We are good parents, loving parents, parents of the highest intention and unyielding commitment. Our conversations tend to focus on how we can prepare our children to be successful in school or on the team, or about their academic or other accomplishments. We care about their social lives, from playdates to prom dates, and we coach them day to day with hopes that they’ll make good friends, get along with their peers, and step up to do the right thing when the moment calls for leadership. We want them to be emotionally hardy and resilient, to know happiness and…Read More
Teenagers are always up for an adventure. In fact, being a teenager is all about adventure . . . risk-taking, thrill-seeking, pushing the edges of the envelope. At least it is, in their minds . . . and maybe even literally in the wiring of their brains. But, we’ll come back to idea that a little later.
It’s the adventure first . . . or it’s what they think of as adventure. One teenager told me that she struggled with her life because it wasn’t what high school was “supposed” to look like. According to today’s media, teenagers are “supposed” to be sitting in hotel bars, drinking underage, trying to find out which friend murdered another and deciding which zombie or vampire is…Read More
“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” If you’ve seen the movie or read the book The Help, you know these words. You also know the moving scene when they’re spoken. If you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Kathryn Stockett’s heartwarming characters, let me introduce you. The scene takes place in adorable two-year-old Mae Mobley’s bedroom with Aibileen, her beloved housekeeper. Aibileen walks into the room, smile wide and arms outstretched. She takes Mae Mobley into her arms, holds her close, and repeats these words with her: “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” They’re words that are foundational. They speak the truth into Mae Mobley’s life of who she is, how God made her, and how…Read More
On this next Monday and Tuesday, Sissy and David are honored to be guests on Focus on the Family’s broadcast. They’ll be talking about the 4 emotional milestones that are highlighted in Are My Kids on Track:
You can check it…Read More
We interrupt this regularly scheduled chapter on spiritual milestones to bring you chapter 11 on Mercy—the chapter most directed toward early adolescence. Because everything about adolescence is, in fact, topsy turvy, this chapter will be, too.
Teenagers live in the here and now. In fact, their normal development mimics many characteristics of AD/HD. A friend of mine whose daughter has AD/HD described her as having two time frames in her mind: now and not now. The same is true for teenagers. Now and not now. And so we’re going to step inside their brains and see life and faith a little more from their perspective in this chapter. No waiting around for building blocks after all the stumbling blocks are over. It’s not that straightforward…Read More
All throughout Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys, I (David) discuss the boy brain. When I teach on boy development, I start the conversation highlighting three strikes a boy has against him, in helping parents and educators understand why he is so physical, under-focused, and always moving. I discuss how he’s hard-wired for acting before thinking, and the different ways this can complicate his academic and relational journey.
If a boy is hard-wired for activity and movement, of course he isn’t naturally slowing down, reflecting, focusing, observing and operating from a place of awareness…Read More
I (David) worked with a fifteen year old boy who was an Olympic Gold Medalist in Manipulation. He had a 4.3 GPA, was a gifted golfer, and played guitar on the side. School wasn’t the only place this talented, bright young man would flex his well-developed cognitive muscle; he accessed his expansive vocabulary by throwing verbal daggers at family members when he didn’t get his way. As is often the case with teenagers, mothers can become the target of choice.
I coached his mom on the art of disengagement. We discussed how staying in the argument would never yield a desirable outcome…Read More
If you’re following us on social media, you know we’ve been dropping hints (because we couldn’t keep it a secret!) that we’ve been working on a podcast with our friend, Sarah Bragg based on our newest book, Are My Kids on Track: The 12 Milestones Your Child Need to Reach. Sarah has been offering encouragement and hope to folks at her podcast, Surviving Sarah, for years now. It’s a series of thoughtful conversations that make you laugh and think, designed to help you keep your head above water while living with purpose…Read More
Building Block #2: A Good Template
“I don’t know how to confront someone.” Girl after girl after girl has said these words to me in my counseling office. Girls of all ages . . . women of all ages, in fact. I honestly don’t know how at times, either. But I have a friend who does. She confronts people who don’t even know they’ve been confronted. I’ve watched her do it over the years with friends, with her husband, and with anyone who crosses over the line of her strong, kind boundaries...Read More
Stumbling Blocks for Girls
Stumbling Block #1: “Not Enough-ness”
I was an only child until I was 16 years-old, when my parents said, “Surprise!” and delightedly rocked my world with a baby sister. Until that time, my parents did a great job of trying to help me learn awareness and reciprocity through friendships. They scheduled lots of playdates and sleepovers, always with my elated approval. My mom still laughs, however, about my pattern whenever someone would...Read More
In parenting classes, we discuss that in the face of failure or disappointment, girls tend to blame themselves and boys tend to blame other people. I remain fascinated by how instinctive this process is for boys. I laugh to myself when my sons approach my wife with the question, “What did you do with my soccer cleats?”
Do you hear the blame within that question? It never occurred to them to say, “I have no idea where I left my cleats. Have you seen them?” It’s a knee-jerk reaction to assume it was someone else’s fault...Read More
Building Block #1: Listening
Girls and listening can be a tricky combination . . . at every age. Last summer, I was sitting by a pool when I heard two young girls talking loudly next to me. “I have an idea,” one yelled excitedly. “Let’s pretend like we’re dolphins and swim all of the way across the pool!” The other one quickly shouted back, “I have an idea! Let’s act like we’re fish and swim to the other side!” Both girls basically had the same idea. But bossiness, aka competition, won the day, and neither girl listened to the other. Bossiness makes reciprocity particularly challenging for elementary school aged girls. But they are capable. They are in middle and high school, as well . . .Read More
Let’s talk about tennis. I (Sissy) am not sure if you’ve ever played. I have quite a bit. Not well, but quite a bit. I spent lots of hours and lots of my parents’ well-earned money growing up in tennis lessons. Somehow, my ball always seemed to end up in the next court over rather than my own. But I played enough to learn the basics. And the basics of tennis are the primary analogy I use in my office to teach girls about reciprocity.
If you’ve never played, let me fill you in. I (try to) serve the ball to you. You see my ball and hit it back to me. I see the ball and (hopefully) hit it back to you. And so on and so forth. That’s what tennis lessons will get you. It’s...Read More
We recently spoke in Mobile, AL, for our third time at the yearly Parent Summit held at Spring Hill Baptist Church. Over the years, we’ve developed some sweet friendships with the church staff and members. Our friend, Erica Holloway, the children’s minister, wrote these words to introduce the Are My Kids On Track conference. They made us laugh and tear up as we thought about all of you. We wanted to share them with you to remind you that we get it. There is SO much on a daily basis...Read More
Building Blocks for Girls and Resourcefulness
I’ve been doing some research lately on my non-resourceful, happily stuck, and perfectionistically paralyzed girls. There are just too many of them, and I want to help. I want to help but don’t want to help more than they want help. What can I do? What can you do with your daughter to build her resourcefulness? Let’s start where resourcefulness typically starts: motivation...Read More
I believe girls are inherently resourceful. They’re adventurous and insightful and capable and strong…often much more than we give them credit for. But, as a counselor for over two decades, I believe that the resourcefulness of girls today is a disappearing commodity. What’s happening? What’s changing? And why? Again, as in many of these milestones, some of it has to do with them…and much of it has to do with those of us who love them...Read More
Pat yourself on the back. Treat yourself to a fancy cup of coffee. You did it!
You made it past the first few weeks of school, and that’s not an easy feat. For all the years we’ve been working with kids and families, we’ve consistently seen how difficult that transition can be for so many kids and parents. A new teacher, new friends, new routine, new expectations...Read More
Over fifty years ago, a developmental psychologist, by the name of Michael Lewis, researched gender differences using one-year olds. Lewis and his colleagues set up a barrier between a child and mother. The barrier created physical separation, but the child was able to see the mother. They then cued the mother to begin showing evidence of distress - crying, sighing, etc.
Most of the boys attempted to tear down the barrier, whereas most girls stood and wept. Lewis remarked on how the boys wanted to get back to their mothers, even if...Read More
Responding with empathy is more naturally instinctive for some individuals than others. Just as one child might be stronger in math and another in spelling, we all bend in certain directions. Some of us are more extroverted, some of us more introverted. Some more analytical, some more creative. We could circle around the nature vs. nurture argument for days, months or years. Bottom line - both are contributing factors.
Some individuals more naturally think of others, and some more naturally think of themselves. During adolescence, we all spend more time thinking about ourselves. Sadly, some adults never move beyond that tendency...Read More
It’s vital for boys to understand males often experience emotions with physicality attached to them. It’s why boys are prone to screaming, hitting, punching, balling up their fists or gritting their teeth. I’ve worked with boys who even growl like an animal when the emotion erupts inside of them. When a boy can channel the physicality of the emotion into something useful, he can offset the possibility of hurting others (or himself). We will explore more of this in chapter four with the milestone of Resourcefulness.
In a non-problematic time, I have boys make a list of five things they could do outside and inside involving movement of some kind. It’s not that listening to music, reading or playing on the iPad isn’t useful...Read More