The Choices We Make – Everyday Teen Edition

Wonderful piece on parent/teen interaction. What do you think?

Visible Child

hairtiesThe choices we make. Every day. Modeling graciousness. Prioritizing connection over control. Placing relationship before “teaching.”

I thought I’d share an example from this morning.

We had a four day weekend at our house–my daughter’s school is on an atypical schedule. So four days of not getting up early (yay.) Today was back to routine–6:15 a.m., allowing an hour and 45 minutes before we have to leave at 8. Yes. We have decided–mostly, my daughter has decided–that that’s how much time we need to do what needs to be done without rushing or stress. So that’s what we do.  (Rule #1: Set yourself up for success, not for failure.)

She got in the shower. I went and laid back down for a few minutes (ahh), wishing I could go back to sleep (no dice),  hearing the judgmental voices of others in my head that have said to me “She’s 16–you…

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Art & Science: Thoughts about RIE®

A wonderful post. Raising children with respect. What a concept.

Visible Child

art-scienceOnce upon a time, long long ago, in a land not so far away–in a time before banishment–I was a member of a very well known discussion group on facebook that focuses on parenting according to RIE®, a relatively unknown and and simultaneously frequently misunderstood philosophy of respectful caregiving, popularized (such as it is) in the U.S. by Magda Gerber.  Magda brought the philosophy and principles to the U.S., having learned them from Emmi Pikler, a noted pediatrician in Hungary, Magda’s home country.  Magda died in 2007, but the organization she founded is alive and well in Los Angeles, and the principles she espoused are still being taught by certified RIE® Associates.  The Pikler Institute, the “ancestral home” of RIE®, is also still thriving in Hungary, run by Anna Tardos, daughter of its founder, Emmi Pikler.

(You will note that there is a little ® every…

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The Words We Use About Our Children: Valence

Such a great piece on how to reframe negative language about our kids. I always learn so much from these posts.

Visible Child

negative positiveI am a strong believer in words. 

Words have power.  Immense power. 

Words reveal.  They reveal our state of mind, the way that we feel about and regard another person.  Sometimes they say what we don’t mean to say (at least out loud.)

And then there’s the level beyond words. That whole children-as-omniscient thing.  The feelings that they can hear, they can feel, they can read, even when we try to cover it up with fancy euphemisms or “the right thing to say.”  If you’re thinking or feeling that your child is “mean”, even if you don’t say it, even if you train yourself to say something else, they will hear that you think they are mean.  And (this is where it gets really tricky, but really important for parents) children become what we expect of them.  They hear “I am mean” and they manifest it.  We’re all pretty clear…

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Logical Consequences

So incredibly helpful.

Visible Child


This week, I had the great privilege of speaking about Respectful Parenting and Discipline to a wonderful collection of people at University of Dayton and group of about 75 or so parents and educators in the Indianapolis area (many thanks to the Indiana Council of Preschool Cooperatives and especially the Carmel Cooperative).  It was a couple of terrific evenings.  As I often warn audiences, I am a nut for this stuff–I could talk about it for weeks and be a happy camper.  There’s very little I get more animated or passionate about than having the opportunity to influence, even in one small way, the views of parents about “discipline” and respect for young children.

So, of course, when you’re a person (like I am) who lives to talk about this stuff (like I do), presentations get a little out of control.  They go long, there’s never enough time, we…

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On Independent Play and the Origins of “I’M BORED”

Another thought-provoking piece from #VisibleChild, this one about infants and over-stimulation, and the effect on the newly-developing brain.

Visible Child

Bored-KidsThis morning, I’m musing (I do that), mostly as a result of a juxtaposition between two posts on the respectful parenting group that I run on facebook.  One of the posts was a very simple question, asking parents if and how and why they actively play with their children (great question!)  The other post was an article–albeit one that has a couple of failings, but important nonetheless–that I shared from the New York Times about the epidemic of overscheduling children.  The discussion that ensued threw me into a very familiar place of conjecture (okay, also kind of a rant)–something that I think (and angst) about all the time.  And what better place to have a conjecture-rant than on one’s blog?

So here’s my wondering.

I wonder how many parents understand or appreciate or even consider the link between the way in which we interact with infants and toddlers…

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Yamim Noraim and the Refugee Crisis

It’s that time of the year again. Yamim Noraim. Days of Awe. Yom Tov. Getting your name into the Book of Life and having it sealed. Reflecting, praying your heart out, forgiving, asking forgiveness, doing t’shuva, atoning, fasting, and ultimately, returning. (May it be God’s will, if you believe in God and determinism, as opposed to free destiny – I’m not sure where I fall in the determinism/free destiny debate, though I do believe in God.)

I take this time of year very seriously. Not so much as a bowing before God as an accounting of my soul – to better myself in my eyes, in my family’s eyes (most particularly my daughter’s eyes), and even, oddly enough, in God’s eyes. I can only do what I can do. Most years, I question how much that is. What’s my limit? What’s enough? How much capacity, emotional energy, breathing room from chronic depression, do I have this year?

Some years, all I can do is forgive myself. Even that is a struggle. I have also had years in which I asked forgiveness of others, accepted their apologies, and engaged in deeply healing repair. I feel blessed that I do this work during Elul every year, because I believe it helps me during the rest of the year to come. Helps me to do fewer hurtful acts, to realize more quickly when I have lost my way, and to repair without waiting for the next Elul – the next prescribed time for reflection. After all, shouldn’t we reflect, repair, and repent even without “having” to?

This year, my thoughts have turned to issues of deep importance. Racism, f2528861_a98c_e18b_bd724421c811d34c_1422444223000__by_nefepants-d92i0a9#BlackLivesMatter, and the crisis of refugees who are risking everything to escape from war and violence in Syria and so many other places. As an ethical (I hope), moral person, I can’t escape feeling deeply about these issues. As a Jew, I feel even more strongly that I must step up and be counted. I must do more than think. I am compelled to act to better the world. After all, we are told that we must begin to act even in those situations where we know we will not be able to complete the task. We must start. It is a Jewish value.

Today, I’m focusing on the refugee crisis currently unfolding in Europe. I have such trepidation as I look at the acts of the Hungarian government_85494374_a11bee01-39c0-4235-93f4-c7cbffa9b8d9 in blocking the refugees from continuing through Hungary into Germany, and whatever other countries will accept them. I shudder when I see these intrepid souls having numbers written on their arms by Czech police, so reminiscent of the numbers tattooed on Jews at concentration camps. I 04czech-web-master675am filled with trepidation as governments shift their positions day by day – one day outstretching their hands, only to pull them back – no, to strike out – in fear and loathing at the “other.” The non-Christian. The “heathen.” Did Europe not go through this just 70 years ago? What is wrong with these countries. I find myself grateful to Germany, because it understands the meaning of repair. Its leaders know that they cannot repeat an evil that Germany once perpetuated.

Where do we, as Americans come out? Not well, I fear. Our president has announced that we will take in 10,000 refugees. A drop in the bucket. A sneeze. Surely we, as a nation of more than 300 million souls, can find it in our hearts to welcome in a larger number of oppressed people. Let’s set aside for the moment the responsibility we have as a result of our actions in the Middle East over the past 14 years. Let’s instead focus on empathy and equity. We are a nation of refugees. We should have open arms for these lost souls.

In the midst of these insoluble issues, I wonder what my responsibility is. What should my role be? Do I speak out? Write? Or must I take stronger action? Personal action. Meaningful, life-changing action. Changing not my life, but the lives of others. The lives of refugees. Even one. The Talmud, after all, says that “one who saves a single life, saves the world.” (Talmud Sanhedrin 37:11) How do I save a life? What constitutes meaningful action?

I am moving toward the realization that I need to be in Europe. Maybe Germany, maybe Hungary. I don’t know where yet. To use my legal skills, my writing skills, my people skills to help. To help get asylum status for as many refugees as I can. To help the children. I have to figure out how to do this – maybe start a campaign to have enough money to get to Europe, take time off from work, and pay my bills. Somehow, I feel I need to do this. To act. Because, after all, actions speak louder than words. It is time to live my Jewish values.

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Now It’s The Donald – Men in Power

What the hell is it about men in power? Do they lose their minds? Their morals? Any semblance of common decency? Are they unable to think except with their penises?

Today’s focus in on The Donald. Trump, that is. And no, today I’m not talking about his bloviating about Mexico, or Merika’s “immigration crisis.” That’s reprehensible, and he’s facing business consequences that will hurt him when his proverbial 15 minutes of fame as the republican presidential front runner are over.

Donald+Trump+Ivanka+Trump+Trump+Nakheel+Introduce+lmvxLRCLIvIlNo – this is about his statement that if his daughter Ivanka weren’t his daughter, he might be dating her. Is this supposed to be funny? A little light-hearted humor by a clueless man who really doesn’t have a sense of humor? I think not. I think it verges on abuse. If it doesn’t actually cross the line. Who says this kind of stuff? About his child?

I know I’m highly sensitive to this kind of talk. As an incest survivor, my antennae go up immediately. The red flags wave frantically. My amygdala goes into overdrive. I have to remind myself to breathe. I start tapping – left foot, right foot – almost desperately. This is a man who does not respect the father/daughter relationship. Even if he does not cross the line into actual physical abuse – and I won’t pass judgment on that – it’s a grossly inappropriate and stupid thing to say.

The Donald would never get my vote, under any circumstances. But I can’t see why anyone would even consider him as a real candidate.

But that’s beside the point here. I am beside myself about the abuses of men in power. Men who have power and wield it for themselves and nobody else. Who harm women in the process. Bill Cosby with his quaaludes. Donald Trump with his objectification of his daughter (and by extension, all women). I am on overload.

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