Uplift Utah Families

I am a mother, and, therefore, I feel broke, tired and guilty much of the time.

Aren’t money, sleep and parenting wisdom the three things most parents need more of? We feel guilty because we have so many challenges and sometimes are lacking the tools to face those challenges. “You can’t have a snack until you’ve had real food. How many times do I have to tell you, you have to have a real lunch before you can have a snack!”

I have five children who range in age from 5 to 22. The second I think I am doing something right with one of my children and seeing real progress, another one will experience a challenge that I feel wholly ill-equipped to help him with. I need advice.

“Helping your child identify their emotions is more important than colors and ABC’s and numbers, and we neglect teaching this,” Julie Hanks, owner and clinical director of Wasatch Family Therapy, said on “A Woman’s View.” “Feelings aren’t good or bad, they’re information. So instead of lashing out, they can say, ‘I’m really mad at you, Mom.’ ”

How do I help them with that? I see them look frustrated all the time.

“You could say, ‘You look frustrated,’ ” Hanks said. “And your child might say, ‘Yeah. I want to go to my friend’s right now!’ And you could say, ‘What if we go right after lunch?’ So you could show them how to work it through.”

I am going to do that. I am going to do that with my young boys starting today. Instead of watching them just melt down, slam doors, throw Legos and hit each other, I am going to talk with them about their emotions and how we can work through them.

More. I need more.

“Kids crave boundaries and routine,” Jennifer Merback, communications and marketing director for the Utah and Nevada Heart Association, offered. “My daughter wants to play outside until it’s pitch black, but I know how tired she is in the morning.”

Does her daughter make the connection?

“She’s getting it,” Merback said, “that she needs to unwind. And please don’t hold this against me, but we do the reward system. We’ll let her watch a certain video or whatever.”

Hold it against her? Is she kidding? We parents do whatever works.

“Also, freely apologize when you make mistakes,” Hanks said. “We need to model that.”

That is one I really get. I do apologize freely. I was driving with my two youngest sons a couple weeks ago when we were talking about a mistake Mommy had made. I told them, “I’m so sorry boys. Mommy was wrong. I hope you can forgive me.”

Without hesitation, Ethan said from his car seat behind me, “It’s okay, Mommy. Everybody makes mistakes.”

I was so humbled by how easily he forgave me, how quickly his sweet little voice answered me from the back seat. He inspired me. What a tender, loving soul he is. All of my children are this way. All children are. I can learn so much from them about forgiveness, about life and love.

And I learn from other parents, and experts, how to love and teach my children better. We will all have the opportunity to come together and learn how to be better parents at Uplift Utah Families, the First Lady’s Parenting Expo at the Salt Palace Convention Center this Friday and Saturday.

I will be there Friday at 10 a.m. to introduce relationship expert Matt Townsend. I’ll have a chance to ask Matt a few questions to kick off the conference and then turn the time over to him to share his humor and wisdom with all of us. I can’t help you with the money or sleep we all need as parents, but we can come together to gain wisdom this weekend.

Please join me. You can download free tickets for the event from the Uplift Utah Families website by clicking here.