You can opt your kids (and you) out

A lot of kids (and parents) are at the breaking point with stress and despair about the entire world right now, and are not functioning in school.

You are allowed to just opt your kids out of next week, for their (and your) emotional health. You’ll need to let the school know, and there may be forms, or hoops to jump through, or threats of repercusssions. (And yes, apparently there are some kids somewhere that are doing “just fine” and still getting good grades and aren’t sleeping 16 hours a day, but that doesn’t mean that expectation is realistic.) But honestly, the schools can go shove it. Nothing is normal. Teachers are struggling, kids are struggling, parents are struggling. Your job as a parent is to help your kids learn to cope, but right now isn’t a normal set of stressors. Survival of the fittest isn’t a good goal. Drop your end of the rope, and help your kids drop their ends of the rope. By advocating for them, you’re showing them they’re worth advocating for.

If it’s not stressful enough that you need to opt them out of all of next week, you could:

* opt them out of homework

* opt them out of having their cameras on

* advocate to have the year be graded pass/fail

* give them a hall pass from their regular chores

* focus on safety and kindness and gentleness at home as much as possible

* drop expectations

While you are thinking about this, go send an email to at least one of your kids’ teachers telling them you see them and appreciate them.

When you finish that, ask yourself, “What would make me feel less stressed right now?” and then do that for yourself.

Then, go back and read the first 2/3 of this email and figure out what’s going to help your kids’ mental and emotional health the most through the end of this year. If they’re old enough, talk about it with them (but don’t expect them to be able to make any decisions).

This is the exact right time to apprentice your kids into being kind to themselves by being kind to them and to yourself, even if it means doing things you’re not “supposed” to do.

You are the best parent for your child.




management parenting

Winter Checklist Challenge registration is open!

Registration is open! Click here to sign up.

Winter is getting closer and closer, and you know you will feel worse and worse soon. The coldness, the change in light, the early darkness. It all feels like it’s crushing you.

I used to be crushed by winter every year, too. And then a few years ago I started doing things I knew would eventually make me feel better, every day, and I started refining a checklist of actions that would help. For the last two winters I’ve done my checklist every day and have felt clear-headed and peaceful all winter instead of numb and agitated. The checklist is a combo of things I ingest, move, and do every day, and it takes me about 70 minutes spread out over the course of the day to do mine. (I’d rather spend 70 minutes doing this stuff than 70 minutes feeling bad.)

So this year I’m opening up my checklist as a challenge that will run November 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021. Everyone who makes it all the way to the end with 10 or fewer missed days will get a pin and the satisfaction of having done something kind and gentle for yourself.

There is no guarantee that doing this challenge will improve or stabilize your mood, but that’s impossible given the political climate and the fact that it’s 2020 anyway. What I can guarantee is that if you stick with the challenge and keep going even when you miss a day or two, you will know you are giving yourself the care and sweetness that you deserve.

I thought hard about what to price this challenge at. It needed to be enough that you wouldn’t drop out after the first week, or if you missed a day. I think the value of the challenge is a dollar a day, or $151 for the whole November to March stretch. But that prices it out of reach for some people, so I cut that in half and am charging $75.

So: If paying $75 will keep you in, choose the $75 pricing option. If paying $151 is more likely to keep you going (or you want to pay by value), choose the $151 pricing option. It’sthe same challenge, whichever oe you choose.

When you sign up, you’ll get an email (probably into your Promotions folder) with the following:

1. A pdf with all the instructions for creating your wn checklist or following mine exactly (but with your own friends and family, obvs).

2. A spreadsheet you download and modify that is your actual checklist that you keep rack of every day.

3. A link to the big spreadsheet of everyone doing this, where you check every day when you finish your checklist.

4. A link to join the Discord server to talk about the challenge with other people doing it. This is optional. Discord is a simple, non-commercial messaging site/app used by gamers that I’m using for this because it’s so simple and there are no ads or selling our info. If you have access to a teenager, they’ll get you on it.

5. Instructions for how to get a daily email reminder to do the checklist if you want on. I am NOT sending out daily email reminders for this unless you ask to get one.

If you want to join but don’t want to pay through Shopify, Cashapp me to $Pecsenye or Venmo me to @MagdaMedia and make sure you put your email address in the memo line.

Yay! I’m glad you’re interested in the challenge! The sooner you sign up, the sooner you can start assembling everything you’ll need to do your checklist.

Click through to sign up.



parenting Uncategorized

Stay on top of your mood with me during the cold winter

For the past two years I’ve been following a checklist of things to do and eat that have kept me from sinking into my normal winter numbness and inertia. It’s felt really good to be able to be present and feel good on a daily basis. So this year I’m inviting anyone who wants to to follow my checklist with me from November 1 (first day of the fall time change) through March 31 (those first two weird weeks back from the spring time change). It’s five months, 151 days, and it takes about 70 minutes a day for me. I’ll help you modify the checklist for yourself (I take some supplements you might want to take different varieties of, and you’ll need to choose what type of daily practices to do in different categories) and then we’ll just do it. I’ll have pins made and everyone who makes it through to the end with only ten missed days will get a pin. I’m charging you money for it, $75 so you’ll keep going and won’t just drop out after the first week or the first time you skip doing it.

There is, of course, no guarantee that doing this list will keep you above water with your mood. But it definitely won’t hurt, and just the consistency alone should help keep you from spiraling away during the untethered icy weirdness of February and from thinking you’re the only one who feels a little weird about all the flashy stuff in December. I’ll have a Discord server that you can join if you want to talk about it with anyone.

This is a challenge about being kind to yourself, not about being hard-core.

I’m opening registration on October 15 so you have time to set up your own checklist and be ready to start November 1.

Also, I will be doing a readalong here on this blog of the book Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. The subtitle of the book is “Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants,” but it’s actually about being a kind, thoughtful parent who sees the long view of the world she wants for her children and what she wants to equip them with. I had a lot of affirming and learning thoughts about my own parenting while reading it, so I hope you get something good out of it, too.

Discussion schedule:

November 30, 2020: Discuss the “Planting Sweetgrass” section, Preface through p. 59

December 30, 2020: Discuss the “Tending Sweetgrass” section, pp. 61-117

January 29, 2021: Discuss the “Picking Sweetgrass” section, pp. 119-201

February 26, 2021: Discuss the “Braiding Sweetgrass” section, pp. 203-300

March 30, 2021: Discuss the “Burning Sweetgrass” section, pp. 301-386


No sleep til: Insomnia is the parenting challenge of the week

If you’ve had problems sleeping through the night this week, you are definitely not alone. It seems like everyone, whether their kids are in school right now or are still waiting to go back (or are waiting to find out when they’re going back [insert bitter laugh here]) just can’t sleep. This countrywide insomnia is been the topic of my morning little encouraging #survivingschool video on my Instagram story and the topic of this morning’s email in the fall morning email series, and we’re going to spend more time working on it next week in the fall support group.

Why is it so pervasive right now, and why does it feel worse right now than regular old insomnia does? Timing, and perception.

It’s pervasive because it’s a stressful time of year anyway, with summer ending and school starting, but it’s even worse this year with the pandemic and school all screwed up and our jobs in flux and endangered because of the demands of school. The pandemic stress is putting people in physical discomfort, too, even people who never had pain conditions before, so of course this stress is messing with your body and functioning.

It feels worse right now because we’re all stretched so tightly that even one night of not sleeping well can cause a disaster in our lives. Most of us are holding things together with painter’s tape (instead of the usual duct tape), so if we waste a day zoned out because we didn’t sleep, we get even more behind and even more brittle and fragile. Which then makes the stakes of sleeping higher, which makes it more difficult to sleep.

This has all the beginnings of a black swan event (this is a term poplarized by Nicholas Nassim Taleb in a book about the market crash of 2008, and it means any event: that is so rare that it’s difficult to predict it, that turns into a catastrophe, and that people retroactively claim they predicted it), if we’re being honest. What if all the parents in the country can’t sleep for a month and everything grinds to a halt as we all lose function completely?

Well, so let’s not let that happen. I have no magical powers to make anyone start sleeping through the night, so let’s go at it from the front end. If the consequences of missing a lot of sleep one or three or ten nights are minimal, then we won’t feel as bad in general, and it’ll be easier to start sleeping again or to figure out things that help us sleep more. (Do you remember when your kids were tiny and the idea of sleeping all the way through the night was not even remotely achievable, so you changed your standards and were able to function on minimums? What was your minimum back then? Mine was five hours in a row or a chunk of four hours and one of three hours.)

Can you reprioritize your work so you identify what absolutely has to get done so that your team doesn’t fail and you don’t get fired? And then focus on doing that at the time of day before you start to feel like a zombie? (Or even in the middle of the night, if you’re going to be awake anyway? What if it’s a feature, not a bug?)

If you have another adult in the house or close enough to be helpful (hint: friends are good for this, too), can you split up house stuff so food and laundry is happening without anyone’s brain power being wasted on it? (You can go for a long time letting other house stuff slide if you’re eating and have clean underwear.)

What’s the minimum compliance your kids have to do to fly under the radar at school? And what’s the minimum amount of help/scaffolding/shepherding from you they need to hit that minimum? Is there another adult in your life who could do some of that shepherding? (People who aren’t active duty parents are shockingly not all that stressed out about managing online school and might be happy to hang virtually with your kid for a bit while they organize homework or troubleshoot Zoom backgrounds or whatnot.) Are your kids old enough that you can have them help each other and loop you out of it?

Basically, how can you make your life easier by lowering your standards and shortcutting for the first six weeks of school so you can get through it even if you aren’t sleeping enough? Remember, this is the year when no one’s going to learn much or achieve much. So decreasing the energy you spend is the 2020 power play, not increasing achievement. It’s super-worth spending some time this weekend to think about how to get just enough done that you can recover for the next day.

There has never been a better time to write the aphorism “If something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly” on a post-it and stick it crookedly on your monitor.

I, personally, know you can struggle through these first few weeks. You can do it.




Photo by Karolina Kolacz


Things still fall apart

We’re all holding our breaths about school and how it’s going to go, but it’s time to exhale a little, because even if we do everything perfectly or in good faith, it’s entirely possible for everything to fall apart.

No matter how perfectly we set up home learning spaces, create schedules that let kids do school and parents work, create lesson plans that engage kids without giving them Zoom fatigue, balance lessons and socialization, create the perfect safe hybrid schedule, distance and mask consistently, put in enough face time with managers, and pay attention to every detail, things can still fail.
Technology can fail and kids won’t be able to get to classes and lessons, and parents won’t be able to work out go to meetings.
Kids will disengage from too much time on camera and on screens.
Kids may be so much happier doing school online that they start worrying about going back in person.
Families might spend so much time together that tensions and resentments blow up into real fights and broken relationships.
Teachers might hate teaching online and hit motivational walls.
Some people are going to get sick even if all schools go online only.
It can all fall apart, even if we all do our best.
A lot of us have been so focused on making the exact right decision that we’re putting so much pressure on ourselves to hold it all together alone.
When something fails, that’s not your fault. It’s not your failure. It’s a failure of a system that isn’t designed to bear the weight of the entire country.
Keeping it all together doesn’t mean that nothing ever fails. It just means that when things fail, you keep on going.
You can do this.
Do you want support for this semester? I’ve opened up registration for the daily email sequence, the All Together Autumn support group, and I have a few spots open for one-on-one support with private sessions. Find out more and register for either the emails, the group, or the private support at
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Grace to get through this school year

This year–no matter what configuration your child’s school is in–is not going to be what we’ve come to think of as “successful.” There is no way for it to be. Online will be so radically different, but so will in-person schooling. Even districts that pretend that the virus is a hoax and don’t require distancing or masks and keep all activities will still experience high levels of stress in teachers and students, absentee rates from illness, and deaths of school and community members.
There is no way to make things normal and give kids and teachers and parents what we need. There is no good decision, only less-horrible decisions.
Everyone is losing what we thought we had and what we were very good at needing.
What if we took this next year to give grace? To ourselves, for not being able to smash three different full-time commitments into 8-10 hours a day. To our kids, for being confused and scared and not knowing how to finesse a new system that isn’t even a system. To teachers, who are just as confused and stressed as we are and who sometimes make good decisions and sometimes make decisions that could be better.
And what if we let ourselves receive grace? From our kids, who love us and don’t want us to be miserable and stressed trying to supervise them through online school. From teachers, who don’t really expect full compliance but are being forced by their districts to ask for it. From other parents, who know how impossible this is and think you’re doing a great job just showing up every day.
What if we could say: This year is lost academically and extracurricularly, eaten by a virus like Pac-Man eats dots. Since we are being forced to sit out from these things, what if we used this year to:
1. Really deeply explore our own attitudes and fears and biases about parenting and about ourselves as parents. The system beforetimes was set up so that we could succeed as parents by leading our children through a course that rewarded achievement and compliance. Without those external rewards and that assignment and goal system, who are you as a parent and what do you need to achieve and teach your kids?
2. Really deeply explore who our children are and what makes them function and thrive. We’ve been rewarded for getting our kids to achieve and comply, but that doesn’t mean we know what really makes our kids tick. You get to spend an entire year just watching and trying things with your kid, and since there isn’t really a possibility of traditional success, it’s totally safe to fail, for both of you.
3. Reevaluate relationships. All relationships. This is the perfect time to erect some strong, healthy boundaries, and also to focus and prioritize relationships that nurture you. Divorce might save your family by choosing truth and love over an external structure. You might need to go through the motions for one last year with someone so that when you cut off the relationship you know you did everything you could. Do not be afraid to make hard decisions or put real, intentional labor into relationships.
4. Play. With your kids and by yourself. You can’t win this year, and neither can your kids. Let yourself have some fun instead.
5. Create things to look forward to. What feels like a holiday, a reward, an event? If you are part of a culture with rituals and rewards built in, celebrate and observe those. Make up things to work toward and enjoy. Allow risk as part of the events.
Giving yourself grace to take a mulligan on achievement and forward motion this year is the best thing you can do to lower your stress level. The asks of this school year do not deserve your heart, your love, your panic, your energy. Tread water with your kids so they can advance to the next grade next fall. But don’t expect a normal learning year in the middle of societal and cultural chaos.
Grace. Just give and accept grace, wherever it comes from. Your kids will learn discipline and perseverance some other year, but this year is the best chance to model for them giving and receiving grace. You are good just because you’re here. Your kids are good just because they are here. Be good together just being here.

Get Ready For The Work Team Dumpster of Fall 2020

Managers, this is going to be bad, and you’re the only ones who can help even a little

Heads up: If you’re a manager, you manage managers, or you’re managed by a manager, you’re about to go through a buzz-saw this fall that could land your team straight in the dumpster.

Some time between last Monday and the Monday four weeks from now, the children of your team members are going back to school. In previous years that would have meant not scheduling meetings for back-to-school day, knowing that parents might have a weird schedule so they’d just catch up later in the day or week. This year, the first day of school is the first day of the apocalypse.

There are a few situations you can find your team members in:

Their kids are going back to school full-time “just like usual.” This sounds great, but within a month the virus transmission rate will be out of control and those kids will be home all day quarantining or sick, and will then do the rest of the school year remotely.

Their kids will be doing school remotely online. For kids older than 12, your team members won’t have to be with them constantly, but will still have to check to make sure they’re attending class. For kids younger than 12, your team member is going to have to facilitate a lot of the online school every day.

Their kids will be doing some truly cockamamie hybrid model involving being in school a few days a week and online learning the other days, which is going to be the worst of each of the two previous cases.

They’ll be homeschooling their kids without having an external organization delivering classes to the kids. In the Beforetimes, homeschooling while working full-time was a preposterous idea, but of all the Fall 2020 situations it’s actually the least bad for your team member and for you because of the combo of time required and flexibility.

You can see how this is all going to be impossible. And I’ve seen way too much out there about how this isn’t the fault/responsibility of employers to even acknowledge, let alone fix. But that’s both incorrect and stupid, because anyone who’s ever gotten into a fight with a toddler knows that the toddler always wins. Either right then or fifteen years later. If you, the manager, put your team members in the position of choosing the job or their kids, they can only choose their kids. (And even if they can make it look like they’re choosing the job, they’re done with you and will walk away the first chance they get. There’s a reason so many women leave jobs 1-2 years after coming back from maternity leave, but that’s a topic for a different piece.)

The best response is to pull as many unnecessary stressors off your team members as possible, so that they can pour everything they have left after dealing with the kid school stuff into doing their jobs well. That includes making it absolutely clear that kids and school are just givens to be worked around, the same as your organization and team works around laws and policies and certifications and everything else for the public good. The alternative is that your team members are so stressed out with too many responsibilities and with trying to apologize for their kids that they really can’t focus on their work at all and everyone loses.

PSA: Managers who are already certified in the Tilmor Process for managing have been thinking about this for months, know exactly what situations all their team members are in, are in the middle of working on plans with everyone on their team to cut out things that don’t have a lot of value so that everyone can do their best work and respond to changes from all directions, and they and their team members are feeling like they’re working on it together instead of like adversaries. I’m happy to train your managers to use the process so this becomes just another thing in 2020 instead of a really big problem that causes hatred inside teams.

Yes, I know that there are organizations and managers that think an easy solution is to let go anyone with kids and just hire people who don’t have kids who need tending. Those people will learn. Using the approach of removing unnecessary stressors helps not just team members with kids, but also team members with older or vulnerable relatives or dependents, team members with health or mobility complications, and any team member who does better when they feel better in general.

Do this right now:

1. Schedule one-on-ones with all of your team members to talk about the school situation (even people who aren’t technically parents are affected by this, so definitely talk to everyone) and start figuring out solutions that actually work. Fair >>>>> equal.

2. What are all those extra (both meanings of “extra”) processes/systems/tasks/traditions/holdovers/whatever that you’ve always wanted to get rid of? Now’s your chance to suspend them during this coming school year. Next fall you can assess objectively and decide what to add back.

3. Wish this was all less drama? Ask your HR to put you through Tilmor Process certification and all these plans and communication and big thoughts just turn into part of your weekly routine with your team members and it becomes really difficult to shake you up.

You can do it. Your team members can do it. Your team members’ kids can do it. You will all have so many more skills and capabilities by this time next year. Stay proactive.



If you are a parent and are looking for some support from the parenting side of this, sign up for my newsletter.

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The intense parts are where you need to be kind to yourself

A big part of what I got at with the post about how hard it is to parent a seventh grader is that it hurts to parent your child through things that hurt you. If you pay attention to the things that are most intense and difficult for you, you know where you need to be extra kind and forgiving with yourself.

I think for most of us it starts when our kids are toddlers or preschoolers. There are things they do that are annoying, but then there are other things they do that hit a nerve and seem to shoot right up into our brains with an almost physical pain. Have you ever felt hot rage, or panic, or fear when your child did something that wasn’t objectively horrific? That’s because we have unresolved intense emotions about those things from our own childhoods. Usually that intense reaction tells you that you weren’t allowed to do whatever it is that your kid is doing, so you’re having a reaction to that. You might feel fear that you or your child or both are going to be punished for doing it. You might feel rage that your child is daring to do this thing you knew better than to do. You might feel panic that you should stop your child from doing it or that you should have prevented it.

Those feelings in those intensity triggered by something someone else does are called emotional flashbacks. People who have any kind of trauma often have emotional flashbacks (sometimes without any connection to any external trigger at the time), and they can be extremely hard to work around. We like to think of ourselves as strong, calm, logical people, especially when we’re parenting, and emotional flashbacks can derail us, for a few seconds or a few days. They’re invisible and no one talks about them, so it’s really easy to think there’s just something wrong with you for not being able to control your reactions to things.

When your child does something that hits one of your soft spots and triggers an emotional flashback, it can be truly overwhelming. You’re dealing with your kid’s act, the emotion it triggers in you, your reaction to that emotion, your feelings about your reaction to that emotion, and then your child’s reaction to your reaction. If it’s a one-time event, you can regain your equilibrium. But if it happens regularly or over a long period of time, you can be in a near-constant state of emotional overwhelm. This is why you can feel like you’re totally losing it when your kids won’t put on their shoes every morning. Or why parenting a seventh grader can make you feel anxious and weepy all the time.

So what’s the answer? Well, you know all that minute-by-minute work you have to do with your kids? You have to do it with yourself, too. Essentially, you have to reparent yourself through whatever that issue is that is giving you emotional flashbacks. You have to think of yourself now (because you deserve care) and also of the you you were when you were in that situation (because you deserved care then). Note: your parents could be wonderful amazing people, but if they hadn’t been parented through the situation and taught healthy responses, the likelihood that they could parent you through it is slim. They probably had emotional flashbacks when you were doing whatever it was, but white-knuckled through it because they thought something was wrong with them. This means that you are the only one who can stop this cycle because you’re here right now. You deserve to feel good and be healthy, just as your kids do, and your parents do, too.

So. When your child is doing something that makes you feel an oversized emotion so you know you’re having an emotional flashback, the first thing to do is reassure yourself that this is expected and ok and you’re not doing anything wrong. Of course you’re having this feeling. Then, connect with your kid and tell them you love them and give them a hug and help them process whatever’s going on and redirect behavior. (I’ve found the echoing technique in Parent Effectiveness Training to be the gold standard of helping a kid work through a problem.) You do NOT have to solve the problem for your child, although if you can make a little bit of forward motion on helping your child build skills to solve the problem for themself, that’s what you’re aiming for.

Then, and this is key, give yourself permission to acknowledge that you should have been given that same help processing whatever it was back when you were a kid. And then give yourself a “good job!” for parenting your kid through this episode. This is you being kind to the kid you were and to the person you are now.

This is going to feel really really weird the first ten times you do it. It might feel actually wrong the first couple of times, because you’re stepping away from feelings that cause you shame, and shame likes to hold on. But do it simply because helping your kid work through something is the right thing to do and being kind to yourself is the right thing to do. The shame will loosen its grip on you and the emotions will fade in intensity, and helping your child work through this stuff will be about skill-building.

You can do it.


parenting Uncategorized

Seventh grade is remarkably hard

It’s so hard to be a seventh grader. It’s so hard to parent a seventh grader.

Parenting through 6th, 7th, and 8th grade with my first one required more intensity than I’d had to put in at any previous stage, and it’s happening again with my second child. They fall apart emotionally, feel so intensely, feel uncomfortable and weird in their bodies, don’t know who their real friends are, can’t focus on schoolwork and get anxious and scared about that, are captive to the hormonal surges happening that switch them from bravado to rage to weeping in a few minutes, and just want to hide all the time.

They need us, a lot. More than when they were babies or preschoolers, by a lot. They need hugs and snuggles (a lot). Both of mine have spent more time in my lap–with their long legs flapping out to the sides–in seventh grade than in second through sixth grades combined. Even when they’re mad at me or trying to tell me I’m mad at them they want to be touching me.

I figured out with the first one that getting mad at him for being in a kind of disequilibrium he’d never experienced before and didn’t know how to handle was not going to get me anywhere I wanted to be. So I a) didn’t let myself get mad at him for normal-but-horrible developmental collapse, b) didn’t let myself take his lashing out or his scatteredness personally, c) did take his need to be touching me and hearing that I loved him personally, and d) shifted my view of him at this stage from autonomous tween to little kid going through a regression so I could be kind and sympathetic. (Perimenopause hit me like a ton of hot sweaty bricks when that same child was in eighth grade, and he was shockingly sympathetic to my inability to be in my body comfortably or control my emotions. Man bites dog.)

It was intense, deep, minute-by-minute work. I’m not sure I’ve worked as hard in such small increments since I was up nursing at 3 am every night. Back then I used to think about all the other mothers all over the world rocking their little babies. Now I think a lot about all the other parents snuggling their big kids. It is no less work going through it with my second child right now.

Two weeks ago I posted on Facebook that I don’t think I’ve recovered emotionally from seventh grade. I got story after story of adults who were still hurt by that grade (or sixth or eighth). A common theme was that kids that age felt disconnected from their friends and other kids or were being bullied or hurt or failing classes, and they couldn’t tell their parents. Or their parents wouldn’t help them or didn’t know how to help them. So they were alone, and that’s the part that still hurt. (It’s the part that still hurts me, too. I didn’t tell my mom for a long time that I was being bullied. It was the beginning of a lifetime of feeling truly alone.)

I don’t think it’s right that our culture makes seventh graders feel so alone that it takes us decades to recover. We should be increasing the challenge level for tweens but keeping them surrounded by a support system they can turn to when they fail or just need a hug. I am trying to keep my younger one tethered to his life and to his family and friends as much as I can, so this disequilibrium stage doesn’t sever ties he’s too young to be without.

I think the combination of the intensity required to parent through this age and our own unhealed hurts from being this age can be overwhelming. That doesn’t mean you can’t do a good job. It just means that it’s going to feel really difficult and probably like you don’t want to do it, and maybe like you can’t do it. But you can, and you are. I can and I am, too.

I think hugs are the way we make it through this tunnel.


parenting Uncategorized

Reframe It (Parenting in Hard Times Part 3)

So many of us have been trying to figure out how to be cheerful and not scare our kids, which seems at odds with being honest with them about the truth. It feels like either/or. Either we lie and stay peppy so they don’t know anything’s wrong, or we tell them the truth of how bad it is and crush their feelings and terrify them. But what if we reframe the entire situation to make it about what we want our kids to learn from this instead of what we’re supposed to do perfectly?

Your job is to be kind to your kids, and one big way to be kind to them is to trust them to learn important things. Right now, in the midst of great sorrow, they can learn the most important things there are to know:

Your love for them is deeper than words.

They can trust you to do the best you can for them.

They are worth working hard for.

You will show them how to work for themselves.

When they get the chance to work for other people, they have to take it.

Relationships and community are of the highest value and are worth working for.

What if this crisis gives you the chance to apprentice your kids into being people who are strong and vulnerable, who can soothe themselves to be able to do what they need to do, and who work and fight for justice for others?

If you start thinking of these days as chances to show your kids that bad things happen but they can push back, even in teeny, quiet ways, you win. If you start thinking about what you tell them in terms of what will make them be able to make good decisions about how to act, you win. If you start looking for ways to teach empathy, kindness, and critical thinking, you win. You don’t have to worry about what information will do to them if you’re guiding them through how to receive and process and act on information as it comes in.

This is a tough request, especially when you’re feeling anxious and worried yourself. But it gives you a task to focus on that you know you can do. You’ve been helping your kids learn from the moment you met them. You can do this, too. Trust them to learn what you’re teaching, and trust yourself to be the teacher they need.

All my love,