FamilyMatters

North Star
Holiday Issue

To Inspire Conscious Parenting and Empowered Kids Kids

Santa Fe Sisters Follow The North Star Games & Brain Teasers

Parents Unique &
Normal

Empowering Education

Holiday Expectations

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Our Beliefs

Who We Are

We are three people with a passion for empowering kids; a single mother who decided to do something different than her parents did, her daughter who knows what it is to be an empowered kid and grow into an empowered adult, and a man who found and cared for an abandoned baby on the streets of India when he was a teenager, and still dreams of helping kids. That’s why we’re here every month, to share our passion and offer inspiration. We know that parenting is more than just feeding and protecting. Conscious parenting is about commitment, inspiration, and empowerment. We are here to support you in the parenting process and to support your kids in realizing their full potential.

Our Beliefs
• • • •

Every child is born with an innate curiosity and love of learning. Every child is unique and his/her individuality is valuable to the family and to the world. Every child is born with unbounded potential. Every child can have high self-esteem, be self-motivated, and respectful of themselves and others if given the appropriate tools and experiences. • How we treat our toddlers and children today has a direct influence on their self-opinion and the choices they will make as teenagers and young adults of the future. • Parents have the single most important influence on children’s lives. • The future is unlimited when our thoughts, feelings, and actions are in alignment with our intentions.

Accordingly, As Parents, It Is Our Responsibility To:
• • • • • Support our children’s unique talents and abilities. Foster our children’s innate curiosity and love of learning. Empower our children to make meaningful decisions every day. Remind our children that their futures are full of possibilities. Acknowledge that parenting is as much a learning process for us as for our children.

Parents

At a Glance: “ P ” for Parents “ K ” for Kids

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Table of Contents

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Holiday ExpEctations
By Sue Woodward

UniqUE & normal EmpowEring EdUcation: my cHild v. groUp lEarning
By Rhonda Stone By Kurt Hines By Wendy Garrido

10 nEw yEar, nEw viEw 16 gUidEd By nsFm
By Tanessa Dillard Noll By Sue Woodward By Sharon Becker

18 wHo nEEds EFt? 20 Family circlE 26 rEading rigHt
By Dee Tadlock, Ph.D. By Sue Woodward

28 tHE sUE-lUtion placE 29 classiFiEds Kids 12 santa FE sistErs
By Sue Woodward

22 “i am” aFFirmations For liFE
By Dr. Marilyn Powers & Steve Viglione

24 gamEs

29 answErs to novEmBEr’s gamEs 30 coloring pagE

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From Us to You

From Us to You
Dear Parents & Kids,
It’s just a few days into the New Year of 2010. Many of us may already feel caught up in our daily routines once again. It’s a great time to renew our family spirit and energize it with love. Sometime before the end of January, schedule a family meeting to discuss your favorite parts of 2009, what things worked well, and what things you’d like to see different in the future. Remember, try to keep the focus positive. For example, instead of talking about how messy the house was last year, let your family know that having a cleaner house is important to you and ask for their support in making it happen. Maybe you will decide together to write down a list of family goals, as well as some individual intentions for each person. As a family business, we at Family Matters magazine have our own family meetings. This year we set our intention to get NSFM into the hands of one million readers—for FREE! We want to continue inspiring today’s parents to empower kids.

wendy@northstarfamilymatters.com

sue@northstarfamilymatters.com

It doesn’t cost anything to help us by telling other people about Family Matters magazine. So let your friends, families, schools, and business associates know about Family Matters. And, as a special thank you for making us a part of your lives and sharing the magazine with others, we’re offering a FREE ½ hour family consultation with Sue for three families. Tell at least five other people about the magazine and then send us an e-mail at coaching@northstarfamilymatters.com to be entered into the drawing. Just forward a copy of the email you sent to your friends to the address above and you will be entered into our drawing. Winners of the consultation will be chosen randomly and will be contacted via e-mail by February 15, 2010 to schedule an appointment. You can help us share our gift -- the emotional & spiritual health for kids and families -- worldwide in 2010. The future lies in the hands and hearts of our children.

prem@northstarfamilymatters.com

Appreciatively, The Team at North Star Family Matters
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From You to Us
Editor-In-Chief Creative Director Wendy Garrido Managing Editor Sue Woodward Operations Manager Prem Carnot National Outreach Director Kimberly Bray Proofreading Rhonda Stone JoAnn Ray Don Garrido Jamie Bailey Layout Assistant Laurie Mayer Contributing Writers Dee Tadlock, Ph.D. Rhonda Stone Susan Stiffelman Eryn Rodgers JoAnn Ray Tanessa Dillard Noll Syandra Ingram Kurt Hines Sophie Frank, age 11 Susan Usha Dermond Gary Craig Sharon Becker Advertising Sales Delena Neves Camille Brent Empowered Kid Consultants Sasha, 14; Quinn, 5; Mary Margaret, 7; Kevin, 8; Josh, 11; Isabelle, 10; Fisher, 13; Brianna, 9; Beverly, 6; Alyssa, 8; Alison, 13 Conscious Parenting Consultants Wendy Y., Pamela, Laurie, Laura, Jon, Don, Diana, Cindy North Star Family Matters P.O. Box 7306 Olympia, WA 98507 (888) 360-0303 Midwest Office: 7627 S. Dune Hwy. Empire, MI 49630 (888) 228-4492 www.NorthStarFamilyMatters.com

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From You to Us

What readers are saying...
Love your magazine and have a subscription but missed seeing the November edition [delivered nearby]. Please keep sending them. It’s no competition to [other magazines].
Cecilia
breath of fresh air! Maybe we can set aside a few minutes some time and chat about how we may be able to help each other.

Your magazine looks like a

Mary

I am delighted with your magazine. ..and sent them to my grandchildren in Pennsylvania, …and teachers and parents at the school where I am a full time reading specialist. I use EFT with my reading students and find it really helps them to focus…and [to help them] get over anger and sadness so that they are quickly ready to get back to learning. It is a powerful tool. Please continue with this wonderful enterprise. I would like to buy a subscription to help support your valuable work and so that I don’t have to hunt down copies.
Thanks, Sue

We are so impressed with your magazine.
Sally

It seems as if we are working towards the same goals. We would like to schedule a meeting with your staff and discuss potential collaboration. …

I loved the article on Appreciative Inquiry in your latest edition of the

magazine…As a parent coach in private practice, I use Appreciative Inquiry with the moms I coach… Thanks, again, for including such a positive, informative article. I appreciate the author’s take on it.

Sincerely, Karen

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Conscious Parenting

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Holiday Expectations

is the season to be jolly,” so why are the holidays known to kick up just as much grief as joy? You’d think that people would stop doing the things that drive us crazy, at least for a few days! “Why does he have to act like that on the holidays?” “Can’t she just stop complaining for now?” In fact, the holidays are often the most difficult times for many families and one of the gremlins By Sue Woodward is expectations. An expectation is a thought that we create about what will or should happen. Expectations are generally based on a emotional connection with those you love. strong belief, hope, or fear. They are our desired future outWhat is it that’s truly important to you this year? What’s come fabricated by what’s happened in the past or what we’d important to your family members? Maybe you want better like to happen in the future. But they aren’t real! They are communication, to make sure your family remains connected, simply thoughts, and yet these thoughts become very powerto encourage healthier boundaries, to express more appreciaful when we allow ourselves to get attached to the outcome. tion, or reach out to someone special. As a family, make a list Expectations have the power to make our cheery seasons of what’s important for each holiday and discuss ways to bring dreary. those visions to life. Then, let go and watch it happen. Life It’s no wonder that expectations rise at this time of year given unfolds in miraculous ways that we can’t even imagine when all of the energy that we put into making the holidays special we allow it to unfold without attachment. (food, fun, decorations, reunions, parties, gifts, etc.). Each of us If and when something happens to trigger your negative reholds an image of our picture-perfect holiday, projecting our sponse, remember that although it may feel “bad” it is simply needs onto others, hoping that external circumstances will en- your own expectations colliding with the reality of life. Let go sure our internal satisfaction. But whenever we set ourselves of the judgment and start going with the flow, knowing that up to expect that happiness is a function of what happens out- all of your anger, sadness, and frustration exist because you side of us, then we are counting on the unknown and setting are resisting what IS. Instead of fixing the problem, leaving, ourselves up for disappointment. or pretending it doesn’t exist, try The stronger we think something reframing the situation by changing An empowering tradition we love any should happen or someone should how you think about it until you time of the year comes fromThePurplePlate. act in a certain way, the more likely find your emotions transformed. com. Mixed in with the everyday dishes, we are to be triggered by an emoEmpowering your holidays is every so often The Purple Plate ends up tional response that sets us flat on about becoming conscious of your on the table either randomly or placed in our derriere. own expectations and letting go of front of someone who may need something This year, set your heart on emthe attachment to any particular special. Each person takes a turn saying powering your holidays as you outcome. The spirit of the holidays something that they love or appreciate remind yourself to let go of exresides in your heart. Our tradiabout the person who has The Purple Plate. pectations and go with the flow. tions, whatever they may be, merely It might be in the form of a funny story, It’s okay if things don’t go as you connect us with those we love. This an experience they shared, or an authentic planned. Set your goal for spiriyear, say goodbye to those expectaappreciation for what they like best about tual balance and stop buying into tions. When you do, you will set the person. It’s a great way to take the the emotional overload, stress, and yourself up for beautiful holiday time to share and understand each other tension. Instead, breathe deepmemories! through love and communication. ly and enjoy lots of laughter and

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Unique & Normal

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Conscious Parenting

ost of us are inundated with ideas about what is considered normal for children and, as parents, when we encounter a situation that falls outside of “normal,” we conclude that there must be something wrong with the child. Traditional education has convinced us that it is normal for all children to sit quietly at a desk at school with an occasional break for lunch or recess, for some kids to fail subjects while others breeze through, and for some kids to read well while others struggle. These are definitions of “normal” that most of us buy into as acceptable and true. After all, we were raised that way. If your child struggles to be successful in school, someone will probably diagnose and give a name to what’s wrong, making it normal for kids with that diagnosis to act that way. It’s normal that other kids have learned to read easily while your child struggles because he has “dyslexia.” So-called normal children can sit still at a desk all day and do their work, but your son has trouble because he has “ADD.” We live in a culture that labels what we don’t understand so that we can try to make sense out of what’s wrong with our child. But wait a minute! Maybe it’s time to stop assuming that there’s something wrong with our children and start trusting in their innate abilities. It’s time to realize that the child is the only person who can define what normal is for her. And it’s time to stop holding our children to the benchmarks of a floundering education system and instead hold the education system accountable to the intelligence that lies within every one of our children. Our kids are not the problem. The system is simply not geared to help them succeed. Schools, teachers, guidance counsellors, and other experts are all an important part of discovering how we can help and support children. These professionals and the school system are supposed to have our children’s best interests at heart. But the benchmarks typically used by all of these experts address administrative needs and, as parents, we need to advocate for our child’s individual needs. All of our children are different and each is unique, so it is unrealistic to think that every child should mold to a system. What if we assumed that every child comes into life equipped with everything they need to be happy, successful, and social? Instead of being convinced that the child is the problem, we would start supporting our children and the abilities that they possess, asking the system to adapt and take responsibility for providing what they need to thrive. We would move away from a punitive system of failure to a supportive system of discovery. Instead of asking “How can I get my child to fit into the ‘normal’ box”?” we’d ask,“How can I support my child in

By Wendy Garrido

developing in her natural way—a way that works for her?” Start by asking yourself,“What would be different if I stopped saying that my child has ____ diagnosis?” A diagnosis tells us how our child is struggling, but not what she needs to succeed. There are always parents who break through the diagnoses with new and creative ways to connect with their child. Let that parent be you. Does your child get easily overwhelmed in noisy, crowded situations? Maybe she seems overly sensitive. Does she have trouble focusing on the task at hand? Maybe she gets grumpy and frustrated when she can’t have something she wants. These are all just exaggerated feelings that we all share from time to time. As adults, we all adapt and try to find ways to deal with our own stress, anxiety, and disappointment, and we all have different triggers that set us off. Let’s empower our children to figure out how to get their own needs met--whatever that means for them--at an early age. Let’s teach our children to say “I know that I am capable of being happy, successful, and helpful. Right now, I’m not feeling that way, so what can I do, or how can I change my perspective in a way that will help me move in that direction?” The most rewarding and important outcome is that along the way they will learn to step into their own personal power. When we empower our children, they will discover for themselves that they are important and capable of finding ways to overcome any obstacle that is stopping them from achieving their goals and doing their best. As parents, it’s up to us to support our children in their unique process of discovery.

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Education Matters

By Rhonda Stone

Empowering Education:
My Child v. Group Learning
By Rhonda Stone

This is the first article in a nine-part series on Empowering Education.

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remember my son’s first day of school more than nine years ago. He was bright and cheerful in his brand new T-shirt and jeans and shaggy locks. As the big yellow bus rolled up right in front of our home, he waved a fast and furious good-bye before his eight-year-old sister pulled him aboard. I returned the wave, filled with hope that both of my children would love school and school would love them back. Naively, I thought all would be well if we just followed the school program. Teachers and administrators would tell our children, my husband, and I what to do, we would do it, and both children would succeed. Simple… or, so we thought. Traditional education is not simple. At times, it can be quite a struggle. I observed this first-hand from my job as a K-12 school public information professional, as well

as from my perch atop the family castle watching as my children failed in school. I know from personal experience that following the “school program” does not guarantee the success of a child. I also know that there are many excellent school teachers and administrators out there who are increasingly baffled by the growing number of parents and family members unhappy with traditional education. I feel for their frustration—but I also know that it is time for the rigid “group learning” that is characteristic of traditional education to give way to far more effective “empowered learning,” which has the ability to meet the needs of every child.

The Problem With Group Learning
Modern education is just 150 years young. Before the mid-1800s, most learning took place in the home, with

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parents teaching each child what they needed to know about farming and building; cleaning and baking; reading, numbers, and needlepoint. Later, in the one-room school house, children of all ages worked sideby-side guided by a teacher. Older students helped individual children who had lesser skills. As public education became more common and as schools subsequently grew, as many as 30 or more children of the same age filled classrooms. Teacher focus shifted to group learning and classroom management. But group learning has a spotty record of success for many children. At the beginning of this century, the “No Child Left Behind” initiative was launched with the goal of making every child proficient in reading and math by the year 2014. As part of the initiative, schools are to use aggressive testing to “measure” group progress and teachers are to use the same testing to “measure” individual student knowledge. At the classroom level, the goal is to insure that each child knows the material before they move on to new, higher level concepts. But, if children don’t know the material or understand a concept, what is supposed to happen? Are teachers supposed to re-teach using the same methods until struggling children are successful? Are kids supposed to figure out for themselves what isn’t working? Or, is it the responsibility of parents to pressure children to keep at it until they “get it” or, for those who can afford it, pay for after-school tutoring to fill in the gaps? What is a family supposed to do? Years ago, my mother was a special education teacher for deaf children and I have fond memories of helping in her classroom. Today I can see how my mother’s style of teaching set me up for unrealistic expecta-

We Taught Ourselves
By JP Stone “I liked both of my language arts teachers, but it was really hard to grasp what my first teacher wanted. She was going over the same material we’d gone over every year since the fourth grade and I was bored out of my mind. She would assign one or two topics each week for us to write about and I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t relate to any of the topics, so I would start thinking about other things that I wanted to write about. Time slipped away and I shut down. When I went to the new teacher’s class, she let the whole class write about what we wanted to write about and then she focused on our individual writing skills. She didn’t demand that we use every verb and every punctuation mark correctly. Her goal was to get us comfortable with writing and to teach us how to write well. Writing very short pieces (a paragraph or two), she would have us go back and correct our own mistakes and then she would help us see some of the things we missed. By teaching us to correct our own writing, everyone in our class learned what they needed to work on. It made me want to do the work and it helped me feel like I could improve and actually do well. Our class wasn’t large (just eleven students), but the second teacher had a lot of free time that she could have used for a lot more students. While we wrote, she worked on other things and was always available to us for our questions. She wanted us to ask if we weren’t sure about something. In a way, we taught ourselves. In my new classroom, I knew what I needed to do to improve and I knew that my teacher was there to help me. It wasn’t about teaching from a book. It was about me and what I needed to know.” tions and disappointment with my own children’s education. In virtually all special education programs, teachers have to teach to the individual needs of children. It is understood that you cannot teach to the group because every child is at a different place with their learning. Understanding this philosophy, my mother gave her heart and soul to insure that all of her students learned what they could about language, reading, math, and more. She strove to discover each child’s individual learning needs, with the faith and belief that each child could learn if their needs were appropriately addressed. Knowing how my mother worked with children created an expectation in me that the same philosophy would be extended to my own children by their respective teachers and schools. But, as “normally developing children,” my son and daughter were rarely in classrooms where individualized learning was a higher priority than classroom management and group learning. And therein rests the problem. Education may be a group activity, but learning is not. Learning is a process unique to each child.

Education Matters

My Child v. The System
Our son JP’s experience at age thirteen is a classic example. He failed language arts repeatedly, in spite of our attempts to address this issue with his highly competent pg. 11 language arts teacher. The


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Reflections of a Stay-at-Home Dad

New Year, New View
Look for Kurt’s article every month as he shares his experiences raising his three kids as a stay-at-home dad.

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By Kurt Hines

he holidays are a great time to take note of just how difficult it is to change our ingrained tendencies and habits. This New Year take stock of your parenting habits, including what you’d like to do differently. Change is happening all around us all the time and as our children develop at a remarkable pace, we want to evolve also. Along the way, we need to stay conscious of our emotional reactions in order to remain open and honest when we make mistakes (and, all of us do!) Think of mistakes as perfect opportunities for everyone to know where they need to grow. We all have times when we respond to our children in ways that seem counterproductive. Why do we lapse into these unproductive techniques that we know don’t work and have consciously decided to avoid? And what about those times we repeatedly react to our children’s behavior in ways that later make us cringe inside? This year, sit down together as a family and take stock of where each person wants to head, knowing that it takes consistent follow through to implement. You might discuss each person’s vision for the upcoming year in a family meeting. Then write them down and put them in our New Year’s Eve jar. Next year, pull them out and enjoy seeing how much your kids have grown over the year, and give yourself credit for having spent that time working on your personal vision. Here’s an area I’ll be adding to my list. Lately, my youngest son has been getting especially upset when things do not work out the way he wants. I often take the time and energy to give him a hug, commiserate and/or talk to him about how he can feel better. Other times, I have less patience and find myself responding in the same gruff manner that he is expressing. Even when I am in a good state of mind, I sometimes snap at him because I think he should know better. Then I backtrack and try to come at the situa-

tion in a more balanced way. If I want him to learn to deal with problems in a productive manner, I need to model those behaviors. This is obviously one of the habits I have trouble giving up. So here I am again, reminding myself that I am responsible for how I react, not him. Next time, I need to say:“I get very frustrated when I want to leave on time and you’re late. It seems to happen a lot and getting upset or angry obviously doesn’t help because I’ve tried that plenty of times. It’s not your fault if I get angry so I’d like to see how we can work this out for both of us.” Then, when he gets upset or angry about something, I can remind him that he is responsible for handling his reactions, just like I am. Fortunately, kids learn much quicker than adults. If he can work through some positive examples with me, I am confident he will be on his way to dealing with the other frustrations that sometimes overwhelm him. Parents and kids are constantly dealing with change. As adults, we have more resistance, wanting to hold on to things as they are, somehow hoping that resisting will help us get what we want. In fact, our resistance is a good indicator of where we need to grow and open up to the ebb and flow of life. We all need practice and encouragement, with plenty of supportive feedback, in order to change our ingrained behaviors. And, when you forget or slip up, pat yourself on the back. At least now you are aware and recognizing the difference between where you are and where you want to be, an important lesson for the journey of life. Each year, as we look around at all the precious children in our lives, let’s give thanks and appreciation for how important the role of parenting is, as well as how important our children are to our own personal journey. Let every New Year bring new joys, intentions, appreciation and keep in mind that it’s not about what happens on New Year’s Day, but about what happens the other 364 days of the year.

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pg. 9

teacher assigned specific topics for writing projects once or twice a week and held students strictly accountable to spell each and every word correctly with appropriate punctuation. In part because JP struggled with grammar and punctuation, he failed the class and began to think of himself as a failure. My husband and I spoke with his teacher about our son’s lack of skills and asked if his program might be supplemented or modified to help him. We were told that it would be inappropriate and unfair to the others in JP’s class to change his program in order to address his particular needs and that he would simply have to work harder and catch up on his own. “Catch up?” How is it possible for a child to “catch up” if they become so disillusioned and so depressed that they shut down completely? That is what happened to our son. His primary problem with language arts was not “what he knew.” His primary problem became a mix of boredom and fear. He was uninspired by assignments he couldn’t relate to and terrified to put anything down on paper. After he’d failed two quarters in a row, my husband and I asked our son’s teacher what she planned to do differently to help him succeed in the next quarter. When the same response came back (“I can’t do anything differently; he’ll have to catch up”), my husband and I discussed the situation with our son, and together we made the decision to remove him from his language arts class and transport him daily across town to a local alternative high school for language arts. For us, the old saying “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” was very relevant to the situation. A change seemed in order.

Significantly, the two language arts teachers used completely different approaches. Teacher A assigned specific topics with longer writing projects and held students strictly accountable to spell each and every word correctly with appropriate punctuation. Teacher B encouraged

plished that. What a difference one teacher’s empowering approach makes!

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Education Matters

Finally, A Step Forward
A year and a half after my son conquered his writer’s block, I marvel at how quickly he can write a school paper. I remember the white knuckles that used to grip his pencil tightly, the slowness of his hand, and the awkwardness of the letters that emerged on the page. Paper writing would literally take him days. Back then, he was tense and resistive—so different from the shaggy-headed, care-free kindergartner who bounded merrily onto the school bus on his first day of school. He is now fifteen and I am relieved to watch as his dynamic thoughts and ideas come to life on the computer screen as fast as his fingers can fly across the keyboard. Last night, paper writing from start to finish took him just two hours! It is hard to believe that this is the same teen—and disturbing to think what might have happened to our son if we had not insisted that he be released from prescribed “group activity” to participate in an “empowered learning” program. All that our son needed was a teacher who knew how to empower students as an integral part of group activity. That’s right—Teacher B’s approach was still a group activity! It was simply a less prescribed group activity, with room for students to tap into their own interests and creativity.

We were told that it would be inappropriate and unfair to the others in JP’s class to change his program in order to address his particular needs
students to write a few paragraphs at a time about anything and everything that had meaning to them and de-emphasized the mechanics associated with writing (spelling, grammar, and punctuation). Teacher B’s approach re-ignited our son’s interest in writing. Within a few short months, our son was writing so well that a paper he wrote in science was chosen by his teacher to demonstrate the effectiveness of her new curriculum. Remarkably, as our son became more relaxed about the mechanics of writing, he began to try harder to improve. Ultimately, his spelling and punctuation improved! Our son turned an important corner that year because one teacher empowered him to rely on his strengths, interests, and creativity— things that can’t be easily measured. As a result, he re-engaged with the process of learning and released the fear associated with his weaknesses (spelling and punctuation)—things that are readily measured. Through his strengths and interests, JP began to master language arts skills. No test on Earth could have accom-

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About the Author: Rhonda is a nationally published author on visual processing problems, a co-author on how children learn, and an advocate for children’s learning issues. She resides in Shelton, Washington with her husband and their two children.

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Empowered Kids

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Santa Fe Sisters

By Sue Woodward

y name is Kendra and I just turned thirteen years old last month but I don’t feel any better now that I am a teenager. Somehow I thought things would change. Nothing did. My mom is still not here, she left because she seemed to feel better drinking than not drinking, alcohol that is. We did everything we could think of, but one day, she got in another argument with my dad and was gone. That was just a couple of months ago, so it’s all kind of new for us. So, forgive me if I have a hard time getting excited about the holidays. My dad is great, and between granny and him, we are being well taken care of. Luckily I get along great with my sister Anna, and together we muddle our way through the days, trying to make sense out of this messed up life, but so far we are just doing that…trying. We haven’t made sense out of it yet. My dad asked us if we would like to fly by ourselves to Santa Fe, New Mexico and spend a few days with his sister, Aunt Jo. We spent a lot of time with her when we were little, but it’s been a long time since we saw her and I don’t really remember her that well. But,Anna and I thought it would be better than sitting around the house, so this morning we head to Santa Fe for the beginning of our Christmas vacation. Anna and I are up and ready, packed, bags in the car and kissing Tatters, our cat, good bye. “Okay girls, are you ready to head to the airport? What an

exciting day! Anna, did you get everything you need?” “I’m all set, Dad.” “Did you both remember your bathing suits?” Together Anna and I reply,“Yes!” We love to swim and Aunt Jo has a pool in her condominium complex. Ever since we were big enough,Anna and I have traded off who gets to ride in the front seat, so it’s my turn and in I hop in, no arguments from us. “Now, you know you are going to have to switch planes in Detroit. Kendra, are you comfortable with handling that? The flight attendant will have someone escort you to the gate.” “No problem, Dad. We’ll do just fine. We can always ask for help if we’re not sure. And, in case there are any big problems, I have my cell phone.” “How about we call you when we land, Dad?” suggests Anna. “Sounds great. Anything else we have to discuss?” Dad is big on discussions, especially since Mom left. “Well, I don’t really remember much about Aunt Jo. Anna and I made her a scarf and some jewelry, but is she going to expect more?” “Nope. Jo will be happy with whatever you two bring, even if it’s nothing but yourselves. You have always loved being around her and I am sure you will again.” “Well, she is lucky to be getting us,” Anna giggled. “After all,

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Kendra and I are the best, right, Dad?” “Right! You are the best daughters ever. I am such a lucky dad!” Dad walked us in and waited as long as he could before we had to go through the security gates. I have to admit that as much as I didn’t like leaving Dad, I loved the idea of this adventure. Life during the past four months had been terrible with all we went through with Mom and we could use a vacation. I don’t want you to get the idea that my mom is a bad person or mean. She isn’t. She just drinks too much, too often, and when Dad asked her to get help she did, but then she started right back in again. So, when she doesn’t drink she’s great and when she does, well, she’s just not the mom we know and love. The last straw was when she drove us home from a friend’s house after drinking, and that was it for Dad. He told her to make a choice, us or alcohol. And, she left. We land in Detroit and change planes. This is our first time in the Detroit airport but we’ve navigated through lots of cities so we’re used to walking, reading maps, looking for signs, and asking for directions. We finally board the plane, unpack our sandwiches, and pull out our DVD player to watch the movie we brought with us. Not too long after, Anna falls asleep but I stay wide awake, because I can hardly wait to land in Santa Fe and see Aunt Jo. Something special is on the way. I just know it--and I need it. The plane lands smoothly and Anna and I gather up our stuff, counting to make sure we have the same number of bags we brought on the plane and double checking to make sure we aren’t leaving anything in the seat pockets. She puts her backpack on and we walk out of the plane and up the ramp. I remember the times we had flown to Florida, Nana and Poppy met us right at the gate, but now, because of 9/11, there is no instant connection the moment you set foot in a new place. We walk down the hall following the signs that say,“Bag-

gage Claim” and, as we pass through the last doorway, there she is--Aunt Jo. She has beautiful brown hair with a glint of red glistening in it. It is long and hangs just past her shoulders, setting off her tan and healthy face. We run into her arms, needing to feel a feminine hug once again, just like Mom used to do. “Oh, I am so excited to see both of you. How was your trip? Anna, you look just wonderful and Kendra, how you’ve grown! You’re both just a sight for sore eyes.” “Have you been having problems with your eyes Aunt Jo?” Aunt Jo laughs in a free, wonderful style that makes it okay for all of us to laugh and answers,“No, Anna, I just meant that I have been missing all of you and am so glad you are here. Are you hungry? “I’m starving!” “What would you like to eat? I thought we might go to a little café I know and sit in the garden and enjoy the weather. How does that sound? “Do they have grilled cheese sandwiches?” Anna asks. “Sure! I know just the place.” On the way we tell Aunt Jo about our trip, the plane ride, and the airport in Detroit until we arrive at the café. It is so cute and the sun is lovely and warm, we order Shirley Temples and finally feel like we are on vacation. “So, your dad said that your mom left and you haven’t heard much from her. How is all that going?” Anna quickly looks down at her plate and doesn’t want to talk at all. “We’re fine,” I answer confidently and just sharply enough to let her know that that is all I want said on that subject. But Aunt Jo keeps right on plugging along. “I doubt you are just fine. I mean, after all, it’s hard enough to have anyone leave, especially when it is your mom. You must feel sad or angry or something?” I look at her blankly, not knowing how to reply, hoping my silence would help

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Empowered Kids
her realize that this was not a conversation we wanted to have. But it doesn’t do a thing and she keeps going… “I remember when I was young my mom got angry and left for two days and I felt terrible. Anna, you don’t feel sad?” Anna, looks down at the straw in her glass, and shakes her head up and down, as tears start rolling down her cheeks. “I think it would be better if we just didn’t talk about this,” I say boldly and convincingly, hoping she might get the point this time. “I am sure it would be easier, but easier isn’t always better, Kendra. And, if we are to spend the next four days together I want us to have fun, communicate well, and be honest with each other. So, let’s just talk about all this and get it out of the way.” She just won’t stop. I don’t want to cross this bridge, but it seems I have little choice. “Okay, you want pg. 14

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to talk? You want to know how I feel? I am sad and angry that my mom seems to like drinking more than us!” “I bet you are. It hurts when someone we love leaves us.” “On the other hand, it’s easier not to be dealing with all her ups and downs and anger and apologies and promises that she never keeps. Sometimes I think Anna is more mature than my Mom.” Anna looks at me, shocked. I had never really expressed all this, but it felt good somehow. “I can certainly understand that, Kendra. Anna probably is more honest and consistent than your Mom when she’s drinking. It’s hard to deal with people when they’re alcoholics. Thanks for being honest. That’s what I want us to do this vacation, help each other reconnect. You do know your mom loves you both so much? Alcoholism is a disease.” “Yeah, Dad reminds us and we know she loves us but if she drinks she needs to stay away,” Anna says. “So you love her, but don’t want to be around her when she’s drinking?” “That’s right. We all agreed to that.” “Good for both of you. It’s hard when you love someone and have to set boundaries, but it sounds like you two are doing a great job. And, sometimes, that’s just what the other person needs. Okay, well, we have two kids at the table who are hurt, angry, and sad. They have very good reasons to feel that way, but we want to have some fun, so how are we going to deal with these angry, sad, and hurt emotions?” Anna and I look at each other, not quite knowing what to say now. “I believe that even though you are sad, angry, and hurt there is a reason for all this; a reason that is so much bigger than your sadness and pain that it just can’t make sense now, but sometime it will. Right now you are struggling with what happened, wishing it was different, hoping your mom will change. Right?” We nod our heads. She definitely has our attention.

Empowered Kids

“And, we can’t just pretend it didn’t happen or that it doesn’t hurt, that’s not healthy. So, here we are in Santa Fe,

I believe that even though you are sad, angry, and hurt there is a reason for all this. A reason that is so much bigger than your sadness and pain that it just can’t make sense now, but sometime it will.
ready to go horseback riding…” “Horseback riding? Today…?” “So, what can we do about it? Aunt Jo says, as she stops talking, leans back in her chair, closes her eyes and tilts her face up to the sky, and just waits, as if she is expecting the answer to appear in the sky, written by one of those airplanes. Anna looks at me and I shrug. She says,“What if we all agree to talk about how we feel, would that help?” I am amazed.“Anna, you never want to talk about how you feel to anyone!” “Well, I do now.” I was pretty sure the thought of horses was pushing her to address her feelings, but why not give it a try? “Okay. How do we do it?” “Let’s just start with the emotions. Anna, how do you feel?” “I feel dead when I think of Mom, so I try not to think about her.” “And how does it feel when you feel dead?” “I guess I feel really sad,” and the tears roll down her cheeks again. “If we hadn’t argued with her maybe she would have gotten better.” Aunt Jo pulled Anna onto her lap and snuggled her. “Anna, the first thing we need to do at this table is empower all three of us with the most important fact in the world. You are not responsible

for how someone else feels or acts. And they are not responsible for how you feel or act.” Anna and I had spent a lifetime hearing otherwise, so we were not convinced. “Aunt Jo, if my teacher gets angry at me because I’m talking in class, aren’t I responsible for that?” “No, you are responsible for talking in class, that is your behavior, but not for your teacher’s reaction. People may try to blame us for how they feel, but how they react is really based on their own experiences and beliefs. We can’t possibly know how everyone is going to react.” Anna smiles and says,“Okay, so if I spilled this drink on your lap right now and you got angry…” “Good example,Anna. Let’s assume it was a mistake, although the way you’re tipping it maybe you are really planning on doing that!” We giggled. “I might get angry if I were wearing a new pair of pants. But, if I were wearing my old jeans it might feel pretty good right now because it’s such a hot day. Or, maybe I would be frustrated because I already had a bad day and a headache. Can you be responsible for what pair of pants I wear or what kind of day I had? The only thing you can be responsible for is making sure that you are doing the best you can in the situation. You’re not responsible for other people’s reactions.” “Mom used to tell us that she would feel better if we just behaved better.” “It’s easier to blame other people than to take responsibility for ourselves. And, most of us have never learned anything else. So, do we agree to this for our vacation together? Each one of us is responsible for how we act and respond. Deal?” “Deal.” “Now,Anna, are you responsible for your mom drinking or leaving?” Anna looks sad for a moment and then says,“No! I am responsible for how I act and I am a good kid.” “What about you, Kendra?” “I feel like I am, even though I know

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I’m not. Does that make any sense?” “Yes, it makes sense, but it’s important that you find a way to let go of the guilt and sadness. After all, the horse will even sense it! Right,Anna?” “Yeah, Kendra, horses can sense how people feel. You might get on your horse and then all of a sudden he will be really sad and start crying!” We giggle and then I say,“No. I can’t possibly be expected to be responsible for my mom. She’s been like this for years.” “Okay, so we all love your mom, know who she is in her heart, and know she is struggling. We also know that we want to help, but she has to be willing to help herself first.” “Right. So we could send her a postcard from here with lots of love and stuff,” Anna chirps. “Your mom has problems and to be able to support her, we need to know that we are not the problem. We are part of the solution when we can be responsible for how we are instead of reacting to how she is.” “Okay.” I have a question. So, during this trip, if you get angry or upset at us…you mean it isn’t our fault?” “No, if I get angry it’s because I am doing the best I can and, right then, that might not be very good. You are welcome to say that you would rather talk to me once I’ve calmed down.” “And, if I get angry about something…what do I do?” “We talk about how we feel and decide how to help each other get through those feelings, not by taking responsibility for them, but helping that person see what it is within themselves that is getting them upset. We are not to blame. When you’re feeling angry let’s talk about it.What do you say girls? “Sounds good to me. “Me too. Where are we going riding?’ We went riding that day, and the rest of the four days flew by. We felt free somehow, and every night Dad called to talk to us and we told him all we did. Every day we lived our belief, that we

were the only ones responsible for our own reactions and feelings. When one of us got upset, we took the time to talk about it. At the end of the trip I didn’t even know if I wanted to go home. It seemed we had discovered something that made so much sense and I was afraid that when we left we might lose it, whatever it was. We sat at Aunt Jo’s table, looking over the gardens, eating our breakfast, dreading the drive to the airport. No one said much of anything. Anna whispered,“Aunt Jo, how are you feeling?” “Actually,Anna, I am feeling sad. I know you have to leave, but I have so enjoyed having you both here that I am sad at the thought of you leaving, and then I’ll be alone again.” “I know. I feel that way too. I thought you liked living alone,Aunt Jo?” Anna asks. “Well, I’m feeling happy,” I blurt out, not really knowing where this is coming from. ”I feel happy that we had a good

Your mom has problems and to be able to support her, we need to know that we are not the problem. We are part of the solution when we can be responsible for how we are instead of reacting to how she is.
time, happy that we love Aunt Jo and we all got along so well, and happy that we can love Mom, even if she can’t be with us. I feel better than when we came. ” “Good thinking, Kendra. That sounds healthy. I’m starting to feel better. Give me a group hug you two!” “Aunt Jo, how about flying to our house soon and visiting us, or can we come out again?” I asked. “Let’s plan on it and one way or the

other, we will make it happen. In the mean time, we can email and call each other when we want to share our feelings. And, you girls will have each other. So, remember that no matter what happens with your mom, or anyone else, you are responsible for the kind of person you want to be, how you act and react, and to become all that you can be.” We flew home thinking about all we had learned, knowing we both felt so much better and fell asleep for almost the whole flight. We called Dad from Detroit and he said he would meet us at the baggage claim area. When we arrived and got off the plane, we headed through the terminal to baggage claim and looked for Dad. We finally spotted him and he grabbed us and hugged us, it was great to be back with him. “Dad, we had so much fun with Aunt Jo. Thanks for suggesting the trip. Can we go back soon?” “Hold on girls. I just got you home and you’re already ready to leave again?” We got our luggage and blabbered on about our trip. On the ride home we asked him if he had heard from Mom. He said that she had checked in to rehab again and wanted you both to know how much she loves you. Anna said,“I really hope that she starts making better decisions so that we get her back, but if she doesn’t I’m not to blame. ” “Me neither,” I add. He looked at us and said,“Good for you!! Sounds like you had a good time with Aunt Jo.” Much to my surprise, I said,“Oh, and Dad, can we try to stop blaming each other when we get angry or sad or hurt. At Aunt Jo’s we agreed to talk about our feelings but to only take responsibility for our own reactions. Whenever we’re upset it’s not other people’s fault.” Dad smiled and said,“Absolutely. It sounds like we are going to be doing a lot of healthy talking from now on. I love you both so much.”

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Guided By NSFM

Guided By NSFM
By Tanessa Dillard Noll

Look for Tanessa’s article every month as she shares her experiences raising her 12-month-old son, Guy, on the tools and insights offered in our magazine.

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uring my pregnancy, I committed myself to fixing all my quirks and flaws. As I saw it, I had nine months to become the perfect parent. By the time Guy was born, I felt prepared and confident—but far from perfect. Reading North Star Family Matters, I found myself making peace with my parenting abilities. Every article seemed to offer hope or solutions to everyday problems. They reminded me that we all grow with each situation, even those we see as problems. The final article in the Conscious Parenting Principles series, “Role Models,” struck a nerve. How can I be a role model if I regularly make mistakes? The article assured me that role models aren’t perfect people, but people who can acknowledge their vulnerabilities and mistakes. I am likely to pass along my best traits if I lead by example. “Be the role model that you wished you had,” I read. Role models aren’t perfect. They’re real and connect with us. Those seem like instructions I can follow! I also found useful tools for communication in the Blame Game article. Initially, I thought, Oh, I don’t blame others. I don’t go around telling people, “It’s your fault.” But, the more I read, the more I started to see how it applies to me. I think I am responsible for other people’s happiness and I often expect others to be responsible for mine. I picked up these patterns during my childhood, when I blamed a grumpy dad or

cranky sister for ruining the quality of my day. Meanwhile, my mom usually tried to make everyone feel better, even though she was powerless over the everchanging moods around her. I learned that blaming happens even when it’s not verbalized. Sometimes I blame people with my feelings. If people pour out their stresses to me when I am riding high on a “good mood” wave, I become resentful if they rob me of my joy. They probably have no idea that I take on their distress and secretly blame them for my reactions. They need a compassionate listener, when what they get instead is a resentful one. I also found the quiz in the article helpful in identifying my blaming patterns. Now when the baby is teething or my husband is withdrawn and wants time alone, I remind myself that I am responsible for how I act and feel. I can transcend the moods of others, even if I care about them deeply. It feels like a healthier and more balanced way to live as a family. This reminds me of Sophie Frank, the young writer who eloquently wrote about confidence in her recent story. Not only did I feel like I was momentarily lost in the pages of a young adult novel, I felt like I was getting a true sense of what it means for a child to feel empowered. The world of conscious parenting is new to me and I’m finding that it renews my hope when I see how successful children can be if we give them the

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opportunities to be their best. I was surprised to read from Gary Craig, founder of Emotional Freedom Techniques, that EFT could be used on pre-verbal infants. I wish I had known this sooner. I quickly began experimenting with EFT tapping on Guy. Once, he was tired and crying in my arms. The other time, he was crying in his car seat because he was hungry and he had dropped his bottle. Since I knew what was wrong, I stated his problem and offered my usual soothing words. He wiggled at first, which made it hard to tap on the various points. The more I continued, the more he relaxed. It has been only a few days, but I plan to continue using EFT with Guy and I will let you know how he responds. I can only imagine what he thinks Mommy is doing. We visited a farm recently at the same time as a group of preschool children. Many of the kids appeared to be only a year or two older than my son. I noticed similarities, such as curiosity and a need to be protected by familiar adults. But, at the same time, I was awed by the vast differences, most notably the ability to communicate with words. It amazed me to hear a little girl say “Thank you,” when someone made room for her. I’m excited to think of Guy one day having an awareness of other people making choices that benefit him. I was also fascinated when the farm guide tried to address the children and they continued to talk loudly and share their excitement about the things they saw. Evidently, they haven’t yet learned to be a quiet audience. There was something refreshing in their voices and I imagined my son one day expressing his thoughts and observations with other children and adults. As we near Guy’s first birthday, I’ve tossed and turned over how to

celebrate this milestone. I consider his age and realize that he won’t even remember this occasion. Like any day, I imagine, it should be filled with things he loves: good food, room to run, lots of play, hugs, and laughter. Most importantly, this early time in his life is a celebration for my husband and me, who have made it through our first year as parents. Thank you, NSFM, for

giving us the tools and support to empower our family!

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Guided by NSFM

About the Author: Tanessa Dillard Noll is a stay-athome mom who lives in Belfair, WA. Before motherhood, she worked with kids of all ages as a tutor, mentor, chat room monitor and teacher. She has degrees in communications and teaching.

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Emotional Toolbox

Who Needs EFT?
motional Freedom Technique (EFT) is like acupuncture—you either believe it or not! It sounds ridiculous: Tap on some places on your body, say some phrases, hum, count, and voila! Your negative emotions seem to disappear. If you’re anything like me, you may be resistant to trying it. But twelve years ago I found myself in a family counselor’s office with my three daughters, aged twelve to fifteen, who all seemed to think I didn’t have healthy boundaries with men. You see, I had recently started dating after nearly thirteen years of being a single parent. I had no idea what they were talking about. This was not a day I enjoyed having my empowered kids around. The psychologist looked at me and asked, “How do you feel about what the girls are saying?” “Feel?” I replied. “I don’t know what they’re talking about. How do they know what good boundaries are anyway? They’re just kids. None of them have even dated.” The psychologist looked back at the kids and asked, “So, what exactly do you mean when you say she doesn’t have good boundaries?” Each one seemed to have something readily at hand to describe the lack of boundaries that they could readily see and I couldn’t. “Our mom raised us to speak up for ourselves and have good boundaries in school and in life, but she doesn’t seem to have any when it comes to dating. She dates a

By Sue Woodward

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guy she meets online for only one month and tells us that she is thinking about moving us down to Detroit so she can be closer to him.” He looked at me as if I had lost my mind and said with a tone of astonishment, “You mean you just met this man and after only one month you are going to pack up your family, leave your house on the lake, and go live in Detroit?” “Well, I wasn’t really going to do it, I was just thinking about it. That’s not a crime is it?” Then my middle daughter said, “And everyone that she dates seems to be the “right” one, as long he is happy with her. Then, when something goes wrong she falls apart and thinks it’s her fault.” This time the psychologist didn’t say a thing and just looked at me, nodding his head, watching as the tears started rolling down my cheeks. I was seemingly unable to comprehend what these empowered teens seemed so sure about. And as if that wasn’t enough, the youngest chimed in, reminding me once again that there are always those exceptional times that I wished I had raised kids who were insecure and intimidated: nice silent kids who might feel threatened in a psychologist’s office speaking up about healthy, loving relationships and personal boundaries. “And,” she said with all the surety of a mountain goat on the side of a cliff, “The minute she finds someone,

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they become her trusted, best friend right away. More than us! It’s like she thinks they are some knight in shining armor or something…” He looked at me again, now understanding clearly which one of us had the problem. “Well, you don’t see a problem with any of the things your daughters are saying?” “If I did see the problem, I can assure you I wouldn’t be in your office with my three kids telling me what’s wrong with me. They see the problem and I seem to be the problem.” “Well, I’d like to try something different with you. Typically we would sit around and talk for months trying to figure out why you’re this way, getting an understanding of your past and how it affected you, but I’d like to try EFT with you. I find that most of my patients progress at a much faster pace doing EFT. Somehow it creates a shift in their thinking and allows them to see things from a different, healthier perspective. Are you willing to try?” I didn’t really care what we tried and readily agreed, then wondering if my ready agreement meant I had no boundaries with him either, but at least the kids hadn’t seemed to notice that. And so began my experience with EFT… “If you had to say how sad you feel about your kids saying you don’t have any boundaries with men and put a number on how it feels from 0 – 10, 10 being high, what would it be?” “A nine. I just don’t understand why any of you are bothered by this.” Then he asked me to tap on the side of my hand and say: “Even though I feel sad because my girls think I don’t have any boundaries with men, I completely and totally accept myself. Even though I don’t know what they’re talking about, I completely and totally accept myself anyway.” Then he had me tap some places on my face and torso, then keep my

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EFT Basics
Step 1: Use the finger tips of one hand to tap the fleshy part on the side of the other hand. This is called the Karate-Chop point. Say 3 times: “Even though I... • Feel Sad • Hate Reading • Am mad at _____ • Feel __________ ...I deeply and completely love and accept myself because I am an awesome kid!” Step 2: Tap on points numbered 2-10 about 5-7 times each, starting at the top of the head and working down to the point under the arm.

Emotional Toolbox

2. Top of HeAd 3. inner brow 4. Side
of eye

5. Under eye 6. Under noSe 7. CHin 8. CollAr bone 9. rib CAge 10. Under Arm

Start Here 1. KArATe-CHop

head straight, and look down hard to the right, hard to the left, roll my eyes up in circles, hum happy birthday, count to five, hum again and count again. And this was supposed to solve my problems with men? Sure… Then he said, “Take a deep breath, close your eyes and give me a number for that sadness now.” It had changed, the tension in my body felt different. Of course, now I might be certifiable after that crazy eye rolling thing. Maybe I was just distracted or trying to please him. “It’s a six now. I feel confused but not sad. I just don’t know what they mean.” So he had me go through the whole thing again, but this time saying, “Even though I feel confused…I completely and totally accept myself.” Then we did the whole eye rolling-hummingcounting series again. And on we went another five rounds, touching on some of my past experiences with men (none of which were very dignified to be sharing in front of your

children). At the end of the seventh round I started smiling. Suddenly, I got it. “Oh! So you guys mean I should be evaluating whether I really want to live in Detroit, what a move would do to my kids, and make a rational decision rather than just jumping in? I get it!” With a big sigh and a general sense of relief, my girls nodded their heads and said, “Finally!” And so began over a decade’s journey with EFT that involved getting certified, using it as a tool for emotional resistance, getting regular referrals from a doctor’s office, etc. Little did I know that years later we’d start a magazine using EFT as one of the fundamental tools to help parents and kids. My daughters are still a constant reflection of my room for personal growth and I still discover new levels of healthy boundaries at the age of fifty-seven. The moral of the story? Watch out when you raise empowered kids because, sometimes, age has nothing to do with wisdom!!

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Conscious Parenting

Family Circle
n our family, we call the bonds and closeness we share and feel “the family circle.” After all the time and effort parents devote to building a close family unit, it is difficult to experience the mixed emotions we feel when our children move into new and more independent lives, creating a change in the circle. We might experience a sense of loss and resistance as our family evolves over time. This resistance is natural, especially when experiencing “firsts” such as your child’s first day at kindergarten, the first time they sleep over at someone else’s house, the first time our child boards a bus for a school trip, or heads off to college. We all experience different situations and reactions as we release our children into the lives they are creating for themselves. When we resist the pull, we may create interactions that put additional pressure on the circle. This resistance is often accompanied by behaviors that (perhaps unintentionally) lead parents to blame their kids for their unhappiness, which can, in turn, create feelings of guilt in the children. A sense of protectiveness encourages us to deny others access to or expansion of the circle. All our family circles can expand when we embrace the new experiences inherent in this circle of life, until one day the circle will wrap around the world. While our roles as mothers and fathers have certainly expanded and changed over the past few decades, the “empty nest” syndrome is just one example of the wide-spread feelings that still tug at our hearts. For those of us unarmed with previously learned skills or role models to follow, the question remains,“How can I use every experience of transition as a healthy growing experience for myself and my family?

By Sharon Becker

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Recently, my twenty one year old son made a decision not to come home from college for Thanksgiving break but, instead, to stay and make his own first Thanksgiving with his wonderful, longtime girlfriend. While there were many reasons for this that made perfect sense and, intellectually, I understood and agreed, I still felt sad and even a bit wounded by the change. I might have easily created a response that would make the situation an issue, perhaps leaving my son feeling guilty and conflicted. Instead, we talked openly about the situation and my feelings as we joked about letting others into the circle. I recently sent him a gift box filled with a pot holder, kitchen towel and other fun things that had a Thanksgiving theme. While I will certainly miss them, instead, I like to think about how wonderful it will feel when we can all celebrate together again. In fact, we have now expanded the circle model and adapted it to include other close relationships and friends.As the circle grows, I do my best to embrace the changes that come my way.

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Who “I AM” Matters

“I Am” Affirmations
elcome to our read-aloud column for parents and kids based on The I AM! Affirmation Book: Discovering The Value of Who You Are. There are over 122,000 copies of The I AM! Affirmation Book in print; it has been gifted to children in 30 countries and over 708,000 books of many titles have been gifted across the world by the I AM Foundation. We believe that when people discover their true value, they bring that value to their families, communities, and world. There are two ways we discover our value and self-worth. One is through the thoughts we choose and what we believe about who we are and the other is from the messages we receive from our parents, teachers, and other adults. QUOTE OF THE MONTH: “On Monday, October 22, 2007 you visited our school and my children received The I AM Affirmation Book. They have not been able to put this book down! They absolutely love it! … I have seen first hand the effects of low self esteem on children and how [the book] changes their success in the classroom. I get overwhelmed with emotion when I think about what The I AM Foundation is accomplishing because I know that every kid in any situation needs this support.” --A third grade teacher at Arlington International
Leadership School in Jackson,TN

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For Life

By Dr. Marilyn Powers & Steve Viglione

AFFIRMATION OF THE MONTH: An affirmation is a statement of truth. What the I AM! affirmations do is affirm the truth about each of us-- that we are loving, intelligent, caring beings full of potential and worthy of love, respect, and appreciation. Whatever we choose to say after the words “I am” affects our feelings, beliefs, and how we experience the world. When we say positive affirmations, these beliefs support us in feeling more confident and capable at school, at home, or wherever we are. I Am Honest! And if we disagree, I talk about my feelings, Respecting You as well as Me I Am Patience! And even if I think things go wrong, I know inside me very well, They’ll turn around before too long It is perfectly okay to have differences. What is not okay is to force our opinions on others verbally, physically, or emotionally because they disagree. We can listen to others with respect instead of judgement, even if we think, feel, or

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North Star Family Matters | Holiday Issue

believe differently. When we choose to listen with care and respect instead, our patience is rewarded by: • A better understanding of each other as we respect our differences • A solution that meets everyone’s needs • An opportunity to reconsider our opinions as we learn new ideas that help us value the differences between us. Life is always changing and every day there’s a new tomorrow. We never know how things are going to turn out. Sometimes what seems like a bad thing might actually turn out to be a good thing. And even when something seems downright bad, it doesn’t mean that something wonderful won’t come along next. Four practices to support us: • Communicate and listen to differences rather than bully, intimidate, or use physical force. • Value the differences between us rather than judge right or wrong. • Learn to give empathy (being aware of how someone feels) and compassion (caring about their feelings) for other people

as you do your best to understand their point of view. • In disagreements, practice stepping into the value of who you are by remembering that what someone says or does is never about you, even if they think it is. Bobby’s father is a lawyer, he wears a suit and tie to work. Maria’s father works construction and wears jeans and boots to work. Bobby told Maria that his father was more important than hers. At first Maria felt sad and angry when Bobby said that. Then she remembered her I AM statements and that everybody has equal value and that what Bobby thinks or says isn’t about her. So, the next day she said hello to Bobby and said, “Bobby, I think both of our dad’s are just as important but you can think whatever you want.” We all have different skills and talents, and all are needed. Even people

who are ill, homeless, poor, or unemployed have value. We have value simply because we are alive. Practice the affirmations by role playing or talking about your feelings. Sometimes it’s hard to do something new, but over time, affirmations can help us learn to flow with life instead of struggling against it. We hope you enjoyed our column and remember to send us a quote on how the I AM! affirmations help you or your child. We will be running an “I Am” quote in every issue. It is our joy to support you and your child and we look forward to seeing you next month.

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Who “I AM” Matters

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About the Author: Steve Viglione is the founder and CEO of The I AM Foundation and author of The I AM! Affirmation Book. Marilyn Powers, Ph.D., is the Vice President of The I AM Foundation and is married to Steve. They live in California. www.iamfoundation.org

Answers to November’s Games
1. Niether, because yolks 8. Just between you and me are yellow. 9. Two in One 2. During winter the lake is 10. The Sydney Opera House, Australia frozen and they drove the tractor across. Follow the North Star 3. In Washington, D.C Page 10, Page 12, Page 16, Page 30 4. The umpire and the catcher Joojiru™ 5. The word “snowing” goes to sowing, swing, sing, sin, in and I. 6. Hiking in the woods 7. Stay overnight

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Lots of Great Programs for You & Your Family

Find Out How to Handle the Most Difficult Parenting Situations Like an Expert…Even if You’re Not One! (Even The Expert Was At Her Wit’s End Until… She Discovered THIS Method!)

How To Have Your Kids Be Less Frustrated, More Focused, and Improve Their Confidence and School Performance -- Just by Watching Cartoons! And you get the first 10 Cartoons for FREE!

How To Have Your Child Reduce Their Stress, Improve Their Behavior And Even Get Better Results In School -- Just By Listening To Stories. And instead of fighting with you, they beg to listen to them. (Over and over again)

Promote Conscious Parenting & Empowered Kids with the Only Magazine Dedicated to the Emotional & Spiritual Health of Kids and Families

Take Back Control of Your Family’s Health --The Easy Way How Your Child’s Food Can Make or Break Your Family’s Happiness

Family Matters magazine has partnered with Life Made Much Easier to bring you this FREE online subscription. This subscription is made possible through the network of programs and affiliates within Life Made Much Easier. Please sample, enjoy, and share the programs these great programs.

Connect to Infinite Possibilities and Raise Your Vibration Just by Joining Our Free Alignment Call for 8 Minutes at 8 a.m on Mondays! (Since this is a FREE program, there are no affiliate commissions, but it’s still great to share.)

We Are Not Here to Judge, Condone, or Excuse. We Are Here to Help Heal. A Practitioner’s Introduction and Guide to Helping Veterans Heal

The Freedom to Sleep: A Safe & Easy Program to Help You Let Go of the Past and Start Sleeping Like a Baby Again...

Find Out How a Master EFT Practitioner Works With One of the Most Common Phobias Out There--Fear of Going to the Dentist

How To Have A Great Love Life & A Truly Intimate Connection With Your Partner -Without Needing to See A Therapist or Reading Another Relationship Advice Column-- And The Results are Guaranteed!

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Brain Teasers
1. One day, a Genie offered Raja a wish. Genie told him he could ask for anything but his wish should be one wish. The Genie gave him one day to think about it. Raja became very happy and went to his mother to discuss the wish. His mother was blind and she asked her son to wish for her eye-sight to come back. Next, Raja went to his wife. She became very excited and asked for a son, since they had no children. After that, Raja went to his father who wanted to be rich and so he asked his son to wish for a lot of money. The next day he went to the Genie and made one wish through which all three (mother, father, wife) got what they wanted. What was his wish? 2. The Pope has it but he does not use it.Your father has it but your mother probably also uses it. Nuns do not need it. Arnold Schwarzenegger has a big one, Michael J. Fox’s is quite small. What is it?

Games

Think

Outside the Box
3. One snowy night, Sherlock Holmes was in his house sitting by a fire. All of a sudden a snowball came crashing through his window, breaking it. Holmes got up and looked out the window just in time to see three neighborhood kids who were brothers run around a corner. Their names were John Crimson, Mark Crimson and Paul Crimson. The next day Holmes got a note on his door that read: ? Crimson. He broke your window. Which of the three Crimson brothers should Sherlock Holmes question about the incident?

A rebus describes a phrase by using position, highlighting, size, or color applied to words in a meaningful way. Below are four examples. Can you guess what phrases they represent? 4. 5.

va ders

daydayout

6.

7.

| read |

calm storm

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North Star Family Matters | Holiday Issue

Where In The World?
8. Do you know or can you find out where this picture was taken? Look for the answers to these puzzles in next month’s edition. Do you have a brilliant brain teaser, funny joke, tricky picture, or quirky question you’d like to submit? E-mail us at: games@ northstarfamilymatters.com If you prefer to write a letter, send it to: North Star Family Matters 698 E. Promontory Rd. Shelton, WA 98584 Or call us for free at: 1-888-360-0303

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Games

JOOJIRU™
Fill in the blanks below with the numbers 1-9 so that each number is used exactly once in each row, column, and the nine 3 x 3 squares. Counting by 4’s, place a number in each box so that each number is used only once in each row, column and the nine 3 x 3 boxes. The numbers used are numbers from 4-36.

Solution, tips, and computer program at www.sudoku.com

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Reading Right

Reading Right
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ach month we bring you a column by Read Right developer, Dee Tadlock, Ph.D. Read Right empowers kids with the philosophy that, if a child isn’t learning to read, it’s not because there’s something wrong with the child. Rather there’s something “wrong” with the way the child is being taught! Let’s show you what we mean. Can you understand the meaning of the following paragraph? Aoccdrnig to rseerach, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are prseetend. The olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht frist and lsat ltteres are at the rghit pclae. Th rset cn be a toatl mses nd yu cn sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. You probably got the meaning even though you couldn’t have sounded out most of the words! Nor could you have recognized any of them by sight! Now try this: With hocked gems financing him Our hero bravely defied all scornful laughter That tried to prevent his scheme Your eyes deceive he had said An egg not a table correctly typifies this unexplored planet Now three sturdy sisters sought proof…1

By Dee Tadlock, Ph.D.

You didn’t get the meaning, did you? Even though you “read” all the words the first time, you probably didn’t understand the author’s meaning. Now read it again and this time think: Christopher Columbus1. The Read Right system was developed by a mom, Dr. Dee Tadlock, who was determined to help her son, a struggling reader. This required her to discover how the brain learns to read successfully. During her extensive research, she found that reading (whether early reading development or remediation) must be grounded in meaning, not decoding. Since 1991, Dr. Tadlock and Read Right Systems have helped thousands of children, teens, and adults in the United States, Canada, China, and Germany through school-based programs, telephone tutoring, and at-home programs. Read Right’s premise that all children can learn to read, plus their phenomenal success rate, is why NSFM partners with Read Right. Reading empowers the lives of children and, together with Read Right, we are in the business of empowering kids.
1

J. Dooling and R. Lachman, 1972, “Effects of Comprehension on Retention of Prose” Journal of Experimental Psychology,Volume 88, pages 216-222.

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North Star Family Matters | Holiday Issue

her shoes? Brains are wonderfully adept at figuring out how to do things. Think of everything your child could do moments after birth. It’s a short list, isn’t it? Think of everything she can do now! If you should actually make a list of everything she has learned to do since birth, many processes won’t even appear. For example, you probably wouldn’t include “She knows how to scratch her nose when it itches?” but she certainly couldn’t do that at birth. How did your child learn that particular process? Did you teach her how to scratch her nose when she needed to relieve an itch? Or, did she make attempt after attempt until her curious and adaptive brain figured it out for itself? That’s how the brain learns processes such as talking and reading— through interaction with the environment via a continuous cycle of: 1) attempts at performing the process, 2) failure, 3) implicit analysis of the result, and 4) implicit adjustments in future attempts until the desired result is achieved. It is a simple formula every brain uses to figure out a process: attempt, fail, analyze, and adjust with the next attempt. You can use this knowledge of how the brain learns a process to create an environment in which your child can figure out reading—or any other process—if she chooses to do so.

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ave you ever watched a child learn to figure out how to do something? Grasp a toy? Walk? Tie

tongue can distinguish it from other languages they have not been exposed to. When infants first babble, they do so in a universal tongue, producing all the sounds the human speech apparatus is capable of producing. By about eight or nine months of age, they babble only in their mother-tongue. Children have a strong motivation to figure out language because they are, by nature, social and they want to participate in the communication that is going on all around them. This is obvious to anyone who has observed very young children communicating without language. They are creative and persistent in such communication, but they also display frustration when the communication fails and they simply cannot be understood. The right environment for figuring out spoken language is one in which there is a consistent source of meaningful language together with a “coach” who spontaneously provides feedback on performance and encourages the use of language even when it is peppered with mistakes. No parent gives their children talking lessons, yet virtually all of them learn to talk. How do they do it? They figure it out for themselves!

THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT FOR FIGURING OUT READING
The Catch 22 in figuring out reading is this: how can meaningful print be consistently “dumped” into the brains of young children if they can’t read? The obvious answer: someone else must read to the child and position him so he can see the print. Earlier columns have explained that the essence of excellent reading is to anticipate the author’s intended meaning. It makes sense to read to your child from highly predictable books so he will automatically begin to predict the meaning. For example: I like to go to the beach. I like to go to the park. I like to go to the swimming pool. I like to go to the bakery. I like to go to the movies.

Virtually all children learn to speak because meaningful sound (language) is consistently dumped into their brains, and their brains are compelled to “make sense” of it simply because it is there. Making sense is what brains do—we call that learning. Language learning starts very early. Newborn infants with just a few days of exposure to their mother-

THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT FOR FIGURING OUT SPOKEN LANGUAGE

If this were a book with one sentence on each page together with representative pictures, it wouldn’t be long before your three- or four-year-old would be reading it to you! You will find that if you choose to read such books to your child, he will eagerly and spontaneously respond positively to your comments of invitation:“I bet you can read this page.Want to try?” Brains that are deeply engaged in figuring out the reading process recognize that highly predictable books are the vehicles through which they figure it all out. Some parents expect children to be bored by highly predictable books, particularly if the child is already engaged in more complex reading material (e.g., listening to Harry Potter) or, if the child is old enough to think of some of these works as “baby books”. We can engage such a child in the reading process by asking her if she wants to learn to read. If she says,“Yes!” then suggest that you read some simple books together to make the process of figuring out reading easier. This establishes a different purpose for the activity, thereby preparing her for the simpler, highly predictable books. Instead of setting her up to judge the early readers based on interest level, she will be motivated and prepared to become highly engaged in the implicit activity of figuring out the complex process of passage reading for herself.The goal is for your child to want to figure out the passagereading process on her own because she sees value in it, and she wants to get on board for an exciting ride into the world of reading.

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Reading Right

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About the Author: Dee Tadlock, Ph.D. is the founder of Read Right Systems. In her book, Read Right! Coaching Your Child to Excellence in Reading she explains how some children figure out the reading process with no apparent help. www.ReadRight.com

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Empowered Families

The Sue-Lution Place
By Sue Woodward

Dear Sue, My four year old suddenly seems defiant. If I say yes, he says no; if he says he wants cheese for lunch, I bring him cheese and he says he doesn’t want cheese. I say go get your shoes and coat on to leave for school and he says I am not wearing a coat. I am sure it is a phase, testing his boundaries, but it is a very frustrating one. Any suggestions? J.B.
This sounds like a child who is clearly eager and ready to take on more responsibility. Are you ready to give it to him? Assign him a shelf on the bottom of the refrigerator and a shelf in a lower cupboard. Keep a few snacks, drinks, plastic plates, bowls, silverware, cups, paper towels, and a sponge on his shelves. When he wants a snack, encourage him to pick out what he wants. If (when) he makes a mess, encourage him to clean it up and ask him what he needs to get the job done. Does he want a sponge, paper towel, or broom? Instead of telling him to go get his shoes and coat, ask him if he knows if it is cold or warm out. If he doesn’t know, ask him to open the door and check for you. Then, ask him if he thinks he would rather wear his coat or carry it today? And, does he suggest that you should wear one? Give him choic-

es. This child is yearning to start making his own choices and to do things for himself. It might take more of your time, but it will be well worth the effort and reduce frustration as you see him stop resisting and start getting involved and creative about his life.

Dear Sue, My niece is eleven years old and proudly talks about having babies of her own when she turns sixteen. What is going on?? A.L.
This sounds like a child who has little to look forward to in her life. Start asking her how she feels about herself. If she brings up a baby, communicate how much potential there is in a child, and how important it is to encourage a child to be all she can. Then, bring the focus back to her. What would she like to do with her life? Ask her how she thinks she is progressing in discovering her potential. What are her dreams? Help address her low self esteem, by setting up some goals for her in school, at home and with things she loves to do. Start out small and encourage her to stand up for what she would stand up for with her own child one day. Her lack of dreams and inability to see her own potential drive her to focus on the future instead of the present. Use the potential of any child to help her recognize her own potential.

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Do you have a question for Sue? E-mail it to sue@northstarfamilymatters.com
This column is intended to support readers with general ideas and suggestions, but in no way is to be considered an expert opinion or medical support.

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North Star Family Matters | Holiday Issue

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Coloring Page
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North Star Family Matters | Holiday Issue

Once a week, or as needed, any member of the family can call a family meeting for any reason. Start when your kids can walk and talk! 1. The child or adult feeling most balanced volunteers to lead and opens by stating the agreements. We agree to: • Respect each person’s input • Let each person finish talking • Avoid using limiting or judgmental words such as can’t, won’t, don’t, shouldn’t, no, and not • Focus on what we do want instead of what we don’t want • Focus on the future rather than the past • Give everyone equal respect and equal say in the process and decisions • Commit to communicating until everyone feels that their concerns are resolved. 2. Ask “Is there anything anyone would like to see done differently in the future?” 3. Everyone agrees to work together to find a way to meet that person’s needs. Listen, support, and uncover feelings and needs in compassionate, open-minded ways, as you discover a PLACE of Peace, Love, Appreciation, Concern, and Empathy. Clues for a CODE ALERT Use it anytime you hear or feel: Anger • Fear • Anxiety • Blame • Judgment • Guilt • Yelling • Sadness • Generalizations • Frustration • Hurt. C. Connect Objectively Listen and clarify the issue objectively (no blame or judgment). O. Observe Feelings Identify the emotions under the issue, “I feel _____” (angry, sad, etc.). D. Discover Needs Ask what needs to happen right now to improve their life. E. Encourage Asking Help form a request that meets their needs and ask for it. Downloading Days Every day take 10 minutes per day per person when someone comes home and go through their routine, “I went to school, my first class was___, and then…” including both what you did and how you felt. This helps kids and adults remember the emotionally charged events mixed throughout their day. Make it fun and make it happen. Illuminating Questions When you suspect a deeper issue, ask general questions that open the door just enough to give room for their responses. How do you feel about about yourself? How would you feel about school? How do you feel about your friends? Increase Awareness Children construct meaning based on the messages, facts, and information they assimilate, mainly from us. Take time to filter out the harmful or limiting messages that attach themselves to negative reactions (anger, blame, tension, etc). Acknowledge Your Overwhelm If you can’t resolve your negative reactions, take responsibility for them by sharing your struggle with your child and reassuring her that she is not responsible for your negative reactions.
*A full version of Connective Communication is available on our website, www.NorthStarFamilyMatters.com for $9.99. **The CODE is NSFM’s interpretation and representation of the ideas for compassionate communication based on the material of Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D. as presented in Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, www.CNVC.org.

Family Meetings

The CODE

Empowering Questions

Conscious Message Filter

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