New Book Review from Writers Digest! 

Books are evaluated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 meaning “needs improvement” and 5 meaning “outstanding”. This scale is strictly to provide a point of reference, it is not a cumulative score and does not reflect ranking. Our system only recognizes numerals during this portion of logging evaluations. As a result, a “0” is used in place of “N/A” when the particular portion of the evaluation simply does not apply to the particular entry, based on the entry genre. For example, a book of poetry or a how to manual, would not necessarily have a “Plot and Story Appeal and may therefore receive a “0”.

Judge, 24th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards:

Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 5

Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 5

Production Quality and Cover Design: 5

Plot and Story Appeal: 0

Character Appeal and Development: 0

Voice and Writing Style: 4

Judge’s Commentary*:

This book is an insightful guide, based on spiritual principles, to help parents put their children on the path of a useful purpose in life, to gain achievement, and to generate happiness. At the same time the book shows how parents can make positive and possibly parallel changes in their own lives. The values extolled take in how to honor your children’s individual goals, how to show appreciation of their growth, how to nurture a deeper level of love, and how to practice self-forgiveness as well as forgiveness for others. A key tenet imbued is how to create relationships based on acceptance, honesty, and compassion.
      Many difficult subjects are candidly discussed including sex and drugs. Health, school, creativity, and careers are broken down with specific and well thought out suggestions. The book carefully covers a range of emotions such as love without conditions, feelings of friendship and gratitude, and how relationships start and evolve. Many everyday activities are looked at from the perspective of all the basic values that should be used and instilled in children as well as their parents. Apt quotes on parents and children by various luminaries lead off short, easy to digest chapters.
      A resource section lists a roster of relevant authors and teachers along with their web sites. A number of amusing illustrations lighten the text. The title/subtitle/image combine to offer a cover that effectively depicts the book’s contents.

Being the Best Parents We Can Be

Check out my interview on Speak Up Talk Radio Network about how we can reach our highest self in parenting and how to remain close and connected with our kids as they grow:

A Good Father

Fathers are such a crucial part of a child's development yet, the importance of their role sometimes goes unrecognized. Check out my article in the June/July issue of Creations Magazine about why fathers play such a vital role in the development of healthy children.

The Not–So-Perfect Parent

“It is ridiculous for you to feel this way; you are acting like a baby.”
“Wait until your father gets home.”
“Your sister would never do this.”
“You never do anything right.”
“You are just like your father.”
“You are staying in your room all day.”
“I am taking all your toys away.”
“You are a bad girl.”
“You will be the death of me yet.”

Ouch. Have you ever said something like this to your child in anger? There are not too many of us that have not said something we regret.

Parenting has many tough moments; it stretches our capacity for patience both physically and mentally.

Just as there are no perfect parents, there are no perfect children and we are often the ones they save their worst behavior for as they feel safe with us.

So, how do we refrain from saying damaging statements in a time of anger? And how do we forgive ourselves if we do?

The first step is becoming aware that statements meant to hurt or shame are not productive. Even if they stop the unwanted behavior for the moment, they lead to problems in the long run. Acknowledging this and wanting to make a change is key. The next step is to anticipate and envision behaviors that push our buttons and to practice behavior and statements that are better for our children and for us.

Acknowledging that we are imperfect and will make mistakes is important. Parenting is one of the most challenging relationships we will have. There are many wonderful moments however, they will be sprinkled with worry, disappointment and anger. Due to the intensity of the emotions that surround us as parents, and the demands placed upon us, this in inevitable. Knowing this and knowing that we will say and do things we regret is important. Learning from those moments and accepting ourselves as Not-So-Perfect Parents is key. After all, when we accept our own imperfections as a parent, it is easier to accept our children’s imperfections and as they are still growing and learning, there will many moments of these to come.

Knowing that we want the best for our children and that we want to be the best parents we can be provides the motivation for us to change and grow. We are a work-in-progress and so are our children. The key is to build a strong foundation for our relationship now and the one to come.

Feeling Felt

Have you ever had the experience of telling someone about a difficult event you were going through and receiving a response such as, "It will get better in time, things happen for a reason or you will move past this?" While the individual may be well-intentioned, this response always leaves us feeling unacknowledged and unsatisfied.

Our most basic need is to feel heard and understood. We want to be accepted for who we are and we want our feelings validated. This occurs with a partner who gets you or a friend who really knows you. It is called "feeling felt".

When we are having a difficult time, we need to go through the process of feeling the feelings, of processing and understanding them and, most importantly, of allowing them. They may stem from a traumatic experience or may be a strong reaction to an event of less significance. It doesn't matter. All that matters is that it matters to us.

We have to let ourselves feel these feelings in order to release them. If we pretend they don't impact us, it is like kicking garbage under our rug. Eventually, we trip over it and fall.

When we shine a light of awareness and compassion on these feelings, in time, they are free to go. This is something we can give to ourselves and to others. It is not easy to do because creating space for these feelings is uncomfortable. It is painful to go through and really hard to see someone we love hurting. It takes time and it takes patience.

However, feeling felt is the most wonderful gift we can give another. When we give them our time and respect, and when we are fully present for them, we provide a place for them to feel their feelings and have them validated by someone that cares about them. It is a important to do  - even when it hurts us to witness their pain.

The Secret Sauce

Don't you know? Don't you get it?

All of this time, you have been searching for the answer and here it is:

Noticing that fun and excitement exists in your day leads to fun and exciting times coming your way.

Becoming aware of events to feel grateful for in the present moment leads to more things you appreciate.

Acknowledging the peace that exists in each moment brings peaceful events to your life.

Seeing the love present in your life now brings more love to you.

Knowing you have prosperity brings you more abundance.

Can't you see? You hold the key. You and only you. Believe it. Take it. Reach out and take it.

Not because of what you will get or not to control the future but because it feels better.

It feels good to feel good. You have a choice.

The feeling needs to be visceral, experiential and authentic. Intellectualizing won't cut it - it falls short. It is too abstract. It is not believable.

And here's the kicker. When you are happy in the present moment, just as it is, you release all the conditions you previously felt had to be in place before you could be happy. Now, all of the wonderful things you once held at arm’s length flow to you effortlessly. And if they do not appear in the exact form or at the exact time you once thought they should, it won’t matter. You know they do not determine your happiness. You trust the Universe.

Pure appreciation, pure joy, pure freedom.

This is the secret sauce, the big kahuna, the real deal.

How simple and how perfect.

Don't you see?

How Can We Respond to Our Parenting Challenges with Love?

Parenting is an incredibly daunting undertaking. Most of us had no inkling about what we were getting into when we decided to become a parent. We might have had some notion, however it was likely just a superficial one.

Parenting can be simultaneously glorious and painful. The highs are exquisite and the lows gut-wrenching. So, how can we respond to the difficult times we encounter with love for both ourselves and our children?

The answer to that question dictates that we allow for some distance between us and the problem, that we somehow become an observer for a bit. When we look at our situation with objectivity and with less emotion, we gain clarity about the actions of our child and about our typical reactions to them. Viewing the situation with love instead of fear gives us a new perspective, one that envelops both us and our child with compassion and acceptance. Let's look at some examples about how we can view parenting challenges with love. How do we react when:

A three-year old has many tantrums at home and at preschool?
We worry about a child with special needs?
We are fearful and angry about a child with an addiction?
We are disappointed at our grown children who make choices we do not respect?

These challenges span a multitude of ages and developmental stages. They may greet us at differing periods in our parenting journey however, these challenges and all of those that we face have a common theme. They are asking us to treat ourselves and our children with love and acceptance. They are challenging us to move beyond fear and worry into a place where we and our children accept own gifts of free will and responsibility. They are encouraging us to practice a form of loving detachment in order to motivate our child to take control over their own lives and not assume the role of victim. 

We can respond to these challenges with love by trying to understand and accept what our child is going through, putting ourselves in their shoes.  We ask ourselves how we can help, guide and provide support without enabling our child (which is a very fine line)  and then we do so with love and compassion. We detach enough from the situation to know that our child has to work some things out on their own, without our interference,  to really grow and own the solution to their problems. We give them the space enough to do so, understanding that our efforts may solve the problem more quickly without it being better for them in the long run. And we love them and love ourselves, knowing we are all doing our best, and that our best changes with time and insight. 

Although it may not be perfect, acceptance of a situation without becoming attached to a specific outcome is the key to happiness.