Parenting
How to Be a Powerful Ally for Your Children
28Aug 2017
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Written by Dr. Joel Wade

“If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s”
–Joseph Campbell

Since the dawn of time, parents have wanted the best for their kids. They are our link to the future beyond our own time here on earth. But more importantly, we feel a connection with our kids, a visceral bond. When they’re happy, we feel delight; when they hurt, we feel pain. When they succeed, we feel proud; when they fail, we feel the loss.

It’s natural to want good things for our kids. We want them to grow into strong, good people; we want them to have work they love that enables them to live well; we want them to find good friends and a wonderful mate with whom they can grow a wonderful, loving life. We want them to succeed.

There’s an expression of this natural sentiment, though, growing across a larger spectrum of our population, and it troubles me.

There are certain colleges that are supposedly the doorway to success, and those colleges are very difficult to get into; not necessarily because they provide the best preparation, but simply because so very many people are vying for so few openings.

…then there are certain High Schools that are the doorway to getting into those colleges; certain Jr. High Schools and Elementary Schools that are the doorway to those High Schools. There are even places where there are top pre-schools and kindergartens that you must attend if you are going to get into the top elementary school. More…

A Homeschool Manifesto: Why we choose life as our school
22Aug 2017
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By Patrick and Jessi Kohlhagen

As we enter into our 4th year as a homeschool family, we are often asked why we’ve chosen to homeschool.

This question always leaves us smiling.

Because, while we can definitely offer a short and sweet answer, it could never do justice to the true and sacred meaning behind our choice to school our own children.

In honor of Parenting month at Lifebook, we’d like to share the deeper truth behind why we’ve chosen homeschool as our family lifestyle.

And while it still may not fully capture the essence of our purpose, we hope it inspires those looking to take on a deeper commitment to family education and holistic lifestyle, in whatever form that might take.

We hope you enjoy 😉

Our Homeschool Manifesto (why we’ve chosen life as our school):

1. Life is incredibly brief. We’re making the most of it, together.

One of our greatest family values is togetherness. There is truly nowhere else we would rather be than exploring the world together, living, laughing and learning.

Life is incredibly short. Before we know it, it’s over, and we will no longer be here for our children. We believe that the single most important thing in life is to spend as much time as possible with the people we love, doing the things that we love – and we’ve designed our entire lifestyle with that in mind.

2. We believe that WE ARE RESPONSIBLE for our children’s education.

It’s up to US to teach our kids what they need to know to live happy, fulfilling, successful, adventurous, vibrant lives. We are our children’s greatest teachers. One of the most impactful educations they will ever receive is simply watching how we live our lives – the way we speak to each other, how we care for our bodies, the information we choose to consume, the things we give our energy to, the choices we make, and the actions we take every single day.

We’ve chosen to live our lives (and raise our kids) consciously and deliberately. We’ve chosen to be fully responsible.

3. We value FREEDOM and FLEXIBILITY.

We want the freedom to live our lives as WE choose — based on our unique and ever changing values, standards, wants and needs.

With homeschool, we’ve chosen a lifestyle of freedom and flexibility — spontaneity and adventure.

We get to learn what we want, how we want, when and where we want, and we get to do it together. We can shape our daily plans based on how we feel. We have the ultimate freedom to choose, which liberates our ability to think clearly and live passionately.

Whether we’re traveling the world, exploring our interests, hiking the mountains, camping remotely, surfing the web, or reading together at our dining room table — every day is different and exciting… a learning adventure waiting to unfold.

4. We want to be COURAGEOUSLY DYNAMIC.

We want to raise children who embrace change, and seek it out… Kids who have a clear vision of who they want to become and aren’t afraid to take leaps toward that vision. Kids who grow in every direction and know the value of leaning into their resistances and out of their comfort zones.

We want our kids to deeply explore who they are and never stop seeking their truest nature. We want them to continuously examine and challenge their strengths AND weaknesses, to explore and share them openly, to relentlessly improve upon them, and to cater their educations and careers around their unique talents, abilities, passions and callings on this planet.

Above all else, we never want them to stop cultivating and strengthening the relationship they have with themselves.

Homeschool encourages each of us (including us as parents!) to never stop learning, growing and trying new things – even when it’s uncomfortable. We live for challenges, which help us become stronger, more capable, more dynamically evolved human beings.

5. We DON’T want to condition our kids for the “real world.”

We don’t want to condition our children for the rat race that so many of us have come to know and despise. We don’t want to train them to obey authority without question and to regurgitate information so they can get into college simply for the sake of college, rack up massive debt, and end up in a 9-5 grind that they hate — where the brightest hope they have for their future is retirement.

We want to teach them how to live well — How to put happiness as an absolutely foundational priority — and how to model their entire lives around doing what they love, so that every day is a joy. The only way we can truly teach this is to live it, together.

Instead of shaping our kids to fit into an outdated world that’s handed down to them, we want to teach them how to create a new one — how to create the world they were born to belong to.

Homeschool gives us the freedom, confidence and creativity we need to dare to live differently everyday.

6. We focus on building CHARACTER.

What we know matters, but who we are matters more. Our character shapes our lives, and we want our kids to shape theirs consciously.

We want to teach them what courage feels like. We want them to embody grit and perseverance. We want them to know their rights as human beings, and not allow anyone to violate them. We want to nurture and grow their kindness, compassion and intuition. We want to show them the way of their spirits and teach them to hear and follow the wisdom of their inner voice. We want our kids to have perpetually great attitudes. We want our kids to be grateful, positive, uplifted human beings. We want them to understand that self-discipline is the key to freedom, and that everything worth doing takes effort, and we want them to experience the sweet rewards of simple labor and a job well done.

But above all, we want our kids to make good choices. We want them to understand that their incredible power to CHOOSE is their greatest freedom and their greatest strength, if they wield it well. We want to show them how to do just that, every day.

7. We want to foster deep-rooted SELF-RELIANCE.

Our children know that each day, they are not only building their education – they are building their LIVES. Homeschool allows our kids to experience more freedom and (as a result) more responsibility, which is hugely empowering for them.

They’re learning and practicing real-life skills that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. Their education moves beyond just academics, and into whole-life wisdom… how to care for their bodies and use them in a sustainable way, how to keep a healthy emotional environment, how to practice important character traits, experience a spiritual connection with the world within and around them, interact with different people of all ages and walks of life, and explore who they want to become.

A huge part of our homeschool “curriculum” are simple, classic values from the past that we believe are crucial elements in shaping responsible, self-reliant, considerate humans… skills such as cooking, cleaning up after yourself, hosting, taking care of objects and putting them where they belong, fixing broken things instead of disposing of them and buying new, gardening and nurturing our fellow plant and animal friends, caring for children younger than themselves, respecting elders and recognizing the power of our words.

8. We teach them HOW TO THINK, not what to think.

With the exponential growth of technology, entire industries are becoming obsolete. Knowledge alone isn’t enough for the future our kids will live in — we need imaginative thinkers, artists, seers and feelers, creatives who can think for themselves — not simply recite information (after all, that’s what computers are for).

We want to foster in our children that which makes them human.

We want to foster an absolute love of learning. We want to encourage them to explore and pursue their passions, and to let those passions shape their environment and their lives.

We want them to never stop asking questions, seeking answers, and finding solutions to life challenges through creative experimentation. We want to teach them to distill the lesson and discover the beauty hidden within absolutely every life experience.

9. We want our kids to seek their TRUTH.

Homeschool encourages kids to ask questions, challenge conventional thinking, and experiment with different ways of doing things.

With homeschool, our kids get to consider EVERY angle to a situation, and decide what makes the most sense to them, based on the facts they’re presented with. This philosophy transcends mere academic education and touches every part of their lives.

We’re teaching them to have the confidence to listen to and follow their own inner voice… even if it means going against the norm… even if it means going against what WE believe, as their parents (within reason).

We don’t want our children to blindly follow something that doesn’t make sense to them. Above all, we want them to honor themselves, have the courage to stand up for what they believe is right, and nurture their ability to express that.

10. We want the WORLD to be their CLASSROOM.

We want our children to learn from everyone they come in contact with, and positively impact everyone they meet– from the grocery checkout clerk to the family at our neighboring campsite, from the elderly man at the library to their newborn baby cousins. We want them to explore every opportunity to find something, observe something, absorb something.

We want our children’s social lives to be filled with all kinds of people from all walks of life. We want them involved in the community, and learning with other children from all different grades.

We value age blending vs age segregation, especially when it comes to learning. Kids learn so much from older children, and from having to take care of and help guide younger children. Multi-age learning is the oldest and most natural form of learning in human history, and we believe that having a network of people involved in our children’s education and social lives — a tribe with a common purpose – is one of the secrets to successful homeschooling.

Above all, we want our homeschool curriculum to be eclectic, adaptable and immersive, changing and growing as our family changes and grows, custom-tailored to their personal needs and interests, and based on the firsthand experiences and places we are exploring together.

11. We want to CREATE BIG MAGIC.

In our family, we believe in LIFE MAGIC. We’ve experienced first hand the power of dreaming big, living wide open and following the light. We believe that we can create anything, if we do the inner work of fine-tuning ourselves to our vision’s frequency.

Albert Einstein said, “Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match your energy to the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics.”

Together with our kids, we live in the light, and strengthen its brightness and clarity everyday through meditation, breathwork, song and dance, communion with nature, dreamwork, understanding and following the signs of the universe, honoring and metabolizing our emotions, and initiating rituals, ceremonies and celebrations for every possible occasion.

Each of these practices helps widen the opening of our lives to allow more light to enter and more energy to flow. And BIG MAGIC is created as a result.

We want to find what lights us up — what makes us feel alive and whole — and to infuse our world with it. We want to teach our kids how to turn ideas into reality. We want to train them in the magic of creation. We want the things that INSPIRE them to ENTIRE them.

(That gorgeous last line comes compliments of a beloved family friend / band, Troubled Hubble).

12. We want to live with MINDFULNESS and GRATITUDE.

It’s very important to us that we create an abundance of time and space in our lives to honor, celebrate and enjoy the world around us… to move a little more slowly and breathe a little more deeply… to find beauty and joy in the small, seemingly insignificant details of life, and to cultivate deep happiness and gratitude for all that we have and share together as a family EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Choosing to homeschool is choosing a very specific way of life. It slows everything down, and shifts us into what matters most. It changes how we parent, learn, play, eat, love, care for our bodies, nurture our souls, and do our work. It provides the space we need to recognize how lucky we really are, and make every action we take an expression of gratitude and beauty.

“May your life be like a wildflower,
growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day.”
– Native American Proverb

13. We want our kids to be good ANIMALS.

We hold tremendous value for the physical world we exist within… from the body we inhabit to the soil we walk upon.

We want to raise humans who are part of the solution to the world’s problems – who don’t take more than they need and who use every bit of what they are given. We want to show them the incredible truth behind “waste not want not,” and how to find greater abundance and freedom with less materialism and more sustainable solutions.

We want to be devoted to our bodies – to listen to them, nourish them, and honor them. We want to PLAY. We want to keep our emotional energy in harmony. We want our spirituality to be rooted deeply in the dirt and stretched far into the sky.

We want to be well trained in the knowledge of plant and animal life, to be at home and unafraid in the wilderness, capable of survival, and most of all – conditioned to roam freely and enjoy the beauty of our planet.

But most of all, we want to remember that nature provides a kind of happiness, peace and balance that can’t be found anywhere else. We value its worth far beyond mere usefulness for human ends, and we strive everyday to act in unwavering accordance.

14. Homeschool makes us better parents, and BETTER HUMAN BEINGS.

“When one teaches, two learn.” Robert Heinlein

Homeschool teaches us so much about how to live, how to never stop learning, how to love more openly, and how to trust more deeply in ourselves and our life choices. It continually inspires virtues such as patience, kindness, compassion, determination, discipline, wonder and adventure. It makes us significantly more well-rounded and interesting people and it makes our lives light-years more FUN.

Most importantly, being a homeschool family fulfills us deeply and blesses each of us with an immense sense of gratitude and amazement for our lives. It gives us the biggest sense of purpose imaginable. And it inspires us (and trains us) to be the absolute best we can be every single day.

The Beauty of Birthing Naturally
25Oct 2016
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Written By Lifebook Member Diana Shea

My mother has always said that the three most amazing days of her life were the days that I and my two sisters were each born. Every year, on our birthdays, she would tell us our birth stories. To this day, she still recounts the details. Among them was her determination to give birth naturally and the pure joy she felt in doing so. Year after year of this retelling was one of the most amazing gifts she could ever give to us. She set the premise in our minds that birthing is a beautiful, natural and extraordinary experience that we wouldn’t want to miss! She repeated to us, time and again, that we are lucky to be girls because we get to have the babies!

Likewise, from a very young age, I have held the conviction that birthing naturally is beautifully awesome! Our bodies are expertly designed to grow and birth our babies without intervention. The entire process is natural. Fast forward thirty years to becoming pregnant myself, and it was hard for me to imagine birthing in a hospital environment where medical interventions are the norm. How could I create the birth experience that I wanted? Everyone’s pregnancy and birthing journey is their own. There is no “right way”. For me, however, I knew that the best place for me to birth my babies was at home, so that it would be as unencumbered of institutional rules and policies as possible. My husband and I agreed that with a Certified Nurse Midwife, a top rated hospital close by, and doula support, we would feel safer staying home than going to the hospital for childbirth. And so that’s what we did. If you ask my girls where they were born, they’ll say, “in the dining room”!

Now, I know that home birth is not for everyone. And that is ok. We all have to decide what is best for ourselves and our families.   I do feel passionately, however, that our culture needs more examples of and strategies for pursuing natural childbirth in order for more of us to consider it a valid option. And so it is in that spirit that I share with you the following resources. Along the way, I’ve become a trained doula and prenatal yoga instructor, so these suggestions are favorites from my collection.

Want to learn more about natural childbirth and the reasons for pursuing it? Check out ‘Natural Childbirth Resources’ (below). Looking to build your toolkit of strategies for a healthy pregnancy and birth experience? Visit my website (www.DianaShea.com) for detailed Childbirth Preparation and Relaxation Techniques. Have a question or want to connect? Email me at info@dianashea.com. More…

15 Books That Elevated Our Parenting
06Sep 2016
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“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world.
Love of books is the best of all.”
– Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

What was the most profound book you ever read?

How has it changed your life?

We are incredibly lucky to live in a time when we can learn just about anything we want, simply by opening a book (or for that matter, a browser).

We have limitless information at our fingertips. And sometimes it can be hard to find the real gems in the midst of so many choices.

The truth is, every book ever written has the potential to change our lives for the better.

We just need to find the ones that speak to our souls.

This month, as we commit to expanding our potential as extraordinary parents, the Lifebook Team would like to share a list of books that have changed our lives and families in truly significant ways.

This list serves as a beautiful guide from conception to pregnancy, birthing and beyond (and is presented in the order we recommend reading).

These are books that have elevated our parenting, and permanently transformed our relationships with the little people we love most.

We hope you enjoy.

(And please do share your favorite parenting books with us in the comments!) More…

20 Reasons Sugar Is Bad For Children
26Jul 2016
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The world sure does LOVE sugar.

Look closely and you’ll find it in just about everything…

The average jar of store-bought spaghetti sauce has more sugar than a box of poptarts, and while you may be aware that your breakfast cereal is full of the sweet stuff, most people are surprised to discover that so, too, is the milk we pour into it (one serving of organic whole milk averages 11 grams of sugar).

That’s almost 3 teaspoons of sugar, dumped right into your kid’s glass of milk (4 grams = 1 teaspoon of sugar)!

This troubling topic is the focus of the latest food documentary, Fed Up, in which Katie Couric digs deep into the obesity epidemic, and discovers a surprising culprit…

Sugar – not fat – is making us fat.

Whether this shocking information is new to you, or you’re well versed in the sugar epidemic our society seems to be facing…

It’s time for us to take a long, hard look at the flood of sugar that’s sneaking its way into our bodies through just about everything we put in our mouths.  More…

How to find the perfect babysitter
18Aug 2015
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The single greatest barrier standing between couples and a regularly scheduled, totally blissed out date night is the lack of a quality babysitter.

Add to that the dread and stress that goes along with trying to find and keep a truly quality babysitter, and you’ve already got yourself a long list of reasons why date night probably just “isn’t worth the effort.”

Sure, it’s easier to stay in, put the kids to sleep, and binge watch a Netflix series while eating some chocolate. Just throw on your favorite pair of baggy sweatpants and leap onto the old, familiar couch, and voila – date night here we come.

But is comfort really what we’re trying to create more of in our love relationships? Are laziness, exhaustion, lack of ambition and untapped creativity really what we want to cultivate?

On some nights – maybe. We’ve all been there, for sure.

But it sure as heck doesn’t stir up any new energy, emotion or romance. These things require continual creativity and action. They require discipline and commitment.

Easy doesn’t translate into extraordinary in any area of life – but this is especially true when it comes to acts of love.

So what’s a family to do?

Get CREATIVE. More…

5 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Kids Do
28Jul 2015
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In an age of overwhelming concern over child safety, Gever Tulley is breaking all the rules.

Nowadays, parents believe their child is so vulnerable — to injury, to teasing, to disease and disappointment — that they hover like a helicopter over their children, ready to swoop in if anything remotely “bad” happens.

Tulley, founder of San Francisco’s Tinkering School, finds this approach to interacting with our children to be disempowering, to say the least.

And in his recent TED Talk, he spells out 5 dangerous things you should actually encourage your kids to do.

Because, as we’re about to find out — a little danger is good for both kids and grownups. More…

Raising Kids to Be Entrepreneurs
12May 2015
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Lifebook VIP Members Missy Butcher, Jason Moore, and Damion Lupo team up to bring us a 3-part article about raising children to become entrepreneurs, from the perspective of both a parent and a child.

Discover inspiring strategies that will empower your children to become the creative, successful, and fulfilled people they were born to be with the articles below.

Teaching Kids About Value Creation
By:  Missy Butcher

This topic is one of my favorites. It’s deep and wide, incredibly rewarding, and tons of fun… so I decided to share some of the strategies Jon and I have used over the years to teach our kids about an incredibly fundamental piece of life… value creation.

Talking and Listening

The first and most important strategy is to simply communicate with them! No matter what their ages are, our kids have always LOVED to hear, talk, and learn about money.

We ask questions and then LISTEN to them. We pay attention to what they love to do. We discuss their talents with them deeply. We find out what they are truly interested in, enjoy doing and are really good at, and then we let the creative juices flow.

Creativity is key here. More…

Strengthening Self-Esteem In Kids, by Nathaniel Branden
05Dec 2014
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Written by Lifebook Member and world-renowned pioneer in the field of self-esteem, Dr. Nathaniel Branden. Visit him on the web at www.nathanielbranden.com, where you’ll find dozens of fantastic products and information to help you raise your own self-esteem and nurture it in your children.

Nathaniel writes:

If we are to consider how self-esteem is best nurtured in young people, we must first be clear on what we mean by “self-esteem.” So I shall begin with a definition.

Self-esteem is the disposition to experience oneself as being competent to cope with the basic challenges of life, and as being worthy of happiness. Thus, it consists of two components: More…

Dr. David Jackson on Parenting: Leverage and Legacy
21Oct 2014
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Meet our highest scoring Lifebook Member in the Parenting category, Dr. David Jackson, and find out how he uses this category as his highest leverage point to create and maintain his extraordinary life.

David was the first person in the world to create a Lifebook with Jon Butcher, and played an integral part in the creation of the Lifebook Program as we know it today. And this month, Jon interviews him on the subject of parenting (one of David’s greatest categories of strength).

This interview is sure to bring you laughter, tears, and enormous inspiration as you continue to create your own legacy for the young ones in your life.

Click here to listen now.