December 10, 2014
I’m Annie Fox and I approve this message!
I read lots of parenting books, but only recommend the top notch. That means they deliver pragmatic advice in small, well-organized, chunks of digestible wisdom. No big chunks, please. Who’s got the time? It helps a lot if the book’s tone is so engaging I can imagine the author talking to me over a cup of coffee. Also, it’s a good thing if the descriptions of parent-child interactions are so spot-on I’m chuckling and misting over throughout. (Yes, a good parenting book is as likely to make me cry as it is to have me laughing and calling out to David, “Sweetie, you’ve gotta hear this!”) Added requirement for any great parenting book: I have to learn something new. Not so easy because, as I said, I read loads of them.
For all the above reasons, I’m happy to recommend Dr. Deborah Gilboa’s latest book, Get the Behavior You Want Without Being the Parent You Hate. Before I tell you what I learned, let me tell you who needs this book – Any parent who has ever wondered if there’s a better way to get your child to:
1. Brush his/her teeth
2. Get along better with siblings
3. Quit whining about being “booooorrrrreeeed” and learn to manage their free time creatively
4. Do something you require without your constant nagging
… plus fifty other things that kids need to learn in order to be become respectful, responsible, and resilient young adults.
Dr. Gilboa, aka @AskDocG, is a practicing family physician, and a parenting expert. She’s also the mom of four boys who, have apparently brought her to edge of sanity more than once. In the book’s introduction she admits that she has “nagged, yelled at, threatened, and guilted my children to try to get them to behave well. Not all of the time, and usually not on purpose, but, just like many parents, I’ve done all this and more. Not only do I feel really horrible about it afterwards, but (and here is the kicker) it doesn’t work.” So you see, Doc G is also honest, humble and funny. What’s not to like?
Listen to my podcast interview with Doc G.
As for what I learned from Get the Behavior You Want… it came from section 5: What you do is more important than what you feel. Think about it for a minute. Most of the time we mindful parents do our best to get our children in touch with their feelings. “How do you feel now, sweetheart?” “And how did what he said this morning make you feel?” “How do you think you’ll feel about that tomorrow?” The message to kids: how they feel is pretty much the most important thing. Doc G points out that feelings are important, but they should not be accepted as an excuse for poor behavior. Something parents do all the time!
We do it when we say, “Oh, she’s just in a bad mood.” “He’s had a hard day.” “She’s overtired.” Doc G teaches that we need to help our kids become accountable for their behavior. And we can accomplish that by empathizing with our kids’ feelings (“I understand why that made you angry….”) while still sticking with our standards of behavior (“….but biting is totally unacceptable in this family. And here’s the consequence for the doing it…”)
It’s not always easy for an unhappy, overtired child to accept responsibility for his or her actions, but parenting is all about clear standards and consistent responses, isn’t it?
Thanks, Doc G!
Try making this shift in the way you deal with unacceptable behavior from your kids and let me know how it goes.
December 8, 2014
This feels weird, but as long as it makes him happy….
Smart girls and guys often make stupid choices. Smarter teens recognize when something feels off. They’re the ones who stop beforehand to get a second opinion. Here’s a recent email I received from a smarter girl:
My boyfriend and I have a long distance relationship and he really wants nude pictures of me. He doesn’t pressure me about it, but I have a hard time explaining why I can’t do it. I was raised with conservative values, though I have different views from my parents on lots of things. I’ve realized it’s okay to break certain rules, but I can’t even take the picture without feeling disappointed in myself or guilty. He understands my boundaries, but I still feel bad about it. I know plenty of other girls do it and I feel abnormal. Should I just send the pictures anyway, even if I’ll feel down about myself but will make him happy??
Dear Feeling Abnormal,
You already know the answer to this one, but it sounds like you need support. OK, here it is: NO. You should not “just sent the pictures anyway, even if (you) will feel down about (yourself) but make him happy.” No way!
It’s not your job to make your boyfriend happy. It is your job to live your life in a way that makes you proud of who you are. Sending nude pictures will not make you feel proud. You know that, so don’t do it.
Now, let’s talk about this request. You say “he doesn’t pressure me about it…” and yet he must be pressuring you because you “know he really wants” these nude photos of you. Repeated, insistent requests = PRESSURE. He is pressuring you about it. He is not “understanding (your) boundaries.” This is not OK.
I hope you’ve told your boyfriend how uncomfortable you are with these requests. If you haven’t yet been crystal clear, here’s what to say to him ASAP: “When you ask me for nude photos it makes me really uncomfortable.” If he asks, “Why?” Simple say, “Because it does. So stop asking.” If that doesn’t get him to quit bugging you, then you need to seriously consider what kind of guy he is and why you are still in this relationship.
I hope this gives you the courage and support you need to do the right thing.
Thank you, Terra.
I guess I just needed someone to confirm it for me.
–Happily from Not Feeling So Abnormal Anymore
This smarter girl just joined the group of Smartest Girls – the ones who demand the respect they are worthy of. How are you teaching your daughter to respect herself, to treat others with respect, and to demand respect from friends and partners?
December 6, 2014
Still chugging along on The Girls’ Q&A Book on Friendship blog tour. Since early November I’ve stopped at 20 blogs, logged thousands of virtual miles, and answered over 100 friendship-related questions. This question comes from educational psychologist Amy Fortney Parks, founder of TheWiseFamily.com. It’s an important one because when it comes to conflicts between our kids and someone else’s, it can be tricky to know when to step up and when to step back.
How do I talk to my daughter’s friend’s moms about some of the dynamics happening between the girls without being judgmental?
What did you say about my kid?
Annie: Because you don’t want to create more drama than the girls have already dished up on their own, you must communicate to the other mom respectfully, otherwise, you’re going to make things worse. You don’t need me to tell you how parents get instantly and intensely defensive when someone criticizes their children. Hello, Mama Bear! So, think about what you want to say and take at least ten slow deep re-centering breaths before you say it. (Seriously. Breathe.)
Here’s a trick I know about expressing something the other person is unlikely to want to hear: Soften your heart and speak calmly. You might say something like this: “I’ve been noticing some tension between my Gabriella and your Celeste. I’m wondering if you’ve noticed it too?” By starting the discussion this way, you are inviting the other parent in, rather than pushing her away with accusations. You’re asking her to take part in the problem-solving, parent to parent. This is very different from saying something like this: “Celeste has been so mean to Gabriella. My poor daughter cries herself to sleep each night. What kind of girl are you raising?!”
Choices matter when it comes to our words, tone of voice, attitude. This is a lesson we want to teach our daughters so they’ll be more likely to stop, re-center, and think before they act. It helps tremendously when we model it in our own lives too.
Bonus Question for you> How are you teaching your kids to be aware of the way they speak to other people?
December 1, 2014
I’m here at my son and daughter-in-law’s place caring for my grand baby. Yes, I am Granny Annie on Tuesdays and every other Monday.
I’m just not tired, Granny Annie
Shhhhh. The boy just went down for a nap. I’m typing super fast since I may only have 10 minutes here at the keyboard. Or 2 hours. You never know with little ones. They’ve got no awareness of a “schedule,” not yours or the one you think you’ve set up for them. And they sure don’t have any respect for what you “have to do” other than feed them, keep them warm and dry, and be infinitely entertaining. “How about this story…again?” “Show me how you knock down this tower of blocks!” “Let’s take a ride in the stroller and look at the leaves.” “She’ll be coming round the mountain when she comes…. toot toot!”
We’ve got a great kid here and I’m not exaggerating when I say these full days of hanging out with him are a gift. I’m having a ton of fun… as long as I drop all expectations that I can get any “real” work done while babysitting. That’s the trick… I simply surrender and allow myself to experience time unfolding, moment by moment, just as a six month old does. This is life in the ultra-slow lane. It’s a form of mediation and I can totally get into it.
I only have trouble when I fight the reality of Baby World, like if I try to write a blog post, compose show notes for my podcast, answer important email, or work on my novel. Once while I was here, I attempted something completely insane: I co-hosted a twitter chat! Seriously. What was I thinking, right? It’s tough enough to type with a squirmy baby on your lap, but to actually read real-time parenting questions addressed to me and then hurry up and formulate cogent 140 character responses? Inconceivable! Desperate, I called my David at home. The guy’s a prince. He logged into the chat room as me and read me questions as they zipped by. Then, as I soothed and fed the baby and did my best to dictate nuggets of parenting advice, David tweeted for me.
David and I raised two kids. Admittedly, it’s been awhile. But if I’ve learned anything, this time around here it is: When you’re with the kid… be with the kid. It’ll make you a saner, happier parent. And if you’re lucky, every now and then, the baby will take a two hour nap.
uhhhh… but not today. He’s up again.
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