Last week was the Super Bowl, and one of the highlights every year are the commercials. Nationwide Insurance gained notoriety for the commercial they ran which featured a dead child reflecting on everything he missed out on because he died in an accident. The commercial has received lots of negative attention for very important reasons.
Spokespeople from the insurance company continue to stand behind the commercial, stating that the purpose was to raise awareness about the danger of household accidents. My intention was to post this letter one week ago immediately following the Super Bowl, but it took me days to put my thoughts on paper. I have poured more hours into this single blog post than probably any post in the history of my blog. I believe that Nationwide did two critical things wrong (more…)
When I was getting married, would-be well-wishers told me, “Oh, just wait. The first year is hard. Really, REALLY hard.”
When I was pregnant, more experienced parents offered, “You’d better sleep now while you can! When the new baby comes along, you won’t sleep at all. It’s hard. Really, REALLY hard.”
When my baby girl was born, I heard, “You think it’s tough now? Just wait until she’s two! Then it gets hard. Really, REALLY hard.”
When I opened my family child care business, other providers told me, “Working with families is difficult. They have unrealistic expectations of what we can do. It is hard. Really, REALLY hard.”
But lucky for me, back before I got married, I had one friend who shared, (more…)
Process-oriented art a la Cadence
I was at a park, sitting a few feet away from my very capable 1-year-old who was climbing up and down the stairs and skillfully maneuvering the slide. The mother of a young toddler followed her daughter through the structure close to Desmond. She spotted him, and looked concerned, thinking (I assume), “Where is this boy’s parent? Should I intervene?” She was alarmed – unaware of Desmond, his context, his mad climbing skills. From my place, however, she was hovering – crowding her daughter’s exploration, and giving her daughter a false sense of competency. Our eyes met almost immediately, and she asked, “Is he yours?”
Supplying food items for our local food pantry.
Me: “Tekoa, I have two strawberries left. Which one would you like?”
Tekoa: “Hmm…which one is bigger?”
I smiled. Tekoa and I were sharing a snack while on our recent vacation, and while I would not expect such a straightforward response from anyone other than my four-year-old daughter, it is generally what anyone in Tekoa’s position might be thinking. As she grows, her thought process will be more complicated and strictly internal: Which one is bigger? Is my mom hungrier than I am? Does she want the bigger strawberry? What does it mean if I take the bigger one? Will I look greedy? Selfish? What if I save the bigger one for her…she would like that? But at four years old, issues of strawberries are pretty cut and dry. I love them. I’d like a lot of them. Simple.
I don’t know about you, but I can be pretty opinionated. (Nah! You? Really?) Shocking, I know. And I don’t necessarily like when those opinions are wrong. And I certainly don’t like when those opinions are challenged by the crew, and I find that indeed – I am wrong. Owning my mistakes and admitting to them is tough enough, but admitting to the crew when I’m wrong feels even more uneasy. We live in an ends-oriented society that believes “right-ness” is imperative and that admitting error puts us at risk of manipulation. So we do what we can to be on our guard, particularly with our children. No, I am not weak. Yes, I know what’s best for you. No, I am never in disagreement with the other adults in your life – we support each other’s decisions 100% and never question each other in front of you. Ever. If there’s one thing I know, the requirement to be right all the time is exhausting, impractical, and impossible.
Autonomy. Self-governance. The freedom to act independently. Awareness that my actions can direct my destiny. Human beings crave autonomy almost more than any other emotional desire (except maybe connection) and threats to that sense of independence are often met with fierce opposition. In the early years, fostering a sense of autonomy leads to a lifelong sense of competence, the confidence to assert one’s needs, and the ability to take initiative.