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NOT SHAKEN, NOT STIRRED: MY NEW MINDSET AS A PARENT

NOT SHAKEN, NOT STIRRED: MY NEW MINDSET AS A PARENT

Laura Sandefer

August 24, 2019

Idrink up the Acton Academy demonstrations and experiences we deliver to the Eagles for my own learning.

This one, in particular, refreshes my mind:

  • Glass of water.
  • Pour in sand.
  • Shake up.
  • See how murky it has become. Unsettled. Chaotic.
  • Wait.
  • Let it sit.
  • With stillness, the sand settles.
  • Clarity.

The Socratic discussion then ensues and the children talk about what it feels like when their minds and emotions are stirred up and things get confusing and cloudy. They remember they have a simple tool : stillness. They can breathe deeply. And await their inner calmness.

This is my reminder as a parent: Stop being reactive. When I get stirred up, my life and the dear lives around me get foggy and dark,. Be still.

When things in their lives go wrong, my children need me to be wise and quiet – not upset, stressed, reactive, emotional.

My children need me to let my inner sand settle.

They need me to be their cool, clear drink of water.

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Hero’s Journey Parent Resources

LOOSEN THE COLLARS AND LET GO OF THE LEASH

LOOSEN THE COLLARS AND LET GO OF THE LEASH

Laura Sandefer

August 20, 2019

This post from a couple of years ago sets my mind back on the right track for a new school year.

This time, I added “Let Go of the Leash” to the title because Charlie is going into his senior year at Acton. It’s going to be my biggest “letting go” ever and I need to start practicing now.



Hobbes is our 11-week old Tasmanian devil in Australian Shepherd clothing.

We took him to one of Austin’s dog-friendly restaurants last night. Probably not the wisest choice for his first “on-leash” experience but we survived.

In feeling around to get his leash on, I realized how stiflingly tight his bright red collar had become. I quickly loosened it, apologizing profusely to the little fella.

When something is growing in front of my eyes, the change is so subtle I forget to adjust some of the very basic things. Poor little Hobbes has no words for “please loosen my collar.”

My sons, too, are growing in front of my eyes. Am I forgetting to loosen my hold on them? In what ways do I keep a grip that is too tight? How am I causing pain without knowing it and in ways they cannot find words to explain? While I easily adjust to the physical growth I see with bigger shoes and longer pants, it’s the “Learning To Be” growth I often miss.

A few ways I crush their growing spirits come quickly to mind:

  • When I solve their problems
  • When I ask a question I know the answer to and listen with an agenda
  • When I lay onto them a busy schedule so they have no alone time
  • When I invade their privacy
  • When I tell them how to do something they can figure out on their own
  • When I relieve them of experiencing the true consequences they have earned
  • When I use fixed mindset language rather than growth mindset language
    (This: “Sorry, you must have gotten my math brain rather than your father’s!” Rather than: “I see you are struggling in math. That shows me you are learning. Good for you.”)
  • “Learning to Be” doesn’t display itself nicely in a portfolio. It is the newfound abilities to solve problems, be patient, suffer consequences, admit wrongdoing, stand up for what’s right, sit in quiet peace, wait for results, delay gratification, laugh with love rather than meanness. These are the wondrous things I choke off by my well-intended protections which include trying to please my children by smoothing their paths for them.

Today I hope to loosen the collars in my midst. But Hobbes’ will remain a bit on the tighter side until he Learns to Be a good dog. Happy new school year to all!

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THREE LESSONS IN PARENTING FROM THE CHILDREN

THREE LESSONS IN PARENTING FROM THE CHILDREN

Laura Sandefer

August 2, 2019

From the time I found out I was pregnant to this exact moment, I’ve wondered what I’m supposed to be doing as a parent. And as much as I love motherhood, there is nothing in the world that scares me so much. What if I do it all wrong? What have I missed? Do I really have any power in molding who they will become?

If Acton Academy has taught me anything about being a better parent, it’s this one important idea: Trust the children. Look to them for answers to important questions.

So I did just that and came back from my deep dive into “how can I be a better parent” with three lessons from the children – my own and many others.

Without intending to be my teacher, children have taught me how to live better, thrive as a parent and even become more creative. How did they teach me? Simply by being children.

Lesson One: Live in the present.

Besides the fact that this is the only way to have a spiritual, creative experience, it is also the only way to be truly with another person. All children are smarter than we give them credit for. They intuitively know when we adults are not fully present. This awareness triggers in return a simple dismissal of us. Why should my children waste time being fully present with me if I am not doing the same with them? (This lesson works for marriage and friendships, too.)

Lesson Two: The true way to love someone is not to coddle but to listen.

This connects back to Lesson One because I must be fully present to truly listen. Listening is the gateway to understanding another human – especially a child. To understand someone is the greatest expression of love. Rather than coddle and fix things for my children, I really must stop everything more often and listen to them. (Especially to the messages that have no words.)

Lesson Three: To play is to be fully human.

“Wanna play?” I watch as children in parks who don’t know each other confidently extend this rather profound invitation. Imaginations take over and off they go. Real play has no objective. It is not goal-oriented. It is not self-conscious. Real play teaches us how to explore, embrace uncertainty, enter into our imaginations and creatively connect to others and self. I’m terrible at playing but I want to experience this childlike freedom so I’m going to follow their lead. If anyone asks me to play, I hope I’ll say yes.

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