Parenting advice and resources

January 21, 2011

Editor’s note: Troy Media ends its series on Parenthood 2011 with a list of resources, and some advice.

How to avoid the busy-child trap

Jan. 21, 2011/ Troy Media/ – In his book, The Over-Scheduled Child , American psychiatrist Alvin Rosenfeld provides tips to parents on how to avoid the busy-child trap. He suggests:

Weigh benefits of participation in activities against the costs. Saying no to too many activities can often be the best the path for parents and kids.

Follow your gut instead of the trends when it comes to deciding what’s best for your family. Moderation and good judgment can’t be substituted for so-called expert advice that might be nothing more than a passing fad.

Make family a priority. Relationships with your kids matter more than anything else.

Resist the pressure from coaches and others to push your child to excel early.

Leave empty spaces in your calendar. Empty hours teach children how to create their own happiness.

Less is oft en more: The dangers of overextending your kids

The pressures of modern parenting can drive mothers and fathers to make bad choices for their children, according to parenting coach Terry Carson ( The Toronto mother of four helps parents raise self-reliant kids and says that when it comes to organized activities less is often more.

“When parents overextend themselves and overextend their kids, they’re doing a poor job,” she said. Some parents perceive that if their children aren’t “in five activities a week, they’re not being the best parent they could possibly be. The research is now showing the opposite.”

Carson advises arranging one or two regular activities that the child is interested in and then leave much of the remaining time unscheduled. That doesn’t just mean watching TV in separate rooms – Carson urges families to use the time to play board games or go for walks.

Children physically and mentally need downtime to process what they’ve learned in school or emotions they’ve felt in the course of the day. This allows the information to “stick” and not be dislodged by more information from extracurricular activities.

Carson knows that seeing your son sit in the driveway idly drawing with chalk while the neighbour’s kids are zipping off to hockey practice can induce feelings of parental insecurity. “It comes down to self-management and understanding that their knowledge base might be superior to another parent,” she said. Trust that your parenting style will work best for your children.

“Maybe because the average parent is running around so much, they don’t do the kind of reading other parents do and don’t know what the research is starting to show in terms of these kids’ being overscheduled.”

Unorganized time allows children to find creative ways to entertain themselves. “I always say to my parents, ‘Boredom is a good thing.’ They all get shocked, but boredom is when they’ve got nothing to do, they find something to do. When parents orchestrate everything for the children, we rob them of the opportunity to get creative and imaginative.”

Carson said the benefits of running one’s own life as a child extends into adulthood, where one becomes valued in the work force as a self-starting, self-sufficient employee.

“There is the potential to lose a generation of children because we think we’re being good parents, but we’re unfortunately misguided.”

When children behave badly, there are no simple answers

Sources for our series, and resources:

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
Social Worker, Interaction Consultants and I Promise Program Inc.
20 Suter Crescent,
Dundas, ON, L9H 6R5
Tel: 905-628-4847

Parenting website:

Teen safe driving:

Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem, M.Ed
Registered Marriage and Family Therapist
Burlington, ON
Tel: 905-639-0050
Web site:

Dr. Dan Dalton & Associates, Child and Adolescent Counselling
Serving South-Central Ontario with 170 Therapists
Tel: 1-866-949-5659
Web site:

Calgary Counselling Centre
A charitable organization committed to providing compassionate, professional, and affordable counselling services to Calgarians.
Suite 200, 940 – 6 Avenue S.W.
Calgary, Alberta Canada T2P 3T1
See “Getting to Calgary Counselling Centre” information
Tel: 403-691-5991
Web site:

Just Answer – Child Psychology
Ask a question online

Gordon Neufeld, Ph.D,
The Neufeld Institute
Making Sense of Kids
2155 West 36th Avenue
Vancouver, BC, V6M 1L3
Tel: 604-263-4278
Web site:

Ministry of Children and Family Development in BC (MCFD)

Resources for behaviour disorders

Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Sensory Integration Disorder

Intermittent Explosive Disorder (ED)

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)

Anxiety Disorders

Surprising facts and stats about same-sex marriages and their offspring

Same-sex couples raising children aren’t as rare as you may think.

According to 2006 census data from Statistics Canada, there are 45,300 same-sex couples in Canada. Of these, about 7,500, or 16.5 per cent, were married couples. Among same-sex married spouses, 16.2 per cent had children, as did 7.5 per cent of partners in same-sex common-law couples. Women in same-sex married couples were more likely to have children (24.5 per cent) than women in same-sex common-law unions (14.6 per cent). Similarly, nine per cent of men in same-sex married couples had children, compared with only 1.7 per cent of men in same-sex common-law couples.

How gay families are redefining adoption

When in vitro fertilization failed to produce the children Shana Malinsky so desired, she and her wife Kathryn turned to a private adoption practitioner for help in December 2005.

Four months later, Shana brought home nine-month-old Noah to stay. “Here we are, a very loving and supportive family. Of course we’re going to open our arms to adoption,” says Shana. “It would be selfish for us not to bring children into our house.”

Fortunately, a growing number of adoption agencies are also embracing the concept of same-sex adoption. In fact, the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto has placed approximately 75 children with same-sex parents since 2001. And in the past four years, the agency has experienced a 12-per-cent increase in placements to lesbian, gay and bisexual families.

Surprisingly, the increasing acceptance of same-sex adoption is beneficial for straight couples as well. “Adoption and fertility for heterosexual couples has been riddled with decades of shame,” says Veldhoven. “Same-sex couples are sort of breaking down that cultural shame that says you have to be biologically connected to have family.”

Good news for everyone.


LGBTQ Parenting Connection
A network of organizations supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and queer parents, their children and their communities.

Family Pride Canada
A specialized resource centre focusing on the social, legal, political, educational, spiritual, and psychological issues facing lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual parents and their families across Canada.

The 519 Church Street Community Centre
The hub of community life in Toronto’s diverse Church and Wellesley Village, offering a wide range of internationally renowned programs and services.

Family Service Toronto: David Kelley Services
FST strengthens individuals, families, and communities through counselling, education, social action, advocacy, and community development, and works with partners to build a vibrant community social services sector.

Tips on coming out

If you’re planning to come out, remember these helpful pointers:

If you’re nervous, start small with a test run. Say it to a total stranger. Since neither of you is invested in the other, you have nothing to lose. You can just slip it into the moment, like when you’re buying a coffee and the counter person gives you your change, say, “Thank you . . .I’m gay.” Nine times out of 10, they won’t even react, but if they do, who cares? You don’t know them!

Once you feel like you’ve got the hang of it, then move on to a best friend or favourite family member, but not an old one. Let that kind of news work its way up to them.

Trust your instincts. If you don’t think someone is going to react well to your coming out, you’re probably right. Ask yourself if they’re someone who really needs to know right now. Remember, coming out isn’t about telling everyone, it’s about not living in shame. You can still be a proud homosexual even if that person sitting across from you on the subway, picking his teeth with a knife, doesn’t know you’re gay.

And lastly, pick your moment. Not everyone plans to scream it out over Christmas dinner. It sometimes just happens.

Remember, you’re the only one who can say when it’s time to come out. So chin up, be proud. We’ll all be waiting here for you when you’re ready.

Coming out is an ongoing process

If you don’t succeed the first time, try, try again. If you still don’t succeed, go far away where you can find the support to make it happen. Never doubt the mysterious capacity of the human heart for compassion and adaptation.

Don’t attempt to go it alone. The road to acceptance is littered with stories of youth forced into ex-gay therapy or kicked out of their homes. Thankfully, there are numerous organizations today like the 519 in Toronto and the Ali Forney Center in New York that provide a safe haven for these kids.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by all Troy Media columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of Troy Media.

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