10 Steps to Better Parents


10) Your child’s needs are changing as they grow.  Embrace your inner “cup” to fill them with what they need.  The value and beauty of a cup rests n its emptiness and ability to receive whatever it is given.  You are not exactly the same every day. In the same way, clear your mind of what you think you know of your child, and make an effort to get to know your child on a daily basis as they grow.


09) Begin with the ultimate end in mind.  Ask yourself what the relationship with your child looks like 50 years from now.  In every action you take decide if this action, is moving you closer to that ultimate destination you want with your child.


08) Help & hug.  When young children are acting out they really need help.  Forego the threats and consequences.  Identify the need and help them to solve their need. Recall the teachers and mentors you lovingly recall are the ones who spent the time learning what you needed.


07) Make yourself happy-not them.  True entitlements are few in life, but happiness is surely one of them.  Your child is like gold and you the sun.  When you shine they glitter.  Also, we teach our children to make themselves happy in the process.


06) Timmy Time.  Make a special time for your child and do whatever reasonable thing they want during that time.  Even if it is watching their favorite show with them.  As Jesus did with John the Fisherman, go to them in their own activities.


05) Let your yes be yes, and your no be no. This is an exercise of integrity and humility.  We acknowledge that the universe will unfold in its own way and at its own time. Therefore we are careful with our word also understanding and mindful of what we ask of others. It’s about trust and integrity.  


04) Respond more and react less.  Observe, listen, seek to understand, problem solve and respond instead of roaring and raging. You are the role model. Your children will rage when they do not get their way based on your example and leadership – or visa versa– they will sit with love and understanding as others are struggling.


03) Children learn and model based on the examples we set… especially when you think they aren’t looking.


02) Chores. Get them started early.  They will learn the value and satisfaction of work.  They will learn the need to contribute to the whole and nurtures them with a sense of responsibility.


01) Listen to your gut and trust your intuition.

Are you a supermom?

Are you a supermom?

Tis the season in the era of superheroes.  What do we expect from the greatest superhero of them all during the holidays?  Supermoms are cooking up extravagant architectural designs for the grandest gingerbread homes on the block.  Supermoms are waiting in line at 3:00 am to get the perfect present to make this the most memorable holiday until next year.  Supermoms are baking mouthwatering healthy treats that are as delicious to the eyes as they are to the tummy.  Supermoms are doing it all and looking great doing it.  More than any other time of year this when supermoms shine like shooting stars streaking across the night sky.


The uncomfortable truth about being a supermom is that it is often a recipe for stress, resentment, anger, and sadness leading to physical illness. “Super syndrome” and “Supermom syndrome” are two terms gaining traction in psychology and life coaching circles.  Supers try to control every detail of life and often sacrifice their time, energy and health for the love of others.  Supers aim for perfection in service to their children, their spouses, their jobs, and their friends.  


What could possibly be wrong with possessing a strong drive to serve?  Supers aim for an idea that does not exist but in abstract, perfection.  It is an unattainable summit and in the process their own needs are not met.


Since the goal is beyond reach and essential human needs are not met, supers develop excess self-criticism, self-disbelief, depression, and pessimism.  As a result they often lose sleep, have a constant drip of cortisol in their blood stream, may suffer eating disorders, have poor self image, and lose motivation.  Sure to follow from living an imbalanced life would be adrenal fatigue, autoimmune disease, cardiovascular damage, and mood disorder.


There is hope for supermoms and other superheroes.  Dr. Molly Barrow, a clinical psychotherapist, suggests drawing a pie chart each day and blocking off 8 hours for sleep.  She recommends putting your priorities into the pie chart and celebrating your successes each day.  “Well I was able to make Christmas decorations with my child today, but I wasn’t able to paint his room.”  Treat it as a victory.  Give yourself a pat on the back.  We all ought to try to be a little more human and a little less superhuman.  Try learning to let go, embracing the imperfect, and celebrating the incomplete this holiday season.

A child’s odyssey of hardship defiance and hope

Does hardship in childhood keep your child from being successful?

Divorce, chronic illness, trauma, abuse, addiction and neglect are common settings for childhood. 75% of children experience at least one of these ongoing stressors.

So we worry as parents, “Is a child’s full potential limited by these difficult circumstances? Or worse, do these childhood events result in an adult life of despair and dysfunction?”

The good news is NO!

Social scientists studied 400 of the most successful people in the 20th century and this is what they found:

1. Less than 15% were raised in supportive, untroubled homes, and

2. 75% grew up in a family burdened by poverty, abuse, absent parents, alcoholism, or serious illness.

Adverse childhood events teach resilience.

Children learn a way of life to courageously face repetitive and ongoing battles with determination. They are trained to handle adversity and succeed by surviving a decades-long endeavor. Born of the forges of an adverse childhood is a soul ready to flourish.

They flourish by seeking people who care, fighting for a better life for themselves, setting goals, and seizing opportunities.

They possess an inner defiance. Some show it externally by being in a constant battle against others. Others surrender externally while remaining internally defiant. The common denominator is inner defiance and either manifestation is essential.

Basically, inner defiance creates a decades-long resilience that results in a scale of success uncommon among us.

Stress can be a teacher and a coach.  Through the exercise of responding to stress, reshaping an attitude towards stress, and overcoming stress resilience is born. It is born of habit. You become stronger with practice.

People are not more successful because of a happy, stress-free childhood. They are more content and accomplished because of internal fortitude and believing in themselves.

Top Ten Things To Remember This Summer

10. Don’t leave your children in the car, ever.

Thirty-seven children die each year of heat-related deaths after being trapped inside vehicles. It can happen to anyone. TIPS: Have your daycare call you if your child doesn’t arrive. Leave one of your shoes in the back seat.

09. If a child is not old enough to communicate that he/she is hot, or thirsty, then they should not be outside.

Babies are particularly vulnerable to heatstroke. Their bodies still have difficulty regulating temperature. Signs of heat-stroke include; hot but not sweating, hot red dry skin, rapid pulse, restlessness, confusion, dizziness, vomiting, rapid shallow breathing, lethargy. TREATMENT: Move to a cool area immediately (shade or indoors). Remove clothing and wipe you baby with a damp cloth while fanning them. May consider cool bath to bring the temperature down. Go to doctor or emergency room if not improving.

08. Stroller + Blanket = Furnace.

Covering your stroller with a blanket can cause poor air circulation, increased temperatures, and difficulty seeing the status of your child. TIPS: Consider carrying a parasol or umbrella to block the sun. Look for strollers that have large canopies and incorporate netted material to allow air to flow.

07. Big ‘No!’ to jumping in muddy puddles. This is not an episode of Peppa Pig.

Stagnant, or standing water, is a breeding ground for mosquitoes, host to all manner of pathogens, bacteria, protozoa, and helminth (parasitic worms), and can often be contaminated with chemical and biological toxins. TIPS: Educate your children about microbial life with a microscope and water samples.

06. Mosquitos are the most dangerous animals in the world.

Mosquitoes carry West Nile, Zika virus, Chikungunya virus, parasites, and more. In other parts of the world Dengue and Malaria are common. Pregnant women and their sexual partners should avoid areas where Zika is spreading.

Insect repellent is the best way to avoid mosquito bites. DEET was developed by the U.S. Army in 1946 and is still effective. The CDC recommends 10%-30% DEET for children older than 2 months of age. The effectiveness is similar but higher DEET lasts longer (10% = 2 hours, 30% = 5 hours). Although, the EPA and CDC endorse DEET as safe scientists have recently suggested the DEET may be linked to seizures and neurological damage in a laboratory environment.

Oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-menthane-diol (PMD), is a natural alternative. Important to note that oil of lemon eucalyptus (PMD) is a highly refined and intensified product that is far more concentrated than the natural oil from the same plant. Oil of lemon eucalyptus (PMD) carries a label that warns, “Do not use on children under the age of 3.”

Finally, Picaridin was created by Bayer in the 1980s as a synthetic compound from a plant extract related to the black pepper family. It was available in Europe since 1998 and in the US since 2005. Picaridin has been found to be as effective as DEET, but due to its relative newness,  we have yet to understand long term health effects on humans.

05. Repellent, showers, and tick checks can stop ticks.

A handful of viruses, parasites, and bacteria are carried by ticks and all of them are on the rise. There were 115 confirmed cases of Lyme disease in Florida in 2015 up from 85 in 2014. Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass. Walk in the center of trails. Wear hats, use insect repellent (DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus), apply permethrin on clothing. Shower after coming indoors and perform a body check including under arms, in and around ears, and especially the hair. Place outerwear directly into the dryer on high for 10-15 minutes to kill any ticks brought into the house on clothes.

04. Playgrounds: Stay Vigilant.

Beware of molten lava slides that have been baking in the summer sun all day. Give slides a hand check before allowing your littles to put their delicate skin down. Consider visiting a playground with more shade, or a splash area, for a special park day.

Each year in the U.S. emergency departments treat more than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger for playground related injuries. More than 20,000 of these children are treated for traumatic brain injury including concussions. The majority of children are between 5-9 years old. Swings and slides are most dangerous to 0-4 year olds.

03. Lightning is hotter than the surface of the sun and it will hunt you down.

Lightning kills 47 people in the U.S. each year with hundreds more that are severely injured. There is no safe place outside when thunderstorms are in the area. If you hear thunder you are likely within striking distance and it is time to go indoors. Lightning can travel through the electrical and plumbing of your house, so avoid devices that are plugged into the wall and hold off on showers.

If you cannot get to safety, you can slightly lessen the threat of being struck, but don’t kid yourself– you are NOT safe outside. Avoid open fields, tops of hills and ridges. Stay away from tall isolated trees, or other tall objects. If you are in a group spread out to avoid the current traveling between members. Avoid water, wet items, and metal objects. Get to a vehicle if possible.

02. Drowning can happen in an instant.

On average 9 people die from drowning every day in the U.S. Drowning is most common for children 5 and under, but is the second leading cause of death for people age 5-24. Don’t go into the water unless you know how to swim. Never swim alone. Learn CPR. Make sure the body of water matches your skill level. Don’t fight currents, stay calm and float with it, or swim parallel to the shore until you can swim free. Swim in areas supervised by a lifeguard. Don’t dive in unfamiliar areas. Never drink alcohol when swimming. Talk to your teens about alcohol. Alcohol is involved in about half of all male teen drownings.

01. Avoid grizzly bears

“All the books tell you that if the grizzly comes for you, on no account should you run. This is the sort of advice you get from someone who is sitting at a keyboard when he gives it. Take it from me, if you are in an open space with no weapons and a grizzly comes from you, run. You may as well. If nothing else, it will give you something to do with the last seven seconds of your life.” — Bill Bryson

Raising a Minimalist

If traveling has taught me one thing it is that happiness is resilient and not dependent on things.  I have seen music and song, laughter and smiles blooming from the most modest of circumstances.  Mothering.com struck a chord in me with “Why I’m Raising a Minimalist” by Sherri Vettel.  Vettel’s message is of self-sufficiency and finding a freedom to focus on what is important in life.

Link to Original Article

Why I am Raising a Minimalist

Our writer explains why she's teaching her children minimalism. While I do not live a completely minimalist lifestyle, there is a certain freedom that I have come to associate with it, a freedom I wish to share with my son.

It’s a freedom to live without superfluous stuff weighing me down; freedom from meaningless items and monotony; freedom to find a passion and a purpose; freedom to focus on what really matters in my life.

Several months ago my family and I were handed a blessing in disguise. We found we needed to make several lifestyle changes and evaluate what we really wanted out of life. My initial reaction was to think about all the stuff that I would have to let go of. My husband, a true minimalist at heart, quickly convinced me otherwise.

Within a few months, we had a pond for an aquaponics venture in our backyard, a nearly constructed chicken coop and more time together as a family — all of which were dreams we had deferred. We now have a plan to start living with less, while opening ourselves up to a fresh way of sorting our day-to-day lives.

Minimalism is defined as “a way to escape the excesses of the world around us — the excesses of consumerism, material possessions, clutter, having too much to do, too much debt, too many distractions, too much noise.”

Here’s why I want to raise my son as a minimalist:

1. I want my son to be self-sufficient.

Between the high price tag of wholesome, organic food and the rising cost of living expenses, we decided self-sufficiency is key.

We are slowly teaching our son how to grow and prepare his own food.  He worked on a farm, planted his own seeds and harvested homegrown vegetables. He is watching his father build, create and plan for a better life for ourselves and our community. Our investment in these principles is an investment in his future. He will need less if he has the freedom to do more.

2. I want him to have a zest for life, not money.

Is life worth working 40+ hours a week for a little extra spending money? What lifestyle changes can be made to consume less? I believe self-sufficiency is one answer — if you can do something for yourself, you may not have to pay someone else to do it for you.

Changing my beliefs about money has served as a starting point for me. I began thinking about the money that I spent as energy. Before I purchase anything I ask myself: “Is this where I want my energy to go? Will this purchase help us fulfill our life journey and what we believe in?”

Because of this thinking pattern, my purchases have been wiser. We are working less and have saved money, even though we are paying higher prices for what we value (buying goods from a small business owner may be more expensive, but we no longer spend money on things that are not meaningful).

I hope that teaching my son to appreciate money in this way will help him avoid buying into consumerism and allow him to find financial freedom at a younger age. This freedom will ideally give him a zest for life and going after what he really sees as his purpose.

3. I want him to collect memories, not things.

When I reflect on my childhood, I value the experiences that I had, not the toys that I got to play with. I hope my son will do the same.

I want my son to collect so many memories that he is bursting at the seams with them! He will be the best person that he can be because he tasted new experiences, gained fresh perspectives and stepped outside of his comfort zone a time or two.

To honor this, we are choosing to gift him with these experiences instead of flashy toys. In lieu of gifts, we spend his birthday on an adventure of his choosing. Instead of requesting birthday party presents we encourage donations to a local charity or non-profit. Two Christmases ago we saved for months, and instead of blowing the budget on “things,” we gave him his first passport stamp and went to Costa Rica (he still talks about it even though he was less than two!).

My son has a minimal amount of toys and he is happy. He finds delight in nature and is perfectly content to throw rocks in a pond, make mandalas out of leaves, splash in mud puddles and hike for miles. I have fewer trinkets to organize and he has more opportunity to use his imagination.

Getting rid of the extra toys can be quite freeing too!

4. I want him to appreciate the people in his life.

I am awakened to the fact that in the past I often appreciated ‘things.’ I worked harder for better grades and more money than I did for the people who really mattered in my life. There is no comparison between things and loved ones. Loving people and loving yourself is worth more than all of the material things in the world. I hope my son always remembers this.

John Green summed it up nicely: “People were created to be loved. Things were created to be used. The reason why the world is in chaos, is because things are being loved and people are being used.”

Photo credit: Philippe Put