Three Questions for New Parents


I’ve attended several baby showers lately for new parents and it brings back memories of blissfully  (and anxiously) anticipating the arrival of our first child. My oldest daughter will soon be thirty-one years old and it is certainly cause for reflection on the many difficult decisions that I have made over as many years. 

Parenting is challenging but well worth the many hectic and stressful days.  It is a wonderful feeling to watch children grow into confident, happy, successful adults.  Just as expecting parents prepare for the upcoming birth with a nursery full of accessories, they must also prepare by discussing and developing parenting skills.  Looking back there are probably three questions or situations that parents need to learn to handle in order to come out successfully on the other side of parenting.  


Know When To Say No

Some parents are reluctant to say no or to discipline their children.  Instead they say maybe later, I’ll think about it or ask your dad or mom.  They hope that natural consequences or some outside force will create the boundary so they won’t have to.  Never wanting to disappoint, they instead cajole, over explain or simply avoid the dreaded NO word.   Kids (and adults for that matter) need limits and despite their attempts to convince parents otherwise, they are often relieved when the answer is no.  Parents who never say no are often parents who are trying to be a friend instead of a parent. They are parents who want to be liked at the expense of being respected. Your child will have lots of friends in his or her lifetime but you are the only parent they will have.  Don’t be afraid to fill those shoes.


Know When To Say Yes

Just as important is the situation that calls for yes.  Sometimes it means yes-you can do it, yes-you are capable, you are smart enough, energetic or talented enough.  Sometimes it means that as the parent I am willing to encourage your independence, your ability, your skills, even though it will mean that I am inconvenienced myself in order to do that.  Recognize your child’s strengths, nurture and encourage them as much and  as often as you point out their weaknesses and  the areas they need to work on.


Know When To Ask For Help

Parenting can be unknown and uncharted territory for many.  Our only examples may be our own parents which for some is enough and for others may be seriously lacking as good role models.  As a new parent find experienced role models or mentors who can provide a caring shoulder to lean on and supportive advice when needed.  Equally important, find someone both you and your spouse can agree to agree with.  One of the biggest challenges of parenting is reconciling different parenting styles which come from our different family backgrounds and different personality styles.  Sometimes it takes a third party to calm the waters.

Knowing when to say no, when to say yes and when to ask for help, can provide guidance for the challenging parenting years.  I wish you much success along the journey!


Checkout my ebook:  Parenting with Heart:  Understanding Personality Styles  to       D-I-S-Cover your own personality style and how to speak the language of other personality styles in order to create a winning  environment in all the seasons of your family’s life.


Need some answers to common parenting questions?  In twenty years of school counseling I got asked a lot of questions!   Check out my ebook:  Stuff Parents Want to Know for some strategies and suggestions for books to share on twenty of the most common questions.  


Wyatt the Wonder Dog is on the Move!

What a great time I had last weekend in Manchester Tennessee at the Coffee County Manchester Library.  They hosted a a terrific author event with over twenty authors!

Author Event at Coffee County Manchester Library
Author Event at Coffee County Manchester Library

I always enjoy meeting other authors and hearing their story. I especially enjoyed talking to Teresa Hall, author of The Secret Innkeeper of Tiffany Hill, Chuck Schumacher, author of How to Play Baseball and John A. Anderson, author of The Jager Journal.  

Wyatt the Wonder Dog at Coffee County Manchester Library
Wyatt the Wonder Dog at Coffee County Manchester Library

Where will Wyatt be this week?  We will be visiting the Palmetto State School Counselor Conference in Myrtle Beach, where I’ll be doing a session on DISCover Your Personality Style.  We can’t wait!

South Carolina School Counselor Conference
South Carolina School Counselor Conference

Andy Stanley Parenting Tips

meandprestonAndy Stanley, senior pastor at Northpoint Church, has a message series entitled Future Family.   In one of the sessions, Andy and his wife talk about things they learned and advice they have followed as parents.  It was a pretty brave and informative session because no matter what standards or guidelines you follow as a parent, most people are pretty quick to criticize and correct someone else’s style.  Whether we are successful or not with our own children we are often quick to point out the mistakes of others.

Guidelines for Parenting

One piece of advice that I thought was particularly powerful was the section on guidelines they learned and followed at different ages. I found myself saying, “I wish someone had told me that years ago when my children were young.”  So… now I am sharing it with you the readers of this blog as you navigate the tricky waters of parenting.  The Stanleys said that one of the guidelines they focused on the following things at the following ages:

1-5 years:  Discipline

5-12 years:  Training

12-18  Coaching

18+   Friendship

Just having a conceptual framework for the task at hand can often give us clarity in specific situations.  This doesn’t mean of course that you can’t enjoy your children at younger ages or even be friends.  It also doesn’t mean that a parent tries to mold a child into a style or direct them in things that aren’t of interest to them.  It does mean that the main focus in early years is developing character traits, discipline and self-control that will serve them well in later life.

Preparing Children for Future Success

In the series, Andy points out that he has talked with many parents who have parenting backwards.  In other words, they try to be friends and well liked by their children during the time when they should be discipling and training them and later resort to discipline when they should be coaching.  Instead, following these guidelines  strengthens and deepens family relationships.  It steers children and young adults into habits of success.

Books to Empower Children

This is also the goal of the Wyatt the Wonder Dog Book Series; empowering children to be lifelong problem solvers and leaders in their community.  Each book is designed to tackle a common childhood issue.  Here are the five titles and the topics they teach:

Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Good Manners

Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about being Organized

Wyatt the Wonder Dog Goes to Kindergarten

Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Giving

Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Winning

One Word Can Focus the Family in 2015


Kids grow up so fast.  The world changes even faster.  What will your family be like in five years?  Ten years?  Do you have a vision for your family’s future?  Do you have an idea of the values and the principles that are your family’s foundation?

Stephen Covey  wrote extensively about the importance of having a vision for the future and the necessity of a family being proactive and beginning with the end in mind.  Although well known for his Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, he also wrote about and created a program for families to encourage them to design a family mission statement.

Why One Word?

Currently there is a movement to focus on one word for the year instead of creating resolutions or goals.  While I believe both to be important, I do think that focusing first on one word as a cornerstone for the year is a vital and worthwhile approach.  Most goals or resolutions fail because individuals focus on doing rather than first being.  While actions are important and necessary, they must first come from a mindset of who we want to be or our vision of our best self.

Even small children can be encouraged to select a word as their focus for the year.  I often did this exercise in classroom guidance lessons and students always enjoyed it.  Not only does it immediately engage their creative side but also gives great insight as to their interests and goals.

Selecting a Family Word

Once each member of the family has selected a word for the year, it is then time for everyone to share their words and then select a family word to focus on.  Some questions to think about might be:

What  words  would describe what you think the family should be?

What do you really want the family to accomplish together?

How should we treat each other?

How is our family different and unique?

How can our family be the best we can be?

What are your dreams for our family?

Write down the ideas and then select one or more words for the family to focus on for the year.

Making a Family Vision Board

One way to creatively extend the selection of one word is by creating a family vision board.  Families can create a vision board by illustrating their family word (or words) with pictures, photographs, and words or phrases cut from magazines or even drawn on poster board. It can be a fun and eye-opening experience that becomes a visual reminder each day of what the  family values .  Even young children can help with this project and interact with the family over shared goals.

Just as determining your own one word can empower you personally and help you determine your priorities, it can transform the family as well.  Whether you are planning a vacation or chastising a child for a behavior problem, you can ask both the child and yourself:  Am I following our family’s one word with my words and actions?  If not, how can I change my words and actions so that I am true to the mission of our family?   I can’t think of anything more powerful that you can do as a parent to develop a focus in 2015 than to select one word to guide you.

Two New eBooks on Personality Style! Check out:


Parenting with Style: Understanding Your Child’s Personality Style


Teaching with Style:  Understanding Your Student’s Personality Style

Merry Christmas from Wyatt the Wonder Dog



Twas the night before Christmas and all through the land,

Wyatt and friends were feeling quite grand.

They’d learned quite a bit about it’s meaning you see—

For the spirit of Christmas is generosity.

Wyatt used to think Christmas was all about things;

Presents and toys, electronics that ding.

But now he knows Christmas is giving and sharing,

It’s not about getting, but helping and caring.

So Wyatt wishes you a Christmas of love,

One filled full of joy and grace from above!!

Parenting and the Word, “No”


As we hit the home run stretch of the holiday season, one of the most important words, we as parents can learn to say is “no”.  I realize that I’m starting this post off on a rather negative note, and it’s certainly not my style, but it’s a hard lesson to learn and I was reminded of it just this week.  All you have to do is spend a little time out in the malls shopping with a child or observing other parents shopping with their children to see what I’m talking about.

Parenting and Personality Style

Some parenting personality styles have more trouble saying no than others.  For instance, if you are  ‘D’ personality (think dominant and direct), you probably wonder why anyone would write a post about saying no, never mind have trouble saying the words.  However, if you are any of the 3 remaining personality styles you understand the problem from a different perspective.  ‘I’ personalities (inspiring and interactive) don’t say no because they love to say yes to everything fun, exciting and festive about the holiday season.   They can find themselves in a frenzy with too many commitments and no time. ‘S’ personalities (sweet and supportive) probably have the most trouble saying no because they want to please everyone and don’t want to disappoint anyone.  They are likely to find themselves involved in so many projects that they have no time for themselves at all.  Finally, ‘C’ personalities (careful  and conscientious)  have trouble saying no because they want to make absolutely sure they have gotten all the facts before they make a decision and say no to anything.   They tend to over think a situation and have trouble taking action.


Saying No in any Season

It’s not just about saying no to children and all their requests for gifts  in this holiday season. There are many areas in our lives where saying no is healthy and a good idea year round.  Do you limit yourself and say no to material things that you can’t afford?  Do you make careful choices about where you spend your time or do you say yes to everything that comes down the pike because you don’t want to miss out on any experience?  Do you say yes to things because you’d feel guilty if you said no, even though you really don’t want to spend your time doing what you just agreed to do?  Finally, do you say yes to things because you don’t want your child to be unhappy even though you can’t afford monetarily or time-wise to honor their request?

Teaching a Valuable Lesson

As parents, I’m not sure we realize what a disservice we do to our children when we always say yes and don’t teach them the value of saying no.  Of course we can spoil them with too many material things but the real danger is that by never modeling how to say no, we never teach them to say no to themselves as adults. I was reminded of this lesson myself when teaching  a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace group. One of the young adults in the group explained that budgeting was extremely hard for her because as a child growing up, her parents managed to somehow buy everything she wanted, even if it meant sacrificing themselves.  Consequently now as an adult, she has a very hard time saying no to herself whenever she wants something even when it wrecks havoc with her finances.   When we don’t say no to our children, we don’t just spoil them for the moment.  We are also modeling  for them how to handle their own future decisions.

How do you as a parent balance saying no with saying yes to your children?  How successful are you at saying no to yourself?  Where do you think you learned that?  Share your ideas in the comment section1

Want some great ideas for gifts that make a difference?  Check out speech therapist Mary Frances Gonzalez’ facebook page on Twenty-five days til’ Christmas-Twenty Five Gifts  for gift ideas that encourage skills in early childhood development.

Buddy with Bandana

Holiday Special

Check out the holiday special on Wyatt the Wonder Dog Books and get a holiday bandana!