Gather The Sparkling Moments

Gather the sparkling moments – simple but profound advice from Wendy Mogel as we move into this third wave of the pandemic. She offered hope to parents in these days of uncertainty. Not hope for a vaccine or a cure, but hope that we might very well be much better parents than we give ourselves credit. 

I finished her third book, Voice Lessons, just 24 hours before I met Wendy last night. I had dogeared almost as many pages as I had in The Blessing of a Skinned Knee. Her wisdom more than touches a nerve in me, it validates what I believe and what I practice. Everything I know about parenting comes from the mistakes I made and the good decisions I accidentally backed into. 

Dr. Mogel quoted a few studies that stood out to me. One was that infants in the NICU respond best to their parent’s voice – reading a story or singing a lullaby – more than any other beautiful sound. I knew that. You may recall Grace was premature. At first I had only one book – Guess How Much I Love You. I read it over and over and over again. Singing didn’t begin until the nurses weren’t hovering. How silly to be worried about my tone or pitch at a time like that? The beauty of it is that singing and reading is what I did to calm my heart and make space for hope, but it also allowed our hearts to beat in rhythm. That connection didn’t end when she was disconnected from tubes and sensors. It continues but is now accompanied by masterful eye rolls. We need more music and dance in our relationships with our children.

Mogel also told us that for years the greatest stress children experienced was from living with a parent who was incarcerated, addicted or abusive. Recent studies have highlighted a new trigger for high anxiety among children and teenagers – school and parent pressure for academic success particularly toward the goal of college admission. I feel like I need to pause there and let that sink in. Many of us who heard her need to see how our behaviors are contributing to this stress. If Wendy Mogel had one wish for schools, it would be this – embrace this stage of life called childhood – it runs right up to adulthood.

She closed by recalling a line from an Emily Dickinson poem that hope is a thing with feathers. It may not be able to fly right now – especially in the midst of this pandemic – but it has the potential to take flight and that is what matters. Until then, look your worry in the eye and tell it you will give it its due at another time. Right now you are going to enjoy time with your children – your spirit guides. The sparkling moments are too precious to lose them to worry.

Here were some of the golden nuggets of advice from the 75 minutes we spent together.

  • Kids need to experience life and learn at young ages, with wide guardrails from parents so they have the capacity to handle what comes their way later in life. 
  • Said another way, if parents rush in to rescue children from distress, children don’t get an opportunity to learn that they can suffer and recover on their own…from high places, sharp objects and even biting comments from friends.
  • Build your relationship with your spouse. Look at them when greeting them, and share an act of endearment in front of your children. 
  • These days sibling rivalry is worse, so tell them to take the fight outside. The real rivalry is getting their parent’s attention away from their devices.
  • Treat passions with respect (even if it is tik-tok). What’s wrong with a little music and dance? 
  • Read what your child is reading in school, so you can talk about those characters rather than gossip with our children or with our friends in front of our children – Netflix works in pinch too.
  • Don’t pressure yourself to be an extraordinary parent –  tolerate some low-quality time. – Strive to be a “good enough” parent, not a great one. It can make everyone in the family relax and paradoxically make life richer.”
  • Children want parents to know they need to Chill.

Parents and teachers were raving.

  • Wow!! She was FABULOUS!!! Thank you 😊😊😊 lots to walk away with
  • I really enjoyed the webinar!   So many good points and things to consider! 
  • That was incredible and it was so heartwarming to see how excited you were to have such an amazing role model/expert in her field sharing her expertise with us
  • I loved seeing your smile tonight! Congratulations on a dream come true. Especially in such a hard year. Thank you for making Wendy happen! 
  • I loved her expertise and the way she shared it with everyone! I cannot wait to find some time to read her book/s. Thanks so much for this opportunity!!! –A really nice bonus point was seeing you so happy and excited about having her as a speaker! Loved it! 
  • Just wanted to send you a quick note about tonight’s webinar. I thought it was wonderful.  Wendy was captivating, informative and so many of her points hit home.  I’ll be looking up her books shortly! Thank you to you and everyone who made this evening possible!
  • Thank you so much for bringing such an amazing woman to our community!  I loved Blessing of a Skinned Knee and now I can totally picture her voice in it.  I was just thinking of what a different mindset as a mom I had before WCDS came into my world and how I have grown and evolved so much. 

And since we have just released progress reports, here is some parenting advice on that topic from her books.

  • If you can look at your children’s early efforts and uneven report cards calmly, you’ll see how they are progressing through the hard business of thinking and growing.
  • If they don’t have the chance to fail, they can’t learn.
  • If you have already said something to your child that you would like to change, try a flexible approach, “You know I’ve been thinking about what I said yesterday, and I have a better response now…”
  • A pristine report card is not a validation of good parenting, nor is a problematic one.
  • Reacting with parental “edits” and stealth tutoring leads to unintended consequences:
    • Loss of intrinsic motivation
    • Loss of gratification and pride
    • Lowered self-confidence
  • WAIT – Why am I talk, texting, emailing, calling a teacher right now? I need to wait first.
  • Teachers are trustees in your child’s life. They offer uncritical and abiding love as well as a dose of much-needed reality. To get the best out of this trustee, simply assume the best of the teacher.