Tag Archives: how to

Be Respectful, Don’t Spoil

If you follow our <a href=”http://www.youtube.com/marin8d&#8221; target=”_blank”>YouTube Channel</a> we often talk about parenting that doesn’t require spanking, punishment or threats. We don’t approach whining or throwing fits as bad behavior that need suppressing, but rather an opportunity to validate our child’s feelings so they can move forward and learn how to deal with life’s hardships. Many of our followers ask how this parenting approach can not only be done, but result in a cooperative and unspoiled child.

The Process of Validation:
I myself struggled with the concept when initially incorporating it into our parenting habits. It goes against how I was raised and what society has told me would only breed a spoiled and difficult child. My perception changed when the results of our determination came to fruition.

During the summer we started going to the pool after which we’d come home and shower. Love (our toddler) did not like this one bit. She put up a huge fuss about it. Why would she want to get wet again when she’s already been in the pool and gotten out?

The first day she rejected the shower. She didn’t want to take her swim suit off and she didn’t want to go near the bathroom. Instead of “forcing her” by picking her up and putting her in the tub, I followed her around and validated her feelings. She was whining the whole time. I would genuinely listen then confirm my understanding by saying things like, “You didn’t want to take a shower because you are already dry?“…”Did you have something else that you were planning on doing instead of taking a shower?”… “Did you not care to get wet again?”

I continue to validate her in this way without imposing any negative labels or emotions on her, almost in an asking kind of way. Eventually and amazingly, she responds. I’ll say, “Did you not want to shower?” and she’ll say, “Yes.” Or “Were you done being wet today?” and she’ll confirm, “Done“. Once she stops whining and starts responding, I know she feels like I understand her.

It’s important to really exude the energy that you want to understand, so they know you are aware and acknowledge their conflict, and are not only trying to manipulate them into your way.

Once she’s been validated I start to explain to her why its my preference that she showers, “I know it’s not very appealing to shower right now, but it’s important to me that you do because the chlorine on your skin is harmful if not rinsed off.” I continue, although it seems like she doesn’t understand. “It’s just something we do, shower after swimming.”

There is no fear (if you don’t…) or “fixing” (lets just do it real quick) nor bribing (I’ll get you candy if you do) involved. Just explaining why it’s important to me. This all took less than 10 minutes…

Before I knew it she grabbed her bath toys, threw them in the tub, pulled off her swim suit and got in on her own. The next day I had to do the same process for less than 5 minutes and we’ve never had any fuss since then. She now automatically goes to the tub every time we return home from the pool.

Kids feel energy more than we give them credit for. Just like if you were to have a problem and wanted to vent, you want your friend to tell you, “I understand, that must be difficult.” Instead of, “Well, just get over it.” or “You know what you should do…

We all need to feel validated. Once we do, it’s easy to feel cared for and open up to understanding and validating that other person’s point of view in return, even if it doesn’t coincide with your perspective.

Often this approach seems inefficient because we live such busy lives… Who has the time to follow their 18 month around explaining things that they don’t seem to understand? What I have found is that it only takes a couple times of genuine validation and then the “issue” is resolved without any more fuss, stress or manipulation. It’s been well worth the effort instead of having to fight about it EVERY time, resulting in a negative, uncooperative experience for both you and your child.

Validation becomes easier for both parent and child with practice. Eventually our daughter just knew when she wasn’t going to get her way. She’d whine about something once, as if she were on the verge of a full blown tantrum and all we’d have to ask is, “You really didn’t want to leave did you?” To which she’d respond, “Leave“, as she willingly allowed us to strap her into the stroller. We’d validate her, “I see. It was a lot of fun playing here, wasn’t it? We have to eat lunch though, so we’re going home for now.” Usually she’d confirm her understanding by repeating the words, “I see” or “home“.

Some last words on validation:
Try to change the perception of a disgruntled child being a spoiled child. With your loving guidance, they grow and learn to accept negative emotions and circumstances, learning how to deal with them and express them in a healthy manner, rather than suppressing them until the pot eventually boils over.  Remember that your child is new to this world and their understanding of it is completely different from you. Try to reassess your expectations of him and continue to persist with patience and acceptance as he goes through stages of testing, resisting, expressing, learning, growing and flourishing.

Lastly, if validation doesn’t seem to work, check yourself. Sometimes there are underlying issues that need to be solved when on the surface it simply looks like an unhappy, bratty child. Other times a child is not given enough autonomy. Often it is something the parents overlook or are not consistent with.

An example of this is our two year old’s extreme whining. No matter how much we validate, her whining persists. First, it’s important to remember that whining is not a bad thing, but when it appears her whining about spilled food isn’t halted after some validation and cleaning, there must be an underlying frustration. What we found is that she had subtly tried to tell us the food had spilled, among many other things that went unheard. Whining was the only way to get our attention and though we validated her upset, we still asked her to use her words to let us know. How frustrating must that feel for her when she attempted to let us know, but we were the ones not paying attention?

She may not talk, but she certainly understands when we don’t understand. Work together with your child as a team. We have found when there is no ranking, “I’m the boss cause I’m the parent“, there is no power struggle, only caring and teamwork left to make it through.


Say Okay to Life

Life comes at you hard and fast sometimes.  Often it’s tough to not take a defensive stance towards the constant borage of moment to moment life.  When you get jaded by the impossibility of saying no to life, and you really don’t feel like saying yes, remember there is always another option.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at my life and said, “Why? I don’t want this, I didn’t ask for this, and nothing can make me like it!”  Doesn’t stop it from being true, and since there’s no rule saying I have to like it, there’s only one other route.  Be OK with it.

The baby is screaming, the dog just pissed on the floor, and the two year old is in emotional turmoil over lunch options. Now I can’t instantly make everything right, and I certainly don’t like the predicament, but if I breath and focus, I can find acceptance for it.

“Great! Brett’s telling me it’s ok to roll over and let life happen.  What a load off!” Well not exactly, but I am suggesting you remove the strain by refraining from fighting what is.

Faced with a life or death situation, some people might freeze, but I think most find acceptance and optional escape routes rather quickly. Even in sports, the coach doesn’t say to the team, “Alright, just sit down for the next play, we’re finished.” He says, “Ok we’re down nine points with ten seconds on the clock.  We’re going to foul the hell out em, make faces while they shank all their free throws and sink three full court shots.  Let’s go!”  Irrational optimism aside, situations like these demand immediate acceptance, and are hence approached with clarity and little to no resistance. Bringing this sober matter-a-fact attitude to everyday struggles can dramatically reduce the “drama” associated with the problems we would otherwise want to resist.

Accepting life as it is lends the quickest assistance to living your day like you want. This is not a forfeit of action, merely a mindset of allowing that leads to more living and less worrying. Try it out, and if you have any thoughts on the matter, pipe up and share with the community.  Thanks gang,



It’s Okay to Not Be Okay

Ever feel bad for feeling bad? A common trap for us “positeevers” is to feel guilty about not always believing the world to be sunshine and roses. We reason with ourselves that there is no practical point in being grumpy. Yet somehow, we still are.

What’s going on here? Expectations have been made of ourselves to always be cheerful, and when we come up short, disappointment, like that we have for a misbehaving child, sets in. The bar is always set high by one’s self, and positivity, like any other goal, is not fun to feel a failure at.

Have we really failed though? Is it our expectation to never feel bad? Furthermore, is putting guilt on ourselves a good penance for having slipped down a dark path?

There is another way. It’s often referred to as acceptance. Guilt is a resistance to a current, unwanted outcome of an action performed in the past.

Can’t change the past though, and arguably, not the present either. You can only accept where you’ve been and where you are, and then go on living.

Acknowledging your state of mind allows you to realize that that is all it is. Once you see the origin of your guilt as a simple resistance in your way of thinking, it tends to melt away. The argument dissolves when you stop fighting the way you feel.  When there is no opponent to your crummy attitude, the attitude is left to heal itself, as there is nothing else for it to do.

I encourage you to try this simple approach for yourself, and please remember to let us know how it works. Extreme honesty will be required, but I am confident you can find peace when you stop denying yourself the experience of unhappiness. Sit with your upset, look it in face and watch its reality melt away.

Thanks for reading.  Till next time,


Childbirth: The Only Thing Harder for a Dad Than Menopause!

The title is just a joke really.  As a young father, the only experience I have with menopause is the memory of my father’s thinning skin coinciding with my moms hot flashes and the Battle Royale over the thermostat that ensued for the next few years.  Childbirth on the other hand is fresh in my mind and I wanted to share some thoughts on it to the aspiring dads out there… You woman can just laugh at our meager strife 😉

Childbirth for me was one of the most helpless times of my life.  Here I am, “Grand Protector and Provider”, watching clueless of what to do while “the parasite” (fairly accurate terminology given the circumstances) burrows its way out of what I would affectionately call my wife’s tenders.  She is in pain.  The one thing I’m supposed to prevent. “Stupid! Stupid!”  Well this is kind of how I felt our first time. There is hope though, and it starts before labor.

Firstly I think it’s important to realize right this instant that your wife is made for this.  Moving forward with this perception, this steadfast belief, as I think it should be, you are ready to prepare your wife, and yourself, for birth. Your support and encouragement through this miraculous process of pregnancy will set the framework for your wife’s belief in her own ability.  A healthy relationship is crucial, and I beg you not to underestimate the level of intimacy you can maintain or even create while your wife is pregnant.  Yes there will be times when she is an utter pain in the butt, and others when she has pains in her butt… but if you can foster a loving, understanding relationship with her, you will witness the blooming of a rare flower versus the impending doom of perpetually dark skies over your once peaceful abode.

Educate yourself on childbirth options.  If you are anything like myself, a westernized boy from a small family of four, the whole concept of childbirth is a foreign idea.  Our main source of education on the subject comes from tv and movies, which let me just say are far from reality. Don’t count on having your baby in the back of a cab on the way to the hospital because a tidal wave suddenly fell from between your wife’s legs, soiling her pretty flower covered maternity dress she was wearing.  Be informed that c- section is quickly becoming the norm in this country and understand why, and what a major operation like that means to you, your wife, and particularly that precious package she’s carrying.  Look into birthing centers, talk to midwives or your doc about what standard procedures are and what c- section rates he or she is delivering. All I’m saying is study your options… There are more than you think.

Most importantly though, learn to be positive!  Birth is a magically natural thing.  Get it in your head that it doesn’t have to be a traumatic experience. My wife’s first sounded like bloody murder from outside the house I’m sure.  Yes we had both ours at home, we are THOSE people.  But her second was so peaceful you could of heard a mouse fart through all of it.  Don’t believe me? Both videos are on YouTube (Birth #1 & Birth #2) for the very purpose of showing how a little focus and positivity can make all the difference in the world.  It takes changing our ideas, even our language about birth.  Empowering our women to do what is natural and instilling the belief that it can be both safe and peaceful is the real ticket to ensuring that menopause stays on top as the last mysteriously scary event for us husbands.

Believe me gentleman your wife wants and needs you during this time, and your role as protector and provider requires learning some helpful information that seems lost to our modern society and fostering positivity about this incredible process that encompasses the true essence of life.


The Damage of Worry & Concern

What is important to me is that we don’t avoid or attempt to control unfavorable or negative experiences. That would be impossible. Rather, let us maintain honest awareness of the situation, shed light and support for ourselves and for one another to learn how to address, not suppress, the matter. So we may come out as stronger people who have taken the opportunity for growth… out of love for the life experience; not fear, worry or concern of anything otherwise.

It is like nails on a chalkboard to me when people express worries and concern over the most petty things. Those who criticize over some judgement they’ve made from a fearful perspective or preach about “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” as if all of life fits into the safe box they’ve created in their mind. The reason this is a hard thing for me to swallow is because I used to be one of those people and I know what it feels like to live life in the perspective and idea that I can control the outcome of things.

Everyone lives differently and as parents, people, friends, partners, dog owners, employees, employers, students… whatever hat you wear, most of us approach and do things the best we can and how most of us feel is beneficial, healthy and loving to ourselves and those we care about. Beyond our approach to life, our meaning and purpose of what drives us to live and what we live for may also be very different. For those who’s goals are to live life avoiding as much pain and challenging times as they can, it might feel right to fit into a box of worry and concern.

For those of us who want to live an uninhibited, fearless life experience… I really want to express why being worried or concerned over little things are a serious disservice to you and are not love-building in relationships, let alone to your self-esteem and life perspective.
This is a large reason why we may come across as nonchalant, liberal people to some. Being worried over every single little thing is stressful, unhealthy and supports a fearful perspective that life is not abundant and deceivingly allows us to believe that we can control outcomes based on projected expectations, giving us a false sense of security.

The truth is, I cannot save myself, or those I love, like my child, from ever getting hurt… And being a child myself that was over-protected and sheltered, I have some bitterness over the fact that I wasn’t allowed to fall… Be it on the ground doing some physical activity or failing at something I couldn’t quite handle on my own. I grew to have so much fear of pain and failure that when life inevitably allowed those moments to happen (because it did) I did not know how to be accepting nor address them in a healthy way that allowed me to move through those challenging moments instead of being traumatized by them.

Let me make it clear that living fearless doesn’t mean living reckless, or having a false sense of immortality. But it does mean go out and live life, even if it means taking a risk, like getting into a car (that could befall a fatal accident) to travel to and enjoy a concert, a dinner, or time with friends.

The possibilities of negative events and outcomes are endless… Don’t just fear the most common things you hear via media or conjured from imaginings of the “worse things that could happen”. Be fair to the giving, abundant side of life and maybe start asking yourself, “What’s the best thing that could happen?”

Let go of fear, listen to your inner voice, do what feels right, with love… and you will see it can never lead you wrong. I hope this liberation for all.


Connecting Openly

Obviously being digital figures on the Internet, Marin and I are in the line of fire for a fair bit of judgement.  No time in history could ever match the ease with which separation could be pointed out on such grand scales anonymously through the World Wide Web.  Fortunately the same can be said for noticing our similarities and bringing one another together.  I will try to focus on that note today (though what my ego really wants to do is complain about all the “haters”). Enough has been said on them though, and what kind of happy thought would that inspire anyways?

Remarkable sharing and openness on our YouTube channel has inspired this post and my thanks goes out to that community which has shown us so much love, support and understanding.  We are often addressed by commenters on many personal and “sensitive” aspects of our lives and perspectives, which can be challenging at times.  There are those, many I will say, for the sake of positivity, that compose their feelings unassumingly, openly and with great tact.  Hopefully I will pinpoint what I feel are their characteristics that make them welcome “joiners” who contribute to opening the connection in our community verses the avoided “downers”.

1. Leading with Intentions: I find that most open minded folk start their thoughts with the declaration that these are “just their thoughts, feelings, ideas, etc.”  Another way many disarm any idea of ill intent from the start is by asking clarification of your stance first, as if checking to see if their thoughts on the subject are even pertinent.

2. Unassuming:  this particular quality of verbiage is one of my favorites and I find it is generally the result of much practice as it comes somewhat unnatural to developed language.  The knack of being able to speak without putting someone else or their ideas in any kind of a box is a commendable quality and well worth mastering.  Responding to comments on our videos has been a largely helpful way for me to develop this skill to some extent; the format of being able to think about my words before posting offers the crucial time to check my words for any box-making.

3. Unbiased: coming across as being open to both sides of a topic goes a long way toward bringing people and thoughts together rather than segregating them.  After all, how we can expect someone to be open to our thoughts unless we stay open to theirs?

Whether you are answering questions or asking them, the ability to address people openly will shift the energy of any conversation to one of expansion, growth, and collaboration… Basically the thing we all are seeking in the first place.



Our “Spoiled” Child

Kids don’t act out for no reason.  Though often times parents feel that they do, and I’m certainly not innocent of that myself.  If a child is misbehaving, the first thing to cross our minds is typically a judgement about why they shouldn’t be. ” She has more then I ever had as a child, how can she be so ungrateful“, we think to ourselves.

For Marin and I, realizing the truth behind this skewed perception has done wonders for not only our peace of mind but also our ability to address and guide our little girl through the ups and downs that are inevitable in life.  It goes something like this:

You are at the store trying to get some shopping done for dinner and some money-hungry, consumerist-promoting  peddler has decided to place a plethora of brightly colored, bigger than your head, balls in an easily accessible bungee barred carton dead center of a high traffic area at the end of an isle.  Without doubt they catch the eye of your innocent youngster who has, at this point, tired of the idea that despite their turning the steering wheel of their race car inspired shopping cart to the right, it keeps going left.  Throwing themselves from their moving, unresponsive cart they proceed to tear at the multi colored balls which pop out of their weak elastic bindings with ease.  You say to your child after failing to park your cart where it won’t be in anyone’s way,” Sweetheart you have a green one just like that at home.” After some back and forth on the matter with both parties holding firmly to their stance, your little one makes a last plea in the form of a tantrum.

Spoiled child“, you can almost hear the passersby saying, though that bit is all in your head.  You believe the thought though, because that is how you were raised, how those around you were perceived, and the general view of the society you are a part of.  Your egoic inner voice implores you to lay down the law with a solid and final,”NO!”  This is one option. Albeit the same old one with it’s predictable outcome of escalated protestations from your child. On the other hand you might cave out of embarrassment only teaching your child that crying in public is successful and that you are ashamed of their behavior.  For us there is a third option that involves understanding your child’s point of view and validating their feelings.

The situation might unfold like this:
You meet them on their level, which probably means swallowing your pride at this moment and crouching down in the isle to speak softly, face to face with your child.  This can be disarming in itself as you are no longer the all powerful “voice of OZ” bellowing down on them from your great position of power.  You ask a simple question geared at understanding their feelings and or wants. “You really like these balls don’t you?”  Might still be a tearful response at this point, but you continue… ” there are more colors here that you don’t have and you think they’d be fun to have also?”  What Marin and I have found is that the more the child feels genuine care and understanding for their perspective, the more they soften and come to accept their own emotions.

Lets face it, kids at this stage don’t really grasp the idea of money, space, time, or needs vs wants.  So why would expect them to understand these concepts without some conflict or better put, confusion?  Very understandable, given their perspective and limited experience.  BUT given the support and understanding that they want something they can’t have and that is frustrating for them, the child learns that emotions are ok to feel and express, though they won’t necessarily change anything.  Learning this allows them to feel, understand and even manage their feelings, something that either of the other two options would have negated.  This concept most definitely takes practice, but with genuine energy from you without personal motives getting in the way, you can give your little one a the opportunity for a healthy emotional development in a world where they will make good use of it.

Carry patience and love with you. You can do it.