Posts tagged Playing With Power

How Do I Talk to My Daughter About Make-Up?

Dancing Princess

I remember when I was in the classroom with a bunch of 9-year-old girls who were hotly debating the topic of make-up and their parents’ attitudes towards it. When they asked me “Why do women wear make-up?” I answered, from the bottom of my soul, “Because it’s fun!”

Now, I think there’s much more to it than that.

I believe in the awesome power of beauty and how it affects our souls.

True beauty, whether in the form of a woman, a man, an animal, a costume, a flower, a beautiful human-built structure, a natural scene, or something else, affects us at a visceral lever. The feminine recognizes that power, and recognizes the power to affect others, to make them smile, and to bring joy. That power has been warped and twisted by our culture, and beauty in the female form has been overlaid and mixed up with sexuality, but beauty, with or without sexuality, is a very powerful force.

Little girls love to explore the effects of beauty, and they love to adorn themselves with beautiful things, for the sheer joy of being wrapped in beauty, and for the power that comes with carrying beauty.

With my own daughter, I gave her good quality make-up as soon as she showed an interest (age 3). I showed her how to use it, and I often remind her that the goal of make-up is to bring out the eyes, in order to allow and encourage people to connect with you, and to invite them to see into your heart.

We both wear make-up when we’re doing something fancy, “to be fancy” and I wear make-up “to be professional” in the same way that I wear different clothes for coaching or teaching than I do for days at home.

As girls grow up, I think they need to understand that the huge power of their beauty can inspire sexual feelings in men, and they need to understand the difference between sexual beauty and simple beauty, and how to value and honour the power of their sexuality.

In our culture, most women have grown up with very mixed feelings about beauty, because women are so objectified as sexual objects in North America. (Watch MissRepresentation if you haven’t yet.) Beauty is misunderstood and thought to be silly, and as a corollary, women are, too. We are led to believe that we can either be beautiful, OR be intelligent, and that a beautiful woman looks a certain, very specific, way. We are led to believe that the only reason a woman would want to be beautiful is to attract a man, and that if we are NOT that specific kind of beautiful, then we aren’t attractive to men.

In my mind, the only way to undo these wrong ideas, and the only way to empower our daughters (and sons) is to re-educate them, to help them to think about beauty and sexuality as powerful, wonderful, sacred forces, and to act accordingly.

The key is to confront the conversation head on, as soon as you feel the question in the actions and the words of your daughter, and to keep the conversation open. Tell your daughter what you believe and what messages you see being shared in our culture that don’t feel true to you. It’s not to tell her what to think, but to open her up to questioning and asking “why?” and “is it true?” about the messages that our culture offers.

To deepen your child’s relationship with beauty, offer real, good quality, beautiful things, and avoid tacky, plastic, commercial “beautiful” things. Enjoy beauty yourself. Drape yourself in it without shame or disdain. Admire it wherever you see it, and look for it in surprising places.

(At Princess Training Camp, we don’t do make-up, but we revel in beauty and colour and lovely things. I’d love to invite your daughter to join us! It’s July 13-17th, 2015, and it finishes up with a Fancy Dress Ball that you get to attend, too – so start now, planning your most beautiful adornment. We’d love to see you there! .)



Does Your Child Push Your Buttons?


Chances are, your child is an expert at pushing your buttons. Here’s how to short circuit the button, so that you can stay in that loving Zen place and stay connected, instead of pushing the disconnection even further along.

If you’ve been reading my blog at all, you know that connection is big for me. Parents tell me ALL the time that what they want most is to know that their child can share things with them, and will come to them when they need support – they want to stay connected, and they want to be trusted. Is this you, too?

When our children get good at pushing buttons, it drives DISconnection and weakens trust. Here’s what to do…

First, remember what I said in my last blog post (read it here): Your child is doing exactly what he needs to be doing to learn what he needs to learn in order to become the person he’s meant to become. Read that again! It’s a BIG concept. Your child MUST push your buttons. He’s learning SOMETHING from the process. So, you may as well use the same process to learn something awesome, too.

And here’s the awesome thing that you can learn from it. (And, happily, a beautiful thing for your child to learn, too.) Your child does not control you. You get to decide how you will react when your child pushes your buttons.

Sorry if that sounds patronizing. You’re a smart person, and of course you know that you have control over your own emotions, but if you’re reading this, chances are you’re having a tough time accessing, or acting on, that knowing in the moment.

First, I’m going to increase your motivation to learn this. Your child needs to know that he or she does not control you. Being in control of a parent’s emotions is a BIG responsibility for a little child. Your child needs to know that YOU are in control, that he or she can trust you to handle stuff. When your little person pushes your buttons and sees you react, that is scary stuff for her. She needs to know that she does not have the power to throw her whole world out of kilter. If your child is older, or a teenager, your peace, your ability to stay calm, gives him or her a safe place to land.

So here’s the magic move. It’s incredibly simple, and it’s much more powerful than you may know.

When the button is being pushed, breathe UNTIL your brain turns off and your heart is speaking clearly. Breathe UNTIL your love for your child bubbles up and overtakes whatever ego-driven, power-focused thing you were about to say or do to your little person. Breathe UNTIL either the moment passes completely, and you can’t remember that the button was pushed, or UNTIL you know exactly what loving thing you can do instead of reacting from fear or anger. Keep breathing.

Breathe into the crunched-up, angry part of yourself that can’t seem to let go of the crunched-up, angry thought that you are holding (see my last blog post to understand where that thought came from ). Breathe into the tips of your toes and the bottom of your belly. Feel and follow your breath into the spaces between your ribs. Breathe with ALL of your attention. Breathe with ALL of your power. Breathe with ALL of your heart. And when your attention shifts back to those crunched-up angry thoughts, breathe louder and deeper.

If your attention is 100% on your breath, your mind will shut off, and the crunched-up angry thoughts will float away.

What will your child do while you are doing all this breathing?

First, he or she may just stop doing whatever he or she was doing that was pushing your buttons, because broken buttons are no fun to push. Second, he or she may try harder to push your buttons, because broken buttons can also be frustrating. That’s okay, chances are you can out-breathe your button pusher. If you can’t, that’s okay, too, because you can always start again. Third, your little button-pusher may get a little worried about you. You are behaving in a way he or she is not used to, and it may be a little disconcerting. Keep breathing. Breathe as if you are eating chocolate, enjoying every single melty bit of it in your mouth, down your throat, in your belly. Breathe joyously. Breathe determinedly. Breathe, breathe, breathe.

Remember that breathing does not mean that you don’t DO anything else. It just means that you don’t do anything IN ANGER. And that is the ultimate key. You may still not know what to do (if this is you, join us for Big Picture Parenting 2015 and learn What to Do Instead of Rewards, Punishment, Praise, and Shame) but there’s a good chance you’ll come up with something much better to do than what you would have done otherwise. And you’ll do it from a place of peace, a place of understanding, and a place of kindness.

Start breathing now. The more you breathe, intentionally, every day, all day, the easier it will be to breathe in the moment. The more your mind is used to existing without thoughts, the easier it will be for your mind to go there when your buttons are being pushed.

Your child will thank you for it.

If you need help short-circuiting your buttons, check out Big Picture Parenting 2015 or call me for a little coaching… 403-607-1463. I’d love to support you!









Nelson Mandela’s Legacy in My Family


We were driving the other day when I heard this story-telling monologue from the back seat:

(Holds up one hand.) “THIS guy wants to destroy the world!”

(Holds up other hand.) “THIS guy wants to save the world!”

“This guy’s destroying the world! He wants to blow it up! And this guy’s going to stop him! He’s going to kill that guy! Yaaaaayyyyyy….he’s dead and the world is saved!!!!”

Strangled sounds are coming from the front seat. (That’s me.) “Wow. That was exciting…”


And then I have a flash. Nelson Mandela has just died, and Invictus is my daughter’s favourite movie. We’ve just attended a memorial service. Thank God I have a reference point, a powerful, heartfelt way to offer a different world view.

“Darling? I’m just thinking about Nelson Mandela. What I love about his true life story is that he didn’t have to kill bad guys to change our world. I think it’s really cool that his story was about INCLUDING everyone, that his goal was to SHARE power, that even though he was hurt by others, he knew that the biggest change would come if he opened his heart, and cared about the people that had treated him badly.”

I know that Nelson Mandela’s history beyond the Invictus movie includes his belief that there are times that require physical, armed revolution, but I loved that I could offer my daughter this different paradigm. Maybe we’re not going to need to kill any bad guys to save the world. Maybe inclusion, and speaking our minds, and standing for a deeper truth, and intentional kindness, are really the foundational keys to making big change.

I hope so, and I’m betting on it.

To share in this conversation – to plot with me to save our world – our children’s world – one family at a time, take a look at my upcoming Big Picture Parenting class. I really believe that each one of us, one conversation at a time, is changing the world, as we learn new ways to do things, and teach those new paradigms to our children.

Come join the conversation!

Go here to read about Telling Better Stories. Go here to see the calendar for the next Big Picture Parenting live class. Go here to find out more about the Big Picture Parenting online class.

Please share your inspiring stories below!



Playing with Power


Your son makes ninja weapons from the peace symbols lying around your house and gleefully “destroys” his playdate with them.  Your daughter points out the least attractive things about her friends, who threaten to not invite her to their birthday parties.  Your 4 year-old proclaims, “If you don’t get me pizza, right now, I’m going to scream all the way home!”

There are times when children seem just plain mean or deliberately frightening or hurtful to others.  You know they “know better,” and you haven’t treated them that way, so how on Earth did they come up with the idea to try THAT??
Children explore with power.  It is an essential part of the human dynamic, and children will try the things that they see at work around them.  They will use and experiment with strong words, tones of voice, actions, and behaviours that they have seen create strong reactions or get results in various situations.  The question is, how can we respond in ways that SUPPORT the exploration and the important realizations that come with them, and also support the development of a HEALTHY relationship with power?
This blog post will cover a couple of ways that you can support your child’s explorations with power.
Children spend a good portion of their lives in our modern world feeling like they aren’t in charge.  Think through your daily routine, and count the number of times that your child is expected to do something that he or she didn’t choose, and you begin to see how much of a child’s activity is chosen by others.  The story below illustrates one important way that you can support your child’s exploration of power.
Picture this: A while ago I was on a daytrip to Lake Louise with my daughter, grandma and grandpa.  I can tell that my daughter is feeling dragged around.  She has spent the week being dragged around on my errands, and now we are on a daytrip that she had been looking forward to, and she is feeling dragged around again.  She is becoming slightly defiant, and isn’t cooperating.  As we sit down to a picnic lunch in the hallway of the Chateau Lake Louise, grandma notes that my daughter’s hair is a mess, and suggests that I fix it.
Before I even have a chance to say anything, my daughter turns into a ferocious beast.  There is no way that she is getting her hair fixed, and the whole hotel knows it.  I say to her over the uproar, “No problem, honey.  It’s YOUR hair.  You get to decide.”  Instantly her energy shifts, and she turns to me, excited, happier than she’s been in a couple of hours.  “I have an idea!  Let’s play that you try to grab my hair and I’ll run by, BUT DON’T CATCH ME!!”  For the next 20 minutes, my daughter laughs hysterically, running by just out of my grasp.  Everyone passing by smiles and joins in, laughing along with her joyful giggles.  The rest of the day is fine, even though my daughter continues to get rushed and dragged around.
What happened?  My daughter knew that she needed to feel powerful to shift the energy of our day.  She created a game that gave her a feeling of power and that expressed the dynamic in a healthy way.  If healthy ways to express feelings and experiences are not provided, a child will look for other opportunities to explore with and assert power over others.
When you recognize that your child is exploring with power, you can support the exploration spontaneously and in a fun way, when it’s safe to do so.  For example, your child barks out a command, and you obey instantly!  Enthusiastically!  And you bow deeply and add, “Yes, your excellency!  What else?”  When possible, follow commands until your child tires of the game.  If you haven’t played this way before, and at times when your child is feeling particularly disempowered, the game may go for a long time.
Sometimes opportunities for power games will arise from your child’s spontaneous actions, and other times, they may accept a power game that you suggest.
Many of your child’s explorations with power may push your buttons – you probably don’t like having your power taken away, or being bossed around.  (If you haven’t been locked out of your house, or car, yet, then your child probably hasn’t turned 18.)  When you are playing with power, you can also take the opportunity to open discussions about how power works, how people share power, and how people can use their greatest power to help others.
When you see your child exploring with power with another child, orient your child, and the other to any unhealthy dynamic that you see.  “I see that Jill keeps saying your name in that funny voice, even though you don’t like it, Brianna.  Jill, you are playing with power.  You are choosing to do something that your friend doesn’t like, to see if you can control her reaction.  People don’t like it when you play with power that way.  Brianna, your reaction is giving Jill’s words more energy.  When you give her words your emotional energy, you also give her your power.  You can say, “Jill, I don’t like that.  Let’s find something else to do,” in a calm voice, then you can go and do something else.”
I also highly recommend physical games that play with power.  One example would be to start sitting up and have your child knock you down onto the bed or soft play area.  Pop back up, and have your child continue to knock you down.  Switch roles and you knock your child over.  If you like, you can add in commentary about how this child just keeps popping back up, no matter what you do.
Boys, especially, explore power in the social/physical realm, and girls, especially, explore power in the social/emotional realm.  Your particular child’s exploration will depend on age, gender, personality, and life experiences.  Be open to noticing where your child is exploring with power and how you might support it.
For more detail about how children explore with power, and how you can work with the various forms that that exploration takes, join us for “From the Inside Out: Understanding Your Child’s Inner Life for Long-Term Connection”.
Please comment below with your feedback, questions, and thoughts!
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