About Conscious Parenting

Putting a Bow on 2009

"Conscious parenting is about slowing down and living in the moment; it is about finding the grace in every experience; it is about feeling gratitude for all the mysterious gifts that make up a lifetime." – Conscious Family Journal, June 2009.

Happy New Year!

We are not big partiers in the Brown household. The past few days have been spent quietly at home – playing in the snow; trying out new board and video games; entertaining a few close friends.

Almost staying up ‘til midnight, to ring in the New Year.

So far, 2010 feels a lot like 2009: mostly good. Still, when I logged into Facebook the other day, several friends were lamenting the year just finished, hoping for a better one this time around. The television is showing one montage after another, displaying in exhaustive detail all the negative headlines of 2009.

For a minute or two, they started to draw me in. Wow, I forgot all that bad stuff. Maybe I shouldn’t be feeling this happy right now. Am I crazy, or just naïve?

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Conscious Parenting Tips for Multitasking Families

 

I-tunes, Internet, texting and television... increasingly, all in use simultaneously... is multitasking good for our children?

  

What happens when you add family dinners or homework to the mix? Is anything really getting done with quality? Is anything really getting done, period?

 

In today’s hypertasking society, should we be placing a greater emphasis on teaching our children how to successfully complete one task at a time?

  

 

The truth is, our human brains don’t actually multitask. We’re not wired that way. What we really do is toggle back and forth between multiple activities, while keeping track of where we are with each. We can do this more or less effectively, depending on the complexity and familiarity of the tasks involved.1

  

(Which is why walking and chewing gum at the same time is far less dangerous than driving a car while sending a text message from your cell phone.)

   

Multitasking is by definition inefficient. All that toggling back and forth is overhead. It slows you down. If you and your family are multitasking to “get more done in less time,” you’re not.

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Parenting Presence: How to Be There for Your Children

    

Greetings from the trenches. The boys are asleep early tonight. They are still recovering from a shared cold, which kept them in bed all last weekend... while trying to keep up with homework assignments and school projects.

   

One son stuck it out to the end, completing four pages of homework and studying for a French test before sliding between the sheets; the other fell unconscious with his face pressed to the computer keyboard.  

   

Oh well.

  

Tomorrow is another day. Next week is another week. Sooner or later, my children will get the education they need to function in the adult world. In the meantime, they need sleep.

   

And some extra hugs.

  

It’s been a draining week, but it has also been one filled with blessings and graceful moments. As I mentioned in my last post, there is real beauty in being present and doing what needs to be done to care for your children – even (especially) when “what needs to be done” is not particularly pretty.

  

Runny noses and vomit come to mind.

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How to Fall in Love with Your Child... Or Anyone Else

 

As a lifelong (so far) single person, I may seem an unlikely person to write about the joys of falling in love. The whole process of becoming – and remaining – part of a happily married couple is still a bit of a mystery to me.   

However, as the frequently doting (my mother says besotted) and always devoted parent of two children, I can attest that the beautiful experience of “falling in love” is not limited to intimate, adult relationships.

   

I fall in love with my children regularly.

   

When they were babies, this happened automatically. They were cute, they appreciated me and their natural inclination was to snuggle. Now that they are pre-teens in the early throes of puberty, it takes a little conscious effort. 

 

It’s still worth it.

   

My methods may not bring Prince Charming to your doorstep, but if you would like to fall in love (again?) with someone who is already a special part of your life, here is my prescription:

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Conscious Parenting Tips: When Raising Adolescents, Get Help!

     

Sometimes, it really does take a village. If you are raising pre-teens or teenagers – especially as a single parent – make sure your support network is ready and able to back you up when needed.

    

While dropping my kids off for soccer practice last night, I quietly informed the coach that one of my sons was wearing the same socks for the third night running – sans washing.

    

He immediately promised to give the team a pep talk on personal hygiene. And threw in a helpful reminder that school and family come before sports, no matter what.

    

Thank you.

    

Am I nuts, exposing our family’s dirty laundry – quite literally – to a non-relative?

    

Am I a bad parent, betraying my hygiene-challenged son’s dirty little secrets to someone outside his immediate family?

    

I sincerely hope not. Because truth be told, I’ve been sharing a lot of family secrets in recent months.

    

Ever since puberty arrived in the Brown house.

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10 Ways to Be a Conscious Parent

I’ve been writing about conscious parenting for about a year now. My own journey as a single mother of two adolescent boys continues to be one of adventure and discovery.  

Most days are a combination of grace-filled moments, when I feel a soul-deep connection with my children... and minutes of absolute terror. Can I possibly be doing this right? Or am I damaging my children beyond the point of repair?  

Let’s take a little time this week, to reflect on our journey together. Here are my “Top 10” favorite columns (and lessons) on conscious parenting. 

1. Make Your Parenting Choices on Purpose.  

At its core, conscious parenting is about being intentional. What do you really want your child to learn from you? Jumpstart your intentions for your children with Seven Things Worth Teaching Our Children – and Remembering Ourselves – in 2009.

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The Things We Take for Granted

Sometimes, conscious parenting means paying attention to what’s not going on around us.

 

Our family vacation is over and we are on our way home to New England. Yup. Just jetting our way across the country.

   

On a scale of one to ten, my exhaustion level is a twenty-two.

     

We spent the last night of our vacation at a hotel near the airport in Portland, so we could make a morning flight without too much stress or strain.

Oh, sure.

 

We said goodnight and good-bye to our friends around 9:30 last night and set out for our hotel.

 

The moment I fired up the rental car, the madness began.

 

After a long, tiring day – coming at the end of a long, wonderful week – the boys had used up whatever reserves of good behavior they might have had available to them. They argued. They insulted. They wrestled as much as possible, within the confines of their seatbelts.

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Holding On and Letting Go

 

Our children grow up in the blink of an eye. Practice conscious parenting and you won’t miss a moment!

   

I just returned from my younger son’s fourth grade “Moving Up Day” celebration. It was very low key, but lovely.

   

The gym was full of parents, applauding the children as they prepared to board buses for their first visit to our town’s Intermediate School, where they will all be attending fifth grade in the fall.

Before leaving, a slide show was presented on a big screen, flashing pictures of our children from kindergarten onward.

   

I would like to report that I was not the only parent discreetly wiping away tears.

   

My children are growing up and I don’t like it.

  

Sure, it’s easier to have a conversation with them now. It’s great, not having to lug around car seats and strollers, everywhere we go. And I don’t really miss the endless hours of “Bear in the Big Blue House” or, “Rollie Pollie Ollie.”

  

Well, actually I do.

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Have you used these 5 Powerful Phrases with your child today?

 

My son was recently complaining, “Mom, you think you know everything.”

 

As it happens, I do.

 

Still, he got me thinking. In our zeal to establish authority, provide guidance and just plain survive parenthood, do we sometimes go a bit overboard?

 

While we might (think we) know the right answer to every question, sometimes admitting our uncertainty teaches a more important lesson – like how to learn from our mistakes and move on in life.

    

Or, how to be tolerant of someone whose opinions are different than ours.

        

How to forgive.

  

And, how to love yourself, in all your glorious, human imperfection.

  

When we joyfully reveal our imperfections to our children, we give them permission to stop trying so hard to be perfect themselves. 

  

How we talk to our children is important.

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How to Raise Loving, Cooperative Children

 

We recently flew across the country with my youngest sister and her nine-months-old baby son.

 

He didn’t sleep.

 

At all.

 

Not a wink.

 

For five and a half hours.

 

On an airplane.

 

Are you squirming yet?

 

Okay, I’m just teasing you. Everything I said above is absolutely true, but our flights – and the baby – were absolutely wonderful.

 

He wasn’t silent. In fact, he carried on several conversations, some at a rather amplified volume. But there was no crying, wailing, or gnashing of teeth. Mostly, he smiled his way across the country.

 

We spent a week on the west coast, uniformly happy but jet-lagged. The baby continued to make everyone he encountered fall in love with him, including his two pre-teen male cousins.

 

A miracle, you say?

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How to Help Your Child Build Great Memories

 

What Are Your Earliest Memories?

 

My father insists that he can remember being born. When questioned, he describes the darkness of the birth canal and his emergence into daylight. He was born at home, in 1934.

 

He assures us that he wondered, in his little baby brain, “Where was I before I came here?”

 

Some members of our family find this story hard to swallow, but I am willing to believe.

 

I can date my own earliest memories to about sixteen months old, when my younger sister was born. With her arrival, I had to move out of my room and begin sharing with my older sister, which was not a hardship, so much as a change to my previously comfortable and presumably self-centered world.

 

There she was, in my bedroom, this little bundle of blankets and baby clothes. She slept a lot, and we had to be very quiet, so as not to wake her.   

 

At the time, it did not occur to me that we would grow up to be the best of friends and confidantes; I barely registered that she was human.

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Do Your Children Get Enough Creative Play Time?

 

Enrichment programs and organized sports can play an important role in your child’s development; but don’t forget the value – and joy – of good, old-fashioned play time!

 

It’s getting harder and harder to get my children inside at the end of the day.

 

As the weather gets warmer, they’re increasingly determined to stay outside, fooling around with their friends and playing flashlight tag in the backyard when darkness falls. It’s putting a bit of a strain on the homework schedules, and some nights, family dinner just doesn’t happen.

 

But you know what? I’m okay with that.

 

At some emotional level, it just plain feels good to see my children outside playing. By playing, I mean running around, chasing each other, making up games, hiding in the woods... doing the things that boys do when they are left unattended and undirected.

 

When they are allowed to just be kids, just have fun and be with their friends.

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7 Ways to Make Peace with Your Child

 

Conscious Parenting Skill-Building, Week 4: Using the power of intention, meditation, self-care and gratitude journals to build connections with your child.

 

I’ve fallen off the wagon. After three weeks of no yelling, I totally lost it.

 

Since returning from our lovely vacation in Florida, my eleven-year-old son has been – let’s see, how to describe?

  

A pill.

 

Which, according to dictionary.com, means “a tiresomely disagreeable person.”

  

As usual, when my hormones are about to explode like Vesuvius, I thought I was handling it all really well. Not so. Despite my deepening commitment to conscious parenting, it was a rough weekend.

 

We all have our triggers. For my older son, it was his younger brother taunting him endlessly.

  

For me, it was my older son chasing his younger brother around the house, shouting “I’m going to kill you.” Or maybe it was when he shoved him to the ground, just barely missing squashing the cat.

 

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“I’ve told you a hundred times”... when your children never seem to learn.

 

Conscious Parenting Skill-Building, Week 3

 

Greetings from the trenches.

 

Our first two weeks in the Conscious Parenting Skill-Building series focused on family dynamics:  How to Stop the Yelling and How to Clean Up Your Family’s Vocabulary.

 

This week, we will be a little more parent-centered. To be very specific, it’s all about me. I will be building a new skill this week; no family meeting required. (Although, it’s really about how parents may or may not damage their children’s self-esteem, so maybe it’s all about them.)

  

I was browsing our local bookstore awhile back when a title caught my eye: Teach Like Your Hair’s On Fire. This little gem of a book by Rafe Esquith was wedged in among a thousand other – mostly bigger – books on education and learning.

   

Sometimes, good things really do come in small packages.

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Words Count: How to Clean Up Your Family’s Vocabulary

 

Conscious Parenting Skill-Building, Week 2

 

Do conscious families call each other idiots? 

   

We are just getting into the second week of our intensive focus on building conscious parenting skills. Last week, we learned How to Stop the Yelling.

   

This week, we will continue to work on developing positive communication skills. After a recent bout of profanity-laced conversation (and no, it didn’t all come from me), we needed another family meeting.

   

We’ve all heard the adage, “Actions speak louder than words.” I guess, I beg to differ.

 

The way we speak to each other sometimes is downright atrocious. The words we use, the tone of voice, the yelling and screaming. The words.

   

Why do siblings treat each other as if they were the worst of enemies?

 

Why do parents talk to their children as if they were beneath contempt?

 

Perhaps the second question is the answer to the first.

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How to STOP THE YELLING


Conscious Parenting Skill-Building, Week 1

  

Let’s face it, we are a loud family. 

    

I come from a family of yellers and despite my best intentions, I am about midway through raising a family of loud children.

  

This is not the way I want us to be.

  

I grew up as one of ten children. Making yourself heard in our house was sometimes a challenge. We all learned to yell (as well as to talk at the same time, like the ladies on “The View”), at an early age.

  

While I became quite proficient at the skill, I have realized for decades now that yelling as a communication style is only slightly less unsatisfying than being the person who is yelled at.

 

Most days, it sucks.

 

Note to self: Stop using the word “sucks”, especially in front of the kids.

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What's An Over-Protective, Conscious Parent to Do?

 

Yesterday morning was tough. 

  

As I was dragging my tired, cranky body through the kitchen, lecturing my sons on why they should already be in the car, ready to go to school, my youngest started fretting about being the only one in his class to not have a picture of some obscure early American for his “media blender” project.

 

Huh?

  

This provided a perfect opportunity to launch into a new lecture, on the topic of being responsible for yourself and living with the consequences of your actions – or inaction – as we drove down the hill to school.

  

It didn’t take, though.

  

My son was clearly chastised, and more worried than ever about facing his teacher, who he describes as “stern.”

  

The problem was with me. I was already feeling bad, clearly unprepared to actually allow my beloved child to live with the consequences of his actions.

 

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New Year's Resolution: Resolve to be Conscious in 2009

Happy New Year!  This is the time for New Year's Resolutions, so I want to help you get started:

To kick the new year off in style, I will be publishing a multi-part series, "Resolve to be Conscious in 2009."  I invite you to join me in getting serious about conscious parenting. 

Let's rediscover the joy of parenting, together. 

"Resolve to be Conscious in 2009" will be published in the Conscious Family Journal Newsletter, so if you haven't enrolled, there's no better time than right now!

Simply enter your email address in the box provided on the upper right corner of this page and follow the instructions.

Conscious parenting starts with making conscous choices about our parenting practices. I hope you will choose to join me in making 2009 a great year for my family and yours.

Want to start changing your perspective right this minute?  Get yourself a copy of Connection Parenting by Pam Leo.  It is short, sweet and powerful.  Enjoy!


What is Conscious Parenting?

Pay Attention, Please!

  

So, what exactly (you might ask), is Conscious Parenting?  I’m not entirely sure, but I am loving the question.  I make as many mistakes as any parent – and some days, it feels like many more!  Still, each day brings new insights and encouragement, so I keep thinking and writing.  Hope this helps just a little bit... 

  

At its heart, doesn’t Conscious Parenting have to start with becoming conscious?  I think we need to actively pay attention to the parenting choices we make throughout each day:

  

  • What are we doing, saying, not doing and not saying to our children?
  • Why are we behaving the way we do – what do we hope to accomplish?
  • What is the likely result of our choices – what will we probably accomplish?

For example, suppose you put your baby to bed and let her cry herself to sleep.  Why are you doing this?

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