Category Archives: Family Issues

The Truly “Mean” Parent: Are You One of Them?

One of the most common themes I hear from parents with unruly children is the fear of being labeled a “mean” parent. Here are few points that these parents don’t seem to understand:

  1. It is okay to set and enforce limits that upset your child.
  2. It is okay for your child to cry… and cry… and cry… and cry… when you set a limit that he or she dislikes.
  3. When your child makes statements such as, “I hate you,” they really mean, “I hate the fact that you have authority over me.”

Too many parents give in to their children because they are worried about being a “mean”P1020049_edited parent. They become anxious and emotional when their children oppose the limits that have been set. As a result, these parents typically do whatever they can to pacify or appease their children. By appeasing their children these parents feel that they can avoid the dreaded label of “mean parent.”

What these parents don’t realize is that the truly “mean” parent is THE ONE WHO GIVES IN. These parents set their children up for future failure. Imagine what it must be like for the child who gets whatever he or she wants just by crying. How successful can these children be when they begin school, work, or a new relationship? These children fail to learn an important and essential trait called self-discipline. Without self-discipline these children will struggle through life. Mean parents are the ones that allow this to happen.


If your child is crying because he or she is afraid- be reassuring and understanding.

If your child is crying because he or she is hurt – be nurturing and compassionate.

If your child is crying because his or her feelings are hurt – be comforting and supportive.

If your child is crying because he or she doesn’t like the limits you have set… too bad!

Reality TV and Parenting

This last decade of television programming has brought with it a huge influx of reality-based shows that now seem to be on every channel one turns to. Many of these shows are ridiculous in nature, but there are some true gems among them. When I say “gems,” most of you probably assume that I’m talking about American Idol, Big Brother, or even Survivor. While there are millions of individuals that evidently find value in the above-mentioned shows, these are not the ones that I would describe as “gems.” I am instead talking about the small but highly informative group of “self help” shows. Dr. Phil, Nanny 911, and Supernanny all fit into that category. Yes, I realize that Nanny 911 is no longer on and that Supernanny is only being shown in reruns, but these shows do offer parents an entertaining format from which important parenting and/or relationship skills can be learned.

It is now possible to learn how to effectively use time out (or the “naughty spot” as it is referred to on Supernanny) or to recognize the warning signs associated with common childhood disorders (as identified by Dr. Phil on his show). Nanny 911 taught frustrated parents the correct way to put a non-compliant sleeper to bed as well as how to get fussy eaters to eat. These are only a few examples of the advice, tips, and techniques that parents can learn from these shows then use to effectively manage their difficult children. Clearly, there is a lot that can be learned from these informative shows. If you are a frustrated or overwhelmed parent looking for solutions to your child’s unruly behavior, give these shows a try. You’re likely to learn valuable parenting and discipline tips that can benefit your family and/or child (unless, of course, Dr. Phil’s guests are there in an effort to fix their annoying habits of juggling in their sleep or of unintentionally burping the alphabet every time they drink a sip of soda!). Looking for help with YOUR difficult or challenging child?

In addition to watching these shows, you can find a wonderful set of parenting and discipline tools at the following sites:

Young woman watching television, rear view



14 Things I Once Did That I Sincerely Hope My Daughters Never Do

  1. Took a dare that I never should have taken.   Yes, I was about 13 years old when a good friend of mine (even to this day) offered me $10 to eat a big ol’ chunk of canned dog food…I believe it was ALPO (is that even around anymore?).  Anyway, the result?  Well, I almost choked to death…seriously.  Not only that, but it took me over 13 years to collect that $10…by that time the $10 was only worth about $1.65!  I hope my daughters are smarter than me (although something tells me I didn’t set the bar too high!).  Never do something stupid simply because someone dared you to do it (or because you felt pressured to do so).
  2. Drank more than I should have. Seriously?  This is a subject I could write a whole book about.  Just don’t do it.  Have fun, but pace yourself and maintain control of your faculties…you’ll be so happy that you did.
  3. Dated someone that I shouldn’t have. Again, I could write a whole book on this subject (actually, that’s not a bad idea!).  Anyway, never date someone just to “pass the time,” to boost your self-esteem, or because you are “lonely.”  Wait for someone that deserves you, someone of substance, and someone who is worth your time…you’ll be glad you did.  Please, don’t EVER date someone that you intend to “fix”…you won’t succeed and you’ll undoubtedly get hurt…trust me on this one!
  4. Allowed someone to talk me into a “multi-level marketing” endeavor.  They all end the same way…(90% chance you will have wasted a considerable amount of your time and have lost money in the meantime).
  5. Betrayed the trust of a close friend or family member. Thankfully, my “incident” was very minor…thank goodness!   Friends and family are too important…don’t do anything to jeopardize those relationships (assuming those relationships aren’t toxic)!
  6. Took unnecessary risks. There are so many things that I can look back on and think to myself, “What the heck was I thinking?”  The less of those moments you have, the better.
  7. Took on the responsibility of a pet before I was ready. Trust me, pets are a lot of work and they don’t deserve to have an owner that isn’t prepared for the responsibilities that go along with owning them.  WAIT until you are ready!  Keep in mind too, that pets are considered “baggage” if you happen to be single and looking.
  8. Worried too much about what others thought of me.  It doesn’t matter what other people think of you.  “Like” yourself first and things will flow from there.
  9. Maintained a long friendship with a highly toxic individual. Seriously, don’t waste your time.  These people will literally suck the life out of you.  If I could only have all of that wasted time back!
  10. Took on unnecessary debt. Just because Visa was “generous” enough to issue you a credit card does not mean that you need to use it to indulge in gratuitous spending sprees.
  11. Loaned a significant amount of money to someone. Go ahead and do so, but always assume that you will never see that money again…and that the relationship you once had with that individual will be very different than it was before you loaned out the money.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t be generous, but be smart about it.
  12. Sent naked pictures over the internet. Actually, I’ve never done this…and neither should you!  EVER!
  13. Put my social life ahead of my studies. There’s certainly nothing wrong with being social, but balance it well and don’t let your social life derail your ability to do well in school.
  14. Allowed myself to believe that certain behaviors were wrong even though they were NOT. Often times, religion has us believing that a lot of “natural” or “normal” behaviors are wrong…when they, in fact, are not.  Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.  If the behavior isn’t illegal, harmful to yourself or others and/or if it doesn’t intrude upon anyone else’s rights then there’s a good chance that the behavior you are engaging in is perfectly okay.  Use good judgment.  Enjoy your life…but be cautious.

So here you have ‘em…just a few of the mistakes that I made that I hope my daughters are able to avoid. Stay tuned for parts 2, 3, 4, and 5 of the mistakes I made that I hope my daughters never make.

Seriously, you don’t actually believe I’ve made THAT many mistakes, do you?

The Family Meeting: Purpose, Agenda, and Tips

Family-Meeting-620x480One of the most practical ways to address family issues on a regular basis is to conduct a family meeting each week (or month).  A regularly-scheduled and well-orchestrated family meeting can go a long way towards developing structure, consistency, and even cohesion within the household.



The purpose of a family meeting is to gather the family together in one place for a period of time each week/month so that members can spend constructive, quality time together discussing various issues or concerns that might need to be addressed.  This also affords each family member an opportunity to “be heard.”



It is best if each family meeting follows a consistent agenda.  Some “agenda” ideas are as follows:

  • Discuss any particular issues that might need to be addressed within the family.
  • Discuss family rules (as well as the consequences that will be earned for breaking them).
  • Discuss family problems then brainstorm possible solutions to those problems.
  • Discuss the roles and expectations that each family member has.
  • Announce plans for upcoming outings, vacations, and/or events.
  • Delegate chores to each family member.
  • End each family meeting with a fun little “family game.”


  1. Determine a set of “Family Meeting Rules” during your first meeting. Be sure to write them down and follow them during each meeting.
  2. Have the family meeting at the same time and place each week, allowing for emergency time changes as necessary.
  3. Make sure ALL family members participate and are able to be heard.
  4. Put all decisions from the meeting in writing. Have each family member sign the sheet when the meeting ends (see our “Family Meeting Minutes” worksheet).
  5. Keep things positive! Have rules against specific behaviors like name-calling, interrupting, insulting others, or using inappropriate language.
  6. Minimize distractions. Turn off smart phones and eliminate TV’s and/or radios from the equation.

“Family Rules” Suggestions for Parents

Ashley 7Though many families have “unwritten” family rules, it never hurts to have them posted in a place where all family members can see them.  Family rules should be clear, specific, and stated in the positive (try to avoid too many “no’s”).

Trying to come up with a list of family rules?  Here are some suggestions to start out with:

1.  Homework must be finished before…(playing with friends, watching TV, going outside, etc.)

2.  Dessert will be served after you have eaten (1/2, 2/3, all) of your meal.

3.  Dirty laundry belongs only in the hamper.

4.  Your bedroom must be kept presentable at all times.

5.  Food is to be kept out of…(the TV room, your bedroom, the basement, the car, etc.)

6.  Everyone needs to be on time for dinner.

7.  Shoes must be worn outside at all times.

8.  Voice levels must be kept reasonable while inside.

9.  Chores must be completed before…(dinner, bedtime, TV, playing, etc.)

10.  Showers/baths must be taken…every day, every two days, three times per week, etc.)

11.  Shoes need to be kept off of the furniture.

12.  Electronic devices are to be turned off (or kept away from) the dinner table.

13.  Appropriate language is to be used at all times.

14.  Hands must be washed after using the bathroom and before meals.

15.  Trash belongs in the trash can.

16.  Clean up after yourself.

17.  Avoid being wasteful (use only what you need, re-use things when possible, recycle, etc.).

18.  Get permission before having friends over.

19.  Knock before entering a closed door (especially if you know that someone is in there).

20.  Treat other family members with respect.

21.  If you disagree with a limit (or with a direction that has been given to you) then do so calmly and without whining, arguing, bargaining, complaining, or being rude. You will only be listened to if you state your disagreement calmly (though this doesn’t mean the limit or direction will necessarily change).

22.  Only interrupt a parent that is on the phone if there is an emergency that can’t wait.

23.  Refrain from dangerous, careless, aggressive, and/or risky behavior.

24.  Brush your teeth (once, twice) per day.

25.  Wear clothes that are appropriate for the circumstances and the weather.

These 25 family rules should get you off to a great start.  Perhaps a family meeting is in order…and during that time you could discuss these potential family rules and even discuss the consequences that should be expected for violating them.

If you’d like to take things a step further and actually put into place a child behavior program then please visit for more information.

Getting Your Kids to Clean Up Around the House: A Fun Little Game to Try

603579_10152297786818006_413681953_nHere’s a little game or “contest” I tried with my kiddos a few days ago when our house was beginning to look a bit…um, disastrous. It actually motivated them to clean up most of the house and they seemed to have fun doing it.

I started off by telling them that I was going to write down four random things that needed to be done around the house. In this instance, I chose the following:

  1. Put the soda can on dad’s computer desk into the recycling bin
  2. Straighten the pillows on the loveseat
  3. Vacuum the entryway
  4. Wipe down the kitchen table.

I wrote these tasks down on a piece of paper then I folded it up without showing them what was listed. I instructed them both to start cleaning and told them that whoever ended up doing what was on the list would get a special treat. One “treat” was available for each task that was completed.

Since my kiddos had no idea what was on the list, they had to do as much cleaning as they could, as fast as they could, in the hopes that one of the tasks they completed was one from the list.

I then went and took a nice long shower and told them that I would be checking their progress once I was done.

By the time I came out of the shower, our house was in pretty good shape! The floors were vacuumed, the table was wiped down, all of their toys and other items were put away (except for that soda can on my desk!).

The other part of the deal was this: For EACH task that did NOT get done, BOTH of them would owe me a 5-minute foot massage!

In the end, one daughter earned two treats (an ice cream sandwich and 15 extra minutes on her iPad before bedtime), my other daughter earned one treat (an ice cream sandwich), and I earned a 5-minute foot massage from each of them (due to the forgotten soda can!)…not a bad deal all the way around.

And we ALL got a clean house!

Family Preservation Specialist? Have we got a tool for you!

family preservation

According to Child Welfare Information Gateway, “ Family preservation services are short-term, family-focused services designed to assist families in crisis by improving parenting and family functioning while keeping children safe.”

In other words, “family preservation” is a service that basically describes exactly what it intends to do – which is to preserve the family. These services are typically community-based and aimed at preventing family crises that might otherwise result in the abuse, neglect, or out of home placement of the family’s children. Family preservation specialists meet with clients, often daily, to teach such skills as positive parenting, conflict resolution, anger management, coping-skills, and activities of daily living (ADLs).


Family Preservation Specialists work with parents to improve their overall parenting skills and to assure that the parents are providing a safe, stable, and nurturing home for their children…one that is free of neglect and/or abuse.

Conflict Resolution

“Teaching families how to resolve their conflicts in a calm and constructive manner” is another goal that family preservation aims to achieve. Effective conflict resolution can easily prevent a “difficult situation” from escalating into a full-blown crisis.

Anger Management

The ability to manage one’s anger is an important skill that each family member must learn. Family Preservation Specialists are often able to provide a variety of anger management techniques or they can direct the person in need of such skills to a relevant training, class, or counselor. Coping-skills play a major part in managing one’s anger.

Activities of Daily Living

“ADL’s” involve basic living skills such as hygiene, job-searching, budgeting money, accessing services, paying bills, managing time, and so on. Family preservation services generally offer tips and advice related to each of these daily activities.

Family Preservation Help?

The Parent Coach Plan is an in-home child behavior program that could greatly benefit those that work with families, especially those that work in the position of Family Preservation Specialist. The Parent Coach Plan is a basic “how-to” guide for parents that are looking to provide a more consistent and structured environment for their children. It includes discipline tips, parenting advice, behavior management tools, and even a section that helps teach coping-skills to children. Then, of course, there is the behavior program itself…easy to use and highly beneficial to anyone that uses it!

To learn more about The Parent Coach Plan, please visit us at Agencies can even purchase multiple books (behavior programs) at our discounted bulk rates.


The Parent Coach Plan: Helping Those That Help Others