engaging kids outside the home

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“Summer is greeting us with her cheerful grin, but parents who couldn’t come up for the air needed to plan for her grand entrance are not doing a happy dance. It looms instead like an epic black hole, begging for definition. Camp registration deadlines came and went a long time ago, but maybe, your kids aren’t keen on camp, anyway. You don’t want summer to be a chore for you or your kids. So, what’s a good parent to do?

There are plenty of life-changing ways to occupy your children over the summer besides sending them to camp and, ample evidence that these experiences are deeply formative. In my case, an older friend needed help weeding her flower garden and asked if my 12-yr-old daughter (who wasn’t a camp-loving girl) wanted to earn some cash. In fact, she did, and though it was a hot, humid undertaking, my daughter was glad she said yes. Weeding side-by-side, the two bonded over their love of fiction and started their own book club, reading “The Wheel On the School”, “Ruby Holler” and “Number the Stars”. My daughter grew from that summer, on her knees beside my dear old friend, picking weeds and talking books.” 

Read in full in Houston Family Magazine.

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Using Art To Help Our Kids Process Grief & Loss: A Q/A with Houston Author/Artist Roger Hutchison

“There is prayerful poetry woven through Houston author/artist Roger Hutchison’s work, a gentle reverence in his tone and posture toward the heartbroken. His recently released “My Favorite Color is Blue. Sometimes.: A Journey Through Loss with Art and Color” quickly became an Amazon Bestseller and is now in its second printing. This 32-page picture book live with vivid color takes the reader page after page through the emotions of grief and loss, such as anger, shock and hope. It’s Hutchison’s ambition to use art, color and poetic language to communicate love and promote healing in today’s hurting world. 

Hutchison’s book is a powerful companion to “The Painting Table: A Journal of Loss and Joy”, his earlier book, which brought inspiration to conduct Painting Tableworkshops and eventually connected him with the Sandy Hook Elementary community where he worked with survivors of the December 14, 2012 school shooting. 

Using his art and books as tools, Hutchison’s mission is to reach out to hurting communities, both near and far.”

Read in full in Houston Family Magazine.

Whitney Ellenby & Her Journey To Save Her Autistic Child

“After years of sending her autistic son Zack to leading therapists and hemorrhaging hundreds of thousands of dollars, Whitney Ellenby woke up, angry. The system was failing Zack and in the process tearing her world apart. “I realized I’d been fed false hope. Zack’s progress was negligible. He wasn’t any closer to integrating with his peers and leading a normal life.” She felt duped by the inflated numbers providers offered, and discouraged about Zack’s future. It was a dark time, but Ellenby’s epiphany helped reorient her notion of what success and happiness looked like for Zack. It proved life-changing.”

Read my article featuring Whitney Ellenby in the March/April 2018 issue, Alexandria Woman and do check out Whitney’s book, Autism Uncensored: Pulling Back the Curtain on Amazon.

Teaching Our Kids to Love Fully in an Unfair World

Today, a bird slowly died in front of my children. The impact against our sliding glass doors was deafening. Housebound by a winter storm, the kids and I quickly abandoned our hot chocolate in our rush to discover that a bright crimson cardinal had struck the glass. It now lay helpless in the snow.

Be honest and don’t construct a cover-up. What’s been seen can’t be unseen: I watched, helpless to intervene or make my kids unsee this tragedy. The suffering we were witnessing elicited, “Mom, let’s help it!” “Should we bring it inside and nurse it?” “What do we do?” “Poor bird.” Our 12-year-old’s large eyes were brimming with tears. Her younger brother couldn’t look away. I wanted as badly as my kids to watch this bird miraculously fly away. But the cardinal grew still and we, silent, mourning the loss of an innocent bird.

Show sensitivity and respect for their particular attachments: Unlike adults, children fall in love fearlessly, without baggage. Maybe it’s toys as much or more than the people surrounding them they cherish. In the case of my children, it was their stuffed animals—each complete with name and personality.

As enjoyable as it was for me to witness the creative powers at work in my children’s play, I knew that the depth of attachment would create a storm of trouble if any of these animal kingdom favorites were lost. After all, these were real as flesh and blood friends in my children’s world. On many occasions, we did come close to losing a stuffed friend. At the grocery, in the airplane, on the sidewalk, silently fallen out of the stroller.

In every instance, the look of shock and pain in the affected child’s eyes was a small step into the brutal world, where fierce affection is often accompanied by sorrow, a pain equal to the love.

Read in full at Houston Family Magazine.

‘Be kind to one another’: The importance of sibling relationships

Published by The Washington Post, On Parenting. If you want your children to have good relationships with each other, make sure you’re modeling the same with your own siblings. Kids are learning from our actions!

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‘My teenage son and I left the house to walk the dog just as my phone started buzzing. “It’s Aunt Bren — I’ll call her back later,” I said, letting it go to voicemail. My son wondered how long it had been since I last spoke with my younger sister, and encouraged me to return her call that afternoon.

“Have you always been close?” he asked. I opened up and told him about our stormy relationship as kids. His fun-loving, attractive aunt was the one who got blamed for everything that went wrong. Guilty or not, she bore the brunt, and was probably punished numerous times for things I’d slyly pinned on her.’

Read in full here.

 

Teaching My Kids The Simple Life Gave Them A Taste Of The Good Life

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Our values as parents will be past down to our #kids. What do you #cherish? Happy to be adding my voice to Red Tricycle‘s #March discussion on #minimalism#stuff #materialism #place #space #recycling #goodlife#parenting #location #publicspace #purging

“We knew that our young daughter had internalized our commitment to place over space. At school she was asked to define “neighborhood” and she wrote confidently from her own experience: “A neighborhood is a place where people live, work, and play.” Not bad for a six-year-old.

At its core, the simple life for us was wrapped up in our appreciation for walkability. That summarizes our family’s definition of a good place, and that’s what we tell our realtor every time. We want to be able to walk to the coffeeshop, grocery and pub. We’ve resided in apartments and townhouses. Once we even tried a single-family home. Today, as a family of four, we live in a downtown high-rise with two teenagers. We haven’t owned a lawnmower since 2001.

The urban life necessitated a smaller home out of which blossomed the simple life.”

Read in full herehttp://redtri.com/teaching-my-kids-the-simple-life-gave-them-a-taste-of-the-good-life/

Online Sharing: Are You Hurting Your Family

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I’m honored to have my essay published by Oregon Family Magazine!

“As social media mavens, we want to be remembered. Often apt personal anecdotes are the best way to connect with our followers or Facebook friends and drive a post’s popularity. But when it comes to sharing about our significant other and children, the line of decency can often feel blurry. 

The question is weighty, worth the internal wrestling. 

The What, When and Why: My personal habits on sharing family-related content start with timing. I allow time to pass before I post about an experience that directly involves either my husband or children. Looking back on an experience affords many advantages. 

Waiting to share publicly helps me to more completely understand and process what happened in the first place. When I have a family-related post idea, I’ll write a rough draft, revisiting it as my thoughts mature and clarify. Mulling is a very good thing; at the very least it keeps me honest about my culpability in a personal family anecdote I’m considering sharing. For starters, what is my motivation for sharing?” 

Read in full on Oregon Family Magazine.

 

 

 

What Happened When I Quit Helicopter Parenting And Let My Kids Choose Their Own Path

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“I’m a safety mom. A safety person, in fact. During a past ski trip, I consistently arrived back at the chairlift last, underscoring my obvious preoccupation with not hurting myself. I checked my speed the entire descent down the mountain. Speed is not my middle name.

My teens were ahead of me. And though cautionary words were on the tip of my tongue, I made no effort to prohibit them from their rapid downhill flight. I didn’t want to harden their resolve.

People who thrive are people who are being who they believe they were meant to be. That is exactly what I want for my kids, and probably pretty close to what you want, too. We want our kids to mature into independent young adults who can make wise choices on their own.”

Implicit in this desired end result is that along the way, parents must let go. Helicopter parenting will only hold children back.

Today I added my voice to TODAY Parents feature challenge on helping your kids follow their dreams! Read in full here.

What Happened When I Quit Helicopter Parenting

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“When I coddle my kids, I hurt them. If I keep myself at the center of their universe, helicopter parenting and serving their every need, the goal of independence is undermined. It’s much harder to stay in the shadows and watch them successfully dodge one bad decision only to perform a dramatic faceplant when the next major obstacle reveals itself. But how else will they learn?”

Thank you, San Diego Family Magazine, for publishing my essay on the perils of helicopter parenting.

Read in full: https://www.sandiegofamily.com/resources/parenting/1981-helicopter-parenting