On Parenting: Meghan Leahy took your questions about parenting

Mar 27, 2019

Meghan Leahy, a parenting coach with Positively Parenting, joined On Parenting editor Amy Joyce to talk about parenting children of all ages.

Good morning, folks. We're here and ready to take your questions about parenting. Did you see Meghan's column today about how to ensure your only child isn't isolated? Lots of great info and guidance here, not just for people with singletons, actually. 

Here are Meghan's columns. And On Parenting is right here.  Please don't forget we have an On Parenting newsletter than lands right at your inbox... It sums everything up twice a week. How easy is that? 

Okay, good questions are here waiting. Join us, pop in with your own questions and comments. Let's discuss parenting. 

Dear Meghan, My husband is going through some real trials personally, and due to some logistical complications in our current location, is not able to get any help right now. I think he is probably dealing with some untreated anxiety and depression issues that are manifesting as anger. The simple result for our kids is a super short-tempered dad who hollers way more than he should. Our kids are 3 and 6, and our six-year-old is definitely pushing boundaries, which sets my husband off. He's also short-tempered with me, which I am clear is modeling terrible behavior for my kids. I know this situation is not ideal, but for a few more months we are going to have to muscle through. My current approach is to try to buffer where I can, redirecting kids and husband as possible, but I am so weary of essentially trying to solve squabbles between a grown man and a child. I also can't be present full time, as I am the primary breadwinner. I know I need to get help for my husband sooner rather than later--do you know of any good online resources or others to help improve parenting strategies? I'm open to other suggestions too, and I am working on the game plan to solve this for my kids. I'm starting to consider divorce, but my biggest fear is that in a modern custody situation, they are going to end up with more unbuffered time with their father, which strikes me as the worst possible outcome, even worse than the current situation. Please help me.

1. I have an awesome online class, but tons of great parenting experts do, too. I am obvs going to recommend mine, not bc I am the best (ahem), but because it specializes in your ages. Here is a good list of classes, too.

2. Talk to a lawyer, STAT. You are right to worry about custody. You want to talk to someone and document the heck out of EVERY SINGLE THING you are going through.

3. While you are at it, get a therapist for yourself (I know, it's a lot). But there is a chance you are experiencing verbal and emotional abuse, yourself.

Given where you need to put your resources (money and time), I would say 1) LAWYER and 2) THERAPIST for yourself.

You are right to act as a buffer and please help your 6 yo move as much of his aggression out as possible. When a main attachment (father) is aggressive and scary and mean, this level of insecurity in a children results in chronic frustration and aggression. It is odd to say, but it is healthier to see your child act out his aggression than be beat down by it and have it turn inward.

Give names to his emotions...and say ALOUD that how Daddy acts is NOT okay. We want to bring language to his anger and fear. As he tantrums, name the emotions and see if it lands on him....see if he feels FELT. He is too young to name all of his emotions and react to them with maturity (all of the time), and that's especially true if his main attachment is hurting him. It is confusing to love someone who hurts you. Just try to bring LANGUAGE to that...

Get your plan together, STAT.

I am thinking of you over here, and write in if you need more.



What are good resources for teaching a preschooler about diversity/different races? How do you explain white privilege? How do you talk about the police? I need resources for adults with suggested language to use. As well as suggested children’s books for a 3.5 yo.

Yes on everything Amy said, and I am a BIG BIG BIG fan of books. Books repping everyone out there. There are lists everywhere, but I love this one. The reason books are the best option is that the child can identify with a person...the idea of white privilege is simply too big, too esoteric to explain to your child (for now)...but when the child sees and hears about another child...the dots begin to connect. This is actually true for all humans, but anyway...

As you go about your day, you keep your eyes open to the news and things you see and POINT OUT THE PRIVILEGE. It's like an "I spy" for how jacked up our country is...

You don't need to beat your child over the head with it...you simply need to stay aware.


OP5866 is the Post Points code today. 

Any tips for parents about to transition to daily daycare? Any strategies we can adopt to help get out the door in the morning...but also to not feel as guilty about leaving my baby all day long?

Send in picture of the family for the daycare folks to hang up on the wall and share with the baby. Purchase a couple of these and keep some at daycare and some at home.

Have luvies and blankets that smell just like you. Sleep with them and make sure you replenish them (to keep your smell going).

Expect that there will be some clinginess and sleep disruption. Your baby's sleep and nap schedule may change with the new schedule, so try not to freak out when this occurs. It won't be pretty, but do your best to keep a semblance of routine.

Getting out the door...well, you know what I am going to say: you need WAY. MORE. TIME than you think. This stinks, I know. You are tired as it is...but go ahead and expect that many mornings are going to be a bit of a mess. Explosive poopy diapers, food rejected, food on you, tantrums, you name it. So build yourself a buffer of time so that you don't start freaking out every time you look at the clock. Time deadlines plus babies = stress, so get your jobs straight with your partner. Who makes the coffee? Who prepares bottles? Who is getting the diaper bag ready? NONE of this planning will ever be perfect, but a loose understanding of who is doing what will eliminate a whole host of misunderstandings and hurt feelings. 

Above all, be prepared for a range of emotions...all are valid. You may weep when you drop the baby off (waterproof mascara needed if you wear it) or you may sigh out the biggest sigh of relief you have ever had. Or both. Don't judge your feelings...

Good luck. 


Both my kids went to a half day preschool when they were 4. It was just enough structured time to learn about sitting during story time, forming a line, sharing toys etc. I realize not every parent can manage a preschool due to cost or working schedules; but if you can I recommend it.

The right preschool is a god-send, isn't it?

I’m 70 and husband is 77. Grandkids are nearly 7 (girl) and just 2 (boy). We live nearby and have loving interactions with them but sometimes I wish I knew more about how to grandparent. I know there are parenting classes (and chats - heh) but what about resources just for grandparents? We don’t have the energy we would have had if we were in our 50s or early 60s and are not hobbiests or crafty. We’re more into reading, culture, etc. The kids are either too young (2) or too hyperactive (6) for most of this. Can’t wait to take the 6 y.o. To concerts for instance but no way at the moment.

You know what is great about what you can offer? You are the holder of the family stories! You have lineage and family lore and generational belonging at your finger tips. You don't need to bring a dog and pony show to the kids to be impactful...you simply need to be smiling and interested in the kids. Delight in them. Be the grandparents who are always reading books, taking the kids to local bookstores, book fairs, and library times. Be yourself. Find where your interests intersect and work from there.

Don't put too much pressure on yourself. :)

Take a peek at these other resources...








Before my daughter started daycare, my sister said "The caregivers are going to love your baby. You might not believe me, but they really do love the babies." It's true. It makes it easier to leave mine every day. Your little one is going to be loved when with you, and loved when at daycare. The guilt will still come, but hopefully this helps a bit.

Love this, and it's so true. 

Keep in mind that it's an adjustment for everyone! I was perfectly fine (if distracted) the first day I dropped off my daughter (about 2.5 months ago). Days 4 and 5 I was a wreck because she started to cry as soon as we arrived at daycare. Pretty quickly she adjusted, and now she gets a HUGE grin on her face when she sees where she is and reaches out for her teacher. But, yes -- it takes a TON of time to get out of the door in the morning. Do as much as you possibly can the night before for both you and baby -- your lunch ready to go, baby's food/bottles prepped, bags packed. And accept that sometimes the baby will have such a big diaper blowout on your way out the door that you'll both need to change clothes. Hugs to you. You're going to rock this.

Perfect, especially the diaper blowout at the *most* inconvenient of times... 

Not a question, I'm just writing in to say "yes!!!" to the recommendation of the Books for Littles website. The book recommendations not only have great messages and show diverse characters, but they are also well-written and enjoyable. Too many children's books that convey "messages" are poorly written and/or pedantic.

With kids today enraptured by the NCAA tournament and other sports fixations, how do you stress to your child the need for, and much higher ROIs from academics, as compared to athletics? Do you agree that diminishing returns seem to set in much quicker with hours of basketball practice than say from hours of study of often complementary school subjects? The potential cognitive improvement for most kids in academics seems to swamp any potential meaningful athletic improvement, agreed? But, of course, some type of a balanced life is most rewarding. [ JJL Greenville NC]

I am not sure what you are asking me here...but sports for kids are a big yes for me...and academics are nice...but the ROI of them is a bit in question, too.

Don't get me wrong, the need for a college diploma in most fields is clear...but not every child is on the path and not every child needs to be.

Children have fantasies about playing in the NCAA, taking the big shot, being in the emotional video at the end...I never would take them from a child...I wish more adults would dream. And yes, we parents need to keep sitting the kids down to complete the assignment and turn them back toward school...but I don't believe in stressing much of anything to children outside of kindness, consideration for self and others, and personal responsibility and integrity.



Thanks for joining us today, folks. Make sure to come again in two weeks. (April 10... yes, really... where has the time gone?) In the meantime, keep reading, have a great week, be gentle with yourself, your kids are watching. 

In This Chat
Meghan Leahy
Meghan Leahy is a D.C.-based parent coach. She holds a master’s degree in school counseling from Johns Hopkins, taught high school English, and was a Parent Educator with PEP. She is the mom of three girls.
Amy Joyce
Amy Joyce has been at The Post, well, for a long time. Her first foray in to online chats were related to work. Now she's happy to chat about fun (but would like to believe the two can be one). She has been a Business reporter, editor for Weekend and the Going Out guide, and is now editing and writing for On Parenting. When not at work, she can be seen unsuccessfully dodging wiffle balls in her front yard.
Recent Chats
  • Next: