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Posts tagged ‘parenting’

What Will Become of You?

What Will Become of You?

I’ve been guided to much clarity over the years to the importance of nurturing our young children’s interests – their authentic interests – not the ones we sometimes limit them to and then make them choose. As I look at my own life and those of many around me, I see so much to fascinate about.

Here are just a few stories that are fresh in my mind: Read more

Everything is Energy and Energy is Everything

Everything – every single thing – we do or think takes energy. Easy to see… right? Everything we do or think releases energy. Sure, of course – you can see that. When you are in a good mood, for example, others around you can tell – they can feel it. Likewise, when you are crabby or angry, those same others know it, and you don’t even have to say anything.

The energy of yes and no also carries energy. When you ask for help and someone responds with yes it feels good. When they say no it feels not so good. Likewise, when someone asks you for help, for example, it feels good to say yes, partly because you can tell that it makes them happy but also because it feels good to help. If you respond with no, you know the recipient feels less than good and you probably feel less good than if you’d said yes. Mostly though, the shared energy that comes from the recipient of the yes is enough for everyone to feel good.

I am always puzzling over why parents say no to their children. Read more

You Can’t Do It All

In our fucked up (civilized) world we have come to believe that we can be both (good? great? the parent you want to be?) parent and employee/business owner/worker bee. No, we cannot. It is impossible. Oh sure, we can go through the motions. We can work at a job, whether at home or elsewhere for hours a day, collect or generate income, have children and … hire a nanny/ babysitter/ day care to parent them when we’re not around. A whole lotta people do it so it must work ok, right? Incorrect. How did we ever come to think this was not only feasible but actually beneficial for us, for our children, for our families? Read more

Presence… Controlled By Our Past?

Reflection Challenge -sooc
photo courtesy of bahamamadreamer


I am in the middle of yet another autobiography, my favorite reading material. Right now in the story I am immersed in the author’s childhood and finding myself feeling really uncomfortable as her replay reminds me of my own. I am dissecting this discomfort deeper than I have before and discovering a fresh take on it. Read more

Truth and Consequences

tree trunk heart
photo by Sarah E. Parent

There’s a great conversation to be had about consequences. In fact, I’ve had more than one with friends, at conferences, and on the phone. It has become clear in these interactions that the term ‘consequences’ can be interpreted, or misinterpreted as the case may be, in different ways. In my unfolding as a mother and, indeed, as a person, the comfort of camaraderie has been sought, found, outgrown, and cherished – not necessarily in that order and varying according to the experience. What I have found with regard to the subject of consequences is that there is a distinct difference between the intent and style of those who recognize consequences and those who use consequences. Read more

Consistency is Debilitating


A few people recently have been asking me about the value of consistency in child rearing, and, since I have strong feelings about this, I thought a blog post was in order.

What is consistency anyway?  By definition and action both, it means being bound by an idea, a should:  kids should eat dinner before dessert, they should go to bed at the same time, they should be treated the same so that they learn that this is the way things are.  Huh?  Does this really sound intelligent to you when wrapped up in a nutshell in this way? Read more

Bonding at Bedtime

sleep safety


This ad I saw recently has been eating away at me. A wonderful story we recently published in our first issue of Rethinking Everything PARENT by Dayna Martin on her family bed has spurred me to chime in. Read more

Get Ready for Rethinking Everything- PARENT!

2012 is upon us!

And so is the release of our very first magazine as Rethinking Everything Publishing.
Rethinking Everything Magazine, after two years of bold, edgy, exciting rethinking, has blossomed into three separate and distinct publications.

But you knew that, right?!

Rethinking Everything- PARENT   ::   publishes January 1st, April 1st, July 1st, and October 1st
Rethinking Everything- LIFE   ::   publishes February 1st, May 1st, August 1st, and November 1st
Rethinking Everything- SEX   ::   publishes March 1st, June 1st, September 1st, and December 1st

We are excited to offer them all absolutely FREE!


We’re ringing in the New Year with
                 beautiful pages that touch the soul and
                                FOUR stories bound to rock your world.

teresaTeresa Graham Brett of Parenting for Social Change brings us her personal story of recognizing the hypocrisy of traditional parenting and forging new relationships with children based in love, respect, and equality in Unlearning Adultism.
daynablogDayna Martin – world reknowned advocate for radical unschooling – shares private and powerful moments of life in a co-sleeping family in The Sacred Flow of the Family Bed.
inok resizeInok Alrutz paints the moment by moment memories of her bold, painful, emotional, empowering, and evocative journey into motherhood in Birth of a Universe.
LauraLaura Grace Weldon – blog maven, writer, farmer, and mom – kicks fear to the curb and hands the power of consequences to her kids in What the French Revolution Taught Me about Parenting.


Don’t miss it!
Subscribe now for FREE.

Have you shared us with your friends? Thank YOU!

Do you have a story? (We know you do.)

Do you know someone whose story inspires? (Yes.)

Let us know what you’re rethinking.  We’d love to work with you.



Chaos is Bliss


Photo credit: Bernard Ward


This is unconfirmed, but I heard through the grapevine that that Duggar family is preparing for their twentieth.  I watched their reality show once after hearing so much about it, and they scare me.  All those orderly, well behaved kids and teens that act like parents themselves was just downright spooky.  I suspect abuse of the highest order.  I am not making any accusations here, just raising my haunches in suspicion.  Read more

Parents Initiate a Culture of Control?

I spent the day with a friend recently and we spent some good time talking pie in the sky about living together in community – lots of us talk about wanting it and yet … who is doing anything about it? And what is it we want anyway? We arrived at some interesting conclusions during our little dissection.

What we want is connection, we are social beings who learn from each other and, to varying degrees, enjoy the fun and games benefit too. We want support. We like to be in the company of others who share our views or challenge us in ways we like to be challenged. What else?

We very reluctantly concluded that what many of us fantasize about as we dream of living in community with one another is to be taken care of: having others cook, garden, share child care responsibilities and home construction and equipment purchase – so that we don’t have to have as much responsibility, spend as much money, work so hard.

My friend and I have both done lots of research on intentional communities and agreed that we hadn’t discovered one yet that ‘worked.’ We wondered if it was due to the fact that folks entering such communities have as a base fantasy the desire to be taken care of. If so, it’s no wonder communities are less than functional. In fact, even within our own families, those very small communities most of us live in, I would venture to say that they are less than functional when any member of the family believes the others have to take care of them.

Aside from infants who require dedicated care, even toddlers are desirous and capable of ‘taking care of themselves’ in very real ways. They can and want to choose their food, feed themselves, choose their clothes, dress themselves (mostly, or at least they WANT to and are willing to keep trying), choose their preferred activities and friends, among many other things. Are we supporting their desire to take care of themselves or thwarting this? We harmfully thwart their natural desire for self sufficiency and independence when we choose their clothes for them, make them eat what we prepared instead of involving them in the choices of what to eat, enlist them in parent chosen activities instead of exposing them to a comfortable range of options and allowing them to experiment and choose on their own, etc.

If a small toddler learns that another is responsible for making decisions for them, that someone else knows more than they do about what they want and what feels best, then it’s only natural to follow the progression and jump to age 6 or 8 or 10 or 12. Heck, a lot of kids I know in those age groups still have parents who are making decisions for them and think they know more about what the child should want or eat or what activities are most enjoyable. Guess what, when a parent in this role is ready for their child to start making their own decisions and become accountable and enjoy life and be self motivated, they can’t, because they’ve been classically conditioned not to.

Hmmm… it’s no wonder then that lots of full grown adults, who grew up as children of parents who ‘knew more than they did’ continue to move through the world just (naturally) expecting that they will be taken care of – by governments, spouses, cultures, PPOs or HMOs, employers, etc. In my perfect world we would be replacing this conditioned thinking with personal responsibility, and it is so naturally learned right from the start. So what if our toddlers and kids are wearing mismatched clothes, choose not to brush their hair, eat dinner foods for breakfast, prefer friends who are 10 years older than they are or opt out of the team sports in favor of poker? They are engaged in that magical, powerful and empowered process of making decisions and living with the rich, fully accountable feelings that result.

parental control

The dichotomony of traditional parenting is ironic and detrimental in both rights. On one hand, most parents are devoted to the ideal of turning out self-sufficient, ‘successful’ adults at the age of 18 or so into the world and out of their homes. Having an adult child still living at home is commonly viewed as a parental failure. (Hmm- another blog post?) On the other hand, parents are curbing children’s desires to make their own decisions and do for themselves at almost every juncture. From picking clothing to friends to how to spend their time, children are instructed by parents, well-meaning adults, and schools as to what is appropriate, for how long, and the expected goal.

This is most obvious to parents whose children have attended and been removed from school. While many parents do not see the detriment of their own controlling and directive parenting techniques, a child constantly in need of direction, unable to occupy their time or identify and invest in their curiosities or interests has obviously been affected by the consistent limits, structure, and follower mentality of the school system. The effects of this can take years to resolve such that the child operates based on their intrinsic intention and motivation once again.

If we have as a goal that our children will function independently, is this not what we should facilitate? We do this by offering our opinions and support but not in making the final judgment. I’m not talking legitimate safety concerns with young children here. Readers feeling fear in the lack of control they are feeling in reading this will immediately jump to that. But, realistically, how often are our children’s decisions (you know, the ones we’re interfering with) actually related to their immediate physical safety?

Parenting is so often synonymous with controlling. In order for children to experiment with independence, control, and outcomes, they must have the ability to exercise them. We need not fear the teenage and early adult years if we have facilitated our children in empowered decisionmaking and individuation up to (and through as desired) the years of separation. The fact is, we don’t know ‘best.’ Maybe we are wiser. Maybe. In my experience, children value our input based in our own experience. And so, parenting is more accurately synonymous with communication. Why don’t you want to continue with piano lessons? What is it you love about poker? What draws you to this friend?

I find your assessment of the continued need for control (mislabeled ‘care’ by many parents) in adulthood eerie and accurate. The fear of operating independently is sheltered by other systems in place of parental control and school as people age. These systems capitalize on the lack of independent thought and fear and keep the majority of the adult population wide-eyed and fearful with membership cards, prescriptions, and expectations to keep them firmly in the hold of mediocrity.

The solution? Introspection and evaluating our own personal choices. What drives our decisionmaking? How can we improve our communication and interactions with our children to support their process and experience rather than govern it ourselves?

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HAPPY holidays!

Rethinking Christmas


I screwed up Christmas big time when my kids were small and I would probably do it again.  Let me explain.  I have gobs of uncomfortable memories of my own childhood Christmases due to the fact that my parents were both chain smoking alcoholics and it was pretty much impossible to have a holiday that did not involve gross states of drunkenness, burned food and sour outcomes.  When I became a mom I was going to do it all differently.  Right from the start of my son’s first Christmas at age 11 months, I became a Christmas fiend.  I baked for weeks in advance, decorated the whole house to beat the band, threw parties with handmade food galore and, of course, purchased ungodly amounts of gifts, each of which I would hand wrap with extravagant ribbons and tags.  Oh, and the stockings!  Egads, they were filled to brim with antique toys, rare trinkets, old fashioned candies and handmade coupons.  I had no idea at the time what a mistake all this was!

For years I kept this up, and I actually loved it quite a bit.  Needless to say, my kids loved it too, in fact, Christmas rapidly became the biggest day of the year in our house.  As time went on and they became teenagers, it was becoming apparent that all this hoopla was no longer valued or necessary.  The truth about Santa had been discovered years ago, surprise presents were no longer possible, and the lists made it all so boring.  How much fun is it to just buy someone exactly what they are expecting?  We can do that any day.  We all knew we had to make some changes, but we didn’t know what or how.  Christmas had so much fun associated with it and we were mourning the old days.

We consciously decided to give it up, but do it gradually.  Over the course of 4 or 5 years we made changes that allowed us to have the fun, excited feeling we associated with Christmas while weaning ourselves off the weird and increasingly uncomfortable gift giving part.  Why was the gift giving feeling uncomfortable?  The big thing was its robot-like connection to the hype and cultural pressure to give gifts NOW, at this time of year, no matter what.  We were also feeling sensitive to the craziness of buying a gift in August for someone and holding on to it until December 25.  We also disliked the feeling of comparing what we gave or got with what others were getting or giving.

Our final years of weaning had us doing a simple one gift exchange, you know that round robin sort of exchange where each person buys one present and they get put in a pile and one person starts by opening a gift and the second person can either take the first person’s gift or a new one, etc.

It’s now been a glorious handful of years since we have consciously not given any gifts at all.  It feels so great to be able to enjoy this holiday completely differently and it’s immensely liberating!


I’m still rethinking Christmas.  I may rethink it every year until the end of time.  Each year things seem to change a little.  We try out new traditions or resurrect old ones.  This year we’ve decided to drive our little car all the way from Texas to New Hampshire to be warm around the fire with my husband’s family!

That said, I’m still grappling with the stress of it all.  Every year I think I’ve got it under control and every year I get sucked down into the current of the stress of making other people happy.  When will I learn that I can’t (and it is not incumbent upon me to) make anyone else happy… ever?  Years ago, it was everyone – my husband, parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, etc.  I wanted to make sure that everyone got that gift that said, “I love you this much” every year.  When we had children I thought it would get easier.  We stopped doing gifts for all the family members.  We pulled a name for a couple of years and then decided that we’d just gift to the children, nieces, and nephews.  Even that started to feel forced (and expensive!) so the kids and I recently started making handmade gifts for anyone we wanted including their cousins (and we still love this!).  And I focused all of my attention on making their holiday season brilliant.  But I have noticed the dysfunction in this intention just this year as I find myself miserable with worry.  What if they’re disappointed?

To stem the risk of turning this post into a therapy session, let me share that I am processing.  My two greatest therapists are my kids.  When I am concerned about their birthdays or Christmas meeting their expectations, I ask them what those expectations are.  And I find that they are so much simpler than I could have imagined.  The worry of disappointment is my baggage- Christmas afternoons spent ritualistically crying in my room as I felt the deflation of the post-Christmas anti-climax.  Then there was the shame of crying after all that I had received, all my parents had worked so hard to give me.  It hit me today.  This stress that I’m feeling?  That’s what creates that anti-climactic Christmas crash.  My kids want to enjoy the season, not just the day.  They aren’t looking forward to a giant stack of presents.  They’ve asked for a few small items and time together- skating, evening rides to view lights, maybe a Christmas play, decorating the RV and talking about the history of each ornament, making candies and cookies, and spending time with family and friends.  And here I was living for the future again.


What is feeling dissonant for me this year is the contrast between my fresh, alive rethinking of the Christmas season and my less than comfortable feelings as I tune into my odd love of the old fashioned Christmas carols that take over the airwaves .  I love the melodies of the songs – the notes are easy to reach and I know all the words – but the memories the songs evoke creep me out: they remind me of the childhood stuff I want to let go of and I want to change most of the lyrics!  It feels a bit like being on a roller coaster, an up-down ride of clarity and feel good contrasted with that sucking feeling of moving backward.  Weird!  I suppose I could just say no to the songs, but I like them!  But then I don’t!  Oh well, it will all be over soon, and I imagine I will have evolved just a little bit more… I hope.


Here’s what I love- the awareness.  When something feels odd, dissonant, or wrong, we can analyze it or simply sit with it.  We can choose to make change or not but that awareness allows us to grow.  The holiday season seems particularly difficult because of the expectations, traditions, and memories associated with it.  But it is not unlike any other situation in our lives; there is power in awareness.

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I’m Not Proud of You.

no good job 


I’ll admit that this was a difficult concept for me to entertain or employ when I was first introduced to eliminating praise in my relationship with my kids by Alfie Kohn’s article Five Reasons to Stop Saying “Good job!”  If you haven’t read it, I’d encourage you to start there.  But I’d like to take it one step further. Read more

Sex and Circumcision



I knew intuitively when I became pregnant for the first time, many years ago, that if my baby was a boy I did not want him to be circumcised.  I didn’t have any health or medical reasons for feeling this way, I just couldn’t imagine having the top of his penis cut off – at just a few hours or days or weeks old.  Hello?  Really?  People do this to their children??  Yowzaa, I knew I wanted no part of such a mentality, even if it meant that he would grow up with penile infections, look different from every other male and feel like a weirdo. Read more

Mothering Memories


I’ve been having flashbacks lately of some of my treasured mothering moments. I am so grateful to have been a full time mom, so happy to have made a conscious decision to give up my fancy job and immerse myself in the wild and mysterious life of a mom. When my three kids were young we spent a lot of time in bed, not only at night in our family bed but during the day, reading, talking, laughing, eating. My kids used to love to have me crawl onto the bed with them during the day with a few apples, a sharp knife and a stack of books. We’d all cuddle together in a mound while I read and cut slices of apple for each of them in turn. They used to beg me to do this. I think in retrospect a big part of the fun was bringing a sharp knife to bed!

For years we had gnomes living in our back yard. My oldest son has always had a very rich fantasy life, in fact he still does. I even think it is the center of what makes him tick and function now as a full grown adult. Anyway, we got lucky because a nice little clan of gnomes took over our yard and for a long, long time they left us regular signs of their activities: teeny, tiny letters of their adventures that we’d sometimes have to use a magnifying glass to read, little sailboats they’d built to navigate our pool, tiny tools and handbuilt furniture, they even built a little house at the base of a tree. We never did see them but we sure knew they were there and they were a rich part of our lives for sure.

One other very fond memory I recall at this time of year was our regular campfire breakfasts. We built a campfire pit with tree stumps all around and used this for years. Our hands down favorite meal on the campfire was blueberry pancakes with butter and real maple syrup. You just can’t believe how much better a pancake can taste when prepared over an open fire. It doesn’t make any sense that this would be true but it is, I swear it.

2 mamas talking button


Ooh! I love this! My children are 7 and almost 9 so we’re deep in our memory-making years. In fact, we just now finished up reading Harry Potter aloud together before the kids settled in for bed. We’ve been doing this for a very long time and are on the fifth book of the series. I swear we’ve been reading this same book forever. It has 870 pages! No matter. We’re not in any hurry. For us, it feels like the characters are members of our family and family friends. We talk about them during the day and analyze different aspects of the story. Often, the kids will even speculate on aspects of the characters’ lives that we don’t experience through the words of the books. We will also often read the same books on our own. Because the characters become so real for the children, my husband and I don’t want to miss out on references and discussions. My son is an avid reader and recently read the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. My daughter listened to it on her iPod and my husband and I are trailing behind reading the series ourselves. While traveling this summer, we were all so excited to see the exact replica of the Parthenon and statue of Athena in Nashville, TN. It was so cool for all of us to be giddy over the bust and statue replicas and make connections between the books and Greek Mythology.

In our family, we love mustaches. We share a fascination for them – an appreciation of the different shapes, styles, and colors of mustaches. There’s definitely a lot of mustache-related humor involved in our everyday lives. We decided, though, that we had to come up with a code word so as not to completely embarrass mustache-wearers as we pass. “Look! A mustache!” was embarrassing for everyone. My husband and I threw out several ideas for covert names. The children vetoed them all and went with “banana.” Yes, that makes it even funnier. We even have a sticker on the RV (we live and travel in an RV) that has a curled mustache and says, “This Is What Awesome Looks Like.” I feel like this is a commentary on our connection with each other. We have inside jokes- lots of them.

Fantasy is a major player in our household as well. We’d built fairy houses at the base of every tree, rock, and bush in our suburban home. The fairies would often come to visit the dwellings and would leave evidence of utilizing the ample facilities provided by the children. We’ve also built them on the sides of hiking trails as we travel or out of cardboard boxes with scraps of fabric, shells, and other random finds. When the fairies leave thank-you notes, they are written in tiny gravel or sticks or mulch. Often the only thing left behind is a dusting of glittery fairy dust.

Speaking of fairies, we have a tooth fairy who is, well, a little off. She is sometimes a day or two behind our travel but the children wait patiently for her as they understand it can be difficult to keep up with our adventures. When she leaves the money or trinket, she always leaves a note. I think the kids are more anxious to get the notes than anything else. Our tooth fairy is a phonetic speller. And her letters never go in a straight line. The kids love decoding her messages and keep them safely tucked away with their treasures.


I am all warm and fuzzy now from all this tender mother child connection. Let’s share more in future blogs… and for those of you out there who have read this, how about sharing your favorite mothering memories with us?

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