The 6 Seeds of Parenting


Being a parent is the most important job in the world.  You are responsible for the care and nurturing for another human being.  Your job exists to feed your family, not your ego.  Your car is important to transport your family, not to transport your ego.  At the end of your life cycle, what do you think you reflect upon?

I have given my job as a parent much thought.  I consider myself a “conscious parent” in that my parenting is focused on goals for my child.  These goals do not involve the honor roll or college, all good accomplishments to be proud of.  If you do not plant the seeds to nourish these goals, how is your child expected to grow into a confident and loving human being to meet the challenges of life?

The seeds are:

  1. LOVE
  2. TRUST

I’m not a perfect parent.  I have good days and bad, as we all do.  I understand that sometimes your job and other factors diminish the energy that you have to parent.  These six factors, no matter what else you’re doing, are imperative to your child’s development.

  1. Love-your child needs to feel that you love him or her.  Your love should be unconditional.  No matter what he’s done, the love you have for him should not waver.  If you don’t have unconditional love for him, how can he later feel unconditional love for himself?  My child is ADHD and struggles to meet demands that should be second nature at this point.  His executive functioning skills are low, according to the benchmarks for his age.  When we discuss things that need improvement, I always say to him that I know he’s doing the best he can and that’s okay.  I don’t use negative language with him because I know that the language I use is key to his interpretation of the message.  The language you use will later become his own self talk.  Negativity is not going to help your child gain momentum, it will only keep him stuck where he is.  My mother used to tell me I could do anything I wanted and I still believe this to this day.  The way you speak to your child will become their own language.  Keep it positive, even if you’re disciplining him.  Discipline is designed to modify behavior.  I personally don’t believe discipline should ever be physical.  You can’t have a bond of trust after beating your child.  He or she may comply, but there are other undesired consequences.
  2. Trust-once you have built the foundation of unconditional love with your child, trust will be a natural outcome of that bond.  Know your child’s limits and trust that they will function within those boundaries.  If he/she messes up, stress that it’s the behavior and not him/her that needs to change.  As a parent, you must do what you say you’re going to do and follow through.  Once you establish that you are trustworthy, your child will trust that they can rely on you.  This is not a natural development; you must demonstrate your trustworthiness for your child to trust you.  If your child cannot trust you, they will struggle with their adult relationships.  Trust  is a two-way street.  You must do your part, even on your worst days, to show you are available and reliable.  If I’m having an off day, I make sure my son knows its me and not him that’s off.  He has grown to understand that even on my worst day, I’m going to be honest with him and discuss my shortcomings.  This honest dialogue models for him how to navigate life.  I don’t discuss the details, sometimes kids don’t need to know the details, they just need to know it’s nothing to do with them.  Trust is an essential seed for any relationship and isn’t going to develop in an environment where it’s not modeled in a conscious way.  He can discuss anything with me and know it’s a safe place for that conversation.  Be trustworthy and your child will follow.

3. Empathy-when my son brings a problem to me, I listen with empathy.  This is another modeled behavior that your child will learn from you.  I let him know I hear what he’s saying, I acknowledge that I know it’s hard, and then ask if he is seeking advice or he just wants to get off his chest.  He’s in middle school and kids are mean.  I  just listen and show him that I can take action if he needs me to or just be a safe place to vent.  I have spoken to his school about bullying and other issues, after he gave me the green light.  I am not listening to solve his problem, I am listening to help him work through his problem.  If I need to do something, I do so after we’ve spoken about what steps I intend to take.

Once you’ve shown what empathy looks like, your child will begin to feel empathy for others.  We’ve worked with the homeless and he knows there are people who have less material resources than we do.  Modeling racism, judgment, and hatred will have a more significant impact than love.  Modelling  love for others, regardless of their actions, will have the impact your child needs.  Even with bullying, I told him that the child must not be happy because happy people do not seek to hurt others.  Love for others is the basis of empathy.  Imagine a world where people felt connected and empathy for each other. It can start with your child.  You do not need to “toughen” your kid up for a tough world. The world will teach him what is safe and what is not.  Teach love and your child can have a more loving connection with others and the world.

4. Self-confidence-some kids come into the world with a sense of confidence and others are less so.  If you have built the foundation of love and trust, your child will develop a sense of self that is positive.  I try to push him outside of his comfort zone to try new things.  Confidence is learned through doing.  When he was four, we began hiking and kayaking together and my goal (in addition to the pure fun of it), was to help him to feel confident in his small physical body.  He did become a confident climber and kayaker and has taken that confidence into his present day.  He knows his body can do whatever he wants it to do, regardless of his size.  He has always been in the 10th percentile for weight and height.  I wanted to offset that by showing him he can do whatever he wants and has no physical limitations.

School is a constant confidence reducer.  He struggles to pay attention and cannot stay focused.  As an adult with ADD, I told him that no one that has contributed anything significant to the world was considered “average” or like everyone else.  Their contribution came from a mind that thinks differently.  We’re still working on this one, school is a constant reminder that he is not on par with his peers.  I can’t fix this for him, no one could have fixed it for me.  I let him know I know he’s doing the best he can and that’s all he can do, and that’s okay.  Empathy and listening with positive feedback is all I can offer him.  We have engaged in all of the school resources available to him.  He will understand one day how to use this non-linear thinking in a field suited for his mind.

5. Sense of purpose-as your child develops, you will see what their natural skill set is. It may be different from yours and your biggest challenge as a parent is to not put your expectations on your child based on your skill set.  Your child is a separate human being that may or may not have the basic skills you have.  You may be highly analytical and your kid may be emotional and empathetic.  You are not the same person, regardless of the gene pool.  Help him learn his strengths, emphasize those strengths, and he or she will see a way they can offer something to the world.  My son may be a natural healer or perhaps a creative person.  He will not be going to the Naval Academy, a ridiculous thought I had when he was an infant.  That’s my dream, not his.  Don’t put your stuff on your kid.  If you loved playing football but your son loves playing the piano, celebrate that.  You are two separate beings and your job is to help him develop his natural skill set and interests.  Every kid has something that comes natural to him or he is naturally attracted to.  Help him develop that, instead of trying to plug a round peg into a square hole.  If you try to do that, you will be taking points out of the trust and love account you’ve worked hard to build.  Let him be his own person.

6. Self-reliance-make sure your child knows you’re there for him, but as he progresses in life, you must take your hands of the handle bars and let him begin to ride on his own.  That means he will make mistakes.  Help him learn from them in a loving way.  I ask, what do you think you could have done differently?  What did you learn?  If there is no bond of love and trust, this will be more difficult.  Allowing your child to experience consequences is hard to watch, however, is necessary for them to learn.  No consequences means no lessons learned.  This is my lesson, too.  I struggle between helicopter parenting and appropriate parenting.  I am working on this, as I suspect many parents are.  Knowing your blind spots as a parent is key, here.  After all, there is no exact parenting manual for the human you are raising.  Be kind to yourself as you navigate the world of parenting.  If your kid is suffering, it’s natural to want to fix it.  As they get older, they have to learn to fix their own problems.  The only way they will learn that is by doing it.  Be available for discourse, but allow them space to grow into a functional adult.

We are living in a fast paced and challenging world.  Raising your child the way you were raised may not work.  I was born in the sixties and I would never expect that paradigm to work today.  I take from my childhood what worked and try that, and leave behind what decidedly did not work.  If you’re reading this blog, I suspect you want to be the best parent you can be.  If you have more than one child, you may have to tailor your parenting to each child.  That’s even harder.  I know you’re doing the best you can with what you have and where you are.

Peace to you today and always.





I hesitated to call this blog mindfulness because it’s such an over-used term and I think we have become de-sensitized to it.  Mindfulness is not very complicated, it simply means to be present in each moment.  We spend much of our lives in fast-forward, thinking and even worrying about the future.  We look forward to events with either pleasure of dread.

When we are younger, many times we operate in a fast-forward mode.  My son is 11 and won’t be 12 until June but he’s already telling me he’s 12 because it’s closer than 11.  I get it, kids want to be older.  When we do reach young adulthood, we fast-forward to our desired life, whether it be the perfect spouse, the ideal job, or our dream car.  In our younger years, we are always dreaming of more.  Dreams are great-we all need to aspire for the best life possible for ourselves.

When I was a young police officer, I couldn’t wait until I felt 100% confident on the job.  That’s not bad, either.  I simply wanted to know, that no matter what call I received, I would know exactly what to do.  If you’ve never been in law enforcement, you can’t imagine how many variables exist even in the most simple of calls.

I reached that point of 100% confidence at about 5 years into the job.  I then began to envision going into supervision and at 10 years, I became a sergeant.  With personnel issues, I aspired to know exactly what to do in each situation, and I reached that goal, as well.

About 10 years into the job, I began my count down to retirement.  I was feeling a bit burnt out and couldn’t believe I still had 10 years to go.  I ended up staying for 25 total years.  I now look back on those times and realize I didn’t fully appreciate the fact that I was doing my dream job.  Those were the times I would miss forever.  I got to ride a bicycle, motorcycle and horse during my time there.  I wasn’t always in a fast-forward mode; sometimes I would be on my Harley Davidson and realize things could never get better than that.

Looking back, I wish I’d taken every moment in and been 100% present.  The people I worked with were the best and we’re still friends.  There were times that were heart breaking, like police funerals or just sitting with a rape victim at the hospital.  Police work is difficult and it’s hard to explain to those that have never done it what it’s like to spend your days off in court, to tell a family their father has been killed, and to see the terribly unkind things people are capable of.  Maybe that’s why I fast-forwarded.

When we get older, we tend to rewind.  Those were the days, we tell ourselves.  Sometimes we rewind and wish we’d handled things better.  Sometimes rewind has regrets embedded in it.  When do we simply press play and enjoy the here and now?

Now that I’m middle-aged, I’m doing my best to be present.  I love being a parent and enjoy every minute of it.  I think that’s one benefit of being an older parent.  I wanted to be a parent for so long and my son and I have a rich relationship.

I’m also doing my best to envision something more for myself professionally.  I’m middle-aged but not old.  I have a lot to offer in terms of experience and education in my industry.  I can say with some degree of confidence that I won’t be riding a Harley at work but I can enjoy the relationships developed and be at peace with how I got there.

I’m grateful that I’ve realized that fast-wording is not helping me to live my best life.  It’s hard to be grateful in the present when wishing for more.  It’s hard to listen to someone in a conversation if my mind is off somewhere else.  I am using this mindfulness to be a better parent, better sister, and a better friend.  I engage in active listening and try to stop my mind from formulating a response while someone is speaking.

In contrast to this message, consider what will be important in your last hours in this life.  Is your car repair, grocery list, or extra pounds what you’ll be focused on?  I imagine it will be relationships that will matter to you.  Be mindful in those relationships and give them your energy.  I have narrowed my circle of influence to those that add something positive to my life.  People that are constantly draining and take energy without giving back are no longer in my circle.

Take stock of your life and see where your energy needs to be.  I can only focus on today and actually, this very moment.  Don’t wait to let people know you’re important to them.  Tell them what they mean to you.  I’ve freed up so much energy by being present and focusing on what’s important in the present.  Don’t give energy to worries that may never happen.  If you have a spiritual belief system, let your creator know you’re grateful for this moment, no matter what is happening.

It’s said often that life is short.  In fact, life may not be short, but the time we have to accomplish what we’re meant to do is.  The distractions of life can take us off course.  Decide what’s important to you and put your energy there.  That means you need to let go of what is no longer serving you-resentment, regret, anger and all energies that deprive you of the present.  Those are energies of the past and, no matter how justified they may be, they are robbing you of the present moment.

The present moment is all we have.  Practice being present.  Life is made up of simple but wonderful pleasures that we ignore in search of “the big one”.  Enjoy that cup of coffee, that phone call from a friend, and watching a movie with your spouse and kids.  These small moments are among the greatest pleasures life has to offer.

Breathe it all in, experience these moments with gratitude and peace.  Peace in our world begins with each of us as individuals.  Peace is not elusive, it is available to you the moment you gather the reigns of your mind.  Your mind can either be a team of restless, wild horses or a controlled vehicle with all energy moving in the same direction.  That choice begins in this moment.

Peace to your today and always.


No Regrets

When I was younger, my creed was to live a life of no regrets.  I really didn’t know what that meant at twenty, or even thirty.  Now that I’m middle aged, I realize that was an impossible philosophy.  How can you live a full life, one with risks, and not have any regrets?

I now know that the thinking of “no regrets” is flawed.  Of course there will be things I wish I had handled differently.  There are things I wish I didn’t do.  That’s always going to be the case for any well lived life but for me it’s especially true.  I’m a risk taker.  That’s what I do.  I am the person that passes an old creepy looking house and instead of wondering what it looks like inside, I find myself inside taking pictures.  I can’t live another way.  The moment I find myself wondering what something would be like, I realize there’s only one way to find out.

When one of my besties was turning 50, she had a hard time finding a friend to jump out of a perfectly good airplane with her and skydive.  One friend couldn’t due to a knee replacement.  Definitely a consideration so she gets a pass.  I don’t know what the rest of her friends were thinking, and this chick has not a boatful but a yacht full of friends.  On her big day, it was just she and I up there, feeling the butterflies and laughing nervously about how much fun this would be.  And it was AMAZING!!!  Of course I jumped with her, I’d always wanted to know what that would be like.

That’s who I am.  I can’t take the road more travelled.   I have to experience everything before I depart this body.  Hopefully this attitude won’t expedite that process.  So to imagine lying on my deathbed and thinking that there would be no regrets is actually hilarious to me in hindsight.

When you’re young, you just don’t know what life is going to present to you.  I’m convinced that aging begins in the mind.  It begins when watching Jeopardy night after night following a predictable dinner becomes the norm.  I have headlamps and like to hike at night.  I like going into caves.  I will snatch a snake up in a second just to look more closely at it.  Don’t judge, I love snakes. I once snatched up a Copperhead by accident, luckily for me I isolated it’s head immediately before I looked closely and saw the beautiful copper colored pattern.  I said to my hiking partner, “Uh, this is a Copperhead”.  As I said that, it opened it’s mouth and showed his fangs on cue.  My friend was so freaked that her voice was shaking.  My hands were sweating and the head was moving around and I knew I had only a few seconds to admire the beauty of this creature.  I tossed it back into the bush.  Do I regret that?  Yes and no.  It was pretty stupid and I know that was bad judgment.  On the other hand,  cool story, right?  So no, that’s not a regret but perhaps a learning experience.  No more Copperheads. Been there and done that.

So I now classify those experiences that could be a regret into the learning experience category.  I learned.  How do you learn but by doing?  Don’t stop doing.  Don’t stop having passion for life.  That’s a slow death.  Lack of passion is more pervasive than cancer in our culture.  I believe that lack of passion, curiosity, and imagination are terminal lifestyles.  You don’t ignite that by going to the gym and hitting a treadmill to nowhere for an hour.  You ignite it by still dreaming, still having new experiences, and being a life long learner.

Time is flying by for me so I know it’s the same for you.  We each die a bit every day.  Don’t die with anything left on the table.  Use it all.  Do it all.  Be brave.  Be bold.  Do what you fear most.  Confidence isn’t something you download in an audiobook.  You get confidence by going outside of your comfort zone.  You don’t have to pick up snakes.  Just do something that scares you sometimes.  Just sometimes.  The moment you overthink it, the opportunity has passed.

As Helen Keller said, life is either a daring adventure or nothing.

Don’t let your life be nothing.