I will admit: my kids’ use of digital media is a trigger for me. I’m not sure why – there were periods in my childhood where I watched 4 hours of TV a day. Still, I see my kids walking around the house or sitting on the couch plugged into their devices and it’s all I can do to hold back my judgment and nagging. What I’ve come to realize with much practice and patience is twofold: 1) our children’s use of technology affords them many learning experiences beyond what is immediately at hand, and 2) having clear and firm boundaries around their use preserves the relationship I have with my kids. Ok… there’s a third: I have to keep my use of digital media in check too... Read the full article published in Getting Smart and Education Week.
JACKSON HOLE NEWS & GUIDE: Ask yourself these questions: When was the last time you took a risk or tried something that was beyond your comfort zone? Did you dive right in, start by testing the waters, precisely measure all the angles or shy away from it altogether? What was the outcome of how you approached that challenge, and how did you feel about yourself after?
The level of confidence we feel determines how we answer such questions.
Confidence is a belief in our ability to take risks, overcome challenges, and find mastery or success - even, and especially, after failure. While this article in the JH Woman's section of Jackson Hole News & Guide focuses on girls, many of the ideas about confidence apply to boys as well.... Read more here.
JACKSON HOLE NEWS & GUIDE: When I became a parent and my firstborn hit the age of having a will of his own, I wanted a formula on how to parent.
I had been a wildlife research biologist. I took calculus in high school and college. My mind likes linear rules. Formulas are nice and easy. A+B=C. Parenting books and research articles on child development talk this way: Certain ways of parenting are correlated with certain positive outcomes in children. The science was there, so give me the formula. I soon realized two things: Children don’t know the formula and parenting is messy. While formulas can be used as a guideline, there are way too many variables.
This was hard for me to swallow.
We all want the best for our kids. We all want them to grow up to be the best versions of themselves. However you define it, we want our kids to thrive. While there may be some universals (like I hope my child grows up to be well-adjusted, kind and “successful”), our hopes and dreams for our kids and their hopes and dreams for themselves vary. So the question is, how do we help our kids get there?
If there’s no formula, what do we do when we find ourselves held hostage by a 3-year-old’s screaming meltdown because she couldn’t have the red cup? What do we do when our teenager defies rules we set based on values we believe in?
We as parents have to be quick on our feet. We have to be skilled at regulating our own strong emotions in response to our children’s behaviors. Most of us have little training in why a child behaves the way she does, how his brain functions differently from an adult’s, and how to work through challenging behaviors in a way that supports the child’s development. We are accustomed to a world that works with certain rules: order, rationality, consideration for others. Our children, whose brains are not fully developed until their mid-20s, are not always capable of playing in our ordered, rational world. Adding to that, we have to learn how to have a relationship with a being who is trying to gain his own sense of self, who wants to be independent, make her own choices, feel capable. So we bump heads, a lot. (But not always. Of course being a parent is filled with fun and laughter and awe as well.)
There can be no formula because there are too many variables. Each parent-child pair will be different — different temperaments, values, goals, reactions, trigger points, stressors, cultures and life circumstances.
In this column I will explore what it’s like to be a parent and raise a child in today’s world. I love my kids and we have lots of fun together. At the same time, being a parent has been one of the hardest roles in life I’ve had. I acknowledge that not everyone feels this way, and that every family context is different, but for those of us who do find parenting challenging, I don’t think it has to be quite as intense as we sometimes feel it is.
As an educator and coach of parents I see my role as a guide. I want to help families feel more ease and harmony in their homes. I want kids to grow up to become the best version of themselves. My hope is to introduce families to ideas and perspectives, often backed by research; help them see the world from their child’s shoes; understand what their child is developmentally capable of; help parents adjust their reactions to support their child’s development; and guide parents in teaching their child the necessary skills to become a thriving adult in today’s world. I try to do this in an open, thoughtful, caring and nonjudgmental way.
To that end I am embarking on a monthly column, where I would like to open a conversation so that you as the reader can participate. Send me feedback — thoughts on my articles, topics you would like me to discuss, scenarios with your child you would like to hear about (all identifying details will be changed so that confidentiality is maintained).
Send me an email at GrowingGreatFamilies@gmail.com, contact me at GrowingGreatFamilies.org or leave me a message at Facebook.com/great.families.
While there is no formula, I believe there are some core principles that can apply across many families, and I bet you know what many of them are: Love your kids unconditionally, accept them for who they are, understand their world, hold them accountable, maintain reasonable limits, teach them the skills they need to live life when they leave the home.
Stay tuned for a more detailed discussion. Until then, see if you can get into your children’s shoes, whether they are 3, 13, or 23, and try to understand where their behaviors are coming from.
Parent Talk - a new monthly column in Jackson Hole News & Guide exploring what it's like to raise a child in today's world. My intention for this column is to discuss the joys and challenges of raising kids and to normalize our parenting experience. Two things can be true: we love our kids, and parenting can be hard. We readily talk about the successes, antics and fun we have with our kids. However, we rarely talk about the challenges, and our strong (and normal) reactions to our children’s challenging behaviors, except behind closed doors or with close friends. We all want the best for our kids, and we all do the best we can to raise them. Living with another being who has desires, and ideas about how to go about getting them, that are different from ours can throw us curve balls. Especially when that being is still developing capabilities for emotional regulation, impulse control, and social-emotional skills.
My hope is to provide guidance to parents and caregivers when those challenging times seem overwhelming - or so they don’t become that way. My hope is to elevate and empower families so they can feel harmony in their relationship with their kids and to help kids grow up to be the best version of themselves. I do this through teaching classes, leading workshops customized to individual groups, and offering individual family consultations/ coaching.
Join the community by commenting when it feels right. Send me your thoughts! Let me know what topics you would like to see covered and how I can better serve families in the greater Jackson Hole area. Join in the conversation and leave comments or message me about your thoughts and topics you would like to see covered. You can also email me at GrowingGreatFamilies@gmail.com.
Many thanks to Jackson Hole News & Guide and Melissa Cassutt for giving me this opportunity! You can find more at www.GrowingGreatFamilies.org or find me on Facebook.
Rachel Wigglesworth has an M.Ed. in Parent and Family Education and is excited to explore the world of raising children with you!