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Talking To Your Children About Aurora Colorado Shooting: Studio 5

Information continues to come in this morning after the overnight shooting, at a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado. It’s a senseless tragedy where the details are tough to take. Knowing this situation will dominate our televisions over the coming days, how can you help your kids make sense of it all?

Helping Over-Schedule Moms Scale Back:

I recently chatted with Nicole Carpenter, founder of, about ways moms can scale back the number of family activities and prioritize what’s really important. Click the blog title above to read the entire article on‘s Motherhood Matters. Here are a few of my helpful tips and quotes from the article.

“When moms are frazzled and over-scheduled, the first thing to be neglected is personal self-care — sleep, healthy eating, exercise or meditation/prayer. Moms who neglect their personal needs for a long period of time lead to exhaustion, irritability and impatience with family members.”

“Saying ‘no’ is also important to mother’s mental health. Research published in the Journal of child and Family Studies last month suggests that mothers with an intense parenting style have poorer mental health than mothers with a more laid-back parenting approach. One characteristic of intense parenting is the belief that good moms are always providing stimulation for their children, and I think that belief leads many moms to take on more and more commitments and activities.”

Read the entire article here…

Successful Co-Parenting After Divorce: Studio 5

Cooperation and communication between divorced parents are crucial to a child’s well-being. It’s often difficult for ex-spouses to transition from intimate partners to “business partners”. You are both in the business of successfully raising your child or children together.

1) Nurture your child’s relationship with other parent

You don’t need to be friends with your ex-spouse, but you do need to be a friend to your child’s relationship with them. Regardless of your feelings toward your ex-spouse, it is in your child’s best interest to support and nurture their relationship with your co-parent. Your feelings or opinions toward your ex are none of your child’s business. The only exception to this is if you believe your child is in danger of being neglected, abused, or harmed.

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Booklet Helps Mormon Parents Communicate With Gay Children: KSL TV News

Honored to be invited to give my thoughts on a story encouraging LDS parents to show love and acceptance to their gay teens.

Family therapist Julie Hanks believes the key to healthy relationships is unconditional love. “It’s important for parents to recognize that their child’s sexual orientation does not define them as a person,” Hanks said. “It doesn’t change their worthiness of love and acceptance from their family.”

Read KSL News Story

Learn more about the Family Acceptance Project



Option To Fail May Aid Children’s Academic Success

New research completed by the American Psychological Association states, students are able to learn better if they are told that failure is an option and is even a normal part of learning. It is important to help kids understand learning is hard and failure is a part of learning. It’s normal and OK.

Kids today are obsessed with success. They associate success with being smart and failure with being not smart. It is because of this students are afraid to learn more and take on new material. Learning more increases the chance for failure.

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5 Ways To Be A Happier Parent: KSL TV News

Secret #1: Take time for yourself

An hour away, a night out with girlfriends — make sure you save some time to call your own. Take time to recharge and take better care of those you love.

Secret #2: Find meaning in the mundane

Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or working, part-time or full-time, finding a greater purpose in the day-to-day tasks can add more joy to your life.

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Ask Julie: How Can I Get My Baby’s Father Back?

Q: My daughter is 3 now. Her father and I have been split up for almost 2 years now. Due to postpartum, hormones, stress, loss of a family member, and cancer health related issues I was having and needed treatment for. My emotions were too much. He had been dating a girl from his work for the amount of time we have been split up. I previously got engaged, and am now 7 months pregnant. This relationship failed. During this time of me not connecting my self and my previous EX fiance being too needy and clingy drowning every ounce of me. Playing games to see “how much I cared.” I couldn’t handle it anymore and shut my wall up. Trying to reason with him if I hadn’t at one time cared I wouldn’t be pregnant or previously engaged. Although that ended I feel relieved and not controlled. And our personalities were too different; I wanted the idea of him trying to fill the hurt.

Although being my daughter is 3 my ex (her father) and I keep in close contact. And being through these last 7 months of pregnancy I realized I missed him. And he’s whom I wanted and WANT to be with. Not someone who looks like him.

These last 7 months also made me realize that the way my ex fiance was treating me was very similar to the way I was treating my daughter’s father. Because I didn’t have the confidence to believe he cared enough to be there through my emotional roller coaster at the time. And now that this has hit me in the face and my life is in a positive place and knowing I was never happier I want him back.

Is there any advice you can give me on approaching my daughter’s father in time, to take the steps to try and make things work?

A: Thanks for writing in. It sounds like the last 3 years have been extremely stressful for you on many levels, some of which you had no control over, and other stresses that you chose. I know your question is regarding getting your ex-boyfriend back, but I hope you’ll consider that there are other things that need to be addressed before you get back into any relationship.

Please get in to a therapist to explore why you are having such difficulty in love relationships. To find a qualified therapist in your area click here. We often replay our childhood issues in adulthood and my guess is that there are some deeper unresolved issues playing out here.  My biggest concern is not how you’re going to get your ex back, but in you developing the stability and strength in yourself that your children will need in order to thrive, whether you’re in a relationship or not.  Rather than focusing on getting your daughter’s father back, I urge you to focus on being a strong person, and a strong mother for your children, and developing the confidence and the skills to maintain a healthy, long-term, committed relationship. Focus on being the kind of person that would attract a healthy and committed man to build a stable life for you and your children.

Please, be cautious about having more children until you have a healthy, long-term, committed, stable relationship. Focus on getting healthy yourself for the children you already have before you focusing on getting your daughter’s father back. Be the kind of woman he would want to be with. Once you’ve worked on yourself please get relationship counseling before you get into any relationship with your ex or anyone else.

Take good care of yourself and your children!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

Telling Your Friend Her Child Has Problems: Studio 5

What should you do if you suspect a friend’s child has a problem? Here are my tips for when to step in and when to step back. Ask yourself these 5 questions:

1) How close is this friend?

If you notice that a neighbor’s child is overly aggressive and angry (hitting, biting or throwing things) toward others should you say something? It depends on how close you are to your neighbor. “I’ve noticed that your child sometimes feels things intensely and gets a bit rough with other kids.”

TIP: Bring it up in a tentative, emotionally neutral way
2) Has your friend been open to feedback in the past?

If you’ve given your friend honest feedback in the past it’s more likely that she’ll be open to specific feedback about her child. Even moms who are generally open can easily get defensive when the think their child is being criticized. If you suspect your friend’s child has some kind of emotional or mental disorder like ADHD or Autism, it may be hard for your friend to hear.

TIP: Ask first if she is open to feedback about her child
3) What is your intent?

Look honestly at your motives and intentions. Are you bringing up a concern about your friend’s child to make your little darling look better, or to make yourself look like a better mother than she is? If you suspect that your friend’s child is cheating on tests at school to get straight A’s you may want to check yourself and make sure your motive is really trying to help her child.

TIP: Make sure your intent is to help her child
4) Does this directly impact your child?

If your child is directly affected by your friend’s child’s behavior, then bring your concerns up to your friend. You first priority should be protecting your own child, and preserving you friendship comes second. A common issue with preschool and early elementary school is peers asking to show their “private areas”.

TIP: If it impacts your child, bring it up
5) Are you willing to risk your friendship?

There are some concerns that may be worth risking a friendship. For example, if your friend’s teen is drinking and driving or having unprotected sex with multiple partners and your friend has no clue, for public safety and serious health concerns it may be worth taking a risk and bringing it up.

TIP: Safety and health issues should be discussed

How To Handle Your Child’s First Crush: Studio 5

Adults may think crushes are silly, even superficial. But to a child, a first crush is a big deal. Therapist, Julie Hanks, LCSW  has “do’s” and “don’ts” to help you handle your child’s first crush.

Guste & Robertas II

1) Watch for signs

First crushes generally happen in elementary school between 5-10 years old. Even if your child doesn’t tell you directly that they have a crush, you might see the signs: giggling with friends, being mean to or teasing the child they like, or planning a special gift.

2) Get curious

This is a great opportunity to understand more about your child and to begin help them explore their preferences and values. Ask your child open ended questions like: “Tell me more about Kate…” “How does John feel about you?” or “What is it that makes her special to you?”

3) Never tease

Feelings of affection are the beginnings of attraction that will lead to meaningful relationships in the future. Talk about feelings of infatuation in a positive light, as a wonderful thing. Never tease or make fun of your child’s crush.

4) Set boundaries

Your child’s first crush is a great time to start a dialogue about appropriate physical and emotional boundaries, especially if your child is in older elementary school. Discussions on showing physical affection, spending time together, texting are all important things to start talking about.

5) Soothe hurt feelings

When first crushes are not reciprocated, it can be painful, even for children. This is an opportunity for you to teach your child that they are resilient and can move on after being hurt or disappointed.

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photo credit: Modestas J