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October 27, 2019











Here again are some aspects of my “out with the old” authoritarian parental paradigm (interesting that they look so great on paper):

  • A predictable, smooth-running household, run almost exclusively by rules;
  • Kids obedient to parental authority;
  • Quick, decisive action on the part of the parent when kids veer in thinking or action from our desired path for them;
  • A no-tolerance policy for disrespect, talking back, contention;
  • Quick to give punishments and consequences and/or use authoritarian words and tones in an effort to get what we want from our kids (because we want it now).

Next, I’d like to identify two family types who live this way. See if you can see your family in one of the following descriptions:

This first family is one that’s been operating under the above mindset but for whatever reason, it is not necessarily creating obedient, compliant kids; rather, it seems to be causing more and more emotional walls to come up between parent and one or more of the kids, and them with each.

Since you are seeing relationships deteriorate before your very eyes while the initial problems remain or worsen, you have become open to new ideas.

(This describes the scenario with some of my own children and is why I eventually found a better way.)

For this first family, the reason I’m taking the time and energy to promulgate a new mindset may be clear:

I feel you, my friend!

Whether you’re a single parent (some of the most “single” parents are married), your child is especially strong-willed and “difficult,” or you have other big challenges, I want to offer hope!

My goal is to save you time and frustration, worry and tears.

I hate that your suffering and searching could go on as long as mine did when maybe, just possibly, my speaking out could help speed that process up for you. So here I am with hope in my heart.

The second family is using this same authoritarian paradigm but it appears to be working just fine. The kids are obedient, things are smooth for the most part, and there is much love to go around. The parents have a tight handle on things. This describes the home I was raised in.

So why might any of this apply to you? Why consider a new way of thinking when old ways are working just fine?

Well, I feel for the kids. I was one of them.

Perhaps it’s not going quite as well in the hearts of your kids as they would have you believe…

Now that my eyes are open to it, I have become stunned by the number of children in loving homes who (though generally content and happy): feel they don’t have a voice; don’t feel comfortable letting their true thoughts and feelings be known; don’t feel appreciated and valued (unless they achieve–or pretend–a sameness with their parents, or can jump through an acceptable number of hoops).

The result is not necessarily a lack of love, but often a lack of Depth, a lack of Real, and a lack of Joy in those relationships, to the point that emotional detachment and even physical distance become the most desired option to children. Children often feel this way without their parents even knowing it!

Or….you may be a family of a third variety, just starting out but concerned and open minded realizing that the stress, pressures, and anxieties of our day make for a daunting atmosphere in which to raise children. Yikes. This puts your antennae up high for extra parenting tools.

Whatever your situation, would you mind if we take a fresh look down a less-traveled parental mindset? Could these become the goals highest on your parental totem pole?

  • A completely flexible and ever-adjusting household, run almost exclusively by principles;
  • Children who not only CAN talk to us about anything, because they feel it emotionally safe, but who WANT to talk to us about everything—even the hardest things—because our relationship is that tight…
  • Same between siblings; 😊
  • Children who feel free to voice their opinions and even discontent, free to say what is true and important to them at any given moment, no “elephants in the room” or even “dirt swept under rugs”;
  • Children who—using Truth, Conscience, and Love as ultimate authorities—drive their own education and growth, freeing up your time and energy;
  • Children who are Genuine, the precise people in view of those they want to impress, as they are out of it—no respecter of persons;
  • Children who are Confident in themselves, who despite the mistakes they will make along the way, believe deeply that it is a GOOD THING to be who they are.

In the coming weeks and months, we’ll discuss more specific ideas of how to shift to and operate under this new mindset. I welcome your worries and questions and am sure that just like us and our kids, we will learn more together than we could ever learn alone.

If you choose to take this journey, please plan to give yourself a whole bunch of mercy and grace along the way, because I can assure you that despite all the mistakes you will make, it is a GOOD THING to be YOU.


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October 27, 2019












Out with the Old

Don’t we all naturally believe that the ideal family is one in which there is no fighting and all children are obedient and compliant and lovely and clean and nary is there a snotty nose or a temper tantrum?

Isn’t it natural to assume that whenever there IS fighting or disobedience or a bad attitude or defiance or disrespect that something has gone terribly wrong?? That we are “off script” and therefore there must certainly be someone to blame??

We can end up blaming our kids by attaching negative labels (“You are SO disrespectful”), or ourselves by believing our own faulty character is behind it. Often, we blame both, even if only accidentally.

Not a fun way to live.

With this “Carnegie Hall” mindset, somehow, somewhere deep in our subconscious is the underlying belief that life is a performance with a full house of people in their tuxes and evening gowns just watching us, ready to think in their heads–or worse–mention to their friends just what they think of us. What an embarrassment it would be to hit wrong notes…or lose our place…or trip over our feet!

This performance mindset about life can create a sense of worry and urgency; we feel the need to get a handle on things [our kids] and to get it NOW…if not yesterday…. :/

But then, what if we find that controlling our kids isn’t working out as we planned?

Well, if it’s not, that’s a good thing to realize because if we’re not careful, those negative feelings and labels can stretch out and deepen, like an underground life-sustaining root system.

But there is hope! Always hope.

I ask you to consider: might thinking this way be a little like expecting a person to begin a gym membership with already bulging, fully developed muscle….or to play the violin right from the start with perfect pitch and form, not a squeak or a squawk?

Unheard of.

(Incidentally, the squeaks and squawks that grate our nerves and make us stand up straight are not an issue of character and we know it. Therefore, how much easier patience is to come by! There is a lesson in this!)

If you relate to this hurried, worried way of attempting to influence children that I’m describing, I want to see if I can talk you into changing your expectations as a parent, to change your whole definition of success. (You can do that, you know.)

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” ~ William James


In with the New!

What if we thought of life and growth and parenting less like an unnerving performance and more like the working of a puzzle? Though there is much to be done to complete a puzzle, puzzles don’t stress us out. We are content to work on them here and there, twist pieces this way and that, scan for colors, take breaks if we want, and work on them deep into the night if we’re feeling adventurous. If we get some pieces in the wrong places, it doesn’t throw us off our groove; we know we can make adjustments as the need arises. If others help us put pieces into our puzzle, we are not threatened or defensive (unless it’s the final piece, of course!); normally we’re glad for the help and the company.

Another thing: as we pass by the puzzle throughout our day we tend to be nothing but pleased seeing it slowly take shape, rather than critical of what’s left to finish.

Buddha said it this way: “There is much to be done; therefore we must proceed slowly.”

I think Buddha got it right. I’ve tried it both ways and I’ve found that adopting his paradigm provides for a much happier day-to-day existence. Slow and steady, yet very gentle pressure, always proceeding but never in a rush, lotsa spice and lotsa flavor (i.e. finding out what your kids REALLY think) and lots of simmering—this is a good recipe for a delightful gourmet dish, wouldn’t you say?

You know, the little turtle didn’t get much notoriety for being so slow and I imagine he got criticized along the way, but wherever he is right now, he’s probably still a walkin’, headin’ to the sea….