Posted by: Marie | September 28, 2013

(864) Parenting advice

Post #864
[Private journal entry written on Saturday, June 9, 2012]

This morning, I had a lesson with James, my student who is a cop . . .

His work pager kept going off during the lesson . . . he was receiving updates on a wildfire that had started early this morning in the foothills about an hour’s drive from my house (but still in his jurisdiction). At about the halfway point of his lesson, he got an alert that the emergency response level had been increased and that an evacuation order had gone out for a large area. He commented that it must be pretty bad . . . he said he would very likely get called in to help with evacuations and security, he just didn’t know if it would be sooner rather than later. He said he hoped we could finish his lesson before he got called in . . .

It turns out he did get to finish his lesson . . . and, after the lesson, we sat and visited for a 20 or 30 minutes . . . his wife and daughter were having a mother-daughter day up in the mountains (in a town a fair distance from the fire) and he hadn’t yet been called in to help with the fire, so he wasn’t in any hurry to leave . . .

I had been hoping to talk to him about Renee . . . I knew he would have some great insight because of the nature of his work, but even more so because he is an awesome dad to an amazing little girl . . . so, I told him about my experience with Renee and her dad . . . and that I see she is heading down a troublesome path and that I’m really concerned about her.


Photo by Martin Chen

James inquired if there was any family structure in place that might provide some support and guidance for her . . . I commented that I wasn’t sure about that, but I mentioned that her time is split between her parents. James noted that a broken home makes it much more challenging for the parents to create the structure needed to allow the children to feel wanted and loved and supported. I said that I had not yet seen evidence to indicate that her parents had the wherewithal to overcome that challenge . . .

I mentioned that Renee’s dad had asked me for suggestions on how to encourage her to get motivated enough to practice . . . motivated enough to develop her natural talents . . . and that I told her dad I might not be in a position to give parenting advice, but that I do know what it is like to be a little girl who wants to be loved and approved of by her dad . . . and how I thought that is what she really needs in order to have the confidence to try new things.

I told James that I really appreciate how he and Cindy take Sara’s fears and concerns very seriously and how they never berate her for having concerns. Instead, they really honor them and create space for them. When he looked a little puzzled, I gave him the example of when Sara left her stuffed animal at my studio . . . how he made it a priority to drive to my studio to get it because it was a big deal to her. And, when it seemed she was experiencing all kinds of phobias, they didn’t belittle her for that, they just gave her lots of assurance . . . they didn’t make her wrong for having fears and phobias. I really appreciate that about them and I think it affects Sara’s self esteem for the better.

James thanked me for acknowledging that . . . and he said he hoped they were handling all of those things well . . . I told him that I think they are awesome parents and it seems to me they are raising a very confident and psychologically healthy little girl . . .

At that point in the conversation, I more or less stopped talking and waited to hear what James might have to say . . . I didn’t come right out and ask him what I should do . . . I wasn’t sure if it was appropriate for me to ask that . . . but, I was hoping he would have some insight and/or suggestions . . .

He did suggest that the dad could regularly make time for father-daughter time where they do something together they both enjoy, which allows them to create a bond and gives them time to enjoy each other’s company. (I’ve heard Dr. Phil suggest the same thing . . . he says it fosters a fun part to the relationship that is not just about making the child follow the rules.) James asked if that is happening. I said that I don’t think so . . .

James then suggested a couple of books: Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families, and then a parenting book that Covey’s kids wrote, but he couldn’t remember the name of it . . . he said he would have to look at his copy of the book at home and send me the title of it.

I made a point of not bringing my story into this discussion . . . I have a habit of inserting my story into every conversation that centers on the emotional health of children . . . I’m trying to not do that as much. The only thing I said about my own experience is that I’m relating so strongly to Renee and it is causing me to be very emotionally affected by and invested in her situation.

As that part of our conversation wound down, I stated that I don’t know if I will have an impact on Renee and her family . . .

James responded, “Sure you will! Just keep listening with your heart, like you are already doing. You could be that one person who makes a difference . . . you hear about that all the time . . . it’s the nurture vs nature thing . . . you have people who have every advantage in life and they turn out to be non-productive citizens. Then you have people with everything in life going against them and yet they turn out to be incredible people. A lot of times it has a lot to do with someone taking an interesting in them, someone outside their family caring for them when they are young . . . a person they can turn to for support, someone who believes in them. You could be that person for her . . . if you’re willing to take on that role . . .”

I responded, “Of course I am! That is a no-brainer for me!”

James said, “Then you very well could make a difference!”

As James was packing up to leave, I mentioned that I’m planning to go hiking tomorrow since it was not supposed to get hotter than 80 degrees . . . but since the fire is close to Lory State Park (where I usually go hiking), I’m going to have to pick a different location. James offered some suggestions, including a new hiking area that just opened up . . .

I said I might go down south to my old hiking haunt near Boulder, which would be far enough from the fire to stay clear of the smoke. Then, I laughingly said maybe I could swing by Luke’s house since it would be on the way . . . it would give me an excuse to get my chair from him . . . and an opportunity to flirt with him . . .

James raised his eyebrows and inquired who Luke might be . . .

“Oh, he’s a good looking guy I’m interested in . . . do you remember the coffee table book I showed you with all the beautiful photography in it?”

“Oh, yes!”

“Luke is the guy who took those photos and published the book . . . I think I told you about going to his house for the St. Patrick’s Day party . . .”

“Oh, yeah!”

“He was worried about having enough chairs at the party so I brought my teaching chair in from my car and then forgot to take it with me.”

“So, you are interested in him?”

“Yeah . . . but, I’ve already sent a thank you note to him after party . . . in the note, I invited him out for coffee . . . he never responded, so I guess he’s not interested. I’m not going to bug him again . . .”

“Why not?”

“I’m not going to chase him. I’m sure he’d let me know if he were interested.”

“You know, I think it is okay to ask him twice . . . I mean, I’ve been out of the dating scene for a long time, but I’m pretty sure asking twice is not considered chasing.”

“Actually, I may have asked him twice . . . I can’t remember if I have asked him twice or once . . .”

I hemmed and hawed as I was trying to remember if I had asked a second time . . . and then I kind of shrugged my shoulders and let the topic die off . . .

As the day has progressed, I’ve become convinced I only asked him the one time in the thank you note. I’ve attempted to initiate a conversation with him via emails, but I haven’t directly asked him “out” a second time, and the one time was 2½ months ago . . . maybe James is right . . . maybe it would be okay to ask a second time . . . I’ll have to think about it some more . . . see if I can find a “smooth” way of asking . . .



  1. Hi Marie, I think for those in less than ideal families that having a different place where they are valued and treated differently can be important. It shows the child that there is a different world beyond their family. Your piano lessons and how you treat could be this for Renee, I think it is quite possible that it is very important to her.

    • I really hope that is true for Renee . . .

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