A couple weeks ago, Jennie and I attended a parenting conference by Beech Acres called “Peaceful Parenting”. I will be the first to admit that we were both sitting there within the first 5 minutes wondering if we were in the wrong place at the wrong time and second guessing the $25 cost to attend this workshop. Let me tell you, after the first 20 minutes we looked at each other like we hit the gold mine and we learned SO much. I finally figured out why Luke does certain things that we’ve been trying to figure out for months and Jennie learned ways to help Cody be more independent.
I guess I should back up a little and fill you in on why we go to these things in the first place. What was MY biggest misconception about becoming a Mom?! I thought I would magically turn into “super mom” and instinctively know how to parent. I laughed out loud the first time I was given a book during my pregnancy about how to “connect” with my baby! I had always wanted kids and I always say there’s nothing more humbling than your first baby. I was the perfect parent before I had kids! I could tell you exactly what other kids problems were and what they needed! You think you have it all figured out and know it all until you come home with your baby the first night and realize the first principle about parenting: YOUR agenda goes out the window and your life no longer revolves around yourself and the choices YOU want to make….now it’s about this child you’ve brought into the world that from Day 1 will refuse to do what his/her parents want them to do. They are fighting to be their own independent little person from the very beginning and that’s a hard realization for us, as parents, because we’re here to parent them right? We’re here to show and teach them right from wrong. We’re here to give them the tools they need to grow up as independent, happy, healthy young adults and allow them to take on the world and live their dreams.
I honestly never realized how important intentional parenting was and how difficult this is without a plan of how to execute your parenting goals. Think of it as a road map when you’re driving across the country; yes you can “wing it” and I’m sure you might get there someday, but you’ll save yourself a lot of heart ache if you prepare your map of where you intend to go. Winging it might seem fun for the first few weeks, but after plenty of frustrating detours you’re going to wish you had a map! I do believe the same goes for parenting and once heard a quote that I still hold on to- “start as you mean to go on”. (I will elaborate more on this in another post!) It is for this reason that I started reading and attending parenting conferences. You may not always agree with everything being said, but the important part is to fill your “parenting toolbox” with as many tools as you can to help keep you on the road toward your parenting goals. It’s always comforting to sit amongst other parents who are also trying to be proactive with their parenting skills and I can’t tell you how many people came up to Jennie to offer their support when she asked a question after the conference! Isn’t it great to be overwhelmed with support when we need it the most?! Parenting is the hardest job we’ll ever love, so why not enroll yourself in a workshop every now and again! We’ll call it “continued education”. 🙂
One of the great things about the Beech Acres parenting conferences is their foundations for helping parents. They are to teach parents how to be: Intentional, Mindful and Strength Based in their parenting. In a nut shell, here are a few of the things we learned at the conference:
- What kids want most is to feel “connected” with their parents.
- Kids learn emotional regulation and problem solving from US
- Use a large glitter ball (similar to a snow globe) as a calming device (place it in their hands and have them look at the glitter slowly fall as a calming learning tool).
- The link between emotions and behaviors are extremely important. The left and right sides of our brains have different functions, one does more of the emotions and the other does the language. When you teach children to talk about how they feel (learned from US, by example) it links both sides of the brain together, which is an important part in brain development.
- Absolutely give your kids the opportunity to contribute (at even the youngest age) to the family. This teaches them how to contribute to society.
- Start your day by “setting your intention”. When it gets derailed (and we all know it does from time to time!) take 5 breathes as a “time out” for yourself and after that if you still feel like you’re derailed….take another 5 breathes!
If you’re interested in checking out what other parenting conferences are coming up, head on over to Beech Acres and check out their entire schedule of parenting workshops they are now offering on a monthly basis. There is something for everyone and the cost is only $15 per workshop!
Patricia (Tish) Jennings, Ph.D was the speaker for the Peaceful Parenting conference and is the Director of the Initiative on Contemplation and Education at the Garrison Institute and a faculty researcher in the Prevention Research Center at Penn State University. Dr. Jennings received her doctorate in human development from the University of California, Davis and completed postdoctoral training at the Health Psychology Program at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). She lead the team that developed Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education (CARE), a mindfulness-based stress reduction program for teachers and she is conducting research to examine how CARE may improve teacher-student relationships, increased student pro-social behavior, a more positive classroom atmosphere and improved student academic performance. Dr. Jennings has over 22 years of research and teaching experience in the field of education.