What needs to happen before we shift away from helicopter parenting?

Helicopter parenting gets bad wrap.  Comedians poke fun of it. Media reports the consequences of it, and educators dislike it a whole lot.

My goal has never been to be a helicopter parent. I can barely keep track of my own shoes and paperwork.  I also am fiercely independent as a person and it’s really not in my nature to hover over my kids in EVERY manner.

When my older son started having strong opinions about education, I empowered him at a young age to speak up. Own his education path.

The results of this have been mixed. At best, he spoke his mind. At worst, his soul was crushed.

Example:

You are the teacher.

A child of 7 years old comes to you and says they don’t like the books in your classroom.

And let’s be honest, that may be exactly how he says it, because he is 7.

“I don’t like any of these books in this class”

How do you respond as the teacher?  Think about it.

A   “Johnny, maybe we can spend a little time together trying to find something that works for you.”

Or

B “Johnny that is silly. Look at all these books. I have 100’s in here! You can find something; you just need to try harder.”

One response supports the student with characteristics of self-direction and student led empowerment of educational needs.

But you know what our children encounter more often?

B.

It’s not that we have not experienced A. It’s just that the number of times our children have come home with the B experience has taught us, trained us, that education as a whole is not ready for the opposite of helicopter parenting.

Yet.

For parents to shift away from helicopter parenting we need to see our students being supported. This is not just with educational standards they need to learn, but emotional support.

B does not validate student’s feelings. B does not allow the child to feel secure in their educational opinions. What are the consequences of a child hearing the B situation over and over again? I can tell you from our experience but that is a different tangent and I’m feeling particularly focused today.

Children are often confronted with defensiveness when they challenge the system.  The message they hear is “I’m the teacher and this is the way it is”

That child learns to not express their needs and opinions.

There is no “Me” in education.

But there is “Notice”

I’m asking teachers to notice.

Notice that student who voices an opinion and asks more.

Hold your defensive response until you listen.

Why are they saying this? Where is it coming from?

Could the child be exposing a larger issue?

Seek to understand 1st.

As more and more educational institutions demand self-directed student empowered education, more and more parents are going to listen and make adjustments.

This will take time and the only way you’re going to encourage parents to change is to work with us and our students who are starting the shift.

Because believe it or not, we’re just too damn tired for helicopter parenting but will not let down advocating for our children faced with a lifetime of B’s.

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Parenting is Still Hard

I’m not exposing any breaking news here people.

Parenting is hard. It started hard, and although my kids are older than toddlers, is still hard.

When my kids were young I felt pressure to make the right decisions on their behalf. I figured these decisions would absolutely shape who they would become in life. I thought parenting was like being handed play-doh and I’ll be damned if I wasn’t going to mold it into the Paris skyline, with bonus Ferris wheel.

With every decision I found myself circling the living room waving my hand sewn flag with the words “My kid is going to be President” chanting;

-Will this decision rot my kids teeth?

-Will this decision ruin my kids sleeping patterns for life?

-Will this make my kid an asshole?

Spoiler Alert!   No, No, Maybe.

Then one day you wake up and notice they are growing and become who they are meant to be. Themselves.

Also not breaking news,  this “themselves” thing comes with a healthy dose of opinions, ideas, self made decisions, 54 bags of chips, 3 cartons of ice cream, a hidden stash of Hershey bars, and the next size pants waiting on the sidelines. That last part is for me. Ahem.

Sound annoying? Control freak, meet reality.

It gets even worst. They form their own outlooks and when they stumble upon on that fork in the road, decide themselves which path is meant for them.

Can you even.

Let me tell you, navigating this reality is a new level of parenting challenge so buckle up and drive to that really crappy parking lot that holds the Trader Joe’s and grab a six pack or 12.

I’ve gone from making decisions solely based on how **I** want them to be to assisting in their decisions.  Don’t get me wrong, at this point, it’s a team sport. They definitely can’t do this themselves (Because those chips don’t buy themselves, kids) and I don’t feel un-needed. It’s just different.

Parenting now involves a balance between listening to who they are and guiding them towards who they want to become. It’s about letting them have their own success and failure. It’s about supporting and loving them more than I thought was possible.

All of this while ignoring paying attention to the latest research on the amount of sleep kids need, how to limit screen time, count their carbs, brush, floss, and air dry their teeth before bed only using organic free range air molecules.

Raising kids in this age of information is equal parts educational and ridiculous. I can’t even find any organic free range air molecules within 60 miles of my house.

Also, I have to come to terms that my older son is reading Ben Carson’s book ON PURPOSE and my younger sons arms are always at a right angle to his head. #Dab

Oh, and we’re now a TWO rotisserie chicken family.

But I digress.

As my children become these people who make their own decisions and shape their world, I sit here in the closet with my Hershey’s bars feeling proud of them. Their strength. Their sense of self. Their friendship towards each other. Their ability to now feed themselves on a Saturday morning.

I realize, you know what? It’s hard and it’s not going to get easier. Each stage is just different and that’s ok. I get to sleep in on Saturday and that feels pretty great too.

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National Parks turn 100. Go. Discover.

The national park system turns 100 today!!

We’ve traveled a lot in the last calendar year. How much?

This much:

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Custer State Park

Badlands National Park

Glacier National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Tetons National Park

Saguaro National Park

So when people ask me if we’ve traveled this past summer I respond with an enthusiastic HELL NO.

The bulk of those were done during my husband’s 11 week sabbatical in a 3 week road trip which is a totally different post because OMG WE SURVIVED 5 THOUSAND MILES IN A CAR TOGETHER.

Anyways.

When my husband and I were planning on our travel agenda, many options came across the board both here and oversees. Ultimately, we both agreed there was so much we hadn’t seen in our own country. I started sewing our set of 4 American flag shirts and off we went!

You’ll notice a lot of national parks on that list and I’m here to tell you, they live up to their hype. While I am not a photographer by any means, these parks make it hard to not get a great shot. Maybe these will inspire you to get out and #FindYourPark.

You’ll never regret a road trip that ends in views like this.

Though these are my pictures, I highly recommend you follow these accounts on Instagram. You won’t regret such beauty in your stream.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

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 Badlands National Park

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Glacier National Park– Our favorite. You must visit this in your lifetime if you get a chance. It was magical.

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Yellowstone National Park

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Grand Teton National Park

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Husband and I were out looking at this barn and I get a text from our son who is in the car. “Mom, there’s buffalo running down the road” WHAT?? We run to the car just in time. They came out of no where and were large and in charge.

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Saguaro National Park

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kids rocks (1 of 1)

I tell the kids “So, cross that stream and then climb the rocks until you can sit on that big one. And watch out for snakes and spiders!” #BestParent

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Ready for a road trip?

I found this link to pre-planned national park trips. 

So get out there and find your park! We can’t wait to find more.