Friday, January 28, 2011

Seeking Parenting Support? Consider Starting Your Own Group!

Comment from reader: I would love to have meetings in my community where parents can gather together to support each other in their consciously parenting efforts and even to offer information and guidance to parents who feel that things just aren't going the way they had hoped. Maybe you could offer some advice on how to start something like that, some discussion topics to consider, and some suggested reading materials. I do not have any support for the way I parent and I never have. (My youngest is 11). It has been difficult at times to stand strong and stick with what I feel is right, rather than what everyone else thinks I should do. I have a feeling that there are others in my community that feel the same way, it's just a matter of finding each other.

Response: So how do we find other parents who are also consciously parenting?  How do we create a group of parents-- moms and dads-- who can support one another in a way that no one feels judged or “less-than” because they breastfed or didn’t breastfeed, because they send their children to school or they unschool, because they work or they stay home with their kids? There just seems to be a constant measuring stick that parents use and that we all use on ourselves.  How do we get out of that trap?  How can we connect authentically with each other?  After all, we’re all parents.  We all have similar struggles learning how to parent in this day and age.  We all get frustrated and tired, yet we all make the choice to keep going and keep trying to make things better for ourselves and for our families.

I’ve been reading and researching how to create a positive, supportive group of parents for my upcoming cruise and for my own local school community. You may also find it helpful, so I’ll share some of my research with you in hopes that those of you who are looking for a community and are willing to do the work to create it can start moving that forward.

When we start to realize that parents have more in common than not, we can open the door to finding parents with whom we can connect.  When I first began seeking a community, I was looking for other moms who were just like me-- moms who were making the same decisions I was, had children the same age as me, etc.  After lots of time passed and I had many experiences with parents I perceived as different, I learned that I would have missed some real gems if I had applied my parenting filter.  Now, I’m not opposed to connecting with someone who has made a lot of the same decisions as I have, but I realized that I’m first looking for someone who at least thinks about these things.  Many parents don’t. 

Each and every parent needs to make the decisions that they can live with.  And that’s not about me.  Yes, I need to be with parents who are making decisions that are at least somewhat congruent with my core values (i.e. I have a very hard time hanging out with parents who are spanking, for example, as their primary method of discipline and who aren’t questioning why they’re doing it or seeking a better way if that’s what they grew up with.)  So, the first thing you may want to do is to figure out your own core values.  Where is your tolerance for other parents? It will be given back to you.

I remember a conversation with my midwife when my first son was about 5 months old.  We had met for lunch and I was lamenting how difficult it was to find others to spend time with that I could deeply connect with. She said something at the time that I remember hit me like a ton of bricks.  “Find other mothers who are staying at home.”  What?!  Lots of mothers stay home and that doesn’t mean that I would like to hang out with them.  But she was right-- at the time, it was a great place to start, and it opened up my idea of where I could find other parents.

In time, I did connect with some other moms who also worked.  In fact, one of my best friends had to return to work just 4 weeks after her daughter was born.  But the way that my friend approached meeting her daughter’s needs while working really warmed my heart.  She always put her daughter first and approached this new challenge with an open heart and mind very consciously, respecting her daughter’s need (and her own need) to be close to her as much as possible.  Consciously was the key. 

That’s when I realized that parenting from a conscious place was what needed to be the priority for me.  That’s why I think is such a great resource for finding like-minded parents and professionals.  They do not always agree with one another.  In fact, they are a very spirited group with lots of opinions. But the ability to question and to see a different point of view sets them apart.  (Check out Find Your Tribe in their forums.  They have a space for people to connect around the world.)

As my children grew older and we moved several times, I found myself starting over looking for a community.  Many times, I just started a group and people seemed to come out of the woodwork to join me. Over the years, I ran groups for Attachment Parenting International, La Leche League, Families for Natural Living (now Families for Conscious Living), as well as a few of my own groups.

When starting a group, come together to find your common ground.  Avoid polarizing topics like vaccinations.  If you know some other parents who seem even somewhat open, invite them to come and talk about what matters most to them as parents.  If you don’t know anyone, consider putting up signs at your local health food store. A simple flyer might say, for example, “Small group of parents gathering to share their joys and challenges of parenting consciously.  Call ______ .”?  How would you feel if you read something like that?  Since we’re all so connected via the internet, consider starting a Facebook page for your local conscious community and see what happens.  But I would suggest starting with a gathering in the park when the weather is nice or meet up at a local indoor playground, or other public place where parents and young children might like to be.  Invite parents to your home, if that feels right to you.  Informal is good.

Short of providing training directly in how to lead a parenting group, the best advice I can offer is to listen, listen, listen.  When we are truly there to hold the space and we know that each person in the room is doing the best that they can AND that they are striving to do better, we can be the listener we want to have with our own parenting struggles. What we all want, more than anything else, is to be seen and to be heard.  When other parents catch wind that there is a place where they can go and not be judged, they will come in droves.  

Consider this: If we’re all in our own homes feeling isolated and alone, that means that there are a lot of people feeling the same way.  And that means that there are a lot of us to find out there in the world to connect with. Indeed, there is a world of possibilities because so many parents are indeed feeling like they’re the only one. We need to find our similarities. We need to realize that we are only alone if we believe that we are.  Reach out.  Put it out there and you will find others who are looking for the same thing.  

Honestly, it never ceases to amaze me how many parents I speak with say the same thing. From urban areas like Boston or Chicago to rural farm communities, and around the world from Australia and New Zealand to Germany, moms and dads are saying the same thing: I’m the only one. Nobody gets it.  That tells me that there is a whole world of people who get it.  We just need to find one another.  We just need to know that we really aren’t alone and open up to the limitless possibilities out there.

If you’ve started groups in your community, I’d love for you to share your experience.  What was it like?  Where did you find other parents?  What would you say to someone who is just starting to look for others or maybe has been looking and hasn’t found anyone yet?  Together, we can support one another.  Your voice matters.

Let me know if you have any questions after reading this blog.  How else can I support you? Thanks for being there!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Parenting Tools We All Can Use

Now that you’re really thinking about this idea that we’re in the middle of a paradigm shift and we’ve got a lot of shifting going on, we need some real TOOLS to help us in the midst of our daily challenges.  This is where you can dive into some of our tools for healing conversations.  Listen in as Sarah MacLaughlin discusses some great tips for toddlers and young children.  This very down to earth discussion with a social worker, author, and mom of a toddler will leave you feeling inspired with some simple ideas you can apply immediately.

Have older children?  Want some tools that you can use for yourself and your kids?  Join our conversation with Denise Schnell, mom of 3 daughters (including two teens), on Keeping it Positive.  You can learn about the One Brain technique (and a session is included as a bonus for the first 25 people who purchase the package and sign up) and some great things you can do in your own home right after you listen to the session.

Have you wanted a more in-depth understanding of emotions and emotional literacy?  Just like we want our children to be literate with reading, we also all need to be literate with the language of feelings.  Carmine Leo guides us through this process of understanding more about ourselves and our children. And don’t miss the conversation with a mom struggling with connecting with one of her children as she learns to apply the ideas of emotional literacy to her family.

Remember, these discussions and much more are available for you to listen to at NO COST for 48 hours over this coming weekend!  Click here to register!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

When the Shift Hits the Fan

Did you realize that we’re in the middle of a huge parenting paradigm shift?  If you’ve been hanging out with us here at The Consciously Parenting Project for any length of time, you’ve already realized that we don’t look at things in the same old way.  In fact, we may have said things that seemed like we were speaking a foreign language when it comes to your kids and your parenting.  Bruce Lipton, author of The Biology of Belief, in his brilliant lecture at the ICPA conference in Washington, DC in October, discussed the shift in which we now find ourselves.  This is a time around the world that what we thought we knew is falling apart.  He went on to say that the way our society and our world is running isn’t sustainable and everything is shifting because it simply must.

I’ve been feeling the earth moving under my own feet and have observed it happening with many of the people I know, too.  Bruce Lipton declared that it needs to happen and that he welcomes it.  Wow- I wasn’t that excited about it before.  But it means that we are open to many new possibilities that simply didn’t exist before.  While the unknowns of it all are still somewhat scary, I left feeling very hopeful.

I teamed up with Lisa Reagan, founder of Families for Conscious Living and editor of Pathways Magazine, and we spoke together at the conference about what this shift looks like in families.  What does it mean for you and for me?  Where do we get stuck?

I loved Lisa’s take on what we think this shift means (we need to do lots MORE on our already overflowing to do list) and what it actually means (we’re changing out our to-do lists for a different way of looking at our parenting and our lives).  This great conversation is a nice place to start in understanding what the paradigm shift actually means to you and me in our every day lives.  I also shared my Brain Stoplight ™ tool to give you a new way of looking at your own behaviors using our current understanding of the brain in very simple terms.

You can listen to this conversation and many others for FREE next weekend starting at 6pm Eastern (New York time), Friday, January 14 until Sunday, January 16 at 6pm EDT.  When the Shift Hits the Fan: Empowered Parenting in the Paradigm Shift with me (Rebecca Thompson) and Lisa Reagan.  It is a great way to set the stage for this amazing conference where we’ll be Navigating the Current!

This is a great way to start off your year- inspired by some of the most interesting people working with parents today! Be sure to join us by registering here

Friday, January 7, 2011

Navigating the Current

I am delighted to formally announce our first ever Virtual Conference! This is a unique way to hear some incredible parenting tips and sample some of our parenting teleclasses on your own time over an entire weekend!

I’ve been blessed to connect with some of the foremost thinkers in parenting and you get to have a free listen to some of our most powerful interviews. This is information that conscious moms and dads are seeking and isn’t the same recycled parenting tidbits that you’ve heard over and over before. We’ll share wisdom that respects your role as a parent to decide what works best for you AND gives you the information you need to make an informed decision, from the best of what research is showing us about our biology (including brain science), our physiology, and our sociology.

What is a Virtual Conference? It's a conference that you’ll have access to over your computer. For 48 hours, you’ll have unlimited access to all the audios we’ve recorded for this conference. You don’t have to wait until a particular time to hear a session that sounds interesting to you. You can go in to any of the recordings at any time during the 48 hours. Isn’t that great?!

How much does it cost? It is completely FREE during the 48 hours to listen to on your computer. I want to give you access to some of the best parenting information available and it won’t cost you anything but time. (I believe it is truly an investment in your family to take this time!)

What if I want to be able to download the audios so that I can listen to them any time I want? We have a very affordable package for those of you who wish to purchase the audios. You’ll also have access to some great bonuses when you purchase the audio package. You'll also have access right away so you can start listening now.  Check it out here.

What topics are included? Our themes include play, healing, and community. From conversations about how parents can incorporate play into their families, how parents can create more balance in family life, to specific healing modalities that you probably haven’t heard about- like Birth Matrix Reimprinting- you’ll find something that you need to hear right now!

Who can participate? Moms, dads, foster parents, grandmas and grandpas, aunts, uncles, teachers, administrators, mental health professionals, doulas, midwives, and anyone else who cares about children.

How do I sign up? Just click here and enter your name and email in the box. Instructions for accessing the conference will be sent to you. Be sure to watch for a confirmation email if you haven’t registered with us previously. We can’t send you more information until you click and that could mean that you could miss it! (And that would be tragic!)

When is this Virtual Conference? The conference will be held the weekend of January 14-16 from 6pm January 14 Eastern time (New York time) until 6pm Eastern Sunday, January 16. Check here for a time zone clock. I’ve done my best to schedule this conference so that no matter where you are in the world, you’ll be able to have a time that is convenient for you!

Keep watching over the next week for more information. I’ll be highlighting some of my favorite sessions so that you can use your time wisely on the topics that most resonate with what you need to hear. Until then, happy parenting!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Healing Your Balance

As I embark on this New Year, I’m feeling optimistic.  As I work with families with a wide array of challenges, I’m reminded how important it is to maintain some sort of balance in our own lives, as individuals (and as a couple if you’re in a relationship), so that our children can maintain some sort of balance, too.  

It is so easy to over-schedule ourselves living in this time of being accessible 24/7 via phone, computer, text, and email to name a few, and with so many other distractions.  Remember that our grandparents never had to worry about being woken in the middle of the night when a letter arrived (perhaps via Pony Express? lol). They didn’t even have TV in the middle of the night, since the stations shut off and all the stores closed by 8pm, if not earlier!  

And now we have Super Walmart and hundreds of channels on day and night. We have so many distractions that many of us are feeling really overwhelmed right now.  We have a constant pull on our time in so many directions.  How do you make it all work?  I know that I’ve been working to simplify my life quite a bit.  I have been asking the question, “Is this really necessary?” quite a bit.  Sometimes the answer is yes.  Sometimes it is no.

Last month, I did an interview with Joan Almon and we talked about the importance of balance. Most importantly, we talked about how to create it in a family.  It was a great reminder for me of how important it is for all of us to make the time to play (even the grown-ups) and if you (as the parent) are worn out by your child’s schedule, then it is probably too much for your child, too.  You can listen to the whole interview full of great parenting tips for free the weekend of January 14-16.  Click here for more information. 

We talked a lot about the importance of unstructured play time for our children and that we, as adults, also need time to just be and to play.  Next time, I’ll be talking more about play and how we can add it into our day with our children, regardless of their age.

I love to hear from you, so let me know more about what is working or not working for you regarding balance in your family.