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Filtering by Tag: relationships

SOS! You Need to Parent on the Same Page… But How?

Amanda Houle

It’s no secret that marriage is hard work -- not to mention parenting. Considering the national divorce rate, which hovers between 40-50%, depending on your source, too many of us aren’t up to the task. A big part of that problem comes from parenting, specifically, the failure to parent on the same page. What am I talking about? Well, do you ever feel like you’re the bad cop while your partner gets to be the good cop? Exhausting, isn’t it? Or maybe your partner is the disciplinarian and you find yourself walking on eggshells around kids who know they’ve got your number.

 

Whatever the situation, attempting to parent from two different pages or positions, is downright impossible; certainly not sustainable for the long run. Unless you want to bow out of the race entirely (please don’t), take a look at the following 4 Pillars of Parenting with a Punch. Let me help you get on the same page and empower your parenting efforts...

Understanding the 4 Pillars of Parenting with a Punch

What does it mean to parent with a punch? It means empowerment. It means backing up your decisions and actions with confidence and clarity in your judgment. But the strength required to strike the right impact isn’t always easy to muster… especially with a partner. A quick check of my Google analytics shows that “parenting on the same page” is the number one search of my site.

 

No wonder so many of you are calling for reinforcements, and here they are… 

Pillar #1: Effective Communication with Your Partner and Children

First and foremost, your family was founded on the relationship between you and your partner. The way you communicate, address, and engage one another will translate to your children. Believe me, they are watching and they aren’t missing much. You need to master effective communication between the two of you in order to foster clear and kind communication between yourselves and your children. Communicate with kindness and keep the focus on listening before speaking. The inability to listen can result in obstacles to critical messages ever reaching you. Open ears, open heart, closed mouth… that’s the rule until the floor is yours and you feel in command of the message you wish to send.

Pillar #2: Own It!

Own what, exactly? Everything! Own your energy, your mindset, and your behavior. Listen, in this life there are few things we can really control. But, those three - energy, mindset, behavior - are well within your remit. Do not blame, but look inward and assess your role, your actions, and your outset before looking to those around you.

Pillar #3: There is No “I” in Team

I know -- total cliche, but totally true. You cannot focus on you when you’re trying to tend to your team. Granted, you are integral to your team, but you, alone, are not the team. In order to parent on the same page, you have to share a page. Attempting to flip back and forth between disparate pages only closes the book and kills communication. As frustrating as that is, consider the consequences experienced by your children. Take a moment (or as long as it takes) between you and your partner. Get your heads together and figure out what the focus is for your family. And be flexible! That focus can, and will, change over time. After all, your kids are growing up and the challenges with every milestone will vary. You need to be able to bob and weave together, according to the same playbook, specifically, the same page of said playbook.

Pillar #4 - Draw a Different Line in the Sand

Discipline is an important, useful component of parenting. Where would we be without it? It’s the recourse to the bad decision or questionable choice made by our children. As many of you already know, but for those who don’t, my definition and style of discipline hinges on expectations, rather than reprimands. I believe that clear expectations, rather than reactionary punishments, are what best set children up for success.

 

No matter your personal definition or style, too many of us rely on discipline as a destination, not an ongoing journey. In other words, we discipline via decisive action, but often miss the educational component required to really make a lasting impact. Does your child understand why he or she is being punished? Do they know why the behavior is problematic? Do they really? Or are you just assuming that these interactions are clear and impactful?

 

Too many partners value different disciplinary styles, which can lead to confusion.. Of course, if you and your partner are confused, how clear do you think your kids feel about what’s going on around them? Children thrive on predictability with respect to routine and response. Variations in response between partners can be damaging and, ultimately, sets kids up for failure because they aren’t confident in the rules of the game.

The Bottom Line.

The healthier and happier you are as a couple, the better chances your children have of emulating your behavior. Children pick up your energy and will take what they know as they grow older. In order to set them up for success, it’s imperative that you and your partner acknowledge your value systems and share the same principles of parenting.

 

Children need to see you working together as a team in order to feel safe and secure following your lead.

 

 

 

 

 

Getting Busy Begets Better Parenting

Amanda Houle

As the saying goes, “hindsight is 50/50.” Bearing that in mind, one of my recent podcasts should have simply been titled, “Let’s Talk About Sex.” Cue Salt n’ Peppa, Marvin Gaye, whatever gets you in the mood, but in all seriousness, when it comes to effective parenting and optimizing the well-being of our family units, it’s time to get down and dirty.

 

The problem, of course, is that honest discourse about intercourse is still practically taboo. We all have questions, concerns, and challenges, but few of us are able to own and operate the functions of our sex lives. Ultimately, the real shame comes from our inability to navigate the conversation alone, as well as with those around us. Open dialogue about sex, masturbation, orgasms, etc., has the powerful potential to connect us with our authentic selves and our partners. Shame-faced silence results in tension and trouble that spills over into the larger family dynamic. Sound familiar?

 

Is there a solution?

 

Well, there’s no one-size fits all solution for any one person, couple, or family. However, what I have for your consideration is five quick tips to take your conversation from taboo to topic #1.

Tip #1 - Own the Obvious

Yes, let’s just acknowledge the naked elephant in the room. Talking about sex, for most of us, is uncomfortable. The reasons for this are vast, but often rooted in some sort of shame surrounding what is simply a natural part of life. Pleasure is our birthright. So, go ahead and blush for a hot minute, but then get to the nitty-gritty of what is and isn’t working in your sex life. If necessary, rehearse what you want to say to your partner alone until you can do so with calm confidence.

 

Why?

 

Because the relationship between you and your partner is the foundation of your family. Need I explain the threat posed by cracks in a foundation?

Tip #2 - What Do You Want?

Before you can make any progress with this candid conversation, you have to isolate what it is that you want from your relationship. Understand your role in this partnership; in other words, keep the blame game out of it. Begin your conversation with “I” statements. For example, “I think it’s important that we have a rich and vibrant sex life;” “I think we deserve to have more sex on a regular basis,” or “I think we should talk about how to make our sex life a priority.”

 

If you must address a concern with your partner, leverage the “sandwich technique.” Start with something positive, even if that is just a desire, ie., “I want the fire that we used to have.” This is far better than saying, “You never initiate sex anymore.” No one responds well to attack, especially not when the subject is already a sensitive one. From that initial positive tone, you can illustrate a negative experience or example, but make it clear that you are only doing so to demonstrate your point. Once that point is made, slap the lid on that sandwich with something encouraging and hopeful. 

Tip #3 - Communicate, Don’t Control

Even if you have to practice what you want to say beforehand, do not come to the table with an agenda. Your goal here should not be to control the conversation, but to communicate effectively -- with kindness -- about what is at stake. Acknowledge that these are awkward topics, which might result in uncomfortable or uneasy feelings.

 

Unfortunately, hurt feelings might be inevitable. No one likes to be criticized, no matter how gently, particularly about bedroom performance. Acknowledge any potential for bruised egos and be clear that the intention is not to injure. Ladies, we know we tend to talk more. Make a concerted effort to practice listening and avoid interrupting or overriding your partner’s chance to express what he or she is feeling. Doing so kills the conversation and challenges future communication. Think of a snowball gaining in size… stop it while it’s only a few little flakes.

Tip #4 - Hone in on Your Homeground

What built your relationship in the first place? What values, aspirations, and guidance do you embrace for your family? If you can hone in on your homeground, you can celebrate your strengths, acknowledge your weaknesses, and make the shared choice to move forward, happily and confident in your ability to prioritize your relationship, while parenting effectively. After all, the best thing you can do for your kids is to model a solid and happy relationship. Your family began as a couple. Putting your relationship first is not selfish, but smart for the sake of your growing family.

 

Part of that process involves protecting that homebase. How so?

 

Keep it simple and consider the basics. Have you and your partner set clear boundaries with respect to your shared space relative to your children? In other words, does your door lock securely? Are you children taught to respect locked doors by knocking before entering? Are you co-sleeping with your children? If so, have you imagined a timeline for when they will embrace their own sleeping environments? In the meantime, how and when do you address your own needs?

 

Your ability to answer these questions and establish the boundaries necessary to protecting your private relationship will prove crucial to how authentically, soulfully, and happily you present to your children.

Tip #5 - Good Work is Often Work-in-Progress

Listen, no one masters this overnight.

 

Any balancing act takes skill, determination, and perseverance. No sooner have you figured out how to parent one child while protecting and prioritizing your relationship with your partner, that you find out you’re expecting your second. The one thing all kids have in common is their ability to highlight the differences between you and your partner and to bring things into focus that you might otherwise want to look past or beyond.

 

Banish the blinders. Be clear-sighted, confident that you can take on these challenges, and, in times of struggle, communicate the need for help; first, with your partner and then, if need be, with available support from a professional.

 

The bottom line?

 

Getting busy begets better parenting because it benefits you and your partner. Shore up any cracks in your foundation by getting the support to strengthen your home from the ground up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Years 2018

Amanda Houle

I love New Years Eve and enjoy relaxing on New Years Day taking the time to be reflect. I strongly feel that we can make changes at any time and the New Year does not have to be the end all be all to solidify a resolution. It is fun to look back at the year you had, the good, the bad, and be able to find gratitude for all the lessons. This is when you can truly reflect and take ownership for all that you would like to achieve. Whether it be lose weight, get a new job, move up the ladder, spend more time with friends, have more sex, 1 thing is certain when YOU focus on yourself everything else typically falls into place. Yes- this means if your yelling more than talking with your spouse and at your children, learning to recognize your triggers will support you in creating the change. Is communication a struggle in your relationships? I have invested in so many ventures this past year from joining B-School an online business program which allowed me to up-level in my business, to improve my closest relationships because I said YES to growth. Change is hard. It isn't supposed to be easy but if we looked at it through the lens of a place of introspection then we would have a lot more healthier and happier families. That is my biggest goal to contribute to raising confident, successful, happy, independent, strong children. 

Let today be the day you decide to take control of the present moment and prepare your family for a thriving marriage and healthy relationships with your children where they want to share and come to you without fear of being judged years down the line and now! 

Make the investment and your world will forever be changed. 

With love,

Amanda Founder of Parenting with a Punch and Host of Parenting with a Punch show