Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Stanley Cup Parenting Lessons

There is excitement in the air, because if you live anywhere near me (in the Chicago area) you know that the Blackhawks clinched the Stanley Cup-The NHL's highest prize, in an exciting few weeks of playoffs, culminating with last night's unbelievable victory--scoring two goals in  17 seconds to come from behind against the Boston Bruins!

It was a hard fought road to the Cup, complete with lots of overtime games, and come from behind victories in championship play that felt more like a battle at times than entertainment.  The fans in Chicago had days recently where they were walking around bleary eyed due to late night overtime games.  But the team played on, and through defeats and injuries and bad calls etc., they continued to put it all behind them and focus on winning that Cup!

My son is a diehard hockey enthusiast.  He played hockey as a young boy and continued throughout his high school years.  He loves watching Blackhawks hockey and was overjoyed at their victory last night.  And all of this has caused me to reflect on what wonderful life lessons parents can teach their children, when they are passionate about a sports team like the Blackhawks.  Besides the fact that it is loads of fun to follow a team with your children.  Spending time together cheering them on forms wonderful bonds and memories. But sports can also help you illustrate important lessons to your young children, if you think about it in terms of teachable moments.  Here are some of the lessons I came up with, but you may have others that will work for you.

1.  Never Give Up:  This lesson was very evident as the Blackhawks pursued the championship.  They persevered.  If your child is easily frustrated, reminding him/her about this quality may help to develop the idea to hang in there and try a little harder.

2.  Team Work:  Team work is important to make any family run smoothly and the Blackhawks gave a great example of working together to accomplish a goal; and sharing credit with all of their teammates on their accomplishments.

3.  Sharing:  This concept is sometimes a difficult one for children to embrace.  Take the opportunity to remind them that a team like the Blackhawks took turns scoring goals and each line of players had to share the puck on the ice in order to achieve success.

4.  Listening to the Coach:  You, as the parent act as the coach of your family.  Ultimately what you say goes.  Sometimes children act as if they don't want you to run the show, but truthfully they do.  The Blackhawks listened to Coach Quenneville even when they didn't want to.  If he said that they needed to be on the bench, that's where they were until he decided they were fit to play.  Every successful family has strong coaches and the players (your kids) need to understand that ultimately you are in charge.

5.  Make Time for Fun:  After the championship, the team rushed back to Chicago to celebrate with the hometown fans.  This morning, I actually saw Coach Quenneville out for breakfast at our local restaurant and knew he had barely had any sleep, but this is his time to celebrate.  This transfers to family life as well, "A family that plays together, stays together" Right?!  So make time to enjoy your kids.  Be silly with them.  Plan outings with them, watch sports with them and relish those important family moments!

Monday, June 17, 2013

SPLASH Parenting Blogiversary!

June 18th marked the first anniversary of my Splashparenting Blog.  This blog was created as an off shoot of my parenting classes and handbook.  So after 20,000 views from 10 countries, I am asking for some feedback from readers as I contemplate whether or not I am going to continue blogging.  SPLASH Parenting Principles is a parenting handbook I wrote to help parents learn skills that will transform their family life from chaos to calm.  It is available on Amazon.

SPLASH stands for the characteristics that any successful parent needs to utilize:







And so I invite you to look over my past posts.  Help me celebrate this occasion by sharing a comment or two.

Happy Parenting!  Sincerely, Dawn Lantero

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Shout Out for DAD!

Dads hold a special place in each child's heart.  Dad is someone you can always count on, solid as a rock, slow to anger, quick to forgive, and first to hug when you walk in a room.  Dad corrects you when you step out of line, but also guides and directs you when you are in need of counsel.  Dad teaches you to hit the ball, run the bases, take one for the team, and enjoy the game.  Dad loves to laugh, and you are the one who knows what really can get him going.  Is it talking babies? Dancing hamsters?  Grizzly Bears throwing punches?

Dad's wallet is always open before yours.  He gets joy out of treating you.  He wants to see you happy.  But more than money, Dad loves spending time with you.  Sit and watch the hockey game, walk to your local bakery for breakfast with him, share a bike ride.  He's been riding with you since the baby seat days.  And then you graduated to the cart, and then the tag-along, and now you can beat him up a hill.  This doesn't bring a tear to his eye (well maybe it does) but he also is bursting with pride at the person you are becoming.

Dads are undervalued in our day in age.  They are portrayed as bumbling fools on TV; out of touch with reality, hopelessly lame and boring.  But in reality, most of the dads I know are hard working, proud of their kids, and enjoy staying just under the radar.  They are not attention seeking, but rather the calm, steady force in the background contributing to their family's well being.  So seize the opportunity to reach out to your dad this weekend, and make sure he knows what he means to you.  And if you are a mom with young children, help them to celebrate their dad and teach them to appreciate the treasure in their lives that they know as Dad!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Parenting Road Ahead...

As parents, I can safely say that we all want the same thing...a smooth road ahead.  We want our children's lives to be filled with joy and happiness and contentment and satisfaction.  We want them to be able to pursue their dreams and enjoy their lives and engage in fulfilling relationships with friends and eventually find love and companionship.  Sounds pretty good, right?

But so often we forget that these lofty lifetime goals we hold for them are literally shaped by the minuscule, day to day, nitty-gritty time we spend with them.  And that our actions will play an important role in whether or not they have this smooth ride through life.  To use a phrase from the American founding fathers: I know these truths to be self evident...here are the parenting truths I know that will allow your child to benefit from the smooth road ahead:

Truth Number I:  In order for your children to grow up able to enjoy their lives, they need to understand the concept of being grateful for what they have and have been given.  If your children do not realize the sacrifices you make in order for them to have the lives they have, you are not doing your job.

Truth Number II:  When your children are experiencing difficulties in their lives, be it friend drama or struggles with a subject in school, pay CLOSE ATTENTION to how YOU are handling it.  If your pattern is to consistently BLAME others for the difficulties, you are teaching your child two very bad lessons...the lesson that problems are never their fault, and the lesson of lowered self esteem, because you are not allowing them to work through unpleasantness of any given situation.  This behavior can greatly reduce your child's ability to take responsibility for his/her actions and sets them on a rocky road through adolescence--when the crazy in any child's life is dialed up considerably.  There are definitely times when parents need to advocate for their children, but if you are hard pressed to think of an example of a time when your child had an issue and you DID NOT step in but rather supported your child as he/she worked through it, you are probably a parent caught up in this unhealthy dynamic. 

Truth Number III:  The rear view mirror is a very important tool to understanding your parenting style.  How you were raised greatly determines what kind of parent you will be.  You may mimic the parenting style of your parents, or you may be trying to compensate from things that you perceived as lacking from your family experiences as a child.  Often times parents that I work with realize that they are trying so hard to not be like their parents, that they swing too far to the other extreme.  For example, if you perceived your parents to be super strict and controlling authority figures, you might have a tendency to subconsciously try to be your child's friend and forge a different kind of parenting dynamic.  The problem is, being your child's friend leaves them with other difficult issues to face because children need some limits and structure.  That is how they learn to navigate the real world successfully and understand responsible behavior, self control and consequences from their actions.  Or if you felt ignored as a child, you may be trying to compensate for that by focusing too much attention on your child's life and issues.  Sometimes kid's need to work things out for themselves.  Sometimes too much parental attention can end up placing too much pressure and stress on your child.  Sometimes always making the road smooth for them robs them of the skills to deal with the bumps and turns of real life.  Confusing, huh!  Suffice it to say, it is extremely helpful to do some thinking about your own childhood and how it may be affecting the type of parent you have become. 

The road of a loving yet authoritative parent is not easy, but has been proven through loads of formal and informal research to be the most effective for putting your children on the right path towards a smooth life ahead.  Effective parents combine loving support and empathy with the structure of having real life expectations of their children.  The expectations should encompass your child's performance in school,  adherence to house rules, and performance of family chores.  Having high expectations for your children and holding them accountable for their behavior combined with supporting them with a positive and loving home environment will act as a GPS to guide them into a bright and fulfilling future.