Together in Hard Places


Making the Best Yes Decisions 

I am in love with Chapter Seventeen, “The Very Best Yes,” in The Best Yes.

There have been so many great pieces to this book, really – so many, but as we close out the book study this week I am almost in dumbfounded awe of how this chapter is speaking to my worn out heart.

I am in a season where I am having to make some big decisions, decisions that may really make me sad, make others disappointed and honestly be life changing, but not necessarily positive.  It is a hard place to be in.

But as I read about Lysa and her sharing the experience with her daughter and the big heartbreak, it really brought me back to those times when I could barely function because of so much angst. I haven’t been in that place for a long time, but there are many times I get close to that place.  Do you know what I mean?

I shared a while back about a period of time when I struggled with hopelessness to a big degree and it was debilitating.  Those are hard times.  I’ve struggled with losing a parent, an in-law, putting one through alcohol rehabilitation treatment and a few other big events that can knock you down.  Life is hard, but I have to remember this, and I shared it yesterday:

“Together is a really good word.  Together is what we need when we hit tough patches in life.  Making decisions when life is making you cry shouldn’t be done alone.”

I am the first to admit, I am a loner and I like to do this myself.  I hate to ask for help.  This really struck me as well the other day on the Facebook page as one of the other moderators shared this definition of herself:

“As someone who can be a reclusive, overwhelmed introvert.”

I almost spit out my coffee – that is me!!!  Seriously!

And it’s not really all that great of a thing.  I try to do this thing called life on my own, even to the point of not letting my husband know a lot of those things that are bothering me.  It’s easier to just take care of it myself.  Wrong, I know.

So if there is one thing, ONE BIG THING I have learned in this book, it is this:

“In those moments when we feel swept away in a current of fast-moving feelings, we need to pause.  Wait.  Let someone else be there as a voice of clarity.”

And then this:

“Smart enough to know to pause and take extra time when life takes on extenuating circumstances that are hard.”

I want to tattoo that on my palms.

“When we can rise up on the wisdom of others and get a new view of our situations, our next steps seem a little clearer.”

I need relationships that are deeper, more frequent and more meaningful.  Period.  I honestly feel having those will help me with my Best Yes decisions.  Does that resonate with you too?

So as I wrap up this study and our time together, I want you to know how much I value you – those of you I may meet in person and many of you who I never will.  You make my life sweet and rich in ways that no one else can understand who does not have an online community.

I feel your presence as I write on the page of my blog and even when I am admitting things I would rather tuck away deep in my heart…. I do it anyhow, because I know you won’t make assumptions or accusations.  You are sweet and appreciative of me bearing myself with you and hoping that it may help another mom, somewhere out there who feels alone and hurt.

Please join us tonight for the LIVE Facebook chat at 6:15 PM Pacific time/ 9:15 PM Eastern time.  We will share, have some worship music and celebrate this journey together.  Thank you so much for coming along!

Have Some P.R.I.D.E. In Your Life – Elizabeth White, MA, LMHC


The role of mother calls for much sacrifice and care.  When you spend your day kissing boo-boos and slicing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, it can be easy to forget all about the person you were before you became a mom.

The woman in your rear view mirror deserves a ride in the front seat sometimes.

Remember her?

She loved cuddling up with a good book or catching a movie.  Her laugh could light up a room, and she loved the company of good friends.  If you find yourself getting lost in the shuffle, don’t start 2011 in that same cycle.   Put yourself on your own “to-do” list this year. [Read more…]

One Size Does Not Fit All


“We don’t receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take from us or spare us.”     -Marcel Proust (1871-1922)

Jenny’s Take: Becoming ScreamFree looks different for each parent. You are an individual with a particular upbringing and a particular relationship with the co-parent of your child. You live in a specific region, you have a specific occupation, and last, but not least…you have a unique child. So, while the principles we offer are universal, the application of those principles must be personal.

We may wish for a better relationship with our child. That is all well and good. But the difficult truth is this: wishing doesn’t really get us anywhere. If you want to improve your relationship (and who doesn’t?) you are the one who has to embark on this journey. No one can tell you exactly what to do or what to say. It’s the discovery of those things that really does make the difference. So, get in there and make mistakes. As long as you are holding true to the ScreamFree principles, you’re headed in the right direction. -Jenny Runkel  Director of Content for The ScreamFree Institute

The Confident Mom’s Take: I love how Jenny gives credit to the reality that everyone is different, every child is different and every home has a different comfort level for management.  This is one of the best things about coaching and what I love most about the entire process.  A book tells you just what to do, step 1, step 2 and so on – not taking into account how unique your child is or your family dynamic.  When I work with moms I get them to bring me into their home (not literally, but some wish I was like SuperNanny!) and give me a real feeling of what is going on and how their family is unique.  Then we can start to introduce principles, which are different than instructions – principles  are truths that give you the “why” and allows you to reason. You can apply these ScreamFree principles however they fit for you and your family.  That is one reason why it works so well, but not the only.  The basis of focusing on only yourself and realizing that you can only control your own emotions and actions is key.  A new ScreamFree series for Busy Moms is starting in about a month, sign up by August 13th for a special rate!  Will you finally take the step to change what may not be working in your home?  I would love to have you join us, there is always celebrated success to share!

Allowing Your Kids to be “THEM”


“You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts.”

Kahlil Gibran, Lebanese-American author (1883-1931)

Hal’s Take: Our job as parents is not to re-create ourselves. That is narcissistic and short sighted. But many of us do it anyway without even realizing it. The simple fact is, our children are sentient beings. They think, they feel, they create, they love. Period. With or without you, they have that capability.

[Read more…]

The Power of Expectations


I have had the privilege over the past couple of weeks to get together on the phone with a wonderful group of moms during my ScreamFree Parenting for Busy Moms teleseminar.  It has been the perfect balance of reviewing key principles as well as open discussion and sharing for all of us.   During our call last night we touched on expectations and raising self-directed children and I thought I would write more about the importance and power you have as a parent when you set up clear and concise expectations.

Expectations fall into two main categories: behaviors and accomplishments.  I am going to focus on behavior expectations.

  • Set realistic expectations based on the age of your child.

As a parent, you know your child best.  With that information I think you know what your child can and cannot do when it comes to behavior.  There are plenty of sources available that can help you identify what you can expect of your two year old or five year old, but still – you know your child best.  Be reasonable with what you are expecting from your child.   Do you find yourself getting upset when you are out all afternoon trying to do errands and your two year old starts acting up?  For a majority of children, that is an unrealistic expectation.  They cannot be expected to “perform” for that long of a period.

  • Do you clearly lay out your expectations?

I find this one gets overlooked – even with parents who think they are giving an expectation.  When you are leaving the house, do you spell out for your child what kind of behavior you are looking for?  Or do you say something like, “Be a good girl for momma while we are at the store.”  Is that a clear expectation?  Does a two year old know what that means, or even a six year old?  For my children I always gave very specific expectations so they knew exactly what I was wanting from them.  For example, going out to dinner in a restaurant, we would stop right before we entered the restaurant and I would list the expectations I had, sitting on bottoms, using manners like “please” and “thank you”, proper use of their utensils, and using inside voices.  Then I would also follow it up with what would happen if they chose NOT to follow the expectation.  This helped me the most, as I knew ahead of time what I would be doing if they did not cooperate and I wasn’t caught off guard or sitting there giving empty threats and not following through.

This same type of clear description of expected behavior can be done with any situation, from cleaning their room, riding in the car or even homework as your child gets older.  When you are at work or given a project doesn’t your boss give you some direction?  It is the same when you are a parent, they need your help to figure out what actions they need to display.

  • Praise generously when expectations are met!

When your child displays the appropriate behavior and meets or EXCEEDS your expectation this is where you can show your appreciation and pleasure.  By giving specific praise rather than general phrases, you will be enforcing the teaching and learning process your child goes through.  Rather than saying, “thank you for being such a good girl,”  say “you did a great job staying seated on your bottom and using an inside voice.  It was so nice to have you along.”  Can you see the difference in what your child hears from you?  You will make a much bigger impact with those specific statements rather than general ones.

As we enter the holiday season and kids are often put into new and unique situations, take the time to be clear and concise with your expectations and I can guarantee you will see a difference in their behavior and it will reduce your reactive behavior!