Tag Archives: Parenting

World’s Best Mom

How I believe anyone can be the “Best Mom”

We had grandma Gigi in town this past week.  As attachment parents, having someone around that you know loves your kids the same way you do is kinda like getting a break.  Marin and I have never tried the sitter thing, not because we think it’s wrong or bad, we just have some minor trust and control issues 😉

Watching my mom play with the kids however, made me realize how amazing of a parent she truly was and is still.  Her patience, openness, and 100% devotion to the moment with the girls, were nothing short of inspiring.

I grew up under the fortunate circumstance of having a stay at home mother who wanted nothing more in life than to be just that.  Her purpose, motivation, and joy was to nurture her boys.  Only now can I fully appreciate the pure love she unthinkingly gave to me and my brother.

I don’t want to put down modern society, culture, or way of life, but I will emphasize how incredibly powerful an effect her love has had on my life, and how valuable I feel that kind of love is to the world, especially now.  You see, she gave me more than just time with her loving attention, more than motivation with her supportive belief, and more than simple health with her nurturing. What I received, learned, was ingrained with through her mothering was a belief that life is good!  Situations could be rough, but life could be fun! People might lie, steal, and cheat, but they couldn’t take away my belief that love was more valuable than all the rest.

Her actions made me feel secure, a truly valuable quality.  With security, one can approach life openly with understanding, think and act independently of others’ beliefs, and love freely.  Simply put, one can live without fear and that is Living! Can you imagine a world raised with that mindset?

My mom fulfilled what every mother wants for her children,and I believe every mom can.  We may not all have the time she had with her boys, but giving the way she gave, with whatever time you do have, is enough to show any child the truth about life.  It’s Goooood.

Think about it…



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.

Spank Me

Before now, I haven’t wanted to touch this subject with anything short of a yard stick. I feel it is time though, and so I will say thank you in advance for your openminded consumption of this work. 

Seth has just been caught writing on the walls for the second time today after being told the first time that it is never ok to do so. His mom, a loving parent, takes him over to “The Chair” and calmly tells him that he disobeyed her rules and has to be spanked. Seth protests, fearful of what’s to come. His mom persists though, perhaps because of religious beliefs or following her own childhood experience of parenting. A swat on bare cheeks and some tears later, what reasoning do you think Seth is left with?

“I’ve done something wrong, and bigger, stronger, Mom has hit me for it. Fault equals physical punishment or pain. Might is right. Hitting is a solution towards others disobeying my wants.

Which of these possible understandings do you think is productive for little Seth? I am personally familiar with the argument that physical punishment is a solution in the legal system, though in the form of retainment and or death. I’ve also heard someone justify it by explaining the pain could be more severe if they didn’t follow my instructions.

I will go ahead and say that I know plenty of fine people who were raised by the hand. I don’t believe it is a ruining factor, but certainly an unnecessary one brought on by cultural pressures of time and social obligations. If there was another way, one that risked nothing but time for showing love, would you try it? For my wife and I, the answer is simple. The reward of secure, love promoting individuals, sharing a life with us is just one priceless benefit.

We’ve found that kids understand much more than we tend to give them credit for. They yearn to fit into the family group, and very much feel when they don’t. With this in mind we try very hard to approach our two year old with respect, showing displeasure not for her, but for the undesirable action. Through words, not pain, we relate to her the best we can why we disliked what was done. The better part of the world works this way, not by swatting one another.

Why then would I want to show my children anything different, when what I want most for them is to find understanding for how cooperation peacefully works in the world? I want them to experience first hand how respect breeds benefits for all, not just some. How else can we lead but through example?

As parents we know all too well if we do something, our kids will repeat it.  It merely makes sense to me, not to teach that course of action.

You guys know I love an open conversation, so let me know how you feel and thanks for hanging out.


Terrible Toddlers

Assuming you have raised your child with love, there is no reason why they would Want to upset you. I am making this statement today with the upmost emphasis because I for one, struggle at times not taking my child’s acting out personally. We, the grown ups, live in what we often perceive as a dog eat dog world. Whether or not that is partially true is another topic, but one thing is for sure, our children don’t have that perception yet. Not, at least, until well passed 5 or 6 years of age. They start off with needs, learn preferences and wants, and then develop a sense of their interaction and influence on the surrounding world. Needs are easily met with a little adjustment to our lives, and I am far too naive, with children too young to speak of developing self awareness in this modern environment.  I would like to comment for now on the often troublesome period involving wants.

Desire hits us smack in the face like the sweet smell of freshly baked bread. At a particular point we realize that we have options, choices, a plethora of outcomes awaiting us. Suddenly our simple needs of mom and dad’s affection and care have been flooded by an overwhelming sense of desire. Of course they seem to be in the same general category as our original needs and so they are treated as such. This is where the confusion sets in. As parents we do not recall that transition and hence aren’t very understanding of our child’s seemingly brattish behavior. We try to suppress their outbreaks, condemn their upset rather than validate it, and worst of all, we take their acting out personally, forgetting that they are dealing the best they can with the myriad of forces pulling at their psyche. The ludicrously funny thing is that if we stopped our futile attempts of deflecting their emotions and took a few minutes to grasp their perspective and recognize the underlying needs of affection and care that still exist, we would find ourselves well equipped to live harmoniously with our little ones as they attempt to find that self awareness in the world that often evades even us “grown ups”.

Rest assured my patience with this understanding is tested often, especially when my 25 month old wants to shake my 2 month old’s hand vigorously, something we have repeatedly explained not to do.  Using the dog as a bed, pulling out toilet paper, and screaming playfully at the top of her lungs while others try to sleep, my child clearly is trying to upset me right? Wrong. She wants something. More often than not, she’s looking for attention, someone to explore HER world with. And rightly so. At her age kids are primed for development, skill building, and social interaction. What I have to choose is whether to condemn her for making my life harder, or work with understanding to reach common ground on which we can mesh our lives peacefully. Luckily at this age they also gain an understanding of time and simple concepts, at least in my experience, that can aid you in arranging agreements. Please realize though that it is not for us to expect them to understand or like a given scenario, though they often will if you give them sincere validation of there perspectives. How else is a child to develop such skills except through our example?

On a final note, find patience for yourself. This is not an easy perceptual shift for us dogs fighting for the perceived scraps day in and day out. If you find yourself about to boil over, take a few minutes to inwardly explore what preconditioned judgements you are putting on your little bundles of joy. Once the blame is removed from your mind you will be able to address them in a manner that empowers their growth into conscious, loving beings.

Thank you for your perspectives on the matter, as I dearly love to hear other’s experiences,


Residual Parenting

She’s at it again, terrorizing the innocent Mr. Bingley, our 8 month old boston terrier.  “My little two year old just doesn’t seem to get it, or worse yet doesn’t care,” I think to myself.  Telling her no and prying her away to express my disapproval doesn’t teach her anything and my attempts at directing her from my comfy perch of preoccupation seem to go unheard.  Whatever am I to do?

The question plagued Marin and I on more than one occasion in different scenarios.  The simple answer took a quick minute to materialize for us… WE are the parents!  So what does it mean to “parent” a child?  Many words and concepts come to mind at the introduction of this question, but none seem more appropriate than “guide”.   We are our children’s guides through this often hap hazard experience called life.  Not their slave drivers nor their chariot drivers, but a third party participant with an vested interest in their health and happiness.  We show them, in short, how to catch the biggest fish, where suitable shelter can be arranged and why staying downwind of Booboo and Yogi might be a good idea.  We don’t however tell them they must, nor catch the fish for them, as that would be thwarting their experience and growth; key attributes to any journey.

So what do you do when Sally wants to pet the porcupine?  You join her!  Now bear with me cause this is where things get prickly.  Sally wants to learn, so eager in fact that she has stepped into dangerous territory.  Prime opportunity to show her how things can be done.  Dive into her experience, guide her through it, allowing choices to be made autonomously when possible and being there to subtly correct or intervene IF necessary.  For Marin and I this looks like sitting with our little girl when she wants to see our little pup.  We can show her attention the little pup likes,  be there to discourage the full on body-slamming hug that she wants to give him, and are present to explain why performing  an eye or nose exam on any dog might be the type of prickly situation to avoid until they grow up to be the vet that they currently have their heart set on becoming.

Given this approach, children gain experience AND perspective, something far beyond rules.  Yes.  It takes time, but not as much time as telling them “no-this”, “yes-that” for years on end.

“Give a man fish, feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.”

Thanks and much love, Brett


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.



Passion without Sacrifice

I absolutely love Joshua Fields Millburn’s talk on Passion in their SXSW recording of How Minimalism is Changing Entrepreneurship. He clarifies the meaning of following your passion; it isn’t necessarily fleeting to each thing we are excited about. Excitement is commonly misinterpreted as passion and although we are often excited when we are passionate, it is not always the case. I am extremely passionate about having a family and raising kids, although it’s not my preference or something I’m excited about when they’re waking up every two hours in the middle of the night.

This idea had me thinking, because it’s really easy to feel a loss or a sense of “missing something” when we have children and raise families or do any other thing that requires a lot of time and attention. Recently, I’ve been extremely excited about yoga and cruising on our new bicycles but it’s been difficult to have as much opportunity as I’d like to pursue those interests when I am six months pregnant and I have a toddler with her own, separate interests. I feel like I am sacrificing my wants for my family. But the truth is, I want a family too. I want to play with my toddler and I want to be pregnant because I would enjoy another family member in this household to journey through life with and to accompany my daughter.

So I have to ask myself, what am I truly passionate about?

At this moment, I am deeply and primarily passionate about my children and my family. It doesn’t mean I have to give up doing yoga or riding my bike when I have the opportunity, but I don’t have to feel like it is a sacrifice or something I have to pick and choose over. It is an honor and a blessing to be a mother and to experience parenting; it’s not a job, it’s not a sacrifice… And maybe someday my children would be interested in doing yoga with me or going on bike rides, who knows? That’s the beauty of this experience.

The beautiful thing about life is that it changes every moment. It is unpredictable, surprising and ever abundant in it’s diversity and excitement.