Category Archives: Parenting

Dear Daughter Letter

After watching Miley Cyrus disgusting performance on the VMAs, angry mom Kim Keller wrote an open letter to her 13-year-old daughter to turn this ugly display into a teaching moment.  I loved her letter so much, I read it on air, and am posting it below.

Kim just sent in this follow-up email which I wanted to share with you:

Thank you from Roadkill Goldfish, the author of “Dear Daughter”. I am the mom who wrote that viral letter about my commitment to parent my child. I wanted to thank you for reading it on the air. The feedback from parents has been OVERWHELMINGLY positive.

Dr. Laura, YOU are the reason I am my kids’ mom. I used to listen to your show on my commute. I was on a corporate fast-track, and I had every intention of going back to my full-time job after my daughter’s birth, but when the doctor handed me the sweet pink bundle I knew I couldn’t let anyone else raise her.

I would absolutely hug your neck if I had the opportunity, and I am so honored to have had you read my words. Thank you for being bold. Thank you for looking out for children.

Best regards,

Kim Keller
The Roadkill Goldfish

Here is Kim’s “Dear Daughter” letter:

“Dear daughter, let Miley Cyrus be a lesson to you.

Yes, this is what happens when you constantly hear everything you do is awesome. This is what happens when people fawn over your every Tweet and Instagram photo. This is what happens when no responsible adult has ever said the word ‘no,’ made you change your clothes before leaving the house, or never spanked your butt for deliberate defiance.

If you ever even consider doing something like that, I promise you that I will run up and twerk so you will see how ridiculous twerking looks. I will duct tape your mouth shut so your tongue doesn’t hangout like an overheated hound dog. I will smack any male whom you decide to smash against his pelvis – after I first knock you on your butt for forgetting how a lady acts in public.

Why would I do that? Because I love you and I want you to respect yourself. Miley Cyrus is not edgy or cool or sexy. She’s a desperate girl screaming for attention: Notice me. Tell me I’m pretty. See how hot I am. I know all the guys want me. All the girls want to be me.

You probably know girls who will emulate this behavior at the next school dance. Don’t do it with them. You are far too valuable to sell yourself so cheaply. Walk away. Let the boys gawk and know in your heart that they see only a body that can be used for their pleasure and then forgotten.

I’m sorry if you’ve ever felt sad because I haven’t gushed over everything you’ve done. My role is to praise when praise is due, but also to offer constructive criticism and correction when it is needed as well. I’m sorry if you’ve ever felt demoralized because your Instagram following isn’t in the thousands, and I’m sorry those ‘selfies’ can never capture how amazingly beautiful you truly are. I’m sorry if you’ve ever wished you had a friend instead of a mom, and I promise you that I will probably get worse when you hit high school.

Dear daughter, I am going to fight or die trying to keep you from becoming like the Miley Cyruses of the world.

You can thank me later.”

How Can I Make Them (or Myself) Change?

The type of call I’m least fond of on my show is “How do I change my sister-mother-cousin-uncle-father-friend-husband-wife-kid?”  People don’t change because YOU want them to.  They may not even change if THEY want to.

People need three things in order to change (and you’ll notice that your name is NOT among them):

1. Willingness 
2. Desire 
3. Courage

Let’s break them down…

Willingness 

A change that somebody else requests only gets made about 0.0001 percent of the time.  It usually takes a crisis or a really bad situation before someone willingly accepts that they need to change. They spend their energy rationalizing, justifying, making excuses, and explaining why they don’t have to.  In order to change, they have to be willing to make mistakes, look and feel stupid, be scared, and admit to others that they need to change.

Desire 

Desire is different from willingness. It’s the logical need to initiate the change. Desire is saying, “I really need to make this change because if I don’t, I’ll lose my marriage/health/life or limb.” The kinds of payoffs that inspire change are things the person values a lot.  Without their heart really being in it, they are never going to change.

Courage 

Courage is the most important of all the factors, and it’s the area where most people fail.  They may have the intellectual notion that they should do something better with their lives to be happier or more successful, but that’s not enough. True change requires guts.

When I first started on radio 30-plus years ago, I was so concerned with how smart I was going to sound that I had trouble tapping into what callers were saying and getting inside their heads. However, one day I just said to myself, “Look, it doesn’t matter how you sound. You’re supposed to be there to help people, and if you come across as stupid for one call or several calls, so be it.” It was at that point that I really started to be able to hear what callers were saying.  I could open up with them because I had gotten myself out of the way.

If you allow yourself to get in the way, keep obsessing over how you sound or look, or continuously worry about who is going to approve, you can’t do what you are meant to be doing.  I like to think that we are all meant to do something on this earth. However, so many of you don’t do what you may desire to try because you can’t stand the interim period of looking stupid to someone else.  But sometimes you have to look like an idiot today in order to be better tomorrow.

When you’re faced with a conflict or the possibility of looking stupid, you lose your good intentions and the gumption to sustain a change. This is why you have to be able to speak the truth and accept that you’re not perfect.  One thing I think everyone should do is get up in the morning and say the Serenity Prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Knowing what you can and cannot change is probably the most important piece of information you can get into your head at the beginning of the day. If you say it out loud, it will have a lot less power over you.

Finally, you can’t beat yourself up when you try and things don’t go perfectly. There’s a difference between healthy and unhealthy perfectionism.  Healthy perfectionism means that you use your drive to learn and challenge yourself. It is unhealthy to beat yourself up when you make mistakes – that’s something ALL humans do. Otherwise, your life will be a total retreat.

Have you ever shot pool, played golf, or done any other type of sport where you have to control a part of your body to move something else? No matter how much training you’ve had, when you’re stressed, nervous, scared or challenged, you tend to revert back to old familiar habits. This happens to me when I play tennis. When I’m feeling stressed or pressured, I tend to bring my elbow in and do a chop shot. The way I recover is by saying in my brain, “It doesn’t matter if you miss the ball. What matters is that you continue to do the right swing, and eventually, you’ll be hitting all the balls correctly.”  This may seem like a silly example, but the same mindset applies to all aspects of your life.

Should You Give Your Kid an Allowance?

A question I get asked frequently by parents who call my show is, “Should I give my child an allowance, and if so, how much should I give them?” Here are my thoughts…

According to one study, the top reason parents give their children a weekly allowance is to minimize the time they have to deal with them. “Here’s some money, now leave me alone” is about as far as most of the so-called teaching goes.

However, allowances are important because they teach kids at a young age the very valuable lesson that you must earn the things you have.  The more your kids learn a sense of earning, the more they will respect money, the more they will respect themselves for earning it, and the more control they will have over their lives in the future.

Giving your child an allowance also teaches them about budgeting.  Kids who aren’t brought up with a sense of saving tend not to do well in their 20s.

I think a basic allowance should be based on your child’s age.  If they’re 8 years old, they should get $8; if they’re 15, they get $15, etc.  Now, what can your child do with $15?  Not a whole lot, but it’s the beginning of teaching them something about money and controlling impulses.

An alternative is to give older teens (15 or 16) a couple hundred dollars a month, and out of that they have to pay for everything: school lunches, their cell phone bill, any clothes they want, etc.  If they want something bigger than that, they will have to go out and earn money and/or do more chores.

What about using money as a disciplinary tool? My thought is that when you take something away from a child, he or she has to earn it back. Just taking away their cell phone, for example, doesn’t really get through to them because they know they’re eventually going to get it back.

However, if they have to earn it back, it completely changes the way they look at it.  If they’re late paying their phone bill, the service gets cut off. They really need to learn how to keep up with taking care of their responsibilities. Sit down with your child and say, “These are the things that are gone, and this is how you have to earn them back” (e.g. good behavior, good deeds, mowing the lawn, etc.).

When talking to kids about allowances, you should mostly discuss impulse control.  And that’s where you as the parent come in as a role model.  Do you have impulse control, or do you just irresponsibly spend?

Every moment is a moment to teach your child. Don’t miss out!

Top 10 Reasons the Steam in a Marriage Cools

 

What are some of the most common things that suck intimacy out of a marriage? Let’s take a look at a few:

1. You’re out of the habit

What you don’t keep doing, you feel less comfortable doing. For example, suppose you need to send someone a thank-you card.  You keep meaning to write it, but you don’t get around to it. The longer you allow time to pass, the more uncomfortable it is when you eventually do follow through. It’s the same thing with sex. The longer you put it off, the weirder and less comfortable it seems, and therefore, the less likely you are to do it. Habit is everything.

2. Erectile dysfunction

Almost half of men over 40 have problems getting it up and keeping it up. However, before just popping a Viagra, guys should:

  • Try exercising, eating healthier, and not drinking or smoking.
  • Find out if any of their meds for aches and pains are getting in the way.
  • Stop exhausting themselves at the office (and having nothing else to give when they come home).
  • Make suggestions to their wives about how to assist them (as guys get older, the thought of sex alone may not be enough).

3. Menopause   

Over 60 percent of divorces are initiated by women in their menopausal years. Menopause is like a reverse-puberty hormonal hell, except this time you’re checking out rather than checking in. One thing that happens to many women when they go through menopause is they gain weight; not specifically because of the hormones, but because they get lazy. They become sedentary and don’t eat well, which restricts circulation (i.e. less blood flow “down there”).  If your circulation is compromised, it’s like a hose with a kink in it, and it becomes more difficult to get aroused.

4. Lost looks

This is a biggie. Forty-three percent of married people claim that their spouse isn’t attractive anymore. This usually means their spouse has let themselves go.  So much of a relationship comes from your commitment to your own health and well-being, both mentally and physically.  If you’re not treating yourself well, you’re not treating the relationship well.  Being fit not only makes you feel better, but it also shows that you give a damn.

5. Sexual differences

Men are over five times more likely than women (45 percent versus 8 percent) to think about sex at least once a day. If you and your spouse aren’t reasonably matched or cooperative, it leads to blame, resentment, anger, and disrespectful speech.  Gender-based differences in desire are biologically built in to any heterosexual union, which is sad, but a reality.

6. Infidelity

Infidelity shatters trust and withers intimacy.  Infidelity is a result of one of two things: 1) the cheater is simply a bad person (sorry, there is no such thing as “sex addiction”), or 2) their spouse wasn’t paying attention to them so they went elsewhere to be fed. In either case, infidelity cuts into sex drive (primarily for the person who was cheated on).

7. Parenthood

A third of women say they experience no sexual pleasure whatsoever for the entire first year after giving birth as a result of messed up hormones, exhaustion, and stress.  However, even though we may not feel incredibly horny, we can still cuddle, play, and do things that bring pleasure to our day and alleviate some of the stress and exhaustion.  There’s something rejuvenating about cuddling, touching, hugging, and kissing.

8. Pregnancy 

Women’s sexual pleasure may drop by as much as 39 percent during the third trimester (when the kid’s ready to pop) due to body-image issues, financial issues, impending role shifts, and/or hormonal-based changes. Many spouses don’t understand this and get mad at each other. As I said earlier, if you cuddle, caress, and snuggle more, you’ll be less frustrated, miserable, and depressed.

9. No time

Eighty percent of married couples blame their declining sex lives on being “too busy”. Whoever thought when you were younger that you’d be too busy to get it on? If you’re not prioritizing sex, you’d better. Men need to organize their lives less around success and career, and women need to schedule less around children and extended family.  Spouses should come together at the end of the day to eat, play, take a bath, hug, caress, snuggle, sip a little wine, and get it on.

10. Not in the mood

It’s normal for one of you not to be in the mood. So what?  Put on a sexy video, don some sexy clothes or perfume, and/or behave and talk in a sexy way. The best sex is not always spontaneous like in the movies when all of a sudden everyone’s clothes come off and they’re humping against a wall.  You can schedule sex – there’s nothing un-romantic about that.  Say cutely to each other, “Tonight at 9 when the kids are in bed, I’ll meet you in the shower/tub/bedroom.”  It doesn’t matter how many times you do it, it just matters that you put in the energy and thought.

My final piece of advice: Think quickies. You can have a lot of fun with quickies.

 

 

My Toddler Won’t Share

If you’re embarrassed, angry, or frustrated about your toddler not sharing, I’ll let you in on a little secret:

Little kids don’t share!

When human children are born, they are virtually helpless and their brains are barely ready to do anything.  Newborns can’t talk, knit, type or use an iPhone. They can’t even roll over.  Their brains continue to develop after they are born, which is why one day they can pick their nose, but the day before they couldn’t (all the synapses for nose picking got completed). For the first six or seven years of a child’s development, their brain is furiously trying to make connections so they can do all the things humans do.

So, when you parents get crazed and demented about your 2- and 3-year-olds not sharing, you’re the one with the problem, not them.  Kids at that age play parallel. They don’t have impulse control, they’re very territorial, they want what they want, and they don’t play well with each other. Those developmental stages take time. Kids don’t share until they are about 7 because their brains are not yet wired for it.

I’ve heard parents contest, “Well, what we do is sit with our 1 1/2-year-old, and when they hand something back to us, we say, ‘Yay, that was so nice!’, and smile and make it a big deal.” But that is not sharing. If another kid comes into the room and takes that same thing, it’s blood in the water.  You can tell your toddler all you want how nice sharing is, but given a chance to split something equally, they won’t.

So what should you do when other kids come over?  Put out a ton of toys.  Stop screaming, threatening, spanking, and going crazy because you’re embarrassed that your 12-month-old is not acting like they’re 12.  Wait until they are 7. By then, they will have the pre-frontal lobe development and maturation necessary to actually share. If after the age of 7 your kid is a little brat that never wants to share, that’s a different issue, but until then, get off their case and relax.