Strengthen marriage with a new perspective

Here’s a sweet letter sent out from our head coach, Dr. Abigail Hirsch, about how her new baby inspired a strengthen marriage tip. Dr. Hirsch gave birth to her fourth child five months ago. At the end of August we’ll be featuring a post from her about her experiences with postpartum depression. Enjoy!


Hello Power of Two Member,

Today was a big day in our house.  Our five month old baby just got big enough to sit in a high chair at the table with the

strengthen marriage
Our children can teach us skills to strengthen of us. This new perspective was transformative.  All of a sudden his three big brothers noticed him.  For pretty much the first time they started chatting away with the little guy. And, he in turn found their stories so funny he couldn’t stop chortling.

What does this have to do with marriage?  For me, it was a wonderful reminder how just a little shift in perspective can make a huge difference in how people relate to each other. Continue reading Strengthen marriage with a new perspective

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Fathers Day quotes

Sometimes it’s hard to find the right words to tell Dad you love him. I’ve scourged the web for the best funny, touching and wise Fathers Day quotes. Enjoy, and have a great Fathers Day tomorrow!


1. “My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard.  Mother would come out and say, ‘You’re tearing up the grass.’  ‘We’re not raising grass,’ Dad would reply. ‘We’re raising boys.'” ~ Harmon Killebrew

2. “Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is soap-on-a-rope.” ~ Bill Cosby

3. “It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us fathers and sons.” ~ Johann Schiller

4. “A father is a man who carries pictures where his money used to be.” ~ Anonymous fathers day quotes

5. “Spread the diaper in the position of the diamond with you at bat.  Then fold second base down to home and set the baby on the pitcher’s mound.  Put first base and third together, bring up home plate and pin the three together.  Of course, in case of rain, you gotta call the game and start all over again.” ~ Jimmy Piersal, on how to diaper a baby, 1968

6. “My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.” ~ Clarence Budington Kelland

7. “A truly rich man is one whose children run into his arms when his hands are empty.” ~ Unknown

8. “By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he’s wrong.” ~ Charles Wadsworth

9. “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” ~ Mark Twain

10. “The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” ~ Henry Ward Beecher

11. “Small boys become big men through the influence of big men who care about small boys.”
~ Anonymous fathers day quotes

12. “I talk and talk and talk, and I haven’t taught people in 50 years what my father taught by example in one week.”
~ Mario Cuomo

13. “A father is someone that holds your hand at the fair makes sure you do what your mother says holds back your hair when you are sick brushes that hair when it is tangled because mother is too busy lets you eat ice cream for breakfast but only when mother is away he walks you down the aisle and tells you everythings gonna be OK.”
~ Anonymous fathers day quotes

14. “There are three stages of a man’s life: He believes in Santa Claus, he doesn’t believe in Santa Claus, he is Santa Claus.” 
~ Anonymous fathers day quotes

15. “I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.” ~ Umberto Eco, Foucault’s Pendulum

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The best Fathers Day video ever.

It’s an oldie, but a goodie!

Ok, so this fathers day video is only from 2010. I’m sure you’ve seen it before–at the same time, every time I watch I find it equally hilarious. This video by Church on the Move (who also made a great Mothers Day video) pokes fun at and celebrates dads in all their suburban glory: changing diapers, taking care of the house, and bringing home the bacon. And their rapping isn’t half bad….! Those rhymes definitely make it into my list of best parenting quotes.

My favorite part of the video is when dad #1 starts watching videos with this kids and cries during Aladdin. Watching children’s entertainment can be both mind numbing and eye-opening. I know many parents who quite openly enjoy movies aimed at kids. They can be funny, poignant, and clever without all the violence and darkness of adult movies–which, frankly, we all need a break from once and a while.

As this fathers day video shows, the dads in our lives deserve a big shout out for what they do for their families…and they totally have the bragging rights to rap about it. It also made me think: since being a dad takes up so much of a dad’s life, maybe this year we encourage our dads and husbands to pursue their own interests and take a break from the job. Give him the day to do what ever he wants…without the kids. This sounds like exactly the opposite of how fathers day should be celebrated–it’s all about the fact that this wonderful man has kids, right? It should be celebrated with the family! At the same time, he’s a father 365 days a year, so maybe today is the day he should get the day off!

Enjoy this fathers day video and have fun this weekend–whatever you end up doing!

Fathers Day video via Church on the Move

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20 awesome parenting quotes

While reading through some great parenting quotes for this post, I noticed that quotes from the 1800s through yesterday had two common themes. Despite so many changes in society, people throughout time seem to have found essential truths about raising children.
The first theme of parenting quotes deals with setting an example for your children. They learn more from what you don’t explicitly teach them. You are their reference for how the world is supposed to work. They learn this by watching and interacting with you, consciously and subconsciously absorbing your behavior and reactions.This is especially true for knowledge of relationships. While each of us has our own unique personality and genetic dispositions, much of how we learn to interact with others is determined by how our parents act. Are you patient or quick tempered? Do you tend to argue loudly or avoid confrontation? Do you consider divorce a normal outcome of marriage? Think back to how your family acted, what behaviors were valued and modeled, and which were ignored or admonished. Knowing where your idea of “normal” comes from can empower you to change negative patterns.
Of course, the notion that your children’s futures are being shaped by every move you make is terribly nerve wracking. We have to be perfect all the time! Actually, this leads to the second common theme in the parenting quotes: just do your best. No one knows how to be the perfect parent–there really is no such thing, anyway. For every theory on parenting there is a counter theory in vogue two years later. All you can do is your best–nothing more, nothing less. In fact, when you make mistakes, admit them to your children. Use the moment to engage and teach them. When the day comes that they point out your own errors and give you advice, you’ll know that you have taught them well.

20 awesome parenting quotes

  1. We are apt to forget that children watch examples better than they listen to preaching – Roy L. Smith
  2. My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it
    – Clarence Budinton Kelland
  3. The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother, and the most important thing a mother can do for her children is to love their father – Anonymous, parenting quotes
  4. There is no point in being grown up if you can’t be childish sometimes – Dr. Who
  5. A father is someone who carries pictures where his money used to be – Lion
  6. Your children need your presence more than your presents – Jesse Jackson
  7. Stop trying to perfect your child, but keep trying to perfect your relationship with him – Dr. Henker
  8. To understand your parents’ love you must raise children yourself – Chinese Proverb
  9. Creativity, flexibility, tolerance and love are natural states of mind and our purpose is to nurture them to full blossom – Ronit Baras
  10. There is no such thing as a perfect parent so just be a real one. – Sue Atkins
  11. It is not a bad thing that children should occasionally, and politely, put parents in their place – Colette
  12. Parents make mistakes too, don’t try to hide from them or cover them up. Admit them and teach your kids from the mistakes you make – K. Heath
  13. Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children, and no theories.  ~John Wilmot
  14. Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.  ~Robert Fulghum
  15. Parents often talk about the younger generation as if they didn’t have anything to do with it.  ~Haim Ginott
  16. Too often we give children answers to remember rather than problems to solve.  ~Roger Lewin
  17. Because of their size, parents may be difficult to discipline properly.  ~P.J. O’Rourke
  18. No matter how calmly you try to referee, parenting will eventually produce bizarre behavior, and I’m not talking about the kids.  ~Bill Cosby, Fatherhood, 1986
  19. You don’t really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around – and why his parents will always wave back.  ~William D. Tammeus
  20. The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life. – Richard David Bach
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What they don’t tell you about child rearing and mental health–and why they should

May is mental health awareness month, and I’m excited announce a series of guest posts from marriage experts. Each week will feature a new guest post on a certain subject of mental health in marriage.

I’m kicking off the campaign by talking about the importance of talking about mental health–specifically when it comes to child rearing. I’m using a great TED talk lecture given by co-founders Rufus Griscom and Alisa Volkman.

Americans are strong, independent, creative and adventurous. At the same time, we’re not very good when it comes to talking about our feelings, our challenges, and our struggles. Child rearing is one of those areas. As any parent knows, raising kids is hard. It takes its tole on our bodies and our minds. Yet when it comes to talking about our mental health challenges as parents, there are still taboos that hold us back. This lack of communication makes us doubt our ourselves…if it seems so easy for everyone else, why is it so hard for me? What’s wrong with me? Am I a bad parent? Am I a bad person? These doubts and anxieties whirl around inside us, growing on themselves and eating away at our self esteem and happiness.

It takes a lot of guts to get up and talk about your own difficulties with child rearing. Luckily, we’re seeing more and more of this as mental health taboos are broken and the “strong and silent” expectations of our culture shift towards one of sharing and mutual support. Rufus Griscom and Alisa Volkman are two brave pioneers. In December 2010, the couple gave a TED talk about the parenting-discussion taboos they’ve faced versus the realities of child rearing. They break the silence and tell us why it is so important to talk about these things with each other.

Taboo #1: You can’t say you didn’t fall in love with your baby the moment you saw him.

While this may be true for some parents, it should not be the expectation. Rufus points out he felt deep affection and awe for the little newborn in his arms, but not deep, enduring love like the love he felt for his wife at that moment. Love is what has grown over time and is the way he feels about his son now. The problem, Rufus says, is that we tend to think about love in binary: we are either in love or not in love. The truth is, love is a process; it grows and fluctuates constantly. This is as true for your spouse as for your children. You are not going to feel blissful, all-encompassing love at all times.

Taboo #2: You can’t talk about how lonely having a baby can be.

Alisa loved being pregnant. During this time, she notes, women are doted over with visits and wishes and love. Same for the moments in the hospital and right after the birth of the new baby. Then, all of a sudden, it’s just you and the infant. No one had mentioned that she would feel isolated and lonely. Why didn’t her sister–who had three children of her own–warn her? “I’ll never forget this–she said: ‘It’s just not something you want to say to a woman who’s having a baby for the first time.'” Postpartum depression and general loneliness is a huge and common burden for new moms. And it’s not “weakness”: it’s because what you are going through is hard! Knowing this can help mothers prepare and safeguard their mental health. After all, the baby is important, and so are you.

Taboo #3: You can’t talk about your miscarriage.

Having a miscarriage can be a devastating experience. During the talk, Alisa bravely shares the story of her miscarriage. Miscarriage is an invisible loss, she observes, there’s not much community support or closure that comes from any other kind of death. In addition to depression, she felt shame and embarrassment at “failing to do what she was genetically engineered to do,” and worried about the future of her marriage. After talking a bit with other women, she found that miscarriages were amazingly common in her community. Stories from friends and co-workers came out of the woodwork. In reality, miscarriage is not uncommon at all: 15-20% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. Tragically, 74% of women believe that the miscarriage was “partly their fault.” This silent suffering and sense of shame prevents women from reaching out and receiving the mental health support they need.

Taboo #4: You can’t say your “average happiness” has declined since having a child.

Child rearing is amazing and magical and every bit of it is an utter joy. My children are my greatest joy. They are bundles of joy. Yet studies interviewing parents show that average happiness does indeed plummet with the birth of a child. Somehow, it’s not OK for us to admit that. Alisa and Rufus give a possible compromise explanation: before having children–in our late 20s–we settle into a nice, comfortable way of life with little that jars us our of our routine. At this point our average happiness is mellow and steady. After children, it runs up and down like a roller coaster. Yes, child rearing brings some of the most difficult and challenging times of your life–at moments, you will certainly be less happy that you were without children. And it’s OK to admit that! At the same time, parenting also rockets you into amazing moments of pure bliss and joy that you also wouldn’t have experienced without children. It’s just…different than pre-baby. It’s up and down and all over the place. It’s life.

As they conclude “Candor and brutal honesty is important for making us all better parents.” Sharing your difficulties as well as joys is key to airing out and addressing problems before they take a toll on your mental health (and marriage). This week, I challenge you to share a secret about your child rearing experience with a friend–something you feel you are alone in or slightly ashamed of as a parent. You might be surprised to hear that he/she feels the exact same way…

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Top 20 Mothers Day Quotes

My mom’s favorite of mothers day quotes was, “Why one day? Every day should be mothers day.” I have to agree. It’s not until you’ve had your own children that you can really appreciate how amazing your mother is. And once you realize that…wow. Thanks, Mom. I should tell you that every. single. day.

While I love and appreciate all my mother has done for me so much, sometimes I don’t know how to communicate it with words. Maybe you’re just as stuck as me! To help with that, I’ve researched some wonderful sayings to use as Mothers Day quotes. Whether you just want to write them on a card, on a cake, or make up an awesome rap, I hope they can give you inspiration to tell you mother just how awesome she is.

  1. “God could not be everywhere, and therefore he created mothers.” ~ Jewish proverb
  2. “It was my mother who gave me my voice. She did this, I know now, by clearing a space where my words could fall, grow, then find their way to others.” ~ Paula Giddings
  3. “She is my first, great love. She was a wonderful, rare woman – you do not know; as strong, and steadfast, and generous as the sun.” ~ D.H. Lawrence
  4. “She could be as swift as a white whiplash, and as kind and gentle as warm rain, and as steadfast as the irreducible earth beneath us.” ~ D.H. Lawrence
  5. “There never was a woman like her. She was gentle as a dove and brave as a lioness.” ~ Andrew Jackson
  6. “It was my mother who taught us to stand up to our problems, not only in the world around us but in ourselves.” ~ Dorothy Pitman Hughes
  7. “A mother is not a person to lean on but a person to make leaning unnecessary.” ~ Dorothy Canfield Fisher
  8. “There’s a lot more to being a woman than being a mother, but there’s a hell a lot more to being a mother than most people suspect” ~ Roseanne Barr
  9. “An ounce of mother is worth a ton of priest.” ~ Spanish proverb
  10. “Only mothers can think of the future–because they give birth to it in their children.” ~ Maxim Gorsky
  11. “My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.” ~ Mark Twain
  12. “You couldn’t fool your mother on the foolingest day of your life if you had an electrified fooling machine.” ~ Homer Simpson
  13. “One of the oldest human needs is having someone to wonder where you are when you don’t come home at night.” ~ Margaret Mead
    Use this day to appreciate all the strong mamas in your life.
  14. “To a child’s ear, “mother” is magic in any language.” ~ Arlene Benedict
  15. “I love my mother as the trees love water and sunshine – she helps me grow, prosper, and reach great heights.” ~ Terri Guillemets
  16. “Any mother could perform the jobs of several air traffic controllers with ease.” ~ Lisa Alther
  17. “If evolution really works, how come mothers only have two hands?” ~ Milton Berle
  18. “A mom’s hug lasts long after she lets go.” ~ Author Unknown, Mothers Day Quotes
  19. “I cannot forget my mother.  [S]he is my bridge.  When I needed to get across, she steadied herself long enough for me to run across safely.” ~ Renita Weems
  20. “It’s not easy being a mother.  If it were easy, fathers would do it.” ~ From the television show The Golden Girls
I hope you enjoyed these mothers day quotes. Which are your favorites? Help me add to the list!
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Top 5 marriage stories of the week: Parenting tips

Last week it seemed like everyone was blogging about parenting tips! This review features articles on everything from cooking with kids to being a better kid-in-law to your in-laws. Here are my five favorite articles from across the marriage and family blogosphere!

How to be a better in-law

Via Good Therapy (

When you get married, you not only get a spouse but a whole new set of parents. Many a proverb has harped on the difficulty of dealing with in-laws. Here is some practical and do-able advice for treating your in-laws with respect, resolving differences, and being a good in-law yourself. For more on this, check out Dr. Heitler’s PO2 podcast about dealing with relatives.

Shawn Stockman Of Boyz II Men And Wife Sharonda Discuss Having A Son With Autism

Via Black and Married With Kids (

Shawn Stockman and Sharonda have a frank and open dialog about the challenges they face in parenting their youngest son. While autism is increasingly visible in the media (and increasingly diagnosed in our children), talking about mental disorders is still a taboo–especially when admitting how difficult they can be to deal with. Props to the celebrity couple for being a public voice for families with autism!


Cooking with your kids teaches more than recipes

via Jenny Ellis on the Family Focus Blog (

Preparing food and eating together is a chance to bond with your children and teach them the ways of the world. The kitchen is a microcosm of life. Jenny Ellis shares parenting tips and explains how cooking together provides kids with lessons in safety, math, following directions, and a healthy appreciation for food.

Wisdom of Dog #4

Via Project Happily Ever After (
Ok, so this isn’t directly parenting tips, but lord we all know raising a puppy and raising kids aren’t too different. Alisa Bowman at Project Happily Ever After has a series of pictures of dogs with captions that start out funny and turn philosophical. This one muses on the dual nature of reality. Like the puppy, our children invent toys out of things that weren’t meant to be toys, and destroy things in the process. At the same time, their ability to see things creatively and differently from the norm is a good lesson in life for us parents.

Why So Many Studies About Parents And Happiness Are Wrong

via Lisa Belkin on Huffington post (

There have been a barrage of conflicting studies published this month about whether or not parents are more miserable than non-parents. Lisa Belkin finally puts her foot down in the well argued and insightful essay. Her conclusion: “Does being a parent make you less happy? Some days. And on others it makes you delirious with joy.”

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Update: “Bully” film earns PG-13 rating

On Monday I received an email from the “Re-rate Bully” campaign (An awesome young lady and former victim of bullying, Katy Butler) that a compromise had been reached and the film would be released as PG-13. The movie’s producers agreed to a minimal re-edit that removed three instances of the f-word from through out the film. One of the most important and heartbreaking scenes of bullying in the movie remains unchanged, even though it uses three counts again of the f-word. The MPAA usually will give a film an R rating for over two instances.

As a result of this compromise, millions of children across the country will be able to see Bully. I don’t think this means a wave of youngsters will be flooding theaters to see it on their own. Instead, and most importantly, adults and educators can now screen it with their students and talk about it in a deep and meaningful way. From Girl Scout troupes to humanities classes, we can now start a conversation over this difficult and important subject.

Happily, so far Bully has garnered good reviews and is taking in a solid profit.

The whole debacle over Bully has once again raised questions about the MPAAs relevance and. The organization has been criticized for, among other things, an “opaque and arbitrary ratings system”. The closely guarded secret of who makes up the MPAA’s board is alleged to prevent  the members from being pressured for certain ratings for movies. At the same time, this makes it very difficult to engage in a conversation with the people making the decisions. And despite this “protective” shroud of secrecy, the group has been accused of giving more leeway with mature content to blockbuster Hollywood-type  movies and being more punitive with independent and smaller films such as Bully.

Alex Libby is tormented for his appearance and difficulty making friends in Lee Hirsch's film "Bully"

After much thought, I agree that the MPAA shouldn’t have given Bully a PG-13 rating simply because we the public wanted them to. The MPAA has a set system of rating movies, and due to the language of this film, it clearly fell under those requirements for an R-ranking. What I do find disturbing, and why I signed the petition, is the “one size fits all” mentality of the ratings system–a computer could do that job with a simple algorithm of violence and instances of profanity. But we are humans, and our films are about the human experience. What I am protesting is the loss of opportunity for growth and learning that occurs when bureaucratic systems prevent us from having a conversation about the intricacies of content.

The MPAA exists to enable parents and viewers to make informed decisions about the films they choose to see. And this is a good thing! I can remember how disturbed I was as a child when I accidentally saw a movie that was way out of my age range for violence (it was a James Bond film). At the same time, we need a guidance system that is more nuanced and informative. Sometimes viewing things that make us uncomfortable in fact makes us stronger. Sometimes it simply traumatizes us. I know from my work with online mariage counseling that setting down rules and ultimatums without talking about your underlying reasoning and desires is recipe for disaster. Let’s take a page from marriage counseling and have a conversation instead.

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The PO2 Weekly Top 5 Stories

Helping Adult Children With Parental Alienation Syndrome

Researchers have found that when one parent alienates a child from another
parent in a divorce, parental alienation syndrome can occur, resulting

in lower achievement in adulthood, impaired relationships, and low self-esteem….


13 Sources of Inspiration When Life has You Down

Post written by Blended Family columnist Melissa Gorzelanczyk of Peace & Projects.

The highs and lows of life can feel like a roller coaster. You’ve probably experienced a day that starts out smooth, but quickly hurtles

to the bottom when a family member is cranky or stubborn or decides…



Autism and the Big Heart

by Brenda
A game of toy bowling at home has gone awry and Jack is in tears.
Really, he’s tired and hungry.  Though he doesn’t think he’s either.

When I say he is, it makes him angry.  I understand.  It would make me angry if someone said that to me while I was upset…

Before The Engagement: 7 Things Single People Should Know About Marriage

by Nicole Taylor
So you want to get married? Are you completely sure about that? Have you prepared yourself for what marriage entails? If you have …


How To Teach People Not To Marry The Wrong Person

by Pauline Gains
Using symbols to denote genders, marriage, divorce, adoption, and

relationship styles, people can map out their family’s multigenerational transmission process through an exercise known as a genogram…
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Bully: a brave new film

Bullying is a very real, life-changing and potentially life-threatening experience that millions of kids go through every year. It has received more attention in recent years do to what seems like an epidemic of young children ending their lives because of it. I remember first feeling the outrage in 2009 when I heard that an 11 year old hung himself after enduring constant anti-gay bulling. Yes, an 11 year old.

Why are certain kids bullied? Because they are socially awkward, or (perceived to be) gay, or have an accent, or are smaller than others or have a learning disability. Sometimes it seems for no reason at all. Once a kid begins being bullied, he immediately falls into a ruthless pattern of repeated abuse. He becomes the pariah.

How do we communicate to our children–both the bullies, the victims, and the bystanders–that this behavior is wrong? Also important, how do we communicate to adults that it is unacceptable to turn a blind eye and that action must be taken? I believe it will be very difficult to cultivate a just, civil society if we teach our children that violence is an acceptable form of expression towards those we dislike, that turning a blind eye to injustice is expected, and that society will provide no help for its victims. Additionally, the idea that it is natural to be dominated and to dominate others will interfere with their ability to form healthy relationships as adults. “Bullying” of one’s spouse is a type of marriage problem that is very serious and devastatingly common–in some cases we call is abuse. It should not be tolerated in children or adults.

There is an amazing new documentary coming out March 30th titled “Bully.” This film has the potential to reach both children and adults in a profound way. School administrators are considering screening it in middle and high schools across the country, and you can watch the trailer below. Recently, the film has hit a major road bump: the MPAA has given it an R rating. This means that no children under 17 can see it without a parent and it will not be allowed to be shown at schools. As far as I can tell, the movie was just one vote short of being approved as PG-13, and the objection was rough language used by some of the bullies. The producers appealed the decision and it was denied again.

Katy Butler is a high school student from Wisconson who has started an online petition to get the MPAA to downgrade the rating to PG-13. She herself is a victim of bullying. As Katy puts it, the MPAA’s decision “means that a film documenting the abuse that millions of kids experience through bullying won’t be seen by the audience that needs to see it the most.” As of this post, the petition had 115,604 signatures.

Watch the trailer, decide for yourself, and let me know what you think! How do you approach the topic of bullying with your child? Were you bullied or a bully in school?

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