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Published March 23, 2010, 12:00 AM

Parenting Perspectives: Eggs' powers go beyond omelets

Eggs, shredded cheese, ham and a splash of milk formed the base. From there, my teen son created a delicious, golden half-moon omelet.

Eggs, shredded cheese, ham and a splash of milk formed the base. From there, my teen son created a delicious, golden half-moon omelet.

Though I’d like to boast that my fine teaching skills led to him becoming a veritable omelet king, hunger pangs played the initiator role. He took it from there, and his cooking served as a turning point in our relationship.

Until the day he first began whipping up those edible works of art, it seemed my son’s sole purpose was clashing with me. The hours of our emotional entanglement were adding up, and neither of us could see a way out.

Enter the omelet and its transformative capacity.

I sensed my encouragement of this endeavor would be counted as one success in my life as a parent. But, until recently, I didn’t understand just how significant it was.

Then I heard parenting coach Tina Feigal talk on the Nurtured Heart Approach, geared toward parenting “the challenging child.”

Feigal explained that the heart is responsive to emotional input, and as parents, we “download” either positive or negative messages into our children’s hearts. These messages form neuropathways to their brains that shape them.

Think of the babies in orphanages whose basic needs have been met but due to lack of being held fail to thrive and eventually die.

Our kids are dying to connect with us, to feel useful and loved. And even when we feel hopeless in certain parenting situations, we can effect positive change.

It’s all about learning to give energy to behaviors we want to see and not giving any to those we don’t, Feigal said.

Redirecting negative family dynamics is first laid out through family meetings, in which each member contributes. The gatherings help create a family identity and sense of belonging.

“At our workplace, we get together on a regular basis for staff meetings,” Feigal said. “Then we get frustrated when things don’t go well at home, but we’ve forgotten to get the players together to make a plan.”

Our objective is to help nurture desirable behaviors as opposed to stopping undesirable ones.

Not long after discovering my son’s skill, we went shopping and splurged on omelet ingredients. I agreed to contribute the hash browns if he’d focus on the main entrée.

That night, with the precision of a gourmet chef, my eldest expertly prepared an omelet for each family member – seven in all – tailor-made to our tastes.

All it took for him to thrive in that setting were the right tools and ingredients. All it took for me to help was seeing beyond the pile of broken egg shells in the sink and into the success of each turn of a rubber spatula.


Roxane B. Salonen works as a freelance writer and children’s author in Fargo, where she and her husband, Troy, are the parents of five children. She also has a blog at www.areavoices.com.

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