On couple-hood from John Gottman

Repair, repair, repair

According to Dr. Gottman, the difference between the “Masters” and the “Disasters” of marriage isn’t that the Masters fight less, it’s that they repair more. And interestingly, repair effectiveness is not based on the type of repair you do, so there’s room to be yourself. Try initiating an apology, using humor (not sarcasm), or suggesting that you start the conversation over while putting your hand on your partner’s shoulder and lowering your voice. Research shows that repair is most effective when implemented quickly, so best to err on the side of making amends when you sense things begin to go awry.


Do No Harm Days

I have a deeply wise friend who has coined the term, Do No Harm Days.
These are days when we feel at our lowest ebb. Whether it be chronic pain, fatigue, depression, or the simple wearing down of life....those are days when we feel unproductive at best - testy and reactive to the slightest rub or demand.
For parents, we hope to Do No Harm during our lack of patience and high irritability, allowing for excessive tv watching or video playing, maybe frozen food for dinner or less supervision than ideal.
At the end of the day, we can remind ourselves that this is not the new norm. Tomorrow typically replenishes itself. We can catch up later. For today, we haven't been terribly useful or optimal in function; but we also have not done harm.


Looking Like a Tourist / At Waipa

Anini beach, after 10 hours of rain

My son has a gripping fear of "looking like a tourist" - even when he is a tourist
Waimea Canyon
I'm sure I have occasionally made a tourist slur of some sort but I really heard his worry on our recent Hawaii vacation. I asked him (and myself) to examine what exactly is so terrible with "looking like a tourist?" 
I guess it means we are "square" or not cool - heaven forbid that one looks curious.
Yes, a teenager's worst nightmare is being called out; the tall blade of grass gets mowed down. 
But, we really seem to perpetuate that in a few variations. e.g. "Look like you've been here before." Why? You haven't.

It's enriching to experience a new culture. So what that our legs are pasty white and that we don't know where we are going and that we're taking lots of corny pictures! Better to be this way then too cool be to be amazed, as I wildly point to a stunning waterfall. 
Identifying the "tourists," as we love to do in my neck of the woods, when the summer traffic chokes up and out of state plates are meandering through our side streets, really encourages the Us vs. Them, xenophobic mentality. 
Poi making at Waipa service day
Call me a tourist! 
Besides, even the locals aren't "locals.‎"
Hanalei beach - Pine Trees
This recent trip was my tenth time to Hawaii. Kauai is my spirit animal. My family chose to provide some volunteer hours to the amazing group Waipa while there. The culture, the community  - what a learning experience with really sharp people. I encourage you to do the same! Never again will I visit Hawaii without giving back. Read about WAIPA here.

 Nolan, on the left, is an Oregon State Volleyball player, doing his summer internship at Waipa. Kristi, on the right, a UC Santa Cruz graduate, is an impressive wealth of knowledge and ambition. We planted Koa and participated in river restoration (land stewardship is the focus). If they are representative of millenials, I'm in love.

Hawaiian Word of the Day:  PONO 

In the Hawaiian thought, being pono means being in perfect alignment and balance with all things in life. It means one has the perfect relationship with the creative energy of the universe, however you might describe that energy: God, Goddess, prana, mana, chi - whatever that appellation is for you. Your every thought word and deed are in complete harmony with that divine energy. Pono means you are in complete harmony and alignment with your custodial relationship with the earth. That you operate on the earthly plane as one who is the caretaker of the land during your lifetime. That your stewardship of the land leaves it as good or better than you found it so that succeeding generations can enjoy the resources that were gifted to you in your lifetime and during your stewardship. 

Read about current Homelessness in Hawaii - Our Native Peoples



Fascinating interview with Primatologist, 

Smithsonian Science Q&A: Macaques with Wolfgang Dittus 

What have the macaques taught you about primate behavior?

It might surprise people that family is the most important social bond or relationship that a macaque can have in its society. They take care of each other, and the females tend to form sisterhoods. Sisters help one another, and grandmothers and aunts are also there to assist.
Animals form social groups of closely related families that are, essentially, coalitions to defend their turf against neighboring families of similar structure. So, females have female bonded sisterhoods that are defense coalitions against other such groups. 

But, these relationships are a double-sided coin. The macaques will form social alliances and cliques within the larger group. This can lead to very strong jealousies within families. There is a social hierarchy that determines how the monkeys divide the group's food and other resources among themselves.
The mother is the highest ranking, followed by the youngest daughter, then the second youngest daughter, and so on. The reason why the youngest daughter—not the oldest—ranks second is because she is smaller and less experienced than her older siblings. The mother will come to the defense of the youngest sibling every time.
Interestingly enough, the young ones learn this quickly and will take advantage of this and act as though an older sibling has wronged them in some way. Then, mom swoops in to discipline the older sister! So, as long as mom is around, the younger sister dominates the older. Of course, when mom isn't around, the older sister will try to get back at the younger sister. 



Good Parent / Lousy Kid

As I'm just returning from two weeks away, I have lots of good articles to share.

For starters, let me begin with an article that irritated me! 

The author lost me at "remarkable parents." Then, if that wasn't enough, this sentence, five in: "I’ve seen many well-intentioned parents mistakenly employing strategies that aren’t meeting the emotional or developmental needs of their children or families."

The second article that came across my FB feed this week was less offensive but the title alone was a turn-off ("Brilliant." Really?). But, there seems to be fresh research indicating that us parents are getting better. Yeah, team!
My antidote for those baiting, feel crappier now, articles is the Good Enough model of parenting.

I wrote a healthier version in response to the first.

1) Perfectly balanced and loving parents can spawn an opioid-addicted thief. We all secretly want superstars, but, by the time they're 21, we really are contented with stable.
2) Kids raised in two-parent homes, with hard working parents that monitor digital devices will often find their adolescent posturing with the most venomous, self-absorbed, ungrateful attitude that nearby neighbors curl their toes.
3) Many lovely families have poised children that behave snottily behind closed doors. Whether you are Waldorf or Tiger Mom, you get what you get. Throw for lucky.
4) Even when a child is raised with a value for the dollar and witnessed the ethic of hard work in his family of origin, the child will STILL behave in a hostile, horrified manner when asked to take out the garbage or unload the dishwasher. The slinky slimy digital screen will pull. And win.
5) The nicest kids might become bullies. Spring breaks spent serving the under-privileged and walking through succulent gardens pointing out the herbal remedies will not erase the self-absorption of adolescence. Lethargy into young adulthood is hard to stave off. 
6) Those lucky children endowed with strong values towards "loving all equally" might still make sexist, racist, homophobic remarks. The very definition of youth is beauty and charm - it's real, just not constant. Children shapeshift into something we barely recognize. This is nature's way of ensuring that we don't procreate with our children and consequently kill off our species.
My husband's loosest moment ever, at least as an outside observer, was the moment he yelled "THIS IS PLANET EARTH!" to our 15-year old son.
7) All those pro-environment lectures, coastal cleanups and stream restoration projects will fly out the window when your kiddo is walking by a huge bird of paradise and slices off its head in an act of stupid bravado. 
8) Being a "great" parent is not significantly better than being a "good enough" parent. Multi-cultural books for toddlers and self-compassion yoga classes for tweens sell as if they should fortify one against exclusionary "black shorts" dominance. But, there will be slippage. 
9) While you may believe that your daughter will discuss her early sexual experimentation, since you HAVE created an open-door policy of respect and truthfulness, she will not. You may be the exception.
10) Opportunity will knock, in the form of speed, adrenaline, mischief, and your kid will open it, no matter how assertively you have steered the ship in a different direction. Mine did.

In the end, most kids turn into nice, responsible adults; just like you and me.

Book Recommendation and author speaking

10 Extremely Precise Words