What If Every Day Were Thanksgiving?

Holidays help us focus. In our busy and distracted lives we stop and notice something – mothers, fathers, religious events, new years and a day to be grateful.

It seems ironic that we would have “a” day to be grateful. Science and religion agree that being grateful does amazing things to our bodies, minds, communities and our world. So I ask the question, what if every day were thanksgiving – having a focus on being grateful for whatever it is we see and choose to be grateful for?

So, if every day were a day of thanksgiving,

  • How would your relationships, your work and your life be different?
  • How would our world and our connections with other countries, cultures and peoples be different?
  • How would you look past the disappointments and focus on the blessings?
  • How would you inspire others to see and live what is best in them?

We learn from holidays that we need to stop things for a moment to focus on something or someone important. The goal is not to stop, remember, celebrate – then move on. Rather, the stop, remember and celebrate is to change us from the inside out – to create a new awareness that then helps us be more present, more loving and better in our next moments. Holidays are teachers – they help us learn important lessons that are to guide and support us through life. We lose the lesson if we focus on the turkey for Thanksgiving, the presents for Christmas or Chanukah,  the candy for Easter, the gifts for Mothers’ and Fathers’ Days. The lesson in each of these relates to an inner value that is important to learn to make our lives better, stronger and happier.

As we look over the gift of food on Thanksgiving, may it help us remember that for all that we have, there are others that don’t – here and across the world. How can we become more compassionate, more generous and kinder?

As we look at our families that sometimes drive us crazy and don’t always agree – how can we see unique individuals all finding their way in our world. How can we be patient, empathetic and supportive?

As we see the manic rush to get into Christmas shopping that encourages us to almost lose Thanksgiving – can we commit to being more fully present in this moment – appreciating it, soaking it up and holding it dearly before we push past it for the next distracting moment? How can we be present, patient and relaxed fully engaged in what we are doing?

Holidays can make us run faster – our big to-do lists of all the things we “need” to do to have a perfect day. They make us run faster until we see that their real message is to actually to get us to slow down, focus on the people and reasons for the holiday, and be really connected to this very moment. What does it give you? What does it teach you? How does it help to add yet one more great thing to your life?

How do you want your holidays to change – to improve – you? Let their message speak to you and carry its lessons forward to every day. If every day were Thanksgiving we would truly live in a kinder, more compassionate and more generous world. Let’s bring that lesson forward.

Now Back to School, Increase Your Connection Time With Your Kids

Your kids are your eyes and ears to the world; they see and experience things each moment. Some of these things bounce off of them and they keep moving. Some things they see or experience affect them – positively or negatively. Now that they are back to school, they need your help to interpret, understand and process what happens to them. Tune in. They need your help.

I know tuning in to kids is like trying to get their attention when they are on their devices – almost impossible. You have a busy life, job, relationships, bills, challenges, pressures – so, how fair is it that you have to make the extra effort to tune in to a kid that may be doing their best to get you not to tune in. It isn’t fair – so let’s just get past that. But it is a true and important responsibility of parenting.

See, the greatest role we have as parents is to help our kids learn how to understand and make sense of their world. In this, we help them discover their uniqueness – their talents, strengths, passions and interest (we help them find the things they rock at and the things they stink at). We help them learn to build their work and lives around what they do and love best – to be happy, successful and responsible in life. We are their guides, translators, coaches and mentors. Sometimes they appreciate us, sometimes not. Regardless, we do it to get them ready for life.

So as school starts up again everywhere, make a commitment to be extra tuned in to your kids. School can be very stressful – so many new things coming at them. Somethings they will figure out – other things they will need your help to interpret and understand. Consider these three ways to stay more in touch with your kids as they encounter a new school year.

  1. Commit to have dinner together. Your kids have to eat regardless of the amount of homework they have. Build a habit of eating together and using the time to share thoughts of what they have encountered in their day. Not only will it give them time to share, but it will create a place and time each day where they will feel heard.
  2. Commit to asking more and telling less. “Get your homework done” could shift to “How are you doing on your homework?” Telling brings out the defensive side in our kids; asking creates the opportunity for your kids to share their thoughts about homework… and school… and experiences… and other things in their world that they may want to share with you. Remind yourself to change your statements into questions. You kids won’t respond if you don’t ask.
  3. Commit to sending a supportive text, email or facetime call during their day. Remind yourself that your kids need your daily support and encouragement. Put a note in their lunches. Give them a power quote to start off their day. Show them that you are tuned in and paying attention to them. This creates the rapport and relationship that will help them share their thoughts, questions and challenges when they have them.

Anytime your kids’ worlds change, be prepared to tune in more. Watch more. Ask more. Be more present. Gather more information. Then, using what you find out, show up more loving, kind and supportive. Remember they are a work-in-process; they need your help to figure things out. Tune in to meet them where they are – guide them (don’t do their work for them) as they start to make sense of the experiences the world and their school shares with them.

A Message to Your Kids: You Are Just Right As You Are

Our world speaks at us. It tells us what is valuable, what success looks like, what to believe, what to drive, how to live and on and on… With so many “directives” coming at us, how do we help our kids discover, develop and live who they really are?

We do it by helping them realize that they are just right as they are and that they should listen more to their own internal voice than the voices of others.

One of our greatest roles as a parent is to help our kids discover who they really are, and to accept it and be proud of it. It may show up as a passion for animals or technology, music or helping others. It may show up in an ability to write poetry, run a company, connect with others or solve complicated engineering challenges. It may show up as being gay, black, an immigrant, special needs or just different. We are who we are and that is just fine. The sooner we help our kids accept this, the sooner they will stop trying to be something they are not and spend more of their time and energy delivering their certain special “something” to their lives and our world.

Each of us is different for a reason

Our differences are to help us deal with whatever life sends us. We all have abilities that when used, can deliver something special to the moments of our lives – and for the benefit of all of us. We can self-realize with the support of our parents and families to be who we are born to be – to figure it out, accept it and to live it boldly and unapologetically.

Many times we are more concerned with what it looks like to have a son or daughter who embraces his/her uniqueness. Instead of supporting them to be the best version of their unique selves, we pressured them to change, comply and blend. Be like the others. Go and do what they do. Study where they study. Work where the work. Make your parents proud by acting like others or by living to the standards that others set.

Here is the question

Why is it more important to raise unhappy kids who are encouraged to look and act like others than to focus on helping each kid become happy and successful by living a life that makes sense for who they really are?

I spent most of my life all twisted and fearful as the gay kid in my big Italian family. So much effort went into trying to to pretend to be “normal” or hide that it took me so many more years to discover and develop my greatest abilities and connect myself to a career and a life that really fit me. With the distraction and effort of trying to be someone or something I wasn’t, so much of my life was spent looking over my shoulder – not moving forward – not living into my greatest abilities and using them to make a profound difference in my world and life. Pretending and hiding shortchanges our lives and our world.

You are just right as you are

Help your kids accept and be who they really are and embrace what makes them different and unique. They will be better able to live lives that they love and to deliver to the world those things that only they can deliver. Remember, they certainly can’t deliver something great when being an average copy instead of a truly amazing original.

Don’t Miss Life’s Teachable Moments

As a parent, it is our job to watch for  and use life’s teachable moments – those moments that life has something important to teach our kids. It is in this constant learning that they discover how to show up happy, successful and responsible in life.

Too many times we are too blind to see or too busy to use these teachable moments. We miss an opportunity to help our kids learn how to develop the virtues and behaviors to live a life of impact and quality. We are their teachers, helping them learn how to successfully be in our world, to discover and live what makes them unique and to be happy in the process. This is lifetime work, and as such, requires us to on the watch – to be ready and willing to translate life’s situations and our kids responses to it into meaningful life lessons.

So what do teachable moments look like? Here are some examples:

The time your kids are wrestling with a toy, neither one willing to let the other play with it. Teachable moment: teach sharing, sacrifice and patience.

The time your son or daughter is critical of someone who said or did something to them at school or criticizes someone who is different. Teachable moment: teach kindness, respect, acceptance.

The time your son or daughter fails at something (important or unimportant) and continues to be negatively affected by it. Teachable moment: teach empathy, forgiveness, resilience.

The time your son or daughter deliberately disobeys you or treats you poorly. Teachable moment: teach respect, caring and kindness.

The time your son or daughter receives a gift from a family member and makes no effort to say thank you. Teachable moment: teach gratitude, appreciation and kindness.

The time your son or daughter got caught driving without permission or drinking at a neighborhood party. Teachable moment: teach self-respect, honesty and integrity.

The time your son or daughter is ready to give up on a school project, sport, music lesson or homework. Teachable moment: teach determination, creativity and accountability.

The time you and your son or daughter are working on things together and life is fine. Teachable moment: teach joyfulness, helpfulness and love.

These moments happen constantly in our lives (for us to learn from) and to use to teach our kids. Stop and notice these moments and tap into the virtues that drive lifetime success behaviors to help your kids show up happy, successful and responsible in life.

14 Parenting Styles That Won’t Get Your Kids Ready For Life

How did you learn to be a parent? And how do you know when your parenting is helping to create a wise and capable future adult and when it is getting in the way?

Having spent years working with parents, I see some repeating parenting styles – some productive, many unproductive. I use the labels of productive and unproductive as they relate to the impact on the kids, not on how parents view themselves. In other words, productive parenting styles encourage kids to discover who they are, learn about their talents, passions and values, get clear about what opportunities in work, school and life fit them, learn to accept, value and treasure who they authentically are all while building a trusting and loving lifetime relationship with the parent. Unproductive styles don’t support this self-discovery process or don’t intentionally work to create the parent-child bond. See if you notice yourself in any of these parenting styles and whether how you parent is helping or stopping your kids from getting ready for their great and amazing lives.

Unproductive parenting styles

Lawnmower parent – You are ready to mow anyone down who gets in the way of your kids’ achievement, success or happiness.

Helicopter (or training wheel) parent – You constantly hovering over your kids, involved in all of their decisions, choices and directions; you assist them on everything – homework, activities, life skills because you don’t trust them or you don’t trust the world.

Blackhawk parent – You come to all situations with guns blazing and demanding action – you take control of your kids’ situations, challenges and obstacles.

Fairytale parent – You only sees the good in your kids – you are not realistic about their abilities, interests or behaviors.

Google parent – You have the answer for everything; you act as a definitive source about everything – you never let your kids discover, learn or try things on their own.

Cinderella parent – You allow yourself to be treated like the hired help; you jump and respond to the whims and wishes of your kids as if they were royalty.

Tiffany parent – You are convinced that giving gifts equals love; you are uncontrolled in the material gifts given to a point where your kids have little or no concept of value.

Thunderstorm parent – You always find some fault with your kids – you are the constant negative voice reminding them what is wrong, not good or is disappointing about them.

Crystal Ball parent – You are ready to tell your kids how to live, who to be, what life and work should be like, what will make them happy – and on and on.

Drill Sargent parent – You take control, bark orders, demand, confront and challenge; your child has no ability to have a perspective or a voice in their own life or direction.

Pageant parent – You constantly make everything a competition or a comparison – you use words like worst, best, richer, nicer, smarter, better; you always talk about winners and losers and constantly compare your kids to others (positive or negative).

Secret agent parent – You are always checking up on your kids – their social media, friends, grades, homework, looking in their drawers, searching their phone or computer – you are not good at giving or allowing privacy in the home.

Prosecutor parent – You drill your kids with questions – there are no boundaries on the type or amount of questions. You want to know everything and in great detail.

Parrot Parent – You constantly repeat what your parents or other parents/parenting sources say as your way of parenting – whether meaningful or not to your kids.

We all have traces of these – but are any of these your “go-to” parenting style? These styles, though mostly motivated by fear, take away some important authenticity, independence and clarity from your kids. Our kids can’t be ready for life if our parenting does all their thinking and living for them or doesn’t share a meaningful and realistic view of the world with them.

Let’s shift to more productive parenting styles. These styles are more motivated by helping their kids discover and be who they really are, not who they need them to be. These parenting styles believe that the greatest way for a child to be happy is to be authentic, aware and supported in learning how to make meaningful choices in today’s world. You’ll notice there are far fewer of these parenting styles because each style is so much more expansive.

Productive parenting styles

Improv parent – You show up, accept what is going on and use what you know in the moment to choose the best response for this situation and this child; you don’t use parenting scripts or apply a one-size-fits-all parenting to all situations and all kids.

Coaching parent – You regularly use questions to get your kids thinking and owning their choices, decisions and directions; you ask more than tell and you listen carefully to the responses. You help your kids discover, create and own their solutions.

Zen parent – You tune in, are present and manage your emotions; you can separate your child from his or her actions to address behaviors and still maintain affection for each child.

Professor parent – You encourage your kids to constantly learn – you introduce them to their world, ideas and opportunities. You like to discuss new things and share ideas to help them understand their world.

Internship parent – You encourage and support your kids to go out to the world and try new things to discover and develop their abilities and interests, and to find what matters most to them.

Realize that your parenting style tells a lot about what you believe and know about yourself. The clearer you are of your own abilities, the more confidently you can show up to your parenting, the more significantly you can focus a loving and guiding approach instead of one marked by fear or control. Be the guide from the side, not the sage on the stage.

Our kids need to be leaders of their own lives. Though we as parents know a lot more than our kids, they however, know more about themselves than we ever will. Including them, encouraging them, coaching them and guiding them helps them tap into their own minds to see what unique abilities they came packaged with that will help them not only find their way in life, but determine how to succeed, be happy and be responsible in life. This is how they become the leaders of their own lives become ready for their great and amazing lives.

With Kids, Focus On Progress Over Perfection

We want our kids to succeed in life. That seems reasonable and loving. But the way we encourage them to get to that success may be unreasonable and unrealistic and do more harm than good. We want our kids to have straight As in school, get accepted to best colleges, be on the teams that win and be popular. We want our kids to get noticed by their teachers, be the most valuable player or performer and be someone we can talk about to our friends about.

First, we have to ask, who do we really want this for – is it more about us than them? And, are our expectations so significant that we overwhelm our kids with activities, tutors, special training and practices, experts that fill their lives and make them think perfection and achievement is the only way ahead?

I hosted a career program for a class of students at an affluent private high school in my city. The reason for hosting this program is one of the professionals at the school saw how overwhelmed and pressured the students were to do what it took to get into prestigious colleges – it was all that their parents (and therefore they) talked about. These students were strung out on caffeine drinks, studying for 6 or more hours a night, enrolled in advanced placement courses, busy all weekend in community service projects, taking music lessons and playing sports – all to look amazing to their Ivy League college admissions departments.  They openly shared that they were panicking about whether their grades were high enough, were involved in enough activities and if they were living up to their parents’ expectations. “Be the best – it is the only way ahead,” I remember hearing one parent tell their son as he arrived to the program. Many of these kids were ready to explode.

Getting pushed to the brink

Are we pushing our kids so hard because of our fears and our expectations that we make their lives unhappy? Are we pushing them into our definition of a successful life and forget that there is more to life than what school you go to, what job you have and how much money you make?

It is important to remember that each of us, particularly our kids, are a work-in-progress. They are figuring themselves out and how they fit into life – this takes time and is loaded with starts and stops, mistakes and learning. Pushing harder and harder to achieve more and better just wears our kids. “Perfection,” as mindfulness author Rachel Remen shares, “is the boobie prize in life.” It has us focus on an unrealistic standard that burns our kids out and makes them feel pressured, unsuccessful and unhappy.

A better way is to watch and acknowledge progress – progress in self-awareness, progress in making quality decisions, progress in showing up responsibly to their lives, progress in learning to be happy. Small consistent reasonable steps can yield some terrific long term results without all the added pressure of being the best.

Are you a high pressure parent – a Tiger Mom?

Consider these questions:

  1. Do you script your kid’s life with activities and required achievements and get upset when they do not perform?
  2. Do you find more wrong with your kids than right with them – your commentary and feedback is more about what’s missing and lacking instead of what’s present?
  3. Do you use others’ perspectives guide you in to what your kids should be doing and achieving instead of connecting to what is meaningful and important for your kid?
  4. Are you more concerned with impressing others with your child’s accomplishments than by allowing your child to have input in making meaningful personal choices?

The solution to all of these is to first stop and notice. Do you do these? Then, notice the impact on your child. Does this raise the quality of their lives or lower it? Kids develop in their own time and in their own way. What if you pushed and directed less and questioned and communicated more? What might you fight out about who they are and what they want in their lives.

It is indeed a great thing to have goals – and some ‘reach’ goals are great. But if your son or daughter truly feels that life is terrible because of the pressure to constantly achieve, perform or be the best, tune in. This is a signal that things need to change, and you are the best one to help bring about this change. Care more about their happiness and health than awards and achievement.

What Do Your Kids Really Need From You?

What do your kids really need from you? Is it to have a nice house and a day full of activities? Is it to have healthy food and holiday celebrations? Is it to have regular vacations and nice clothes? Is it to have new technology and spending money? This is what today’s world tells us “good parents’ do for their kids.

Let me offer some ideas in a new direction:

  • One-on-one time with each child at least once a month.
  • A willingness to listen, talk through things and ask great questions.
  • Guidance in how to sort through the options in today’s world for those that fit each child.
  • A willingness to learn who each child is and the patience and support to let them be who they are.
  • Be really interested in them as people – what they think, like, are good at and what matters to them.

I like to share with my parent audiences that a parent’s role is to guide, support and coach their kids into discovering, developing and living who they really are. That what our kids need most from us is for us to pay attention to learn who they are so we can translate and interpret the world to help them make sense of how to connect to the places in their world that need what they do and love best. Sure, they need food and a roof over their heads. But even more, they they need someone who is vested in their success in life – who is committed to helping them see what is unique, amazing and different about them and to appreciate and value it to define what success in life means to them and how to achieve it.

A world filled with stuff

As we fill our kids’ worlds with stuff, we create distance between us – the things get in the way. If a child has so many great things to play with, the objects become the attention, not time with family and parents. What if you intentionally limited the “physical generosity” (gifts) for your kids in favor of more “attention generosity” – more intentional and mindful time with your kids? What might you find out about them? How might they better connect with you? How might you use this time to help them really get ready for life?

Many times we have to stop listening to our loud and pushy world that tells us that spending on our kids is how we show our kids we love them. We are conditioned. They are conditioned. All that really happens is we get further from each other and fill our landfills with stuff.

What do kids really need from their parents?

Focused attention. Focused interest. Focused care. In these moments, two heads and hearts can connect – trust is built, relationships are established and guidance can be provided.

Check in on how you “love” your kids. Do you love them with things or do you love them with “you?” When you look back in 10 or 15 years, you will see that all they ever really wanted was time with you.

Don’t Do More FOR Your Kids, Do More WITH Your Kids

Face it, and the studies prove it, we overparent our kids. We tell more than ask, direct more than discuss and control more than guide. Maybe it is our scary world that makes us this way (we feel we have to keep our kids safe). Maybe we are just like our parents who were convinced they knew what was best for us that we had yet to realize. Regardless, we are creating a generation of future adults who haven’t learn to think, do and be on their own.

The more we tell, direct and control, the less opportunity our kids have to tap into their own thinking – to start to take their brains for spin to see what they came packaged with (talents, abilities, interests) and how to use it in today’s world. They get acquainted with what they are good at, passionate about and what matters to them the more they are brought into conversations and discussions about life. It is in these moments that they learn – not in the moments of hearing information delivered at them in a one-sided communication event from a parent.

We Can’t Make Our Kids Lives Easy or Great

I know we love our kids and that can’t help but show up in trying to do more FOR them – to make their lives easy and great. But no life is easy and greatness in life comes from each of us discovering who we are and living what is true for us, instead of living to the plans of a parent or another. Doing more FOR our kids doesn’t help them show up and own their lives, know how to do life and show up big to their choices. Doing more WITH our kids creates the opportunity for us to ride along more in life with them, translate what they see in our world, and ask them what their thoughts, feelings and ideas are about what they see. We turn into their coaches, guides and sounding boards. We stop managing their lives and help them to do this work for themselves.

I hear more and more parents share that they are disconnected from their kids – that getting their teens to communicate with them is a challenge. Is it a challenge because much of the time the only communication they know or anticipate from you are directions and instructions, rather than open-ended questions to engage, hear perspectives, gather information and get acquainted with who their kids really are.

Many parents feel that the more they do for their kids, the more they are loved. From my perspective, the way to really show our kids how much we love them is to engage with them – to value the moments with them – to do more WITH them.

Do More WITH Your Kids

See, the more we do more WITH our kids, the more time we spend with them. In these moments, we ask questions, share perspectives, translate the world for them, and start to see what makes them different, unique and amazing. We become their guides, helping them make sense of themselves and their world so they can someday soon, do the all-important matching of where in today’s world do they really fit.

As we make the time to be present with our kids – to do more with them – we connect with them. Couple this with learning to ask more questions and our encounters with our kids become the way we help them navigate life – to find their unique way and for them to own the process of discovering, developing and living who they really are instead of who they have been instructed to be.

Some questions for you:

  1. In your mind, what does it take to be a good parent?
  2. Look at your parenting behavior – do you do more FOR your kids, or WITH your kids?
  3. What challenge with your kids could you address by spending more interested and intentional time with them?
  4. How are you helping your kids learn to understand their world so they can work to find their place in it?

Our kids are amazing, talented and unique – and most of them have no idea about these attributes. Our time with them and our intentional questions help them discover this information about themselves – so they then can learn to build their work and lives around what they do and love best. This happens best when we do more WITH them than FOR them.

5 Great Questions You Should Ask Your Kids

Parents tell – it’s what they do. That is until they stop doing it.

For so many of us, we think our job as parents is to tell our kids how to be in life – what to believe, what to do, how to live and on and on. For some reason we think we have our kids’ answers in how they should show up to their world.

The only person who has a perspective about what makes a great, happy, successful and responsible life is ourselves – me for me, you for you, your kids for your kids. Our greatest job as a parent is to help our kids figure this out so that when they decide to move past high school, they have sorted this out and have some clarity on how to meet their world and be happy, successful and responsible in it.

Telling Is Not Asking

If you tell, tell, tell – you don’t help your child, then teen, then young adult – learn how to process, think through the options and choose wisely for who they are. If instead, you ask, ask, ask, you create the environment for your kids to think about and share their thoughts, talents, passions and interests. You both become more aware of what is different, unique and amazing about each of your kids. They gather this information as they sort through their answers to your questions.

Your kids need this information to identify where in today’s world they fit – what career, job, focus and work needs what they do and love best. You need this information in order to know how to help each kid develop into his/her greatest self and find his/her unique way.

The starting point to helping our kids tune in to who they are is to get good at asking more than telling (I like to think that parents tell and coaches ask – so become more like a coach). Here are 5 great (coaching) questions to help get your kids to talk to you, and in the process, help them start to think about themselves and through the events of their lives to discover and develop the clarity to find out who they are and what they want to do in life.

5 Great Questions To Ask Your Kids

  1. What are 3 things people applaud you for?
  2. What was the last thing that didn’t work out the way you wanted – what could you have done instead?
  3. I see that you are struggling with this – what is something that has worked in a previous situation like this that could help you out now? Or, what’s another way to look at this?
  4. If you could spend part (all) of today doing what you love, what would you do?
  5. What do you think is the greatest or most amazing thing about you? How did you discover it and how do you feel knowing this?

You can see that there are thousands of other questions that are in line with these information-gathering and thought-provoking questions. The idea is to get them thinking and talking. So much less of this happens if you come at them with only directions and instructions – you do all their thinking for them.

As our kids age, they need to take their unique and amazing brains out for a spin. Asking questions is the greatest way for them to discover what great abilities they came packaged with (they didn’t get an owner’s manual so you have to help them discover this by helping them see it). The more you ask, the more they think. The more they think, the more information they discover about who they are and what in today’s world fits them. If you do their thinking for them, when it is their turn to show up to the world, they will not know how to make good decisions to be happy, successful and responsible in life.


OMG I Sound Just Like My Parents!

I am sure you have heard some of these:

“If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?”

“Stop crying or I’ll really give you something to cry about!”

“Wait until your father get’s home!” 

“Eat the things on your plate – you are lucky to have food. There are starving people in China.”

There are some things that just fall out of our mouths – then we realize – OMG, I sound just like my parents. This is the one thing we all promised ourselves when we heard these “gems” – that we would never say these things. And then we do. Again and again.

We try not to. We become intentional noticing what we say until some child just puts us in that “place” – that, “If I didn’t love you and the neighbors weren’t watching I would leave you on the corner.” Okay, something all parent say – well, maybe something that just my parents said to me.  Our kids push us to the limit of our sanity and then our parents words come tumbling out of our mouths.

Why We Say What Our Parents Said

So in one view, we say these things because we learned them from our parents and they worked for them. So, if it works, use it. Perhaps just review your repertoire of parent catch phrases and choose those that will have the needed impact on your kids. Keep those in your active file. Let some of the old and dated ones go because they get more a laugh than the intended or hoped-for response.

In the other view, what parent scripting in your head needs to be replaced with a more present and mindful approach? Instead of defaulting into what you have heard other parents say and do, could you be tuned in to the situation, manage your emotions and judgement long enough to gather some information and consider your options? With greater attention to what is happening in the situation and to your emotions, you could respond in the moment instead of defaulting to your parenting quips and scrips – which are less effective.

What To Say Instead

So maybe replace “If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?” with “What do you think the impact on you (your safety, health, etc.) would be if you acted like this (whatever the situation is)?” – asked calmly, directly and intentionally.

“Stop crying or I’ll really give you something to cry about!” could shift to, “I need to understand what you are upset about because I can’t help you through all the tears. What could you do to calm down so we can talk about this?” – asked calmly, directly and intentionally.

Notice when you sound like your parents – when your parent’s parenting becomes your default. Do their words just come falling out of you? What if instead, you stopped, thought about the situation, considered other options then chose one you think would have a better outcome? To do this, you have to tap into your inner zen – that means that you have to be able to stay calm, listen for information and choose wisely from the options. Only then can you create your own great parenting phrases that someday your kids will inherit. But this time, your phrases will be calm, wise and mindful – not reactionary statements delivered in frustration.