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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Parenting with cancer (with video)


University of Michigan Associate Professor at the School of Social Work, Brad Zebrack, Ph.D., MSW, offers some valuable insight and advice about parenting with cancer in the video below, which recently aired on the PBS show A Wider World. Dr. Zebrack is a Hodgkin lymphoma survivor since 1985 and has devoted his career to studying the impact of cancer on families and young adults.


Additional resources:

In Ann Arbor, The Cancer Support Community of Greater Ann Arbor has programs for kids or teenagers who have a parent with cancer. Parents meet separately from kids to discuss their own concerns and share advice. Find more about the groups and see the May/June calender for meetings here or call Bonnie Dockham, program director, at 734-975-2500.

How to Tell Your Children About Your Cancer, from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

Parenting With Cancer, a website created by Jen Singer, a lymphoma survivor and mother of two.

The Children’s Treehouse Foundation provides tools for parents and support at hospitals throughout the country.

Helping Your Children Cope With Your Cancer, a collection of essays written by parents, their children and health care experts.


Betsy de Parry is the author of Adventures In Cancer Land and the producer of the Candid Cancer reports. Find her on Facebook, email her or follow Candid Cancer on Twitter.


Ron Huxley: This is one of the those topics that no one really talks about…that is why it is here on the Parenting Toolbox.

The Terrible Twos – Myth or Reality?

boy kicking toys

?? Jon Whittle

Two-year-olds get all the buzz, but the truth is, tantrums and mayhem can strike at any age, for a variety of reasons. ???Most toddlers begin testing limits shortly after their first birthday and continue until about age four,??? says Ari Brown, M.D., author of Toddler 411.

So how did the Terrible Twos become such a pop-parenting phenomenon? ???It’s an old-fashioned idea and not supported by research,??? says Alan Kazdin, Ph.D., director of the Parenting Center at Yale University. The term was coined in the 1950s, perhaps because so much pressure was put on families to be detergent-commercial perfect that the moment a child grew out of compliant infancy, moms were freaked out. But modern parents agree???every kid is different, and every year presents new joys and challenges. Read on for a fresh perspective on each stage.

Age 1

What’s to Love: They can be wonderfully cuddly. And since many 1-year-olds haven’t yet realized the power of the word ???no??? to antagonize you, they can often be more compliant than their 2- to 4-year-old sibs. Their distractible nature means you can get them to stop fiddling with the oven knob by giving them a pot and a spoon to bang with.

What’s Tough About It: Establishing good sleep patterns is still a struggle throughout this year, as you drop the morning nap, lengthen the midday one, and solidify bedtime. All that snooze drama can make for an overtired, cranky kid. In addition, his limited vocabulary makes for misunderstandings. (He says ???nana.??? You put him on the phone with Nana Helen. He wanted a banana. Cue meltdown.)

How To Make the Most of It: They need about 13 hours of sleep (11 at night and 2 during the day), so try to make it happen, suggests Bronwyn Charlton, Ph.D., co-founder of SeedlingsGroup, a collective of child-development experts in New York City. Inadequate sleep stacks the deck against you: A tired toddler is a cranky toddler.


Age 2

What’s to Love: There’s no denying it???2-year-olds are stinking cute! Their curiosity about the world is infectious. And while they certainly get into trouble, their mishaps feel accidental, making them easier to forgive.

What’s Tough About It: Two-year-olds are fully mobile. Translation: They’re into everything. And that means this is the first time you’ve had to set limits (no climbing the bookcase, crossing the street, or picking up cigarette butts off the sidewalk). Your child has never heard ???no??? so many times in her short life???and she doesn’t like it. To top it all off, 2-year-olds don’t yet have the language to express feelings, so they resort to pitching fits. Their young brains can’t handle extreme emotions without going a bit haywire.

How to Make The Most of It: Praise often: ???You didn’t throw any toys today! Great job!??? When she blows her stack, ignore her, as long as she isn’t hurting anyone. Yelling or attempts to subdue???even with affection???make tantrums last longer. Kazdin notes that a tantrum is a futile time for discipline. ???Wait until your child is able to absorb what you say.???

How to Teach Your Child About Sex

Teach your child to respect the human body

Part of giving your child a healthy attitude about sex means teaching him or her to respect the body. The best way to do that is by example. Tease and tickle only in appropriate ways, not by pinching buttocks. Never tease a child when he or she asks you to stop or seems uncomfortable.

Play hard, wrestle some and cuddle, but remember that each part of the human body has a special purpose. Hands are for creating and doing tasks. Mouths are for talking and eating. The genitals are for excretion and ultimately for reproduction. They are not for finding excitement through the exploitation of a child.

Most people were horrified by the melee in Central Park in New York City. Some 50 young women were horribly mistreated and sexually abused in full view of the public, and no one came to the rescue of the victims.

A major part of the tragedy lies in the conduct of some of the young women. They were dressed provocatively, and initially they laughed and joined in the “fun.” But then the conduct of the young men got out of control. A “mob spirit” surged through the crowd and tragic atrocities were committed.

Sex is no longer discussed only behind closed doors and in privacy. Television, movies and talk shows have brought the discussion out in the open. In the sexually charged culture in which we live, parents can help abuse-proof their kids by teaching them what it means to be sexually responsible.

Sexual responsibility means that one never exploits another person for sexual excitement. It means that sex is saved for marital commitment and that one must show respect in this area to friends and, later, friends of the opposite sex.

What else should parents teach their children about sexual responsibility? Here’s a list to consider:

  • Teach girls to dress respectfully. Parents need to help their daughters understand, before they reach age 12 (puberty), that spaghetti-strap tops and skimpy shorts are “turn-ons” to boys. While dress never justifies sexual assault, part of being “abuse-proof” means dressing wisely. Many attractive styles are not a “turn-on.” Wise parents will start early and help their girls dress in cute but not scanty clothes.
  • Teach girls to be kind, considerate, friendly and fun without being seductive. And when your daughter starts dating, she needs a cell phone or pager in case she needs rescuing!
  • Teach your sons that they are responsible to protect others, not to exploit them. They are never to push a girl to do sexual things with them. Before they reach puberty, boys need to know that they will be tempted to explore adult ideas and behaviors in the sexual arena, but they must overcome such temptations.
  • To discourage your children from trying to act sexy in order to be liked, point out to them how many kids of the opposite sex pay attention to and flirt with them when they are just being themselves. This will help build their self-esteem.
  • Teach your children how to recognize and refuse a date’s attempts to use them for selfish gratification, which is blatant sexual abuse by peers. Kids must be taught about the incredibly powerful sexual drive that explodes when petting goes too far.
  • Keep open the doors of communication about sexual issues. When you feel uneasy about discussions or certain questions your children ask, say so. It’s okay to say, “I’m not sure I know the answer to that. I’ll look it up and get back to you.” Then do that. If your children are too young to understand or cope with certain in-depth concepts, it’s okay to say, “That’s as complicated as Greek! Give me time to think about the answer.” Just be sure you always get back to them.
  • Teach your kids to wait until marriage for sexual intercourse. Teach them that in the marriage union, sex is a wonderful pleasure. Most of us who teach this idea are ridiculed, but experience over time verifies that medically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually, postponing sex until after marriage is wise.

Years ago, a young friend told me how he approached every date: “I stand in front of my mirror and I say to myself, Steve, you stand in the shoes of Jane’s father until you take her home to him.’ With that in my mind, I have always been able to resist the strong temptation to get sexual with my date.” How I wish every young man thought and acted like Steve!

Just do it

I know that providing good sex education for your kids is a challenging assignment, one that will take much time, energy, and vigilance on your part. Watch for those golden, teachable moments. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes; kids will forgive mistakes. Just be faithful in teaching your children about sex, and especially in teaching the sacred value of sex and the need for respect and dignity toward all sexual issues. Later on, if not now, your children will love you for your efforts.

Parents, you can do it. You can do it best. So do it!

Excerpted from Real Solutions for Abuse-Proofing Your Child (pgs. 68-74) by Dr. Grace Ketterman. Published by Servant Publications. P.O. Box 8617, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 48107. Used by permission.

Breaking up over the stress of parenting

Mommyish: The Three-Year Ditch: Why Couples With Kids Are Breaking Up Earlier Than Ever http://goo.gl/mag/UbltY

This article discusses the impact parenting had on couple relationships. I don’t believe that the “issues” weren’t there before children. It’s just that they never had a reason to surface till then. Share your thoughts on this sad statistic.

ParentingToolbox Dream Project: Behavior Motivations

Dream Project: Step 4 – Children’s Behaviors and Motivation


Join our ParentingToolbox “Inner Circle” club and get tools and tips on how to diagnose your child’s MISbehaviors and build prosocial dreaming!

Children and Grief


Grieving the loss of a loved one is difficult, especially for a child.  When a child loses a loved one to death or incarceration, the loss can have a profound effect on the rest of his or her life.

Emotional, psychological and physical trauma that often come with loss challenge children’s well-being and school performance.  Grieving children are likely to feel different, and very alone.

While concealing deep emotional   pain, fear and loss of concentration,   children are in the pressure cooker   of  expectations to grow emotionally   and academically. They say that   seeing friends with parents and   parent/child school activities are daily reminders of their own loss.

Children express grief in a different way than adults.  They tend to move in and out of intense feelings, rather than sustaining high levels of one emotion for long periods of time.  When adults see a grieving child playing or laughing, they may mistakenly believe that the child is “over it”.  This perception may influence how much grief support a child receives.

In the United States, approximately 4.8 million children under 18 are grieving the death loss of a parent.

1.5 million children in the US are grieving the loss of a parent to incarceration, sometimes for the duration of their childhood.

Community awareness and support help children heal from loss and excel in life.

Start a Support Group

The loss of a loved one is a universal human experience. How thoughts and feelings about the loss are expressed vary by culture. We encourage you to adapt information in this site to what fits for your beliefs and customs.

Ron Huxley Resources: I am preparing for some presentations to professionals who work with adoptive families and reminded about one of the most basic of all clinical tools: grief work. One of the most common assumptions is that children grieve in the same was as adults and therefore, the same tools work for them that work for big people. Each intervention should have individualized criteria built into them. Do you know of a child that has suffered a loss? What worked for them to help them cope and heal? Share with us on our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/parentingtoolbox or leave a comment below.