Monday, June 29, 2009

A Monday morning thought for good parents who want to be better parents

“While using guilt to motivate, influence and correct our kids may bring about the behavior changes we would like to see, we create a pattern for them to be more easily motivated by guilt in their relationship with others; when this happens, we will have, 'won the battle but lost the war'”.
Ed Wimberly, Ph.D., Author of Parenting with an Attitude......21 Questions Successful Parents Ask Themselves

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Monday morning thought for good parents who want to be better parents

“What our kids hear us say about them goes a long way in creating a road map for how they see themselves, and what they decide they have to offer as human beings”
Ed Wimberly, Ph.D., author of Parenting with an Attitude………21 Questions Successful Parents Ask Themselves

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Monday Morning Thought for Good Parents Who Want to be Better Parents

"Kids who are able to laugh at themselves once in a while tend to have more self-respect and self-confidence than do those who take themselves more seriously"
Exerpt from Parenting With An Attitude........21 Questions Successful Parents Ask Themselves

Healthy Marriage Characteristic #2

Both avoid grudges by keeping short accounts with the other.

by Ed Wimberly, Ph.D.
There’s nothing like a grudge to drive a wedge in relationships between people who otherwise love and care for each other. Whether in a professional relationship, a friendship, a relationship between parent and child, or in a marriage, grudges can damage and even destroy relationships.

There is probably no relationship that holding a grudge can wreak havoc in more than in our marriage. And ironically, when we hold a grudge, the fallout that occurs from not keeping short accounts does more damage to the very relationship we value the most.

Husbands and wives who want to protect their marriage from the potential destruction of unspoken resentment and frustrations make it a priority to keep short accounts with each other; they speak and deal with what ever it is that is bothering them in order to clear the air. Of course, it is important to first consider whether the issue really does matter before addressing it (take a look back on characteristic #1 of a healthy marriage), but once they determine that it really does matter, they address their concern.

So since dealing with important and potentially destructive issues can have such positive results in our marriage, what interferes with our keeping short accounts? I suppose laziness or indifference are both possibilities. What I have found however, is that there are several other reasons behind our temptation to sweep under the rug what should actually be brought into the light and addressed. Here are just a few that come to mind:

-Fear of the response we might get from the other;
-we may be convinced that airing our grievance will do no good;
-we may have been taught to not complain, but to “suck it up and move on”;
-we may hold the misconception that if we have a gripe or complaint, then our marriage must
have serious flaws-flaws that we might not want to face;
-we may believe that if we complain, then we must be selfish.

There are no doubt other reasons we may resist the idea of keeping short accounts, but whatever the reasons for doing so, it is important to keep in mind the damage over time that may occur. Simply stated, there is no room in a healthy marriage for holding a grudge and the only way to avoid doing so is to keep short accounts about the things that really matter.

As always, feel free to weigh in with your thoughts and ideas.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Healthy Marriage Characteristic #1

Both ask the question, “does it really matter?” before reacting.

by Ed Wimberly, Ph.D.
The 21 characteristics of healthy marriages I will suggest to you over the weeks ahead will not be in any particular order of importance. That said I do believe that none of the characteristics that are found in healthy marriage relationships is more important than this first one.

Usually in healthy and growing marriages, both have the ability and willingness to consider just how important their gripe, criticism or complaint really is before bringing it up as an issue. And usually, they get it right; they disregard what is of little importance while they express and address those issues in their marriage that do matter and need to be talked out.

Interestingly, in unhealthy and struggling marriages, each may ask the question, “does it really matter?”, but they invariably come up with the wrong answer! Too often, the issues that really do matter that need time, attention and discussion are ignored, set aside and placed into the category, “it doesn’t really matter”. And it is usually with an unproductive attitude (hurt, anger, resentment, etc.) that the issue is declared unimportant and then set aside. Likewise, those issues that are really unimportant that could be disregarded, become the focal point and reason for an argument.

In short, men and women in healthy marriages make it a priority to pick their battles, and by doing so, appropriately ignore what is not important, while dealing with the issues that really do need attending to.

Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts.

Monday, June 8, 2009

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Monday, June 1, 2009

Dr. Laura reviews and recommends Parenting with An Attitude

Dr. Laura recently reviewed and recommended my book, Parenting with an Attitude....21 Questions Successful Parents Ask Themselves, on her radio talk show. If you are interested in hearing her comments go to my website at

An Introduction to Punishment vs. Discipline, Parental Power vs. Parental Authority

To read all 14 articles:

Is there really a difference?
It's no secret to any of us parents that kids are all so very different from one to the other. And personality characteristics vary from child to child, even within the same family. One might be more willing to take risks, while another tends to be cautious and less adventurous. One may be moody, while the other is known for being consistently care free. How our kids interact socially, the amount of ambition and drive they have, the ways they learn, the degree to which they are dependent or independent, are but a few of the characteristic differences in our kids, and these distinctions are what make each one of them the unique individual they are.

How our kids respond to discipline can also be quite different from one to the other. What works with one to bring about a desired change in attitude or behaviors might not work as well with another. And what may work well for us in our family and with our kids, might not work as well when tried by another parent in another family. All of these and other response differences in our kids is what makes knowing how to discipline successfully yet another challenging task we take on when we make the decision to become parents.

Our two daughters were quite different from each other in many ways. Ashley, our oldest, seemed to be born in neutral. She wasn't lazy, but she certainly was content much of the time simply being still and quiet. Allyson, on the other hand, was born not only in gear and ready to go, but turbo charged as well! They were both quite different from each other when it came to discipline too. What it would take from us, and how they would respond was quite different most of the time, and it was because of these differences that as parents we had to respond in different ways to each of them much of the time.

We were never spankers as a general rule. Usually we felt that there was a better way than having to take up the rod. When our kids were very young-two to three year's old-we would occasionally resort to a light swat to the backside (it really did usually hurt us more than it did them) to let them know we meant business, and that we wanted some sort of behavior change. It was our way of giving a warning and getting their attention in order to avoid some further, more extreme measures.

I can count on one hand the number of times during her entire childhood that we had to warn Ashley in this manner. Most of the time, a certain "look" from one of us conveyed to her all the warning that was needed to get her attention. I can also count on one hand the number of times we had to warn Allyson in this physical manner-that is, on any given day! She was not particularly defiant or out of control. It was just that she needed to test more than Ashley in order to find out what was expected and where the guidelines were-the guidelines in which she could then freely and safely live her life.

So kids are different in many ways. And how they will respond to our discipline will vary from one to another as well. It is for this reason that it is necessary for us to individually design, at least to some degree, how we discipline our kids.

And these unique differences are what make our task of disciplining them so difficult at times. It is for this reason too, that there is no book that I know of that gives us a recipe on how specifically to discipline, and what to do in each and every situation we will encounter. Unfortunately, the fine art of disciplining kids is not an exact science.

There really a difference between discipline and punishment
In our every day conversation, most of us use the words "punishment" and "discipline" interchangeably. We naturally assume that both words describe the same behavior. The purpose of what follows is to suggest that there are significant distinctions that we must make between the two if our goal is to be successful parents.

While making the distinction between discipline and punishment in every day conversation with others may seem unnecessary, the differences between the two are actually what often separate the successful parent from the one that is unsuccessful in their efforts to raise great and healthy kids.

So it is important for all of us to have a practical and working understanding of the differences between discipline-based parenting and punishment-based parenting. It is perhaps even more important that we understand how the results of using one rather than the other may affect our kids in very different and unfortunate ways.

There really is a difference between parental authority and parental power
There is usually another confusion that occurs when we talk about “parental power" and "parental authority". When we hear "authoritative parenting", we usually think of it as negative and connect it with the idea of power. When we refer to someone as being an authoritative parent, we usually picture an over powering, controlling parent who has dictatorial attitudes, and is overly strict with their kids.

My objection to the negative connotation that usually accompanies this concept of "authority" is that we parents are indeed an authority in the lives of our kids. We must be in order for them to develop into healthy adults. What we must not be is over powering. So authority and power must not be used in the same breath and as if they were the same.

So in an attempt to recapture the positive and necessary qualities of parental authority, I will be using authority as a positive and much needed parental characteristic, and distinguishing it from parental power, which I believe interferes with our efforts to raise great kids. If you are skeptical of such distinctions, I invite and encourage you to read on before concluding that any differences are merely a matter of semantics.

I must confess to just a little "mischievous glee" that comes over me when, at the beginning of parenting workshops I teach, I declare that, "in American homes today, there is far too much punishment and parental power taking place". Most parents in attendance respond with a glare, a shake of their head, or a quiet whisper to the person next to them. Or, some will quickly raise their hand, eager to express their disagreement with my declaration. Seldom do I get a sign or indication from any of the workshop participants that they agree with my notion that too many parents overuse punishment and power with their kids these days.

What I most often hear back is a corporate disagreement that just the opposite is true; that what parents today must use is not less punishment and power, but rather more of both! Perhaps more punishment, so the reasoning goes, would finally bring about a change in the attitudes of irresponsibility and rebellion that is so common in kids today. And perhaps more power from parents would go a long way in "designing" kids who are more self-controlled and well behaved.

I am always quick to point out and explain (in order to avoid a mass exodus), that, while we parents must not rely on punishment and power to extract changes from our kids and their unacceptable attitudes and behaviors, we must instead be willing to learn the fine art and use of healthy and creative discipline and authority instead. While there may be too much punishment going on in today's family, there is certainly not enough discipline taking place. Likewise, while too often there is an over abundance of parental power, we must be a healthy, well-balanced authority in the lives of our kids instead.

While the differences may seem minor, the impact on the lives of our kids when we use punishment rather than discipline, and power rather than authority, can create havoc in their lives and in our relationship with them.

Stated in general terms, if we practice discipline-based parenting and authority-based parenting, we will not only succeed at bringing about desired behavior changes in our kids when it is necessary, but we will at the same time be more likely to raise great kids who like and value themselves. In short, the use of both discipline and authority will help us shape the will of our kids, while leaving their spirit to grow and prosper.

If we choose punishment-based parenting and power-based parenting as our model, we may find that we still get immediate behavior changes that are needed from time to time in our kids. Both are also more likely however, to tear down their self-esteem and leave them feeling insecure, angry, and at best, only temporarily motivated to behave, and for the wrong reasons. Their immediate behaviors may improve, but it is less likely that their attitudes and long-term behaviors will. The use of both punishment and power in raising kids tends to tear down their spirit and create a rebellious will.

It is not so much our actions, but our attitudes and motivations that set discipline-based parenting apart from punishment-based parenting, and authority-based parenting apart from power-based parenting, A spanking, as an example, does not necessarily fall under the category of discipline or punishment. Nor does the act of spanking automatically fall into the camp of either authority or power. And being grounded may fall under the category of either as well, depending on what else we parents do and say along with our act of grounding the guilty party. Being sent to their room for a period of time can also not be automatically described as one or the other.

If behavior and attitude changes in our kids were our only goal and concern, then making a distinction between discipline and punishment would not be needed. Likewise, considering the differences between authority and power would also be unnecessary. Even though power and punishment will often bring about immediate changes and compliance in kids, our concern must be about what harm might also be brought as a result of using parental power and punishment rather than discipline and authority.

Since initially, both the use of discipline or punishment, and authority or power are likely to get the changes we want in our kids, and since punishing and using power is usually easier and far less time consuming for us weary parents, then why argue the merits of discipline over punishment, and authority over power? Such a discussion and consideration of the differences is necessary because there is more to this parenting thing than just shaping our kids into a behaving person. Shaping their spirit is every bit as important as shaping their will.

It is likely that some might still believe there is little or no difference between our use of discipline and punishment, and between our exerting authority and power in our efforts to be successful parents. To those skeptics who are still reading in spite of their doubts, I ask that you withhold your conclusion until you have read further.

I have written a series of 14 articles in hopes of more clearly distinguishing punishment from discipline, and parental power from parental authority. In this series you will read about some of the characteristic differences, as well as some important outcome differences that I believe set discipline-based parenting apart from punishment-based parenting. You will also find descriptive differences as well as outcome differences that I believe distinguish authority-based parenting from power-based parenting.

To read all 14 articles, go to my web site at: and click on "punishment vs.discipline/"power/authority"

An introduction to excerpts from Parenting with an Attitude

It's likely that many of you parents out there could be interested in some of my ideas that relate to parenting and the notion that our attitudes toward our little kids is every bit as important as the parenting approach we've chosen to parent by. But some of you might not be SO interested that you would be motivated to buy the darn thing. And that's ok, since I wrote it not so I could give up my day job, but because I am so very convinced that the attitudes we have and convey toward our kids plays a major role in who they will become.

If all you do is occasionally tune in to consider some of the ideas in my book via the short and limited excerpts I will post here-even if you never buy the whole thing-then I will be a happy camper! Of course if after reading some of the postings here, you decide it might be worth your while and a few hard earned bucks to buy and avail yourself of the whole cover to cover book, then I'd REALLY be a happy camper.

Either way, I hope you will follow along here once in a while, and that you will be challenged to look a little more closely at the attitudes you carry and convey toward your little ones. What we communicate to them goes a very long way in shaping how they view and value themselves.

In addition to an occasional short excerpt gleaned and posted here, you will find what I hope will be several questions designed to stimulate thought and perhaps conversation with other parents as well.

As always, feel free to weigh in with any comments you might have in response to the ideas I will be presenting here.

Ed Wimberly, Ph.D.

An introduction to A Monday morning thought for good parents who want to be better parents-Introduction

Every Monday (or there abouts) I will be posting a very short and simple thought about parenting that I think would be good for all of us to consider. OK, I admit it. I will glean my weekly entries directly from my book, PARENTING WITH AN ATTITUDE....21 Questions Successful Parents Ask Themselves. I hope you find them to be worthy of your consideration.

So tune in every week or so to see what has been added to Monday morning thoughts and ideas for good parents who want to be better parents.

Ed Wimberly, author, Parenting with an Attitude......21 Questions Successful Parents Ask Themselves.

An introduction to The things kids say and do that make us laugh and smile

Have your kids ever done or said something that made you laugh or smile? You probably thought about writing it down so you could remember it later. But if you are anything like me, most of the times you never got around to it.

Well here's your chance to record your stories and at the same time, share them with others. I'd like to invite any of you who have a story to tell about a time one of your kids, grand kids, nieces or nephews (or any other kid for that matter!) said or did something that made you laugh or smile. If you'd like to share with the rest of us (100-300 words) on this blog, simply email it to me at I will try to post your story as you have written it, but must reserve the right to edit slightly if necessary. And by submitting your story, it is understood that I do have your permission to post/print it. If you include your name, I will print it as well; otherwise it will be posted anonymously. Feel free to change names, etc. if you would like.

So "tune in" regularly to read the funny and touching stories that kids around the country will provide us with. I hope you enjoy them.

Below is the first of what I hope will be many stories about how our kids have made us laugh and smile.

Story #1 submitted by Ed (that would be me)
As we took in a small town July 4th parade with our family and close friends this past week, our two grandsons-Ben who is 3 and Sam, 1 1/2-gathered up their fair share of the many pounds of wrapped candy tossed from almost every float that passed. On any normal day in the lives of our two wonderful grandsons, candy is not a regular menu item. But to the credit of their mom and dad, there are a good number of exceptions to the rule; July 4, 2009 was one of those special days.

As I stood on the curb next to Ben, I felt a gentle tap on my leg, letting me know he had something to tell me. As I leaned down and looked into the eyes of a very happy little boy who was mentally preparing an important statement, I couldn't help but notice in one of his hands, a piece of wrapped candy. In the other was an unwrapped piece, ready for consumption- just as soon as he could find a little room in a mouth that was busy finishing off a tootsie role pop. As he began to speak, his mouth could not contain the sweet and sticky substance produced by all that candy, and it oozeed from both sides of his mouth as he spoke these words:

"Papa", he said with a full and sticky grin, "this is a good day".

Yes Ben, it was a good day-a very good day.

*Got a story? e-mail it to me at

An Introduction to Guest Authors

I hope to keep a fresh supply of articles written by others who have had experience in the area of parenting, marriage and relationships in general. If you would like to submit an article or know someone who might be a good contributor, would you e mail me at with an article or name of someone to contact who might be interested in contributing.

Joe Bruzzese, MA, is the author of A Parent’s Guide to he Middle school Years and co-founder of Thinking Forward, the online resource for parents navigating the middle school years. Visit the web site at

Chapter 3 – “Getting Ahead in Class and Staying There”
Building strong ties with teachers and connecting with a positive peer group set the stage for your child’s successful middle school experience. After the school day ends, kids face the reality of a full night of studying. Some middle schoolers report spending upward of five hours a night completing assignments and studying for tests. Creating a plan for tackling the rigors of a middle school day begins weeks ahead of ever setting foot on the school campus.
Mind mapping the road ahead
In the weeks leading up to school, find thirty minutes of uninterrupted time to share with your child in mind mapping. The goal of this activity is to create a vivid picture of your child’s year-long goals. Ask your child to choose a location for the mind mapping activity. A trip to the park or a favorite restaurant for lunch may set the stage for a productive brainstorming session.
A road map is most useful when you can identify two things: where you are and where you are going. Knowing what you have already accomplished is a valuable step toward achieving a goal. Most teachers, parents, and students focus on where they’re going, often beginning with the end in mind. However, there is great value in first thinking about where you are now, and then setting your sights on where you would like to be—the goal.
Choose the medium (talking, writing, or drawing) that best fits your child’s personality then guide him through the following steps:
Step One: Ask your child to think about his experiences as an elementary school student. Brainstorm ideas in the following areas: learning strengths, weaknesses, challenges, interests, and dreams. When your child begins to run out of ideas, ask if it would be OK for you to share any additional ideas.

If the brainstorming format doesn’t produce any ideas, consider free-writing for five minutes, in response to the following questions. If talking seems easier than writing, consider recording your child’s ideas on a voice recorder.

1. What do I really enjoy about school? What do I like to learn about?
2. What has been easy for me to learn or do in school? What challenges me?

3. Where would I like to see the greatest change in my academic success?

4. If I could study anything at all, and learn about it, what would it be?

The ideas from your conversation, free-writing, or brainstorm will become the road map for defining your child’s year-long goals.

Step Two: Take all of the ideas from step one and suggest that your child choose one of the following activities: write a letter, create a collage, or draw a picture that includes her ideas. Encourage your middle schooler to post her mind map in a visible location as a continued reminder and source of motivation for achieving dreams and meeting challenges. As new ideas and achievements emerge, your child can add them to the map.

Step Three: At the end of each academic quarter, take thirty minutes to review the map with your child. Add any recent accomplishments as well as new challenges for the coming quarter. A mind map has incredible power to focus a child’s activity and achievement during the year, much as an atlas has the ability to guide us on a direct course toward our destination.

Step Four: At the end of the school year, take a few moments with your child to reflect on the many challenges, goals, and achievements that added up to a successful middle school experience.

[sidebar begin]Coaching Tip
Follow your child’s lead during this activity. If you sense he would rather write than talk, give him an opportunity to jot down his thoughts on paper. Even kids with a preference for talking about ideas need a chance to record their thoughts in writing or in pictures, so remain open to a variety of different strategies for collecting and recording the information.[sidebar end]

Creating a plan for the future will help your child plot a smooth path to achieving her goals in the coming year. But plans alone won’t be enough to complete the journey. Move from planning into the action portion of the middle school year with an efficient and economical trip to the school supplies store.

An introduction to 21 Characteristics of a Healthy Marriage

When it comes to looking at marriage, it is natural for most of us to focus on what’s broken and what needs fixing. There is certainly nothing wrong with looking at what areas are weak and need improvement, but I believe we can also benefit when we look at what goes right-what works well in the healthy areas of our marriages.

Over the past 35 years, I have had the privilege of being intimately involved with struggling marriages. Through my professional experience I have gained a perspective in understanding what often goes wrong when they fail, but I have also been in a position to see what goes right as they begin to improve.

So over the weeks ahead in this section of my blog I will be sharing with you some of the characteristics that often show up when these struggling marriages begin to grow and thrive. Every couple of weeks, I will add another relational quality, behavior or attitude that usually begins to come about when faltering marriages begin to improve. And who knows, by the time we reach the end of the 21 characteristics that stand out as important to me now, I may have come up with even more to suggest to you.

And of course, you are always welcome to weigh in with your thoughts, ideas, and personal experiences and observations about what some of the healthy characteristics you see in your marriage. Your comments may even help someone across the country who is struggling in their marriage.

I hope you will be a regular and that you will share any thoughts and ideas you may have that might be helpful to others.

Ed Wimberly