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Parenting with Fierceness: Moving from Pre-Teen to Teen, or Toddler to Pre-Schooler (Hint: It Is Pretty Much the Same)

3rd Grade School Pics

When my kids were about 12, I was in a meeting with a woman with adult children.

She said something wise, which has stuck with me since then and proven true time and time again.

Backing up a little, that day I was at a meeting with providers (which means people who work as professionals with families) discussing how to help encourage a family with a teenager to provide a safe environment where the child could either continue to live or that they could return back to living.

At the time, I was providing Home Based Therapy in Marion County, Indiana.

My role as a therapist was to work with the children and adults in a family to help the adults provide a safe, stable environment to the teens or children which had not been provided one at some point.

The families in this program had experience abused or neglect in some way.

Her words of wisdom went something like this:

‘Toddlers and Teen are just the same. A two year old and a four year old are bursting with the independence that they are trying to obtain. We expect it, and we allow for it.

They are small people, so they can be relatively easy to contain in general.

Teenagers are bigger versions. A 12 year old is like a 2 year old, and a 14 year old is like a 4 year old.

They are much bigger in size, are not nearly as easy to control physically, and are also generally bursting with ideas for their own independence as well’

One of my favorite things about this supervisor was her ability to get her team to provide quality work.

At that time, I was providing direct service (therapy) for 18 months, which was a break from supervising staff. I have supervised staff for the majority of my career, so this experience allowed me to learn from her a little differently than if we were peers.

She supervised her staff in a way which encouraged reliability, communication, and caring for the families they worked with.

She supervised people who worked for the Department of Child Services, which is a very difficult role to be in.

We know that anyone who has gone through their adolescent years, or early twenties, or whenever we ‘broke’ away from our parents in some ways, that it is part of adolescence.

Adolescents have the job of establishing independence. They are more interesting in their peers and their friends, developmentally. Their parents are trying to advise and guide them to making safe decisions.

One of the norms that i have noticed changing a bit in the last few years is about perceived safety and how do we deal with teens and those computers in their hands.

When I was a teen, back in the 80’s, I had some pretty emphatic boundaries. My parents were stricter than many of my friends’ parents in some ways, so if I went on a date in high school we stayed in Tipton.

Keeping my location local helped my parents with a sense of safety, while also extremely limiting our movie and dinner options.

We had one movie theatre with one screen, and a few places to eat but not many of them involved sitting down and ordering.

We were beginning to learn about typing on computers at school, but personal computers would come out a few years later.

How does this apply to you?

Think about how you parent your child, particularly if they are a teen.

I was able to hear Dawn Crossman speak on Saturday at an event called ‘SHIFT’, which was put on by the Peyton Reikoff Foundation.

She discussed some things about parenting intense teens that I have found in my experiences as well.

As teens work to establish that sense of self and figure out who they are, we need to protect them when we can and allow some mistakes, just like we do with our 2 and 4 year olds.

If a two year old is still struggling to walk well, we don’t tell them to stop walking.

We encourage them to figure out how to walk better through those falls where they plop down. I love to watch early walkers run, and just lead with those giant heads.

The same is true for 12 year olds and 14 year olds.

Let them make mistakes they can learn from, while staying aware of their own tendency to, as my husband coined ‘run with the bad ideas’.

He was talking with my son at dinner one night at during those pre-teens years and mentioned ‘you get a ‘bad’ idea, you think it is good, and then you run with it. You just run faster and faster with the idea’.

I tend to avoid using the terms good and bad, but think about this how it relates to you.

My son loves people, loves to have fun, and loves to spend time with friends. We worked, in high school, to encourage him to complete his home work at a pace possibly slower than 100 mph, but we did not monitor it.

Having academically strong children comes with its own sets of perks and balances, and for us one reality was that we never monitored their homework closely.

We did look at their power school, or the school website where grades were listed, and my guess is this conversation either had something to do with hanging out with friends longer than allowed him to have sleep, or it had something to do with turning in an assignment he had missed.

Either way, the example was used that day, and for years to come. Eventually it got shortened to ‘just keep running! Keep running with those ideas’, with a smile and some arm motions imitating running.

As we parent our children, we want to establish a sense of trust when we can.

We want to hold our children, pre-teens, and teens accountable to help motivate them to make decisions that will ultimately help them grow into accountable adults who are productive citizens.

Making it work:

Think about who you want to motivate, who might be acting like a temper tantruming toddler.

How do you encourage them, as they are demonstrating that independence so willfully, to continue to be persistent in ways that help them and to give-in in ways that are holding them back?

I encourage you to think of a way to use that accountability and knowledge of their developmental age as you make rules, consequences, and motivate those in your care.

I hope you enjoy your weekend! Basketball is everywhere if you enjoy watching it.

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Swimmers, Take Your Mark!….Hold on, Just a Second

An article about anticipation, waiting, and having fun doing it.

Ready to go down the slide-It’s all about anticipation

Savoring the Moments

You know that feeling when you are about to jump off a high dive into a pool?

Or just as the plane is lifting off and you have that feeling of weightlessness?

Or when you are at the very top of the roller coaster and about to go really fast?

or

climbing a tree higher than you thought you were going to be able to?

That’s kind of where we have been with things right now.

Also-I love risk.

Those above experiences? I love doing all of those experiences. My favorite part of the plane ride is lift off. I try to pay attention to that first feeling of flying, and am kind of sad when I start reading my book too early and miss it.

I could write a pretty long story about how I took some risks at a ropes course during a work retreat, and ended up with a partially torn bicep.

The partial tear made it very difficult to write or type, which were two pretty big aspects of my job.

Another time I took risk affected my work was when that didn’t work out so well was when I participated in race called ‘The Warrior Dash’.

The Warrior Dash is a pretty physically strenuous competition where participants race for 5k with obstacles. While walking between events, I twisted my knee slipping in mud. My office at the time was on the second floor of a 100 year old house, so I had some challenges getting up and down those stairs for a bit.

My love of risk and my youthful exuberance for life tend to override my ‘stop’ signal. The ‘stop’ signal, which is really helpful in preventing injuries, since I am stuck with these overly stretchy, unreliable ligaments.

My history is to jump when possible, climb higher or ‘go for it’

Soon, we will be moving to the Dallas, Texas area. Our house is for sale, and when someone puts in an offer on our house, we’ll put in an offer on one we will have picked out.

Until that happens, we will wait.

To me, this waiting feels like standing at the end of the diving board and looking down.

Now waiting? Waiting isn’t my favorite part of things. I am working to become better at waiting on a daily basis.

For the past few months, we have felt pretty rushed.

I had surgery in December, I recovered, we had the holidays, and then my boys came home to turn 21.

At the time, it seemed like it would be the last time they would be in our Noblesville house for any length of time.

We have lived in this specific house since they were 8, so we’re talking about 13 years of development in their lives.

When they went back to school, it was time to go to into overdrive in getting the house ready.

Somewhere near Dallas, Jan. 2019
It felt a little like a break in house preparing to go to Texas a couple of times to look at houses. After our house was on the market and we came home for the second time, I tagged along on a business trip while people ‘looked at our house’.
Polar Vortex, 2019
Polar Vortex

You might remember the Polar Vortex in January 2019. Remember when the Midwest was -11 or -9 or so? Well, those were the days I had determined, in my mind, that people would be looking at our house.

It turns out, very few people want to look to buy houses in negative degree temperatures.

Control For me, it is a good reminder about control.

I had decided on a schedule, and that schedule is taking longer than I had allowed. Even though I know that our house will sell at some point and that we will move at that point to Texas, I also know that it will be both hard and fun in many, many ways. I also have heard that January is really not the best time to put a house on the market, particularly in Indiana.

As a matter of fact, I am pretty sure it is one of the worst.

But still, even with all of that information, that is what I had anticipated.

So, here we go. I am going to try to make the best of it.

While we are in pause mode waiting for our buyer, I’m thinking of some things I savor, and some benefits to having more time than I need on my hands.

During this time, we will wait for that perfect family who wants to pick up with their family memories where we left have left off.

Our boys started helping us make our memories in those home when they were 8, and they are now 21.

Most days while we are ‘For Sale’, I make my bed perfectly.

I’ve been able to go to lunch with friends, schedule upcoming lunches and dinners with friends and family, and go to community meetings I enjoyed going to with a previous job. At am also able to have extended texting conversations with friends and family.

I get to really think about where I want to live in the Dallas area and what I’m looking for in the area where we choose to live.

I’m not a big ‘house’ person, (meaning the particulars of where I live are less important to me than it is to others).

My decorating skills are about the same as a 4th grader with very little interest in decorating. I care about an open kitchen where I can see the living room, a good sized closet, and I really want a pool.

Mostly, I care about community, and ways to get to chat with people who may become my friends.

I’m figuring out what my employment will be, and how to transfer a mental health license to a state that uses a different test than Indiana does.

A goal I’m going to try is to try to treat this time like I do when I eat one of my favorite snacks, Oreos and milk.

When I eat Oreos with milk, I like to sit down, with the 2 cookies and the milk, and really focus on the flavors (I need to figure out how to do that with salad…eh, probably not).

I get frustrated if I get interrupted and eat the cookies without paying attention to the flavors that I enjoy.

Sometimes, when I eat a cookie on my way to the couch, I go back for a third cookie so that I have 2 while I’m sitting. I try to savor the experience, just like I try to pay attention to that moment of lift off in a plane. That moment of freedom. That leap of faith jumping into the air over a pool. That feeling of climbing up one more branch in a tree to go higher and then look down. Riding my bike too fast down a hill.

These are moments that I’ve always enjoyed.

Until then…we wait. Ready to jump, but the water isn’t quite ready for us yet.

Swimmers Take your Mark…….

(Hold on a second, you got this)

Take a second and enjoy your time til the race starts.

We love our house. It’s been filled with love, laughter, talking, negotiating, and lots and lots of conversations!

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