Who Is the Most Important Person in Your Family?

It is normal for a parent to put their own well-being - including R&R, exercise, and fun - last in their priorities (how selfish, one might think!). But the bottom line is, you matter, your well-being impacts everyone in your family in many ways, including learning how to take care of themselves. If your children don't learn the value of that from you, then from whom? And every child already knows that when parent(s) are happy, everyone is!  So here is a recommended blog post from Stephanie Owen ... it is worth reading here.  It is a great resource.

Discovering another ... re: anything

I love this quote on Farnam Street blog, taken from Krista Tippett on Generous Listening and Asking Better Questions. I've found it to be so true in my work with young children as well as with their parents:

"If I’ve learned nothing else, I’ve learned this: a question is a powerful thing, a mighty use of words. Questions elicit answers in their likeness. Answers mirror the questions they rise, or fall, to meet. So while a simple question can be precisely what’s needed to drive to the heart of the matter, it’s hard to meet a simplistic question with anything but a simplistic answer. It’s hard to transcend a combative question. But it’s hard to resist a generous question. We all have it in us to formulate questions that invite honesty, dignity, and revelation. There is something redemptive and life-giving about asking a better question."   - Krista Tippett

Let' say you just sat down face-to-face, eye-to-eye, with a friend/family member. After greeting each other, what could you ask to find out who this person is today, how have they grown since the last time you talked, even if it was only a couple of hours since your last conversation? Then listen generously. I haven't read Krista's book, Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Art of Living, so I don't know exactly what she would say generous listening is, but I would say it is to listen as if it is you talking to yourself, in-the-world, (rather than in your head). No commentary, suggestion, or rejoinder, not even an agreement or disagreement with what is being said. Just know you heard every word, every intent, and accept it all (no matter what your mind wants to say). And then wait, not saying the first thing, or second thing, or third thing that comes to mind. Let the answerer lead. You could be on an incredible new adventure!

101 Language Dancing for Babies & Parents

Gaining the skills for playing soccer happens by playing soccer on the soccer field. Likewise, learning language and social skills for enjoyable and meaningful conversation is learned from being in social situations, where there is true dialogue.  You know what I mean: when you and your friends get together at a picnic or for a beer. And if someone is talking "at" or "to" you rather than "with" you, you will find a reason to have to talk to someone else!  

 For young children, being "talked to" and being "talked with" have vastly different results in the same way.  Being talked "with" is called "language dancing," where each partner - child and parent - in a both verbal and non-verbal "dialogue,"  responds to the "moves" (facial expressions, gestures, and vocalizations as well) of the other partner, just for the joy of relating - as older children and we adults do when we are out with our friends. 

In their research, Drs. Todd Risley and Betsy Hart found that the cognitive performance that children achieve or don’t achieve by third grade ...

... is all explained by the amount of language dancing, or extra talk, over and above business talk, that [the] parents engaged in [between birth and age 3].  It accounted literally for all of the variance in outcomes.   

(Quote from interview with Todd Risley)

By the way, there's nothing wrong with "business" conversations, like "time to eat, or "take your mittens out of your soup!"  A child can learn how useful these can be - but they are not as rich, interesting, or meaningful as everyday social talking between best friends. The focus of learning language is in social talk long before speech is mastered.

And if your baby is pre-verbal?  To see an example of a mom with a baby, request the link here, and ask for Language Dancing.  I recommend you watch it first without the sound, imagining what might be being said between this new mother and her baby.

What to love about this idea of Language Dancing is that it is also hugely joyful and fulfilling for you, the parent (or teacher, too!).  Enjoy.

Risley and Hart's book, Meaningful Differences in the Lives of Everyday American Children, and its follow up, The Social World of Children Learning to Talk, are must reads for educators. For parents, the significant points are covered in Beyond Good Parenting.


Firsts: First blog on new site, first blog from San Francisco ...

    Marty Dutcher

    Marty Dutcher

A successful relocation! We are here! I mean San Francisco - we've always been 'here', at least since birth ;). It took almost a year to pack up in Lancaster PA, then move, update addresses, auto registration, insurance, update IRS, Medicare, credit cards, bank accounts, blah blah blah ... and a change in clothing! But we are excited to start a new chapter.  

FYI, Carolyn (CNM) is retired from delivering babies and is now a Lactation Consultant, and I am looking forward to sharing my acoustic guitar music (hobby) and my parenting/relational expertise (professional) here on the West coast.  I'm happy to be in San Francisco and nearer to family, and particularly pleased to be able to play with, enjoy, and record our first grandchild as he explores and experiments during every waking moment (and sleeps more hours to seemingly process the huge quantity of facts and data he accumulates daily - like every baby and young child does).  Please come back as I am re-editing old and writing new blogs, and ** NEW *** adding some amazing videos, and will be posting the best for you!