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April 2010
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Dear Friends,photo of Meg

Aah spring! As the nicer weather motivates you to venture out more with your family -- perhaps to the playground, out for a walk, to a baseball game, or to the local ice cream parlor -- I want to help you make the most of these opportunities to connect with your children.


An article in The New York Times last week reported that, on average, the amount of time parents are spending with their children has risen significantly in the past 15 years.  While that's great news, I can't celebrate without knowing about the nature of the time parents and children spend together, which is the subject of this month's article: "May I Have Your Attention Please?!"


As always, I welcome your feedback and questions.


Best wishes and happy parenting,




P.S. I'll be quite busy the next few months with clients and parenting workshops and projects (not to mention my youngest son's bar mitzvah), so if you'd like to schedule time with me, don't delay so that I can fit you into my schedule.

Are you struggling with a parenting challenge?  Are you having trouble being consistent? I can help you find practical solutions that will make your job as a parent easier and more enjoyable. Consultations are in person, by phone, or by e-mail, so I am able to work with parents nationwide. Contact me today at


On a recent day, I saw the following:


- A mother was waiting in line at the store with iPod headphones in her ears.  Her son (about 6 years-old) and daughter  (about 4 years-old) were taking turns hitting and shoving each other, but the woman remained oblivious as she listened to her music.


 - A nanny was chatting on her cell phone while pushing a toddler in her stroller.  The child was pointing to things they passed and trying out new words, but the nanny did not seem to hear.


- A boy, approximately 7 years old, was sitting next to his father on the subway solving some interesting math problems out loud to amuse himself.  Each time he asked his father a question, the man, without taking his eyes from his Blackberry grunted an insufficient "yes" or "no."


A recent national survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the amount of time children and teens spend engaged with electronic entertainment media (including computers, smartphones, TV and MP3 players) has risen dramatically in the past several years.  Currently, children in grades 3 - 12 devote an average of about 7.5 hours using such media in a typical day (approximately 53 hours a week).  But, what the Kaiser survey didn't examine is how much time parents are connected to one electronic device or another, and how much of that time is in the presence of their children!

Yes, electronic lady  using blackberrydevices are wonderful in many ways, but just as they distract drivers dangerously on the road, so do they distract parents/caregivers dangerously when they are with their kids.  I am deeply saddened every time I see a parent or caregiver ignoring a child (of any age - including babies) while chatting or texting or listening to music.  I'm saddened by the missed opportunity for bonding, conversing, learning, laughing, reading, and sharing, and saddened by the message the child gets from the parent: "I am not important."


Now, let me share with you a scene that I witnessed as I was riding on a city bus a few weeks ago; it warmed my heart:

The mother of a little girl was chatting with her daughter about what they could see looking out the bus window. "Oh look! There's a double-decker bus - your favorite!  I wonder if the people riding on top outside are cold in this weather. What do you think?"  The little girl gave a thoughtful answer and then exclaimed, "Look!  That sign says T-O-Y, toy!" "That's right!," said her mother, "what would it spell if it said T-O-Y-S?"  The little girl proudly gave the answer and pointed out another discovery.  The conversation continued in this way back and forth for about 15 minutes (during which I admit I eavesdropped the whole time and forgot about the book in my lap). Then the mother offered her daughter a bag of cheerios and said, "I'm going to take your doll out of your hands so you can hold your snack.  Would you like me to hold her in my lap or put her in the backpack?" [Yes! She didn't ask whether she could take the doll - it wasn't an option - but she did give a choice about where to put  her! Brilliant!]  The girl responded that the lap would be better so that her doll could see out the window and the mother said "Oh, that's right! I think this is your doll's first trip on the bus, so she will want to see everything.  Let's look for more things to show her!"  And, the conversation continued until they got off the bus.  The little girl had been cheerful the whole ride, clearly basking in her mother's mindfulness.  I don't think it's a coincidence that not a cell phone or Blackberry was to be seen.

Over the course of the next few days or week, I encourage you to take notice of how often you use your phone, Blackberry, iPod, laptop, etc. while you are in the company of your children and whether you are really giving them your full attention when they need it. If not, make a resolution to do better. Turn your devices off when you're spending time with them so that you won't be tempted to 'just check.' Your undivided attention is one of the greatest gifts you can give your children.


Be a better listener. Practice active listening and use the acronym "CAR" as a starting point.  Focus on what your child is telling you, and then either Comment, Ask a question, or Respond.


If your kids are often cranky during the day, they may not be getting enough sleep.  Make a decision to set a healthy bedtime schedule and work to find consistent bedtime routines that foster a good night's sleep for your child (and you!).  Start the routine earlier, be consistent about not giving in to delaying tactics, and (unless you have a baby who still needs to be fed during the nighttime) resolve to use proven techniques to help your child get herself back to sleep when she wakes in the middle of the night.

Have you heard about my "Parenting Solutions Speed Sessions on Demand?"  These are quick half-hour phone sessions, when you need them.  Simply set-up an appointment with me whenever you've got a specific pressing issue or question you want answered, and I'll impart expert advice, affordably and efficiently.   Give yourself the gift of a package of six "Speed Sessions" for just $360, and use them as needed.  I'll even send you a follow-up e-mail after each session, outlining the major points for easy reference.  It's like having parenting advise in your back pocket!   To get started, call me at (917) 526-3528, or e-mail me at


Interested in setting up a series of parenting workshops at your school or
for your mothers' group? I can propose a variety of topics from sleep issues to sibling
rivalry to communication. Or, you can request subjects that particularly interest your group.
Contact me at