How I’m Creating an Environment of Belonging

I’ve been on the road quite a bit over the last few day, and that has given me some multitasking moments to finish Daring Greatly by Brene` Brown …on audio book… Don’t worry, I am not so confident in my multitasking to think that I can read and drive at the same time.
Now I know I wrote about this same book last week, but it’s had quite an impact on me… and well it’s my blog and I’ll write about what I want to write about. 🙂

So Brene` and I have been travelling around together and she is making some phenomenal points about whole heartedness and being the adult that I want my children to grow up to be… and then she brings up the difference between fitting in and belonging.

A Facebook status she wrote in 2012 sums it up quite well… 12 year old wisdom on fitting-in vs. belonging: “If I get to be me, I belong. If I have to be like you, it’s fitting in.” Amen. 

I don’t often write about homeschooling on this blog… in fact I have a whole different blog for that… but I do write about mothering and sometimes the homeschool part of my parenting overflows.

One of the reasons I homeschool my children is because I want them to have the freedom to be who they want to be in a place where they feel like they belong no matter what.  I want them to be able to experiment with their mannerisms and tweak their personalities in a place where they feel safe to do so and are free from peer influence that may dictate that they experiment with other peoples behaviors, or be demoted to the bottom of the classroom pecking order.

The scary part is, after making a statement like that, I need to examine whether or not that is true in my home.

Ways I’m creating an environment of belonging well:

  • I have been exploring who I am and modelling growth and positive change for my kids. Since January I have completed the Upstream Field Guide, I have been working through The Grief Recovery Handbook with a friend, and I have sought out books like Daring Greatly.  All of these courses and books are adding awesomeness to the way I think and move through life, and hopefully showing my kids that we never stop growing. 
  • I’m empowering my kids to make their own choices. It’s taken me 30 some odd years to be able make solid decisions about opportunities that come my way.  And I’m still not that confident about the my final verdicts.  I am starting early with my kids and letting them decide about a lot of the events and classes available to them.  Not all of them though… because really I am still the mom.  
  • I try new things. On a recent trip to Vancouver I tried Ramen for the first time… did I love it? No… but how would I know unless I tried.  I didn’t make my kids try it.  They ate tried and true pasta and meat sauce, but they saw me try it and I hope they took notice.  I’ve also taken a mug making class which inspired my 2 oldest children to sign up for a 10 week pottery course.  We are working o being adventurous together.
  • I step back. Sometimes I have to hold my hands together to keep from “correcting” an art project. I have to close my lips about a “creative” outfit choice or hair style … but I do it.  I do it because this is their time to figure out what they like and hopefully they will have a strong sense of what it means to belong vs. fit in. 
  • I am available. As much as I step back, I am also there.  I am there to give guidance on a project.  I am there to hear the story of how so and so’s heart was broken by an unkind sibling.  I am there to join in the grief and joy of their childhood.
I will try embrace this silliness

Ways I could improve our environment to be have more belonging:

  • Embrace silly. I really struggle with silly.  The immature senses of humor of my 3, 6 and 9 year old children sometimes make me cringe, but if my goal is to allow my children to explore who they are in a loving and safe place… I need to get on board the funny ferry and laugh along.
  • Talk about it. Working toward greater belonging just might go unnoticed if I don’t actually inform the rest of my family of my goal… but telling people about your goal and then sometimes failing in front of them is a scary, vulnerable thing, which obviously makes it a conversation we need to have. 
  • Asking for help. I tell my kids all the time… bring me your books, just ask me for help… but I’m not a very good example of this.  I really don’t like to be the student and I am often stressed out to ask question to clarify things.  I don’t like to look or feel stupid.
Brene` has a printable on her site called The Whole Hearted Parenting Manifesto.  It’s a beautiful declaration of who I want to be as Hudson, Meadow and Delaney’s mother.  I have plans to print and frame it. 

Is your home a place of belonging or of fitting in?  What are you doing well?

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This entry was posted in Brene Brown, Daring Greatly, Family, Mothering. Bookmark the permalink.

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