Rosie, 9, got braces last week. Technically she got an expander, the first part of a many step process stretching out over the next 18 months. Her dad and I paid the full price in advance because of the discount offered, and after 5 days I’m satisfied we’ve already gotten our money’s worth.
Obviously this can’t be about the teeth because there is no way her overbite shifted radically in a few days time. For me, our money amortized so quickly because of the parenting opportunities the orthodontic appliance has presented.
First, I get to orient my daughter to what is coming. … Read more
If you don’t know about The Chocolate-Covered-Cookie Tantrum, a picture book written by Deborah Blumenthal and illustrated by Harvey Stevenson, you must!
This is a story originally published in 1996 that’s thankfully still in print – for very good reason. It’s a delightfully simple story, perfectly capturing the essence of being a child and the big feelings of not being able to get your way all the time. How huge that frustration is to the child, and how that ultimately leads to the goal almost every parent wishes for their child: that they are able to adapt – grow to maturity and be able to roll with, and learn from, life’s many challenges.… Read more
My 12 year old son Theo can’t get enough soccer this year. He plays for a select team which practices twice a week, plus at least one game per weekend. Since September he’s also had weekly one-on-one lessons with a coach he admires and likes. Over the cold rainy winter, Theo participated in the local indoor soccer league to keep his foot in the game. This spring break season, I find that I have agreed to three weeks of soccer camp in a row – one of the possibilities of being home schoolers is moving our school work to the afternoon to accommodate mornings of scrimmages, hilarious drills, and skill building games.… Read more
When talking about parents in the lead with their children, Dr. Gordon Neufeld often uses the metaphor of a mother duck with her ducklings lined up behind her. So when I first saw the cover for Lucky Ducklings, written by Eva Moore and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter (Scholastic, 2013), I was instantly excited about its potential.
The story begins with the Duck family, Mama swimming to shore and hopping onto the grass, followed by her ducklings: Pippin, Bippin, Tippin, Dippin, and Little Joe – the memorable duckling who’s always last of all, his curiosity of ladybugs, butterflies, and other wonders of the world so easily captivating this emergent little one.… Read more
A couple of us moms were still preparing – skewering the hollow eggs so they could be painted, squirting small blobs of paint onto plates, and tying toothpicks to strings. The kids had just come in from outside and were flushed pink. Ms. Hayes suggested they sing a song, drawing them into a circle, and they held hands. Mica and I had come for the afternoon, to celebrate the beginning of spring.
Mica joined the circle and sang along, though he had never heard the song before. It was sweet. Then there was a part where you hooked arms with another and skipped around.… Read more
One of the things I so love about Neufeld’s material is how broad it goes – from helping me make sense of my children to myself to the world in general. One of the things I so love about our Seattle Neufeld Community is how deeply people take the material.
I have the great pleasure of sharing a poem with you from Jen Enich, a member of our SNC family. I am touched by her courage in sharing her vulnerability, her personal understanding of Neufeld’s ideas and her own creative expression that incorporates these ideas. I’m sure you will relate to what she expresses as well as enjoy and appreciate it as much as I do.… Read more
This winter I have been rehearsing a play. The joy of doing theater, one of the great loves of my life, has been immense. But it has not come without a cost. I’ve spent many evenings at rehearsal, leaving bedtime duties to my husband. My children miss me. They want more time with Mommy, and who can blame them? It’s especially hard on my daughter who is in school for six hours a day. An actor herself, she also has drama classes three days a week after school. So, she and I have been like passing ships lately.
This is not exactly my ideal.… Read more
It was Saturday night. I had just returned from dropping the kids off at their other mom’s place. After another fulfilling yet exhausting week of single parenting, I looked forward to the quiet uninterrupted sleep awaiting me. Walking to my bedroom, I noticed my 4-year-old twin boys’ bedroom lights were still on. I walked in and my jaw dropped. The entire contents of their closet were strewn about all over the room. Every single drawer was emptied.
My knee-jerk reaction was to punish. “I’m going to leave this mess and make them clean it up when they come home Monday. They need to learn that this isn’t okay!” Well, immediately I knew what that would look like in reality and the inevitable struggle and frustration that would cause us all.… Read more
The events went wonderfully. We deeply enjoyed bringing people together and connecting with you. Cindy’s presentations on parenting and our adult partnerships were moving and inspiring. (We invite you to continue the conversation in the online Parent Practice Group). Our “Night Out” event and raffle set us well on the path toward establishing a scholarship program for SNC courses. And we had a great time listening to Paul Durham and dancing to Miss Rose and Her Rhythm Percolators.
We’re tremendously grateful to Attachment Parenting International of Seattle for hosting Cindy Leavitt in Seattle in the past, and terrifically pleased and proud of the momentum built here to enable the launch of the Seattle Neufeld Community with capacity to host Cindy’s presentations and many other offerings, including a full roster of courses and a day-long conference (save the date for September 28!).… Read more
Happy Ever After is a funny concept. At the end of a fairy tale, when the princess marries the prince, I always think, “Oh boy, now the real work begins.” The real story. The quest. If you’re lucky enough to find someone with whom you want to share your life, how do you live out your Happy Ever After? How do you enter into each day? Each year? How do you bring your full self to the table? How do you make space for the fullness of another person? In a way, it is a hero’s journey. You are given a golden treasure—real love—and it’s your quest to protect it.… Read more
Last month the Seattle Neufeld Community planted a tree. Our logo.
We chose a tree to represent our organization because it so eloquently symbolizes growth and maturation. A tree is so perfectly reflective of nature’s design.
A tree doesn’t need to be taught how to grow from a seed into a blossoming, mature adult tree. Just like children don’t need to be taught how to mature. Sure, you can shape and prune trees, train them to grow just the way you’d like. But trees don’t require shaping to grow into mature trees. And in fact, sometimes shaping does them harm, getting in the way of nature’s plan.… Read more
“We get most frustrated at the people we love the most because of course those are the ones we want to make it work with.” (Common Challenges, Session 5, 34:12)
At the moment, I’m watching Neufeld’s Common Challenges course from the Power to Parent series. This quote about who frustrates us really caught my heart.
Gordon goes on to give this lovely example of validating and normalizing a child’s frustration with their parent. “That’s why mommies are the ones everyone gets frustrated with the most. They’re the ones that are supposed to be the answer to life. They fix everything.”
How many times do my children tell me I’m stupid and they hate me? … Read more
When I first heard that a hurricane was headed toward the Northeast, I thought, “Eh, let’s drive to Pennsylvania and wait it out at my dad’s.” No big deal. We had a van, the blessing of a little advance notice, and time to get there. But as it inched up the coast I realized: the hurricane is going to hit Pennsylvania too. It’s an unprecedented convergence of two massive storms and I am not going to be able to dodge it.
So I shifted gears into preparing. Like everyone in my area, I bought batteries, candles, a camp stove, canned food, and water by the truckload.… Read more
Happy New Year!
Don’t put your champagne flutes down just yet, because there’s more to toast. A lot of exciting things are happening for the Seattle Neufeld Community. As the Leadership Team’s Marketing and Events Director I’m honored to share some of the highlights with you on behalf of our full leadership team, who’ve been dedicating great time and energy for months now to bring more Neufeld material to Seattle in support of parents and other caregivers of children.
We’ve gone pro!
Last month, the Seattle Neufeld Community incorporated as a nonprofit in the state of Washington, and we’re in the process of applying as a 501(c)3 organization.… Read more
“You like Sofie more than me!” Tears spilled out of Mica’s eyes as the rain spit down on us. We were standing on the sidewalk. Sofie, the toddler I babysit once a week, was already in the car.
I was drawn into a squat before him, “Oh, Mica, that is not true. I don’t like Sofie more than you. But I see how sad you feel.”
We stayed like that, together. I was choosing not to talk too much, trying to make room for his feelings. Though it was also true that I was squatting in the rain, next to the car, on our way to pick up Orlando.… Read more
Gordon Neufeld’s integrated attachment-base developmental paradigm, and the many wonderful courses he created to share the knowledge within it, is geared to help us make sense of our children. His aim is to equip us as parents and caregivers with the the necessary insight to raise up children, bringing them to their full potential and maturity.
However, Neufeld’s paradigm is more broadly a story of human maturation and development. So as I look at my kiddos, I can’t help but notice a few bits about myself.
Nowhere do my personal weakness and lacks show up more clearly than in my marriage. … Read more
The other day my four-year-old was playing on the floor with Bristle Blocks while I fiddled around nearby, picking up the house. She told me she was making a bunk bed, but I could see her struggling with its structural soundness, growing more and more frustrated each time the structure crashed.
It didn’t take long before she called for help. Without trying to solve the problem for her, I talked with her about the different ways she could keep the top bunk propped up, and then we tested each option together.
I left her to her bunk-building, but within seconds she was frustrated again, calling me back.… Read more
Last night, I carried my side of a deeply important and moving talk with my daughter in a funny accent that ranges the map, usually landing somewhere between Russia and Italy. As the voice of my girl’s beloved stuffy Domo, I navigated her through a wilderness of shame and guilt, regret, and forgiveness.
Domo travels with my daughter between two houses. He carries extra hugs and kisses from me when we’re apart, and through my characterization, he entertains her when we’re together. When she came home with him after nearly a week apart — her longest separation from me in all her seven years — I was pleased to animate Domo once again.… Read more
Molly Hall, a regular contributor to this blog, moved a year ago from Seattle to New Jersey, just outside of New York City. Although we miss her terribly, her friends and family and the greater Seattle Neufeld Community also very much continue to hold her close and feel her warmth and engagement from so far away.
Had things gone as planned, you would be reading Molly’s warm, thoughtful, and encouraging words today. But when Hurricane Sandy hit, caring for her family during the crisis was clearly Molly’s primary focus. Her family is safe and — finally — warm, but there are many others who are still in great need.… Read more
I was covered in kids, both of whom were unhappy and insisting they had had the smaller share of mama-cuddling. We were a pile of tired and I was in surround-sound stereo: “But I want as many minutes as Orlando!” and “Mica went first last night!”
I rose up, if not bodily, then in energy, exclaiming, “Everything can’t be the same! Because it’s not the same! You are fighting to have equal amounts thinking that is the answer but it is a losing proposition! It will never be satisfying!”
I was lecturing, which never goes well. I managed to gather myself, slowing my words, winding down, eventually arriving back on earth.… Read more
For a while there it seemed like Seattle’s summer just might leave off its coat and stay for a while. But the new chill in the morning air, and at dusk, signals the changing of the seasons.
Officially in fall now, the windows at our house stay sealed shut at night. We’ve piled extra blankets onto the bed. In the wee hours of the morning, our heater kicks in, waking me up a few hours later with that old, familiar electric-heat dry throat and alligator skin. I’ve been turning on the electric heater in the girls’ playroom – a futile effort, really, but I do it anyway, at least keeping tiny toes toasty in the two-foot area the heater effectively warms.… Read more
My children are monkeys. And whose aren’t? They chatter and plot and throw coconuts at us. And they climb, how children do love to climb! My son Theo carefully assays every tree he sees, rating its ease of climbability, and making some complicated internal decision about how high is enough. Depending on the branches, sometimes he goes all the way to the top. My daughter Rosie likes to climb trees too, but what she really likes to climb on top of is us.
If I had to single out the most important insight I’ve had about parenting, it’s that we are meant to be firmly in charge of our children.… Read more
A few months ago, I had a conversation with Cindy Leavitt about my five-year old son. I was working through an angst-ridden decision about whether or not to send him to kindergarten. I shared all the layers of it with her. A part of me really wanted to send him to school. I thought perhaps it would be an opportunity for him to build some resilience. He is extremely sensitive and fiercely attached to me. I thought it might do him good to try his wings in a nurturing school environment. But on a deeper level, my intuition was telling me that he wasn’t ready.… Read more
I’m having a parenting tangent this week. As in “diverging from an original purpose or course.”
My childhood pastor introduced me to the word tangent during a sermon when I was probably 10. He talked about the origins of the word “tangent” and at length about the concept of missing our mark. He used the example of an archer, who instead of landing an arrow squarely on the target, aims poorly and sends the arrow glancing off the goal. I was captivated by the idea.
So here’s what my parenting tangent looks like.
For months now, one of my goals has been to find a way to create a strong, warm connection with my kids before starting off into our day because everyone gets happier and everything gets easier.… Read more
I’m getting excited for Cindy Leavitt’s presentation, Discipline That Doesn’t Divide, coming up tomorrow morning in Seattle. I saw her give this talk in 2011, and got so much out of it the first time that I’m headed back – both for a refresher and to discover the new gems I always find anytime I hear Cindy speak. (There’s still time to register for this talk, by the way, and I hope to see you there!)
One thing that especially resonated when I first heard Cindy give this presentation is the concept of aiming to changing a mind instead of changing a behavior – as Cindy described, it’s about soliciting good intentions – rather than demanding good behavior.… Read more
Sometimes, when people see me responding to my children’s behavior—especially the less-than-desirable kind—I’m sure they wonder what the heck I am doing. I’ve seen the raised eyebrows, the judgmental looks. But I’ve learned to let them roll off my back. Don’t get me wrong, I know that when one of my kids smacks the other one, or shouts something unseemly in public, it’s my responsibility to keep them safe and help them move past it. And certainly, if they hurt another child, I help them to make amends. However, I know some people would also like to see a stern reprimand, or some show of displeasure—maybe a time-out—so that they can be assured that I am “disciplining” my child.… Read more
Now, one of the things I know about Theo is that for him, physical affection (aka roughhousing) is love. A hug is okay, but a big hug where I pretend gravity is weighing me down and I might crush him makes him glow with delight.
This is a very big September for our family. After two years of home schooling, my little girl is attending public school. In many ways, it feels like we’re entering a new world. We are doing the daily rituals that lots of our neighbors have done for years: packing a lunch, grabbing the backpack, driving to school, and giving good-bye hugs and kisses… It’s exciting. It’s bittersweet. And, after a lot of careful thought about what our daughter needed, it’s time.
As we navigate this new landscape, we’ve had the opportunity to practice many of the Neufeld concepts that we’ve been learning over the years.… Read more
So many children’s books published today aim to get the parents or other adults out of the way as fast as possible – or make them come off as complete dolts – in the name of making the child character the hero who solves his or her own problem.
As a children’s writer, I agree it’s imperative that children be the heroes of their stories, and that they should ultimately find their way through the story’s conflict to their own solutions. But that doesn’t have to come at the expense of including strong adult characters who are in the lead, caring for their children, and helping guide them through their struggles.… Read more
Recently I attended a memorial service held for my mom’s oldest sister.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to have such a deep attachment to my kids and, specifically, what a unique honor it is that, because of that attachment, I am able to influence them so profoundly. For better or for worse, who I am from day to day is literally shaping how they think, love, behave, and grow.
With some children, it can take a long time to soften their hearts, to make that deep attachment possible. Lots of things step in to keep them from being vulnerable. (And hearts can certainly be moody. Even a mostly-soft heart has its thorny days.) But once we get there, once our children’s hearts are wide open to us, we have a huge responsibility to use that connection well.… Read more
A trendy sport at Seattle parks these days is slacklining – similar to tightrope walking, only it involves balancing on a belt strap that’s stretched between two attachment points, like trees. It’s also different from tightrope walking because the line isn’t rigidly taut; it stretches and bounces like a long, narrow trampoline.
While I’ve yet to give it a go, I know what slacklining feels like. I’m slacklining it every day in my parenting – taking it one foot at a time, trying to strike just the right balance, and keeping steady by fixing my eyes on the anchor point of providing the right conditions for my children to mature.… Read more
One of my jobs is reviewing books, so I’m always reading something new. And since my son Theo (age “eleven-and-a-half”) reads even faster than I do, he’s always looking over my shoulder in the hopes that it will turn into a hand-me-down.
Last month I was reading some action adventure story and he wanted to know who the bad guys were. I told him a few details, but then I made a point to clarify that the bad guys weren’t actually, you know, bad.
This is not what eleven-and-a-half-year-olds want to hear, but it led to an interesting conversation.… Read more
I take my daughter to “Kids’ Klub” at my gym, where the childcare is adequate, but far from stellar. I’ve helped the providers connect with her, and her with them, but the little ones tend to get most of their attention while the bigger kids are largely left to their own devices, with little intervention and lots of TV.
It has always been hard on my girl to share attention with younger kids, and at Kids Klub she faces that almost daily. I’ve focused on helping her feel her disappointment — if only she could feel sad, instead of mad, I’d know she was adapting to the situation and not just enduring it.… Read more
So far this summer with our various family camps, travels and vacations (the kids and I are on a 2 week road trip right now), I’ve had quite a few opportunities to witness tears, in their many different iterations.
Since May, I’ve seen children experience tears of fear, anger, frustration, exhaustion and overwhelm. Adults (in a space separate from the children) weep similar tears, but also guilt, remorse, shame and suffering. I’ve noticed what I think of as tears of evasion – oozed from our eyes as we work to control and manage feelings that we would rather avoid, like someone crying “sad” tears when it looks to me they are really deeply angry.… Read more
I was always going to be this superstar of a parent. It wasn’t even a question. From the time I was old enough to lift a doll, I just had an instinct for it. This is not ego; it’s the honest truth. And it springs from love. I have always loved children and had a natural gift for being with them. Over the years, I worked with kids in lots of different capacities: babysitter, daycare worker, French tutor, drama teacher, dance teacher. I loved it. I was fascinated by the art of communicating with kids and I worked hard at improving myself.… Read more
Okay, people. You need to know that I’m conquering major feelings of personal inadequacy by writing a post with the word “camping” in the title. Even though I’ve gradually been learning to enjoy the sport, let’s just say camping isn’t exactly my forte.
It is, however, my husband’s. While we camped quite a bit* pre-kids, I’ve not felt up to giving it a go post-kids. I’ve skated through four summers with perfectly legit reasons why I couldn’t possibly entertain the idea of camping: two summers where I was humongously pregnant, followed by two summers chaotically spinning with two kids two and under.… Read more
Many days the dog and I start our morning out with an early walk down by Lake Washington. I find it a nice way to connect to myself and the larger world around me before engaging in the day with my children.
Friday morning took my breath away with the perfect cloudless sky, warm breeze, glassy still water and stunning views of Mt. Rainier. This Monday morning was pretty much the opposite – moments after I walked away from my house the drizzle turned to a downpour. With my hands pulled deep into my raincoat sleeves to keep them warm, water dripping off the bill of my cap and my soaking pants sticking to my legs, I watched the Mount Baker crew rowers work to keep their boats steady against the pounding waves while fellow teammates crawled back onto the docks.… Read more
In my ongoing quest to provide the conditions that my children need to flourish and grow, to feel both deeply nurtured and “called forth” into their potential, I am always walking a fine line. I make judgment calls every day. Is this too much for them? Should I push them a little? Am I being too indulgent? And, at the risk of stating the obvious, it is not easy. I try to stay true to my inner compass. I try to “see” my children clearly and provide what is needed. And, no matter what, I try to remain in my Big Mama posture so that, even when I make questionable calls, they sound true.… Read more
My eldest daughter returned home from our family vacation last weekend with a half-inch splinter in her palm and I did a happy dance (even if just in my mind). Don’t get me wrong. The last thing I want is to see my daughter, who’s three-and-a-half, in any kind of physical pain. Pain aside, though, that splinter was a gift to my daughter and me.
I’d lost my parenting posture over our vacation, struggling a bit with personal overload and also having a hard time collecting her in the midst of so many other, more interesting sources of excitement.
For starters, there were her doting grandparents, who have a tremendous amount of love to give and delight in every opportunity to attend to her every whim, as grandparents so naturally do.… Read more