"Don't worry that your children never listen to you. Worry that they
are always watching you."
Spotted on a pickup truck in St. Louis, Mo:
Hunt with your kids, not for them.
3. Spirit Whisperer Contemplation [back to top]
What expectation for this child do you need to let go of to be at peace?
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Grandparents: The people who think your children are wonderful even though
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Every day in America 5044 children are arrested.
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The Five Best/Worst Things You Can Say to Your Children About War and
By Chick Moorman
The Five Best
1) "What have you been hearing about the war?"
Ask your children questions. Begin a dialogue by showing an interest
in their thoughts, ideas, and feelings. Ask them what they have heard
at school. Ask what their friends think. Ask what they have heard on the
news. Ask if they have questions.
Then listen to their answers. Ask clarifying questions: Why do you think
that? How do you think that happened? What do you think will happen next?
Show an interest in your children's opinions and it won't be long before
you hear, "What do you think, Dad?"
2) "You can watch TV for only 30 minutes, and I want to be present."
Viewers and parents beware: War on TV can be graphic. In addition, seeing
real human beings killed with the precision and repetition of a videogame
can have a numbing effect on children. War is not a game. Neither is it
a sixty-minute drama interlaced with commercials. The war-related TV programs
children watch need to be highly regulated and supervised. Turn the TV
off after the news coverage and debrief. Dialogue about what you just
saw and heard. Process the material and help your children make meaning
of this serious material.
3) "What do you suppose it looks like from the other side?"
This question is parent talk that helps children learn about perspective.
It helps them learn to see things from both sides of an issue and to develop
empathy. Learning to shift perspective and see things from the other side
prevents your children from developing tunnel vision. It increases their
understanding of opposing views, which is an important step in effective
problem solving and conflict resolution.
When children learn that it is possible to see the same thing from different
angles, they are better equipped to deal with the increasing diversity
and difference of opinion that exist in today's world. Understanding the
belief system and perspective of another helps us anticipate reactions
and predict responses on both public and personal levels.
4) "I don't know what will happen, but I know we'll be able to handle
When children get scared, adults often make what they think are reassuring
promises. They say, "Everything will be okay" or, "Nothing will happen
to us, I can tell you that." These promises are not truthful. We do not
know everything will be okay. We do not know for sure that nothing will
happen to us. Not anymore! Tell your children the truth: "I don't know
what will happen, but I know we can handle it." With this statement, what
you are really communicating to them is confidence. This style of parent
talk says, "I am confident we can handle whatever comes our way. If we
have to ration, we can handle it. If the price of gas doubles or triples,
we can handle it. If the economy nosedives, we can handle it."
5) "I understand how you could feel that way."
There are many varied and strong emotions in America about war. We have
hawks and doves, peace marchers and war advocates. There is debate and
disagreement in the Congress. Marriage partners are often split on this
issue. It is highly possible that one of your children holds beliefs about
war that differ from yours. When these differences are expressed, effective
parent talk includes, "I understand how you could feel that way."
"I understand how you could feel that way" does not say you agree with
your child. It does not say you share his or her beliefs or feelings.
It demonstrates and communicates an understanding of how your child could
arrive at the conclusion he or she has drawn. It is filled with respect
for differences and it honors diversity.
The Five Worst
1) "God is on our side."
God doesn't take sides. God loves everyone unconditionally. To tell
children God loves "us" more than He loves "them" is untrue. "God is on
our side" is a phrase that results in children's developing false beliefs
that only good things can happen to us because God plays on our team.
When you say this to your children, you equip them with a false sense
of superiority. Feelings of superiority lead to a belief in "better than."
"Better than" breeds an "us vs. them" mentality that encourages conflict,
dissention, and strife.
2) "We are right and they are wrong."
Everyone has a different view of the world, so no one thinks that what
he or she does is wrong. Human beings do horrible things, but they don't
see them that way. They believe they are right. The people on "their side"
are doing what they do because they think they are right. "Our side" is
doing what we do because we think we are right.
Being right doesn't work. Making people wrong doesn't work. Speak to
your children about differences. Let them know what is similar and what
is different about various beliefs, values, morals, and cultures, but
do it outside the context of right and wrong.
3) "There is nothing you can do."
When you say these words to your children, you give the message, "You
are small, insignificant, and powerless." You teach them that they are
at the mercy of their environment and that they have no influence over
the events of their lives. You are teaching them to play their lives from
the victim position.
Ask instead, "What do you think we can do about this?" Help them brainstorm
possible actions that can be taken. Could a child donate part of his or
her allowance to the Red Cross? Or write a letter to a man or woman in
the service? How about making a poster, saying a prayer, putting a bow
on a tree, or designing a T-shirt?
Tell your children, "You always have more choices than you think you
have," and help them develop an "I can" stance toward life. One of the
best ways to believe "I can do something" is simply to go out and do something.
4) "You don't know what you're talking about."
Would you ever say to your child, "You're really stupid"? Or, "You're
so young and inexperienced, you couldn't possibly know anything. You need
to live as long as I have and then you'll be worthy of having an opinion"?
Probably not. But if you say, "You don't know what you're talking about,"
you send a similar message.
Of course we have more years of experience than our children. Absolutely,
we have seen and heard things that they don't yet begin to grasp. But
that doesn't mean we can't respect the opinion of our eight-year-old or
of our thirteen-year-old. Listen to your children. Demonstrate your understanding
of their views by reflecting them back to your children with a paraphrase.
Model a mature adult who can respect differences as well as contrary opinions.
5) "There is nothing to worry about."
Children worry. They get scared. They have strong feelings about war,
terrorism, and death. To tell them they have nothing to worry about is
to ask them to numb their feelings, to push their feelings down and pretend
they don't exist. In emotional times children need support. They need
adults in their lives who help them work through their feelings in safe
"Parent Talk: How to Talk to Your Children in Language That Builds Self-Esteem
and Encourages Responsibility" is now in paperback. This 301-page book
by Chick Moorman is available through Personal Power Press at (toll-free)
877-360-1477 or firstname.lastname@example.org. "Parent Talk" is also available in a Simon
and Schuster Fireside Original edition at local bookstores for $13.00.
8. Reprinting Articles [back
I have many parenting articles that you are free to reprint in other
publications or newsletters at no cost. All you have to do is reprint
the article in its entirety along with the appropriate byline, credits,
and complete contact information.
9. Parent Talk Training of Trainers [back
The next training of trainers for the Parent Talk System is scheduled
for Dearborn, MI, from July 31 to August 2, 2003. Email email@example.com
and request that a full brochure be mailed to your home.
To find out more about workshops, seminars, and keynote addresses
presented by Chick Moorman contact him at toll free, 877/360-1477 or email IPP57@aol.com
Copyright 2003 Chick Moorman Seminars, all rights reserved. Share
this with your circle.