It’s been almost 2 years now since that significant day of March 2020. In January I had returned to my bustling pediatric wellness practice following maternity leave. I was just beginning to get back into the swing of things, seeing clients, running the company, doing the working mom-thing and BOOM. Lockdown happened. Now not only did I have to learn to run a clinic-based business remotely and train all of my employees on this new way of life, but I had to do it all with a 6-month-old and 3-year-old at home with me every day.
During the pandemic life changed…I don’t need to tell you this because it changed for everyone. For me, a decision needed to be made. I could no longer do it all; be the parent that my kids needed and the professional I had spent years becoming. Running myself wild trying to prove something. I could not be the perfect Pinterest mother, doing it all perfectly, nor did I want to be because frankly that was not functional for me or my family. The time came to close my company and pivot my focus to something that I have always had a passion for…normalizing life, normalizing parenting.
I wanted to start this blog by letting you know my intentions. I’m not here to tell you what you must do or how you have to raise your child. I’m not here to tell you that you are doing it all wrong. I’m not here to preach my opinions to you. What I am here to do is normalize parenting and offer information that is based on my professional experience, years of research conducted in the areas of parenting and child development and my personal experiences.
Let me tell you a little about myself before I dive into Functional Parenting…I hold 3 post-graduate degrees in Occupational Therapy and Clinical Psychology. I am an aunt to 2 young teenage girls that I have seen weekly since their birth. I started a pediatric wellness center alone and grew it to an interdisciplinary clinic that focused on early childhood development. I have watched hundreds of children develop over the years and have learned something new from working with each one and their family. Most importantly, like you, I am in the trenches every day as the mother of 2 toddlers.
I began my career as a therapist, teacher, mentor…demonstrating to people how to do it. Always ensuring that what I did with them worked for them as a family. Now I’m also living it. I’m on the same parenting journey, figuring it out as I go, learning the differences of my children and trying to put it all together in a way that works for my family.
There’s no need for perfection
Everywhere you look today you can find information on how to be the ‘perfect’ parent. But what does that even mean? What does it mean to be perfect? Parenting is hard…I’m not going to sugar coat it and tell you it’s easy, because if you are a parent, you know it’s not. But that’s ok. You know why? Because we ALL know that it’s hard.
Throughout my years in the fields of mental health and occupational therapy I have always focused on the child as a whole and worked with families to ensure that the assistance they received was beneficial and worked for them. I always asked…Is it functional?
Guess what, that thing that your family is experiencing that you think it unique to you and you alone? Many other parents are experiencing the same thing. Because child development typically occurs along a trajectory, where certain milestones are reached around the same time. I promise you; your toddler is not the only one that is throwing themselves down on the floor because they don’t want to eat the pasta tonight…even though they ate the exact same thing last night. (my daughter did this exact thing last night 😉)
I created Functional Parenting to help you gain a better understanding of what is functional for you and your family. What do I mean when I say functional? Well, in Functional Parenting it means being practical and useful rather than aesthetically attractive. I want to help you discover what is practical for you and your life. I want to help you find solutions that work for you and your family. I want to meet you where you are and help you understand where your child is developmentally so that you can move forward with less frustration and confusion.
So how will we achieve this? First, I’m going to tell you it’s not a one-size-fits-all program because just as no two kids are alike, no two families are alike. What worked for your neighbor may not work for you. What worked for your first child might not work for your second. True, many of us experience the same developmental milestones and circumstances, but we will all go through the process in a different way.
Functional Parenting is not a one stop shop of parenting. It not a simple one-size-fits-all model that will instantaneously turn you in to the ideal parent or your child into the most well-behaved child. What Functional Parenting will do is help you find the most practical and useful parenting strategies that work for YOU.
The three A’s
When I work with families I take them through Functional Parenting, helping them learn who they are, define their core values and determine where they want to go on their parenting journey through the three As: Alignment, Acceptance and Action
We begin with alignment…To me, to be functional implies it is working. It begins by doing some foundational work to help you determine core values, both for you yourself and for your family. What is it that is most important to you? What is it that you hope to instill in your children?
I’ll let you in on a little secret, the way that you handle a situation with your child will be greatly influenced by these values, because it is what is most important to you. Parenting begins with you. I’m here to tell you that you CAN do it. No matter what it is, you will get through it. You can be the parent that you want to be. I can help you determine who you are as an individual, a partner and a parent. What works for you. What are your family dynamics and what are your family values?
In finding what you align with, we can then move to acceptance. Let’s be honest, social media parenting is not parenting. Parenting is messy, stressful, painful, exhausting and overall, not what you expected when you first found out you were going to become a parent. The goal is never to look outward at what others are doing, but rather to look inward at what you’ve created for your own family and accept that it may not look like anyone else that you know.
Part of acceptance also involves discovering your child’s learning style and understanding that it most likely is different than yours. Just because you process information one way does not mean that your child does as well. Understanding the way your child processes information can be extremely helpful in decreasing frustration and increasing communication.
Next comes the action. You may have to try a couple of different strategies, but eventually you will find the one that works best for you, your children, and your family. I strongly believe that there is not one cookie cutter way to walk through parenting. What works for one child and one family will not always work for another.
Ask Dr. Lisa
Beginning this month, I will be offering Ask Dr. Lisa calls/zoom meetings on the last Friday of each month. Join me for a free Q & A to answer all of your questions about Functional Parenting and the 3 As. I am here to support you in helping your child develop in a way that works for you and your family. I am here to provide suggestions and recommendations to help your family thrive and be the best it can be. I am not here to offer medical advice that must be followed and should only be done in the way I have explained. When in doubt, speak to your pediatrician or local medical professional.
It is your decision on what you choose to do with my recommendations. Try them, don’t try them. All I really want to do is get you to think about these things, perhaps in a way that you may not have thought of them before. Remember, I am here to normalize parenting because we’re all going through it.
If you have questions for me, leave a comment. I’m here for you and your family. And remember to join me for Ask Dr. Lisa the last Friday of the month!
Be honest. Be real. Be true.