Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What do you do when you have different parenting beliefs?

What do you do when you and your partner have different beliefs about parenting?

This is actually a very common problem. I would go so far as to say that every family suffers from this issue or I should say every child suffers from this parenting issue.

In my 20 years of experience I have found that the most common way this is expressed is in how parents discipline. More specifically, what they discipline for and when they will discipline a child.

In extreme cases this can lead to seperation and divorce. On the most mild end of things, the child can use the differences to manipulate and control the home. None of this things are necessary!

Here's a couple quick ideas to get parents on the same page:

1. Take a parenting class. There are classes in every city of America and maybe the world. Point is that a parenting class can be found and they are all good so why don't parents take one? Is it pride? Stubbornness? I know it can't be money because many classes don't cost anything. If there isn't a class in your area, I know there are thousands of parenting books available to read. I wrote one myself!

Once parents take a class or read a book together, they can start parenting using the same techniques and philosophy. Most parents parent based on their experiences as a child, good or bad. Learn a new, third way of doing things.

2. Two heads are better than one. Never make a decision about without two parents agreeing. If you can't agree, then decide not to decide. I am not talking about the mundane things like what to make for dinner...or am I? Maybe this too needs to go through the parenting committee. Put your heads together and decide that too.

Most kids split the parents knowing who they can work and asking that one a question. Tell the child you will decide after you talk to the other parent. Let them tantrum and fume. There really isn't that many crisis situations, at least on the life and death spectrum, when it comes to making a parenting decision.

3. Learn from one another and tell each other what you like about their parenting. This could be the hardest part for many parents but a little sugar goes a long way. Besides the parenting relationship angle, this idea is useful in using similar parenting styles. No one parent knows it all or is perfect. Every parent has strengths and weaknesses. Learn and acknowledge the good points in the other and you will find, over time, that you are parenting in a very similar fashion.

4. Use over 3000 parenting tools and tips of the Parenting Toolbox. The membership is lifetime and you never renew your fees. It is like parenting insurance with no annual dues. And if you join today you get a no charge membership to the Anger Toolbox as well. That is a two for one special offer. Start building a stronger, happier home today at

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Ron H., Contributor

Sunday, June 15, 2008

THE SECOND HALF: The role of 'dad' has evolved with the boomers

With Father's Day just around the corner, I couldn't help but think about all of the great boomer dads I know, beginning with the one I am married to.

It's been an interesting evolution of this significant role, especially considering that we boomers were raised in a cultural environment that demanded our parents follow some fairly strict rules when it came to parenting.

Weekly visits with “Father Knows Best” left us all believing that an impeccably dressed father should come home at the end of the day, just in time to read the newspaper and then sit down to a delicious meal prepared by his lovely wife Margaret, who was also impeccable in her Peter Pan-collared dresses and starched white aprons.

Any problems with “The Beaver” and/or Wally, and Ward Cleaver would offer up both the discipline and sage advice. Meanwhile, June would disappear into the kitchen, to clean up after dinner and, most likely, begin tackling the next round of never-ending domestic chores.

While these definitions of parenting may have provided some comfort for people, this approach also proved to have some real shortcomings. As the women's movement raced across the country, it was only a matter of time before men began looking at fatherhood in a very different way. The results have been interesting.

The University of Michigan recently conducted a study of 1,761 children living in a two-parent, intact family. (Remember, these fathers were either raised by boomers or are boomers themselves.) Consider their findings:

* Seventy-five percent of the fathers sampled reported hugging their children or showing them affection every day.

* Thirty-three percent said they tell their children that they love them on a daily basis.

* Sixty percent say they joke and play with their children each day.

* Nearly 90 percent reported that being a father is the most fulfilling job a man can have.

* Eighty percent of the dads said they were involved in choosing their children's activities, while 67 percent helped select their children's day care and schools.

These fathers also reported being involved when it came to setting limits on the following family issues: establishing when it is time for homework (62 percent); limiting snacks (63 percent); controlling whom a child spends time with (40 percent); and controlling how children spend time after school (46 percent).

More than half of these fathers knew the first and last names of their children's closest friends, and 77 percent said that when their children aren't home, they know what friend they are with.

These are encouraging results, as they signal good stuff for those children fortunate enough to be living with both of their parents. But this study also left me thinking about how all of the children in single-parent households are fairing.

I have a personal interest in this because, believe me, when I was growing up Ward Cleaver wasn't pulling into our driveway every night. Nope, in the 50s my brother and I were a bit of an anomaly -- a couple of kids being raised by a single working mother and a single working grandmother -- right there, smack dab in the middle of southern California suburbia.

But what do I know from my own experience? I'm happy to report that children from single-parent households can, and do, grow up to be healthy, happy adults. Truly, some of the best fathers I know were raised by single parents -- like my big brother.

I guess it all comes down to this little boomer lesson: If you are a father, whether living with your children or not, be as involved as you possibly can. Your children will be better for it. Fatherhood may not be the easiest job you'll ever have but it just may be the most gratifying.

Happy Father's Day!


Tracey Barnes Priestley

For the Times-Standard

Tracey Barnes Priestley has a master's degree in community counseling psychology and has been a counselor, educator and consultant for more than 30 years. She is married and the mother of three adult children. You may e-mail her at or write to her at 665 F St., Arcata, CA 95521. Tracey regrets she is unable to personally answer all letters.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Supporting children with learning disabilities

Having a child with learning disabilities can be not only frustrating, but also discouraging for parents. Last week I discussed symptoms of learning disabilities and how parents could identify if their child exhibited these signs. discusses ways to support your child, which include:

Recognize, accept and understand your child's learning disability.

Make sure that you understand the school's explanation of your child's learning differences. Don't be afraid to ask questions and get the information in layman's terms. Ask how that disability will affect your child at home and at school.

Find your child's strength.

It can be something very simple that you take for granted; for instance, your daughter is a good storyteller or a whiz at building things. Find and praise your child's talents: "You described that field trip so well!" Identify those talents and acknowledge them with specific praise.

Find ways to work with your child's disability.

If she speaks well but has difficulty writing, you and her teacher could explore alternative forms of assessment. Discuss with the teacher whether it would be possible for your child to do a project or presentation instead of an essay.

The National Center for Learning Disabilities offers a parenting guide for children with learning disabilities. Go to for your free guide. It is important for parents to provide love and understanding to their children no matter what their disability might be.

Michelle Aycock is a licensed psychotherapist with an office in Savannah. Her office number is 912-233-4294 or you can go to her Web site for information: Go to Michelle's blog at

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Michelle Aycock

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Parenting - it's a communication basket

Parenting is a 'basket' which communicates love, forgiveness, disappointment, pain, happiness and all the other emotions.

For me, there are many issues that parents face every day, the two most challenging being finances and sharing time.

Family meetings, therefore, are one of the fruits in the communication basket. These sessions facilitate discussion on what happened during the day, even for 10 minutes or at least twice in the week and twice on the weekends.

Then, as the saying goes, 'The family that prays together stays together.' Worship is a fruit in the basket. Even if the family is not able to attend church every Saturday or Sunday, worship at home is vital. A knowledge of God, as well as regular prayer, is critical to a child's upbringing.

Use proverbs

Children need to know they are appreciated in the home - that they are not mistakes. Love and appreciation are other fruits in the basket. Love has to be communicated with sincerity. As a single mom, I show love even when I am scolding my son and daughter. I use proverbs instead of negative words or words to belittle them. I also apologise when I am wrong or if I shouted when I could simply discuss the matter. So forgiveness is another fruit in the communication basket.

At times when I am too tired or moody to talk about how much they mean to me, I write them individual letters and express how I feel. Don't say bitter things about the other parent if he or she is not in your life anymore. Children don't like that. Instead, explain, clearly and lovingly, why the relationship did not work out.

In that basket of parenting, respect for humanity allows the child or children to understand the importance of life so they learn to love their friends and classmates as themselves. Each life is a gift. Food must be in that basket. A family must find the time to eat together, at least once per week, where memories and stories are discussed at the table.

Parenting is a job, a lifelong one. I ask questions consistently, especially of older people. I listen to others, including my children, because they, too, have a say. Then, of course, I read books and observe people's behaviour patterns.

Try to have fun while doing this life-long job and remember we as adults were children too. Never lose the child within you.

Donna Harriott is single parent to a 14-year-old boy and a young woman now in college. This mom is also a high-school teacher and an artist.

Posted in Jamaica - Gleaner
Donna Harriot, Contributor