Is there another way to do the tweens and teen years?

So much is written and discussed about the overwhelming, confusing, daunting, frustrating and disempowering role of parenting tweens and teens.  
SO much reference is made to the trickiness of doing this in these current times.  
So much fear and anxiety pervades our bodies, minds, our newstreams, our Facebook walls and our table conversations.
We get this.  
We see it and experience it too.  

Yet we are deeply committed at Contemporary Parenting to explore another way.  A way in which we can bring up our tweens and teens with connection, love, joy and ease.  OK, perhaps less ease as lets face it, they are subject to changing architecture of their brains and their hormonal fluxes, yet we still believe there can be a high degree of ease.  

We’ve drilled down to our top 3 tips to achieve this.

  1. Realistic and developmentally appropriate expectations
  2. Cultivate healthy brains by creating an environment of safe connection
  3. Hold firm boundaries -...
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We are our children's Wingmen

Those of us "teening and young adulating" in 1986 may remember when Tom Cruise was being reprimanded for getting ‘killed’ in simulated combat because he left his wingman (Watch movie clip here). A wingman is described as a pilot who supports another in a potentially dangerous <flying> environment. Wingman was originally a term referring to the plane flying beside and slightly behind the lead plane in an aircraft formation.  

I (Colleen) use this analogy with my kids. I’ve said to my daughter (now 12) often over the years “I am your wingman - don’t pull away, don’t shoot me down - I am the best supporter you will ever have.” 

Let us play with this analogy and infuse it with some neuroscience and emotional intelligence understanding. Assume our kids are the pilots of their own lives and we are their wingmen - supporting them through many potential...

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Relationships can make us happier and healthier

  • Do you every wonder who you bring forward everyday, into the car, the kitchen, the classroom, the boardroom, the shops, the sports fields?
  • And why that particular 'you' showed up in that way in that situation?
  • Do you wonder the same of others?  
  • Do you ever consider the enormous impact our showing up has on each other?

Beyond just affecting each others moods, we affect each other's wellness, we affect each others development.

Let's say that again; we affect each other's wellness and development.

Never is this more real than in the adult-child relationship. 

A longitudinal study at Harvard on happiness tracked over 700 people and their over 2000 children for over 75 years, and still continues today.  They are interviewed, their families are studied, their brains are scanned and their blood is tested… and the unequivocal message is that


In parenting this is...

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Boundaries - What's in them anyway?

boundaries connection Aug 18, 2016

Invisible Lines

Good fences make good neighbours, the saying goes. The same may be said for children. Boundaries are the invisible lines that concerned, loving and insightful parents hopefully put in place in those instances when we know something will no longer serve our children or those around them.

They are the lollipop man of parenting. They are concerned with our children's welfare and they are strong and non-negotiable yet they are not meant to hurt our children. They are rather meant to keep them from hurt.

Often parents feel boundaries need to be applied as a little like shock collar treatment -

if children step out of line then they get a zzzzt zzzzt so they learn to stay in line... this often looks like one or a combination of smacking, gating or grounding, fining, taking treats away or time out.

All of which apply pain to enforce the boundary with the belief that if there is enough pain the boundary will be respected.

Science is showing us that this not only breaks...

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Understanding builds Connection

  1. Have you ever asked your kids what they dream most about?
  2. What the scariest part of their day usually is?
  3. What they would change if they were in charge for a day?
  4. Have you explored with them what gives them the heebiegeebies, or when they feel brave?
  5. Do you know which famous person they would most like to meet or what the kindest thing was that someone did for them lately?

These kinds of questions can lead to connecting conversations. Connection. This is our gateway to peaceful, deeply impactful and empowered parenting. Through connection with our children we are able to literally calm and open up their brains and minds to learning and to being receptive. When our children feel connected to us flow is possible. Its really, really tough to totally ignore, resist or insult someone with whom you are in flow.

Simple not Easy
It’s funny though, the times we most need connection tend to be the times when it is hardest to forge it. Like when

  • we want their homework done, or
  • rooms...
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"People who need to go on parenting courses, shouldn't have children"

"People who need to go on parenting courses, shouldn't have children" This was posted on our Facebook wall recently.  It sparked an interesting conversation.

 Clearly we are in the business of supporting parents to feel more skilled and empowered, yet we also feel like it is more than work for us; it is a calling. Let us explain; we, Candy & Colleen, strive continuously for our own betterment, growth &  empowerment in our lives and our calling is to pass any awareness we gain, on.  So the thinking behind this post was fascinating for us. 

What comes naturally?

  • We procreate as a natural process.
  • We parent as a natural process.  
  • We eat as a natural process.  
  • We breathe as a natural process.
  • We walk as a natural process.

Yet every single one of these things that we all do everyday have science that sits behind them.  

If we don’t know the science behind breathing, or eating does that mean...

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The Day My Parenting Changed Forever

I, Colleen, knew that how I was parenting wasn’t working well and that I wasn’t being the parent that made me feel good inside. I knew something was off. However I didn’t know what the alternatives where.

I started diving a little more deeply into this confounding and challenging world and I saw that there was another way. There were parent specialists out there - who knew?! I started learning different ideas and techniques.

However the parent I always had been kept showing up. I could now see another way yet I could not manage to be another way. More stress. More guilt. More confusion. Until one day I was listening to Dr Laura Markham (a wonderful parent coach and author) and she was talking about how parenting is a RELATIONSHIP.

Now this may seem obvious to you, but it wasn’t to me. Yes there was a relationship. There were shared genes, blood and love - of course there was relationship. This, though, was not what was meant.

It deeply struck me...

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The Power of Proactive-Reflective Dialogues

We all know the hamster-wheel analogy - doing things like we’ve always done them, getting to the same place we’ve always gone and never a change in scenery. In the home this can mean dealing with the same issues in the same way over and over and getting the same result. Whether it is the siblings at each other’s jugulars year in and year out, or feeling wrung out as each kid grabs a limb and attempts to drag you in opposite directions in their own interest, or yet again pleading wth the family to feed the dog and make their beds and do their chores to mixed reactions - none of them favourable.

Do you feel overwhelmed by trying to get your child to read more, eat less sugar, play nicely with the neighbours kid or just do their homework without a world war in your kitchen? Do you dream of a home where the members have more responsibility and accountability and you all contribute to more peace and joy? Do you want to shift things around but don’t know how to do...

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Sliding towards the end of the Year – 8 tips to make it work

As December looms very close I find life seems like it's moving at double speed. It's busy! The irony is that today's newsletter is a little longer than our usual but packs a great deal of value and offers opportunity for breathing space and presence. It is the Daily News article Colleen wrote that was published on 27 October 2015. Take a read below.

Exciting news is we've also set the dates for 2016 for our work in Durban and Highway. So if you, or someone you know has been wanting to experience our Signature course book here. We have sold out our last two courses and expect to do the same here. Don't miss out on the opportunity to empower you and your family.

Sliding towards the end of the Year – 8 tips to make it work
The slide towards the end of the year can feel more like the kumakazi ride at the waterpark, short, fast and a little hair raising. As parents and kids face this final term that is well endowed with year end fundraisers, shows, displays, meetings, concerts and...

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