Learning to say ‘Okay’

Parenting Transformation Journey – Page 18
(Click here for page 1)

This post ends by sharing a victory that wasn’t exactly as it appeared. But after you read this I think you’ll see why I’m choosing to take it anyway.

According to Nicholeen Peck, one of the most fundamental skills that our children need to learn, is the ability to accept a “no answer”. This means being able to say “okay” when they don’t get their way.

Even adults need to learn how to accept a “no answer”. We need to accept disappointments in our own lives calmly, so that we can respond (in control) instead of reacting (out of control). After all, it is all about self-government.

Another fundamental skill is learning how to disagree appropriately so that they/we are never stuck without the ability to voice their/our opinions or feelings. (Nicholeen’s book shows how.)

One of my friends on Facebook made a comment about my previous post that got me thinking. She said:

“As far as the idea of telling someone you need them to feel a certain way so that you can feel a certain way…I don’t believe in doing that. With children it’s problematic because you’ve just set up a scenario for them in which they are no longer free to feel what they feel, they must now feel what you want them to because YOUR feelings and your work are depending on it. They may chose that on the surface, but they may still feel disappointed and now feel they have to hide it in order to support you. I just don’t agree with that, it closes doors instead of opening them. BUT that said, I really love what Leslie is doing and the energy she’s putting into creating something really positive in her family.”

At first I felt that little jab in the pit of my stomach that maybe I had done something wrong. That’s never a fun feeling, but the fact that it happened caused me to stop and assess my reaction. I could see her point. I certainly never intended to manipulate the children or cause them to become overly concerned about their mother’s feelings, and I had to stop and think about whether or not I had put undue pressure or responsibility on them.

I do think it’s a valid concern, and worth noting (which is why I’m including it here). But as I reviewed the entire conversation with the kids in my mind, I was reminded of more of my interactions with my children that day that I had not described in the post, which helped me at least understand why it didn’t feel wrong at the time.

Thinking it over again in my mind was a great opportunity for self-examination, and her cautions are something I am going to watch out for in the future.

Here is the conclusion of my self-examination, and my reply to her:

Thanks for your comment… I can see how that came across. My point in sharing that piece was to show how I tried to talk them through it in an attempt to pre-teach and help them accept a “no answer” calmly…. I knew they were disappointed because they had already expressed it through the day, and they knew that I knew. There were no hidden feelings. This was just the point where they had to come to terms with the fact that it was not going to happen, and see if they could accept a “no answer” in the way they had been taught. I realized that it was going to be better if I was straight with them so that they wouldn’t keep hoping even beyond dinner and bedtime – that definitely would have been worse. Thanks again!

I realize now that it would have been more effective had I verbalized to my children more clearly what I was doing. Something like this, perhaps: “I understand that you want to go fishing today. I know that it is something you’re really looking forward to. But I am going to give you a ‘no answer’ and I want to see if you can say ‘okay’. If you don’t feel like you can say that, then you can ask me if you may disagree appropriately and we’ll talk about it…”

The way I did it instead was more vague, not clearly teaching self-governing. It was more like how I used to do it in the past. This is a good reminder to get back to the vocabulary Nicholeen teaches, so that the children always understand exactly what’s going on, and what to expect going forward. The consistency and repetition helps them feel safe, and it also helps them track more clearly the causes and effects that they experience.

I just have to close this post again with another little victory. I like to do that to help me feel encouraged to keep on going:

Last night my 11 year-old son came down long after bedtime to complain about his older brother. He was begging me to let him sleep somewhere else because the older brother was watching a movie on the iPad and it was making it hard for him to fall asleep.

Well, we have a rule for our kids about no internet behind closed doors, so I got a feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach that I was going to need to confront the older brother about this. In the past, it has been a struggle for him to just say ‘okay’.

Historically, the pattern has looked like this:

  1. I make a request
  2. He asks why
  3. I explain why
  4. He tells me why not
  5. I explain some more
  6. He complains that I’m not listening
  7. I complain that he is not respecting authority
  8. He accuses me of doing something wrong
  9. I get defensive
  10. He tells me to calm down
  11. My blood boils that he didn’t just say ‘okay’ 10 steps ago
  12. It escalates until one of us walks away
  13. He feels sad and upset
  14. I swallow my pride so I can comfort him
  15. I finally listen
  16. He explains where he’s coming from
  17. He has a really good point that I never considered
  18. I apologize and modify my original request
  19. He apologizes for being frustrating
  20. He complies with the modified request
  21. We hug and express our love for each other

It’s truly an exhausting process that sometimes takes 2-3 hours (sometimes more) to get through. And it’s pretty much 100% predictable. And I had gotten to a point that I stopped hoping he would ever say ‘okay’ just because I’m his mother.

Over the years, I’ve learned I can shorten the 21-step routine if I really listen quicker, but there’s a part of me that has always been bugged that the power struggle even existed with him at all.

(On a side note, so you can get a sense of what this looked like in the early years – when he was really little, my mother visited us from out of state and was spending some one-on-one time with him. She said, “I’m SO glad that I could come to your Mom’s house to see you.” His immediate response was, “MY house.”)

Unfortunately, instead of intentionally teaching self-governing, I was in survival mode. He always seemed to make good personal choices, had good friends, had high standards of morality, and had a deep-down desire to be a good kid. So when there was a power struggle, I usually just backed off… eventually. As long as he wasn’t breaking our rules or making really stupid life choices, I mostly just avoided  conflict over the “respecting authority” element. It just wasn’t worth the fight.

Since learning about Nicholeen Peck’s Teaching Self Government, I can see how I should have been doing it differently, and it would have looked more like this:

  1. Give an instruction
  2. If they say ‘okay’, praise them
  3. If they argue, ask them if they would like to disagree appropriately

That’s pretty much it. No 21-steps, no 2-hour battle. Even when it doesn’t go perfectly:

  1. If they don’t say ‘okay’ and they don’t disagree appropriately either, describe what just happened in detail, and that because they chose not to follow the instructions, they just earned an extra chore. 
  2. Give them the extra chore and ask them to do it immediately.
  3. If they argue or refuse to do it, calmly describe what just happened in detail and explain that because they chose not to follow instructions (or because they chose not to keep a calm face, voice, and body), they earned another chore, and then tell them what that is and instruct them to do it immediately.

If it escalates, then for children 7 or older, it then goes to the Rule of 3.

Honestly, in the two weeks we’ve been implementing, I’ve only had to go to Rule of 3 once. It made a big enough impact on everyone, I think, that nobody wants to go there.

Bottom line, with this alternate approach to parenting, as long as the parent stays calm, then there is no power struggle. It’s just a calm delivery of cause and effect, with active teaching going on along the way.

But like I said in an earlier post, since my son is now already 18 and heading off to college in a few weeks, I consciously decided not to try to implement the program of consequences, etc., with him. Nicholeen’s advice instead was that we spend these last few weeks just strengthening our relationship, because it was the best thing we could do after all of the years it’s been strained.

(I did slip up once and issued a formal correction to him, which he actually accepted, possibly because it happened in front of his siblings and he liked the system and decided to go along with it for their sake.)

But about that movie in his room…

Well, it was already 10:30 pm so I was not excited about starting the 21-step routine so late. I knew it could feasibly take until after midnight to resolve, based on past history. But it had to be addressed right away.

(Remember, since I had decided not to really implement the TSG program with him, I also did not ever really make sure he learned how to disagree appropriately. In my mind, this was probably going to have to play out the old way.)

So I called him on his cell phone.

Me: “Hey, where are you?”

Him: “I’m in my room…”

Me: “I think we have a problem.”

Him – agitatedly: “Is it Kayli??” (Apparently there was an issue there that I didn’t know about.)

Me: “Um, no, this is NOT about Kayli, and actually… I have a problem with you getting angry and resistant before I’ve even said what the problem is.”

Him: “O…kay…”

Me: “Are you watching a movie?”

Him: “Yeah…”

Me: “Remember, there’s no internet in the bedrooms.”

Him: “It’s just Netflix.”

Me: “Netflix IS internet.”

Him: “O…kay…”

(He said okay?? I’ll TAKE it!)

Me: “Okay. Thanks so much. Goodnight.”

Him: “Uh… Goodnight…”

I know, it sounds a little unresolved. I admit, I got the sense that he had something else on the tip of his tongue, but I decided to leave it at that before it got any further down the 21-step routine.

Problem solved in 30 seconds flat. (No, more like: I took the chicken exit by not waiting to see if he had something else to say.)

Besides, if there was more to say, I knew we could talk about it after we were both rested.

(Oh, and if you’re wondering why I didn’t follow through to see if he complied, I would have, if I had felt it was necessary. When the expectation is clear, and he has agreed to the terms, he keeps his word. He’s proven himself on that point very solidly over the years. Plus, he shares a room with two brothers, so I would have known if the rule breach had continued after our conversation.)

Funny follow up

So I was feeling pretty victorious that I had dodged the 21-step bullet. I was so proud of him for saying ‘okay’ so quickly – that shocked both me and my husband, actually – but also I was proud of myself that after just 1.5 weeks of implementing the principles I’m learning from Nicholeen Peck, I could experience such a quick resolution with him. There was no resistance, no fight, no escalation, none of it.

Although implementing with him has been non-existent, or if at all, it’s been informal, I intentionally complimented him on it the next day. I said, “Thank you so much for just saying ‘okay’ about the Netflix thing. That was really great, and I appreciate it.”

He said, “You’re welcome…” and then he went on to explain what was really going on in his head at the time.

Here’s HIS side of the story:

To begin with, he had asked his little brother NOT to use packaging tape on the wood bed frame to hold the alarm clock suspended over his head, because it can mess up the wood finish. The little brother argued that it can’t hurt the wood, and they got into a power struggle over it.

Eventually, the distraught little brother came downstairs to have ME settle the argument.

I didn’t know that an argument was going on, so here’s how that conversation went:

Little brother: “Mom, can packaging tape hurt wood?”

Me: “Yeah, actually it can leave a really nasty residue. Remember those marks on my dresser from the old house? That was from packaging tape. I mean, yeah, you can get it off with Googone or something like that, but it’s a pain, so I wouldn’t want you using packaging tape on wood.”

Clearly, that’s not what he expected to hear.

So he changed the subject and just asked if he could sleep somewhere else because of the movie.

So when I called the older son and said, “Where are you?” He responded hesitatingly, “I’m in my room…” because he was already in bed, and tired, and didn’t want to have to come down to talk to me about an issue with one of his siblings.

I said, “I think we have a problem,” and he snapped because he knew that Kayli must have tattled on him about something. So when I told him that wasn’t what it was about, he was caught off guard, and didn’t know what else it could be about.

I said, “Are you watching a movie?

He couldn’t figure out what that had to do with anything, so his answers continued to be hesitant and guarded. He just couldn’t predict where I was going with my odd, unrelated questions.

So even when I got right to the point, he thought there might still be something more coming. He was still hoping I wasn’t going to ask him to come down for a big long talk about some other issue.

So when that’s all it was, he said, “O…kay…” waiting for more, and that was it.

So although it wasn’t the text-book beautiful ‘okay’ that I hoped it was, it still fixed the issue, and we avoided a hairy argument.

I’ll take it. I’ll still count it as a victory.

Baby steps to self-government… baby steps to self-government.

If you disagree with anything I’m doing, then before leaving your comments, all I ask is that you please first watch this BBC episode so you can see where this is going. It might be a little messy in the middle, but I do believe and trust in the end result. Each of my posts – standing alone – will not provide the big picture… but the episode does. Enjoy!


It’s what God gave us time… for.

Parenting Transformation Journey – Page 17
(Click here for page 1)

All day yesterday, my 11 year-old son hoped I would find time to take him fishing. I had already picked up some hooks and bait the day before with the money he gave me, and he couldn’t wait to use them.

But yesterday was too hectic – my business commitment I thought I’d finish by 10:00 am took me until 5:30 pm instead. And his older brother was already in line for me to take shopping after I was done.

It was around 2 or 3 when my little fisherman asked again if we could go, and I finally had to say, “I need you to be okay if this doesn’t work out. I would much rather be fishing than doing business, believe me. But this is a promise I need to keep, and if I’m worried about how you’re feeling, I’m going to be stressed, and it will be harder for me to think. Are you going to be okay if we don’t go today?”

He said, “I’ll be okay if we don’t go today.”

I turned to his little sisters and said, “What about you girls? I need to know if you’ll be okay, too, so that I am not worried about you. If I’m not worried, I’ll be able to work faster.”

They both replied, “We’ll be okay if we don’t go today.”

Of course they were disappointed, but supportive. Talking it through with them like this was my attempt to pre-teach and help them accept a “no answer” calmly. I was proud of them for it.

I realize this sounds dangerously similar to the times when I was full-time building my business and I would say something like that to put my kids off. But the difference back then was that coming back to them was usually a token effort just so I could check it off the list and get back to work.

I always professed to want family time, but if I’m going to be honest with myself, I recognize that my actions showed otherwise. I had a really hard time breaking the pattern. It took a total emotional collapse to reboot my system and set me on a path to a more congruent existence. I’m grateful it happened, though, because now I only work my business about an hour a day, sometimes even only a couple hours a week. I’m not addicted to the work anymore, nor the charge I’d get from feeling like I was changing the world.

I truly don’t mean to diminish my work, because I know it was important and necessary for me to do at the time. But I’m just grateful that the joys I’m finding now in full-time motherhood are even deeper and longer lasting. When I receive emails from readers that describe what my books or materials have done for them, I’m super happy and I feel tremendous fulfillment and gratification that all of those hours, and the blood, sweat and tears were not for nothing. Here’s one from just yesterday:

Hi Leslie 🙂  First of all, I can’t tell you how much your book has changed my life.  I know you hear this all the time, but I still have to say it.  I have been an executive business coach for many years and … I have read every self-help, motivation, inspiration, sales book, etc…on the market and have been a reader of this type of material since I was about 25 years old.  I am now almost 45. 🙂  I have even held seminars, workshops, training sessions, etc…about the power of the mind and “change.”  I have trained groups as small as 3 and as large as 4,000…and NEVER have I felt the way I do right now…since I read your book just 4 weeks ago!   I can’t thank you enough!  In fact, my husband & I had been writing our own book for the past 2 years, never that thrilled with the content, but desiring to finish it because we know we can help people with their health.  As soon as I read Portal [to Genius], I gave it to my hubby, he read it the next weekend, and we’ve have been writin’ fools ever since.  The writer’s block has ended and we can’t stop…the ideas just keep comin’!!!  I have referred your book to a total of eight people now and I would say half of them have reported back to me, concurring with my sentiment! 

But as much as I LOVE LOVE LOVE getting emails like that, (I really do!!) the thrill and joy only lasts a short time, and then life marches on.

On the other hand, when I participate in helping one of my own children have a major breakthrough (which, interestingly enough is rarely of the variety that my business is even about), my gratification is pure joy, and I literally relish in it for days. I’ll sometimes even fall asleep rehearsing the victory and how it played out for several nights in a row. Even months and years later, I know that those are the breakthroughs that I will remember the most, and in which I will take the most pride.

And it’s not because of any praise I get for helping, it just from watching the children experience a change. Most of the time, they don’t even realize they grew.

Like when my son didn’t show up for work on time because there was a miscommunication about his schedule. When he got the text that asked, “Aren’t you coming in?” he just about had a heart attack. It was his first job, he had only been there a week, and his brain kept firing shots of terror through his body, with all the what ifs about what his consequences might be. As we raced to get him there (7 hours late), I tried to assure him that somewhere in this awful experience there is a seed of something good. He shot back, “How can this POSSIBLY be good??” 

I had no answer. Only that it’s a true principle, and that somewhere there was a blessing in it. I didn’t know, maybe just that it was good he learned this lesson (whatever lesson it was) on a first job instead of a career job later when he’s trying to support a family.

He was convinced that everyone there was going to hate him, because he wasn’t  there to do his part when they opened, and then for 7 hours, his team mates had to cover for him in a really stressful environment.

I practiced being calm for the both of us. Prayed for him that the good would be found. I knew that there was something good in it, because that’s one of the laws. I just hoped he would find it.

Then at the end of the day when I picked him up he was flying high. He told me excitedly about how everyone was really understanding, how the misunderstanding about the schedule meant that it was never posted publicly, so for those 7 hours nobody but his supervisor knew that it was him who was missing, and then because he was so late, he was there for some unexpected emergencies, and it was better for everyone that he worked the night shift instead of the early one. He came off heroic instead of delinquent.

Best of all, he got some BIG praise from his supervisor for showing up 7 hours late instead of not at all. He had faced his terror instead of just writing the day off, he overcame the fear of the unknown, grew in self-esteem, gained experience in communicating with people who he thought hated him, and saw real evidence that the law of polarity is actually true.  The experience changed him. I saw him grow two years in just one day, and I felt joy.

So back to the original story…

I finished my work without guilt, because I knew that today was wide open, and I would not even be tempted to work. I knew I’d be able to spend some real time with my kids; and besides, I was ready for some recreation myself.

So I took my 18 year-old to work at 7:30 am, and ran home again to get his name tag. (On a scale of 1-10 where 10 is totally calm, I’m happy to say that I managed to stay up around an 8, even though returning for his forgotten name tag was not exactly what I wanted to be doing.)

Before I reached home the second time, I called the fishing preserve to ask about their hours. Since they had been open since dawn already, I was excited to surprise my youngest three with the news that we should go ASAP.

My 11 year-old son was super excited. We have a lake in our backyard, and he’s already caught countless fish there, but mostly only catfish, and only for catch and release. The lake we were going to is behind the library where you can catch about 5 different kinds of fish (including trout, which is what he really wanted), and, you can take them home to eat them.

So off we went.

photo (15)

While I was following them through the brush to find the best spot, I thought about how hot and uncomfortable I was (weather report says it was effectively 97 degrees), but how much in a rush I wasn’t. This is where they wanted to be, and I was mentally prepared to go along with it for a couple hours. I didn’t have something else on my mind that I “needed to get back to”, and I marveled that I had come so far. Two years ago I couldn’t get work off of my mind.

One of my previous parenting mentors (Matt Reichmann), had always taught that if you want to have more power as a parent, you’ve got to play with your kids. When I was so caught up in work, I always had trouble making time for play. It’s getting easier, though, and I’ve noticed that the more I play with them, the less I have to correct them. Bottom line, they simply behave better when their emotional buckets are full, and their buckets stay full the more often I play with them.

I was also reminded of a video clip that put a smile on my face. It is so simple but profound:

I love when the blogger said that “children aren’t something you collect because they’re cuter than stamps, [mothering is] not something you do if you can squeeze the time in, it’s what God gave you time… for.”

I know you may be thinking, “Yeah, that would be nice, if I didn’t have so many stresses that keep me from living that way…” because that’s what I thought for twenty years.

Well, I finally figured something out. When I was really ready to make that shift, when I was finally committed to living it no matter what, I had to let go. I had to let go of what people might think of me. I had to let go of the need for my lifestyle to look a certain way. I had to be ready to make the necessary sacrifices to claim it. I had to check my own priorities.

We downsized our home. We sold some extra cars. We rearranged a lot of things to make this work. I don’t get my nails done any more. I make my kids work for things. If we have to choose between getting a new coat of paint on the car or investing in our children’s education, we choose their education.

Through my work I learned with absolute certainty that we really can have anything we want. We could have a new car if we wanted one badly enough. We could replace some old furniture if we were passionate enough about doing that. I understand the principles of success and the law of vibration, and how our results are a reflection of our application of those principles. But I also recognize that for every desire, there is some effort that is required. So I had to ask myself, what am I working toward? For what purpose do I invest my best time, money, and attention?

What I really wanted more than anything was a peaceful home and rich relationships with my husband and children. And now I’m finally directing my best efforts to my own family. It takes a LOT of time, and it takes effort. But so far, nothing else has been this rewarding.

So you can imagine my surprise when, after ‘letting go’ for about a year and a half, that the business began to grow on its own. Other resources also began finding their way to us more freely. I began to recognize a real correlation between the calmness I felt, and the increase in the flow of money and opportunities into our lives.

There were still stressful situations, but choosing calmness and trusting God always seemed to cause the problem to melt away entirely, or turn it into something unexpectedly good. In either case, we were okay.

Stay calm, be still (in your heart), and think of God as a loving Father who will take care of you. Trust Him with your life.

No, it’s not easy to raise a family, and it’s not easy keeping Mom home from work if that’s what the goal is. But it’s possible if you want it. Opportunities will come to those who work tenaciously toward their worthy ideal, whatever it is. I promise you that. The answers may not come when you want them to, but God is never late.

(If you’re struggling with money issues, then you can get some new hope by reading The Jackrabbit Factor, and then coming back to browse the top 47 posts on the right side of this page – they’re mostly about dealing with financial stress.)

So anyway, there’s my thought for the day: raising a family is not something you do if you have time for it, it’s what God gave us time for.

If you disagree with anything I’m doing, then before leaving your comments, all I ask is that you please first watch this BBC episode so you can see where this is going. It might be a little messy in the middle, but I do believe and trust in the end result. Each of my posts – standing alone – will not provide the big picture… but the episode does. Enjoy!


Conscious choices

Parenting Transformation Journey – Page 16
(Click here for page 1)

I have a dilemma. I made a business commitment with a deadline for this morning, and I am a couple hours behind schedule.

But I have six kids at home and each one of them have been taking turns needing my help. So even taking a minute to add to my journey is not really staying on task, but this is how it looks sometimes. I’m consciously choosing to take a moment and assess what’s going on, and how I’m responding to it.

(New interruption just in: Sarah brought her pet rat to me and placed it on my shoulder. I’m just going to keep typing.)

With each interruption, I’ve been trying to stay calm. But it’s so hard when there’s deadlines and stress. But I’m trying. While my words have been calm, I’m sure they could see it in my eyes (my very wide eyes) that I was frustrated.

Two more interruptions just now.

Okay, I don’t think this is going to work. I don’t have time to document this if I want to meet my business commitment.

Another interruption just now.

Before I sign off, I do want to at least share this:

One daughter earned an extra chore about 20 minutes ago, and was not accepting it calmly. I stayed calm though… so I’m going to call it a small victory. Rather than telling her she earned yet another chore for not accepting it calmly, I asked if she would like to go calm down somewhere before we talk about it. She said, “YES! But I DON’T want to TALK ABOUT IT!!!” Then she disappeared down the hall and I said (I think she could still hear me, not sure, but I think so…), “If you can calm down, then we won’t need to.”

Perhaps I’m supposed to talk to her about it… I think Nicholeen would say yes, because anything resembling time out is for the purpose of preparing to talk calmly – not to just ignore the problem and hope it goes away.

But in this incident I plan to not bring it up again, unless perhaps my daughter and I are having a tender moment in the future and we can talk about it objectively – after the emotion has passed. For now, I feel like she needs to know that she is permitted to have some time to cool off without the expectation that she’s going to be on the spot about it later.

Well, that’s interesting, she just came skipping in to ask me an unrelated question. Seems like she’s over it… I will talk to her about what happened a little later. I’m consciously choosing to delay this discussion so I can wrap up this post, get back to business, and finish up what I promised I’d do.

If you disagree with anything I’m doing, then before leaving your comments, all I ask is that you please first watch this BBC episode so you can see where this is going. They say that in the middle of a life-saving surgery it can appear as though there has been a murder in the room. It might get a little messy in the middle, but I do believe and trust in the end result. Each of my posts – standing alone – will not provide the big picture… but the episode does. Enjoy!



Teenagers vs. Youth

Parenting Transformation Journey – Page 15
(Click here for page 1)

Sunday was almost over when I remembered that we should be using part of Sunday to assess how we’re doing, and pre-teach for the week to come. Ultimately, I want to do this the way Nicholeen recommends, where the parents take some time to discuss family issues ahead of the family meeting. We do that pretty much already, somewhat informally whenever we can, but I can see the benefits of making it more formal and routine so as to build the strong family government that we want to build.

(Remember, for me, the reason behind this new ‘structurizing’ is so that the children can more easily track cause and effect in their choices and behaviors, because that piece is so important for their learning how to self-govern. In the past, I have just invented consequences on the fly, and issued unfair punishments based more on what’s convenient for ME, instead of what’s really right and wrong.)

So we didn’t really get to have a couple’s meeting – forgot about that one. And we didn’t plan a family meeting either (like we had done last week to kick this off), but at the end of the day when we came together as a family to pray, I remembered. So before the prayer I just said, “Hey guys, I forgot that I wanted to tell you about the difference between teenagers and youth. I was thinking about that this week and wanted to tell you what I learned, so before we pray I’m just going to explain the difference.”

Then I spent only a few minutes or so on it, and complimented them on how often I see them behaving as youth instead of as teenagers. I had taken some notes from Nicholeen’s class, so here’s  a quick overview:

To be a youth instead of a ‘teenager’ the child has:

  • standards they live by
  • a network of adults that lend strength
  • self-government
  • regular opportunities to do hard things
  • a knowledge of where they’re going in life
  • heros (instead of idols)
  • lots of time with mom/dad to help them process their thoughts and concerns

(Here’s an article with more about this topic)

I love that I also had the younger children’s attention – so in effect, I was pre-teaching them on moving into those years in a good way. My eleven year-old asked, “Do you have to be in the teen years to be a youth?” I said, no, you are already a youth if you have those things on the list.

We talked about the difference between heros and idols, and I asked them for examples of each. It was short, to the point, but intentional. That’s what feels so good – no matter how incidental a moment is, if it is intentional, there’s power in that, and I know it’s making a difference.

All in all, I think it was a great week.

Oh! – Then as I was falling asleep, I remembered that one of my sons had a birthday in the morning, and one of our family traditions is to bring the child his/her favorite breakfast in bed. But I realized we didn’t have those items on hand, which means I was going to need to get up early and run to the store at 6:00 am.

If you knew me even 5 years ago, you would know how jealously I protect my sleep time, and I have always been more of a night owl than a morning person. In the past, if I had to get up early, I would spend the rest of the day dragging and looking for an opportunity to have a nap. I would be cranky and irritable, even if I did have a nap, but especially if I didn’t. Wow, just verbalizing this is uncomfortable, because it sounds like I’m describing a teenager. It’s always a revelation to discover a piece of me that hasn’t quite completely grown up – like when I throw an emotional tantrum, or complain when things seem hard.

But gratefully I can look back on that one as past history, because ever since we started getting up together to read and study in the mornings before facing our day (we’ve been trying to do this consistently for a few years now), my body has been trained to wake up on its own between 5:30 and 6 am. Honestly, I’m still shocked about it. So going to the store at 6 am didn’t throw me into  a tailspin for the rest of the day like it would have done before.

So this was breakfast: french toast, bacon, hash brown patties, and apple juice. Then at the end of the day we had one of my son’s favorite dinner meal: Spaghettios, apple sauce, (and I threw in some long green beans for good measure).

Something kind of funny… A friend of mine was selling a super cute doll house for pennies on the dollar (sells new for between $110-180, and she was offering it for just $30) so I decided to drive across town to pick it up.

However, I felt it would be important to pre-teach my son before walking through the door with this… it was only coincidental that I would bring it home on his 14th birthday. He chuckled and was understanding about the timing of it.


Good thing it all worked out okay. I’m not sure it would have, had I not prepped him before bringing it in. And actually it ended up improving his birthday, because it got his little sisters super happy and engaged with something quiet. And don’t worry – he did end up with things that were on his birthday wish list.

If you disagree with anything I’m doing, then before leaving your comments, all I ask is that you please first watch this BBC episode so you can see where this is going. They say that in the middle of a life-saving surgery it can appear as though there has been a murder in the room. It might get a little messy in the middle, but I do believe and trust in the end result. Each of my posts – standing alone – will not provide the big picture… but the episode does. Enjoy!


Oops!! Oh, what one little letter can do!

Parenting Transformation Journey – Page 14
(Click here for page 1)

I was just notified (after documenting this journey now more more than a week) that I had missed one little letter in the URL (website address) for Nicholeen’s BBC episode on the World’s Strictest Parents show. I’ve been pointing people to it in almost every one of my posts, and without that one little letter, it was actually taking my readers to a totally different video on their site.

Good grief. Well, I’m grateful the error was called to my attention, and just really sorry that very few of you, if any, were actually able to see the transformation that I keep talking about!

So I encourage you to see it now – watch what happens when two severely rebellious teenagers from England go to live with Nicholeen Peck’s family in Toole, Utah for 10 days. The show promises to be an explosive freak show, but what happened instead shocked the producers, because there was no fight. In fact, there was instead an unexpected transformation in those teenagers which was nothing short of miraculous.

That’s why I’m documenting my parenting transformation journey, because I know that as I learn how to be a better parent, I will be more successful at raising joyful adults who know what their mission is, and who can’t wait to fight for it. What I have been learning from Nicholeen has been absolutely transformational.

Click HERE to watch her episode – and I promise I’ll use the correct link this time!!



Choosing to be calm isn’t so easy

Parenting Transformation Journey – Page 13
(Click here for page 1)

Since my last update, I did fall back into some old habits. My husband was busy getting some things done when I discovered that our business support ticket system had not been working properly, for who knows how long. What that means is, basically, when one of our customers needs some help, they submit a ticket. We’re pretty good about responding to those tickets within 1-2 business days, and the system is supposed to automatically send the customer our response.

Well, looks like we’ve been ‘responding’ to the tickets internally, but the notification to the customers were not happening. It worked when it was initially set up, but for some reason, now it would appear to the customer that we weren’t responding at all.

I felt like it was a pretty urgent issue, and I was feeling pretty upset about it, since suddenly I was faced with the task to figure out how long it had been failing, and how many people were still waiting to hear back. My stress levels went up, and – trying to remain calm – I expressed my concern to my super techie husband (who had installed the system), and hoped he would drop everything to fix it.

Well, he was already deep into some other task, and a little put out that I didn’t instead suggest we set some time aside for him to look into it a little later (maybe in 15 minutes, or an hour, for example).

So here was a real test to see if I could practice “calm”. While I didn’t rage, my voice, face, and body was still not close to being calm. Eye rolls, clenched teeth, and deep, irritated breaths are quiet ways of expressing frustration, but they don’t count as being calm.

He did end up dropping everything to fix the issue, but he wasn’t happy about it. It took us both a few hours to cool off and talk through what happened, and identify what we each should have done differently. I could have been more respectful of the timing, or he could have calmly suggested a different time.

It was just interesting to realize that the thing I want to be teaching my children (how to stay calm, even when they’re frustrated) was the very thing that I needed to work on mastering myself. Looks like we’re all on the same journey together.

Later that day my husband and I went on our weekly date. This time we decided to spend some time at the Mesa LDS Temple where we got married 22 years ago. It always provides a good reminder of the things that are most important to us.

When we got home it was pretty late. I realized I had fallen behind in helping my son with his Duty to God program… and we were down to the wire. So he and I stayed up until 1:00 am finishing it. I actually fell asleep on the couch watching the lavalamp across the room, waking up each time he had a question for me.

(Here’s an idea… Need someone to calm down? Just have them watch a lavalamp for 5 minutes!)

Anyway, I’m not sure if my responses those last 20 minutes were very coherent, but he did finally announce that he was finished. He was sooooo happy and excited. He gushed his gratitude and gave me a strong, heartfelt hug for all my help. He almost gave me another one but caught himself when he realized that two in a row might be a little awkward. (Though I wouldn’t have minded 🙂 )

I still had a lesson to prepare (I teach the 14-15 year old girls at church), but I was too tired to pull it together. Instead I decided to wake early and finish getting everything ready the next day.

To stay focused on the positive, I’m choosing to wrap up my post by listing some of our victories this week:

  • My 13 year-old finished his Eagle Scout Proposal (and got all the signatures he needed).
  • My 11 year-old buttoned up his 1st and 2nd class scout requirements and had his board of review for both.
  • I prepared the checklists for my kids’ schooling objectives this year and posted them inside our schooling cabinet.
  • My 13 year-old demonstrated an increased interest in physics and algebra this week, because he needs to understand them better to get the computer game he’s creating to do what he needs it to do. Now he spends free time learning formulas – because he wants to. (I was always told that this could happen with homeschooling… I saw it happen with my oldest in the subject of history and political science… it’s just fun to see it happen again with one of the younger ones in a couple different topics.)
  • My youngest’s reading became noticeably more strong and fluent.
  • My 18 year-old independently set some goals to be completed before he leaves for college.

All in all, I think it’s been a great week. And honestly, I’m most proud of myself just for tracking it. Regardless of the progress or lack of it, I know our family will look back on it with a smile because it was a detailed snapshot in time of life at the Householder home.

If you disagree with anything I’m doing, then before leaving your comments, all I ask is that you please first watch this BBC episode so you can see where this is going. They say that in the middle of a life-saving surgery it can appear as though there has been a murder in the room. It might get a little messy in the middle, but I do believe and trust in the end result. Each of my posts – standing alone – will not provide the big picture… but the episode does. Enjoy!


Small Victories, Joyful Adults

Parenting Transformation Journey – Page 12
(Click here for page 1)

So the next day was crazy busy:

  • 6:50 took Nathan to work.
  • 7:00 ran home to get his forgotten security card so he could open the store.
  • 7:30 stopped for groceries because I was out of lunch supplies.
  • 9:00 made a lunch and drove across town with Kayli to get her…
  • 9:30 braces off.


  • 10:30 took lunch to Nathan on the way home.
  • 12:00 picked up a broken laptop for my 11 year old to dissect.

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  • 12:30 went to Kinkos to bookify my kids’ school work from last year.
  • 1:00 went to the Post Office to mail a package to my son in Colorado, and an FTMF program to a customer.
  • 1:30 took Kayli and Jared to get them registered for seminary.
  • 2:30 brought Kayli and Jared home from seminary.

With all this behind me I was exhausted and feeling a little edgy. At least once I had to say, “I want to be calm right now, so instead of talking about this, I’m going to step away and cool off.”

Anyway, I knew that sometime before bed I needed to help my son with his 2-3 pages like I promised, but I was having a hard time mustering up the energy to face it. It was the end of the day before I felt like I could do it. It was his Duty to God program from church that helps him discover that relationship with God. He was at the end of the first 2 years of the program, and he only had a few more days to complete it before it was time to move into the second 2 years of the program.

I found him at the computer and asked how he was coming on his Eagle Project proposal. This is something that has turned into a huge negative for all of us because for two months he has wanted to get it done but he has huge mental blocks about it and I have grown to hate it as much as he does.

But we had recently eliminated some pieces of it, and added some others, and he was finally excited to knock it out. He told me how excited he was about the changes, and that now he can SEE what needs to happen and how to bring it about.

I’m telling you what, VISION is powerful. When he had confusion in his head, he had no motivation. He kept asking the same questions over and over, like: “What do I do now? What am I supposed to say?”

But with clarity of the end result, his gears were spinning automatically and he instinctively knew all the steps that needed to happen to see it though. When a question came to his mind, instead of moaning, “What do I do?” he went straight to the source where he could get the answer for himself.

Got the proposal DONE! (He wants me to look it over one last time, but it’s done!)

Backing up a bit… when I looked at his Duty to God book, I had to take a deep breath because it looked like he hadn’t done a single thing in it for the last two years, and I wondered how possible it would be to cram it all into 6 days. I should have known where he was at with it all along, but I just haven’t been on top of it.

So, you can imagine my relief when I asked him about one of the first assignments – to plan a regular routine of daily prayer and scripture study – and he said, “Oh yeah, I’ve been doing that for almost a year already.”

“You’ve been praying AND reading your scriptures every day?”


“Really?? That’s awesome!”

Turns out he’s been keeping track of his assignments in the online interactive version, and he’s much farther along than I realized. I said, “Great! Well, then let’s just finish it up in the online program, and call it good!”

“Actually, I’d rather have it in this book, so that I can work on it at church, too.”

So I suggested he just transfer everything in, and he thought that would be a great idea. (No resistance. He seemed to really appreciate my interest and attention, and he was eager and excited to get that done. I’m still somewhat shocked at how easy that was, because of how much farther along he was toward reaching his goals than I realized.)

It was a great day for him. Victory with the Eagle Project proposal, huge progress on his Duty to God assignment, both he and his sister LOVE their new seminary teacher (funny, engaging, inspiring – every day!).

Some other victories: we got the main floor cleaned up with all the kids helping (it was in a bad way), got two internet campaigns done (one by each of my two older kids who help me build them for pay), set up an appointment to get my iphone fixed, helped my son select and purchase the ipod he’s been wanting and which he can finally pay for.

Nicholeen talks about crashing at the end of the day, exhausted from all of the intentional parenting, but at peace knowing that you’re fulfilling a very important mission.

It dawned on me that even though my objective is to “Make joyful adults, who know what their mission in life is, and can’t wait to fight for it, and have solid relationships with God and family,” I thought – wait, this describes ME as I am doing this!  I am a joyful adult who knows what my mission is, and I can’t wait to fight for it, and I am building solid relationships with God and family!

If you disagree with anything I’m doing, then before leaving your comments, all I ask is that you please first watch this BBC episode so you can see where this is going. They say that in the middle of a life-saving surgery it can appear as though there has been a murder in the room. It might get a little messy in the middle, but I do believe and trust in the end result. Each of my posts – standing alone – will not provide the big picture… but the episode does. Enjoy!


Now what? Oh, that…

Parenting Transformation Journey – Page 11
(Click here for page 1)

So at the end of the day Tuesday, I was reflecting on the fact that we hadn’t really done any implementation that day. I mean, as far as consequences goes, because none were needed. So I wondered if I was really still on track or not… was there something I was forgetting to do? Proactive parenting came to mind, but I kind of drew a blank about what intentional parenting thing I should do next. The day before I had done a whole lot of intentional parenting, but only because I needed to react – RESPOND – to situations that came up.

I did have a great day though. I spent time with the kids, got things done, nobody stirred anything up – perhaps I shouldn’t think that parenting has to be hard all the time.

I went for a walk with my girls at sunset, tried a new path in our neighborhood that we hadn’t yet explored. It was beautiful! Check it out:

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Even after all this, I felt at the end of the day that I hadn’t really done anything to ‘implement’ the family government system that I’m learning from Nicholeen Peck.

I felt like I hadn’t faced any real challenge, no testing of my resolve to stay calm and intentional about our long-term goals. I wondered, Now what? But just then, one of my children texted me. This child had already gone to bed, but there was something on his mind. He started to tell me how homesick he was feeling for our old neighborhood, and how miserable he was. How much he hated his life. He explained how trapped and bored he felt.

I reminded him that it was time to start planning his get-together with all the old friends, and he said he didn’t feel like he could plan it with so many other pressures on his mind – assignments (ie. scouting, school, church) that had deadlines looming.

There was a lot of confusion in his mind about how to get those assignments done, and the confusion was making worse his anxiety about being in the new place.

So here it was. My challenge for the day to be an intentional parent, instead of just going to bed like I had planned to do. We ended up talking for probably another hour. Here’s some of the conversation:

Me: “I understand this is a hard thing for you. These feelings are valid, especially at this age. I moved when I was your age and I remember feeling out of place.”

Him: “I don’t feel out of place, just like I am in a cage.”

Me: “I also understand that you don’t believe it’s possible to feel at home here. But the truth is that you can learn to be happy no matter where you are, even if it’s in a prison camp [that’s a reference to Victor Frankl]. If you will apply yourself to the principles you have been taught, this move, and any other major life change in your future can turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to you. Like it or not, that’s the absolute truth. I’m trusting you with the principles. I would not be raising you the way that I am if I didn’t believe you would find it within yourself to make the most of it. I am so impressed with your ability to chuckle at stressful situations. That’s unusual, and it’s one of your gifts. … [I went on with more specific praise about his talents and skills]… I realize that this caged feeling is stressful, and too much so to chuckle about it. I certainly would never expect that… but another truth is that it is impossible to be happy without growing, without doing uncomfortable things, and without doing hard things.”

Him: “Agreed.”

Me: “This situation is probably one of your first really big life tests. No fun. But… I know that it has within it the seed of something great, and you will look back on it one day as a blessing in your life. The sooner you accept what is, and let your spirit show you how to cope with it, and learn the lesson that God has in it for you, the sooner you can have the joy and happiness available to you.”

I went on to explain why it’s good that his friends from our old neighborhood aren’t always 100% available, because it could keep him from discovering some other things that have a greater impact on his happiness in life. I explained that his life isn’t just about his teenage years, it’s about all of his years and beyond.

I made the point that all of his older siblings went through this caged, lonely feeling when they were his age, but that they didn’t even have friends they could see every once in a while, or stay connected via the internet like he does; they were even more alone that that. And every one of them came out on the other side with more friends than they knew what to do with, but it felt like it took a very long time (several years, even).

He complained that at least his sibling’s friends weren’t a two-hour bike ride away.

I clarified, “Son, they had NOBODY. Nobody, nowhere. Not at church, not at school, not across town, nowhere. You’re actually the first of my children to actually have real friends at this age.”

“What do you mean?”

“They didn’t feel liked or accepted by anyone, because the friends who did pay them attention weren’t good friends. That just seems to be part of the program – we all get to know what it feels like to have no friends at some point in our life, perhaps to give us a chance to discover a little of what Christ felt, and to also discover that there really is a God, that he really lives and breathes right now, that he really knows you by name, and that he’s really there and hears your prayers. Sometimes teenagers never discover – really discover – what that knowledge feels like until they are brought so low that they have nowhere else to go.”

I’m summarizing a lot of this, and I know this is deep stuff. But I know it’s true because I went through the same thing myself when I was his age, and at my lowest point I found a relationship with God. The pain and loneliness I experienced at his age was worth it, because it ultimately brought me to the tremendous peace, comfort, and joy I found when I realized that there really was a Heavenly Father who cared about me. It was such a powerful experience, and after that, NOTHING else mattered. It made me want to try to make the kinds of choices that would help me feel that strength and love from Him throughout my life. What my Father in Heaven thought of me was suddenly infinitely more important to me than what my peers thought of me, and actually, that’s a really great perspective to have when you’re navigating the teenage years and negative peer pressure. I want that for each of my children, which is why I don’t panic when they tell me they don’t have friends. To get the reward, you have to pay the price, and loneliness is a common price to pay for a relationship with God, if you feel that way AND seek it.

So when my kids go through that (as they all apparently do), instead of breaking my neck to make sure they learn how to fit in with their peers, I let them feel it – knowing and trusting that through it they can learn who they really are as a Child of God, and how to confidently stand out. I try to help them see what’s possible when they get discouraged.

It’s really the Law of Polarity, which states that within every adversity there is a seed of an equal or greater benefit, and the worse the experience feels, the greater the potential reward can be on the other side – IF you think about it in the right way.

It can be super hard as a parent to watch a child struggle, but I think if we coach them through it, teach them true principles, and how to think about their challenges, the struggle can be a powerful precursor to some really great personal victories.

He asked if we would be moving again any time soon (because he still hopes that we might move back to our old neighborhood).

I told him that it’s probable we will not move, and that he has to prepare himself for whatever might happen. I said, “If this challenge triggers humility and a hunger to seek strength from God instead of triggering a typical teenage rebellion, then I know that you will get what you really want, all the faster.”

I suggested that we decide on the date and time for the party, and asked him to tell his friends about it in the morning. With that out of the way, we then talked about his other assignments that were stressing him out.

I reviewed some of the things he needed to get done in the next week, and suggested a plan where I would help with with a little bit of it each day. We broke it down into bite-sized pieces, and he agreed to let me keep him on track.

Me: “Btw, I just reviewed the assignment. There are 13 pages. I’m going to go over 2-3 pages a day with you. Okay? (Say ok) (It’s your choice… choice… choice… choice…)”

[That’s a reference to a scene from the Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs movie.]

Him: “Ok”

Me: ” 🙂 Picture creepy fingers wiggling away from your ears. Better get some sleep now – love you.”

Him: “Ooooooooooo. You too, thanks.”

I went to bed really happy because I watched his mood shift from deep depression to calm and hopeful in just one hour. I just have to say, I’m really enjoying myself as I try to be more engaged with my children’s studies and personal progress. I’ve always wanted to be like that, but now I’m doing it more than I probably ever have. I just had to decide that it’s never too late to do what you can right now.

If you disagree with anything I’m doing, then before leaving your comments, all I ask is that you please first watch this BBC episode so you can see where this is going. They say that in the middle of a life-saving surgery it can appear as though there has been a murder in the room. It might get a little messy in the middle, but I do believe and trust in the end result. Each of my posts – standing alone – will not provide the big picture… but the episode does. Enjoy!


Just a honeymoon stage?

Parenting Transformation Journey – Page 10
(Click here for page 1)

I had a great conversation with my friend yesterday. I told her about how excited I was for the changes I had been seeing already after only 2 days. She chuckled and said, “Sounds like you’re in the honeymoon stage…”

Aw man… really?

Reality check.

Nicholeen Peck has said that anytime you start something new, you’ll see things shift, but habits run deep and there will be a relapse. She wanted her readers to know that ahead of time (pre-teaching us?) so that when it happens, we can just check it off the list as part of the journey that always happens on the way to self-government, and stay committed to the long term picture. I need to be ready to just acknowledge it, and then get back on track again.

She says that part of that relapse experience is when the kids kind of get tired of hearing the same thing over and over again, “It seems to me that…” or “Just now, I noticed…” etc., and they will probably try to buck the system and see what I do.

Okay, then. Better keep studying and tracking. Interestingly enough, I felt no desire to track anything yesterday. We were busy living and being and I kind of burned out on assessing. Then I heard her again in my head tell me that relapses are to be expected. Was my disinterest in assessing a sign of relapse?

Maybe so. Whether or not that’s the case (there really wasn’t anything remarkable to note), I’m back now.

OH WAIT! Something DID happen yesterday! At 4:30, I notified my daughter that her 24 hours was over. She had actually lost track of time by then, playing quietly with her sister in their room. She squealed, “REALLY??!!  AAAAAAAHHHH!~ YAY!”

We hugged, and high-fived, and talked about how she never wants to go through that again!

Had a couple interesting conversations later that night though with a couple other kids that I want to assess, but I have to run. It’s FINALLY time to have my daughter’s braces removed. Wahoo! Be back later… 😉

If you disagree with anything I’m doing, then before leaving your comments, all I ask is that you please first watch this BBC episode so you can see where this is going. They say that in the middle of a life-saving surgery it can appear as though there has been a murder in the room. It might get a little messy in the middle, but I do believe and trust in the end result. Each of my posts – standing alone – will not provide the big picture… but the episode does. Enjoy!



Uneasiness and permission granted

Parenting Transformation Journey – page 9
(Click here for page 1)

Last night I was feeling so amazed at my energy level after a full day of intentional parenting that I managed to get several other things done before going to bed at about 12:30 am. Slept well, aside from the baby gorilla attacking me in my dreams.

As you can tell from my last post, I was beginning to feel a little uneasy about sharing the journey publicly, for fear that my motives might be misunderstood, or that my children might regret the public display of our private lives, so I brought it up with them at breakfast. I explained that it has been a long time since I’ve tried to learn something new really well. I’ve learned a lot of things superficially, but this is a new set of skills and a new understanding of principles that really I want to become a part of me. I want these strategies to become second-nature.

So I explained that after taking all those notes at Nicholeen’s class last week, I went back through them and used about 6 different colored highlighters and pens to bring color to the parts that really stuck out. I went through with one color, then back through it again with another, until I had reviewed my notes at least 6 times over. I went from remembering a couple powerful nuggets to nearly memorizing the whole thing – or at least knowing the ideas were there, and if I forgot the particulars, I could easily reference them again because I could see in my head the page and the colors and the thoughts connected to it.

I also explained that Nicholeen suggested that we write about the process as we go through it, and it will help us remember more. She said that we read to teach, and we write to learn. (I’m not sure that’s entirely how it works for me… in my world I believe I write to teach, and I read to learn, but then when I really think about it, it IS when I write that I’M really the one learning after all.)

So I told them about the blog, and how I’m writing (to learn) about this implementation process. I explained that I began to feel uneasy about making it public, and I said that I wanted to find out how they felt about it. I told them that I wasn’t using names, but that if anyone knows our family, they may be able to deduce who is doing what. One by one, they each said that they were fine with it – even the daughter who had the most trouble yesterday. They liked the idea that sharing this process might help someone else’s family.

I told them that I could always make it private if they were uncomfortable with it. But they encouraged me to keep it public. They understood that the purpose is to see what needs improvement, identify it, address it, and show the progress. They liked the idea that even if something negative is shared, as long as we also share the good that came out of it, they were supportive of the project.

One thing worth mentioning about my daughter who is now more than halfway through the 24 hour process, is that one of my sons (who often has fights with her) said something interesting this morning. “Mom, [this sister] is amazing. She is really growing up! I’ve just been noticing what a good person she really is.” And the fact that he said it in front of her made it an especially wonderful moment.

If you disagree with anything I’m doing, then before leaving your comments, all I ask is that you please first watch this BBC episode so you can see where this is going. They say that in the middle of a life-saving surgery it can appear as though there has been a murder in the room. It might get a little messy in the middle, but I do believe and trust in the end result. Each of my posts – standing alone – will not provide the big picture… but the episode does. Enjoy!