All For Your Family

new book

All For Your Family

The fol­low­ing arti­cle in Huffington Post high­lights 26 things good par­ents should not do to avoid screw­ing up their kids. Today’s par­ents tend to dote, con­trol and live through their chil­dren. I just hap­pen to have a new book, hot off the press, which explains how par­ents can make these changes and why it is so impor­tant. It makes a per­fect present for new and not so new par­ents. I think you will all love the cover 🙂 

All For Your Family, by Sharon Youngman

Available on Amazon


Parenting A Child With An Eye Towards Adulthood



My dar­ling daugh­ter sent me an arti­cle about par­ent­ing. She encour­aged me to write a sim­i­lar one. I read it and loved it. The author is a writer by pro­fes­sion and clearly has a gift. I wish I could write so well. The author admits that she is not a par­ent­ing expert but I was struck with how she zeroed in on some gems of wis­dom, most impor­tantly, the idea of par­ent­ing now for the adult you want in the future. She hinted at some strate­gies to accom­plish that goal. For instance, lov­ing our chil­dren but not to the point that you make excuses for bad behav­ior elud­ing to the ben­e­fit of let­ting chil­dren fail so they become more respon­si­ble. Another vari­able in par­ent­ing is the nat­ural instinct to see our chil­dren as exten­sions of our­selves. This is a deep, deep issue and rec­og­niz­ing that ten­dency in our­selves is huge.

In my book, “Strengthen Your Parenting Muscle,” I go into much more detail and pro­vide many strate­gies to sup­port fam­i­lies. It is avail­able on Amazon and is both worth­while as well as a quick read.


Good Job



Good Job


Motivating chil­dren and build­ing con­fi­dence is impor­tant. Parents and teach­ers do their best to accom­plish this goal and it is help­ful to keep this one prin­ci­ple in mind:

Compliments that are spe­cific are more pow­er­ful than com­pli­ments that are gen­eral.

When a par­ent sees her child draw­ing a pic­ture they might say you are doing such a good job or I like your pic­ture. There is absolutely noth­ing wrong with that but if you can be more spe­cific it will impact your child even more. Imagine telling a child “I like your pic­ture and I espe­cially like the way you added details,” you not only give a gen­eral com­pli­ment but you point to some­thing spe­cific that your child can really ben­e­fit from. Think about our adult world. If our boss told us that we were doing a good job or that the report we did was good we obvi­ously would be happy. But if they were spe­cific about why they liked our work or what about the report was par­tic­u­larly good we would know the com­pli­ment was sin­cere. It would also help us know what in par­tic­u­lar they liked so we could build on it.

As a class­room teacher it was easy to sur­vey the room and com­pli­ment the class on how well they were all work­ing but imag­ine if I walked around the room and gave spe­cific com­ments to sev­eral stu­dents that were per­sonal and authen­tic. This would be sig­nif­i­cantly more pow­er­ful.

I always told my chil­dren that I loved them and was proud of them. Unconditional love and praise is a beau­ti­ful thing but often it becomes mean­ing­less if chil­dren don’t con­nect with it. Elevate your praise from “good job” to “I like the way you did______  .” The smile on your child’s face will be your reward.







I am writ­ing this blog entry as I am liv­ing it. Most, really all, of my blogs speak from a place of expe­ri­ence and con­fi­dence. I have prac­ticed what I preach and know my insights and strate­gies can be very help­ful and effec­tive.

Today I am inspired to dis­cuss an issue that has long eluded me and it’s time to deal with it.


Ahhhh, I even love the sound of it. A per­fect evening, per­fect weather, a per­fect career, and of course per­fect chil­dren.

How crazy is it that I would strive for per­fec­tion in my chil­dren? How crazy is it that fam­i­lies live in an envi­ron­ment where chil­dren are com­pared and judged. Is my child pop­u­lar, are they smart, are they ath­letic and how beau­ti­ful are they?

Clearly no per­son, young or small can be per­fect. Perfect doesn’t even exist. But striv­ing for that goal, or want­ing that life, dimin­ishes the life we have.

At the Emmy award this year some­one and I can­not remem­ber who, thanked their mom for not wor­ry­ing about him. Imagine what that means.  Think about why we worry about our chil­dren. Do we want them to be dif­fer­ent? Does our worry impact them in a neg­a­tive way? Does it detract from their con­fi­dence level because clearly mom or dad may be con­cerned?

My goal these past years is to have patience and con­fi­dence. Set aside worry and live in the moment. It is huge for me as I tend to worry, and often need­lessly. But giv­ing up the idea of per­fec­tion and accept­ing what­ever it is I have, that would bring me peace of mind and that would be much bet­ter than per­fec­tion.




And Then He Turned His Phone To OFF



I have been try­ing to use my phone less, be in the present and take in my world more. I am not a par­ent of young chil­dren and my dis­trac­tion is only harm­ful to myself…except when I take care of my six month old grand­son. That darn phone, the lap top and even the tele­vi­sion.  They all call to me and my sweet lit­tle grand­son doesn’t mind at all. In fact, he loves screens. All of them. He can sit and watch the T.V. whether it’s child’s pro­gram­ming or not. Take out a phone to cap­ture a pic­ture and he stops what he is doing to stare at the beau­ti­ful glow.

I remem­ber a busi­ness din­ner with a female col­league of my husband’s. It was a couple’s thing and her hus­band was a big deal edi­tor of a big time mag­a­zine. At the begin­ning of the meal he took out his phone and I fig­ured he would be on it all through din­ner. Instead I watched as he turned it off. Not to vibrate, but OFF. It was remark­able and it gave us the mes­sage that we were the most impor­tant thing to him at that moment. It was pow­er­ful.

Just think what turn­ing your devices could accom­plish. It’s clearly not a prac­ti­cal thing to do for most of your day. Just try it for a half hour and see what changes. Your time with your chil­dren is too impor­tant to share with an elec­tronic device. 


Enabling Our Children.….Why?


Good Parents Great Kids


Why do we enable our chil­dren?

Are you a par­ent who thinks they are doing too much for their child?

Is your child lack­ing in moti­va­tion or respon­si­bil­ity?

Ask your­self these impor­tant ques­tions:

1- Is my help truly nec­es­sary?

2- What is my moti­va­tion for help­ing?


Many times par­ents help or enable their child because they want their child to suc­ceed. This will usu­ally help in the short term as the child com­pletes tasks, gets to appoint­ments on time, is well pre­pared and turns in ele­vated assign­ments. Does the par­ent feel pride as their child excells? Would the child have excelled with­out their help? What mes­sage is the child get­tinng from this help? 

The prac­tice of enabling becomes more appar­ent as the par­ent feels obliged to inter­vene for the child’s con­tin­ued suc­cess. The suceess of their child becomes a goal for the par­ent when it should be a goal for the child. The con­tin­ued assis­tance by the par­ent cre­ates a sys­tem whreeby the child depends on the parent’s help and there­fore becomes a pas­sive par­tic­i­pant. There is dimin­ished moti­va­tion and often the child resents the par­ents for their input. In the long term the par­ent must decide whether to con­tinue this sup­port or demen­strate trust in their child.


Think about that for a moment or two. Would you ever con­sciously want to con­vey to your child that you don’t trust them? Demonstrating trust in your child is huge. If you are faced with the option of demon­strat­ing to your child that you have faith in them and you choose to involve your­self to insure bet­ter results then you must look in the mir­ror and ask your­self if your motive is ulti­mately self­ish. Yes, self­ish. That may sound harsh but it is imper­a­tive that you sep­a­rate your own ego from your child’s suc­cess. Parents nat­u­rally feel proud of their child. It is unhealthy for both the par­ent and child when the need to see a child suc­ceed trumps the abil­ity to do what is nec­es­sary to raise a respon­si­ble child.

Give your child the gift of inde­pen­dence, con­fi­dence and respon­si­bil­ity by show­ing them that you have faith in them.…and walk away. 


Your Child or Your Phone


Smart phones. We use them to play games, text, check emails, tweet and con­nect with fam­ily and friends. They are amaz­ing use­ful and addic­tive. Articles have been writ­ten about how they are time suck­ers and rela­tion­ship busters. My con­cern is how they inter­fere with the qual­ity time par­ents used to spend inter­act­ing with their child. Walking down the street, I see chil­dren in strollers with the care­giver; mom,dad, nanny etc. engag­ing with their phone instead of the child. Think of all the missed oppor­tu­ni­ties. Instead of point­ing out the sights and build­ing vocab­u­lary and con­cepts the child is ignored. Have you seen fam­i­lies in a restau­rant where the par­ent and child  inter­act with their device instead of each other? 

Yes, many chil­dren love screen time and adults do too, but there is great dan­ger in let­ting our­selves emmerse in a thing instead of a per­son. Children tak­ing sec­ond place to a phone is now a com­mon occur­rence. Parents are tak­ing a back seat to a child’s inter­est in th devices as well. Just because it is hap­penig does not make it healthy. 

We must address this issue and encour­age par­ents to put the phone down and pay atten­tion to their chil­dren. There are no sec­ond chances and no room for regrets. Address your obses­sion and model your pri­or­ites for your child.


Responsible Children.….excerpts from my book.





How do we encour­age our child to be respon­si­ble?

The under­ly­ing cause of poor respon­si­bil­ity is usu­ally a con­trol­ling par­ent. Doing things for our chil­dren or help­ing them avoid neg­a­tive con­se­quences pro­vide short term rewards.


When we rush in to save our chil­dren we are telling them that:

Natural con­se­quences can be avoided if you are well con­nected 

You are not strong enough to han­dle the con­se­quence and need to be shielded

When we do things for our chil­dren that they could do for them­selves because we do it bet­ter we are telling them that:

They are not smart enough to do it well.

They lack skills to com­plete the job and should give up and let some­one else do it.


This may seem obvi­ous but here is a typ­i­cal sce­nario that exem­pli­fies how our desire to do the best for our chil­dren

often result in com­mu­ni­cat­ing mes­sages of inad­e­quacy.

We brought you home from the hos­pi­tal. So excited and very, very ner­vous. As new par­ents with lit­tle expe­ri­ence with real life infants we were scared that we could injure you. Diapering may not seem scary but to us it was. It was also hard to do it well. I felt that I did it bet­ter than your father and I let him know that by always telling him that I would dia­per you. Soon I became com­fort­able with the dia­per and he was out of the loop. I let him know by my behav­ior that he wasn’t good at it and alien­ated him from a fun­da­men­tal role as father. If I had to do it over again I would trust that he could learn do dia­per you well and encour­age rather than redi­rect his efforts. My desire to get the job done in the best way pos­si­ble yielded more neg­a­tive con­se­quences than any tight dia­per could have pro­duced. Your dad learned that I was in charge and our team approach would not take effect for 12 more years. Only when we real­ized that we needed to trust and respect each other and approach par­ent­ing as a team, did we feel we had a plan for dis­ci­pline and par­ent­ing. It was quite a relief and you set­tled into this new dynamic rel­a­tively quickly.



The pre­vi­ous exam­ple illus­trates many dynam­ics:

  • The need to con­trol or take over demon­strates a lack of con­fi­dence.
  • When you take over you tell the other per­son they can be pas­sive.
  • A team approach, with a basis in trust and respect, is essen­tial. It is bet­ter to com­pro­mise and present a united front than feel you are the expert and have a divided approach.

The same prin­ci­ple of implied trust and respect is com­mu­ni­cated to chil­dren. When your child attempts to pour milk in a cereal bowl and spills, would you stop them from try­ing? You would probably change the size of the container to make it eas­ier or other pos­si­ble adap­tions. What will you do if and when your child encoun­ters a chal­lenge with a teacher over dis­ci­pline or a grade?  Would you want to res­cue them in the name of advo­cat­ing? There are many rea­sons for pro­tect­ing our chil­dren and some­times it prob­a­bly is accept­able. The ques­tion is, in the long run, what is gained from step­ping back and how often do we think our child requires our pro­tec­tion from nat­ural con­se­quences. A child who feels that because of their par­ents supp­port they are immune from neg­a­tive consequences, may not work hard for good grades, may not learn to be finan­cial respon­si­ble, and may even engage in activ­i­ties that are dan­ger­ous.

Implementing a plan that pro­motes respon­si­ble behav­ior is dif­fi­cult to do. How long will you assume the role of pro­tec­tor and become a sup­port­ive guide? Guide your child more than pro­tect so they will become the respon­si­ble child you hope for.




Words Matter



A hole in the ground.… How words mat­ter


I was on the #1 train in Manhattan today, leav­ing an appoint­ment where I was pro­mot­ing my par­ent­ing pro­gram. I over­heard a con­ver­sa­tion between two men that caught my atten­tion. As I was engaged in my book I couldn’t help but smile as I par­tially over­heard their dia­logue.  One was a New Yorker, the other a tour guide. He was obvi­ously not famil­iar with New York and was ask­ing many ques­tions. Should he take his group to see Coney Island? Is it worth the one hour train ride? Can they walk over the Brooklyn Bridge and see the United Nations in the same after­noon? Then he said the most amaz­ing thing, “We’ve already seen the hole in the ground.”  Let me repeat that just in case it didn’t make enough of an impres­sion on the first read. He said, “We’ve already seen the hole in the ground.”  Get it? This was a ref­er­ence to the 911 site!

I could and would not con­tain myself. A hole in the ground? I repeated with dis­gust ooz­ing from every pore in my body. Yeah he said I went back and saw they threw some water in it and took out the poles. It looked bet­ter. I looked around to see if any­one else had heard this. If they did, they weren’t get­ting involved. I noticed there was much silence after that and when he con­tin­ued to ask ques­tions of the young New Yorker he found no more help­ful assis­tance.


What does this have to do with par­ent­ing I thought? I knew I wanted to put this story out there but didn’t imme­di­ately make a con­nec­tion to my focus of ele­vat­ing par­ent­ing skills. And then it hit me. This is all about com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Words mat­ter. With the words he chose he man­aged to insult the mem­ory of a tragic event. He showed com­plete dis­re­spect for the site and the peo­ple affected. I don’t even know if it mat­tered if he was American or not. Besides the lack of respect, his words affected the amount of coop­er­a­tion he later received. We don’t coop­er­ate when we feel dis­re­spected.


So if this story allows you to think of com­mun­ci­a­tion between par­ents and chil­dren.…. I’ve done my job.



One way to gain coop­er­a­tion is to be aware of the way we speak when they do some­thing wrong or when they are not fol­low­ing through with a direc­tion. If you are a par­ent that con­tin­u­ally repeats direc­tions it is pos­si­ble that your child has tuned you out and hears your voice as mere back­ground noise. Additionally, if your requests are ignored and go with­out con­se­quence then your child will con­tinue to be unre­spon­sive to you. To gain your child’s coop­er­a­tion it is often best to describe the prob­lem in sim­ple terms. State the impor­tance, tell your child what you want them to do, (not what you don’t want them to do) and then limit your reminders. Make sure your child knows that your request is seri­ous and ignor­ing it is not an option. Limit the amount of requests you make so that it is not over­whelm­ing. Prioritize, choose your bat­tles and build your expec­ta­tions as your child demon­strates improved behav­ior. A child that coop­er­ates is more likely to make choices that demon­strate their family’s val­ues.

Communication is all about being an active lis­tener. Active lis­ten­ing will improve your rela­tion­ship with your chil­dren as well as every­one you choose to lis­ten empa­thet­i­cally to. It means you not only lis­ten but you respond in a way that shows no judg­ment, no attempt to solve and no attempt to make the sit­u­a­tion into a les­son. When you respond to your child with your opin­ion, judg­ment or a les­son you reduce their moti­va­tion to tell you things. Open com­mu­ni­ca­tion is crit­i­cal. There are other oppor­tu­ni­ties to par­ent our chil­dren and guide them.


Show respect and you will receive it.