2018/2019 Issue

Note from the Editor

To view the entire magazine click on the above cover.

Welcome to the 2018/19 edition of Okanagan Family Magazine. We hope you enjoy reading the numerous articles written by knowledgeable authors covering a variety of topics that help to make your life a little easier.

Need some useful tips on how to be a better parent especially during those trying teen years? Look no further. Dr. Laura Markham has a wonderful article with practical advice that really works (pg 4).

Everyone is concerned about the health of their family so we have included two articles on the subject. “Boosting Brain Power with Physical Activity” reminds us of the importance of movement and how it affects brain development. In the article “Want a Healthy and Happy Family?” discover the importance of the quality of our food and how the right diet can make you feel better and give you more energy.

Are your parents aging and needing your assistance? Check out the article on home care for seniors called “Caregiving is a Two-Way Relationship”. This article is full of useful information for both the care giver and the senior parent. After all, this can be a big adjustment for both parties and seniors don’t always feel comfortable expressing their needs. Speaking of seniors, are you thinking of being the Executor for your parents estate? We have an article on that too. Discover the ins and outs of being an executor before actually signing up for the job. Maybe hiring a lawyer is a better idea (pg 8).

It is not uncommon these days for families to have experienced divorce and remarriage. Remarriage is a happy time for the new couple but can often be challenging for children. In the article “8 Ways to Ensure Remarriage Success” are some insightful points you should consider as you go down this new life path.

Of course we have our map and an article on finding the right child care option for your family (pg 15 and 16).

But before you look into child care, you have to be a parent. Sometimes becoming pregnant has insurmountable odds so why not consider adoption? Even that can have pitfalls… like long waits, but there are many options. Explore with us the adoption of minor disability orphans in “I Know we were Meant to be a Family!”.

Next is: “How to Handle your Anger at your Child”. This article is loaded with sound advice that you can use in any relationship: co-workers, your spouse and other family members. It’s always wise to think before you speak but there are other things you can do as well.

“Embracing the Unexpected” is a delightful, heartfelt article about putting yourself in your child’s shoes. Children can’t always be on their best behaviour but author Karen Copeland chooses to look at the brighter side of life.

And lastly, we have an article called “Preparing Children to Leave Home”. Author Marie Hartwell-Walker reminds us that we need to start long before high school graduation approaches. Why not start now? It’s never too soon.

Enjoy reading!

P.S. We’d like to thank our cover photographer Liz Soergel (liz@avivaphotostudios.com) for her great work and mom Saffron Quist of Vernon, B.C. for our gorgeous cover model.


Game Plan for Positive Parenting your Teen

by Dr. Laura Markham, founder of AhaParenting.com

Positive parenting a teenager? A terrific teen who’s responsible, considerate, shows good judgment, at least most of the time? Yes, it is possible! You may not feel like you have much influence on your child these days, but teens’ behaviour is highly correlated with the strength of their bonds with their parents. Good relationships between teenagers and their parents, as rated by both, are positively correlated with school success and general happiness as rated by the teen, and also by those around her.

By contrast, weak or conflictual parent/teen relationships are correlated with early sexual activity, experimentation with drugs and alcohol, the teen’s involvement in violence, (as either perpetrator or victim) and suicide.

How do you parent this blossoming person who sometimes seems to be becoming a stranger? Here’s 14 essential tips:

1. Remember you’re a parent AND a friend.

Teens crave the security of knowing their parents understand them, appreciate and love them no matter what – so they do want the relationship to be a form of friendship. But they also need to feel like they have some independence, so sometimes you may feel a bit shut out. If you can navigate your closeness in an accepting way that doesn’t take advantage of your role as parent to tell your child what to do, he’s more likely to open up and share with you.

Does a close friendship erode your teen’s respect for you? No. Don’t you respect your friends and treasure those who are really there for you emotionally? If you offer your teen respect, consideration and authenticity, that’s what you’ll receive in return.

And as close as you want to be to your teen, sometimes you will have to pull rank and say “No”. If you’re doing it often, that’s a red flag that something is wrong. But sometimes your teen will be looking to you to set limits they can’t set for themselves. Sometimes you’ll need to stick by your values and say “No”, whether that’s to an unsupervised party or a very late bedtime. And of course, sometimes your teen will be able to use your guidance to come up with a win-win solution that answers your concerns.

2. Establish dependable together time.

Be sure to check-in every single day. A few minutes of conversation while you’re cleaning up after dinner or right before bedtime can keep you tuned in and establish open communication. Even teens who seem to have forgotten who their parents are the other 23 hours a day often respond well to a goodnight hug and check-in chat once they’re lounging in bed. In addition to these short daily check-ins, establish a regular weekly routine for doing something special with your teen, even if it’s just going out for ice cream or a walk together.

3. Parent actively and appropriately.

Don’t invite rebellion by refusing to acknowledge that your son or daughter is growing up and needs more freedom. But don’t be afraid to ask where your kids are going, who they’ll be with and what they’ll be doing. Get to know your kids’ friends and their parents so you’re familiar with their activities.

4. Try to be there after school.

The biggest danger zone for drug use and sex isn’t Saturday night; it’s between 3:00-6:00 p.m. on week days. Arrange flex time at work if you can. If your child will be with friends, make sure there’s adult supervision, not just an older sibling.

5. Keep your standards high.

Your teen wants to be his or her best self. Our job as parents is to support our teens in doing that. But don’t expect your child to achieve goals you decide for her; she needs to begin charting her own goals now, with the support of a parent who adores her just as she is and believes that she can do anything she aims to. Support your teen’s passions and explorations as she finds her unique voice.

6. Make it a high priority to eat meals together.

Meals are a great opportunity to talk about the days events, to unwind, reinforce and bond. They’re also your best opportunity to keep in touch with your teen’s life and challenges and to spot brewing problems. Finally, an important factor in kids’ happiness and overall success is whether they feel they get time to “just hang out and talk” with parents every day.

Dinner is the best predictor we have of how kids will do in adolescence. The more frequently kids eat dinner with their families, the better they do in school and the less likely they are to get involved with drugs or alcohol, suffer depression, consider suicide or become sexually active during high school.

For more on Dinner tips click here.

7. Keep the lines of communication humming.

If you don’t know what’s going on, you lose all hope of influencing the outcome.

Most parents of teens will tell you they regret not talking more with their kids between the ages of eight and thirteen. They may have moved their kids along from homework to baths or from church to soccer, but always assumed they’d have the deep discussions when their kids were a little older. But most parents are shocked to realize that teens have other priorities and the opportunities for family discussion and parental influence dwindle unless you’ve made deep discussions a habit all along. How? Commit now to focusing on your kids when you’re with them and put energy into creating real discussions.

For more on Becoming a Brilliant Listener, Getting Your Kids to Talk with You, and Family Conversations your Teen Will Love click here.

8. Encourage good self-care.

Self-care is vital for well-being. Every teen needs nine and a half hours of sleep and a good diet. Coffee is a bad idea for early teens because it interferes with normal sleep patterns. Too much screen time, especially in the hour before bedtime, reduces melatonin production and makes it harder for kids to fall asleep.

9. Continue family meetings.

Held regularly at a mutually agreed upon time, family meetings provide a forum for discussing triumphs, grievances, sibling disagreements, schedules, any topic of concern to a family member. Ground rules help. Everyone gets a chance to talk; one person talks at a time without interruption; everyone listens, and only positive, constructive feedback is allowed. To get resistant teens to join in, combine the get-together with incentives such as post-meeting pizza or ice cream or assign them important roles such as recording secretary or rule enforcer.

For more on Family Meetings click here.

10. Keep kids safe and connected to the family by keeping computers in your common space.

It can be hard for parents to track what teens do online because they usually know more about the computer than we do. But research shows that he’ll be less tempted to spend time doing things you’d disapprove of if the computer is in a common space where you can walk by and glance at what he’s doing. Kids live online these days but he can still stay connected to his family if online is in the heart of your home.

11. Don’t push your teen into independence before he’s ready.

Every teen has his own timetable for blossoming into an independent person. Real independence includes close relationships with others and it never needs to include rebelliousness. It is NOT healthy for your child to feel that you’re pushing him into independence – that only leads to him becoming overly dependent on the peer group for validation. If he isn’t ready to go to sleep away camp for a month, then he isn’t ready. Sooner or later he will be. Respect his timetable.

12. Make agreements and teach your child to make repairs.

If you’ve raised your child without punishment, he will almost certainly be close to you. Because he doesn’t want to damage the trust between you, he won’t lie to you and he won’t usually infringe on your limits. If he does, ask him how he can make repairs, including repairing your trust.

13. What if you’ve raised your child with punishment and nows she’s breaking your rules and lying to you?

It’s never too late to help her learn to take responsibility, but to start, she has to value her relationship with you. That means you need to stop punishing and start listening and connecting. You also need to insist that she find ways to make repairs. That’s a tricky dance, because punishment will make things worse, so she has to choose the repair – and yet you are still insisting that she do so. No, it’s not a punishment – it’s a way for her to make things better when she messes up, which is what all adults need to learn to do. But she’ll only understand it this way if she wants to please you, so if you need to go to counseling together to create that relationship, don’t hesitate.

14. Stay connected even as she moves into the world.

If we’ve accepted our child’s dependency needs AND affirmed her development into her own separate person, she’ll stay fiercely connected to us even as her focus shifts to peers, high school and the passions that make her soul sing.

It’s appropriate for teens to want to spend more time with their peers than their parents as they get older, but kids who are well grounded in their families will respond well to parents’ efforts to stay connected. And parents who have bonded adequately with their children at each earlier stage will feel invested enough in their teens to stay connected, even if a lot of effort is required.

It’s critical, during the teen years, for parents to remain their children’s emotional and moral compass. Kids will begin to experiment with intimate relationships outside the family, but to do that successfully they still rely on those intimate relationships at home remaining solid. That means that a fourteen year old who focuses mostly outwards is probably looking for something he wasn’t getting at home.

We need to invite our children to rely on us emotionally until they’re emotionally ready to depend on themselves. Too often, in our culture, we let teenagers transfer their dependency outside the family with disastrous results. Teens often give up a great deal of themselves in pursuit of the closeness they crave, only to crash against the hard reality that other teens aren’t developmentally able to offer them what they need to flourish as independent young adults.

You may not be at the top of your teen’s list nowadays, but work like the dickens to stay close and don’t take it for granted that your child will now push you away. That’s a sign of a damaged relationship. Don’t give up. It’s never too late in your relationship with your child to do repair work and move closer.

Dr. Laura Markham is the author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How To Stop Yelling and Start Connecting,  Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings: How To Stop the Fighting and Raise Friends for Life, and now her latest book, The Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids Workbook: Using mindfulness and connection to raise resilient, joyful children and rediscover your love of parenting.

Dr. Laura Markham earned her PhD in clinical psychology at Columbia University and has worked as a parenting coach with countless families across the world. Over 130,000 moms and dads enjoy Dr. Laura’s free weekly coaching posts via email. You can sign up on any page of her website, AhaParenting.com, which serves up Aha! Moments for parents of babies through teens. Dr. Laura’s aspiration is to change the world, one child at a time, by supporting parents. The proud mother of two thriving young adults who were raised with her peaceful parenting approach, she lives with her husband in New York.


Boosting Brain Power with Physical Activity

by Naomi Mison, YMCA of Okanagan

For kids, physical activity isn’t just fun, it is crucial for the development of their brain structure, function and academic success. Yet, all too many families are struggling to get enough exercise.

In fact, according to the 2018 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth (the most comprehensive assessment of child and youth physical activity in Canada) Canadians received a D+ in overall activity levels.

Despite being advised of the importance of limiting screen time and the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle, the report states that five to eleven year olds and twelve to seventeen year olds in Canada spend 2.3 and 4.1 hours per day, respectively, in front of a screen.

More time in front of a screen means less time dedicated to physical activity and inactivity is the primary cause of most preventable chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type two diabetes, obesity and cancer. Therefore, it is no surprise that 83 per cent of Canadians rate physical inactivity as the most serious health issue facing society – even worse than tobacco and alcohol use.

A report written by Harvard University found that regular aerobic exercise (the type that gets your heart pumping and makes you sweat) appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the area of the brain involved in verbal memory and learning. Furthermore, kids feel a rush of serotonin and dopamine (the feel-good brain chemicals) from physical activity.

Adding more physical activity to kids’ routines could even be the missing part of the equation to support their success in the classroom. Physical activity can translate to improved scores on objective tests and grades, increased focus, longer attention spans and a boost in creativity, just to name a few.

The evidence is clear; it is crucial for kids to put down their devices, turn away from screens and get outside and play. Their mental, emotional and intellectual potential depends on it. But where to start?

Whether it is walking, swimming, hiking, biking, camping, sports or simply playing outside, children and families will benefit from ‘making space’ for more activity in their day.

Collectively, we all have a role to play in modelling healthy habits for our children and teaching them the foundational skills to live a life that incorporates regular physical activity. Set a goal to be active and play as a family for sixty minutes every day. You may find that the time spent being physically active together opens dialogue, builds connections and makes positive, lasting memories.

And, if you need a little extra help to build healthy activity into your family’s daily routine, organizations like the YMCA of Okanagan are available to help. As a local charity, the YMCA has a mission to build a healthier community and that begins with the health of local children and families.

The YMCA of Okanagan was established as a cause-driven charity dedicated to building a healthier local community. The Y provides a wide range of programs and services with a focus on health, inclusiveness and accessibility, serving people of all ages and abilities. Learn more about the many resources available for families by visiting ymcaokanagan.ca.


I’m the Executor

Do I need to Hire a Lawyer? 

by Jody Pihl, Lawyer and Mental Health Advocate at Pihl Law Corporation

When someone dies, his or her estate needs to be managed. If the deceased had a valid Will, the named Executor may accept the responsibility to “administer the estate” which involves gathering the deceased’s assets, paying the deceased’s debts and taxes and then distributing the remaining assets as set out in the Will.  Quite often, in order to administer an estate, an Executor must go through the probate process in order to gain legal control of the deceased person’s assets.

Probate is essentially the legal process where a will is “proved” in a court and to formally recognize the Executor as the legal representative of the deceased’s estate. While it may sound straight forward and perhaps a task that can be completed by oneself, the probate process is far from simple and taking this task on as an Executor carries significant legal responsibility. Done improperly, administering an estate can create personal liability for the Executor.  Understanding and navigating the probate process without legal assistance can be a confusing and timely process, with plenty of room for error. The last thing anyone needs after losing a loved one is to receive the burden of extra stress surrounding legal issues. Having an estate lawyer assist with the probate process can eliminate unnecessary errors and guesswork and reduce the overall time of the process involved.

As an estate lawyer I also know how important it is for Executors to understand that by law Executors do not pay personally for the legal services expenses for probating the estate. The reasonable costs of administering an estate, including related professional services including legal fees and accounting fees, is paid for by the estate.

There is a long list of reasons to seek legal advice as an Executor, and to seek advice from a lawyer that practices in the area of estate administration, as this area of law requires specific knowledge.  Some of the most critical reasons to hire an estate lawyer to help are listed below.

1. Avoid family conflict when probating estates.

One of the most common situations to arise when it comes to probating an estate without legal assistance is family conflict. It’s natural for those who were associated with the deceased to want to be included with the probate process, but the interference of anyone other than the executor and a lawyer can result in tension, anger, hurt, confusion and resentment. Having a lawyer carry out the probate process is the best way to eliminate the potential for frustrating or hurtful situations and gain clarity in areas of the will that may otherwise be difficult to understand. It also decreases the risk of a beneficiary or someone who thinks they are or should be a beneficiary from thinking that you are not dealing with the estate properly.

2. Gain access to the estate quicker.

Probating an estate can take more than a year. The quickest one can expect an estate to be probated is three to four months. The Executor of the will does not gain instant access to property, estate beneficiary life insurance policies, investments or bank accounts without a probate. Hiring a lawyer to probate an estate can help speed up the process.

3. Avoid claims against the estate.

Upon the death of a loved one, there may be beneficiaries who wish to make claims against the estate. This situation arises commonly when a spouse or loved one who was not mentioned in the estate feels they should be. These claims also arise when a beneficiary believes that the estate is not being distributed properly. When a lawyer is involved in distributing an estate, there is not the appearance of personal gain that a family member may have.

4. Avoid initial rejection of estate.

In order for an estate to be probated, the courts require specific documents to be filed. This information must be set out in very specific forms in a very specific manner. Without these documents in place, the initial probate of the estate may be rejected. Having a lawyer assist you in the probation of the estate will ensure the timely and correct submission of all documents required by law, while preventing a tedious and time-consuming task from needing to be done twice (or even three or four times).

5. Get your questions answered.

Are you unsure of who you must notify of the deceased’s passing? Confused at which assets require probate and which do not? Are there outstanding bills that must be paid from the deceased’s estate or other unexpected complications that are keeping you up at night? If an estate is not distributed properly, the executor can be held personally liable. Not only will you receive answers to these crucial questions, but sound advice for your next steps when you hire a lawyer to probate an estate.

6. Become aware of all debts and expenses.

Although finances aren’t the easiest situation to handle on behalf of another person, it’s a responsibility that simply must be taken care of. The time spent dealing with debts or other expenses such as accountants and ongoing expenses, will depend entirely on the deceased’s financial situation. Income taxes, funeral costs, outstanding bills and personal loans are a few examples of other common debts that require attention upon the passing of a loved one. Most often the costs can be taken from the estate, but each situation is unique and requires the advice of a lawyer to ensure appropriate measures are taken.

7. Resolve debts and expenses correctly.

Without a lawyer on your side to help resolve all debts or expenses, it’s possible that you may end up overpaying, underpaying or overlooking an important financial detail that requires attention.  Furthermore, creditors are required to be notified of the passing of a relative, which usually involves presenting a death certificate and/or other legal documents. Since debts and expenses can be a widely confusing and grey area, it’s best to hire a lawyer to probate an estate for you from the beginning, so you have a clear idea of the financial situation at hand.

8. Avoid family probate lawsuits.

Unfortunately, if there’s tension or disagreement amongst family members, it can result in a probate lawsuit. An estate lawsuit is not only costly and time consuming, but emotionally taxing. Having a lawyer probate an estate may prevent an ugly court battle between family members down the road.

9. Support for the executor.

The Executor of an estate is left with several responsibilities, and the tasks at hand will vary depending on the responsibilities of the deceased. Not only is the Executor responsible for reading the will, contacting beneficiaries and potentially mediating between family members, but also dealing with other time-consuming tasks and tying up loose ends relevant to the deceased. For this reason, it’s invaluable to have the support of a lawyer to offer you direction and guidance in seeing these responsibilities through.

10. Avoid unnecessary delays.

Without a validated will, it’s possible for third parties (such as banks) to deny access to the Executor for lengthy periods of time. Hiring a lawyer to probate an estate can avoid the headache that ensues with communication between financial institutions, government agencies or similar authorities.  When considering hiring a lawyer to probate an estate, it’s true that you have a choice to also carry out the task yourself. But as you can see, with such a great deal of responsibility at hand, it may be worth considering simply to avoid unnecessary stress and wasted time.

Probating an estate can be difficult. You are not alone. The estate is permitted to hire a lawyer to probate the estate and the estate will be responsible for the cost, not you as the Executor.

Jody Pihl leads the Wills and Estates department as Senior Counsel at Pihl Law Corporation. For more information on estate administration, contact Jody Pihl at lawyers@pihl.ca.


Want a Healthy and Happy Family?

Understand some basics of Functional Nutrition

by Lynne Bowsher, Certified Eating Psychology Coach, Mind Body Nutrition Coach

What is Functional Nutrition?

Functional Nutrition looks at the foundational way that your past and present nutritional habits as well as your environmental and lifestyle challenges may influence your current health. It is based on Functional Medicine which approaches the body from a holistic perspective, working not only to treat the root cause of disease but to cultivate optimal health by bringing your body back to homeostasis.

Functional Nutrition aims to simplify the complexity of food and nutrition in order to empower you as an individual to influence and affect sustained and holistic change in your own life and the lives of those around you. For centuries humans have relied on food as a source of energy, health and connection. Science now understands that food literally is “information” for the body having a powerful influence on our health and wellbeing. In other words, what we eat literally becomes us! Our food is transformed into blood, bones, organs and tissues. Food nourishes every cell of our body. It is not just about taking in calories for our body’s metabolism.

The many macro and micro nutrients contained in real, whole foods contain a variety of diverse components that play very important roles in each and every one of our bodily functions. Whole, organic, local foods maximize the potential for health and reverse dysfunction or disease, whereas poor quality or processed foods can actually create disease and dysfunction.

Food is medicine!

Food affects your body at the cellular level. By using food as medicine, you can positively influence your cells, prevent and treat illness and have a huge impact on how you and your family feel.

Food actually tells your body how to function by signaling exactly when and how each different type of cell should behave in every situation. Therefore we should provide our body and the body’s of our loved ones with the very best nutritional information in order to achieve optimal functioning of body, mind and soul.

Scientists are very excited about a new organ recently discovered in our body called the micro biome. Our micro biome is located in our gut and is comprised of both good and bad bacteria, each playing their own role in our bodily functions, including the health of our brain. It has been called our gut brain. There are as many messages being sent from our gut to our brain as there are from our brain to our gut! This has been termed the “gut – brain connection”. We of course want to be feeding the good guys in our gut so that they can proliferate and keep our digestive system happy and healthy. All health begins in our gut!


There is no single “right diet” that applies to everyone. Functional Nutrition helps clients discover what works for them. It is all about bio individuality because we have different genetic backgrounds, different preferences and unique lifestyles. We all want to be healthy in order to feel our best and live life to our fullest, but most of us haven’t figured out just how to make food and dietary patterns serve that goal. Functional Nutrition offers the concepts, strategies and tools to make that happen.

We live in a time where looking at what we eat on a daily basis is of the utmost importance. We are currently exposed to hundreds of pounds of toxins per person each day from various sources such as pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, personal products, flame retardants, plastics and so much more. These toxins are in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, the clothes we wear and the homes, buildings and vehicles we spend our time in. While we cannot control our exposure to all of these toxins, we do have control over what we put into our bodies, what we put onto our bodies and what cleaning products we use in our homes.

Choosing whole, local and organic products when possible will ensure we are eliminating a good portion of our exposure to these toxic substances and giving our body optimal nutrients for health and wellbeing.

10 things you can do today to be a healthy and happy family.

1. Include the rainbow colours in your foods. 

Eat fresh, local and preferably organic fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds in every colour throughout the week. The vibrant colours in our foods contain anti oxidants and phyto nutrients which provide the anti-disease compounds your family needs for good health. These foods will also encourage the health of your good gut bacteria!

2. Eat a plant strong diet. 

Make animal protein a condiment rather than the main portion of your meals. Try meatless Mondays. Let fruits and vegetables rule in your home! Keep them washed, peeled, cut and available to your family at the front of the fridge or on your kitchen counter. Limit purchasing processed foods.

3. Make sure to incorporate good fats. 

Eat good fats such as avocado, olives, coconut oil, olive oil and flax oil. They are called essential fatty acids for a reason! Don’t forget nuts and seeds, these provide you with necessary fat, fibre and protein. Remove all trans fats or oils like Canola which are most often genetically modified.

4. Decrease refined grains.

More and more science is surfacing on the detriment of eating too many white processed flour products. Choose fresh or dried fruit, vegetables, whole grain products, lentils and beans.

5. Remove all sugar filled drinks and watch for sugar content on labels. 

Our sugar intake is way above the recommended eight teaspoons per day. Choose healthy fruits and vegetables and drink more water. This includes eliminating fruit juices which are highly processed and contain high amounts of sugar. By eating a piece of fruit you are getting the fibre which helps to slow down the natural sugars reaching the blood stream.

6. Practice slowing down with your meals. 

Learn to become a mindful eater. Relax into eating and allow your body to register what you are eating. This is actually a very important aspect of our digestive process.

7. Make meal times a time to connect.

Even if it is only at dinner time. Turn off any distractions, sit around the dining table and talk about your day.

8. Get moving!

Exercise. Find activities that can be done as a family. Take family walks, play games together, go to the park. Plan to do different activities each week.

9. Choose natural cleaning products for your home and natural products for your skin and hair.

This will help eliminate exposure to toxins in unnatural products. Our skin absorbs a large percentage of what we put on it. If you wouldn’t eat it, then don’t put it on your skin!

10. Practice gratitude. 

Be grateful for your ability to choose to feed your family healthy, vibrant foods. Educate yourself and your family about what true health really means. Take an hour each week to read or listen to experts in the field of health and nutrition. Teach your children to ignore advertising from companies that do not have good health as their mission. Show your family that they have the right to make healthy choices so that they can maintain a healthy body.

Don’t make things complicated! Just make one small change at a time – they will all add up to big results!

Why do we need Functional Nutrition?

Chronic disease does not just show up one day, our wellness is a continuum. It’s our long term lifestyle imbalances that have contributed to the current health crisis. Most chronic diseases can take decades to surface in our body. Our body does its best to adapt to the non-nutritional foods we eat or to the bad lifestyle habits we may have. However, these things begin to take their toll on our body systems and eventually surface as disease. By taking the right steps now we can avoid these diseases for ourselves and our family in the future. Functional Nutrition developed out of a desire on the part of healthcare providers to change this picture as we move into the future of health care.

Can a Functional Nutritionist work together with my doctor?

Yes, Functional Nutritionists are happy to collaborate and communicate with your doctor to come up with healthy and natural ways to get you on the path towards better health. The Functional Nutritionist will take a full history from you by asking questions on all aspects of your past and present lifestyle habits. This information is then correlated onto a time line where often many important connections can be made between something that may have happened in the past that is causing the symptoms you are experiencing now.

It’s time to consider Functional Nutrition to help you and your family reach and maintain optimal wellbeing so that you can have a healthy and happy family!

Lynne Bowsher is a Certified Mind Body Nutrition Coach and Eating Psychology Coach through the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. She is in her second year of study with Functional Nutrition Alliance to become a Functional Nutrition licensed practitioner. Lynne owns and operates A Place For Yoga and Health, and Nutrition For Your Soul in Lake Country, BC.   www.nutritionforyoursoul.com.


8 Ways to Ensure Remarriage Success

by Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D.   •  Psych Central www.psychcentral.com

A Pew Research study that draws on the 2013 U.S. Census shows that four in ten new marriages include one partner who has been married before. More than 40 million American adults are in the second, third or fourth (or more) marriage. That would seem to be encouraging for divorced people who believe in marriage and who want to try again. But the bad news is that 60 percent of those marriages fail. The number climbs higher if both partners have been previously married. Those couples are 90 percent more likely to get divorced than if this had been their first marriage.

You’d think those who have been through a divorce would learn from the experience. Sadly, the data doesn’t support it. Research shows that people are likely to make the same mistakes, whether in their first marriage or their fourth. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not possible to be successful in a subsequent marriage. What it takes is the willingness to work on the factors that could be a setup for another failure.

Before you even think about tying the knot again, you would be wise to:

Finish your divorce. 

If you continue to be angry, hurt and upset by what happened in your marriage; if you hate your former spouse, you are not really available for another try. You are still engaged in a negative way with your ex. Remarried spouses who are on speaking terms with their exes and who can do a good job in co-parenting their children are more likely to succeed in a subsequent marriage.

Do your personal work. 

One of the reasons for the high divorce rate of the remarried is that they keep making the same mistake. If you don’t want to be a repeater, it’s essential that you take responsibility for your part in the divorce. (The exception to this is if you were the victim of an abuser. However, if you were abused, it’s important to take a look at what blinded you to the reality of your ex’s character.)

A useful exercise is to think about how the story of your marriage and divorce would be written if the divorce were all your fault. (It wasn’t, of course. But it’s a helpful way to make yourself think about your role and what you could have done to make things go differently.) It’s rarely the case that a divorce is all the fault of one partner.

Re-evaluate your expectations. 

Take a clear-eyed look at your expectations of marriage and whether they are realistic. The intensity and focus of new love can be addictive. But it’s only normal for passion to be replaced by a steadier, companionable love. Accept that no one is perfect. No one will meet all your expectations perfectly. Look at whether your new love has enough of your non-negotiables to compromise on the rest.

Slow down. 

Unless you take the time to really get to know each other, you are vulnerable to blinding yourself to important differences in values, personality and goals. Research shows that remarriages are more likely to fail if the marriage occurred in the first year of the relationship. Experts advise that you spend the time to become close friends as well as lovers. Generally that takes at least two to three years.

Accept that your sweetheart has a history. 

People can’t and shouldn’t erase their past. You may wish with all your heart that you were his or her first one and only but that’s not the case. Your partner’s history is part of what made them. They’ve had sex with other people. They once loved the person they were married to. They may have children who have first call on their time and attention. There needs to be room for both of you to talk about good times you once had with your exes, what you learned from the bad times and how the two of you will relate to them now and in the future.

Get comfortable with conflict. 

Conflict is not something to avoid at all costs. Conflict often indicates the growing edge in a relationship. Differences should be greeted with curiosity, not defensiveness or anger. You’ll learn more about each other and you’ll forge a stronger relationship when you work through whatever is upsetting one or both of you.


One of the biggest reasons for remarriage failures is strife around finances. It’s a wise couple that makes sure they understand each other’s income, responsibilities and spending habits. One partner may be paying alimony or child support which means diminished resources for the new family. One or the other may be coming into the relationship with better credit or more debt. Each may have strong opinions about how to manage money. If the flow of money bewilders you (as it does a lot of people), consider seeing a financial advisor before you start blending finances. Careful financial planning often surfaces the differences that need to be settled.

If children are not involved. 

Be very, very sure you are going to marry before you include the kids in your relationship. Young children give their hearts away easily. If you break up, they can experience it as yet another loss. Teens are generally embarrassed by parental sexuality and conflicted about meeting your expectations for a relationship with someone they see as an interloper. To them, a breakup may confirm cynicism about relationships. It can take two to three years to get to know each other’s children gradually. The resultant acceptance of the new marriage is worth the investment of upfront time. Step-parenting takes planning, commitment and understanding. It also takes time and patience. On average, once a couple marries, it takes three to five years for their families to blend.

Making a successful second marriage is work; even more work than goes into the first. Both people are recovering from hurt or grief. Both people are older and more established in their habits. Step-parenting has its own challenges. But it’s also true that marriage is an opportunity for each person to grow and mature and deepen in ways that are not possible when alone. By working on the pre-marriage tasks listed here, both together and individually, couples can make the second time the permanent one.

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. She writes regularly for Psych Central as well as Psych Central’s Ask the Therapist feature. She is author of the insightful parenting e-book, Tending the Family Heart.


Child Care in the Central Okanagan

An Important and Sometimes Overwhelming Task

by Melissa Hunt, Executive Director, Kelowna Child Care Society

The Kelowna Child Care Society (KCCS) office is a busy hub of parents with children, and child care providers gathering resources, toys and activity bins and information to ensure that the children in their care are happy, healthy and well looked after. As mothers (all of us are in the office) we have had to look for child care at different stages in our children’s lives. Because our children mean the world to us, this process understandably caused some anxiety and apprehension especially if our job or school schedule required us to find child care immediately or outside standard working days and hours. Knowing our children were being looked after by a supportive, caring and reputable provider allowed for us to be more present and engaged in our jobs and generally at ease having peace of mind that our children were safe and happy while we were at work or school.

Before becoming the Executive Director of KCCS I must admit I did not know about the different child care options in BC or know what to look for in a quality child care program. Like many parents who come to our office, I had a part-time job and needed child care immediately. Fortunately I stumbled upon an excellent In-home Multi-Age Child Care program (day-home) where my daughter had great experiences, was introduced to children of varying ages and by modeling her abilities to the younger children she excelled in her growth and development as well which was something I had not considered as an important component of my daughter’s child care experience. My preference had been to find her a space in a Group Child Care centre, as I believed, at the time, that those centres were the only child care programs that were licensed by the government. Now, since working in the child care sector, I have learned about the different child care programs available and the benefits of each depending on the particular family’s needs.

When giving advice to parents, our Child Care Resource and Referral Program staff explain the different types of child care available, inform parents of what to look for and suggest questions to ask when calling or visiting a child care program. Every family and child is different and will have different needs and preferences when choosing child care. However, it’s important to remember that during the first 2,000 days of a child’s life the most brain development occurs so choosing a child care provider to educate, nurture and support your child’s development is key. But the choice made is a unique decision for every family.

Types of child care:

There are two types of child care in BC; Licensed and Licensed-Not-Required (LNR) Child Care.

Licensed child care programs provide care for three or more children. They must meet specific requirements for health and safety, staffing qualifications, space and equipment, staff to child ratio, and program standards. Licensed child care programs are monitored and inspected by regional health authority Community Care Facility Licensing programs.

Unlicensed (license-not-required) child care providers may care for only two children or a sibling group, not related to them, at any one time.  If they care for more than the allowed number of children outlined in the Community Care and Assisted Living Act, they may be operating illegally.

Visit www.OkanaganFamilyMagazine.ca for a printable Child Care Check List.

If you would like more information on child care resources, referrals and childhood development, please call, email or visit our office. www.kelownachildcare.com.


Caregiving is a Two-Way Relationship

by Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D.   •  Psych Central www.psychcentral.com

Helpers and elders are, of course, male as well as female. But for purposes of clarity, I am using the feminine pronoun, since most people in caregiving relationships are female.

Women traditionally take on the caregiving role in families. For many women, the launching of children into adulthood is followed swiftly by the assumption of care for failing parents or relatives.

Not every caregiver or “helper” feels she has a choice about taking in that parent or relative. By the same token, not every elder feels she has a choice about where she will spend her last years. Although adults in midlife may need to bring an aging family member under their roof, these individuals do have choices about how each of them will handle this challenging situation. Taking care of an elder is really about the elder and helper taking care of each other through what can be a very difficult time. Those relationships that thrive are the ones in which people understand that there has to be a cordial give-and-take. When people are gentle with each other, opportunities for love and understanding emerge and enrich the years they share.

There are a number of issues that are common to all such helping relationships:

Communication is the key • Often elders don’t communicate fully because they worry about being a burden or about asking for too much. Grateful to be cared for, they don’t feel entitled to ask for what they feel they need. Other elders were never particularly good at communicating and find it even more difficult now that they are unable to take care of things by themselves. Often, helpers frustrate communication because they are in a hurry or they are overwhelmed. A successful caring relationship requires that both parties make an effort to listen carefully and to state things clearly. Assumptions about meaning only lead to trouble.

Advice for elders: Try to save important issues for when your helper isn’t harried.

Advice for helpers: Find a time each day when your elder can be assured that you have the time and energy to really listen.

Identifying needs • Many people in helping relationships find themselves in an odd dance around needs. The elder may feel so bad about imposing that she doesn’t state needs or she may feel so bitter about needing help that she becomes bossy. More confusing still is the elder who expresses the full range of these feelings. Some helpers assume they know what the elder needs and are hurt when the elder isn’t properly grateful. Others feel helpless in the face of so much neediness and don’t have a clue about how to prioritize their responses.

Advice for elders: Figure out what you really need. Ask politely.

Advice for helpers: Don’t assume you know. Ask politely.

Privacy • When an elder is cared for by an adult for whom they provided care during childhood, roles are embarrassingly reversed. It doesn’t feel “natural” to either party for a child to bath, change and dress a parent or older relative. The elder may cope by withdrawing or she may be angry at the whole situation. The helper may be embarrassed and awkward or may be overly rough in wanting to move through situations that create discomfort.

Advice for elders: Be cooperative and helpful when your body needs care.

Advice for helpers: Take on a “professional” attitude when touching your older family member’s body. A detached, matter-of-fact approach often feels less intrusive.

Activity • When an elder is house or bed bound, life can get pretty dull. It’s no fun to be the last to hear news or local gossip! For some elders, conversation is reduced to issues of health and the repetition of old news.

Advice for elders: Think about new things you can contribute to the conversation like memories and stories. Make an effort to engage with visitors.

Advice for helpers: Leave for a while when visitors come by so that the elder will have something to share later. If appropriate, encourage clergy and other visitors to come by. Provide books on tape, large print books or newspapers, etc. – whatever will stimulate thinking and promote conversation.

Boundaries • In the intimacy of a caregiving relationship, it can be difficult to know where one person ends and the other person begins. There is a limit to what each of you can expect the other to know, do and be. Helpers can’t be on tap every minute of the day. Elders can’t be expected to adapt immediately to a change in schedule just because it’s convenient for the helper. It’s very important to negotiate clearly what each of you can and cannot do to make things go smoothly.

Advice for elders: Accept boundaries. Negotiate if they don’t seem reasonable. Make every effort to be flexible when the helper introduces new activities or has to make a change in schedule.

Advice for helpers: Set boundaries around your time and availability. Give the elder time to transition to new activities or a change in schedule.

Dealing with systems • Elder and helper both will have to deal with systems outside of the family, including the health care system, the Social Security system, systems of assistance, etc. Often, getting what is needed is challenging for the most educated and stouthearted. For those who are shy, overwhelmed or simply confused by the complicated regulations and guidelines of these systems, getting help can be a daunting task.

Advice for elders: Provide as much information as you can to your helper so that she can help. This may mean giving access to papers and records that feel private. Find a way to talk about your need for some measure of control.

Advice for helpers: Be sensitive to the elder’s feelings of confusion and upset over loss of control over very private matters. If you find it confusing to deal with outside systems, get help for both you and the elder so that you can make good decisions.

Ultimately, success in the caregiving relationship requires exquisite tact on the part of both people. When both parties go to great lengths to be polite and considerate, each feels acknowledged and appreciated. In that context, elder and helper may discover new depth and satisfaction in their relationship with each other.

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counsellor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. She writes regularly for Psych Central as well as Psych Central’s Ask the Therapist feature. She is author of the insightful parenting e-book, Tending the Family Heart.


I Know we were Meant to be a Family!

by KCR – Kelowna Community Resources’ Adoption Centre of BC

When life doesn’t go as expected – you don’t fall in love, get married and then get pregnant – it doesn’t mean this has to be the end of your dreams.  You still have options….what about adoption?

KCR – Kelowna Community Resources’ Adoption Centre of BC (ACBC) is a licensed, private, fee for service adoption centre.  Their team is ready to help answer your questions about both Domestic newborn and Inter- Country (Haiti, South Africa and United States) private adoptions.

One adoptive single mom shared “I was afraid for so long that my dreams of becoming a mother would not come true. I was afraid that the hurdles of the adoption process would only prove why I shouldn’t be successful in achieving my dream.” The reality is that when you consult with the team at ACBC you are met with caring, compassionate people who are there to help prepare you for the adoption process and help you to achieve your dream. Many are intimidated by the thought of going through the adoption process and having a home study completed, for fear that someone will find fault in the way they are living their life and wish to raise their child.  One mom shared about her home study process, “The time I spent with the Social Worker was so great. It was not about finding fault but rather about giving me tools and helping me to prepare to welcome my child into my home. Every parent should get the opportunity to have these supports.”

A mom’s description of her adoption process started like this, “I know we were meant to be.”  She had studied China in university, the Chinese adoption process was fairly predictable at that time with an estimated two year wait time, so it seemed as if that program would be a good fit for her. The same month that she began her process a baby was born in China and left at an orphanage.  As she completed her home study and submitted her application to adopt a child the Chinese government made huge changes to the adoption system. She no longer met the qualifications under the new system. With great relief, her application was grandfathered into the new system.

As she continued to check the wait times posted online they continued to grow and grow. They were now at seven years, she felt hopeless and almost gave up. While out shopping one day, three years after submitting her application to ACBC, she met one of the staff members at a craft fair. They encouraged her to try the ‘waiting children’ program for Chinese children with minor disabilities in orphanages. A sense of hope returned once again and she had her home study updated to apply to the new program. Within three weeks of submitting this application a proposal was sent to her to adopt a young child.  Both her application and the child’s paperwork landed on the Chinese adoption worker’s desk at the same time. Upon review they seemed like the perfect match.

Two months later the adoptive mom was on the plane to make her dreams come true and meet her child for the first time. When she opened the door this beautiful four year old called out ‘Mama’. That was it – she was a mom. Two weeks later they were headed home to Canada on the plane.  This mom ended her story by saying “I had a very long gestation period – After four years of waiting I am headed home with my four year old.”

ACBC sees many such success stories and welcomes both prospective adoptive parents and birth parents throughout British Columbia. Contact them for further information at adoptioninfo@kcr.ca.


How to Handle your Anger at your Child

by Dr. Laura Markham, founder of AhaParenting.com

Every parent gets angry at his or her children sometimes. It doesn’t help that there are always the endless pressures of life: appointments we’re late to, things we’ve forgotten until the last moment, health and financial worries – the list is endless. In the middle of that stress, enter our child, who has lost her sneaker, suddenly remembered she needs a new notebook for school today, is teasing her little brother, or is downright belligerent. And we snap.

In our more peaceful moments, if we’re honest, we know that we could handle any parenting challenge much better from a state of calm. But in the storm of our anger, we feel righteously entitled to our fury. How can this kid be so irresponsible, inconsiderate, ungrateful or even mean?

But no matter how aggravating we find our child’s behaviour, that behaviour doesn’t cause our angry response. We see our child’s behaviour (“He hit her again!”) and we draw a conclusion (“He’s going to be a psychopath!”) which triggers other conclusions (“I’ve failed as a mother!”). This cascade of thoughts creates a run-away train of emotions – in this case fear, dismay, guilt. We can’t bear those feelings. The best defense is a good offense, so we lash out at our child in anger. The whole process takes all of two seconds.

Your child may be pushing your buttons, but he isn’t causing your response. Any issue that makes you feel like lashing out has roots in your own early years. We know this because we lose our ability to think clearly at those moments and we start acting like children ourselves, throwing our own tantrums.

Don’t worry. That’s normal. We all enter the parenting relationship wounded in some way from our childhoods and our kids surface all those wounds. We can expect our kids to act out in ways that send us over the cliff at times. That’s why it’s our responsibility as the grownup to stay away from the cliff.

Why we get angry at our kids?

Parents and kids have the ability to trigger each other as no one else can. Even as adults we are often irrational in relation to our own parents.  (Who has greater power to annoy you and make you act childish than your own mother or father?)

Similarly, our kids push our buttons precisely because they are our children. Psychologists call this phenomenon “ghosts in the nursery,” by which they mean that our children stimulate the intense feelings of our own childhoods and we often respond by unconsciously re-enacting the past that’s etched like forgotten hieroglyphics deep in our psyches. The fears and rage of childhood are powerful and can overwhelm us even as adults. It can be enormously challenging to lay these ghosts to rest.

It helps to know all this, if we’re struggling to cope with anger. Just as important, because it gives us incentive to control ourselves, we need to know that parental anger can be harmful to young children.

What happens to your child when you scream or hit?

Imagine your husband or wife losing their temper and screaming at you. Now imagine them three times as big as you, towering over you. Imagine that you depend on that person completely for your food, shelter, safety, protection. Imagine they are your primary source of love and self-confidence and information about the world, that you have nowhere else to turn. Now take whatever feelings you have summoned up and magnify them by a factor of 1,000. That is something like what happens inside your child when you get angry at him.

Of course, all of us get angry at our children, even, sometimes, enraged. The challenge is to call on our maturity so that we control the expression of that anger, and therefore minimize its negative impact.

Anger is scary enough. Name calling or other verbal abuse, in which the parent speaks disrespectfully to the child, takes a higher personal toll, since the child is dependent on the parent for his very sense of self. And children who suffer physical violence, including spanking, have been proven to exhibit lasting negative effects that reach into every corner of their adult lives, from lowered IQ to stormier relationships to a higher likelihood of substance abuse.

If your young child does not seem afraid of your anger, it’s an indication that he or she has seen too much of it and has developed defenses against it – and against you. The unfortunate result is a child who is less likely to want to behave to please you and is more open to the influences of the peer group That means you have some repair work to do. Whether or not they show it – and the more often we get angry, the more defended they will be and therefore less likely to show it – our anger is nothing short of terrifying to our children.

How can you handle your own anger?

Since you’re human, you’ll sometimes find yourself in “fight or flight” mode and your child will start to look like the enemy. When we’re swept with anger, we’re physically ready to fight. Hormones and neurotransmitters are flooding our bodies. They cause your muscles to tense, your pulse to race, your breathing to quicken. It’s impossible to stay calm at those points, but we all know that clobbering our kids – while it might bring instant relief – isn’t really what we want to do.

The most important thing to remember about anger is NOT to act while you’re angry. You’ll feel an urgent need to act, to teach your child a lesson. But that’s your anger talking. It thinks this is an emergency. It almost never is, though. You can teach your child later and it will be the lesson you actually want to teach. Your child isn’t going anywhere. You know where she lives.

So commit now to No hitting, No swearing, No calling your child names, No meting out any punishment while angry. What about screaming? Never at your children, that’s a tantrum. If you really need to scream, go into your car with the windows rolled up and scream where no one can hear and don’t use words, because those make you angrier. Just scream.

Your children get angry too, so it’s a double gift to them to find constructive ways to deal with your anger: you not only don’t hurt them, you offer them a role model. Your child will certainly see you angry from time to time and how you handle those situations teaches children a lot.

Will you teach your child that might makes right? That parents have tantrums too? That screaming is how adults handle conflict? If so, they’ll adopt these behaviours as a badge of how grown-up they are. Or will you model for your child that anger is part of being human and that learning to manage anger responsibly is part of becoming mature? Here’s how:

1. Set limits BEFORE you get angry.

Often when we get angry at our children, it’s because we haven’t set a limit and something is grating on us. The minute you start getting angry, it’s a signal to do something. No, not yell. Intervene in a positive way to prevent more of whatever behaviour is irritating you.

If your irritation is coming from you – let’s say you’ve just had a hard day and their natural exuberance is wearing on you – it can help to explain this to your children and ask them to be considerate and keep the behaviour that’s irritating you in check, at least for now.

If the children are doing something that is increasingly annoying – playing a game in which someone is likely to get hurt, stalling when you’ve asked them to do something, squabbling while you’re on the phone – you may need to interrupt what you’re doing, restate your expectation and redirect them, to keep the situation and your anger from escalating.

2. Calm yourself down BEFORE you take action.

When you feel this angry, you need a way to calm down. Awareness will always help you harness your self-control and shift your physiology: Stop, Drop (your agenda, just for a minute) and Breathe. That deep breath is your pause button. It gives you a choice. Do you really want to get hijacked by those emotions?

Now, remind yourself that it isn’t an emergency. Shake the tension out of your hands. Take ten more deep breaths. You might try to find a way to laugh, which discharges the tension and shifts the mood. Even forcing yourself to smile sends a message to your nervous system that there’s no emergency and begins calming you down. If you need to make a noise, hum. It can help to physically discharge your rage, so you might try putting on some music and dancing.

If you can find fifteen minutes a day for a mindfulness practice while kids are in school or napping, you can actually build the neural capacity so that it’s easier to calm yourself in these moments of upset. But even daily life with children should give you plenty of opportunities to practice and every time you do resist acting while you’re angry, you rewire your brain so that you have more self control.

Some people still follow the timeworn advice to clobber a pillow, but it’s best if you can do that kind of discharging in private, because watching you clobber that pillow can be pretty scary for your child. He knows perfectly well that the pillow is a stand-in for his head and the image of crazy hitting mommy will be seared into his memory. This is probably a questionable strategy anyway, because research suggests that hitting something – anything – confirms to your body that indeed this is an emergency and you should stay in “fight or flight.” So it may “discharge” energy and wear you out, but it doesn’t get to the feelings driving the anger and may actually make you more angry.

If you can instead breathe deeply and tolerate the angry feelings, you will probably notice that right under the anger is fear, sadness, disappointment. Let yourself feel those feelings by noticing the sensations they cause in your body. Don’t reinforce them by “thinking” about why you’re upset; just breathe into that tension in your body and watch it change and fade. The anger will melt away.

3. Take Five.

Recognize that an angry state is a terrible starting place to intervene in any situation. Instead, give yourself a timeout and come back when you’re able to be calm. Move away from your child physically so you won’t be tempted to reach out and touch him violently. Just say, as calmly as you can, “I am too mad right now to talk about this. I am going to take a timeout and calm down.”

Exiting does not let your child win. It impresses upon them just how serious the infraction is and it models self-control. Use this time to calm yourself, not to work yourself into a further frenzy about how right you are.

If your child is old enough to be left for a moment, you can go into the bathroom, splash water on your face and do some breathing. But if your child is young enough to feel abandoned when you leave, they will follow you screaming. (Even many adult partners will do this. Just saying.)

If you can’t leave your child without escalating their upset, walk to the kitchen sink and run your hands under the water. Then, sit on the couch near your child for a few minutes, breathing deeply and saying a little mantra that restores your calm, like one of these:

• “This is not an emergency.”

• “Kids need love most when they deserve it least.”

• “He’s acting out because he needs my help with his big feelings.”

• “Only love today.”

It’s fine to say your mantra aloud. It’s good role modelling for your kids to see you handle your big emotions responsibly. Don’t be surprised if your child picks up your mantra and starts to use it when he’s angry.

4. Listen to your anger, rather than acting on it.

Anger, like other feelings, is as much a given as our arms and legs. What we’re responsible for is what we choose to do with it. Anger often has a valuable lesson for us, but acting while we’re angry, except in rare situations requiring self-defense, is rarely constructive, because we make choices that we would never make from a rational state. The constructive way to handle anger is to limit our expression of it and when we calm down, to use it diagnostically: what is so wrong in our life that we feel furious and what do we need to do to change the situation?

Sometimes the answer is clearly related to our parenting: we need to enforce rules before things get out of hand, or start putting the children to bed half an hour earlier, or do some repair work on our relationship with our child so that she stops treating us rudely. Sometimes we’re surprised to find that our anger is actually at our partner who is not acting as a full partner in parenting or even at our boss. And sometimes the answer is that we’re carrying around anger we don’t understand that spills out onto our kids and we need to seek help though counseling or a parents’ support group.

5. Remember that “expressing” your anger to another person can reinforce and escalate it.

Despite the popular idea that we need to “express” our anger so that it doesn’t eat away at us, there’s nothing constructive about expressing anger “at” another person. Research shows that expressing anger while we are angry actually makes us more angry. This in turn makes the other person hurt and afraid, so they get more angry. Not surprisingly, instead of solving anything, this deepens the rift in the relationship.

What’s more, expressing anger isn’t truly being authentic. Anger is an attack on the other person, because you feel so upset inside. True authenticity would be expressing the hurt or fear that’s giving rise to the anger – which you might do with a partner.  But with your child, your job is to manage your own emotions, not to put them on your child, so you need to be more measured.

The answer is always to calm yourself first. Then consider what the deeper “message” of the anger is, before you make decisions about what to say and do.

6. WAIT before disciplining.

Make it a point NEVER to act while angry. Nothing says you have to issue edicts on the fly. Simply say something like:

“I can’t believe you hit your brother after we’ve talked about how hitting hurts. I need to think about this and we will talk about it this afternoon. Until then, I expect you to be on your best behaviour.”

Take a ten minute timeout to calm yourself. Don’t rehash the situation in your mind – that kind of stewing will always make you more angry. Instead, use the techniques above to calm yourself.  But if you’ve taken a ten minute timeout and still don’t feel calm enough to relate constructively, don’t hesitate to put the discussion off: “I want to think about what just happened and we will talk about it later. In the meantime, I need to make dinner and you need to finish your homework, please.”

After dinner, sit down with your child and, if necessary, set firm limits. But you will be more able to listen to his side of it and to respond with reasonable, enforceable, respectful limits to his behaviour.

7. Avoid physical force, no matter what.

85% of adolescents say they’ve been slapped or spanked by their parents (Journal of Psychopathology, 2007). And yet study after study has proven that spanking and all other physical punishment has a negative impact on children’s development that lasts throughout life. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends strongly against it.

I personally wonder if the epidemic of anxiety and depression among adults in our culture is caused in part by the aftermath of so many of us having grown up with adults who hurt us. Many parents minimize the physical violence they suffered, because the emotional pain is too great to acknowledge. But repressing the pain suffered in childhood just makes us more likely to hit our own children.

Spanking may make you feel better temporarily because it discharges your rage, but it is bad for your child and ultimately sabotages everything positive you do as a parent. Spanking, and even slapping, has a way of escalating. There’s even some evidence that spanking is addictive for the parent, because it gives you a way to discharge that upset and feel better. But there are better ways for you to feel better, that don’t hurt your child.

Do whatever you need to do to control yourself, including leaving the room. If you can’t control yourself and end up resorting to physical force, apologize to your child, tell him that hitting is never okay and get yourself some help.

8. Avoid threats.

Threats made while you’re angry will always be unreasonable. Since threats are only effective if you are willing to follow through on them, they undermine your authority and make it less likely that your kids will follow the rules next time. Instead, tell your child that you need to think about an appropriate response to this infraction of the rules. The suspense will be worse than hearing a string of threats they know you won’t enforce.

9. Monitor your tone and word choice.

Research shows that the more calmly we speak, the more calm we feel and the more calmly others respond to us. Similarly, use of swear words or other highly charged words makes us and our listener more upset and the situation escalates. We have the power to calm or upset ourselves and the person we are speaking with by our own tone of voice and choice of words. (Remember, you’re the role model.)

10. Still angry?

Don’t get attached to your anger. Once you’ve listened to it and made appropriate changes, let go of it. If that isn’t working, remember that anger is always a defense. It shields us from feeling vulnerable.

To get rid of anger, look at the hurt or fear under the anger. Maybe your son’s tantrums scare you, or your daughter’s so obsessed with her friends that she’s dismissive of the family, which hurts you. Once you accept those underlying emotions and let yourself feel them, your anger will dissipate. And you’ll be more able to intervene constructively with your child to solve what seemed like an insurmountable problem.

11. Make and post a list of acceptable ways to handle anger.

Sometime when things at your house are calm, talk to your kids about acceptable ways to handle anger. Is it ever okay to hit someone? Is it okay to throw things? Is it okay to yell? Remember that since you’re the role model, the rules that apply to your child also apply to you.

Then, make a list together of acceptable ways to handle anger, and post it on your refrigerator where everyone in the family can read it regularly. Let your kids see you check it as you start to get mad.

• “Tell the other person what you want without attacking them.”

• “Put on music and dance out your angries.”

• “When you want to hit, clap your hands around your own body and hold yourself.”

12. Choose your battles.

Every negative interaction with your child uses up valuable relationship capital. Focus on what matters, such as the way your child treats other humans. In the larger scheme of things, his jacket on the floor may drive you crazy, but it isn’t worth putting your relationship bank account in the red over. Remember that the more positive and connected your relationship with your child is, the more likely he is to follow your direction.

13. Consider that you’re part of the problem.

If you’re open to emotional growth, your child will always show you where you need to work on yourself. If you’re not, it’s hard to be a peaceful parent, because everything will trigger you to act your worst. In every interaction with our child, we have the power to calm or escalate the situation. Your child may be acting in ways that aggravate you, but you are not a helpless victim.

Take responsibility to manage your own emotions first. Your child may not become a little angel overnight, but you’ll be amazed to see how much less angry your child acts once you learn to stay calm in the face of her anger.

14. Keep looking for effective ways to discipline that encourage better behaviour.

There are hugely more effective ways to discipline than anger, in fact research shows that disciplining with anger sets up a cycle that encourages misbehaviour.

Some parents are surprised to hear that there are families where children are never punished, even with consequences or timeouts and parental yelling is infrequent. Limits are set, of course and there are expectations for behaviour, but these are enforced through the parent-child connection and by helping children with the needs and upsets that drive their “bad” behaviour. The research is clear that these families produce children who are more emotionally intelligent and thus more able to manage their behaviour.

15. If you frequently struggle with your anger, seek counseling.

There’s no shame in asking for help. The shame is in reneging on your responsibility as a parent by damaging your child physically or psychologically.

Dr. Laura Markham is the author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How To Stop Yelling and Start Connecting,  Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings: How To Stop the Fighting and Raise Friends for Life, and now her latest book, The Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids Workbook: Using mindfulness and connection to raise resilient, joyful children and rediscover your love of parenting.

Dr. Laura Markham earned her PhD in clinical psychology at Columbia University and has worked as a parenting coach with countless families across the world. Over 130,000 moms and dads enjoy Dr. Laura’s free weekly coaching posts via email. You can sign up on any page of her website, AhaParenting.com, which serves up Aha! Moments for parents of babies through teens. Dr. Laura’s aspiration is to change the world, one child at a time, by supporting parents. The proud mother of two thriving young adults who were raised with her peaceful parenting approach, she lives with her husband in New York.

Embracing the Unexpected

by Karen Copeland, Champion for Community Wellness

There are times when we have an idea that, on the surface, seems like it will be a good fit. The expectations seem reasonable and attainable, we may even have experienced success in the past. We know to anticipate a few ups and downs but for the most part, feel confident that the day will go well.

I had one of those days this week. We had made a plan to attend an amusement park with relatives. This type of outing has always gone quite well in the past. It was quite chaotic trying to get ready to leave that morning, but we finally made it onto the highway. It was a one and a half hour drive to get to the park. We arrived and met up with another cousin who we hadn’t seen in a while. Everyone was excited to go in and start exploring the park and the rides. Smiles, laughter, boasting about previous experiences. Happiness.

Within fifteen minutes of our arrival, anxiety took full control. It is always hard to watch this happen because you know that your child doesn’t choose this. The things that happen, the words that are said, this is the anxiety roaring and asserting itself as master. Anxiety chose escape as it’s only strategy that day. Escape was all that could be thought about.

“Get . Me . Out . Of . Here . Now!”

These moments are hard for a parent. You don’t want to “give in” by simply getting up and leaving. You need to do a very good assessment of the situation and determine the likelihood of being able to turn things around. You need to provide the time and opportunity to calm, to re-frame, to try again. And you need to set aside all your own hopes and expectations YOU had for the day and really listen to what your child is trying to tell you.

It was pretty clear that anxiety wanted nothing to do with the amusement park, but I still tried. We walked for a bit, hoping that the movement would help. It didn’t. We sat on a bench. Just sat there. Nope. We left the park and sat in our truck. I saw the anxiety loosen its hold a bit then. Muscles unclenched. I wasn’t ready to give up yet. We continued sitting there. Sometimes talking, sometimes not. Just allowing ourselves time. There just wasn’t going to be enough time on this day.

That’s the thing about anxiety. It doesn’t give you a solid timeline for recovery. Ever. Sometimes we are able to manage it quickly and continue on with our day; and other times, like this day, it holds you tightly in its grip. Not willing to move on.

When we finally drove out of the park, sleep took over. A full hour of sleep. Ah-ha. I started reflecting on the clues and the signals that had been sent my way. The excitement of the coming day had interrupted our sleep the night before. My child had provided me with clues earlier that morning, but in the rush to get ready to leave I didn’t give them the attention I should have. I thought about all the expectations I had recently placed on my child – we have been travelling to visit relatives – our time in the vehicle has exceeded thirty hours in the past ten days. Our longest stay in one place has been four days.

And you know what? My child, this boy who craves routine and quiet and space, he has coped so well with this trip. Sometimes when things are going so well, we forget to pay attention to the details. We forget to look at and honour what it takes to cope with such a deviation away from our typical, quiet, predictable days. We assume that because things are going well they will continue to go well, forgetting all the energy that it takes to manage and cope.

As he slept in the seat beside me, I could have embraced my own mom guilt about what had happened at the park, but instead I chose to think about all the successes we have already had on this trip. When he woke up we had a chance to talk about what had happened he gave voice to all that I had been thinking about while he had been sleeping. It had simply been too much. We talked about our plans for the coming days. We would be staying in one place for the remainder of our trip. We would become more predictable and I would pay more attention to the signals he was giving me.

When we arrived back home, we let the dog outside to play. Our child has a lot of anxiety about his dog being out off-leash, he is worried our dog will run away or get hurt. But on this day, the one that had been so hard, I asked my son to let me show him how our dog would listen and run with me when he was off his leash. Only for a minute. Reluctantly, he agreed. But he wanted to run with the dog, not me. I smiled as he unhooked the leash, and I directed him to run towards an outbuilding and then back towards me.

It was a beautiful moment. Anxiety was replaced by JOY. My lovely boy laughed and marvelled at how fast our dog could run, how quickly he could switch directions. He let the dog stay off leash for the rest of the time we were outside. And in those moments, my son had released his own tether to anxiety and both of them were free.

Karen Copeland is a mom of two from Abbotsford BC. She is a passionate advocate for curiosity and seeing our children and families through a strengths based lens. She believes in the opportunities created when families and professionals come together to learn from, with and about one another; and reminds us of the importance of honouring the champions who come into our lives to support us on our journey.


Preparing Children to Leave Home

by Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D.   •  Psych Central www.psychcentral.com

Leaving home. Every healthy child eventually does it. Every healthy parent wants it to happen. But the actual leaving (and being left) can be extraordinarily painful for everyone involved.

Parents frequently ask me how to make the transition go smoothly. Fortunately, they are thinking about it. Thoughtful transitions almost always go better than those that are allowed to simply happen. But unfortunately, parents usually ask the question many years later than I would ideally want them to.

Leaving home isn’t an event, it’s a process. The process begins from the moment children leave their mothers’ bodies and continues until they leave the parents’ home and assume the responsibilities of adulthood. For the child, growing up and, for the parent, letting go, is the central process of family life. Children develop more and more skills and push for more and more freedom. Parents develop more and more trust in those skills and loosen supervision.

This is not to say that it always goes smoothly. As a matter of fact, it’s more usual for the process to be awkward and uncomfortable. Growing up and letting go happens in fits and starts as children’s skills develop unevenly or parents feel unsure of how much oversight is needed at particular times.

A useful exercise.

Think about what you want your child to know to be able to live on her or his own when she or he is eighteen. Think about what skills will be important for physical, emotional and spiritual survival out there in the adult world. Make a list. It will be a long one! It will include everything from how to balance a checkbook, change the oil and manage time, to how to be a good friend, choose a mate, interview for a job and feel morally centered.

Now back up from eighteen to whatever your child’s age is now. What skills have you already been teaching, reinforcing, and refining in the appropriate way for each age and stage? What skills do you wish were already in place but have not yet introduced? Which really need attention now? Which can wait? Which skills need to be fully developed before your child leaves home? Which ones require you to lay a foundation upon which your child can later build?

Make a plan. Involve your child. Ask him or her to review your list and make any revisions he or she thinks are important. Start filling in any gaps you identified while making up the list. Start with steps that match your child’s age and develop an idea of how you want to develop the skill as your child grows.

One example: Building money management skills.

Suppose you want to teach your child how to manage money. At age four, you start a little allowance and open a savings account to show her how to make a deposit of a dollar each week. By age eight, your child has a little budget, using her allowance to pay Girl Scout dues and put money in the church collection plate, as well as for an occasional treat. Now you match every dollar she puts into savings.

No extra money for an allowance? Teach your child how to redeem bottles, work for the neighbors, or take on a paper route to get a little cash. Kids can only learn to manage money if they have some money to manage.

By thirteen, you are giving her allowance to her in larger chunks (perhaps once a month) so she has to think ahead. Whether she is earning money on her own or you are providing it, she should be encouraged to set some goals that require saving. Involve her in some of the major purchases for your household so she knows how to shop wisely. By sixteen, she has a job and is putting her own money into a savings account and a checking account. You have agreed on what items she pays for and what items you will continue to cover. By eighteen, you’ve shown her how to file her income taxes and perhaps how to invest some of her savings so they will grow.

A more complex example: Developing relationship skills.

Let’s take a more complicated topic: how to be a good friend. By three or four, most kids are starting to find people they think of as special friends. At four, if kids get into a tussle about something, adults need to help. But even at four, parents can ask them to think about what is fair.

As children get older, parents can help them learn to be generous, considerate and thoughtful, and to negotiate conflict with more and more sophistication. During the years between ten and twelve, friendships get more complex. Parents need to help children see that there are rarely just good guys and bad guys; that most people have a mix of qualities that we do and do not like.

Teens need to be reminded that you don’t have to love people to work with them. Teamwork requires focus on the sport, problem, or task, not on popularity. Successful people know that there are many levels of friendship and operate accordingly. With this kind of training, a child will know how to maintain and nurture eventual adult friendships successfully. Knowing how to be a good friend also lays the groundwork for choosing a mate.

If your child is sixteen and you are just beginning to think about these things, you may need to develop a few “crash courses” in growing up. Enlist your teen and figure out how you can do a speedier version so she or he gets needed education in basic life skills.

Can we do it all?

Can we really conscientiously and systematically teach every skill our children will need in adulthood? Probably not. But there do seem to be a few key issues. When kids are gradually taught how to manage time, money and possessions as well as how to relate well with others, they are much more likely to be successful adults.

What about self-esteem? People often argue that building self-esteem is more important than a clean bedroom or knowledge about how money works. I have found that positive self-esteem grows from feelings of competence. A positive self-image develops naturally as children learn how to get along with people and to get along in the world. Once set in motion, these areas become part of a wonderful positive loop: The more competent I feel, the better I feel about myself. The better I feel about myself, the more willing I am to take risks to develop more competence. And so on.

Families that have dedicated time and effort to skills building derive a great deal of confidence through this process of readying children to enter the adult world. Parents experience the satisfaction of knowing they have done their job and done it well. Kids feel self-assured and prepared for what lies ahead. For these families, a child’s leaving home is not a shock or an ending – it is simply the next logical step in a process that everyone has been working toward from the beginning.

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counsellor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. She writes regularly for Psych Central as well as Psych Central’s Ask the Therapist feature. She is author of the insightful parenting e-book, Tending the Family Heart.