Celebrating Fathering for Father’s Day

Celebrating Fathering for Father’s Day

A little-known piece of information about me: I entered my doctoral program with a research interest in Fathering. This interest was born (lol) out of the special relationship that fathers and father figures have in the lives of the children they are a part of. My father is a very special part of my life. Fathering is more than just the biological act of contributing to the creation of a child. It encompasses numerous responsibilities, actions, and emotional connections that shape a child’s development and well-being. Fathers and Father Figures play diverse and essential roles and I think that these roles can be broadly categorized into several key areas:

  1. Role Model: Fathers and Father Figures serve as role models. They demonstrate behaviors, values, and ethics that shape their children’s character. Through their actions, fathers teach lessons about responsibility, respect, and integrity.
  2. Emotional Supporter: Emotional availability and support from a father are crucial for a child’s mental health. A father’s encouragement and affection help build a child’s self-esteem and emotional resilience.
  3. Guide and Mentor: Fathers often guide their children through life’s challenges, offering advice and wisdom. This mentorship helps children navigate complex situations and make informed decisions.

Did you know that the presence of a father or father figure can significantly influence a child’s development?

Research consistently shows that children with involved fathers fare better in numerous aspects of life, including academic performance, social skills, and psychological health.

So, on this Father’s Day, let’s celebrate that Fathering is a complex and vital aspect of parenting that significantly shapes a child’s future. Let’s acknowledge the fathers who actively engage in their children’s lives and provide an indispensable foundation of support, security, and guidance for their children. The importance of father figures cannot be overstated, as their influence extends far beyond childhood, impacting individuals’ lives well into adulthood. As society evolves, I hope we can recognize and support the role of fathers and fathering in child-rearing. Doing so will be crucial for fostering well-rounded, resilient, and successful future generations.

 

Here is a small celebration from me: I am so lucky to have my father! He is very involved in my life and the lives of my children. I am also lucky to have a brother and brother-in-law who are present and involved role models to my boys. Thank you for being good men!

 

Happy Father’s Day!

xoxo,

Dr. Marnee

The Power of Love

The Power of Love

I am feeling sappy. The school year has ended, the business has changed, and now is a great time to reflect on the countless challenges and joys accompanying each school year. I have been on a mission to love my boys more deeply (see, sappy). Among the most crucial elements contributing to a child’s well-being and development are the feelings of being loved, understood, seen, and heard. These emotional pillars nurture a child’s confidence and lay the foundation for a thriving and resilient individual. Here is why I believe these feelings are so essential and how you can foster them in your daily interactions with your child.

The Importance of Feeling Loved: Love is the foundation of a child’s emotional security. Children who feel genuinely loved develop a strong sense of self-worth and belonging. This unconditional love provides them with the courage to explore the world, knowing they have a safe and supportive home base to return to.  

How to Show Love:

  • Spend quality time together, free from distractions.
  • Offer physical affection, like hugs and cuddles.
  • Express your love through words and actions consistently.

The Need to Feel Understood: Like adults, children need to feel that their emotions and experiences are validated. When they feel understood, they learn to trust their feelings and are more likely to express themselves openly. This understanding helps them navigate their emotions and builds their emotional intelligence.

How to Show Understanding:

  • Listen actively without interrupting.
  • Acknowledge their feelings, even if you don’t agree with their perspective.
  • Encourage them to share their thoughts and experiences.

The Power of Being Seen: Being seen means recognizing and appreciating your child’s unique qualities and efforts. It’s about noticing the little things that make them who they are and celebrating their individuality. When children feel seen, they develop a positive self-image and confidence in their abilities.

How to Make Them Feel Seen:

  • Pay attention to their interests and hobbies.
  • Celebrate their achievements, no matter how small.
  • Show interest in their daily activities and stories.

The Impact of Being Heard: When children feel heard, they understand that their opinions matter and that they have a voice in the family. This empowers them to express themselves freely and builds their communication skills. Being heard also reinforces their sense of respect and dignity.

How to Ensure They Feel Heard:

  • Encourage open dialogue and ask for their opinions.
  • Take their suggestions and concerns seriously.
  • Create an environment where they feel safe to speak up.

I am confident that incorporating these principles into your parenting approach doesn’t require grand gestures; actually, small, consistent efforts have the most significant impact. By making your child feel loved, understood, seen, and heard, you are not only nurturing their emotional well-being but also equipping them with the tools they need to thrive in life.

Remember, your presence and attentiveness are the greatest gifts you can offer to help your child grow into a confident, resilient, and happy individual.

Have you taken a moment today to show your child that they are valued and cherished? These efforts will not only strengthen your bond but also contribute profoundly to their overall development and happiness.

 

Love you boys!

xoxo,
Dr. Marnee

The Hidden Pressure of “Do Your Best”

The Hidden Pressure of “Do Your Best”

Hi All, my name is Dr. Marnee, I am a mom of 2-boys, and I am guilty of saying this phrase: “Do your best.”  “Do your best” is often said with the best of intentions. It sounds supportive, encouraging, and motivating. But for many children, these three words can carry an immense amount of pressure, creating a complex emotional landscape that can be challenging to navigate.

We typically say “do your best” to encourage our children to put forth effort, persevere through challenges, and strive for excellence—me included. The intention is to foster a growth mindset where children learn the value of hard work and resilience. We aim to provide a quick pep talk, boosting our children’s confidence and motivating them to push forward.

It seems simple enough, however, …the impact is often more complicated. Here are some reasons why “do your best” can sometimes be too much:

Vague Expectations: What does it even mean? What does it look like? “Do your best” is inherently subjective and open-ended. For a child, especially one who is a perfectionist or struggles with self-esteem, the lack of clear boundaries can be too much. They might interpret “best” as “perfect,” setting an unattainable standard that leads to frustration and disappointment.

Fear of Disappointing Parents: Children naturally want to please their parents and make them proud. When they hear “do your best,” they might feel immense pressure to meet their parents’ expectations. If they fall short, they may fear they are letting their parents down, leading to feelings of guilt and inadequacy. Ouch, that is not our intention at all.

Comparison to Others: In environments where performance is easily measurable, like school or sports, “do your best” can be interpreted as a directive to outperform peers. We do not want to foster unhealthy competition and/or comparisons. Increasing stress and anxiety is not the goal. We want our children to focus on their personal growth.

Did you know that even the “best” batters in baseball bat 300: 30% of the time, they get a hit? Yep, 70% of the time, they won’t get a hit.

SO, what do we all do about this phrase:  

Define What “Best” Means in clear terms: For example, instead of saying “do your best on your math test,” parents might say, “focus on solving each problem carefully and checking your work.”

Emphasize Effort Over Outcome: Praise children for their hard work, persistence, and progress rather than the outcome. This reinforces the idea that the process is more important than the product.

Encourage Self-Reflection: Teach children to self-assess and reflect on their performance. Ask questions like, “What part of this was the most challenging for you?” or “What are you proud of in your work?”

Provide Emotional Support: Remind children that it’s okay to fail and that setbacks are part of the learning process. Offering unconditional support and understanding can alleviate the fear of failure. Let them know that your love and approval are not contingent on their achievements.

Let’s be real: We adults don’t always do our best! I would say we mostly do “good enough.”  

Here is my commitment: to be more mindful when using this phrase with my kids. Can you do the same?

Happy Parenting,
Dr. Marnee xoxo

The Oversharing Epidemic

The Oversharing Epidemic

When Parents Share Too Much About Their Kids on Social Media

Ah, social media – the digital scrapbook of our lives. It’s where we share our joys, our sorrows, and everything in between. We scroll through, comment, like, and so on for things shared by others. And for us parents, it’s often a platform to document our children’s milestones, from their first steps to the first day of school to graduation, and beyond. 

  • But here’s the thing: are we sharing too much? 
  • And what does our decision to share mean for our kids? 
  • Let’s think about parental oversharing and why it might be time to pause before posting that next adorable (or embarrassing) photo of your child.

Once upon a time, like when we were growing up, our childhood embarrassments were not recorded or captured, and if they were, these moments were limited to photo albums tucked away somewhere in our parents’ homes. We all know that childhood and adolescence is filled with thoooooose moments!  And that being messy and making mistakes are parts of growing up. However, now, every moment is shared to potentially hundreds or thousands of followers. That cute bathtub photo or the messy spaghetti face or silly dance might seem innocent now, but remember, the internet never forgets. These images and anecdotes (positive or just venting) can be accessed and reshared indefinitely.

Imagine your child at 16, trying to navigate the already challenging experience of adolescence, only to have a classmate pull up a moment that was captured by a photo that was meant for family eyes only. It’s not just a moment of fleeting embarrassment; it can impact their self-esteem and how peers perceive them. This situation happened to a family I am seeing now, and it prompted this post. You see, their son was clomping around in his mom’s high heels, hat, and boa, singing freely with joy when he was younger. Now, this moment in time shared innocently on social media years ago, is being used as a social weapon.

One of the most crucial aspects for me of this issue is consent. Can a toddler, a young child, or an adolescent truly understand what it means to have their image and personal details shared online? The answer is a resounding NO. As parents, we make countless decisions on behalf of our children, but when it comes to their digital footprint, it’s a decision that deserves careful consideration. What we think is cute and shareable now might not align with their views in the future. We must consider their right to control their own digital identity.  

I also believe that privacy matters! In an age where privacy seems like an old-fashioned concept, it’s important to remember why it still matters. Sharing personal details, stories, complaints, successes, and photos of your child can unintentionally expose them to risks. From identity theft to the unsettling possibility of strangers having access to images of your children, the digital world can be a dangerous place. There is another very public psychologist who shares stuff about her daughter, and it really bugs me. Don’t get me wrong, I share my parenting successes, failures, and everything in between, but the content is about me and not really about my boys. 

Moreover, our social media circles aren’t as private as we might think. Friends of friends, acquaintances, and even strangers can stumble upon our posts. This lack of control over who sees what should give any parent pause. 

So, what’s a proud parent to do? How do you strike a balance between sharing your child’s precious moments and safeguarding their privacy?

  1. Ask Yourself Why: Before posting, consider why you’re sharing this particular moment. Is it for likes and validation, or is it something you genuinely want to share with close family and friends?
  2. Privacy Settings: Utilize the privacy settings on social media platforms. Share photos and updates with a select group rather than your entire friend list. 
  3. Think Long-Term: Consider how your child might feel about the post in the future. Will they thank you for it, or will it be a source of embarrassment?
  4. Seek Consent: For older children, involve them in the decision. Ask if they’re okay with a photo or story being shared. Respect their wishes if they say no. I ask my kids (one who is at the age of majority & one who is just a few weeks shy of 18) before sharing a photo or other information. 
  5. Create Private Albums: Share photos and updates through private albums or messaging groups meant for close family and friends. I have a photo-sharing frame, as do others in my immediate world. I love hearing the ding sound when I receive a new photo from a loved one!  

 

I am not trying to be a Debbie Downer, I promise. As parents, we want to celebrate our children and share our joy with the world. But let’s also protect their right to privacy and their future digital selves. It’s a balancing act, but with a little thought and consideration, we can make mindful choices that respect our children’s autonomy and privacy. After all, childhood and adolescence should be about creating memories (the good, bad, ugly, messy…) and not managing a digital persona.

 

Happy parenting!

xoxo,

Dr. Marnee

The Power of “Feeling Felt!”

The Power of “Feeling Felt!”

This past week, I was in a session with a parent whose child (in their early 20s) is struggling with all that comes with humanhood. My goal was to highlight with this parent a way to gain connection rather than directing their child with “shoulds.” 

As parents, we all want to be there for our children, to support them, and to help them navigate their emotions and challenges. But sometimes, it’s not enough just to listen or offer advice. What our children truly need is to feel deeply understood and connected. This powerful concept is known as “feeling felt,” and Dr. Daniel Siegel coined the term.

So, What Does “Feeling Felt” Mean?

“Feeling felt” goes beyond simple empathy. It’s about truly tuning into your child’s emotional state, validating their feelings, and resonating with them on a deep emotional level. When your child experiences “feeling felt,” they don’t just know you understand them—they feel it.

Here are some ways to foster this powerful emotional connection with your child:

1) Practice deep listening by giving them your full attention.

2) Validate their emotions with acknowledgment and normalization of their experience.

3) Show emotional mirroring that is measured by using your tone of voice and body language.

4) Create a safe space for emotions to be shared and experiences to be experienced without judgment but with encouragement to share.

5) Be mindful, patient, and open with your thoughts

What Are The Benefits of “Feeling Felt?” What is the point?

When children feel felt, they experience a profound sense of connection and security. “Feeling Felt” has numerous benefits, including providing emotional security, improved parent-child communication at any age, building a stronger relationship, and fostering better emotional regulation for all. 

At the end of my session, it seemed the parent left “feeling felt.” I hoped this would carry over to their next exchange with their child! I will find out at our next session if they did their parenting homework. So, can you practice this concept for your child or loved ones today? 

 

Happy Parenting!

xoxo,

Dr. Marnee

The Importance of Treating Our Pets Well

The Importance of Treating Our Pets Well

Fun fact about me: give me kids or dogs (I am allergic to cats), and I will take great care of them- plants, well, let’s just say that I do not have a green thumb, lol. I have had dogs all of my life- labs or golden retrievers. We even had an indoor-outdoor cat named Stacey as a child. Currently, I have a labrador and a golden retriever, and I love my dogs! 

I believe that, as parents, we are responsible for instilling values of compassion, kindness, and empathy in our children. Did you know that one crucial aspect of this is teaching them to treat animals with love and respect? 

“We can tell how advanced a society is by how they treat their animals.” This quote, often attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, holds a profound truth. It speaks volumes about the character and compassion of a community. Our pets are more than just companions; they’re members of our families. Here are a few reasons why treating our pets well is essential for us humans:

1. Pets Teach Responsibility: Taking care of a pet requires commitment and responsibility. Children who learn to care for animals develop valuable life skills such as empathy, nurturing, and time management. Pets literally can’t eat or drink without us.

2. Pets Provide Unconditional Love: Pets offer us unwavering love and companionship, no matter what. (This statement is a bit of an exaggeration. My dogs have personalities of their own and can be provocative with intentions behind their actions. For example, stealing socks from the clean laundry basket and parading them in front of me for attention. Gotta love my lab and this happened today.) They comfort us in times of need and celebrate with us in moments of joy. In return, they deserve our love and care.

3. Pets Enhance Emotional Well-being: Studies have shown that pet ownership can have numerous benefits for mental health, including reducing stress, anxiety, and loneliness. They are good listeners too. By treating our pets well, we contribute to their happiness and well-being, as well as our own. 

4. Pets Deserve Respect: Every living creature deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Our pets may not be able to speak for themselves, but they feel pain, fear, and joy just like we do. It’s our responsibility to ensure they live happy and fulfilling lives. 

As parents, we have the opportunity to lead by example and teach our children the importance of treating animals with kindness and compassion. By doing so, we not only create a better world for our furry friends but also for future human generations. Enjoy your pets- I do; they make me smile. 

 

xoxo,
Dr. Marnee
(Mom of 4- 2 humans & 2 dogs)