Monthly Archives: October 2013

Who are you?

One of the most bothersome questions I heard when I was young was: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s an age-old question, but not that useful. When you’re 3 or 6 or 10, the vague, … Continue reading

Posted in Parenting with Renegade Rules, Cool Cakes and Costumes, Celebrating Holidays | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

12 Responses to Who are you?

  1. Holly says:

    When I first became a mom, one of the things I looked forward to most was getting to see what costumes my children would choose for themselves. I think it’s fun when parents dress up, too.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Getting my costume ready now…I still gain much from trying on new identities when it’s costume time.

  2. Katie says:

    One of our friends recently commented that her little boy liked wearing tu-tus and the child’s grandfather did not agree with that. So he was removed from the picture email list until he can be more open minded!

    • Holly says:

      He might never be. Everyone is entitled to their own feelings on things, and other generations are sometimes different from our own…just as future generations might be ‘better’ about some things than we are. I would just not share it and not think another thing about it. JMHO of course.

  3. Self expression is vital for human development and costumes are a fantastic way to be who we are AND who we aren’t, both.

    Great post, thank you!

  4. Fleda Brown says:

    Perfect. I loathe that question, what do you want to be when you grow up? As if now is not enough. Good to dream, but better to enjoy.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      “Now” is something we often overlook. Kids are almost always in the now. Well said.

  5. Jan Waters says:

    As you know some of us 70’s year olds still like to dress up even if it isn’e halloween! Jan

  6. Liz P. says:

    Thanks for referencing the relevant chapters in your wonderful book. I love how the individual chapters stand alone.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Thanks, Liz. I worked hard to make the individual chapters stand alone because I know busy parents don’t always have time to read a book straight through. Sometimes dipping in and out is all the time we have!

Community Building

This fall we closed off the streets in our neighborhood and held an old-fashioned block party. The result was fantastic – with cars banished, we united in community. Kids rode bicycles in the open road. Teens created elaborate chalk drawings. … Continue reading

Posted in Parenting with Renegade Rules, Celebrating Holidays | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

4 Responses to Community Building

  1. Fleda Brown says:

    This is a wonderful idea. We had one once in our neighborhood, but it was not repeated. It requires someone to take responsibility for it. I’d say the best thing would be to appoint next year’s coordinator at this year’s party.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Yes, very true. We had a sign up board and already four eager people have signed up to coordinate the next block bash!

  2. The best we’ve done is a Night Out sponsored by the local police force. Block parties were organized, officers stopped by to chat and answer questions, and the neighbors got to meet each other at least for a few hours. I thought it was great. Too bad everyone is so “busy” they don’t have time to get to know the people most likely to help them in a neighborhood crisis–their neighbors.

    I’ve never bought the “too busy” argument. Everyone prioritizes their time. They’re never too busy to do what they most want to do. I think most people use busy as an excuse to be by themselves because modern-day life is so damn mentally exhausting that they need time just to decompress.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Chris, your comment about being too busy really struck home. I do think people to seek time “to be by themselves because modern-day life is so damn mentally exhausting that they need time just to decompress.” We need to unwind from that. Thanks for sharing your comments.

Kids Need Conflict

Kids don’t learn about peace by singing about it.  Kids learn peace skills by having problems. My mentor Jan Waters taught me that.  Kids also don’t learn peace skills by coloring “Friends” handouts or by signing their names at the … Continue reading

Posted in Parenting with Renegade Rules | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

7 Responses to Kids Need Conflict

  1. Emily says:

    I like to think of myself as a conflict welcomer but my husband is definitely a conflict dodger! I sometimes wonder what it will be like when we have children of our own.

    I always appreciate your perspective and the insight you bring to working with young people!

    Many thanks,


    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Sometimes helping young kids through a conflict can help us adults learn to face our own conflicts, rather than dodging them. It’s really the same steps – no matter what the age. My hope is that your family will gain courage in the conflict department as you model the steps for kids. A rising tide lifts all boats!

  2. wanderingsue says:

    Heather, I am loving your book. Thanks ever so much.

  3. Pingback: Family Bonds are Important | Live Fit and Sore

  4. Celine says:

    Heather, I just wanted to say thank you for your input about the subject. I have read so many books about parenting and disappointingly, most of them recommend to ignore bickering, tattling, or any sort of argument between kids, unless of course one is in a danger. Of course, it is the easy option, but is it really the way froward? So far your book is the only one I have read to recommend conflict mediation and explain how it works. I was delighted to see that Dr Laura Markham had an interview with you. I certainly hope to see more people talk about your work 🙂

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Celine, thanks for your kind words and so glad you’ve found the book helpful for conflict mediation. Some people like the law of the jungle, but like you, I think we can do better. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and stopping by!

3 Things Children are Missing

My kids got to bed too late last night.  Sure, it was 7:30pm and 8:50pm, but that’s too late to meet their sleep needs.  Even half an hour of sleep deprivation makes a huge difference for children’s learning, memory, behavior … Continue reading

Posted in Parenting with Renegade Rules | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

12 Responses to 3 Things Children are Missing

  1. Earlier bedtimes for kids is also beneficial to parents! I need that couple hours every evening to unwind. It makes me a happier mommy the next day.

  2. wanderingsue says:

    Your friend the high school teacher? Give her a hug from me- that’s totally awesome. I’m telling all my teacher friends.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Wonderful! We’re always trying to find ways to help kids learn…yet the best way is so simple.

  3. Rachel says:

    I’m a big advocate of family dinner. The simple connection of gathering around food with conversation provides valuable connection time and reinforces healthy eating habits.

    • I’m a big advocate of that, too. Our daughter eats a bigger meal and a larger variety of foods, trying new things more readily, when we’re sitting down together. She’s also learning how to make conversation and how to set and clear the table.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      The family dinner – also vanishing. Thanks for bringing that up, Rachel. I’d love to sit around your table.

  4. Deidra says:

    Love the staring into space one! I have to admit that is my favorite downtime activity! Great post again!

  5. I give a huge shout out for more exposure to nature! Can’t stress enough the importance of knowing that humans are part of this vast ecosystem called planet earth and that everything we do has a direct or indirect effect on every other living being.

    I also second the family dinner comment. We took it for granted when I was a kid, but in the 21st century, family dinner seems like an antiquated concept.

    I suggest something that’s missing for young children is a family road trip vacation. We started those when my older sister was about 9, I was 8, and my brother was 4. We’d pack up a pop-up camper, head to state parks for a week, or the BWCA, or out west to the Black Hills or Grand Teton National Park, and do the kind of bonding that doesn’t come with merely living in the same house year round.

    24-hour-per-day contact stresses all family members enough that you see each at their weak points sooner or later. But you learn about long-term relationships, family dynamics, negotiation, compromise, and finding out what’s most important in a trip.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Trips do have a way of bringing out all the important dynamics in life. I echo your thoughts here, Chris. Goes along with more time off from work for adults, and more time unplugged. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Katie says:

    I totally agree with those three, and the fourth of family dinner. Depending on my husband’s schedule, we sometimes eat dinner at 4pm or at 8pm (I know, encroaching on that sleep!), but my husband, daughter, and I eat dinner together every day. I also take daily walks with my daughter in her carrier and just this week she started touching the pine needles on the low hanging branches. She smiles and now has initiated it herself – she is just turning 1 year old next week. We are lucky to live near woods with plenty of trails for hiking and a nice bike path in a wooded area.

  7. Heike Larson says:

    Reading time–done not to improve test scores, but because it makes us happy!

    In our family, we read together every morning and every evening, usually for about 10-30 minutes, but sometimes longer. We started doing this when my first was a baby, and are still doing it now, even though she can read chapter books on her own.

    Books are great spring boards for discussing all kinds of life lessons. And reading together is a great way to start and finish a day by cuddling, feeling bonded and sharing an enjoyable activity.

    More on reading for happiness here: