Dear The Intuitive Parent,
I need your help ...
Here's the scenario:
I proceeded to pick up my children as they stay with me regularly and two of my children decided to bring their American Girl dolls, and every accessory they own, to my house. When I questioned why, they said "We don't have homework tonight and we want to play with our dolls at your house." When I say ... every accessory ... I mean EVERY accessory. My youngest was carrying a doll, a wire frame bed for two dolls, all the bedding, a motor scooter and helmet.
Normally I would take them home and make dinner for them but I did not feel like cooking, so I took them to the "golden arches". Yes, I know ... that is a topic for another day. We arrived at my house and I got out and started to corral the children out of the car. Now before I let you in on what happened next ... you should know this ... my children have developed my bad habit of carrying as much as you possibly can all at once to avoid multiple trips out of the car and up the stairs.
I had just exited the car and was emptying the trunk, when I heard a crash and then crying. I went around to make sure my youngest was alright, to see before me her American Girl doll, the wire framed bed and, are you ready for it ... her full vanilla shake minus a sip or two on the road next to my car. As I looked a bit closer I realized that the doll got the worst of it. The shake was all over her, mostly in her hair.
I reacted in the moment and lost it. I yelled, I swore ... not at my children, but at the situation. I was carrying on and ranting and raving like a lunatic. While this was going on an innocent passerby happened down the sidewalk past us. He didn't say a word, but I can only imagine what he was thinking of my parenting abilities. I pulled it together, threw all the stuff that was on the ground, including my youngest' meal, doll, wire frame bed, and bedding into the recycle bin that happened to be next to my car; not because I was throwing them away as she thought and begged me not to. I needed one large container to carry the debacle that was dinner and fun upstairs.
Once I got upstairs and my children situated at the dinner table, I took a deep breath and told my daughter I was sorry. Sorry I yelled, sorry I reacted, and that it was an accident and accidents happen. I also expressed to her that she could have waited and asked me for help rather than trying to carry everything as she unbuckled her seat belt and stepped out of the car.
I am embarrassed by my reaction, by my words, by my actions, and worse of all how I made a bad situation worse. My daughter was already upset and now I was yelling at the situation. And while this was all going on, she said to me with tears in her eyes "Daddy I'm sorry, I couldn't hold it all and they slipped".
How I could have handled this situation so much better in the moment!
I did recognize the error of my ways and apologized for it to my children, but I wish I could have not reacted the way I did in the moment. Every day is a challenge, and I try to improve as a parent. I'm getting there ... but its very slow going.
How could I have handled this situation better?
Before I answer and comment, I want to make it clear to my readers that I am not like a lot of other advice websites out there. I coach through observation and assist my clients in self-discovery and problem solving. And I also disclose that this was submitted for publication, with permission, from a current coaching client.
I would like to start by addressing the language you used about yourself and the situation because it reveals a lot about how you see yourself as a parent.
You stated -
“Normally I would take them home and make dinner for them but I did not feel like cooking, so I took them to the "golden arches". Yes, I know ... that is a topic for another day.”
“I was carrying on and ranting and raving like a lunatic. While this was going on an innocent passer by happened down the sidewalk past us. He didn't say a word, but I can only imagine what he was thinking of my parenting abilities.”
These phrasings jumped out at me right away. It sounds to me like you have a lot of self-judgment, as opposed to confidence in yourself that you are doing the best you can. What do you think of that observation?
I also noticed that you said you pulled it together after the innocent passerby walked by; who you assumed was also judging you negatively. How do you know that? Maybe he has kids and reacts similarly. Maybe he doesn’t and didn’t blame you at all. Or maybe he did. My point is, it sounds like you are projecting your own judgment of yourself onto the perception of a stranger. The fact is, you don’t know what they were thinking if they didn’t share it with you. And that you also stated he was "innocent" tells me you thought that he would be offended by what they heard and witnessed in some way.
Another observation I have is that it sounds like you have a lot of guilt about how you made your daughter feel by your reactions. And you also possibly feel like the whole situation was ultimately your fault because you said, “my children have developed my bad habit of carrying as much as you possibly can.”
Again, you are my client so I do know you well enough to know that you will most likely be more aware of your children carrying too much and potentially creating another situation like this. If you want a practical idea for preventing this, I would suggest going to a dollar store and picking up a few extra large, re-usable bags to put in your trunk.
I would next challenge you to consider looking at your relationship with your children a little differently. I want to go back again to what shifted your perspective: What you perceived the passerby was thinking. It sounds like that was your catalyst for you to shift out of how you were reacting.
Knowing this, if my observation is correct, how can you apply it to a future situation? Do you need it to be an outside force that gives you the wake-up to move from reacting to problem-solving? Is there a way that the outside force could be your own children? Is there a way for you to act in partnership with them so that the next time something else happens that you feel yourself reacting to, they can get your attention, in a mutually supportive way?
I know from my experience with you that it is very important to you that you have a close relationship with your kids. I will support you in finding ways that work for you, and your kids, to accomplish that. I also look forward to exploring with you further, if you would like, how your self judgment may be affecting your parenting in ways that may be keeping you from having the kind of relationship you want.
If you have a situation you would love to submit for feedback, please send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will only edit submissions to retain confidentiality.
“If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don't have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.” ~ Steve Jobs
I came across this quote in one of my coach training classes many months ago and it has stuck with me ever since. I started thinking, what if I could apply this not just to projects and business ideas, but apply it to my life?
I have had the longtime habit of living from a place where I avoid what I don’t want as much as possible, and base personal decisions on how I want to move away from certain ideas, habits, and situations that weren’t right for me. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I think it’s only half of what I should be doing.
I read this quote and it got me excited! What if the vision of what you really want your future to look like is what gets you excited every day? You are going to start making decisions and doing things, no matter how big or small, that align with that future as much as possible.
While all of my writings about parenting come from personal experience, my personal life, and decisions I have made in it have felt…. well, muddy and incomplete; with no clear intention of what I wanted down the line. I may have thought I was doing well, and I am proud of myself for how far I have come, but through my training, I realized I could do SO much better! When I say better, I mean with clearer intent and clearer vision.
As a Parent Coach and Mentor, I have learned to apply my training to my own life. You know the saying - “If you're going to talk the talk, you've got to walk the walk”? I have definitely been doing that! Now, instead of having the habitual mindset of only working on problems I wanted to solve, so I can move away from them by getting them out of my life, I have been practicing envisioning what I want for my own future…. a moving towards, so to speak. This has shifted me from only setting goals, to getting excited for the vision of exactly what I want, so those goals could be even more focused.
In this journey, I decided that in order to help other parents with the same thing, I could find a way to inspire you all to create exciting future visions for yourselves. To help with this inspiration, I have opened up my blog to include stories from all of you!
Do you have a story like this to share but don’t have the outlet? Do you have a blog already and would like more exposure? Do you have an “Ah-ha!” parenting moment that is just too good not to share? Have you taken more control over your life in order to set a better example for your children?
Go over to my website and drop me a message if you’d like to contribute stories that may inspire other parents.
All of us grew up being taught basic manners: saying Please and Thank You, not belching at the table, and also saying I'm Sorry when we upset or hurt someone. As we got older, we learned pretty quickly that the last one didn't always work. Saying I'm Sorry didn't always fix things and yet we got confused as to why the other person didn't feel better after hearing us say it. Many of us would get mad at the other person for not just accepting those words and moving on.
Maybe teaching our kids to say those words isn't enough. Maybe it's time that we evolve as parents and realize that teaching this not only falls short, but may also damage our child's ability to handle and resolve conflict as they get older.
I came across a story a few years ago. I am going to paraphrase because I don't remember the exact wording of it. I believe it was a teacher who demonstrated this to their class and I believe the topic they were covering was bullying. They took a piece of paper and crumpled it up. Then had a student flatten it as much as they could. No matter how much effort the student put in to flattening the paper, they couldn't get it back to where it started. The point was that the paper represented a person. The crumpling represented bullying. And the wrinkles in the paper that couldn't be smoothed out represented the affects left behind, even after an apology.
The photo above that I am borrowing from RawForBeauty.com is another representation of the same idea. If you can't read it on your mobile device, here is the text next to a broken plate in the photo:
I could add a couple more lines to this:
The next question is, if I'm not going to teach my child to say I'm Sorry, how do I teach them empathy when they have done something wrong?
Have you ever witnessed a baby crying when they hear another baby cry? A young child crying when a movie character is hurt? You can think of more examples, can't you? Children are born with empathy!
Your next question is, my two year old hits to get a toy they want, then doesn't care that the other child cries. What do I do then if I don't teach them to give the toy back and say "I'm sorry."?
Your two year old is learning their place in the world. They found satisfaction in getting that toy the way they knew how in that moment. It's most likely that this satisfaction overruled their empathy for the other child. Do you really think that forcing your child to say words they don't feel is teaching them anything good? What do YOU think you should do instead? You know your child best. Did they even notice how upset the other child was? Maybe they didn't. Is there a way you can explain to them, at their level of understanding, what a better way would be? Are they in the habit of using this method of getting their own way? Do they know what would work better without hurting other kids?
Don't get me wrong.... Saying I'm sorry is a polite, social acknowledgement when there isn't much damage done. When there is, it takes more than saying the words "I'm sorry". The words don't make everything right, especially if the behaviors that you are apologizing for happen time and again. Too often I have witnessed people use those words almost as a weapon; to shut the other person up when the person who was hurt needs to express all of their associated feelings, needs them acknowledged, and needs to feel understood. In this case, it comes off as dismissive. This is just one example of how teaching those words hampers future healthy social interactions with others.
Feeling truly sorry is remorse. It is a desire to hear how the other person has been affected, a desire to understand, and a desire to do what the person needs to make it right. Most of the time, what makes the other person feel better is simply being allowed to express themselves without being judged for it. Most of the time, if the offense isn't too great for them, it is enough to release the hurt so they can forgive you.
When it comes to teaching this to our kids, let's figure out a way to have it evolve according to their individual level of development and understanding. Maybe they need it pointed out that they hurt someone else. Maybe they need to calm down in a heated situation, then ask the child that they hurt if they are ok. (I have had excellent results with this one!) Maybe they need to learn to slow down, stop, and really pay attention to the consequences of their actions and need help figuring out how to do so. Above all, let's also see what kind of example we are setting for our kids when it comes to apologies and remorse in our relation to others, but also to them. This last area, is a blog topic all by itself!
I wanted to give all of my lovely subscribers a very overdue update! To get an idea of what I have been up to since my last post in July, you can refer to the other blog that I recently started through my book site. The blog is called Living With Lyme. I also published a revised and color edition of my book. Thank you to those of you who have continued to check in and email questions. I have enjoyed interacting with all of you in such a direct and personal manner, as well as through Facebook.
I have been slowly working on my book, Intuitive Homeschooling, and am excited about my new plans for getting it finished. Considering how I have been feeling and how my symptoms often make writing very difficult, I have been satisfied with my progress.
The more exciting news is that I found a very reputable and wonderful Coaching school! It took me three years to finally make the commitment and I am so happy I did. I have been through some very intense training and will continue to do so right through to my full ICF certification. This means that very, very soon you will see some changes on my site as well as a new commitment to all of you to write as often as my health allows. Along with the site redesign, I will be offering Parent Coaching!
This step was in such perfect alignment with what my message has been through the years to all of you - You have your own perfect answers! Now I will be able to have powerful conversations with you so that you can discover that for yourself. Through our sessions you will find that you do have all the resources you need to be the parent you have always wanted to be.
"How do I start homeschooling?"
When it comes to homeschooling, this is probably the most asked question and the one that gets the most diverse answers. You will hear anything from "De-school yourself first!", "If your kids are in school, pull them out now and just let them decompress," to the other end of the spectrum where someone will say "Find a virtual school." Receiving such varied responses can be confusing for someone new to homeschooling. I am going to try to simplify it for you and end the confusion.
Step #1 - Find out what your local homeschooling laws are. A five-minute internet search can help you with that.
Step #2 - Once you see what the legal requirements are, find a local or state homeschooling association which can help you with the logistics to meet those requirements. Some states are much simpler than others. In the ones where the requirements seem complicated, there will be people who have been doing it long enough to guide you in simplifying the process. The best advice I can give you in this area is to think like a lawyer and ONLY give what you are required to give by law. By the end of the year, chances are you will have gone above and beyond what was required, so there is no need to complicate things by offering more to your reporting agency.
Step #3 - Give your year some structure. How you proceed with this will vary greatly depending on your family goals and how you want to meet your state's requirements. It may also change from year to year, depending on your educational goals. It works best if you break this down into much smaller steps, so you don't get overwhelmed. And please, do yourself a huge favor and do not follow anyone's "method", "style" or any packaged right or wrong way. I won't list the coined methods, but you will know when you see them. Almost all of them can interfere with your parenting so don't give your power away.
This is how I break it down every year for my family:
Interest led activities
I have four children, ages seven to seventeen, who each have very different personalities, learning styles and interests. This complexity could potentially lead to a loss of sanity for me if I don't plan ahead accordingly. This past year there was taekwondo, four different dance classes, gymnastics, acting workshops, productions and classes, Japanese class, Girl Scouts, horseback riding, homeschool teen group activities, library clubs and volunteering. I put a high priority upon all of the above because these are the things that the kids want to do and that give them joy. For those concerned about the kids having social interactions, activities like this should answer that concern! The list will look different for you, so don't be concerned about mine.
Each summer we discuss what they would like to do in the fall. My daughter has decided to scale back on dance classes a bit. One of my sons wants to go to beekeeping classes and start an apiary in the spring. Another one of my sons would like to sign up for fencing. While each of them is keeping a few activities that they did last year, they have the option to try others. Once the kids have decided what they would like to do in the fall, I get it on their schedule, that way I know what days and time-frames I have available for the rest of the year.
Classes and Clubs
After those schedules are completed, I can find out what classes or clubs they would like to be involved in that are homeschool centered. Last year, my oldest was covering American History. Since I have a strong history background, I designed an American History Through Movies course that fit his learning style and would keep him connected with the material. My youngest wanted to have a book club, so we held a Mighty Girl one, choosing books from the site A Mighty Girl, where six other homeschooled girls attended. If you don't want to set these things up yourself, find others in your area that are holding open classes and clubs. Keep looking until you find the right fit for you! You may even decide that you don't want to run classes or have your child attend any because they have enough other things going on. Or you may want to spend that time building a closer connection with your child by going on a lot of field trips by yourselves.
Yes, I put this step last! Once all of the above is set up, it is much easier to fit in all of your other educational goals, whether that means a lot of free play because they are very young, or more structured studies in preparation for college, or even time for your child to learn a skill that they can use to start their own business. You have the freedom to create what is best for your child here as long as you meet your state's legal requirements at the same time. Don't be afraid to get creative and think outside what you know about the "classroom."
Those new to homeschooling usually put all of their efforts into their educational goals first and foremost, then start feeling isolated very quickly, even deciding to give up because their children aren't around enough other children. You can prevent this by trying the order I suggest here. If you are worried you won't have enough time to meet your educational goals, I have to tell you that homeschooling does NOT take as long as you think it does. You can have your child learn in a way that doesn't take hours out of your time. It may sound impossible, but with the resources we have available today, it can be accomplished and in much less time you ever imagined!
People often think that the overwhelming part of homeschooling is the academics. Once you get started, you will see that because there are so many options, finding the right method that works best for your family as a whole will be the biggest challenge. That challenge will come more from your own expectations about what you think you are "supposed" to be doing based on your own school experiences, as well as some pressure from people who have no idea how homeschooling really works. The academics are only one aspect of it. Integrating them into your life will be much easier if you let go of preconceived ideas of what schooling has meant to you in the past.
While the above is how I do it with my family, keep in mind that the right way to do it is the one that works best for your family and will look completely different. Find others who are willing to share how they do it and keep trying different things until you find what works for you and what doesn't. You will quickly discover that homeschooling isn't something you do during "school hours" but it is a complete lifestyle.
And the Facebook posts started - Photos of stuff the fur babies bought for their "mommies" (Yes, that means pets "bought" for their owners.) Posts to people who are role models to other women as far as being nurturing but still never having their own children. Posts by people of both genders who have never had children, but are so far removed from what the holiday is supposed to be about that they try to find a way to make it about them. If you don't have human children, Mother's Day is NOT about you! Get over it and stop hijacking the ONE day we get a nationwide acknowledgment for all that we are and all that we do. We willingly sacrifice, if that's even the right word, for our children. Don't make us give this up too for the sake of making everyone else happy, yet again, because you know darn well that we would.
According to history.com, "The official Mother’s Day holiday arose in the 1900s as a result of the efforts of Anna Jarvis, daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis. Following her mother’s 1905 death, Anna Jarvis conceived of Mother’s Day as a way of honoring the sacrifices mothers made for their children. Arguing that American holidays were biased toward male achievements, she started a massive letter writing campaign to newspapers and prominent politicians urging the adoption of a special day honoring motherhood." That's right people! The holiday is to honor women who raise children.
Being a mother of a human child is nowhere near the same as having a pet. My apologies to the pet people who think there isn't much difference. There is, and there is no way you could know unless you actually raised a child so trust me that this mother of four knows what she is talking about. The immense degree of love, responsibility, and joy is something you can't possibly understand until you give birth to or adopt a child yourself. Mother's Day is a day of solidarity for all of us who understand that.
To all of the moms out there - I hope you all have a wonderful day to reflect on how important you are and spend some time with your beautiful families. We are raising the future, and there is no job more important than that!
What I want to address is the power of those who don’t produce new content, but those who react to it. It’s as if there’s a new type of bully. I call them the social media bully. It’s the person who gives their power away to someone else to make them feel a certain way in one sentence, one photo, or one post. Then they try to take their power back through lashing out at that person for “making” them feel bad. I don’t believe they always know they are bullying, but the fact is they are.
Recently, there was a photo going around. I’m sure many of you have seen it. It was a photo of a mom, Maria Kang, and her three very young children. In the photo, she looks physically strong and fit, baring her washboard abs, with the caption “What’s your excuse?” Now having been around personal trainers before, this seemed to be a typical type of message that I have heard from them. I came to my own conclusion that she was one. In fact, she was a trainer for three years. While that type of one-liner message doesn’t resonate with me, it does work with some people as a motivator by getting them to stop and think. It’s meant to get your attention, make you think and be honest with yourself. However, this was not the reaction a lot of people had after the photo was shared. It became viral whether Maria intended for it to or not.
I’m not sure how many of the people who were having reactions visited Maria’s site, and I quickly realized it didn’t matter to them. While someone could get something positive and self-motivating from her, many people had such a strong reaction to the original photo and caption that they just had to get their feelings out about it. Those feelings varied widely! Maria has been called inspirational, mean, powerful, judgmental, beautiful, a bad mother… among other things. The one that bothered me the most was that she was called a bully! … Bully?? Really?
If you type “bully definition” into Google, this is what you get:
Maybe if you stopped bullying her, judging her, and making assumptions about her, you could find a positive message and maybe some inspiration from her. If not, maybe you should just leave her be because everything I have seen is nothing short of hypocritical.
Do people have so little self-control that they have to react strongly to a message without taking the time to find out the facts behind it? Are they so self-centered that they look for ways of being insulted when the person wasn’t even talking to them personally? Do they care so little about others that they don’t think about whether their reaction is appropriate and kind before they decide to share it? I have been thinking about this and it seems to me that it’s much deeper than that.
Here’s an analogy I thought might help – When you have an awful dream that really, really bothers you, doesn’t it make you feel better to talk about it, have someone listen to you, and even though the dream wasn’t real, have someone who is listening be able to empathize with your traumatized feelings about it?
The truth is this – If you don’t have a positive, motivating feeling when you see her photo and caption, it’s not for you! It’s really as simple as that. What you are feeling right now isn’t caused by her. It is caused by you. It’s your dream. It’s your perception. And it’s not her responsibility to walk on glass so she doesn’t get bullied. I don’t see how she was fat shaming in any way, shape or form. In fact, she is passionate about being healthy after many years of not being so.
With all of that said…
The level of struggle, hurt, ridicule, and even guilt I have seen in people’s reactions makes me realize that what Maria is about doesn’t matter whatsoever. What matters is that each of the people who reacted negatively to her photo desperately wants to be heard. They want their struggles to be acknowledged. They won’t be ready to change their perspectives until they feel like they have a right to feel the way they do. Sometimes their hurt is revealed when they lash out at a target in the same way they feel like they have been treated in the past. They don’t know how else to process their feelings because they feel like they have been oppressed or unheard so they blame someone else for how they feel instead of taking ownership of their feelings. They give away their power to be happy to someone else. It’s too painful for them to be left with feelings that their experiences have left them with, and sometimes other people have directly created in the past. They don’t know what to do with those feelings so they unknowingly continue the cycle.
While I understand it’s not fair to be left dealing with those feelings you most likely didn’t create in the first place, you have no choice NOT to if you want to be happy. You can’t be happy if you are having negative, hurt reactions to other people who aren’t even a part of your life. All you will do is perpetuate the hurt unless you face it, process it and remove it from your inner life. No one can do that for you. It’s your choice to live in a place of happiness. It’s not other people’s responsibility to create it for you.
I have never had an eating disorder or have had to struggle with my weight. I can’t personally relate to what any of those who have expressed the most hurt and offense have gone through. I have to admit that. What I can relate to is how hurt they feel. How rejected they feel. How they have been subjected to ridicule. How they look around at what is put in their face as “normal” and how they don’t feel like they are in the club. Those are universal human feelings. However, do you have a right to make someone else feel as bad as you do? Your reactions have nothing to do with this stranger named Maria. They are solely about your experiences. While you have every right to feel the way you do, and you are entitled to, what you do have to realize is that you are perpetuating it by making others responsible for it when those feelings bubble up. When you put it on someone else forcefully and judgmentally, that is bullying.
My message today is to stop and think before you react to something you see online. When you feel a reaction, control yourself and figure out why you have those feelings. Chances are they have nothing to do with anything created here and now. Those feelings were already there, just waiting for you to deal with them so you can move on. While it may make you feel better to vent your feelings in the moment, realize that the stranger on the other end has no idea where you are coming from because they don’t know you and they don’t deserve to be called names, they don’t deserve to be judged and they don’t deserve to be treated badly.
My hope that after all is said and done, Maria isn’t bullied into silence and that she is allowed to keep her work going with those who need her. She wouldn’t be successful if she wasn’t helping someone. If that someone isn’t you, is there any point in being offended by her? I think not.
Back in May I wrote a piece called "What are you teaching your kids?" I shared an experience where I learned that my many years of parenting has taught me to stop, observe and listen, without letting my own urges interfere with what my six year old daughter needed from me. Recently I came across a wonderful piece written by Deliberate Parenting where she shares her experience with the same type of interchange that happened between her and her young daughter. What I love so much about this is that she found what worked best for her daughter in the moment without fixing everything for her. Plus, she embodied exactly what I try to get through to people about parenting - Just because you read how someone else does something, it doesn't mean it's best for you. You MUST feel your way through parenting not just apply the methods you read about. That is the only way to be sure you are doing what's best for your kids. Your child's well-being is as important as your relationship with them.
Here is the piece in it's entirety! Enjoy! And please do visit her site and leave her a comment!
Why I Didn’t Step In When Kids Told My Daughter to Go Away
Posted by Marisa on September 22, 2013 in The Choices We Make
Children pick and choose play partners. Their willingness to meet and play with other kids is not necessarily hampered by whether they know these kids. Play groups form naturally whereever play occurs. From school yards to playgrounds, children’s play is critical for practicing how to get along with others, how to make friends, and really just how to keep on keepin’ on.
A Girl Rejected. This weekend while at a birthday party, my three year old daughter, eager to play with kids as usual, climbed up a small backyard slide with a deck and stood politely among three older children (between the ages of 5 and 9). I was sitting alone at a table nearby for the purpose of keeping an eye on her. Though I was about 15 feet away, I could tell by her solemn face and stiff body that they were not having a friendly interaction. As the older kids shooed her away, Greysen stood wide-eyed and unsure, but steady.
I had to decide right there, should I come closer or stay out of it? Having intervened with this group of children at a previous birthday party in July, I was familiar with their routine of “get away kid, you’re bothering me.” The other thing I kept in mind was that while they were older than my daughter, they were children too.
The last time they asked her to leave, my daughter stood alongside her cousin, and together they played through the group of older children, not taking much notice of their dismissive ways. By my moving in closer, the children quieted, and my daughter and her cousin naturally moved away.
This time was different. My daughter stood alone and was acutely aware of their feelings.
As the children continued to speak, my daughter turned to me. I nodded and said, you can tell them, “No, I’m playing here.” Perhaps there were savvier words that I could have suggested, but that’s what I went with. Fueled by my encouragement, she turned to them and said so confidently. The kids regrouped and talked some more. She stood waiting to get access to the slide, but now she was gripping the side of the structure. She looked at me while they spoke. Her face didn’t seem alarmed or hurt, but rather unsure. I stayed where I was, focused and available should she seem to need me. She looked back to the children and continued to wait. Within moments they spoke to her again and she responded to them again, this time with more determination -”NO.”
She wasn’t looking to me to be rescued, but rather for reassurance. So, despite the ache I was feeling for my daughter who was being told to leave, I stayed put waiting for her to indicate she needed more from me than she was getting.
The children spoke some more amongst themselves before one moved positions, climbing down. This spurred movement amongst all the children, and my daughter took this opportunity to slide down the slide.
She jaunted over to see me. I sat and waited, swallowing my urge to ask whether she was ok, and what did they say, etc.
As she twisted her leg to free her foot from her boot, she had three things to tell me:
1. Those kids were telling me to go away.
2. I’m going to play in the jumphouse now.
3. Can I have a red sugar candy?
I leaned down for a hug and held her for just the briefest moment, in which I felt a sting of the idea that there will be a time where I will not be there when she faces rejection. She may not have me, but she will have had this experience.
Had I walked over to intervene, I could have spared Greysen two more instances of confrontation. I could have even possibility facilitated some play. There was a remote chance that I could have even helped her gain entry into their play.
Had I intervened, I could have taken over all those children’s play. I could have taken Greysen’s opportunity to stand up for herself, to bolster her tenacity, to negotiate, and to really listen to when she needs help and when she doesn’t.
The idea to not ask my child the 50 questions I had read was inspired by this post by Robin Whitcore and a response of approval (when I shared this post) by Lisa Sunbury.
The need to process and analyze may not be their need, but ours. At that moment, I chose to trust my daughter and our relationship. I gave her permission to take the lead of her emotional development since it was a manageable instance, and to not ask her to placate me with details.
What purpose would those questions have served other than to reassure me? When she has questions, she asks them. When she is upset, she cries. If she needed to talk, she would have.
That was that for her. Thus, that was that for me.
When a lot of homeschooling parents think about continuing through the high school years, they can get overwhelmed very easily. The prospect of college looms on the horizon and parents get nervous about their abilities to prepare their teens. What can be even more daunting is wondering if college admission offices will take your teen seriously since, after all, they have a transcript prepared by mom and/or dad! What I can tell you is that putting together great classes for your teen that will be taken seriously by colleges and ones that are enjoyable for your teen is completely possible. First you need to let go of the teacher, curriculum, transcript trap.
So what do I mean about the "trap"? It's too easy to look at college admission requirements then go backwards to figuring out how you are going to plan to cover those credits. You automatically think of things like English 101, Geography and other pretty stale, nondescript class titles. While some people are perfectly content with buying courses or having their teen take them through a local community college, there is another way. That way is by creating a custom curriculum. The best way I can describe how to do this is to give you a couple of examples.
Last year, I was concerned that my sixteen year old wasn't reading a lot of traditional books like he used to. He had no interest in the few I gave him and after giving them a try, he put them down. I am an avid reader and writer so I completely believe in only reading what interests you. If you read the first chapter of a book and just can't get through it, it's either poorly written or just doesn't click with you. There are so many books to choose from so why be forced to read what you don't enjoy. While I firmly believe this, I was still seeing current suggested book lists for high schoolers and it got me a little nervous. My son's main source of reading this past year was the graphic novels found in the Teen section of our local library. (A good library pulls out the Mature ones and be warned, they are rated Mature for a reason; just as the Teen ones are rated for a reason as well!) When I went to look at how many books he read, I discovered he had read almost FORTY! Those were in addition to the more classic ones he did read. While I had originally told him that I couldn't count them as toward his transcript credit, seeing the number he read made me think twice. So I did a little digging...
After a quick internet search I found course descriptions for Graphic Novel classes not only from Phillips Academy, but also from a number of Ivy League colleges! Reading through the requirements of the courses as well as the syllabuses made me realize that not only could I form what he did into a course but it was one he was going to complete and have fun doing! I grabbed suggestions for a few books for him to read so that he can further understand the genre as well as a couple of other suggested graphic novels that are written a little differently than what he had been reading. He now has a complete course under his belt!
Another example of creating a custom course is how I am covering United States history this year. I have an extensive background in history from college and have maintained of love of it since then. One thing I love to do is watch a historical movie or documentary and see how accurate it is. After finally getting around to seeing the HBO John Adams series this year, I decided that I could make a fun class for the kids and their friends out of doing that; especially since my sixteen year old loves history as much as I do!
It did take some work but I sat down and came up with twenty six historical dramas that will be fun to watch that are PG13 and below. The kids will do research on their own during the week to look into the validity of what they watched then we will talk about it before our next movie each week. (I keep getting requests to share my list but I decided that it wouldn't serve people very well without being a complete class. I hope to find the time as we go during the year to put together an affordable package with complete historical notes. If you do decide to try this yourself, please be aware that even documentaries have mistakes in them! I was even recently advised that the Teach With Movies service has mistakes all over it.)
These are just two examples of how you can create your own custom courses. The more you can create that center around your teen's interests and learning style, the better. They will connect with the information more and it will be much more tangible to them. They will not only meet the transcript requirements that college admission offices look for but they will stand out as being unique, interesting individuals.
There is quite a bit of advice from homeschoolers regarding college. Funny thing is, the people pushing the most advice are either people who don't have kids that are teenagers yet or they are the ones with the teens that those particular people use as examples of what homechoolers who go to college are like. You hear tons of stories about homeschooled teens that go to college early; the actuality is that there aren't as many as you'd think. Or stories of “our founding fathers” who homeschooled; different times, people, different times. Even more about college for free through online free classes; all HYPE, believe me! Or how some colleges don't even require SATs; not by my research. Or what about the whole "college is an evil empire" argument and how you don't need it to succeed; not always wrong but haven't they read the stats about college grads and the gap in earning? Shall I list more? Many of you know exactly what I'm talking about!
The truth is some of us, actually most of us homeschooling parents, have teens that are just …. well, normal!!! They may not know what they want to do with their life. There is nothing wrong with that. They may know what they want to do but not sure what path they want to take. There is nothing wrong with that either. Isn't it even a little unfair to expect a fifteen year old to decide what they want to do with their life, pick a path, and be expected to follow through just for the sake of finishing something they start. The stories of overachievers from the main stream or homeschoolers I think make those of us who don't have super amazing stories to tell much more tight-lipped about sharing our paths. … But you know me... I'm not afraid to share if I know it will help someone gain a little more confidence in their abilities as a parent.
My oldest is sixteen. He has wanted to be an actor from the time he could talk. At sixteen, he still has that passion and while I may be biased, he is good at it! (When a casting agent who holds a workshop he takes tells you so, that's even better ;-) We have looked at what path is best for him. He has a few options and the key for me is that I don't close off his options because that can decide for him what his path will be. I want it to be up to him to find what feels best for him. What I mean by that is if he decides he definitely wants to take the college acting degree path, he has to have a transcript and diploma. Period. The transcript has to have a certain amount of credit hours for certain subjects. (Sorry unschoolers! The facts are the facts!) After looking into his college options that are the most affordable for a one income family of six, all of those colleges require SATs. Even if he doesn't go to college now and decides to later, he is going to need those scores.
Okay, homeschoolers. I know I just burst a few overinflated bubbles! But don't be scared and react by declaring your kid is going to an institutional high school! I will do a completely separate blog about course options for high school as well as transcripts. You don't have to follow a bunch of packaged curriculum to have an outstanding high school transcript. In fact, it is often better if you don't and have a much more personalized learning path that is directly related to what your teenager would like to do. If you go to college admission pages, they often come right out and say that they want to see some specialized emphasis. This is how us homeschoolers have a huge advantage! Again, I will visit that later.
My son has other options than the college path. For him, it is best for him to continue not only his training, even outside of college, but also get experience. He may decide to finish his high school years and focus all of his efforts on auditioning, gaining roles and experience and see how it goes. He may decide that is working great for him and he won't need college at all since he may be working enough. Or he may only get roles intermittently and decide that he wants to have other skills that he can use to make money with. Then he can decide if he needs a full degree or just other training.
Whatever he decides he wants to do, it is still my job as a parent to be his advocate and make sure he has a good foundation he can build upon no matter what path he chooses. To do anything else or follow what other people do can really make things more difficult for him further down the road. I am the adult who has lived in the adult world. He isn't there quite yet and he doesn't have the experiences I have to see the whole picture as well as I can. And even for us parents, seeing the whole picture can be a challenge, can't it? We don't know what the future will bring for our kids. It's our job to just do the best we can to prepare them for it and set them up with options for success.
As a Parent Coach and Mentor, my passion lies in empowering parents to make the best decisions they can for their children and their families as a whole. As a well-trained coach, I can be your facilitator and accountability partner for long-lasting, meaningful change that has a permanent, positive impact for your family. By focusing on the values that you hold most important in your life, I can help you create and maintain the type of parenting relationship you want to have with your children, now and into their adulthood.
I am a homeschooling mom of four children in Massachusetts. I am also the author of a book called The Herbal Beverage Book, which can be found on amazon or directly on my website. When not coaching, writing or spending time with the family, I enjoy Hayao Miyazaki films, new and classic Dr. Who episodes, anything related to American history and a great glass of mead.
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This blog is a collection of thoughts, articles and perspectives I have at any one time. While I am pretty consistent in my beliefs, life changes and evolves along with experiences. You may feel a connection with me through my writing yet I never want any of my readers to misunderstand that the connection you feel is with a perspective I have shared and not me as a person. I am continually humbled that I am able to connect with my readers, and I hope to continue to be able to for many years to come, but it doesn't make us connected in any way beyond this. If you connect with what I write and know me as an acquaintance, this in no way reflects that I have any knowledge of you, your situation in life or that I am writing with you in mind. It is merely that I have shared a human experience that most likely very many others have had has well. This also goes for anything I post on my Twitter account, Facebook Page and Facebook personal page. I wanted to make this disclaimer as clear as possible so you know that any misunderstanding you choose to have is not my responsibility.