All posts in Teens & Tweens

Articles: Teens, Trust and Respect

parenting styleThis week we have a few great links to share about shifting your thinking and setting yourself free from limiting beliefs. Here they are…

Think teens won’t talk? Think they shouldn’t be trusted?

Check out this clip by Katie Couric on  Katie’s Take. She shares a conversation with teens that shows us what teens want to hear from their parents, what parents don’t need to worry about and one thing they really want: TRUST.

Expert and psychologist, Wendy Mogel, mentions they also benefit from plenty of space to make mistakes. She says:

“The snapshot of your teenager at any given moment is not the epic movie of his or her life.”

For more on raising teens check out Radicalparenting.com – a website created by teens for their parents.

Question: Do You want to Raise an Obedient Child?

(Hint: No!) This post by @DrLauraMarkham will make you think about what you believe about kids who…lie, defy, talk back, and so on. Obedience for obedience sake isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In a society where bullying is such a big issue, kids who can stand up for their vision of who they are on the planet is a welcomed and well-timed skill. Let’s all think before we demand compliance over the big picture.

“Children who have been responded to, led to believe – in a healthy way – that their voice is valued, that all they have to do is object and action will be taken – they will push boundaries. And this is really healthy behaviour. Compliance? They’ve learned there’s no point arguing because their voice isn’t valued.”– Alison Roy

Talking Back: Why A Teen Who Talks Back May Have A Bright Future

Talking back = bad kid? Not at all. NPR’s take, HERE.

Takeaway: Effective arguing acted as something of an inoculation against negative peer pressure. Kids who felt confident to express themselves to their parents also felt confident being honest with their friends.

Again. This is training for saying no in the real world! [hr]

Bullying: Governor Shumlin weighs in. The message? “We have a role at home to make changes”

…and we agree! WE ALL HAVE TO STEP UP.

For the vast majority of those experiencing bullying, it will get better — but we all have a role to play in ensuring that they never go through this experience in the first place. – Read on Huffpost!

Follow Gov. Peter Shumlin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/GovPeterShumlin [hr]

Humiliation Parenting– Wrapping it Up

We know bullying is a big buzz issue and we just want to mention that we are not going through this for hot topics’ sake. There are so many connections to the choices we make at home and what we’re seeing all around us. Just keep going- empowering your children to make decisions, encouraging them to screw up and try again and guiding them to discover who they are– not what the world wants. Also, don’t forget that these pressures to “be like this” or “act like that” don’t stop as we move through our parenting journey! Remember you’re parenting the best you can for your child and nobody else should sway your thinking. We’re here to give you good information so you can continue to grow, learn and do your job!

WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Watch Vicki on WCAX wrapping up some thoughts on Humiliation Parenting!

 

 

Articles: End Humiliation Parenting

endthetrend-bp

Duct Tape Parenting Dragnet to End the Shaming of Children as Punishment

Here’s a handful of resources / sites / blogs etc. that will get us all thinking about the big picture when it comes to “Humiliation Parenting.”While the trend is as old as time (think the stocks, dunce cap, etc), we’ve seen a recurrence of this old fashioned, out-dated form of psychological oppression.Let’s just take a few minutes to stop thinking about the child’s temporary“misbehavior” and focus on the child’s long term “experience” via shaming in front of peers and loved ones as well as the relationship between parent and child. 

GOOD SITES for Enlightened Thinking 
Greater Good
Tiny Buddha
Echo Parenting / Education Center

Blog Posts / Sites Looking at the Relationship Thought provoking post about the parent-child relationship by Parent Coach, Susan Stiffelman, is a licensed marriage and family therapist and credentialed teacher. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in developmental psychology and a Master of Arts in clinical psychology.

Her book, Parenting Without Power Struggles, via Huffpost: Getting Your Kid to Say OKAlfred Adler Influenced Information

VIA AlfredAdler.Org:

The Impact of Family Atmospheres on Children

Adlerian Child Guidance Principles

Adlerian Theory Offers Help for Parents on Teen Discipline

Research / Info to END THE TREND

Here’s a good link via cyberbullying research center:

Eight Destructive Discipline Techniques

Sociology.org

Public Shaming as Emotional Abuse

Quote

“The quality of relations between generations, particularly towards the young, shows where a society stands. How we treat our children decides in which world we will live tomorrow. Preventing children’s humiliation is paramount for a decent society (Avishai Margalit, 1996, The Decent Society, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press).”

PBS-Is your child resilient?

“As a child’s wise partner and guide, you have the incredibly important role to give them a “big picture” perspective, support them in ways that work for them in particular and realize that resilience, like confidence and inner strength, is merely a skill they need to learn to master.”

“Physical and humiliating punishment is a form of violence against children and a violation of their right to physical integrity and dignity.” “Overall, physical and humiliating punishment increases the use of violence in society and legitimizes it in the eyes of succeeding generations. It promotes a double standard: there are two categories of citizens – children and adults. It is viewed as acceptable to hit children, the smallest and most vulnerable members of society, but not adults.”Download the Save the Children Educational Manual.

 

5 Ways to End Public Shaming

No matter what you believe, or what style of parenting you are using to raise your kids — Attachment, Tiger, Free Range, Feminist, or anything else — now is the time for each of us, as parents, grandparents and educated adults – to come together against one big parenting trend that has no philosophical relevance or psychological benefit. It’s time to take a simple, straight forward stance on this latest shaming and humiliating children trend.

End The Trend Campaign

As I mentioned in the last post on this topic, it’s clear why this trend is not only a lousy idea, but harmful to children as individuals, harmful to the family as a whole and damaging to our communities. The goal here is to educate and provide a safe space for those who DO choose to abandon their support for this trend in search of a healthier discipline option.

Here are 5 things you can do today, to help bring awareness to this issue and to take an active role in changing it – and perhaps save one child from experiencing the devastating effects of humiliation at the hands of a parent.

It’s time for those of us who are appalled at these incidents, to do more than merely complain or judge. It’s time to take a stand.

1. DON’T BULLY THE PARENTS

If you’re going to blog about it or chat it out publicly, focus on what can be done to change the trend, not a running list of why these parents are “doing it wrong” or are “bad parents” Remember, parents are doing the best they can with the information they have. An attack on a parent will do two things:

a) Create a defensive parent who isn’t open to considering a new approach to parenting
b) Engage us in acts of cyberbullying against them, perpetuating the cycle.

Let’s stay away from play by play editorializing and instead, bring awareness to the unintended realities and effects of their actions. Remember, there is NO GOOD in making the parents feel guilty by SHAMING THEM for their choices and subsequent actions. Many will realize that their support for this trend was not in the child’s best interest. We want to encourage the NEW thinking not “punish” or “humiliate” them for their old thinking. Otherwise, we’d perpetuate the same cycle!

2. JUMP INTO COMMENT THREADS

If you have the time, jump in with a comment that refers to objective, identifiable facts – that public shaming can rally up a mob mentality (one video mentions people were swearing at a child forced to wear a sign), affect the child’s dignity, leave an undesired effect on a child’s legacy, fracture the parent/child relationship, teach submission to a bully, degrade human spirit, and so on. Feel free to link back to valuable quotes on this thinking or our END THE TREND board on Pinterest.

3. TWEET / POST / CHAT PROACTIVELY

Encourage people to take the Parenting On Track “End the Trend” pledge (or any other Pledge)! Tag yourself in any “END THE TREND” pic on our Facebook wall. Tell people about what’s going on and tirelessly link it back to the bullying/cyberbullying connection.

Nearly every parent on the street will say they don’t support bullying, but they haven’t made the connection that humiliating and shaming kids IS a form of bullying. Put it out there that shaming our kids is NOT “creative discipline”, it is bullying. Make the point that if teachers or employers decided to publicly shame students or employees, it would be a series of explosive, high profile HR complaints and obvious lawsuits. If we, as a society, accept one form of public shaming, we’re teaching that it is okay to bully one another! Again, make a statement, drop a link to a valuable site. (More resources coming your way).

4. OFFER ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS AND IDEAS

Putting our focus and energy on learning how to develop mutually respectful relationships with our kids, instead of trying to “get the kids” to comply with our every demand, ensures that we will raise a generation of thoughtful, respectful, rational adults who will have the capacity to lead our communities and our country. The shaming trend is just another, more impulsive and detrimental version of every other “quick fix” strategy on the market meant to control kids into behaving in accordance with a parents expectations (sometimes reasonable, often times not)! Share this pin , attend a workshop, get informed.

5. SHARE GOOD INFORMATION

Give people positive, thoughtful, realistic examples or insights that will shift their thinking. Share simple ideas and good information not only on the subject, but on the basic human value we all carry in this world. We’ve all been overwhelmed, we’ve all be embarrassed by something our kids did or said and we’ve all had moments of bewilderment when raising kids. That does not give us the right to shame and humiliate them and then to brag about it in cyberspace. There is a bigger picture here that get’s lost in the sensationalism of this topic. Find a way to elevate the collective thinking.

If you respect others, this is unarguably disrespectful. If you value mistakes as vehicles for growth, then you cannot value the public humiliation of those who make mistakes. If you want to teach children not to bully, then you cannot play the role of bully. Take it seriously as it’s very important as a society that we see the connection and educate those who do not.
Good luck and we’ve got your back!

Public Shaming of Kids = NOT OK

Respect will NEVER come From DisrespectThe trend that says it’s okay for parents to publicly shame and humiliate a child in order to get the desired results HAS GOT TO STOP.  Together, let’s end the trend of public humiliation, shame and humiliation parenting.

This is beyond just bad parenting. This is cruel. And I assure you, that not one of those parents out there supporting this new trend as reasonable would EVER let anyone else get away with treating them in such contemptible ways. But hey, that’s why we had kids right? …So we could take out our own personal issues on them by making them feel like nothing more than a second class citizen.

 I’m finally fired up. I don’t usually do this, and anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I steer clear of this kind of crap, but I am taking a stand.

The 10 Really Good Reasons Why Pubic Shaming (children holding signs, parents posting details on facebook walls, teachers displaying in classrooms, adults forcing kids to stand on street corners, etc). Is NEVER Ok:

1. Psychological Damage to the Child.

It is a child’s birthright to trust her parent, feel safe and to be treated with dignity and respect. For more on this topic visit www.alfredadler.org

2. Long Term Effects on HER Legacy

Your child might be on honor roll or play a varsity sport- she might be a quiet artist or a big thinker, but none of that will matter when you are done shaming and humiliating her. Thanks to you and your efforts, she may forever be remembered as the girl whose mommy punished her publicly. And this is especially damaging in the middle of the socially formative years, which will no doubt affect her and her memories of childhood, adolescence or young adulthood.

Not to mention it will leave a very long lasting label that will make your child the topic of conversation and jokes LONG after you’ve taken the photo down or the sign has been tossed in the trash. (Basically, you’ll put your shadow on ALL the work she had done on her own to make her own identity). Remember, What you DO is not who you ARE. This applies to anyone age 1 – 99.

3. It’s a THUMBS UP to Bullying
If you’re about to do something that, when boiled down to it’s core, any child would be suspended for at school (ie, hijacking a facebook feed and posting in a humiliating way or forcing someone to wear a kick me I’m a stupid liar sign) then you’re about to bully. If 77% of parents think this is a good idea, you’ve just been enlightened as to why bullying is so rampant.

4. It says, “Sure, a Double Standard is reasonable.”
You’re basically endorsing the reality: I can do this to you, but nobody can do it to me. Basic golden rule here, folks- if your boss did this to you based on his personality and preference, he’d be sued in 30 seconds, fired and sent packing. You’d be devastated if you had to sit in your office lobby with a “I’m a liar” sign or “ask me about my HR case I’m working through right now.” Or what if a teacher re-introduced the dunce cap? Can we say LAW SUIT! Seriously?


5. It Models a HUGE LACK OF EMPATHY, RESPECT, TACT and MATURITY

Here’s the big picture: when a teenager rebels (shocker) and a parent acts far more juvenile and without any regard to how it might feel to be shamed in public, it sends a message far louder than the one intended. Most parents would say they’d like their child to have a sense of empathy, respect, and maturity as they grow- this is sure to get more of what you’re fighting against. Unless of course the child has been so defeated she yields or he checks out from the relationship entirely.

6. It’s Boot Camp Training for Submission.
Sure, your kid made YOU MAD. Now what happens when your child leaves the house and makes her boyfriend mad? Her husband mad? Would you want someone ELSE to publicly shame your child? By doing it yourself, you’re training the child to be submissive and accepting of humiliation. This can go nowhere but to a bad place. Look ahead to us as a society of second generation shamers!

7. Being a Parent does NOT mean automatic free pass to always being “Right!”
My first analytical thought when I read a headline like this, is well, what makes the parent RIGHT? There is little or no context for these headlines. Could these parents possibly have overreacted? Could they be manipulative? Fame junkies? Desperate for help and it’s about them? Willing to hurt their child over a bruised ego? Seeking childish revenge? Embarrassed that they look like a bad mother? They don’t trust their kids so the kids tried something rebellious anyway? Who KNOWS but it seems likely the motivators are parent focused (I WILL WIN, I WILL LOOK GOOD) vs. teaching the child, hey, “stealing is not acceptable.” Maybe the kid was acting out for the parent’s attention and instead, got thrown to the wolves, getting the parent off the hook from facing the bigger picture entirely. Not to mention (and trust me I see it in every workshop) parents may THINK they have the right to demand something they have not trained the child to do. This is completely unfair to the child.

8. Respect will NEVER come From Disrespect.
Most parents say their child did not “respect” them. You can’t humiliate a child to gain respect. You must RESPECT a child to gain respect. In fact, the only way to gain respect, is to give it. Otherwise, you’re gaining other forms of response like fear, submission, avoidance, compliance…but not true human respect. That’s parenting 101: you can’t yell / threaten / coerce a kid into respecting you or his siblings / teacher, etc. You have to respect the child and train children to respect each other. VERY DIFFERENT.

9. It Breeds MORE Unhealthy Five Minute Sessions of Fame
Let’s be honest, some people just want to shock and awe. And they go for it – and we feed into it. If we can stop shining a spotlight on the biggest, baddest most shocking and humiliating tactics, then we’re NOT looking out for the well being of the kids. Let’s focus back on what’s good for the kids, not fame producing for mom or dad.

MOST IMPORTANTLY:
10. It massively jeopardizes two BIG things: the future of the relationship and your child’s confidence to navigate the world.

If you choose to shame a child in front of peers or public, you run a very real risk of derailing the relationship you have with your child. He will replace you with others who say my way or nothing. It also hacks at the confidence your child takes into the world. If you screw up and mom takes you aside, that’s one thing. If you screw up (and kids DO screw up) and suddenly, you’re exposed to humiliation, it will shut down the drive to take a risk and make mistakes. Kids’ lives are already filled with natural consequences to teach valuable lessons via friends, teachers, coaches, etc.

If you, the key person they trust to help them navigate and learn from REAL mistakes, parades them around, it will not take long for them to take a backseat and let life steer. Shame stays with you and affects decisions down the road.

So, in all of this, I URGE you to pay attention and stand up against this socially acceptable bullying. Teens today have far too much responsibility ahead of them to be degraded to nothing and pushed down before they even leave the nest! While the logic behind it may seem reasonable, it’s NEVER okay to publicly shame a child. If we can bring this to light, we can change a major current of society, but it’s going to take a lot of conversation and common sense.

Additional information:

There is a new, troubling trend emerging in our digital world; it blends social media and parental discipline. And it’s more disturbing than one might believe at first glance. It’s even been given a name: “cyber-discipline”. Read more.

Next up: Five Things we Can Do Together to Bring Awareness to the Public Shaming of Children – and End the Trend.[hr]Pins!

Shaming Children? Shame on Us!

end-trend

Without even getting into the effects (that’s for the NEXT post) and issues about the popularity of public shaming, I’m writing this post as an overview FYI for you, the Parenting On Track parents who are probably looking around, looking at each other, scratching your heads and wondering, WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON??

Is public humiliation of children happening as much as I think it is? The answer is YES.

What is public shaming?

According to Wiki, “Public humiliation was often used by local communities to punish minor and petty criminals before the age of large, modern prisons” … and “involved a variety of methods, most often placing a criminal in the center of town and having the local populace enact a form of “mob justice” on the individual.

Popular (antiquated) methods included: tarring and feathering, stocks, “chair of shame”, dunce cap, hazing, donkey ears, and so forth. (The Scarlett Letter ring a bell?). I noticed it’s lumped up with torture in some examples as the “flute of shame is on display at the torture museum…enough said). So, bottom line via the wiki page: ”humiliation can (still) be a psychologically “painful” aspect of punishment because of the presence of witnessing peers (such as fellow prisoners), relatives, staff or other onlookers, or simply because the tormentor witnesses how self-control is broken down. This is also true for punishments in class.”

What does it look like in US today?

Well, it’s on the rise folks- you probably heard of the dad who shot the laptop or the “Ohio Mom” who posted an X on her daughter’s face and shamed her on facebook. You may have heard several incidents where a mom or dad forced their children to wear a sign stating their “crimes” or more shockingly about the couple arrested for making their teen daughter wear a diaper as punishment. Even more tragic, you probably heard that a child recently died after being punished and forced to run outside for three hours – all over petty, child or teen incidents.

If this is news to you (or perhaps this was overshadowed by recent arguments of which mother is the best mother (yes, commentary on that subject en queue) here are some links ripped straight from the headlines:

You GET the Point!

Who thinks it’s a good idea?

Here’s where it seems shocking based on the trend and then we see numbers like this supporting public humiliation by parents as a punishment or discipline tactic. When the Today Show posted the “Ohio Mother” story link on their wall, the responses were overwhelmingly in support of the mother (and freakishly felt in favor of bullying and showing who’s boss- not questioning the situation, the context anything circumstantial- not that that’s even necessary). 

After the Ohio Mom’s creative punishment, “more than 7,000 readers responded to TODAY.com poll about the Ohio mom’s method of punishment — and 77 percent of them supported her.” 
Comments came in saying things like,

      “More parents like this one needed now!!!!
      Good job Mom, love the creativity!!!”
      “I am the mother of a twelve-year-old girl, and I think this was PERFECT.
And I don’t see it as “humiliating.”
      “No different than a kid being
called out in class by a teacher for misbehaving.”
      “I love it! My kids are little yet but I’ll tell you it’s now n (sic) my list of
punishments! Lol! The girl will live, if she’s embarrassed too bad”
    (People are really jazzed up about this “creative discipline.” Read the thread and view the overwhelming support for her actions

here)

Why People think it’s OK:

People feel the kids are too out of control and that any way to GET THEM TO behave is acceptable. The praise for this new trend seems to applaud parents for taking back the power– however, very little is being said about the effects and the real reason kids are “misbehaving” (hint: the parents are almost 100% part of the problem to begin with if they’re getting angry at their children for their own lack of training OR for expecting them to NOT make mistakes, challenge authority or make their own decisions). Their response is sending a message, but I’m going to put a stake in the ground and say it’s the WRONG message.

The purpose of this is NOT to focus on the parents who have chosen public humiliation because in their minds, it was reasonable to shock and awe. PLUS honestly, it would only perpetuate the “public shaming” of another person. So, bottom line, the mothers and fathers are not the focus — the children and how we can change this thinking is and will be the focus. I’m not about to scold a parent but I am about to crack open the thinking behind this horrible, disgraceful trend in parenting.

Stay TUNED. UP NEXT: 10 REASONS PUBLIC SHAMING IS NOT A RESPECTABLE DISCIPLINE TACTIC

Teens and Tweens Are Awesome

I love teenagers and I am deeply offended when they get a bad wrap. Over the last couple of days I’ve either watched, listened to or read some inspiring and positive remarks about teen girls and teens in general. Here they are. Let’s support those individuals who also appreciate kids who just happen to be tweens and teens.

      1. Anne Curry of the Today Show, interviews Sarah Palin, Psychiatrist Dr. Janet Taylor, who is the mother of four girls and author Haley Kilpatrick in a discussion on the difficulties of raising successful young women, the development of self-confidence and the role of the family.

Watch the interview.

2. 5 Minutes for Mom contributor, Jennifer Donovan applauds Melinda Rainey Thompsons book, I’ve Had It Up To Hear With Teenagers and her endorsement for life with teens that is full of adventure, fun, aha moments and humor. Read her review of the book or order it like I did.

3. And finally, from Charlotte Latvala from Parenting.com, “The 6 Best Things About Tweens.” Her post is witty, poignant and reminds me why I so loved having 5 teens in the house all the same time. Beyond that, she leverages several other experts and provides resources to parents of teens who want to enjoy this exciting, mysterious and always engaging time of life. Here are some excerpts from her blog from contributing experts:

Susan Kuczmarski, Ed.D., author of The Sacred Flight of the Teenager: A Parent’s Guide to Stepping Back and Letting Go. “Enjoy the changes and be aware that she is entering a new phase — don’t expect the same old behavior.”

“It’s simply less physically exhausting to be the parent of a tween,” says Jen Singer of Kinnelon, NJ, the creator of Mommasaid.net, a parenting humor and advice website, and mom of Nicholas, 12, and Christopher, 11. “My kids make their own lunches and their own beds. They’re self-cleaning. When we go skiing, I don’t have to run down the slope holding them in a harness. The day-to-day stuff is much easier.”

Celebrate each new task your kids can do, and get over any guilt you have that you’re slacking off by letting them take on more, says educator Annie Fox, author of the Middle School Confidential series. “Some parents mistakenly equate dependence with love,” she says. “They feel that ‘if he doesn’t need me, he doesn’t love me.’ But do you really want to be cutting your kid’s sandwiches when he’s thirty?”

The next time you are tempted to trash a teen, talk to someone who enjoys theirs – like me. You’ll be introduced to a side of teenagerhood that often times goes unnoticed. Oh, and just for the record, your style of parenting is 90% responsible for whether you enjoy or dread life with your tween so maybe you want to consider investing in a style that will make life enjoyable for all of you.

Learn more about or Register for the upcoming Adolescent Class in Middlebury, VT at Middlebury College.

Why Tweens Act Like a PITA

As parents, sometimes we hit a wall. We find ourselves wondering, how did I get here and who is this aggressive child that used to be so sweet and loving? After 20 years in parent education, I can give you three good reasons why your child is no longer willing to cooperate.

1. Your relationship is injured.

Somewhere in your daily dynamics, the child who once respected you or showed you affection, has been exposed to a rip, snag or tear in the fabric of its foundation. There is something far deeper than a power struggle over taking out the trash at play. How to fix and injured relationship is similar to fixing an injured leg – time and patience and relearning how to communicate. You might have to swallow some pride– somewhere along the way, the relationship got stuck– wiggle out delicately or you’ll only injure it further.

2. The Kid is Bored Out of her Gourd

And I don’t mean the kind of bored where he is idle and needs to find something to do. The kid is bored socially because she’s not involved in community, arts or something meaningful. Even if her calendar is penciled in through 2020, she could be completely disconnected to what she’s doing. Think of adults who get stuck in dead end jobs – they go stir crazy because nothing has meaning and they feel as though life is slipping by. Kids sense this as well! Keep trying to connect a child with something that has meaning, including jobs, community service, foreign language, music and more. Now think of the happy adults you know – they’re probably contributing to their community and feel largely connected to the people around them.

3. He Thinks you Don’t Trust him

Perhaps you’re meddling, doing-for, nagging and correcting how he does this, that and everything in between. If a kid is really on you at every interference, try backing off! Maybe, just maybe he wants you to expect more from him. Here’s where contributions and self regulation can help you out. He can do his own laundry and so he should. He can make his lunch, choose his clothes and decide when to get his homework finished. These are the tiny restraints we layer on our children that cause anger and rebellion. Shift away from the back and forth over tiny details and step back to see what happens.

Bottom line? Tweens are testing boundaries and making their place in the world. Their behavior is simply a reflection of how they got here and whether or not they feel confident, secure and capable. If they’re acting out, they’re telling you something loud and clear!

Parents: The Purple Controller

I recently read the article, “Dear Customer Who Stuck Up for His Little Brother” and while this scenario is a true act of courage, I realized that it plays out more often (and with far less intensity) everyday in families across the country. I wanted to take a minute to spotlight the parent’s role in this situation. For the child and his brother, it IS a mighty tale of courage, acceptance, love and the ability for one young person to stand up for another young person and for what is right – the freedom to be who you are. For the parent, it was an intense display of disapproval, and the over–reaction to something he was trying to change about his child.

In the scenario, the father is blatantly telling the young boy he’s not acting in accordance with his gender – in other words “man up kid”. Based on the response to this post, many agree this is not only a harsh attitude, it completely belittles the child’s identity. I shudder to think what daily life must be like for this young boy. He doesn’t need to go to school to experience bullying, it’s happening at home.

Here’s where the thought connects to parents everywhere. What if the child were uncoordinated and not interested in sports? Or the child was bossy and had difficulty navigating social situations? Or a writer not willing to put down the pen? Or a child who spends time building with Legos(R) vs. playing with his peers?

The words, “just suck it up and play on the team” or “stop bossing those kids around” or “would you put that damn book down and do something else?” or “it’s good for you to play with other people” sound exactly the same as “you can’t have a purple controller” –they all say the same thing – be different because who you are – isn’t good enough.

In short, let this purple controller be a reminder for US to control our need to interject and “steer” and manipulate our kids lives. Accept kids for who they are and we’ll see amazing things in the future.

Holidays with Tweens

It’s the tweener week here at the Hoefenways, that’s blended for Hoefle & Hemenway, a name the kids came up with years ago when Iain and I met. Christmas is behind us. The presents are put away. The decorations are down. Three kids are home, one is due in on the 4th from Spain and another one arrives on the 6th from San Francisco.

I am holding steady as they say. This is the week that defines the holidays for us. It’s a time to celebrate life with children, who are more adult than anything else. It’s my time to dive into each of them and to re-establish contact in a new and meaningful way. Let’s face it, they aren’t the same people they were last year at this time.

I marvel at how smart, how funny, and how mercurial they are. I am awestruck at their humor, their insight, and their commitment to “showing up in their lives.” I am touched by their comments to me which include “you look hot in those jeans mom” by my 17-year-old daughter and “every kid should have a mom like you” whispered in my ear by my 15 year old, six-foot-tall son.

So here’s to the teens and the tweeners in our lives. These wonders of light and love.To my own children I say thank you. Thank you for inviting me into your world, and sharing your thoughts, your aspirations, your fears and your dreams. Thank you for sitting on my lap, for letting me braid your hair, and sharing a quiet moment of reflection. Thank you for sticking with me through all my painful parenting faux pas.

Thank you for teaching me the Wii and encouraging me as I learn to hit a ball and almost wet my pants doing it. Thank you for giggling with me and not at me, as I learn that you don’t have to actually “play” tennis, in order to “play Wii” tennis.

Thank you for loading my iPod up with all new songs and for making me my own Taylor Swift CD. Thank you for trying on the dorky pants I bought you and not calling me “stupid head” because I got the wrong style, size and color.

Thank you for loving each other. For cuddling up together during The Grinch and letting me get a glimpse of you as small children, even if just for a moment. Thank you for fixing each other french toast and eating together around the table, something that happens less and less these days, as kids grow and some move out.

Most of all, thank you for choosing me as your parent.

For all you parents out there, who wonder what the world is like with five teens in the house – there is only one word to describe it – MIRACULOUS!

Do not waste a single moment with these magical beings. Before you know it, they will have moved on and you may find yourself trying to carve a spot in their new and exciting lives. Take a few moments, and look beyond the external expression of who they are and look into the hearts, the minds and the spirits of these young people.

There is much joy to be found in those sparkling eyes.

Happy Holidays!

Vicki
2009

What’s Really Going On?

This weekend, several people (my daughter from college in CA included) sent me a link to a story that made me stop and reality check what’s going on out there in the world, for our kids (and as a society, which is totally conflicted if you read through the comments). 14 year old Jonah Mowry puts this video up as a message “I’M NOT GOING TO KILL MYSELF. I JUST NEED TO GET THIS OUT HERE”.

As you watch:

1- Get a tissue. I wondered if his mom knew what he was doing, supported his way of expressing himself and was standing by to hold him when he finished making the video and posting it, or if she was absolutely clueless to this child’s struggle.

2- Ask yourself – if your child was to make a video of their life, right now, without any concern for how it would be received (by you or anyone else), what would they say?

3- If you don’t know, or you think you might now or even if you are absolutely positively sure that you know, find out anyway. My experience, not only with my own 5, but with another thousand or so parents, is that we rarely know what’s really going on in the lives of our kids.

It shouldn’t take a heartbreaking clip like this for us to recognize that we need to be emotionally available for our children- and their friends if they’re heading down this road. Let’s pay more attention. All of us.

His twitter handle:
@JonahMowryReal

Kids are Like Computers, they Upgrade to New Versions (Of themselves!)

You’ve probably noticed, that with each new age and stage, your child’s behavior looks freakishly familiar yet, it’s loaded with a shiny new set of operating tools. He’s bigger. She’s smarter. They’re louder. The behavior is beefier. More mature. Less “cute”. (Face it, a tantrum at two is far more tolerable than a full blown hissyfit by an 8 year old).

As your child grows “into” more advanced versions of their discipline issues (whining, excuses, arguing, controlling, sassing, etc), you’re faced with the same problem, different year.

When this happens, tribes of parents head out to find the NEW most age appropriate response, punishment, discipline tactic to fight the aging beast (the behavior, not the kid). Because lo and behold, the strategy for a tantrum at two would never work for a 13 year old, right? I can see it now, the emo hipster wanna be with her head down in the naughty chair. It’s not pretty and it’s clearly not effective. So why do this to a two year old if we know it’s

    a) not going to make the problem go away and
    b) it’s going to resurface at 13?

Probably because it makes us feel in control. It’s a logical response to an undesired behavior. However, if we don’t realize the behaviors we see at two will be the behaviors (only upgraded) at 6, 8, 10 and so forth, then we stand to make it waaay harder on ourselves – and the kids – than it has to be.

The question is, how do we curb behaviors without having to run out and find a new strategy every 1-2 years?

The answer: we focus on the relationship. We study our children. We recognize the problem areas and we let the rest go. We don’t try to steer them through a perfect childhood without pain, failure or real world ups and downs. We train them to take care of themselves and be a meaningful participant within the community. Inviting a child to help at two will work the same as inviting a child to help at thirteen- and it will get more of what you want from them.

Sending a kid to the naughty corner at two and to her room at thirteen will not rid her from flailing and stomping when she doesn’t get her way. And you can bet it’ll come back when she’s in the dorms and doesn’t get the classes she wanted. Or the engagement ring she saw in the magazine. Or the car all the other moms drive. And bam. Will she live with it? Sure. Could she spare to do better without that habit? Definitely.

(Look around, you know any adults who still throws hissy fits? Exactly).

No Good or Bad Choices

    As a child my family’s menu consisted of two choices: take it or leave it. -Buddy Hackett

Do we really trust our kids with the choices they make? I guess the answer is often sure, if I think it’s the “right choice” for my kid.

Kid’s Choice: I don’t like dinner so I’m not going to eat it.
Parent: Bad Choice – I’ll make you something else or I will nag you and bribe you till you eat. Okay.

Kid’s Choice: I don’t want to bring my lunch today.
Parent: Bad Choice – You’ll get hungry and then you can’t learn so I will pack it for you and stuff it in your backpack.

Kids Choice: I hate soccer and I don’t want to play any longer.
Parent: Bad Choice – You promised your coach and you will let the team down (2nd grader here). You will play this year even if you hate it and next year we can discuss it.

Kids Choice: I don’t want to wear pj’s to bed, I want to wear my jeans, so I am ready for school.
Parent: Bad Choice – You will uncomfortable and wrinkly in the morning and it’s just silly.

You get the picture. We say we want our kids to make choices, but as adults, we have decided what the “right” choice is for the child.

Here is the thing though – there are no good choices or bad choices, choices are just that – choices.

A choice will either move you closer to or further away from what it is you want. Parents are constantly commenting on their kid’s choices. Instead of helping the kids learn about the process of choice and the power of choice, we interrupt the learning by judging whether the choice is good or bad. Here is a story to illustrate the power of choices and how they often reveal the true goal of the person making them.

    When one of my kids was 7 she decided (her choice) to play soccer. About half way through the season, I went to a game and watched as she danced and shuffled around the field, never really running toward or going after the ball. After the game I asked her about her overall decision to play soccer (I was getting the sense that she didn’t really like soccer). She looked at me – serious as all get out, and promptly stated, “Oh mom, soccer is the best, and things are going great. I decided that this year, my goal was to keep 6 feet between me and the ball at all times. I don’t want to get hit with that thing. Have you ever been hit by a soccer ball? It hurts.” Enough said.

Choices, as I have said on numerous occasions, are about more than blue boots or red boots, coat or no coat, do it now or do it later. Choices move us forward in our lives and give us a sense that we are in charge of our lives in the most fundamental way.

Anyone, particularly a child, who is WILLING to make a choice, should be congratulated for having the courage to make it. And let’s not forget, that each time our kids make a choice, the better they get at making them, so lets give them lots of practice.

Facing Fear at Any Age

Dr. Heather posted a very useful article on her blog about Preschoolers and Fears.

Read article here.

My only question is based on the idea of using “monster spray” and other totems to repel monsters. In my experience this practice can be counterproductive. Parents tell their kids that monsters aren’t real, but then act like they are by looking under beds, waving magic wands or spraying monster spray in the room. Seems a bit confusing if you ask me.

It would be more helpful to ask your child a couple of questions:

    1. Can you show me where the monster is? Let them explore and show you where it’s hiding (hmmm, can’t seem to find it at the moment, mum). There is power in actually looking for what you think you fear. Opening closet doors, looking under beds, and behind a pile of stuffed animals will reassure a child much more convincingly and quickly than a parent waving wands or spraying twinkle dust in a room.

    2. What is the difference between your imagination and reality? Yes, I know it’s a big question, but you can break it down and help your child learn to distinguish the difference. I have talked with dozens of creative people and they all agree, imagination is stimulated when there is a balance between living in our imagination and being in touch with reality.

So the next time your wee one suggests that there are monsters living anywhere in their world, take a moment to reflect on how you want to address this concern and the fact that a “monster” at 3 could be “anxiety” for a 13 year old.

Radical Parenting & Your Teen

As part of the Parenting On Track™ Home Program, parents receive 6 free Web Events throughout the year. Last night we hosted a 60 minute Web Event on Adolescence with special guest, Vanessa Van Petten of Radical Parenting (she may sound familiar to many of you as I have recommended her on more than one occasion) and 2 of her interns, Sydney 15, and Emily 13. Because this web event was filled with such great information, we decided to share it with everyone. Don’t worry forum members, we’ll add in another freebie.

Listen to the replay!

Here are a few of the highlights and how investing in the Parenting On Track™ program when your kids are young, makes raising a teen a whole lot more enjoyable for everyone concerned.

Teens want parents to know the following:

  • Don’t take the complaining or disagreeing of teens personally. It’s usually just a way for them to vent and they rarely mean anything hurtful.
  • Kids do listen to their parents – it just isn’t cool to look too interested or admit it.
  • A good relationship with their parents is as important to teens as it is to their moms and dads.

Enter Parenting On Track™ – The basis for the program; relationships built on mutual respect, cooperation, open and honest communication and a solid foundation that can absorb the constant changes our kids experience. You don’t enter the teen years in good shape, if you haven’t invested heavily in the relationship when the kids are young. Another Parenting On Track™ technique that is sure to pay off in the long haul – ignoring the cheap drama of a 3 year old which makes it possible to listen to a teen without getting worried, annoyed, angry or “hooked” into the emotion of the moment. Instead, Parenting On Track™ parents are trained to appreciate where their kids are emotionally at any given moment, the confidence to allow the kids to work through those emotions whenever possible, and the ability to “not” take what is said personally.

What fractures the parent/teen relationship?

  • Treating teens like they are still babies.
  • Imposing the same rules you established in elementary school on a 15 year old.
  • Embarrassing them repeatedly and then not owning up to it or apologizing for doing it.

Enter Parenting On Track™– Vanessa said something that really struck me “Re-evaluate agreements with your kids on a regular basis”. This is where Creating a Roadmap, Implementing Privileges and Responsibilities and Utilizing the Family Meeting come in. Each of the 3 tools ensures that parents are growing with their kids and that there is a balance between growing independence and reasonable boundaries.

What’s it like growing up in the 21st Century?

  • It’s tougher than parents think.
  • Technology plays a huge role and kids have to learn to navigate an ever changing landscape.
  • Unrealistic expectations from parents, teachers, friends, and coaches add more pressure to an already tough stage of life.

Enter Parenting On Track™ – A major theme that runs through all the work we do here is this: To ensure we, as parents, allow our children an opportunity to develop the mental muscle necessary to grow up in the 21st century feeling confident and with the skills necessary to navigate their lives effectively. And to allow our children the freedom to tell us to “back off” when we begin imposing our ideas on how they should run their lives so as not to overwhelm them or send the message that we are not pleased with the decisions they are making.

And one particularly helpful hint Vanessa shared that really hit home for me. Evidently teens don’t appreciate it when parents disguise a suggestion with a question – for example – “Hey do you think it might be a good idea if you did a little extra credit to get your grades up?” Ha! Busted. Sorry kids. I didn’t know there was a name for that. Instead she says – be transparent, ask honest questions and wait until your child begins the brainstorming process. And again, Parenting On Track™ encourages families to help kids articulate problems quickly and spend their energy looking for creative solutions.

I want to thank all 3 of these extraordinary young women, particularly Sydney and Emily for sharing their thoughts, insights and wisdom. I hung up the phone feeling the world was indeed, in very capable hands with these 3 at the helm.

Enjoy the replay!

The Bullied Child

Last week I introduced Barbara Coloroso’s definition of both Bullying and the Bully from her book, The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander; From Preschool to High-School – How Parents and Teachers Can Help Break the Cycle of Violence. If you missed it or would like to learn more, go check out last week’s blog post.

At the end of the post, I suggested that parents take a week to observe and learn from their children’s behavior, and resist the temptation to either assess too quickly or jump in with action if they suspect their child might be a bully.

Today I introduce the Bullied and again, suggest that instead of “doing” anything, parents begin to look for any signs that their child might experience bullying in their daily lives.

The Bullied

The truth is, it could be anyone and often times is – anyone. No longer is the bullied child easy to recognize. Bullied children come in all shapes and sizes, ages and races, religious backgrounds and physical attributes. They can be athletes, academics, socially comfortable, popular, awkward, introverts or anything in between.

What accounts for a children being bullied isn’t so much their characteristics as much as it the bully’s need to “single out a recipient of verbal, physical, or relational aggression, merely because they are different.” (Page 42)

Imagine for a moment – being different as the precursor for a child being targeted for bullying. How could any parent adequately prepare for this possibility? It is literally impossible for parents to “be on the look out” for a child who fits the profile of a potentially bullied kid when there is no profile.

But at least parents can rely on their children telling them that they are experiencing bullying, right? Not so.

In her book, Barbara asserts that many children who are bullied, avoid telling their parents that bullying is occurring in their life and worse, to what extend they are being bullied. Her list of reasons why children don’t talk with parents or authority figures includes:

  • Shame
  • Fear of retaliation
  • No one can help
  • No one will help
  • It’s part of growing up
  • Adults are in on it
  • False sense of loyalty

Barbara does suggest that there are signs that kids are being bullied and if parents are informed and willing to consider that their child might indeed be experiencing bullying – although they don’t fit the profile – then a parent can intervene to stop the cycle of violence.

Here are just a few signs that might indicate something is going on.*

  • Abrupt lack of interest in school
  • Drop in grades
  • Withdraws from family and school
  • Taking parents money
  • Beeline to the bathroom when they return home
  • Sad, sullen, angry or scared after a phone call or email
  • Acts out of character
  • Disheveled, torn or missing clothes

*For a complete list, please refer to p.50-53 in Barbara Coloroso’s book.

What’s most disturbing is that many kids who find themselves bullied, eventually, become the bully.

“If the assumption made by teenagers is that potential attackers in their schools are kids who were picked on- and the statistics seem to bear this out-then keeping children from becoming victims of bullying would substantially reduce the risk of future acts of violence and would certainly reduce the number of kids, who, choose death over facing the brutality of their peers.” (Page 61)

Even if you are living with a child who seems to “fit in” at school and until now, you had no reason to suspect they might be on the receiving end of bullying, be on the look out for signals that you might have overlooked a message your child may be trying to send you.

As you follow along with this series, take some time to consider how you will talk with your child about the subject as you learn more in the coming weeks.

Bullying: Part I

Bullying is everywhere. And to quote Barbara Coloroso from her book, The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander; From Preschool to High-School – How Parents and Teachers Can Help Break the Cycle of Violence, “Bullying is a life-and-death issue that we ignore at our children’s peril. It can no longer be minimized and trivialized by adults, taken lightly, brushed off or denied.” Evidence of this is everywhere, in all countries around the world.

The good news is that bullying is a learned behavior. Why is that good news? Because it means that we have the power to CHANGE the behavior. And the change starts with us, the parents. Over the course of the next 3 months, I will dive into this subject slowly, laying a foundation, to help you learn more about what bullying is, who plays a part in the cycle, what you can do as parents to begin to change the behaviors and how you can build a family that can play an active role in breaking the cycle.

For the first 3 weeks will focus on the concepts of the bullying cycle and roles children play from the bully, to the bullied, to the bystander. Your role is to gather information through this first phase. The following weeks will focus on what you can DO to implement the concepts you learn into your family.
I will bring in as many resources as I can find that will add value to this discussion and will primarily be using a resource that I believe is the BEST source of information on the topic available; The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander, by Barbara Coloroso, Collins Living Edition, New York, NY 2008.

Who are you living with?

The Parenting On Track™ program encourages parents to take a week to “Do Nothing and Say Nothing” and to observe what children do or don’t do in the course of a week with no prompting from parents. For those of you who completed the exercise you gained valuable information and new insights into your children and your family. You know how valuable it can be to lift your head up and observe your children. You also know how challenging it can be to zip it – unless of course the child’s action is physically and morally dangerous.

These next few weeks I encourage you to do the same around the very sensitive subject of bullying. The goal is to gain new awareness, understanding and like our program DISCOVER new information that will assist you in the future.

Allow yourself to watch, to listen, to learn and take note of what you observe. It is not a time to judge or jump to conclusions. It is not a time to “do” anything. It is a time to gather necessary information so that you can proceed with confidence, clarity and purpose in the coming weeks.

What is Bullying?

Bullying is not teasing. Teasing contains a playful nature and offers kids a way to practice what it means to effectively communicate while building strong relationships with their friends. Teasing is safe and contains limits and boundaries. Kids who tease each other share strong feelings of affection, compassion and empathy. Teasing can be a reflection of a close relationship. Nothing is ever said about race, religion, gender, physical or mental attributes or ability. Bullying is not sibling rivalry or two equally matched kids in conflict.

Bullying takes shape in many forms but always contains 3 distinct characteristics.*

1. Imbalance of Power: The bully can be older, bigger, stronger, more articulate, or have more social prowess. Bands of kids grouped together can create an imbalance.

2. Intent to Harm: There is no accident or mistake, a bully intends to inflict emotional or physical pain.

3. Threat of Further Aggression: This is not a one-time event. The bully and the bullied know it will happen again.

*For a complete description of the characteristics, please refer to p.14 in Barbara Coloroso’s book.

The Bully

According to Coloroso, there are seven kinds of bullies:

1. The confident bully – doesn’t walk onto the scene; he swaggers.

2. The social bully – uses humor, gossip, verbal taunts and shunning.

3. The fully armored bully – is cool and detached. He has little emotion.

4. The hyperactive bully – struggles with academics and has poorly developed social skills.

5. The bullied bully – is both a target and a bully.

6. The bunch of bullies – is a group of friends who collectively do something they would never do individually…

7. The gang of bullies – is a scary lot drawn together not as a group of friends, but as a strategic alliance in pursuit of power.

* For a complete description, please refer to p.19 in Barbara Coloroso’s book.

As a parent, I understand the disturbing nature of bullying. I understand how difficult it is for parents to even consider that one of their children might fall into this category. But turning a blind eye not only puts our schools and communities at risk, it threatens our children’s chances of becoming caring, respectful and healthy human beings.

Remember, the next few weeks are for observations. Next week I will address the bullied child.

Source: The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander, by Barbara Coloroso, Collins Living Edition, New York, NY 2008.

Are you raising a bully? Part II

If you liked last week’s post from Annie Fox and were looking for some follow up solutions, check out Annie Fox’s second blog post My Child? A Bully? Part II. You will find 6 suggestions for addressing the bullying behavior.

Among them are a few of my recommendations as well.

At the top of the list is the Family Meeting. As the mother of 5 and part of a blended family with kids who have very strong personalities and a mother who is not opposed to using “power” to get her own way, our Family Meetings were a venue that held each and every one of us accountable for our behavior. My husband and I experienced the same consequences the kids did when we resorted to any bullying tactics to get our own way.

For those of you who know me, you will know that this didn’t happen often, but even I can be pushed into behaving in despicable ways. Luckily, we created a powerful tool for supporting each of us as we grew into our most respectful selves.

My second recommendation for addressing bullying behavior is to work with an outside source. Whether you see a parent coach, a traditional therapist or a member of the clergy, getting an outside perspective, having an impartial ear and a voice of reason will go a long way at “rebooting” your family and giving every member the skills they need to stay respectful and thoughtful with each other as well as everyone else in their lives.

“The Bully, the Bullied and the Bystander” by Barbara Coloroso is still my hands down favorite book for truly learning about, understanding and then addressing the issue of bullying.

Over the years I have been asked repeatedly to address the subject of bullying and I have declined each and every time. Instead, I choose to focus on the task of teaching families how to create an atmosphere that is pro-active and provides opportunities for building strong relationships.

All of us at Parenting On Track™ encourage you to start creating this atmosphere of mutual respect, encouragement, contribution and cooperation right away. Don’t wait until you see the signs of bullying in your child. Don’t wait until you experience yourself (not parenting from your best) in your child’s behavior to do something differently. Build healthy relationships today and offer your children another way to “be” in relationship with themselves, their siblings, their friends, and the community at large. Click here and learn more about our multi-media home program now.

Kids Have Perfect Solutions

Okay, so here is a perfect example of how smart and quick kids are.

Kathy takes her 3 kids to the kiddie pool during her recent stay in Florida. Zack, a new walker, tries to follow his sisters into the center of the pool.

Unfortunately for Zack, he has only been on his feet for a few short weeks (still wobbly), the bottom of his little shoes are slippery and the kiddie pool has a decidedly deceptive slope “down” to the center.

Zack enters the pool to follow said sisters. His feet come out from under him and SMASH. Down on his ass he goes knocking his head on the bottom of the pool.

Mom walks over to the child on his ass. She didn’t run. She didn’t scream. She didn’t grab him up. Why? Because she knows her kid. The other parents in attendance jumped up to “assist” Zack, but Kathy used non-verbal tools to get all the busy bodies to sit down and mind their own business.

She holds Zack by the hand, lifts him up, puts him on his feet at the edge of the pool and sits back down.

Zack takes a few steps towards the center of the pool and SMACK. Down he goes again.

This happens approximately 6 times. No tears. Frustration to be sure, but Kathy is quickly by his side, Quick hug, quick smooch and off he goes again.

Until suddenly, left on his own to figure this problem out, this smart, clever, creative, determined young 14 month old figures out that he has to sit on his ass and scoot towards the center of the kiddie pool.

For the next 2 weeks, remembering what he learned all on his own, Zack enjoys the pool. In fact, he practiced every time they went to the pool and inevitably, some parent would approach Kathy and comment on how clever Zack was for scooting into the pool and asked her “so how long did it take you to teach him that?” To which she promptly broke out in gut busting laughter.

I asked her why the gut busting laughter – her reply “Can you just see me sitting MY ass down in the pee filled kiddie pool and teaching my kid to scoot down to the center? No way that was gonna happen.”

Here is what she knows, what I know and what the parents of the Parenting On Track family know:

Kids are their own best teachers and when parents provide opportunities to practice, well, kids find their own perfect solutions.

Way to go Zack!

The Big Talk!

embarrassed.teenAttention – Calling all moms, dads, aunties, nannies and anyone else you consider part of the “village” that helps you raise your kids. Here’s a post based on several, recent, conversations I had and overheard while milling around my life (minding my own business thank you very much) on the subject of…..sex. AHHHH! No, not that. YES – that.

You do realize, that without “it” – sex – you wouldn’t be parents – right?

And you are also aware that you will never feel the thrill of holding your brand new grand child if at some point YOUR kids don’t have sex. So, lets keep this conversation in perspective. If you are easily offended, I am sure there are lots of other posts on the internet of interest. For those brave souls who want to know my 2 cents on the subject – read on.

More and more I hear from families who have middle-school, “tweeners” asking me- when I suggest they sit down and have “the talk” with the kids? You know- “the big sex-talk?”

Here is my concern:

What in the world have you been waiting for? By the time your kids are 12 or 13, they are way-way-WAY behind. Now, they know lots of stuff about sex. They learned some in school and some at church and some from you. But the majority of what they learned, they learned from other kids who don’t know any more than yours do. It’s crazy. One of the scariest aspects of a parent’s life is thinking about their kids having sex and they think a reasonable solution is to IGNORE IT! Wake up people. We have some education to do.

Now, I sum up sex ed in two categories.

The first are the nuts and bolts. You know, the questions the kids ask when they are small and they want to know where babies come from and all that. This leads into all the “technical” stuff the kids learn at school or at home about how, when, who, why and don’t, wait, safety, etc.

But there is another category that doesn’t often get any air time at all and I think in some ways this is the most important conversation NOT being had by parents and their kids. And that conversation is about intimacy and sensuality and passion and connection and communication. Now, I have NO idea why parents aren’t talking to their kids about this stuff, but they aren’t.

Parent’s often ask me when I had “the talk” and ya know, the truth is, I never did it in one talk. I never sat my kids down and said, “Listen honey, it’s time for me to tell you about intercourse or the birds and the bees” … or whatever it is that parents use to bring the topic up, nowadays. It was always just part of the ongoing conversation in my home with 5 very different people.

I will tell you, that not once did we use names like po-po or may-may or wee-wee. It makes the whole “body beautiful” thing completely bogus. I wanted my children to feel confident when they discussed their bodies so that meant taking the plunge and calling things what they are – Penis. Vagina. Clitoris. Erection. There you have it.

I know, I know for many of you- the conversation is not flowing and it takes some thoughtful consideration, because you as parents are not even comfortable discussing the subject. And for you, I say its time to get off it- get over it and get moving, your children are counting on you.

Here is a great resource to support you to start your own journey.

Birds and Bees and Kids

Be enlightened and get going. Its too important to wait. Your kids will get the information somewhere and even if Jane is your child’s middle-school sex-ed teacher, its up to you, the parents. Your kids are counting on you, don’t leave them in the dark.

This is a beautiful and magical and mysterious and serious part of life.

Let’s talk as much about sex and love and intimacy and commitment as we do about their damn cell phones.

Big Love everyone.

Acts of Kindness

Have you ever had someone lend you that coin that you were short of at a check-out counter? Or have you ever had someone stop you on the street because you were about to leave one of your mittens behind you? There are many, small wonderful things that strangers do for each other every day because, well, just because.

Here is one story about a good Samaritan that takes it one step further.

“My parents have been going through some rough times lately. Among those hard times, they’ve been trying to sell their home. They needed to replace a large broken appliance in the process of getting their home ready to be listed. My mom went out one day and made the purchase at a large department store. When she got it to her car, she realized that it wouldn’t fit in her trunk, wouldn’t come anywhere close. She hadn’t even considered how she’d get it home, having so much on her emotional plate. As she was standing in the parking lot almost in tears, having no idea what she’d do, an unfamiliar woman pulled up. She said “I think that’ll fit in my truck; where do you live? I’ll follow you home!” They got it in her truck, she followed my mom home, helped her unload it, and went on her way, not accepting anything for her efforts. Just an angel out of nowhere, who swooped in when we needed it.

I recently came across a very elderly, very shaky man with a walker trying to make it down a flight of stairs, and while I normally would have hurried on to the appointment I was late for, I thought of that angel, and stopped to help him get down the stairs. It made me a few minutes late, but so what – if that angel had been there that day, she would have done it for him, for sure – and I had learned something from her. It won’t be my last time, either – I’ll see to that. Someone who would do something so selfless for a total stranger – that’s someone I want to learn from.”

One person can make a big difference in the life of another. Keep your eyes out for your chance to be that person.

This inspirational story was found at http://www.responsibilityproject.com/stories/entry/an-angel-out-of-nowhere/