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5 Ways To Teach Our Kids How to Use Their Voice


5 Ways To Teach Our Kids How to Use Their Voice

Remember the last time you walked away from an interaction with someone where you didn’t respond with what you were really thinking?  The one where you had 27 brilliant rebuttals or hard core responses you wish you said, but clammed up out of fear of how your words would be received and what repercussions there might be for speaking your truth. Of course you do, we’ve all been there.

And then we tell our kids to “Use Your Words” when they hit or are verbally aggressive at times and overreact because they don’t know how to communicate their emotions in calm, rational ways that get their point across respectfully. Its not a double standard. Oh wait, yes it is. (I can not apologize for the sarcasm, its how I speak my truth)

Yet, we want our children to speak for themselves and learn the value of self advocacy. In my professional view, its one of those life skills that not only helps you in ANY career you choose, but also in any relationship or friendship or interaction with another human being…and occasionally pets. (I am 99% sure they understand everything we say). But I am not kidding, its that important.

Learning to speak your truth and use your voice could not be any more valuable.  Shoving down your emotions starts with a disagreement with your parent or your friend or your sibling or your teacher or the kid bullying you at school and ends with stifled interaction and communication with your boss or your colleague or your spouse and a self esteem that feels it can not get out of its own way. It becomes a patterned behavior and response when we fear that if we speak our truth we will not be supported or worse off, rejected. And most of the time we play out the scenarios in our head and fear the worst without ever having lived it. We reject ourselves before we are rejected and silence ourselves without ever hearing the sound of our voice.

So how can we stop that pattern with our children?

1- Help them to identify what they want as an end result.  How do they want to feel at the end of the conversation?  What is the intent? Its important to know what they want to feel so they will be able to tell when they have met their goal and end the conversation and embrace the success.

2-Give them the words to use.  Do a mock conversation with whomever they feel they need to speak to. Help them play it out to make the unknown a known and they can feel prepared.  All those “I wish I said this” can be played out in advance to give them a better shot at saying them.

3-Reframe any negativity. If the conversation feels remotely confrontational (and most people avoid confrontation), help them see it as a positive more so than a negative.  For example, if they have to speak to someone who they feel is treating them unfairly, explain to them that by speaking up they are teaching that person how their actions and words affect other people, something they may not know, and in turn will help them rethink how they speak to other people, thus protecting future “victims.”  Annnnd they will feel awesome once they say what’s on their mind.

4-Help them see any fear around it as simply a thought, not a reality.  There is no real way to know how a conversation/interaction is going to go without assuming….and we all know what assuming does.

But more typically, the anticipation is far, far worse than the actual event.  Help them play out the worst case scenario so they can see that nothing is truly too life altering if it doesn’t go the way they’d like.

5- Tell them stories of situations in your own life that they can relate to so they see that they are not alone and that life goes on.  Its so helpful for all of us to speak to someone who we feel gets us and our fears when we are having them and when its the strong parent you look up to, even more so.  Sometimes the most comfort comes when we hear survivor stories of those who’ve been in similar shoes.

The  hardest part for some parents will be to not do it for their children.  When our protective instincts come out, we pump up our chests and want to fix it for them with our experience, but allowing them to do it on their own actually is a far more empowering opportunity for growth.  And isn’t allowing them to grow the best way to advocate for them? I vote yes.

And if you are wondering if they are old enough to handle it on their own? If they can speak up to you and use their voice, then they are old enough to handle it on their own.

Wanna hear the super bonus of all? The more you teach them and encourage them to use their voice, the more confident and comfortable you feel doing the same in your own life. Two lessons in one. What’s better than that?


You Will Get Into College


You Will Get Into College

Dear Teenager Thinking About College,

This will mark the time you look at yourself and judge your place in the future and the past.   Many of you will start wondering where you could have done better and start kicking yourself for not producing all you think you could have.  This letter is for you.

First let me tell you, YOU WILL GET INTO COLLEGE.

Whoever started the phrase, “with grades like these, you won’t get into college” might as well have said, “You are loser and you might as well accept it now.” It’s just inaccurate.

Where you get into college does not determine who and what you will be for the rest of your life.  It just doesn’t.

There is a college for everyone.  For those of you who bombed your first years of high school because you discovered your ability to ignore the advice of everyone around you, there is a college for you.

For those of you, who swore you never wanted to continue your education because you didn’t see the value earlier, but now you see it like it was always there, there is a college for you.

For those of you who had to work long hours because you had to support your family and were unable to focus on school work as much as you could have, there is a college for you.

For those of you who have learning disabilities and feel like you will never be on par with your friends, you are already on par and there is a college for you.

For those of you who feel you can’t afford college on your own income, there is a college for you.

For those of you who had long illnesses, were depressed or had emotional struggles that blocked your vision and motivation at times, there is a college for you.

There are truly and honestly options for EVERYONE.

The only person who determines your path is YOU.  If you want to continue your education you can. If you want to wait until you are ready, you can.

If you want an education, there is an education available for you. If you have a dream or a goal, there is a path to it.

You can get a “good” education anywhere, its how much you invest in it and what you choose to do with it that will determine its benefit and where you let it take you.

If you are waiting for circumstances to change, today is your lucky day. Welcome to your life.


Your High School Counselor


For further truthfulness, be sure to read College Planning- The Prerequisite Course


College Planning- The Prerequisite Course


College Planning- The Prerequisite Course

This is a re-post in honor of my very favorite senior who was just accepted into the school of her dreams after waiting it out and the college finally acknowledging they’d be fools not to bring in her fantastic-ness.  And for all the teenagers and their parents beginning their quest- you’ve got this.


Let me begin with an Opinionated Fact.  Furthering one’s education is a near necessity to get to where you want to go in life.  We are fortunate to have so many options of colleges and universities with so many opportunities that allow our children to learn and thrive and grow.  However, I do not believe where one goes to college or how they get their education determines how successful they are going to be.  It’s what they DO with their education, that will get them where they want to go.

So, what’s my issue?  I don’t believe in the college admittance process.  I think it stinks…which is the kindest word I can come up with right now.  How does it make sense to rate a person over a four year period in their most hormonally driven, self reflecting and often deprecating, continuously adapting to change, time of life?  From ages 14-18, many kids are often dealing with their first major loss.  It could be over a breakup with a boyfriend or girlfriend or their parents divorcing or losing a loved one to death.  They are navigating the challenges of peer pressure and learning what “friendship” really means.  They are often pulling away from their parents influence and begin modeling other influences which may be good or bad.  They are like chaotic beasts really. All the while, they are going to school and expected to put all distraction aside and “do your very best because if you want to go to a ‘good’ college, they want to see you have high grades and that you are challenging yourself proving that you will be successful in life.”  Seems fair right?

Opinionated Fact #2. There is something to be said about putting on your big girl/boy pants and dealing.  That’s the ultimate goal right?  But in a society where we are so often sheltering our children from the dregs of our neighborhoods and hardships of real life, how are they supposed to know what to do when they are slammed with an unpleasant reality with no prior exposure?  They have to figure it out, of course, but with what skill?  Unless you have parents or caregivers who allow you to feel your own feelings, fight your own battles and make your own mistakes, this may be a challenge.  Sometimes the way we think we advocate for our children is really a disservice to their sense of ownership and responsibility. We need to expose them to life and support them in their journey, not walk the journey for them.

But here’s my real issue.  It’s not the kids who cry when they get rejected from their top choice school.  I actually never see them.  It’s the kids who cry from the overwhelming stress of not feeling good enough while they are applying to their list of 25 colleges, who they feel are judging them of how they managed their four years of school (in actuality, its typically 3 and half) as they were trying to figure out who they are and what on Earth they are doing here, all while they are learning the historical importance of the Great Wall of China and how not to blow up your cat when mixing some obscure chemicals you may come into contact with.  As if how they “performed” in high school defines who they are and what they hope to accomplish.

So I now prep my students in our preliminary college talks with the advice of going into the process with the framework that “it is YOU who are judging them, not them judging you.  There are thousands of colleges out there that can offer you what you need.  They all have strengths and weaknesses and you have to pick the ones that support what YOU are looking for and want to invest YOUR time and money into.  At the end, yes, they may be comparing you with other students because they only have so much room, but if you don’t get in, you can accept the fact that they missed their opportunity or you will find a way to get in if that is what you truly want. There are always two paths to every destination.” That’s Opinionated Fact #3.

When preparing our kids for college, it’s important to be realistic about our expectations and helping our kids figure out what is important to them.  Let them choose their options based on how they feel when they are there.  Personally, I tell kids never to apply to a college where the name won’t look cool on a sweatshirt.  Especially because you will wear that sweatshirt for an awfully long time.

(Insert mental image of John Belushi in College sweatshirt here)

The process doesn’t have to be as stressful as it’s made out to be.  Do a college search, visit the schools on your list and choose which ones fit.  Put your best foot forward when completing the application and see how it pans out.  It’s a lot of legwork, no doubt, and a big decision, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the ride.  At the end, you are still doing the choosing as to which option you want to take.  And the power of choice rocks.

Okay, Rant over.



How Mental Illness and Emotional Disorders Impact Our Children


How Mental Illness and Emotional Disorders Impact Our Children

I am one of those people who purposefully doesn’t watch the news, follow politics or read the newspaper.  I used to, avidly. It gave me something to think about, worry about, obsess over and be angry at.  The injustice is everywhere, as is crime, deception, and panic.  I have consciously chosen to take no part in it because I find that in no way, does mainstream media enhance my life.

I had been feeling this way prior to obsessively watching the news after the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy.  But once I heard what happened, I could not stop watching, thinking or trying to wrap my mind around it. I wanted answers, so I looked to the news to give them to me.  I believed everything they said, absorbed it all, took in the “facts” to process it and then found myself infuriated when half of what I was told was a “fact” was not even close.  Twenty four hours of someone else’s strong influence on me was powerful.  It shaped my views and opinions and reiterated to me just how powerful the influence of the media really is.  I haven’t watched the news since…right up until the other day.

Restless on the treadmill, I turned on MSNBC and started watching a heated debate on gun control.  Still gun control? Still debating? This hot topic started right after the tragedy as did the changes in our school safety procedures and the widespread panic that accompanies it.  Still, no one is talking about the REAL issue, the underlying issue, the actual cause—a misunderstanding and lack of knowledge of mental illness and emotional disorders.  It is not normal to hurt people, to want to hurt people, to allow yourself to perform harmful acts.  Before the guns, knives, fire, and fists are used, something is out of balance, something that needs to be addressed- desperately.

It bothers me immensely because I see it every day in children, I hear about it, I lived with it, I know the detrimental impact of mismanaged mental illness and emotional disorders. I also know the fear of it, the misunderstanding of its causes and treatments and the intense judgment that writes people off as hopeless because their brain connections aren’t working properly.

You can’t see the lesions, you can’t see the scars, you can’t see the pain, but it is there and it is deep. Clinical Depression, Bi Polar Disorder and Anxiety Disorders run rampant amongst our populations and they are kept under the radar often to protect the judgment from those around them.  Without professional help and intervention, these illnesses and disorders can drastically affect a person’s life in horrible, negative ways, causing them to feel worthless, angry and living in a constant state of fear and distress in varying degrees.  Each person is different and how their illness or disorder manifests itself is different, but the discomfort and angst that accompanies it is the same.

Addictions, Eating Disorders, and Self Injurious Behaviors are also way more common than we would like to acknowledge and neglect of their symptoms can have extreme short term and long term impacts, both physically and emotionally.

So what can we do to help as parents?

Get the Facts–Know and understand the basics of mental illness and emotional disorders.  You don’t need to know how to diagnose a problem (although many try to do so with the limited knowledge they have) but having an understanding can help alleviate any concern of what you think you know and may be afraid of and offer you facts that are real.

Teach–Teach your children what they need to know as developmentally appropriate.  Young children may only need to know that while some people’s brains are good at learning math problems more than others, some people are better at managing their emotions more than others.  Teaching them if a peer cries more often doesn’t mean they are a “cry baby” but rather it helps that child release their sadness and frustration, the same way it does for them. And it may just be that the child who cries more or even yells more may feel those frustrations more easily than the child sitting next to them and they are learning what to do with those feelings.

Older children will benefit from the same lessons, but also will require understanding the facts and a reiteration that a chemical imbalance in the brain, is just that, an imbalance.  With proper treatment and intervention, balance has a great chance of being recovered.

Do Your Part–Stressing the importance of acceptance and openness to their peers differences can not be over emphasized. If they don’t like the way someone is acting or responding, help them identify what it is about their behavior that makes them uncomfortable.  Teach them that the best way to combat behavior you don’t like, is to model behavior that works better.  It will be helpful for them to recognize how much power they have to teach positive behaviors and control their situation rather than judge it and be bothered by it. And they may be teaching their peer a very positive lesson they won’t get elsewhere.

Connect–Know and help your children understand that we are all in this together.  Whatever effort you make to help another, helps you and everyone around you.  It’s just the truth.

Learning the facts and teaching our children how to respond to other children who struggle is one of the very best ways we can help children living with mental illness and emotional disorders. Every human being wants to feel accepted for who they are and when children feel accepted and cared for by those around them, they feel safe, loved and content.  Children who feel safe, loved and content, are far less likely to grow into angry, hurt and aggressive adults.

Just because the media and the politicians have yet to see the power of fixing the real problem, doesn’t mean we can’t influence it in our own ways.  It’s time to see the truth and it’s time to act.  And what better way to protect our children than to teach them how to be kind, loving and accepting human beings?  Oh right…argue over gun control. How could I forget?


Swearing in Front of Our Kids- Yes, No or Maybe So


Swearing in Front of Our Kids- Yes, No or Maybe So

As practice, I do not swear in front of my children because I believe that $h!t is wrong. They hear enough potty talk on the bus and on television, that I choose to refrain from adding to it.  Now around my friends, I use enough foul language to make a sailor blush, so it all evens out.

Okay, I don’t really believe swearing in front of your kids is wrong. I just choose not to… most of the time.  I do believe all words serve a purpose and I like to practice thinking before I speak…most of the time. Because on the rare occasion when I do throw in an “inappropriate” word when making a point to them, it packs a power punch like no other.  Their eyes light up in sheer horror that I must REALLY be mad to unleash one of the top no no’s on the naughty list.  And I can feel the power of the word when it comes out of my mouth. Tall, mighty, dominating, do not mess with Mom right now, words.  They are not used by accident. And they are heard.

Like all other words, swears have their place. Sometimes, no other word can get its point across like an F bomb.  I know you know what I mean. Other times, swears make a dull story that much funnier.  How many stand up comedians are rated G?  Anyone you’ve ever heard of? There’s a value there and some people make a living utilizing it.

I work with teenagers, who by the ripe old age of 14 have heard them all.  So when the conversation seems to be stuck and I’m trying to relate, I pull out the big guns.  Okay, they are not that big, maybe a small, ankle pistol.  When I tell you that every time I use a swear in front of a teenager their entire demeanor changes, I am not kidding. They laugh or smile, their shoulders go down and they sit back in their chair a bit.  I have crossed the line and invited myself into their underground world of inappropriate.  And then the real communication begins.

I run an anger management group for teenage boys.  Can you imagine if I didn’t allow swearing or swear with them?  We would sit for 45 minutes each week silent. No joke…raw, angry silence.

My point, there is a place and an appropriateness for even the “inappropriate.”

Not too long ago, my 9 year old daughter was watching a political drama with me that was really interesting and educational in a lot of ways.  I wanted her to watch it so we could talk about it.  However, every other word was a swear.  And every time they swore, which was every 15-20 seconds, I felt a pang of guilt and disgust that she was ingesting all these words and their context.  But when I looked at her, she seemed totally unfazed.  After awhile, I said I thought we needed to turn it off because their choice of words was making me very uncomfortable and I didn’t think she needed to hear them, to which she replied, “It doesn’t bother me, Mommy.  I know those words aren’t okay for me to use and I don’t use them. It’s not a big deal.”

Huh, wasn’t that what I wanted her to learn after all? They are words that have a time and place to be heard, but it doesn’t mean they have to be our words or be used at all? And she is choosing not to use them.  At least in front of me, perhaps she makes a sailor blush when she’s around her friends. I guess it’s not for me to know.

But she made a good point, and one that sticks with me.

As parents, we get so caught up on what we feel is “right” or “wrong” based on our experiences, which form our opinions.  But what’s “right” for me, may not be “right” for you, and it doesn’t deem it “wrong” either. It just Is.

Some parents swear in front of their kids constantly, never giving thought to how their children may respond.  And their children may not respond at all.  While other parents are horrified at the thought of their little ears being contaminated.  What makes one better than the other? I have no idea. Do you?

How lucky we are to be surrounded by so many other opinions and experiences to give us the opportunity to look at something in a way we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. And also the ability to embrace what we learn or discard it.  Education at its finest.

Hell yeah, mother lovers!

Smooth, I know. I’ll let you choose your own word.


Q&A My Perspective: Are You “Over Parenting” Your Child?


Q&A My Perspective: Are You “Over Parenting” Your Child?


I am a single mom of a 4 1/2 yr old boy who is handsome, insanely smart, small for his age and wears glasses. I also am guilty of overprotecting or overparenting, whatever they call it these days.  Yesterday I took him to a kids museum and he was playing with some cars and then he came over to me with this face…almost crying. When I asked what was wrong he said “that kid called me Lucy”. Now I have no idea what was said…the kid was probably talking to his sister Lucy for all I know but it stood out to me because my son always thinks everything is about him. I can be talking to someone about anything and he hears and thinks it has something to do with him. I know kids his age are still learning that they are not the center of the universe but I feel like this could potentially be a serious problem if his feelings are going to get hurt every time someone doesn’t react the way he believes they should or if he is going to take everything so personal.  I do not have any friends with children his age so really his only socialization is at preschool but he is there like 45 hours a week so I would think that would help, but it seems he has a very hard time and backs away from more out-going children. He wants to be the boss but is intimated very easily. Any thoughts on how I can help? He is going to be starting Kindergarten in August and I really want school to be a good experience for him.


Just a heads up, I’m going to start generalizing here, so bear with me.  He is an only child, which means he doesn’t have to share the spotlight when it comes to your attention or relating to other children in the home.  And if he’s not regularly socializing with friends his age in casual environments, his primary interactions with other children are in a controlled environment (preschool) where rules are clearly established.  Rules and structure are great for kids because they keep things safe and orderly, but they often sterilize social interactions where most kids learn the ebb and flow of communication.

I always think of the bus as the best means of social education for kids.  Many parents don’t want their kids on the bus because of the lack of control, the unruliness of kids and the influences they are exposed to.  In fact, most of my kids’ “best” negative lessons come from their bus rides and I am so thankful for that. There’s no other way to set up the environment where kids have been theoretically on their best behavior all day and then unravel when they don’t have to hold it together anymore on the bus.  They are unleashed animals and express themselves in ways they may not get to anywhere else.  And because they are unmanaged by the bus driver who is trying to focus on safely getting them back into our arms, they have the freedom to express themselves without fear of adult repercussion which leads to them handling it completely on their own.

Of course the only reason why I like this is because my kids sing like canaries when calling out other kids (and eachother’s) negative behavior on the bus. It then gives me the opportunity to talk to them about how they handled it, other ways to think of it and what they will do if the same behavior presents itself again.

I am not suggesting you throw your kid on a bus and let him figure it out, but I am suggesting that you help create more opportunities for him to be exposed to free play without social structure and continuous monitoring and then talk about it with him afterwards.  The more he experiences these interactions on his own and handles it on his own, the more likely his confidence will build on how communication works and how he feels about it.  We are there to wipe their tears when they cry, show them the alternative and give them super huge hugs when they figure it out.  The more they experience, the more opportunity they have to practice and the greater the possibility of them figuring it out in positive and rewarding ways.


Why I am The Boss of You


Why I am The Boss of You

Since I just suggested last week that its good to not hold the reigns too tight on our children, it seemed appropriate to re-post when it absolutely is.

My daughter’s 9 and she’s pretty awesome. Although, I am biased, I realize this…but she is.  Except for the time she was about to go outside to play in her travel soccer team shirt and school approved pants and I said, “You can’t wear that out to play,” and she gave me her nastiest, angry look and snarled, “You’re not the boss of me. You can’t tell me what to do.”

At that point, I started to laugh and said, “Oh yes, yes I am. I am the boss of you right now because I work hard to pay for the clothes you are wearing and potentially ruining outside to play and I will be the same boss who will have to buy you new clothes to replace the ones you ruin, which I’m not okay with so it’s not happening.  You have designated play clothes and those are the clothes you will wear if you’d like to go outside to play.” At this point, she stormed off to change, disgusted with me and my rules and the control she wished I didn’t have over her life and her choices.  Bummer.

But I am the boss right now and I don’t apologize for that.  It’s my house, and my stuff and I work hard to pay for it.  And although I am a firm believer in allowing kids to make decisions for themselves and offering them options, I am not okay with allowing their decisions to control my life in ways I have influence over.  In this case, replacing things that will get ruined unnecessarily. And yes, my kids play hard, so their stuff gets ruined. I love that.

I work with big kids. Teenagers. They know everything and can do whatever they want.  Some of them skip school and their parents say, “I can’t control them and make them go to school.” No, no you can’t, but you can control their surroundings and the stuff they think they own in your house.  They watch your television, use your computer, use your wireless router for their phone, use your toilet paper (thank goodness) and eat the food you bought with your money.  It’s yours.  They have the luxury of using it.  Except maybe the toilet paper, taking that away would probably be wrong.  But, you are still the boss in your household when it comes to your stuff.

We need consequences to determine which of our behaviors work for us and which ones don’t.  The more positive the outcome, the more likely we will continue that behavior.  The more negative the consequences, the bigger the deterrent to continue. We need to feel the pinch of discomfort in order to encourage us to change.

Life is full of consequences and when better to learn that than when the consequences aren’t that bad.  You forget your homework, you get a bad grade. Not life altering, but potentially motivating.  You eat candy without permission, you lose it for a week. There’s always more candy. You say something mean to someone, they don’t want to hang out with you anymore. You apologize and hope for the best.  You tell off your mother, you have no social life for two weeks. Two weeks will feel long, but you’ll leave your house again, and maybe even think before you speak.  Or…You kill someone, you go to jail and are shunned from society.  Probably locked up for a long, long time.  You meet new friends in jail, you say something mean to them, they cut your ear off when you least expect it. Consequences. They are real.

So, the bottom line. I will not allow my daughter to wear her soccer shirt out to play in order to keep her out of prison and keep her cute little ears.  This time, she changed her clothes, she had a great time outside and the next time, she’ll think twice about what she wears…hopefully. And although I want her to make her own decisions, I want to best guide and influence her how to make those decisions work for her while she is still under my roof, and for me.

So I will continue to let her know that I am the boss of her and I will pay her a good salary of unrivaled love, unlimited respect and valuable life knowledge.  And that includes helping her see the consequences of her actions and how they impact her and those around her.  And soon enough, she will live the entrepreneurial life she desires when she becomes her own boss. And if I play my cards right, maybe she’ll even invite me to take your mom to work day.


Q&A My Perspective: When You Don’t Agree With Your Child’s Teacher and Their Practices


Q&A My Perspective: When You Don’t Agree With Your Child’s Teacher and Their Practices


How do you support your child’s teacher when you don’t agree with their behavior management practices?


When we pass off our children to complete strangers in the beginning of the school year with the expectation that they will adhere to our parenting beliefs and practices in addition to educating our children in brilliantly entertaining ways that will keep them engaged for 35 hours a week, we set ourselves up for disappointment.  That’s why I personally keep my expectations very low so I can be pleasantly surprised when all is going well. (transparent sarcasm is beautiful, isn’t it?)

Here’s the reality. We come into contact with people every day whose practices do not align with our own.  Often times, some our friends and family do not parent their own children the way that we do or want to. We then have options on how we want to handle it.  We can remove ourselves from their lives because we don’t agree with them and are uncomfortable with their practices. Or we can continue to spend time with them, and then talk behind their backs about how we would NEVER parent the way they do. Or we can continue to spend time with them, accept our differences and stay firm in our beliefs and model what practices work for us.

When it comes to our children’s teachers, our options are virtually the same.  We can ask to have them removed from the class and try someone new. We can have them continue in the class and build up our resentment towards the teacher and their perceived inferior practices and potentially have our judgment seep into our child’s head who in turn rejects the teacher’s practices as well and becomes non responsive or disruptive. Or we can keep them in the class so they learn how to adapt to different methods of practice, while firmly modeling what we feel works best at home.

If you opt to keep them in the class and choose not to build up resentment, it will be imperative to communicate your concerns with the teacher and explain how you manage behavior at home and why it works for you.  You are then offering the support you mentioned and ideally educating them on alternatives that they may not have thought of or tried.

If they choose not to accept your suggestions, then you and your child are learning an excellent (and hard) lesson in adaptation and acceptance.  And that’s a good thing because the more opportunities we learn to adapt and accept what is happening beyond our control, the easier it becomes for the inevitable next time.

On a personal note, I learned an invaluable lesson as a parent one year when my daughter’s teacher had a style that was quite the opposite of my own.  She did not engage with me the way I had hoped and I was unimpressed with her demeanor.  At the end of the year, my daughter cried on the last day of school because she loved her teacher so much and didn’t want to move on to anyone else.  I then learned that just because the teacher’s style was not for me, didn’t mean it wasn’t good for my daughter.  Her style worked just fine in engaging my child and promoting a love of learning, which is exactly what I wanted for her.  She met my expectations without being what I wanted her to be.

Either that, or I’m not always the best judge of what my child needs.  Nah…;)


Back to School: What’s Our Role in Our Children’s Education?


Back to School: What’s Our Role in Our Children’s Education?

Age 5, you’ve been waiting for your child to get here for what feels like forever, but in reality, its only been five years, an entire lifetime as a new parent.  The first day of school. A time to let go and acknowledge that your role as primary educator is shifting and you are now looking at job sharing. Job sharing with someone who doesn’t know you or your child.

Job sharing… you wonder “what are my responsibilities in this new shared profession and what are the responsibilities of the other employee who has the degree and certification calling them an expert? How can we both work together to figure this out?”

In an effort to simplify things, look at it this way…If we choose to rely on the educational system and the teachers of our children’s school to single handedly motivate, teach, discipline, inspire and lift our children to new knowledge laden heights, we will continuously be greatly, greatly disappointed.  Of course that is not to say that this WON’T be done for our children by a few select educators, but if you are holding your breath, you better have some back up oxygen just in case.

When we chose to have this child in our lives, we took a vow. Without saying the words out loud, we promised to cherish, love, support, educate, reward, punish, juggle, sing off key to get them to laugh, not rip out all our hairs when they stop listening to us and hold our tongue when they are making the “biggest mistake of their lives” because they have to learn on their own. It’s a lot of responsibility, without question, but the bottom line, we are teaching our children what we feel is valuable and right, which includes working hard in school, the importance of independence, how to effectively self advocate and when to know you’ve reached your limits.  These are family values and invaluable life skills and no one else should have the role of teaching this to our child.

When our children’s teachers went to college, they too took a silent vow, to help support, challenge, question, provoke, and teach direct knowledge to the students entrusted in their hands.  They did not however, promise to remind our child to do their homework, ask for help when they need it or grade our child based on whether or not they are having a bad day.  It is their role to educate based on the curriculum, ideally in various formats that potentially intrigue and inspire our child to want to learn more.  Unfortunately, for all of us, it’s our child’s responsibility to feel the inspiration.  We can teach them, through example, what inspiration looks like for us and how it gets us where we want to be, but we can’t seem to crawl in their brains and place it in there for them.

So, yes, we should look to the educational system to provide the facts, the details, the knowledge we can’t possibly remember, as well as hope they will support our child when the need arises. But when it comes to the values, the life skills, the self advocacy, it’s all us, the parents, the supreme educators in our child’s life.  A job with a very small paycheck, but very large rewards.  Why else do you think the teachers do it?

Fun Fact: This is the first article I wrote and shared with my brilliant friend and school psychologist, Sue Tobin of Parenting Owl. If you’ve ever enjoyed my perspectives, you can thank Sue inspiring me and getting me started.


Why Being an Investigator Works When Dealing with Bad Behavior


Why Being an Investigator Works When Dealing with Bad Behavior

I am very thankful this month to be guest blogging for my friend Anne of Green Eggs and Mom, which is one of my favorite parenting blogs around.  Anne shares interesting and valuable parenting tips and research and is a must read for all.  If you’re not following already, you’re missing out.

This week’s post is on Understanding Behavior.

“Most often kids are labeled as bad when they consistently choose behaviors that make others uncomfortable. It could be talking back, using inappropriate and crass language, hitting, bullying, lying, stealing, etc., and get away with it enough to continue.

But the question is why are they acting out? How are the negative behaviors benefiting them?” Read Why Being an Investigator Works When Dealing with Bad Behavior

And please pass on any tips that work for you as well.  You people are incredibly smart.