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!

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!

What’s the Big Deal about Toothpaste?

(as seen through the eyes of our 6-year-old grandson Sebastian)

Connie and Doug, aka Grandma and Grandpa, are really cool grandparents. They give me lots of freedom to do what I want, they care about me, and they don’t make a big deal out of a lot of things…spilling things, breaking things, not saying “please” or “excuse me” when I burp.

But there’s one thing, until recently, that has bugged them that I don’t understand. You see, I’m a capable, curious boy, and I like discovering how to do things. I’ve watched Mommy and Daddy and my grandparents put toothpaste on a toothbrush ever since I was little, and recently I’ve decided I’d like to know how to do it myself.

It doesn’t look that hard – point the toothpaste toward my brush, squeeze the tube, until the toothpaste comes out, and goes onto the brush. Easy peasy!

The thing is, I always seem to squeeze it too hard and LOTS of paste comes out, way too much, and it makes a mess. Then Connie and Doug get upset and tell me I’ve used too much.

I know it’s too much. I tell them I’m sorry, but I can tell they’re kinda upset. I feel bad. They’re relaxed about lots of stuff, but I figure it’s only toothpaste. Is it really that big a deal? How else am I going to learn if I don’t get to try it?

Last night was different. Connie told Doug she would help me with my toothpaste, but I’d already decided to stop trying. I told her, “No. You can do it.” But she insisted and told me she knew I could do it.

She started by making me slow down a bit so she could show me how to squeeze the tube a little bit and then handed the toothbrush to me so I could do it. I was amazed at how easy it was and how I only have to squeeze the tube a tiny bit.

Grandma Connie doesn’t like to get mad or be upset with me. I know she wants me to be happy. I think she figured out it’s only toothpaste, and I’m way more important than that.

I’m growing up and want to do new things. I just need a chance to learn. Every time I’m told ‘no’ or been yelled at or gotten into trouble, I feel bad about me. I feel a little smaller and less capable, and I feel more alone.

You know, I’m a pretty sensitive kid, even though I try not to show it. I’m happy most of the time, speak up about what I want, and try new things easily.

Little things, like toothpaste, can make a big difference.


What are the situations and the ways in which your child of any age wants to stretch and grow, to try something new? Are you giving him space to make mistakes and learn on his own, or are you focused on making him act the be the way you think he should?

If you’d like to continue this conversation, I invite you to join “Our Children’s Inner Brilliance Community”, where we explore ways to nurture our children’s and our own Inner Brilliance.

Click here to find out more and to join.

Are You Saying “No” Too Often?

Saying “No” is so easy. It can roll off our tongue so effortlessly and smoothly, we seldom notice we said it. In fact, research shows parents say “No” dramatically more times every day than they say “Yes.”

Hint: If you think this isn’t you, you might want to ask your kiddos what they think about it. 🙂

One of the things that makes ‘no’ so automatic is that it seems like the easier choice. Whatever your child wants or doesn’t want, you probably have a preference about it. It’s amazing what our creative, free-spirited young people can come up with that had never crossed our minds and that don’t seem like such a great idea to us.

There are so many ways in which we say “No” to our children. The most obvious is when they want that toy or the pair of jeans we don’t want to buy.

But there are other ways even more impactful to our children’s Inner Brilliance. We don’t like their angry or hurt feelings, or their observations about their teacher or another child, or their mono-chromatic painting. Then we tell them what we think in subtle, and not so subtle, sometimes manipulative ways.

You may feel these “no’s” are simply part of parenting since it is so commonplace. After all, isn’t it your job as a parent to guide your child?

I’ve found, however, that the more frequently we repeat these ‘no’s”, we unknowingly lessen a child’s Inner Brilliance – her self-confidence, happiness, innocence, and her connection to herself.

Plus if the “no’s” come with frustration, annoyance or judgment from you, the message and the ‘ouch factor’ are even deeper.

What to Do

The first and most important step is to become aware of all the “no’s” you say in the form of your words, tone of voice, a look, a touch, or in your attitude. You child reads them all. You might even want to write them down for a day, or 2 or 3 hours, and see what you discover.

Then, choose one place you want to begin saying “Yes.” Perhaps this means taking a deep breath and letting your child speak his mind even when you disagree or it makes you uncomfortable. Or perhaps you find a way to say, “Yes” so you can make what your child wants work for you also.

This is the time to pause before you speak. Or if you miss that window, think about it afterwards and go to your child and say, “I’ve been thinking about it, and I’ve changed my mind. Can we make this work?…”

The simple step of saying “Yes” to your child in every way you can – without compromising yourself – brightens your child’s and your Inner Brilliance. This brightens your life and that of everyone around you.


What are the situations and the ways in which you are saying ‘No” to a much-loved child in your life? What are the ways you’d like to say “Yes” more?

If you’d like to continue this conversation, I invite you to join “Our Children’s Inner Brilliance Community”, where we explore ways to nurture our children’s and our own Inner Brilliance.

Click here to find out more and to join.

Myth-Busting Bullying: The Heart and Soul of Bullying

Do you ever stop to consider why kids do and say such mean things to each other? Most parents I talk with about this question shrug their shoulders and reply, ‘I don’t’ know” and dismiss them as ‘mean kids.’

If you’ve been following this series, you know the bully is not the ‘bad guy.’ I find when you simplify things to their most basic and most essential, you discover there are two underlying causes to the bullying trouble.

Here is the last in the series: