Winning Parenting

Three amazing teenagers. How did that happen?!? Parenting tips from the pleasantly surprised.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Laws, Limits and Lessons

Without boundaries life is less fun and often dangerous. Laws provide boundaries in society. We’ve all driven through an intersection when the traffic lights weren’t working. Everyone is on high alert and proceeds with extreme caution. But what if there were no traffic lights, no speed limits and we could drive on whichever side of the road we chose? Sounds like fun to some of us. But in reality, none of us would use the roads for fear of death. The boundaries provided by everyone respecting and obeying road rules allow each of us to regularly get to our destinations safely.  

Healthy families have boundaries, too. Families benefit from clear laws and limits in how we treat each other, respect our property, perform our daily routines and cooperate to get things done. Expecting others to be or do things without establishing laws and limits will lead to frustration and disappointment.

Just as drivers study the road rules, we must learn the laws and limits of our family. And to respect our boundaries, we first need to decide what a safe home looks like and then write laws and limits to create that home. Post them somewhere everyone is likely to see them. The fridge is a good place.

Just like riding in the car with a learner – we parents need to be in teaching mode and expect mistakes from our children. These broken laws and exceeded limits provide opportunities for lessons that can be told again later. We learn through trial and error. When a learner breaks a road rule the adult in the car is responsible – we get the ticket, the fine and the points. Parents who take this approach to raising children create safe environments for learning.

Every story we tell teaches a lesson to those around us. Our words reveal our focus, our purpose and what is important to us. You don’t tell stories about things that bore you. Whether it bothered you or bettered you, the stories you tell teach lessons to those around you.

So, write your family laws, set your family limits and teach your family lessons through the stories you tell about those laws and limits – when they were helpful and when they were difficult. The boundaries we set create the people we become!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

‘right back on’

True or False:

__ The girl who broke her arm falling off the bars goes climbing again before her plaster is even off.

__ The boy who fell off his bike and ended up in hospital is riding again the next day.

If you answered true, you know someone who has confidence. If you ask that boy or girl why they are not scared to go back to the thing that hurt them, they will tell you: “Because that’s my favourite thing to do! I fell and I’m OK. I’m not going to fall again but if I do I’ll be OK next time, too.”

Confidence comes from failure not success. The adage that you must get ‘right back on’ the horse when you fall off is not teaching you to conquer the horse. It’s teaching you to conquer your own fear of falling and build a ‘right back on’ attitude which shapes your self-esteem.

If all you’ve had is success, you’ve never got ‘right back on’. Your skill level and confidence level grow the fastest when you’re in a pattern of falling off and climbing back on.

Does this mean you should let your children fail?

More than that! You should congratulate them when they do. “Mate, you just took your skateboarding to the next level!” “Look at all those red marks, your writing skills are growing by leaps and bounds. Keep writing!” “Honey, of course we want to have her over for another play, you forgave each other!”

Failure combined with getting ‘right back on’ – that’s how we build confidence and resilience in ourselves and in our kids. Our example is the greatest parenting tool we have. We have failed many times to get where we are in life. Tell your ‘right back on’ stories to your kids. Let them know, failure and getting ‘right back on’ is what makes us great!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Secret to a Happy Family

Does your family seem to explode at the seams every time you sit together for a few minutes? Have you seen other families having fun together and wondered how they do it?

Or, perhaps you are one of those families who laugh together and wonder why other families have so much trouble getting along. Did you know you have a secret you can share?

Here’s the secret to having a happy family: Planned time together. Sit around the table every night for dinner and talk about your day. Play the ‘story of your day’ game. See how many details you can each remember.

One consistent difference between families that don’t get along and families that do is a schedule with rules. This schedule and rules will be different in every home. But the primary thing that must be scheduled is regular repeated time together with a purpose. Food and fun is a great purpose!

Planning a weekly game night at home and a monthly family night out is a great next step.

At home: Play board games or other interactive activities like puzzles, craft, building something or reading a book aloud.

On your night out: Go for a walk in the park, or play a sport outside, go 10 pin bowling, laser tag or to a trampoline centre. Be creative – it’s all about learning to laugh together!

Change is not easy. If your family has difficulty spending time together, start slow. Try one meal a week with a planned time and purpose (talking). Make a rule: Everybody listens quietly while others speak and can expect to be treated the same when it is there turn. Once this weekly night is working, step it up to every school night. Then every night.

We all learn by repetition. So, get started and keep going.

Soon you’ll be laughing and loving your time together.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Biggest Bully

Bullies hold others down. With their words and with their actions, they tell us what to do and then make us do it.

The biggest bully in most of our lives is not another person. It is a force inside our own minds. For most people, their biggest bully is fear.

­Fear tells us we cannot do things. It says horrible things about us inside our heads where no one else can hear. And, when fear really has a hold on us, we start repeating aloud what we’ve been hearing inside.

Fear can feel like a physical force bullying us away from trying something new. Just as some people cannot walk under a spider or lean over a cliff edge, fear causes all of us to avoid risk.

Fear tells us there is no greater enemy than failure. And yet, anyone who has succeeded at anything great will tell you they failed many times before they succeeded. In fact, if you haven’t failed, it’s because you haven’t tried!

The first step to conquering fear is to let your imagination loose. Dream. Dream big. The time you spend dreaming reprograms your mind to think positive thoughts and begins to replace your fearful thoughts. Research the new thing you want to try. Make a plan. Gather the resources, training or helpers you need.

Then jump! Have a go. Take a shot. And when you fail, say alongside Thomas Edison as he tried to make the first lightbulb, “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”

Don’t let fear bully you. The first step is always the hardest one. So, be brave and go for it! Chances are, you’ll succeed far before the 10,000th try!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

E is for Empower

This week we finish exploring the meaning behind my chaplaincy mission statement. I hope these short thoughts have helped you develop a personal parenting mission statement.

Take Time to CARE

Empowerment is a word that demonstrates a small thing – trust. We empower others when we give them authority to act. Leaders that empower the people around them have healthy growing businesses. Parents that empower have maturing confident children.

Trust exists where compassion, attentiveness and reconciliation are taking place. We teach our children to be compassionate when we are inclusive (rather than playing the Us VS Them game) in the way we talk and act. We demonstrate attentiveness when we communicate openly and honestly, building relationships through time in conversation. Children learn the skills of reconciliation when they see the adults in their lives follow the golden rule, make mistakes and heal those broken relationships by admitting their wrongs, asking for forgiveness and offering forgiveness when others apologise to them.

Empowerment happens in trusting places. We empower others by providing a safe place for them to try new things – to fail, to try again and to succeed – without fear of anger, shame or judgement. We empower others when we give them healthy space to try and encouragement to try again.

The only way to learn is to try. Adults unleash the amazing creativity in children when they become a trusted safe place and then empower kids to give it a go. While we cannot control the feelings in our children, we can provide a safe place where feelings of trust, belief and confidence thrive. This is how we empower children.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

R is for Reconcile

This week we continue exploring the meaning behind my chaplaincy mission statement. I hope it helps you develop a personal parenting mission statement.

Take Time to CARE

To reconcile is more than saying sorry. Reconciliation starts with one person feeling sorry and saying so to the person they hurt. But this is only the first step.

The second step of reconciliation is for the person who has been hurt/wronged to accept the apology. Without this step, the problem will most likely recur. Just as it takes two to tangle, it takes two to untangle. Saying “I forgive you” and meaning it is one of the most important wellbeing skills we can learn.

The third step of reconciliation is to talk about what happens next. What needs to change? What will we do next time we feel the way we felt which lead to this problem? How will we interrupt the pattern so it does not escalate into us hurting each other?

The last step of reconciliation is also the most important habit of healthy relationships. When practiced regularly, this step will save you and those around you from a world of hurt. This relationship healing, lifesaving habit, can change the world. In most cultures, there is a maxim about treating others the way you would like to be treated. This “Golden Rule” is taught to children by parents right around the world.

The Golden Rule is so powerful that, if applied regularly, you will rarely need to reconcile. The way I teach this to kids is to say, “Close your eyes. Now imagine the very best thing someone else could say to you today. Now open your eyes. If you went and said that ‘very best thing’ to someone else right now, how do you think it would make them feel?” All kids say, “Good!” And then I challenge them: “So, go say it!”

The Golden Rule: Do to others what you wish they would do to you.

Reconcile: What you do when the Golden Rule is broken.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

A is for Attentive

For the past two weeks and for the next two, we are exploring the meaning behind my chaplaincy mission statement. I hope it helps you develop a personal parenting mission statement.

Take Time to CARE

Paying attention to others is not easy in this busy world. We have a thousand things to do and each of them take our attention off the others. To slow down and focus on just one – even one child – takes a concentrated effort. To dedicate our full attention to something we must believe that one thing is worthwhile. Then we must set it apart in our mind as deserving. Otherwise, busyness will continue to overwhelm us.

We all love to have another person’s full attention. I remember, in primary school, my Dad would come every week to my school at lunchtime on Wednesday. One week he would take me out to lunch. The next week he would take my brother. He could have taken us both together but he knew the value of attention. He took us on special trips, too. He took my brother for a weekend to Michigan to visit the football hall of fame and go to a 49ers game. Another weekend, he took me to a computer show in San Francisco and we came home with some cool tech.

Those times of having Dad’s full attention still hold a special spot in my heart. They have formed a lifelong relationship between us. Dad and I are meeting in the outback for a few days of opal mining these next school holidays. I love being with my Dad now because he loved being with me when I was growing up.

When we focus on one person, we can truly listen to them. Research from around the world – both scientific and spiritual – has shown careful listening causes healing. This focused attention giving is called “deep listening” or “compassionate listening” and revolves around one person pouring out their story while the other person soaks it in. There is no need to solve problems or correct misconceptions to be a compassionate listener. All you need to do is listen. And in being heard, the other person begins healing.

Being attentive rescues us from the busyness of life.

Listening is a lost art.

Let’s rediscover it!