Rules Without Relationship Leads to Rebellion in Teens

Welcome to Moms’ Month on Dr. Stephanie! This month I will be featuring guest posts from some awesome moms around the country.  They will be sharing tips, tricks, and funny stories about motherhood.  This will be a fun celebration – thanks for joining us!  Today’s author is Melony Bishop.  Welcome, Melony!

Melony Bishop
“temporarily retired” Occupational Therapist
Stay-at-home mom to Savannah – 16, Tyler – 10, Haley – 8, and Lexi – 5
Long Valley, NJ

As a mom, I’m a firm believer that “rules without relationship = rebellion”.
When I became a mom, my husband and I vowed that our relationships with our kids would remain paramount no matter what!  I hope and pray that as my kids continue to mature, that I will be able to keep that promise.
Something I’ve learned recently is the reality that my kids need to be able to trust my responses to them.  I have always thought that trust was kind of a one-way street between parents and kids…… parents needed to be able to trust their kids, not the other way around.  What I have come to learn is that my kids need to be able to trust ME!  They need to be able to trust that I will respect them, to trust that they can confide in me, to trust that I will not overreact to various situations, to trust that my love is unconditional, to trust that my yes means yes and my no means no, to trust that I will keep my word, to trust that I have their best interest in mind no matter what.

Don’t get me wrong, I do not consider my children equals to me, nor do I consider myself their “friend” before being their parent…… BUT my relationship with them needs to be a trustworthy one if I am to expect the highest level of fruit to be beared.
Kids are up against a lot of obstacles these days….. just as we were when we were young.  I want my kids to trust that they can come to me with anything!  In order for this to happen, I am finding that I must be diligent in my day-to-day responses to them so that I can remain a character in their lives that they can trust with all the nitty gritty of life.  The old adage, “don’t cry over split milk” applies here.  As a fairly reactionary type of person, I am likely to squeal and possibly rant and huff over an overturned glass at the dinner table……. to what result though?  I must purpose to keep control over my responses and reactions in all the dailies of life if I’m going to lay a solid foundation on which my kids can firmly plant their feet, in order to be sure that they’ll bring me the bigger “spills” in life as they grow up.


Motherhood = Laughter

Welcome to Moms’ Month on Dr. Stephanie! This month I will be featuring guest posts from some awesome moms around the country.  They will be sharing tips, tricks, and funny stories about motherhood.  This will be a fun celebration – thanks for joining us!  Today’s author is Amy Greenamyer, PhD.  Welcome, Dr. Greenamyer!

I’m a wife and mother of two who works as a psychologist in Louisville, KY. I specialize in infertility and pregnancy related adjustment, along with other women’s issues. I love napping, running, reading and snuggling with my family and the dog on a lazy Saturday morning.

Much of motherhood to me is about laughter– Laughter through tears, laughter that makes your sides hurt, laughter that you must stifle while hiding behind a magazine.

I have two kids, both of whom were born 10 weeks early. We have a combined 3 months experience with the NICU. Half-way into my son’s stay it was

Quinn at 6 weeks holding a mini-beanie baby

Sydney - ready for the grocery store!

Halloween time. Turns out that Build-A-Bear clothes fit preemies perfectly, and the company gives gift certificates to the NICU so parents can come pick a costume. Though tearful that we couldn’t trick-or-treat like a “normal” family, it was delightful to see these tiny babies dressed as turkeys, Santas and in Hawaiian garb.

My kids are healthy, happy typical 3 and 6 year olds now and bottomless pits of goofiness. Yesterday I actually had a debate with my son that he couldn’t use his ukulele as a pogo stick. They have picked up on my husband’s frustration while driving as noted by my son yelling “you dumb broad!” to a car who cut me off. It was all I could do to discipline him thru my inner laughter. My daughter dresses herself in the most unusual combinations of clothes and is proud to be unique.

Parenting is hard. I frankly don’t like the chronic nature of motherhood. There aren’t any vacations from the constant worry about their well-being. However, the absolute hilarity of what comes out of their mouths at any given time makes it all worth it for me.  Take time to laugh with (and at) your kids. The endorphins released while laughing is good for you and it teaches your kids not to take life so seriously.

Quinn asking: "What has my sister put on me now?"

CREATE Mental Health Week – Healthy Garden, Healthy Food, Healthy People

This is a guest post in the series CREATE Mental Health.  All week we will be exploring how different people use creativity to create and maintain mental health.  Today’s post is by Dr. Kaycie Rosen.  Dr. Rosen is a Naturopathic Doctor and also the owner of Golden Naturopathic Clinic in Golden, CO.  Welcome Dr. Rosen!

Dr. Kaycie Rosen with a bowl full of delicious tomatoes. Good for the body and the soul!

It’s springtime again and my yearly obsession is in full swing: tomatoes!  Every year for the past 10 years sometime in the middle of February I notice a warm breeze in the air and start dreaming. I dream of ripe, warm, luscious, juicy tomatoes picked right off the vine, sliced, drizzled with some good olive oil and a touch of sea salt.  My alternate dream is of fresh, toasted sourdough bread, crunchy thick-cut bacon, a light smear of mayo, a fresh lettuce leaf, and thick juicy slices of a giant tomato from my backyard.

The sprouts emerge!

This year the process is particularly special.  We just rebuilt our backyard and put in several new garden beds; we have been watching workmen transform a bit of the open mountain behind our house into a home for all our delicious dreams.  We’re putting in fruits, vegetables and herbs, hopefully enough to substitute for the farm share we used to get weekly.  Right now our garden is all anticipation, and for me is the fruition of many years of “halfway” gardening in various combinations of limited space, poor soil, pots only, unfavorable climates, or limited time.  This year, we are fully committed.

Gardening for me is an invaluable asset to my mental health for several reasons.  First and foremost, I love good food.  Fresh, flavorful produce is one of my greatest passions in life, and the best way to get it is to grow it myself.  I love to cook and to feed healthy, delicious meals to my family, and gardening helps me do just that.  Secondly, I love plants.  As a Naturopathic doctor and herbalist, I use plants as medicine, but even more than that, there is something amazing about getting to know the intricacies of how mother nature works.  Each plant has its own ideal soil conditions, watering needs, and interactions with other living beings from soil microbes to the animals who consume it.  For me to learn about and understand plants helps me feel more connected to the planet and to my spirit because it helps me understand how interconnected every living being on the planet is.  Finally, gardening gets me outside, breathing fresh air, moving my body and getting my mind off of things.  Somehow, fiddling around with the vegetables helps me lose track of time and lets the stress melt away.

Getting ready to be transplanted!

But back to February.  One of the most satisfying parts of gardening is that if you follow the process, you reap great rewards at the end.  In February, I buy my seeds and starting medium, resurrect the seedling trays from the garage, and start counting down the days to planting.  Mid-March, seeds go in, trays go under the grow light, and the watering and watching begins.  5 or 6 days later, we have sprouts, a couple weeks after that I transplant sprouts, a few weeks later transplant again, and a couple weeks after that we start hardening off so our baby tomatoes get used to living in the outdoors. Mid-May my tomatoes finally get to go to their home in the ground, and from there it’s just pruning, watering, and finally in August my BLT dreams come true!  I’m excited about all the food we’re growing, but there’s just something about tomatoes that feeds the soul.


CREATE Mental Health Week starts May 2nd!

CREATE Mental Health Week is coming!

Next week Dr Stephanie will be hosting crafters, artists, and other creative folks from around the country! Check back for simple, creative tutorials as well as information about how CREATING helps maintain mental health.

Want to promote the event on your blog or site? Thanks! Feel free to grab the button on the right! Thanks and look forward to seeing you next week!

Seeing a Psychologist for the First Time

Making the decision that it’s time to see a psychologist can be a tough one.  Deciding who to see can be even more difficult.  I have written previously on both of these topics.  Last week I blogged about the next step – your first appointment. Specifically, I made some suggestions about what to bring.

Over the weekend I did some more thinking about that topic.  In addition to the items I have already mentioned (insurance card, form of payment, pen and paper, water, etc) another important thing to bring to your first session are questions for your psychologist.  Specifically:

1. Do you have experience treating people similar to me?

2. How often do you typically see people (i.e. once per week, twice per week, every month?)

3. Can you estimate about how long I might be in treatment? (This can be a tough question to answer but worth asking nonetheless)

4. Is there anything I can do to help make treatment more effective? Books I might read, movies I might watch (I recommend movies all the time!), TV shows that might help me (Hoarders is an example of a past recommendation).

5. How can I most easily contact you if necessary? (I like email for business-type questions and  appointment changes. I prefer phone calls for anything clinical in nature.)

Any good questions I missed? Or other things to bring to a first appointment that you can think of?

Is My Child Ready for Facebook?

As the new school year begins, many families have discussions about new rules, curfews, chores – and often – technology.  In my office I hear a lot of kids start conversations like:

“Mom, don’t you know that ALL 6th graders have a Facebook accounts!!”


“Dad, how am I going to know what is going on with my friends if I’m not on Facebook?!?”

As parents we are challenged to keep up with technology and its significance in our children’s lives.  And before we answer “NO WAY!” or “Sure” to our kids’ requests for a Facebook (or other social networking site) account, I think it is important that we think carefully and talk thoughtfully about the question at hand.

The On-Line Mom (one of my favorite sites for parents) recently wrote a blog article about the pros and cons of Facebook for kids.  They outlined some great points about the importance of technology in kids’ lives, as well as the dangers.  With their points in mind, and understanding that each family needs to make their own decisions about the role of social media, here are some guidelines to help determine if your child is ready to enter the world of social networking:

  • Computer literacy. While most tweens and teens I know have far more knowledge about computers than I do – not all are tech savvy – and Facebook is not the place to learn.  Make sure your child knows their way around a computer and the internet before opening an account.
  • Open communication. Parents should feel confident that their relationship with their child is on solid ground before an account is opened.  Why is a good relationship important? Because open, honest, and frequent communication between you and your child is critical during their use of Facebook.  Parents should be assured that their child will feel comfortable coming to them with problems or questions if they arise.
  • No pressure. Most of us parents are guilty, at one time or another, of giving in to our child’s wishes to look cool, make up for a slight, or get them to like us better.  This might be ok in some situations (making their favorite cookies, taking them to yet another vampire movie) but it is definitely not OK in this situation.  As noted above, each family has to come to this decision on their own – coercion should not be a factor.
  • Right vs. wrong. Before opening a Facebook account, children should be able to discuss with their parents appropriate (and destructive) on-line behavior.  Kids (and parents) should understand the impact of bullying, friending, and talking to strangers on-line.  Facebook and internet etiquette should be understood by everyone involved.
  • Set guidelines. One of the last steps that parents and children should take before setting up a Facebook account, is to set up guidelines or rules for use.  Will there be set times for Facebook use?  Will mom or dad have to approve friends along with their child?  How often will parents monitor their child’s use?  What types of things are appropriate to include on a status update?  At what point will Facebook use be suspended?

Stay tuned for my upcoming post:  Am I Ready to Have a Child on Facebook?

Life's Embarrassing Moments…Your Child's Having a Fit

It’s happened to all of us parents…we might as well admit it.  We are just trying to:

  • send off a package at the post office
  • deposit a check at the bank
  • pick up the dry cleaning
  • buy taco shells for dinner

And our kid(s) start throwing a fit for no reason.  And suddenly we find ourselves the victims of:

  • spit wads
  • kicking and/or slapping
  • doubts about our parenting abilities
  • old-fashioned, blood-curdling screams

Put these things together and you have one of the more embarrassing moments in a parent’s life.  We all know what we should do: don’t give in to the child’s whims, leave the cart full of groceries and calmly take our child to the car, and definitely don’t lose our cool!

But how many of us can really follow the expert’s advice when we are being slapped with a stuffed poodle? Not many.  Most of us simply try to keep from screaming/crying/spitting ourselves, get out of the store (with taco shells in hand) as quickly as we can, and attempt to forget this embarrassing moment as quickly as possible.

Parenting tips, tricks, and techniques are great – I have been known to dispense some myself.  But, sometimes the most helpful tip is that we as parents have all been there, have all been red-cheeked and embarrassed, and have all survived – and so will you.

No More Outrageous Tweets from John Mayer

I have admitted it before, and I will do it again – I am one of John Mayer’s 3.4 million followers on Twitter.  When he was at his tweeting heyday, I enjoyed reading his sometimes crude, often sarcastic, and occasionally outrageous tweets.  While he will still be entertaining us through his well-established blog on tumblr, I will miss seeing him on Twitter.

One of the things that made Mr. Mayer’s tweets so interesting was that they gave us a glimpse into his life – one that most of us could hardly dream about.  Dating superstars, hanging out with music legends – who wouldn’t be interested in hearing the back story of a life like that?

Whether it is following celebrities on Twitter, reading Us Weekly, or watching Entertainment Tonight (or doing all three!) being voyeurs into the lives of Hollywood’s hottest serves as a legitimate stress management strategy for some, and pure entertainment for many.  I know my Mondays would be much more dreary if I didn’t have my favorite celebrity magazine to look forward to in the mailbox!

Through the Years with the VMA's

For those not in the know, MTV aired their annual awards show last night, the VMA’s.  Since 1984 this celebration of music and music videos has been one of the highlights of the year for pop culture aficionados.

I have written in other blogs about the benefits of going without TV, and have also written about how to keep our kids safe from the sexualized images we see on TV daily.  But I also get a lot of joy and entertainment from watching popular culture play out around me.  And not only do I think pop culture (meaning TV, music, books, movies, and other media and fads) is fun, but I also think it is important to be aware of the goings-on of the “cool kids” of the world so that I can better relate to my own children, my clients, my neighbors, and friends.

For several generations, kids and young adults have, at least in part, defined themselves by the culture in which they surround themselves.  The popular songs, the hip dance styles, the cool clothes.  What I thought was cool as a teen (grunge) is definitely not cool now.  So I believe it is important, as an adult, to be aware of what is currently cool.  It doesn’t mean I have to like it, listen to it, or even participate in it – but it helps me understand what is important to the younger people in my life – and maybe (I can only hope) – helps me stay relevant in their eyes as well.

So even if you are well past your teens, don’t be ashamed of getting caught up in Bieber Fever, admiring Lady Gaga‘s meat dress, or counting down the days until the second season of Glee begins.  Who knows, if you become knowledgeable enough, your tween kids might even think you’re rad.