Kids are People

Dec 15

The INFJ and the Narcissist – Part 12

jade bowlAt this point, she’s an overwhelmed stay-at-home mom, an ineffectual facilitator for the kids and their father, a disappointing wife, and basically, a single parent.

While some women have a lengthy list of chores to greet them at the beginning of each new day, she had two lists – one of her chores, and one of her failures.  It’s hard to enthusiastically fold towels or chop vegies for stir-fry, all the while knowing she’d be criticized for both.  Certainly, the kids were a bigger priority than perfectly folded towels, but he didn’t see things that way.

She could handle his indifference toward her.  She was used to it.  By now, she was aware that she’d never perform well enough to meet his standards.  But it broke her heart to think he held their precious kids up to the same standards.

She noticed his growing disdain for the oldest child, and the way he patronized the youngest.  Was it all in her head?  Most days he treated his kids as if they were mere inconveniences.

  Continue reading →

Jun 15

School’s Out!

school's outSchool’s out for summer!  The bell rang at 10:48 this morning.

Will and I discussed the last of his papers, and that marked the end for him.  Jen finished last Wednesday after getting an A on her math final.

And so we are done for another year.


  Continue reading →

May 15

How to Say “No”

If every shell represented a no ...“So why don’t you just say “no”?”

I put my cell back in my pocket and exhaled loudly as we continued our walk.  “I dunno, Jen.  My knee-jerk reaction is to always try to accommodate – if I can.”

“When they asked you, did you know right away what your answer was?  Did you know right away that you wanted to say no?”

“Well, sure I knew I didn’t want to say yes – my stomach clenched.  Yikes.  That’s a pretty good indication that I want to say no.  I don’t need more on my plate.”

She moved me closer to the sidewalk as a car approached – ever the protector, that one.  “How come you don’t just say no right away?” Continue reading →

Apr 15

Narcissist for a Day

narcissist for a dayToday I’m going to be a narcissist.  I’m going to put myself first.


I need to get something done – for me.  In order to do that, I need to put all your stuff aside.

You know I love you.  Right?  And all day long, while I’m making myself a priority, I’ll still be loving you.  But – just for today – I need to make some progress on my* list.

  Continue reading →

Apr 15

On Dating With Kids

on dating with kids“Okay you guys.  What do you think?  Any red flags?  Let me have it.”  (I’m not sure I can trust myself to see things clearly.)

Kids are like pets.  They know who to steer clear of and who to trust – instinctively.  Come to think of it, adults probably have those same instincts, but they long ago stopped listening to them – or at least I did.

Will laughed and immediately said, “No!  No red flags. You’re kidding, right?  Why?”  Jen smiled and shook her head.

“Come on Jen, are you holding back?  You can tell me.  It’s okay.”

“No, mom, really.  I don’t see anything.” Continue reading →

Feb 15

When Your Dad is a Bully

Dear Experts in Childhood Development,

I am divorced from my children’s father.  You’ve told me over and over again that I’m not supposed to bad-mouth their father – especially to my kids.  You have told me that if I do so, I’m also hurting my kids.

You also give me advice on how to handle bullies.  I’ve learned that we are supposed to have open discussions at home about bullies and bullying behavior.  You’ve said that in order to prevent bullying, we have to talk about it and call it what it is.  You tell me that these conversations must happen in order to make the world a safer place for kids.

My kids’ dad is a bully – he’s a narcissistic bully – and yet you tell me I can’t call him any names.

I’m confused.

You encourage me to call the bullying kid on the playground a bully, but I’m not supposed to call their dad a disparaging name.  Isn’t that a contradiction?  Isn’t that creating more confusion around the whole issue of bullying. Continue reading →

Jan 15

How To Start Your Homeschool Morning Peacefully

how to start your homeschool morning peacefully“How’d you sleep?” I set my coffee down to get up and start her chocolate milk.

“Good. How ’bout you?”  She curls up in her corner of the couch and Nina saunters over to take her share of the blanket.

I start heating the milk and then walk into the living room.  “Any dreams?”

“No. You?”

“Yeah.  I’ll tell ya when Will’s up.”  At this point, I walk back into the kitchen.  She’s an introvert like I am.  I know she needs quiet and time to ease in in the morning. Continue reading →

Dec 14

When the Apple Falls Far From the Tree

When the apple falls far from the tree“So mom…  you know that movie we watched the other night – the one where the gal worked for that mean lady, and she was miserable, but she stayed working for her for three years?”

“I know which movie you mean.”

She mopped the last bite of pancake through the maple syrup.  “Well, you can’t really complain if you’ve only invested a year.  And if you’ve toughed it out for like three years, that seems the time to make a choice.”

“Yeah?  Not sure where you’re going with this, but I’m listening.”

“But if you stick it out for 16 years, complaining all the way and continuing to be miserable, isn’t it your own fault for staying.  At that point, do you have any right to complain about that jerky woman you’re working for?”

“I see what you mean.  And as long as you remember that that also applies to relationships, you’ll have it all figured out.”  I laughed, “It sounds like my work is done here.”

“I knew you were gonna say that!”


Thank you for reading here.  I wish you quiet sparkles, warm hugs from those you love the most, peace by a fire with a good book in your lap, and an optimistic feeling about the new year. 

Be well, friends, and Merry Christmas!

Nov 14

It’s About Him

porcupine pin cushion“It’s about him, honey.”

“But I feel sorry for him.  He’s all by himself on Thanksgiving.  How come he didn’t call us?”

“Well, he made a series of choices that brought him to the point where he’s alone on Thanksgiving.  I understand that you feel sorry for him.  You’ve got the kindest heart.  Don’t let feeling sorry for him make you feel guilty – like there’s something you’re supposed to do about the situation.  A good dad calls his kids on Thanksgiving.”

Will chimes in, “You guys know why he didn’t call, don’t ya?  He didn’t call because I wouldn’t change my plans on Thanksgiving to do what he wanted me to do.”

“Yes, so now you’re both being punished with the silent treatment.” Continue reading →

Sep 14

“Put the Pedal to the Plastic!”

Marina Motel“Mom, put the pedal to the plastic!”


“Put the pedal to the plastic.  Look at this dashboard – everything is plastic.  Way back when you were a kid, cars were made of steel.  Nobody can say, “Put the pedal to the metal!” anymore.

“Thanks for clarifying.  I think.”

And from the backseat Jenny yelled, “Yeah, Mom!  Put the pedal to the plastic!” Continue reading →

Aug 14

Will They Think I’m Weird?

Wearing flips in Montana“Will they think I’m weird if I’m repelling off the play structure?”


“The neighbors.”

“They already think we’re weird.”

The three of us were walking across the park to the play structure.  Jenny was carrying a climbing rope and harness.  She’d come up with a new game – strategically place 10 bind weed blossoms and try to retrieve them without letting her feet touch the ground.  In some cases, she needed to repel down and pick up the blossoms because she couldn’t access them from the structure any other way.

Will came along to watch.  “Why do you care what the neighbors think?”

Jenny climbed the stairs of the play structure.  “I don’t.  Really.  Well…  I dunno.  Is this weird?”

It was my job to gather the pink blossoms and place them around the structure.  We had the whole park to ourselves.  The sun was high and hot.  I was wondering how long this was going to take.  “If it’s fun, does it matter if it’s weird?  Well, not too weird, I mean.”  I found two more blossoms, “I hate wearing flips* to the park.  Too many pokeys.”

Will laughed as he tried to fit his long legs and arms into the only bit of shade.  “People aren’t really paying attention to what you are doing anyway.  They’re mostly thinking about how they look and what they are doing.”

I looked up from hiding the last blossom.  “That’s right.  Where’d you hear that?”

“You told me that.”

I squeezed into the shade next to Will, “And you listened?”



*A million years ago, I lived in Redondo Beach for a couple months.  I was asked to show my ID at a shop.  When the cashier saw I was from Montana, he looked down at my feet and said, “Wow! They wear thongs (I told you it was a long time ago) in Montana?”

Jul 14

On Trusting Your Teenager


We used to read each other’s mind.  I’d leave him in the living room with a stack of blocks and head to the kitchen to get him a snack.  He didn’t know that I was on my way to open the fridge, but he’d yell, “Bwuebewwies, pwease!”

And that’s how it was for years.

It did happen the other day in the car.  We heard a song on the radio and we simultaneously referenced a video we’d seen about an amazing guy who turned a carrot into a flute or saxophone – some orange wind instrument.  Anyway, on occasion, Will and I are actually on the same page.

  Continue reading →

May 14

Show Them the Love You Want Them to Find

still life with terra cottaDear Jesse,

I like how you set out to read more and then started reading more. I watch you walk into the library. I know you are planning to look for some fantasy fiction or maybe a good mystery.  I see you standing in front of the ‘New Books’ section. I see your eyes scanning the shelves. I watch as your hand reaches up to grab yet another non-fiction about narcissism or relationships or parenting.

Dear heart, you’ve read enough. You’ve seen the patterns. You know that the reason you keep ending up with narcissists in your life is because that’s what you learned as a kid.

Yeah, I know you are gun-shy about getting into a new relationship. That’s certainly understandable. All the reading in the world won’t prepare you for the next time. Your heart will know when it’s time. I can’t tell you how a new relationship might turn out. That’s not my job. It’s your job to get out there and keep trying.

When you are ready to try again. Continue reading →

Apr 14

On Narcissism and Negativity

on narcissism and negativity“What did dad want?”

I put the cell down and said, “Well, he wants to come by here and pick up some of Will’s sketches.  He wants to make copies of them.”



“Jen, are you okay?”

“Sure.  I’m fine,” spoken like a mini-me.

“Jen, it would make sense to get your feelings hurt when your dad comes over here, plucks some of Will’s sketches off the kitchen wall – that hang right next to your sketches – without his asking to take any of your work.  That would hurt feelings.  You can admit that.”

“I know.”


A couple hours later…


“Guys!  I don’t know what to do here.  I have been working on avoiding anything negative.  I try to banish negative self-talk and avoid negative conversations.  I’m trying to make progress here.  I don’t want a cloud hanging over this happy sanctuary that is our home.

 Jen, you are the most positive person I know.  Will, you don’t have a negative bone in your body.  But how do I handle it when something like this happens with your dad?  How do I avoid any discussion about this?

If I let it slide by without acknowledging the potential for hurt feelings, it appears that I’m fine with his actions.  And that’s definitely not the case.

If I bring it to light, then I can’t do so without dipping into the negative.

What would you do?”


Will looks up from his work, “Well, we have to talk about it so that Jen knows that we don’t agree with how he treats her.  It sucks, and it’s not right.”

Jen comes out from the kitchen, “We have to talk about it so that we don’t end up being crappy parents with our own kids.  We have to know what to avoid, but we don’t have to dwell on it.  We can just talk about it and move on and not let the negative take over.”

Mar 14

Conversations with Kids in Cars

“Even if it was legal, even if they had the money to do it, kids could never run a business because adults just don’t respect them.  Kinda like boys don’t respect girls.  Same thing.”

I reach over to turn down the radio.  “Jen, why do you say that?”  I look at Will, “You gotta slow down a bit, it’s 25 in this neighborhood.”

“Well, I guess grownups don’t respect kids cuz they think kids can’t handle responsibilities.  They say stuff like, ‘You can’t do that, you’re still a kid.'”

“How is that like boys not respecting girls?”  I turn back to watch the traffic, “Nice job on that lane-change there, Will.  Good job remembering to signal.”

“Like if some boys are playing a hunting game on TV and a girl walks up and says, ‘Can I play?’ and the boys say, ‘No, it’s for boys.’  It’s the same thing.”

We are waiting for the light to change and Will chimes in, “Maybe adults think kids can’t handle responsibilities because they are really worried that they aren’t handling responsibilities well.  Maybe the boys worry that the girls’ll be better at the hunting game?”


How do you two come up with this stuff?

Jen looked out the window and laughed, “It’s all pretty obvious, mom.”