Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Unnecessary risk"

"If I did say yes, I would be awake the whole time.I would likely just worry about tired drivers, distracted teens behind the wheel, other people leaving bars and driving, carjacking and a host of other scenarios that would sound to my teen like I was trying to be a killjoy. But there are things that are just more dangerous in the middle of the night. Not to mention the environmental impact of driving around in a gas-guzzling van for fun.It all seems like an unnecessary risk to me." 

Someone left the above comment anonymously on my "Real Trust - no strings attached" post.  For the past week I have been mulling over the idea of "unnecessary risk."  What is unnecessary risk?  Who gets to decide what qualifies as unnecessary risk?  What is unnecessary risk for one person may be a whole lot of fun for another person.  It seems that to a certain degree increased risk taking equals a more meaningful life. 

We drove to my in-laws for Thanksgiving.  The roads were snow packed and icy.  For me, driving on icy roads qualifies as unnecessary risk.  However, it was very important to the grandparents and the children that we visit.  We discussed the risks.  We checked the road reports and the weather forecast.  My in-laws offered to rent a more reliable vehicle that would fit the chains we had in the garage.  For me it was an unnecessary risk, but for the rest of my family it was acceptable risk.  I took every step possible to increase my comfort level.  We drove a rental, carried chains, had blankets and water in the car and my husband drove.  Fortunately my husband is an experienced winter driver, having driven the passes between Montana and Washington a ridiculous number of times during his college years.  We made the drive safely.  We had a wonderful visit.  The girls were thrilled to be able to go sledding.  When it was time to return home the forecast was calling for freezing rain and the road conditions were dangerous.  We decided that it was too risky.  We called our pet sitter and made arrangements to stay for another day.  When we did head home, the roads were clear of all ice and snow. 

In families different members may have very different levels of comfort with risk.  We must be respectful of the differences and be willing to explore creative solutions so that everyone is comfortable with any potential risk.  When we have a child whose comfort with risk far exceeds our own we may find ourselves grasping for control when we need to let go.  Our relationship with our child can help us find peace in this situation.  When we have a connected relationship, with a firm foundation of trust, our child will more likely be sensitive to our feelings of discomfort and be open to information we may provide about potential consequences of taking any particular risk.  This does not mean that our child will never take risks that make us nervous.  It does not mean that our children should avoid risks that we think are unnecessary to make us more comfortable.  We should not distort facts or guilt our children into staying inside our comfort zone.  If my child is comfortable with a risk I do everything possible to support them in taking that risk.  I do my best to avoid inflicting my children with my fears.  See "Fears- yours, not theirs."  If I have serious concerns about a particular risk I may ask my children if they will do things to help me feel more comfortable, but I need to remember that the decision is theirs to make.  When my daughter is with her friends I know she is only a text away if she needs support or I want to touch base.  If a child wants to slide down the stairs in a sleeping bag I suggest we put pillows at the bottom.  And sometimes I just have to let go and trust that my child knows her own abilities.  My middle child should go ahead and stand on the sled as she goes down the hill.  It's completely within her comfort zone, even though it's outside my own.  As the other people who commented on the "Real Trust" post pointed out, your children are going to make their own decisions and take risks.  As your children grow older, your relationship with them will determine whether you know about the risks they are taking.


People who take risks do amazing things with their lives.  It is often the people who have taken the biggest risks that we most admire.  People who go to the moon, climb tall mountains, travel the world, drop out of college to invent a computer, spend years writing novels while barely paying their bills, and auditioning repeatedly until they land their first big part, are the people we wish to emulate.



“The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow and love and live.”
Leo F. Buscaglia

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” 
T.S. Eliot

“He who risks and fails can be forgiven. He who never risks and never fails is a failure in his whole being.”
Paul Tillich

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Real Trust - no strings attached

It's around 1:00 a.m. and my 14 year old opens my bedroom door, waking me up.  A couple of her friends have asked if she can go drive around and listen to music with them.  I say yes.  I hear her head out the door a short time later and then I'm back to sleep.  I didn't hear her come back in, and when I woke up once during the wee hours I didn't go check her bed.

I didn't ask for details, I didn't tell her what time to be home.  I did tell her to get $5 out of her dad's wallet in case they stopped for food, and suggested the 24 hour grocery store up the road.  She had a wonderful time.  She spent an hour and a half with three of her friends, ages 15, 17 and 20.   They drove to the friends' house to pick up a few things and then they drove the long way back to our house, while listening to music.  No deviant behavior.  No scary risk taking.  Friends, hanging out, enjoying each others company.  At least one of teens' moms knew what was going on because they were using her van, with permission.  My husband was aware of the request to go out, but he went back to sleep and didn't find out any of the details until morning.

Could that happen at your house?  Would your teen trust you enough to ask if she could go out in the middle of the night with friends?  Would your teen not ask and not go out, know that interrupting your sleep and making such a request would result in yelling, scolding, or worse?  Would your teen not bother to ask and slip out for a few hours without your knowledge?  Would your teen tell you which friends he was really going to be with?  Would she provide a fictitious plan for where she was going in order to get permission to get out of the house?

When your teen wants to do anything with their friends at any time of day or night do they have to negotiate?  Do you need to have control over where they are going, what they are doing and who they are with?  Do they have to be back at a certain time, arbitrarily set by you?  Do you wait up until they get home, pacing the floor, waiting to give them hell if they walk in the door one minute late?  Do you tell them they have to earn your trust and that if they get home late that shows they can't be trusted?

If the above describes what goes on in your house then your teen already knows that you don't trust him.  Your teen is fully aware that you need to be in control and that you don't trust her to make good choices or be responsible without considerable input and manipulation on your part.  I described the consequences of that lack of trust very clearly in my post "What can your teen tell you?"  Your teen does not need to earn your trust.  Trust is the natural result of a respectful relationship and your unconditional love.  Teens who have a trusting relationship with the adults in their lives are teens who do not need to lie or sneak around behind their parents' back.  Teens and parents who have this kind of relationship do not argue because they do not grapple for power and control.  When my daughter asked to go out I could say yes because I not only trusted her, but I also trusted her friends.  I knew that her friends would be respectful of her feelings and would do everything in their power to return her home safely after their adventures.  I have a relationship with her friends, too.  I like her friends!  We are friends on facebook and we all watch Glee together on Tuesday nights.       

In my blog post "Trust" I wrote about trust in our relationships with our children from infancy onward.

In "The other side of trust" I wrote about how our children need to be able to trust us.

If trust is not a natural part of your relationship with your teen, or your children no matter what their ages, take a moment to click on those links and read more.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Summit on Learning at the White House

Dear Mr. President,

I have read books and articles about the problems with our country's approach to education.  I have taken my children out of the school system because it wasn't meeting their needs, and subsequently I have seen them blossom into life learners at home.  I have been learning more about how children learn.  The more I learn the more I wonder if you, and the people in Washington who affect school policy and funding, are paying attention.  Is anyone reading the research and studies about how children learn?  Is anyone considering how we could better meet the needs of our children, instead of trying to force our children to fit into an antiquated system?

It is time to change the starting point.  It is time to re-frame the questions being asked about education.  Instead of having schools scrambling to figure out how to get their students to score higher on tests it is time to ask a new question, "How can we support the natural curiosity and passion for learning in each child?"

Our country needs to stop focusing on reforming education and focus instead on supporting learning.  And that starts at the top.  It is time you held a Summit on Learning at the White House.  You need to bring together the brightest, most radical, most progressive minds who understand how children learn and how schools need to be changed - not reformed - so as to support learning.  The studies have already been completed, the facts are irrefutable.  Our current school system is not working and that has nothing to do with our children lacking ability, motivation or creativity.  It has nothing to do with a lack of funding.  Our current system works against children, not for or with children.  Until we support learning, until we create an environment that focuses on the needs of children and how children learn, our school system cannot be successful in supporting our children as they grow up to take their places in a rapidly changing world.

To assist you in planning the guest list for your Summit On Learning at the White House, here are some of the people with knowledge and ideas about learning that will benefit our children and our country:

Sir Ken Robinson
You can watch two of his talks on TED:
http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html

Or watch one of his talks with animation, Changing Educational Paradigms :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U&feature=share

Alfie Kohn:
http://www.alfiekohn.org/index.php

Peter Gray:
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/200909/our-social-obligation-toward-children-s-education-opportunities-not-coerci

Pat Farenga:
http://www.patfarenga.com/

John Taylor Gatto:
http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/


Sincerely,
Jenna Robertson

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Triggers

At least one reader felt that my solution to yelling in my post "You can stop yelling at your children" was trite.  For parents who are just trying to get through the day any advice can sound unrealistic.  The feeling of "that's easy for you to say...." bubbles quickly to the surface.  My closing, "You can stop yelling at your children.  Start by focusing on your relationships, letting go of your expectations and meeting the needs of each family member" would have pushed my buttons when I was struggling through each day with three children ages 4 and under.  I would have told you that all I did was meet my family's needs: laundry, dishes, cooking, nursing, and changing diapers.  If you felt that way about the post, I hope you will go back to it and click on some of the links to past blogs.  The past blogs go into more detail and explain what I meant by focusing on relationships, and to which expectations and needs I was referring.

I would like to offer another key to ending the yelling and conflict in your home:  Identify and neutralize the Triggers.  What are topics that cause conflict?  What behaviors seem to trigger yelling?  Try paying attention to what causes you to yell, or starts you down the path towards conflict.  If you tend to get busy and forget what you are trying to paying attention to, write a note that says, "What are the triggers?" and put it on your refrigerator, mirror, back door, or where ever you will see it as you go about your daily activities.

Typical triggers are: bedtime, homework, chores, money, playing/hanging out with friends, clothes, shoes, hair, makeup, required family activities, food, sibling conflict, video games, television, computers and cell phones.

Once you have identified the triggers, neutralize them.  Neutralize them? What does that mean?  A trigger is something that initiates or causes a reaction.  In this case we are talking about something that causes us to react by yelling.  To neutralize them we have to take away their power.  We must find a way to stop letting them cause conflict in our relationships.  The quickest and easiest way to do this is to let go.  When you stop trying to have control over the trigger there will no longer be a reason to yell.  Make it your goal to parent through connection.  When you focus on connecting with your children instead of controlling them or their behaviors it allows you to focus on relationships.  You can step back and ask yourself, "What does my child need?"  "How can I meet my child's needs?"  "How is my behavior affecting my relationship with my child?"  When you live a life of mutual respect it makes time spent together as a family more peaceful.  When you have a relationship based on trust each family member can relax.  Each person isn't fighting to get their needs met, to get attention, to win approval, to feel loved.  Each person knows that they are loved and cherished unconditionally, they don't have to earn their place in the family.  Unconditional parenting involves love, respect, trust and communication.  It does not involve bribes, threats, punishments, discipline, time out, logical consequences, praise or shaming .  When you parent unconditionally the triggers are neutralized.  You are no longer telling your child that they must meet your expectations in order to earn your approval, appreciation or love.  When you let go of trying to control your child's behavior you can focus on loving your child and enjoying your life together.

If your parenting at this time involves bribes, threats, punishments, discipline, time out, logical consequences, praise or shaming, you need to understand that when you let go, when you embrace unconditional parenting, when you remove the expectations that your child previously was forced to meet, your child will most likely revel in this new freedom.  You must truly let go for the process of becoming a family of connection, respect and partnership to unfold.  Your child has to know the freedom is consistent, that you are not going to jerk back on the reins and punish them for their enthusiasm for this new way of life.  They must be free to say, "No" when you ask them to assist you with setting the table.  They must be free to make their own choices.  And the more you have been controlling the more dramatic the child's response to their new freedom may be, and the harder you are going to have to work at letting go and building the trust that has not been present in your relationship.  If you have been parenting through extreme control or manipulation, and depending on the age and personalities of your kids, it may be best if you let go of one area at a time.  At our house our children were older when we changed to unconditional parenting and it worked well for us to explain to our children how we were going to be parenting.  This freed them up from feeling confused when we completely changed our attitudes about things like candy and bedtimes.  It also allowed them to support us in our changes.  They could point out to us when we were slipping into old patterns.  When we were less than the parents we wanted to be they would tell us, "Your being conditional."  This was extremely helpful since we could change course right in that moment.

What are your triggers?

Do you yell at your children because they won't clean up their rooms?  Accept that the rooms are their space and it is their choice if they clean.  Ask them if they would like help cleaning, but the minute you start feeling tension creeping into the situation take a break, get a snack, go outside

Is your child refusing to go to bed at night?  Remove your expectations about bedtime and start looking at night time as a time to connect and enjoy quiet time together.  Read books, snuggle, watch a movie until they fall asleep.

Do you yell about homework?  Homework is not more important than your relationship with your child.  Visit Alfie Kohn's site to learn more about the realities of homework, or read his article on "Changing the Homework Default."

Do you yell about food?  Do you argue about how much your child should eat?  Shame them for eating too much?  Bribe them into eating more?  Fight about candy?  Read about my journey of letting go of candy in my post "I Love Candy." 


Read more about letting go of control  (and a whole lot more) at Joyce Fetteroll's site: Joyfullyrejoicing


And visit Sandra Dodd's page on Parenting Peacefully.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fanaticism

There is only one topic about which I expect to continue learning and growing but to never change my position, one area where I am fanatical:  Children must have their needs met.  My daughter says that should not be considered fanatical, it should be considered normal.

I really don't care how you parent, how you live, what your religion is, what your eating habits are, who you vote for or pretty much anything else.  Live how you want to live, but make sure your children's needs are being met.

What are your children's needs?
Food, shelter, love, having their feelings and experiences validated, to feel understood, being able to speak honestly with safety to their parents, being loved unconditionally as they are, for who they are.  To feel loved and valued just because they are alive.

Live however you want to live, but realize that your child is their own person and may need to live differently.  Your child may need to eat a different diet, sleep on a different schedule, or follow a different spiritual path.  They may need to ride the roller coaster while you wait holding your breath at the bottom, or they may need to wait at the bottom while you go for a ride.  Do not let your beliefs, your way of life, or anything else become more important than your child.  Do not let your fanaticism get in the way of your relationship with your child.

Merriam-Webster defines fanatic as, "marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense uncritical devotion." I know a lot of fanatics.  Religious fanatics, dietary fanatics, spiritual fanatics, exercise fanatics, fanatics of various healing methods, political fanatics, and unschooling fanatics.  Enthusiasm is good, passion is a wonderful thing.  Having a cause, a calling, a belief, something that gives us a feeling of belonging or community, enriches our lives and gives us a reason to get up each morning.  However, when we go past enthusiasm to the point of "intense uncritical devotion," when we stop asking questions, when we refuse to consider that someone else's views might be valid, when we are completely uncritical of our own beliefs and values, we risk becoming fanatics.

Nothing is more important to me than meeting the needs of my children.  Nothing is more important than my relationship with my children. Nothing.  Not even high fructose corn syrup, not even saving the planet.  In the last 20 years I have changed my values or beliefs regarding God, eating meat, and the school system, just for starters.  I continue to learn and grow.  Things that I thought I would never do I have done and things I thought I would always do I have given up.  I have been a vegetarian for a dozen years.  Where as once I chose to eat meat, I no longer do.  And once I would have told you that everyone should be a vegetarian, but I no longer believe that.  I know that in the future I may one day eat meat again.  My children are all vegetarians at this point, but they are free to eat meat if they choose.  And if they choose to eat meat they will not get lectures or guilt, by way of obvious guilt trips or passive aggressive comments and behaviors.  They are free to eat as they choose and to try different ways of eating to see what fits their lives and their bodies.

When it comes to parenting, I cannot say that everyone should parent any one way.  I cannot say that I have all the answers and that the way our family lives is the only way to be a happy, healthy, connected family.  Your child may go to school, do chores, have a bedtime and eat a restricted diet because of life threatening illness or allergy.  Your family's life may look very different from mine.  You child may stay up all night, sleep all day, play World of Warcraft for eight hours straight and not take a shower more than once a month.  Your child may thrive on structure or your child may need to live spontaneously.  What matters is your relationship with your child and your child's freedom to be who they are.  If your child goes to school and their needs are being met, that's great.  If your child does assigned chores because they truly are happy to help,and not because of the reasons described Here, fine.  What matters is that your children are respected, have a voice, can make their own choices and have those choices respected.  What matters is that the needs of everyone in the family are considered equally important and valid.

What areas of your life border on fanaticism?  Is there some value, belief or issue that you are making more important than your children?  Remember, nothing is more important than your relationship with your children.  Please make sure you are meeting their needs.


I talked extensively about meeting the needs of children in my post, "The Easy Button of Parenting."

And in follow up I wrote, "Identifying needs that need meeting."

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

NaNoWriMo

This year I am participating in NaNoWriMo, a particularly intense undertaking where you attempt to write 50,000 words of a novel during the month of November.  Quite a few of my friends join the insanity each year and I thought it was time to jump in.  My oldest is doing NaNo with me.  My younger two are too, by doing the NaNo Young Writer's Program which allows them to set their own word goal for the month.

I was planning on writing for NaNo, and then as November drew closer I started having second thoughts.  I had only been blogging for 6 months and had been feeling really great about my ability to publish at least one new blog post each week.  My readership had been picking up and I was starting to focus more on my writing as it related to my blog.  If I took a month to focus on novel writing how would that affect my blogging?  I just didn't know.  I had never tried writing something of such length before.  I'm not really a fiction writer.  Character development, description and setting tend to trip me up.  I love to read beautiful prose, but I'm not know for writing them.  The essence of NaNo is to focus on writing words, quantity not quality.  Muffle your inner critic and start writing whatever you can write.  I had talked my sister and best friend into joining in on the craziness which was self-created peer pressure.  Only a few days before the start I took a deep breath, went to the site and signed up.  Two days before it began I had a name for one character and thought I would write about a teenage girl.  Hours before I was to begin writing I decided to write about a mom instead.   I had a name and a very vague idea of what I would be writing about.  No outline, no plan, no real plot to speak of.

The die hards begin writing at midnight on November 1st.  I was really tired and was planning on going to bed around that time.  I woke up after a very brief sleep and knew the girls were still awake.  My story ideas started rolling around in my head.  I headed to the kitchen and found myself writing from 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. before returning to bed for more sleep.  I completed the entire days word count goal in those two hours and started thinking that perhaps I might be able to do this after all.

For some crazy reason I had thought that the house would be particularly peaceful and quiet since we would all be focused on writing.  I had forgotten that for some people writing involves a lot of procrastination.  I also didn't realize that I would be wanting to write and write and write without stopping.  I would get up in the morning while the girls were still asleep so that I could get in a couple solid undisturbed hours.  Then I would focus on food needs.  The week was unusually sunny and warm so we took a lot of walks to enjoy the weather get our vitamin D before the rains returned.  Late afternoon I would write for a while since the younger two were often playing with friends.  However, stopping to make dinner was a challenge.  Most of the time I really wanted to keep working.  I was writing on a desktop in the kitchen that couldn't go online.  It was good to not have the option of going online because that would have been an easy distraction.  However, it was hard to write in the kitchen when the house was full of people or the TV was on in the evening.

What really caused the most tension in the house was that I was zipping through my word count.  My words were piling up at a ridiculous rate that was completely unexpected.  The problem with this was that it frustrated the girls.  Even though the younger two weren't trying to accumulate the same number of words, even though I was an adult with an English degree, even though it wasn't a competition, the girls were seriously annoyed every time I mentioned my word count.  We were trying something new together and it turned out I was doing great and they were feeling bad.  I was trying to make sure that I was not ignoring them because I was writing, I was making sure their needs for food and attention and interaction were being met.  I was determined not to let my writing become a higher priority than my family.  However, I wasn't sure what to do about their feelings.  I was finally writing, finally doing something I had wanted to do my entire adult life, and I was totally rocking it.   But if it was really bothering my children should I keep writing?

Sometimes when our children have strong feelings we don't need to do anything to fix the situation, we just need to validate those feelings.  I didn't try and change my girls' feelings.  We didn't have long discussions about how this wasn't a competition or how I had years of experience, I didn't tell them that they didn't need to feel envious of my word count or frustrated by what I was accomplishing.  As an adult, if had a friend zipping through the word count many times faster than I was there was a good chance I would feel the same way they did: frustrated and annoyed every time that friend posted their word count while I was banging my head against the computer not coming up with anything to write.  It's entirely possible that I did have some adult friends out there cursing at me through the computer screen and I just didn't know it.

In the end I didn't need to give up writing, I didn't need to slow down my writing. I needed to be respectful of my children's feelings.  My oldest was o.k. with hearing my word count.  She would grumble a little, but I knew she was happy for me.  My husband was always ready to congratulate me on my latest word pile.  For the younger two we talked briefly and I agreed to block one of them from seeing my word count when I posted it on facebook, and I tried to avoid talking about my word count when they were in the room.  As with so many tensions, this one passed and after a couple days was no longer much of an issue for any of us.  The girls got farther into their own writing and began to feel better about what they were accomplishing.  I kept writing while trying to stay available.

It turns out that I can write 50,000 words in a month.  I ended up writing all 50,000 in one week!  I also managed to keep our family functioning and finish one blog post. And while I didn't make a big deal of it to the girls, part of me really wanted to throw a party for myself when I hit 50,000 words on day seven.  This week I'm exhausted, which isn't at all surprising.  Having completed my goal, my word count is now a non-issue in our house as the girls continue their writing adventure.  I'm working on my first rewrite at a more leisurely pace.  And my mind is already considering trying the same process for a nonfiction book in a month or two.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I Love Candy

As Halloween has come and gone I have had the opportunity to reflect on my personal growth over the past two years.  Once upon a time, not very long ago, I absolutely hated Halloween.  I hated the pressure of creating costumes, I hated the way it made me feel uncreative and not up to the task.  I wasn't fond of the slimy pumpkin guts that I cleaned out of each child's pumpkin.  However, these negative feelings originated from the fact that I hated the candy.  And as much as I hated the artificial colors and dyes and the high fructose corn syrup, what I really hated was the added negativity the candy brought to our house.  I hated being asked over and over and over for "just one more piece."  I hated trying to set limits and then getting angry because I was being pestered or I gave in and let the kids eat more.  I hated my own desire for the candy because I really wanted to eat the stuff, too.  My feelings about candy lead me to resenting the teenagers who came to the door in thrown together costumes "just to get the candy."

This year Halloween was great!  I really enjoyed the night as we walked around the neighborhood with friends and our family, the kids going to doors we would never approach otherwise.  The people handing out candy were friendly, the kids often said trick-or-treat in unison and even said thank you most of the time.  The older kids helped the younger kids without being asked.  And I now firmly feel that you are never too old to trick-or-treat.  I even dressed up, instead of just putting on our hat w/ ogre horns and calling it my costume.  We arrived home tired but content.  The kids dumped out their candy for sorting and trading, while the men caught a bit of the football game on TV.

The holiday didn't change, the candy didn't go away, the need for costumes was still there, we carved pumpkins and I roasted seeds.  Nothing changed except my perspective.  The only big difference was that I no longer hated the candy.  I let go of my need to control the candy and that made room for peace in our house, and for my children to make the decisions about how much candy they would eat and when they would eat it.  The interesting truth is that when we let go of control, and give our children information instead of rules, our children are remarkably capable of knowing what they need.  Yesterday afternoon, November 1st, I read multiple accounts on facebook from mothers whose children had asked to eat eggs or "real food" after the children had been enjoying eating their candy.  Mothers told of how their children had decided when they were done trick-or-treating the night before.  It happened in my own house, too.

Over the past two years we have let go of all control over food at our house.  We do not tell the kids what to eat or what not to eat.  We do not tell anyone that they have to eat at a certain time.   The girls often come along to the store and help me pick out the food that we will be eating.  No food is off limits. In the process, we have all developed a healthier relationship not only with food, but with each other.

When you control foods you give them extra value.  The forbidden fruit concept.  The more restricted something is the more precious it becomes.  Candy, cake, ice-cream, and cookies are often given higher value.  They are used as treats, bribes, and rewards.  They are highly desired because they are kept in scarce supply.  The more they are limited or controlled the more desirable they become.  If, at this moment, you are saying that if you didn't control foods your children would eat candy all day then you are proving my point.  When something is given such a high value then when it is available binging becomes much more likely.

When we originally dropped the controls on candy I really struggled with letting go.  I had a daughter who would eat up to a pound of candy a day.  That was terrifying to me, and brought up a whole lot of issues from my own childhood.  It was not until I truly let go mentally and emotionally, and stopped those voices in my head that were going on and on about how terrible it was that my children were eating candy, that my children had the freedom to figure out what they really needed.  It was not until they got past their feelings of lack created in the past that they could move on to listening to their bodies and understanding how different foods made them feel.

If you have a child who has allergies, sensitivities, or reacts behaviorally to certain food additives then you may feel you have to control what your child eats.  Unless the allergy is life threatening, letting go of control and respectfully providing your child with information is still an option.  And if the allergy is life threatening, being respectful of your child when you need to protect them should be your focus.  Children do not want to feel sick any more than an adult.  If they are given the opportunity to see how foods affect them and are supported in making their own choices they will almost always end up choosing not to eat the food that is problematic, or will eat it mindful of the potential negative effects.

As we walked home this Halloween I asked the girls if they wanted to go to more houses along the way.  They said they didn't, pointing out that they can wear costumes, eat candy and walk around in the dark any day.  The only thing different on Halloween is that they go knock on doors, and they had done enough of that to satisfy their needs for this year.

For more ideas about food visit Sandra Dodd's Full Plate Club page.

She has a page just about Halloween candy, too.