Connect with your child’s heart

Our lives are so filled with activity – things to do, accomplish, people to connect with, things we want our children to hear and do – that we easily forget to listen. We don’t feel we have time to listen. To slow down enough to be fully present with our kids.

In workshops I have taught about listening, most people discover two life-changing insights:

  1. They are not very good listeners. They want to talk and have someone listen to them.
  2. Having someone deeply listen and be present when they talk feels wonderful and oddly disquieting because it happens so seldom. They struggle to know what to say.

Do either of thees feel familiar to you?

When we don’t feel listened to, even when we’re surrounded by others, we feel isolated and alone. This happens for many people, including your child.

Your child’s words and feelings are important to him. Even more important, is having us be present and listen.


I invite you to join me tomorrow, Saturday 21, for “Our Children’s Inner Brilliance Community Call”, to learn do-able, specific tools, insights and actions to help you become a better listener with your child…and with everyone else in your life who is important to you.

Remember, if you can’t make it live, sign-up anyway, and you’ll receive the recording of the call soon after.

If you’re not already a member of  our Community, sign-up for the class here.

If you want to find out more about “Our Children’s Inner Brilliance Community” and to join, go here.

I look forward to connecting with you tomorrow.

Celebrating Inner Brilliance!

Living Outside the Box with Your Child 

As a young person growing up on a farm in rural Iowa, I lived in an area where many people “knew your business.” It’s a place where you could get a reputation if you stepped outside the box or if someone even suspected you had.

So I tried to fit in, even though I never really felt that I did. I tried to put on a good show so no one would know how isolated and lonely I felt. As you can imagine, this was incredibly restrictive and limiting to me, and , yes, I did get an undeserved reputation from people who had no idea who I was.

Fast forward to becoming a mom at 27 when I made a conscious choice to raise my son in a way that made sense to me. I had observed other parents relating with their children, and I had seen the limitations of the ‘usual approach.’

I wanted no part of it. I knew my son – all children – were much more than the adults around them realized. No more trying to fit in or not stand out as different.

I chose to focus on the two things that really mattered to me –

I wanted Orion to be who he was, not who society, the education system, or I wanted him to be. I wanted to support him in being his own person and living his truth. What I today call his Inner Brilliance.

I wanted to have a great relationship with him, where we were authentic, honest, and trusting with one another as people, not based on a traditional mother – son relationship.

These two priorities mattered more to me than anything, and I did my best to not let his room, schoolwork, friends, clothes, and other minor issues damage what mattered most.

If you ask Orion or I today, we will both agree these two priorities made all the difference as we continue to cherish our honest, loving relationship with one another.

Living outside The Box, parenting outside The Box requires two things:

1. The willingness and ability to think for yourself. To look around you with a questioning eye and to find your own way. Focusing on making your choices consciously and not simply going along with the crowd and fitting it.

2. The courage to trust your child and yourself. The courage to be seen as different and to stand out, most likely inspiring others to reconsider the choices they make as a parent. To be willing to fly in the face of authority and tradition, even when you’re scared and uncertain.

Now it’s your turn. What matters most to you as a parent? What are your highest priories for your child and yourself? I’m talking Big Picture things here. Not academic achievement or achievement of any kind. Not your fears or concerns. Dream big!

What do you really want to create / share / experience with your child?

Then let this be your guide. As you look at the day-to-day challenges, how can you honor your highest priorities as a person who is a parent and create a joyous, honoring relationship with your child?


An Invitation to join “Our Children’s Inner Brilliance Community’

Want to chose your highest priorities as a parent and learn how to stay focused on them through your day-to-day interactions with your child? This is exactly what we are going to talk about in our September Community Call on Saturday, September 27.

If you’d like to continue this exploration and discussion, I invite you to join ‘Our Children’s Inner Brilliance Community.’ where we explore this and other topics to nurture your child’s and your parenting Inner Brilliance.

This Community is for anyone – parents, grandparents, educators, concerned family and community members – who care about nurturing the Inner Brilliance of our children and who want to nurture them in being who they are.

Click here to learn more and join us today!

You are the expert!

Note: This is the first part in a series on being an advocate for your child in school, from preschool to high school.


If you’re a parent with a child in school, you’re probably gearing up for the coming school months. Ever notice the impact school has on your family and your communication with your child? How are you feeling about the start of school this year? How does your child feel?

Do you and your child feel more pressure and stress than during the summer or are you both excited?

My grandson just began first grade, and Orion, his wonderful daddy, has already visited Sebastian’s first grade class, and it’s just the first week of school. Sebastian’s new teacher has a Fly-On-The-Wall sign-up sheet so parents can visit the classroom early in the year. This is a great idea.

Orion made some important observations, and he’s going back to help in the classroom and to continue to observe. Knowing what’s happening with Sebastian while he’s at school is important to him.

Every parent needs to know what’s happening in their child’s classroom. Not just what the children are studying but what does it feel like to be in this classroom. Is the teacher genuinely kind? Is your child happy?

In my experience as a teacher and coach to parents and young people, I often see parents go along with the program, trusting the school staff, seeing them as the experts, and trying to implement what they have been directed to do, seldom questioning what is happening.

Even though school staff tell you what they want you to do, it is essential to research and evaluate for yourself and to make your child’s emotional and physical well-being your highest priority. Is your child flourishing at school, struggling, or just getting by?

Every child is born filled with a drive to learn and succeed in life, according to her Inner Brilliance, her inner knowing of what is best for her. What makes her heart sing. Your child is a natural born learner and no amount of ‘teaching’ can ‘teach’ her to learn.

It’s vitally important for parents to know and experience what their child experiences in the classroom for many hours a day, 5 days a week.

Schools are big places and often feel threatening and intimidating to young people of all ages. Children often see themselves as powerless and believe they need to conform and do what teachers tell them. They don’t know how or if they can speak up for themselves.

This is why she needs you, her parent, grandparent, or caretaker, to be her advocate, to look out for her and ‘have herr back.’ Many educators mean well, yet that doesn’t mean what they are doing or wanting what is best for your child.

It’s your job to pay attention, not in a paranoid, judgmental way, but by being conscious and aware of your child’s school environment.

Here are the three most important things to look for:

1. Does the teacher genuinely like and enjoy young people? Secondly and most important, does she like, admire and appreciate your child? Listen closely. Does she see wonderfulness in him?

As we all know, there are teachers who deeply care about children and enjoy their natural capabilities and brilliance. And there are teachers who only want children to do what they are told and to follow instructions without questioning.

Being a teacher is tough, given the standards and demands put on them by the government to follow the government’s mandates.

2.Does the teacher create a stimulating learning environment? Is your child curious and eagerly engaged in the classroom activities? Is she is eager to go to school every morning?

Children are hard-wired to succeed and to learn, and they do so with eagerness, joy, and curiosity. Is this how your child participates in his class? When he does his homework? Is he on-fire with learning the material and doing the assignments? Is he eager to tell you what he learned?

If not, this is a red flag the teacher is not creating a learning environment that nurtures your child.

3. Does the teacher create an environment in which your child feels emotionally and physically safe?

This is a big one and so seldom noticed. Bullying is bringing the extreme part of this to everyone’s attention, yet I have observed that school is often emotionally and even physically uncomfortable for children

Remember what it was like for you when you were in school? Did you feel you could be yourself and speak up? Was the teacher someone you deeply trusted and enjoyed? Was it comfortable having to sit still in those wooden chairs and be quiet for long periods of time?

Your child spends many hours in their school environment and is counting on you to be as diligent and selective about what is happening at school as you are at home.

I invite you to be your child’s biggest advocate this year, instead of an extension of the school. 

You are the expert and the one who cares most when it comes to your child.

Let’s Be Real

One of the things I deeply appreciated about the people in Scotland was the way they talked with my 6-year-old grandson Sebastian when we were there a couple of months ago. (How I love all the wonderful memories of times we shared!)

I noticed it first with Devon in his flat where we stayed the first three days in Edinburgh. He talked with Sebastian as if he were a peer, straight-across, with no hint of talking with him as a ‘child’.

This continued everywhere we went – Jim on the train from Inverness, a couple with their young daughter Sebastian met on the ferry, Angus who ran a lovely guesthouse where we stayed.

The difference was in their way of perceiving Sebastian, which came across in their tone of voice when they spoke with him. They respected him as an equal person of value.

Contrast this to the way I observe many people talk with young people here. Often it’s louder, kind of cutsie, more hyper or more ‘enthusiastic.’ It’s a different tone of voice and way of talking. It’s as if we need to talk this way in order for them to understand or hear us. Or to entertain them or get their attention.

With older children, we may talk more sternly, with more a tone of judgment or authority. Sometimes it’s a tone of exasperation or frustration. Or annoyance

It’s seldom as if they are our peers. We never talk with our adult friends the way we talk with our children.

You may be wondering how I can think of children as our peers. Obviously, they have not had the life experience we have had, which can be an asset or a liability, by the way. And there are times when we need to use our best judgment and be ‘the adult,’ but this doesn’t need to prevent us from treating young people as the capable, sensitive, brilliant people they naturally are.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I invite you to listen to yourself and the people around you. You’ll observe this way of talking with children. This has become our cultural norm. Sometimes I catch myself doing it with my grandchildren.

I have no idea how this cultural pattern started, although I’m sure it’s perpetuated because of our unrecognized limiting beliefs about who children are and that we see it all around us.

I see this tone of voice as a way we unintentionally talk down to children, somehow see them as less than us, less bright, less capable because they are younger. Then young people, being the sensitive, brilliant, aware people they naturally are, get our message and feel confused, shamed, uncertain, or resistant.

When we speak with our children in other than our normal speaking voice, we’re definitely not being our real selves, something our children dearly need and want from us. Being real with them allows us to more deeply and honestly connect with our precious young ones.

When I catch myself being the ‘adult’ with my grandchildren, I feel tension in my body and I realize I’m not being myself. I’m not feeling comfortable in my own skin.

Here are some things I’ve discovered that help:

1. Slowing down, taking slow deep breaths so I can be more present. When I’m racing around, focused on getting things done, I’m not really connecting with my grandchildren.

2. I try to stay aware of my own emotions, my tension in my body, my tone of voice so I can do something about it.

3. When I notice I’m talking with Sebastian and Madison as if they are ‘children,’ less capable than they are, not fully people, I take a deep breath or two, slow down, get in my body, look them in the eye, and show up as myself, honestly myself.

The beauty of being present and more fully myself is I experience my deep love for them and the joy of getting to be with them. They are wonderful and life is sweet!

I invite you to explore your tone of voice, how you communicate with young people in your life, and see what you discover.


An Invitation to join “Our Children’s Inner Brilliance Community”

In writing this, I saw how rich a topic this is. There are so many discoveries and discussions we can have about this seemingly simple subject of our tone of voice when we talk with young people and what that is telling them.

If you’d like to continue this exploration and discussion, I invite you to join ‘Our Children’s Inner Brilliance Community.’ where we’ll explore this topic in the next couple of weeks.

This Community is for anyone who cares about nurturing the Inner Brilliance of our children and who wants to nurture them in being who they are.

Click here to learn more and join us now!

Inner Brilliance is the Key!

So wonderful to connect with you! I’ve had a busy 2 months traveling with my grandson in Scotland for two weeks, visiting New York City for a week,  and a 5-day camping trip with Doug and my grandchildren Sebastian and Madison.

New York City was a blast! The first 3 days I spent seeing dear friends and family who live there. Plus I saw amazing art at the Met, and strolled both Central Park and High Line Park.

The last half of the week I attended the AERO Conference, a gathering focused on alternatives in education that empower young people.  I presented two well-received workshops, which I will make available to you soon.

Then three days after returning home, we took off camping in Kings Canyon Sequoia National Park where Sebastian earned his 5th Junior Ranger Badge. Such a wonderful program to help kids develop an understanding, heart connection to Mother Earth.

While everything was great fun, I had little time for anything else.

This week, as I was re-working what I call my Tree Story, I realized many of you probably haven’t read it before or it’s worth a second look. Even if you have, it’s filled with valuable insights about Joyous Parenting and nurturing your child’s Inner Brilliance.

Here it is for you…my Tree Story. Enjoy!
Inner Brilliance: The Key to Your Child’s Happiness and Success

As a family coach and child development educator, I’ve seen many parents tolerate on-going difficulties and stress, living with frustration and emotionally painful interactions with their children – often for needless years.

It hurts my heart when I see children and their parents live with so much less than what is possible when a few simple changes would dramatically reduce their stress and create more harmony and fulfillment for everyone in their family.

I have found the key to our children’s happiness and success is to nurture their Inner Brilliance. Ours too!

What happens when we nurture our children’s Inner Brilliance? What difference does it really make?

Here is a story to help you understand the importance of Inner Brilliance for you and your child and how it works.

Jane and Tom love their son and do their best to be good parents, daily teaching him what he needs to know and monitoring his behavior so he will be a good kid and succeed.

Over time, this becomes a lot of work. It seems their son thinks of so many things to do and say that he’s not supposed to and getting him to do homework is often a battle. They don’t like being frustrated with him yet it seems they have to keep repeating things he should already know. Read more…

Happy Trails!
Celebrating Inner Brilliance!