There must have been something about that experience that softened my heart to children and led me on a journey to decrease their suffering and sorrow.
From the time I was a little girl, I loved other children. Other mothers in the neighborhood sought me out for my well-known babysitting skills from the time I was twelve years old. I was a lifeguard, taught swim lessons to kids of all ages, and coached the mini swimmers, ages four and under. Growing up in Michigan, I could not wait for summer to roll around, to get back in the pool with those kiddos.
My desire to work with children only grew in college. I loved taking the practicum classes where I went out into the community. I worked with challenging preschoolers, the developmentally disabled, and teens who were hospitalized at the state mental hospital. Post-graduation, I had a passion for working with children from hard places in the child welfare system, making my rounds through residential treatment, group homes, foster care, and adoption, eventually working as a clinical supervisor. In my graduate-level studies, I concentrated in children and families.
Back then, however, parenting was very different. We were still using behavior modification, including reward charts and level systems for good behavior, and timeouts, writing standards, and other punishments for bad behavior. Sadly, I used these same tactics on my own three daughters. I didn’t realize back then why these well-known parenting strategies never seemed to work, but I do now.
Once my girls were grown and flown, I dove back into studying the parenting field and it had changed dramatically during my time at home with my girls. It was no longer best practice to consequence and reward children. More positive, trust-based parenting had started to emerge, and I could not get enough of it. I was thirsty to learn at a deeper level and dove into the science of parenting. This research not only transformed my work but my relationships with my three daughters.
Ironically, it was the science of parenting that uncovered the truth for me of how relationships grow and heal inside a securely attached relationship. As I learned, I turned to my own daughters to repair the ruptures with them, taking responsibility for my very strict parenting style. Learning that my girls were so much more than their behaviors, led us to more loving and trusting relationships. Now I am blessed to frequently hear from my very adult daughters, “You are the best mom, ever!”
It is now my passion to take the science of positive and brain-based parenting to as many families as possible. I strive to teach parents how to build safety in their relationships with their children, and then use that safety and connection to create calm in their child’s nervous system. My goal is to help parents become the healers in the home. It is never too late to bond as a family.