Giving Our Kids the Gift of Confidence: Daddyeous Protectosaur

The above photo is of my mother, circa 1987. And 1988. And 1989. You get the point. What was I doing while she was getting all this beauty rest? This:

Oh, and this:

All. Day. Long. When I was a kid, summertime meant that my friends and I would hop on our bikes and head over to a baseball field in our neighborhood. Sometimes along the way, we’d grab Baskin Robbins ice cream, then spend literally hours at the field. The end of the day would come and we’d come home dirty, exhausted, and ready to do the same thing the next day.

My mom would ask about the day, tell me to get cleaned up for family dinner, and remind me that I still had jobs to do around the house. During the day, she hadn’t texted me, called me, or found-my-iPhone.

What’s out of place at this “kids” playground? The adult!

Fast forward to today. Check out this photo captured by yours truly, budding amateur photographer. You’ll notice a gorgeous modern play structure designed for the enjoyment of little ones. You’ll see the detailed colors and thought that has been put into the creation of a fine zone for children. You’ll also come aware of a seating area for adults in the bottom right corner of the photo. This area is empty, because you can also observe the main feature of my work of photgraphic art: daddyeous protectosaur in his natural habitat. He is posted within easy sightlines of his prized creation, poised to pounce if she happens to slip or if any child dares be mean to her. He is sipping his nummy latte, but deftly only has the cup over the bottom of his eyes for maximum peeking efficiency. In this pose, daddyeous protectosaur is ready for anything. Unfortunately, his child may not be.

Is there a balance we can reach? Can parents today raise independent kids without turning them completely loose in a dangerous world? I believe the answer is YES! Accepting that our kids will sometimes fail is key, although difficult. Not checking their every move and step, but allowing the consequences of both is critical. Many of us have that backward: we check up on every single thing they do, then save them from any negative results that come from their actions. We pester, nag, and chase them about chores and homework, then blame anyone but them when they are held accountable.

What are a few ways that us parents can let our kids grow up and begin to walk on their own two feet? Try these to start with and you’ll be thrilled with the future adults you begin to see bloom:

  1. Let them play. I catch myself often wanting to micromanage my kids’ play, but I come to realize that they’re doing fine without me! Some of the best play happens when we’re not hovering so much.
  2. Don’t answer for them. When an adult asks our kids “How are you?” or “What’s your name?”, we can train them to answer that person politely for themselves.
  3. Allow them to do some tasks on their own. It’s amazing what kids can do- basic cooking, cleaning, yardwork. The only thing that often holds them back is that we won’t let them.
  4. Have them order food for themselves. Kids of nearly any age can learn to look a server/cashier in the eye and speak up to order their meal. This is a great area to train them in speaking to adults and an awesome confidence builder.
  5. Let them try to solve their own small problems. It is every parent’s instinct to swoop in and rescue their child. The reality is that we won’t always be there to do that. A child that never has an opportunity to problem solve will seek out help as a teenager, a young adult, and beyond. This will leave them vulnerable to accepting help from the wrong sources if they cannot find the confidence within themselves.

These kids are gifts from God and sometimes all of us can lovingly treat them like China dishes, making sure that they don’t break or crack. What may help them more than that is realizing that God has given them to us to prepare them for a life that is ahead. That life is full of victories and hardships alike. We can gently expose them to some of these things now to strengthen their roots as a capable child of God. Then when mighty winds come later, they can stand strong and not topple. Not only that, we may get some extra beauty rest like my mom did and be extra beautiful when we get into our sixties.

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Exposing our Kids to the Right Things: Everyone Else is Doing It!

I couldn’t BELIEVE the things my parents would NOT let me watch when I was a kid.  In my mind, EVERYONE got to see all the best movies and they basically had run of the television in their homes.  I remember how badly I wanted to watch some of the coolest action movies when I was a wee lad.  Well, that was a no, and now I know why.

As Renee and I continue to try raising independent kids who can confidently think for themselves, I am careful to remember that there is a balance in doing this.  We want our children to grow to be strong, wise, and ready to face what life has for them.  We also do not want them exposed to dangers that may permanently or irreparably harm them. Continue reading Exposing our Kids to the Right Things: Everyone Else is Doing It!

Being Available to Our Kids: Dad, Can You Help Me?

“Hey Dad, can you help me with something?”  I didn’t realize when my 10-year old asked me this question last Saturday morning that the answer would take up the rest of the day and hurt both of us in different ways.  I was folding laundry when she called me from the other room, because well… laundry.  Anyhow, she came out and told me that she had a problem with her earring.  Before looking at it, I thought, “Why would she ask me?  Does she know that I formerly had not only an earring, but also dashingly stylish blonde highlights in my hair?”  What else does this girl know about me?  She said that something went wrong with the back of the earring when she was taking it out, so I turned her ear around to find that the earring back was literally INSIDE her ear lobe!  My tummy turned, because I basically get light-headed at the sight of blood… or an earring stuck inside a lobe.  I calmly told her that we would take care of this and that she would be fine.  I internally said, “OH MY GAWSHHH!” Continue reading Being Available to Our Kids: Dad, Can You Help Me?

Confidence in Kids: You Can Buy the Milk This Time

“Make it a point to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable every single day.  You’ll be amazed by how empowered you’ll feel.  And naturally, if you pass this lesson along to your kids, you’ll help them become confident and empowered too!”  Read on as Natalie Charrette, 8th grade teacher and Vice Principal at Bay Christian School, shares how she taught her kids to overcome fear of the unknown.

Instilling confidence in our children, now grown, was always a parental priority for my husband and I.  We always made it a point to role-play different scenarios to teach our son and daughter how to speak clearly, look a person in the eye when talking and shake hands firmly.  We taught them to listen more and speak less.  We conversed often about stepping out of their comfort zones and when feeling in doubt, ask questions within a conversation.

When our son, Tyler was in junior high, we attended a neighborhood party, which he begrudgingly joined, although it wasn’t an option.  We gave him the mature task of conversing with an adult at some point during the evening, to which he just gave us the “yeah right” look.  Part way through the party, as my husband and I were mingling we noticed Tyler, surrounded by an unfamiliar family.  A mom, dad and kids were all talking and laughing with him.  My husband and I looked at each other inquisitively and wondered who this family was… or who our son was for that matter!  A little later, Tyler joined us in amazement at how well that question thing went.  “So, this dad asked me if I played sports.  The next thing I know we’re in a full conversation.  I just kept asking him questions, then his family started talking to me.  Before I knew it, we were all laughing together.”

Mission accomplished, our son learned a new skill that made him realize that speaking with adults and people you have never met is not as scary as it seems.

When our daughter Michaela was nine years old, I told her we were going to swing by the store to grab some milk.  She smiled and nodded in agreement until I parked the car in front of the store and handed her some money.  “Why are you giving me money?” she asked.  “So you can buy some milk,” I responded.  Next, it was a back-and-forth with her attempting to convince me that she just couldn’t do it.  I continued to coach and encourage her that she could.  After all, she had accompanied me on plenty of shopping trips.  “Just come with me,” she pleaded. “You’re a big girl, you got this!”  I insisted.  Finally, she hopped out and went off to buy a gallon of milk.

I will admit, I sat there anxiously.  “What if?” I kept asking myself as I peered into the grocery store windows, watching everyone enter and exit.  Although in reality she was only in there 8 minutes (I counted), it seemed like an eternity.

Sure enough, she bee-bopped out with a huge confident smile on her face and a gallon of milk in her hand.  “That was easy, the lady at the checkout was really nice” she grinned.  I just smiled and said, “Great job, you can keep the change.”

Another lesson learned.  The sooner we can accomplish the uncomfortable or scary things in life, the sooner we will discover our God-given talents and be able to use them for great purposes.  God’s plans for us are often much bigger than our own, pulling us away from our safe space.  However, the more willing and trusting we become, the wider the doors of opportunity will open for us.  These are lessons that can build confidence for both us and our kids!

Natalie Charrette is an always-laughing wife to Chris and proud mom to Tyler and Michaela.  She is also the 8th grade teacher and Vice Principal at Bay Christian School in Concord, CA.  In her spare time, she is the owner of Simple Steps Organization, where she finds joy in helping people organize their spaces and their lives!

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Natalie with her husband Chris and two kids, Tyler and Michaela (Michaela is drinking her coffee with milk).

 

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Raising Responsible Kids: The Fistfight That Taught Me a Parenting Lesson

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It was my first year on the job as principal when these two eighth graders got into a fistfight.  It may have even been my first month.  I was so excited about beginning in my new position, that I hadn’t even considered there would be problems along the way.  I’m far past that stage now to where I typically beware of slipping on a stray banana peel if some issue hasn’t popped up by 11a.m. each day.

I’ve discovered over the past several years that we don’t have many good old fights at our school.  The few that we do have just involve pushing or name-calling, kind of like a skirmish in the NBA.  But this day involved actual haymakers and it was clearly instigated by one of the two kids.  To shorten the story, Student One turned a quiet recess snack time into a game of “let’s see what happens when I fire a ball at Student Two’s head?”  Well, what happened was that Student Two quickly changed that game into “let’s fight” and the gentlemen were soon in my office.  They were red-faced and looking as if they had both just run the mile at P.E. Continue reading Raising Responsible Kids: The Fistfight That Taught Me a Parenting Lesson

Leaving a Life Legacy: What Will My Quilt Look Like?

There was an empty seat at our Christmas dinner table that year.  Grandpa passed away on August 17, 2008, leaving a huge vacuum in our tight-knit family.  Grandpa was not just any “grandpa” to me.  He was the Best Man in my wedding, my roommate for 14 years as I grew up, and my mentor & friend who taught me that there has never been a better golfer than Tiger Woods.

Eight of us sat around the Christmas tree, remembering that the year before it was nine of us.  Mom and Dad had special gifts for us three pairs of “kids-and-spouses” to open at the same time.  Mom was sure to mention that these must be opened last.  We all held the gifts and curiously opened them together once all the other ones had been unwrapped.  Then we froze as each of us, along with our loved ones, began to cry.  Inside the beautiful wrapping was a quilt with a note that said in part, “This quilt, made of Grandpa’s shirts, pajamas, bathrobe and jeans, was made with our love and tears for all of you to treasure and remember.  ~Mom & Dad”

I am looking at the quilt right now.  It is like looking at different parts of Grandpa’s life.  I can remember different experiences and memories with him in each square.  The brown and yellow plaid shirt is the one that I left at his house one time.  He liked it, so he adopted it as his own.  The bathrobe reminds me of his last Father’s Day, sitting in Grandpa’s room watching Tiger dominate the U.S. Open with an injured leg and listening to Gramps joke and laugh with me, my dad and my son.  The gray wool shirt is the one he would often wear to church to dress up.  Grandpa loved God and everyone knew it.  The jeans are tired and worn out.  He mowed, painted, nailed and built.  Grandpa was a hard worker all of his life.

Grandpa’s quilt represents a life well-lived by a Godly man.  Each fabric is woven with years of experience and Godly wisdom that my family and I can model.  When I grow old, I wonder what my quilt will look like.  The decisions I make today is the yarn that knits those squares.  If I am to pass on a meaningful legacy and heritage to my children, my choices happen now.  I just pray that my quilt is as rich, full and inspiring as Grandpa’s.

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Teaching Good Choice-Making: When I’m a Parent and I Don’t Know What I’m Doing

For a kid going to school in the morning, you’d think there would be a few necessities: clothes, lunchbox, backpack, shoes to name a few.  But I realized a few months ago that my daughter may not have the same qualifications as me for a successful day of learning.

We all got in the car to leave and headed off.  We weren’t late, but I had a meeting at school that day, so there wasn’t extra time to stop for coffee or anything like that.  The drive was pretty normal and sports talk radio was on for all to enjoy or ignore.  Then about 12 minutes into the ride, Reese informed me of this little tidbit: “Dad, I don’t have my shoes.”  Have you ever really not known what to do as a parent and a million choices of what to do go through your mind at the same time?  That was me at a stoplight while wondering how she did not notice that she was walking out to the car in bare feet. Continue reading Teaching Good Choice-Making: When I’m a Parent and I Don’t Know What I’m Doing

Encouraging Our Children: What Every Kid Needs at Christmas

The most meaningful gift I have ever received is currently worth $2.99.  One year when I was a kid, my family was having a particularly tough Christmas financially.  We lived in a 2-bedroom apartment with my Dad, Mom, 2 sisters and Grandpa.  Needless to say, no one got an X-Box or an LED TV that year.  We had a Charlie Brown sort of a tree and some simple decorations that my mom had cobbled together.

We don’t do the “one present on Christmas Eve” thing in my family.  We do the “all presents on Christmas Eve” thing.  That night, my youngest sister passed out the gifts around the tree to each person in the room.  That was her job and it still is, even though she’s 34 now.  My lone gift was an envelope.  Taking turns, everyone opened their presents and it finally got to me.  I tore open my little envelope and found a note.  The note was just a piece of paper with a handwritten clue on it.  The clue led me to another clue in a different part of the apartment.  That clue took me to another clue.  In my PJ’s, I scurried from clue-to-clue, covering all 700 square-feet of that tiny apartment.

Continue reading Encouraging Our Children: What Every Kid Needs at Christmas

Gratefulness: 92, Going on 32

“I wake up each morning and live my life to honor Jesus. I’m just thankful for each day.”    ~Grammie

Renee’s Grammie is 92, going on 32.  She is sparkly in every way: her smile, her fashion, her laugh, her personality.  There is not a room she enters that doesn’t light up.  She has spent her life making others feel better about themselves and spreading gratefulness in so many ways.

This was never more evident than last week when Grammie had an accident and broke her shoulder.  This is a serious injury for anyone at any age, let alone someone 92 going on 32.  Tests were done, arms were poked, and x-rays were taken.  The result is that she simply needs to rehab the shoulder as much as possible while managing the intense pain that comes with that.

Continue reading Gratefulness: 92, Going on 32

Seeing the Best in Our Kids: There you are Peter!

One of my favorite movie scenes is in “Hook,” the 1991 Peter Pan adaptation.  Robin Williams plays a grown Peter who is now a stressed-out workaholic lawyer that has long since forgotten about the carefree fun of his childhood.  This is until his lifetime nemesis, Captain Hook, kidnaps his children as he is forced to return to Neverland to rescue them.  When he arrives there, he realizes that the only thing that has changed is him.  His friends are still young and happy, and no one recognizes him, until a young boy curiously approaches him.  It’s one of his old friends.  Peter kneels down to the boy’s level and they look into each others eyes.  There is silence as the boy takes Peter’s glasses off.  He grabs his cheeks and squeezes the skin on his face, all the while staring at him.  He intently examines his teeth and nose.  Finally, a huge smile overtakes him and he exclaims, “Oh, there you are Peter!”

Continue reading Seeing the Best in Our Kids: There you are Peter!