Archive for Elva’s Blog

Has Electronics Helped or Hurt Families

Do you ever wonder if the electronic age has helped or hurt families? When I see families in restaurants and the mother, father, and each youngster has an electronic device in his/her hand, I wonder if they miss opportunities to talk to each other. I am often asked if I think children are losing communication skills. A loving caring family can be the foundation for developing healthy self-love, confidence, and courage in a frightening, immoral, and Godless world.

One morning at Wally’s timeshare  in Carson Valley, Nevada, Everett and I met an eighty-one year old man in a hot pool. His eyes sparkled as he told us a story about his immigrant parents who came to the United States early in the twentieth century. They bought a piece of land on an isolated hilltop in Colorado and built a cabin there. They worked hard to support themselves and their four children.  He finished his story by saying, “I think of my mother and father every day. They give me the courage to hang on in spite of injuries I have suffered while working as a truck driver. My mother gave me a strong faith in God. I learned to be financially responsible and to save a little for retirement while supporting a wife and four children.

The blessings go both ways. If you prioritize your family and your faith, they will probably continue to admire and respect you when you are old. This truck driver bought a large comfortable car and took his Mother and one of her friends back to the hill in Colorado where the old homestead had been built. He said she was excited as she shared memories of those early days. His own face lit up as he remembered how perfect his gift to his mother had been. I wonder if he would have created this dream trip if he and his parents had been lost in their electronic devices instead of interacting with each other when the children were growing up.



I Wish I Could Tell Him

picture of DadMy father believed in authoritarian parenting. Respect and obedience topped his list of values. My husband believes in democratic parenting with parents having ten votes! I believe in teaching children to manage their own behavior in age appropriate ways. That means children need to be heard and emotions recognized. I have always believed my father tried to micro-manage my behavior, thoughts, and emotions. “Get that look off your face” was a part of my training. I am coming to realize I owe a lot to my father even though I don’t approve of his style of parenting. His constant reminder, “Stand up straight. Pull those shoulders back” became a permanent recording in my head. He corrected my grammar even when I prayed aloud. He taught me to love God, manage money, love books, do my best, be kind, memorize scripture, always tell the truth. I never questioned my father’s love. He never withheld hugs and kisses. Papa didn’t say one thing and do another. He stood up straight, put his shoulders back, treated people kindly, gave generously to anyone in need, practiced speaking with good grammar, never swore, loved his parents and siblings, played games with us. He did what he expected us to do. It can be hard to successfully complete the developmental task of becoming independent from strong controlling good parents. It takes time to find the confidence in your own ability to run your life well. After you accomplish that task, you can begin to understand the many things your parents taught you. I thank my father every day for good posture and the many important things I learned from him. I wish I could tell him.

Nonbo’s Christmas at Our House

Christmas card 2012 4

Christmas 1977 was like no other Christmas for the Anson family, because instead of numbering our usual five, that year we were six. Nozomu Ishimaru, a 16- year-old from Japan, had joined our family for a year. Everyone had been enthusiastic about his coming , except Carla, our nine-year-old. She had voted against it.

Nombo (Nozomu’s nickname) participated in all our activities with wide-eyed interest. We made our Advent wreath with nuts, pine cones and pine sprigs. The first Sunday in December Nonbo got caught up in the excitement of lighting the first candle in the beautiful wreath that now occupied the center of our kitchen table.

The six of us drove to the mountains where we tramped through the forest trying to choose the most appealing tree out of the hundreds growing there. We spent family nights making ornaments for our gorgeous tree. We transformed clothespins into soldiers, sailors, cooks, skiers, dancing girls and angels. We strung cranberries and popcorn. Tiny lights sparkled from the tree limbs symbolizing the coming Light of the World. The children set up our Christmas barn, manger and hand-carved wooden figures of Joseph, Mary, the shepherds and the animals.

After Grandpa arrived on Christmas Eve, we all went to church to sing carols and to hear the Christmas story. Then we gathered around the tree to put an end to the mystery of closed doors and whispered conspiracies as each colorful Christmas package was opened. Nonbo’s eyes sparkled like the tree lights as each of his thoughtful gifts was opened. He had made a desk organizer for me, a tool chest for Everett, a doll-house for Carla and a magician’s top hat for Eric. He and Carla had gone together to get Janee’ a hamster. Nonbo had built a cage for it.

In our family, after a gift is opened, the receiver runs to the giver and gives him a big hug and thank you. For Nonbo this was a very new experience. Carla’s hug was genuine. Christmas had melted whatever resistance she had felt toward Nonbo. He had truly become her brother.


Make Children Responsible for Home Work

Work is play for young children.

Work is play for young children.

Teach Responsibility

In the late sixties and seventies, researchers learned that hundreds of young people had grown up without learning basic skills. Now University personnel are saying incoming students who are brilliant and accomplished on paper have the same problem, but for a different reason. They call it overparenting.

In the sixties and seventies all three of our children were in a program for children who tested at the top third on achievement tests given by the school. It was called the Gate program. We worked out a time schedule with the children to set aside time for home work.

When my oldest daughter came home with a note from her teacher saying she wasn’t doing her homework, I let Janee’ read the note. I told her she would have to work it out with her teacher. I told the teacher, Janee’s homework is between you and her. She is given time at home to do it. I hoped the teacher would set up consequences that would help Janee’ learn to take responsibility for her homework. There is enough conflict between parents and their children. They should not be fighting with their children every night to do their home work.

Allow Children to Experience Consequences

Teach your children to take responsibility for their own grades and homework. Let them experience the consequences for failing to do that. Let them know you are available for help and support, but grades belong to them. Responsible adults don’t have their mothers reminding them of their responsibilities.

I don’t believe young children should be given homework unless they need to do make up work. They learn best through play. 10336685_10152216658164093_7790487396303758603_n


Don’t Be a Helicopter Parent

74943_10151875826889093_1205704234_nParents’ Most Important Task

If I asked you, what is the most important task of parents, what would you answer? I believe parents’ most important task is to teach children to manage their own behavior in age appropriate ways. Parents need to learn how to do that. Your goal as a parent is to work yourself out of a job.

Focus on What Your Child Does Right

For example, your toddler is learning little by little to dress him or her self. What do you do? You teach him how to put on his underwear, his shirt, his pants. Praise and encourage him for what he does.

“Look at you. You put on your own panties. It won’t be long before you can put on your socks. You must be very proud.” Always praise the action, not the child.

When your child takes off his/her  clothes, be sure you have provided a place for him to put soiled clothes. Provide low rods and accessable drawers for clothes that can be worn again. Start early to teach everything has its place. Clothes don’t belong on the floor. It is very difficult to teach this important behavior after children become busy teenagers. Unfortunately, many adults have not learned to hang up their clothes and put dirty clothes in a hamper.

When your youngster finishes his/her bath have a place for his bath toys to be put “in their bed”. Give him a wash cloth to wipe around the bathtub. You are training him at an early age to take care of what he uses. Don’t expect him to be good at it. That isn’t the point. Never do for your child what he can do for himself unless you make it clear that this a favor.

In the next few blog posts I plan to share more about how to make your children independent and capable. Check out my book, “How to Get Kids to Help at Home” to learn how to make children capable and responsible.















Joyful Parenting Coaching

I am going to be away from my computer for about 10 days. I highly recommend that during this time you check out Joyful Parenting Coaching, an excellent blog by parenting coach, Elisabeth Stitt.

Currently you will find her post, “My Spouse and I Can’t Seem to Get on the Same Page. You will probably identify with the feelings she so skillfully describes. I did.

I want to comment on that blog as an encouragement. Years ago I attended a weekend seminar on Counseling Men. One of the things the expert said stayed with me. He said, “Just remember. Fathers can’t Mother and Mothers can’t Father.” Maybe that will be helpful to you as it was for me.

In October–November Elisabeth will be doing a series of blogs on 3 Steps to Effective Parenting.   That should be helpful.


Elisabeth can be contacted at


Thank You

Thank you to Elisabeth Stitt for her series on communication. If you enjoyed her posts, check out her other parenting blogs at:”

Learn How to Co-Parent

Getting to Know Each Other

Getting to Know Each Other


Guest Blogger

Elisabeth Stitt

Joyful Parenting Coaching

Tip 3–Using “yes, and” to Move the Conversation Aong Positively

In the world of Improvisational Acting, one of the rules is to keep the action moving forward, so not blocking a person’s story is key to success. Improv actors do this by saying in response to whatever their partner says. “Yes, (that’s true! you’re right!) and…”

Listen to how a couple might use this technique to build a warm connection between them.

Bob: I want to go to Hawaii so we can hang out under an  umbrella.

Barbara: Yes, and we can drink pina coladas with little umbrellas in them. Those are so festive!

Bob: Yes, and I read a review of a restaurant right by the water that has festive colored lights.

Barbara: Yes, and I could try the Mahi Mahi fish and we could walk on the beach after dinner.

Bob: That sounds nice. I love the sound of the waves.

Suppose Barbara doesn’t really want to go to Hawaii. She knows how expensive it is and is worried that such a trip will badly eat into their savings. Going to Hawaii just to make Bob happy does not serve the family in the long run. Barbara is likely to get tense and tight lipped about every expense on the trip thereby ruining Bob’s pleasure. The family might need that money later. This is where the variation of “yes and ” comes into play.

AT the Same Time

By using “Yes and” Barbara has allowed herself to imagine what she might enjoy about Hawaii and has built up a lot of warm feeling between her and Bob. Now it is time to introduce her concerns. Let’s see how this goes:

Barbara: I love the waves, too, and AT THE SAME TIME I am worried that Hawaii will be too expensive.

Bob: Yes, that’s true, and AT THE SAME TIME, we saved by not going away at Christmas.

Barbara: I”m glad we put some money away, and AT THE SAME TIME I would like to avoid the cost of a long plane flight.

Bob: Yeah, I checked prices and it will be peak season, and AT THE SAME TIME I get so much benefit from being near the water. It is worth it to me.

Bob and Barbara are getting close to moving into the brainstorming phase to find a win-win solution,. Notice that now when Barbara brings up the issue of cost, Bob slips in that he as considered cost. He already checked the price of tickets, so it is not that he is insensitive to their budget. His last statement also reveals how it is being near the water that provides so much benefit to him. This would be a great place for them to begin to generate alternate ideas that meet Bob’s need to relax near the water and Barbasra’s need to not go over budget. Tahoe? Santa Cruz? Lake Shasta? It is easy to imagine that this warm, lively conversation will continue to move along toward a solution that works for them both. They will end up with a good plan, but more importantly, the process of coming up with that plan will leave them feeling more loving and connected. Talk about WIN! WIN!


Learn How to Co-Parent

11140287_10153874408914554_7898903159805590142_n               by

Guest blogger: Elisabeth  Stitt

Joyful Parenting Coaching




Tip 2–Expressing Emotions with I-Statements

Many times we make negative assumptions about what our partner is thinking or feeling without doing a reality check. Here’s an example: Barbara is washing the dishes while Bob is on the couch reading. As she furiously scrubs, she might be thinking. “It’s not fair that I’m working and he’s just sitting there relaxing.” She might go on to tell herself, “He’s okay letting me wash the dishes because I’m home all day. He thinks I don’t do anything all day.” In reality Bob might not be aware of her at all. He might just be enjoying his good book. Or he might have his own internal dialogue going. He might be thinking, “I am so stressed from work. I just need 30 minutes to veg out. I wish she’d stop doing the dishes and relax for a bit?” Fear of an argument can make it hard to reasonably ask our partner’s motivations.

What to Do

An I-Statement is a technique for introducing a difficult topic in a gentle way. Here is an I-Statement Barbara might have used to express her negative emotions. She would say, “When you sit on the couch reading while I am doing dishes, I feel resentful because I am working and you have leisure time.”

Let’s look at each part. The I-Statement starts by identifying one concrete situation. It goes on to express a feeling (in this case resentment) and the underlying cause of the emotion (Barbara would like to be resting, too, but she feels she can’t until the dishes are done). Notice what the I-Statement does not say. It is not used for broad general character defamations like (“You’re so inconsiderate)and it does not go over past history as in (“You always let me do dishes and never help.”)

What should Bob’s response be? This would be a good time to use Active Listening. He might say something like “You’re really frustrated that you’re doing dishes alone. It doesn’t feel fair to you.” By not defending himself Bob gives Barbara a chance to off load her emotions and tell her whole story. At the end of the Active Listening Bob might ask, “What would you like me to do?” On the other hand, suppose Bob gets defensive and says, “You’re always criticizing me.” Now it’s Barbara’s turn to do some Active Listening

This may sound counter intuitive: Barbara has opened her feelings with the intent of starting a constructive conversation. Why is she the one opening her heart to Bob’s feelings and motivations? Because eventually it will work, that’s why. Do enough Active Listening and eventually Bob feels seen and heard and respected. Then when Barbara says, “It would make a big differance to me if you would help me with the dishes”, Bob is likely to jump up from the couch and grab a dish towel.

Learn How to Co-Parent



Guest blogger Elisabeth Stitt

Joyful Parenting Coaching

Active Listening–Effective

Active listening, a difficult skill to learn, gives the talker an opportunity to be heard without judgment. The listener gets not just the facts, but also the speaker’s feelings.

Here’s how to do it:

*     Listen: Don’t comment, disagree or evaluate

*     Use your body: Eye contact, head nods, brief coments like               “yes” or “uh-huh”.”

*     Prompt information: Tell me more. What else?

*    Repeat back: Recap the gist said and guess at emotions


Practice first with topics that are not controversial. For example, you might ask your partner about a happy childhood memory or a person he admires. Your main purpose is to open up space in the relationship. By listening to your partner’s feelings and motivation first you activate your own empathy and secondly you gather a lot of information about what is important to your partner. This provides useful data when you are looking for solutions that will work for both of you. It feels good to be heard. Chances are, you felt listened to early in your relationship.

Once you have mastered active listening with noncontroversial topics, try a more touchy topic like “What is a lesson you would really like our kids to learn?” This can be scary. Your partner might say something that really throws you for a loop like “I’d really like the kids to learn to hang glide.” Your comfort levels might go into high alert. What?! What kind of a parent lets his kids go up into the sky attached to a giant kite?! If you can take a deep breath and settle down into some active listening, you may learn something really interesting. Perhaps your partner did it as a young man. It was the most alive he has ever felt and he wants the kids to experience that intense feeling of being alive. Perhaps he felt closer to God. Perhaps he was terrified and he wants his kids to face their fears. Listening to your partner share such a meaningful experience would change how you feel about what he wants for the children. You would be in a better position to negotiate something you both can live with.

Active listening is specially good when relating to your children. It demonstrates you can trust them to come to a good solution to their own problems.