Thursday, July 11, 2013

Teachable Moments for Parents Available at the Parent Forum

How is your summer going?

Tomorrow is July 12. It will be one month since the CUSD schools ended for summer, and I’m pretty sure that all I did was blink. One really has to wonder where the time goes... If I was one of those conspiracy theorist types, I would venture to guess that somehow they are siphoning minutes from my days when I’m not looking – you know, the way hackers can get into your bank account if you’re not careful. Of course, I am the only one who can fritter my time away. I know that... (Anyone for a game of Words With Friends?)

The thing is that as summer approached, I purposely avoided signing the kids up for a bunch of camps (any camps, actually), because I wanted to give them a chance to recharge a little – to have some down time to relax and enjoy their summer. Of course, July finds them still training for the Junior Olympics, playing high school summer league, and my youngest is in summer school. While I guess the minimal-obligation phase of summer won’t officially start until August, their schedules are considerably lighter than they are during the school year. Although, I must confess that I was stunned by how quickly the first month of summer flew by.  My visions of lazy days spent at the beach were slipping away like sand between my toes.

Epiphany struck as it occurred to me that this was far more about me than it was about them. I found myself in one of those parenting teachable moments – only I was the student! Skipping the camps was only part of the issue. There was no doubt that the girls needed the down time. Between school, water polo, church and other charity activities, they are very busy during the school year. However, it’s not just about giving them big chunks of unstructured time to use as they please. They (and I) must be mindful about the free time. They don’t need me to dictate what they do, but they need to be aware of the time, and be cognizant that they are at choice as to how they spend it. At fourteen and twelve years old, they are old enough to be making these sorts of decisions for themselves; and I need to be okay if they choose to spend an afternoon watching what I consider mindless cartoons. It’s not going to impact whether or not they get into college.

Giving them room to make those less than desirable choices is one of the hardest parts of parenting. It is also the birthplace of so many other teachable moments. Many of my children’s best-learned lessons were the ones they taught themselves. Those opportunities for showing them a new perspective also brought a deeper connection and greater mutual understanding.

My children are wonderful, delightful, people who know that I love them dearly, which I guess is why they put up with my occasional parenting missteps. They know that I, like most parents, strive to do my best. Fortunately, I have found a great friend and mentor along my parenting journey who has created a powerful tool that is available to parents. Her name is Rev. Pattie Mercado and the tool is the Parent Forum.

Rev. Pattie has created a space where parents can benefit, not only from her wisdom and experience, but also share tips and support each other. The forum typically meets at the Center on the first Thursday of each month at 11:30am-1pm. Due to the holiday last week, we are meeting today this month, so please plan to join us! Childcare is available and a delicious light lunch is served. 

It is truly one of the highlights of my month! I hope to see you there.