Later Stages of Parenting

  The other day, a mother commented, “I have a son in his 40’s. There’s a lot of discussion about the stages of parenting up to college, but you never hear about the stages after. I find that there are a LOT of stages of parenting that come later — and they are important stages, really good stages, for the parent.” I love this idea. Watching my parenting slowly shift from full focus on the child (infancy) -> expanding focus to ┬áinclude parental needs/desires (middle school) -> focus on modeling what an adult looks like in the world, and switching from co-creator to guide (high school and beyond) inspires me to wonder: what next? What are those later stages? Have you felt them? Lately, I have been watching myself as my kids left for college and I continue here on my own. The “Empty Nest Syndrome” is a topic for another blog post (or two or two hundred) and it has been quite an experience. One of the things I think about is how do I want to parent now? When my kids come back for vacation, what’s my role? What do I want my role to be? What kind of relationship do I want to create with my kids? If I don’t call them ‘kids,’ and ‘my young adults’ doesn’t sound right at all, I guess I get to call them by their names. I guess they aren’t ‘my kids’ anymore — they are...
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Leo Babauta on resiliency and modeling

Leo Babauta authors a great blog, Zen Habits. It’s one of the handful of blogs that I subscribe to, and, yes, actually read every entry. His latest post, 9 Essential Skills Kids Should Learn, is worth reading. Letting kids solve challenges on their own, showing resiliency and acceptance in our own lives, being comfortable with an unknown future — good stuff! Check it...
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Voice: slow

Slowing down – speaking slowly. Not easy in general, and especially not when I am frustrated, uncomfortable, happy or enthusiastic (Dang – I think that’s about all of the time!). AND when I can keep my voice s..l..o..w, I LIKE the way I sound. Kids can hear me better, I can hear me better, and I can stop being so reactive and start responding. In class, we ask, “Do you want to be more like Lil’ Kim, or more like Angelina Jolie?” You get the idea – I really like ME when I am slower and more in control. The speed of my voice with my kids is my temperature gauge: how fast and hot am I running? In class, we use suggestions to get away from the ‘rapid responding mode’ – things like using a shrug (and then another one, if needed), or saying, “hmmm….” or saying, “That’s an interesting idea; I’ll have to think about that.” I like myself a lot more when I speak and respond slowly. I also think of fights I have had and things I regretted saying — almost all of them were said fast. And I think back to my own teenage days, when I would make my parents mad and there would be yelling: time to tune out. Practice: easy: start to notice how quickly or slowly you speak. more challenging: make a concerted effort to think first and speak more slowly. even more challenging: Use nonverbals (shrug, hug, smile), and when you do speak to your child, use 7 words or...
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