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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Saturday, April 4, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Mama Bear Moxie: Daily highs and lows give perspective to life, parenting

By Kristina Phelan For The Spokesman-Review

Our world can be just so negative. There are so many things that can make or break our day in terms of politics, social media or even our own inner voice. Choosing to have an attitude of gratitude is something that I inspire to improve.

There are seasons during the year when my family is better at expressing gratitude than other times. We play “High/Low” around the dinner table where we share one positive thing and one negative thing from the day.

Our game allows us to sit and reflect on our day and name the good and bad experiences. Everyone plays, including us adults and the littlest ones, which is a good viewpoint in itself. It always seems that the bad parts of a 5-year old’s day put into perspective just how innocent our kiddos are today.

The point of the game is to offer a little window into the world of each family member. Naming your high and low parts of the day help me learn more about my moody teens.

There also have been times when their high and lows have helped me recognize what is important to them and how I can parent them better in the future. As a parent, I would say that we try to be honest with our kids about the highs and lows of the day.

Some days we have to fudge it a little to shield them from the adult concerns that come with having more responsibilities. We don’t ever want to worry them about a medical bill that came back too high or a problem at work. The game also allows our kids to realize what has been good and bad for us as parents, which might help them work on sympathy at the very least.

There are also times when it is difficult to pinpoint a high or low part of the day. Usually, the highs are more difficult to name, but there have been a surprising number of times when a low couldn’t be found for the day.

We ask that everyone at the table chooses a high and a low for the day. This teaches all of us that there is always something to work on or be thankful for in life. Even the worst of days can have a silver lining somewhere in the mix.

There are seasons when we don’t play our high/low game. Summer seems to be so busy that it often is a time when we forget to identify the good and bad parts of our day. As fall has arrived, and we spend more cozy nights around the table, it’s my goal to continue this tradition of ours once again.

I have found that this game has helped me understand my children better and what is important to them. I have learned what class they like most in school, as well as how important a good school lunch can be.

It is bittersweet to see the changes that come as my kids age, as well, where earning a sticker quickly morphs into the fun of playing football with buddies at lunch.

I encourage all of my readers to play the high/low game every night. Even if you are single, you can still find time to think of and identify parts of the day. It’s a great way to connect with your children, spouse and whomever else may be gracing your table.

Kristina Phelan is a former Spokane area resident now living in Illinois. Visit her website at

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