Tag Archives: teens

How to Get Your Kids Involved…In Anything!

What is your passionI am very excited to introduce Angie Dixon, author of The Leonardo Trait: How to Stop Trying to Be “Normal” and Start Being Who You Really Are. This extraordinary Leonardo has wonderful insight on how to engage your kids in… well, just about anything!

As the parent of a 16- and an 18-year-old, I often wonder what super-human parenting skills are involved with kids who are self-motivated to excel at school, sports, and life. While I’m grateful my kids are honest, respectful, and caring I have worried about my daughter, now 16, finding something to get involved in and care about. I mean, of course, besides music, boys and friends, which are all important.

A few years ago my husband, Jim, returned to his old hobby of birding. At first my daughter Sam went along to hang out with her dad, but something snagged her attention. Before long she was learning about birds and asked for a bird guide and binoculars. We gladly got them, with hopes but not expectations.

Birding was the thing for Sam. She gets up early on weekend mornings to go birding, went to ecology camp three years in a row, and is now on the board of the Audubon Society of Central Arkansas.

I don’t think there’s a magic formula to get kids engaged in something. I also don’t think we can make the blanket statement that their generation just “doesn’t engage.”

Kids these days have a lot more options than we did, not only in entertainment and hobbies, but in how and when they spend time with their friends. That doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t get interested in school or a hobby. It does mean they may need more inspiration and encouragement.

Here are three recommendations for engaging your kids beyond their immediate social circle.

  1. Suggestion. I’ll be the first to admit that none of the things I suggested to Sam struck her fancy enough to be permanent hobbies, but because I suggested things she also looked around for ideas. She stayed interested in finding something to spend good time on.
  2. Opportunity. Let your kids try stuff, even if you don’t think they’re going to stick with it. Sam tried didn’t stick with guitar and she’s off-and-on with photography. But after trying birding she’s in love. We let her take choir as an elective and now she wants to join the competition choir next year. Opportunity is key.
  3. Encouragement. I know it can be hard to encourage your child in the tenth hobby in as many months. In terms of money, we let her start with one of our cameras when she tried photography. We bought a new bird book but her dad handed down her first pair of binoculars for birding. Kids need to discover their interests along the way and that’s easier if they know you’re behind them.

Some kids just aren’t going to find something right away, but I’m certain there is something for every kid. The key to helping them find that lies in encouraging and helping, but not pushing.

Learn more about Angie Dixon, take her quiz, and get her free Leonardo Nation creativity toolkit at http://www.LeonardoTrait.com.

Teen image courtesy of StockImages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Authenticity is easier when you write what you know

Authenticity-feature-image1-300x224As an author, I enjoy talking to other authors and learning what they draw on for inspiration. In a recent interview with Christine Brown-Quinn, author of Step Aside Super Woman, Career & Family is for Any Woman, one message was clear – write what you know.

My first book, Truth Runs Deep, is a murder mystery, detective thriller. You might wonder what I would know about such things given my resume of wife, mother of seven, and former human resources communication manager. Like Christine who, as a former banking executive, wife and mother, wrote about how she managed it all, I wrote about what I’ve come to know – religious and sexual intolerance and the Catholic Church. These subjects become amplified in the context of my favorite genre, thus providing a platform for potential influence.

My parents were not particularly religious, but their background was Protestant – Southern Baptist, to be exact. I’m sure they never imagined in a million years that I would marry a Catholic, much less that I would marry two of them (though not at the same time). That translates to almost 30 years of exposure to the Catholic Church; and, while I did attend confirmation classes I chose not to convert – really, so Middle Ages. As for our seven children, they have all been raised in the Catholic Church, with Catholic instruction, yaddah, yaddah, yaddah (and Seinfeld’s Jewish influences, obviously).

The meat of my book comes from my observations and feelings on the subjects of religion in general as well as religious and sexual intolerance. The latter topics I came to know very well in my former corporate role where I also managed the diversity and inclusion program. And, while many diversity practitioners may disagree with me, the biggest issues in diversity were not related to race as some may think, but rather intolerance – particularly around sexual preference.

Why do people care about something so personal as sexual preference? I often asked myself. In the work place, shouldn’t focus be on furthering the corporate mission? As long as individuals are competent, contribute, work well with others and abide by company policies, the rest should be irrelevant. But not irrelevant to the extent to which gay employees feel they can’t be authentic. If one employee feels comfortable talking about his/her partner and children, then every employee should feel comfortable talking about his/her partner and children. That’s why organizations such as Human Rights Campaign and Out and Equal are so important. Both organizations are dedicated to ending discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and working to create a more inclusive culture at work and across the US. As a diversity practitioner and as a writer, these organizations were two of my best resources.

When I ask people why they believe what they believe, I usually hear references to upbringing and religious doctrine. To change a culture – really change a culture – you have to start with parents whose every word builds a foundation of biased truth for their children. In Truth Runs Deep, I wanted parents to feel the weight of their words on their children and I did this in a very deliberate way, through their adolescent children. My hope is to get parents to take a long, hard look at who they are and how their words impact the lives of their children. Even if I touch one parent, then that’s one more mind opening up so that acceptance can begin to seep in. That doesn’t mean you have to march in next year’s Pride Parade, but it does mean that your children won’t hear you making biased remarks based on sexual preference, religion, race, gender or age.

That’s a tall order, but I know you can do it. If you need help, then Truth Runs Deep is a good book for you to pick up! Fiction with a message — all wrapped up in a plot of mystery, suspense and murder.

So, back to Christine Brown-Quinn, you can listen to my free podcast with Christine as she gives me the inside scoop on writing her book Step Aside Super Woman, Career & Family are for Any Woman. Can’t get any more authentic than that!

Image found here.

Overly-enthusiastic parental cheering? I think NOT!


Go, Jags, Go!


From the series: Life on Dog Hill

I’m all for parental cheering during sporting events. Believe me, I’ve yelled my lungs out on many occasions over the years. What’s surprising, however, is how I’ve mellowed with time.

Screaming the names of my competing children is no longer important to me, nor them. They know I’m there, in the stands, cheering them on to victory in a quieter, gentler manner.

What a relief to all those parents I’ve annoyed over the years with my passionate cheering!

This all became clear to me at a recent soccer tournament in which my twin sons were playing. Lo and behold, amongst the crowd was a parent whose lungs could well have been used in a wind tunnel. And, while I was quite impressed with the volume that stemmed from just one person, I was less impressed with the fact that each cheer was punctuated with remarks intended for every parent who wasn’t screaming.

“Go, Jags, go! Why am I the only parent cheering? Go, team! What’s with these other parents?”

Once home, I told my husband that this experience had been payback for ALL the times I had been loud and obnoxious at the boys’ wrestling tournaments. He laughed and questioned whether one game was payback for all those times. I must confess, wrestling did bring out the beastess in me…

“Absolutely,” I replied. “A wrestling match only lasts a maximum of four minutes, unless someone wins before the time is up — which is most likely the case. And the team only had eight members. So at the most, I might have screamed for thirty-two minutes at each tournament, and that’s stretching it. I’d say it was more like fifteen.”

He considered my argument a strong one but reminded me of the times that I was especially obnoxious — to the point where people would turn and stare or plug their ears. I had considered plugging my own ears during the soccer game, but chose not to when I remembered that, at one time, I had been considered the loudest parent in the stands and was proud of it.

At the next soccer game, the twins had quite a family crowd with three of their siblings joining us in the stands. We staked out seats on the far side of the bleachers so we could be heard if we felt the need to belt a loud cheer. Good thing too, since Tom got all wrapped around the axle when the ref gave Alex a yellow card.

“What?!” he screamed indignantly. “Are you crazy? That’s just a foul, not a yellow card!”

That was followed by him screaming at the ref, “Where’s the card?” when a player from the other team took a vicious hit against one of our players. And again when an opposing team member pushed one of our guys out of bounds. Within a short amount of time, Tom had everyone on our side of the stands yelling, “Where’s the card?” whenever anything happened that we didn’t like.

I confess that I yelled too. But this time I lowered my volume the first time someone turned around to stare rather than scream louder. Oh, yes, I’ve mellowed with time.

Go, Jags, go!