Connect for Children

Heidi Emberling, MA, Parenting Educator and Early Childhood Specialist

5 New Year’s NON-Resolutions January 3, 2017

Filed under: Holiday Stress,Parent Support,Parents as Experts — Heidi Emberling @ 10:26 pm

This year, I challenge you to try something different. Instead of making New Year’s Resolutions, make some New Year’s NON-resolutions! Here are five ideas that release you from the stress and struggle of trying to become the perfect parent.

  1. I will NOT feel badly about missing a workout. Many of us make resolutions about getting into shape and of course exercise is important, but life with young children is hard enough to manage without the added guilt of not finding time or energy to hit the gym. Discover the great outdoors (or an indoor ice rink) on the weekends and turn a family outing into an opportunity to get the heart pumping.
  1. I will NOT worry about “family meal time” or stress about serving a frozen meal or ordering in once in a while. Children birth through age 8 do not always cooperate with family meal time. They may struggle to sit still for more than 10 or 15 minutes at the table. Instead of providing a golden opportunity for reflection, connection, and conversation, family meal times with young children can become rushed, draining, cranky experiences. Ditch the dream of a perfect, homemade dinner, adjust your expectations to your child’s developmental capabilities, and trade in the stress for an early bedtime.
  1. I will NOT worry about my child’s future and instead focus more on today. Just because your child pushed, bit, or hit another child today doesn’t mean they will become a bully later on. Life with young children can be exasperating, exhausting, and absolutely infuriating. But they are also cute. Find something to enjoy about today and parenting will become a much more pleasant experience.
  1. I will NOT wake up in February and realize I haven’t had a date night yet this year.  Find a sitter willing to do an evening once a week, or a few hours every weekend so you can go out for a bike ride or a cup of coffee.  Think of it as being a good role model for your children.  After all, if you don’t make time for yourself and the couple relationship, who will?
  1. I will NOT remain isolated in my busy parenting life, but instead reach out and connect with other parents who are also finding it difficult to get to the gym or make a meal from scratch. Find your peeps. Parenting should not be done in isolation. Go to Parents Place for a workshop or a consultation. We understand that kids don’t come with instructions.

Happy New Year, from my family to yours!

Heidi Emberling, MA
Parent Educator, Child Development Specialist







Parenting Expertise – Look Inside! July 12, 2012

Filed under: Parents as Experts — Heidi Emberling @ 3:20 pm

There’s no shortage of media outlets warning parents that what they’re doing is wrong. From provocative magazine covers espousing the dangers of attachment parenting, to newspaper coverage of psychopathic 9-year olds, mainstream media profits from parental fear and self-doubt.

What’s missing from these water-cooler discussions is the basic fact that kids don’t come with instruction manuals. Parenting is a life-long process: an art, a learned skill, and a science. The early years are the laboratory years. Which parenting tools work with your particular child? Does she share your worldview, or does she think like your mom-in-law? Why did my first child sleep through the night, while my second can’t seem to settle?

There is a surplus of parenting advice in the world, but the truth is, there is no one right way to parent. There are too many variables, too many distinct temperament traits, and too many environmental and biological possibilities. Each family is its own organism, striving to adapt as it morphs from one developmental stage to another.

Which is why parenting strategies that work for one family, will most likely fail another. Instead of embracing the latest parenting trend, do some thinking about your own family unit. To guide you, consider the following key ideas:

1. Know Thyself (and Thy Family). Until you understand the different perspectives each family member brings to the discussion, you won’t be able to define common goals. If one parent is ready for sleep training and the other believes in the family bed, it may be more difficult to identify strategies towards the common goal of “sleeping through the night.”  If your child is a go-go-go kind of kid and you’re a curl-up-on-the-couch kind of parent, your challenge is creating opportunities for both.

2. Trust Your Instincts. Parenting experts know about child development, and grandparents contribute their experience of raising you (or your partner), but you know your child best. Watch your child, listen to your child, and appreciate your child for the unique human being he is. If you have a nagging doubt about your child’s development, check it out. Know your child’s strengths and build on them.

3. Value Your Support Networks. Parents need community. Raising kids is a tough, underappreciated job. Find your group, learn more about ages and stages of development, and seek out expert advice when needed. Parenting is not a solo sport. Ask for help, get involved, and accept that we are all doing our best to raise healthy, successful kids: our legacy to the next generation.

-Written for MomTalkRadio,

Heidi Emberling, MA