Thinking About Your Family in Challenging Times

Some Beginning Thoughts

1. Spend time with your children connecting. Everyone in your family will benefit from relaxing time together.

2. Listen to your children more than you talk. This is usually hard to do but children need to share their thoughts to a loving mom and dad. It helps relieve stress and young people often have important and helpful things to say.

3. Model humanity in your relationships with everyone. Actions speak louder than words.

4. Avoid being isolated. Reach out to like minded people and spend time together.

5. Think of things to do. Whether it’s joining an organization you believe in, going to church, or having regular family meetings it is important to move rather than stay in a passive or overwhelmed position. Spending time with others who share your perspectives can help generate other ideas.

Thinking about Siblings of a Special Needs Child

As seen in New York Special Child Magazine and on NY

Dear Sharon,

We have three children. One of our children, a 7 year old boy, is on the autism spectrum. Naturally, he gets a great deal of our attention. We’re concerned that our two older children (ages 9 and 10) are feeling neglected. They’re good kids and wouldn’t admit to it, but we want to make sure we are able to give our special child the attention he needs, but not at the expense of the other two. It’s difficult as I’m sure you can imagine. 

Do you have any advice for us? Any professional thoughts would be greatly appreciated. We are trying to be good parents to all of them.

Dear Parents,

Many parents with special needs children are rightfully concerned about their ability to juggle all of their children’s needs with so many responsibilities to handle.

Here are some suggestions that can help.

Read the rest of “Thinking about Siblings of a Special Needs Child” »

Skipping Home from School

A Spontaneous “Interview” with a Child Who Was Making the Most of Spring

The other day when walking in my neighborhood I found myself crossing the street with a young girl and her mom. The child was holding her mom’s hand and skipping on the crosswalk lines, When we reached the sidewalk she began a new “routine” – spinning and jumping between the lines in the pavement. I was impressed and told her so. Looking up, she smiled and said, “I have to, this is the way I get over sitting in school all day – we sit a lot!”

This small interaction was a reminder of how much parents and children need to develop ways to compensate, especially at the end of the day, for the lack of movement and play in most classrooms today.

Helping Everyone Get a Better Night’s Sleep

as seen in Brooklyn Family Magazine and on

Dear Sharon,

Do you have any tips to give a parent who is not getting any sleep? My 5 year old son is waking up every night and coming into bed with us. We’ve tried many things to put an end to this, but nothing we’ve done seems to work. My husband is not handling it well either.

Dear Mom and Dad,

I believe that it is vital for parents to get as much sleep as possible. Parenting is complicated enough without adding exhaustion to the mix. Here are some of the possible solutions moms and dads I have met with have instituted to address this common dilemma.

Read the rest of “Helping Everyone Get a Better Night’s Sleep” »

Managing Winter

This month I asked parents about how they manage to keep things going smoothly in the cold, dark months of winter. Here is what they said:

It’s tough!!

We travel places even if they are far from home. We all just came back from the Dyker Heights, Bounce U on the train. It’s hard to get to but it’s worth it, the kids love it!

We belong to the Armory on 8th Avenue, we spend a lot of time there when it’s cold.

We go to the park even in cold weather. We make it work and it’s a lot better than staying inside all d;ay.

We go to museums, some of them have children’s programs and those are great but we go to all kinds of museums. There are usually big spaces to explore and I see other parents visiting as well. My oldest grew up in museums.

We make the most of simple things. My daughter loves dogs, we go outside and meet dogs, there are lots of them happy to help out. This is embarrassing but she also loves to see the rats in the subway so we have had some fun times watching them too.

Bookstores have helped us a lot. The library is good too.

We make sure to see friends as much as possible.

We took the Staten Island Ferry one day, it was fun.

To be honest compared to last winter this one is easy!!!

What do you love and find hard about the holidays at this time of year?

This month I talked to parents and children about the December holidays. Here is what they said:



The time spent with family and friends, nothing is more important than that.

I love the lights, the colors, the decorations. It makes me feel alive.

I love to cook with my son. I enjoy researching and shopping for the food I prepare.

I get to jump off the work treadmill and spend more time at home.


I love the community feel.

I like it if the weather is really nice. We get to play.

We get to hang out more.

I get to see my parents, especially my Dad!

I like presents.



I only want to be home cooking and nesting but I still have to work. It’s hard to work and get everything done.

There is lots of clean up.

I worry about money.

I know some people have stress stemming from time spent with family at this time of year but I don’t live near my family and I miss them.

It can feel lonely. The images we see of families at the holidays doesn’t seem realistic to me.


I don’t celebrate Christmas, I feel left out. I don’t like the religious parts, I’m not a part of them.

If it’s cold I don’t like them as much.

In December my school gives a lot of homework. That’s hard!

All the cooking my parents do looks hard to me.

What’s Great and Challenging about Being a “Tween?”

This month I talked to “tweens” and their parents about the joys and challenges of pre-adolescence. Here’s a summary of what they said:



It’s great to watch my 11 year old turn into their own person with new ideas and opinions.

I enjoy watching my child develop deeper relationships with friends, their conversations are fuller, richer.

Seeing a growing sense of independence and self confidence with more interest in trying new things.

Sometimes I have more time to do things without my child in tow.

We can enjoy each other’s company in new ways.


I’m more independent.

It’s nice to be in school with older children.

There are lots of interesting things to do and now I’m older, stronger and big enough to do them.

I get to see more movies and shows now that I’m better prepared for them.



The fights and sudden mood swings. One moment they’re yelling and being sarcastic like a teen and the next minute they’re cuddling and wanting a story. It’s wild.

My child is pushing back more. There’s more of a “Why should I do what you want?” attitude with more “nos” and sometimes an unwillingness to talk things through or listen to a logical explanation.


There is lots of homework pressure and I end up getting a lot of school stress.

There are more responsibilities and expectations at home and school.


This month I asked parents and children to share their thoughts about homework. Here’s a summary of what they said:



It is a good way to know how your child is doing and to keep in contact with the teacher about work that is challenging.

It pushes them a bit that is good. I had homework I’m glad my children do too.

It helps them learn.

Sometimes my child likes the homework, when that happens I like it too.

Some parents who are available after school said that homework gave them another activity to share with their children.


I like to read, the reading log helps me keep track of what I’ve read.

I like math, the +’s are fun.

I learn things.



When the homework is hard or boring it’s really difficult, I don’t like torturing my child.

Some homework seems pointless, confusing or excessive.

It’s horrible. There is way too much of it. My children have no time for any extracurricular activities that they really want to do and are important!

Parents who worked full time said it was very hard to fit everything in after dinner and before bed.


I get tired.

it can be confusing. When I think about something too much I get confused then I can’t remember what I learned in school.

When I don’t like it I don’t like it!

I don’t understand why we need to do homework, we need time with our parents!

Back To School

I interviewed parents and children over the Labor Day weekend and here is a summary of their thoughts about heading back to school


What’s good:

It’s great to have relaxed time together over the summer but you can start feeling the ;effects of no regular routine. The structure and organization that school provides will be good.

it will be great to get them out of my hair, ii’s hard to keep children happy and occupied.

It will be nice to have them around other children regularly.

What’s hard:

Transitions are hard!

It squeezes any time for relaxation.

Although the routine is good it’s a lot to juggle; getting everyone up and out the door in the morning, making sure all the homework is done correctly, fixing dinner, getting to bed on time, and coordinating the details of after school activities -it’s a lot to organize, especially if a child is sick or not “going along with the program”. It’s particularly challenging for single parents or if both parents are working.


What’s good:

Seeing my friends and making new ones!

Meeting new teachers and learning new things.

Getting to make my mommy pictures!

I’m bigger now, that will be nice.

School is fun.

What’s hard:

It’s really hard to get up so early in the morning! I want to sleep more.

I’m not going to know everyone in my new school. I’m going to high school and there is probably bullying, I’m scared.

The work will be harder this year. I’m nervous, I think everyone is nervous.

Helping a Lonely Teen

As seen in Brooklyn Family Magazine and on NY

Dear Sharon,

Is there a particular time in a boy’s life when he should be developing social skills and friendships? Our 13 year old is a real loner and I’m concerned. Should I be?

Dear Concerned Parent,

Young people develop social skills throughout their childhoods. If you are wondering about the seriousness of your son’s isolation it might be wise to check in with trusted school or medical personnel to see if he could benefit from some extra attention or support to improve his confidence and the strength of his relationships.

I believe it is also useful for parents to support their child’s social development throughout their childhoods. Not every child is a social butterfly or at ease in large groups of people but some viable social skills are an important part of a happy and healthy life at any age.

Read the rest of “Helping a Lonely Teen” »