Parenting on Purpose


Bigstock Photos

Bigstock Photos

Are you ever really ready for your teen to start driving? The legal driving age in most states is 16 years old. This means by 15½ your child has their driving permit and they have control over the thousands of pounds of metal that you are a passenger in. Later on, they have complete control over the thousands of pounds of metal and you aren’t even there. Becoming comfortable with your teen driving is surely a process, taken one step at a time.

Most people would say starting to drive is a right of passage in our culture. It’s a first step toward independence, if you will. Is driving a right or a privilege? I think most teens may feel it is their right to drive a car and most parents may feel it is a privilege. Perhaps you feel this way if you’re paying for their gas, insurance and maybe even the car.

As they are approaching the age of driving, are you communicating with your teen? Are there certain expectations that must be met before you allow them the keys to the car? How are you planning on comfortably stepping into this new way of being?

Tips on making the transition easier:

~ Bring up the subject of driving with your teen before it’s time to get their permit. Be sure each of you is in a good mood and feeling relaxed.

~ Ask your teen what their desires are regarding driving? Do they feel ready, and why or why not?

~ Share with your teen whatever expectations and criteria you have of them that must be adhered to before they can drive with your blessing.

~ Pay attention to what your teen is saying about how their friends drive. You will be given clues as to how they view different modes of driving. For example: speeding, having friends in the car etc.

~ Ask your teen what their motivation is for wanting to drive? See how their answers feel to you?

~ Talk about and come to an agreement on who will be paying for what aspect of their driving. For example: gas, insurance, car maintenance, and the car itself.

~ Discuss your teens’ expectations regarding how often and under what circumstances they will use the car.

Good communication is important and things will come up later that you didn’t consider in your initial conversations. Tell your teen it’s an ongoing process and everyone must be willing to calmly discuss issues as they arise. Driving can often be an emotional process for both parent and teen.

Resist the temptation and knee jerk reaction to yell at your teen when they have their permit and it’s time to practice being on the road. This can be a stressful time for everyone as it’s important to practice trust and deep breathing. If you’re going to get in the car with your teen to practice driving, then you must make the choice to remain calm.

The day of independence does finally arrive. I remember how it felt the first time my eldest child drove away from our house alone in the car. I could tell she didn’t have a worry in the world, and seemed to feel perfectly comfortable with the whole scenario. This gave me some comfort, as I was slightly terrified. I wasn’t going to be there to make sure she was ok. (This is an illusion anyway…)

As the garage door closed behind her, I was left with a choice. I could spend the evening worried sick, praying fervently, or I could do this~ which is what I ultimately chose because it felt better. I chose to put my fear aside and remember I have faith in life’s processes. I have faith in her safety and that all is well. Worry is pointless and only perpetuates feeling bad, and doesn’t give you any more control over a situation than you had before.

The start of the teen driving years requires a leap of faith. A trust in your teen and the choices they will make. Will they always make the best choice? No they won’t, but isn’t this how we all learn to further clarify our highest choices?

Your trust will go a long way in how your teen feels about him or herself. Help your teen know you trust them and encourage them to tap into their Internal Guidance System when making their choices.

Please feel free to comment.

© 2014.  Sharon Ballantine.  All Rights Reserved.







Bigstock Photos

Bigstock Photos

Back in the late 70’s Kenny Rogers recorded the song “The Gambler.” The song was used later as the theme song for Kenny’s TV movie series of the same name. In song lyrics the gambler counsels:

You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em,
Know when to walk away, know when to run.

While I am not trying to suggest that we encourage our children to take up gambling, (or smoking and drinking that are also mentioned in the song), there are some great lessons in these simple lyrics.

Just how do you know when you have what you need, when you should ask for more, or when you should throw in the towel?

By listening to your Internal Guidance System (IGS).

The message in these first two lines is that we have to live in the present moment. The cards are neither good nor bad in and of themselves. The right choices are based on the entire picture — the cards as well as everything else that is happening at the table.

We cannot get caught up in the hands we have been dealt in the past. Also we cannot assume that the choice we made the last time we had a similar hand will be the right choice now.

Nor can we count on what cards someone else will hand us in the future. We must pay attention to how it feels in the current moment and assess whether the time is right for us to go left or go right. To walk away, or to run. Not out of fear, but out of knowing that this is the right decision in that moment.

Of course every gambler knows that practice helps. That is true with just about everything in life: including checking in with our IGS and really hearing the directions we are being given. But practice doesn’t mean that we will have the exact same hand, or that the same decision will always be right for us.

Circumstances change, so even if the hand looks the same, our best choice may be different in this moment. Maybe because we are different now than we were the last time we faced a similar choice. Or perhaps because we are dealing with different people.

There are so many variables at play in our lives that most of us cannot accurately predict our correct course based on past experience like it was a mathematical equation.

Parents can help teach their kids to tap into their IGS at a very early age. In age appropriate ways, we can give kids options and ask them to see how each one feels. Would this choice be made out of fear or anger? Does it feel positive, loving and like they want to move toward it?

Encourage your kids to practice this skill as often as possible. The more we help our children recognize the guidance they are receiving, the better they will be able to handle whatever cards are dealt them in the future.

Please feel free to comment.
© 2014. Sharon Ballantine. All Rights Reserved.


Bigstock photos

Bigstock photos

Much has happened in the world of toys this week, namely with the retail store Toys R Us. They released a toy, dealt with a firestorm and pulled the toy off the shelves. That’s fast action, perhaps because the firestorm was over an action figure.

Toys R Us began selling a male action figure doll from the Emmy award winning TV show “Breaking Bad,” which is the story of a high school chemistry teacher who turns to a life of crime in order to provide for his family. It’s not unusual for successful shows or movies to create and distribute action figure dolls that represent their popular characters. I think the controversy and firestorm began because one of the versions of this figure is carrying a package of (albeit fake) Meth, a deadly drug properly termed Methamphetamine.

One of the more popular outcries came from a Mom in Florida who told The Today Show, “anything to do with drugs is not doing the right thing, I just think they need to look at their visions and values as they call them.”

During the controversy, Toys R Us released a statement to NBC, which stated, “ the product packaging clearly notes that the items are intended for ages 15 and up and are located in the adult action figure area of our stores.”

On October 22nd, the dolls were removed from the shelves at Toys R Us. They are quoted as saying, “let’s just say the action figures have taken an indefinite sabbatical.”

I noticed there was an array of different reactions throughout the country to this situation. Some were appalled at the dolls; some were appalled at the negative reactions from people. Who is right, is anyone? Who gets to choose?

Right and wrong will always be subjective and be determined by each individual perception to any given scenario. This perception originates from our belief system.

One belief system will dictate being offended and horrified that an action figure is being sold to kids and seems to be supporting some form of drug use.

Another belief system will laugh at the absurdity of such a toy, not take it seriously and go on with their day.

Yet another belief system and perspective will have no reaction whatsoever. So on and so forth depending on infinite perspectives.

The situation this week made me think of so many questions.

Do we have a collective belief system for our country, society and our world? Do we hold any vision of how we want to evolve and what we want to teach our children? As our TV shows, video games, toys and movies become more violent every day, are our children becoming numb to it all? Are they really succumbing to the rampant drug use?

I wonder how productive it really is to push against everything that offends us. Are we making progress?

It feels more productive (in my perspective) to create and promote a vision of how we want to move forward and hold this vision for our kids. Moving away from so much focus on the negative and deliberately creating a new story of how we want to live our lives. Whatever it is we are focusing on either as individuals or a society is what we will perpetuate. Fostering change in any direction means putting our attention and precious energy toward that change.

I want a world where all things are possible and everyone gets to express their own perspective. I can choose not to participate in any perspective that doesn’t please me, without trying to kill it, judge it and make it wrong.

Please feel free to comment.

© 2014.  Sharon Ballantine.  All Rights Reserved.















Bigstock Photos

Bigstock Photos

We are all human. Sometimes you say things you don’t mean. Or, you say things because you’re reacting rather than thinking. Maybe you just said something in jest, teasingly.

Unfortunately, these words are the ones your kids are most likely to remember, precisely because you said them without thinking about it. Whatever you said was uttered with so much emotion and energy, even if said in a whisper, that this energy struck a chord within your son or daughter.

Some kids may not believe these emotional words. Others may be wounded to the core.

Your job as a parent is to help your children have such a strong connection with their true selves that they won’t believe the untrue words said by others. You can do this by being their constant source of encouragement and support. Regardless, when words that don’t feel good come from someone they love, adore, or admire, like a parent, best friend, favorite coach, or teacher, it can shake a child and cause them to doubt themselves.

A woman I know was often called “Grace” by her family. Every time someone saw her bump into anything, or trip, they would teasingly call her by this nickname. It became so ingrained in her she became convinced that she was accident prone.

Because she believed she was accident prone, she attracted lots of opportunities to get injured. As a child, her parents took her to the emergency room on numerous occasions, which just reinforced the nickname.

Naturally since their daughter was accident prone, they kept a tighter watch over her and discouraged her from participating in many activities that she wanted to try. Her parents weren’t unkind; they were trying to keep their daughter from what they saw was inevitable harm.

As an adult looking back over her life, “Grace” was able to recognize that she was no more prone to accidents than other active children. She often got injured because she was trying to keep up with the older kids or pushing herself to be better and stronger. This was her natural tendency and rather than be supported and allowed to flourish in a safer environment, she was taught to disown her desires.

Unfortunately, simple nicknames or words spoken without thinking can have lasting effects. When you speak with and about your children, it’s important to think about how those words will feel. Will you always say the right thing? No, but you don’t have to.

Author Toni Morrison asks, “Does your face light up when your child enters the room?”
Of course that is how every child wants to feel; surrounded by love. And parents want that for their children, too. Sometimes that means you have to do a little self-censoring and a little play-acting, if your mood is not in the best place.

When you feel that you are going to say something to your child that doesn’t feel like your face is lighting up, take a deep breath before you speak. If you have already said the words, be ready to apologize and demonstrate with words and actions how you really feel. Are you seeing a trait in your child that you do not want him or her to grow into? Envision what you do want for them. Only call them “Grace” when they are being truly graceful.

Please feel free to comment.
© 2014. Sharon Ballantine. All Rights Reserved.