Thursday, March 29, 2012

Superparent? Not!

Ever think you’ve got it all “under control” when it comes to parenting? I did, once.

I had this great plan about screening the men my daughters wanted to date. The girls agreed to my stipulations; every suitor had to meet with us before the dating began, answering interview questions designed to filter out the unworthy, the unbeliever, the selfish.

I had it all figured out.

That is, until this one very convincing, very charming, and very persuasive fellow showed up and passed my interview process with flying colors. Like Bill Clinton with an election crowd, this guy charmed us all. He had charisma, and an almost magnetic ability to bring people into his orbit. We bought what he was selling, and we paid with a high price. I wish I’d have spotted him sooner.

After the dating began, Raelene and I noticed an alarming trend. This young man gained an almost eerie control over our once independently-thinking daughter. With growing concern, we watched her willingness to do things his way. Along the way, her old personality gradually disappeared. As Shakespeare might say, “Something was definitely rotten in Denmark.”

But our daughter couldn’t see it. Completely convinced that he was her intended life-partner, she resisted our concerns. We became more and more anxious. Soon we knew.  We needed bigger guns.

We asked our friends and family for prayer. Then, we had a critical conversation with our daughter. We asked some tough questions, like “Have we ever wanted anything but the best for you?” and “Have you ever doubted our love?” We followed those questions by expressing our concern; we saw some things in this young man that she apparently did not. We asked her to go 90 days without seeing or speaking with him. If, at the end of 90 days, she still felt like he was “the one,” we would support her choice.

She agreed. For 90 days, we prayed. That was all we could do. 88 days later, she was ready to go back to him. On the morning of the 89th day, she woke up changed. “I see it,” she told me. “I get what you’ve been saying.”

To me, it was a parenting miracle.

All of my careful plans had failed, but the Savior who loves me, who adores my daughter, changed the course of her life. It changed me too. It reminded me of how powerless I am to parent on my own. I need Him. Desperately.

How about you? Has the Lord worked a miracle in your parenting life? Can you share?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Contest Prize Winners :: Smiles By Sutherland

Thank you to all who have participated in our monthly and continual contest in and out of our office. Your efforts in visiting our office to visiting our websites have truly been appreciated! Thank you for entrusting us with your Orthodontic needs. Sharing your experience with others means a great deal to us.

Here are some photos from all the winners since we started the SBS Contest! Do not forget our latest contest that is going on our blog and Facebook, you can click here to see the rules.

If you have any questions please give us a call at 253.848.4537 or visit our website at and remember that we give complimentary consultations.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Change the Face; Change the Child.

Change the Face, Change the Child

Sometimes, even dedicated professionals need reminders. About why they do what they do. About who it is they serve. Sometimes, those reminders come about in the most remarkable way. Here is one you might enjoy. . .

Dr. Ethan Larson came to dentistry by way of family. When he was very young, his father made the radical decision to pursue a new career; he applied to dental school. When Ethan was 9, his father, a new dentist, moved the family to the Pacific Northwest where he joined the U of W Ortho program.

Ethan spent those early years in Bothell, where he finished high school. He attended Covenant College, near Chattanooga, TN and graduated with a love of science and an eye for dental school. For the  next year, Ethan worked in his father’s orthodontic office. There, he did a little bit of everything, working with the software systems, in the lab, and the business office. Those months, spent in his father’s office, ignited Ethan’s passion for orthodontics.

But nothing in his schooling prepared him for the real life experience of the clinic. “Like all professions, orthodontics has its routine. But then, along comes something that really hits you, and you remember why it is that you do what you do.”

By way of explanation, Ethan offers this story:

“I remember a little girl who came to our office. Her overjet was so profound that we had to devise a series of treatments to move those front teeth back into their proper place. One appliance wasn’t going to be enough. We brought them about half way with a bionator, and then we had to build another bionator to move them the rest of the way. It was a slow, tedious process. But then one day I realized that a miracle had taken place in that little girl.

And it wasn’t about teeth. It was because of teeth.

When she first came to us, she was handicapped by her shyness. She’d been tormented at school, made fun of, called “fish face” by her peers. She wanted to be invisible, but her teeth made her the endless focus of all kinds of negative attention.

Then those teeth started to move, and she started to change. Bit by bit, I watched her blossom. Through the process of orthodontic treatment she came into her own. She became more outgoing. She smiled. She engaged with others. Like a butterfly, she emerged into a different child.

I live for those moments. As cheesy as it sounds, as hard to believe as it is, it’s true. Sometimes when you change the face, you change the child.”

It’s normal for parents to focus only on the cost and logistics of orthodontic treatment. But sometimes, even for the orthodontist, it’s good to remember the big picture. When kids feel confident about how they look, their lives begin to change in astounding ways. Now that's why I became an orthodontist.

Dr. Ethan Larson,
With Bette Nordberg

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Another Point of View

Remember, I'm supposed to be reflecting on my parenting journey. So, in today's post, I'd like to share one of the most important parenting lessons my daughter taught me. Here's what happened:

One of my children may have missed her calling; she would have been a great lawyer. As a child, whenever she came at me with, “Dad, have you considered . . . ?” I knew I was up for a challenge. Even as a youngster, she had this remarkable ability to think outside the box.

She was incredibly persuasive, and as I listened to her, I found myself changing my point of view. She was convincing, this daughter of mine. In the end, she may have taught me one of my most important parenting lessons: Flexibility.

Though it happened with regularity, I can remember one event in particular, where her perspective changed our family. It all started with vacation plans. Raelene and I wanted to head to Hawaii; she wanted the whole family to take a “mission vacation.”

What kind of kid wants to trade Hawaii for a mission trip?

Though I did my best talking, not sunshine, not surfing, not sandy beaches would change her mind. As she presented her case, I began to listen, to really listen, and I found myself moving toward her point of view. Our family took a mission vacation.

There I saw my kids do things they’d never done at home. They grew in compassion, purpose, and empathy. While Raelene and I cleaned toilets and worked in the kitchen we saw our kids become more like the Savior. It was hard, hot, uncomfortable work; but looking back, my grown kids say it was one of the best things our family ever did.

I have to admit; it wasn’t my idea. It came from “the persuader.” And if I hadn’t been flexible, if I hadn’t listened, if I hadn’t been willing to do something other than dictate the parental plan I might have missed out on the best vacation ever! At least the kids think so.

What about you? What lessons have you learned from your kids?

Greg Sutherland, DDS MS
(With Bette Nordberg)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Dr Ethan's Cliff

Cliff jumping terrifies most people.

But not everyone.

Truth is, when Dr. Ethan Larson jumped off his professional cliff, he wasn’t the slightest bit nervous. Instead, he put his wife Dolly and their two youngest children on a commercial flight, waved off the moving truck and headed their mini-van west—across the American Frontier. It was hardly a covered wagon. But, accompanied by his two oldest kids, Ethan headed out. A cross-country car trip would make most dads a little nervous. Taking an associate position in a new community would give some professionals a stomach disorder. Leaving friends and colleagues for the great unknown would cause many to grieve.

But not Ethan.

Ethan was so certain of his future, so happy to leave behind the academic rigors of post-graduate life behind that he called his wife from the state line.

“I’m gone,” he said.

It wasn’t that Ethan hated school; he didn’t. He’d been widely recognized for his outstanding contribution at the University of Alabama dental school. He’d garnered academic honors and awards for his professional skills. In fact, he’d even designed and manufactured a new orthodontic appliance used in the Ortho program there.

They called it the Larson Aligner.

“I was so excited about the next step. I knew that coming to Puyallup was what I wanted to do. Dr. Sutherland’s practice was exactly the kind of orthodontic practice I wanted to be a part of. I couldn’t wait to get started.”

With a bag full of “trip toys,” a one day layover with friends, and the kind of determination that makes men forget to stop for gas, Ethan and the kids made it to Washington in only five days. In April of 2012, Ethan will celebrate his first full year at Smiles by Sutherland. These days, Ethan and Dolly can find their way around Pierce County without a GPS. They’ve found a church home and are starting to make new friends. They look forward to putting down roots, and fully embracing their new community.

For Ethan and Dolly, there will be plenty of new cliffs to jump. New adventures. New challenges. Ethan will be a lucky man if all of these are as easy and exciting as the decision to join Dr. Sutherland and the Smiles by Sutherland team, here in Puyallup, WA.

By Bette Nordberg

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Title: Cliff Jumping, Then and Now

I’ve never liked heights, and I’m not particularly fond of cold water. So, I can’t explain my first jump off a forty-foot cliff into the Green River Gorge. Honestly, I didn’t want to do it. In fact, as I was dropping toward the water, my only thought was, “This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever done.”

But love sometimes makes you do bold, crazy things.

By that day, in 1973, I’d already spent a long time trying to convince this beautiful, petite blond that she could afford the time to go out on a date with me. It hadn’t been easy; she was studying for her board exams. An extraordinary woman, she was someone I could picture myself marrying. So, on our first date together, when a mutual friend challenged us to jump off the cliff, and she agreed, I couldn’t say no. 

When I hit the water, I hurt from the bottom of my feet all the way to the top of my head. I swam downstream and dragged myself onto the warm rocks by the side of the river, (giving enthusiastic, though silent, thanks for surviving the drop). I had no trouble saying no to a second jump. The only good thing to come of that day was my relationship with the cliff jumper; Raelene and I fell in love and married two years later.

Surprisingly, it was years before we discovered that neither of us wanted to make that first jump. We’d done it for one another!

Though I’ve never repeated that Green River adventure, Raelene and I have been jumping cliffs ever since. With wild faith we made wedding vows, moved to Chicago, went to graduate school, and started our family. With the same abandon, we moved back to Puyallup, opened Smiles by Sutherland and expanded our family.

Professionally, I’ve continued to jump off cliffs. I’ve pioneered new techniques, tried new office models and most recently, brought Dr. Ethan Larson in to meet the growing needs of my patients. Today, as you read this, I’m jumping off yet another cliff.

I’m refocusing our blog.

While Orthodontics is my passion, it may not be yours. But we have this in common: We love our kids. We want to be the best parents we can. After raising five children of my own, I know how hard parenting can be.

Parents struggle with finances, with marriage, with their own careers, and at the same time, they are expected to be this perfect model of great parenting. We hear it from the radio, the TV and the pulpit – a boatload of high expectations that don’t always translate to the real world of bills, and conflicts and time crunch. So, here’s a blog just for you.

We hope you enjoy the new focus. And, we hope that you’ll want to share it with those you love. We have a contest associated with the new blog. You can read more about it on our February 24th article entitled, “Cha-cha-cha-changes.”

On this blog, I won’t load you down with instructions or expectations. Rather, like Solomon, I hope to give you little bits of wisdom and encouragement, from one old dad to another. Occasionally, Dr. Ethan Larson will share some of his life experiences as well. We hope you get to know us better -- yes as orthodontists-- but also as men and fathers.

Parenting is a marathon, not a sprint. You need all the encouragement you can get.  Perhaps I can help. I’ll be posting weekly; but the real fun comes when you participate. Be sure to chime in with your own advice, frustration, or information. Even this ol’ grandpa could use some new tricks!