hope to be married, you need to know this: marriage is work, hard work.

Unfortunately, many people just don’t understand that you need to work at a marriage to keep it working.

Remember that boyfriend or girlfriend you had in junior high? Remember how hot and heavy you two were, holding hands all over the place? Then remember how you just slowly drifted apart, and you weren’t even sure if you broke-up until you saw him (or her) holding hands with someone else?

Marriage is sort of like that; if you don’t hold hands, you will just drift apart. You and your spouse should NEVER STOP DATING!

Just because you are married doesn’t mean that you should stop going out. Make sure you have a date night, at least once a week; kids make this even harder to do, so if you have kids, shoot for once a month or more. As people, we never stop growing and developing, so as a married couple, you should never stop developing and growing together.

Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Relationship

  • Talk about your lives, your days, your concerns, your dreams, your passions
  • Make plans together, make dinner together, make love together
  • Greet one another with a hug and a kiss, and part the same way
  • Always speak honestly and kindly to one another, even in while in a fight

Staying physically, emotionally and intellectually bonded with your spouse is crucial to keeping your marriage together and happy. If you and your spouse have begun to drift and you need help finding your way back to one another, more professional help may be needed to get you back on track. But asking for help isn’t something to be ashamed of, it’s just something you need to do to work on your marriage. Think of it like taking your car to a mechanic; you need your car to work, and you need a professional to help you get your car working again.

Putting Your Family First

As I mentioned before, having kids makes things a lot harder for your marriage. Your parental instinct will be to put your kids’ needs first, but you need to put your marriage first.

I repeat: You need to put your marriage first.

You need to make your marriage your first priority because when your marriage is working and happy, your family will be working and happy. The American Psychological Association says:

Healthy marriages are good for couples’ mental and physical health. They are also good for children; growing up in a happy home protects children from mental, physical, educational and social problems.

Even the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services advocates the health benefits of marriage.

When your kids see you and your spouse talking to and treating each other with love and respect, they will learn to do the same thing. When you are happy with your marriage, you are more likely to be patient and thoughtful when dealing with your children.

Ever hear of the saying, “If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy?” It’s true; happiness, like crabbiness, is contagious. YOU must decide what you are passing on to your family. And whether you are in a working marriage or one that is neglected, your kids will take note, and when they grow up and begin to look for a spouse of their own, they will look to you to see what a marriage should look like. What do you want them to see? So always be working on your marriage, for you, for your spouse, for your kids.

Always be working on your marriage, lest you find that your marriage is hardly working.

If you are struggling to find that balance in your relationships, I can help. I teach you communication skills and how to balance and prioritize and that will benefit your spouse and your children.