Winning Parenting

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

Monday, August 14, 2017

C is for Compassion

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

When I ask kids to describe Compassion they usually give me their rendition of the Golden Rule. Society tends to operate as if the Golden Rule is: The one with the gold makes the rules.

But we know, the Golden Rule is: Do to others what you wish they would do to you. This is a very good definition for compassion. Those with healthy emotional intelligence can foresee the way their words and actions will affect others. Compassion is caring about others and recognising that this makes us better people.

To model Compassion to students, I seek first to understand what is causing their emotional pain. Once I understand, I am more able to suggest a solution. If I do not understand the reason for their frustration, anger, sadness, etc – I will give them a strategy to fix a problem they do not have!

In teaching compassion to students, I teach them to write down and memorise three “I am statements.” I am statements are a simplified mission statement. In words suitable for their age, I ask, “What personal value or character strength do you most appreciate in yourself or others?” We make a list of three. Kids almost always put “Kind” first. Everyone wants to be treated kindly and to see themselves as a kind person.

“I am kind” is a fantastic way to internalise Compassion. Once they have established their I am statements We write them on a piece of paper and I encourage the child to read/repeat them every day when they wake up, when they eat meals and when they go to bed. This creates a pattern of repetition that leads to memorisation and soon to integration in their character.

The week after we developed his I am statements, a boy came into my office for a chat. “What are your I am statements?” I asked. He listed them from memory. “Have you had one come to mind when you needed it?” I asked. “Yes!” He laughed, “Yesterday while playing footy. I saw a boy on the other team get a blood nose. I ran over to him and walked him back to his coach. As we were walking I thought, “Hey, I am kind!”

So, there you go! That’s the power of I am statements. They create compassionate and self-aware children. Why not sit down with your kids and let them develop some I am statements today?

Mission Statement: Take Time to CARE

I have learned something about myself over the years. I like change. I like new. I like adventure. I am, in a word creative. Because of this creative nature, I need to set boundaries for myself in everything I do.

When writing a book, if I do not have the goal of a deadline or a word count – I’ll never be finished.

When spending time with my kids, if I do not have a plan I will default to being silly. I need to know what needs to be done, said, achieved – then I’m good to go.

As a chaplain, I’ve worked at nine schools over the years. Based on these experiences, I developed an understanding of what values the role of Chaplaincy required. To help myself remember, I wrote a simple memory device. It helps me stay within my boundaries each day as I serve my schools.

Take Time to CARE” – that’s my chaplaincy mission statement.

Memory Device: “Take time to CARE.”

Compassion  –  Golden Rule

Attentive –  Being heard is the beginning of healing

Reconciliation –  Making things right

Empower  –  A safe place to try

Take Time reminds me to slow down and observe what is going on around me. Today may have special needs. The person I am talking to may have something deeper going on.

CARE reminds me to show: Compassion, Attentiveness, Reconciliation, Empowerment

Having this memory device helps me do my job. In fact, it helps me live a better life!

Do you have a mission statement? What are the values you live by? Remarkably, boundaries created by a clear mission statement become freeing and empowering in time. They let you know who you are, who you are not, and give you permission to say no and encouragement to say yes.

To start, here are a few good questions:
What character traits do I value most in others and want to see in myself?
When do I best demonstrate these values? When do I not?
What do I need to change to always live this way?
Where do I need to focus my attention?
What words define this journey?

Write a statement.

The next few posts explore my mission statement. Perhaps it will help you develop yours!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Learning the Language of Life

A friend of mine who blogs about her ‘sitcom life’ recently posted a story about her seven-year-old son.

One day, the boy blurted out a comment, thinking out loud. “When I grow up and have kids, I'm not going to teach them the entire English language.

Smiling to herself, his Mum asked him to explain.

“I'm not teaching them words like ‘But I don't want to...’ and ‘Why do I have to...’ That way they won't argue with me.”
His Mum nodded and kept listening.

“I'll just teach them positive words that help them obey without fuss.

Keeping a straight face, His Mum tried not to give away the thousand-and-one questions racing through her mind.

After a pause, the grade-one-boy asked, “Don't you think that's an excellent idea?”

“Yes. Definitely!” His Mum said, “And what are you going to do when they learn how to put their own words into phrases and they argue anyway?”

In the conversation below the post, one parent said she tried this very thing. It worked until the baby was 22 months old. I can imagine that was the first time the toddler said, “No!”

Our children learn from watching us. They will learn all the words and phrases we use. So, rather than using a limited vocabulary – we choose our words carefully. This leads to children who pause to consider their words – Just like Mum and Dad do.

And when things don’t work out that way, and we say something we wish we hadn’t, our children learn to admit they did the wrong thing and say they are sorry for hurting others.

Parenting is learned on the job. It is hard work. There are rough patches and painful moments. And at times, like in the above conversation, parenting is rewarding as we realise our children are processing the tough decisions - right from wrong, kind from hurtful – and deciding who they want to be in the future. 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Think - Feel - Do

Are you a Thinker, Feeler or Doer? When you make decisions, you lead with one of the three. We all do. The other two areas are involved as well, but our preference leads the way. 

The best decision-making starts with knowing yourself. Understanding why your kids do what they do, comes from knowing how they make decisions. 

Thinkers love time to consider the options. 

Feelers thrive when given space to express themselves. 

Doers need to be active to relate the best to others. 

Which are you? Which is each one of your children?

Imagine a Doer dragging a Feeler to an activity to motivate them; or a Thinker using words to explain something to a Doer; or a Feeler asking a Thinker to ‘just listen’… You’re smiling. I know why! We all Think – Feel – Do right past each other nearly every day. Imagine if the Doers learned to slow down, the Feelers learned to analyse options, and the Thinkers learned to get their hands dirty.

It can happen. As we parents model the ability of stepping out of our comfort zone - to relate to our spouses, extended family, friends and children – our kids will see and copy us. Kids learn how to deal with things outside of their normal processing patterns when they see it done by significant adults.

For some “just do it” works great. For others “Take time to care” motivates. And for others “Think it through” rings true. Learning to relate to each kind of thinker will help us be the best parents possible.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

A Respect Full Home

We all want our children to show respect to others. The best place to learn this is at home from the people they spend the most time with – you!

Here are some strategies for building your home into a place of respect.

Respect yourself. You are a marvellous person! Me believing this about you will not get you nearly as far as you believing it of yourself. Each of us is uniquely beautiful in many ways. Value yourself and your kids will feel this self-respect and emulate it.

Respect them. Display awards and trophies the kids have earned. Have a display wall where the children’s achievements are presented for all to see. Showing you are proud of them helps them to be proud of themselves and others.

Respect space. Have established space that ‘belongs’ to each person. Have shared space. When in shared space, respect the needs and wishes of others in that space. When entering private space, ask permission. Respect the space you are in. Children will feel and follow your lead. Talk about the various kinds of space in your home and how our interaction in that space shows respect.

Speak well. Speak well of your kids to them and to others in front of them. Say kind things about them in private and in public. In short, be truly proud of your kids and it will come out in your language. Talk them up!

Listen well. When a child speaks positively about themselves, notice and affirm them. When they speak negatively about themselves, notice and help with kind words. Ask clarifying questions: “What happened?” “Who was involved?” “Where were you in this?” Listen. Ask healing questions: “What are some positives?” “What will you do next?”

Start over. Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes. Always talk about moments of disrespect and agree to start over – respecting each person by respecting ourselves. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


Having regular chores is great for developing responsibility. Sometimes getting kids to actually do their chores can be more of a chore than the chores themselves. So, what can we do to inspire chore success?

Competition. Create some playful competitions that result in a variety of rewards. Base the games around accomplishing the tasks needing to be done.

Scavenger Hunt. For the littles, give them a prize for collecting a certain number of toys. For the bigs, hide a few toys in hard to find places and reward them when the specially hidden toys are added to the rest of collection.

Crank up the music. While everyone does their list of chores, turn up the family’s favourite playlist and enjoy some bop-bop-bopping along with your cleaning.

Shopping list. Let one of the kids control the shopping list. They can give the others (you included) items to gather. Tell the list manager to tick off the items when they are delivered to the trolley.

Make it fun! We’ve all heard it – I’m bored! Keeping the boredom to a minimum is the key to accomplishing tasks, chores and routines.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Love Them Hard

As I scrolled through Facebook, I saw a picture of a past workmate who went through a messy divorce which, necessarily, sent the father of their children away. All revealed, he’d left years before. As she stared into the distance, a slogan shouted from her shirt: “Find your tribe. Love them hard.”

I could feel her pain.

Finding our tribe isn’t always easy. But one thing is sure: our children are fellow tribe members. They are ours and we are theirs. Love them hard.

As we age, we mature. Maturity shapes how we build relationships. Good ones. Bad ones. They work because we work on them. Each relationship formed and nurtured grows our tribe. But love isn’t always enough. There are people who do horribly selfish things and fracture their family, leaving a great rift through the landscape of our tribe as they storm out. Unfortunately, maturity doesn’t always come with age. Sometimes age comes alone.

As these damaged destructive people torpedo their way out of our tribe, our children need us. Time is the great healer. Give them time and give them your time. Love them hard.

Some of us – knock on wood – have happy marriages. We have found our tribe and are building strength upon strength. Mistakes will be made. Forgiveness between spouses shows our children that healing is possible. Spouses are people too. Love them hard.

Our children learn how to face life by watching us. Life is all about relationships.

Find your tribe.
Love them hard.