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 Hear Their Children

Maryann Bucknum Brinley - Sunday, January 05, 2014

To be a good listener, all of you – your mind as well as your body – has to be there. To listen, you need to put aside other thoughts. Concentrate on the speaker. Don’t worry about your to-do list. It won’t ever go away. Only then can you listen and really hear what children may be saying.

As writer Pepper Schwartz said, “Conversation at home has stiff competition.”

Keep this in mind: You have two ears and one mouth so listen twice as much as you talk. Children who know that their parents hear them are less likely to feel alone when faced with pressures.

To hear better than ever:

* Hang around your kids.

* Start early (even with your newborn baby as I’ve been watching Maggie do!) and don’t ever stop.

At three weeks, Evangeline is already listening to her mother Maggie!

* Tone of voice is critical. “What” can easily turn into a four-letter word when your volume is turned up to a strident point.

* Angry? Wait before you open your mouth to speak. Being in good shape is important. Think: Am I preoccupied, hungry, furious, frustrated or too tired to think?

* Ask the right questions. And don’t use that word “why” to start off. “Why” will always put someone, especially a child, on the defensive.

My Work