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...


Do Kids Have Too Much Power?

These days, there is a widespread tendency for children of all ages to have too much power relative to their parents. I realize it sounds a bit old-fashioned to say this, and in fact I believe this trend has developed in part as a reaction against overly authoritarian parenting styles that dominated earlier generations. However, the pendulum has perhaps swung too far.

Difficult Feelings

When Connecting with Kids Is Hard

Last week, I shared a fairy tale which explored a parent child relationship in which the parents are ashamed or embarrassed by their child. There is a similar tale that explores this – and darker themes.  A recently published book by Orna Dornath entitled Regretting Motherhood: A Study explores the difficult subject of mothers who regret having had children. You can read more about Dornath’s study in this short article.

Dornath is exploring maternal regret...

Difficult Feelings

When We Are Ashamed of Our Kids

What an uncomfortable feeling to become aware that we are disappointed with or ashamed of our child, even momentarily. I knew a mom who had one child who was bright, attractive, and well-liked. Her other daughter, however, was awkward and overweight, and was frequently teased as a result. This mother’s disappointment in this child was at times thinly veiled, as she tried many different “treatments” to help her child lose weight or be more attractive.

If we...

Difficult Feelings

Humble Gifts: On Knowing We’re Enough

I had a conversation with a mother in my practice this week that brought up something important. As usual, I tried to find a fairy tale that captured the essence of what this mother was struggling with. The right tale did come to mind – it’s a 12th century French legend – and it just so happens to have an association with Christmas, so consider this my holiday offering!

The mother I was speaking with is going...

Difficult Feelings

What Happens When We Don’t Like Our Kids?

I am always a little surprised when a mother tells me with great shame and in great secrecy that she finds she doesn’t particularly like her child. Of course we don’t always like our children! It seems there is too much secrecy around this fact, and greater acceptance of the wide range of feelings that motherhood stirs up would reduce the shame and self-judgment that many mothers feel.

There are many reasons that a mother may find...

Fairy Tales

Gifts from Our Mothers

When my client Rose was around nine or ten years old, she and her family were camping. With her parents’ permission, Rose set off on a walk through to woods to join up with friends at the lake. Rose remembers being suddenly startled by a large black bear rearing up in front of her. Frozen in fear, she didn’t know what to do. Then she heard her mother from behind shouting at the bear. Her mother...

Difficult Feelings

When Kids Bully Parents

Most parents have had the experience at one time or another of their child having too much power in the family. This can happen in different ways, at different times, for different reasons, but it always feels terrible – for parents and kids. When we feel competent as parents, being around our children is often a source of pleasant emotional experiences. This helps us to feel attached to our kids, which in turn allows us to...


Bearing A Mother’s Fears Alone

In last week’s post, I wrote about how maternal can play out in a marriage. There were several comments about the post on my Facebook page that let me know the piece had clearly struck a nerve. At least a couple of moms who commented on the post could relate to the experience of holding more anxiety about children than their husbands. I thought I would explore this topic a little more this week...


When Parental Anxiety Affects a Marriage

Maternal anxiety is a special kind of hell. Fear hijacks our nervous system and takes our thoughts hostage. When a child is sick, when he is careening off course, when we know something is wrong, even though we don’t know what it is, maternal worry can fill our days and nights with dread.

Sadly, it is also often isolating. Depending on the cause of our apprehension, we may feel ashamed of sharing it with others. Friends and...

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