Maryann Bucknum Brinley

167 Cooper Avenue
Upper Montclair, NJ 07043-1810

973-202-5909 (cell)

The Secrets of Happy Parenting

More than 16 years ago, I wrote a book about the secrets of happy parenting. My children, Zach and Maggie, were still children then but the world was just as complicated for parents trying to be happy. In fact, I have researched and written a lot about pregnancy and parenting issues – once from the perch of the director of the Infants and Children’s Laboratory at the Good Housekeeping Institute. Zach is a father of two now. His son, Finn, is 2 ½ and my granddaughter Charlotte just turned 1. Now, Maggie is pregnant with her first, a daughter who will be born sometime around Dec. 4. I am deeply in love with this role of grandmother. So as I look back at parenting and my daughter Maggie looks forward, I have decided to launch a blog, retooling some of those secrets I shared way back when and, at times, examining parenting from two different generational points. Maggie, a wonderful writer as you will discover, is a nurse at New York University’s Langone Hospital.

Happy Parents Don't Let Fear Get In The Way

Maryann Bucknum Brinley - Thursday, November 21, 2013

 “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” Franklin D. Roosevelt

I can still remember that feeling on the very first night of my son Zach’s life at home in my care. I awoke to the sound of nothing and my stomach lurched in fear as I leaned over his bassinet next to the bed. Still exhausted from labor, delivery, and the shocking realization that I was responsible for another human being, I was checking him for signs of life, of course. Was he still breathing?

Fear is an emotion all normal parents know so well. It comes with the territory of parenthood from the very beginning. It’s healthy. It can certainly save lives. Yet it can also color everything you do as a parent and ruin your chances for happiness if you let it overwhelm you.

Stress can also magnify your fears and make it impossible for you to say, “Yes” to your child’s natural urges to explore. Yes, there are dangers. Yes, your fears could be legitimate. But worrying will not get you anywhere. Deal with reality, not your imaginary disasters.

“Worry is like a rocking chair: It gives you something to do but doesn’t get you anywhere.” – Evan Esar

Understand what your child comprehends, and is capable of … then you can say, “Yes” with more confidence. Err on the side of being cautiously permissive, removing dangers and obstacles along the way. But remember that touching a warm stove, balancing on, or falling off, a jungle gym, crossing a street alone, failing a test in school, suffering the consequences for making a mistake…are experiences that teach judgment. Honestly, a child’s good judgment does not come from restraint but from experience. And real life experience is a better teacher than you could ever be on your own.

Finn learning how to handle scissors for the first time, on his own:

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