At 32, I found myself married, living in Seattle, and pregnant. Like most “soon to be” moms, I dreamed of how I would parent my child, and the kind of relationship we would have. Frankly, the daydream was fabulous. Then, in a moment of clarity—I looked at myself in the mirror and thought, “You are a stubborn, opinionated, bossy, short-tempered, independent woman of thirty-two, and there is NO REASON to believe that you will turn into another woman – say June Clever – just because you give birth to a child. In all likelihood, you will remain the same person you are today.”
Without panic, the question became:
WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT THIS?
I decided that I would invest whatever it took—time, energy, education, or money—into learning everything I could about parenting and treat it as my number one priority. Some of you may be thinking that my approach falls short of the romantic notions we have about parenting, and you’re right, it does. Our culture suggests to us that we SHOULD know how to parent, with little or no training. Maybe some mothers and fathers know what to do—I did not.
I believed I had a better chance of experiencing the “honeymoon” period with my children if I was prepared for the “lifetime commitment.” Armed with determination, I went to the bookstore. I didn’t find a perfect book, but I found the next best thing: Systematic Training for Effective Parenting by Don Dinkmeyer, Sr., PhD, Gary McKay, PhD, and Don Dinkmeyer, Jr., PhD, based on the concepts of Dr. Alfred Adler.
To this day, I remember the feeling of relief when I realized that there was a philosophy for child-rearing that made sense to me: creating an atmosphere of love, compassion, trust, and mutual respect. That was my introduction to Adlerian Psychology, which would become the basis for the Parenting On Track™ program.
I read that book and went on to learn as much as I could about Adlerian Psychology, child development, and family dynamics. I began teaching parent education classes, in addition to operating a child care center and raising my three children.
After a number of extremely busy years, I decided to retire and move to New England. I would live a quiet, relaxed life in a small town—or so I thought. I was in the grocery store one day when several women approached me…
“Um, hi—we’ve been watching you.”
“Who is ‘we’?” I said. “Us, the mothers in town, and we’ve noticed two things: The first thing is that you really seem to enjoy your kids, which we understand, because we enjoy ours while they are sleeping, too.” We all shared a laugh, and they continued.
“What has really made us curious is this — your kids seem to really like you – and here is how we know – your kids don’t throw their backpacks at your feet and bark orders at you when they see you on the playground; your kids help you at the grocery store and stand in line without grabbing every “goody” they can get their hands on; your kids talk to you, not scream at you, and we want to know why.”
“Well, I read this book…” I began, but before I could tell them the name of the book, they all chimed in. “No, we’ve read all the books; we don’t want another book. Either the books are wrong, or we don’t get it. We want you to teach us what you are doing, so our children will talk to us the way your children talk to you.”
Alas, I was out of retirement. That first group of six moms turned to twenty, which then turned to forty. Schools and PTOs were soon calling, asking me to come teach, and within the year, I was back to teaching full time. Today, our class sizes can reach one hundred or more.