Being a parent is wonderful and joyous … and tough! In today’s world of ever-increasing challenges, we need to make sure that the stress and anxiety of being a parent doesn’t consume us or our children. Every parent – and especially new parents – could benefit from a mentor to provide guidance and wisdom, and to help us remain grounded as we navigate the inevitable ups and downs. We sat down with Susan Groner to hear about the inspiration behind her company, The Parenting Mentor, talk about her new book PARENTING WITH SANITY AND JOY: 101 SIMPLE STRATEGIES, and learn tips to help on the unpredictable, always-evolving journey that is parenthood.
Food + Mood NYC: Can you tell us the inspiration behind The Parenting Mentor?
Susan Groner: Being a parent causes so much stress and anxiety. It may be that our child is always in melt-down mode, or doesn’t seem to care about school, or behaves badly, or fights with their sibling, or doesn’t listen. And this list goes on and on. The worry can affect all parts of our lives, and that’s a shame. After experiencing all that first hand for a few years, I learned that there are much better ways to approach parenting: How we relate to our children and make emotional connections; how we can stop the need to fix all our children’s problems; eliminating the undesirable role of homework, food, screen time and/or sleep warden, to name a few. Sharing what I learned and practice had such a positive effect on a number of families, that many suggested I turn this in to a business, and so The Parenting Mentor was created!
F+M NYC: You support toddlers to teens. Do you work just with parents or are the children also involved in your sessions?
SG: I only work with parents because my focus is on helping them to be happier and more relaxed. Understanding our own motivations for how we parent can actually cause a paradigm shift which then helps us learn to act and react in ways that are more beneficial to our children and to the household. During group and individual sessions, parents learn the strategies based on my CLEARR Method (Communication, Love, Empathy, Awareness, Rules, Respect). In a way, each individual issue ends up being a case study.
F+M NYC: The pandemic has undoubtedly created challenges for parents. Have you adapted any of your mentoring advice since it began?
SG: While the overall strategies are the same as they were pre-pandemic, and will be as helpful post-pandemic, there are certain areas that I’ve been focusing on, especially for parents that are working from home. Employers and employees have asked for more discussion, along with strategies, around setting boundaries, keeping children engaged and having a healthy, balanced perspective on expectations. Once parents learn some of the basic tenets and strategies, it frees them up to be more focused and productive with their own work and find more enjoyment when with their kids. The pandemic created a perfect storm to shed light on the need for parental support, and that support will continue to benefit parents and their children going forward.
F+M NYC: You have a new book out titled, PARENTING WITH SANITY AND JOY: 101 SIMPLE STRATEGIES. What are three of the top strategies you can offer parents?
SG: Ha! I think they are all important, but here are a few of my favorites:
1. Say YES with joy. This doesn’t mean say YES all the time, but if you know you are going to say yes, reply with a smile and a “Sure! I’d be happy to!” instead of a big, irritated sigh that makes you seem like you’re being put out. It not only makes your child feel good, but you’ll notice how that thing you really didn’t want to do becomes something you actually enjoy!
2. Ask your kids what they think. Instead of launching into your own opinions about a problem your child is having with a friend or about a situation at school or even something going on in your lives together, use probing questions to find out where your child stands on the issue. Everyone likes to know their opinions and ideas are valued and needed.
3. Call your childhood self to mind. Try to remember what you were like as a child or teen. Be honest! Were you the super-organized, type A person you are today? Did you do everything you were told? Did you always act lovingly and respectfully to your own parents? Probably not, right?? It takes a long time for the rational, non-impulsive part of our brains to develop fully; (estimates are 25 years!) Children are evolving into the grown-ups they will eventually become- just as you did, so keeping that in mind will help you to remind yourself that your child is just that – a child!
F+M NYC: How do you support yourself around food + mood?
SG: This is always a work in progress! I get some sort of exercise almost every day, whether it’s a walk with a friend, a ride on my Peloton, or a hike in the woods with my husband and my dog. It not only helps me feel good during the day, but helps me to sleep well at night. That, and a little wine! As for food, I try to follow the 80/20 rule. 80% of what I eat is quite healthy, and the other 20% just makes me happy! Striving for 100% perfection is too stressful and defeats the purpose of feeling good.
To learn more about The Parenting Mentor and how Susan can support you visit https://theparentingmentor.com/