All posts tagged confidence and courage

Getting The Kids Involved

Getting the Kids Involved Means Letting them Participate 

work is worthIt sounds super obvious to most parents that if you want kids to follow a daily routine, they have to help create it and then feel supported as they practice mastering the routine on their own. Well, that’s not always how things play out. We often “let” the kids participate when it’s convenient for us or when they are doing things “right” but as soon as they fall behind, or don’t do things exactly the way we want them, we step in and muddle everything up. Creating, executing and mastering routines takes time and while the kids are practicing, life happens. But if we can shift our thinking, if we can let the routine lead the day, we’ll find that children can take on more responsibility, become less dependent on us for everything and we can all enjoy that time between activities vs. rushing and hurrying things along.

What does this mean? It means, if your child is supposed to pack a backpack for school, you wont jump in and do it as the clock starts ticking louder and louder. And so, yes, you’ll be late. Yes, your kid will wear PJ’s to school. Yes, they won’t have a lunch if they don’t feel like making one. Once you learn to let go, the child will know you trust they can do it and that’s when the magic happens. Obviously, allowing a kid to go to school hungry because they forgot their lunch or left their homework behind, is a hard lesson to learn! Most parents think they just can’t let that happen. But they soon find out they can and it only happens once or twice.

IMG_6573Over time, once your children realize you’re going about the routine and that you trust them to manage on their own, they begin to master tasks that lead to confidence and capability. After the peaceful, relaxed and orderly routine is established, you’ll never look back!

Are you ready for a routine?

Kids CAN Do So Much! With a solid routine and less interference, kids of all ages CAN and WILL:

  • get dressed
  • make lunches
  • bring a backpack
  • get ready for bed quickly
  • wake up for school on time
  • finish homework
  • brush their teeth
  • feed the pets
  • and so much more!

Head’s Up! It’ll be bumpy for just a short while. Once you master the routine, it’ll get smoother and sweeter. In the beginning, you’ll have to focus on these few things:

kid workPatience. Don’t step in, even if you’re late.

Correcting. If a kid packs three granola bars for his lunch, hey it’s a start. It’ll get better- don’t get caught up in the little stuff.

Let go. You’ll just have to sacrifice a few events (like bball practice or dinner out) in order to learn the routine.

Once it’s in place, it’ll be just fine.
Trust the kids. Just trust them. They will find a way if you’re not there doing everything for them.

Parenting Land Mine

As anyone who knows me can attest, I was a free range parent long before the words helicopter parenting, tiger mom or free range were part of the parenting landscape.

I parented with 2 things in mind.

1. keep the relationship with my kids strong, healthy, honest and robust

2. foster their independence in every moment

challenge

Yes, I received dirty looks from shop-keepers and store-clerks when my kids were allowed to roam inside their establishments unsupervised while I stood outside and waited for them. The scowls turned to smiles as my kids navigated the aisles without breaking anything “fragile” and then opened their purses and paid with their own money for the little treasures they found in these stores. Fostering independence comes with scowls and skepticism. That’s okay. It didn’t stop us.

I got phone calls from coaches who informed me that I needed to make sure my kids had all their “gear” and were at practice 15 minutes before practice – huh? I politely declined their invitation and let them know that I was committed to raising independent kids who could figure out how to manage something as simple as a pair of cleats, shin guards and a water bottle. As far as getting to practice on-time, I
suggested that perhaps they might also like to foster a bit of independence in the kids they were coaching and ask the kids to make sure they were to practice when they were expected to be there.

As the kids got a bit older, I supported their innate desire to wander further from home (and truth be told, I was a bit nervous the first 42 times they suggested it). But with training, some guidelines and practice, I knew it was the right thing to do if I was really going to stand behind my (here it is again) value to raise independent kids who would one day become adults.

Did I take unnecessary risks? Hell no, but I would bet Danielle Meitiv didn’t think she was taking unnecessary risks either time she supported her kids in walking the short distance home from school.

vicki-training kids blog

I find it remarkable that there is a conversation suggesting that these parents be bullied into changing their parenting style because of the fear that CPS will get involved. I wonder where the world would be today if the woman suffrages ran home because they were scared of a little controversy and backlash from the powers that be. If I was inclined, I could probably think of a dozen or more instances in history where people stood up for their rights at the risk of imprisonment, but maybe parenting is different. Maybe in fact, more of us should parent according to what our neighbors think is appropriate or at the very least, parent according to popular culture norms and our biggest fears, which at present seem to be that an organization established to ensure the safety of children might threaten you with taking your children if they disagree with your parenting style.

Am I the only one that sees the intrinsic danger in where this is going? Fortunately for me, my kids are grown. Unfortunately, in the next ten years they will begin their own parenting journey and it is my great hope that as a society we find the balance needed in order to raise a generation of people who can make informed decisions, are invested in their communities and take personal responsibility for their words, attitudes and actions. But maybe that is asking too much as well. Maybe, along with raising independent children, we should abandon these other traits and be satisfied raising compliant children who do what they are told by people who are not their parents.

What is happening to the Meitivs is another example of how extreme and out of balance parenting has become. At one time, there was a code of conduct among parents that read something like: Do not judge, lest you be judged and help out when you can. Simple. Now it’s judge everything, especially if you know nothing about the people or the situation, share your opinions and judgments openly and often with as many people as you can find and turn your back on a parent who in any way parents in a style you deem unacceptable. It’s a minefield out in the parenting world and anyone who claims that parents stick together is living under a rock. Yes, of course there are wonderful tribes to be had, but more often then not, parents are finding themselves alone, judged and changing the way they parent in order to, in the case of the Maryland parents, keep their kids at home where
they are most certainly safer than they would be in Child Protective Services or Foster Care.

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I don’t believe this is happening to this family because of who they are or what they are doing necessarily. I think that the spotlight is on them in order for us to begin a
dialogue about the new age of parenting and how we must all adapt, work together and support each other if we are to raise children who flourish as adults.

With all that has been written about the hazards of over-parenting, helicopter parenting, micro-managing kids, the real crime is crippling children by parenting from a place of fear, guilt, and shame.

Stuck in a Parenting Rut? Don’t move the Deck Chairs

Over coffee this morning with a friend who recently had her second child, the conversation turned to parenting ruts.

 Parenting Rut“It’s funny, when we had our first child we talked about how we would co-parent and distribute the jobs of child-rearing equitably. We committed to supporting each others’ unique ways of bonding with our child and we thought we really had our s… together.  But fast forward six years and the birth of our second child and it is crystal clear to both of us that we are in some deep parenting ruts that are not healthy. Not for our kids, not for us personally, not for us as a couple and not for us as a family.  I don’t know how the hell this happened but what is scarier is that I have no idea what to do about it.”

 I knew what she was talking about, as I recognized after the birth of my second child that I was living in some pretty nasty parenting ruts myself.  But I wanted to know more about her experience.

 “What has you concerned most?” I asked.

 She thought for a while and said, “I want to change those ruts, but when I think of all the areas I need to make the changes, it seems completely overwhelming.  We both work, we are raising two kids with a six year age gap and I just don’t have any idea where to start.”

 I sat quietly and waited.

 “I have this feeling in my gut, or maybe in my heart, that I am going about this wrong, but I can’t tell you why I feel that way.”

 I asked, “Is it a little bit like you are trying to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic but you already know the Titanic is going down?”  Her eyes lit up.

 Bingo. The sweet spot of “knowing” on some deep intuitive level that this is exactly what is going on and knowing that the solution is to change the course of the Titanic not rearrange the deck chairs.

 “Okay, smarty” she said, “I know what the deck chairs represent – the ruts we are in – but what does the Titanic represent?”

 “Your thinking.” I said, “When people, parents, give themselves time to pause, to rest, to contemplate, to examine without rushing to “do” anything, they create a space that supports a change in thinking. This change in thinking is usually dramatic, dynamic, and directional.  As our thinking changes so do our actions. As our actions change to support the new thinking, our thinking becomes more aligned with our true goals. With this new clarity our confidence builds, we commit more deeply to this new thinking and change continues. It can be several months before a parent notices for the first time that the changes taking place in her life, the ruts are being replaced with paved roads of clarity and direction and it is happening with no struggle, no push, no exertion of energy. This is often described as a graceful process which happens naturally and effortlessly.”

 We talked for a while longer, she rolling the possibilities through her mind and me holding the space of that earlier “aha” moment. As I drove home, I was reminded that we are a culture that believes that when we feel stuck, changing our circumstances, our location or our relationships will bring about a feeling of wholeness, of completion, but because our thinking hasn’t changed, it isn’t long before the aching returns, new ruts emerge and we are once again rearranging the deckchairs of our life.

25 Skills to Practice Today

SkillsSummer is a great time to help our children practice their self skills and life skills.

The more our children feel connected, encouraged and capable, the more independent and confident they will be in their tweens and teens (and eventually as adults). So, this summer, when the opportunity arises or whenever you can carve out some time for training, encourage your children to practice and master:

  1. Getting up on their own
  2. Making their own beds
  3. Brushing teeth
  4. Taking showers / baths
  5. Washing hair
  6. Getting dressed
  7. Choosing clothing
  8. Making breakfast
  9. Packing backpacks
  10. Watering plants / yard
  11. Organizing homework
  12. Organizing time
  13. Setting the table
  14. Unloading the dishwasher
  15. Cleaning the kitchen
  16. Doing the laundry
  17. Stacking wood
  18. Making / packing lunch
  19. Sweeping floors
  20. Vacuuming
  21. Cleaning bathrooms
  22. Making grocery lists
  23. Learning to cook
  24. Planning menus
  25. Answering / talking on the phone

Which skill will your child practice today?

 

 

 

The Proper Way of Training Children

proper-heart-2It’s so simple isn’t it? This one quote, sums up for all of us, how to go about raising our children. And yet, any of us who are raising kids knows just how illusive this approach is.

Take a minute now, and think about one or two small shifts you could make today, that would be more in line with what Dr. Dreikurs is suggesting.

I remember posting this quote on my fridge when my oldest daughter was three. I used it as my “true north”, to guide my parenting decisions. I remember questioning myself on a daily basis for the first year or two. Was I treating her too much like an adult? Could she understand why I was making some of the decisions I was making? Didn’t she need constant direction from me?

Over time though, I found the deeper meaning of Dreikurs words and realized, at least for me, that he was talking more about adopting an attitude of respect, cooperation, and genuine interest than in applying techniques for raising compliant, well mannered kids. It was about remaining flexible, open-minded and responsive vs. reactive as a parent. It pointed the way towards a dynamic, lively way of being in relationship with the kids, not a static one that demanded only one “right” way of handling a situation or behavior.

His quote also helped me recognize that it was about becoming more aware. More aware of myself in situations that triggered strong emotions – positive or negative and how those emotions influenced the way I handled the situation. More aware of whether I was speaking and behaving in ways that suggested I was talking to a respected peer versus a small child, and more aware of how my actions and words influenced my child and the relationship we were building together. It was easy to see that when I tried to exert force over my daughter, she responded in exactly the same way an adult would. She revolted, through a temper tantrum, tried to push me away. Exactly the kind of reaction I could expect if I tried to overpower my best friend.

When I began to understand the real significance of this quote, it shaped my parenting approach and allowed me to focus more intentionally on the relationship I was building with the kids and not get distracted by pesky behaviors that cropped up from time to time. His words gave me the courage to take responsibility for my thoughts and behaviors, attitudes and beliefs and while I was busy tending to my over-active brain, I found that I interfered less with my kids and that seemed to bring out the best in them.

As I spent more time tending to my own misguided thinking I developed a deep sense of faith in myself and in my kids and the more I internalized his words, the more deeply I felt that faith grow. Faith turned into confidence and confidence allowed me to take risks, think outside the box, turn away from the “tsk-tsks” and hairy eyeballs I received from on-lookers and focus on what was most important to me. And what was most important, was raising children who would one day, make the world a better place as the result of participating in it from the time they could barely reach the counter.

I invite you to take a minute – right now, and think about one or two small shifts you could make today, that would be more in line with what Dr. Dreikurs is suggesting.

Quit your Job

You’re Not the Maid Again, Are You? Just Checking!

Hey folks. I know, spring fever is upon us. Vacations. Traveling. Cabin Fever. Messy Houses. This can make us all feel like we are literally going stir crazy. I remember being inside with five children during many Vermont winters. It takes every ounce of energy to keep things moving and not get hung up on squabbles and the biggest of these springtime stresses – the messy house. There are boots everywhere, jackets, toys from the days off, mud, dog hair, three different coats for each kid, because the weather keeps changing and more mud.

If you can remember what matters and keep your mantra to stay out of that maid uniform and focus on quality time together, you will all benefit in the end.

Let that bathroom get toothpaste coated and let your kids hear a friend say, “wow, your sink is grungy” because then they will realize people notice. If you march up there and say, “well friends are coming, I’ll just do it for them.” Then you’ve just roped yourself into their business and now it becomes yours.

Expect your kids to do the jobs they pick at Family Meeting, EVEN if it takes longer or they have no laundry in their drawers. Kids are brilliant and they will figure something out if they want to go play next door.

Don’t think you can let it go? The biggest trick to NOT being the maid is to give yourself permission to step out. It’s okay to say, “not my problem” and step back and give your kids room to figure it out in their own. Of course you can help if they need something, but you have to be willing to detach your identity as a good mother from the state of your house. It’s just not the case.

In fact, think of some of the most inspiring people you’ve ever been around. Did they have spotless houses or creative messes because they were out being a part of the world? Maybe you don’t even know what their homes looked like and so what does that tell you? It does not matter. No, it doesn’t.

Yes, organization is nice and shiny floors look good, but if the kids are checked out, there’s no value to the system. So, in short, stick with it and again, give yourself permission to let the house go and take that time with your kids to learn on their own. It gives your room to stay emotionally available, rested, relaxed and on top of your game.

How do you want your kids to remember you? As the best director, reminder, nagger, picker-up-afterer on the block or their biggest champion and teacher?

Hang up that apron and get a cup of coffee, would ya??

Kiddo, Pack Your Own Darn Lunch!

darn lunch

There’s something more delicious than a PBJ or bagel with cream cheese in your child’s lunch—something sweeter than a fresh baked cookie or chocolate milk. It’s CONFIDENCE. 100% pure confidence and responsibility…that is, if your daughter packs her own lunch, all by herself without any interference from you.

Maybe your child is already doing this and that’s terrific. But, perhaps she doesn’t – and you’re the one up early every morning, folding and zipping balanced foods into a Spongebob shaped lunchbox. If you are, the good news is you don’t have to do this and you don’t have to feel bad about quitting the job! Here’s the deal: by doing this task everyday for your child, you’re forfeiting a PERFECT opportunity to give your child some choice and real world decision making experience.

It may sound like no big deal, but a kid who packs his lunch is making decisions, testing his judgment (I can’t tell you how many times a kid has over packed or under packed, only to come home and admit they need to adjust the portions). They are practicing time management- everyday, before they leave they have to be sure they have food for the day. If they fall behind or forget, they have to figure something else out (like get the emergency lunch offered at the lunch line). When a child packs her own lunch, she realizes that she’s in charge of her decisions and is more willing to eat what she puts in there.

The biggest benefit to handing off this “chore” is that you’re saying to your kid, sure, I trust you to make a decision and stick to it. I also trust that you can do it.

Again, if packing lunch seems too simple a task to teach this valuable life lesson, I urge you to think about why you are hesitant to even consider the idea. You’ll be late. They’ll make bad choices! You don’t want to deal with the mess, and so forth. All the reasons why you “just take care of it” are the exact reasons, this is an awesome habit that will give your child some real world responsibility.

Yes, this effort will take some time and some planning, but don’t write it off, even if you fail a few days or weeks in. Try again and you’ll see that once you commit to giving it over to your child, your child will commit to taking care of it.

Danger: Thin Ice

Thank you to Jamaica Jenkins for sending us this blog to post.

While on a walk, I was prompted into an “ah-ha” moment by this sign. As parents, we would never imagine lacing our kids up into a pair of shiny new skates and sending them out on a half frozen pond. It would be considered irresponsible, negligent and most obviously, dangerous. Then it occured to me – all too often, we send our kids out into the world not knowing if they will fall through the ice or make it across to the other side of the pond. We’re not really sure they’ll know how to get a job, pay their bills or understand how to take care of their most basic needs. We “think” it’ll be ok, but in all honesty, we’re just not sure. It sounds crazy when we put it that way. Why wouldn’t we make sure they know how to do the things the real world expects from them?

One reason is it’s easier, cleaner, neater and more timeline friendly to just do most everything ourselves. That is one huge contributor to autopilot parenting – we just aim to keep the house moving along without really knowing if the kids are picking up skills along the way.

Another reason is that we don’t know how to prepare them! We think they’ve learned a lesson but then again, we’re not sure if our “techniques” strategies and tactics are even sinking in. Seriously, do we know if our kids will get out of a jam, if we’ve only lectured them on how to avoid them, punished them because they got into one or saved them from heading right towards one. A real jam. With real consequences. We just don’t know until we set them loose outside of our homes and we wait to see what happens. Will they know how to communicate with professors or will they have us parents calling in to request a class schedule change? Will they rack up a credit card and start off with 10k in debt because they can’t budget? Will they understand how to get insurance? Take a risk? Stand up for themselves? All without us jumping in? These are questions that will answer themselves at one point or another.

The question is, would you rather know they can handle it or simply leave it up to chance? If you’re interested in testing the strength of their skills before they head off into the world, then you have to be ready to start training them now, when they’re 2, 5, 7, 10 – whatever age they are in this moment. That pond is waiting for them at 18. Let’s make sure they can make it across (falling down onto the ice is one thing, falling through is another).

Parenting is not about Parents

After I receive the 5th email asking me what I think about an article or encouraging me to give it a read, I figure a post is in order.

Read the article here.

This refreshing article supports what we here at Parenting On Track™ have been saying and more importantly, what Adler was saying 100 years ago – Kids need to develop their “mental muscle” if they are to live satisfying, engaged, interesting lives when they leave our homes at 18.

In order to do that, parents must take a backseat and allow their children a chance to navigate their lives as often as possible.

The entire Parenting On Track™ programs draws from Adler’s work and his most important and powerful ideas concerning child rearing.

Most noteworthy of these ideas are :

    1. Children must be supported in their desire to become independent and self-sufficient at every turn. An over protective and over involved parent only serves to slow this process down and create children who are dependent on the parent rather than themselves.

    2. It is a parents’ responsibility to show faith and to trust that their children will recover from hurts, disappointments, fears, rejections and failures and need not be saved from them. After all, life gets harder from 18 – 80, not easier and the ability to develop a deep sense of courage and a resilient nature comes from learning that life is an ebb and flow of experiences and that more often than not, we land on our feet.

    3. Parents have an obligation to invite, train, support and encourage children to contribute to all aspects of family life. This ensures that children are prepared and willing to contribute to the success of every group they are a part of.

    4. Children develop the “mental muscle” necessary to deal with life’s complexities and challenges by participating fully, completely and regularly in every aspect of their life without interference from parents.

This is yet another wake up call for parents. It’s time to find the courage to challenge your ideas about what it means to be a responsible parent and to do what’s necessary to ensure that your son or daughter is developing the mental muscle he or she will require to a live deep, satisfying, joyful life.

Parenting isn’t about us, it’s about the kids.

I Believe in You

I believeLast week, this quote below arrived in my inbox. I appreciated it and it moved me. It moved me enough to include it in the blog, because more times than NOT, when I chat with parents about their families – they forget.

If a child believes in his/her ability, the child can do anything.

If we want our children to believe in themselves, we MUST believe in them FIRST.

Let me tell you something about YOU.

YOU can do anything you want. YOU are in control.

YOU can achieve as much success as you want to.

YOU can and will pick yourself up when life knocks you down.

I BELIEVE IN YOU.

So instead of making sure your child has completed her homework, has the perfect outfit for the play, is signed up for a Spring sport, and is invited to the birthday party this weekend – STOP and ask yourself, Do I believe in my children’s abilities to handle their lives? How have I shown this to them today? How will I show them tomorrow?

I believe in you. Go for it.
– Vicki

PS: These are big, fat, juicy, delicious concepts. These concepts bring parents to their knees. If you are not sure that your child can handle what life brings, take a moment and observe. Look for all the ways your child already handles adversity, disappointment, success, conflict, packed schedules, appreciation, confusion, forgetting something and the list goes on. Take a moment and write them down. Store those examples in a place where you can access the list and reflect. These are the moments that matter.

Get out of the Way!

Every day I am inspired by nuggets of wisdom from Vicki Hoefle, Creator of the Parenting On Track™ program.

Yesterday it was. “If you want your children to have faith in their abilities, first you, the parent, must believe in their abilities.” I have heard this 100s of times and yesterday I experienced its power.

Here is how it played out.

My husband was away on business and I offered to drive the older kids (13 & 15) to town before school, so they could meet some friends for breakfast. I would come back home and make another trip to drop off the younger ones (9 & 6) at the elementary school.

The morning was humming along – kids in the shower, getting ready…5 minutes before I am scheduled to leave, I announce to the two youngest, that I will be leaving with the two oldest and back in time to drive them to school.

The 9 year old – starts to pitch a fit – I mean pitch one. I had a moment where I thought “I have to tape this, because nobody will believe this is happening – I don’t believe this is happening.” She is screaming, “I can’t do it, I NEED your help.” Now mind you – I have been teaching this child the skills necessary to get out of the house on time, prepared for school in the morning since she was 2 and she has been practicing for the past 3 years, solo. I really have not “helped” this child for the past 3 years, in any aspect of her morning routine.

I personally have practiced the skills of disengagement, as she has on occasion attempted to draw me in with her “cheap” drama. She is an amazing dramatic actress. Now for those of you who don’t believe that these types of fits are cheap drama, and that this poor child needed her mother to tend to her…..read on.

I stick to my word, as we are a family that practices following through. And I tell my daughter that I have faith in her abilities and that I have no reason to believe she can not handle preparing herself for the morning. I attempt to kiss this child who really looks like she is in the middle of an exorcism – and am forced to retreat in order to avoid a kick to the belly. She is invested – full body invested.

I kiss my other child who is sitting on the big overstuffed chair by our woodstove, looking very cozy I might add and watching her older sister intently.

I lock the door behind me and head out.

As I am driving back into our driveway some 25 minutes later and about 45 seconds from the door, I call from my cell phone.

    “Hello.”

    “Hey babe, it’s Mom.”

    “Hi Mommy, we are having a snack of hot chocolate, grapes, cheese and pretzels.”

    “Excellent, what else do you have to do to be ready for school?”

    “Oh nothing, just clean up our snack, put on our boots and our coats.”

    “Ok, do you think you can do that in 30 seconds?”

    “Yep.”

    “Ok, I’ll meet you outside of the mudroom door.”

    “Ok” she says. “Do you have the key?” she asks.

    “Why yes, yes I do.”

    “Ok good, because I will make sure the door is locked and don’t want you to be locked out when you get home.”

    “Thanks, I’ll see you soon”

I am so grateful for these girls. I appreciate how resilient, clever, tenacious, and capable they are. As powerful as this moment was for us, it’s entirely possible that 4 days from now, when we come together for our regularly scheduled Family Meeting, I will have no memory of it and I will forget to appreciate these amazing daughters of mine. So, I will take the necessary steps to imprint this memory in my being and remember it for Saturday.

In May of this year, I will have access to an amazing iphone app developed by Anna Rosenblum Palmer of winwinapps inspired by Parenting On Track™. This app will be called Marble Jar and will have a Bright Spot feature that will enable me to record this moment on my phone and easily access it tomorrow or 4 days from now at our Family Meeting. Imagine being able to stop & record the remarkably wonderful things our children do, rather than always trying to figure out how to fix the mistakes they make? Priceless and soon to be available at your fingertips.

Yowza!! I have practiced for the past 10 years showing faith in my kids and trusting in their abilities along with taking the time to train and support them and it is paying off in spades. I am so grateful that I was able to let go of & look past the screaming, the kicking, and the near miss to my abdomen and walk away.

I was reminded AGAIN, of how capable my kids are at getting themselves ready in the am and of their attempts, to at times, convince me otherwise when they are feeling discouraged. I am also reminded that the best thing you can do for capable kids – is step aside (get out of the way) and watch them soar!

Dropping into your Life

roadmapMy 17 year old son Brady, the youngest of my kids, is leaving for Nepal in 6 days for a 3 month trek. All of his friends will be finishing up their last semester of High School, preparing for graduation and anxiously awaiting their acceptance letters from colleges they have applied too. Brady had something else in mind for his final year of high school.

After years of debating Brady about the merits of traditional education, the legitimacy of homework (although frankly, we don’t believe in homework) I finally opened my heart, my mind and practiced a bit of the Radical Faith I am always talking about, and said “yes” to Brady’s request to “drop out of school and drop into his life” (thank you Frankie for putting this so eloquently when you heard Brady had taken a different path).

Brady informed his guidance counselor that he would be leaving school at the end of the semester. He took the GED and the SAT’s and tested high on both. He is in good shape should he decide to pursue a traditional college education. Fat chance.

Since he dropped into his life and out of school, he seems happier than I have ever seen him. He is more interested and connected to his family and friends. He is more engaged in life and his natural curious nature has returned. What’s best though is that he is completely tapped into his own natural rhythm of learning. His appetite is ferocious. He is reading everything he can about Nepal, Katmandu, Buddhism, and the difference between being a tourist and a traveler. He is alive.

This is how I remember Brady as a small child in the field outside our home in Ludlow, where he would roam for hours, his head barely above the bramble, curious and interested in all that life had to offer him. He was reading by the time he was 3 and his verbal skills were off the charts. We had high hopes that school would hone his natural skills and provide new challenges and a stimulating experience. We were wrong.

School, over time, shut the door to his natural inclination to discover, to learn, to make sense of his surroundings and how to apply new information to his world. Over time, he lost interest. Over time he shut down.

It’s back now, the magic that made Brady – Brady.

The program he is enrolled in has a “Yak” board, where we parents can learn about the instructors and the other 12 kids embarking on this journey. One of the instructors, a Middlebury College Graduate, included a video that she said, explained exactly what this experience is meant to do.

I invite you to sit back, open your mind, and enjoy the 17 minute presentation that is sure to either support, challenge or inspire questions about our educational system and where your child fits into the mix.

The Courage to Choose

Many parents sit around at library story hour or play group and discuss the hopes and dreams they have for their children. They talk about how they want their children to have a sense of self, self-esteem, and the courage to stand up for themselves in the face of peer pressure. Parents talk about raising children who have the courage to make choices and learn from their choices.

When it comes down to it, I wonder if these parents have the courage to let their kids actually make a choice when they are young. Or is this something that just magically develops at the age of 12?

At Parenting On Track™ we say, “You can do it now, or you can do it later, but you will do it.” Why not invite your kids into the process at an early age and let them practice making choices – and keep your comments to yourself?

      “That wasn’t a very good choice.”

“I like the choice you made.”

“Can you think of another more appropriate choice?”

Every time I hear a choice, sidelined by a well-meaning parent who still believes that there is such a thing as a good choice or a bad choice, the hair on the back of my neck is raised.

From my vantage point, choices do one of two things:

  • Move you closer to what you want
  • or farther away from it.

Choices are made every day, all day and we rarely take notice of them until someone makes a choice that inconveniences us in some way.

Parents are less interested in teaching kids the skill of making choices and more interested in making sure that the choice the child made is the choice the parents wanted him/her to make.

Quite frankly, simply making a choice shows a modicum of courage. The harder the choice, the more courage is needed to make it. If we expect young adults to be able to muster up enough courage to make the “hard choices”, we have to give them loads and loads (and loads) of practice.

I could go on, but I won’t – for now.

Here is an interesting article that sums up what many parents are beginning to contemplate these days and personally, I am thrilled that this conversation is finally taking on a serious and robust tone.

Allowing Children of all Ages to Choose, by Lisa Belkin.

Enjoy!

Finding the Courage

courage-200x300The conversation I have most often with parents, is around the idea of courage.

I talk about “having the courage to …” when it comes to parenting.

I talk about ways that we can help our children develop courage.

I talk about how much courage it takes just to get out of bed in the morning, let alone apologize to someone we have hurt.

I talk about how important it is that our kids leave home at 18 with “bags full of courage” in order to participate in an exciting and challenging world beyond our threshold.

My dear friend Catha, in her latest blog post, drives home the power of living an “Intentionally Courageous” life and the impact it has on the children she is raising.

Today, I invite you to look at your life as an adult and to see how often you find the courage to do what needs to be done and how often you take a safer route.

When you are finished assessing your own state of courage, I invite you to look with fresh eyes on your children and their willingness to develop courage in the face of all that life throws their way.

Today, I will find the courage to right a wrong that I could have righted weeks ago and didn’t. Thank you Catha for once again, inspiring me to be more, risk more, & love more.

Read Catha’s blog post.