$hould $chool Report Card$ have a Ca$h Value?

School on our side of the world is finally out for the Summer! Yesssss! This past week I thoroughly enjoyed bellowing a celebratory childhood chant in unison with my two children. A real blast from the past from my elementary school days and part of it went like this, “No more homework, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks!”

Teacher and BooksAs kids, that silly song said it all. Just knowing that we could look forward to getting rid of those three things for a couple of weeks was all my brother, sister and I needed to get us through our school year. We would bring home our school report cards, our parents would take a quick look, they would ask us if we had tried our best, we would answer (mostly honestly) and then our vacation days would begin.  Not another mention of  Ye Olde School Report Card again.

As we grew older I began to realise that this matter of fact report card process wasn’t necessarily true for all of my friends.  For some, bringing home reports cards meant something more, something much more. On the surface, it all seemed pretty straight forward, they would present their report cards and then, based on their letter grades, they would be financially reimbursed for their apparent efforts!  An intriguing interaction to me indeed.

I can’t say that I have thought about it very much since leaving school, but today whilst sitting having my hair cut, a conversation triggered my memory. My stylist told me about her son’s report card and how nicely his grades had improved. She was celebrating an A, 5 B’s and a handful of C’s. For her son this is a huge achievement as not too long ago he was failing school pretty dismally. We talked about how proud she was of him…but more importantly, how proud he was of himself.report card

That lovely warm and fuzzy conversation was blown to pieces when a very dear elderly lady came and sat down next to us. She too joined the chit chat about his report card and his much improved grades. She didn’t miss a beat this little old lady and was very quick to ask…”Soooo what did you give him?”…

My stylist was a little taken aback and scrambled for an answer, “Uhhh uhhhh we got him a pizza and did some fun stuff.” The little old lady looked so disappointed! I was crushed, not for her but for my stylist! She was made to feel like a bad mom for not richly rewarding her son with the goods because he had brought home the good grades!

Thinking back now, I remember some of my own school friends and their relationship with their report cards… and the fact that they held a cash value. Mmmmm I have always found this idea little unsettling, but couldn’t really figure out why…until putting words to it today.

Call me crazy, but I am a big believer in doing my best because it is in me to do so,  and not because I will be financially rewarded because of it. Sure, in our society cash has become king, but shouldn’t the satisfaction of doing something well be reward enough? Isn’t that what keeps you doing it again and again (even after the money has run out?), trying to be better and better, because you can?

icecream and cherryDon’t get me wrong here, as a kid, cash in the hand would have thrilled me beyond belief (quite honestly, speaking now as an adult the same thrill factor remains) BUT for me the biggest motivator has to be that nothing can top that feeling of having done something well because I can.

If by some great turn of events, a reward follows, that’s like the cherry on the top! I find that the quality and the depth of the motivation driving my action is different when I  do something because I can rather than because of the reward that may (or may not) follow, don’t you agree?

Now, writing this today as a parent of my own two children I have a much deeper level of disdain for the Grades for Cash Rewards Program . This whole concept  seems much more disturbing and its impact far more sinister when I look at it through the eyes of a parent, a teacher and a staunch developmentalist.

Here’s some food for thought, no sugar coating (or cherries) going to be served up here:

1. When you reward a child with cash for their grades, you are evaluating their performance based solely upon the grades reflected on the report card you are seeing infront of you. What that really means is, you are measuring your child according to their teacher’s yardstick! Your child is at the mercy of being evaluated by you based on how the teacher evaluated them! How scary is that? You know your child better than any teacher ever will, so why are you letting their opinion be reflected onto your child as if it was your own?

2. When you get super excited about an A, you don’t really have a clue as to what it took to earn that particular A in that particular class! For some children A’s come really easily (sure, sure, maybe your kid really is that bright…or maybe,  just maybe, their teacher was feeling generous because she got it all this morning…you’ll never really know…now will you?). Sometimes a kid earning a C worked way harder than a kid who gets given an A, but who gets all the attention and the big bucks? Not really fair, now is it?

3.When your child, according to the criteria, gets a C-  for a speech class because that’s what they ‘deserve’…Were they riddled with anxiety and embarrassment and couldn’t speak clearly and confidently ? Well, no wonder they got a C- . Public speaking might never be their thing so do we really need to give them fewer dollars to prove that point? Nope, they have already suffered enough don’t you think?

Does the teacher squeeze a comment onto the report card, right there alongside that C- explaining that despite the poor grade, your child did manage to get himself out of his chair and stand in front of the group and mumble through his speech? Did she mention that she was proud of his courage, for overcoming his temporary paralysis and that his effort alone was worthy of an A ? No, probably not…because report cards generally don’t allow for that sort of input. Besides, even if they did, it isn’t really up to the teacher to say those things…You are his parent and should be the one he hears saying those words, telling him that you know it was very hard for him, that you know he did the best he could in that situation, that you are proud of him, that he’s your boy no matter the grade, no matter what.

I could go on and on here…but that would make this a full on rant rather than a post…so I’ll end by saying…

Your child is worth more to you than the grades reflected on the piece of paper we value so much and call a report card. You know who they are, what they can do, what they struggle to do, what they are afraid of, what they hope for, who they dream of becoming. You don’t need a report card to tell you that, and they don’t need cash to know that you do either.

What you do need and more importantly, what they need,  is for you to be on their side rather than on the other team, evaluating them against other children, evaluating them against themselves. They need to know that you believe in them, that you know that they have it in them to give of their best because that is who they are. Once they know that, and come to believe it because you believe it, they will try their best because it will feel right to do it and not because an A is worth five bucks.

You can’t put a price on who they are, and they deserve to know that.

What do you think?

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Hope is gone, we drift.

Seeing this graffiti in our neighbourhood really struck me hard. Not because it is vandalism, not because whoever did it defaced another’s property but because the message it conveys is so deep and insightful and so very sad.

Without probably realising it, the ‘artists’ tell us what they want the others to know about them,

Hope is gone.

We drift.

IMG_7352Looking at this dumpster I have to wonder, did one teenager come along and spray,

Hope is gone

and then a different kid came across it and added,

We drift.

Just looking at the different styles and paint colour it sure seems that way. So very sad that one kid feels it, and another reaches out and acknowledges their pain because they feel it in themselves too. They both have something in common, that same sense of being lost, of drifting through, no clear sense of direction, no sense of being understood, no sense of belonging.

It is such vulnerable thing to feel, to be lost, to drift…and to know it.

It makes me wonder if these kids have to paint it to be heard because they can’t say it out loud? Do they have adults in their lives that they can turn to, adults that are there for them, adults who can be their compass points, adults who make them feel heard and give them a sense of belonging?

Probably not, and so they continue to feel that,

Hope is gone,

And they continue to

Drift.

It makes me sad.

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This parenting thing is a never ending hike, not a destination!

This morning after taking my daughter to school I decided to walk the long way home so that I could have a little alone time in my head before all the craziness starts up. Going into June is always a busy time as our school year is winding down and the celebrations for the last of everything are ramping up. We are heading directly into the silly season filled with end of school parties, end of gym parties, end of dance parties, last minute before the Summer starts birthday parties. The list goes on and on. My children go into overdrive and I need head space in preparation for it all!

On my quiet walk in the rain it occurred to me that there was so much about this hiking trail that reminds me of my parenting journey. I took more than a few pictures to try and explain just what I mean.

Come along, let’s take a walk.

1. Setting Off.

When we prepared to have our children (a little more than a decade ago) we willingly set off on this journey. We had no definite plans, no map pinpointing our direction, just a vague idea of what we hoped for and a blurry sense of how we would ge there. (Clearly we had no idea of what we were in for, and that is probably a very good thing, or like many people, we would have been too terrified to give it a go!).

A few weeks after having our first child we discovered that there were a couple of different parenting paths to follow. We choose one that appealed to us the most, pretty much go with the flow, take it as it comes, see what happens kind of thing. Each day unfolded differently. One child became two and things really got interesting. Some days were like walking along a smooth paved path, some days were clearly marked with directional arrows (and we felt like we were heading in the right direction) and others still seem to be more like a walk on the wild side, where none of us have a clue where we are all going to end up!

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2. Let the Second Guessing Begin.

Once on the path we realised that there are other parents on very different paths and we began to wonder if we had chosen the right path for us and our children. What ‘right’ actually means we don’t really know for sure, but when things aren’t going well, we begin to think that any path that we are on is probably be the wrong one! The terror of it all takes over, what if everyone else is doing it right and our kids turn out wrong? Again, what exactly is ‘wrong’ anyway? I now put it all down to GPA  diagnosis. Generalised Parental Anxiety. We all want the very best for our children and when we feel that we aren’t giving them exactly that, the guilt and the fear in us takes over. Not a good place to be.

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The more we look around us the more we realise that everyone is trying something different, if it isn’t sleep training ,it is parenting on demand, if it isn’t reward charts it is consequences. Too many more options to even mention. Some parents go this way, some parents go that way and some are so far off the beaten track altogether you have to wonder if they’ll ever make it anywhere. We take comfort in knowing we are doing the best that we can, and that surely counts for something!

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3. When in Doubt, Google it…or Not!

We keep our heads down, following our path, occasionally looking up to see what other are up to.  In the early days (I’d say particularly in the first five years of being parents ) every now and again, sometimes more than we would like, we would run into an obstacle in our parenting path that we just didn’t know what to do with…soooo… We’d google it! We’d get an ‘experts’ take on it, try and figure it out.More times than not though, those experts brought with them more damage than good so we have given up on them now, instead we find our own way through as no one knows our own kids quite like we do.We continue to confront the boulders and the puddles and for the most part seem to come out the other side relatively unscathed.

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4. Take the Time to Stop and Smell the Roses.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re not on a path littered with obstacles all along the way. There are plenty of good days in between, in fact, many more good days than tough days now that we have found our way through with our girls. There are plenty of opportunities to stop and smell the roses…and we do…we enjoy every peaceful moment…

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And just when we think we have it all going on and it will be love and roses all the way…

5. Shit Happens.

Love stays but we walk into a mess, more than we originally signed up for and we wonder how we could have ever thought we had this parenting thing sorted! As it turns out, when you have kids, shit really does happen! Sometimes we walk right into the middle of it, and sometimes we manage to skirt by it, but it is always there…just the type and depth varies! It would seem that growing children up is a messy business  and when you expect it to be, you are much better prepared for what you will find on your trail!

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6. Let Me Outta Here.

So, when we come across a steaming heap and we step in it, we wipe off our boots and we keep going, after all, what choice do we really have? We all reach the point (tell me I am not alone here) when we want to stop the parenting journey and get off, it’s just too hard. We want to find a sign on the ground that instructs us to get off the trail, that gives us permission to stop, to get off wherever this parenting thing is heading, we just want a break from it all.

IMG_75227. Suck it up.

And then, we get over ourselves, realize that we love these children of ours and that they are ours for keeps and as hard as it may be, we’re glad that it is so. We have to figure out which way to go and we do, even when we reach a fork in the road, we make a choice, left or right, the smoother option or the road less travelled…sometimes leading right into the unknown and sometimes left to a safe crossing.We pick the one that appears best, even though we never know for sure.

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8. It Could Go Either Way.

Over the bridge…or through the woods? We’ll all get where we are going eventually, we just don’t know how long it might take us or what we might encounter along the way, but that is the great part about this parenting journey, it is ours to take and although plenty of mistakes will be made along the way, there is so much to be gained by choosing our own path because these children are ours. What others are up to has very little bearing on what we do for our family. This is our journey…and you get to choose yours.

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9. Things are changing.

As time passes, without us truly being aware, our children have been growing up. We are so focussed on the day to day living that seldom do we realise that all of our efforts are beginning show in our children. They are who they are, who they are meant to become. We are starting to see the fruit of maturation.

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10. But We Get Distracted.

Growing children come with lots of attitude and plenty of messy behaviour. When we only focus on behaviour  we are distracted from who they really are and what they really need from us. We don’t realise that they are putting up defenses in order to protect themselves from that which hurts. I  have learnt that in times of strife I need to pull them closer to me, rather than pushing them away because our relationship is the most important thing we have and the fruit of maturation is in there, not always visible but tucked safely behind the thorns. When we look beyond the thorns we see how vulnerable they really are, and those vulnerable feelings need to be kept safe so that they can keep our children’s hearts soft. We can all grow older but without our vulnerable feelings we can’t grow up.

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11. More Than We Could Ever Hope For.

And then, sooner than we might expect it, we looked at our children and realised that they are growing up, truly growing up from the inside out. Not because of what we do to them, but because of who we are to them. And then we look at ourselves and realise that alongside them, we too have grown up, not because of what they have done to us, but because of who they are to us. We are all on that same trail together, on the journey towards truly growing up, all going about it in different ways but all yearning to one day get to the same destination, that place where we each reach our potential to become fully human.

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12. And There is No End.

The ironic thing is,  there is no end to this trail journey. It just keeps on going…like Forrest Gump! These children will always be ours, and we’ll always be theirs . The sooner we are able to accept each other for who we are, the good, the bad and the ugly, the more we will enjoy this hike towards truly growing up together.

Posted in Attachment, Attachment Parenting, Conscious Parenting, Defensive reaction, Natural Parenting Power, Parenting Expert, Relationship, Right Relationship | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

When you are a Mother, you learn that most times even your very best attempt isn’t good enough.

I think I have always known this, I just find it really ironic that I had it rubbed in my face on Mother’s Day, before 8am!! Not exactly how I had envisioned THE one day dedicated to celebrating mothers starting out for me…

I guess it shouldn’t surprise me though, it’s pretty much in line with how things go. I mean, don’t  we all start out thinking that when we have kids  it’s going to be one thing…and then we have them and we get waaay more than we signed up for? Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying being a Mother is all bad, what I am saying is that mothering  in reality doesn’t quite match up to the idealistic GAP advertisement I apparently had going on in my head.

Allow me to share my Mother’s Day morning with you…I’ve only been awake for less than an hour mind you so it is a very quick take on the day, there are 23 more hours left so it might still take a turn for the better but for now, here’s how it has unfolded so far.

7:59am my bedroom door flies open, thumping feet make their way to my bedside.  I hear the rustling of paper as it gets shoved under my nose. My eyes are closed and I hear a voice right next to my ear, “I know you did this, I can tell!”  I try very hard to spring into a conscious state of awareness and hit the ground running with a coherent response, but I don’t even know what the voice is talking about.

The must have Fairy Encyclopedia for all Mothers!

The must have Fairy Encyclopedia for all Mothers!

A few seconds flash by and I managed to get my bearings. Oh my, yes, I realise what this is likely all about. Allow me to set the scene for you…

Yesterday my daughters now ages 9 and 11 years,  found a fairy book on our bookshelf. It is one of those beautifully illustrated books that tell you everything you have ever wondered about fairies. How they get their names, what they wear, what they eat, where they live…I mean it covers everything! It reminded my Eldest that a few years back she used to write to the fairies…and they would write back. I know, I know, pretty wonderful right?

So, with those fond memories both daughters were inspired to create a fairy garden out in the backyard. They created an environment fit for fairies. Decorated it with flowers and little lady bug clips and daisy chains from the craft box. It was a lovely sight to see and then they went the extra step and wrote letters to the fairies. Oh my, this lovely addition was about to transform me from being the observer to being an active participant…even though they didn’t necessarily know it. Every 15 minutes or so, one of them would go and check if a reply had arrived.  (FYI  I was very busy yesterday and the fairies took their sweet time to reply). Eventually, some time after 10pm both girls gave up waiting and finally fell asleep. I sprung into action.

Now let me tell you, this took a whole lot of energy. I have a lot going on at the moment. We are two weeks into major house renovations, we don’t have a kitchen, we don’t have a room in the house that isn’t covered by plastic and a layer of dust. Add to this equation that I have a few jobs, we have the usual kids activities, and we have an elderly dog who requires a whole lot of supervision. I have a lot on my plate at the moment, I am not complaining, I’m just sayin’!!

So I rustle up my creativity and reply to the fairy letters. I admit, I got sloppy, I didn’t really think it through as carefully as I should have because I was tired and wanted to go to my bed.  I decided to type them each a letter in a fancy cursive font as it wouldn’t require me to sit and handwrite the reply. Tsk, tsk.

I conjured up the replies (which I thought by the way,were outstanding,  given that it was close to midnight) and I made my way (in the pouring rain and pitch dark) into our back yard which has been known to be frequented by hungry bears looking for midnight snacks. I placed the little fairy letters where they needed to go and I went to wake my husband (who was snoring his head off on the sofa, just sayin’) to tell him that it was it was mission accomplished. I was so proud that I had remembered to get the letters done this quickly as in the past the tooth fairy has taken as many as three nights to finally show up!

IMG_7168This morning, may I remind you that it is Mother’s Day, I get woken up and told off for my good fairy work! It’s true, my eldest daughter was just furious that I had (apparently) written the fairy letter. Through a haze I asked “What makes you think it was me?” and she replied, “Well, it’s sooooo obvious, fairies don’t have computers, they only have things they can make with nature!” Clearly I hadn’t read the Fairy encyclopaedia from cover to cover, clearly I had messed up. She stormed out of the room and I lay in my bed thinking…

I can’t actually believe that no matter how hard I try, it is never good enough! What more do you children want from me? I gave you life, I continue to feed you, I changed your dirty diapers, I give you shelter, I clean up your mess, I drive you where you need to go, I host birthday parties in your honour, I care for you when you are sick, I hold you when you are crying, I help you through your frustration and best of all, I love you though it all. Isn’t that enough?

And then it hit me, I do all of these things for my children because I love them so, because I am their mother, because it feels right for me to do all of these things…and I choose to do it for them. I can’t get all bitter and twisted when they don’t notice or acknowledge it, this is their normal. They can’t begin to know how good they have it, because they have nothing else to compare to! But there is a humbling realisation in here for me too…

I used to be just like them! I have a Mom who does all that she can for me, for my brother and for my sister. She always does whatever she can to meet our needs (which is different from our demands), she is the one who is there for us and loves us no matter what. When we were younger, we didn’t get it, we didn’t appreciate it, we took it for granted because her generosity was our measure of normal. It didn’t occur to me until I was an adult that not everyone had it as good as we did, that not everyone had a mother like we did, who did it all, gave it her best and seldom got the thanks and appreciation that she deserved. I get it now though, now that I am am the one called Mom, doing so much of the giving, trying to do it all and seldom feeling like I get it right. Now I can say that I finally get it! (It took me a while!)

So if you’re a mother, just know that sometimes when you feel that enough is never good enough for your children, it actually is, they just don’t necessarily know it yet! Give them a few years, enough time for them to have their own children and then they’ll realise that what maybe didn’t feel like enough was actually  more than enough, they just didn’t know it! Because of you, one day if they become parents, they’ll want to do the same for their children, not for the thanks or acknowledgement (which would be nice, but not likely), they’ll want to do it because it just feels right to do so. That’s how we will create a better world, starting with one under-appreciated Mother at a time!

To my Mom on this Mother’s day I say, Thank you for all you do for me, who you are to me and what you continue to do for me. Who you are will live on through me, through my girls and through theirs some day. Because of the Mother you have been, you will make this world a better a place even though you won’t be here to see it, or be thanked for it.You have made a difference so much bigger than you will ever know…

Thank you and I love you.

To all you of you other Mothers out there, I say Happy Mother’s Day to you!  On behalf of your children I say,  Thank You for all that you do and for who you are to your children.You are more than enough (even though you aren’t made to feel that way much of the time).

Have a wonderful Mother’s Day.

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Why are parents today so preoccupied with pushing independence?

Many parents have been asking me about how to get their children to become more independent. Sadly, there is no quick fix… but there is a way through, it just isn’t what you may think. This post is a repost under a different title and it addresses the issue of growing true independence by inviting dependence. Enjoy!

Our commute to school should be a pleasant one, no matter the season. I say commute, but it isn’t really. It is more like a mini-hike on a trail through a beautiful forest. We cross a bridge, throw stones into the water, look for birds and identify little creatures as we go. Sounds glorious right? There is just one problem…

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The walk to school is only as wonderful as it could be if you are happy with the destination. More days than not, my youngest daughter is far from thrilled. The fact that it is school we are heading to taints the on-the-way-there-nature-loving-experience, BIG time. Her brain is focussed on what is at the end of the trail, not what is on it.

School is not the problem, separation from me is. The strange thing is, my daughter loves school! She likes her teachers, she loves learning, she enjoys time with her friends. But what my little girl finds very hard is the transition away from me and into the school environment. She is extremely sensitive (and anxious) and this impacts her ability to be able to say “Bye Mom, see you later” and walk into the school building all by herself..

I have come to understand that what she needs to be able to make this transition as easy on both of us as possible, is for me to be there for her. Not every day anymore, not even most days, but at least for the first while when going back to school after a break from school, like a long weekend or a holiday. What makes the difference to her is knowing that I will come into her classroom, help her to hang up her backpack and then be there whilst she gets what she needs ready to begin her school day.

I anticipate that my last line is triggering a response in many of you right now, especially if you are a teacher (and I am one!). I say things like ‘help her’ and many people react with ‘Why would you help her to do the things that she can do for herself, how will she ever learn to become independent?’ The answer is really quite simple, by inviting dependence I encourage independence.

Sounds paradoxical right? Well, it is, but stick around to hear my explanation for why I have found this approach to be true before fully cementing yourself to your initial reaction. I invite you to consider this…

When children sense that they can’t depend on those who love them for help in situations they feel that they need it the most, they become fixated on getting us to help them. Think about the toddler just learning to walk. The more you want to pick them up and carry them, the more they resist you and want to do it for themselves. In contrast, a child who is constantly being put down and told to walk, wants nothing more than to be picked up and carried. The very same situation ‘having to walk’ is changed by the energy that is brought by the parent, one is an inviting and generous ” Here, let me help you” and the other is a much colder “You can do it yourself.”

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that the second response comes from a good intention which most parents have, and that is to encourage independence. But you see, my take on this is a little different. Children learn how to walk as soon as they are developmentally able. They want to walk and they do it when they need to. They don’t need to schedule a practice, they just do it! This situation isn’t about being unable to walk, this is about them being able to depend on you, even when they are fully capable of doing something for themselves.

As an adult, we can do most things for ourselves, we are older and more capable than our children (duh!) but does that really mean that we want to do everything for ourselves just because we can? No, there are times when it feels very nice to have my husband offer to make me a cup of tea or to pick up the kids. Can I do those things for myself? Definitely, but does it make me love him even more for offering, absolutely! The kindness he shows when offering to do things for me strengthens our relationship because I know that I can lean on him when I need/want to.

The same is true for our children, when we offer to help them it builds their trust in us. It gives them a sense of us being there for them both when they feel that they need our help and when they don’t. This isn’t about specific situations requiring help or not helping, this is about deepening our relationship with them. Giving them the “I am there for you” feeling that they will carry within even when they are apart from us. That is what we are going for. That is what keeps them looking to us for their cues. This is the magic ingredient that makes it possible for us to parent them when they are babies,toddlers, youths,teens and even adults. That feeling that someone has their back makes them want to do things for themselves because when you have a sense that someone is there for you, your energy to do things for yourself is freed up and you do it because it feels right, it feels satisfying to say “I did it for myself” which is a very different feeling than saying, “I did it because Mommy made me.”

So, for the next while I’ll be the Mom in the classroom helping my child settle in. Could I have taken the hard lines approach and told her to get in there and do it for herself. Of course yes! (Don’t think I haven’t felt like doing this many times.) I certainly could have resorted to all my old tricks involving rewards and punishment, but I have come to know that those are short lived and only result in her acting as if she was independent, instead of truly being independent. For me, inviting dependence leads to independence and I would much rather that she truly grow up slowly instead of acting grown up instantly.

I have chosen the slower route, and I am good with that.

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Just Ask Me.

Question mark

Everyone has questions.

Most people want answers.

Not every answer is the one you might expect, or the one that you want.

But you should still ask it.

There is no such thing as a stupid question.

If you don’t ask, you’ll never find out,

You’ll be left wondering and wandering.

So why not just ask me?

Parents, teachers and other caring adults come to me almost every day with questions about children.  They want to know why the child does the things they do and ‘what to do when’ they do it.

I do not give quick fix solutions but I do hope to give insight. When you can look past the behaviour and see what is driving it, you’ll naturally find your own way through.

The responses I post are firmly grounded in Developmental Psychology.They are meant for parents who want to understand their children from the inside out.

They are for caring adults who yearn to truly grow their children up, not to just get them to act as if they are grown up. There is a very BIG difference in that.

Approaches attempting to change the behaviour, to stamp it out as quickly as possible, are short term solutions driven by the Behaviourist principles of rewards and consequences, immediacy and consistency.

This is NOT what I am about.

I encourage parents to look at the motivation driving the child, rather than being blinded by their behaviour. Too much emphasis on what the child is doing distracts us from really going on for the child, inside of the child. When we react from this place of desperation, we miss the opportunity to meet their needs and instead we remain trapped in the cycle of reacting to their demands.

Relying on prescriptive methods that appear to bring change in the short term seldom bring with them any long lasting change. Without intending to, we work against our children. We react from what we want from them, rather than from what they need from us.  In doing so, we damage our relationship, which is the foundation to everything else, and we wonder what went wrong.

My intention is to draw on common themes from the questions you ask because you are not alone. It certainly may feel as though you are, but just know that the very things you are struggling with, so are millions of others.

My hope is to bring you a different perspective, give you another lens with which to see your child because you want the very best for them. I know that is true because you came looking and found my blog. More than that, it tells me that you are intuitively feeling that they way you are going about things is not a good fit with who you are or with what you child needs. This is your opportunity to maybe get a fresh perspective, one that you hadn’t previously considered.

I do not need specifics, only general areas of interest or concern and the age of the child you are wanting to understand a little better. My specific area of study and interest is in children who are under the age of twelve, but that been said, I follow the wisdom of Dr Gordon Neufeld who says,

“Everybody grows older, not everybody grows up.”

What that means is that you cannot put a chronological age on maturity. We all know adults who continue to act as if they are still toddlers. Age is just a number whereas maturity is a long term process that is never too late to develop. We just need to understand what conditions are needed in order to grow it.

Your concerns may relate to agression, tantrums, separation, sensitivity, defiance, sibling rivalry, frustration, bed time difficulties, lying, talking back, independence, rewards, consequences, punishment, bribery, discipline, tears, relationship, sadness, shyness, peers, …or anything else. The list is endless!

You can  post your concerns in the comments box. I will not publish these comments for the world to see as they are only meant to give me an idea of what the common questions are and the age range of the children parents are most interested in reading about. I will not be replying to any questions personally or specifically. When I have a common thread,  and I get my act together to write a response, I will post a general reply for all to see.

I’m not sure how this will go, so let’s give it a try and see where it takes us.

Go on,  just ask me.

Posted in Attachment, Dr Gordon Neufeld, Intuition, Relationship, Responsible Parent | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Private Parts on Parade.

A little while ago, on the way to school, walking hand in hand with my youngest daughter, we came across some new grafitti on a wooden fence. Now and again that happens, and when it does, we discuss it,  I paint over it and that is the end of it… until… a bored teenager decides otherwise and once again makes ‘creative’ use of the lovely blank canvas I have provided.

Repeat the process.

This policy has worked very well up until now, but I am having to rethink it because we recently stumbled upon this work of art. (Can I actually call it that?)

IMG_5682

I had no idea just how I was going to handle this one because I  am a big believer, for the most part,  in telling my children the truth. The caveat to this approach is of course, that if I believe that the whole truth and nothing but the truth will be to too hurtful or too harmful, I opt for another way out. In this case both criteria were met. This was way too much for her and waaaaaay too horrifyingly uncomfortable for me.

(I like to think I can handle a lot but please remember that all this took place at eight fifteen in the morning and I was not yet firing on all cylinders.)

She looked at it. I looked at it.

I was wished that the ground would open up and swallow me whole. I thought back to graffiti explanations that I have given in the past, but nothing so far could equip me for what was before our eyes right now.

My most memorable past graffiti explanation would have to be when this child of mine was only five years old and learning to read. She looked at the very same fence (four layers of paint ago) and asked,

“Mom what is a pen is?”

Awwww, that was cute. I could handle that one. I smothered my smile and said,

“Actually Sweetie, it doesn’t say pen is. It says penis. You know, it’s the name we use when we are talking about boys private parts.”  (You would think that we discussed jiggly bits every day  I was so nonchalant about it.)

She nodded and then she said, “I think it was a boy who did it.”

I agreed that it possibly might have been but we couldn’t be 100% sure.

I probed her for more…

“Why do you think it was a boy and not a girl who drew this?”

“Well,” she explained with childlike wisdom, “He had to write penis because vagina is too tricky for a boy to spell!”

Game over. She was not phased by it at all.

We talked about it, I painted over it, we all moved on.

But this time, it was surely not going to be as easy as that. She is older and wiser.

So here’s how it went:

We saw the new graffiti.

She looked at it. I looked at it. Not a word from either of us.

Just as I was mustering up the courage to explain it as tactfully as I could,  she beat me to it.

“Ohhhh I get it now, it is a happy whale!”

Huh?

“Yes'” she went on explaining to her evidently slow mother, “See here is the head and body and tail. It isn’t drawn very well and I could do a much better job of it!”

Yes! I had been saved by her artistic flair and her innocence. A wonderful combo deal!

We saw it, we briefly talked about it, I am yet to paint over it.

I think maybe subconsciously  (very, very deep down) I know that there is more discussion that should happen around this whale. I’m not there yet and neither is she, so for now, on the wall is where he will stay.

I still don’t like him very much and his days are definitely numbered but until I find the courage or get tired of his smirk, he’ll be there to greet us on the way to school and on the way home again.

At least for now when I do accidentally make eye contact with him,  I see a happy whale and that makes me smile.

He He.

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Posted in Attachment, Humor, Responsible Parent | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments