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Dr. Lisa’s Corner
Celebrating Father’s Day this Sunday is essential to focusing on their critical role in our children’s lives. We all need to make sure we embrace fathers daily and value their importance! I have experienced first hand two extraordinary Fathers: my own dad, Kurt Berlin and my husband, David Pion-Berlin.
I was raised by an extraordinary Dad who has challenged me to be a caring, responsible and contributing member of our society. He still practices law in DC at 85 years old and provides me with valuable input and support (even when I don’t ask) in my role as Mom and as President and CEO of Parents Anonymous® Inc. He coined and has lived our family slogan: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going!” But first and foremost he has given me unconditional love and support—being there no matter what: when I crashed the family car, when I worried about my kid’s behavior, and even when I didn’t know how to help him with critical health issues he faces today. He’s emotional, boisterous, and highly intelligent and has shown me that “fire in the belly” we all need to be valuable parents and community leaders! As a refugee from Nazis, he fled as a teenager, endured much hardship and has thrived. Now his only complaints revolve around aging and wishing he were 20 years younger so he could get around easier.
My husband, David, is a superb Dad who has shared equally in raising our two wonderful children. His love and support has modeled the ideal Dad: not afraid of changing diapers especially the stinky ones and doing the late night feedings when the kids were just babies; reading 5 books at bedtime (when I would only read one); horsing around for hours on end; listening to “their” music and appreciating it; practicing Spanish and helping the kids with algebra and geometry homework; reviewing and editing college papers; and modeling a successful career as a scholar and politically active citizen who cares about what happens in America. When people would try and diminish his role, David would always defend himself by emphasizing his importance as Dad not in place of my role as Mother but as a distinct and important partner in the parenting journey. We worked out early on who was good at what and share all parenting responsibilities. Even as our oldest has become a young man with a budding film career and we are preserving the teenage years of our daughter, David always expresses love, support and interjects humor that makes him an exceptional Father and mate to me!
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Recently, a wise colleague – Juan Ulloa, Presiding Juvenile Court Judge of Imperial County, California shared a study that his son, Dr. Emilio Ulloa of San Diego State University, worked on with a Baylor University researcher that shows parents how much they matter in their kids’ lives-and I mean more than providing food and shelter. This study suggests that young adults whose parents monitor their social interactions are less likely to have alcohol-related problems, and that young adults monitored by a parent of the opposite gender exhibit an even stronger correlation between parent interaction and less impulsivity (http://baylorlariat.com/2011/03/29/4870/).
If we can have these positive effects, we cannot give up trying even when they yell, scream, and holler GET OUT OF MY LIFE! Tell them it’s your job to be “nosey” about everything: their friends, where they are going, homework, boyfriends or girlfriends, sexual behavior and drug and alcohol usage.
The research shows the effect parents have on their children is complex. I’ve heard parents tell me “I can’t come down hard on my teen because they may run away. I have to be their friend.” This thinking only fosters problems and doesn’t help your child grow up to be a productive and responsible adult. Well, believe it or not, they want the structure and they really need friends their own age (just like you). Being tuned in to your child’s or teen’s psyche is really important. Will it mean they never engage in risky behavior? NO. But I believe as parents we can prevent some things from happening and also be there when they need help. Closing our eyes will not help anyone in the long run. So Moms get involved with your sons and Dads get involved with your daughters. Find out what they are interested in – music (even if you don’t like it), their friends and life in general! Stay connected and don’t wimp out on monitoring them!!! Don’t forget we are here to support you as a parent or caregiver in making a difference in the lives of children. Call now!
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We as parents encourage our kids to get off the couch and get active or involved in sports. Five years ago our daughter started playing volleyball and now as a freshman in High School she has played on junior varsity and several high level Club Teams. But last week she injured her knee seriously enough to require surgery and won’t play volleyball for 4-6 months. This is the first serious injury she has had to endure. I joked that this could be the theme of her college essay when they ask you to write about a “significant” event in your life. As a mom, I feel riddled with guilt, haven’t been sleeping well and overeating to boot and I wish it never happened and we could redo that day!
It is so hard to watch your kid in excruciating pain and then face surgery and months of physical therapy and rehab. She is a strong and positive person but it is a long period of time in a young person’s life to be dealing with pain, emotional issues and lack of athletic expression. For her, volleyball is part of her identity and young people are constantly trying to figure out who they are. My husband and I and her brother (who lives in the Philippines), friends and family have been providing valuable emotional support to help her deal with the disappointment and sadness she feels for a sport she truly loves.
I believe this experience will bring all of us together as a family and I know she will play volleyball again and use her winning spirit to achieve all that she wants in life. As a parent, we need to take care of ourselves so I am going to play my heart out in racquetball, go to kickboxing and spend quality time with friends. Call the National Parent Helpline® and share with others how they helped their child!
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