Today's Gratitude

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I recently received a review from Ranae, an incredibly smart, witty, strong woman who works in the field of law (did I say strong?) and a single mom of an equally, incredibly smart, witty, strong, 9 year old daughter who she was having some struggles and challenges with.  Here are some of Ranae's words about her coaching experience and what it's done for her:

 "I was at my wits end when I reached out to Claire who had just started her Parent Coaching practice.  My daughter had been diagnosed with ADD and was struggling at school and at home to complete homework and chores.  As her parent, I was struggling right along with her and finding that my patience had diminished greatly.  I was yelling at her a LOT just to get us out the door every day, never mind trying to get her to finish her homework or complete her chores.  

Claire started by having me look at all that was working and great about our family, bringing them to the surface and recognizing them.  I had been mired in all the negative that was happening in our home and she had me re-shift the focus onto the positives of what was around me, while still realizing the challenges that existed.  She taught me how to give my child choices that ultimately supported my boundaries and needs and helped my child to accomplish the end task.  I learned that the ability to offer kids choices allows them to feel heard, validated and respected and this respect is reflected back to us as a parent.  She challenged me to dig deep to understand why my daughter was doing certain things and why I was doing certain things (being reactive rather than responsive). She has helped provide clarity amid lots of confusion.

When she taught me to dream about the life I wanted for us, things started moving in that direction.  Amazing.  I continue to dream about my life and put that out there for the universe to deliver."

Here's the thing.  I love what I get to do when I work with parents.  Love it.  I am so honored, truly, that I am let into people's lives so deeply as they share with me their concerns, fears, challenges and their dreams and desires.  It's humbling and incredibly energizing at the same time. I have seen such realizations, aha moments and major transformations happen in these parents and Ranae was no exception.  Her growth and new understanding of herself personally and as her daughter's mom was immense throughout this process.  And guess what? It transformed me too.  All along the way, I received my own realizations, aha moments as well.  I continue to learn more about myself, as a coach, as a mom as a woman and the realization that this is what I am meant to do gets me each and every time.  It's a journey. All of it, for all of us, and I am so thankful to be able to join you, as people and as parents on it.  So, THANK YOU , Ranae!  It was such an honor working with you and I'm so excited for your continued journey as you move forward in your dreams for yourself and your family.

To see more testimonials, visit my Testimonial page. 

 

 

Walk with Them

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Recently, one of my kids told me a half-truth, which we all know equates to the same as a lie, but I'll give it to them.  Trust me - giving them that is more about me than it is about them.  With 4 kids, it certainly isn't the first time this scenario has made an appearance in my family; yet it still stuns me and rattles me to the core. Lying, half-truths, exaggerations-call it what you may-it's enough to send my insides into a full blown panic that rivals a 5 alarm fire.  Thoughts run through my brain, "Why did they lie? What else have they lied about? How do I stop it?" Then the finale, "I've blown it and they're going to end up as people with no sense of right or wrong!"  Ok, so I got a little carried away there, but you get the point. Lying is one of those things that can send most parents into a frenzy wondering where they went wrong.

When my oldest son (now 20) was around 5, my pastor at the time spoke of his 3 pre-teen/teenaged children and some challenges he was having with them.  He said something that has stuck with me, even after all these years.  He said “I’ve decided I’m going to walk with them through this, not fight them.”  I’m not sure why this resonated so much with me at the time because quite frankly, I wasn’t going to have these issues with my kids, right?  It's fifteen years later and I cannot tell you how many times I’ve recited this very statement to myself, “Walk with them right now.  Don’t fight them.  Walk.”

It’s a choice we have.  We can respond or we can react.  How this looks from parent to parent or family to family can vary greatly, but we do have a choice.  Lies, half-truths or exaggerations, while hurtful and generally unacceptable, usually mean there’s something deeper going on.  As preteens and teenagers, there are so many emotions, the striving and fighting for independence and freedom, figuring out who they are as their own person, the need to fit in and sometimes, in rebellion, the need to NOT fit in.  It’s such a confusing time with tremendous growth and exploration happening. 

So, what exactly does it mean, to me, to walk with them?

After realizing the “half-truth”, aka lie, I had laid awake all night thinking about what to do.  My first thoughts were to pull out all the stops: take away the phone, no going out over the weekend, monitor everything they do, etc.  I’d make their life miserable, which would show them, right?  Actually, no.  That’s my reactionary side at work there, I tell myself.  It will push them away even further, and isolate them even more.  I need to calm down, slow down, put that reaction aside and respond.

Instead of imposing a full blown lock down, I will choose to look at the situation and see what/if there is more going on than meets the eye.

Instead of saying "Can't you see how much this hurts me?", I will choose not to take this personally and help them see how this actually hurts them.

Instead of feeling, I need to deal with and fix this now!  I will choose to allow this to be a process and start with something that might help today.

Instead of continuing to reiterate how much this hurt me, I will look at what I might do to create an even safer, open environment for them to be able to be themselves, and be truthful.

What I want to do is tell them: You won't do this, don't do that and you can't do this.  What I will choose to do is suggest: You could do this, you might find this to be a better option and what do you think about that?

What I really want to do is protect them from the mistakes I’ve made and prevent them from experiencing the hurt and consequences I have felt. What I will choose to do is to see them as individuals, separate from me, making choices of their own and allow them to experience the potential consequences of their own actions while remaining by their side.

What I still want to do is make this about me. What I will choose to do is allow this to be about them.

In the end, by choosing to respond vs react, lessons are learned, by all of us, and opportunities for deeper connections arise that may not have been afforded otherwise.  And while these lessons might very well be difficult and hard to navigate, we learn more about who our children are as individuals and they build resiliency and self-efficacy.  Isn’t that ultimately what we want for our children?  For them to have the knowledge and internal belief they can see a difficult situation through and come out the other side a stronger and more capable person?  To continually learn and understand more about themselves, gaining a deeper sense of self-awareness?  These lessons can only be learned by them walking through these fires on their own, with us as parents, walking alongside them.  Reminding them we are right here, they are going to be ok and nothing they say or do could ever change the love we have for them.  That’s what walking with them looks like to me.  What would it look like to you?

Promises in the Wind; Finding Hope Again

Finding Hope Again

A small boat, in the middle of the sea, once sailing full steam ahead with confidence and surety, now sits still, swaying to the tides. The sails had been full of wind, forging the boat towards a promising horizon, bright with sunshine, filled with possibilities. The excitement and anticipation of what was ahead was both thrilling and intimidating at the same time. It seemed nothing could stop the momentum of this boat’s journey, until something did, knocking the wind right out of it's sails, making this boat come to a screeching halt. There was scrambling to keep the boat afloat, waves to manage that were desperately trying to knock the boat over, at times almost successful. The sails, once full of life, had to come down to allow the boat to hunker down and weather the storm.

The waves eventually died down and the stormy sky, still gray, cleared and all was still, including the air that enveloped the boat. Uncertain of safety, it was questioned, has the storm really passed? There was hesitation to emerge. Everything seemed intact, nothing had been torn or was broken but there was the feeling of having been wounded. The grey skies matched the grey sea and while it was quiet and still, coming out wasn’t feeling too inviting, not just yet. Frustration started to set in as the uncertainty of what’s next came to mind. What just happened, and where did that come from?  What direction to go in now?  Which horizon to head towards? And the sails. Once full of wind now lie flat, wrapped tightly, not exuding a whole lot of hope of ever filling up again.

The sun starts to peak through the grey clouds above, spreading sunshine rays throughout. The sea begins to shimmer, showing signs of its brilliance and promise. Warmth, even if intermittent, begins to surround the air. The sails beckon to be brought back up. Unsure, yet making the leap of faith, the sails go back up. There’s a flutter here and there but nothing substantial to take hold. There are quick moments of despair, then the sea flashes its beauty and the sun shines a bit brighter. The blue sea competes with the sky’s bright blue and in that, it becomes important to just sit with both the sea and the sky. The silence and the beauty brings forth hope. Perhaps the wind can wait for just a bit. Sitting here in the still blue sea, sparkling with diamonds, isn’t such a bad place to be at the moment.  Soaking in the rays of peace, the warmth of joy; hope for new wind fills the air, which feels with certainty, will come again. Therein lies a new excitement in anticipation for that wind and there’s a renewed peace in the waiting, and watching, as a new horizon emerges.

 

 

A Kind, Gentle Soul: Reflecting on a Father's Love

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As I sat at the foot of his bed in the hospital, I looked up at him and saw him looking right back at me. With his bright blue eyes, eyebrows lifted, he mouthed to me, “Hi.”  “Hi Dad” I replied, smiling back at him.  “I love you,” he mouthed to me.  My heart swelled.  Even in his last week as he lay there, fighting his last fight, there was no shortage of love from him.  My dad passed away a few days after this interaction and as I reflect back on him as a man, a husband and a father, two things really stand out that I want to share with all you men/fathers/parents out there.  1) There’s never too many I love you(s).  Never.   2) Love/respect your children’s mother.  It matters.  Dads, YOU matter.  More than you know.  Your kids are watching, feeling, responding to these relationships, whether they are 5 years old or my age now, 50 years old.  It’s transformative.

My father adored my mother.  Adored her.  When he would come home after work or from a long business trip, which he had many of; we kids would be clamoring to say hi to him and if he had his suitcase, oh man.  To find out what he brought for us was more than we could handle!  Even still, he would push through the mayhem, put his suit jacket and briefcase down and find my mother.  It was she who he greeted first.  Every. Single. Time.  If she was at the sink, he’d hug her from behind giving her a smooch on the neck.  Or maybe she was downstairs, or in the den.  Didn’t matter.  He’d find her and we would wait.  As excited as we were, we knew to wait.  I loved this then, as it provided such a sense of security and I love it now, as I can see now how it affected my life today.  It’s what my husband has done and continues to do with me. That modeling of love and respect shown then became my own reality in my life.  I also know it has been influential for my kids and that they are watching their father.  Just recently, my son asked me if papa and I were ok.  I was a little taken aback and said, of course, why do you ask?  His reply stunned me.  “Because he doesn’t kiss you when he comes home anymore.”    During a time when my husband was personally having a hard time, what I viewed as giving him space and room, my kids were viewing as something wrong because they noticed a change in such a small, yet significant daily gesture. Dads. If there is anything you take away from this, know your kids are aware. They are paying attention. They notice how you treat their mother. Whether you are still together or not, how you treat their mother, it matters. I watched my father, my kids are watching their father and someday, their kids will watch them. My hope and prayer is that they, as parents, will carry on that same gesture, or some sort of gesture of their own, perhaps, that emulates love, adoration and respect to the mother of their children. 

After the love for my mother, there was never any shortage of I love you(s) to us kids.  He modeled this in so many ways and I know it has shaped who I am to my children today.  These expressions of love would be given without circumstance or reason.  It could be as random as a stop in the hallway to pull us into a hug, look us in the eye and say, I love you.  It would feel like nothing else mattered as much as you did in that moment.  The ghost kisses at night as he would put us to bed. By the way, if you don’t know what a ghost kiss is, let me tell you, as a kid, they were the best!  The squeeze of the knee, while he drove you to someplace you needed to be, or like I mentioned earlier, the silent gaze with bright blue eyes, the rise of the eyebrows and a simple whisper, “I love you”.  There was never, ever, a shortage of I love you(s) from this kind, gentle soul.  And to that I reply, I love you too, Dad.  I love you, too.

Allowing our kids the freedom to feel.

 

"If I can’t keep my temper in check at all times, I don’t expect my children to have perfect emotional control. If I can’t watch my tone and speak with a kind voice always, how can I expect my little ones to manage this?

We expect these little children with their underdeveloped brains and limited life experiences to behave better than grown men and women. And if you don’t believe me, listen to the next presidential debate or spend some time scrolling your social media newsfeeds."

Let's examine our expectations....are they reasonable? Are we allowing our kids the freedom to feel what they are feeling? Better yet, are we modeling what we want to see?

 
 
 

Smartphone Addiction.

 

This is a post from last year, yet a really good reminder about the real need to manage screen time. If you haven't seen the movie Screenagers, and it comes to your area, go see it! So informative about screen time and the over use of it by teenagers AND parents alike. I will admit, we, and I say we because I include myself here, didn't unplug nearly as much as we should have this summer. This has gotten me recommitted to do so. What do you do to unplug? I'd love to hear what ideas you've come up with.

 
 
 

I would love the opportunity to share.

 

I LOVE that I get to do what I do and that is to walk alongside parents as they discover their own strengths, what’s working in their lives and their families, discovering their own internal parenting voice and creating the family culture they ultimately desire. It’s incredibly empowering. Not just for the parents, but for me as a coach as well. 

I also LOVE hearing from the parents I work with during the week, what they’re thinking about, what they’ve done that they are particularly proud of or just to check in with a “hi” and a picture of their kids. I received 3 of these types of messages just yesterday. It literally made my day. Here's part of an email from one of the moms I am currently working with and I just love what she had to say….

"This has been something I'm learning with the parent coaching and I'm loving the little moments in my day where I focus on what brings our boys joy and what brings me joy - I'm noticing things about them and myself and slowing down feels good. I know i raise my voice a lot and seem overwhelmed but I'm also loving this journey and the process. I used to focus on the results and get discouraged but I'm learning that the little things add up and raising our children is the best job…."

Little things mean more than you know over time.🌻

Call, message, or text me to learn more about the coaching process. I would love the opportunity to share this incredible, unique process with you.

~Claire