Winning Parenting

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

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!

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.