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Sibling Relationships for the Hero’s Journey

Sibling Relationships for the Hero’s Journey

Laura Sandefer

November 28, 2017

The wonder of the Hero’s Journey is that it honors each individual while holding up the importance of the community surrounding that individual.

For families, this brings up the interesting challenge of raising siblings – each on a unique journey; each within the same family.

When my boys were very young, I gained wisdom from my mentors at The Priscilla Pond Flawn Child and Family Laboratory and referred often to the following notes from one of their teachers (tidbits that apply well to families who are living out hero’s journeys):

  • Trust each child as an individual – a unique person with special skills and talents.
  • Spend special time alone with each child – for example, 5 minutes before bedtime.
  • Model appropriate behavior – no name calling or resolving conflicts with violence.
  • Teach children about child development – “I’m bathing Casey because she is a baby and cannot bathe herself. When you were little, I bathed you also.” “Your sister is 14 and this is a very difficult age for a girl.”
  • Fair does not mean equal – fair means giving each child what they need.
  • Have a good marriage. If you are a single parent, have a good relationship with ex (in front of child). If going it alone, do not make children your “soul mates.” Model healthy adult relationships.
  • Have siblings treat each other as friends: must ask to borrow clothes, say please and thank you, acknowledge each other’s feelings, stay out of each other’s drawers, etc.
  • Allow children to share negative feelings and acknowledge them. (“I can see that Missy getting into your stuff really makes you angry.”)
  • Use the word, “family.” “We are a family.” “Families do not treat each other like this.” Or use your family name: “We are DeLaCruz’s and DeLaCruz’s treat each other with respect.”
  • The younger child should not get away with things because she is younger and smaller. We must teach respect.
  • Intervene when you feel enough is enough. Know your children. If they are fighting for your attention, leave the room. If just squabbling, ignore. If there is true anger or resentment, intervene and have them talk it out – teach conflict resolution. (“Johnny, what can you think of that might help this situation?”) Help provide words for your children.
  • Avoid, “I love you all the same.” Make each one feel special. “I love all of you. I love your creativity and sweetness. I love Ashley’s ability to play any instrument and I love Sammy’s ability to make me laugh. I feel blessed to have children that are unique and so special.”
  • Show disapproval of toxic behavior – disrespect of parents, hurting an animal, being mean to a sibling, teasing a neighbor or being rude to a grandparent.
  • Temperament is a matter of luck. What matters is character.
  • Go camping. A family in crisis together bonds together.

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Ambiguity as Teacher: Part 1 of 2

Ambiguity as Teacher: Part 1 of 2

Laura Sandefer

November 27, 2018

My boys were five and six years old when a friend asked me what my favorite day of the week was. I answered, “Monday.” She was surprised it wasn’t Saturday like most other people. My take on Mondays was simply that they brought back the orderly schedule and predictability of a work week.

There is certainty in a Monday.

Yet when we built Acton Academy as the ideal learning place for our young children, we infused it with uncertainty.

I wanted for my children what I didn’t experience myself, hence my built-in desire for structure and control. I didn’t know the road to discovering my potential was the Hero’s Journey as I sat straight up in desks and made the adult authorities around me very proud with my right answers and good behavior.

I want more for my children. I want them to navigate the inevitable uncertainty in their world with confidence, skill, bravery and joy.

We had to use ambiguity as a teacher and tool at Acton because ambiguity increases complexity, and makes decision-making more difficult.

And since our daily decisions create our habits which forge our character which leads us to our calling and destiny, we wanted a teacher who would faithfully drive this path forward. Welcome Ambiguity, the annoying driver of tough decisions.

The Acton method is a simple one – though not an easy one. We provide complex challenges along with the tools and processes for Eagles to use to learn to think critically, find solutions and solve problems. Through this experience of practicing daily – over years – how to make good decisions, they learn how to learn while developing strong character.

What we see through this battle with ambiguity is young people who become strong intellectually and emotionally even willing to suffer as they rise from failure in order to grow.

We parents can use some of these tools, too, to be better equipped to maneuver through our children’s learning journeys.

The top three Acton tools for parents to use alongside their children are:

  1. Journey Tracker
  2. Badge Plans
  3. Family Meetings

Don’t know how to use them? Ask your Eagle to sit with you and walk you through their Journey Tracker each week or twice a month. Same with their badge plan. Find out what they are learning and doing. Be deeply curious about their struggles and their successes. You can figure out the family meeting tool by reading Patrick Lencioni’s “The Three Big Questions For a Frantic Family” if you haven’t already done so.

The more you understand the scope of work each Eagle faces daily, the better able you are to encourage, support and at times create consequences at home to spark a fire in the studio. But more importantly, the better able you are to listen to your child and sit in awe of the mysterious and miraculous human unfolding before you.

And I still like Mondays. But it’s not the orderliness of them. It’s simply that I trust the uncertainty that lies before us. I’m willing to be surprised.

[Part 2 of this post coming tomorrow: A real example of how Eagles learn to make decisions]

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