How is Your Garden/Family Growing: Time for New Ideas?

August 25, 2014 by · 1 Comment 


I like to garden. I would say that I am “middling” good at it. This year I have had a little more time to put into it, so I worked hard to weed and water one perennial bed. I divided plants that had gotten too big, and I moved some poor performers to places where I thought they would do better. Yet many plants look crummy, and there are still places where only weeds will grow.

Now it’s the end of the summer and time to take stock. I asked a landscaper friend of mine to take a look and give me some advice. She definitely gave me a fresh look at my garden. Many of my plants have “mildew.” They have this grey powdery junk on the leaves, and they stop flowering. Chris asked, “Did you buy mildew resistant plants?” Oh, you can do that? What a concept!

She looked at another stand of plants that are always covered in little red bugs she identified as aphids. I am not interested in spraying pesticides on my garden, so the aphids have the upper hand, and these plants that started the summer with bright yellow blossoms are no longer blossoming. They look yucky. “Get rid of them,” she said (the plants, not the aphids).

Chris even gave me great suggestions to for what to plant in bare spaces. The hard part will be choosing which to plant.

This morning as I hooked up my soaker hoses, I felt some relief as I looked around the garden. My expert friend gave me new ideas to try in my garden. Next weekend I’ll pull up several non-performers and put them in the compost where they will do more good than they have until now. (The mildew plants will not go into compost.) I’ll shop around to see whether I can find any late season deals on the plants I want now. And I’ll make sure they’re “mildew-resistant.”

You are asking what this has to do with raising children, right? I am not suggesting tossing any children on the compost heap or to turning them in for better models. I’m talking about the strategies that we parents use when we try to solve problems with children.

Albert Einstein said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Very often we parents do that very thing with children. We expect them to be the first to change. We approach problems in the same way, with the same lectures and expect the children to change. If they do change, that’s great.

But what about those times that you feel like a broken record? Time to ask an outside expert, as I did in my garden, and as I did when raising my son. (Yes, even child psychologists need help!)

Fall is a great time for new beginnings. Consider where you feel stuck with your kids. Is there another way to look at the problem? Could a parent coach offer some help?   Don’t be afraid to get some expert advice.


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When Life Throws You Curveballs

August 12, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

5394666705_c1bf3d64c5_mI don’t know about you but I have had quite the Monday: problems with television, phone and email service. At least the television doesn’t affect my work, but the other two definitely do. At this point it appears that all problems are solved, but a fair amount of my workday has been unexpectedly devoted to getting these services fixed. Fortunately, I was not dealing with a young child as well, only my husband, who is quite challenged when it comes to electronic technology.

Throughout the afternoon I had to say to myself, “It is what it is.”

I had to take deep breaths and keep listening to the tech support people giving me more instructions. I had to go back to live online chat three times before I got a phone number to call for one service.

More deep, cleansing breaths.

I learned some years ago that yelling at tech support people gets them to hang up. It’s pretty counter productive, and I don’t blame them.

I confess that I did snarl at my husband when I realized how much time was going by. I could have asked politely for him to take over on the phone, but I did not.

I had to recalculate what I would accomplish today. (This is why you are seeing the blog on Tuesday, instead of Monday.)

Back to the snarling part. The fact is that life is full of these reminders that we are not in control. Parents are reminded of this big time as you and your children have different needs, internal clocks, and so forth. Or children develop needs (like strep throat) that you cannot schedule for.

For most people it is easier to keep your cool with strangers (like the people on the tech support line who are trained to be very kind). But with family most of us slip up. My husband did step up after I snarled, and maybe he experienced some mastery that he would have missed if I had solved all the problems. But I imagine that he would rather I hadn’t snarled.

Children are less able to take our point of view and say, “Mom’s having a bad day. That’s why she snarled.”

So, be compassionate with yourself when life feels out of control. Try to reschedule or reframe. Try not to blame. Take those deep breaths.

Even if your child should have remembered his math book, or the permission slip, he is less likely to learn from the experience if you go off.

Good luck and be kind to yourself. You are not in control, and it’s OK.


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Photo:  John H. Kim/Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons