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 Set Time Aside

Maryann Bucknum Brinley - Monday, February 24, 2014

Until children are at least 4, they live in the “now” with little understanding of the concept of time. Even long after that age, telling a child, “Tomorrow we will talk.” …or, “Later, I can sit down” …or “Next summer, we will all be together” often makes no sense to them. For babies and little ones, the concepts of past, present and future are all disjointed. So watch out, children may hear your words without really understand your good intentions.

Happy parents know that they must set “time” aside on so many different levels, not just talking about time but actually taking time in the now to interact with their children.

* Be a passive presence. Sit on the side of a sandbox or a bed or on the floor. Simply be there.

* Take a walk together with no destination in particular and no need to hurry.

(Finn, my daughter-in-law Erin, and even Charlotte love to walk, especially during this snowy winter when fresh air can change the whole demeanor of a long day.)

* Establish a time in your busy life when your child knows you will be likely to hear. Working moms and dads may want to consider a telephone appointment, in fact. One parent I remember would call the kids every day at 3 pm.

* Be patient. Don’t try to pull words out of the mouths of babes.

* Keep your own comments short.

* Don’t finish sentences. Don’t correct mispronunciations or grammatical errors. Under age 6, kids meander through thoughts or stories.

* Let children own their own feelings. Don’t try to talk them out of an emotion even if you disagree or don’t understand what the big deal is all about.

* Put that cell phone down. You may learn or see something quite extraordinary about your child if your brain isn’t too busy being somewhere else.

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