Seven Common Sense Parenting Tips

By Michele Slater

This is what I learned along the way.

  1. Read to your children as much as possible. Studies show this will lead them to academic success.
  2. Order a pizza instead of spending the time at the grocery store and cooking. You can spend that extra time helping with homework, talking about the day or just watching a movie cuddling on the couch. They won't forget it, neither will you.
  3. Do as many puzzles and play as many games as you can stand. This will not only develop their cognitive ability, it will create memories.
  4. Tell them to "suck it up" as much as possible when you are absolutely sure their complaints are just that, just complaining. Learning how to handle adversity and challenges in their lives makes them more resilient; more accepting of curve balls thrown their way. 
  5. Teach them to respect authority but to question what they're told if their instincts are telling them something’s wrong.
  6. Teach them to listen and respect their instincts.
  7. Keeping tabs on friends and activities is imperative. Ask, ask,
    ask. If you're met with a shrug of the shoulders or no commitment as to
    whom they're spending time with, ask again. Keep asking until you get
    an answer, but always with "I love you and care about you that's the
    only reason why I'm asking." Believe it or not, before you know it,
    they're volunteering that information.

Michele Slater is a single mom living and working in Connecticut.

Random Acts of Christmas Cheer

When we lived in Manhattan, my husband and I used to love shopping on Christmas Eve. The streets were bright with Christmas decorations, the store windows gorgeous tableaux. Everyone was in a good mood, smiling and shouting Merry Christmas at each other. It was like being at a huge party.

The same happy feeling came back to me as I was wheeling down the aisles at Wegman’s today. I expected to be stressed out getting last minute food shopping done. Instead I observed hugging and kissing from long, lost friends in Dairy, a tall young man reaching for something on the top shelf for a wheel-chair bound older woman in Canned Goods, small children politely requesting a sugar cookie from the smiling baker in a Santa hat in Baked Goods. What was this, a Frank Capra movie?

There was a spring in my step as I headed for Bulk Foods when a complete stranger, pushing her cart in the opposite direction, lightly touched my arm and said, “Your hair looks lovely.” “Thank you!” I said, as she sailed past me toward Paper Products never to be seen again. That little compliment made my day and she’ll never know.

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” ~Leo Buscaglia

Best Wishes for the Holiday Season and Always!

Photo courtesy of Courtney Dirks


Ten Tips to Survive the Holidays

You don’t have to be Scrooge to hate the courtesy jk5854

In A Christmas Carol we learn that Ebenezer used to be a nice boy who became bitter through parental neglect and brittle through his emotional dependence on his sister. He was the product of a dysfunctional family. 

If we’re honest we can acknowledge that the holiday season, while full of love and warmth for many of us, can also be a time when our family’s dysfunction rises up to bite us in the ass. No family is perfect, but some are downright toxic. For those whose homecoming means serious stress I hope these suggestions help:

1) Once you’re honest with yourself and can say, “Yes, as much as I love them, my family is screwed up,” you can begin to make plans to cope.

2) Give yourself permission to have an escape route. If having dinner with the family is imperative make plans to go somewhere you can breathe easier for dessert. Having a Plan B ‘just in case’ is not only a good idea, it’s smart.

3) Don’t rely on alcohol to ease the pain. You do not want to be dis-inhibited when there is even one person in the room who can hit all your buttons with one emotional taser blast.

4) See the humor wherever and whenever you can. It’s OK to roll your eyes as much as you want with your eyes closed. But avoid sarcasm. Sarcasm usually is not humor. It’s barely disguised anger.

5) Use the buddy system. Have a confidant close by or on speed dial; a friend, cousin, sister, anyone who ‘gets it’. She may need your help to get through the holiday as much as you need hers.





Seven Rules to Surviving an Abusive Boss

Have you ever had so much trouble with a boss that going to work threw you into a panic attack? That's how I felt many years ago in one of my first jobs. 

Here is the link to a guest post about mean bosses I wrote for World of Psychology. Here's an excerpt…

"I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have at least one Boss-zilla story. A
power mad night supervisor at Taco Bell or a Nazi VP at a Fortune 500
company, it’s all the same. Post-traumatic Boss Disorder (PTBD) is no
joke. It took me a good year to stop shaking every time my new boss
asked me to his office for a conference."

If you have a story about the boss from hell I'd love to hear about it and how you overcame the trauma.

The Winter Solstice & Hot Chocolate

DSC01284If you live in Western New York you can really tell today is the shortest day and longest night of the year. The snow is above my knees and up to my dog's belly and it's still coming down. 

As long as it's the first day of winter, it feels right to see the snow fall and hear the wind blow outside. Don't cry for us California! Not until March does winter feel endless and tired. Right now the snow is a clean blanket that makes it easier to give in to the comforts of the season, like staying in your pajamas all day (why bother changing if it's just a few hours to bed time again?), curling up on the sofa with a fun paperback novel, listening to a Charlie Brown Christmas or trolling the Internet for last minute shopping.  The kids are happy, too, laying down odds for the chances of another snow day from school. And, of course, there's always the hot chocolate.

May your day be is as relaxed and peaceful.

A blessed Winter Solstice to you, a night of hope and renewal.

And a Happy Hanukkah to all who celebrate the first night tonight.

It’s A Wonderful Life. Really?

2054133523_e00ffa2de7An intriguingly dark, 21st century perspective on one of my favorite holiday films. I 
always wondered why Mr. Potter
got away with his evil crime.

Wonderful? Sorry, George, It's a Pitiful, Dreadful Life

An Excerpt: "Lots of people love this movie of course. But I’m convinced it’s
for the wrong reasons. Because to me “It’s a Wonderful Life” is
anything but a cheery holiday tale.Sitting in that dark public high school classroom, I shuddered as the projector whirred and George Bailey’s life unspooled.
Was this what adulthood promised?

By the end of the article the writer sees the Christmas message in the misery rather like George Bailey does in the movie. I don't own many DVDs but this one is in the collection.

Other Holiday Film Faves

Feeling Grumpy This Morning?

Beat the Holiday or Financial Blues:
9 Tips for Making Yourself Happier in the Next 30 Minutes

An excerpt: Maybe you’re feeling down because of the financial crisis. Maybe you’re
feeling overwhelmed by holiday tasks. Maybe you’re rushing around to
try to get things done before you leave for vacation. Or maybe you’re
just having a lousy day.

This was me this morning and after reading this article I actually felt better! Still smiling!

via zenhabits & The Happiness Project

Great Expectations

My first guest blog, Great Expectations, was posted today on PsychCentral

Excerpt:  "While I’m happy that the election turned out the way it did, I worry about all that’s expected of our new president-elect…it got me thinking about the rest of us. When is the pressure of
expectations a good thing? When is it bad? How do you tell the
difference? And what do you do about it if it’s bad?"

As a blogger it's a big deal milestone to be asked to guest post. Especially when it's World of Psychology, because I really respect Dr. John Grohol, the CEO and founder of Psych Central and what he's done building this site. OK, now I'm sounding lame, so I will stop and just say, please, go read my post! Leave a comment (that would be nice).

And check out PsychCentral while you're there. It is chock full of up to the minute resources and information. Have fun!

Seasonal Affective Disorder or Just Winter Blahs?

A friend of mine called from Miami.
A Buffalo transplant, she
was homesick whichDSC00197

put her in a cranky mood. (Yes, you can be homesick for Buffalo.) She asked what the weather was like "up there". Honestly, I said, I couldn't remember when I saw the sun last. Then she had the nerve to complain about how unseasonably hot it was in Florida. What is it about human beings that we enjoy complaining about the weather so much? And when does a wintertime bad mood get upgraded to Seasonal Depression?

The symptoms of SAD are easily recognizable: sleeping too much, little energy, craving sweets and starchy foods, weight gain, feeling irritable and sad.

Many us who live where the winters come early and stay late feel this way at some point while the sun is scarce. We cope by self-medicating with chocolate. However, if the symptoms are severe, last more then a couple of weeks, and you can't get to Miami, contact me and we'll find you the help you need.

Mindfulness and the Psychologist

Those of you who know me know I try to practice and encourage Mindfulness, the exercise of allowing ourselves to fully be in the moment. A Thich Nhat Hanh book for the novice lead me to the joy of embracing those everyday tasks that make up so much of life, like cooking dinner or washing the dishes.

"Wherever we are we have the capacity to enjoy the sunshine, the presence of each other and the wonder of our breathing."  ~Thich Nhat Hanh

It's a good thing mindfulness practice is forgiving because I am a miserably imperfect practitioner. Especially challenging is when I have feelings that are uncomfortable, like jealousy or anger, or have thoughts that cause me anxiety, like how will we care for my husband's elderly parents who live far away. Staying with the feeling is not as natural for me as running away from it.

Mantras help me stay anchored. Like prayer sound bites, a well chosen mantra reminds me of what's important. Lately I've been using, "No fear. Action!" to get through financial worries during these recessionary times. Another one that helps me when I get weird with jealousy over what the Joneses have that I don't is: "Appreciate." Just that simple word reminds me of the many blessings I've received and those I'm fortunate enough to share.

Here are a more tips for living in the moment found on the World of Psychology Blog.

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