A vision for what’s possible

I watched a news clip recently that inspired me AND my children to something more. Not that duplicating what this family has done is our objective (because it is not), but I think it’s super healthy to see what’s possible, since in general, the media and society at large sets such low expectations for family success.

To preface this clip, I want to mention that we decided many years ago that we wanted to raise our children with home education.

Related: Why I chose homeschooling

I know, some people think it’s ‘different’ (because it is). But one thing that I love is finding examples of people around the world who have borne good fruit from ‘being different’. I’ve already shared the incredible BBC episode of Nicholeen Peck’s family, now here is a short clip of another family who courageously bucked “The system” and followed their own system for raising their family, even when their methods weren’t universally popular. I think for the sake of families everywhere, such “unconventional” systems really should be.


How to be a parent AND fulfill your life’s mission without losing your mind

My Parenting Transformation Journey – Page 19
(Click here for page 1)

I have been so impressed with the parenting success principles I’ve been learning from Nicholeen Peck, that I wanted to help her get her message out. Her episode on the BBC reality show in England was so impactful, so unexpected, and so popular, that there are now people all over England who are begging her to return to teach some free parenting workshops in their country.

If you haven’t seen her episode yet, you’ll want to see what happened when two extremely rebellious teenagers from England were sent to live under her strict family rules in Utah for 10 days, followed by the cameraman. It promised to be an explosive freak show, but what happened instead was nothing short of miraculous. – And it all happened in only 10 days. Even the producers were stunned.

Watch Nicholeen’s BBC episode here

When I saw her episode, and then signed up for her 10-week implementation course, I was super excited because my children aren’t even rebellious like those teens, so if she can do what she did in just 10 days, then I know I can create some powerful improvements in my family over the next 10 years by learning and using the few, simple principles she shares.

As I got to know Nicholeen better, and we had some time to visit, I learned about her challenge to raise enough money for her family to return to England, to spend a month teaching free parenting classes all over the country. That is no small feat, and just because she has a very popular book, I know from personal experience that revenue from books alone aren’t always enough to cover the expenses of spending a month in Europe with your family.

I believe so much in what she’s doing that I offered to help her raise funds for the cause. So that’s why we’re doing a special engagement webinar next Thursday on How to Fulfill Your Mission and Keep Family Balance. All the funds raised will be given to Nicholeen’s family, so she can share with the people of England the great treasure she has shared with me.


How to Fulfill Your Mission and Keep Family Balance Webinar
Date:   Thursday, August 22, 2013
Time:  7:00 pm MDT  (It will be recorded if you can’t make it on that night)
Location:  Special TSG Webinar page on Nicholeen’s new site.

Sign Up Here!

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I stopped doing events in 2011 so that I could take a break and focus on my family. I haven’t even been doing teleclasses, because even those can be attention-consuming endeavors. (Thanks to Shantel McBride, our Genius Bootcamps have continued during my sabbatical).

The reason I agreed to do this webinar, is because to me, it’s not business. I receive no pay, no commissions, nothing, for doing it. It’s for the cause of strengthening families worldwide, which is my present focus. 

I hope you’ll join us, to help Nicholeen get to England with her family. So far, she’s scheduled to be in London, Manchester, Lancaster, Birmingham, Stratford upon Avon, Glasgow, Liverpool, Nottingham, as well as doing a television appearance and other locations yet to be named. She’s proceeding in faith that it will all work out, and using the principles taught in The Jackrabbit Factor to see it through.

Some interesting trivia about Nicholeen and I

  • Nicholeen started sharing her message 13 years ago.
  • I started sharing my message 13 years ago.
  • Nicholeen’s message got worldwide exposure in 2009 from a reality show in England.
  • My message got worldwide exposure in 2009 through a man from England who was on an Australian reality show.
  • Her exposure opened a door to share her message in China through presentations and media appearances.
  • My exposure opened a door to share my message in China through my books being published in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.
  • We both spoke at the TJed Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah in 2010, but didn’t get to know each other, nor hear each other’s presentations.
  • I was asked to contribute a chapter to a compilation book on parenting, centered on Nicholeen Peck and her message in 2012, which I did, but I still didn’t really know who she was.
  • We share the same spiritual beliefs, and we both homeschool our children.

As we visited and I began to realize the similarities, I told her I feel like we’ve lived parallel lives. We’ve both faced many of the same struggles attendant to having a message to share, while desiring to keep our family first. We’ve seen how serendipitous events and encounters keep moving us along in our causes.

So we look forward to sharing with you what we’ve learned. We’ll also have a gentleman by the name of Jed Norwood sharing tips on how he juggles family responsibilities and his life’s mission (helping families be prepared for future crises).

Here’s the information again:

How to Fulfill Your Mission and Keep Family Balance Webinar
Date:   Thursday, August 22, 2013
Time:  7:00 pm MDT  (It will be recorded if you can’t make it on that night)
Location:  Special TSG Webinar page on Nicholeen’s new site.

Or, Sign Up Here!

When you register, you’ll automatically get a free downloadable copy of Nicholeen’s book, “How Do You Get Your Way?”

You can also learn more about Jed right now by downloading his free ebook, “Preparing a Crisis Confident Family“.

If you believe it’s important for people around the world to strengthen the family unit, please help us spread the word!


Learning to say ‘Okay’

Parenting Transformation Journey – Page 18
(Click here for page 1)

This post ends by sharing a victory that wasn’t exactly as it appeared. But after you read this I think you’ll see why I’m choosing to take it anyway.

According to Nicholeen Peck, one of the most fundamental skills that our children need to learn, is the ability to accept a “no answer”. This means being able to say “okay” when they don’t get their way.

Even adults need to learn how to accept a “no answer”. We need to accept disappointments in our own lives calmly, so that we can respond (in control) instead of reacting (out of control). After all, it is all about self-government.

Another fundamental skill is learning how to disagree appropriately so that they/we are never stuck without the ability to voice their/our opinions or feelings. (Nicholeen’s book shows how.)

One of my friends on Facebook made a comment about my previous post that got me thinking. She said:

“As far as the idea of telling someone you need them to feel a certain way so that you can feel a certain way…I don’t believe in doing that. With children it’s problematic because you’ve just set up a scenario for them in which they are no longer free to feel what they feel, they must now feel what you want them to because YOUR feelings and your work are depending on it. They may chose that on the surface, but they may still feel disappointed and now feel they have to hide it in order to support you. I just don’t agree with that, it closes doors instead of opening them. BUT that said, I really love what Leslie is doing and the energy she’s putting into creating something really positive in her family.”

At first I felt that little jab in the pit of my stomach that maybe I had done something wrong. That’s never a fun feeling, but the fact that it happened caused me to stop and assess my reaction. I could see her point. I certainly never intended to manipulate the children or cause them to become overly concerned about their mother’s feelings, and I had to stop and think about whether or not I had put undue pressure or responsibility on them.

I do think it’s a valid concern, and worth noting (which is why I’m including it here). But as I reviewed the entire conversation with the kids in my mind, I was reminded of more of my interactions with my children that day that I had not described in the post, which helped me at least understand why it didn’t feel wrong at the time.

Thinking it over again in my mind was a great opportunity for self-examination, and her cautions are something I am going to watch out for in the future.

Here is the conclusion of my self-examination, and my reply to her:

Thanks for your comment… I can see how that came across. My point in sharing that piece was to show how I tried to talk them through it in an attempt to pre-teach and help them accept a “no answer” calmly…. I knew they were disappointed because they had already expressed it through the day, and they knew that I knew. There were no hidden feelings. This was just the point where they had to come to terms with the fact that it was not going to happen, and see if they could accept a “no answer” in the way they had been taught. I realized that it was going to be better if I was straight with them so that they wouldn’t keep hoping even beyond dinner and bedtime – that definitely would have been worse. Thanks again!

I realize now that it would have been more effective had I verbalized to my children more clearly what I was doing. Something like this, perhaps: “I understand that you want to go fishing today. I know that it is something you’re really looking forward to. But I am going to give you a ‘no answer’ and I want to see if you can say ‘okay’. If you don’t feel like you can say that, then you can ask me if you may disagree appropriately and we’ll talk about it…”

The way I did it instead was more vague, not clearly teaching self-governing. It was more like how I used to do it in the past. This is a good reminder to get back to the vocabulary Nicholeen teaches, so that the children always understand exactly what’s going on, and what to expect going forward. The consistency and repetition helps them feel safe, and it also helps them track more clearly the causes and effects that they experience.

I just have to close this post again with another little victory. I like to do that to help me feel encouraged to keep on going:

Last night my 11 year-old son came down long after bedtime to complain about his older brother. He was begging me to let him sleep somewhere else because the older brother was watching a movie on the iPad and it was making it hard for him to fall asleep.

Well, we have a rule for our kids about no internet behind closed doors, so I got a feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach that I was going to need to confront the older brother about this. In the past, it has been a struggle for him to just say ‘okay’.

Historically, the pattern has looked like this:

  1. I make a request
  2. He asks why
  3. I explain why
  4. He tells me why not
  5. I explain some more
  6. He complains that I’m not listening
  7. I complain that he is not respecting authority
  8. He accuses me of doing something wrong
  9. I get defensive
  10. He tells me to calm down
  11. My blood boils that he didn’t just say ‘okay’ 10 steps ago
  12. It escalates until one of us walks away
  13. He feels sad and upset
  14. I swallow my pride so I can comfort him
  15. I finally listen
  16. He explains where he’s coming from
  17. He has a really good point that I never considered
  18. I apologize and modify my original request
  19. He apologizes for being frustrating
  20. He complies with the modified request
  21. We hug and express our love for each other

It’s truly an exhausting process that sometimes takes 2-3 hours (sometimes more) to get through. And it’s pretty much 100% predictable. And I had gotten to a point that I stopped hoping he would ever say ‘okay’ just because I’m his mother.

Over the years, I’ve learned I can shorten the 21-step routine if I really listen quicker, but there’s a part of me that has always been bugged that the power struggle even existed with him at all.

(On a side note, so you can get a sense of what this looked like in the early years – when he was really little, my mother visited us from out of state and was spending some one-on-one time with him. She said, “I’m SO glad that I could come to your Mom’s house to see you.” His immediate response was, “MY house.”)

Unfortunately, instead of intentionally teaching self-governing, I was in survival mode. He always seemed to make good personal choices, had good friends, had high standards of morality, and had a deep-down desire to be a good kid. So when there was a power struggle, I usually just backed off… eventually. As long as he wasn’t breaking our rules or making really stupid life choices, I mostly just avoided  conflict over the “respecting authority” element. It just wasn’t worth the fight.

Since learning about Nicholeen Peck’s Teaching Self Government, I can see how I should have been doing it differently, and it would have looked more like this:

  1. Give an instruction
  2. If they say ‘okay’, praise them
  3. If they argue, ask them if they would like to disagree appropriately

That’s pretty much it. No 21-steps, no 2-hour battle. Even when it doesn’t go perfectly:

  1. If they don’t say ‘okay’ and they don’t disagree appropriately either, describe what just happened in detail, and that because they chose not to follow the instructions, they just earned an extra chore. 
  2. Give them the extra chore and ask them to do it immediately.
  3. If they argue or refuse to do it, calmly describe what just happened in detail and explain that because they chose not to follow instructions (or because they chose not to keep a calm face, voice, and body), they earned another chore, and then tell them what that is and instruct them to do it immediately.

If it escalates, then for children 7 or older, it then goes to the Rule of 3.

Honestly, in the two weeks we’ve been implementing, I’ve only had to go to Rule of 3 once. It made a big enough impact on everyone, I think, that nobody wants to go there.

Bottom line, with this alternate approach to parenting, as long as the parent stays calm, then there is no power struggle. It’s just a calm delivery of cause and effect, with active teaching going on along the way.

But like I said in an earlier post, since my son is now already 18 and heading off to college in a few weeks, I consciously decided not to try to implement the program of consequences, etc., with him. Nicholeen’s advice instead was that we spend these last few weeks just strengthening our relationship, because it was the best thing we could do after all of the years it’s been strained.

(I did slip up once and issued a formal correction to him, which he actually accepted, possibly because it happened in front of his siblings and he liked the system and decided to go along with it for their sake.)

But about that movie in his room…

Well, it was already 10:30 pm so I was not excited about starting the 21-step routine so late. I knew it could feasibly take until after midnight to resolve, based on past history. But it had to be addressed right away.

(Remember, since I had decided not to really implement the TSG program with him, I also did not ever really make sure he learned how to disagree appropriately. In my mind, this was probably going to have to play out the old way.)

So I called him on his cell phone.

Me: “Hey, where are you?”

Him: “I’m in my room…”

Me: “I think we have a problem.”

Him – agitatedly: “Is it Kayli??” (Apparently there was an issue there that I didn’t know about.)

Me: “Um, no, this is NOT about Kayli, and actually… I have a problem with you getting angry and resistant before I’ve even said what the problem is.”

Him: “O…kay…”

Me: “Are you watching a movie?”

Him: “Yeah…”

Me: “Remember, there’s no internet in the bedrooms.”

Him: “It’s just Netflix.”

Me: “Netflix IS internet.”

Him: “O…kay…”

(He said okay?? I’ll TAKE it!)

Me: “Okay. Thanks so much. Goodnight.”

Him: “Uh… Goodnight…”

I know, it sounds a little unresolved. I admit, I got the sense that he had something else on the tip of his tongue, but I decided to leave it at that before it got any further down the 21-step routine.

Problem solved in 30 seconds flat. (No, more like: I took the chicken exit by not waiting to see if he had something else to say.)

Besides, if there was more to say, I knew we could talk about it after we were both rested.

(Oh, and if you’re wondering why I didn’t follow through to see if he complied, I would have, if I had felt it was necessary. When the expectation is clear, and he has agreed to the terms, he keeps his word. He’s proven himself on that point very solidly over the years. Plus, he shares a room with two brothers, so I would have known if the rule breach had continued after our conversation.)

Funny follow up

So I was feeling pretty victorious that I had dodged the 21-step bullet. I was so proud of him for saying ‘okay’ so quickly – that shocked both me and my husband, actually – but also I was proud of myself that after just 1.5 weeks of implementing the principles I’m learning from Nicholeen Peck, I could experience such a quick resolution with him. There was no resistance, no fight, no escalation, none of it.

Although implementing with him has been non-existent, or if at all, it’s been informal, I intentionally complimented him on it the next day. I said, “Thank you so much for just saying ‘okay’ about the Netflix thing. That was really great, and I appreciate it.”

He said, “You’re welcome…” and then he went on to explain what was really going on in his head at the time.

Here’s HIS side of the story:

To begin with, he had asked his little brother NOT to use packaging tape on the wood bed frame to hold the alarm clock suspended over his head, because it can mess up the wood finish. The little brother argued that it can’t hurt the wood, and they got into a power struggle over it.

Eventually, the distraught little brother came downstairs to have ME settle the argument.

I didn’t know that an argument was going on, so here’s how that conversation went:

Little brother: “Mom, can packaging tape hurt wood?”

Me: “Yeah, actually it can leave a really nasty residue. Remember those marks on my dresser from the old house? That was from packaging tape. I mean, yeah, you can get it off with Googone or something like that, but it’s a pain, so I wouldn’t want you using packaging tape on wood.”

Clearly, that’s not what he expected to hear.

So he changed the subject and just asked if he could sleep somewhere else because of the movie.

So when I called the older son and said, “Where are you?” He responded hesitatingly, “I’m in my room…” because he was already in bed, and tired, and didn’t want to have to come down to talk to me about an issue with one of his siblings.

I said, “I think we have a problem,” and he snapped because he knew that Kayli must have tattled on him about something. So when I told him that wasn’t what it was about, he was caught off guard, and didn’t know what else it could be about.

I said, “Are you watching a movie?

He couldn’t figure out what that had to do with anything, so his answers continued to be hesitant and guarded. He just couldn’t predict where I was going with my odd, unrelated questions.

So even when I got right to the point, he thought there might still be something more coming. He was still hoping I wasn’t going to ask him to come down for a big long talk about some other issue.

So when that’s all it was, he said, “O…kay…” waiting for more, and that was it.

So although it wasn’t the text-book beautiful ‘okay’ that I hoped it was, it still fixed the issue, and we avoided a hairy argument.

I’ll take it. I’ll still count it as a victory.

Baby steps to self-government… baby steps to self-government.

If you disagree with anything I’m doing, then before leaving your comments, all I ask is that you please first watch this BBC episode so you can see where this is going. It might be a little messy in the middle, but I do believe and trust in the end result. Each of my posts – standing alone – will not provide the big picture… but the episode does. Enjoy!


Conscious choices

Parenting Transformation Journey – Page 16
(Click here for page 1)

I have a dilemma. I made a business commitment with a deadline for this morning, and I am a couple hours behind schedule.

But I have six kids at home and each one of them have been taking turns needing my help. So even taking a minute to add to my journey is not really staying on task, but this is how it looks sometimes. I’m consciously choosing to take a moment and assess what’s going on, and how I’m responding to it.

(New interruption just in: Sarah brought her pet rat to me and placed it on my shoulder. I’m just going to keep typing.)

With each interruption, I’ve been trying to stay calm. But it’s so hard when there’s deadlines and stress. But I’m trying. While my words have been calm, I’m sure they could see it in my eyes (my very wide eyes) that I was frustrated.

Two more interruptions just now.

Okay, I don’t think this is going to work. I don’t have time to document this if I want to meet my business commitment.

Another interruption just now.

Before I sign off, I do want to at least share this:

One daughter earned an extra chore about 20 minutes ago, and was not accepting it calmly. I stayed calm though… so I’m going to call it a small victory. Rather than telling her she earned yet another chore for not accepting it calmly, I asked if she would like to go calm down somewhere before we talk about it. She said, “YES! But I DON’T want to TALK ABOUT IT!!!” Then she disappeared down the hall and I said (I think she could still hear me, not sure, but I think so…), “If you can calm down, then we won’t need to.”

Perhaps I’m supposed to talk to her about it… I think Nicholeen would say yes, because anything resembling time out is for the purpose of preparing to talk calmly – not to just ignore the problem and hope it goes away.

But in this incident I plan to not bring it up again, unless perhaps my daughter and I are having a tender moment in the future and we can talk about it objectively – after the emotion has passed. For now, I feel like she needs to know that she is permitted to have some time to cool off without the expectation that she’s going to be on the spot about it later.

Well, that’s interesting, she just came skipping in to ask me an unrelated question. Seems like she’s over it… I will talk to her about what happened a little later. I’m consciously choosing to delay this discussion so I can wrap up this post, get back to business, and finish up what I promised I’d do.

If you disagree with anything I’m doing, then before leaving your comments, all I ask is that you please first watch this BBC episode so you can see where this is going. They say that in the middle of a life-saving surgery it can appear as though there has been a murder in the room. It might get a little messy in the middle, but I do believe and trust in the end result. Each of my posts – standing alone – will not provide the big picture… but the episode does. Enjoy!