Feb 042015


We all want to comfort our children after they suffer any kind of failure or disappointment. It’s only natural.

Instead, they ask a simple question: “What happened?”

The question is asked kindly and respectfully, but the intention is clear: to help the child understand why she didn’t reach her goal. Where did she go wrong? Was she unprepared? Did she not work hard enough? Or is her talent simply in another area?

This kind of questioning may seem rather sophisticated for a young child, but will teach an important lesson: failure can be viewed as a springboard to improvement, not as a dead-end or a reason for self-pity.

Would most parents like to provide a disappointment-free life for their kids? Probably. But stop and think for a moment: Is that realistic? Do you know anyone who has not had to confront disappointment or failure? Given that reality, dont we do our kids a greater kindness when we support them in learning from disappointment than when we try to shield them from it entirely?

Parents who react to their children’s failures in this manner provide skills that will last a lifetime. In other words, they raise people who are able to recognize their own competence — and never give up!

Dec 252014


Wasted paper

Wasted paper (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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  •  December 25, 2014
  •  Posted by at 12:40 pm
  •   Comments Off on Holiday Love from My Family to Yours
  •   Parenting
Dec 102014

Dog Santa


Here’s a winter math problem for you:

  • Take a “holiday season” that now starts with Halloween and rolls over Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Solstice, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Twelfth Night
  • Add multi-media advertising, “buy-my-book-blog-posts,” and a slew of ‘named shopping days’ including Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and a bunch I haven’t yet absorbed….
  • Add greeting cards, lights, music, wrapping, cooking and travel…
  • Multiply by complicated blended (and sometimes “not so blended”) family structures..
  • Remembering, of course, that in most cases “x” needs to equal a finite amount of time, energy and money… and, oh, crap… did you move the elf on the shelf?
  • Answer for “why” — or how and when did winter get so far out of control?

One of my earliest memories is attending sales meetings with my 20-year-old father, then a distributor for Kirby vacuum cleaners. When a member of the team reached a goal there were wild, noisy celebrations with the whole group (of adults) parading around a city block with cymbals, drums and noisemakers.  I was too young to have any idea what they were so happy about but “the singing meetings” made a lasting impression: I like celebration.

It’s something I’ve re-learned many times as an adult.  But I wonder how much more difficult it is to find those things under all of the calendars, ‘wrapping’ and trying desperately to get the winter math to add up?

Some friends of mine will be celebrating the New Year with an Aikido cleansing class.  Others will gather for family dinner or gift exchange on a day of their choosing.  Some have done away with cutting trees and bringing them inside.  Another family I know has forgone gifts in favor of a creating a fund that lets them get together more often.  What all of these people have in common is they are exercising choices that make more time and space for what really matters: the love and gratitude we have for those with whom we share our lives.

Do you have ways to make more space for who and what matters to you?