Back to School Series, Part 1 – Addressing Differences

Back to schoolIt’s hard to believe the beginning of the school year is right around the corner.  With that in mind, I hope to get you thinking about ways you can better prepare your kids for the transition back to life in the classroom.

One of my personal goals Continue reading

The Top 10 Family Friendly Resorts

iStock_000023646172SmallIt’s hard to believe that it’s almost summer!  The days of traveling with young/toddler children are thankfully behind me, however, I vividly recall my packing routine, and being the “type-a” gal that I am, I still have my “packing list” files saved in Word.  Pathetic right?  I know!  So not to bore you with “packing list maui 4-2005″, suffice to say that the list (alphabetized, no doubt!) contains every imaginable rattle, burp cloth, pop-up book, wipe holder, high chair accoutrement and clothing item we could possibly ever have needed, and enough “supplies” to get us through, should our destiny land us belong-side Gilligan, Maryanne and the Howell’s!

These days, with the kids packing and pulling their own bags, travel life is much different… and much easier and less stressful!  Nonetheless, we still tend to choose destinations that we find accommodating and fun for the kids, as the Lord knows we need them happy and occupied.

I came across the below linked article in Parents Magazine and think the recommendations are great.  We’ve personally been to 6 of the 10 with our kids and made wonderful family memories.  Although the article indicates a couple of the destinations as being “Winter Getaways” they are great summer destinations, as well.  The other facet of the article that I like is that they published the 50 runner-up destinations!

http://www.parents.com/fun/vacation/us-destinations/the-10-best-family-friendly-resorts/

Take a peek and share some of your family travel plans for the summer.  I can’t wait to hear from you!  There’s nothing like a great family vacation!

Happy June!
Renee

Not Such “Sterling” Behavior

iStock_000016502615_SmallI’m sure many of you have watched the unbelievable situation relating to the NBA’s Los Angeles Clipper’s owner, Donald Sterling, unfold.  After making awful, racist comments, lying to the media and others, bashing beloved NBA Legend, Businessman and Philanthropist, Magic Johnson, and a ridiculous interview with Anderson Cooper that was aired over the course of 3 days, it’s time for this man to go away!

Today Sterling announced that he will fight the NBA to remove his lifetime ban and said he will not pay the $2.5 million dollar fine imposed on him.  What a travesty!

As he bashed Magic Johnson, saying “he’s not a good role model for children” I thought to myself “and you are?!”  Something you always hear me talk about is learned behavior… what do you think our children are learning from this…? What types of thoughts do they have on this topic, if in fact they’re aware of it?

I personally believe that this is a parenting opportunity… a teachable moment.  While not easy, comfortable topics to talk about with our children, this is life!  I challenge all of you to use this situation for the positive.  Use this as a case study of what is wrong, and what not to do.  Talk about how many people this has hurt, not to the least of which are Sterling’s own family and brand.  Let’s use this opportunity to talk about bad choices and consequences, why lying and cheating are never the answer and why there is no place in our world today for racism.  I choose to teach truth and tolerance and encourage my kids to celebrate differences.  I hope you’ll join me!

Happy Friday!

Much love,
Renee

Intent vs. Impact – Part 1

iStock_000019965393SmallLast week I said that I would begin talking about the concept of “Intent vs. Impact” .  I believe this will prove to be a great guide in helping our children (and ourselves!)understand that sometimes what we say and intend are different than what is heard, and how the impact of our words can end up being hurtful, mean, or confusing when that isn’t the intent at all.

Have you ever had an unexpected impact on a person to whom you were communicating and had no understanding as to why?  It happens!  Even to those of us that consider ourselves to be excellent communicators!  Having said that, you can imagine how easily children and adolescences fall into this trap without ever being aware of it.  So what are some ways that we can get our kids to realize the importance of thinking before they act/speak.  How can we help them communicate effectively, in-turn assisting them in making better, kinder choices when it comes to their words?

I was recently at a talk at my kids’ school and a parent mentioned being upset that their child said “he was acting so gay… it was annoying” as he was referring to the behavior of a friend.  The parent didn’t know what to say about the sons choice of words so admittedly said nothing.

Lets break this down:
1.  Did the boy intend to say he thinks his friend is gay?
2.  Does he think the boy would be upset if he heard him use the word “gay” when referring to his behavior?
3.  What is gay behavior in the eyes of a Junior High School student?
4.  What if there was somebody within earshot who is struggling with their identity… how would it make that person feel?
5. How would it make the boy feel if one of his friends said that about him?

Clearly the above example is something that will likely happen in Junior High and beyond, but no matter the age of your child(ren), I’m sure you can plug-in your own scenario and end up with a similar set of issues.  So given that, what can be done if we realize that there is a mismatch between our intent and our impact on a colleague, friend, or someone at home?  Here are some questions we might ask ourselves:

1.  What just happened?
2.  How is the outcome different from what I intended/expected?
3.  Where can I take responsibility?
4.  How do I make this right?

In striving to make things right, you can take the following steps:

1.  Act quickly to address the situation… don’t let the “bad” linger
2.  Be honest about your intention.  Talk with the other person about what they heard and how it made them feel.
3.  How might you communication more effectively or differently in the future?
4.  Take responsibility for your words and actions.

My failures have been errors in judgment, not of intent.
~ Ulysses S. Grant ~

This is just the tip of the iceberg on this topic, so you can expect on-going dialogue for a few weeks.  Check back and see what others are saying and further, share your own scenarios and solutions with us.  We love hearing from you!

Until next time…

In gratitude,
Renee

Happy Super Bowl Sunday!

iStock_000021836977XSmallWith the excitement of the Super Bowl in the air, I’m reminded of my childhood and watching games with my family.  Both of my parents being from Colorado, the Broncos were always our house team!  While I can’t say I spend hours in front of the TV watching football these days, I’m still a huge sports fan and love the excitement associated with the big games!

As a parent of 2 very sporty kids, I can’t help but think about all the awesome lessons and lifelong benefits that come from playing team sports. Here are just a few that quickly come to mind:

 

 

  • Creating friendships that can last a lifetime.
  • Developing social skills and learning to be cooperative.
  • Developing leadership skills that will carry you throughout life.
  • Building self-confidence and determination.
  • Learning to love exercise and how to enjoy a healthy lifestyle.

Wherever you’ll be watching, and even if it’s only the commercials, find ways to encourage your kids to become part of a team.  Even if they’re not into sports they can join a chess club, girl scouts or the debate team, just to name a few!  While winning is great, it’s not all about winning and losing – team sports prepare you for time off the field… where life really happens!

Enjoy the Super Bowl and GO BRONCOS!!

In Gratitude,
Renee

 

The Pledge – Part 2: Treat Everyone Equal and with Respect

My World PledgeLast week, we began the process of breaking down “The Pledge” line by line, to examine it’s key words and how we can use them to guide our children towards a lifetime of living the pledge:)

This week, we’re focusing on the word Equal. The Pledge uses the word in its noun form. The definition is simple and one that your kids can easily understand:

Equal (noun) a person or thing considered to be the same as another
in status and/or quality.

For discussion purposes, this is also a great time to introduce the concept of equality. The definition of equality is very similar to the above definition of equal, with the addition of “equal in rights and opportunity.”

I truly believe that kids see each other as equal. It’s seemingly the adults that aren’t always of this mindset.  However, I believe the topic of treating everyone equal and the idea of equality is important to talk with your kids about.  Here are some questions to assist in starting the conversation:

  • What do you think treating everyone equal means?
  • Have you ever felt like someone didn’t treat you equal?
  • Have you ever seen somebody else not being treated equally, and if so, how did it make you feel?
  • Why do you think it’s important to treat everyone equal?
  • Do you think that the way a person looks or how they dress changes their status or their rights?

If we have ongoing dialogue with our kids about everyday life issues, as well as select topics of importance, they’ll feel quite natural talking to you about other, concerning issues that they may face.  As long as you’re not reactive or judgmental when your kids share things with you, you’ll find they want to share more and more…

Next up, treating others with respect!

Until then…

In Gratitude,
Renee

The Pledge – Part 1: Celebrating Differences

My World PledgeI introduced you to the “My World Friends Pledge” last month.  This is a great way for your kids to start off the New Year.  You can find the Pledge at myworldmedia.net.  Imagine how different our world would be if everyone lived by the Pledge!  Over the coming weeks, we’ll be breaking down the pledge line-by-line and talking about ways to weave these topics into conversation with your children.

On that note, let’s start at the top with “I will Celebrate Differences”. That’s another way of saying “I will be tolerant and kind to those that are different than me”.  What a great thing to talk to your kids about!  Here are a few questions that you might ask your kids:

  • What does Celebrating Differences mean to you?
  • Do you have friends that are different than you?
  • In what ways are some of your friends different than you?
  • Do you think that it’s good when people are different?
  • What are the differences in your friends or classmates that you notice the most (ie. glasses, braces, skin color, eye color, etc.)?
  • What are some reasons you’re happy that we’re not all exactly the same?

It’s simple to weave this topic into conversation about everyday life, and when you have regular, on-going and open dialogue with your children they will know that the door is always open for a chat.  If something is bothering them, something is going on at school, peer-pressure or a dispute with a friend, or they recognize behavior in a friend that is not appropriate, they will feel like it’s natural to talk you about these things.  How important is that?!  As parents we all want our kids to know that we’re here for them and we will listen and help when help is required.  Sometimes just being a good listener is really all they need. When your children confide in you and trust that you will listen without judgment or reaction, it will change the level of your conversations with them.

So, talk-it-out! And then share how your conversation of Celebrating Differences went.  We can’t wait to hear from you!

In Gratitude,
Renee

Mommy Shutdown

iStock_000018968465XSmallA big HUGE thanks to those of you who “missed” my blog last Friday!  It’s inspiring to hear from you and know that you look forward to my Friday morning posts. “Whitty”, “clever” and “informational” are some of the words you used to describe my writings and for that I say “Thank You!”

I actually have a small confession to make.  I did not post my blog last Friday because I had a “Mommy Shutdown”.  I guess all this government shutdown, debt ceiling, politico mumbo-jumbo (not to mention pure exhaustion!) got the best of me!  Actually, what it did, was it really got me thinking… “what would our world look like if all the moms said “to “H” with this, I’m shutting down!”.  What would happen?  Crazytown, right?!

No breakfast, no rides to school, no laundry, dishes or grocery shopping.  No packed lunches.  No tiddying-up the house after the morning cyclone swirls out the door.  An overflowing mailbox, bills left unattended, no driving to sports and/or after school activities. No dinner. No job if you decide to not show up. You get the idea… the list doesn’t stop growing, and the dishes in the sink don’t stop piling up!

For a short 24 hours, my family and home experienced a “Mommy Shutdown”  and while I’m happy to report that Saturday morning I felt a bit more appreciated, things were in complete disarray!  I always feel needed (sadly! LOL), I always feel loved (thankfully!), but as a Mom, I’d be lying if I said I always felt appreciated. I get it… sometimes we need to draw a line in the sand, take a stand, but I’m here to tell you a shutdown is not the answer!

There are a lot of funny stories that can be shared circling around this topic AND a lot of very sad ones!  My positive confirmation in this experiment was a reassurance of what I already know… no matter how much you want to throw in the towel, regardless of how much you feel unappreciated or overwhelmed or exhausted, you can’t just bail on the people that rely on you.  It’s not a good idea (in most cases, anyway) to walk away from those that you love and care for just because you’re stressed-out or not getting your way.  The responsibilities that come with being a wife and a mother are clearly very serious.  To “shutdown” is not appropriate!  We have to communicate.  If we need a break we should arrange one, if something isn’t working, talk about it and fix it.  A responsible pause in the action, yes!  A shutdown, no!  Shutdown = Letdown.

And let’s not forget about the message we send to the future leaders of our planet when we “shutdown”.  It kinda says “if you don’t get your way, it’s ok to walk away without compromise”.  Yes, time heals everything (thats the age old saying anyway) but think about all the extra work, problems and resentment that pile up after you walk away but before you make your way back to the table!  Senseless, silly and juvenille are a few words that come to mind (along with a few others!).

In closing, I believe that we, both as parents and as citizens, can learn from these situations… even ones that seemingly made no sense at all.  I’d love to hear what you have learned from the state of our union what conversations you and your family/friends have had sourrounding this topic.

Until next time…

Much love, Renee

Back to School Series, Part 3 – Let’s Talk About Responsibility

iStock_000009781215XSmallAs we prepare to send our children back to school, another excellent conversation to have with them is on Responsibility.

It’s clear that depending on age, responsibilities and our expectations of such will vary. Continue reading

Back to School Series, Part 2 Let’s Talk About Empathy (2 of 2)

iStock_000003283930XSmallIn last Friday’s post, I began on the topic of Empathy.  Let’s continue the dialouge…

Back in April, I read an article in Forbes magazine titled “8
Ways to Cultivate Empathy in Kids”.
Continue reading