Our parenting choices have been made with discernment and purposefulness with the intention that Gracelyn remain authentic, powerful, creative, self-sufficient, grounded, happy, healthy and whole.

  • We practice the Golden Rule with Gracelyn: We treat her exactly as we would want to be treated if we were her age.
  • We express our love for Gracelyn frequently, openly and unconditionally.
  • We believe that love, compassion, creativity and authenticity are innate qualities, among others, with which Gracelyn was born. We can merely provide a safe, nurturing space in which she retains these qualities.Family
  • Gracelyn always makes her own decisions about whether she wants to be hugged, picked up or touched in any manner. The only exception would be an action necessary to protect her or others from harm.
  • Gracelyn is a sovereign being and is involved in almost all aspects of our daily life, including decision-making, conversations, conflict resolution, meal preparation, daily chores, etc.
  • Gracelyn does as much for herself as possible, including dressing herself, using the toilet, doing simple chores and cleaning up after herself.
  • Gracelyn is an adventurous explorer with excellent body consciousness who runs, climbs and jumps with great enthusiasm. So that she retains her strong sense of competence and independence, we do not use language such as “Be careful,” “Look out” or “Watch your step.”
  • We provide healthy, mostly-organic, unprocessed, sugar-free, tasty food for Gracelyn, and she decides what and how much she eats.
  • We communicate with Gracelyn honestly and directly as a fellow human being.
  • We use our normal tone of voice and vocabulary with Gracelyn. If she doesn’t know what a word means, she will typically ask.
  • We speak directly to Gracelyn when she is present, rather than about her.
  • We listen to Gracelyn when she speaks, and treat her wants and needs respectfully.
  • When Gracelyn makes a request, we endeavor to say “yes” unless there is a good reason not to. However, we don’t refrain from saying “no” when appropriate.
  • If Gracelyn makes a demand, we typically ask her if she could make it a request. If she speaks to us in a voice we consider disrespectful, we use a neutral tone to tell her that we don’t wish to be spoken to in that manner.
  • Gracelyn is given the daily opportunity to express her gratitude, however, she only says “please,” “thank you,” etc. when she is genuinely moved to do so, not when she is asked to do so or as an automatic response.
  • We avoid adult topics when Gracelyn is present, including such things as war, violent crimes, pestilence, etc., whether in conversation, on radio programs or on TV.
  • We encourage Gracelyn to use anatomically correct words for body parts–vulva, vagina, anus, etc.
  • We give Gracelyn the space to unreservedly express a full range of emotions–from love and connection to anger and frustration–as long as she is not harming herself, others or important material objects.
  • When she Gracelyn is upset, we merely sit with her, acknowledge her upset and empathize with her until it passes.
  • We do not ignore Gracelyn’s upsets, endeavor in any way to end them or try to “fix” it for her.
  • When issues arise with Gracelyn, we endeavor to work them out with her as we would with any other person.
  • We do not hit, spank, slap, handle Gracelyn roughly or hold her against her will.
  • We do not use timeouts, withholding of treats, withholding love or any other negative means of discipline with Gracelyn.
  • We do not use shaming, blaming or wrong-making language with Gracelyn. In addition, we do not yell or speak harshly to her or say anything that might harm or hinder her in any way.
  • We refrain from using positive reinforcement to obtain the behaviors we might desire with Gracelyn.
  • Gracelyn is typically generous with others, however it’s always her choice regarding whether she wants to share with someone else or not.
  • Should differences or conflict arise between Gracelyn and other children, we allow them to work it out.
  • On her birthday and at Christmas, we prefer to gift Gracelyn with a few simple gifts that are meaningful to her and, perhaps, have an educational component. Books are always a good choice as are hand-made gifts. We avoid commercialized gifts (licensed characters or commercial logos) for the most part.
  • We practice forgiveness with Gracelyn, apologizing for any mistakes we might make and forgiving her when needed.

# # #

Postscript: Many of us have unfulfilled dreams and visions, and if we are not conscious of these aspirations, we may pass them on to our kids in the vain hope that they might live out our forsaken dreams for us. On the other hand, we may just want what we consider best for our child. Yet what we consider best might not be. Each child who enters the world is unique, each with her own special gift. Our job is to love and respect them unconditionally just as they are, open the door to as many opportunities for growth and awareness as possible, then let them spread their wings and fly. We don’t have to tell them what to do or how to be; they already know much better than we.

Once again I’m struck by how the universe responds when I clearly ask for what I want and take action toward that end.

On November 19, I posted a personal essay on my blog about my first year in public school in Mount Pleasant, Texas in 1949, a piece in which I experimented with writing my internal dialogue as events unfolded. My blog is set up to send new posts via email to subscribers, and the next day I got an message back from my friend and subscriber John Coats, who’d read my piece. John reminded me that his grandfather had been mayor of Mount Pleasant during the early 1950s, the period during which my family lived there. What’s more, John spent a portion of his summers at his grandfather’s home, an experience he’d written about and now shared with me. So our paths had crossed prior to my experiencing an intensive personal development workshop in Houston in 1986 at which John was the trainer.

I emailed John back commenting on our common history, letting him know how much I’d enjoyed his story about his grandfather and suggesting that he expand it into a full-blown memoir. And, since I was embarking on a memoir project of my own, tentatively titled “A Tale of Two Daughters,” I asked John if he knew of mentors or coaches who could support me in this project.

John highly recommended Cat Parnell, who he’d met at the Bennington Writing Seminars and who had very thoughtfully edited some of his work. John also reported that Cat had already had a look at my blog and my Amazon Author’s Page and was interested in working with me. (more…)

My true calling: I’ve known it since grade school when I was fascinated by words and phrases that would roll effortlessly off my tongue. And it’s that thing that I spent the first 40 years of my life avoiding: taking my writing seriously. Even though I was drawn to jobs that required a certain amount of writing (proposals, articles for business journals, features for textbooks and teachers’ ancillary materials, etc.), when it came time to reveal my deepest thoughts and feelings, I crawfished like crazy. But as Gregg Levoy says, “Callings keep surfacing until we deal with them.”

And my calling is to write. I am compelled to do so. Any other path would be a breach of my integrity. I am duty-bound to put my knowledge, thoughts, feelings, intuitions and inklings out into the world—for myself and in service to others.

For my writing is often a journey of discovery. I learn things about myself that I was not conscious of. I get to examine my thoughts and beliefs and decide if they serve me. I have the opportunity to separate truth from fiction. I am able to comprehend why a planned action might (or might not) be in order.

And I write in service to others. I write to remind folks that they possess great personal power, that they have the capacity to live the lives they’ve always dreamed of. I write to reveal the innumerable possibilities that life offers, far beyond the choices promoted by the current dominant culture. I write that change—personal and societal—is possible and actually underway right now. I write to help create a shift in the cultural paradigm—to one of greater love, connection, honesty, integrity, generosity, responsibility, respect and courage. I write in support of spiritual warriors, men and women who are willing to share their unique gifts in service of a better world regardless of the consequences.

Mount Pleasant, Texas, September 6, 1949: At the time of my matriculation into the first grade at East Ward Elementary (a squat rectangular building that could easily have passed for a penal institution), Miss Sims was already more than 60 years old and had been teaching there for 28 years. Born in Victorian times, she was the classic old maid school teacher, gray hair in a bun, stern countenance and malevolent attitude, who expected her students to color within the lines, behave impeccably and obey her demands instantly.

Me, Art & Nancy

Me, Art and Nancy

I arrived for my first day of school a shy, sensitive, self-conscious, scared, scrawny little kid who typically ingratiated himself to others to gain their approval and be included in their games. But there were so many new faces (20 or so), and Miss Sims’ foreboding manner didn’t raise my comfort level at all.

Holy cow, who are all of these kids? That old woman really looks mean. I don’t want to be here! I want to go home! Please, Mommy, take me home with you! (more…)

Next Page »