Archive for the ‘Weeks following: Contributions’ category


March 14, 2014

“My dad complains about wrappers left around the house while he goes around picking them up! Then he nags us about the dinner dishes while we’re still eating, and then starts cleaning those too! We’re like, cool! You can do it all for us!”


Do nothing, say nothing (advanced version)

October 14, 2013

For the past several years I’ve been living the “do nothing, say nothing” philosophy of staying out of my daughters’ way whenever possible. That includes the “when in doubt, don’t say anything” approach, as well as the “when you feel the urge to help, wait at least 30 seconds” rule-of-thumb.

But I’ve never repeated that first solid week of completely stepping back…until now. Last week I went on a business trip and my girls, now ages 11, 13, and 15, were alone in the house for five days.

As I prepared for the trip, I felt grateful to PoT for showing me how to trust my kids and foster their independence. Because of that, leaving them alone didn’t seem like a big deal. I stocked up on groceries, taped a list of pet care duties to the fridge, and told them which family and friends they could call for emergencies and rides.

Then, after the chorus of nonchalant “bye-mom”s, I drove away.

I called them each evening to say goodnight. Charlotte called me once with a question (that I don’t remember now), and at one point I listened to a short debate about who was going to scoop out the cat box first.

On day four Ellen sent me this photo collage entitled, “Home alone”:

Home alone collage

Then she added, “Mom all of the milk in bowls in the sink is sour and clumpy and it smells disgusting.”

I replied, “Hmm, what to do, what to do…” and braced myself for the mess as I headed home the next day.

But after all these years I should’ve known that Vicki Hoefle was right: “Have faith in your children and their abilities – BEFORE they have proven they deserve it.”

And, voila…welcome home.

Clean kitchen

Walking the walk … of trust

September 18, 2013

“I indicated that I would not be signing homework logs or reading logs and that I would be giving my child permission to sign my name. And then I told the teacher why. And I was clear about this. I went back to my original statement – I am raising a thinking child and I have no intention of interfering with their thinking by lecturing, nagging, reminding, scolding, bribing or saving them from their first chance at investing in their own educational success. Homework I stated was between the teacher and my child and if there were consequences for not turning in homework I expected the teacher to dole them out to my child. I would support the teacher unless humiliation was involved in the consequence.” —Vicki Hoefle

Last year I said something similar to Charlotte’s 5th grade teacher and after the initial shock wore off, he said, “All right then, I guess we’ll give it a try.”

Later, at a parent conference he remarked, “I must say that the other day Charlotte hadn’t signed her reading log and when I pointed it out she said, ‘Oh…well…I forgot to do my reading last night.’ So, what do you know? It’s working!”

This year, I wrote the following note. Charlotte happily took it to school…

Reading Contract

The difference 3 years can make

July 31, 2013

It’s been approximately 3 years since I cleaned out Ellen’s room for her. She actually likes to keep stuff off her floor and she vacuumed at least once in a while, so it was relatively easy for me to stay out of her way on this one. But she has also enjoyed collecting things, and her bedroom has only so many shelves and drawers. Still, I stayed out of it. Gave her lots of space and time. And here’s what happened last week:

Ellen's clean out“Mom, I’ve been cleaning out my room. There’s a lot of stuff I don’t want anymore.”

“Wow. What motivated you?”

“I looked around and saw trash everywhere. Plus I could only vacuum small parts of my rug because of all the stuff. I’ve gotten rid of more stuff than I own now. It looks a lot better but I still have more to do. I want to be done by August 26th. I don’t know why I picked that date. That’s just my goal.”

Kids need time and space to get to know themselves. Sometimes a LOT of time and space. Yes it can be messy, inconvenient, and hard to watch. And so, so worth it. Self-knowledge is part of self-love. Give your kids that gift and it will serve them for the rest of their lives.

ps Amidst the piles I also found this note:

Ellen's note to herself

Comic relief

May 7, 2013

Hi readers. I know it’s been a while. I’ve got some posts percolating. Meanwhile, enjoy this little gem:

Quotables, cont.

January 30, 2013

Fenner, age 15:

dollar“I hate when my friends get whatever they want from their parents. To spend my money I know I have to really want it. If I don’t really want it I don’t get it. My friends don’t take care of their things because their parents will just buy them another one. I’m really thankful when you buy me things because it hardly ever happens! And when their parents pay for birthday presents, I’m like, ‘So your mom paid for that?’ And it doesn’t mean as much. I spend my own money on my friends.”

Ellen, age 12:

“Mom, yesterday my friend was like, ‘You mean your mom doesn’t make your lunch?!’


‘She doesn’t pack your bag?!’


‘She doesn’t wake you up in the morning?!’


‘She doesn’t make you breakfast?!’


‘She doesn’t care what you wear?!’


Me: “Do you envy her that her mom does all that?”

“No! It feels like her mom’s all in her business!”

Charlotte, age 10:

“Some parents don’t let little kids, like me, use sharp knives, or the oven, or the microwave. You know what that’s like? That’s like saying your kid doesn’t have a brain.”

Wake-up call

June 29, 2012

Waiting for a meeting to begin, I made small talk with a couple of women I’d just met. We were commenting on the benefits of walking to work. One of the women said, “After waking my kids up in the morning and getting them out of bed, then getting them going with breakfast and all the stuff they need for the day, I need a walk just to de-stress!”

“How old are you kids?” I asked.

She said, “One will be a junior in high school and the other’s leaving for college in the fall.”

O-M-G. I managed to suppress my reaction, but on the inside my mouth was hanging open and my eyes bugging out. Thank you, thank you, thank you Parenting on Track. Because in five years, without the help of this program, that would be me sending my kids out in the world without the slightest idea of how to manage their own lives.

Those poor kids.

So the next day, when the conversation below happened with Charlotte, I was ready:

Charlotte at karate“Mom! I’m late for karate camp again! When you wake me up, you can’t just do it so my eyes are only a little bit open because then I just go back to sleep! When I use my alarm clock for school, it works because I keep hitting snooze until my brain is totally awake and ready to get up.”

“Oh, hmm. Well, I offered to do it for summer camp just as a special favor, but I think I’m just not a very good waker-upper … I should stop doing it anyway because this is the time for you to practice for when you’re out in the world without me around to wake you up.”

“Yeah, ‘cause Mom then I’ll probably be using an alarm clock!”

Her tone implied the “Duh!” that I added in my own head. I mean, after all this time, how could I have not seen this coming?!

Because sure enough, the next day—as soon as I stopped interfering—she figured out how to be on time for camp.