A Parent’s Learning Curve

originalParents: I feel for ya out there, especially when it comes to technology. My Dad can relate, as evidenced by this little video here.

I, too, was born before the internet and my students are quick to remind me of that tidbit. This generational-gap often takes a contentious turn when it comes to the health of our students as expressed in this article by an Occupational Therapist, who suggests (with some compelling research, mind you) why handheld devices should be banned for children under the age of 12. In true theory v. practice, however, a number of articles quickly popped up in response explaining why parents will continue to give their children handheld devices, like this one here.

Regardless of your persuasion, the fact remains that this generation of kids is the most technologically advanced in history. How then can we, as parents, therapists, and educators, keep up with our kiddos?

One way is to acknowledge that we all have a learning curve and in this case, our students may in fact know more than we do. On a daily basis, we openly encourage our students to ask for help and now, it’s our turn. So don’t be afraid to admit that you’re a little lost when it comes to turning a word doc into a pdf or uploading video on FB or even what “cray cray” means (my mom just learned that one).

By asking for help from our kids, we get to let them be the teachers for a change and in the process remember a little bit about what if feels like to be a kid again too–a lesson in honesty and humbleness for sure.

Christine Terry, J.D., is the Founder of Terry Tutors and Creator of the One Comprehensive Support Service for The Struggling Student. Want to Know More? Head on over to TerryTutors.com

The World is HAPPY!

The world has gone crazy for happiness lately, thanks to singer-songwriter Pharrell Williams and his latest colorful tune: HAPPY! Check out the World’s answer to his Happy song

The power of positivity and positive thinking starts with the ability to be your authentic, silly, dancin’ selves. When we are our authentic selves, we are able to look at the world through a different lens– a humbled perspective laden with empathy rather than sympathy.

I’ve recently taken on the #100 Happy Days challenge, where each day I post a picture of what makes me happy. This exercise is intended to help change my perspective– to look at the world through a different lens– a grateful lens. Gratefulness helps us appreciate the important things we often deem as small.

The most important thing I’ve discovered throughout these beginning stages of my own happiness project is the all-powerful concept of Time. It is becoming more apparent everyday that I value my time more than any other commodity. Time is beginning to be the driving force behind my decisions and I find myself constantly evaluating the who, the what, the where, the when, and the why of projects, clients, meetings, reports, friends, and family to answer one question: Is this how I want to spend my time today?

Your happy is the foundation of who you are and what you project to the outside world.

How do you help your kids find their happy? Well, before we can help our children, we must help ourselves. It’s a top-down model. If you parent your child as a happy parent, your children will model your behavior and vice-versa. Parents set the tone for their kids and their family dynamic as a whole, and these memories last a lifetime.

To know this is true, all you have to do is to think back to your own memories as a child: Were your parents able to model happiness for you? If yes, then you have strong foundation in what happiness looks like. If no, then it will be a bit more difficult to discern what happiness is.

Happiness is the popular term for contentment, and true contentment comes from within. It cannot be bought but rather realized. Some people think it’s unattainable and it is our entire life’s work to attempt to reach enlightenment. Most would agree contentment is a choice. We choose in that moment to view the difficult situation through a grateful lens. We acknowledge the emotion instead of pushing it down and waiting for it to explode later on. We humble ourselves, viewing failure as a forward-motion for change instead of defeat.

Children are a reflection of their parents. You can model contentment for your child just by learning to be content with yourself. To get started, I encourage you to try your own #100HappyDays Project and help your kids learn the art of contentment too.

The SuperBetter Game — Another gratefulness exercise that can add 10 extra years to your life.

Christine Terry, J.D., is the Founder of Terry Tutors and Creator of the One Comprehensive Support Service for The Struggling Student. Want to Know More? Head on over to TerryTutors.com

Working Towards Wholeheartedness

“Our job is to look [at our kids] and say, ‘Ya know what, you’re imperfect and you’re wired for struggle but you are worthy of love and belonging.’ That’s our job. Show me a generation of kids raised like that and we’ll end the problems we see today.” ~  Dr. Brene Brown, Vulnerability Researcher 

The Power of Vulnerability

Be Your Imperfect Self

I was blown away when I heard this talk by Brene Brown, Vulnerability Researcher, because I saw myself in her: Wanting to quantify emotion rather than reveal to others who I really was for fear that I wasn’t good enough. Until recently,  I had not yet realized the power of allowing myself to be excruciatingly seen, no matter the consequence. Vulnerability is not weakness, but rather courage. What?! This flew in the face of my long-lived logic and understanding of how to get things done and earn respect.  I had not yet made this connection and had, therefore, put aside connecting with others in favor of trudging through the murky waters of self-doubt. I did not feel worthy of love and belonging, but yet I had a profound, almost urgent, desire for relationship and connection. The tipping point emerged when I finally realized that all this time I had chosen to live my life climbing the ladder towards acceptance when all I really had to do was accept the fact that I didn’t need to climb the ladder at all. My only job is to be my imperfect self.

You are Worthy of Love & Belonging

Brene Brown’s research on shame and vulnerability revealed there are really only two types of people: (1) those who are wholehearted individuals, and (2) those who are not. The only factor that separated the two groups was that the wholehearted people believed they were worthy of love and belonging. That’s it. A simple belief that I, that you, that your kids are worthy of love and belonging. Connection is ultimately why we’re here. At the heart of school, family, community, religion, marriage, and parenting is the deep-seeded need and desire for authentic connection with others. At the core of teaching should be helping children develop a deep sense of worthiness so they can connect and live a loving, open, vulnerable life.

Open Your Eyes to Joy

I can tell you from personal experience that the moment I consciously chose to live a vulnerable life was the moment I saw the world with fresh eyes: an excitement like none other, a revelation of the beauty that is around us, a moment of joy, which becomes stronger each time I practice vulnerability. I chose to willingly embrace this change so that I can learn to believe that I am worthy of love and belonging. The hope is that one day I won’t have to consciously choose to practice it but rather just inherently know my own self-worth. This lesson was so overwhelmingly on-point that, like Dr. Brene Brown, I, too, had a mini-breakdown full of regret and emotional contemplation, which were vague and foreign concepts for someone like myself who justified her lack of belonging and pushed her feelings so far down that being guarded became the norm. It rocked me to my core so much that I knew without a doubt — if I wanted a real life with real love I had to embrace real change.

Live By Example for Your Kids

After I turned the proverbial corner, I saw greater hope and understood the reason to live vulnerably: to live by example. As a parent, grandparent, uncle, aunt, mentor, teacher, and friend the children in your life look up to you. They want guidance, acceptance, and help. They expect you to show them what to do and how to do it successfully. The problem that we face within our families and our culture in general is that we don’t know how to live vulnerably in a society that numbs itself from authentic connection. It is time to break that cycle. It is time to open ourselves up to courage, connection, and compassion. It is time to: “Stop screaming, and start listening… Stop trying to make uncertainty, certain… Stop controlling and predicting.. Say ‘I love you’ first, even when there are no guarantees…”  Wouldn’t it be a very different world if we approached each family argument, poor grade, and lost friendship from this starting point?

Wholeheartedness, here I come.

Another Powerful Study by Dr. Brene Brown: Listening to Shame

Christine Terry, J.D., is the Founder of Terry Tutors and Creator of the One Comprehensive Support Service for The Struggling Student. Want to Know More? Head on over to TerryTutors.com

Calm with an Om

down-dog-mom-tot I have just returned from a calming, zen-like hour of restorative yoga at my go-to yoga studio, Core Power, where I painstakingly held onto the finite number of seconds left in Shavasana before my mind reupped and quickly realized that I’ve still got seven things to do before the day has truly ended. How to hold onto those teeny, tiny moments of peace in a world run rampant with cell phones chiming, horns honking, and the constant jibber jabber of people around every corner? That elusive calm that we all so desperately seek can be regularly found– not in a store or a spa or even a yoga studio, but rather, within ourselves. That’s right, inner calm is the all important nugget of wisdom that can save us from ourselves. Calm begets clarity and confidence. Without it, we are forced to trudge through the day, perhaps counting the hours, until we can physically go to our peaceful place. The problem with having a place, however, is just that– we can’t always get there, and in the meantime, we’re stuck (metaphorically or literally). When we decide to first help ourselves create mental calmness, however, we can then help others, like our children, spouse, partner, or friend. Have you ever noticed that when you’re faced with a screaming two-year-old on the floor of Target, overtired and starving for apple juice and attention, it is that quiet voice inside of you that says, “Hang on…this too shall pass”. If not, know that your voice is there, it’s just hidden under a list of must-do’s, have-to’s, and don’t-want-to’s. When your inner calm becomes an outer calm, those around you are calmer too– they just may need a sippy cup of apple juice and a long nap. Think of it like this: Federal Air Safety Regulations require you to first put your air mask on before helping your children. Even the government stipulates that we must help ourselves before helping others. All in all, when you find your inner peace, your calmness, others respond to it positively. There is a “breath of fresh air” moment or a quiet resilience forming when a tantrum ensues. Your inner calm becomes your outer peace and those around you slowly recognize there is something different–something great– about you.

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Christine Terry, B.A., J.D., is the Founder & Owner of Terry Tutors, a Private Tutoring, Family Coaching, and Education Advocacy service dedicated to supporting the whole student. She writes this blog as an effort to help Moms & Dads Navigate Generation Z, Honestly. Want to Know More? Head on over to TerryTutors.com