The Response-Able Parenting Newsletter 34
December 17, 2004
Welcome! This is a free newsletter on becoming a Response-Able parent,
raising Response-Able children.
My mission is to strengthen families and improve parent communication
skills (including my own), by helping parents learn practical, useable
verbal strategies for raising responsible, caring, confident children.
IN THIS ISSUE
"Do give books--religious or otherwise--for Christmas. They're
never fattening, seldom sinful, and permanently personal."
Spotted in a social worker's office at Harbor High School in Highland, MI:
"Hate is not a family value."
3. Spirit Whisperer Contemplation [back to top]
What if happiness is a muscle? What if it shrivels up from non-use?
Will you flex your happiness muscle today? Will you use it when it requires
effort, or only when it is easy?
THE CHRISTMAS TREE
By Chick Moorman
Raymondo and Luis grew up in a family that decorated a Christmas tree
as one of their holiday traditions. Actually, the family didn't decorate
the tree. The mother did. The boys' participation consisted of watching
while their mom placed the ornaments and arranged the tinsel.
Mrs. Gonzalez liked the tree decorated a certain way. She wanted small
ornaments at the top, bigger ones at the bottom. The tree needed a balanced
look, she told them. The tinsel needed to be draped so that it appeared
symmetrical. Too much tinsel on one side created an unpleasant look.
Raymondo and Luis wanted to help. Every year they asked if they could add some
ornaments and tinsel to the tree. One year their mother relented and let them
assist, but she didn't like the way the tree looked and chose to do it over after
the boys went to bed. The results of their efforts didn't match her mental model
of the perfect tree. Ever since that experience, Mrs. Gonzalez has decorated
the tree while other family members looked on.
Each year, the Christmas tree in the Gonzalez's living room is beautifully decorated.
The ornaments are neat, trim, and precisely arranged. The tree regularly attracts
compliments from friends and relatives.
This past holiday season, Raymondo and Luis showed no interest in the tree-decorating
ceremony. Mrs. Gonzalez chalked their apathy up to emerging adolescence. "What
a shame," she told her husband, "that the boys don't want to participate
in this important family ritual." "It sure is," her husband agreed.
5. Article: "Is There Really
a Santa? " [back to top]
Tips for Answering the Santa Question
By Thomas Haller and Chick Moorman
You might get the question when your child is four years old or when
he is five. She might wait to ask it until she is seven. Regardless of
when it comes, will you be ready for, "Mommy (or Daddy), is there really a Santa?"
What are you going to say when you hear the Santa question? Will you stumble
over your words? Will you tell a half-truth or perhaps lie? Will you be tempted
to avoid answering the question in an attempt to preserve the mystery and your
personal enjoyment for one more year?
Whether you are ready or not, the question is coming. How you respond can help
your child make a smooth transition into accepting the information you give them.
Use the suggestions below to guide you in your preparation.
1. Before answering your child's Santa question directly, ask clarifying questions.
Determine his present frame of reference and how much he has already been told
by peers or siblings. The fact that he has asked this question indicates that
he has been thinking about it and needs further clarification. Ask him what he
has been thinking, who has given him information, and what he feels about what
he already knows. From the answers you get to these questions, you will glean
what information needs to be clarified and where you need to begin.
2. Once you have information on what your child already knows, ask, "Do
you really want to know?" Some children don't want the answer. It's enough
for them to simply talk about what they know now. Their goal is to verify what
they presently know. They may return later to learn more. Some children take
away what they now know and do not return for further information. They hold
onto the mystery of Santa in their own way and preserve it into adulthood.
Most children, however, want to know. If they want verification and explanation,
their answer to "Do you really want to know?" will be, "Yes." Their "yes" is
often accompanied by a sad look.
3. When children want to know about Santa, tell them the truth. If they say they
want to know, don't attempt to preserve the mystery. Be open, honest, and gentle
with your words. Remember, you are revealing a lie that the entire family (not
to mention a large percentage of the population) helped you keep.
4. As you begin your explanation of why the Santa story was created, focus on
the importance of giving. Move the attention from Santa and concentrate your
discussion on the attitude of giving from the heart. Here is where you can talk
about your family's religious views. Explain the "reason for the season" from
your family's moral, ethical, and religious point of view.
5. Acknowledge your child's emotional reaction. She may be angry, hurt, or sad
that her parents have been lying to her for years. She may be disappointed that
there is no Santa. Don't make her wrong for having these feelings. Console and
comfort her. Communicate empathy by saying, "I can see you feel sad about
this," or "This is really a big disappointment for you, isn't it?" Allow
her to grieve the loss of a fantasy and of a part of her childhood. Inviting
your child to write in a journal or draw a picture to communicate her thoughts
and feelings is useful at this time.
6. Treat this moment as a benchmark, a milestone, a developmental transition
in your child's life. Help him recognize it as an indication that he is growing
up. Help him make the transition from sadness about the loss of childhood into
the next stage of his development, that of being someone "in the know" about
7. As a final suggestion, we encourage you to find a way for each child in your
family to contribute to the spirit of giving so the focus stays on giving rather
than on receiving. Ask him or her to respect other children and allow them the
opportunity to discover the answer to the Santa question themselves. Refrain
from asking your child to join you in preserving the lie. Instead, ask him or
her to join with what your family has established as the "reason for the
If you take these suggestions to heart, it won't matter when the Santa question
comes. Whether it comes after your trip to the mall to visit Santa, the night
before Christmas, or in the middle of July, you will be ready. Regardless of
your child's reaction, your preparedness will carry you through.
Thomas Haller and Chick Moorman are the authors of "The 10 Commitments:
Parenting with Purpose," available from Personal Power Press at toll-free
877-360-1477. They also publish a FREE email newsletter for parents and another
for couples. Subscribe to them at email@example.com. Visit www.chickmoorman.com and
www.thomashaller.com and www.10commitments.net.
We have many articles like the one above that are available for reprint
by your school, PTA, church, or other organization. To check out the complete
list of articles, go to
www.chickmoorman.com. There is no charge for reprinting these articles,
but we do ask that you use our byline at the top and publish our trailer
at the end of each article you reprint. The approved trailer is:
Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller are the authors of "Couple Talk:
How to Talk Your Way to a Great Relationship" (available from
Personal Power Press at (toll-free)
877-360-1477). They have also coauthored the soon-to-be-released "The
Ten Commitments: Parenting with Purpose."
7. Holiday Vacation Ideas [back
"THERE'S NOTHING TO DO. I'M BORED."
By Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller
One of the commitments we ask parents to make to their children in our book, "The
10 Commitments: Parenting with Purpose," is to remember that experience
can be messy. We urge them to allow children to learn from making messes and
the cleanup which follows. To that end we offer you several ideas for things
you can do with your children this holiday season that are messy, fun, and incredibly
valuable learning experiences for everyone involved.
Before we list the activities, we want to point out that while experience can
indeed be messy, it can also lead to learning. Depriving children of the opportunity
to make messes decreases their range of experience and limits their learning
opportunities. Parents who allow children to make messes and hold them accountable
for cleaning up extend opportunities that exceed those given to children who
are required to be consistently neat, clean, and quiet.
Mess making also affords another important opportunity for parents--the chance
to connect. Bonding occurs when you get down on the floor and get messy together.
The mess is impermanent. It can be cleaned up and removed. The experience will
stay with your children forever.
1. Clean Mud
Rip toilet paper into small strips. Grate Ivory Soap. Mix together with water
and you have clean mud. Play with it on the kitchen floor or in a tub on the
kitchen table. Great for building, designing and frolicking.
2. String Painting
Take an 18-inch piece of string and dip it in children's paint. Then apply it
to paper. Use different colors to be creative while painting pictures, making
holiday cards, or designing your own wrapping paper.
3. Make Plastic
Use one cup of water to three packets of gelatin. Bring water to a boil and mix
in the gelatin. Add 2-3 drops of food coloring and stir for 1 minute. Pour mixture
onto coffee can lids or Tupperware lids and let stand for 1 hour. Remove the
mixture from the lid and cut with cookie cutters or a dull knife. Dries hard
in 2-3 days. The shapes dry unevenly. It is interesting to watch how nature changes
the shape by twisting and turning them. Makes creative tree ornaments.
4. Indoor Snowball Fight
Make "snowballs" out of crumpled-up paper and throw them at each other.
The more balls you make, the more fun this activity becomes. This is a high-energy
activity and is ideal for bringing the family out of boredom, depression or lethargy.
5. Toilet Paper Adventure
Place 2 or 3 rolls of toilet paper on a dowel rod at one end of the house. Grab
an end of one roll and take off running. Wrap the toilet paper around furniture
and each other. Break through it, throw it, and roll it into huge balls. Laugh
and be silly.
6. Paint a Mural
This activity is ideal for adolescents and teens. Brainstorm possible picture
ideas. Shop with your teen to buy the desired paint. Move all the furniture in
his bedroom to one side, freeing up one complete wall. Let him paint a huge picture
on the wall. Be sure to include a lesson, instructions, carpet covering, old
clothes, and cleanup materials.
7. King/Queen for a Day
Rotate days and let different family members be the King or Queen. The person
in charge for the day gets to set rules, make up schedules, and do the planning.
8. Living Room Camping
Move furniture and set up camp. Pitch a tent, make a fake "campfire" out
of paper, eat hotdogs and s'mores. Hold a family slumber party and do outdoor
activities only in the living room.
9. No Manners Night
Have an evening meal where no manners are required. Do not have spaghetti for
this meal. Discuss how it is the same and different from other meals. Do more
listening than you do talking.
10. Recycle Gift Wrappings
Save the boxes and paper that gifts come in this holiday season. Challenge your
children to construct a city, park, fort, room, or other structure using the
recycled materials. Stand back and watch their creativity flow.
Experience is indeed messy. As a parent, you get to choose the degree of mess
you're willing to tolerate. Remember that at the same time you are choosing the
range and depth of life experience in which your child will engage.
Multiple copies of "Parent Talk: How to Talk to Your Child in Language
That Builds Self-Esteem and Encourages Responsibility" can be obtained
at discount prices by calling (toll-free) 877-360-1477 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
A. Did you know we have a new book out? "The 10 Commitments: Parenting with
Purpose" is now available from Personal Power Press, 877-360-1477, amazon.com,
and bookstores everywhere.
B. Did you know books ordered today will arrive in time for Christmas? We suggest "The
10 Commitments: Parenting with Purpose." Order by calling toll free, 877-360-1477.
C. Did you know we are looking for people who are committed to helping parents
raise responsible, caring, confident children? We are offering two Parent Talk
System trainings to teach people to facilitate this exciting and helpful model.
Grand Rapids, MI, February 3-5 and Santa Barbara, CA, April 4-6. Send for details
D. Did you know this is the 34th issue of The Response-Able Parenting Newsletter?
All back issues are available at www.chickmoorman.com.
E. Did you know we have a new website to showcase our new book, "The 10
Commitments"? Check out www.10commitments.net.
F. Did you know we never sell, trade, or distribute your email address for any
G. Did you know we have two sister publications? A newsletter for educators and
another for couples are available by requesting that you be added to those mailing
lists at email@example.com.
H. Thomas Haller and Chick Moorman are available and willing to present at your
next PTA, church, or organizational meeting. GRACE-Full Parenting, The 10 Commitments,
and Parent Talk: Words That Empower, Words That Wound are currently the most
requested workshops. Contact Tom and Chick at www.thomashaller.com or www.chickmoorman.com.
9. Managing Your Subscription [back
A.) If you are receiving the newsletter as a forward and would like
to insure that you get your personal free subscription, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and request to be added to the parent newsletter.
B.) To remove yourself from this list, e-mail email@example.com and ask to be deleted from the parent newsletter.
C.) Back issues of the Response-Able Parenting Newsletter can be found here.
D.) Are you interested in receiving our educator newsletter?
If so, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and request
to be added to the educator newsletter list.
E.) Please recommend this free e-newsletter to any parent who is interested
in adding tools to their parenting tool box.
F.) Please notify us if your e-mail address is about to change. Send
your name and new e-mail address to email@example.com.
Be sure to let us know your old e-mail address so we can unsubscribe it.
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 2004 Chick Moorman Seminars, all rights reserved. Share
this with your circle.