Specials Free Resources
NVC Quick Connect
The Battle of Different Parenting Styles
By Tiffany Meyer

In divorced or separated families in particular, differences in parenting styles are a pretty common cause of conflict. And if you’re sitting in the seat of the “NVC parent,” it can be easy to quickly judge your ex’s style as “wrong,” “domineering” or simply “uninformed.” Yet such judgments are only cause for further conflict. Keep reading this article >>

The Food and Body Mambo
By Jan Henrikson

You're watching TV with your preteen daughter. She's crunching away on leftover Christmas cookies while a commentator makes fun of a former model who has gained 60 pounds, then chastises a superskinny celebrity for being anorexic. Weight is a tender topic - how do you support your child in loving her own body while helping her to create lifelong healthy eating habits? Keep reading article >>  

NVC Parenting Package
NVC Parenting Package
4-Title Package - Various Authors
Product details
List Price: $28.85
Your Price: $14.00
Save 50% thru Jan. 31

Add to Cart


Free Weekly Tips Series:

••Compassionate Educator Tips
Living Compassion Tips
••Compassionate Parenting Tips
••7 Peaceful Living Meditations

PDF Downloads:

Key Facts About NVC
Articles About NVC


“Never delay an expression of
appreciation . . . it has a terrible shelf life.”

Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D.

Play Video Now

An Inspiring Video
You'll Never Forget

World-renowned author, peacemaker, and conflict resolution expert, Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D. talks about the keys to prevent all forms of conflict and violence in this 10-minute video.


The Battle of Different Parenting Styles, continued

What NVC teaches us is that using demands with our kids may work in the short run. And if a demand doesn’t do it, certainly a “do this or else” command will do the trick. Before we know it, the house is quiet, everyone’s doing what they’re told, and we can finally relax.

Enter … teenage daughter who visits every other weekend. Just so happens she lives full time with mom, and they’ve been living this thing called “NVC consciousness” for years. Suddenly your demand/ command approach no longer works with her. She sees right through you and rebels at the mere sniff of a demand.

So what’s a parent to do? On one hand your mind is racing with “if he’d just do it like I do, things would be fine.” And on the other you realize that your ex truly believes his style works, he stands behind it and has no intention of changing.

Whether you have full custody, shared custody or something in between, how we respond to our ex’s parenting style to him and around our child will have a lasting impact on their relationship to one another.

Avoid self-righteousness.
It’s OK to disagree with your ex’s approach. The key is avoiding judgment or self-righteousness in your response.

Case in point, my 13-year-old daughter Lydia spent winter break with her dad, his wife and their four children. She called me one night aggravated by an encounter she’d had with her dad. Her stepmom had asked Lydia to show her younger brother how to use an indoor remote control car he’d gotten for Christmas, as the toy was expensive and she was worried her son might break it without the supervision. Lydia was engaged in this support when her brother lost control of the car, and it knocked over a glass vase, breaking it on the hardwood floor.

Hearing the crash, her father came in and as Lydia described, threw out punishment and blame. "That's it, Lydia. You've just lost your month's allowance. I expect you to be a better influence on your brother, after all he is only 6. Now everyone go to your room for 20 minutes and think about what you've done while I clean up this mess."

Lydia's reaction was understandable. "It was totally unfair. He came in shouting at us, and when I raised my voice back to defend myself, he just sent me to my room."

Regardless of the issue our child brings us in response to the other parent’s style, we have two choices. We can judge, or we can empathize with the needs our ex was trying to meet with his/her style. Which response we choose will have a profound impact on our child’s future response to similar encounters.

Model respect.
A rule I continue to reiterate to Lydia is this - regardless of how you feel about your dad’s parenting style or how he communicates, you need to show him respect. We can’t expect respect if we don’t offer respect first. I tell her this in the context of a broader lesson about life. At some point in her life, she’s likely to have a boss, customer or teacher whose style she don’t like. We can disagree, we can stand up for ourselves, but it is never ok to disrespect. Because when we do, we say “my needs matter more than yours.”

It would be inauthentic of me to not show any frustration or annoyance at my ex’s style in front of my daughter. But for the most part, I remember that by modeling respect of my ex first, I’m showing my daughter she can too.

Provide empathy.
When my daughter calls me in these situations, I find myself torn. On one hand I want to jump in and defend her. This might look like this: “OK, get your dad on the phone, I need to talk to him.” After which I might explain how unreasonable his actions were.

On the other hand, I don’t want to contribute to further conflict for Lydia, and certainly my judging him and trying to defend her, will. Likely my ex will feel defensive, especially since I was responding only to Lydia’s side of the story. Defending her will also tell him that I don’t respect him and that I don’t think Lydia should either. Both of these outcomes are likely to contribute to further conflict.

The point, really, is that my role is not about agreeing or disagreeing with my ex’s style (unless of course his style inflicts physical harm to Lydia). It’s about what role I choose to play for my daughter in these moments. And since I want to prepare her to handle the situation with compassion on her own, the best role for me to play once I've modeled respect, is empathy buddy. To let her vent and help translate her jackals into feelings and needs.

Connect to dad’s needs.
At the same time, I’m not just her buddy, I’m also her mom. So, Lydia and I have an agreement. You can call me whenever you need to vent about your dad’s parenting style or something that happened, for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, we change gears and you pretend I’m your dad. At that point you do your best to connect to what needs I was trying to meet in making the demands and commands I did.

If your child is still learning his emotional vocabulary, try using our list of Feelings and Needs We All Have. Your child can take the list with her on weekend visits and when she’s stuck trying to guess her dad’s feelings or needs she can refer to her list.

Celebrate the small steps.
No approach is ever perfect – there are definitely days when all Lydia can do is vent and 15 minutes just hits the tip of the iceberg. But there are also days when she doesn’t feel an urge to call to vent at all.

Instead, she calls to celebrate – it could be that she was able to calm herself down all on her own. Or, that rather than yell back in rebellion at her dad’s demand, she was able to walk away, trusting fully that once he’d calmed down that he’d be open to more a compassionate discussion.

As you attempt these steps with your own kids, remember to model celebration of the smallest of accomplishments. Why? Because this stuff isn’t easy, not by a long shot. And it can be easy to get discouraged when we haven’t acknowledged our accomplishments. And, because each baby step absolutely matters because it builds trust one word at a time.

Tiffany Meyer is the past editor and a contributing writer to the NVC Quick Connect e-Newsletter, the founder of the Help Share NVC Project, past marketing director for PuddleDancer Press, founder/president of Numa Marketing, author of Writing a Results-Driven Marketing Plan: The Nonprofit's Guide to Making Every Dollar Count, and creator of the companion online training program, Results-Driven Marketing Mastery. She has been learning and practicing NVC for more than a decade and remains committed to integrating it into her personal and professional life.

Keep learning these vital communication skills with these books and training resources:





"When we show
disrespect, we say
my needs matter
more than yours."

- Tiffany Meyer



The Food and Body Mambo, continued

Your daughter has just gained a few pounds over the holidays, and you've heard her express less-than loving comments about her body.

How do you find out what's going on with your child without adding to all the confusing food and body messages bombarding girls these days? After all, girls and women tend to struggle with body image issues, and eating disorders far more often than boys and men. And the U.S. levels of child overweight and obesity rates have reached nearly 30% of the entire adolescent population. How do you express your concern without her imagining you hate her body or expect her to fill some unrealistic expectation?

Know Thyself
Before you say anything, eavesdrop on yourself. How do you speak about your body and what you eat and don't eat. When you don't live up to your expectations around food, do you berate yourself? Offer yourself compassion? Do you starve yourself, then feel deprived? Are you always on a diet? Do you eat in joy? Is food a reward?

Your daughter absorbs how you think, feel, and speak about food and your body just as you've absorbed your parents' food messages. Such messages linger inside every adult. From off-hand comments like, "How many doughnuts is that?" to outright judgments, "You're too fat. You can't have chocolate."

Says Sylvia Haskvitz, M.A., R.D., author of Eat by Choice, Not By Habit, "That's where a lot of emotional wounds start, right there in childhood, especially around eating. I've dealt with so many people that have had very painful messages that remain in their lives and impact them. That's why it's crucial to speak to your kids with skill."

Choose which messages you want to send.

Celebrate Your Body
Infuse yourself and your daughter with words of appreciation for the body. When was the last time you heard a woman say, "I love my hips," or "I saw myself in a store window yesterday and thought, 'Who is that beautiful woman?'" Typically, women flinch, groan, pinch and wiggle various body parts in disapproval. Your daughter catches all of that.

As silly as it may initially feel, practice speaking gratitude for the body, not just how it looks, but how it serves you. "I love how strong my legs feel when I hike." Or, "When I saw you dancing in your bedroom yesterday, I felt joyful celebrating the freedom I noticed in your movement."

"Everyone has such disdain for their bodies rather than appreciation," says Haskvitz. "With gratitude, there's an opening for change. Without that, you get stuck in the Jackal dance."

Celebrate Food
Invite your daughter to join you in a mindful eating moment. Pick a favorite meal. Relish each and every mouth-watering flavor, texture, and scent. Revel in pleasure. Savoring food becomes much more fun than mindless nervous eating.

Keep food around the house that you're happy to serve. Small changes can create huge shifts:

• Trade potato chips for nuts and cheese
• Choose healthy oils like olive oil and coconut oil
• Buy organic

Celebrate Each Other
Now you're aware of your relationship to body and food. You've heightened your sense of appreciation. Chances are your daughter has begun shifting, too. It's time to talk.

Haskvitz has a few suggestions on how to speak in such a way that your daughter experiences compassion, rather than criticism: "I have concern when I notice that I'm buying you clothes 3 sizes larger than I did 4 months ago. I want to check in and see how you're feeling . . . what's going on for you. I know that food is an easy thing to reach for when you're stressed out and I sense you've been more stressed out lately. I worry when we use food to comfort rather than talking about what's going on, maybe we're stuffing what's happening. I really want to offer support to you. Is there something you're going through you'd like to share and get off your chest?"

"Check to see how your daughter takes in this conversation," Haskvitz emphasizes. "You want to be sure that if she thought she heard, 'You think I'm fat' or 'You think I'm ugly' that you have a chance to correct that. That's the real key, finding out what she's hearing because no matter what you're saying she probably already feels bad about herself. Be sure the conversation is open-hearted and connecting - not something that becomes a life-long wound for her. Ask her, 'Can you tell me what you heard me say, to see if I was clear?'"

Whether she talks now or later, you've created an opening. You're guiding her to a relationship with her body and food that is mindful versus focused on food. You're supporting her in strengthening a healthy body as well as a healthy body image. And she hasn't even hit puberty yet. Now that's delicious.

Explore this topic more with Eat by Choice, Not by Habit by Sylvia Haskvitz, or contact Sylvia at 520-572-9295 to learn more about one-on-one coaching to transform your relationship with your body and food.
Save 30% every day when you order from PuddleDancer Press!

Jan Henrikson is the editor of Eat by Choice, Not by Habit written by Sylvia Haskvitz. In between writing, editing and coaching other writers, Jan eats as joyfully and mindfully as possible.

Keep learning these vital communication skills with these books and training resources:




"Everyone has such
disdain for their bodies
rather than appreciation.
With gratitude, there's
an opening for change."

- Sylvia Haskvitz