A Moment of True Connection

We are who we are because of our connections with those in our lives, however extended or brief. Our core desire is to experience relationships and figure out how we belong in all of it. In the back of our heads, since first arriving, we each continue to ask ourselves – “How do I fit in?”, “What img146_9_1is my purpose, my value?” It’s our never ending quest. That is why it is so important for you, as a parent, to have this understanding in order to better support your child on their quest of figuring out how they too “belong” in the world they’re experiencing.

One of the best ways you can support your child in their “belonging” quest is to take the time to fully connect with them, daily. In our parenting intensive classes we call it A Moment of True Connection. This is a time when you give your child 100% of your attention (see instructions below).

Seems simple enough, but my personal observation tells me different. It seems like everywhere I go I see parents with their faces buried in their devices while pushing the stroller, pushing their kid on the swing, or just standing there talking away while making it look like they are engaged. Know this, your kid knows different. They know you are not present. I watched one father, cell phone in hand – talking away, pulling his young son around the park on his bike for 15 to 20 minutes. Dad just kept on talking, never looking down to see if his kid was still there. And Junior? He had the look of, “what am I doing here?”  I know this is my judgement. I attempt to convince myself that not all parents unknowingly ignore their kids. I guess I just have to look harder.  I did just recently compliment a group of parents at our local playground – there was not a cellphone out among them – they were fully engaged with their kids as they swung back and forth on the swings giggling and laughing together.

A Moment of True Connection

Here’s the deal. Each and every time you’re with your child or she comes to you to tell you something, you have three choices:  ignore her, pretend to listen, or listen attentively.  When you listen attentively, you’re having a Moment of True Connection.  She gets 100% of your attention;  you’re not thinking about what to have for dinner, an issue at work, or the argument you just had with your spouse.  Moments of True Connection img147_10_1also work best when you’re at her level, looking directly into her eyes, touching her, and trying to feel what she’s feeling. These Moments are not times for lectures, advice or lessons.  They’re times for heart to heart, not head to head, communication. In other words you need to be listening and saying things like, “Wow, that is so great!” “I see. Tell me more.” “How do you feel about that?” “Hmmm. (while nodding your head).” “Can you teach me how to do that?”

It isn’t humanly possible for every conversation with your child to be a Moment of True Connection.  However, if you can arrange to have several of these moments each day, you’ll see a marked improvement in your relationship and you will witness your child feeling better about who they are and how they belong. Make it a priority to put whatever it is you are involved in aside for just that one moment. You’ll be so glad you did.

It’s all about the relationship.

As always, please leave a comment in the space below and share this within your own social media network if you are so moved.

Keep asking yourself, “What is it that I don’t know?”, in your quest to becoming a more effective parent.

Are you taking your eye off the parenting-ball?

Can you find me and my dad? Click the pic.

It’s summertime and that means baseball – America’s pastime. I loved the times my dad and I played catch in our back yard. It was a great way for us to challenge each other and connect. I’ll never forget his mantra, “keep your eye on the ball,” whenever I would flub a grounder, drop a fly ball, or swing the bat with my eyes closed. “Don’t let yourself get distracted. Follow the ball into your glove. See your bat connecting with the ball”, he’d coach. When I followed his instructions, and kept my “eye-on-the-ball”, magic happened.

The same goes for parenting. Don’t let yourself become distracted from putting the relationship first. Follow that “parenting ball” all the way to your “parenting glove”. Parent with the end in mind.

Are you keeping your eye on the “parenting ball”?

There are so many distractions from doing the job of coaching your child to be a caring, responsible, and powerful human being. The media is filled with suggestions that sound great, but in reality may distract you from connecting in meaningful and emotionally intelligent ways.

Taking your eye “off the ball” with technology monitoring.

One area in which parents can be very distracted is in keeping tabs on, and controlling, their kid’s cellphone (device) activity. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t take this lightly. Kids today have, in the palm of their hand, the power to connect with anyone, anywhere in the world, 24/7. And in those young hands is also the potential to get into some serious trouble. In one of our parenting sessions, a father, who had not yet become fully aware of what is available on the internet, declared, “I wasn’t concerned before we started talking about it, but I am now. When I was a teenager my parents only had to worry about me and my brother hiding our newly acquired Playboy magazine.”  So true. It definitely feels like there is no more innocence remaining for our children.

There is hope.

There are apps that allow parents to monitor and control their child’s electronic life. Of course, one of the things about technology is that it upgrades in a seeming blink of an eye. It can become all-consuming of your time and energy to stay on top of it all. And you already have another full-time job, right?

So we encourage balance here. You can quickly lose sight of your original desire, which (we hope!) is a strong, trusting, relationship with your child, and supporting him in gaining the life skills and emotional intelligence required to feel confident in taking care of himself.

Don’t let yourself get distracted from the goal – a meaningful relationship.

From a coaching standpoint, I’d point out that in an attempt to keep your child safe, through monitoring and controlling, you can become so distracted in your efforts – looking for something inappropriate or questionable – that you begin to lose sight of the relationship.

Consider sexting. If you’ve seen on their device, or suspect, that they’ve sent or received explicit photos, approach it as a problem that YOU are struggling with (not something you’ve caught them doing that’s bad). Otherwise, they’ll become defensive, and you won’t communicate effectively. Ask for their help in solving your issue. It could go something like this:

You:  “I’m really worried and afraid about this whole sexting thing. Would you be willing to help me figure out how to best handle it? Are you comfortable with that?”

Child:  “Okay, I think so.”

You:  “I know that sexting is out there and I know that it is possible to receive such a message innocently. Have you ever received a sexting message?”

Child:  “No.” (many kids will say “No” first)

You:  “Okay. Good. But let’s pretend for minute here. How do you think you’d feel if you had received a sexting message from a friend?”

Child:  “I don’t know, kind of weird I guess. It’s hard for me to talk to you about this.”

You:  “It’s difficult for me too. I do know this, when I’m feeling not so good, or weird, about any action I’m taking, or thinking about taking, it’s my own inner guidance telling me that maybe I should rethink what I’m about to do? Does that make sense?”

Child: “Yeah, it does.”

You:  “Then that is the most I can ask of you, to tune in to how you’re feeling, because that is the best guidance you can ever have. What do you think?” (give your child a chance to say anything else about this)

You: “You’ve really helped me feel better about this whole issue. I feel that it’s my job to keep you safe while teaching you to keep yourself safe. I’m not always sure of the best ways to do that. Talking like this helps me a lot. Thanks.”

Child:  “It helps me too. It feels better when we talk it out.”

Stay focused on “how it feels” and what it means about him or her to participate or not. Share your own feelings and experiences around the issue.

Whatever you do, please, do not make it your life’s work to control all that your child is doing, because that’s when you’re “taking your eye off the ball.”  It’s when you’re attempting to control everything in your child’s life, that you miss the opportunity to create the magic in the relationship . . . closeness.

Remind yourself that control is only an illusion. However, you can have a direct, and positive, impact on your child. Knowing that your long term goal is for him to respect himself (and others) and take responsibility for his actions.

The more you can talk to your child about your issues while asking questions, and asking for his help, then listening, the more success you’ll have at keeping your eye on that “parenting ball”, following it all the way into your “relationship glove.”  Play ball!

Oh, and more more thing, if this issue is a hot topic in your family and you would like to learn how to better approach it, we would cover it more in depth in our Private Intensive Instruction.

Here are two resources for exploring internet use and monitoring.
WebSafety.com and CommonSenseMedia.org

It’s all about the relationship.

As always, please leave a comment in the space below and share this within your own social media network if you are so moved.

Keep asking yourself, “What is it that I don’t know?”, in your quest to becoming a more effective parent.

Test Yourself for Racial Discrimination

Are you sending a racially biased message to your child?

As we’ve watched and listened to the disturbing media reports regarding the event that took place in Charleston, SC, recently, we’ve been asking ourselves, in what way were we responsible — as individuals, as parents, as a society?

First, we want to say that our thoughts and prayers go out to all involved in this heartbreaking, numbing act of senseless violence and misguided reasoning.

We hear parents asking, Why does this continue to happen?
We hear parents asking, What needs to change to keep this from ever happening again?
We hear parents asking, How can I make any difference for my child?

Change begins by taking responsibility for one’s own actions and beliefs. There must be the willingness to look within and ask the question, “Do my actions encourage or discourage racial discrimination?”

The Future - it's a global condition.

The Future – it’s a global condition.

As a parent, the question is, What example am I setting for my child?

Consider the following as a self test:

Pretend that you (“you” being a white person in this example) came home from the grocery store, and related the following story to your family. . . “I had the most wonderful conversation in the produce department about asparagus with a friendly and extremely knowledgeable black lady.”

By pointing out the lady’s color, are you racially discriminating?

We believe the answer is . . . yes!

What if, in your story, both you and the woman in the produce department had been white. Would you have referenced her color by stating that she was “a friendly and extremely knowledgeable white lady?” Probably not.

So why add the label “black”?  Describing her color, implying that she was an African American, wasn’t relevant to the story. Plus it sows the seeds for the need to not only notice, but to point out the differences in people. In this example the difference being skin color.

This innocent, yet blatantly discriminatory, word description takes place daily — probably even subconsciously — by people who see themselves as being racially unbiased.  Has it been instilled that people of color are less intelligent, thus your surprise — and need to point out — that the “extremely knowledgeable” woman was black? If we, as parents, as a society, want racial prejudice to come to an end, then labeling someone by their color of skin, when skin color isn’t relevant, must stop.

Think of it as setting an intentional example for our children, the next generation. Children look up to, and emulate, the adults around them, which comes from a strong desire to fit in, belong, and be a valued member of the community. At first, they just mimic actions and words waiting for a positive response. Eventually, the imitating turns into a habit and then a belief. Each generation will repeat the same pattern of beliefs, by default, unless that cycle is interrupted. Awareness is needed first, followed by new examples of appropriate behavior.

In order to initiate change, parents need to sharpen their attention to the words they choose, and what they mean (or what they’re not meaning) in the communication with their child. There are certain words we urge parents to completely remove from their vocabulary. If you don’t want your child to be afraid of the world (and help him or her feel more confident), then replace “Be careful!” with “Take care of yourself” when sending them out the door. In our produce department example above, we would remove any reference to a person’s skin color.

If you want to be part of the solution, and not part of the problem, then at the very least, for the next 31 days, be deliberate about not describing someone by the color of their skin. Intentionally begin paying more attention to the words you use.

It’s all about the relationship.

Please take the time to give us your comments and feedback.
Share how you are helping to put a stop to racial discrimination.
And of course, please share this with a relative or friend.