Monday, March 29, 2010

Our Choice of Words

Our choice of words is powerful. Please visit where I am blogging on this topic. Simply click on "Blogs". The post also mentions a terrific radio program airing live this Friday, April 2nd at 2:00 PM EST. The program is all about our language and how it can limit our creativity and flexibility, particularly as it pertains to bullies and victims. You can listen to the archived broadcast if you cannot make the live show. Have a great week!

Monday, March 15, 2010


March is National Nutrition Month. We really are what we eat, and Barry Sears, author of The Zone Diet, says that food is the most powerful drug we take. Every day our children ingest foods and beverages that we hope are nutritious and safe. We shop the outside aisles of the store to purchase foods that are “close to the earth” rather than the highly processed foods stocked in the inner aisles. We read labels so that we can avoid foods containing additives, dyes, high fructose corn syrup, and transfats. Unfortunately there is one “ingredient” that is not included on the product label, and to me, it is the scariest one of all – GMO’s.

According to the website Non-GMO Shopping Guide, a GMO – Genetically Modified Organism – “is the result of a laboratory process of taking genes from one species and inserting them into another in an attempt to obtain a desired trait or characteristic, hence they are also known as transgenic organisms. This process may be called either Genetic Engineering (GE) or Genetic Modification (GM); they are one and the same.” This Genetic Engineering is different from traditional cross breeding, grafting and hybridization. “With genetic engineering, scientists can breach species barriers set up by nature. For example, they have spliced fish genes into tomatoes. The results are plants (or animals) with traits that would be virtually impossible to obtain with natural processes, such as crossbreeding or grafting.”

There is no research showing that GM foods are safe. In fact, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine states, “several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food consumption including infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis, insulin regulation, cell signaling, and protein formation, and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal system.”

Without the benefit of a label, how can we avoid GM foods? Non-GMO Shopping Guide lists four ways:

1. Buy organic because certified organic products are not allowed to contain any GMO’s
2. Look for “NON-GMO” labels
3. Avoid at-risk ingredients such as those made from the “big four”: corn, soybeans, canola and cottonseed
4. Use the
Non-GMO Shopping Guide available on the website

The shopping guide identifies GMO brands and non-GMO brands. I was sad to see that Morningstar Farms and Gardenburger may contain GMO ingredients. The list is very thorough and easy to follow, and it includes dairy, alternative dairy, meat, fish, eggs, alternative meat products, baked goods, baby food and formula, frozen foods, soups, sauces, canned foods, beverages and more. It even includes chocolate. Goodbye Ghiradelli.

I would add one more tip in addition to our vigilance – lobby Congress for mandatory

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Raising Teens

My daughter is twelve. It feels like only a short while ago that she loved for us to read to her at night and lie next to her until she fell asleep. I would carefully and ever so slowly move to get out of the bed so I wouldn’t wake her up. She loved to be carried and held and hugged. I knew in my head that the path towards falling asleep on her own and reading books independently was a good one. After all, our goal as parents is to raise self-reliant children. However, I didn’t know how much my heart would miss those connections. I didn’t know it would feel like a loss…like there was less love in my life. Having a teen or tween means learning to love and be loved in a different way.

My tween daughter now distributes her hugs sparingly. She doesn’t want us reading Percy Jackson books to her. She wants to read to us. She wants to talk to her friends and maybe give a high five on occasion to her parents. Our arguments seem to have a quicker trigger and escalate more rapidly. With the feelings of loss, the changes in our relationship and the desire to manage this stage of our family life with greater understanding, Haim Ginott – therapist and author – had the answers I was looking for.

Over forty years ago Haim Ginott published Between Parent and Teenager, and his ideas on conversations between parents and teenagers are still helpful today. Simply reading the dialogue put me in touch with what it felt like to be a teenager again. Heck, I remember feeling like that and saying those teenager things. I didn’t love my parents any less. I was simply on the roller coaster ride of discovering and becoming ME. The key points made by Ginott are so simple yet so meaningful:

· Parent with compassion
· Make it about handling the situation, not about the person
· Accept that in the natural course of events, we parents will feel uncomfortable, annoyed, irritated, angry and furious
· We are entitled to those feelings without guilt, regret or shame
· Express parental anger by stating how you feel clearly and without insult to a teenager’s personality or character
· State boundaries, limits and rules clearly, such as saying, “There is no place for acts of revenge or retaliation in our home. It is against my cherished values” after one teen pushes another off the bed in retaliation for a perceived insult
· Acknowledge your teen’s feelings without criticism or denial

Ginott says, “As parents, our need is to be needed; as teenagers their need is not to need us. This conflict is real; we experience it daily as we help those we love become independent of us. This can be our finest hour. To let go when we want to hold on requires utmost generosity and love. Only parents are capable of such painful greatness.”

This has become my daily practice along with cherishing the occasional, freely given hugs that completely fill my heart.