Mar 15

Communication – Acknowledging and Validating Your Child

The age of your child will determine which areas of communication are most relevant in your home, but this week’s topic – acknowledging and validating – can apply almost from birth.

Acknowledging and validating are easy skills, once you’re familiar with them, but they may take a little getting used to.  Acknowledging is letting someone know that you’re actively listening to what they’re saying, and validating is letting them know that their feelings are understandable and justified.

For example, your child tells you that she’s had a bad day.  It’s easy to downplay the comment, and say something like, “Oh, that’s too bad honey.  I’m sure tomorrow will be better.”  Acknowledging, on the other hand, would be more like this: you look the child in the eye, and say in a comforting voice, “I’m sorry to hear that.  Why don’t you tell me more about what happened.”  You’re taking the comment seriously, and the child feels heard.

She goes on to tell you that her best friend didn’t want to play with her, and she didn’t have anybody to sit with at snack time.  To validate this comment, you could say something like, “It’s never a good feeling when people aren’t nice to you.  I feel bad when I have problems with my friends, too,” or a statement along these lines.  The actual wording is less important than letting the child know that her feelings are ok, and helping her to process the situation.

If you’ve never done any of this before, it may feel (and sound) funny to you – as though you’re just repeating back a lot of what your child is saying.  However, many moms report that these tools work like a magic trick; from the child’s perspective, the mom suddenly seems to understand the child’s feelings much better, so the child feels less frustrated and often becomes more willing to talk about a situation.

Young children are bombarded with emotions.  By acknowledging and validating, you help them to make sense of their feelings, and you teach them words they can use to express themselves.  You don’t have to agree with how the child feels either.  Using the earlier example, even if you think the child is making too big a deal out of the situation, you can still validate by talking only about her; “I can see that it’s really hard for you when you have trouble with your friends,” for instance.

With babies and toddlers, you’re acknowledging them when you respond to their crying.  After they’re a few months old, it becomes easier to validate as well: “Oh, look at that, you have a poopy diaper!  No wonder you’re crying!” or “It makes you sad that the dog grabbed your toy.”  Again, the goal is to give them words to associate with their emotions, and to help them feel heard and understood – something we all want!

Your assignment:  Look for opportunities to acknowledge and validate your children this week.  Any time they talk about their feelings, positive or negative, you have the chance to give this a try.  You might be surprised at the impact it has!

Mar 08


Last week we looked at a “Mom” topic – this week will be a “Me” topic.  We’re all able to be better moms (and friends, and daughters, and sisters, and wives, and so forth) when we’re acknowledging and honoring who we are as individual women, apart from all our other roles.  In the weeks to come, we’ll explore many “Me” aspects of our lives, in hopes of finding more balance in the non-parenting realm.

Where better to start than with a little FUN!  This is one of the most easily overlooked areas for many moms, because we’re usually so busy taking care of everyone else that we can forget how important it is to take care of us too.  And generally, if we don’t make the time for ourselves, no one is going to do it for us.

Take a minute and think about the things you really love to do that have nothing to do with your kids.  Spending time with friends?  Scrapbooking?  Taking a nap?  Going to a movie?  Reading a book (and no, Goodnight Moon doesn’t count)?  Taking an hour to browse through your favorite store all by yourself, wandering only through the women’s section, without having to locate the nearest restroom, changing table or water fountain?

Especially if your children are very young, you may not have big blocks of time – but there are usually little windows here and there, if you’re looking for them.  Where could you find an hour or two just for you?  Naptime?  After bedtime?  During preschool or school?  What could you do with this time that would make you feel the most satisfied?  Who could watch the kids for you, if you wanted to go somewhere?

I’ve had some moms tell me that all of this seems like more trouble than it’s worth… but it shouldn’t be.  Yes, it may take some planning to set aside a little “Me” time.  However, think about how much better you’ll feel afterward, and how much more you’ll have to offer in your other roles when you get an occasional break, and you’ll realize that it’s worth the effort.

Your assignment:  Think of one fun activity you could do for yourself in the next week, and figure out a way to make it happen.  You’re worth it!

Mar 01

Quality Time

Welcome to the re-launch of my blog for moms!  Each week I’ll post a new blog, along with a related assignment. 

I picked this as the first topic because many moms find quality time to be a challenge – both making it, and figuring out what it consists of.

So, to start with, what is quality time for you?  What things do you do with your child that give you the most satisfaction?  When do you feel especially connected to him or her?  It’s important to be clear about what quality time is for you and your child, so you can decide whether you have enough of it or not.  For a lot of moms, reading together, getting on the floor and playing, or doing an activity together are clear examples.  The key ingredient is uninterrupted time during which your child has your complete focus; this is what sets quality time apart from the rest of your interactions.

But don’t confuse a large quantity of time with quality time.  You can have days where you spend every waking minute with your child, but that doesn’t mean that your interactions will automatically bring you fulfillment.  Some moms are great at building quality time into the chores and errands – folding laundry together, say, or making a game of trips to the grocery store – so for them, this IS quality time.  Each mom and child pairing is different, so you have to think about what works best for you.

Once you’re clear about what counts as quality time for you, how much do you need?  The answer is twofold; you need enough time to make you feel really good about your connection to your child, and you need the time to be limited enough that you can give your full attention to your child during this time.  We moms are busy – spending an hour per day completely focused on each child isn’t realistic for many moms, even though this sounds like an admirable goal.  Instead, we need to do what we can; for many moms, starting with even 15 minutes of genuine quality time, a few days a week, makes a world of difference.  Most moms can find an extra 15 minutes here and there, and the payoff for making this commitment is extraordinary.

Your assignment:  Find ways to build a little more quality time into your schedule over the next week.  If this is a new undertaking, aim for two or three 15-minute blocks.  If you already set aside quality time, look for ways to add in a few extra minutes, or consider a new activity to try with your child.

Ready to take the assignment?  Want to talk about this?  Please share your ideas and thoughts

Jun 30

Rules of engagement part 2 – You vs. Spouse

Last week we looked at handling disputes between you and your children; this week we’re addressing conflict between you and your husband or partner.This is an especially difficult area for many couples, because you have to consider both the issue you’re dealing with and the impact of your arguing or fighting on your children.

The best option is usually to avoid dispute before it starts, but how? There are a few tried and true possibilities:

  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. The more you can keep an open dialog between you and your spouse, the more likely you are to avoid difficulties. If you don’t bring up a particular issue until it’s happened a dozen times, you’re going to be more upset and probably handle the situation more poorly than if you’d brought it up earlier. Waiting to address a problem can also foster resentment in the offender (“If this bothered her so much, why did she wait so long to tell me?”)
  • When you need to talk about a problem, do it calmly and use “I” statements. Nothing will put another person on the defensive faster than casting blame and making accusations (“You never…” or “You always…” statements fall into this category). Alternatively, saying something like “When __ happens it makes me upset because __” gives information but keeps the focus on you and the issue rather than on the other person doing something wrong.
  • As with your children, choose your battles.If you want to be taken seriously, and to generally have a nicer relationship, you can’t address every single thing that bothers you. With everything you have on your plate as a mom, small issues can seem more important than they are. Don’t bring up a problem when you’re too tired, when you’ve been drinking, or when you’re already in a bad mood; these contributing factors are a recipe for disaster. Instead, wait until things are calm and you’ve given a little thought to what you want to say, then bring it up.

Despite your best efforts, sometimes you’ll end up having a disagreement in front of your children. Here’s the thing; recent studies have found that children with parents who frequently fight are subject to almost as much stress as children whose parents divorce. Conflict resolution is a great skill to teach your children, but if your “resolution” involves yelling, name calling or slamming doors, for instance, no one is better off – especially your kids, who will likely feel both responsible and powerless.

What do you do when you find yourself at odds with your spouse?

  • Have ground rules in place for what is and isn’t acceptable behavior, and agree to these with your spouse – the actions mentioned above should be placed in an “off limits” category, particularly if your children are in the house. Any disagreement relating to a child should, of course, be addressed away from that child; you need to present a united front with your final decision, and you don’t want your child to feel that he caused an argument.
  • Think about what you’re saying, and howTry to use respectful words, even if you’re feeling really angry. If you make your point with snide or demeaning comments, even in a calm voice, you’ll probably regret it. Such remarks can be confusing to your kids, and, depending on their ages, you may have to revisit and clarify the situation later on.
  • When tension is getting too high, have an agreed-upon signal with your spouse to indicate that a discussion must be tabled until the two of you can hash things out – alone. This can be very hard in the heat of the moment, but you have to consider the impact on your children, and put their needs ahead of your own desire to deal with the problem.
  • If you or your spouse loses your temper, apologize (or forgive), take your share of responsibility and be willing to move on. Holding grudges isn’t helpful and won’t improve the situation.
  • Above all, remember that your actions are teaching your kids, for better or worse, what to do when they’re angry. If you want them to learn respectful behavior, healthy conflict resolution and the ability to take responsibility when they mess up, you have to model this. Managing anger is a critically important skill, and you’re the primary teacher.

Your assignmentThink about how you manage the issues you have with your spouse, and how you might better handle these. If you tend to fight in front of your children, look for better alternatives – recognize the importance of keeping calm, or be more proactive in avoiding issues to begin with.

Jun 21

Rules of engagement part 1 – You vs. Child

This week we’re beginning a look at drawing appropriate battle lines on the family front, and handling disagreements, arguments and quarrelling in your household.  This week’s blog addresses disputes between you and your children; next we’ll examine sibling squabbles and the issue of fighting in front of your kids. 


You vs. child – This is always a little tricky, since you have the ultimate trump card: “Because I’m the mom, that’s why!”  On the flip side, some parents engage in a back-and-forth bickering process that seems never-ending – also not the goal to shoot for.


Disagreements between you and your child often have to do with something one of you wants and the other doesn’t (a cool new toy or for all the toys to be picked up,  depending on who’s doing the wanting).  Alternately, disputes arise over something one of you wants more of than the other (minutes before bedtime or help, again depending on which person). The key is knowing where you’re willing to be flexible and where you aren’t, and how (and if and when) to effectively negotiate issues with your child.  Here are some ideas:

  • Don’t say no unless you mean it!  If, after you initially turn down a request, your child negotiates (or begs or cries) and then you change your mind, you’ve just rewarded the exact behavior you don’t want, and you’ve sent the message that “no” doesn’t really mean “No!”  There may be exceptions to this, but the instances should be few and far between.  And…
  • If you change your mind, explain why and make it clear that it is an exception.  Don’t be surprised if your child argues more with a “No” the next time, however.
  • Explain your “No’s”.  It isn’t that you owe your child an explanation each time she doesn’t get her way, but the more she understands your motivations the easier it may be for her to accept an answer she doesn’t like.  If you aren’t willing to buy a toy because it costs too much, or won’t let your daughter eat cookies for breakfast, take advantage of a teachable moment and help her learn about the issue at hand.
  • If you’re about to turn down a request, look for choices your child could make instead.  Maybe there’s not time for a puppet show before bed, but your child could choose between reading a story together or singing a song.  This type of redirection works well with younger children, and by offering other choices you make the situation more positive.
  • It’s ok to say you need time to make a decision (and that you promise not to forget the issue, so your child doesn’t need to ask ten more times).  “I’ll have to think about this,” or “Let’s talk about this with your dad at dinner,” are perfectly good responses to a request.  Don’t feel pressured to make a decision just because your child wants an answer immediately.
  • Know when not to negotiate.  If you want your child to clean his room and he doesn’t, this isn’t negotiable.  When it comes to chores, basic cleanliness, and of course safety and health issues, what you say goes.
  • Avoid excessive negotiation by having clear boundaries.  If your child always has to use the potty and brush teeth before bed and always has to have three bites of vegetables at dinner, your expectations are clear and there’s nothing to argue about.  Once you allow an issue to be negotiated, these boundaries are blurred and your child will then strive for an outcome she likes better.


To read a good article on the PBS Parents website with more strategies for effectively negotiating with children, click here 


Your assignment:  Take a look at issues that tend to pop up between you and each of your children.  Are you good at sticking with your decisions, or do you tend to let your child talk you into changing your mind?  What negotiating tactics would work best for you?  Are there areas where more (or less) negotiating would serve you well?  Pay attention to conflicts that arise this week, and try a new tactic to improve the situation.  Good luck!

Jun 14

The man in your life

With Father’s Day just around the corner, this is a perfect time to think about your husband and his roles.  Often moms are so busy caring for their children and trying to keep their own heads above water that their partner doesn’t get a lot of attention.  If you find this to be the case, there are some ways you can improve things:

·         Don’t take him for granted.  This sounds so basic, but again and again moms tell me that this is a challenge.  Think about how different it would be if your husband wasn’t there, and look for things he does that make your life easier.  Tell him what you appreciate, and be sure he knows what you most value about him as a man, a father and a husband.  Make him feel important, and not like he’s just another of your responsibilities.

·         Make time to be a couple.  It can be hard to take time out when you have small children, but it’s extremely important to maintain your connection as a couple.  Ideally, try for a weekly or monthly (or at least quarterly!) date night so you can get out of the house and away from all distractions.  If leaving home doesn’t work for you, set aside regular time together after the kids are in bed when you turn off the TV, set chores aside and just focus on each other.  The main thing is that you both make some effort to keep your relationship in the forefront.

·         Recognize his need for time.  Men are often better than women at taking the time they need for themselves, but if your husband doesn’t fall into this category then encourage him to do what he enjoys, whether going out for a beer or a round of golf or just spending some time alone.  As a bonus, if you’re supportive of his need for down time he’s likely to return the favor.

·         Think about what would make him happy, in general.  There’s a good chance you’re already doing this.  If not, consider what’s especially important to him (or ask him if you aren’t sure) – steak once a week? sex? clean socks? a tidy living room? – and look for ways to balance these desires with your own needs and available time.

·         Let him have a parenting style that’s different from yours.  Moms often want to micromanage their partner’s parenting, and it can be tempting to make lots of corrections.  Unless there’s a health or safety issue, don’t do this!  It’s ok if Dad changes a diaper differently than you do, or if he prefers wrestling over reading stories.  There’s no one right way to do things, and the more you and your husband can respect the other’s ability to effectively parent, the better things will be for all of you.  Try to focus on what you especially like about his interactions with your children instead of what you disagree with.


None of this takes away from the fact that you also need time, care and appreciation, but you’ll often find that the more supportive you are of your husband, the more he’ll tend to respond in kind.  May your family’s Father’s Day celebration be a special one!


Your assignment:  Think about your partner this week, and things you could do that might make him happier, or your relationship better.  Appreciate what he brings to your life and your family, and let him know how important he is to all of you.

Jun 07

Raising sons

Last week we looked at raising daughters, so this week we’re addressing sons.  Did you think, before you had kids, that boys and girls behaved differently because of how they were raised?  Many mothers of boys initially assume (and you know what they say about assuming) that a tranquil household environment paired with calm, gender-neutral activities will create a peaceful child with no particular interest in guns, large machinery, destruction, and all things noisy.  And most of these moms are in for a rude awakening.


I was a mom like this, determined that my influence could overcome basic genetics – and I, like so many others, was completely wrong.  By the age of two, my son was identifying pieces of construction equipment that I, in my thirties, had never learned names for.  Once Legos and Bionicles came on the scene, these became an obsession, and my child quickly took to manufacturing all types of weapons (“Look Mom!  This guy’s arm turns into a laser and he has claws to grab the bad guys!”).  I never expected this, and wasn’t quite sure what to do with it.  My husband was equally surprised.  The irony is that my son is a very caring child, quick to stand up for the underdog, compassionate when someone is sad, generally kind to others.  But this has no bearing on his love of all things destruction-related.  Testosterone trumps environment, yet again.


Moms can impact behavior, but not underlying biology.  Boys are generally more physical, loud and action-oriented, and this isn’t something to try and “fix”.  If you have sons, there are important things to keep in mind:


  • Your son can and should have feelings; try to be comfortable with this fact and don’t stifle his emotions.  The emotional life of boys is an area that has received a lot of attention lately, and about which there are many good resources.  One helpful article is Emotionally Strong Boys, offering highlights from the book Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys.  This book makes a strong case that allowing boys their full range of emotions is one of the best things parents can do.  Real Boys by Dr. William Pollack also examines the damage that can be done by encouraging boys to stuff their feelings, it explains the “Boy Code” that young men are expected to adhere to, and it emphasizes the importance of acknowledging and processing feelings.  Boys who are taught from a young age to “act like a man” and reprimanded when they cry and display “weakness” ultimately have a much harder time functioning in healthy relationships as adults.
  • Recognize that boys are wired for being more active and action-oriented.  An excellent article on this topic is Boy’s Behavior: Why Boys Behave the Way They Do, summarizing the findings of recent research and offering practical steps to integrate more activity into learning situations.  For example, if you want to have a talk with your son you might have better luck if you ask him to go on a walk at the same time, allowing him to be active while communicating with you.
  • The traditional school system poses particular problems for many boys, who have difficulty sitting still for extended periods of time.  The “male learning style” is addressed in depth by The Minds of Boys: Saving Our Sons from Falling Behind in School and Life; the authors explain how boys tend to think and learn, and offer ideas on helping boys to become better motivated and stay focused on tasks.
  • Be aware of male stereotypes, role models, and perceived expectations.  A boy who isn’t interested in traditionally male pursuits may feel very uncomfortable; a girl who wants to learn about math or science is often encouraged, while a boy who says he wants to be a nurse or wants to take gymnastics or ballet classes is often discouraged or made fun of.  There can be pressure put on boys to excel at sports, especially if their fathers were athletes; boys who lack athletic ability can find themselves in an uncomfortable situation, feeling like they’ve let other family members – or themselves – down.
  • Above all, let your boy be who he is.  This can be difficult if your son doesn’t fit the traditional “boy mold”, because others (other moms, family members, even husbands) may make judgments about you and your child.  If your son runs around too much or makes too much noise, for example, he’s considered unruly and you must not be disciplining him enough.  If he isn’t good at sports, you must not have given him enough training.  You get the idea.  If your son cries easily, you yourself may be uncomfortable because boys “aren’t supposed to act that way.”


As with all children, the most important thing you can do is to make him feel loved unconditionally, so he learns to believe in himself, and has a secure place from which to grow and explore his world.


Your assignment:  If you have a son, take some time this week to think about the relationship you have with him and the messages you give him through your actions.  Read current information that will help you better understand his life right now, take some one-on-one time to interact with him, let him share his interests with you, or just tell him all the things you think are special about him.

May 30

Raising daughters

It should be so easy, right?  You used to be little yourself, so bringing up a confident, self-assured, happy young woman ought to come naturally… but of course it’s not that simple.


Many books have been written on this subject (a few of which I’ve referenced below), so a short article can barely scratch the surface.  Still, there are some good things to keep in mind depending on your daughter’s age; if she is:


Preschool age or younger – encourage her in every way possible as she explores the world.  Help her to discover what she likes and what she doesn’t, and give her lots of opportunities to try new things (foods, sports, activities, anything!).  At this age you have great influence over her friendships, so nurture the relationships with positive and happy children whose behavior you’d like your daughter to emulate.


Early grade school – as she moves into elementary school, her aptitudes will become more pronounced.  Help her make the most of whatever areas she’s strong in, and try to avoid setting your expectations based on gender (“She’s a girl, so of course she’ll be a good reader but not so good at math,” for example).  Let her start developing her own sense of style, but don’t put pressure on her to look a certain way; society will do this soon enough.  If her favorite outfit doesn’t match perfectly, let her wear it anyway.


9-11 years – with puberty approaching, issues with friends, classmates and popularity may become more pronounced.  A Smart Girl’s Guide to Friendship Troubles, published by American Girl, offers a great selection of age-appropriate solutions to typical problems, along with several real-life stories of girls facing difficult situations with friends. 


Girl Scouts of America and the Dove Foundation have created a program called Uniquely Me! that focuses on issues girls face at this age, offering activities, quizzes and talking points to help girls develop healthy self-esteem and consider common challenges.  For information and free materials, click here.


During this time before the “tween” years hit in earnest, your daughter is still likely to enjoy spending time with you; take advantage of opportunities to do things together, to help strengthen your bond for the more tumultuous years that may lie ahead.  Recognize that she is far more grown-up in her own mind than you believe her to be.


Adolescent – for many girls, the tween and early teen years are the most difficult.  Social pressures are often at the forefront, and trying to fit in and find one’s place in the world can be hard for girls who aren’t part of the “popular” crowd.  Two widely recommended books are Queen Bees and Wannabees and Reviving Ophelia, both offering important insights about the workings of a young girl’s mind and situations, and giving practical suggestions to parents.


Whatever your daughter’s age, keep the lines of communication open as best you can.  Ask her open-ended questions, listen without making judgmental comments (which will shut down the conversation), and help her make her own decisions.  For example, rather than saying, “This is what I would do…” ask her what ideas she has.  Offer input if she needs it (“One thing you could try is…”), but let her draw her own conclusions.  Teaching her to make decisions she feels good about will serve her well throughout her life.


Also, try not to make appearance a focal point.  Do what you can to help your daughter look her best (good diet and exercise habits, regular bathing, etc.), and acknowledge concerns she has about her looks, but don’t give her the message that there’s something wrong with her, even if, for example, she needs to lose a few pounds.  The more you can avoid commenting on your own looks in her presence, the better; if you’re always looking in the mirror or saying that you look fat, she’ll form the belief that this is what grown-ups do, and she’ll try to emulate your behavior.


The most important thing you can do is to make her feel loved unconditionally so she learns to believe in herself, giving her a safety net to fall back on no matter what else is going on in her life.


Your assignment:  If you have a daughter, take some time this week to think about the relationship you have with her and the messages you give her through your actions.  Read a book to help you better understand her life right now, take some one-on-one time to interact with her and give her the chance to talk with you about challenges she may be facing, or just tell her all the things you think are special about her.

May 26


What would we do without our friends?  They’re the ones we need, especially when we’re facing challenges – such as those of parenting or trying to manage a household, a marriage, perhaps a job.  A friend of mine recently hosted a dinner party dedicated to friendship; it was a lovely evening, and reminded each of us of the tremendous importance of friendship, and of recognizing the significant friends in each of our lives.  


How do you create more friendships in your life, or make time for the friends you have now?  Ask yourself a few questions:

  • What kind of friend time would give you the most satisfaction?  Think about what you most want, whether visiting with one friend, a group of friends, or getting together with other couples or families.  Your time is limited, so spend it on what you most enjoy.
  • Who are the people that make you feel happy and renewed?  Make the effort to keep in touch with them, no matter what else you have going on.  Maybe hosting a dinner party isn’t a good option for you right now, but you can always talk by phone or online, host an informal get-together or meet somewhere.
  • What about the kids?  Can you have quality time with friends if your kids are there?  This depends a lot on the temperament and ages of your children.  If you need a few non-kid moments, invite a friend over during naptime, or plan a night out when your spouse can watch the kids.
  • Are you waiting for someone else to call you?  Don’t.  Instead, you be the one to take the initiative.  Pick up the phone or extend an invitation, and get something on the calendar.
  • Do you need to connect with other moms?  This isn’t hard; moms groups (just Google your city and “Moms group”), MOPS groups, and Meetup groups for moms (and their kids) are abundant and easy to find, and you’re sure to find some new potential friends.
  • Don’t forget the friends from your days before motherhood.  These friends can reconnect you to a different part of your identity, and can help you get out of “Mommy mode” for a little while.  Sometimes the dynamic changes when you have a child and a friend doesn’t, but focus on what you still have in common and try not to talk too much about your children.


Through playgroups, preschool and park dates you may encounter lots of potential new friends, but finding the time to connect on a deeper level can be difficult, and reaching out to someone new can be scary.  Here’s the thing – the moms around you are probably in the same boat, and would probably love the opportunity to make a new friend.  Be brave and make the first move.


Your assignment:  Think about the friendships in your life, and how you could make a little more time for your friends… or for finding some new ones.  Build in some friend time this week.  Good luck!

May 18

Role Models

You and your spouse, of course, are the primary role models for your children, as we looked at last week.  However, as kids approach school-age they become more influenced by media and popular culture, and this may lead to interest in role models (celebrities, athletes, etc.) who may or may not be setting such a great example.  What’s a mom to do?


  • DO be aware of who your child looks up to.  If there are particular actors, sports figures or singers he likes, does your child want to emulate their talent?  If so, use this desire as an opportunity for him to try out acting, singing, baseball or whatever the admired skill may be.
  • DO try to find out what your child knows about particular role models.  If your child takes an interest in a celebrity as a person, there may be more need for conversation.
  • DON’T ridicule or make judgmental comments about an admired celebrity; your child will respond by shutting you out.  Instead, ask your child what she thinks about the star.  Her opinion may be more grounded than you expect.  If not, however,
  • DON’T make a big deal about it.  Instead, explain in a neutral way that celebrities have a very different life from yours, and their choices and lifestyle aren’t the same as most people’s.  The fact that a beloved star dresses in certain designer clothes or eats crazy food doesn’t mean that you’re going to allow your child to do the same thing, of course.
  • DO find whatever you can to agree with (“Shaun White certainly is good at snowboarding,” perhaps, or “Miley Cyrus does have a nice voice,” or whatever you can say honestly).  If your child feels like you and he have some areas of agreement on the star, he may be more likely to listen to your opinions about areas where you differ.
  • DON’T try too hard to discourage interest in a particular role model.  Do you remember what it was like to be young and absolutely crazy about a certain performer?  Often the more a parent objects, the more fuel this gives to the child’s interest.


Remember to be proactive, and try to expose children to as many positive role models as you can.  Whether famous or not, everyone from authors to astronauts, teachers to cancer survivors to those who take a stand for what they believe in can be wonderful role models.  Talk to your kids about the people you look up to and why, putting your emphasis on values and qualities you especially admire.  After all, you’re still the most important role model of all.


Your assignment:  If your children are old enough to have famous role models, or celebrities they especially like, spend a little time this week considering the messages, positive or negative, that your kids get from these people.  Have a conversation if you feel concerned, and also talk to your kids about your own role models.

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