breaking the shame chain

Most toxic shame has been passed down from generation to generation for centuries. Our great-grandparents transferred their shame to our grandparents, our grandparents transferred it to our parents, and our parents dumped it all on us.

What messages of shame did you receive when you were a kid? "You're inadequate" is a common one. "You take up too much room." "You're unwanted, unlovable, unimportant." Or maybe "You're stupid" or even "You're crazy."

All of these?

Ask yourself: Do you really want your kids to get the same message?

Tip: For more information about shame messages and their effects on us, read Rising Above Shame by Dr. Stan Wilson.

a different trip to the grocery store

Contributed by Laura Parrish

Dear Mother in the Grocery store: Yes, I'm judging you.

I'm the woman with the short gray hair, dropping plums into a bag, looking at you grab your small son by the arm and lift him off his feet. He was taking delight in his smaller version of your grocery cart, running down the aisle of shoppers, not listening to you or even hearing you, as he ran and you called. You carried him, wailing, by his arm around the corner to the entrance and told him to put the cart back. He had "lost the privilege" of pushing the cart. He wailed louder. Just a minute before, he had been pure happiness, delight and energy unbound, and now he was pulled back abruptly into a world of adult expectations for small children; a world that he didn't realize included walking sedately behind the cool, shiny cart just his size, staying beside his mother as she bagged broccoli and moved slowly to potatoes. Really, Mother? What did you think a little boy would want to do with his own cart to push?

open a hailing frequency

Contributed by Frank Maier

Lieutenant Uhura, open a hailing frequency.

And ya probably better activate the Universal Translator.

Ronnie asked me to write a post about how I communicate with kids better than most adults do. Well, huh. I’ve never really thought of myself in those terms. Am I really better at talking to younger people than most other adults? If so, how? Why? What do I do that differs from other adults when talking with kids? To write about this topic, I had to think about the parameters of it from my perspective, others’ perspectives, and children’s perspectives. Here’s what I came up with.

Don’t be somebody a kid would feel leery about. Be their equal.

One thing I thought of is the simple physicality of communication. As a short person, I find it difficult to have a prolonged conversation with someone who’s, let’s say, 6’6”. The simple physicality of it begins to have a negative effect. To a child, especially a small one, adults are all about 10’10”. Even though I’m short to begin with, I bend down or even squat to be at a more equal level with the kid I’m talking to.

wanted: new parent

Contributed by Jeff Sabo

Wanted: One authoritarian individual, chronologically (if not intellectually and emotionally) of an adult age, to set a bad example for their children and for other parents. Must be able to be verbally abusive, short-tempered, and rude to a variety of other people, with or without advanced notice. Interruptive communication style preferred, ability to outright ignore is a plus. Must be willing to have whatever reaction seems appropriate for the time, with no regard for others. The ability to set and maintain a double standard is required. Strong preference for those who are self-centered and too busy to care about anyone else's feelings. No previous experience or training is necessary, but knowledge of corporal punishment is a plus.


Would you ever hire such a person? Would you ever date them? Would you ever even talk to them? And would you, under any circumstances, and regardless of where you are on your own parenting journey, put that person in a position to actually be responsible for the well-being of anyone else, let alone a child? Of course you wouldn't. You would never tolerate it, would never even allow that kind of negativity into your life at all.

The irony is that these crappy parents wouldn't tolerate either; in fact ... they won't even tolerate such behavior from their children, let alone from another adult.

But [kids] don't have a choice.

But Oh, If They Did

If kids did have a choice, if they did have the ability to write a job description for an ideal parent, what might that look like?


Contributed by Ren Allen

Gentle parenting is something we choose, not based on our child's behavior but based on how we want to treat the humans in our lives. Nobody said it would be easy every second. Nobody said it would guarantee some result. Except in yourself. I grow more as a human by choosing this path. I have a son who is "on the spectrum" and provides a lot of opportunities for me to grow.

I read posts in which parents complain about their kid, or say rude things about them and then wonder why their relationships are not harmonious. Start with celebrating the child you have...right here, right now. Anybody can throw their adult weight around and use put-downs or punishment. Gentle parenting requires growth and creative thinking.

time in

Contributed by Shannon Loucks

Often the world around us sends a message that when the going gets tough, we need a time-out. We get this in commercials for tired parents who need a vacation from it all, and from mainstream parenting books that insist that a troubled child certainly needs a time-out to regain their composure (or, more honestly, to behave the way the parent would prefer).

Recently, through my own tough moments, I have begun to recognize that time-ins actually work much more smoothly to restore peace. Time-in connection with my children fills me up and reminds me just why I want to spend so much time with them. Time-in connection with my children heals the places within me that perhaps were undernourished.

Time-in, one-on-one relationship with each of my children feeds a need within us both to blossom and grow in our awareness of one another.

Time-in relationship with my partner heals the rushed moments and un-thoughtful comments that have passed between us in hurried interactions.

Time-in reflection with myself restores my commitment to live fully, joyfully, respectfully, lovingly, and passionately.

are you listening?

Contributed by Sue Patterson

When I was little, I was one of those children who talked a lot and LOUDLY. I can remember my cousin actually turning to my dad and saying, “Does she have a volume button?” My mom, who had an exhausting job, would have to come home to this high energy kid who wanted to talk and talk and talk. I can remember sitting on the floor while she read the paper or a book. I’d ask her, “Are you listening?” “Mhm,” would be her reply.

When my kids were little, I was trying to juggle a variety of things at once, and the internet was just taking off and I was thrilled about talking with other moms from around the country. My kids would ask me questions and bring something to show me. They’d ask me, “Are you listening?” “Mhm,” would be my reply.

I think you’ll be able to relate to at least one of these scenarios. Everyone has probably been the victim or the ignorer at some point in their lives. No one is doing anything malicious in these situations; we’re just people, caught up in the moment. But I think as parents who want to do better – as PEOPLE who want to do better – we need to adjust ourselves. Tuning out our loved ones is a habit of laziness really, a lack of thoughtfulness. It’s not being fully conscious about the everyday life decisions we are making. I really want to be present with the people that are in my everyday life. And I want them to be present with me.