All posts tagged family values

Raising Kids who will Break the Cycle of Violence

light.loveIn light of the recent tragedies, the number of coaching inquiries has spiked. I am honored to help more families, but from a humanitarian perspective this is heart breaking. Parents are reaching out to those they trust for guidance on how to ensure their children remain the loving, open, accepting, nonjudgmental people they are today.

I wish there was a way to guarantee our children’s continued innocence, but there is not. As they mature, as they become more involved in the world around them, as they are exposed to influences that are not always designed to bring out the best in them, they will have to choose who they want to be. As parents, what we can do is saturate our children’s lives with love, with acceptance, with tolerance, with forgiveness, with humanity. We can talk with our children about what it takes to be a kind, patient, loving, generous person in the face of circumstances that might bring out the worst in us. We can remind our children of their worth and the worth of every other child and person sharing our planet. Like everyone else, I am saddened each time I hear about another violent act, but I also accept that in this time and place, this is a part of our reality.

Until we see each other as true brothers and sisters and fight to keep ourselves and each other safe from harm, physical, emotional or spiritual, there are simple things you can do in your home with your children to cultivate a feeling of love, safety, and acceptance.

I have generated a list of ideas for you, in response to the Stanford case (which unbelievably has been replaced by another devastating tragedy in the headlines) that I hope will help you turn your rage into action. Here are some things you can do to support your children as they grow.

1. Teach girls that strength and honesty are more important than being nice. Nice is overrated. Strength and a sense of personal power and the honesty to claim yourself for yourself is what is required. Let them be rude, let them be sassy, let them be tough. Enough nice. Enough polite.

2. Do not foster romantic relationships in young children. You warp their entire idea of what a healthy, adult relationship is. Five-year-olds do not have boyfriends and girlfriends, so knock it off with this language. It’s a lie and it damages both our boys and our girls. Why are we trying to hook little children up? Check your own self-esteem here, it most likely has something to do with the fact that you want your kindergartner to have a love interest.

3. Stop calling little girls “flirts” and then telling them that they will “get into trouble when they get older”. Instead, explain the power and the responsibility that goes along when we try and illicit the attention of other people. Remember that our kids are being bombarded with sexual messages from the media. You have to work hard to undue those harmful and limiting messages so work hard. Work harder than the advertisers.

4. Stop telling girls that boys must like them when they are cruel, rude, and disrespectful to them. Teach them to stand up to these boys and be straight with them. “Hey, if you want to play at recess with me, then be nice to me, otherwise – get lost.” Why is that so tough to teach our kids? It would go a long way in helping our sons break out of the stereotyping we heap on their small, tender shoulders.

5. Teach your boys that girls, females enjoy the company of boys, men, who are kind, sensitive, funny, interesting, smart, creative, and 100 other things, but certainly NOT boys who are mean, cruel, tease, hit, pinch, kick, or anything else cruel. Cultivate their humanness and not just their maleness. They are more than that. Let them be all of what is there for them to be.

6. Encourage your sons to share their feelings when they are small and as they grow. Teach them to share often and make a safe place for this sharing, to help them become confident. Introduce them to other men who share openly and freely. Let them practice when they are young and validate that this is what real men are like. Everything else is fake. The toughness, the “I don’t care” attitudes, the “I’m tougher than you,” attitudes are crap. Be gentle and be kind, with your young sons so they grow up to be gentle and kind to themselves and to those around them.

7. Do not, under any conditions make your kids talk to people they don’t want to talk to, sit on the lap of someone they don’t want to get close to, cuddle with someone who makes them uneasy, kiss someone who sets off alarm bells in their heads. Each time you do, you teach your kids not to listen to that internal voice that is warning them of danger. This voice, if cultivated and honored will keep them safe when they are older. Over time, we want them to l learn to trust this voice allowing them to move among others with more confidence. This is their natural safety alarm. Teach them to use it.

Please feel free to send in any questions or contact us if you would like to discuss anything in more detail. I am miles away, but I am with you all as we navigate and do our best in this journey called life.

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.

Siblings Part 3: Tips To Bring More Joy

stop the fighting

Watching your kids play nicely together, hearing a shared giggle, watching a potential fight averted, because of some savvy negotiating between your 6 and 8 year old is just about every parent’s idea of a dream come true. But raising kids who truly enjoy each other is a process that takes years. It’s important that parents recognize that building on small moments, bringing a child’s awareness to the moments that “work” with a sometimes pesky sibling, providing situations in which kids can practice solving problems around play, will go a long way in creating sibling relationships that will stay strong and loving for years to come.

Personally, I made the decision when my kids were young, that if I could choose between kids who got along between 2 – 18 and kids who were close from 18 to 80, my choice would be the later. One of the major trip ups for parents around kids getting along when they are young, is the belief that we parents are responsible for those relationships. Maybe if we did more of one thing or less of another, we could guarantee our kids would be each other’s best friends for life – pinky swear. But nothing could be further from the truth. Take a page from your adult experience and trust that by following these easy but powerful 10 tips, you will indeed raise kids who truly enjoy each other’s company more with each passing year. And yes, you will witness this before they leave home.

appreciate

1. Appreciations: Just like suggesting to someone who has a head ache that they drink water, before they run to the doctor for an MRI, using appreciations as a way to combat sibling squabbles is often overlooked because of it’s simplicity. But as a mom who raised 5 kids in a blended family dynamic, this was the key to my kids not only enjoying life together under one roof, but the reason the 5 of them are still as thick as thieves as young adults.

2. Adler’s Golden Rule: “ I use Adler’s “see with their eyes, hear with their ears and feel with their heart” to help my children understand a sibling they are struggling with. Inevitably, there is a moment of empathy and awareness, which translates into a more relaxed and accepting dynamic. This has become the foundation for conversations when one sibling is struggling with another’s choice of behavior.” Mother of 4 children, ages 7 – 16.

sibling rivalry, ignore behaviors

3. No Blood – No Break – No Foul: “I stay out of every single squabble that doesn’t include blood or break. And yes, it’s tough. Especially in public. It’s easy for parents to get pulled into the tussle and as soon as I’m there, I can see the entire dynamic change. It’s no longer an opportunity for my kids to work together to solve the problem, it’s about me trying to decide who needs to change or do something different and the relationship between the kids takes a psychic hit. I would say, that at this point, my kids spend less than 10% of their time squabbling for more than just a few minutes. They have strategies that work for almost every occasion, including walking away, writing it on the problem board, negotiating and sometimes, just throwing themselves down on the ground and hoping for a sympathetic sibling to concede the toy.” Mother of 3 children, under the age of 5

4. Use Reality as your Guide: “I had kids who were very physical and it really concerned me. I thought that the fighting defined the relationship and it scared me. Over time, as I learned to watch the kids in other situations, I realized that they had a high degree of respect for each other and often times worked together in ways that I overlooked. I think it’s important for parents to really challenge their beliefs about what it means for kids to enjoy each other because truly, I think it can sometimes be a bit Polly-Anna. And today, my kids are as close as any siblings I know.” Mother of 3 children, ages 25 – 19

5. Get an accurate idea of how often your kids get along and how they “do” getting along. Most parents admit that when challenged to do this, they recognize that the kids get along more then they give them credit for. So take a deep breath and relax. Remember to acknowledge when the kids are working together or enjoying each other and be specific so they can use this information again and again.

6. Give them a break from each other. Even kids can get sick and tired of hanging with the same folks for too long. Sometimes it’s that simple. Allow them time alone, with other friends, with parents one-on-one and don’t get caught up in the “it’s not fair” song and dance.

7. If you have friends with older kids (like young teens) leverage them. They can teach your kids the importance of getting along with their siblings in a way that we, the parents, can’t. Hearing a story from a 10, 13 or 16 year old about how awesome they think their sibling is, or a time when their sibling came to their rescue, can go along way in helping shift your child’s perspective towards their pesky sibling.

8. Stop fretting. Most kids do enjoy each other. They might not show it the way you want them too, but they are young, they are doing the best they can. Allow the relationship to grow over time, slowly and naturally. Watch that you aren’t comparing or judging and that your expectations are in line with reality.

9. Keep your own childhood out of the picture. You aren’t raising yourself and over compensating for a lousy relationship with your sister will only guarantee that your kids struggle to create meaningful relationships with each other. If you model for your kids what a healthy relationship looks like, sounds like and feels like, they have a much better chance of establishing a healthy one with their siblings. Trying to force kids to get along usually back fires and causes more fractures not less.

10. Take pictures of the times people are enjoying each other and post them around the house. When kids start to squabble, bring them over to a picture and ask them to remind you of what was happening in the action. Along with this, make sure appreciations during Family Meetings includes when kids are rockin it out together. Remember, whatever you pay attention too – you get more of.

jens kids

Remember to pace yourself. It’s not nearly as important to have young children who have developed the skills which makes it possible for us to get along with people day in and day out for years, as it is to help them build a strong foundation that will grow with them over time and solidify the relationship they have with their brothers and sisters.

Give Family Meetings a Fresh Start

give-family-meetings

Now that we are full into school mode (and for many there is a tiny lull between fall and winter sports,) it’s time to get back to routines and schedules. Dare I say, it’s time to renew our commitment to the Family Meeting before the Holiday Season rolls around!

On the surface, the purpose of the Family Meeting may sound simple and straightforward…

 

  • Show appreciation
  • Distribute household work
  • Express concerns, identify problems and teach problem solving skills
  • Distribute allowance

…but when we look deeper, the benefits of holding a regular Family Meeting are anything but simple. The Family Meeting can almost be referred to as the engine that keeps families moving in a purposeful and positive direction. Without that forward momentum, many families find themselves stuck with problems and situations that just won’t go away.

So, here are some of the deeper reasons you may want to make Family Meetings part of your family routine, if you haven’t already:

  • Family Meetings allow you to experience your family’s growth, improvement and progress on a weekly basis.
  • It is the vehicle with which you can support your children’s growing independence.
  • The various components of the meeting teach your children how to communicate using mutually respectful dialogue – something that will pay dividends within your family at school, at work, and in their future relationships.
  • It provides a place for your children to recognize that they have a voice and responsibility within the family.
  • Your children will experience their family as the number one value because, each and every week, there is time allotted and dedicated to the health of the family.

Make time in your schedule every week to meet as a family. Only 15 minutes a week could get you past seemingly immovable roadblocks in a healthy and mutually respectful way, while giving you endless hours of enjoying each other’s company.

Ready to implement Family Meetings into your weekly routine? Sign up for our online course, today.

Still trying to decide if this strategy will make a difference for your family? Listen to our FREE Podcast.

Do you Interfere with or Enhance your Relationships?

interfering with or enhancing the relationshipSometimes we forget WHY we had children in the first place. Our lives get busy, our resources get tapped, the parenting techniques passed down from our own parents and learned from all the expert books we’ve read aren’t working and we find ourselves screaming at – or giving in to our children, just so we can get through the moment and onto the next thing.

  • Long gone are the promises we made to be patience and understanding – no matter what.
  • Long gone are the dreams of smooth mornings and calm nights
  • Long gone are the visions of siblings who played together peacefully and with nothing but joy on their faces.
  • Long gone is the belief that our child would love school and relish homework.

These dreams and promises have been replaced with reality and that reality includes tired, grouchy children who throw endless temper tantrums or make unreasonable demands and fight with their siblings until everyone is in tears and the reality of parenting, the truth of what it means to live with children day in and day out, brings us to our knees in frustration and exhaustion.  We resort to bribing, begging, screaming and finally punishing or giving up.  And the reasons we first decided to have children slip further from our minds.

It Doesn’t Have to be Like that

Okay, so maybe that was a bit melodramatic.  In truth, only occasionally, do most of us feel completely defeated in our role as parents. The rest of the time we find a way to put on our big girl panties and do the best we can. At times a genuine smile from a child whose arms are wrapped tightly around our neck is enough to restore our passion and enthusiasm for parenting.

One thing about this parenting journey that is true and I believe is worth remembering is this

“In every moment we are either interfering with or enhancing the relationship we have with our kids.”

Everything we do, every parenting decision we make is either interfering with or enhancing the relationship we have with our children, but we rarely take the time to evaluate which of these we are doing – interfering or enhancing.

It’s clear that most of us want to spend the majority of our time enhancing the relationship we have with our kids.  After all, it’s when we start interfering on a regular basis that things get really ugly and we find ourselves wondering why we thought having kids was a good idea in the first place.

Here are three of my tried and true tips for enhancing the relationship with our kids.

  • Superimpose the face of your best friend on your child.  Now, talk to your best friend and if you wouldn’t say it to her, don’t say it to your child. ( I am not suggesting you be your child’s best friend, this is a great test to keep the way you treat your children in check.)
  • Imagine you overhear your child describing you to his or her best friend.  What word would best capture you? Is it the word you hope your child will use to describe you?  If not, change what you are doing and act accordingly.
  • Decide that being right is overrated and you would rather be wrong if it means that you and your child maintain a healthy, happy and satisfying relationship for years to come.

And finally, as the infamous Mr. Rogers said:

“I doubt that we can ever successfully impose values or attitudes or behavior on our children…certainly not by threat, guilt or punishment.  But I do believe that they can be induced through relationships where parents and children are growing together.  Such relationships are, I believe, built on trust, example, talk and caring.”

To Bribe or Not to Bribe? No Question.

Treating Human BeingsIt took me three separate visits to the article in the New York Times Opinion Page, posted on October 28, 2013 in order to finish reading the article. At the end of each section, I hit the delete button and swore I wouldn’t read any more. But then I wondered – maybe there is an a-ha moment later in the article, and so I went back to read more. There was no a-ha moment, just an unabashedly boastful proclamation about one author’s use of bribes and rewards to manipulate her children.

I can’t really describe how upsetting and confusing this article is for me. Don’t get me wrong, I understand this kind of article creates a real buzz out there in the world, just look at all the comments. But to paint such a disparaging picture of your own children and then share it with the world to what – boost subscriber-ship or ignite a fire storm of controversy? I have to be honest, I just do not get it. Here is what I find so distasteful about this article.

1. I am a mother who has raised 5 children. I can not for the life of me understand how a mother could show such little faith in her children’s innate desire to learn, master their environment, and contribute to the world in positive ways

Oh sure, I know kids have long moments of apathy, disinterest and being less than cooperative, but for the most part, when a supportive parent provides a nurturing environment, kids get about the business of learning, mastery and contribution with very little coaxing from anyone.

And I wonder, when her children are older, what they will think of this article and the lack of faith their mom had in them. Maybe they will understand and accept that it was her job or that she didn’t really mean what she wrote, but I have found, that you never know how a child is going to interpret a parent’s intention and I am not sure I would be willing to risk what is at stake here.

2. Does she really believe there will be a moment when her children no longer depend on bribes and rewards to do the unpleasant tasks we are all required to do as adults? Or are we, the unsuspecting public going to have to pay for her unwillingness to help her kids learn that sometimes, whether you like it or not, things need to be done and most people don’t care whether you do them with a smile or a pout on your face. That choice is entirely up to you.

It seems her kids are missing out on a few critical skills that would make their adult lives far more rewarding, fulfilling and satisfying. But again, maybe teaching those skills is someone else’s job.

3. And finally, I shudder to think how many other parents will be influenced by her position and subscribe to the idea that bribing and rewarding children in order to manipulate them and make their lives easier is a reasonable proposition, and forget, that these kids are the future leaders of the free world. Maybe she doesn’t hold high hopes that her kids will have the grit, mental muscle or interest in becoming leaders who lead by example.

I’m not really sure what the purpose of this article was – except maybe to piss a lot of us off, in which case, I think it worked brilliantly. But beyond that, I can’t see that it offers any real value to a parenting conversation that supports any of us in our effort to raise more thoughtful, resilient, responsible and respectful human beings.

Teen – Parent Relationship (Flockmother)

Today’s post was originally written and shared by Flockmother. It is re-printed below (with permission) or you can read the original post here. You can also follow her on twitter @flockmother.

Enjoy and be inspired!

From Twelve and a Half Weeks – Parenting On Track: One Family’s Story

“Recently, I took a “Leadership Workshop for Girls and Moms” offered by my friend and fellow Parenting-On-Track-er, Cindy Pierce. Since it was for middle school girls, only my 7th-grader, Ellen, was eligible to attend with me. One of the exercises Cindy had us do was write a letter about our hopes and appreciations for each other. For each letter she provided some structure (italics) and had us fill in the blanks. Since I know my Parenting-On-Track training greatly influenced my letter, I wanted to share it with you.

And if anyone reading this is concerned that my parenting style could result in children who feel alone and abandoned, perhaps Ellen’s letter will provide some reassurance (published with permission)”: 

Dear Mother,

I appreciate that you are always there for me when I need help, and you always listen to what I want and let me choose my own life.

I am proud of you for accepting the mess I give you. Without you I would not have an outlet for stress and probably would become a homeless person, and because of you I will always have a place to go. My greatest hope for you is that you find a good place to retire.

Love, Ellen

 Dear Daughter,

I hope that you grow up to be your own best friend, loving and trusting yourself. I want you to experience both success AND failure, and to always have confidence that you will figure things out.

I know you will learn to know what’s in your own heart and will also build the courage to stay true to yourself and say what you need in relationships. My greatest hope for you is that your love and respect for yourself will guide you in your continued love and respect for others and be the foundation for a life full of intentional courage.

Love, Mom

Like this post? Be sure to leave a comment on her blog!

Want to learn more about Parenting On Track Home Program? You’re in luck because it is ON SALE. Have a look HERE.

See the PIN, here!

 

8 Encouraging Parenting Messages

EncouragementMore than any other tool, strategy, concept or skill I use,  encouragement has been and continues to be my strategy of choice. In fact I consider encouragement “a way of being” more than a strategy. I beleive that if parents developed and mastered the art of encouragement, they would experience dramatic and lasting changes in both their children’s behavior and the quality of the parent / child relationship.

– Vicki Hoefle

Click to see them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pitstop: The Train Station

Where do you want this train to end up?

So, now we’re taking a moment to stand on the platform and look at the map. Inbound and outbound trains all over the wall. Destinations at every end. What is your route? Where do you want to go? Now is the time to pause and draw your own map.

Imagine that at the end of the line, your child is 18. What words would you like to see your child embrace, embody, employ when he steps off the track and into the real world? How are you doing? Are you headed in the right direction? Are you on course? Is it time to readjust or as the GPS voice says recalculate?

Write the words that describe what you really want for your child down at the end. Do it for each one of your children, as you’re probably in a different place with each child and each one of your children has different strengths to build on.

The goals can be anything: Independence. Responsibility. Social Awareness. Community. Confidence. Individuality. Judgement. Caring and Empathy. Decision Making. ANYTHING.

Think about this. What do you really want for your children, beyond being on time for school, or picking up backpacks, or completing contributions before company comes, or hanging up coats, or saying thank you to the neighbor for the ride. Is your current parenting strategy focusing more on where you are going or getting your kids to do what you want in the moment instead?

Take your time and discover what you want and next week – once you have identified where you are going – we’ll talk about what it will take to get there.

Got Values?

It is not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” –Unknown

The new year is a chance for parents to reflect on the successes and failures of the previous year, gather information that will help in making thoughtful and intentional change in the coming year and it can be a time of inspiration and excitement when we envision what we will do differently and the benefit to everyone in the family

Instead of worrying about slipping up and preparing to simply face each parenting dilemma as it comes why not keep your fresh mindset by setting yourself up for success. Here is what I do each January when it’s time for a serious inventory of where I’ve been, where I want to be and what it will take to get there in terms of my life as a mom (although I use this exercise in every aspect of my life).

  • Find 30 minutes of quiet
  • Bring a journal and pen
  • Instead of wasting time judging, criticizing or feeling guilty about your parenting slip-ups, identify the value you were stepping on when you treated your children in a way that left you feeling crappy inside and a bit ashamed of your behavior
  • Write down that value and think about how you go about living it in your daily life. Identify the roots of this value how it brings meaning to your life and helps you determine your decisions, actions and attitudes.
  • Now write down all the ways you may be inadvertently stomping on them and what the cost is to you, your kids and your family at large. Be really honest here. It can help you live your value with more integrity and thought which will have an impact on your every day living.

Here is an example: My number one value is Radical Faith. When one of my kids calls me with a situation that I think has the potential of ending badly I am at choice as to how I will respond. If I live into my value, then I may just listen, ask question, and be ready when the phone next rings with a story of how badly things turned out. If, on the other hand, I lose site of my value, it’s reasonable that I will lecture, coax, guide, micromanage, bully my kids into taking the “appropriate” action ensuring that the situation ends as I think it should.

Now here is the really crazy thing – when I stomp on my value and interfere, it isn’t long before I feel like a louse of a mom and feel the need to apologize to my kids by picking up the phone, sending them a text or a message through Skype and apologizing for my behavior. I remind them that I believe in them and trust that whatever they decide to do is preferable to anything I might have suggested (or forced on them). I am back to my value through the back door only after causing all of us some unneeded angst.

It takes time and training and a commitment to make living your value a part of daily life – and cleaning up your mess when you stomp on it – but the rewards are numerous.

Take some time this week, before everything is in full swing and it’s suddenly summer break and get a clear picture of what your top 3 or 4 values are, how they influence your life, how you might better live them, and how they might help you create a more peaceful, respectful and rewarding life with your kids.

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.

Real Gift: Family Meetings

It’s the Holiday Season and people are running around frantically (and excitedly), checking tasks off the list and letting all the schedules slide. There’s an element of seasonal joy that comes with throwing it all to the wind, but come January 2nd, parents admit it’s harder to get back on track once they’ve let everyone fall off the wagon. I’m talking bed times, routines, video game limits, reading schedules, and all of that. It’s certainly not the end of the world to just let it go but there’s value in keeping a few of the non negotiables in tact, no matter what.

One of the most helpful tools in bringing everyone together, the Family Meeting, might be considered the first “structured” event to go. Parents think it may be inconvenient, as the family is traveling and staying up late wrapping presents – there is a sense that there’s just not enough time. Here’s where I’m suggesting you make time. Make time for your family meeting – if people are spread out, get on the phone, skype and have a chat. If you’re busy on the regularly scheduled night, make a lunch date the next – whatever you do, don’t skip the chance to stay connected in what can be the most frazzled, fried and checked-out couple of weeks all year long! (Those appreciations are like the big bow on the Holiday Season – and they cost nothing).

Family Meetings help keep kids’ feet on the ground by remembering each other’s feelings and presence within the family. Family Meetings also help keep the “out of control” stresses in check – kids are using their money to purchase gifts and materials to make gifts or make donations and you’ll have help keeping up with household contributions! Plus, a little problem solving during the madness can be a very good thing – the kids can come together and make decisions on real family issues (like what to do over vacation, who sits where on the ride to Grandma’s, how they prefer to stay relaxed when it gets nutty vs. you (mom or dad) micromanaging and peeling your kids out of the situations as they arise!)

If you aren’t familiar with Family Meetings, then check out our free podcast and find out first hand what an amazing source of bonding and relationship building they can provide. We welcome you to join the thousands of parents who use them to stay connected and keep the family relationship in a good, solid place. We offer plenty of blogs on the topic in our archives. In fact, if you do use family meetings and know a family who might “appreciate” them in their house, then feel free to share this post or the podcast link.

Enjoy!

Stop Drop and Hold.

    “Consider the following. We humans are social beings. We come into the world as the result of others’ actions. We survive here in dependence on others. Whether we like it or not, there is hardly a moment of our lives when we do not benefit from others’ activities. For this reason it is hardly surprising that most of our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others. “

H.H. the Dalai Lama

If we want our children to be happy, we must pay as much attention to their emotional well-being as we do to their attendance at school, sports schedules and physical ailments. We wouldn’t shuttle them along if they were barfing in the backseat and say, ok, well, hurry up, you have a game at 5. These little people we bring into the world are active participants in this world — and let’s face it, the world is a messed up place sometimes. If we’re not taking the time to check in and care about how they’re feeling, then we’re missing out on an opportunity to bring simple happiness to our children’s lives (but we sure check in to see if they cleaned their room or did their homework, right?)

It seems to be a stressful time for families – divorces, moves, death, job losses, technology, new rules and routines everywhere. Let’s check in with the kids- let’s ask how they feel. And if they’re pissed, scared, sad, confused, let’s let them own it. Because when they trust you’re in the relationship – REALLY actively concerned, they can find a sense of peace, love, and happiness, no matter how crazy this wacky ass world seems to be right now.

So, if you’re not sure sure where to start. Stop what you’re doing. Drop the smartphone and Hold your kid…even if (s)he’s getting taller than you and calls you stupid.

Homesickness

Today I noticed a question on Twitter about how we can help a child confront homesickness when away at summer camp.

Question: How do we reassure a child that everything will be OK when they are away, homesick?

Here is my answer: You can’t. It’s not your job.

First and foremost it’s usually the parents who are unsure about sending their child away for the first time. As we all know, kids are sponges, sensitive to their surroundings. A nervous parent often results in, guess what? A nervous child. The parent is often the one that really needs the reassurance.

It’s understandable for kids to be tentative about a new move, a first time at camp, or a new school. It is to be expected. I still find MYSELF feeling nervous in these situations. SO instead of worrying about my child’s experience, I tap into what it takes for me to move past my fear or hesitation, to a place of courage and willingness. This helps me craft a way to help my child see things differently.

So before you spend too much time talking about the hesitation (and feeding it), consider these tips:

    1. Decide for YOURSELF that all will be well and act accordingly.
    2. If YOU truly are nervous, then toss the plans and keep your kiddo home with you.
    3. Refocus your energy and hold the space for your child to create excitement in this new experience.
    4. Allow your child to share his/her concerns, but don’t try to convince him/her it will be “fun”.
    5. And above all else, remember, that your children have a right, to develop the necessary resources (on their own) to make things “good and fine and right” for themselves.
    6. Have faith in your child.

Now, take a deep breath, give a final kiss, and send your child out into the world so he/she can gobble up as much of life as possible.

The Road of Love!

The Longest Mile

Not sure exactly what prompted her to start screaming. Could have been a number of things and truth-be-told, the “trigger” isn’t what’s important.  The event itself isn’t even all that important.  What’s important is the learning. What’s important is what I am going to do the next time this happens and what I am going to do in all the moments in-between that make up my daily life with this extraordinary child.  What’s important is that I found the courage to look at my 9 year old daughter with love, compassion, respect and admiration, while she was screaming at me (at the top of her lungs) as we walked down our quiet back road and out onto the main road during our morning walk to school.

The Courage to Love

I had to rally every ounce of courage and strength inside me in order to look at this 9 year old, nostrils flaring, fists clenched, teeth baring and lips snarled, walking backwards in front of me screaming, as the neighbors walked from their homes to their cars and drove by us, afraid to make eye-contact.

I had to muster up bucket loads of self-restraint not to retaliate when she hit my elbow and my morning cup of coffee spilled out onto my leg and her arm, which precipitated a blood curdling scream from her and a claim that I poured my HOT coffee onto her, just as one neighbor was getting into her car.

Every creative cell that inhabits my body was called into action when it came time to remember her as the peaceful, beautiful, loving baby that was born unto this earth.  And to repeat this quote from Rudolf Dreikurs in my mind, with each step,

“In order to be able to exert a constructive influence on your child you must learn to observe her objectively. This you can do only if you take her misbehavior less seriously. You must stop regarding her faults as a moral issue. The child who misbehaves is not a “bad” child. She is only unhappy, misguided and discouraged, and has not found the right answer to the social problems which confront her. Every misbehavior indicates an error of judgment in her efforts to find her place within the family and to meet the demands and pressures to which she is subjected.” -Rudolf Dreikurs, MD, “Coping with Children’s Misbehavior: A Parent’s Guide.”

No, for those of you asking,  I did not remember that quote word for word – however I have read it enough times and embraced the concepts in the Parenting On Track™ program founded on these principles, that I could access the essence of this in my heart, my body, and my mind.

Inspired to Give In

After 1.2 miles the screaming stopped, a soft, gentle, small hand reached up and grabbed mine. That small hand held on so tightly and so completely that I immediately gave thanks to the Universe for keeping me safe and strong, and keeping me from behaving in a manner that would cause fracture to this delicate and yet solid relationship.  With a voice hoarse from screaming and full of genuine sorrow and integrity – my daughter apologized.

Now What?

We proceeded to walk the rest of the .5 miles to school and created some connections about the road, the leaves, our strong leg muscles and full bellies to fuel us through the day.

On the walk home, I reflected. Reflected on what just happened, what I learned, and what I would do the next time my discouraged child joined us for our morning walk to school or trip to the grocery store or…

New Information

1.    I believe in this circumstance, using the adage “move your feet” actually fueled the fire.

I believe if I had found a rock or a tree stump along the way and chose to sit down, the yelling would have stopped. I know in my heart, she would have found it completely distasteful to yell at someone who was trapped, open and vulnerable. She probably would have jumped into my arms for a heart-felt hug.

Instead, my walking just offered energy to the situation and her determination to wrangle me in.  I could be wrong, but at least I have a plan for the next time.

2.    Connection – That is what she craves. Give it to her. Give it to her as often as I can in all the moments in between. I have nothing else to do with her (as she manages her life quite nicely and could actually manage a Fortune 500 Company or a Country for that matter), so spend time with her connecting.  What does that look like you ask?

  • Make eye contact and don’t break it for anything.
  • Listen to her like there is nobody else in the room.
  • Ask her opinion on everything.
  • Ask her for help solving my problems.
  • Take heed to her advice, when she has a better idea.
  • Hug her. Hug her like there is no tomorrow.
  • Smile when I see her coming, even if she is mad at me.

Energizing Perspective

On my walk home, I also spent a great deal of time re-framing my perspective and finding the “good” in the morning.

1. I live with one feisty, stubborn, tenacious young woman and she is NOT afraid to say NO. May she have the courage to access those qualities when someone who does not have her best interest at heart, tries to influence her.

2. She knows what she believes in and is not afraid to stand up for it. She is still working on the best way to communicate her beliefs, but by-golly she knows what she knows to be true and is NOT AFRAID to let you know it.

Courage is not always tidy.

My daughter is courageous.  That is who she BE!  She stands up for herself. She stands up to bullies. She stands up for those she loves (and those she doesn’t). She stands up to ME. I love her and I am committed to matching her courageous nature with my own.  I commit to doing whatever it takes to BE the Mom she deserves.

Lizzy, I love you!

Celebrate your Mistakes!

Is there a moment that defines the power and necessity of celebrating “a willingness to participate in life” vs. a positive outcome? Yes. there is.

Shopping Trip to Hell

The day before school started, in the heat of the day, I took 5 children to the grocery store; 4 biological kids and a friend’s child who was staying with us for the day.

At the end of the trip, the youngest (6) pulled out her money and picked out a candy bar to purchase. Her older sister (9) noticed the sign that said buy one, get 2 free. Hmmm? The 9 year old did a quick calculation- that’s 3 candy bars for the price of one – and quickly & earnestly suggested that she and her older sister (age 12) be the recipients of the 2 additional candy bars. But wait — the 9 year old suddenly realizes that there weren’t enough free candy bars for the friend. Not to worry, it’s just a problem that needs a solution – right? So, she asks the 6 year old to buy another candy bar, after all they are just a buck and her sister appears loaded with ones – thus making sure everyone got a candy bar with 2 left over for good measure.

I Don’t Think So…

Unfortunately, the 6 year old didn’t see it quite this way. Instead of agreeing, she took a stand … nope, not gonna’ happen, really only wanted to spend money on one candy bar for herself. Her sisters getting candy was just a side benefit…she dug in her heels and innocently inquired why the friend did not have his own money to buy his own candy bar?

“C’mon! Please!” and the begging began. The 9 year old was even willing to PAY the $1 for the extra candy bar when we got home… but the 6 year old was not budging and proceeded through the line to buy her 3 candy bars. The 9 year old continued with the pleading and begging, which only served to inflame her younger sister until finally, the 6 year old reverted to – wait for it – punching and scratching the 9 year old. Lovely right?

Stop Looking at Me, I’ll Handle it!

At this point, people began to stare and look a bit concerned. And then it happened – I was stung; stung by the bug called, personal prestige. The transaction at the register was completed, I walked outside and in an emotionally charged state…took the candy from the child who was hitting and threw all 3 candy bars in the trash. Done. End of story. I know, very mature of me.

In my irrational and embarrassed state – I justified my actions by convincing myself in the moment, that

“A child who hits to solve a problem, does not deserve candy.”

The Fight for Justice Ensues!

As soon as the candy was confiscated and tossed, the 9 year old – recipient of the punching, defender of fairness and sharing – turned to me and protested whole-heartedly that I “could not do that because the candy did not belong to me. I did not buy that candy and did not have the right to throw it out” and the screaming fit ensued.

I kept walking until we reached the car. I climbed in and let the older 2 kids unload the grocery bags. I managed to keep my mouth shut, although I was seething inside, not so much about the hitting, as that wasn’t directed at me, but at the dressing down I had taken, in public by my 9 year old, and drove home in silence. I shudder to think of all the nasty thoughts I had during the ride home.

Celebrate the Dragon Lady?

Yes, I screwed up. Because of the Parenting On Track™ program I knew it. Because of the program, I knew not to look for a discipline strategy right in that moment.

Because of the program I knew I had “mistaken beliefs” and they had been activated. Because of the program, I had the self-restraint to keep my mouth shut on the drive home.

Because of the program, I knew how to apologize to my children. Because of the program, in the 15 minutes it took to get home, I had a genuine, sincere, heart-felt appreciation for the 9 year old whose tantrum received the brunt of my negative thoughts, feelings and energy.

A Miraculous Perspective

“E, I am sorry. I am sorry for getting involved. I am sorry that I did not show you that I trusted the two of you to handle things. I am sorry that I did not keep my focus on your younger sister and encourage the rest of you to leave the store and go to the car.”

“Do you want to know what I KNOW to be true about who you are on the planet? I know that you are the most loyal sister in the world. I know that no matter what, you will stand up for your sister until the end. I know that you are concerned with justice and fairness and no matter what it takes you will do what it takes to fight for what you believe is right. Thank you.”

Yes, I said all of that and I meant every word of it. And all it took was a mere 15 minutes to shift from blame, anger and revenge, to respect, appreciation and love – for myself and for my children.

The trip to the grocery store ended in a big fat hug and a greater awareness of myself and my daughter. A reason to celebrate – ABSOLUTELY!

What? You let her GET AWAY with it?

“Now what?” “Isn’t there a consequence for hitting?” “How does your daughter know it’s not ok to throw a temper tantrum in the store?” “You just can’t let her get away with that.” “You are the parent. YOU are in control.” “Some things are just not OK.” “Why didn’t you just loan her the money?”

I know the questions. I know the statements. I have heard them all and even have my own set of voices yelling at me from inside my head.

Be – Do – Have

I will follow up with all of my children when I am not vibrating with emotion, and I can trust myself to be reasonable, respectful and loving.

I will focus on what I can do differently the next time, and answer the question:

“What will it take for E(9) and J(6) to find their voices AND treat others with compassion, empathy, and respect?”

This question will not be answered in a trip to the grocery store, in a response to hitting that demonstrates (adult) power- over another human (child). It will be answered in small steps, individual moments every day that invite my children into the process of living, making decisions, experiencing the outcomes and moving forward.

We will have 25 more episodes in the grocery store, I am sure of that. And if every time I commit to working toward enhancing the relationship I have with my children, encouraging their budding independence and maintaining self-respect, I have reason to celebrate.

Setting an Example

A happy marriage is the result of thousands of decisions we make as to how we will treat our spouse.

Sometimes we can forget to speak to our spouses using kind, compassionate, friendly, loving and appreciative communication. We can forget, that our children are observing us and making some serious decisions about gender issues, relationship issues and will eventually, begin to model to others, what they hear from us, when we are speaking to and with our spouses.

Take a deep breath here if you need to.

Not one of us means to be short, snappy, critical or disrespectful, to our spouse, but it can happen.

Personally, I am as crazy about my husband today, as I was when I first met him. It isn’t always easy, but we both work on it, not only for ourselves, but for our children as well.

We want our kids to have strong, loving relationships with their spouses and they are learning from us what that looks like and sounds like. I can see my kids watching us, storing information for a later date and in fact, I am beginning to witness some of the decisions they have made about male/female relationships as they enter into the dating world.

It is a clear and present reminder to both of us that we are always, yes always, teaching our children something. So we best be mindful of what we are teaching.

Tips for Success:

  • Listen to yourself for the next few days. Find the courage to do a true and honest evaluation of your daily communication style with your spouse.

  • Commit to using a more “appreciative communication style” for the next 21 days and then take the time to “notice” for yourself, what changes are occurring.

  • Using appreciations, especially when they are unexpected is a powerful tool in creating a kind, compassionate, understanding and accepting family dynamic.

  • Make sure that your appreciations are sincere and spontaneous. For instance, in the middle of a TV show, blurt something kind out so that everyone looks at you in a slightly questioning way, or shout across the room – Hey, ya know what I love about you……or walk out of the kitchen and whisper something sweet into your spouses ear. The smile on their face will convey to the kids that whatever you said, made the other person feel good inside.

Modeling for our children, is the most powerful teaching we do as parents. It also seems to be the most difficult. Take inventory over the next week and see if there aren’t ways that you can improve the relationship with your spouse – even if it’s already awesome – so that when your children are considering spending the rest of their lives with someone, they look to you as their role models.

Social Interest and Healthy Families

Simply put, we are a culture preoccupied with our own Self Interest which, unfortunately is reinforced on a daily basis.

Two prevailing attitudes which emerge with regularity are:

  • What’s in it for me? OR What will I get?
  • What will people think of me?

Here are a number of questions children ask themselves every day which can be influenced by the What’s in it for me/What will I get attitude.

What will I get, if I…

  • Use the potty?
  • Sleep in my own bed?
  • Sit still for a hair cut?
  • Let the doctor give me a check up?
  • Say I am sorry?
  • Help with daily contributions?
  • Stop fighting with my siblings?
  • Apply myself at school?
  • Agree to come home on time?
  • Stop calling my family names?
  • Drop the attitude?

Scary, isn’t it? You begin to get a sense of how that attitude might affect your kids as employees, spouses and parents.

The second attitude – What will people think of me is more commonly seen in adults. It sounds something like.

What will people think of me, if…

  • My kids aren’t properly clothed, fed, washed, groomed?
  • My kids are disrespectful, rude, display bad manners, are sassy to me?
  • My kids do poorly in school or are not star athletes?
  • I can’t afford to have my kids do all the things their friends do and have what their friends have?
  • I can’t control my kids?

This attitude is disastrous for parents and children alike. As parents, it is difficult enough to make responsible and respectful decisions regarding our children. To compound the problem by adding the – What will people think of me, significantly limits our ability to parent from our best. The decisions we make about and for our children can no longer be influenced by what others will think of us.

Tips for Success

If you, as the parent, ever wonder about HOW you are making decisions, take a few seconds and answer this one question:

The needs of the situation require that I do what?

Here is what Adler had to say on the subject of Social Interest:

    “A healthy person is concerned for other people and has a sincere desire to contribute to society. So, Never do anything for a child that a child can do for herself.”

    “The first step in teaching social interest is to teach self-reliance.
    So, Never rob your children of opportunities to feel capable.”

Here are 3 examples that illustrate the power of Social Interest:

1. Imagine your child arrives at school properly trained in Social Interest. He may look around the room and say, “The needs of the situation require that I…”

  • Choose a place to sit.
  • Have a pencil to write with and all the other supplies I will need for the day.
  • Raise my hand when I have a question.
  • Do my homework as is expected of me.
  • Allow other children to speak.
  • Follow through with the agreements I make with the teacher.

Imagine a school room with students who are ALL asking themselves this same set of questions. Powerful stuff.

2. Now imagine your children at home and asking themselves internally, “The needs of the situation require that I…”

  • Help my brother out with homework because he is struggling and math is easy for me.
  • Say no to friends who ask me out and I know they will be drinking.
  • Practice my instrument, because I made an agreement with my parents and music teacher.
  • Miss my soccer game so I can go to an important family function.
  • Do my contributions, even though I was up late, because everyone else is expected to do theirs.

Yes, I know it seems too good to be true, but consider this for a minute, we are always in the process of choosing. That includes how we interpret situations. So either our kids are asking themselves, what will I get out of this, or they are asking themselves the needs of the situation require that I do what. Why is it so hard for parents to believe, that children, when given a chance, will act from the position of the highest social interest?

Okay, lastly –

3. Imagine yourself, as a parent who asks on a regular basis, “The needs of the situation require that I…”

  • Allow my children to experience frustration, so they can learn more about themselves.
  • Stay cool and put this on the agenda for Family Meeting.
  • Apologize when I make a mistake.
  • Remain flexible as my children learn to navigate their way around an ever changing world.
  • Model empathy, compassion and forgiveness if I expect my children to develop these attributes.
  • Avoid comparing my children with anyone else – ever.
  • Allow my child to make a choice, even though I know it may end poorly.
  • Respect the natural consequence my child is going to experience with faith and confidence.
  • Explain to the teacher why my child is coming to school with no lunch and no homework.
  • Refrain from telling stories about my child in social situations where everyone else is complaining.

Again, you see the power this one question has in influencing every decision we make. So this week, anchor the power of developing Social Interest in yourself, your children and your family.

Top 10: Duct Tape Parenting

This summer, as word spreads about the amazing, almost hard to describe results parents who are using the Parenting On Track™ program are experiencing, more and more folks are contacting us asking us one simple question

How do I know if Parenting On Track™ is right for me and my family? To make things simple, here is my list of the Top 10 Reasons to “PonTify” your family.

    10. You are still helping your 5 year old get dressed in the morning, and that includes throwing his clothes in the dryer, so he will get dressed without throwing a tantrum or laying them out for her in the morning.

    9.
    You make 3 different meals at dinner, because your children are picky, picky, picky.

    8.
    You pack extra….yes, extra everything! Just in case.

    7.
    You snap, point and stomp. Oh yeah, and let’s not forget the “hairy eyeball” face to get your kids to listen to you.

    6. You keep telling your kids they have to be nice to each other and stop fighting. You tell them repeatedly – “The Morgans Do Not Fight!!!” And still they bicker and pick and fight every single day.

    5. You run to your three-year old when she cries (and she cries about everything), because if you don’t run to make things better, she will make you pay for the rest of your day!

    4. You say “Good Job!” at least once every day.

    3. When your child says, “I’m bored”, you think it’s your problem.

    2. You have never considered that a 13 year old absolutely, will not, under any conditions, sit in the naughty chair. If you had, you wouldn’t be sending your three-year old to the naughty chair.

    1.
    You spend more time doing laundry, picking up toys, packing lunches, emptying back packs, checking homework, monitoring the computer, shutting down cell phones, checking on whereabouts, returning late library books…..than visiting with your children.

If you said “yup, that’s me” to any or all of the above, then maybe it’s time for you to consider a new way of parenting. After all, parenting is supposed to be about raising the next generation of leaders and less about getting through another disastrous morning.

And really when you dreamed of having children, was your dream filled with micro-managing their lives or was the dream about the strong bond, the deep connection, and the richness parent/child relationship would bring to your life?

Shifting Perspectives

A few months ago I came across a post written by Maya Frost introducing her book “The New Global Student”. I ordered her book immediately, read it, and then invited everyone else in the family to read it. They did, much to my delight, and as a result, the way we look at “education” completely shifted.

Today, I received an email from Maya who is changing course. Instead of focusing on “studying abroad, saving on college costs, avoiding student debt and getting a personalized international education”, she is moving in another direction. She is growing along with her life and taking her own advice. To live outside of the box.

She sums up in her post, what I try to communicate on a daily basis over the last 20 years as a parent educator.

1)“Fear causes paralysis.” You cannot parent effectively from a place of fear. Get informed. Gather new information. Practice. Take risks. Make mistakes. And find strength in my confidence and belief that YOU can do this and YOU are the best parent for your child, until you have developed your own confidence.

2) “I can inform, cajole and cheer (and I continue to do so, with active members in the forum) but in the end, the decision to overcome fear in order to soar is not mine to make.” My business partner and I talk about our lives with our families, the deep connections we have with each of our children (9 between the two of us), the joy we feel when we are in their company and we marvel at how fortunate we are. The feelings we have are indescribable. We arrived in this place because we pushed through our fears and we work tirelessly in our job as parents.

3) “Exhaustion limits perspective.” I say this all the time in my program. In order to remain emotionally available to your children, you must quit your jobs as the maid, the bottle washer, the chauffeur, the head-chef, and personal assistant. When you are exhausted from managing your children’s lives (plus your own) you have no reserves left when your kids really need you. We have a choice. We can choose to remain emotionally available, so we are there for our kids when they truly need us to be present and accessible, or we can fill our lives up waiting on perfectly capable kids, performing useless tasks, so we can openly complain about how much we DO for our kids and how lucky they are to have us.

4) “It’s easier to ignore than to innovate.” In the case of Parenting On Track™, one of my favorite and most powerful strategies is to indeed ignore. The difference is that we are intentionally ignoring what it is you do not want. We do this so that we do not find ourselves behaving worse than our children. We do this so we do not fuel the fire or feed the weed, as I like to say. We do this so we have creative energy to develop a roadmap for success, a plan, a pro-active strategy that will move our entire family closer to what it is they want. When we ignore what we do not want and we focus on what we want, we step into the innovative process. We take chances, we learn to trust ourselves and we share this with our children.

5) “The world is changing, and ultimately, it is up to each of us to decide if, when, and how we will change along with it.” The strategies our parents used are no longer valid. We must adapt our parenting styles with the ever-changing world we live in.

6) “Life goes on.” In the end all that matters is the relationship you have with your kids. We are not perfect. Our children are not perfect. Do your children know, believe, feel like you are their biggest champion? If that is true for them, that’s all you need.

In tribute to Maya and so she knows that people are taking advantage of all she offers, here is a recap of what’s happening at my house.

Colin is pursuing an education that is completely “hands on”, out of the ordinary, and is absolutely suited to his unique personality and nature. As a result of his positive experience in taking risks and following his passion, he has applied to Peace Corp and fully expects to begin his 2 year volunteer service in 2011. Talk about a non-traditional education that holds up against ……

Zoe, who graduated this year, was accepted to Whittier College, but decided to travel abroad for a year spending 26 -40 weeks volunteering in an early education program in Argentina. Her love of children, travel and Spanish inspired her to “think outside of the box” and to jump into life, before she committed to a classroom setting. Her confidence and willingness to do this, was in part, the result of her reading Maya’s book.

Kiera and Brady are still in the process of examining all of their options and oh what fun it is. Instead of SAT tutoring, financial aid paperwork, and pulling hair out about application deadlines, student aid and writing entrance essays they are enjoying this summer and engaging in conversations about possibilities post high school. It is pushing all of us in the family into re-examining our lives in general.

Click here to learn more about Maya Frost.

If you want to raise confident, cooperative, capable, respectful and responsible children in the 21st Century, I created a 12 Chapter multi-media program that walks you through step by step and shows you how to do this. Click here to learn more.

If you are considering purchasing the Parenting On Track™ program or contemplating when or if to dive into the Do Nothing Say Nothing week of the program. I invite you to read Maya’s latest blog post.