Should I be more like my dog?

Should I be more like my dog?

I’ve been thinking a lot about my oldest son – 18 today!

He’s the first born, a quiet, self-sufficient guy who keeps busy with many interests and responsibilities. He’s easy going, never complains – a boy who’s finally grown up to be a young man. The letters and emails from colleges are arriving and soon he’ll be heading off into to the big wide world.

Have I supported him enough? Could he possibly know how much I love and care for him?

When I say, “I’ve been thinking about him”, the reality is I’ve been thinking about myself in relation to him. Recently I’ve been trying too hard and in all the wrong ways.

When we’re in the same room, I feel an urgent need to connect. I find myself falling into a default, one-way, boring-as-heck line of questioning that runs like this:

How’s school-How’s it going-What’s going on-What time’s practice What are your plans after school-What friends are in your classes this semester?

While he’s patient with me, this stale inquiry goes nowhere.

I feel an awkward gap between us.

Here’s a beautiful contrast. First thing when my son comes home, he goes to the dog, and they share a few moments of mutual adoration and affection (face licks, tail waging, IMG_3038cooing noises). Seeing them together warms my heart.

What does my son see in his special friend?

  • The no-pressure act of just being
  • No one is asking, prodding or demanding ANYTHING
  • The warm & fuzzy factor

Then I get it:  for him, my efforts to connect feel like poking, nudging, and even prying; less like a relaxed, neutral, loving presence. Ichh!

So I decided to make a shift. Instead of eagerly confronting him at every turn with the usual litany of hollow questions, I would stay put, be present and let him come to me.

Once I embodied my new perspective, I noticed an immediate change. He came to me simply asking for help finding supplies and this felt HUGE from a kid who RARELY asks for anything.

Stepping into his shoes is helping me let go. At the same time, I’m learning to adapt to my children’s ever changing needs.

For my 18 year old, I’m channeling my inner pooch.

While I draw the line at face licks, happy whimpering, and faithful obedience, my inner snoopy-mama is more present (letting him come to me), unconditionally loving (fewer questions and less attachment to the need for answers), and always happy to see him.

CONSIDER⇔SHARE⇔ACT 

As always I encourage you to share your insights and questions below. The parenting journey is so much more fun when we travel it together!

The Message of Love

The Message of Love

Over dinner recently, my dear friend Katie, a graduate of one of my very first parenting classes, shared her biggest take away from the series:  THE MESSAGE OF LOVE. I asked “What effect does this concept have on your parenting today?” She answered,

“For me, the message of love means continually focusing on the big picture with my kids and letting them know that I love them. I apologize for my behavior when I lose it with them. They’re used to that. Even though I make plenty of mistakes and am not a perfect mother, I’m certain they know how much I love them. Every day I’m aware of the value of communicating that love, even in the smallest interactions.”

Today’s message is simple.

How do you show your love within and beyond the many daily acts of caring — the chauffeuring, cooking, laundering…?

Ironically, the hectic pace of Thanksgiving, with all of the preparations, attendant traveling, cooking, and socializing, can distract us from a grounded connection with our kids.

Remember for a moment, someone from your own childhood who you knew cared about you. How did you know? What did they do?

Maybe they spend time with you, listened to you, taught you a skill or game.

Below is a list of ideas, with concrete examples, for communicating the message of love. This list is a beginning. Please share your ideas in the comment section below!

Shared experiences

• Play a game together (we’re into Sorry right now – especially the 14 year old!)
• Cook together (favorites: eggs, lemon squares, help with prepping anything)
• Learn to do something together (friendship bracelets)
• Work together on a project (put together an Ikea desk, replay chess champion game moves, garden)
• Wrestle and rough house
• Walk the dog or take a hike

Empathetic communication

• Deeply listen to your child – no devices, no interruptions.
• Use phrases that convey empathy, such as:

  • You seem__________.
  • You look___________.
  • You sound__________.
  • You are____________.

Body language/tone of voice/alignment of internal and external energy

Be aware of how loving you feel on the inside. Notice how this is reflected on the outside by your facial expressions and body language. When these match you’ll come across with

  • Soft face & open heart
  • Warm, relaxed tone of voice
  • Sincerity and empathy
  • With an older child closet listening is a great option.

Katie reminded me – THE MESSAGE OF LOVE is powerful!

Take the time to BE with your children and communicate the message of love in your own, imperfect way. (Maybe it’s about not sweating the small stuff).

Take a moment to share in the comment section below how the MESSAGE OF LOVE is communicated in your family!

A Sliding Door Moment

A Sliding Door Moment

Don’t you love it when your children are all tucked in bed and you get to  breathe or read or twiddle your thumbs?

One recent evening, my 13-year old son came into our room.  Just as I was settling into thumb twiddling, he asked “Mom can you come and lay with me while I go to sleep?”

I’d been reading Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly, a book about relationships, parenting and the power of vulnerability.  On the pages I’d just finished reading Brené referenced John Gottman’s “sliding door” moments. The sliding door moment is when we come face to face with a choice, exactly the moment I experienced with Ethan standing next to me.

In this moment, we have the possibility of connection or turning away.

Of course it doesn’t boil down to one moment but rather the trend established over time.  Gottman says that trust erodes very slowly if we continue to turn away.

Now let’s return to my moment.  I so wanted to turn back to my book and the warmth of my cozy bed.  However, in front of me was a clear choice. Did I choose to connect with Ethan, or turn away from him?  What would you do?

I realized my thirteen year old son was offering me a precious opportunity to build trust and share affection.  I dragged myself out of bed (with some effort & audible moaning, I confess), and padded down the hall after him. I’d made my choice.

Next time you have a sliding door moment and your first instinct is to ignore or turn away, take a moment to think again.

CONSIDERSHAREACT

Notice when you say no and when you say yes to a sliding door moment.

What is a moment you are going to say yes to this week?

Share your thoughts here in the comments and pass this on to a friend.

Transforming the Little Moments to Bring in the Light

Transforming the Little Moments to Bring in the Light

Wouldn’t it be great to have a “before” and “after” parenting show?

Last month I traveled on swanky Virgin America and enjoyed the guilty pleasure of watching “What Not to Wear”.  Are you like me? Loving the transformation of the frumpy working gal into the self-confident put together chick? (Hint: I’m a great candidate – waiting to be nominated).

I’m drawn to the details of improvement – the way a crowded, gloomy living room, rearranged with better light, pillows, and plants becomes a welcoming space for activity and life.  Powerful.

Let’s bring this analogy home to my life as a parent. Here’s a situation I’m sure you’ll relate to.  Notice the before and after scenes – I’m the same, loving mom in each.  The difference is, in the second scene, I have a deeper understanding of Positive Discipline and with a few tweaks, the interaction with my daughter is transformed at the core.

photo

The scene: I’m putting my 6 year-old Sonja to bed and have just finished reading her a story.

Before:

Sonja:  Mom, I’m afraid.

Me:  What are you afraid of? (feeling a bit annoyed and thinking “what could you possibly be afraid of?!”)

Sonja:  I’m scared to go to bed.

Me:  There’s nothing to be scared of – you’re in your cozy bed and your family is home with you. (My annoyance is building.)

Sonja: I’m still afraid.

Me:  That’s silly cause you are perfectly safe. (I’m determined to leave and stop this conversation.)

As I leave the room a jumble of thoughts go through my mind:

  • What have I done to make her so insecure?
  • What’s wrong with her that she can’t simply go to sleep?
  • How will her fear manifest in the future?
  • It’s simple, she hasn’t had enough hardship in her life – if she’d had more trials, like me, then she’d know what fear really is!

After (with a Positive Discipline approach):

Sonja:  Mom, I’m afraid.

Me:  What are you afraid of?

Sonja:  I’m afraid to go to sleep. I’m afraid of all the normal stuff that people are afraid of.

Me:  Where do you feel that in your body?

Sonja:  My heart. It’s like I have butterflies fluttering in my heart and frogs jumping in my stomach.

Me:  Oh, that doesn’t sound good. (I place my hand on her heart).

Sonja:  Do you ever get scared?

Me:  Yes.  Remember last week when we were on the airplane and it was really bumpy and you were laughing and whooping it up? I was really afraid – I didn’t like how that felt AT ALL.

Sonja: I was scared too but it was also fun and funny.

Me:  People get scared of different things – I LOVE GOING TO BED.

I left the room, my daughter fell asleep. I wasn’t worried about her future. I felt close and connected to her.

Let’s look at some of the obvious differences in how I felt and acted in the two scenes.

BEFORE:

  • Worried
  • Fearful
  • Stuck in limited “role” of mom
  • Focus on how I’ve failed as a mom

AFTER:

  • Curious
  • Open
  • Interested in our shared human experience
  • Willing to share my vulnerability
  • In the present
  • Faith in my daughter to figure it out

While there’s no perfect way to parent, we can make small, subtle shifts that bring in the light to reveal our higher self. When we allow this to happen, we truly sparkle. The end result? An intimate moment of precious connection with our child. There’s nothing more beautiful than that.

We have much to learn from each other.

CONSIDERSHAREACT

In the comments below share what motivates you to go from scene 1 to 2? What helps you sparkle?

Next time you’re in that #1 scenario, stop, breath, connect, wait. Let us know what happens.

Contact me to learn more about parent and life coaching and future Parenting with Positive Discipline Classes.

 

What I learned on our RV vacation

What I learned on our RV vacation

I did something I never imagined I’d do.

 I took an RV trip with my family for 9 days.

One of my husband’s fondest memories was a 3-week RV trip with a friend’s family. This summer he was determined to make such a trip happen for our kids.

I was going to be a good sport and go along for the ride.

6 days later we were packed. Our Cruise America RV (awkwardly parked on our narrow tree lined street!) was loaded with games, food, 3 tubes of toothpaste, toilet paper, dog chews and miles of cords, headsets and devices.

As we pulled away from home I felt a friend’s wise words — don’t be in a hurry — settle into my bones like a slow exhale.

I felt it when my husband, known to hide a speeding ticket or two, pulled over with a new civility and moderation to let the faster cars pass. Most folks waved or gave a friendly honk. He was relaxed and I could sense that he was enjoying the change of pace.

At times I was aware of the habitual worry creeping in. What had I forgotten? Was there somewhere we needed to be? The creeping worry is indeed a fixture in my day-to-day life.

[tweetthis]Then I would stop and remember that feeling of ease when we first pushed off. “Don’t be in a hurry,” our friend had said.[/tweetthis]

I felt it just knowing that we were together. For 9 days we biked, played board games, prepared food, cleaned, and continually shared the experience of our new surroundings.

We hiked through the magical giant redwoods, biked along the Northern Californian coast (trying not to crash as I was awed by the splendor of the Pacific Ocean) and waded in the Rogue River while salmon jumped just feet away.

Don’t get me wrong, my kids did the normal bickering – etc. but I’ll save that for another post!

One of my solitary pleasures was getting up early to pick blackberries to share over breakfast.IMG_2292

I was sad when the trip came to an end. It was a sweet time of togetherness.

Now I’m home. Summer’s coming to an end with school starting tomorrow.

I’m wondering about that sense of ease during our trip. How do I re-capture the feeling of time slowing down, of being present with myself and, my children, husband and dog.

What allows YOU to be at ease and present in your everyday life? I want to know. Please share in the comment section below for the benefit of all our readers.

CONSIDER⇔SHARE⇔ACT

What allows you to be at ease and present in your everyday life? Generally and specifically.

What commitment are you going to make in order to bring more ease and presence into your life?