The Empowered child is one who sets boundaries.

The Empowered child is one who sets boundaries.

Empowered educator

As an empowered educator, I communicate directly with kids in a classroom setting. Furthermore, our topics of conversation can be difficult to process. My experience teaches me that children react differently to the tough topics that hit them close to home. Because of this, I am always alert to the signals from my audience. A few weeks ago, as we talked about “consent” a young man responded with something that still makes my stomach flutter.

To set the stage, as I present, I often share stories from my own experience to provide context. On this particular day, we were discussing how our parents often instruct us to hug another adult, even if we don’t want to. When I asked the students what this experience teaches us, this kiddo responded “we need to do what adults tell us”.


Mind blown

As a result, I stopped in my tracks. I was mind blown. First of all, not because he said anything wrong, on the contrary I looked at the larger picture. I mentally asked myself if we (as adults) help our children create their own boundaries or create uncomfortable situations for them. Even more so, the look in his eyes was haunting and the social worker in me wondered what had triggered fear for him at this particular moment that he was remembering.

Ultimately, by forcing our children to hug and kiss other adults, are we truly doing something good? Consequently, are we showing our kiddos have no voice over who or how they have physical contact with others? Click To TweetLikewise,I know that as a child there were certain adults I felt comfortable with and others who I didn’t. Even at a young age, I could recognize who I was not comfortable with…even if my parent’s didn’t.

What if we empowered 

Conversely, as I procrastinated by scrolling through FACEBOOK, I watched a video of a teacher welcoming her children to class. Ultimately, she provided the children with a choice of options on how they wished to be greeted.  What an empowering way to begin the school day! These students were given choices based upon how they were feeling at that very moment. Above all, these children were empowered.

What if  we allow our children to choose how they want to greet others. This doesn’t allow them to be disrespectful, in contrast, it empowers them to make their own choices. Above all, let us teach them to create boundaries and empower them to redirect others when their boundaries are violated.

Authors Note: For more information on ways to keep your child safe, please visit The Set Me Free Project. 





Don’t be an asshole…try compassion

Don’t be an asshole…try compassion

Are you an Asshole?

Wow, that’s a brutal opener, isn’t it? The question stands though, are you an asshole?

An appropriate answer could go something like this: “well, I guess it depends upon who you ask”. And while there may be some truth to that, it’s unfortunate. Human nature has proven again and again that we tend to lash out at those closest to us, at those we love the most.  The social worker in me says that we do this because we feel safe with them and can let our guard down. The wife and mother in me thinks that is a cop out. Shouldn’t we model compassion for all?


When engaging with an asshole, the last thing we want to use is compassion. I get it. One riled up person often creates another riled up and pissed off person. Click To TweetHowever, what if you could diffuse the situation? Often times, being aware of our own behavior can assist in de-escalating the increasing anger of others…hence the expression “killing them with kindness”.

However, what happens when compassion doesn’t work?

That’s when we check our boundaries.


This is where it gets tricky. We want to be compassionate without becoming a figurative or literal “punching bag” and that isn’t always an easy thing to do. For many of us, we need to remove said asshole from our life before we realize how toxic the situation truly was. It is only at that time that we can look back and recognize said person for what they are…and thank God that we had the fortitude to remove said person or ourselves from the situation.

As adults, this is difficult to do, therefore, imagine the pressure our children go through. It can be difficult to empower our children to set appropriate boundaries when they witness adults being assholes to one another. This is where it becomes our responsibility to role model both compassion and setting boundaries.

Role Modeling

I have two boys who view the world drastically different. One of my boys doesn’t personalize anythings while one of my sons is very sensitive and tends to personalize the behavior of others, often resulting in relationship issues with his peers. He is compassionate and wants to resolve any conflicts passively. While I commend this approach, it also sets him up to become the product of ridicule from his classmates and we talk about establishing appropriate boundaries. Essentially we have discussed the following:

  • Show compassion, we don’t know what others are experiencing and perhaps he is acting out.
  • Ignore him. Focus on YOU and don’t allow him to have any control over your time at school.
  • Talk to the teacher about the situation.
  • Punch him…while this is not politically correct, if my son has demonstrated the above coping skills and things have yet to change for him, where else can he take this?

My point is this: it is difficult to teach our children how to deal with assholes when they watch everything we are doing. Let’s try a different approach, shall we?  How about we show compassion to others when we want to become angry and lash out. We need to give ourselves time outs to cool off and demonstrate appropriate interactions with others.

After all, when I call it a day, I want to believe in my heart that I wasn’t an asshole…nor did I punch anyone.



MOMFAIL – Valentines Boxes

MOMFAIL – Valentines Boxes

As  I am scrolling through FACEBOOK  I see all of these absolutely adorable Valentine’s Boxes for upcoming class parties. Therefore I can’t help but wonder how everyone is getting their kids to participate.  Are all of these other kiddos doing this freely? I have to threaten the removal of favorite objects to get my boys to even pretend to care about their Valentine Day boxes.


After literally three days of telling the boys they need to create their boxes, I  taped my It Works boxes together and put them on our kitchen island.  The next day they were still there.  Being proactive, I provided the kids with paper, stickers, colors, markers, letters, and tape.  Ten minutes later they were both finished with their Valentines Boxes and five of that was probably spent wrapping the paper around the box.

After encouraging them, coercing them and pleading with them, I finally gave in.  Feeling a tad disappointed, I released them from the horror.  I let go of the illusion they would be creating masterpieces like all of the other kids in their classes.  Without belittling them, I let them decide how their boxes would look.  While they made sure to cut holes large enough to receive valentines, the outsides are a tad “interesting”.

Perspective on Valentines Boxes

Looking at their boxes while rolling my eyes to my husband, he reminded me of why these boxes were not important to my kids.   “It isn’t a guy holiday,” he said…you can’t make them be interested. (This from the same guy who made sure the kids were included in giving me flowers so they knew how to treat a special woman).  Right then, it hit me.  This isn’t about me.  Their Valentines Boxes are not a reflection of me as a parent any more than my choices are reflections of my own parents.

I was allowing my emotions to interfere with my boy’s priorities.  I was letting the fact that I will be a volunteer in their parties influence MY reactions to their choices.  Consequently, I admit to feeling a tad embarrassed.  How dare I compare my children to others.  How incredibly silly is it that I even put pressure on them to participate in something because of how it would reflect upon me?

No Comparison

Since my boys were little, I have encouraged them to make their own choices.  These two would learn from those decisions that every choice has a consequence.  Some of their choices were amazing while others were definitely learning opportunities.  The things that make my boys different from others are the very things that make me love them even more.  I had always taught them to be different and now when they were, I wanted to force them back to being like others.

My oldest used to wear a stocking hat during the summer.  He was my little Disney Thug and I loved it!  My youngest loved to wear cowboy boots everywhere and I thought it was adorable!  I embraced their individuality!  So why in the world do I care about these Valentines Day boxes?  In conclusion, forgive me, boys…lesson learned.  However, when it comes to homework and schoolwork, that is a totally different arguargument



Little People

Little People

Being a parent is similar to walking on a tightrope.  You don’t want to overstep, loose your balance, or drop your ever important balancing stick.  You hope  you are providing your child with the tools to become confidant adults without losing your way.  It’s a great thing that when we do fall, there is a safety net of others to pick up our slack.

My two boys are very different.  It amazes me how two children, just 19 months apart can demonstrate such different characteristics!  For one of my children, things come easily and he doesn’t seek out praise.  My other child struggles with confidence issues and becomes easily frustrated, which leads to tears (I wish I could say he didn’t get this from me).

Today was a growth opportunity for that child.  After a year of struggles in school, he tested well on reading.  Actually, he breezed through six different reading levels this school year.  In past years, he has chosen to be lacksidasical in his studies until the last quarter, where he would finish 3 quarters worth of work.

But I digress…tonight at Tae Kwando he began to cry when lost his way during a form.  I immediately stood up and provided some encouragement from afar, wanting to go and hug him and knowing he needed to stay on the mat and finish his class.

From deep within, he mustered the courage to press on and completed the forms correctly.  He stood taller and began to smile.  He maintained that confidence throughout the class.  As we left, we talked about how he felt class went, as we usually do.  He talked of becoming frustrated and confused, however once he knew his expectations, he was able to bring it all together.  I explained how proud I was of him that he stayed on the mat and even more importantly,  he was proud that he stuck it out.

We both learned lessons tonight.  He learned to trust himself and I learned to trust him.  I thank God everyday for these little people and I pray that He will guide all of us through our journeys.



Today’s world is so different from the world I grew up in.  At the age of four, I was walking carefree and alone around our city block.  By the time I was ten, my friends and I would walk across town to the mall.  We spent our days outside and went hours without our parents hearing from us.

Today, I am afraid to let my boys play out front without an adult.  There are reports of sexual predators attempting to lure kids into vans just blocks from our home.  The news is packed with stories of shootings, attempted kidnappings, and other atrocious acts.

Some things have stayed the same though.  There are still predators who are looking for their next victim.  As a child I remember our family home being broken into.  Although we locked the door, it was just a screen and was easily cut through.  The thieves crawled right into my parents bedroom where they were sleeping and stole from us.

We had a peeping tom.  I remember going out to look at the footprints in the mud outside of our downstairs window.  Even with our home being violated, I still felt an essence of safety.  Most of all, I remember the attack in the park bathroom when I was around the age of 7.

The city park boasted multiple play areas and a great river for fishing.  Accompanied by my dad and older brother, I alternately played on the equipment and caught the trees with my fishing pole.  When I told my dad that I had to use the bathroom, he instructed my brother to take me.

While he wasn’t overly happy about it, my brother walked me there as I chattered on and on about the fun we were having.  When we reached the building, I attempted to open the heavy door and was unable to, so my brother assisted me in pushing it open…that was when we heard a piercing scream from a woman yelling “help me”!

Immediately my brother pulled me backwards and we let the door fall shut.  Shortly after we moved out of the way, a man ran out.  To this day I can tell you that he had dark hair, a white t-shirt, blue jeans and black boots.  He also held a white cloth over his face.

My brother grabbed me and together we RAN back to where my dad was still fishing.  As I was hysterical, my brother shared the story and we all piled into the truck so my dad could find a pay phone and call the police.  During the drive around the park, we encountered the woman, now hanging over the river bank with blood dripping from her face.  My dad let her know the police were in route.

I had to give my statement to the officers and we were free to go home.  Home..where we had already been broken into…Home…where we had already been visited by a peeping Tom.  Home…and a feeling of dread while wondering if I would ever be safe again.