Parenting: Let the Adventure Begin

Imagine spending a Saturday with other parents, not only taking workshops together but having a chance to sit down and eat lunch and discuss the ins and outs of parenting.

You have the opportunity to do just that at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Federal Way this Saturday, March 5, from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m.  For only $10 per family (which includes lunch) you can participate in workshops on topics including successfully blending families, dealing with “I’m bored,” and adapting your parenting style as your child grows.

I’ll be teaching two workshops: in the first, “Excuse Me? Can You Hear Me?” we’ll explore some tricks for ensuring good communication between you and your teen.  In the second, “Hello!  I’m Not Getting a Signal!”  we’ll look at the role technology plays in the lives of our teens and actually spend a little time on Facebook and other web sites.

The day is built around the theme of a country fair, so there will be carnival games to play!  Childcare is provided as well.

For a brochure with the day’s schedule and list of workshops, click here:

For a registration form, click here: (You can mail the form ahead of time or just bring it with you on that day.)

Hope to see you there!

Unplug the Power Tools

The other night I read a couple sentences in The Reader’s Digest that made me pump my fist in the air and say, “Yes!  That’s what parents need to know!”

The sentences, excerpted from the Harvard Business Review, said, “When there is little agreement, you have to use ‘power tools’ – coercion, threats, punishments, and so on, to secure cooperation.  But if the employees’ ways of working together succeed over and over, consensus begins to form.”

This is exactly why some parents struggle with their teens.  Several times I’ve had parents contact me and say, “I’ve tried everything: taking away the cell phone/computer/video game system, grounding, docking allowance. . .nothing works!”  And my response is always the same – that’s because you are trying to control a child who doesn’t want to be controlled any more than you do.

Think of the worst boss you can imagine.  Let’s say she barks orders at you, embarrasses you in front of your co-workers, threatens to make you work on Saturday, and constantly points out your mistakes.  Is she someone with whom you want to have lunch – or share a cup of coffee?  Do you give her your best effort – or do you slyly see what you can get away with?

Now imagine the best possible boss, one who values your input, sings your praises to other bosses, realizes you have your own stresses in life, and makes you feel appreciated.  Do you enjoy spending time with him?  Do you look for ways to make him happy?

If you want to have good relationships with your teens, learn to work with them instead of trying to control them.  Certainly there are times when consequences are appropriate, but they’re better used as a result of inappropriate behavior than as a threat to force someone to do something.  If you want your teen to show you respect, you need to be sure you’re modeling it – beginning with your tone of voice and facial expression when you make a request, whether it’s getting homework done or setting a curfew.

Any contractor will tell you it’s important to use the right tool for the right job.  There’s no need to pull out the Black and Decker power drill to tighten your eyeglasses.

I’ve Got a Bridge to Sell You


All right, I confess.  Sometimes I have fun at the expense of my students.  But guess what?  They love it!  Case in point:

“Mrs. Acuna, look! The word ‘gullible’ is written on the ceiling!”  I’d stepped into the hall to talk to the principal, and when I entered the classroom, this was the greeting I received.  I, of course, refused to look up, no matter how hard my 8th grade algebra students pleaded.  I told them, “It’s a matter of trust – and I don’t trust you!”  They found this response hilarious.

With my peripheral vision, I could see a piece of paper stuck on the ceiling, and I knew without reading it what it said.  I left it there, enjoying the joke as much as the kids.

In the afternoon, my classroom filled with 7th graders arriving for biology.  One of them asked, “Why is the word ‘gullible’ stuck on your ceiling?”  I related the morning’s escapades and then added, “Do you know what Mrs. Varvil told me?  She said in the past it got so bad with people harassing other people about the word ‘gullible,’ they took it out of the dictionary!”

“Seriously?” asked Ali, with a puzzled frown.

“Well,” I said, “only in dictionaries published after 1985.  Mine were published in 1992.  They’re right behind Taylor, if you want to look it up.”  As Taylor grabbed a dictionary and began flipping pages, several students piped up:  “But – how can they take a word out of the dictionary?  What if people still want to use it?”

“Oh, you can still use it,” I assured them.  “You just can’t find it in the dictionary.”

Kayla, who’d moved around the table to look over Taylor’s shoulder, exclaimed, “Here it is!  It’s in this dictionary!”

“Really?” I said, sounding surprised.  “What does it give as a definition?”  As Kayla looked back down at the page, I caught Monica sending me a knowing glance.  As far as I could tell, she was the only one who knew what was going on.

“‘Tending to trust and believe people, and therefore easily tricked or deceived,'” Kayla said.

Looking her straight in the eye, I said, “Exactly.”

As realization dawned, she said, “Oh!  You!!”  Though she tried to look mad, a sheepish grin spread across her face.

It took about 10 minutes to explain the joke to the rest of the class.