On Teens Forgetting Their Childhood

Out driving with my teenage son, we pass a coffee shop in a familiar neighborhood. For some reason, on this day the sight of the coffee shop releases a flood of memories. When he was younger, he and I would come here every week for a hot chocolate after dropping his sister off at her music lesson. While waiting for her lesson to finish, I would read aloud to him. We read at least two books there in that coffee shop in weekly installments. How many chapters! How many cups of hot chocolate!

“Do you remember that coffee shop?” I ask him now. In his gruff, new man-voice he grunts “no.”

Fairy Tales

Trusting Our Intuition

In my own mothering experience, there have been numerous occasions when I had a strong instinct or intuition about something wrong with my child. Rarely have these intuitions misguided me, even when they seemed implausible or overwrought when they first presented themselves. In my practice working with many mothers, I see the same thing. Parents – especially mothers – usually know their child better than any teacher, doctor, or other authority figure outside the family. When...

Difficult Feelings

When Parental Authority is Undermined

For many women, learning to step into our genuine, inner authority will be a major piece of psychological work. The challenges of parenting can be part of what helps us find our firm stance, as we discern what values matter most to us, and become used to inhabiting our own “no” in the face of pressures from both our children and the culture. We may decide, for example, to go against the collective grain, and keep...


Parenting is a Journey, Not a Destination

As my previously delightful daughter became sullen, surly, and withdrawn as she approached adolescence, I asked an older and wiser friend if the fun part of parenting lasted only a scant dozen years, and then was all downhill. Her response was elucidating. “It’s hard for a few years when they’re teens,” she said. “And then they start doing things that make you proud of them.”

Thankfully, my own kids are passing through the difficult teen years, and...


Asking Kids to Do Scary Things

A recent parenting piece in the Washington Post detailed how schoolchildren are challenged in Japan, and how learning to handle difficulties pays off later when these kids reach adulthood. One paragraph in particular caught my eye and made my mother’s heart skip a beat:

All Japanese children go to school on their own. My son attended a private school 90 minutes from our home. At age 6, he took two trains and a bus, transferring at...


Do You Believe Your Child is Special?

When my children were small, we were friendly with a family who had a daughter who was quite bright. The parents spent a lot of time talking about Sophie’s intelligence and talents, and the special challenges that came along with parenting such a gifted child. Because of her superior intelligence, Sophie was especially sensitive to many things, and therefore needed to have special arrangements made for her. For example, she felt easily overwhelmed by crowds and...


When Parents Get Angry

Most parents get angry with their children frequently, and when we do, we often feel badly about it. While unrestrained parental rage can be damaging to a child, in recent posts, (see here and here) I’ve been taking a look at the potential positive side of getting angry with our kids. While this might seem counter intuitive, it’s important to remember that our children learn about how to handle emotions in part through our...


The Lessons of Anger

Last week, I explored whether avoiding all anger at one’s children might be too much of a good thing. In essence, I argued that when children see us deal with our aggression, they learn to deal with theirs. Anger is most essentially a response to having one’s boundaries violated. When someone is angry at us, we get valuable feedback that we have crossed a line. In this way, we learn that we must adapt ourselves...


When is Anger at Children Healthy?

Burning with rage at our children is a nearly universal experience, and yet it is one that most moms feel great shame and remorse about. It is frightening to find ourselves capable of wrath and perhaps even violent impulses toward those whom we love so greatly. Could it be okay or possibly even important to feel fiery, hot anger toward our kids?

Jung’s concept of the archetype can be helpful in allowing us to come to terms...

Parenting Skills

Parenting in the Age of Polarization

My two kids have always had a competitive and contentious relationship. Now that they are teens, this friction often expresses itself as fierce disagreement on social and political issues. As the wider culture has grown increasingly polarized, so had our dinnertime conversation. Name any hotly debated topic – gun control, abortion, immigration – and one kid would be strongly on one side while the other kid took the opposite viewpoint. My dining table had become a...