Difficult Topics, Parent Tips, The Happy Student Podcast

#97 When Your Sad Teen Won’t Open Up

Communicating with teens can be a challenge. And it can only get harder when they are sad, stressed, or grumpy. Maybe they come home and are just furiously texting or maybe they come home and they rush to their room or they hang out in the family area, but they just don’t engage with you, despite your sweet, sincere attempts to figure out what’s wrong. Psychologist Lisa Damour, who wrote Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood, has identified 4 reasons why your teenager may not be talking to you when they are upset. In this episode we talk about all 4 of them and what you can do to get your teen to open up to you.

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Communicating with teens can be a challenge. And it can only get harder when they are sad, stressed, or grumpy.

Psychologist Lisa Damour, who wrote Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood, has identified 4 reasons why your teenager may not be talking to you when they are upset.

1.     They worry you’ll have the wrong reaction.

  • Your kids know you pretty well having studied you and seeing your reactions to their behavior their entire lives. So they may rightly worry that by telling you that they bombed a test that you will react by talking about how that’s unacceptable.

The fix:

  • You have to be able to keep yourself from having exactly that bad reaction.
  • Then, start the conversation by saying, “Are you worried that I’ll have a bad reaction?” This can be a really hard conversation for parents because if this is happening, your kid could tell you exactly what they are worried about happening and they could be totally right and that could really make you feel attacked and you could start getting defensive.
  • By having this conversation that is more about your reactions, you lay the groundwork for later conversations when your teen comes home and will feel more comfortable opening up to you because you will have hopefully figured out how to react in a way that your teen appreciates and that makes your teen feel safe opening up to you.

2.     They anticipate negative repercussions.

  • If they have done something wrong, made a mistake, or maybe one of their friends did something bad, they may worry that telling you will have a negative consequence for them.

The fix:

  • As Lisa says, “there are two rules I live by: good kids do dumb things, and I never have the whole story.”
  • This isn’t to say that there are no consequences, often there need to be consequences. Encourage your kid to take responsibility and think about their actions and do what is right. We all make mistakes and have to learn how to make up for them. This conversation teaches your kid how to start doing that

3.     They know that parents sometimes blab.

  • Especially as kids get older, they start wanting to have more secrets. And so if they realize that you have shared their top secret information with someone else, they may stop telling you those things that they don’t want shared.

The fix:

  • If you have accidentally broken your kids’ trust, the answer is simple: apologize. It may take time for your kid to test you and trust you again, but it’s a good first step.
  • If you are just trying to get ahead of this one, just promise them that what they say at home to you will remain between the two of you (and maybe your co-parent as well). And if there is ever something that is top secret, you could ask that they remind you ahead of time that this is really super private.
  • Let your kids know that if someone is in danger, you will have to tell other adults.

4.     Talking doesn’t feel like the solution.

  • Sometimes kids have already been processing what they’re going through so much that they are just tired of it. They may be so close to getting over whatever it was, they don’t want to rehash it all. They just want to move on quickly.

The fix:

  • Just give some basic comfort – hanging out with them, watching TV, chatting about silly stuff, or quietly snuggling them

Using these “fixes” to help improve your communication can make life smoother for them and for you and really enhance your relationship.

Resource:Damour, L. (2017). “Why your grumpy teenager doesn’t want to talk to you.”The New York Times.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this episode! Comment below or send us an email!

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Definitions, Parent Tips, The Happy Student Podcast

#96 The Effectiveness of Helicopter Parenting

Recently research about the effectiveness of helicopter parenting came out – it seemed to say that helicopter parenting works. And yet, experts, like us, have warned against it. So Fireborn took a look at this research and came to the conclusion that maybe helicopter parenting works, but the research affirms what experts have always been saying: an authoritative parenting style is the most important thing for positive outcomes.

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No one that I know wants to be a helicopter parent. It’s more like they feel forced into it because of societal pressures. And then they feel ashamed of being a helicopter parent because all of the experts tell them it’s actually bad for their kids. I try to avoid talking about helicopter parenting or tiger moms or the lawnmower parent or any other term used for parents that’s not scientific and based in research.

Wikipedia says that a helicopter parent is: a parent who pays extremely close attention to a child’s or children’s experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions. It is hyper-involved parenting that this New York Times article says “is the route to kids’ success in today’s unequal world.”

Helicopter parenting is not one of the three main types of parenting researched by researchers (though, to be fair, it is now being researched, but it has not found a place amongst these three styles). These three styles are:

  1. Authoritarian: a parenting style characterized by high demands and low responsiveness. Parents with an authoritarian style have very high expectations of their children, yet provide very little in the way of feedback and nurturance. Mistakes tend to be punished harshly.
  2. Permissive: a type of parenting style characterized by low demands with high responsiveness. Permissive parents tend to be very loving, yet provide few guidelines and rules. These parents do not expect mature behavior from their children and often seem more like a friend than a parental figure.
  3. Authoritative: a parenting style characterized by high responsiveness and high demands. Authoritative parents are responsive to the child’s emotional needs while having high standards. They set limits and are very consistent in enforcing boundaries.
  • Authoritative parenting is best, has the best outcomes, is backed by a ton of research, and it is also the hardest and most time intensive. It takes time to talk with your kid about why what they did was wrong and what they will do in the future and make them understand that what they did was wrong, but also maintain your relationship.

Helicopter parenting could be associated with any of these parenting styles. Helicopter parenting is making sure that your kid has done their homework, maybe by knowing exactly what homework they have to do and reviewing it for their kid. An authoritarian parent might take dessert or screen time away if you didn’t do your homework when you said you had. A permissive parent might excuse the lie away – “Oh my child is just so overwhelmed by work.” And then help their kid do the homework together. And an authoritative parent might talk to their kid about why they lied and get to the bottom of that.

There is new research according to the article that is going to upset psychologists and other experts who have “[insisted] that hyper-parenting backfires – creating a generation of stressed-out kids who can’t function alone.” And what this new research shows, arguably, is that helicopter parenting works – kids of helicopter parents are more successful, they just also happen to be more stressed out too.

The article “The Bad News About Helicopter Parenting: It Works” starts talking about helicopter parenting and talks about how parents are currently spending more hours a day parenting kids than they used to do. And then the article sites this research that was done on how successful kids were depending on how “intense” their parents’ parenting style was. Kids who had “intense” parenting performed better on tests. The author transitions to say that the traditional parenting styles affected those tests scores. So parents who were strict (or authoritarian), their kids did not get the full benefits of the helicopter parenting. The article says, “The most effective parents, according to the authors, are ‘authoritative.’ They use reasoning to persuade kids to do things that are good for them. Instead of strict obedience, they emphasize adaptability, problem-solving and independence – skills that will help their offspring in future workplaces that we can’t even imagine yet.” The author continues by saying that these kids get more college and postgraduate degrees, are healthier and have higher self-esteem. This is exactly what that 20 years of research on authoritative parenting has said all along!

So when I read this article, I find that it simply reinforces what we already know: that kids of authoritative parents have the best outcomes. The most important thing is to be an authoritative parent to the best of your ability. Whether or not you are a helicopter parent, that seems negligible or like a non-sequitur because we already knew that kids of authoritative parents did better. This research said that kids of intensive parents did better but were also more stressed out. But the kids who had authoritative parents, even if they were intensive, whatever that means, were healthier and had higher self-esteem. And what other researchers have shown is that it can protect against that stress.

Maybe being a helicopter parent can help your kids. It can also stress them out. And the research is clear that if you are choosing a parenting style, authoritative is best. You can be authoritative and a helicopter parent. So, if you are going to be a helicopter parent, and I know it is close to impossible to avoid being one, be an authoritative helicopter parent.

Resources:

Lighthouse Parenting

Because I Said So

“The Bad News About Helicopter Parenting: It Works”

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this episode! Comment below or send us an email!

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Difficult Topics, Easy Action Items, Elementary School, Parent Tips, Parent-Child Communication, School Advice, Social Life, The Happy Student Podcast

The Happy Student Podcast #91: Story Time: Using Stories to Decrease Fears

Getting kids to tell you stories about their day has numerous benefits! Better conversations, better relationships, and kids who feel comfortable coming to you when they need help. If you focus on positive questions, then you also get practice looking for the goods. And if you ask questions that are in line with your family motto, like “How were you kind today?” you show your kid that you value kindness and encourage them to act kind every day. Stories can also help kids develop better memory and it helps them make sense of their experiences, which can help reduce anxiety. But getting kids to open up to you about their day can be tough. Fireborn’s got some tips!

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Ways to get your child to open up about their day:

Change the question you are asking so that it naturally primes your kid to answer with more than one or two words. Instead of “How was your day?”, some options include:

  • What was the best part of your day?
  • What was the hardest or most challenging part of your day?
  • How were you kind today?
  • What did someone else do today that was nice?
  • In what way were you brave today?
  • What did you do today that was inclusive?
  • You can ask questions like what was the worst part of the day today or what was your least favorite class, I just prefer to focus on the positive stuff because our brains naturally focus on the negative stuff, so I like to give my brain more practice looking for those positives.
  • Try playing two truths and a lie, where your kid tells you two things that did happen that day and one thing that didn’t and you have to guess which one didn’t.
    • Gamifying the conversation like this may make your child more excited to participate.
  • You can get your kids to tell you more stories by telling them more stories yourself. This teaches your kid what kind of answer you are looking for when you ask how their day was.

Asking these types of questions encourages kids to specifically remember events that happened during the day and to tell you about those events.

Asking better questions leads to better conversations, better relationships, and kids who feel comfortable coming to you when they need help. If you focus on positive questions, then you also get practice looking for the goods. And if you ask questions that are in line with your family motto, like “How were you kind today?” you show your kid that you value kindness and encourage them to act kind every day.

You can get your kids to tell you more stories by telling them more stories yourself. This teaches your kid what kind of answer you are looking for when you ask how their day was.

What’s really great about asking these good questions or teaching kids how to respond with stories is that it gets kids to think about specific events that happened and to tell you about them, which helps your kid develop their memory muscles.

When we tell our story, it gives us time to reflect on what happened and make sense of it in a way that we may not have if we didn’t take the time to think about it again. So telling stories of our experiences helps us understand our past experiences, which then informs our present experiences as well. As your kids get older, the stories they tell and the meaning may get more complex.

Sometimes kids have bad experiences and don’t like to think about them, which makes talking about them very difficult. But the way we make sense of those experiences is through talking about them. Kids need to be able to tell their story about what happened so they can make sense of it and move on. You can help them tell that story too if they aren’t able to. The more your child can integrate and understand their scary experiences, the more experience they will have overcoming challenges in the future and the happier, less anxious they will be.

Resources:

Siegel, D. & T. Bryson. (2011). The Whole-Brain Child.New York: Random House.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this episode! Comment below or send us an email!

HERE’S HOW TO SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW

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Podcast reviews are important to iTunes and the more reviews we can receive, the more likely we will be able to get our podcast and important messages in front of more parents! I would greatly appreciate if you clicked here and left a review letting me know your thoughts on this episode!

The Happy Student Title: #88: Getting Happy
Great for All Ages, Parent Tips, The Happy Student Podcast

The Happy Student Podcast #88: Finding Happiness

Fireborn’s podcast, The Happy Student, is based on the assumption that we all want our kids to have a happy academic and social life and yet we’ve never specifically talked about happiness – what it is and how to get it. When we talk about “happy” often people think about those fleeting really joyful, blissful moments when people tend to think, “Wow. I’m really happy.” Those moments are fantastic and we definitely want our kids to have lots of those, but what we really mean at Fireborn is something much more lasting. Joy and pleasure are momentary feelings and we want our kids to have an overall feeling of well-being and satisfaction. It’s a generally positive experience of life where our kids feels like they’re flourishing, fulfilling their potential and thriving.

The Happy Student Title: #88: Getting Happy

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I was at this conference over the weekend and one of the speakers, Ransom Stephens, talked about how “Paradise is easier to find than it is to recognize.” And his point was that when we look back at certain times in our lives, we think, “Wow. That was a really great time.” But during that time, we may not have actually realized how great it was. It’s only looking back that we recognize that we were living in paradise. And that’s because even though we may have found paradise, we don’t recognize it because we get caught up in momentary setbacks and worrying about the future and we don’t take the time to be grateful for all the good that is happening right now.

Martin Seligman is one of the first leading researchers on happiness and positive psychology. And he wrote this book a while ago called Authentic Happiness. And in his book he talks about four levels of happiness:

  1. The pleasant life: A life that successfully pursues the positive emotions about the present, past, and future. (So a life based on finding pleasure and moments of joy. This is the more fleeting type of happiness. It’s a search for pleasurable moments.)
  2. The good life: Using your signature strengths to obtain abundant gratification. (So in this life, you do what you are good at and you find gratification from using those skills).
  3. The meaningful life: Using your signature strengths and virtues in the service of something much larger than you are. (So using those “signature strengths” – the things you are specifically good at – to accomplish something meaningful that goes beyond yourself, beyond finding gratification just for yourself).
  4. The full life: Experiencing positive emotions about the past and future, savoring positive feelings from the pleasures, deriving abundant gratification from your signature strengths and using those strengths in the service of something larger to obtain meaning. (So people living their full life notice when they are experiencing positive emotions, they are mindful and live in the present moment, they notice the things they are grateful for, they use their signature strengths – when we use our signature strengths that makes us happier, and they find meaning in their work – they have big ambitions, they learn and grow with life.) Authentic Happiness pages 262 & 263

David Meyers, who wrote another book on happiness called The Pursuit of Happiness, defines happiness or rather, well-being in his words, as a state of mind… it is an ongoing perception that this time of one’s life, or even life as a whole, is fulfilling, meaningful and pleasant. It is what some people experience as joy – not ephemeral euphoria, but a deep and abiding sense that, despite the day’s woes, all is, or will be, well. The Pursuit of Happiness pages 23 & 24

Eric Barker, author of Barking Up the Wrong Tree explains, “the happiest people do have their share of stresses, crises, and even tragedies. They may become just as distressed and emotional in such circumstances as you or I, but their secret weapon is the poise and strength they show in coping in the face of challenge.”

Researchers recommend the following:

  1. Express Gratitude. Humans have a natural tendency to focus on the negatives. It’s called the negativity bias. By focusing on what we are grateful for each day, we retrain our brains to focus on the positives, making us happier. So each night at dinner or before bed, ask your kids what they are grateful for. If they need help, tell them what you are grateful for first.
  2. Live in and really savor the present moment. This goes with expressing gratitude – it’s all about enjoying the good things in life and focusing on the positives. You can also savor the past. That’s good for you too. Meditation can really help with this.
  3. Strive: Have a passion, find your purpose, make goals, and be ambitious. We are happier when we find meaning in what we are doing – when we feel that we have purpose bigger than ourselves. So find something that you are passionate about because that will help you find that purpose. Then set an ambitious goal and work toward it. That’s all part of that thriving we talked about earlier.
  4. Do what you are good at. It just feels good to do what we are good at. When you are challenged just the right amount and have just the right amount of skill, that’s when you enter your “flow” state and that’s super good for your happiness levels. So encourage your kids to find ways to do what they are good at and to get better at those things.
  5. Nurture and enjoy close relationships. Connection is a basic human need so having strong relationships and social support is essential to happiness.
  6. Be Optimistic. Optimistic people are more resilient against depression and perform better at challenging tasks. To practice optimism, when bad things happen, remind yourself that they are temporary, like when you get a bad grade on a test, instead of saying, “I’m an idiot” say “I needed to study more. Next time I will.” Then, when good things happen, optimistic people view them as permanent, like when they do well on a test they say, “I studied really hard. I am a hard worker.” Or “I am really smart!”
  7. Practice Self-Acceptance. Self-acceptance is “to be on our own side – to be for ourselves” (Smith, 2006, p. 39). It’s to have self-compassion for ourselves.
  8. Understand your Personal Power. You have the ability to change your life. If something bad has happened, it’s up to you to decide what to do with that. You can let it get you down, or you can see that you have the opportunity to overcome any challenge. Your personal power is your ability to decide how you will respond to events that are outside of your control.
  9. Get your Sleep, Eat, and Exercise. Sleeping and eating are basic human needs. If those needs aren’t met, your body simply can’t think about other things. Like if you’re at a party and should be having a ton of fun, but you’re hungry, you are not having a ton of fun – you are HANGRY. You simply have to meet your basic needs. Exercise keeps your body healthy, which is also a basic need, but it also does this amazing thing where it literally makes you feel better after you’ve done 30 minutes of cardio, (or maybe even less if you’ve developed a habit).

So how do you get your kids to actually do these things?

  1. Do them yourself. Take care of yourself (mentally and physically), talk about what you are thankful for, meditate and live in the present moment. Be compassionate with yourself when you make a mistake.
  2. When you are doing these things, narrate your experience. When you messed up on a project at work, be optimistic and say, “Oh, I forgot to turn this project in at work on time. I was just so busy and was really tired. I will do better next time.” When you’re tired and need to engage in some self-care, say so. “I’m really tired. I am going to go to bed early tonight.”
  3. Talk to your kids about each of these things. Share stories of how you express gratitude and what you strive for. Ask them to tell you what they are grateful for. Talk to them about their friendships and give advice on how to be a better friend. Discuss the importance of meditation and invite them to join you in your meditation practice. Ask your kids what they are good at and what they want to practice getting better at. Maybe they want to get better at soccer. Get a soccer ball and practice together sometime.

Fireborn is running an end of the year fundraising campaign. If you’ve been enjoying what you hear on our podcast, please consider donating to our campaign. You can find it on Facebook or just go to our website, fireborninstitute.org, and donate there. We work hard to keep our resources free and we rely on listeners like you to do so! So please consider giving any amount, even $1, to help us keep this podcast going!

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this episode! Comment below or send us an email!

HERE’S HOW TO SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW

Want to be the first to know when a new episode is released? Click here to subscribe to The Happy Student on iTunes!

Podcast reviews are important to iTunes and the more reviews we can receive, the more likely we will be able to get our podcast and important messages in front of more parents! I would greatly appreciate if you clicked here and left a review letting me know your thoughts on this episode!

Easy Action Items, Parent-Child Communication

Stop Saying What NOT To Do

Stop Saying What NOT To Do

#tbt that time your kid would not stop interrupting your conversation with another grown-up. So annoying, right? Grown-up conversation becomes a hot commodity when you are around kids all day. So when you tell your child to “Please stop pulling on my pant leg” or to “Stop interrupting”, you really do need them to give you a few more minutes. So why won’t they?

Most likely, they probably do not know what they can do instead. When you say, “Do not do that” she does not know what her other option is. So perhaps they will just sit there for a few moments and then start nagging you again for lack of a different option.

So, instead of saying what not to do, give them some options of what to do. Similar to the situation described in Clean Your Room!, using clear language helps children understand what you mean. Providing them with an action item lets them know what “Stop interrupting” looks like.

Perhaps “Stop interrupting” looks like “Mrs. Knight and I are currently having a conversation. You are interrupting. I know that you want to speak with me. Why don’t you think about your favorite fruits so you can tell me what we should put in the fruit salad for dessert tonight?” or “When I am talking to another adult, that means I am busy. Therefore, if you see me talking to an adult, you need to wait your turn. While you wait, you may play with your Legos.”

I remember my 3rd-grade teacher specifically telling us, “If I am talking with someone else, you may not interrupt. You may stand a few feet away from us and wait patiently. I will see you and know that you would like to speak with me next.”

Here are some other ideas that “Stop interrupting” could look like:

  • Jumping up and down 50 times
  • Finding a small gift for another family member (if you are in a store)
  • Filling out a “Squiggle-on-the-go“, suggested by CoolMomPicks.com
  • Running around the house 10 times
  • Counting how many blue things he can find
  • Eating a snack
  • Going to the playroom and finding an old toy to play with
  • Playing the quiet game (tehehe)
  • Playing with stickers (bring a sticker book when you leave the house)
  • Making up a dance routine
  • Listening to music
  • Reading
  • Waiting patiently while I finish talking and learning to entertain yourself. This is the hardest one to teach, but it is the ultimate goal.

Children need to learn how to come up with the above options on their own and how to wait their turn. Like my aunt used to say (and so did Harvey Danger, a band from my youth), “If you’re bored, then you’re boring.”

(If that is not enough ideas, see a good list from BuzzFeed to use with young children: 16 Creative Ways to Keep Your Kid from Having a Meltdown While You Shop.)

Apologizing Can Be Your Best Tool
Difficult Topics, Parent-Child Communication

Apologizing Can Be Your Best Tool

Growing up, our parents are constantly telling us what we are doing wrong and what we should be doing instead. We learn what is right and wrong from them and the other adults in our lives – namely our teachers. So naturally, we expect them to consistently do the right thing.

Unfortunately, our parents and teachers are human. And so they mess up. They overreact (most likely because having children is highly stressful) when we stay out 5 minutes past our curfew or when we are fighting with a sibling and ground us for two weeks. We have all been the kid in a similar scenario.

The same thing happens with teachers, who, sick of all the noise in the classroom, end up reprimanding the kid who normally starts the shenanigans, but who, this time, actually didn’t. In high school, I was running late to school one day. A friend of mine from French class had spent the night (her parents were out of town – sleepovers on school nights was not the norm), so we went to school together. A typically early student, I was actually the one who made us late for school that day. Knowing that we were late and feeling uncomfortable, as soon as I parked the car, I started hightailing it to French class, which happened to be our first class of the day. But my friend was more relaxed and was walking slower.

Class had already started. I was stressed from being late, but did not want to leave her behind. When we arrived to class, I walked in maybe 5 seconds before she did. Our teacher said absolutely nothing to me, but as soon as my classmate walked in, she went on a rant for about 5 minutes about how disrespectful that was (and aimed the rant entirely at my friend).

This was clearly a mistake. One I believe we can all imagine making ourselves. So the real mistake was not later apologizing to that student.

Without an apology, what is the lesson learned? That my French teacher is unfair and hates my friend. That my friend is probably not going to do well in that class anyway, so why should she try?

With an apology, what is the lesson learned? That my French teacher is human and made a mistake. That she is sorry. That even adults make mistakes. That we all need to take responsibility for our actions. In this scenario, life remains “fair” and rational. Whereas in the other scenario, life is unfair and not rational because it does not make any sense to yell at my friend and not me.

So that is the problem: if adults do not apologize when they make a mistake, kids learn that the world is not rational and that it does not make sense, so why try to make sense of it? That’s stressful and can be demotivating in the classroom. So kids learn that sometimes it may be better to disengage. But disengagement is the opposite of the internal motivation we are trying to promote!

And yet, so often adults do not apologize, perhaps from a fear that they will lose their authority and power. However, that is not the case if you use authoritative parenting style. Authoritative parenting is the recommended parenting style (compared to authoritarian or permissive parenting), whereby parents have reasonable (yet still high) expectations for their children, set rational boundaries that they communicate to their children, and then support their children as they make mistakes (Ginsburg, 2015).

If you apologize to your child, kids often respect you more because you make sense – they can understand getting carried away and doing the wrong thing in the moment. Apologizing for doing that means you are rational, which means life is rational, which means kids know what to expect from you, so they can plan and work hard and life will reward them in a way they can anticipate and look forward to. (I cannot say enough good things about setting clear expectations and boundaries!) So if that is what you want for your child, think about apologizing next time you make a mistake. 


Resources:

Belden, S & S. Flight. (2015). Establishing boundaries. Fireborn Institute: YouTube.com

Ginsburg, K. (2015). Building resilience: Preparing children and adolescents to THRIVE. Learning and the Brain Conference: Boston.

Hayes, C. (2015). The importance of teaching children empathy. Banyan Tree Counseling.

Jill Caryl Weiner “When We Became Four”
Parent-Child Communication, The Happy Student Podcast

The Happy Student #87: Jill Caryl Weiner “When We Became Four”

Growing your family is fun and stressful for both parents and big sibs! Jill Caryl Weiner has created a memory book that is not only funny and fun to fill out, but that also helps everyone in the family (parents and big sib) prepare for this new addition. The prompts and quotes in her book can actually help the family grow to be stronger and closer. Find out how!

Jill Caryl Weiner “When We Became Four”

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Jill is an author and journalist who has written about parenting and educational issues, among other things, for the New York Times, TimeOut NY Kids, Mom365.com and other publications and websites.

Her first book, When We Became Three: A Memory Book for the Modern Family is a baby memory book for the couple having their first baby that lets parents record all the fun and chaos that ensues. It was just named one of the best pregnancy books of all time by The Book Authority. She’s got a new memory book out called When We Became Four: A Memory Book for the Whole Family.

  • “When my daughter was born I wanted to give her a memory book. I was very nervous about having this baby and what it would do to my relationship with my husband and how it would impact on us as individuals and I was worried about my identity…I started looking at them and they were so very old fashioned. They were all about the baby, when the baby rolls over, the dates, and all these statistics. I was like, I’m not going to be able to remember that. This book is going to make me feel guilty. I need a book that’s going to represent me and my husband as a couple. Also, wouldn’t it be great if it shows how everyone changes?”
  • This memory book is based on your feelings and memories, so it can be completed at any point in time.
  • It is more of a fun book, rather than something parents feel like they “should” do. “Humor is very truthful.” Especially in hindsight, these stories are very funny.
  • It helps show that you are not alone. There are other sleep-deprived zombies!

What are some things that families struggle with as they grow?

  • Before the baby is born parents can get nervous about losing quality time with their first born and losing quality time with his/her partner. They often wonder how will they manage another human being when they are barely managing how things are going currently?

How does your book help with the transition to the larger family?

  • It brings the family together for fun, quality bonding.
  • It allows the family an opportunity to deal with some issues that can come up. The book gives everyone in the family a safe place to express him/herself. It helps foster communication.
  • It can enhance big sibs involvement and communication with the family and offer a healthy outlet for the feelings that big sib might have. It reminds big sib that they are important and that what they’re feeling matters.

So part of the point of these books is to use the prompts and quotes in the book to help your family grow into a stronger, close-knit family. Would you mind sharing one of those prompts or quotes with us to give an example of how it does that?

  • It helps create a narrative of this time together.
  • It also tells the whole story of your family which helps create empathy for each other.
  • There’s a prompt about matching responsibilities to a person. This helps alleviate all of the responsibilities that often falls on the mother. It also allows the big sib to get involved in these responsibilities and lets them know that they too have things they can do with the baby.
  • Similarly, there’s a prompt about expectations for each member of the family.

Some ending thoughts…

  • Express your feelings in a fun way.
  • You might worry about having the new baby, when really the baby is like whipped cream for your family.
  • You have to be mindful that if there’s going to be a big change you try to make that transition sooner.
  • There are ways to spin things to keep each other in the process.
  • Make sure the big sib knows they’re not forgotten about by asking about their day or spending quality time together.
  • Value each other.

Buy Jill’s books today:

[one_half padding=”0 2px 0 2px”][/one_half][one_half_last padding=”0 2px 0 2px”]Jill Caryl Weiner “When We Became Four”[/one_half_last]

Get in touch with Jill:

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