Types of Parenting Styles: Finding Yours and Why It Matters

happy child with adult

What’s your parenting style? It’s a common question, especially in online parenting quizzes or magazines. Parenting styles — not to be confused with parenting practices — are part of your child’s environment. And it’s a part that plays a big role in shaping who she becomes. 

Learning about different parenting styles isn’t just a new trend with cute labels. Researchers and developmental psychologists have found parenting styles affect a child’s home environment, but that’s just the start. They also influence her personality, physical health, emotional and mental health, and success throughout childhood. 

Not sure which style of parenting you follow? Read on to learn about the four parenting styles and how they affect a child’s life.

What Are Parenting Styles?

Parenting styles are psychological theories or ideologies behind the strategies parents employ while raising children. Parenting styles are not the strategies themselves. A parenting style is a combination of several elements including:

  • A parent’s actions towards the child
  • A parent’s attitude towards the child, e.g., warmth or affection
  • How much a parent demands of a child
  • How much a parent responds to a child
  • Methods for discipline, e.g., time-ins versus time-outs
  • Communication style, e.g., yelling or talking
  • Maturity of the parent
  • Self-control levels of the parent

A parenting style is more than just a label — it drives the child’s environment. Each parenting style has a unique impact on the child’s health, self-esteem, emotional intelligence, social development, and mental well-being. 

How It All Started: Origins of Parenting Styles

In the 1960s, psychologist Diana Baumrind studied family socialization, particularly the various methods to raise children and how it affects children’s behavior. Baumrind observed preschoolers and discovered three types of parents:

  • Authoritative
  • Authoritarian
  • Permissive

To expand on Baumrind’s findings, researchers later added a fourth parenting style: uninvolved. 

Authoritative Parenting

types of parenting styles: parent with two children outside in fall

Let’s first take a peek at what authoritative means. Although this word is sometimes used to mean dictatorial (or even bossy!), authoritative can also mean complete or based on accurate information. In authoritative parenting, a parent’s authority relies on concrete information — never the “because I said so” argument. 

An authoritative parent establishes firm yet clear rules and expects a child to follow these rules but not without question. An authoritative parent explains why the rules are in place and provides the support and guidance needed to follow the household rules.

If a child fails to follow a rule — which can happen more than we like! — an authoritative parent doesn’t jump to quick punishments. Instead, an authoritative parent teaches the child the right behaviors and supports him in making new, better decisions. A child experience consequences rather than punishments. In this way, children learn how and why the rules are important. 

To a child in an authoritative home, rules have meanings. They aren’t just arbitrary ultimatums. Rules help foster emotional self-control and independence.

Attachment parenting is a popular parenting philosophy, and many of the tools in attachment parent (such as babywearing) mesh well with an authoritative parenting style due to the emphasis placed on high responsiveness. 

An authoritative parent:

  • Is both demanding and responsive
  • Responds positively to children
  • Is warm 
  • Is assertive but not pushy
  • Offers feedback and constructive criticism 
  • Offers forgiveness for mistakes
  • Prefers positive discipline over punishment 
  • Uses reward systems as well as praise

If the above statements reflect your parenting style, you may be an authoritative parent.

How Authoritative Parenting Impacts Children

Although the authoritative style focuses on rules, authoritative parenting does have a positive effect on child development. Children who grow up in authoritative households are generally cooperative (in home and school) and responsible. They also demonstrate strong emotional regulation and good decision-making skills. 

This is because authoritative parents provide clear expectations and lead with confidence yet still attend to the emotional needs of the child.

Authoritative parenting also contributes to the overall physical well-being of a child. A 2015 study published in the Pediatric Dentistry journal found children of authoritative parents had the fewest dental cavities when compared to children parented under other styles. This could be attributed to the authoritative tendency to create rules while explaining their importance — like how brushing teeth before bed prevents cavities.

Authoritarian Parenting 

Not to be confused with authoritative parenting, the authoritarian parenting style is characterized by strict rules with harsh demands for compliance. Unlike authoritative parenting, authoritarians prioritize obedience above all else. Parents who use authoritarian parenting expect compliance without question. You might hear “because I said so” a lot in an authoritarian household.

An authoritarian parent:

  • Expects compliance without attention to a child’s emotional needs
  • Is demanding but not responsive
  • Is cold
  • Focuses on punishment over positive instruction
  • Has high expectations with little warmth

If a child in an authoritarian house fails to follow a rule, punishment is the response. Punishments, unlike positive discipline, lead to a child feeling bad without the proper tools to learn from past mistakes.

How Authoritarian Parenting Affects Children

Children who live in authoritative and authoritarian households both learn to follow the rules. The difference is that children in the authoritarian households tend to lack the emotional stability of children reared through authoritative practices.

Researchers find children living under extreme parental control are more likely to develop low self-esteem as well as behavior problems. Low self-esteem can contribute to aggression and general feelings of anger and discontent. 

In the most extreme cases, children of authoritarian parents develop good lying skills to avoid strict punishments. Researchers from a 2012 University of New Hampshire study also found children raised in authoritarian houses are more likely to become delinquents with generally mistrusting personalities.

Permissive Parenting

While authoritative parenting focuses on high demand and high responsiveness, permissive parenting is characterized by high responsiveness with low demands. Although permissive parents are loving, they don’t set many rules, and if any rules are broken, there are few (if any) consequences. 

Permissive parenting communication often seems more friend-to-friend rather than parent-to-child. For example, a permissive parent may ask about grades or schoolwork but offer no consequences for poor grades. Poor behavior is justified by a “kids will be kids” attitude. 

A permissive parent:

  • Creates household rules but rarely enforces them
  • Doesn’t focus on consequences or punishments
  • Shies away from heavy interaction 
  • Is warm, loving, and responsive but not demanding
  • Acts like a friend rather than a parent 

If the above statements resonate, you may have permissive tendencies. 

How Permissive Parenting Affects Children

Because of a lenient parenting style, children who grow up in permissive households tend to struggle with authority — simply because indulgent parents don’t model the value of rules or the importance of self-control.

Children of permissive parents are likely to struggle with grades, according to researchers. Emotionally, these children may be at a higher risk for feelings of sadness. 

Permissive parenting also affects the health of a child. One study explored the link between permissive parenting and obesity. Children with permissive parents were more likely to consume low-nutrient-dense foods as well as struggle with obesity. There is also a direct correlation between lack of rules about oral health — such as brushing teeth before bed — and increased risk of dental decay. 

In the most extreme cases of permissive parenting, a child may develop egocentric tendencies and impulsive behaviors, according to a study published in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.

Uninvolved Parenting

The fourth style of parenting, later added to address parents who didn’t fall into any of the initial three styles, is uninvolved.. Uninvolved parents, sometimes referred to as neglectful parents, don’t provide for children’s emotional needs. In extreme cases, an uninvolved parent may even fail to provide the basic needs of food, shelter, clothing, and education.

An uninvolved parent:

  • Is neither demanding nor responsive 
  • Declines communication, e.g., failing to ask questions about school or friendships 
  • Does not make rules
  • Does not provide instruction or punishment 
  • Is indifferent, neither warm nor cold

How Uninvolved Parenting Affects Children

Without any rules, support, or communication, children of uninvolved parents lack proper direction in life. This increases a child’s risk of illicit behavior, missed school days, and poor behavior. These children struggle to regulate their emotions and can be at a high risk for suicidal thoughts or tendencies. 

Impact of Different Parenting Styles

You’ve probably heard the phrase that children are like little sponges who soak up the world around them. Just like they learn to brush their hair by watching you brush your hair, they’re learning to simply be by watching you, too. As children are exposed to certain parenting styles, their personalities develop in response. 

For example, if you adopt an authoritative parenting style, your children are more likely to demonstrate kindness towards others, according to a 2006 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. With kindness comes other positive personality traits like empathy and conscientiousness.

Dr. Thomas G. Power, a researcher studying the link between childhood obesity and parenting styles, determined that children fell under one of the following four categories:

  • Assertive and self-controlled (authoritative)
  • Discontented, distrustful, or even withdrawn (authoritarian)
  • Little to no self-control (permissive)
  • Desire to retreat from warmth and love (uninvolved)

If you notice any signs of discontentment or lack of self-control in your own children, it’s not too late to adapt your parenting style and use healthier parenting strategies.

The first step is to mindfully reflect on your parenting styles, your responsiveness, what you demand of your child, and how you interact with your child. Replacing any punitive parenting strategies with positive discipline and loving instruction can make your home more peaceful and have a lifelong effect on your child.

Which Parenting Style Is Most Effective?

types of parenting styles: child being held

When it comes to parenting styles, the term effective can be subjective, but this is a question many parents want answered. Learning which style is more effective is a good way to perform a quick analysis of your own style — to make sure you’re on track.

The tricky part is both authoritative and authoritarian styles have success with kids following rules. The difference is the effect each style has on a child.

A truly effective parenting style is one that helps a parent raise a well-adjusted, confident, happy child who has high emotional intelligence. To do so, an effective parenting style must:

  • Prioritize clear expectations of the child
  • Prioritize high demands of the parent coupled with a high responsiveness rate
  • Pave the way for open and loving communication
  • Place priority on positive discipline rather than punishment

Which Parenting Style Do You Follow?

Most parents find they don’t fit solidly into just one category. For instance, you may employ authoritative practices for the most part but struggle with leniency (a sign of permissive parenting) when children start to beg. 

To find out which parenting style you follow, it’s important to evaluate your demandingness and your responsiveness. 

Comparing Your Demands With Your Responsiveness

If you find yourself with high demands but are warm and responsive, you may follow an authoritative parenting style. If you find yourself with high demands but are colder and less responsive, you may employ authoritarian parenting strategies.

On the other hand, if you have low demands but are still warm, nurturing, and responsive, you may be a permissive parent. If a parent has low demands but is indifferent and completely unresponsive, this parent may be uninvolved. 

Where to Go From Here

Because the different types of parenting styles have a direct effect on a child’s emotional and physical well-being, it’s important to evaluate your own parenting style. For example, do you struggle to stick with the pre established consequences when your child begs? It’s not too late to give your parenting style a makeover if needed. 

Armed with knowledge and motivation, you can learn to incorporate a more positive parenting style by emphasizing your authority while still tending to your children’s needs. With dedication, you’ll find that you and your children have stronger bonds while their behavior improves.

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Talking Dirty 101

Talking dirty is a great way to ramp things up in the bedroom or start a little foreplay long before you’re ready to retire to the bedroom. Many people, however, find talking dirty downright awkward. They know what they want to say, but when it comes out of their mouth, it feels uncomfortable — and that uncomfortable feeling can quickly ruin the mood.

The good news is, you’re not alone. Many people struggle with talking dirty, so you’re certainly not the first to wonder where to start! The better news is, we’re here to help. With this simple guide, you can learn more about heating things up inside the bedroom — and on your way there.

Step One: Get Comfortable Talking About Sex

One of the biggest mistakes many people make in their relationships is that they simply aren’t comfortable talking about sex with their partners. Doing it isn’t necessarily a problem. Talking about it, however, brings on stammers and stutters.

Get comfortable talking about sex with your partner. Develop your own code, if you like, especially if you have children still in your home and you don’t want them to overhear (or understand what they’re overhearing). Ask your partner what they like and what they don’t like. Discuss new things the two of you might like to try, from adding a vibrator like Crescendo or Tenuto to your bedroom play to trying out a new personal lubricant. As you talk more about sex, you’ll find that it gets easier to talk dirty. Sure, those discussions may start out clinical, but there’s nothing clinical about the relationship between you and your partner, as you’ll quickly discover when you open the door to more of those intimate chats.

Step Two: Learn Your Partner’s Fantasies

Most people indulge in a fantasy every once in a while, especially when they masturbate. What is your partner daydreaming about — and how can your dirty talk play into that? You may find that your partner has a few specific things that he’d love to hear you say, or that she would get incredibly turned on hearing you talk through a specific scenario. Learning what your partner wants is a great place to get started, and can increase your confidence so that the next time you’re ready to talk dirty, you’re more comfortable with it.

Step Three: Start with the Simple

When you head into the bedroom with your partner, especially when you’re just getting ramped up, keep it simple: talk about what you want. What is it that you genuinely can’t wait for your partner to do to you in that moment? The imagination can be a powerful tool in the bedroom, especially for women, who often struggle to get in the mood when their heads aren’t in the right place. As arousal increases, you may start imagining exactly what you want your partner to do next.

You can’t wait for him to go down on you. You’d love to feel her tongue slipping across your head. His hands would feel amazing on your breasts. Are you hoping to try out something new during this particular session — or perhaps during the immediate future? Tell your partner exactly what you’re daydreaming about. Be as explicit as you like. After all, this is the person you want to share those passionate moments with! If you want, for example, to introduce Crescendo into your play, talk about how you’d love to have a specific area stimulated while your partner performs another action — or how you’d love to use it to stimulate your partner while they do something else entirely to you.

Once you’ve moved past foreplay, you can still tell your partner what you want to do next or what you’re waiting for.  How are you imagining reaching orgasm? Where would you like to be? What would you like to be doing? Where do you want your partner? Use the language that makes you most comfortable.

Step Four: Describe Your Pleasure

“I love it when you [X].”

“You make me feel amazing.”

“I can’t wait for you to cum for me.”

As the pleasure ramps up in the bedroom, words often fall away. You’ll find, however, that adding a little dirty talk to your bedroom play can increase your excitement level as well as increasing your communication with your partner, which can ultimately increase your pleasure. Tell your partner how you’re feeling. Describe not just what you want them to do next, but also exactly what they’re getting right and how much you love it. Feel free to describe the sensation of him inside you or her wrapped around you. Let your partner get an up close and personal explanation of exactly how you’re feeling, and watch how it increases the pleasure for both of you.

Giving feedback to your partner during sex is another aspect of dirty talk that can ultimately pay off for both of you. Sometimes, your silence is a sign that you’re genuinely enjoying something, your stillness an indication that your partner has hit just the right spot and you don’t want it to end. Your partner, however, may worry that they’re getting it wrong — and as a result, it may end the foreplay for the time being. Instead, talk about it. Tell your partner what they’re getting right. They’ll love the feedback, and you’ll love that they stay with that perfect strategy for just a little longer.

Step Five: Tell Your Partner What You Like About Him/Her

One of the sexiest things you can do in the bedroom is describing what you like best about your partner. Try, for example, some of these strategies.

“I love the way you make me feel so [X].” Do you feel tiny wrapped up in his arms? Does her small stature make you feel like you’re handling something priceless? Describe the way your partner makes you feel and how much you love it.

“I love your [insert favorite body part here].” You’re in the bedroom, so your focus may be on the traditional erotic areas: breasts, butt, genitals. Sometimes, however, those aren’t the things that are the biggest turn-on. Do you, for example, love the way his big, strong hands feel as they run all over your body? Love the feeling of her smaller hands sliding around you for the first time? What about her lips, or his sexy little smile just before he enters you for the first time? Tell your partner what it is that’s turning you on: that special something that sends a little extra thrill running through your blood and adds just a little extra heat to the bedroom.

“I love how you [your favorite thing here].” Sometimes, it’s the little things in the bedroom that you enjoy the most — some of them things that your partner may not even realize they’re doing.

Step Six: Learn to Talk Dirty Outside the Bedroom

dirty talk 101

Once you get past that initial shyness, it may be easier to talk dirty in the bedroom than it is to let that kind of talk see the light of day. Dirty talk, however, can be an incredible kind of foreplay- — one that you can engage in no matter where your partner is or how far away you might be from one another. In fact, dirty talk is a great way to let your partner know that you might be interested in a little something extra in the evening, or that there’s something in particular that you’re looking forward to.

Whisper in your partner’s ear. This is a great strategy when you’re together, but in public. Slip up beside your partner, lean in close, and keep your voice low. Tell him how great he looks in that tux or how well his running pants highlight his assets. Tell her she’s looking particularly gorgeous, or that the way she’s biting her lower lip is turning you on a little more every moment. Then, move on with your normal activities as though nothing has changed — and watch the tension start to increase.

Send in an explicit, dirty text early in the day. Let your partner know exactly what you’re imagining for later in the afternoon. Then, when your partner gets home, put your words into action and make that fantasy come to life! Sending that dirty talk via text message is also a great way to start building your confidence and getting more comfortable with dirty talk in general.

Cuddle up at the end of the night, rest your hand on your partner’s inner thigh, and murmur what you’d like to do to them. If you’re alone, this is a great way to move things straight to the bedroom. If you’re not, it can help increase anticipation or speed things along so that you can end the evening sooner — or at least get your own private party started.

Are you ready to introduce a little more fun into the bedroom? Have you discovered that your partner can’t wait to add a vibrator to your bedroom play? Contact us today to learn more about how the MysteryVibe products can help expand your sexual repertoire, increase your pleasure, and bring you and your partner closer than ever.

Your Ultimate Male Sexual Health Inventory 2019

Responsible people make sure they have a wellness checkup at least annually. It makes them feel safer, catches certain conditions before they become troublesome, and educates them on their bodies. The same is true of a male sexual health inventory by way of an annual visit to your physician if you have a regular partner. But many men continue to hesitate when discussing their sexual issues with their physicians. We're here to tell you that:
  1. Doctors know the science of handling sexual problems.
  2. Your physician has heard it all. Nothing about your sexual health (or lack thereof) will surprise them.
  3. Common sexual problems are potentially treatable.
  4. Erectile dysfunction (ED) may be reversible.
Hey, you! Wake up, guys! Get a checkup now!

Sexual Health Inventory (SHIM)

male health inventory appointment

Yes, the acronym for this kind of check-up is SHIM. The Industrial and Community Health Research Centre, Keele University School of Postgraduate Medicine, Hartshill, and Stoke-on-Trent, England, joined together to provide an estimate of the prevalence of sexual dysfunction in the general population of the UK. Physicians sent an anonymous questionnaire for a random sample of the general adult population. The survey included these questions:
  • How confident are you of getting and keeping an erection?
  • How often were your erections hard enough to penetrate your partner?
  • After penetration, how long were you able to maintain your erection?
  • How difficult was it to maintain your erection to the completion of the intercourse?
  • How often was your attempted intercourse satisfying for you?
Researchers found the following:

Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction, the inability to get and keep an erection during sex, is not necessarily a sign of trouble if occurs from time to time. If it becomes ongoing, however, causes may include these physical or psychological problems:

Physical

  • Injuries that affect the spinal cord or the pelvic area
  • Heart disease
  • Enlarged prostate or prostate cancer treatments
  • Atherosclerosis (clogged blood vessels)
  • Sleep disorders
  • High cholesterol
  • Substance abuse or alcoholism
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Peyronie's disease (scar tissue inside the penis)
  • Obesity
  • Tobacco use
  • Metabolic syndrome (increased blood pressure, high insulin levels, body fat around the waist, high cholesterol)
  • Some prescription medications
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Multiple sclerosis

Psychological

  • Depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions
  • Stress
  • Relationship problems, poor communication, concerns

Let's Talk about Psychological Issues and Sex

man meditating mental health A sexual disorder does not mean that a person has something wrong with them. In today's world, sexual concerns such as erectile dysfunction can improve by a variety of treatments. Some interventions take the form of psychotherapy. Additionally, a sexual disorder only occurs if the person feels a great deal of anxiety or distress in his or her life. Sometimes, for example, a specific fetish is enjoyed and accepted if it is not causing trouble in a person's life. Unfortunately, men with ED sometimes experience a variety of psychosocial stresses that can include:
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • A diminished sense of masculinity and health status
  • Anger
  • A lowered quality of life
  • An unsatisfactory sex life
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Embarrassment
  • Relationship issues
  • Inability to provide sperm for impregnation
Men with depression may have a higher incidence of ED than others of the same age. Physicians have discovered that treating the depression along with the ED actually improves depression scale scores more than only treating the depression. Clinical studies show that being in a loving, supportive relationship can make a person healthier. When significant personal involvements break, this can be one of the most stressful life events and will impact a person's general health. And, the amount of sexual intimacy in a caring relationship correlates with satisfaction within a relationship.

What's a Guy Supposed to Do?

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to get back on track:
  • Work with your doctor to manage your chronic health conditions, including, of course, heart disease and diabetes
  • If you are experiencing periods of depression, anxiety, or other mental health concerns, get some help
  • Continue your regular checkups and keep up with your medical screening and tests
  • Do whatever is necessary to reduce stress
  • Stop smoking
  • Be moderate in the amount of alcohol you consume
  • Eliminate mood-altering, illegal drugs
  • Get into a regular exercise habit
  • Certain medications can treat ED
  • Injections into the penis sometimes work
  • Talk with your partner about issues that may interfere with your sexual energy
  • Think of new ways to keep your sexual relationship exciting and erotic

Some Excellent Advice

Have you ever thought of spicing up your sex life? In many cases, a change of any kind can be the key to renewed closeness. We certainly have some recommendations at MysteryVibe. If your libido needs a bit of a restart, consider reviewing the most innovative pleasure-producing products pages you may have ever seen.

Crescendo

Our product is changing the way people feel about sexual health. The Crescendo can shape to fit your body. Erogenous zones you did not even know existed will appear. This perfect companion for foreplay and intercourse has six powerful motors and is flexible and easy to clean. The MysteryVibe app allows you to control your orgasm or lets your partner join in on the fun. You can pre-set your vibration patterns or create your own. The Crescendo is also unisex and bendable. This tool is the vibrator you and your partner have been searching for these many years. Michael Castleman, a sex counselor at AARP, says that men and women alike can enjoy using a vibrator. He adds that vibrators can:
  • Help women respond to other types of erotic stimulation
  • Some women require stimulation beyond what fingers and mouth can provide
  • Forty-five percent of American men have used a vibrator in partner sex at least once

Tenuto

This vibrator is for men and is wearable. It stimulates multiple areas, increases blood flow, heightens sensations, connects vibrations to partners, and improves the overall sexual experience. MysteryVibe's PLAYbook has all the positions and techniques you need to get the most out of your Tenuto. The possibilities are endless, and to add to the fun, the Tenuto is waterproof. You can control your erection and supercharge both performance and pleasure. The app has preset patterns, but you can create vibrations and intensity patterns yourself, as well. The design stretches and adapts to each user's penis and perineum. By doing so, the Tenuto increases blood flow, extends erections, and prolongs the pleasure. According to Men's Health Magazine, says a study in 2012 found that heterosexual men admitted to using and enjoying a vibrator at one point or another during their adulthood. The magazine continues by stating that MysteryVibe's Tenuto, or as they call it a "guybrator," will probably make men better lovers, too.

The App

The MysteryVibe App is, say many, the best sex toy for couples. Others add that the ability to take control of the vibration speed, intensity, and pattern to suit people's needs is a technological breakthrough.

MysteryVibes PlayBook

Tips for using your Crescendo and Tenuto are in the PlayBook (and we do mean "play"). The clear instructions and the creativity of the positions are bound to get any guy's sexual health level a bit higher with every play date. Harvard Medical School reports that sex is not only a pleasurable activity, but it can also allow a man to participate in and enjoy sexual activity fully. The article states:
A range of physical, psychological, interpersonal, and social factors influence a man's sexual health.
Health.harvard.edu says experimenting with different positions can add interest to lovemaking. For example, increased stimulation of the G-spot when her partner enters from behind can help a woman reach climax. The names of positions enhanced by the Crescendo and Tenuto alone are mental stimulation.
  • Pulsating Spank
  • Giddy-Up Buzzin' Stud
  • Zen Climax
  • Fellatioship of the Rings
Are you in the mood yet?

MysteryVibe

The bottom line here at MysteryVibe is that sex can be improved. America's attitude toward sex has swung from acceptance to disdain and back again. It is our mission to strengthen male and female sexual health. We want individuals to be more comfortable with sex-related conversations and become more open to the idea that sexual "play" is a popular activity. MysteryVibes wants the word itself (sex) to refer to lovemaking instead of something taboo. If MysteryVibe has anything to do with this sort of change, we will wear that badge proudly. Our efforts center on:
  • Making individuals talk, explore, discover, and satisfy their curiosity
  • Elevating people's pleasure
  • Mutually proposing possibilities
  • Talking about what feels good
  • Communicating your desires and fantasies
  • Introducing a variety of choices
  • Boosting relationships and increasing sexual satisfaction
  • Enhancing playfulness, adventure, and increased sensation
  • Inviting exploration
MysteryVibe has the guides, playbook, toys, and technology that will pull you into an exciting, new, and more sensual world. Contact us today for more information.

When Your Kids Are Not Listening: From Yelling To Connection

With three children under age five and 1,440 minutes in a day, for years I felt like I spent most of those minutes in a day either yelling, lecturing, or bargaining with my children.   Like a broken record, my requests would echo as I stood by, silently praying that this time they would cooperate without me needing to yell. Can't they see me? Can't they hear me?! After years of this, my husband and I arrived at one simple conclusion -  our children do not listen. Having a now third child had us feeling extra exhausted, fed-up and like we were in a near-constant battle with a pair of three and five-year-old tiny humans that we loved so much. Was it too much to expect for them to listen without our needing to yell or to repeat ourselves what always felt like five times?
Mom with baby in brown carrier and a young child in a white jacket
The complete lack of listening that existed in our family was brought into 20/20 focus for me the morning I decided to tackle the grocery store with all three kids in tow instead of waiting for the weekend. Wearing our youngest, with another in the cart and our eldest holding onto the side of the cart, we walked in and I was feeling good. I’ve got this. It took all of about three minutes for things to head south.  My oldest son saw the sample station and darted off. I called after him to stop. He didn’t.  Picking up my pace to catch him, I nearly took out a display with my cart. Once at the food station, I tell him he can take just one sample and then we were all done. It was like he grew additional arms. He started shuffling cheese puffs into his mouth as I heard myself saying “No more cheese puffs. We're all done.”  My son persisted to shovel snacks into his mouth. Now feeling both ignored and out of control, I yelled, "Just STOP!" in a voice so loud and full of rage I nearly scared myself. By the time I was able to get my son away from the food tray, both he and my 5-month old son, who had fallen asleep in the sling, were crying and my middle child was throwing items from the snack aisle into our cart. I felt like I'd landed in a game of parenting Jumanji. Wrangling my middle child into the cart while attempting to console my youngest and to get my older child to stay by my side, I left the store without buying a thing, with a fire burning inside me so bright I felt like I might explode. When my husband came home that night, I crumbled. I felt angry, I felt guilty, but more than anything, I felt like a failure and I could not stop crying.

Woman standing in front of the window upset

This shopping incident was not an isolated incident but more of an example of the THEY DO NOT LISTEN TO ME feeling I'd been dealing with what felt like all day every day.  Playtime, Mealtime. Bedtime. Cleanup-time. It never stopped.  I was tired of yelling because frankly, yelling didn't feel good, it was exhausting and it wasn't helping my kids learn to listen.  I felt broken, or like maybe our kids were broken? I wasn't sure, but I knew something had to change. Our family couldn’t continue like this.

Baby with open mouth crawling on the floor

Tired of feeling like I was living inside a boxing match, I was motivated to find a solution, and this is when a friend of mine recommended a positive parenting course that she'd just taken. I clicked through to read about it, and saw that the class had a 100% money-back guarantee. "Good," I thought, "So when I fail this thing, I can get my money back." I read a little further and the phrase "tools you can start to use day one" caught my attention in the course description. "Parenting tools", what a concept. Just reading the words had me feeling just a tiny bit hopeful because frankly when I looked down at the toolbelt I was apparently supposed to have been wearing, I wasn't seeing much. I remember thinking, "What the heck, things can't get much worse." and so my husband and I signed up for the class that night. We got the kids to bed, crawled into bed ourselves with our laptop, and five minutes later we were watching the first class together. About ten minutes into the 75-minute class, the instructor shared the idea that "parenting makes our own lives a-parent". At first, this idea left my husband and me scratching our heads, but by the time we'd completed the first handout/exercise, we were beginning to understand what the instructor was saying, namely, that this parenting thing has as much to do with us, the adults in the room, as it does our kids.  Class one had two big takeaways for us:
  • "What are our parenting triggers?" It turns out that my husband and I share the same trigger --- yep, you might be able to guess it --- it's "not listening". This completely knocks us "off our center" as the instructor called it, leaving us triggered and reacting instead of responding. Every. Time.
  • "How do we react when we are triggered?" It turns out that my husband and I react to feeling not listened to in a similar way as well --- we yell. And when our children resist our yelling? We yell louder. This typically ends with one or both of us overpowering our kids, them cry, and us feeling guilty. 
As I dug a little further into my feelings, I realized that my trigger of “not listening” stemmed from a deeper seed - that of control (or lack thereof in this case). When my children don't listen, I felt like I have no control, and it turns out that this is a hard pill for my type-A personality to swallow. When this happens, I revert to doing things that were modeled for me growing up, aka I yell. It turns out that tension and stress were hijacking the more logical parts of my brain I needed if I wanted to respond instead of react to my kids when they were not listening to me. I sat with this for a week and began to feel more and more hopeful. It occurred to me that instead of changing my kids, I could work on changing myself --- and that if my husband and I could become more aware of ourselves, change might actually be possible. This awareness was like a crack in the door. I could see some light making its way in and I wanted to open that door wide open.

Seedling growing from the cracks of the Earth

Over the next few weeks, I began to realize that parenting is fluid. The way we show up and the tools we use depend greatly on who we are that day and who our children are that day, too. The idea of parenting as a relationship, something we share with our children instead of something we do to them, was introduced to my husband and I in class, and this was rocking my world. I realized that my more controlling, "do what I say" approach to parenting had taught my kids to meet my demands of them with their own defense mechanisms in place, resulting in the locking of the horns feeling we had been dealing with for months/years.  But if I could shift from control to connection, so could my children. If I could feel powerful in noticing, naming and taming my emotions, so too could my children.  By about week five out of the six-week class, I found myself coming at motherhood from an entirely new place. Rather than asking, “How can I get my children to listen to me?,” I began to ask, “How am I feeling? How is my child feeling?" and "Why?" and this shift in my thinking changed everything. Instead of feeling defensive when my child got upset or didn't listen, I found myself staying curious, asking questions, and using the tools we talked about in class. When I realized that it was not my job to stop the hard moments from happening but rather, to manage my emotions and to guide my children when they do --- and everything changed. 

Two boys playing by a window

Since graduating from the class, my husband and I have made connection rather than control our goal.  We're making an effort to accept our children for who they are - complete with all of their strengths and all their struggles, and in doing so, we are finding it easier to accept ourselves as well. We're working on noticing and at times canceling the goals we've created for our children, the ones robbing us of our power to respond instead of react, and our joy. We are setting boundaries without using the words "should" or "need to". And we now look for the unmet need under any misbehavior we see, and we remind ourselves to "connect before we correct".  Parenting in a way that I myself was not parented isn't always easy. Sometimes it feels unnatural and it definitely takes practice, but starting day one, we could both feel and see the difference this approach was having. Not only in our children, but in the way it left us feeling at the end of the day.  More than anything, I've learned that my family - me, my kids, my husband - we are not broken. We are learning and growing every day, and though life still happens and I still feel stressed and overwhelmed on nearly a daily basis, that's okay. We have found our joy again, and that is everything I'd hoped for. ** This article was written by a Generation Mindful mom member who wishes to remain anonymous. Do you have a story about mindfulness and/or connection to tell? Visit here for details and submit an article to our editor for consideration.

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Generation Mindful creates tools, toys, and programs that nurture emotional intelligence through play and positive discipline. Join us and receive joy in your inbox each week.

Time-in Toolkit in action

Juggling Big Emotions

As a seven-year-old girl, I remember my grandpa coming over for the holidays and juggling whatever fruit he could find in our kitchen.  He taught me to juggle using not lemons, but tissues. The fruit was too big for my little-girl hands, but like a set of training wheels, I practiced with those tissues until my hand-eye coordination allowed me to float five in the air, rotating them hand to hand all at once. When I became a parent at the age of 30, I found myself juggling again but this time the things flying perpetually around me were not tissues but diaper changes, breastfeeding, my work, my relationships, and eventually playdates, after-school activities, house-cleaning, and on and on and on --- you know the drill. Right from the start, it was a lot, and I felt like I was coming up short most days.  Fortunately, as I became a mom of two, and then three, and then four, somewhere along the way, I realized that I was not alone in the need to manage my painfully high expectations of myself and my children which left me feeling near-perpetual not-enoughness those first few years of motherhood. A Generation Mindful community member mom recently wrote to me on Facebook, and I was reminded of those days spent learning to juggle as she shared about her night with me. Rae’s night had been tough. She had been heading home from her mom’s house about an hour and a half later than usual, and her kids were hungry, tired, and off of their routines.  With her fourteen-month-old baby girl and five-year-old boy in the car, and five miles between her and home, her baby started screaming, which sent her noise-sensitive son Nick into a full-on downward spiral.  The mental effort that it takes to drive and not become overwhelmed with screaming children in the back seat is sizable, and it was all that Rae could do to breathe and to practice staying calm herself as she navigated the final few miles home.  When this frazzled mama finally got home, she gratefully handed her still screaming 14-month old child off to her firstborn, 11-year-old big sister Angela, so that she could work with her son Nick who was now darting towards the door, screaming that he missed his daddy, who was working out of state. As her young son fell to the floor sobbing, Rae sat next to him and comforted him, validating his feelings.  The juggling proceeded.  With Nick now crying in her arms, the baby had started screaming all over again. Rae could hear loud and clear that this was now an “I’m hungry and sleepy” cry. Two of her children were melting down. Two of her children needed her.  So this warrior of a mama continued to juggle, trusting her intuition to guide her even though she was finding it hard to catch her breath. She reminded herself that being perfect was not her goal --- but that instead, being present was. Rae brought her upset baby to breast, and just when she thought all was lost, something miraculous happened. With all the chaos swirling about, Rae's eldest child Angela went to sit in the family's new calming corner, and that's when it happened --- that was when little brother (mid-tantrum) Nick followed along, with no prodding of any kind. From the next room, Rae listened on as big sister guided little brother through the “What Can I Do” activity mat, an emotional awareness activity that came in their Time-In ToolKit. After listening to her son choose the way he was feeling (sad), Rae could hear her son physically calming down from the next room.   Rae finished putting her youngest to sleep and joined her older two children in their Calming Corner. The three of them played "Simon Says" and wrestled a bit. They talked through a few of the PeaceMakers mantra cards that also came in the kit, including “I am kind,” cuddled, watched some funny animal videos on YouTube, and then went to bed. Rae could not believe it.  She got online that night and shared her experience on Facebook, saying that it usually took Nick an hour to calm and process his emotions, especially when he was in sensory overwhelm as he had been that night --- but that with the help of our Time-In ToolKit and his big sister's example, on this night, he'd found his calm in just 25 minutes. What made Rae happiest of all, was that the calming had been initiated by her son and her eleven-year-old daughter without her intervention or guidance. Juggling our children’s emotions for them or reacting to them does not teach self-regulation. Children learn these vital social and emotional skills in the context of their relationships; through loving limits, compassion, and empathy given in the difficult moments like this night that Rae was having, particularly when empathy does not feel at all "deserved". As parents of little ones, we may never move 100% past the feeling that we are juggling life and the many demands on our time, but we can rest into the knowledge that, though emotions can run high, we are making it safe for our kids to feel, and in doing so, giving our children and the entire world a great, great gift. The gift of a future self-aware, compassionate adult.

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Generation Mindful creates tools, toys, and programs that nurture emotional intelligence through play and positive discipline. Join us and receive joy in your inbox each week.

Time-in Toolkit in action

How Divorced Fathers can enjoy a Happy Holiday Season

At the Men’s Divorce Law Firm, we understand going through a divorce or separation is a challenging and stressful time in anyone’s life, but it is particularly heart breaking when children are involved. The festive season can intensify feelings of stress, despair, hopelessness, loss, failure, and sadness. The holidays often emphasize how much your life after divorce has changed forever.

The Parenting Plan for the Holidays

The parenting plan often requires parents to alternate sharing the children on the major holidays, splitting the holidays evenly over the course of the year. Depending on what works best, holidays are alternated every year, or one parent can celebrate the same holiday each year. Some divorced parents choose to share the day so that each parent can have quality time with their children. This option may require some compromise with the transportation, planning, and coordinating between parents:

  • If one parent is not able to celebrate on the exact day, they may choose the next day or the following weekend to celebrate.
  • Custody agreements will determine what are the best options for all parties involved.  Be sure to follow all custody orders and keep the peace with your former spouse.
  • Instead of being sad over all the changes, show your children that change can be positive. Create new traditions for an enjoyable holiday that you can enjoy this year and for years to come.

Be Flexible and Realistic

Having an enjoyable holiday season is possible if you develop a plan that works for the entire family.  Give time and thought into what you would like to happen and set your holiday season plan up well in advance. Have a positive attitude, especially when you are with the children, and remember that the festive season is for sharing with family and friends. Adding a large pinch of gratitude will help you stay more positive, caring and willing to accept your life as it is post-divorce. In turn, your grateful and positive attitude will reflect in the children and others around you and make it likely that you will have a happy holiday season.

 

Develop a Budget

Keep to a budget and have realistic expectations of yourself and of your family. Try to avoid being over materialistic in your gift giving to garnish favor with the children. Perhaps endeavor to experience more heartfelt activities that you might enjoy doing together with your children. For many children in divorce, they can feel pressure to please both parents all at once, making the holidays a time of stress and guilt for them. Things can easily be hectic for the children in the co-parenting schedule. Try to remember that it is what is best for the children, not what is best for you. Children can also feel guilty asking for presents, the latest electronics, or going away on a vacation like many of their friends might do.  When money may be a concern, you don’t need to focus on what you cannot provide over the holidays. You can create those new memories and traditions together that may be more meaningful than the latest toy, or an expensive vacation. The children will most likely remember the special time you spent with them and how that made them feel happy and loved.

 

Florida Law

The Florida law is clear in that it is important for the children to have relationships with both parents. The courts require an explanation of which holidays and special occasions the child will spend with each parent. There are also rules for parent-child communication over the holidays. It is recommended that you set holiday time-sharing parameters to avoid confusion and conflict.

 

At the Men’s Divorce Law Firm, we can help construct a timesharing schedule and negotiate with your ex-spouse in the best interest of the children. The best solution to a time-sharing or custody dispute is to have a family law attorney represent you.

 

As a father, Attorney Jeffrey Feulner knows the importance of a child’s relationship with both of their parents. If you are a father that needs help with a time-sharing plan for the holidays, contact us at 321DIVORCE (3486723).

Surviving the Holidays after Divorce

If you’re dreading all the holiday cheer and festivities that go along with the season, here are some tips to make more tolerable.

Surviving the Holidays after Divorce

If you’re dreading all the holiday cheer and festivities that go along with the season, here are some tips to make more tolerable.

Breaking The Cycle: A Shift from Punitive to Positive Parenting

girl carrying a large stuffed lion down a dirt road

I doodled as I daydreamed about it in class. I bragged about it to my friends on the playground. My eight-year-old self was over the moon about our upcoming family trip to Grant’s Farm that weekend. I had never yet been there, and I was excited. Like really excited. Saturday morning finally came, and I was ready. Perfect outfit, check. A quick bowl of Frosted Flakes, check. The first one in the car, beating my brother, check.  But then the morning took a terrible turn. The twenty-minute car ride was a disaster. Arguing with my brother had inspired an even bigger, messier argument between my mom and dad. By the time we parked, everyone was in a mood and I was crying. “Quit crying or we will leave,” my dad said.  My dad's threat brought on more, not less, of my waterworks plus a dash of hysteria at the thought of leaving before we even got there. “That’s it. We are leaving!”  And after a swat to my backside, we left. Bruised emotions and a sore tush were the only trip tokens that came home with us that day.  I remember feeling small. So small that I could fit inside my own pocket.

girl covering her face with both hands

My parents were of a generation that frequented corporal punishment. It was the way they were raised, and their parents before them too.  So it’s of little surprise that when I became a parent myself, my impulse was to spank, yell or lecture. Not knowing the long-term effects of this type of punishment, I repeated the experiences of my past, perpetuating the cycle. Then one day, after an encounter with my own son that resulted in a swat to his backside, I stood there looking at him and I saw instead the reflection of my eight-year-old self. This shook me to the core. I started studying all things positive parenting, and soon learned that unknowingly, with a swat of my hand, I was actually affecting my child’s brain; both neurologically and developmentally. His brain had eyes and those eyes saw me as a threat!  And although I could achieve the short-term goal of getting my children to obey in that moment, I realized that I was not nurturing the lifelong skills of managing emotions and connecting with others. Relying on fear to achieve obedience had both physical and emotional effects. I had never been taught how to manage my big emotions, and I noticed that my children were lacking the skills to manage theirs too. It’s difficult to teach what you were never taught and do not know yourself.  As I began to re-parent myself, I realized that “educational violence” was not a family tradition that I wanted to continue. I wanted to break the cycle of generations past. “I love you but I hit you” was no longer the message I wanted to send my children. This is when I found Generation Mindful.

I always thought being spanked didn't have an affect on me. And then I became a parent.

GEN:M planted seeds for me to water and cultivate. I started to focus on connection to better regulate myself and to co-regulate with my children. As I gained more emotional freedom, I broke down personal barriers and repaired relationships. We are not the sum of our behaviors; a message often sent to my younger self with corporal punishment. I now see that when misbehavior rears its ugly (but inevitable) head, there is an unmet need lurking nearby. Misbehavior is an unmet need and instead of removing our love and attention, we can choose to connect. One heart. One moment. One home at a time. We are the change. ** This article was written by a Generation Mindful mom member who wishes to remain anonymous. Do you have a story about mindfulness and/or connection to tell? Visit here for details and submit an article to our editor for consideration.

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Generation Mindful creates tools, toys, and programs that nurture emotional intelligence through play and positive discipline. Join us and receive joy in your inbox each week.

Time-in Toolkit in action