Who Do You Love More?

I’ve written previously about my difficulty bonding with my daughter when our twins were first born and at the time I struggled with feeling as though this meant I loved my son more than my daughter. Those of us who are raising siblings, or who are siblings ourselves, often fear that one day we will hear our children say the dreaded words: “mom always liked you best”.

The cover story on this week’s Time Magazine is titled “Why Mom Liked You Best: The Science of Favoritism”. In it, the author, Jeffrey Kluger declares that ALL parents have favorites. He goes on to declare that it’s biologically wired in us to feel this way.

Lisa Belkin from the NY Times took exception to Mr. Kluger’s article writing the following in today’s post:

“It’s easy to take sides and announce “I love my children equally” or confess “I think I love one more.” What’s hard is accepting that relationships are fluid, determined by the ever-changing variables that make a child (and a parent) who they are at any given moment. Those ups and downs, imbalances and inequities, are not something to overcome, but rather realities to be accepted. We treat them differently because they ARE different. Navigating that reality is the key to being a parent.”

I couldn’t agree more. All relationships are fluid, they change as we learn about ourselves and the people we are in relationship with. As my children have gotten older and I have gotten to know each of them better, I know that I have great love for both of them. I also know that at times I connect more easily to one over the other. To me this is the crux of the matter. It has nothing to do with loving one more than the other, or one being my favorite, it’s just that children (like anyone you meet) have distinct personalities and sometimes that personality meshes easily with yours and other times it doesn’t.

Even though I don’t have the same disconnect from my daughter as I did when she was first born, I do have many more difficulties with her than with my son all of which I worry about and write about often. She pushes my buttons in a way that causes me to lose my temper with her often. Our son, on the other hand has a way of speaking or looking at me that makes me want to rush to take care of him. It drives me insane that I have these disparate reactions to both of them. But never did it hit home as hard how much my reactions affect them than one morning when my daughter was making me particularly crazy in the car and as I got them out of their car seats she wailed at me, “Why do you talk nicer to him than to me?”

I just about died of shame.

sibling rivalryI do believe there are parents who absolutely have favorites and don’t do much to hide it. I do believe that there are parents who unconsciously prefer one child over another or think their preference isn’t apparent to anyone but them. I believe these scenarios do happen in families with a certain degree of dysfunction or in families where the parents are less conscious of their own psychological motivation for playing favorites. I do think that most parents have moments (sometimes long moments) where they get along better with one child than the other, but they are aware that it’s happening and do their best to balance their affection. But even in the worst case scenarios, I think most of our behavior is psychologically motivated and can thus be changed.

5 Ways To Avoid Playing Favorites

Be Aware.

Being aware of your own feelings and family history is the first step to stopping any imbalance in affection. Consciously consider why you react to one child differently. Is it that one is so similar to you that you just understand him better? Does one remind you of your mother-in-law who you despise? Tune in to your own emotions and triggers – what memories does your child bring up when you’re with her? Give some serious thought to your own childhood; were you the favorite? Were you not? How did that feel to you and are you repeating it or trying to fix it?

Don’t Compare, Don’t Label.

It is human nature to do these two things. We naturally look at two similar things, compare and contrast them and then label them: “My son listens to me while my daughter is always throwing a tantrum; he is such a cooperative boy. She is so difficult”. It is amazing how this brief thought pattern actually changes the way we respond to our children. Instead, try looking at “the difficult one” and say “my daughter is having a really hard time right now, she needs my help”. That simple shift creates an entirely different reaction to a child you had previously labeled “difficult”. Strangely enough, it is equally bad to be labeled with what we would consider a positive attribute. It’s just as hard to live up to being “the helpful one” as it is to live down being “the moody one”. Resist comparing your siblings. Avoid labeling them. No one is helpful all the time. Nor is anyone difficult all the time.

Build The Bond.

Even with best intentions, children may occasionally feel that you prefer one over the other. Encouraging a strong bond between siblings can set them up with a deep, underlying love for each other that will allow them to work through any feelings of favoritism. I’ve written about bond building more extensively in a post called Best Friends, Or Just Brother And Sister?

One On One Time.

Spending time alone with each of your children, even if it’s only short intervals on a consistent basis, will go a long way to making each of them feel they have a special connection with you. It’s also your best chance to get to know each of your children in a deep and intimate way.

Find Common Ground.

If you are aware that you find it easier to be with one child than they other, this should be your signal that it is the one you feel the disconnect from who needs more time with you. Take the time to learn about the things that child is really into. It doesn’t matter if you ever really develop a love for those interests, it’s the effort spent trying to get to know your child and showing that he is worth the time, that will mean so much. With persistence, your relationship with that child will begin to show signs of ease.

I am not suggesting that we love our children all the same. But I do not believe it’s inevitable that we love one more than another. What is key to this distinction is to love and accept that which makes each of our children so unique. “To be loved equally is somehow to be loved less. To be loved uniquely – for one’s own special self – is to be loved as much as we need to be loved.” – Siblings Without Rivalry

The Great Parenting Show

A new teleseminar series began today called the Great Parenting Show. I heard the first parenting expert interviewed and I’m really excited to let my readers know about this free program.

This program promises to offer answers to parenting issues many of us have including:

  • How to discipline your children without ruining their self-esteem
  • How to put nutritious meals on the table without it taking up so much time
  • How to protect your child from being bullied at school or online
  • How to raise your child’s emotional EQ raising happier more resilient children
  • How to overcome your own parenting issues so as not to raise children with hang-ups
  • How to raise your children to be financially aware

The organizer of this series, Jacqueline Green, has brought together top parenting experts and educators from all over the world to bring their information to parents, educators and care-takers in a series of lectures and interviews over the course of the next few months for FREE. Some of my absolute favorite parenting experts are taking part in this program including Dr. Laura Markham, Michele Borba, Sue Atkins and Susan Stiffleman.

Additional experts that are included in the line-up are notable speakers such as:

Mark Victor Hansen, coauthor of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series who will teach you how to raise financially successful kids
Lisa Nichols, star of The Secret, talking about how to motivate teens
Sonia Choquette, Hay House author who teaches you how to use the power of your intuition.
Marie Diamond, star of The Secret talking about Feng Shui, and how your environment can help you create a happy family
Shelly Lefkoe, who will be talking about how to get your children to cooperate WITHOUT destroying their self-esteem
Robert Holden, Hay House author and frequent Oprah guest on how to be happy
Dr. Bruce Lipton, best-selling author who will talks about the link between your parenting and your child’s biology and beliefs
Izzy Kalman, nationally recognized school psychologist on bully-proofing your child, made easy

The show began today, but each call is recorded and available for 48 hours for free. Because this program is free, there are limited spaces available. Replays will be available but you need to register to have access.

After you register, keep an eye out for Jacqueline’s email with your details for listening in on the calls.

The series runs from Sept 20th thru Dec. 13th 2011 and the calls are held at 9am PT/ 11am CT/ 12pm ET. If you can’t make the LIVE CALLS Every Tuesday & Thursday, don’t worry … they’ve got you covered! The interviews will be recorded and will be available after each show for a limited time so you won’t miss a thing. There are mp3s and transcripts available for sale, but it is not required.

I hope you can take advantage of this great series of speakers. This feels like such a great opportunity, especially for those who don’t live in the cities where these experts work, or who can’t afford the time or money to attend 24 parenting seminars!

What I Didn’t Know

I became a parent without much thought. By that I don’t mean that I didn’t go through an awful lot of effort to become pregnant, but rather that I didn’t fully realize what I was getting myself into. I had some vague notions about passing on a love of reading and how I would talk to the kids about how babies were born and how I would forever continue to wear thong underwear. But what I hadn’t considered is how becoming a parent would change my life.

new mom“Becoming a parent may happen on purpose or by accident, but however it comes about, parenting itself is a calling. It calls us to recreate our world every day, to meet it freshly in every moment. Such a calling is in actuality nothing less than a rigorous spiritual discipline — a quest to realize our truest, deepest nature as a human being. The very fact that we are a parent is continually asking us to find and express what is most nourishing, most loving, most wise and caring in ourselves, to be, as much as we can our best selves.” ~ Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting

My drive to become a mother surprised most people who knew me because before my own children, I frankly didn’t care much for kids. But now that I look back on that, I believe that was because children made me nervous. I didn’t know what to do with them. They seemed to see right through me. And in many ways, I think children can really see through your facade. Somehow these tiny people knew that I didn’t have it all together, that I didn’t have the answers. But what I didn’t realize what that not having all the answers was OK.

mama & j“Many of us come to parenting with a vision that we’re supposed to be a couple of steps ahead of our kids. In truth, most of us are usually a few steps behind.[…] As parents, we’re often asked to teach skills to children that we don’t yet have ourselves. Our children draw on parts of us that are undeveloped, unpracticed, and, in some cases, damaged.

When your son and daughter are fighting with each other, you want them to learn to resolve their differences successfully, but you may have never learned to successfully work through conflicts yourself. Before you can teach your kids to listen, identify the problem, express their feelings, generate solutions, and find common ground, you have to learn those problem-solving skills yourself” ~ Becoming The Parent You Want To Be

I’ve had to look deep within myself to try and understand my reactions to my children. I’ve read countless books and blog posts, attended numerous workshops and sat through many, many therapy sessions just trying to learn as much as I can about what it means to be a parent. I didn’t realize how seemingly inconsequential things in my childhood had become such a part of who I was as an adult. The pain of the past wasn’t apparent until my son and daughter held a figurative mirror up and showed me.

“Your children give you the opportunity to grow and challenge you to examine issues left over from your own childhood. If you approach such challenges as a burden, parenting can become an unpleasant chore. If, on the other hand, you try to see these moments as learning opportunities, then you can continue to grow and develop. Having the attitude that you can learn throughout your life enables you to approach parenting with an open mind, as a journey of discovery” ~ Parenting From The Inside Out

My life has been a journey that started out on a very straight path. From a very young age I knew what it was I wanted to do with my life. But life had a different plan. In retrospect I am so grateful for all the twists and turns that at one time seemed like devastating losses and monumental disappointments. My simple, if busy, life is exactly where I want to be. I just never knew that until I got here.

all together“Yet I know that if I really want to encourage my own two children to follow a course in life more purposeful than accumulating wealth, power and prestige, I must first acknowledge the value of such a life to myself. I need to show, by my own example, that the path to fulfillment has but little to do with mastery and conquest and much to do with coming to know oneself, finding pleasure in everyday events, doing work that matters, living in community with family and friends, being loved and loving in return.” ~ The Gift Of An Ordinary Day

I Think You’re Totally Awesome!

I first began this blog, about a year and a half ago, with the intention of having a place where my private coaching clients could review all of the parenting information I had put together over the years. I had originally intended to make it a home for parents of twins (hence the blog title). But before I knew it, I found myself with amazing readers who told me they related to what I was writing whether or not they had twins. Slowly, a new direction began to take shape and I realized I was writing for a much broader audience than I had originally considered. I began to realize that what I was really passionate about was working on my own parenting skills and helping others along the way so that we all could be more mindful, connected and joyful parents.

Along the way, I have learned so much from so many amazing people who read my blog and who I have met in the blogging community, Facebook and Twitter. I wanted to take a minute and say thank you to all of you and let you know that yes, I think you’re Totally Awesome!

This chance to help other parents become the best version of themselves is such an enormous gift you give me each day. By sharing my posts with friends, commenting on my blog, being part of my wonderful online communities, you each are helping spread the information that I am so dedicated to sharing. Thank you.

I was notified a couple of days ago that my blog has been nominated by Red Tricycle for a Totally Awesome award in the “Best Local Blog” category. I don’t really think of myself as a local blog, and know I have readers all over, but I am a big fan of Red Tricycle which has great information, and am so honored to be in a category with some of my blogging heroes like Seattle’s Teacher Tom and San Francisco’s TinkerLab. So…if you could, please take a minute to click this embarrassingly big Vote For Me button and, uh, vote for me, I would be eternally grateful. Awards like this are a great pat on the back for a job well done, but they also help more people find me and the important parenting information I share each day.

The Whole-Brain Child: Seminar With Dr. Dan Siegel

A couple of months ago I attended an amazing lecture and workshop with Dr. Dan Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson on the subject of Whole-Brain Parenting. I wrote about both in these two posts: Compassionate, Resilient Children Begin In The Mind and A Little Brain Science Can Help Us Raise Children Who Thrive. Dr. Siegel, who is the co-author of many books including the terrific “Parenting From The Inside Out”, has written a new book with Dr. Bryson called “The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind, Survive Everyday Parenting Struggles, and Help Your Family Thrive” which I am extremely excited about.

This October, they will be presenting a seminar here in Los Angeles on the research and information discussed in this new book. I’m planning to attend and wanted to let my readers know the details, as space is limited. Dr. Siegel’s previous work has been so helpful in my parenting journey and although I have only recently become aware of Tina Bryson, she has quickly become an excellent source of great parenting advice and information.

The seminar, which is being hosted by the Mindful Awareness Research Center at UCLA, is described on their site in this way:

The Whole-Brain Child : 12 Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind with Daniel J. Siegel, M.D and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D.

“In this seminar, an exciting new approach to raising children will be explored through engaging discussions, case examples, and experiential immersions. Parents, grandparents, teachers, child development professionals and others who help children grow will find this learning experience filled with scientifically based ideas and practical skills that can promote well-being in children’s lives. By offering a definition of an important aspect of the mind and a core mechanism of mental health, the whole-brain child approach offers care providers the cutting edge art and science of child development.

How we focus our attention shapes the connections in the brain. And how the brain’s connections link to one another in an integrated way directly shapes how it functions in health. An integrated brain creates a flexible, flourishing mind and compassionate and rewarding relationships. By inspiring children to focus their attention in ways that are accessible and easy to teach, parents and educators can provide the kind of guidance that will promote the growth of neural integration at the heart of health. Even moments of despair and discouragement can be transformed into opportunities to deepen relationships and promote integration. Beyond merely tools of survival, this approach empowers us to enjoy the journey of caregiving as we transform challenge into integrative learning.

All participants will receive a copy of Drs. Siegel and Bryson’s latest book The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind, Survive Everyday Parenting Struggles, and Help Your Family Thrive (Delacorte Press, 2011)

Come join us and explore the exciting world of whole-brain parenting!”

Date: Saturday October 15, 2011
Time: 10AM – 1PM
Venue: The Neuro-Psychiatric Institute (NPI) Auditorium, 760 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90095
Cost: $60

I’ve bought my tickets, please let me know if you plan to go as well! If you can’t make it, I will be doing my best to blog about what I learn from these two brilliant people after the seminar. You can find out more about Tina Payne Bryson and learn more about Dr. Dan Siegel on his website or find about his work with Mindsight Institute. I hope to see you in October!

Cool Baby Products And A Great Giveaway!

When I first had my babies I didn’t know a burp cloth from a sippy cup. I certainly didn’t know which products were the best, the coolest, the greatest new thing. And I didn’t yet have a close group of mom friends to ask. I was probably too overwhelmed and tired to do much more than buy the first few things I saw. Oh, how I wish we had Citrus Lane back then!

What? You haven’t heard of them yet? Citrus Lane is a great company that offers subscriptions, like a Wine of the Month club, except what you get are these beautiful boxes shipped to you, each with 4 to 5 baby products along with helpful parenting tips and tricks. When you subscribe, you can pick any box to start with, based on your baby’s age, from newborn up to 18 months. The goodies inside will be tailored to the developmental stage of your child. It’s like having a super smart group of mom (and dad) friends deliver a care package to you each month with just what you and your baby need at that time!

There’s a gift box for every occasion!

citruslane_products_starting-solidsThat’s right, they have boxes you can give as a shower gift , boxes to welcome home your newborn, boxes to start you off right when your baby starts eating solids for the first time, and so much more. Each box contains items that total up to $50 in retail value, but the boxes are $25 each. And you know how I love information…they detail why they picked each item, they have blog posts about each stage to offer support and information, they make recommendations on other items you might need at each stage…they’ve thought of it all!

Another cool thing about Citrus Lane is that they don’t allow companies to pay for placement of their products. Each item in each box you receive is filled with products that are recommended and reviewed by real moms and dads. Citrus Lane is dedicated to helping parents discover the best baby products on the market and showcasing items that they feel every parent should know about!

Parent Advisory Board

I’m very excited to say that Citrus Lane has asked me to join their Parent Advisory Board. This board is made up of experts who will be helping the company explore various topics that are important to their community, such as parent education, family cooking, safe & eco-friendly baby products, as well as stylish nursery decor. I will be contributing articles on mindful parenting as well as on raising twins. The Advisory Board will also be helping vet the product picks, so Citrus Lane can ensure that what is put in the boxes really is valuable for families.

So, enough about me….here’s where it’s all about you!

Citrus Lane has given me a 3-month subscription to give away to one reader! Yeah! I’m super excited. Even if your kids are too old to enjoy the products, you can gift the subscription to a friend, a relative, a colleague…then sit back and receive the compliments for being the coolest friend ever. All you need to do to win is leave a comment below and tell us what your all-time favorite baby product is (or was). Make sure to leave a way to contact you! On Monday, September 12th we will select a random winner at noon PST. You’ll win a $75 3-month Citrus Lane subscription with items valued up to $150. You can live anywhere to enter, but the prize must be delivered to U.S. residents only and can begin at whatever month you choose. This is a link to the official rules if that kind of stuff interests you.

So what are you waiting for? Leave a comment below and pass this on to all your friends who might be interested in winning this awesome gift or knowing about this great company!