Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

The Loving Thing

The Loving Thing

Perhaps a good question to ask ourselves when working with our kids is, ‘Is this the loving thing or the pushing them to do my agenda thing?

It’s one question.

There may be others. But this is a pretty danged good one to start.

Here’s what happens with me. My kid is not successful yet at something—any old thing from tying shoes to mastering math facts to peeing straight, aimed at the toilet and not the wall!

I come along and suddenly my adrenaline shoots, my mind is awash with urgency, and words start forming in my mouth that are CERTAIN to save my child from the hard reality of being who they are at this moment in time with this particular skill set.

I have the ego and audacity to believe that this one conversation, one idea, one method, one practice will SOLVE it: no more confusion, no more misfirings, no more failed attempts.

So I launch my urgent words at this child and… Oh my gosh, unforeseen BLOWBACK! Won’t listen, gets sassy, goes quiet, tears up… It’s as if this human being is not utterly grateful and impressed with my carefully constructed solution to what I see as a problem! In fact, this little person is not! They are not yet ready to apply my perfect solution. In fact, they resent it!

What I think is a problem may not even have been experienced as problematic by my child or teen! Here I am making them feel deficient somehow.

But what’s a loving thing?

  • Maybe it’s silence.
  • Maybe it’s sidling up and watching.
  • Maybe it’s sending a text message with a link.
  • Maybe it’s checking in to see how this little person is doing (if they are happily failing at tying shoes, who am I to swoop in and fix it yet?).
  • Maybe it’s leaving a bottle of Windex and a rag next to the toilet with a note.
  • Maybe it’s asking if the child wants your input before delivering it.

Bottom Line: Adults aren’t always right. Kids know this. Adults forget this.

Imagine what it might be like to trust a child to grow and develop and learn. Start there. Then, if you have anything to offer, come from spaciousness, kindness, patience, and self-control. And add brownies.

You can do this.

This post is originally from Instagram and @juliebravewriter is my account there so come follow along for more conversations like this one!

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Free Radicals

Brave Writer

Remember, your child is an independent being from you.

When I was a kid, I wanted to grow up to be a mother who’d understand my child as well as I wished to be understood by my parents. Enneagram 4 here, so you understand the depth of that craving.

When I eventually had my own kids, it became inescapably true that I could never know them as well as they might wish to be known. The fact is: these little beings are “free radicals”—a bit like their chemical counterparts.

Here’s the definition of a free radical: “A type of unstable molecule, free radicals can build up in cells and cause damage to other molecules, such as DNA, lipids, and proteins.”

Let me rewrite that for small humans (aka free radicals): “A type of unstable being, free radicals can build up in families and cause damage to the other members, such as siblings, parents, and even pets.”

Yeah, I’d say that is a PERFECT description of the way in which kids are independent beings.

What does this mean?

The good news: they are delightful! Kids repeatedly astonish and entertain us with their antics and self-expression. Thank goodness they aren’t adults in miniature clothes. Their energy is life-giving to a family.

The bad news: you can’t heal your child self by being to your child what you always wished you’d had as a child. That ship has sailed. Your new child deserves to be known as a unique individual whose needs are not obvious to you and whose ideas are not identical with yours.

Chemical free radicals stimulate important physiological processes, like helping the immune system function properly. So when your child catches you off guard, that’s the moment to lean in with curiosity. Who is this free radical in my presence? What new experience am I about to have thanks to this little being who wants to stimulate new psychological processes in the family?

Say to yourself: “I’m here for it!”

This post is originally from Instagram and @juliebravewriter is my account there so come follow along for more conversations like this one!

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Keep Paddling

Keep Paddling

I was talking with a friend who’s a new grandmother. She’s watching her son become a father. He and his wife (in just two weeks time) know more about that baby than any other adult—even adults with decades of parenting experience. You know what I mean!

We were chuckling over how her son is already giving detailed instructions for how to comfort the baby, what to do and not do about diapers and burping. He worried about leaving his daughter alone with grandparents even for an hour.

Zero experience: instant expert.

When you strike out on your own to become parents, you don’t know how to get where you’re going but you go anyway. It’s astonishing how quickly you’ll assert your emphatic beliefs about this child and her needs. Sure, you scroll through your phone at midnight for ideas about how to get this tiny person to Just. Stop. Crying! But you are in no danger of quitting or giving up. You know you’ll get past this stage of development.

It’s caring that gets you through all of it. You care the most. Staying above water for the sake of your child is top priority. We trust you.

You can homeschool the exact same way—with undeserved confidence, attentiveness to your child’s unique needs, scrolling for ideas when desperate, secure in your belief that you’ll get where you’re going.

You have all of human history on your side. You get to parent! You get to figure it out. You are trustworthy (if you want to be). Lean into it.

Keep paddling!

This post is originally from Instagram and @juliebravewriter is my account there so come follow along for more conversations like this one!

The Brave Learner

What Closeness Looks Like

What Closeness Looks Like

This is what closeness looks like. Father and son, reading side-by-side, sharing silent, yet companionable time each week. I chatted with the dad as I was leaving. He said Friday morning Starbucks is his son’s favorite time of the week. We chuckled about how books have become tablets. His son got animated at that point. They were darling!

Not all communication needs to be verbal or facing each other. A mix of shared space in comfortable quiet + eye contact and conversation makes for a healthy, free relationship.

I was with my dad recently and thought about our relationship when I was young. I remember his sharing the newspaper with me over breakfast. I remember side by side TV viewing (sports!). I remember the thrill of shopping alone with him (our own outing). We had conversations too. But what made life easy around my dad was that I felt no pressure to perform or prove anything or to fill the space with words. Talk? Or not talk? All the same to him.

Those minutes add up to a felt memory of who your parent is. If you find conversation challenging or wonder what to say, start side-by-side. Build a little cache of shared, peaceful, no pressure space. You may be surprised at how close you feel to your child.

One interesting sidenote: I notice that my person (Jim) is that kind of person for me now. I’m such a talker, and it feels so nice to have one quiet, peace-filled relationship where I get to show up without words or pressure to entertain. A gift.

This post is originally from Instagram and @juliebravewriter is my account there so come follow along for more conversations like this one!

Brave Writer Lifestyle

Dealing with Explosiveness

Dealing with Explosiveness

How do you handle a child’s explosive outburst?

Here are some ideas:

1. Rather than asking what’s going on with the child, first ask yourself: what’s going on in the house? What’s the tone? What happened preceding the outburst?

2. Ask: When did I last connect to this child? (As in, loving attention, kind interaction, mutual regard) Have I listened to him tell a story? Have I made eye contact with her or given a hug or shoulder squeeze (if the child responds positively to those gestures)?

3. Challenge yourself to reframe the behavior through the positive. Rather than calling it an angry, disrespectful outburst, can you describe the explosion in terms that are less judgmental:

  • he feels out of control,
  • she feels bereft,
  • he is looking for an ally,
  • he is frightened,
  • she is discovering her personal power to say NO to what she really really really does not like or want (all women need this power, by the way).

4. In the moment, can you respond in the opposite spirit? Go gentle when he goes harsh, go kind when she goes rude, go firm and clear when he is scattered and coming apart. To be kind and firm is supportive—”I’m right here. I feel your anger. I’ve got a bottle of bubbles. Want to show me how angry you are by blowing these bubbles?”

5. Or join with him: “That’s some powerful anger!” Then scream along side at full volume.

See if you can get the 360º aerial view, rather than taking it personally.

Q-TIP: Quit taking it personally.

Read More:

You Want Them to Disagree with You

The Homeschool Alliance