Monthly Archives: November 2013

Kissing Grandma: A Holiday Primer

It’s the season when families converge for the holidays.  In honor of Thanksgiving this week, here are some thoughts on helping young children navigate the well-meaning hugs and kisses of relations. The basic premise: it’s OK NOT to kiss Grandma. … Continue reading

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

7 Responses to Kissing Grandma: A Holiday Primer

  1. Katie says:

    I am on-board about not forcing physical contact with people that they are unfamiliar with, despite the feelings of the relatives, but I do think that children need to at least acknowledge people that they meet. I think our society is full of spoiled children with no manners who are allowed to do what they want. It is a very basic skill to encourage a child to say “hi” and to not let them hide behind your legs. My daughter is only 13 months old, but she says “hi” to just about everyone she sees, whether because it is just a stage or because I have been encouraging that since she was only a couple of months old. I first read about this in the book “Bringing Up Bebe” and it really struck a chord with me. They expect young children to at least be able to say “bonjour” and then they can go play, and I think that is starting them off on the right foot.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Thanks so much for sharing your story, Katie. Most kids will say hello and delight in doing it. Manners are fundamentally about respect – on both sides. The ultimate goal is good manners, but forcing manners can backfire with some young kids and actually delay the behavior we want to see. Thanks for bringing up the Bebe example.

  2. “Unless relatives are regularly part of a young child’s life, remember these people are strangers.”

    This is VITAL to remember!

    Not to be Dorothy Downer, but as an adult survivor of molestation we have to remember that people who molest children are SOMEBODY’S relatives; they have family members just like the rest of us. Blending in beautifully, they don’t look any different.

  3. Ahhh, another breath of fresh air common sense for Heather. It’s nice to know you are helping to cultivate a generation of sane parents.

Squeezing Play

We know kids need time to play, but how much time? As much as possible. But what’s key when we talk about play time is protecting BLOCKS of time. When I visit many “play-based” programs to observe, I see actual … Continue reading

Posted in Parenting with Renegade Rules | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

5 Responses to Squeezing Play

  1. Heather – I’m so glad that you focused on the point LARGE blocks of uninterrupted time for not only children, but adults as well. The key word is UNinterrupted.

    There have been occasions when people who I work from home have said something like, “Oh, then you’re not busy so I’ll stop by.” I’m pleased to say that I’ve learned to not only establish healthy boundaries, but to maintain them as well.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Congrats on keeping healthy boundaries on your creative blocks of time! No easy task, I know.

  2. A very good point.
    I’ve read something elsewhere about the value of being ‘bored’ … it gives the mind a chance to wander, a chance to CREATE. And I’ve just googled ‘the value of being bored’ and there’s LOADS out there about it and not just from one author. I’m off to do some reading…

  3. Unfortunately, public education’s obsession with structure, blocks of time, schedules, etc. is all designed to indoctrinate children to become good, obedient, dependable workers when they reach adulthood. While that may be good for a small minority of children who innately crave structure, the system pushes so many bright children away or out of the system because they start to rebel when they repeatedly attempt to be true to themselves and constantly are told, “You can’t do that.”

    Bravo for any school or daycare that encourages unstructured, untimed play. Keep spreading the renegade rules, Heather.


One Key to Happiness? Failure

I’ve been preaching about resilience, and why kids need to face rejection sometimes. We can’t protect them. We shouldn’t protect them. Today’s guest post offers additional insight into why rejection and setbacks can be so crucial. I’m happy to welcome … Continue reading

Posted in Parenting with Renegade Rules | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

11 Responses to One Key to Happiness? Failure

  1. Great post, Laurie. Thanks for stating what is to me an obvious truth but has been ignored by an entire generation of parents. Failing at something or being told “no” are vitally important to one’s personal growth. If you’ve never been told “No, you can’t do that” or “Your not good enough” or experienced failure at something such as a sport (everybody makes the team, we don’t keep score, everyone swings at the ball until they hit it, etc.), you’ll never learn what you like or dislike, are good or bad at, or discover what your strengths and weaknesses are.

    I’ve failed so many times over the years I’ve lost count. I’ll cite two examples that I’ve overcome. First, we lost a house to foreclosure years ago but came out of the experience wiser (and poorer of course) and determined to not make the same mistake. From then on we bought houses cautiously, didn’t overpay, and made sure we had emergency funds first before committing to a long-term investment. I’m proud to say we just paid off our hopefully final mortgage and are now officially debt-free and own a valuable asset in our house.

    Second, after years of steadily declining putting confidence on the golf course thanks to the yips, I hit rock bottom last year. I was so bad I double-hit a putt twice in one round, three times that week, and four times all season! That’s about as bad as a golfer’s putting stroke can get. I couldn’t make one out of four 3-foot putts last year. I decided enough was enough and experimented with different grips, strokes, stances, closing my eyes, until I found something that enabled me to make a few more putts. This year I’m making well over half my 3-foot putts, and haven’t come close to double-hitting a putt all year.

    A silly failure and moderate success story, I know, but I”m an addicted golfer and this is a big part of my recreational and social life, so it’s important to me. Even the happiest, most successful people in the world can’t possibly succeed at everything they try, so we should all be acquainted with failure and embrace it as a chance to learn and improve, rather than let it define us.


    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Thanks for sharing your stories, Chris. The house and the golf! Glad this piece resonated with you.

  2. Chris – I love the excellent, personal examples you shared here — THANK YOU!

  3. Melya Long says:

    Thanks. I also like this from Laurie: “Blessed are those who realize it”.

  4. Meyla – Thank you for stopping by today and leaving a comment. Being familiar with that quote of mine I’m guessing you’ve either visited my website or blog. Thank you.

  5. Anne Donn says:

    Boy did you ever hit the nail on the head. I’m sure the sure the sound is resounding through many parents thoughts as they go about nursing their children’s wounds, both physically and emotionally. While I had no problem looking the other way while my birth children fell down and giving them the space to brush themselves off and stand back up, I struggle with this so much more with my foster/adoptive children. They ask “do you love me” in a hundred unusual ways, “can you keep me safe” and “can I trust you in my upset”.

    With my birth kids (they are adults now), it seemed as though that window that lies between too many and too few setbacks was much larger then with my foster/adoptive children. My foster/adoptive children have already had “too many setbacks” and while it has not “broken their spirit”, it surely has compromised it. I end up holding their emotional pieces and struggle to know when to hand a piece back to them. How can I stretch that window wider for our family (I ask this of myself but if you have any great ideas I would love to hear them)?

    I see how my foster/adoptive children’s history has cost them the ability to feel that they are wonderful even if they can’t do a math problem, that they are loved in the middle of a fearful meltdown and that too much toilet paper in the toilet is not a relationship breaker. Fear gets in the way of “finding the benefit in failure”. So in our house we talk about our mistakes a lot. With one child it has become our nightly question that we ask each other. The conversation goes something like this:
    Me: So, did you make any mistakes today, cause I sure did?
    Kid: Nope.
    Me: Really? Wow, I wish I could get through a day without making a mistake.
    Kid: What mistake did you make?
    Me: Well, I yelled at a lawyer. Yah, it didn’t go so well. Just for future reference yelling at lawyers doesn’t get you what you want.
    Kid: Ha ha, I could have told you that.
    Me Well next time remind me BEFORE I yell at a lawyer. So did you think of any mistakes?
    Kid: Nope.
    We will keep working on this and hopefully this kiddo will feel safe enough to talk about her mistakes before she becomes convinced that I am a complete and utter idiot.

    There is room for rejoicing as we watch the kids demonstrate bits of growing resilience. Our foster/adoptive son (who is ten) was chasing his sister in a game of tag. He tripped on a root and fell flat on his face. As he lay sprawled face down in the dirt, my husband and I held our breathes, watching as he got up laughing and brushing himself off . We let out a sigh of relief. No anger, blame or yelling. Our son laughed at his mistake! He laughed at himself!!! My husband and I looked at each other in amazement. We may have not have seen his first physical steps but we had seen his first emotional steps. It was just as thrilling.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Yes, this is a tricky line to walk when kids have already had so many setbacks. Trust them and trust yourself. They will take the emotionally resilient steps they need to take when they’re ready and you are providing a supportive environment. May you have many more thrilling moments ahead.

  6. Anne Donn – Thank you for your heartwarming response, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. You asked, “How can I stretch that window wider for our family (I ask this of myself but if you have any great ideas I would love to hear them)?”

    Let me start by sharing a bit of information in an effort to cue up my experience in this arena and offer a potential suggestion for you:

    My grandfather was blind and a double amputee (both legs from the knees, down).
    My mother contracted polio at age 7 that resulted in her walking with a “kick” in her gait.
    My sister had no hearing in one ear and only ten percent in the other.
    Our son is adopted.

    The one thing that each of these people have/had in common is that they don’t/didn’t want to be treated any differently — body, mind, or spirit.

    • Anne Donn says:

      Thank you Laurie for sharing some of the bits and pieces that make you who you are. Your authentic voice is a keen reminder to me that stretching the window does not mean taking away their hard experiences but instead trusting them to grow through those hard experiences. I realize that I sell them short when I want to wrap them up in a blankie and sprinkle fairy dust on them to make it all go away. Maybe in sitting with their pain we all grow? Alright, I’m giving up the fairy dust but keeping blankies. It’s a process.

      • Anne – Your response put a great big smile on my face!

        Funny thing…my husband set up the outgoing “signature block” on my iPhone email to say: “Sent with faerie dust and a little bippity, boppity, boop!”

        Have a shiny penny weekend!