Lawnmower parents, please stop.

lawnmower-race

Dear Lawnmower Parents,

Please stop. We’ve moved on from helicopter parents to you and I don’t like it one bit. Helicopters would hover, but you seek to mow down every obstacle in your child’s path. You aren’t helping, you’re suffocating. Unless you plan to move to college with your kids (if you can get them to leave you), please turn off your engines now to listen for a bit.

I just spent the last few days trying to register kids for a college fair. I am passionate about college and will do what I can to help any child get there. I found around 5 of every 25 students in a room didn’t know their home address or didn’t know their parent’s number. One would think this might be a bit embarrassing for them, not so much. “Just wait, I need to text my mom to find out my address. She usually does all this stuff for me.” These were teenagers that didn’t know where they lived. This wasn’t a remedial class, nor was this a transient population. They were juniors and seniors in a small midwestern town.

I had a conversation with a parent recently that confessed that she had a pen taken out of her hand when she was trying to fill out her daughter’s forms at college. She was told that she wasn’t the student. That’s right. You as a parent are not the student. You aren’t the entry level worker and you aren’t the athlete on the field. Stop acting like you are. Every time you grab the pen, yell at the coach, and demand an answer from a teacher you rob your child of the opportunity to learn something on their own, conflict management.

If our job as parents is to give our children roots and wings, we need to concentrate a little more on the wings part.

Your kids are amazing. They can do great things if you let them. Problem solving is one of the most important skills you can allow your kids to develop. Let them deal with the problems of life, school, work, and sports while they are safe in your home with a soft place to land. Allow them to stumble a bit.

If a teenager doesn’t know where they live, what their parent’s phone number is (unless they look in their contacts) and can’t boil water we have then successfully churned out a generation that has less self-help skills than the generation before them. Granted, they may be able to program your t.v., but if they can’t tell the dispatcher where you live to send the fire trucks…

Your child should be able to complete algebra, write a coherent essay, and pass a citizenship test when they graduate from high school. That is the work of educators and the effort of your children. If your child knows how to wash clothes, make a few meals, mow a lawn, use their manners and remember their home address, that’s on you. Stay off your lawnmower long enough to teach them.

Thank you.

Keep sharing moxie.

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Welcome to the family-

Dear Newbie,

Today you will take the hand of beautiful girl. Her father will “give her away” today, but that’s not how it really works. You know that, right? She is joining your family and taking your last name, but we had her first.

I have loved this child since the day of her birth. I’ve been blessed that her mom and dad were willing to share her with me. Your parents are sharing today, too. Weddings are beautiful, but they are hard. Something new is beginning, but an entire way of life is ending. This joy stings.

I’ve learned that families become stronger when you open yourself up to others. We have adopted people, friends have become family, and today you are formally joining our family, but it doesn’t happen in a day. Families become what they are over a hundred gatherings of pizza, beer, and scrabble. The easter egg hunts that become legend and the inside jokes that make people laugh so hard they hurt. You’ll learn.

All I can ask is this: strive to be worthy of her. Every day. She’s lovely inside and out. Every family wants the next generation to be all of the good stuff and less of the bad. Her parents and their combined gene pool knocked it out of the park with her. She’s a hell of a lot nicer, kinder, and goodness personified than all of us on our best days. Don’t take this for granted.

You love her. That’s where it all starts. You haven’t been really tested yet, but you will be. Life will eventually throw death, loss, change, and hardship your way. It happens to all of us. How you struggle through it sets the tone for the rest. If you continue to come back to a place of love, you’ll be alright.

Welcome to the swirling vortex that is our tribe. The woman that you are walking down the aisle today used to love to twirl around in dresses. Did you know that? She used to shout out, “Watch me, watch me! Are you watching me?” I’ve been watching since the beginning. I’m honored to watch you both together now. Keep her twirling and you’ll always have a seat at my table. Welcome to the family. We’ve been waiting for you.

Keep sharing moxie.

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How crying changed me…

Charles Dickens

“Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before–more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle.”
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
      I have been pushed in many ways this year to become…more. I say pushed, because it wasn’t a change that I welcomed at the time. I’m thankful for it now, but at the time it was an option of last resort.
     I started crying this year. I’m a better person for it. 
     It’s not that I had never, ever cried before this year, but it was rare. Now, I let those emotions run through me and sometimes spill right out.
     I’m not manipulative with my tears. I’m honest.
     Truth is, I was kind of a crap therapist until I started getting real. You can’t tell someone that it’s ok to feel, to encourage them to share their most sacred thoughts and fears, if you won’t allow yourself to ever be moved by them yourself.
     The world we live in today is one of disconnect. If we all looked each other in the eye and cried a little bit more, I think we’d be better people for it.
     Teenagers can catch a whiff of b.s. at 20 paces. If we’re trying to teach future generations to be compassionate, to embrace sorrow and reach out, we need to do a better job of it ourselves.
     I showed a video of Columbine to a group of teachers yesterday, today I grieved with them and their students. To say these teachers are brave doesn’t cut it. They are compassionate, protective, full of love, and so much more. The best teachers are real. The best doctors, ministers, politicians, people.
     Today, stop looking away. If someone you know is struggling, look them straight in the eye and say “I’m here.” I’m here. You’re here. We’re here together.
Because in the end, isn’t that what it comes down to? I’m here. You’re here. We’re here together. You’re not alone.
Keep sharing moxie.