Is Lighthouse Parenting Your Style? Is it Effective?

Each generation seems to have a new style of parenting; currently, the  lighthouse approach appears to be popular—but is it effective?

Parental Evolution

As we evolve as humans, hopefully so does our parenting style. In days of yore, it was commonplace to whip your child if he wasn’t complacent. You could even dole out corporal punishment to other peoples’ kids. Nowadays we call that child abuse. No parents are perfect. And for the most part, the majority of us try our best. Today’s parents tend to want to raise their children a bit differently than the way they were raised. Hence, this “new” concept of lighthouse parenting.

Parenting Philosophies

The idea behind good parenting should be to prepare your child for her independence in society. The goal should be that they become capable adults who manage their lives successfully. How to guide them to that end is a philosophy that will differ from parent to parent. No one can agree that there is one “right” way to parent.

Sociologist an author E.E. Masters listed five parenting styles back in the 1970s. He explained that parents often used a combination of these, depending on circumstances. They are: the Martyr (parents do everything their child wants); the Pal (parents don’t set limits- they’re buddies); the Police Officer (parents make kids obey rules and punish); the Teacher/Counselor (parents are the all-knowing); and the Athletic Coach (parents prepare kids for the game of life.) Parts of this theory still lives on…

Helicopter parenting seems to be dwindling but still exists. The term was coined back in 1969 when Dr. Haim Ginott wrote the book Parents & Teenagers. It became a dictionary entry in 2011. Basically, parents hover over their kids and over-protect them. They don’t allow their children to fail or succeed on their own. How will they fare later in life? Not always so successfully as studies are now showing.

Lighthouse Parenting

Lighthouse parenting sends a message to your kids that you trust them. This leads to their becoming confident and able. Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg has written a book titled Raising Kids to Thrive. He explains this parenting style as us being the lighthouse on the shore. The children are the ships on the sea. We keep an eye on them, but we’re distant helpers.

Dr. Ginsburg asked 500 teenagers across the country how they felt their parents could best protect them. The majority of the kids said parents should be watchful and available, but not intrusive. They don’t want their parents to treat them anxiously or angrily—they prefer calm and stable communication. Parents should have high expectations, but offer unconditional love if and when the child falls.

Gentle reminders and advice are encouraged so that the kids learn on their own, but still, have guidance when necessary. It’s an interesting and certainly an evolved form of parenting. Some of these tips may be worth implementing. Whether it’s effective remains to be seen. And, of course, each child is different as are boats. And no two lighthouses are identical either. Most importantly, let your children know you love them.

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Lost Your Motivation? Here’s How to Find It

There are times in life when we don’t feel as if we are as productive as we could be. There are things we want, but sometimes it’s tough to find the motivation to take action. Below are some suggestions on ways to find motivation in your everyday life and at work.

What is Motivation?

As humans, we have a reason for every time we take an action. That “reason”, that “why” we do anything is called the motivator. We are moved to action, and motivation is the core of that action.

For example, if you start running away from a swarm of bees, running is your action and fear is your motivation. If you spend money on a lottery ticket, winning money is your motivation. If you exercise, an endorphin rush or the desire to lose weight may be your motivation.

What all of these examples have in common, along with any motivators, is that they are compelled by feelings. The way our brains are structured, feelings almost always trump thoughts.

What Motivates You?

What motivates you will be specific to what provides you with a compelling feeling. Chip and Dan Heath, in their book Switch, talk about focusing on emotions. How you feel can determine your level of motivation.

If you’re feeling very hungry, that may be your motivation to eat. If you’re excited about getting a paycheck, that may be your “why” you go to work. When you begin to understand your feelings and what can motivate you, you may be more apt to take action.

John O’Leary, in his book On Fire, talks about his motivation to learn how to write with no hands. At nine years old, John was in a fire that burned 100% of his body. His willpower kept him alive and sent him home from the hospital after five months of medical treatment.

Once home, his mom offered, “John, if you learn how to write, you can go back to school!” That feeling did not excite John. Hence, that was not a particularly great motivator. He was not motivated to write.

However, a visit from John’s hero, American sportscaster Jack Buck, made a different impression. Mr. Buck brought John a signed baseball from a player on the St. Louis Cardinals. He then offered, “If you write this player a thank you note, I’m sure he will send you another ball.”

In two weeks, John figured out to write with no hands, and sure enough another baseball arrived by mail. He continued to write notes. And he continued to collect baseballs. His collection finally grew to 60.

What excited John (what connecting to “feeling”) is what became the motivator.

Feeling Good

A psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina, Dr. Fredrickson, writes that positive emotions compel individuals to take action. Her definition of positive feelings include: joy, contentment and love. Her belief and research show that through mindfulness, kindness, and even meditation, people can increase their level of positivity; thus, creating motivation.

Finding meaning in what we do can also be a valuable motivator. In his Ted Talk seminar, Dan Ariely talks about how when people feel they have a “purpose,” they are more apt to take action. Feeling value in what you are about to partake in can be a great motivator.


Finding ways to reward yourself for tasks completed is an important element in adding to your feelings of success. In the workplace, reward plays a big part in encouraging positive behavior and motivating employees. Reward also plays a large part in motivating students.

Understanding what compels you emotionally may bring you closer to an understanding of what can motivate you. And in learning what motivates you, you may find yourself feeling more productive, fulfilled, and overall more joyous.


Dr. Dave Campbell Commentary:

Everyone has their own motivating factors, triggers or events. For me, as a physician and humanitarian, our MSNBC Morning Joe medical reporting trip to the impoverished island country of Haiti, just after category 4 Hurricane Matthew devastated the homes, crops, towns and villages in 2016 was a life-changing journey. Then to read about Dr. Paul Farmer in Mountains Beyond Mountains by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tracy Kidder clinched it for me.  Dr. Farmer continues to dedicate his life as a physician to treating the poorest of the poor. His altruism is a beacon for all physicians that went into the practice of medicine to help others. Dr. Farmer has triggered and motivated me to practice medicine with the utmost safety, consideration and compassion, and highest quality.

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How To Have A Positive Parent-Child Relationship (Even When You Feel It’s the Biggest Challenge)

Parenting. Is there a right or wrong way to do it?  Billions throughout the world are parents. Regardless,  all parents have different mindsets on how to do their job. The parent-child relationship is a delicate, yet powerfully significant entity in life.

Clearly, making it a positive force is a challenge. Nonetheless, it’s something that is definitely attainable.

Notably, there are many social and psychological reports. They include explaining the impact of family demographics. Next, these include cultural and economic influences.  Additionally, there are plenty of written guidelines, all which aim to help to produce the “model child.”

Get Your Parent-Child Relationship Philosophy Straight

Realistically, there will be dramas.  And yes, children will answer back. Kids will also be non-compliant. So, how do parents stay grounded and consistent when faced with tough challenges? 

Ask yourself this question:  What makes the closest to an ideal parent?

All the while, parenting is accomplished in many different ways, yet, the answers are roughly the same:

  • Unconditional love
  • A positive role model
  • Advisor
  • Teaching children to be independent

Where Things Can Go Awry

In today’s society, a majority of parents forget the foundations. Ironically, many adults veer off this well-laid path by complicating the way they parent. Unfortunately, things like this may happen:

  • Reduced supervision in the home environment
  • Helicopter parents who hover over the child and rescue them from negative situations
  • Drill sergeant parents who shout instructions and control

Even With the Best Intentions…

Most parents come from the good place of love. Oftentimes, however, their personal traits and insecurities dictate how these influence their child’s behavior.  So then, how does one ensure a positive parent-child relationship while not letting personal issues affect on the optimism of the relationship?

Here are a couple of suggestions to boost the parent-child relationship:

  • Let the child fail. As frightening as this statement sounds, through failure, the child will learn. For example, guide and advise, but do not control.  Sometimes, children need to be able to make their own decisions. This is a skill imperative to their future.  In addition, this will help your relationship and fortify independence.

  • An example of this is homework. Helping (or doing)  the questions, or constantly reminding them to complete the task, may not be helpful. Finally, it may result in them not suffering a natural consequence. Overall, nothing here will be learned by the child. Not academics. Not consequences.


  • Quality time. Switch off the phones, TV, computers, and sit down to talk.  Dinner time is perfect. Obviously it’s not always possible because of activities and jobs.  Most importantly, then, carve out at least 15 minutes a day to have worthy conversation.  It doesn’t have to be about the meaning of life.  But, it could be as simple as asking how the day went. Or, it could even be sharing a joke.  All of these conversations open up lines of communication.  Children need reassurance that parents are always there to talk to. No matter how hectic life can get.

Have Rules and Set Boundaries

Starting from infancy, the parents set the rules. “Don’t touch that, it’s too hot.” “Don’t hit your brother!” “Don’t draw on the walls,” etc.  The list is endless. However, actions following broken rules have a huge validity on the parent-child relationship.

What set of consequences are in place? And, are they adhered to?  If there is threat of action due to a broken rule, correction must follow.  If not, children feel they can break rules again. Unfortunately, this can also lead to insecurities due to lack of boundaries.

Structure as a Necessity

Noteworthy, humans need structure and rules to flourish and feel secure. Numerous studies have shown this to be true. Structure can make interactions with children concrete.  Success in rule-making for the parent-child relationship follows these simple steps:

  • Set simple rules everyone understands.
  • Be consistent and don’t back down.
  • Don’t feel guilty. Most importantly, these rules are in place to ensure children’s safety.
  • Teach respect, and in turn, empathy.

Society as a Factor

Modern day society can be considered complex. For one, it may have us clambering to the top of a competitive pile. Also, it can be considered egocentric. “Shoot your neighbor, get out of my way, I’m first.”

In order to raise children as non-narcissistic little monsters, efforts may be better focused on education and character.

A Harvard study of 10,000 middle- and high-school students found that four out-of-five kids perceived that their parents valued achievement more than caring for others. That’s pretty sad.

Whether the students’ perception were accurate or not, the information is devastating. In the best of all worlds, parents should lead by example. We need to show compassion for others through our words and actions.

With communication, empathy, logic, rules and consistency, parents have the tools to raise their kids.  The child-rearing road may be full of potholes.  But, with a strong foundation, a good relationship will form and hopefully have longevity.  To read more about parent/child relationships, please check out




How a Pet Can Optimize Your Health and Decrease Medical Bills

Growing up, we had pets, but they weren’t the profound family members that since, in adulthood, I’ve learned them to become. We had some goldfish (probably won at the county fair) that either jumped out of the bowl in the night and met their life-without-water fate or passed from murky-water illness.

My dad also brought home a puppy one Christmas, but she was never properly trained, had anger issues, and bit my sister and I so often that she was sent to a “farm” one day while we were at school.

It wasn’t until years later, while living alone, it occurred to me that I could have a pet—an animal of my choice that I would be responsible for and love unconditionally.

I adopted a kitten (with encouragement from a co-worker who, not ironically, had six cats), and Frederick the Feline became my partner, increasing my household number of residents to two. Frederick brought me great joy (and hopefully vice versa) on a daily basis.

It wasn’t until my boyfriend at the time abruptly ended our five-year relationship, that I realized Frederick literally saved my life. My pet helped me through one of the most disconcerting and difficult emotional times I had experienced to that point.

It’s tough for me to wrap my brain around the thought that there are many people (even “experts”) who do not subscribe to the theory that pets provide an emotional or physical benefit to humans.

There is, however, a plethora of research that points to improved state of mind and physical health, and even saves on health care costs by being a pet owner. One such example is from The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) released research in April 2013. They identified seven key areas in which human health is positively impacted by animals: allergy and asthma immunity among children, Alzheimer’s, autism, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Dogs Rock! Dogs, in particular, have been found to decrease physical and mental decline in owners. Regularly walking your dog makes you less likely to become obese. You are also more apt to be social—whether by talking with your pooch or other dog-walkers/owners.

Research has shown that dogs, as pets, have: decreased stress levels along with depression incidences, lowered blood pressure, and increased serotonin levels from playing—overall, creating a calmer human. Side note: A person with a dog who has suffered from a heart attack is far more likely to be alive one year later than a person without a canine companion.

Not to make it seem like dogs are the “best” pet (because all creatures are fabulous), but another argument pro-pup is that kids find console with their dogs. “When children are asked who they talk to when they get upset, a lot of times their first answer is their pet,” reported Dr. James Griffin. And Dr. Oz points out that exposure to a pet during infancy may mean less chance of developing asthma or eczema later in life.

For the elderly set, research shows that Alzheimer patients have less anxiety and unexpected outbursts when an animal is in their presence; this even includes fish. Watching fish glide through water creates a calming effect. This pet-induced tranquility has been known to also lower blood pressure (in people of all ages, by the way).

Cats, as pets, tend to be low maintenance, which also relieves stress from caregivers. Expressing love and feeling love and empathy are positive states of being. Nourish your well being by opening your heart to a pet (…and other humans.)



Bad Moms, Average Moms, Best Moms?

In the best of all worlds, mothers should be honored on a daily basis, not just one day a year. And within that honor, should include an understanding of a basic human reality—no one is perfect. With that, lives the contradiction that no mom is perfect, yet each mom is perfect. The mom we get and the moms we become are perfect for our individual lives. How we were raised and how we are raising children, shapes who we are and all that we can become.

In today’s media-driven society, everyone clamors to post their best photo or most impressive description of their mom. One husband may post that he is grateful for his wife who cleans, gourmet-feeds, brand-name dresses, gently disciplines, and mini-van chauffeurs the kids. How wonderful for him and their children. But is mom getting enough rest or any of her other needs met? Hopefully so. And for that family, that may work out wonderfully.

Yet, what about the mom who gets up and has to hop in the shower so she herself can be clean for work? She doesn’t have time to make pancakes, eggs, and bacon for the kids. But she yells to them from the bathroom, as she dries her hair, to grab a banana, a granola bar, and put a frozen waffle in the toaster. She reminds them to be polite to others on the bus and not to talk to strangers. Is she a less superior mom?

There’s a comedy film soon to be released titled, Bad Moms. Whether the movie turns out to be funny is irrelevant right now—the point is that every woman who’s seen the trailer or heard of the title laughs aloud and is intrigued by the concept.

We’re compelled by this notion because being a “bad mom” swirls in our heads daily. It’s either something we identify with, something we experienced, or something we are deathly afraid of becoming. Whichever of these fit our description, we still deserve to be celebrated on Mother’s Day—without judgment.

Moms need to be celebrated for bringing us into the world. By their divine grace and through our own years of experience, we learn tolerance and forgiveness.

Your mom was perfect for you. She may have brilliantly nurtured you or, in other ways, caused emotional damage; either scenario, it has supplied an experience into your life that has helped inform who you have become.

As we age, we realize we must take responsibility for our choices and behavior, just as that is the same information we must impart to our children, regardless of the wonderful things we’ve done for them—or the mistakes we’ve made.

Hope your Mother’s day was perfect for the perfectly imperfect mother you are and for the mother that you have (or had.) All we can do is our best, and that is worth celebrating.