Welcome to our new Meet the Experts weekly blog! We have found that we have been lucky enough to really get to know all the wonderful and talented speakers, writers and experts that are part of Mommybites. In addition to speaking and writing about their areas of expertise, they also have incredible journeys, life advice, and stories to share. We hope you will enjoy getting to know them as much as we have!
This week’s Expert: Dr. Karen Rancourt
Q: Tell us a little about you (your background, your job, what makes you tick or anything else you think our Mommybites moms will find interesting).
A: My professional background includes corporate consultant for organizational development and change management, career coaching, and teaching at the elementary and college levels. In the past few years I have worked primarily with parents, helping them be more effective parents. Last year I started writing a Mommybites advice column for parents and grandparents, Ask Dr. Gramma Karen.
Q: What or who inspires you?
A: My family. My husband and I spend a lot of time with our daughter, our son-in-law and their two sons. I mean a lot of time together! When we live in Florida for six months in the winter, and our family spends an accumulated month of that time with us. We live the other six months of the year in our daughter and son-in-law’s beach house on the Jersey Shore (yes, we live WITH them). Many find this living arrangement astonishing.
Q: What is your best piece of parenting advice?
A: “Let children work through their own differences and conflicts with other children.” I agree with this when the kids have the tools and patience to approach a problem with another child by saying something along these lines: “I am really upset that you grabbed my toy,” or “When you grab my toy, it makes me want to hit you.” Kids approaching a conflict like this have a good shot at working it through themselves.
Q: What’s the worst piece of parenting advice you have heard?
A: “Let children work through their own differences and conflicts with other children.” Too often a conflict between kids is unfair from the outset and can only end in escalation and perhaps one child getting either physically and/or emotionally hurt. When one child starts hitting another child or displaying obvious behaviors that he/she is out of control, a parent needs to immediately intervene to facilitate and help the kids learn the problem-solving skills they need. The parent says, “Okay, everyone, let’s take a deep breath. Robert, what do you need your brother to know right now?” Everyone listens. “John, what did you hear your brother say? Okay, now it’s your turn. What do you need your brother to hear from you?” This is how kids learn conflict resolution: they are guided until they understand and can do it themselves.
Q: What’s the most common question you are asked by parents?
A: When parents know about all the time we spend with our daughter (and son-in-law and our two grandsons), a common question is: “How do you and your daughter spend so much time with each other?” (Short answer: My daughter is by nature incredibly easy- going, and as annoying as I can be, she just keeps smiling and doing her thing.)
Another common question from young parents is: “You and your husband have been married for 46 years. Do you have any secrets or advice about what it takes to have an enduring marriage?” (Short answers: #1, Never name call or use profane or disrespectful language with each other during an argument. #2, Disregard the usual advice about not going to bed angry. It’s okay to go to separate beds angry and for as long as it takes to work something through.)
Q: What are some of your favorite T.V. shows? Books? Foods?
A: My husband and I love series; favorites include, “The Wire,” “The Shield,” “Intelligence,” “Justified,” “In Treatment,” “Game of Thrones,” “House, MD.”
I like historical fiction and my favorite writers include Edward Rutherfurd, Ken Follett, and George R.R. Martin. Favorite non-fiction writers include John M. Barry and Doris Kearns Goodwin. Other authors I enjoy are Anna Quindlen, Harlan Coben, Lee Child, Michael Connelly, John Lescroart.
I love to cook and I love to eat. Everything. My favorite naughty comfort foods are Stilton cheese and chopped chicken liver on a bulkie roll with lots of schmaltz and onion.
Q: What parenting books do you most recommend to parents?
A: Parents themselves are the best source through word of mouth, so I recommend that parents read books, view videos and listen to speakers recommended to them by other parents whom they respect.
Q: What are some of your favorite parenting products?
A: Apartment living has made me very respectful of equipment for babies and kids that is compact, safe and easy to store, e.g., the light-weight strollers, the porta-crib, the car seat-stroller combination for airplane travel.
Q: If you could be someone else for a day who would it be and why?
A: If I could be anyone for a day I would be a Mickey Mouse at Disney World. Mickey brings such joy, happiness and excitement to every child he encounters – and older kids, too. I remember when our daughter was 21 and she ran into Mickey when we were there. She bounced up and down, yelling with delight, “Mickey! It’s Mickey!”
Q: What’s up next for your professionally?
A: Every once in a great while I toy with the idea of writing another book, but I am not ready to make that commitment, and I probably never will be ready. I am very content right now writing my Ask Dr. Gramma Karen column and focusing on my family and friends.
Karen’s contact information:
Company Name: Rancourt Parenting
Website link: www.RancourtParenting.com
Email address: KLRan@aol.com
Facebook page link: Karen Rancourt
Twitter handle: KLRancourt