Family Spotlight: Brooke Mulford

Before we came to see Amy, I would describe my husband and I as frustrated, end-of-our rope parents. We were struggling with a child who took all of our attention and energy, and then some. I would say the problem persisted for close to a year. We would halfway attempt methods discussed in the multiple parentingBrooke Mulford books we had bought or checked out from the library, but we had no real success and were even more frustrated when nothing worked.

After multiple incidents at home and our daughter’s school, involving hitting and anger, I called Amy, who had been recommended to us by our daughter’s preschool teacher.

Our concerns were that we needed to ‘figure’ our daughter out before it was too late. We also wanted to be better parents.

In the beginning, the processed helped us by making us accountable, which meant that I had to report back to Amy about how things were going. This helped us tremendously! I felt like if we were spending the time and money, we needed to also put forth the effort. And after that, the process changed us. We finally had the tools we needed to be successful parents. We learned that our parenting style just didn’t work, and really clashed with our daughter’s personality. Honestly, I never would have thought that some of the things we were doing wrong were such a big deal until we started making just a couple of ‘small’ changes and saw the improvement!

Our daughter is now beginning to recognize her own feelings and learning how to express them. Her anger and physical aggression towards others almost always stems from frustration, so Amy gave us tools to help her express herself in more appropriate ways, and in turn, help her to make better decisions. I think the thing that was the most shocking to me was how quickly these changes affected our household- it is literally life-changing!

We still have rough days, but they are few and far between. I feel like now we can regain control of the day, as opposed to going from one frustration to another. I believe it has made us happier people over all, and has had a positive impact on our marriage as well. Two less frustrated people who finally feel like successful parents-which is what I believe all parents want at their core-to raise happy, healthy children who are able to cope with life and things that come their way.

Things are good. I feel like we enjoy being parents to our daughter now, and can give her the time and patience that she deserves. That might sound terrible, but when the days were full of frustration, I honestly didn’t want to be around her most of the time. It was a tremendous learning experience for all of us, since we all play a part in our children’s upbringing. Things in our family are very different…we have changed from reactive parents to active parents-which is what our daughter needs and deserves. Our daughter hasn’t had a bad day at school in almost two months-I can pick her up from school and not hold my breath while asking her teacher how the day went! Things are still going great!!

Brooke Mulford

What Your Communication Says About Your Family

When I was growing up, my family did not really communicate. Did yours?

Oh, we talked, a little bit, but that’s different from really communicating.

Since good communication is at the foundation of any close parent-child relationship, why don’t we explore ways to be effective in that area?

Most often, when we think of communication, we think of talking. It might come as a surprise, but that’s actuallypwa_feature_communication_2 the least important aspect of communicating— 7% the experts tell us. The next 23% has to do with the tone, emotion, volume and intonation in our voice. The last 70% is the largest and most significant portion of communication—the non-verbal. This is our facial expressions, eye contact, posture and gestures, which speak the loudest and contain the real truth.

Communication is connection. Healthy families share feelings, thoughts and beliefs. Our children want to be heard and understood, so how do we let them know we really hear them and convey we understand what they’re trying to tell us?

This kind of connection begins at birth. The first thing an infant uses is his senses. The way you talk to your infant as he coos at you, the way you look into his eyes and the way you smile at him are all ways that let him know you’re listening. Genuine listening is giving him your full attention. To be emotionally present means that we listen with our whole being…ears, eyes, face, body and heart. You are communicating to him how valuable he is to you. Isn’t it amazing that we can tell our infants how much we love them with our faces?

If we want our kids to share their hearts with us, they must feel secure in the parent-child relationship. We can build trust by really listening. To really listen means we don’t criticize, judge or shame. We simply listen and then reflect and validate what they said. Your child says he hates school and all of the work his teacher makes him do. A response might be “you seem pretty angry about what happened at school today.”

Does listening like this mean we agree with what is being said? Not necessarily. All it means is that I hear you and I understand. Being open-minded and sensitive to others thoughts, feelings and beliefs demonstrates we get it.

Being available, on their terms, is something many parents struggle with. We tend to want our kids to talk when it’s convenient for us. It doesn’t work that way, especially for teens.

When your children do confide in you, listen carefully and then offer them words that encourage and lift them up. “I know you will figure it out.”

What says to our kids we’re not listening? A lot, but I’ll just list a few: fiddling around with electronics, multitasking, watching TV, interrupting them while they are trying to tell us something, lecturing and nagging when they’re sharing with us, not making eye contact with them, acting bored or telling them to hurry up and get to the point, interrogating and putting them on the hot seat, asking questions and asking “why” are sure-fire ways to shut a kiddo down. Are you ever guilty of any of these?

Give some thought to your family’s communication style. Decide if there are things you need to change. If you desire a closeness and connectedness with your kids and if you want them to feel free to talk to you about matters large and small, encourage your family to communicate in ways that convey respect, love and acceptance.

There’s Always Hope,

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Need more help?  Parents often jokingly ask Amy, “Will you go home with me?”  While she can’t do that, Amy is available to consult with parents through her consultation services.  Click Here to learn more.

Ask Amy: “Is it possible to spoil my baby?”

In this episode of “Ask Amy”, Amy addresses the question, “Can I spoil my baby?” There are many opinions on this subject! Listen to what Amy’s approach on loving and caring for your child.

There’s Always Hope,

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Need more help? Parents often jokingly ask Amy, “Will you go home with me?” While she can’t do that, Amy is available to consult with parents through her consultation services. Click Here to learn more!

Family Spotlight: Jennifer Bourgeois

Three years ago we experienced a major life change, the death of my mother. I tried to shield my children from the pain that I was experiencing but I didn’t realize at the time how my decisions would affect my children and their own grief. As time went on we began noticing a change in our oldest daughter, Emma. At first we didn’t realize what was going on with her and why she was acting out so much and refusing to separate from me. She was afraid to do things that she normally loved, didn’t want to go to school and would cry every morning, and also became defiant towards us. At the time she was 9 and in 3rd grade. I became very fearful of our mother-daughter relationship and the negative effects on my family. During my own childhood my oldest sister was a “trouble maker” and even as an adult I never understood what happened in her childhood to cause her to rebel the way she did.

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The relationship that developed between my parents and oldest sister completely changed the dynamic of my childhood family and I knew I didn’t want that for my family. I was terrified that my oldest daughter would end up like my oldest sister. I was scared and almost felt hopeless.

My father and my other sister were also worried but I didn’t really know what to do about it. My pediatrician recommended counseling and gave us a list of counselors. I was feeling overwhelmed so my husband made the initial call to Amy and she said that she had experience in dealing with grief and children. That’s great but could Emma’s behavior be from grief or are we destined to go down the same road my family went down when I was a child?

I will never forget the first meeting with Amy. I feel like I could cry just writing this now. She has the most calming, non-threatening, warm presence and I immediately wanted to talk to her for hours. I knew that Emma would feel very safe with her. After that first meeting with Amy we felt a sense of relief but also knew we had a lot of work ahead of us. It was a little overwhelming because I knew I would have to really examine myself and my parenting, but I knew we were at least headed in the right direction. Emma met with Amy once a week for about 6 months. It was a rocky six months in our house to say the least. As time went on though we learned so much about Emma, ourselves, our own childhood, and our style of parenting. Talking with Amy I felt inspired to become a better parent.

Despite my fear of ruining my daughter, she helped me to believe in myself as a mother. My parenting style I wouldn’t say completely changed but rather grew and still continues to grow. I honestly don’t know where my family would be today without Amy’s guidance. After a period of time, Emma’s wounds healed and mine did too. We still have to work on our relationship together but it doesn’t feel like we are just spinning our wheels. We can actually see the positive results of our parenting.

This year, about two years after our difficult time with Emma, our youngest daughter, Elizabeth began going through a really awful time. We had an idea of what was going on but because she wasn’t able to verbalize her feelings, just like Emma, we didn’t know for sure. She was seven and was incredibly defiant and super, strong willed. I didn’t know what to do with her and I was sure that what I was doing was only making things worse. This time though I felt such comfort knowing exactly where to turn. Unlike with Emma, I didn’t doubt that things would ever get better. This time I knew with work and time things would be ok. Actually, I knew things would be better than ok. Instead of feeling like a failure as a mother, I actually looked forward to Amy’s help. Every child is different and I needed help parenting my strong willed baby. Elizabeth also needed help in trusting herself and other people. This experience with Amy and Elizabeth has been very different than with Emma. Talking with Amy inspires me to examine the way I parent Elizabeth and my other children. We are still In the process of learning what works for her and what doesn’t but I know that we will be ok, not only ok but a much better family than before we sought Amy’s help.

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