Guest Post: “The Power of Hope in Treating Cancer” with Heather Von St James

I have a powerful story to share with you today. I have a guest post from an incredibly inspiring woman named Heather Von St James. Heather contacted me earlier this week, asking so genuinely and graciously if I could share her story on Close Families. She needs to tell it. She needs you to hear it. I could not wait to share with you the story of this woman, her supportive husband, and their beautiful daughter. Please visit Heather’s website, www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/heather, to learn more about her family, her life, her courage, and the cancer that she has beat all odds against today. You won’t regret your time spent over there; it’s a beautiful blog. And here’s her story:

The Power of Hope in Treating Cancer

When someone asks my daughter about my cancer, she always tells people that she saved my life. This is my 7-year-old’s automatic response. It is as natural for her as it is to say that she feels sick or tired. People may not understand what she says, but I will be the first one to explain how true it is.

My husband Cameron and I were married for seven years until we thought about having children. At the time, I was 35 years old and nervous that my age would cause issues. Luckily, we became pregnant within three months and my pregnancy progressed wonderfully. After having an emergency C-section, I was finally able to hold my daughter for the first time and the experience was unmatched by any I have ever felt. In my arms was this perfect, beautiful creature. All I could think of was loving and nurturing the adorable child in my arms.

Within a few months, my life changed for the worse. A few months after my daughter’s birth, I was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma. This type of cancer is especially dangerous and kills 95 percent of the people who are diagnosed. According to my doctor, I would die in 15 months if I did not immediately start treatment. I knew I had to decide what to do, but I could not. I was paralyzed with fear as I sat absorbing the news. My husband decided for us and we began to travel to Boston for treatment.

The treatment process began with a risky surgery called an extrapleural pneumonectomy. In it, they removed my left lung, and part of the lining of my heart and my diaphragm. The surgery was so traumatic that I had to spend a month recuperating at the hospital and in an outpatient facility. Afterward, I spent another two months at my parents’ house in South Dakota where my daughter was being taken care of throughout the entire ordeal. Due to all the time spent in treatment, I was forced to spend a month without seeing my newborn daughter. The only thing that helped me get through it was the thought of Lily growing up without a mother.

Once I had recovered enough, I returned to our home in Minnesota. At home I started chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Through all of the pain and suffering, I kept strong because I knew my daughter needed me. She needed a mother to take care of her and guide her as she grew up. I could not allow myself to give into cancer no matter how painful or long my recovery was. Today, my daughter tells people that she saved my life and that couldn’t be more true.

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For Argument’s Sake

I walked through the cold rain, clicking my heels a little faster and harder than necessary as we walked across the parking lot towards the movie theater.

“What, are you trying to run away from me?” my husband asked with anger still in his voice.

“I’m just trying to get out of the rain.” True. But also, I was trying to run away from him.

We paid for two tickets to see Reacher and headed toward the snack bar.

“Do you want anything?” I asked.

“Whatever you want.”

We waited in line in silence. As I combed the knots from my long, wet hair with my fingers, my eyes caught a young couple standing in the line next to ours. They were holding hands. They were smiling at each other in a way only new lovers do. I took in a long breath, and as I exhaled, I let my shoulders relax, releasing them from the tension I hadn’t realized they carried. I grabbed my husband’s hand and smiled at him.

“Can we please just enjoy the rest of the night?” I asked.

“Yeah.” He squeezed my hand. Maybe a little harder than required. Sure, we were late for the movie to start, but his sister-in-law needed my blogging advice. I just had to help her right then. But he was definitely wrong that I do that kind of thing all the time. Or at least I was pretty sure.

We watched the movie, holding hands and cuddling in the seats. I clenched his thigh during the suspenseful parts. He tried to pull my hands away from my face when someone was about to get shot.

After the movie, we drove to the restaurant that he had suggested. It was a small, Italian spot in the basement floor of a shopping center. Nothing I would have chosen on my own, but I liked the atmosphere. Behind my husband was a large poster featuring Michelangelo’s David (from the waist up) in an ad for Italian imported wines. I wanted a picture for my Instagram account. I could picture the caption now: “My anniversary #date… No, the guy with the #beard, not the one that’s #chiseled.” I thought it was clever. My husband had other thoughts.

“Why do you always have to share every single moment with the world? Can’t some things be just between us?”

“I do keep a lot of things just between us. I like to write and share things with people. I sit at home with our baby all day. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. But it’s nice to have adult interaction too.”

“Maybe if you weren’t always checking your Facebook or Instagram, you and I could have a lot more interactions.”

A valid point.

“It’s our anniversary, and we can’t even go on one date without arguing!” he said.

I felt a little hurt. And a lot to blame. But I couldn’t let it go yet.

“Well, maybe we could if you were willing to do something together other than watching sports or the history channel. I can only stay interested in that for so long, and then I get bored. Your idea of spending time together is watching TV. What’s the difference between you being glued to the TV and me being glued to the Internet?”

“There’s a difference. Watching TV together, at least we are involved in the same activity, and we can laugh and talk about it.”

Another decent point.

“I’m just trying to enjoy our night together. Rarely can we afford the time or money to go out, and we can’t even enjoy it, because we’ve been arguing all night!” he said.

“You’re not enjoying it? What about the movie?” I asked. He read the disappointment on my face.

“It’s not that I’m not enjoying it. The movie was fine.”

“When we weren’t talking,” I noted.

“Well, yeah. At least we weren’t arguing.”

“Babe, I’ve got news for you,” I said, “We argue all the time.”

“Not ALL the time,” he said.

“Yes, we do. Name a time when we’re not arguing about something.”

He thought for a minute. “When we’re driving home after visiting our parents, and the kids are asleep.”

“Okay, yes, that’s one. When you’re trying to make me laugh or keep me awake,” I said.

“Right. And then there’s…” Silence.

“My point is, we argue all the time. Why should our anniversary be any different? Most of the time, it’s not even a big deal and we end up laughing it off as soon as it starts. Just because we argue doesn’t mean we can’t have fun doing it.” I smiled at him. Winked.

As he thought, I reached across the table and held his hand. We argued about whether or not we were going to order an appetizer, and if we did, which one, and then we ate and talked and laughed and discovered about a dozen other little arguments between then and picking up our boys.

We drove home in the rain, with the boys asleep in the backseat, listening to the radio.
“I had a great time with you tonight,” I said.

“I had a good time with you too.”

I reached for his hand, and squeezed it tight, happy that we agreed.

**Linking up with the talented folks at Yeah Write! Click the button to read about it!**


Spiritual Sunday: An Interview with “Be An Acorn”

I am so excited for today’s edition of Spiritual Sunday. I did an interview Friday evening via Facebook chat with a friend of mine, the blogger behind Be An Acorn. The thoughts and stories that he shared with me are jaw-dropping, humbling, and inspirational. And he gives all the credit to God, whom he is truly walking closely with through his journey. You’ll see what I mean… Enjoy!

Interview with Courtney from “Be An Acorn:”

Laura @ Close Families: So what first inspired you to write your blog, “Be An Acorn?”

Courtney @ Be An Acorn: I suppose I’ve always been a writer and after my encounter with God, where the blog name came from, I almost couldn’t NOT do it. I’d been blogging for awhile at the time and it was really just a natural marriage of two desires: writing and teaching via life experiences.

Laura: Yes, that seems like a good fit! When you say, “my encounter with God,” when would you say that happened in your life?

Courtney: 

Wow. It feels so long ago. I think it was about 2007. I’d been a believer, sincerely, since about ’01, but while in the woods, alone, I’d been praying, really yelling in frustration, to God, when he verbally answered me. I heard as clear as if you had spoken to me “be an acorn.”

So by ‘encounter’ I really mean encounter, not simply ‘getting saved.’

Laura: Wow! That is amazing. Amazing doesn’t even scratch the surface of what that must have felt like to experience that. And how did you know what he meant by that phrase, “be an acorn?”

Courtney: I didn’t. Not initially. I was in a complete state of shock and disbelief. I spent days, maybe weeks, arguing with myself whether I’d really heard the voice of God or just made it up in my head. Eventually, after prayer and pondering, I realized it meant that great things start out small and to be the beginning of something great. Jesus uses seeds in so many of his parables.

Laura: And an acorn is a small seed compared to the great oak it will one day become. So since that moment, since you took those first steps toward something great, what have you learned through Be An Acorn… through the writing and teaching?

Courtney: That’s a great question.

Laura: Thanks. 🙂

Courtney: 

It seems like I’ve learned on every topic. I’ve learned about soil, that what I’m planted in, what I’m surrounded with is incredibly important. Translated that means what environments and people I surround myself with.

I’ve learned that on my own I can accomplish nothing, but only by working with God in the way he designed me will I grow and prosper. When a seed is planted, it must actually be broken, it must die, before life can spring forth. I had to learn to die.

Laura: That’s a powerful statement. And humbling?

Courtney: 

Very much so. Being broken hurts. Dying…I wouldn’t say it hurts, but I would say it can be quite terrifying at times.

It is the ultimate test of our faith, if what we have hoped for will be seen.

Laura: And if someone wants to hear God’s calling for their own life… how do you suggest they start?

Courtney: Well, God communicates in a number of ways, but we know that Jesus sent the Counselor to guide us. The Holy Spirit is a communicator for God. As it says in Acts, to be baptised in Holy Spirit, is that first step. Just like communicating with anyone, gotta open up the line first. So, just ask that he speak to you, welcome him. Ask for it. Ask God that he reveal the purpose he has for you and then be ready for change and challenges. 🙂

Laura: I’m sure being ready for it is key too! “Be careful what you wish for,” so to speak? No doubt, God has great things in store for us all, but I’m sure you’ve had challenges in this journey you’re on… Care to share a challenge you’ve had to face recently?

Courtney: lol. Which one?

Laura: Any old one you choose!!

Courtney: 

How about learning to totally rely on God for provision. For over 16 months I have not had a “safe and predictable” income, yet somehow EVERY, SINGLE, month I’ve paid my bills.

He will take away everything you lean on, that isn’t of Him, until He is the only possible solution left. And He does this to get us to realize that He’s the only thing we need in the first place.

Laura: When you’re in that kind of situation, I’m sure prayer is the main thing that gets you through… What are some of your favorite inspirational Bible verses to help as well?

Courtney: It’s more than prayer, it’s more than us talking TO God, it’s hearing Him back. What got me through, and continues to, is hearing from Him and fellowship, more than it’s simply me speaking to Him. I don’t always know the numbers, but in 2Tim, it says “For I do not have plans to harm you, but plans to grow you and prosper you.”

“And if God is for us, who could stand against us?”

Lastly, of course Luke 8:15 “But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”

Laura: And I love your insight on prayer as more of a two-way conversation. I think that’s what they mean when they talk about having a “relationship” with God.

Courtney: Absolutely! If any believer has not heard or sensed to a great degree, the voice of God, I beg you, I urge you to seek until you find. The encounters the prophets and apostles of scripture had weren’t only for them, they’re for us too!

Laura: Awesome. Before we wrap this up, I know that Hope Soap is another project that you are involved in and excited about. Tell me about Hope Soap, and how you got involved in it.

Courtney: I got into a conversation with a young woman by the name of Jennifer Preston at my local coffee shop. She told me about a non-profit she had started; Send Some Love. She builds baskets filled with toothbrushes, teddy bears, stuff like that and sends them to rescued victims of human trafficking.

She shared with me the financial challenges non-profits have. I wanted to help so I did some praying and brainstorming and came up/was given the idea of soap. I would sell soap and use part of the profits to put spa quality soap in her baskets and raise funds for her mission.

Now, we’ve grown beyond just the needs of her organization. We’re in several retail stores across our city and just received our first investment from an online retailer who’ll soon be selling our product to the entire world!

Laura: That’s awesome news!! Tell me a little bit about human trafficking and why it’s so important to support those victims. Does it happen here in the USA?

Courtney: 

Human trafficking is one of the largest global crimes right now. It has surpassed arms trading and if not curbed soon, it will surpass the global drug trade, becoming the number 1 crime in the entire world.

It’s an over 2 billion dollar industry. The average age of someone being abducted into human labor and/or sex trafficking is only 12 years old. It’s more prevalent in Europe, but it most definitely is happening here in US too. You can safely presume that every major city has human trafficking happening.

Laura: So how can we help?

Courtney: 

When you dig deeper you find it’s not just evil people doing evil things, but rather desperate people doing desperate things. Quite often it’s an effect from poverty.

Buy do-gooding soaps! And in addition, get involved with organizations like Endit! the A21 Campaign and/or local groups fighting it. Easily found by Googling.

But let me say one more. This comes down to the basic laws of economics; supply and demand. If we can decrease demand for this, it won’t matter if we can catch the criminals or not because they won’t want to do it if there’s no money in it. That translates to not going to strip clubs and no viewing pornography. I don’t know real numbers, but if church going people could stop those two things it would kill human trafficking. So, the solution is always the same: Love. Love God and love each other.

Laura: I think those are great thoughts to end on, Courtney. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story with me. Any last words for the readers?

Courtney: Hmm. Everything changes when you realize that you are indeed here for a reason, that you have a destiny. With that in mind, I say Be An Acorn.

THANK YOU again, Courtney, for joining us at Close Families to share this awesome, inspiring, and humbling interview. To learn how you can help the victims of human trafficking, just click the button below to check out Hope Soap. I’m also going to leave the button on my sidebar so that you can have easy access to the project’s website anytime! I’ve used the soaps and they are AMAZING. Seriously, my home smelled good for days just from opening the box!! 🙂 If you have any questions for Courtney, contact him at Be An Acorn. Don’t forget to follow Be An Acorn to keep up with Courtney’s  journey, or like the Be An Acorn page on Facebook by clicking here!

Hope Soap Button

Thanks for reading today, friends!


I Shouldn’t

I got out of bed at 6:30 this morning. I went to the kitchen for a cup of coffee, only realizing in the absence of the familiar smell of Folger’s that I hadn’t set the coffee maker the night before. Drat. I poured a glass of Cherry Pepsi instead and sat at the dining room table for my daily Bible reading. When I finished reading, I ended my morning quiet time with a prayer, asking God to wrap his protective arms around the schools throughout the country today.

I made a couple of frozen whole-grain waffles and a glass of orange juice for my six-year-old son. I took it into the bedroom and gently woke him up.

“Hey, Mister Sleepyhead, it’s time to get up. I made some syrupy-sweet waffles for my sweet big boy,” I said. I stroked his soft, blonde hair and kissed his cheek.

He opened his eyes and asked excitedly, “Waffles?”

“Yep, get up and out of bed so you can eat them!”

He jumped out of bed and sat on the floor with his waffles. I left him and went back to the kitchen to put his lunch together.  A Lunchable and a Fruit Roll-Up, two of his favorite treats. I set his lunch bag next to his backpack and went to check on him. His eyes were glued to the TV with an empty plate at his feet.

“Wow, that was fast!” I said. “Okay, get yourself dressed now, please. I’m going to go get your brother.”

As I headed out of the room, our dog started jumping and dancing at the front door. “Okay, okay,” I said. I opened the door, and she bolted past me. The click-clack of her toenails on our hardwood floors woke up the baby boy, and he started to fuss but ended it with an abrupt smile when he saw my face. “Good morning, baby boy,” I said as I picked him up and snuggled him close. “Let’s go see Bubby.”

I carried him back into the room where my oldest son should have been getting dressed, only to find him snuggled under the covers again and watching cartoons. “Son, please get dressed,” I said.

He stared at me. I stared back at him. No one moved. “Let’s go! You need to get dressed for school!” I said.

“Okay! I am!” he said, making his way slowly down to the edge of his bed where his empty clothes rested in a heap.

I left the baby boy to play on the floor and went to get myself dressed. I threw on a sweatshirt and a pair of flats, brushed my hair and teeth, and went back to check on my son’s progress.

Still wearing his PJs. Clothes still in a heap. The only change in the entire scene was bare feet instead of socked feet. I turned off the TV. “Let’s. Go. Get dressed. Now you need to hurry, or you’re going to be late for school.” I picked up the baby boy, stopped at the front door to call the dog back into the house, and got the baby boy dressed and his diaper changed. I hurried back to the room. No shirt. PJ pants. No socks.

“SON! Seriously, this is getting ridiculous! Why does it take you so long to get dressed in the mornings? I hate starting our day with me getting angry with you!” I said. Don’t do this. Don’t let this be the last conversation you have with him. I offered more gently, “Can you please just hurry and get dressed so that I can get you to school on time today?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Thank you.”

He finished getting dressed (somewhat) quickly, brushed his teeth in a reasonable amount of time, and then gave the dog food and water before we headed out the door.

“I love you,” I said on our way to his school.

“I love you too.”

We pulled up next to the sidewalk leading to the entrance to his school, and I asked him for a hug and kiss. I squeezed his little body tight and gave him a quick peck on the lips.

“Have a great day, buddy. I love you so much.”

“I will. Love you too.” He slammed the door shut, and I watched every one of his steps toward the school building. His gym teacher greeted him at the door, opened it for him, and when it closed, I lost sight of my son. Tears that I hadn’t known were forming started to flow down my cheeks in long, fast-moving streams. My heart ached. Even as I drove away, I wanted him in the car with me again. I hadn’t been sad the day I dropped him off in Kindergarten for the first time, but I was sad this morning. Sad for the world.

I shouldn’t need to pray for God to protect our children at school. I shouldn’t feel guilty about yelling at my son for taking an insane amount of time to get dressed in the morning, fearful that those might be the last words that I say to him. I shouldn’t feel terrified as I watch my son walk through the doors of his school. But I do. And if I do, I can not even imagine what a school morning feels like now to the families of Sandy Hook Elementary.


Spiritual Sunday: Love One Another

The Connecticut school shooting on Friday was devastating to parents and teachers throughout the country. I can not begin to imagine the amount of hurt and fear that it has created among Newtown, CT community, and my thoughts and prayers are with the families and teachers and emergency professionals (especially those children that survived and witnessed that horrible, shocking tragedy). I pray for their healing and strength to move forward that will likely be a slow and difficult process.

I’m still finding difficulty wrapping my head around what happened and why and how, and from several states away, my perspective is hardly important or relevant. However, one thought keeps coming to mind that I felt the need to share: We need love.

Our world seems to be increasingly violent, hateful, impatient, and intolerant towards one another. So much so that it’s being taken out on innocent and precious children. Because I know that God is so good, these kinds of gut-wrenching, terrible tragedies leave me no doubt that today’s world belongs to Satan and his evils that can creep into the minds of people and take seed.

We can argue all we want about gun control or the amount of security implemented in schools, but one thing for certain is that as long as this is Satan’s world, there will be wicked people who will find a way to do wicked things.

The only way I know to counteract such evil acts is through love. It won’t make the damage go away or take away the pain that those families and school staff are feeling in Newtown today, but if we demonstrate love to as many people as we can, as often as we can, we can show the world (and Satan) that we will not succumb to such wicked ways. We won’t let us break us. We will keep on loving and finding the good that still exists in this world. We won’t find a better example of that love than we found in Jesus Christ:

A new command I give: Love one another. As I have loved you,

so must you love one another. -John 13:34 (NIV)

It doesn’t matter what your religious or spiritual beliefs are. Just love your neighbors. It’s what the world desperately needs in these sad and wicked times.

Show someone a little love today.


Feel Good Friday: I’m Proud of You

There is something very powerful, very moving in those four words: “I’m proud of you.” It means so much to hear those words come from someone whom you look up to, admire, love, and respect. And sometimes, you don’t have to hear those exact words, but simply a message that implies as much. Like the e-mail that I saved from my mom, after she read my blog for the first time:

LOVE your blog.  Oh my goodness you are such a good writer.  It is amazing.

You couldn’t have slapped the smile off of my face when I read this. My mom is proud of me.

I will admit that I can be a bit of a people-pleaser. But besides my husband, no one’s opinion means more to me than the opinion of my parents. They shaped me into who I am today. They did everything they could to ensure that I would become a kind, responsible, talented human being, and it feels so nice to hear that I didn’t let them down. That they were successful. That I am successful.

And yet, we shouldn’t live our lives to please others, and we shouldn’t make decisions based on what others might think. We should live our lives the way we see best, to use our God-given talents, to help others, to be the kind of person that we want to be. It’s just the cherry on top of the sundae when it happens to meet the approval of others. It’s that last bit of sweetness that we can savor at the end. It feels good.

I love telling my son that I’m proud of him, but I don’t say those words to him very often. I don’t tell him that I’m proud of him when he beats a new level at a Wii game. Or when he gets a star on a paper at school. Or when he makes a new friend. Or feeds the dog without being reminded. Or throws a football farther than he’s ever thrown. Or reads a whole chapter in a book by himself. I’m proud of all of those little things, absolutely, but I don’t want him to think that I’m only proud of his achievements. I want him to learn that I’m proud of who he is. Perhaps that’s why when he read this birthday card last week, he broke down into tears. (And so did I.)

After he read the birthday card out loud, he embraced me a big, long hug, crying quietly into my shoulder. It brought tears to my eyes immediately.

“What’s with the tears?” I asked him gently.

He squeezed me tighter.

“Are they happy tears or sad tears?”

He sniffled, burying his eyes into the dip of my collarbone.

I leaned back far enough to look into his eyes, and I asked, “Does it feel good to know that Mommy and Daddy are proud of you?”

He nodded and replied with a very quiet, “Yes.” And we hugged each other again.

I tell my son that I love him everyday. I tell my son “good job!” or “that’s great!” or “good thinking!” or “I like that idea!” all the time.

But there just seems to be something so powerful in the words, “I’m proud of you.”

 


A book review: Parenting with Love and Logic

There are an overwhelming number of parenting books that are in print today. Each of them has value that speaks to some parents. While it is one of my ongoing, ever-changing goal to be a great parent, I rarely read parenting books. Does that seem strange to you? When I was pregnant with my first son, I read What to Expect When You Are Expecting. Aside from the few unnecessary worries that it gave me (preeclampsia, premature labor, etc.), it was very helpful to me as a first-time expectant mother. However, with the emergence on an internet-driven world where you can Google just about any parenting issue and find a number of helpful articles, I tend to lean on that as my parenting support. I am geared more towards going on my own instincts, following my heart, and as any bumps pop up in our road of parenthood, I smooth them out with the advice of other moms, or an article or two, usually based in the psychology or biology of children. To me, having information from the experts that have put research behind their work is worth having, but I don’t emerge myself into a hundred different parenting books.

And still, I heard about a book called Parenting with Love and Logic by Foster Cline, MD and Jim Fay, I read an excerpt or two, and I was sold on it. I had to read it. My sister-in-law happened to have a copy of the book, and she was gracious enough to let my husband and me borrow it. Since it’s such a rare occasion that I read an entire book on parenting, I wanted to share my initial thoughts on its concept and advice, and let you know how it has helped us.

Here is one excerpt that caught my attention, so that you will know why I chose to read this book:

“If you want to raise kids who are self-confident, motivated, and ready for the real world, take advantage of the win-win approach to parenting. Your kids will win because they’ll learn responsibility and the logic of life by solving their own problems. And you’ll win because you’ll establish healthy control–without resorting to anger, threats, nagging, or exhausting power struggles.”

Well, who doesn’t want that for their kids? No anger? “Stop getting right in your brother’s face!” No threats? “If you don’t finish you supper, you won’t get a snack later!” No nagging? “Son, can you please come and put these toys away?” No power struggles? “Son, it’s time to go to bed.” “No.” “Excuse me? I don’t think that’s a nice answer. It’s time for bed.” “I don’t want to go to bed! I’m not tired yet.” “Well, it’s 8:00, and that’s bedtime.” “But I’m not tired!” Sigh. You get the picture. And even parents with the best intentions go through some of these issues with their children from time to time. I have a wonderful son, don’t get me wrong. And I’m a firm believer that most of the problems that we have as parents, are mostly the results of things that we have done to encourage the exact behavior that we don’t want. With my son about to start Kindergarten where he would in deed be on his own, I knew we needed a better foundation for encouraging him to embrace responsibility. Here is how this book has helped us do that:

  • We model good behavior. This is something we have always tried to do, but now we have renewed purpose. I’ve always known that children are little sponges, soaking up every behavior you do, every word you say, and in some way, applying that to themselves. We teach them more with our unintentional actions and words than we do when we are intentionally trying to teach them something. It’s impossible for a child to learn how to talk to people nicely, if we are not careful with our own tone of voice when speaking to them. It doesn’t make sense to say, “Don’t talk to me like that!” when we are clearly being just as disrespectful in our own response. A better way of getting the same point across is by saying, “I will listen to you when your voice sounds calm like mine.” By modeling calm, cool, and collected, it’s inevitable that he will eventually respond in the same way.
  • We give more choices. It makes sense for a young child, whose every aspect life is typically governed by parents, teachers, and other figures of authority, to want to have control. And they will fight hard to get that control, if they have to. For example, if we tell our children to pick up their rooms right now, they will likely argue, dawdle, or find any excuse to avoid the chore. But if we give them an option instead, “You may watch TV with us, as soon as the toys are put away.” He isn’t being told to put away the toys. He can choose to continue playing with his toys and opt out of TV watching. And that decision would be okay with me. The key that the Love and Logic technique would stress is to make sure that the choices you give them are 1) not a hidden threat or punishment, such as “If you don’t pick up your toys, you’ll have to go to bed early.” and 2) that you are okay with whatever choice your child decides. As they say throughout the book, “it’s a win-win situation.”
  • We try to let our son’s problems be his problems. With Love and Logic, it’s all about keeping the problems of our children on their own shoulders, not ours. It’s so tempting for me to step in and try to give solutions to my son’s problems, whether with friends, or with school, or not doing as well as he would like at a task. I want so much for him to succeed that it’s hard not to give my input. The book gives an example of a child who does not want to wear a coat when it’s cold outside. Before Love and Logic, I would have been that parent that insists that they put on a coat after arguing the point that it’s too cold to go without one, only to have him eventually say, “Fine, I’ll wear a coat,” but only because I made him. No lesson was learned there other than when mom says to do something, there is no other option and that he is incapable of making his own decisions. No thinking required on his part. A Love and Logic inspired technique would be to say, “It’s pretty cold outside. I’m going to wear my coat today.” He may choose a coat. He may not choose a coat. He will either be thinking, “Man, it’s cold. I’m glad I decided to wear my coat!” or “Man, it’s cold. I wish I had worn my coat.” Either way, his brain is turning, and learning a lesson without any more input on my part, other than modeling how to take care of myself.
  • When my son suffers a consequence from a choice he made, we show empathy. It is sometimes tempting to say to my son, “See, if you would have eaten more of your supper, then you wouldn’t be hungry at bedtime.” But that statement shows no empathy. It’s putting us on one side and our child on the other. It’s so much better to be on our child’s side and to show them unconditional love. A better way to address my son’s consequence would be to say with whole-hearted sincerity, “I can imagine what you feel like. I feel hungry when I don’t eat a good meal too. We will make a great breakfast in the morning.” He is smart enough to make the connection on his own: “If I don’t eat my supper, then I’m going to feel hungry later. I better eat a good supper next time.” There’s no need to spell out what he’s learning for him.

There are a few parts of the book that I do not agree with. They provide an example on learning responsibility for punctuality, where a twelve year old boy is given the option of being picked up at 7pm, and if he isn’t there by 7:05pm, then the parent will return at 10pm to pick him up, etc. Although this technique worked for the parent and child in this scenario, and the child did indeed improve on being punctual, I just can’t imagine leaving a twelve year old alone in public for that long, with no supervision.

Most days, I would say that we have a pretty good thing going over here, and Parenting with Love and Logic has showed us a better way to go about getting the principles and values of respect and responsibility to hit home with our five-year-old. When we use the Love and Logic techniques, our house seems a little more peaceful. He still doesn’t always like going up to bed at 8:00 every night, but having the option to stay awake (as long as he stays in his room and quiet) has kept him from coming up with half a dozen excuses to come back downstairs. And 9 times out of 10, I peek in on him at 8:30, and he’s sound asleep. There are many more interesting points that they make throughout this book that are beneficial to parenting, but these are the techniques that we are trying to focus on for now. If you feel like your children could use a little Love and Logic, I say it’s absolutely worth the effort.

Do you have a favorite parenting book? I would love to hear about it!

*Please note that I wrote this review on my own terms, and I do not receive any sort of compensation or acknowledgment from the founders of Love and Logic from doing so. These are purely my thoughts that I wanted to share with you, from one parent to another, that are based on what I took to be the important messages of this book. Thanks for reading!*