Things I Have Learned From My Children.

I believe the children are our future.

I wrote the following post in June.

My oldest child has just turned 21.

Rereading this post has had an impact on me, especially the last 4 lines.

Many of the things I included here are things my children have said, sometimes paraphrased and sometimes not.

No matter how old they are, they will always be our children and no matter how young they are, they are our greatest teachers, if we stop and listen.

I believe the children are our are future

Teach them well and let them lead the way

Show them all the beauty they possess inside

Give them a sense of pride to make it easier

Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be

I find beauty and truth in this song. I am familiar with Whitney Houston’s version yet my research found that it was written by Michael Masser and the late Linda Creed in 1976.

I believe the children are our future.

I also believe that I have learned far more from my children than I could ever teach them.

My children have reminded me of who I truly am.

Living alongside of them, I have found my way back to my true self.

It is a journey.

It is a process.

I know my children have helped me along my journey.

I believe our souls are connected.

On a spiritual level, we guide each other and have connections far beyond our current human condition.

I have learned many things from my children and I continue to learn more every day.

I have been a mother for more than 20 years and look forward to all I will continue to learn from my children throughout our current life time together.

Things I have learned from my children:

  • STOP, and slow down and pay attention to things around you
  • Reading together before bed is a good habit
  • Eat when you are hungry and sleep when you are tired
  • Hugs and kisses are good medicine
  • Laughter is the best medicine
  • Follow your passion
  • Be who you are and don’t apologize for it
  • Speak the truth, speak your truth
  • How we talk to people matters as much as what we say to them
  • Respect is a two-way street
  • If you love to dance, then dance as much as you can
  • Reading a great book is more fun when read along with a friend(s)
  • Satoshi Tajiri created Pokémon
  • Persistence is challenging to parents but is valued by employers
  • Hiking heals the soul
  • The view at the top of the mountain is worth climbing past the danger sign
  • The first time at the beach is the best time
  • Going to the beach is even more fun with children
  • Digging in the sand is calming and satisfying
  • Straws kill sea turtles
  • Don’t let people tell you that you can not hike 20 miles in one hike
  • If you love hiking, don’t allow people to convince you to be a swimmer or a biker
  • Learning to ride a bike is not required
  • School changes how you look at learning
  • Life experience is more meaningful than a college degree
  • Don’t waste your time trying to be something that you are not
  • Music speaks a multigenerational language
  • We can do anything we set our minds to
  • You can overcome severe anxiety and earn 2 gold medals in your first Tae Keon Do Tournament
  • You are more than your anxiety
  • You are more than your mental illness
  • You are more than any illness
  • You are not your illness
  • I have Bipolar Depression, I am NOT bipolar
  • People have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, they are NOT OCD
  • Mental illnesses are not adjectives
  • Being creative can be very messy
  • There is beauty is messy
  • Dogs love us unconditionally
  • Animals are people too
  • All lives matter
  • Climbing up the slide can be as much fun as going down the slide
  • There is always time for one more hug
  • Snuggle time is the best way to fall asleep and the best way to wake up
  • Relationships are more important than accomplishments
  • It is important to admit when you are wrong
  • Your biological age does not define who you are nor what you can do
  • Your biological gender does not define who you are or what you can do
  • Love is love
  • It is never too late
  • You are never too old
  • There is no set age to learn anything
  • We need to listen more and talk less
  • Our actions speak louder than our words
  • If we want to teach anything, than we need to be an example of what we want to teach
  • We teach what we most need to learn
  • Children are closer to God and often have far more wisdom than adults
  • Patience is the most important skill we need in parenting
  • We are energy
  • Our energy affects the people around us
  • We are creative beings
  • It does not matter how you hold your pencil
  • Not everyone draws a straight line first
  • You can learn to spell without any formal school and without spelling tests
  • You don’t need to go to school to learn to read and to write
  • If you force people to learn something, they might grow to hate it
  • If you allow people to learn what they are interested in, they will retain the information much longer than any required learning
  • Arielle is my daughter’s favorite Disney princess
  • Girls can like trucks and boys can like flowers
  • Children’s clothes are sadly gender stereotyping
  • Boys can be quiet, calm and focused and girls can be physical and tough
  • Children of the same gender, can be as different as children of different genders
  • Not all boys like to play with guns and wrestle with other boys
  • Some girls hate the color pink
  • Colors don’t have gender
  • The length of our hair does not define our gender but many people think that way
  • Theater and acting is a great way to learn many life skills
  • Theater brings people together
  • Theater thrives on diversity
  • Sometimes, life just sucks
  • Watching your father nearly die, can be as scary and frightening and troubling as having a parent who dies
  • When your guts tells you that your children will need support from a traumatic experience, listen to your gut
  • Trauma can be trapped inside of us for years and manifest different for different people
  • Being happy all the time is not realistic nor healthy
  • Being highly intelligent is as challenging in this world as having a lower than average IQ
  • Our children have knowledge and understanding far beyond their years
  • We are not born “blank slates”
  • Dogs are therapeutic
  • We can’t solve problems for our children
  • Our children are living their own lives
  • Patience is the most important skill we need as parents and in life
  • Take time for what is important
  • Decide what is important to you
  • Take a nap when your body is tired
  • You can make up your story as you go
  • You can change your mind about your favorite color
  • You can change your mind about many things
  • Walk barefoot sometimes
  • Go outside when it is snowing no matter what time of day it is
  • I love making snowmen
  • I am more committed to making a snowman than my children are
  • The best way to take care of my children, is to take care of myself
  • I am a better mother when I am writing and journaling
  • I am a better mother when I take time for myself, alone

I am more in touch with my true self now after being a mother for more than 20 years, then I have been in a long time. The last time I felt this in touch with myself, I was 11 or 12 years old.

Living life alongside my children and learning along with them, has been a large part of my journey back to myself.

I could write volumes on all I continue to learn from my children. I just need to remember to stop, listen, and pay attention to them.

Children are People Too: (Respect is a Two-way Street, part 2)

When I wrote my last post, Respect is a Two-way Street, I intended to use this quote in the post:

I can remember someone sharing the idea of your child spilling milk on the floor and looking at how you would react and then comparing that to if your best friend was at your house and did the very same thing, spilled milk on the floor and thinking about how you would react.

“Let me help you clean it up.”

“It’s ok. I can get that.”

“No big deal, I do. I do it all the time.”

Are the above statements things you would say to your best friend or maybe a neighbor who was at your house and spilled milk on your floor?

Are these statements things you would say to your children?

Why would you say something kind, helpful and supportive to your friend or neighbor and not to your child?

The first book that comes to mind is, “How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk”. By Faber and Mazlish.

And their follow up book, “Siblings without Rivalry.“.

I first learned of these books from a group of amazing women I found in La Leche League. I found LLL when my first born son, Harrison, was one month old. I knew I was going back to work after my 12 week maternity leave and wanted support for continuing to breastfeed when I returned to work. My goal was to nurse him for 6 months which was the recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics. I believe it was December of 1997, when my son was one month old, that the American Academy of Pediatrics changed their recommendation from 6 months of nursing to one year.

I can picture myself at the first La Leche League meeting I attended in Matthews, NC in a building that felt like a comfy old house. I sat on a comfortable couch next to a woman with a 3 month old who was a nurse that worked nights and was home with her baby in the day. I can hear her saying to me, “aren’t they wonderful” referring to her baby and all babies. I hadn’t fully embraced the wonderfulness of caring for a helpless infant.

Motherhood was a slow process for me. I had wanted to be a mother from as far back as I can remember. As a middle child with one older sister and a younger brother, I could not wait to have children of my own and have a little girl, to have that “little sister” that I had always wanted. Yet, when Harrison was born, bonding was a slow process for me. Sure, I instantly loved him, yet, it took time for me to feel a strong bond with him and really feel the connection.

Before I was even pregnant, my husband and I had made a plan. He was staring his own business, working from home and I was the sole breadwinner working full time. I had decided that I could return to work and our future baby could be home with dad until dad grew his business enough for me to work part time. I vividly recall telling my co-workers, “I believe the child can stay home with the father and that is the same thing as the mother staying home with the child.” My co-workers with children and even those without did not agree with me. I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to go back to work until my 12 week maternity leave was over and found myself having to return to full time work and leave my baby with my husband.

I could never have returned to work if my baby wasn’t staying home with his dad, my husband and best friend. Yet, it broke my heart to go back to work. I had arranged for reduced hours, 32 hours was all that was needed to keep full time status and my benefits. I coordinated working full days on M-W-F and just 4 hour days on Tuesday and Thursday. I worked just 4 miles from home at a nursing home with great co-workers and an awesome boss. My husband, Don, would bring Harrison to me at work to nurse, when he wouldn’t take the bottle, and later just to visit.

Finding La Leche Leage, changed my life and guided me greatly in being the parent that I am today. It is funny because I remember watching toddlers walk up to their mom and climb in their lap to nurse. I know I thought to myself, “I will NEVER nurse my child past age one.” (Never say never, LOL)

I grew slowly into attachment and peaceful parenting. My baby boy guided me along the way and the example of all the women I met through LLL. I first learned about home schooling from another mom at a LLL meeting. Before I met her, I used to joke I was going to send my kids to Pennsylvania to go to school, because I went to school there most of my life and they are known to have great schools. And I didn’t want my children growing up with a southern accent! (No offensive to my lovely southern friends! I love your accent! I embrace it now.). I was 28 years old when I became a mother and had lived in Charlotte, NC for just 5 years: November 10, 1997.

We were visiting my parents on Lake Murray, SC and had gone to a Columbia Unity church service and then out to eat aftewards. Harrison was about 2 1/2. It might have been the time my parents went to Alaska and we went to their lake house to have a little family vacation, just the three of us. We were eating at this restaurant and a woman came over to us and complimented us on how respectfully we talked to our child. That was the first time that had been pointed out to me that way. It had never occurred to me to do anything but talk respectfully to my child. Her words sealed into my heart with a powerful message, a parenting philosophy was born within me and over the past 18 years, I have thought about what that woman said to me and her words have guided me back to the path when I have strayed.

It has not always been easy to treat my children with respect and many times I have failed. I have made bad choices with my words and actions and have acted in ways that make me cringe. I have had to forgive myself for those mistakes. It has been my biggest challenge: self forgiveness. I feel my shoulders tensing as I write this, thinking about all the times I have been disrespectful to my children, the times when I acted in ways that were just plain horrible.

Yet, I am human. I am a spiritual being having a human experience and mistakes are part of the process and a part of the learning.

We need to embrace ourselves where we are right now.

We can take small, slow steps forward to improving ourselves and improving how we treat our children and ALL children in this world.

All we need to do is remember one word.

Respect

Treat all children the way you want to be treated.

Treat all people on this earth with respect.

My goal in guiding other parents on a more conscious parenting journey is to share my experiences insights and beliefs to inspire others to be the best parent that they can be for their children. We each have a different path and so our parenting will look different as our lives all look different. I strive to respect the differences in all people and our own choices. Our differences make this world a wonderful and amazing place to live. Some of us will send our children to pubic school or private school or boarding school and others will create school at home, or homeschool following a classical approach or an eclectic approach, and others will choose unschooling, and our approach to unschooling might come from different beliefs and philosophies and our lives might look very different. As we each make different educational choices for our children, for our families, we too make different parenting choices.

I learned in LLL to “take what works for you and leave the rest” and this is my message to all who read my blog.

I love to hear feedback and comments from readers. I envision creating a community of support. I also have a facebook page for Child-led learning and invite you to join me there as well if you would like to read more about Child-led Learning.

I will close with inspiring words from an unexpected place:

The wind of change

Blows straight into the face of time

Like a stormwind that will ring the freedom bell

For peace of mind

Let your balalaika sing

What my guitar wants to say

Take me to the magic of the moment

On a glory night

Where the children of tomorrow share their dreams

With you and me

Take me to the magic of the moment

On a glory night

Where the children of tomorrow dream away

in the wind of change

Respect is a Two-way Street

And these children that you spit on

As they try to change their worlds

Are immune to your consultations

They’re quite aware of what they’re going through

I looked at a large collection of images and this one really spoke to me.

You can not build (peace) with a (gun)

I took a screen shot on my iPad to share the image. I am aware it is likely a copy-writed image and thus my reason for sharing the entire screen and also the link to the post. I share it honoring the children, teens and young adults who marched out of school and made posters and spoke. I share it so their voices can be heard. ( the image disappears when I save)

Here is the link to the image: March 14 School Walkout

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

(Turn and face the strange)

Ch-ch-changes

Don’t tell them to grow up and out of it

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

(Turn and face the strange)

Ch-ch-changes

Where’s your shame

You’ve left us up to our necks in it

Time may change me

But you can’t trace time

David Bowie’s powerful words in the song, Changes have always inspired me.

Today in our present climate and given that I am raising three children of this “millennial generation”, and after reading posts and watching videos from the March 14, 2018 National School Walk Out Protests, I realized I needed to write about respect.

Respect

I watched this video from Facebook shared by IJR Blue Presents

And then I participated in some discussion about this post.

And I wrote this in the comments on the post on my wall:

This person is our future. He is the future that I want to see in America. He is he kind of person I would love to see in political office. The voices of our youth have power. They see the world as it is, and without clouded vision of politics, agendas, special interests, and propaganda. We need to listen to them. They have great wisdom. This speech is so inspiring to me and brings me hope because THIS is the AMERICA that I can be proud of.

I read many comments calling the youth of today stupid and many people brought up the incidents of teens eating Tide Pods.

And my reply:

Teens of All generations do stupid things- but not all teens engage in the stupid behavior of eating tide pods. When I was a teen- they sniffed rubber cement- highly toxic. And I am sure you can think of stupid things you saw other teens do when you were growing up. Let’s stop bashing this generation of teens. I know MANY awesome teens/ young adults- 2 live at my house and are amazing people. And many of them inspire me with their wisdom and passion. We need to respect our youth in order to change our future and theirs….

and then I read this comment by another person:

A culture of spoiled brats raised their kids to be bigger spoiled brats, etc…now we are in danger of spoiled brats just popping up and shooting people anywhere. No better reason to arm ones self and remain that way. To hell with spoiled brats. God bless those who didn’t make and support the creation of spoiled brats! Where are the parents of the kids skipping school? Are they being disciplined for truancy? What the hell happened to justice? Doctors, cars, drugs, and cellular phones EACH KILL more children in a year than people with guns do. So many are thinking with their maternal/paternal instincts……but they are to too stupid to teach their kids that we don’t eat tide pods. SHAME ON PARENTS AND TEACHERS WHO CREATED AND SUPPORTED THE CREATION OF SPOILED BRATS! LACK OF DISCIPLINE IS CHILD ABUSE YOU IDIOTS! SMH

RESPECT

The key to changing our future is respecting our children, respecting our teens, respecting our youth.

Respect is a two way street.

The best way to teach respect to children is to RESPECT THEM!

I feel like I could say that one million times and it would not be enough.

Every generation blames the next generation….

Billy Joel sings it so well:

We didn’t start the fire

It was always burning

Since the world’s been turning

We didn’t start the fire

No, we didn’t light it

But we tried to fight it

We need to stop blaming and take responsibility for ourselves and our choices.

As a parent of three children who are now 20, 16, and 9, I feel the most important thing we can do for our children is respect and love them and accept them for who they are.

I am raising independent thinkers who have the freedom to learn in a way that works for them and in an environment of support, love, and respect.

We have had more than our share of challenges along our life journey including financial struggles. Yet we power on, we continue living, we ask the tough questions and do the research and seek support, advice and guidance.

I have made mistakes as a parent, as a person. I am human.

We are all human.

I am a spiritual being having a human experience. Part of that experience is making mistakes. Mistakes are a big part of learning.

I am NOT a perfect parent.

My goal is NOT to raise perfect children.

I am a work in progress and continue to challenge myself and learn and grow and evolve, as a person and as a parent.

I allow my children to make their own choices in life and that includes making their own mistakes. I provide them with the support and guidance they need living in 21st century America. I am here to facilitate their learning and serve as a guide on their life journey.

I respect my children and their individuality, their interests, and their life desires.

I DO MY BEST to respect them in my actions and words. Like I said before, I am human.

I am raising “my children”, these young humans who are a part of my life journey, with the values of respect, compassion, kindness, and honesty.

These children are not “mine”, they are not my property. They are human beings the same as any grown adult is a human being and they deserve the same respect you would give your co-worker or your friend.

The next time your child spills or breaks something, before you respond (or even after), STOP, and ask yourself,

“Would I respond/ have responded that way if my best friend had broken my favorite vase?; or made that same mistake that our child just did?”

“Would I respond/ have responded that way if my co-worker or my boss spilled coffee? Or did what my child just did?”

It may sound cliche, our children are our future.

We need to allow our children to build their own future.

We need to allow our children to express themselves and provide them the opportunity to be the grandest version of themselves.

We need to work alongside our children,, guide, support and respect them.

Listen to them.

Our children are born to us with great inner wisdom and love and trust and express that until we “beat it out of them” or teach them hate, anger, fear and doubt.

We need to listen to our children.

They have great wisdom for they are closer to God/ spirit/ Universe…less burdened with “life baggage”. (Fill in your own belief system)

Maybe if we stop and look at children in a new light, and treat them with respect.

And stop blaming them or their parents…STOP the BLAME!

Point the finger back at ourselves and see how we can be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

Maybe then… we can help make real change happen and help our children make a better world for their future.

Billy Joel sings of the many issues and problems over multiple generations in his song, We Didn’t Start the Fire. See the full lyrics here.

He wrote the song in response to a teen telling him back in 1989 how tough it is to be a kid now compared to Billy growing up in the 1950s. I have taken poetic license and use this song to imply that there are always going to be challenges in the world and there always have been controversies and big problems. And to speak to adults complaining about “kids today”.

Kids today are amazing, empowered, intelligent, insightful, truthful and motivated.

….Until we teach them that they are not.

Birth control, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon back again

Moonshot, Woodstockand honesty. , Watergate, punk rock

Begin, Reagan, Palestine, Terror on the airline

Ayatollah’s in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan

Wheel of Fortune, Sally Ride, heavy metal, suicide

Foreign debts, homeless Vets, AIDS, Crack, Bernie Goetz

Hypodermics on the shores, China’s under martial law

Rock and Roller Cola wars, I can’t take it anymore

We didn’t start the fire

It was always burning

Since the world’s been turning

We didn’t start the fire

But when we are gone

It will still burn on and on and on and on

And on and on and on and on…

We didn’t start the fire

It was always burning

Since the world’s been turning

We didn’t start the fire

No, we didn’t light it

But we tried to fight it

Much thanks and gratitude to:

Azlyrics, Billy Joel, David Bowie, IJR Blue Presents, Chicago Tribune, Facebook and all the people I quoted and those who responded to me

Collaborative, Conscious, Respectful Parenting

CCR Parenting

Because I love music and well… I find the name catchy.

Have you ever seen the rain coming down on a sunny day?

R.E.M. sings as I write, “everybody hurts, sometimes”, “when you feel like you’re alone”

I became a mother over 20 years ago. When I returned to work when my baby boy was 12 weeks old, I had a new mission, to find a way to work from home.

Somewhere along the journey, as I grew into motherhood with my child, I envisioned a Conscious Parenting website, I called it, “Mommy Daddy STOP” because my son loved road signs and I saw the symbolism with road signs and parenting and messages.

I have notebooks of material and ideas for that website and I even created the site at one point.

Mommy Daddy STOP: Consciously parenting our children, our parents and ourselves

In 2010, I began my blog, Gina’s Life Journey. And a few years later, Child-led Learning.

Here I am now in 2018 and Don and I have given our first Parenting Conversations talk. The conscious parenting website idea is alive and well again and growing into a business.

Why collaborative, conscious, respectful parenting?

Collaboration

I see a family as a team. A group of people living together and therefore need to function together. Parenting is a relationship and like any relationship there needs to be give and take, a sense of doing what works best for all.

Businesses spend time on team building, good business do. Families can also learn from team building exercises. We need to learn communication skills and we also need to have fun!

Respect

Over the past 20+ years as a parent, I have decided if I had to pick one word to define the most important part of parenting, that word is respect.

I vividly remember being out at a restaurant with my husband and oldest child who was maybe 2 1/2 at the time. We were in SC and had gone to eat, I believe after attending a Unity service in Columbia, SC, near my parents house. There was a stranger, a woman, who came over to us and told us that she liked how respectfully we were talking to our young child. Before she said that, I am not sure that it had occurred to me that the manner in which we talked to our child was “respectful”. That message, her compliment, became a gauge of something I always wanted to have in our parenting relationship.

I never used “baby talk” with my kids. I spoke to them. I described what I was doing, what I saw in the world as we walked, and I shared what I was thinking. I spoke to them like I would speak to another person. As a baby, I spoke to them like a person new to this world, “those are trees, and houses and look mailboxes and the mailboxes have numbers, there is a 1 and a 4 and an 8… ”

I took walks with my oldest child with him in the stroller and had this ongoing monologue with him about the things in our neighborhood. I described all the road signs, first the name, and then the color and shape. This is where his love of sings, in particular, STOP signs, originated. He found the bright red octagon fascinating and luckily our neighbors lived on the corner and we would walk to their driveway every day to visit the STOP sign. And then I made one for him to have inside, incase it rained or weather did not permit us to visit the stop sign outside.

STOP became a reminder to me as a parent, to stop and pay attention to the world and to my son. To STOP and slow down, to look, listen, feel and experience. To be in the moment with my child.

I write about collaborative, conscious, respectful parenting as a reminder to myself. It is a journey, one I am still traveling. Always working to improve my parenting and be a better version of myself to best help my children.

I close with these beautiful words by Colbie Caillat:

Low

When you’re feeling low

And you just don’t know where to run to

Broke

If your heart’s been broke

And you feel like you’re all alone

If you need something to believe in

If you’re looking for a light to guide you home

Just look inside

You’re light a shining brighter than you know

You should know

I’m never gonna let you down

I’m always gonna build you up

And when you’re feeling lost

I will always find you love

I’m never gonna walk away

I’m always gonna have your back

And if nothing else you can always count on that

When you need me

I promise I will never let you down

Laugh

I will make you laugh

If you ever feel like crying

Close

I will hold you close

You won’t be alone anymore

If you need someone to believe in

If you’re reaching for a hand to guide you home

Just take my hand and I won’t let you go

I hope you know

I’m never gonna let you down

I’m always gonna build you up

And when you’re feeling lost

I will always find you love

I’m never gonna walk away

I’m always gonna have your back

And if nothing else you can always count on that

I’m never gonna let you down

I’m always gonna build you up

And when you’re feeling lost

I will always find you love

I’m never gonna walk away

I’m always gonna have your back

And if nothing else you can always count on that

When you need me

I promise I will never let you down

Ain’t never gonna let you down

If you need something to believe in

If you feel you’ve reached the end of the road

Don’t be afraid, I’ll always guide you home

You should know

I’m never gonna let you down

I’m always gonna build you up

And when you’re feeling lost

I will always find you love

I’m never gonna walk away

I’m always gonna have your back

And if nothing else you can always count on that

I’m never gonna let you down

I’m always gonna build you up

And when you’re feeling lost

I will always find you love

I’m never gonna walk away

I’m always gonna have your back

And if nothing else you can always count on that

When you need me

I promise I will never let you down

Ain’t never going let you down

Ain’t never going let you down