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You Say You Want a New You: Parenting Power in 2008

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Simple steps you can take to deepen a lifelong bond with your children.

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In the hustle and bustle of daily life, keeping sight of parenting goals can become increasingly difficult. With five easy tips, Santa Barbara parenting experts Tom Garcia, Steve Osterhage and Wanda-Sue Westerman have some advice on how Noozhawk readers can fulfill their New Year’s resolutions to be better parents in 2008, and beyond.

Garcia is a father and author of the children’s book series, Daddy’s Heroes. His stories involve famous moments in sports history, and give parents and their children the opportunity to bond over a common topic of interest. Westerman, mother of two teenagers, offers advice based on her experiences working as a certified nurse and midwife. Finally, parenting coach and family counselor Steve Osterhage offers his professional opinion. Osterhage and his wife, Judy, own Family Fuel, a business dedicated to creating positive familial relationships in the community.

1. Model the behavior you’d like to see in your children. You are your child’s No. 1 role model, especially in their earliest stages of   adolescence.

“Actions speak louder than words,” Osterhage said. “Set healthy   boundaries with your children and they will learn to set healthy boundaries as   well.”

Westerman agreed.

“Parent with integrity in your words and   actions,” she said.{mosimage}

2. Listen to your children. “Kids will say the darndest things,” Garcia said. “Sometimes funny, sometimes   clever, sometimes silly, and sometimes darn right annoying.  Though it can be tough, especially when they are acting up, I try to listen to it all and engage with   them as much as possible.  Sometimes all it takes is turning off the TV!”

3. Celebrate your children’s mistakes. “Celebrate children’s mistakes because they can be turned into learning   opportunities,” said Osterhage, who recommends that parents encourage their children   to use problem-solving skills to rectify their own mistakes.

Garcia advises parents to “Be patient. Kids are kids. They are always learning.”

“Allow your   kids to own their mistakes and failures (as well as their success),” Westerman said.    “Avoid over-rescuing them.  Life is a good teacher.”

4. Prioritize your time. “We all get caught up in our day-to-day lives and are pulled in many directions.    Finding time for children, family, career and yourself can be difficult,” Garcia said. “Pick them up from school periodically, plan a random fishing trip, or go to a   sporting event.”

“Take time to do things that bring happiness to yourself, and   then pass this on to your kids," Westerman added.  "Find time to spend with them."{mosimage}

5. Enjoy your family! “Plan special times, create fond memories and have fun. Remember, right now   you are creating your child’s childhood memories,” Osterhage said.

“Play and read.    Find a game or a sport to play with your kids. This is my favorite activity,”    Garcia said.

Westerman summed it all up with advice to “Find the joy.  Parenting is hard,    and finding something to celebrate in your children, especially teens, is so   important.”

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