Join In Celebrating #SEL Day by Responding

In celebration of International Social and Emotional Learning Day today, each of the Confident Parents Leadership team members have responded to the above question with specific examples. Every family is unique and so each family promotes social and emotional skills in very different ways at each age and stage. Yet there is much we can learn from one another in sharing our examples. Ultimately, I believe social and emotional learning is love in action. And we are stronger if we learn from one another. Hope you’ll add to this important conversation today!

“One of the ways I promote social and emotional skills is by modeling self-awareness out loud with my family by naming and shifting disruptive emotions as they occur.”

– Jason Miller, Founder, Inner Sound Coaching and Consulting

“I am a work in progress as are my kids. As a parent, I grow right along with my kids. I check myself as they say. I check-in with my emotions when one of my three kids has pushed my button(s). I know for my kids, one of whom is neuro diverse, that transitions are difficult in my house. I also have 6yo twins, and routine is important for them as well. I try to anticipate their reactions before we transition to bedtime, school time, whatever the next activity is, but I don’t always get it right. I don’t always know what their reaction to a particular transition will be. But I can control my response. When I take a deep breath, survey the situation without verbalizing too much, until I have the words, the transitions in my household go a little smoother. And I know my kids are watching me and learning from me.”

– Nikkya Hargrove, Vice President, Harboring Hearts, Parenting Author

Now that my children are both teenagers, I notice that I spend less time trying to cultivate their skills, and more time trying to make my social emotional skills visible to them. For example, the other day I was talking to my 15-yr-old daughter about my struggle with self-management when it comes to social media. I shared the whole, long, convoluted journey of using it, giving it up, using it again, giving it up again. And now, when I opened it to see one little thing, I can’t stop obsessive checking to see who liked (or didn’t like) that thing! She did not say much in response, but it feels so important to normalize these struggles so she will see them more clearly when they come up within herself.

– Shannon Wanless, Director, Office of Child Development, Associate Professor, University of Pittsburgh

Daily exchanges with and amongst my three elementary schoolers serve as a sandbox for acquiring and practicing social and emotional skills. As much as I cringe when my kids bicker, I welcome it (in hindsight) as a real-world opportunity for them to experience the importance of managing one’s own and others’ emotions. When they are coming to me for mediation, I help them problem-solve by articulating their emotions, goals, and values in ways that their sibling(s) can understand. After the tension eases, I have a conversation with my kids to reflect upon what just happened.”

– Jenny Woo, Founder/TEDX Speaker, Mind Brain Parenting, Lecturer, University of California, Irvine

The rush of national and global news has been constant source of conversation over the past couple of years. We use every social issue and latest event as an opportunity to talk about how individuals and families are being impacted, how they might feel and how they are coping, and ways in which people are showing compassion or working to create positive change. This grows our son’s social awareness along with our own and also his sense of responsible decision-making as we discuss the ethics and consequences of choices made.

– Jennifer Miller, Founder, Author, “Confident Parents, Confident Kids”

Don’t miss the Parents, Equip Our Kids! Online Event today with many awesome speakers including Mike Wilson, Jason Miller, Lorea Martinez and Jennifer Miller. Starting at 1:00 pm EST, 10 am PT. Register free here!

Happy #SELDay2022!

Online Parents Event this Friday for #SEL Day!

Join other parents of pre-K-12 kids for a day of free webinars to hear social and emotional development expert parents describe how their own children have been transformed by learning social and emotional life skills in their schools (and how to get them in yours) and in their home life – skills they need to deal with current stresses and for success in school, relationships, work, and life. Confident Parents, Confident Kids’ speakers include Jennifer Miller, Jason Miller, Mike Wilson and Lorea Martinez and friend and colleague Michael Strambler of Yale University’s School of Medicine. Mark your calendars for Friday, March 11th between 1-5 EST and 10-2 PST. Sign up free to join the webinar either via Zoom, Youtube or Facebook. Go to:  https://rebrand.ly/SELDay-2022/.

A Leading Voice for Children; Celebrating the Life of Roger P. Weissberg

Yet again, we find ourselves in more troubling times. We are waiting with apprehension to see how this unpredictable pandemic will move next knowing that its sole purpose is to stay alive and infect people. And we are now faced with a criminal with power who is waging violent war on an innocent people who are attempting to preserve their independence. I find myself at times comparing these times to the volatile era of the 1960s and saying to my friends and family, where are the Martin Luther King Jr’s, the Robert Kennedy’s, the Mahatma Gandhi’s sharing their voices of visionary leadership, hope and possibility – reassuring us that the arc of history is long and bends toward justice and that our greatest gift we can give is to serve? I need to hear it. But today I’m heartfully reminded of a luminous voice of our times – a visionary leader who not only championed a world-changing vision but also, figured out through science how it is possible to reach all of our hopes and dreams for our children through a series of strategies and practices that all boil down to the bare essence of love in action. As I attend Roger Weissberg’s funeral today, social and emotional learning is a household word offering us all a lighted pathway to our hopes and dreams for our children. What an incredible gift! It is with deep gratitude for his mentorship, friendship, scholarship and leadership (that we are all starving for) that I offer this loving memorial of Roger today.

Roger’s message was simple – we are unified in our commitment to making life better for kids. That requires us to teach children the skills they need to listen to their hearts and spirits, to develop and sustain meaningful relationships with others and help them discover and fulfill the unique purpose they are here to serve. Time and again over his forty year career, Roger P. Weissberg articulated his purpose. And instead of sharing it as an individual calling, he championed it as a collective calling that resonated with countless other scholars, educators, parents and youth-serving professionals who joined in the common purpose of making kids’ lives better. From his early twenties on, he set about figuring out how to best improve children’s lives by writing his own social problem-solving curriculum and carefully testing it in schools as a first step. When he found through careful study that promoting children’s social and emotional skills in school could not only prevent the behaviors we want to eliminate like bullying, violence, and substance abuse, and it could promote success in relationships, in family life and directly advance academic performance today and in the future, he became committed to a lifetime of work devoted to this mission.

As co-founder of CASEL (the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning) he joined with like-minded others to systematically define what social and emotional learning (SEL) is and looks like. His leading question was “How do schools, families and communities work together to help students be successful?” In a presentation six years ago,  he said to an audience of educators in Minnesota (the place, in the past three and a half years, where he has battled pancreatic cancer)…

I have a strong feeling that it’s never too late, that it’s probably never too early. I have a confidence that almost prenatally for as long as we are around and probably beyond that that social and emotional skills are important capacities for us to develop.

When he questioned and defined and wrestled with what it meant to do this work in ways that change children’s lives and all those who work with them, I joined since it was my calling too. Twenty years ago, Roger took a leap of faith and hired me — the only young lady with a bachelor’s degree, some practical, in-the-trenches experience and a fiery passion among well-seasoned PhDs. Roger proceeded to invest time, energy, passionate debate and resources in me — and in so many others I worked with — to do important SEL work.  And that collaboration grew into friendship, joy and shared experiences in parenting. 

Roger was asked, well before I was a parent myself, who in this country was the most engaged with social and emotional learning and his response was clear: parents and families. He said “you can’t talk about improving schools without involving families and communities.” So I was ready when I became a parent to begin asking the question, how will I become a confident parent raising a confident kid?

In addition to my family, he was the first person to support this site, engage in critical research together around parenting and SEL along with our co-investigator and another first support, Shannon Wanless, and proceed to introduce this work to every single professional he knew who had an interest in parenting. On a very personal note, the work that gets me up in the morning and is so deeply meaningful in my life has been shaped by Roger Weissberg. But it didn’t end on a professional level, it only began. I became a better parent and family member because of his ongoing friendship and support. He demonstrated that it takes everything of a person, dedicating their whole heart and soul to their own social and emotional growth in order to truly improve children’s lives.

If confident parents are defined as individuals who devote themselves to living and growing their children’s social and emotional intelligence while growing their own then Roger Weissberg IS a model of a confident parent (for that’s a role that never dies) to not only Elizabeth and Ted but to me and to so many others who share the purpose of making kids’ lives better through social and emotional learning. I am forever grateful.

Roger’s Research on Parenting and SEL:

If you have not already read about our research together that links parents’ hopes and dreams for their children and for their own parenting with social and emotional competencies, please check the research brief or the full peer-reviewed article, Parenting for Competence and Parenting with Competence; Essential Connections between Parenting and Social and Emotional Learning.

CPCK Article in Collaboration with Roger on his first SEL Curriculum:

Stop, Think, Go! discusses the social problem-solving curriculum Roger developed at Yale University with New Haven Public Schools and how parents can use the key lessons to teach problem-solving to their own children in family life.

Modeling Social and Emotional Learning during Illness and Death:

Roger modeled how you use social and emotional skills to heal, to deal with illness and suffering and ultimately, deal with your own death. Don’t miss his article on his experience; The Healing Power of Social and Emotional Learning.

Learn more about Social and Emotional Learning:

There’s important work to do in schools, families, and communities around social and emotional learning. Learn more about the work of the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning on their website.

Our Cautious Emergence

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Better Understanding Our Own Changing Identity along with Our Tween Or Teen …

In some ways these last several years have felt like an extended retreat. Each of us has experienced our own unique version. Though we seemed to reemerge from our cocoon last year in the Fall, we went right back into a more secluded lifestyle as COVID numbers soared in the wintertime months, adding confusion and stress as the return to our social selves halted abruptly yet again.

I just don’t like people anymore,” my thirteen-year-old son teased last year and we’ve wondered as we venture to in-person meetings and schedule travels how we will really feel. “Do we like people?” we continue to tease. And will we be renewed and bolstered by our emergence into the world or we will bring a differing perspective? One thing is certain – we are fundamentally changed and don’t want to return (nor could we) to a previous identity. So there’s no doubt we will perceive our world diffferently with that emergence. If we have truly retreated, shouldn’t we emerge wiser? 

Pamela McLean of the Hudson Institute, author of The Handbook of Coaching; A Developmental Approach, describes a cocoon stage in a person’s life as triggered by an ending or life crisis that forces the person to turn inward. She eloquently writes, 

People who cocoon come to terms with who they are without their previous roles dominating them. They work through an identity crisis and take time out, psychologically speaking, for soul searching. Little by little, out of solitude grows a more resilient self, anchored in a revised set of core values and sense of peace, all the while challenged by new purpose and passion.1

In this time of cocooning, we’ve felt vulnerable – to COVID, in our livelihoods, to differences that have divided relationships, to chaos and injustice in our neighborhoods and across the national and global landscape. And that sensitivity is characteristic of cocooning, when the caterpillar literally turns to goo and reforms her very identity. If she leaves too soon in the goo state, she will not survive. It’s an incredibly uncomfortable situation to be in this “neutral zone” in a world of do-ers and accomplishers who want to know what we’ve been up to — when in reality, we are staring out of the window wondering what the squirrels are thinking. In fact, it’s reassuring to understand that the emptiness felt during this time, the quiet, the aloneness, the space unfilled is exactly what we need to let go of our past, integrate it into our present and reform into something new.

This collective cocooning is challenging us all to accept and allow for an internal transformation to take place.  If we surrender to this uncomfortable place while we need it and use the time it takes to look inward – however long (and no one else can prescribe it for you!), we can emerge from our cocoon as a fully developed butterfly.

William Bridges in his book, “Transitions; Making Sense of Life’s Changes” offers frameworks to understand these changes we are undergoing.2 He discusses the five “d”s we go through as we are letting go of our past identity and worldview including disengagement, dismantling, disidentification, disenchantment, and disorientation. As we fully feel and face the endings we are experiencing along with the loss and grief and fear, we enter into this unknown, uncertain place. We can change our external environment to shake things up and attempt to speed the way out of the “neutral zone.” We can change jobs, move houses, get a divorce, or disown close friends with the mistaken notion that we’ll feel some relief from this new beginning it creates, a welcome distraction. Have you seen the real estate market? Meanwhile, our core is quietly begging us to stare out of the window and reflect on some deeply essential questions, questions that may require different answers than we’ve ever given before (and that’s scary cause maybe I’m not who I thought I was).

We are experiencing a unique moment to empathize with our tweens and teens since they are undergoing their own cocoon experience. They are in the process of reforming their identity wholly from “I am who my parents told me I am” to “I am who I believe I really am.” As they seek privacy, push us away, yearn for their independent time and space, we can recognize the signs of the “goo” state. They know they are vulnerable and they are highly sensitive to our comments, to anything that reeks of judgment because their vision of themselves is shakey and undetermined. We can find some peace in knowing that they are right where they should be existing in the midst of discomfort.  We are better equipped to support them and indeed more authentically aware if we too are existing in our developmental discomfort.

As we anticipate emerging from our cocoons, instead of risking a return to old stories and patterns when a new identity, set of core values and sense of purpose wants to be discovered, we may take some time to reflect. Here are some questions to get you started.

  • What am I deeply feeling these days including the layers beneath the surface?
  • Are there difficult feelings I’ve been escaping? How can I uncover them, own them, accept them, and make meaning of them in life-giving ways?
  • How have I fundamentally changed? What personas did I put on that I’ve shed in the past year? What qualities do I most want to embody going forward?
  • What do I know to be true? What do I stand for? What can’t I stand for?
  • Are there old stories or assumptions about my own identity that must change? How can I let them go?
  • Who do I envision being when I emerge from my cocoon?  What will my version of butterfly be like?
  • What is my reason for being, my sense of purpose that validates why I’ve been given the gift of life?
  • How do I want to be and give the best of who I am? How will I contribute to making a difference in the world (even if small)?
  • What boundaries do I need to set to assert who I newly am?

As we enter the spring season, it may remain wintertime inside our hearts and minds as we reflect on the past and integrate our learning so that we can move toward our emergent future. A blooming tulip’s petals, though beautiful at each stage of opening, cannot be forced open. If attempted, the tulip petals will rip. So too, in our own development, we cannot emerge until we we are ready. If we’ve taken time out to be reflective about our changing identity, we can enter spring time on our own terms and engage in an authentic rebirth.

References:

  1. McLean, P. & Hudson, F. (2012). The Completely Revised. Handbook of Coaching; A Developmental Approach. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
  2. Bridges, W. (2004). Transitions; Making Sense of Life’s Changes (2nd Ed.). Cambridge, MA: DeCapo Press.

Coming Up… International #SEL Day

Social and emotional skills… the most important gift we give our children

We are looking forward to International #SEL – Social and Emotional Learning – day. Mark your calendars for Friday, March 11, 2022. Last year, 2 million people from around the world participated in local communities and on social media.

Here are a couple ways you can participate:

1.) Join Me for the “Parents, Equip Our Kids!” Online Event

Equip Our Kids and SEL4CA are sponsoring a day of interviews with parents who are also experts discussing ways in which we can help our children and teens thrive. There are four Confident Parent’s authors on the agenda including Jennifer Miller, Jason Miller, Lorea Martinez and Mike Wilson. Topics include Meet the Millers (that’s me and my husband!), Different Families/Great Results, A Psychologist’s Perspective, Advice from Authors, Trauma and Healing, and From Sandy Hook to SEL Day. Learn more and sign up! Free!

2.) Contribute to the CPCK Social Media Campaign

Respond below to the following form sharing which social and emotional skills you are working on with your own child/children and how. In these complicated times when our social and emotional well-being is challenged, sharing strategies and ideas with one another will only make us all stronger. We will create social media posts from your feedback and share them widely on March 11th.

New Parenting Montana Tools

To Support Parents and Children’s Social and Emotional Well-being and Development

Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) and the Center for Health and Safety Culture at Montana State University announced new online resources have been added to update ParentingMontana.org to support parents and caregivers.   These include:

New Podcasts…

…featuring parenting experts including:

Jennifer Miller of Confident Parents, Confident Kids on “Guidance with Discipline to Grow Skills;” Shannon Wanless, Director of the Office of Child Development at the University of Pittsburgh on “Intentional Ways to Grow a Healthy Parenting Relationship” and Maurice Elias, Director of Rutgers University’s Social and Emotional Development Lab on “Social and Emotional Development.”

New Guidance, Tools and Resources…

  • Background information and support on teens and alcohol and drug misuse;
  • New tools and resources covering vital topics such as stress, anxiety and childhood trauma; and
  • New tools, information and examples of how caregivers can respond in a range of challenging situations with their child to build a stronger relationship while building essential social and emotional skills.   

 And for Youth-serving Professionals:

  • A toolkit of resources for community prevention coordinators to help get the word out across Montana and facilitate this information with parents;
  • With resources for engaging teachers, healthcare providers, law enforcement, and other community liaisons.

Parenting Montana offers parenting tools from birth through age 19 for each age and stage on a variety of challenging issues like bullying, peer pressure, and anxiety and also, areas to build skills like kindness, confidence and friendship. This unique resource was built based on language used by Montana parents and needs and challenges articulated by Montana parents and stands as a model for any state growing social and emotional well-being supports for families.

Jennifer Miller has had the honor of working with the Center for Health and Safety Culture at Montana State University headed by Annmarie McMahill for five years writing parenting tools. So grateful for the opportunity!

Check it out!!!

How Can We Disagree with Family and Friends While Sustaining and Growing Strong Relationships?

By Mike Wilson, Confident Parents Lead Team Writer

History tells us there are critical events which alter what we once thought of as our “normal” way of life. Normalcy is what we are used to and creates our comfort zone.  However, we now live in some very complicated times.  It seems that since Covid-19 hit in 2020, it created a storm of unknowns that shook our normalcy. Additionally, the effects of political commentaries on issues such as the social justice movement, policing, elections, the events of January 6th and biased news outlets have popularized opinions that have created divisions among us. As a result, our conversations have shifted from “I have my rational opinions on fixed topics” to “I have an emotional response to changing, uncertain topics.

Expressing personal thoughts on our current reality can be complicated. This is especially true when conversing with family and friends. The consequence of sharing our feelings with individuals we are not emotionally close to frequently does not result in a sense of loss. Yet, the outcome of tense discussions with family and friends is different. With these people, there exists strong emotional ties and a back history of shared experiences which have linked us together. Family and friends are people with whom we have established long-term relationships. Consequently, disagreements can create a devastating emotional response. Debates in these types of relationships can create a situation where the discussion becomes heated with each person stating justifications for their opinions and adopting an unwillingness to concede. The conversation becomes a tug of war of beliefs as opposed to a conversation based on facts and evidence. The result can involve each person becoming defensive and feeling as if the other person is trying to put them on the spot.

Because of previous discussions my two teenage daughters have shared with me regarding difficult conversations they’ve had with some of their friends, we came up with strategies they could use to handle disagreements. They attend a school in which the majority of the student population has similar opinions on current events which, in many cases, meant their friends’ thoughts differed from the opinions of my girls. So, during these discussions, several of their friends just assumed my daughters thought the same way as they do. My kids come from a household where we are open to all types of diverse dialogue and thoughts. Even if we disagree, we talk it out and move on.  However, when somewhat controversial topics with their friends come up, my daughters’ initial reaction was to just smile and say nothing. Then when they got home (their safe zone), they would share the conversations with me.  My response was that their approach works but when you don’t share how you feel, your friends really never get to know the real you.  So, as we continued to talk about it, we brainstormed some non-threatening ways to share their opinions. That’s how the following list of strategies came about.  For example, the strategy they’ve found the most useful is: “That’s an interesting point and in my opinion…” If the person wants to argue about it, they simply say that we can agree to disagree, and they move on. They also try not to talk about politicians or use names of individuals because the conversation becomes personal. Instead they focus more on the impact of policies and try to keep the discussion open-ended. 

The following are simple strategies we can use when disagreeing with family and friends while sustaining a positive relationship.

Accept the other person’s personality type. 

When interacting with friends and family you know in advance if they are argumentative, passive, sensitive or open to divergent views. As a result, you should know how they will respond to opposing beliefs.

Listen to the other person’s entire thought.  

Don’t interrupt no matter how much you disagree. 

Validate.

Once the person has finished talking, use validating terms such as, “I know many people feel the same way” or “that’s an interesting point.”

Avoid judgment.

Don’t use judgment phrases like “you are…” or “people like you…”

Own your response.

When responding, use I-statements” such as “I think…” and “In my opinion…”

Try not to take it personally.

Although individual thoughts are based on opinion, remember you are expressing your point of view and not trying to change the opinion of another. 

Agree to disagree.

You don’t have to work to find an agreement in order to end a conversation in a satisfying way. Instead, it’s important to accept that close friends or family might continue to hold differing opinions. You can hold that difference and even tension that might go with it and still show care and respect for one another.

Having honest and meaningful conversations with family and friends is essential in strengthening our relationships. Through dialogue, we learn about the thoughts, feelings and interests of other people. However, holding opposing viewpoints can cause conflict. What we must remember is that family and friends are part of our support system. As a result, maintaining positive relationships with these key individuals is more important than any opinion regarding a current issue. 

Author Mike Wilson is the Outreach Coordinator for Harris County Department of Education, CASE Program and host the Making After School Cool podcast. Mike is the father of two teenage daughters in Houston, TX. Check out the Making After School Cool Podcast at https://case4kids.podbean.com.

Listening To and Learning from Kids for 75 Years

Check out my conversation with Editor-In-Chief Christine French Cully!

This week, I had the honor of talking with a friend and collaborator, the Editor-In-Chief of Highlights for Children, Christine French Cully. There was much to discuss since she just worked with her team to publish a compendium of letters that have been written and illustrated by children readers over 75 years. And most incredibly, Highlight’s staff including Christine have responded to every single letter. Children wrote about their highest hopes and their greatest worries. And Highlights listened and responded.

I often hope for my own child that he is growing to learn that the world is a friendly, inherently beautiful and good place where people care. During the pandemic, this notion has become strained and I have worried that children and teens are learning the opposite – that others are unsafe and not to be trusted. This only deepens my certainty that the very act of listening and learning from children who we don’t know or engage with everyday is an act of serving the world in a significant way. So when I say it’s an honor to talk to someone who listens to children for a living, it’s truly an honor.

Here’s our conversation. Enjoy! And be sure and check out this gorgeous book of children’s expressions and adults listening and learning.

Learn more about the book here: "Dear Highlights; What Adults Can Learn from 75 Years of Letters and Conversations with Kids". Sold on Amazon or wherever you buy books!

Introducing…The NEW Confident Parents Lead Writing Team!

In this tenth year of the Confident Parents, Confident Kids blog, we are celebrating by elevating voices in our diverse community of learning parents. A small group of expert professionals who also deeply reflect on their own parenting are coming together to co-create the present and future of Confident Parents, Confident Kids! And you recall what Margaret Mead said about small groups – with social purpose, great vision and intention – they can change the world. But the only way for a small group to change the world is through ripples – through connections and co-creations with other learning communities who are equally passionate and committed to confident parenting. That’s where you come in. Join us, won’t you? 

Each of our new Confident Parents Lead Writing Team members (long-time change-makers and contributors here) have responded to the simple questions:

What is the purpose of parenting? What does it mean to be a confident parent?

And we want to pose those to you as well. What is your parenting purpose statement? The start of the year after several years of particularly challenging times could just be THE moment to proclaim what you stand for. What are you about? What gives your life meaning? Here’s your chance. Write in and share your thoughts in the comments section or email confidentparentsconfidentkids@gmail. We’ll be eagerly waiting to grow our collective wisdom together. After all, confident parents learn from one another and grow stronger together. 

Here are the responses from our new Confident Parents Lead Writing Team!

Nikka Hargrove’s Parenting Statement

When I committed to adopting my son is when I decided to become a parent. It was a choice I made to be there for another human being, to mother him, and provide for him in all of the ways he needed but more so, in all of the ways I felt I was not provided for as a child. For me, parenting is the hardest job I’ve ever done. Today, I am the mother of three and give them what I can of me, even the broken parts. In other words, I bring all of me to the proverbial parenting table. They’ve seen me cry and doubt myself. They’ve heard me talk about my hips (yes, the ones I am still growing to love), and they’ve heard me argue with their mama (we are a two-mom household). I’ve learned over the years that parenting isn’t one of those gigs where I can say it’s “all or nothing” because it’s everything. It is not meant to be done alone or in a silo. It is here, in this everything space and with the community I’ve built for my family, that I continue to grow my confidence as a parent. As a parent, I make mistakes, and I must keep going. I must admit to those mistakes and relish in the times when I get it right – whatever that means for whatever situation we are in. The dreams and hopes I have for my kids are just that, mine. I will influence who they are and who they will become by being there: emotionally, physically, and in all of the different ways the three of them will need me as they grow into who they are meant to be.

Nikkya Hargrove is a writer for Scary Mommy and has written for the The New York Times, The Guardian, The Washington Post, Taproot Magazine, Elle, and more. Her memoir, Mama: A Black, Queer Woman’s Journey to Motherhood, is forthcoming from Algonquin Books. She lives in Connecticut and is a parent to one teen son and two young daughters.

Lorea Martinez’s Parenting Statement

Once I was a perfect parent. Then, I had children. The end.” – Anonymous

The purpose of parenting is to help your children become the best version of themselves. It is not to change them or tell them where to go, but to nurture their minds, hearts and souls so that they can find their voice and place in this world. Confident parenting is being there for our children as a guide, mentor and coach, to let them feel all the feelings and experience life as it is. Confident parenting is to help your children discover who they are and how they want to contribute to make this world a better place. When we parent with confidence, we do it from a place of love and courage. To be a confident parent is to find the light in darkness, and help our children do the same. 

Lorea Martinez is the award-winning founder of HEART in Mind Consulting dedicated to helping schools and organizations integrate Social and Emotional Learning as well as author of the book “Teaching with the Heart in Mind.” She lives in Northern California with her husband and two daughters.

Jason Miller’s Parenting Statement

The purpose of parenting is to create a safe, supportive, and nurturing environment for the healthy growth and development of a family’s physical, mental, social, emotional, and spiritual well-being.  A confident parent is one who is able to successfully fulfill their role by modeling and prioritizing a humble, self-reflective, continuous learning practice for themselves and for their family as a whole.  A purposeful parent is confident; a confident parent is purposeful.

Jason Miller has over twenty-five years of experience as an Organizational Development and Operations leader, coach, and consultant with his own business, Inner Sound and serves on the leadership and faculty team of the Hudson Institute of Coaching. He lives in Ohio is a parent of one teenage son (and husband of founder Jennifer Miller).

Shannon Wanless’s Parenting Statement

I see the purpose of parenting as being a steady and solid rock for my children as they get to know themselves and decide how they will be in this world. That means offering unconditional love, assurance, a feeling of belonging, and a family identity for them to feel grounded in. People talk about your family as your “roots” and that feels so fitting for my definition of parenting. If I picture my children as trees, I hope to be the strong root system so there is an unwavering base and they feel like they have a lot of room to grow in a different direction if they choose, without fear of ever completely falling down.  

I have never considered myself to be a confident parent, which is funny considering how much time I have invested in learning about parenting and child development. My children are constantly growing and changing as they reach new stages of development, so on one hand—it never feels like I am completely sure of how I am parenting. On the other hand, my parenting compass is to make sure that all my parenting reflects my unconditional love for my children, my assumption that they are always doing the best they can, and my belief that my role is to support them, not change them. That compass is something I am 100% confident about. This is who I hope to be for them, and I am confident that any decisions that come out of these values will be the best I can offer them.  

Shannon Wanless is an Associate Professor as well as the Director of the Office of Child Development at the University of Pittsburgh. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and teenage son and daughter.

Mike Wilson’s Parenting Statement

Being a parent is a child’s initial experience with unconditional love and, as a father, my initial feeling of infinite love. Love is an intangible emotion that is expressed through shared experiences.  Consequently, it is the guiding principle which dictates my actions regarding the responsibility I have for the lives of my children. As a parent I’ve accepted the fact that love is fluid and evolves over time.

Initially, when I heard my first born would be a girl, my knees uncontrollably buckled. It was as if my mind, body and spirit resigned to the fact that my life was no longer my own.  Now a father of two girls, I often catch myself looking at them in amazement. They are only 23 months apart, so the oldest one can barely remember life without her little sister. Conversely, the younger sister has never experienced life without her big sis. They have an unbreakable bond cemented by the caring environment their parents have created. On numerous occasions, my eyes tear up when I hear their simultaneous laughter. Even if I am not aware of the cause for their laughter, the moisture in my eyes is a constant reminder of the uncontrollable fact that my life is still no longer my own. 

As they’ve grown through infancy and young childhood into teenagers, I recognize our relationship is changing. Today they need me to serve in the role of provider, advisor, mentor and a source of safety and dependability. As their need for independence grows, I no longer receive the cheers and hugs as a greeting when I enter the house from work.  It’s a position I knew would someday happen yet still emotionally caught me off guard.  Additionally, I know that one day they will grow and find the love of their lives. Yet, I pray that my daughters’ future memories will overwhelmingly be full of more simultaneous laughter. As for me, they will always be my daughters who can make me tear up with their laughter.

Mike Wilson is the Outreach Coordinator for Harris County Department of Education, CASE Program and host the Making After School Cool Podcast. He lives in Texas with his wife and two teenage daughters.

Jenny Woo’s Parenting Statement

I believe that first and foremost, the purpose of parenting is to ensure physical security and psychological safety for my children. To parent is to cultivate a nurturing environment that encourages children to engage in the messy discovery of the self and the outside world. As both a parent and an educator, my goal is to guide my children to become creative, compassionate, wise, purposeful, and productive contributors to society.

A confident parent listens before speaking. A confident parent is secure with who he/she is and is not, and is not afraid to role model vulnerability and admit when wrong. The confident parent is aware of what they need and what their children need, and the differences in between. A confident parent also mindfully navigates and diffuses the expectations, pressures, and lures of the external world, for themselves and their children.

Jenny Woo is a Harvard-trained educator, TEDx speaker, and founder/CEO of Mind Brain Parenting and creator of “52 Essential Conversations” and more card games teaching social and emotional learning. She lives in northern California with her husband and three children.

Want to learn more about the members of this incredible Confident Parents team? Check out their bios on the site!

You’ll be reading articles from each of them throughout the year on the most relevant topics — what they are wrestling with and attempting to learn and promote in their own family lives.

As we read in the daily news the importance of social and emotional well-being of our children and the adults who love them, I can’t think of a more important way for our contribution to evolve through this group of caring, committed parents who will bring their expertise to lead our dialogue and contribute to our growth. 

In the Atlanta Journal-Constitution… COVID and Children

Check out today’s opinion piece in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution by Journalist Maureen Downey. It begins…

Research shows trauma in children often results from stress that is chronic, unpredictable or prolonged.

In other words, the story of COVID-19.

More than two years into the pandemic, stresses are surfacing not only in K-12 students in Georgia, but in the adults who care for them.

And of course, this applies well beyond Georgia. Maureen interviewed Jennifer Miller on what we can be doing in homes and schools to support our children during these stressful times. Spoiler alert: Focusing on their social and emotional well-being should be our top priority! Our ability to focus on what’s really important (which takes leadership at all levels – school, district, local, state, national) to allow us the time and space to prioritize our children’s physical and psychological safety will not only respond to students’ needs but also, help teachers and parents who love those children feel more capable and confident. We may even create the conditions required for learning to take place enabling us all to not merely survive these times, but thrive.

Read and share! “Opinion: COVID is Stressing Georgia Children. How Can Adults Help?”

This article was written in anticipation of International #SEL Day on March 26, 2022. Learn more about how you can support this widespread effort to focus on children’s social and emotional well-being. Thanks SEL4CA and Equip Our Kids for making this possible.

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