Insidious Sexual Targeting Of Children At School

We can’t afford to serve two masters anymore because our children’s hearts and minds are a prize to be won. For years now, society and media have dually honored both animalistic sexual license as well as humanely nurturing the innocence of children and admiring the goodness of God. Unsurprisingly, basic nurturing and some of God’s truths have been mixed with depraved sexual messaging thereby creating confusion. While many mature adults aren’t fooled by this incongruent doubled speak, children are regularly convinced that the untruths presented are true. The bipolar social messaging literally targets our children for moral and psychological take-over by the reigning philosophies of the times. Children are the target for a new and improved sexual revolution, and the enemy is hitting the mark through the schools right under the busy noses of parents and teachers.

This sounds ominous, right? I wish we could ignore the sexual grooming problem and it would just go away. Sadly, because this mixed messaging and serving of two masters has been ignored for too long, we now find ourselves losing the hearts and minds of many of our children. Regularly parents ask me for advice on how to reach their children’s hearts and help them return to their foundational family values. This family problem is an epidemic.

For any leader, business, or influencer, the hearts of the children are the prize and the power for change. After all, it’s always been the young who’ve pushed forward the causes of social bondage or liberty. Any power-hungry tyrant or virtuous leader wants the hearts and minds of the children.

Adults, on the other hand, have historically been the voice of temperance and virtue to the young in order to lead future generations toward peace, love, integrity, and moral virtue. Since children naturally see adults as protectors, they easily follow adult suggestions and see adults such as teachers and librarians in positions of influence. Because of the underdeveloped pre-frontal cortexes of children and the unquestioning trust that they often put in the adults who surround them, they are incredibly easy to groom for sexual, social, and emotional manipulation.

Waking Up

In Disney Pixar’s movie A Bug’s Life, the grasshoppers know that they can only continue to take advantage of the ants as long as the ants don’t realize that they out-number the grasshoppers and could easily be more powerful and stop the oppression. Luckily for us, just like the ants in A Bug’s Life, many parents, teachers, school board members, and lawmakers are waking up to the realization that they can do something about the sexual and social oppression targeting our children through school library books and digital resources, such as curated research databases. Here are just a few examples.

This past week, Texas governor, Greg Abbott wrote a letter directing the Texas Education Agency [TEA] “to investigate any criminal activity in [their] public schools involving the availability of pornography.” Abbott explained that parents had been angrily contacting him and showing him graphic examples of pornography content found in school libraries. He admonished the TEA, “During this investigation, I ask the agency to refer any instance of pornography being provided to minors under the age of 18 for prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.” (foxnews.com)

Also, this week, the Spotsylvania County School Board in Virginia offered a directive to remove pornographic school library resources. “After a parent raised her concerns, the school board voted 6-0 to pull “sexually explicit” books from the libraries and asked for a report on the process by which books are selected for inclusion in digital and hard copy collections at different school levels. The board also opened the door to a division-wide library audit.” (the blaze.com)

Utah Parents United, The Worldwide Organization For Women, and Academic Integrity Matters, as well as numerous other concerned parent groups and organizations, have been bringing the school library pornography problem to light in Utah as well.

“No one is auditing the dirty databases that children are getting pushed toward to do their reports, and they should. The database vendors claim the databases are clean, but they aren’t. Some sources, such as Follett Destiny Discover, GALE, and EBSCO databases, even openly promote torture sex and pedophilia to children. The erotica found in local school physical and online libraries in the state of Utah is very concerning. Someone needs to audit all of this and hold distributors accountable for sexually grooming our children and putting them at risk for sexual and social harm. These sources violate Utah obscenity laws found in criminal code and health education code. Parents need to start auditing what their children see at school and report illegal findings to the police.” (Y. Averett, Worldwide Organization For Women)

Two Masters

It’s time to choose what master we will serve and point our children toward. Robin Patterson, a concerned parent from Colorado, said, “I was horrified when I found XXX pornography on my child’s school issued tablet. I couldn’t believe it was on the school database.” When Robin saw those graphic images, she chose. She knew that she had to prioritize her allegiances. She was more dedicated to the safety and protection of her child than she was to the school system.

My father was a lifetime public school teacher. I appreciate teachers. But, I never forget what my father told me: “the school is always pushing programs and resources at teachers and students that get in the way of real, useful educational content.” The pornification of our children and other socially and politically charged content matter are distractions to real, useful education. We don’t serve the children well if we passively accept the social, political, and sexual grooming of our children. Children were born to parents, not schools. Therefore, it’s the parents who are the primary stakeholders in the lives of the children.

It’s good that voices are being heard and elected officials are listening and taking action to protect the most vulnerable among us; the children. The children are the prize in this sexual/social battle. Whoever wins the hearts and minds of the children ultimately wins the power to control the future. We can’t serve two masters anymore.

Remembering WOW’s Founder – Nina Palmer

Obituary:

A joyous reunion was held on the other side of the veil when our mother and grandmother, Nina, peacefully crossed over on September 6, 2021 surrounded by loved ones. Although the last years of her life Nina struggled with Alzheimer’s and then cancer, during this difficult season of her final journey home, she did not let it diminish her spirit, her faith, or her fun laugh and positive outlook on life! She kept her sense of humor to the end!

Nina was always expressing her excitement about passing on to the next stage of her life…as she affectionately referred to it as “the ultimate trip”. For years Nina was always heard saying things such as “Oh, I have had such a wonderful life!” and “Every righteous desire of my heart has been granted me.” and “I can’t possibly think of anything else that I could have ever wanted!”.

Born in Orem, Utah during the Great Depression, Nina was the youngest of seven children born to Arthur V. Watkins and Andrea Rich Watkins. (Her older sister only lived a few short hours, but Nina always remembered her and counted her in with her siblings.) At the age of 15, Nina moved from Orem to Arlington, Virginia when her father was elected as U.S. Senator for Utah. Nina was very involved in high school and had many exciting adventures with her best friend, Shirley Crowther (Hardman). Nina was selected as Washington Lee High School Salutatorian from her large graduating class of 400 students. Nina then enrolled at George Washington University and later transferred to BYU where she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Art and a minor in French.

During her college time at GWU, Nina met her true love (William) Martin Palmer who was a medical student, while on a blind date. When Nina transferred to BYU she and Martin had a long distance dating relationship for two years, and upon Nina’s graduation they were sealed for time and eternity in the Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Nina worked full time while Martin finished up his fourth year of medical school at the University of Maryland Medical School, they then applied to do his pediatric cardiology residency in the Bay Area and off they moved across the country from the East Coast to sunny Northern California for a new adventure!

Nina, Martin and their four children loved living in the Bay Area and thoroughly enjoyed many happy years in beautiful Northern California with life long friendships with the Billeter’s, Christensen’s, Wickel’s and Stephen’s. Nina loved going to the ocean (especially in the winter to enjoy the crashing waves) and enjoyed many trips with Martin to her favorite vacation spot, Carmel. Every year family vacation times were spent going down to San Diego to spend time with Martin’s sister and family “The Squire Gang” or driving to Utah to spend time with Nina’s siblings and their children, attending the famous “Corry Reunion” camping at Navajo Lake in Southern Utah or visiting other relatives. Nina instilled in her children the importance of extended family and having meaningful relationships with cousins. (For which we are so very grateful!).

In 1973 Nina and Martin decided to start another adventure when Martin left his private medical pediatric practice and accepted the position as the Medical Director at Primary Children’s Medical Center – so they left sunny California and moved their family to Salt Lake City, Utah to be near cousins and grandparents and learn to ski and enjoy the snow.

Nina was very involved over the years with many different organizations. Nina worked to get community groups organized and was involved as an original member of the Utah Federation for Drug Free Youth, was a member of the Governor’s Task Force on Youth Alcohol and Drug Use, and the Governor’s Council on Volunteerism. Nina started the Utah Association of Women in the late 1970’s in an informal caucus in her living room. Nina worked hard to get her women’s organization granted consultative status by the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, and for many years she was heavily involved with traveling the world to participate in UN meetings and conferences. In 2000, she was also elected to the Board of Directors of the World Movement of Mothers and for years had the opportunity to go to Paris to attend their annual Board Meetings.

Nina was extremely proud of her pioneer ancestors and loved sharing the stories and journal entries of her ancestors. She raised her children and grandchildren on their stories and instilled her love for these ancestors to many other family members. Nina loved planning and organizing huge family reunions and as part of family vacations, insisted on visiting many cemeteries to see the grave markers of ancestors. Nina also loved history and served as a docent in the Oakland Museum while living in California. Because of the knowledge she gained while at the Museum, the family enjoyed many wonderful vacations planned by Nina as they went to gold rush sites, panned for gold and learned to love the stories of the old timers!

Nina was very politically active her entire life and as a daughter of a US Senator, she attended many events at the Senate Chambers, The White House and had many experiences not many young teenagers have the opportunity to enjoy.

Nina was a very detailed record keeper and put together over 100 large three ring binders on her life, her ancestors lives, her husband’s life and his ancestors. Nina was always trying to share the gospel of Jesus Christ, both at home and abroad and was never shy of sharing her testimony of and her belief in, her Savior, Jesus Christ. Nina was a devoted member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints throughout her life and enjoyed serving in many church callings.

As a widow, Nina sold the family home in Holladay, left the hustle and bustle of the Wasatch Front and followed her daughter and family out to Erda, to enjoy the beauty of Tooele County. Nina loved the openness of the country, the beautiful sunsets, the mountain views, the dark starry nights that Erda offered, and the friendly neighbors. Nina spent many hours sitting on her front porch enjoying the serenity of country life!

Nina loved spending time with all her “special nieces” and going out to lunch down in Orem at the Sizzler. She looked forward to these fun lunches with her niece, Carol and her wonderful daughters Diane, Janet and Andrea. She also loved going out to lunch with the “Bountiful Cousins”, Andrea, Mary Lee, Laurel and sometimes cousin Kent! Many happy memories and deep friendships were forged over the years with intergenerational get-togethers! Nina loved everything the color blue, dolls, reading, and all things historical!

Nina was preceded in death by her husband, Martin and their son, Art; as well as her parents, siblings and most of her dear friends. She is survived by her children: Marty (Dave) Wallace, Bill Palmer, Ginny (Mike) Vielstich as well as her grandchildren and great grandchildren. She will also be missed by many nieces, nephews, and neighbors.

Funeral services will be held at the Wasatch Lawn Memorial Park & Mortuary Chapel – 3401 South Highland Drive, SLC on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021 at 11:00 am. Viewing to be held one hour prior. In an abundance of caution, the family respectfully requests that masks be worn. The funeral services can be viewed online at the Wasatch Lawn Memorial Park website by going to the “recent obituaries” and clicking on Nina’s name.

Deep gratitude is expressed for all those that shared their time over the years to make Nina’s life pleasant by stopping by to chat, making time for a phone call or sending a card, bringing over flowers or dropping off yummy cookies. Your kindness was always noticed, appreciated and for sure was recorded by the angels above! A special thank you to her granddaughter Hailey who spent countless hours with Grandma, listening to her stories and rendering compassionate care the last 1-½ years.

Endings here in mortality are not endings at all. They are merely interruptions—temporary pauses that one day will seem small compared to the eternities.

The obituary above was originally published on the Dignity Memorial website. (https://www.dignitymemorial.com/obituaries/salt-lake-city-ut/nina-palmer-10345572)

Tribute to Mr. Ugochukwu (Husband of Carol Ugochukwu)

WOW International is grieving for the loss of Mr. Ichie Dalane Omeokachie, Ike Ugochukwu. We know that behind every good and noble woman is a stellar man who supports and loves her. Carol, we know how much you have always worked as a team with your husband, and we honor that partnership at this time. 


Mr. Ugochukwu was a selfless man who spent his life serving his family, colleagues, and anyone that he could help. For decades the Ugochukwu family has loved and led the women and families of Nigeria through the WOW Africa organization, an official partner of WOW International. Through this organization Mr. and Mrs. Ugochukwu have led with hearts full of charity and love, countless people to greater prosperity and freedom and have advocated for rights for all women and girls in Nigeria. 


The Ugochukwu family is a tight knit family, full of love and goodness. They are dedicated to loving God and family above all else. The children follow the example of their parents as they focus on living good lives dedicated to making the world a better place while also promoting family unity and love through their real life examples. The impact of the Ugochukwu family on their communities is a byproduct of the example and teaching of their father and grandfather. 


Ichie Dala Omeokachie , Ike Ugochukwu leaves a legacy of love, service, and leadership that will forever be a testimony of the goodness of his life and heart. 
We love you Carol and Amaka, and all your family, and we hope and pray for your comfort and blessings during this time when your husband, father, and grandfather has been called to return back to his Heavenly Father in his heavenly home. 


With Love, 
Nicholeen Peck, President of WOW International, and the whole WOW International Board 

A Global Need For Authentic Grandparents

Authentic grandparents who actively engage with their children and grandchildren establish a foundation of security and hope for the younger generations that can’t be found elsewhere.

Grandpa had a boat and regularly took me and the rest of his large family out for rides and on water-skiing trips. These were fun memories, but one boating memory stands out above all others.

Grandpa always drove the boat fast, unless Grandma was onboard. But, even though we were speeding across the water I always felt safe with Grandpa at the wheel. There was something so strong and secure about my WWII veteran grandfather that made me want to follow him anywhere and listen to anything he said.

After a long day of boating we begged Grandpa for “one last ride” out on the lake. So, Grandpa consented and ended up on the lake alone with three small children. Then it happened. The boat stopped dead in the middle of the large lake. Grandpa looked at our three worried faces and said, “Don’t worry. It’s probably something small. I’ll see if I can fix it.”

This put me instantly at ease because I had seen Grandpa fix the boat and other things countless times. After about 15 minutes of tinkering with the engine, Grandpa casually said, “I don’t have what I need to fix this problem out here in the lake. So, we will need to get to shore the old fashioned way; rowing.” (Cell phones weren’t a thing at this time.)

As if nothing happened, Grandpa confidently led us to open the lower compartment and locate two oars that he kept for “special occasions” in the bottom of the boat. He assured us that we would start rowing, but that it wouldn’t be long before someone saw us and could tow us back to the harbor.

Grandpa saw the worry on our faces. We were small and we knew we couldn’t row very well so high up above the water. He said, “We are prepared. We don’t need to fear. We will say a prayer and then work with all our mights, and God will do the rest.”

We prayed with Grandpa in that speedboat with the darkness falling all around us and hoped that we would be found.

Time went by and more darkness came. It seemed like the answer to our prayer was taking a long time to come. Grandpa reassured us. “The Lord hears our prayers. Don’t worry.” So, we kept rowing.

Within minutes of Grandpa showing us his great faith in God, a boat light came into view and we had someone to help us to shore.

Grandpa taught me that God answers prayers. He talked about it, showed it, and trusted in it right in front of me. My life was changed by the deliberate example of great faith that Grandpa showed.

Our Current Situation

Today’s youth need authentic people in their lives. In this time of culture wars, increased emotional and familial instability, and political discrimination, even within families, youth need the grounding influence of people who have seen more and know how to weather storms and pick themselves up after a fall and during social instability; authentic grandparents.

Unfortunately, many youth have been groomed by the media to think anyone who is old, or who isn’t as savvy with technology as they are, is not relevant. The alternate reality many young people are living has turned their hearts against the generations of people who have lived authentic lives and learned authentic truths that could transform their lives.

Authentic Grandparents

Many grandparents cheer for the successes of their grandchildren and go to sporting matches and dance performances. But, authentic grandparents go beyond supporting. They impart wisdom and actively influence their families for good. They embrace their unique roles in society as elders and focus more upon imparting true wisdom than on chasing after the fountain of youth.

Authentic means to have “genuine original authority” to not be false or counterfeit, and to be true. Grandparents who embrace deliberately instructing their grandchildren and giving wisdom when required or inspired to give it are staying true to the original authority to share experience that comes with being a grandparent. In contrast, grandparents who just spoil grandchildren and repeat the rhetoric of these times without focusing on truth or wisdom are acting the grandparent part, but not showing the authentic grandparent heart. Even if their opinions are not popular, grandparents who share their ideas with the grandchildren show integrity and open-mindedness.

Grandchildren usually know that their grandparents love them and would do anything to help them, so when wisdom drops from their lips, many grandchildren are more likely to hear those words with understanding and gratitude, or at least open-mindedness. In a world of conflicting views and closed-minded conversations, grandparents have a unique and powerful influence. They can show their grandchildren through love and wisdom that hearing other opinions is okay and can even be safe. Grandchildren of authentic loving grandparents often have more security and confidence in who they are because they are fed light and knowledge from a loving fountain of life experience and have a deeper connection to their familial identity.

Teaching More This Year

My grandparents had get-togethers for every occasion that they could think of. But, they didn’t just stop at getting together. They made every family occasion an opportunity to establish meaningful family traditions and to teach deep and lasting truths.

When we had Thanksgiving, the table was always set with 5 kernels of corn on each plate as a reminder of what the Pilgrims ate before the bountiful harvest. We then did a First Thanksgiving play that centered on the Mayflower Compact and the faith of the Pilgrims and charity of the Natives. These traditions taught us to love our country and to adopt good characteristics.

For Christmas we always got together and had a talent show to have a time to support each other and to get to know each other better. We also had a Christmas play about the Savior full of spiritual memories. Grandma and Grandpa always showed their love for the Savior by testifying to me of their love and gratitude for Him. I could feel the deep love in their hearts and knew that I needed to learn about Jesus myself.

No matter if it was Mother’s Day or St. Patrick’s Day, there was special food, fun, and more testimony and words of wisdom from Grandma and Grandpa. The faith, wisdom, and character of my grandparents was predictable and stable-feeling. As I look at what my life has become, and who I have become, as well as the lives of all my cousins, I see how that stability has led us all to become the kind of people who share wisdom when we meet together and who strive to make the world a better place, just like Grandma and Grandpa did. When grandparents authentically share their hearts and wisdom with their grandchildren, they don’t just leave a legacy of wisdom, but of security and purpose, too.

Now, when I see my parents set aside time at family functions for a spiritual lesson or a moment about a lesson they’ve learned in life, I’m so pleased. I want my children, and now even my grandchildren, to see the authentically good grandparents and great grandparents they have. I want them to see an example worth striving to become like. So, I encourage my parents and my husband’s parents to go deeper and talk more to my children.

This generation of young people is bombarded with confusing voices from all sides of current debates and social and political battles. Life often feels scary and unstable. As so many children are battling insecurity and uncertainty, it’s obvious to me that one of our youth’s greatest needs is to have a hopeful vision of how to get through hard times and practical wisdom that leads to strength and problem-solving. These are treasures that truly authentic grandparents can provide. Grandparenting is not about filling in for parents; it’s about helping parents by being the voice of truth and wisdom no matter if grandparents live nearby or send love by cards and emails.

As a brand-new grandma to my beloved Clara, I only hope that I will have the courage to be as authentic of a grandma as my dear grandparents were to me.

Your children and grandchildren will love these books this Christmas that teach self-government skills and family unity. Start teaching now.

WOW Africa Debate For Girl Schools Was A Huge Success!

WOW Africa celebrated the International Day of the Girl Child by hosting a debate about women and girls. Vital discussion was had and lives were improved. WOW Africa is continuing to work with under-privileged schools to help them develop the skills they need to raise women out of poverty and to become leaders.

Are You Teaching Children Discernment?

An online school teacher was recently giving me the highlights of his career. He proudly told me that his favorite part of his job was that he gets to teach children discernment. I could see how this would be exciting for him but was also instantly concerned. A series of “what if” questions came to mind.

  • What if the teacher had a different moral compass than the child or the child’s parents? Couldn’t that confuse discernment?
  • What if the teacher taught discernment solely through the lens of science and fact finding instead of incorporating the spiritual/inspiration element?
  • What if the spiritual elements the teacher brought in weren’t in alignment with the family’s spiritual truths?
  • What if the parents didn’t know the teacher was focusing on teaching their child discernment and so didn’t detect what the child was discerning?
  • What if the child didn’t know that there are multiple ways for a person to feel like they are discerning truth and was led down a blind path?
  • What if the child wasn’t aware that a person’s worldview influences their discernment and fell away from their family’s worldview?
  • What if the child didn’t know the teacher had a different worldview than their family and got confused or misled?

Discernment means, “…distinguishing one thing from another, as truth from falsehood, virtue from vice; acuteness of judgment; power of perceiving differences…” (Webster’s 1828 dictionary) The power to discern is not to be taken lightly. It’s one of a human’s greatest powers. Discernment defines our morality, values, and beliefs, and is the root of our decision making and problem-solving ability. So, whoever teaches your child discernment, whether it is you, the media, peers, or teachers, is literally wielding the power to form your child’s beliefs, values, morality, passions, and actions.

In order to teach your child discernment and prepare them to discern what other sources are teaching them, I recommend the following 8 principles.

8 Principles That Influence Discernment

1- Develop a valuable, bonded relationship to maintain position of influence in your child’s life. Whoever, or whatever, is bonded the most closely to a child/person has the greatest influence on the heart and mind of the child. Both heart (spirit) and mind work together for discernment.

2- Identify and understand different belief systems. Fully understand worldviews and how your worldview differs from others. Then teach worldviews to your child too through simple comparisons that point back to principles. If you only know your own worldview, but not how it compares to other worldviews, then you can’t come across as fully knowledgeable to your child. This lack of understanding points them toward other sources for more truth and can mislead them. If you need help with your worldview research, I recommend the latest edition of, “Understanding the Times” by David Noble.

3- Stay spiritually connected to real truth. Parents who spend a portion of each day studying scripture/prophetic counsel and inspired sources become confident in their own morals and beliefs and have a tendency to live what they believe more than others who don’t immerse themselves in inspired texts.

4- Live what you believe, no matter how inconvenient or different it is. Children are looking for truth. Even though truth can and should be told to someone, it is best taught through action. A person who lives according to truth is always the best teacher. So many children fall away from their parent’s morals because the parent doesn’t consistently live the morals they profess and seems inconsistent with the truths they share. Stay committed to living pure truth and your children will more likely develop the confidence to do the same. This isn’t to say that if a child falls away from their parent’s beliefs that the fault is automatically in the parent. There are many forces working on our children. But, confidence is born through a confident and deliberate leader, so working on becoming that leader allows that principle to work in our favor.

5- Talk opens the mind and heart. Discuss deeper than you think you need to about why you do things, what is happening around you, and what you are exposing your mind to (ie. videos, books, etc.). Read and discuss, watch and discuss, live and discuss. That old adage that children should be seen and not heard is a recipe for disaster when it comes to teaching discernment. I think it was most likely an adage born out of selfishness and assurance that society would uphold family values. Well, society is not upholding family values, so we must see them and hear them as much as possible.

6- Listen to the true voice of discernment. Help them understand that they have multiple voices within themselves, heart (spirit), brain (logic), and body (emotions/sensations/cravings). Teach them that any of these three voices could lead them, but only one voice will consistently lead them to truth and freedom: the heart/spirit voice. Children must know what these voices do to get their attention and what voices will lead them to following others or appetites, and which voice will lead them to following goodness and truth.

7- Pray often with your children. As you teach your children to turn to God, you will be teaching them that there is always a higher authority than the people around them who are activists for their feelings and desires. Set the example of honoring the highest power so that they will not forget He is there.

8- Self-government is possible. In a world where being “broken” is the new trend, teach your children that they have the power to fix things in their lives and their behaviors, even if it takes time to do so. When a person learns to govern themselves and plans for better behavior and healthy mental/emotional processing, then that person becomes freer and more confident. It is only when we feel others are in charge of our destiny that we feel powerless, broken, and out of control permanently. Every person, even a child, can learn the basics of self-government, which are rooted in simple, every day decision-making skills and calmness.

The teacher I met isn’t the only one hoping to teach you and your child discernment. There are many people and movements that are hoping to influence how you relate to and process the world around you. But, most importantly, they want to be the authority on truth. If truth is changing or originates from man, then truth isn’t truth. Truth is greater than us all and comes from a source greater than us all. Focusing on deliberately teaching our children discernment will bring them closer to the real truth, so that they won’t be fooled by so many voices telling them that truth is found by going their way or buying their product.

Learn more about self-government from Nicholeen here.

Raising Daughters Into Strong Women A Different Way

My views have changed. During my teen and young adult years, I thought that women needed to do everything men did, and women did, in order to be strong. But, now that I have seen every dimension of womanhood firsthand, I see that my views of women and myself lacked depth and understanding when I was young, and I was heavily influenced by socially-promoted assumptions. I was easily influenced by social conversations that put people into limiting boxes. Luckily time, example, and experience are great teachers of truth, and I was never one to allow someone else to put me in a box, stereotypical or otherwise.

Recently released movies and books are often portraying women as aggressors and uncaring in order to show female strength. Yet, every child knows that nowhere feels as safe as being in the protective embrace of their mommy. So, who is really stronger, a female super hero or a nurturing mother or grandmother? Who really overcomes the most intense hardships and has the greatest social influence? And, is it bad or good to be a girl who throws punches? How are our daughters doing at navigating our confusing social messages about what makes a strong woman?

A short time ago, I was visiting a university campus and saw a young woman with a shirt that said, “Be Rude.” This message was clearly meant to sound strong, but when I saw it, I didn’t see strength. I saw a woman who was giving up one of her greatest strengths, the strength that literally changes the world, the power to nurture others through kindness.

Raising daughters who embrace their full womanhood and nurturing power in a world of voices that limit women to extrinsic pursuits like popularity, fortune, and sex appeal can be difficult. However, parents can help their daughters safely navigate all the conflicting messages by focusing on the following four lessons.

5 Lessons To Teach

Fortunately, I was raised to be a hard worker and to not be afraid of getting my hands dirty. I played sports, danced, accessorized, mowed lawns, and chopped wood. I was just as likely to play basketball competitively with my dates as I was likely to teach them to tie a quilt. In fact, on a couple of occasions I got black eyes from basketball dating accidents.

Lesson 1 —Talents are varied between the sexes, and girls can try all the activities, including domestic ones.

True to the legacy of strong women in my family tree, my parents raised me to be strong in all ways. I was taught about the social, physical, intellectual, familial, and spiritual influence women have, and the ability they have to direct relationships, social circles, business outcomes, and global ideas.

Lesson 2 —Women need to keep a long view vision of what they want to create. Women often set the tone for society because of their ability to influence others. Men and children often follow cues from women. Teach your daughters the truth about their influence and that they will change lives and the world, whether they want to or not. So, they might as well plan for what they want the people around them to turn out like so that they can be more focused on their pursuits.

The other day I heard a great man talk about his recently departed wife. This man had received some of the greatest honors and status that his religious and business communities could give him. While speaking of these honors, he gave all the glory to his wife. With a humble heart he said that he hoped she could see from beyond the grave what he had become because of her influence, leadership, and work ethic. Their mutual service to and acceptance of each other had simultaneously lifted both of them up. They didn’t compete with each other or engage in the battle of the sexes, which always divides and creates discontentment in relationships. Instead, they each did what they were best suited to do and nurtured and appreciated each other and their differences all along the way.

Lesson 3 — Don’t teach girls to see boys as “the competition” or engage in the battle of the sexes. These battles create a pattern for selfishness in relationships. Teach them instead to lift and lead (which sometimes means follow) with love and understanding, even if they are competing in some event and working hard for a win.

Lesson 4 — Love motherhood! Motherhood is the most womanly act a woman ever engages in. Treat motherhood with the greatest respect. If you are the mother, learn to love what you are doing to serve your family. Complaining creates confusion and can give the impression that being a mother or woman isn’t wonderful or powerful. Don’t engage in seeking negative attention by whining or complaining. Celebrate all the good moments, and plan to be grateful for your power to literally script the life of another person. And if you aren’t a mother, talk respectfully of mothers so that girls learn to love who they are and will likely become.

My mother regularly told me that what she wanted more than anything in life was to be a mother to her children. She made diligent efforts to be happy and fun and make wonderful memories for me and my siblings. In fact, as a grandmother, she hasn’t stopped cooking up inspiring memories yet!

Additionally, my mother told me stories of her favorite memories with her mother and grandmothers. I saw and felt firsthand how their influences formed her into the person she was in my life. Tell stories of the power of mothers and women in your family tree or inspiring women in your life. Your love that is felt during those stories will show your daughters that womanhood truly does change lives.

Lesson 5 —Teach good communication and relationship-building skills. Women have an amazing ability to unify and motivate or to fracture relationships and create war. So, when we teach our daughters to calmly share differences of opinion by disagreeing appropriately with others, and how to openly and kindly solve problems as a family, then we are laying a foundation for future home, career, and social happiness.

My Views Have Changed

I used to think that I had to be more masculine, more rough, more uncaring, more like the many heroic women portrayed in the media today. That one-dimensional view of women and power is laughable to me now. A woman is so much more. Women hold society and families together by opening their hearts and taking people into it. Women can cause social ills or solve them simply by pointing their attention in a certain direction. Mothers and grandmothers are the hearts and hearthstones of society. They keep the people moral, or not, and are a constant reminder that sacrifice and love are stronger than any bully.

Let us raise our daughters into strong women in a different way so that they can find more confidence and power in their womanhood, instead of always feeling that they are not good enough because they are a woman. Those lies, sadly often perpetuated by other women, only hurt our daughters. They need the truth about womanhood, that all women really do change the world.

Join Nicholeen for her next Teaching Self-Government Intensive Training. Details here.

Free Curriculum: Teaching Children To Stand Up and Speak Out!

Parents and school administrators have requested that I make a short, free curriculum that parents can use to help their children navigate some of the social issues children are often forced to encounter at young ages.

This curriculum is basic but deep, and it’s a principle-based lesson plan to help parents prepare their children to be free-thinking, discerning, loving, and confident during these times of ideological warfare.

The goal of this lesson plan is to initiate parent/child discussions that lead to families deliberately living by principles, better parent/child bonding, and create an environment where children are prepared to stand out and speak up when needed in loving ways about hotly-debated topics or differences of opinion.

The lessons build upon each other and are meant to be implemented in order, although they don’t have to be.

For additional insight on these lessons intended to create uniting and empowering family cultures for our times, please be sure to listen to Teaching Self-Government Podcast 68, “Stand Out & Speak Up – Self-Government Principles For Our Day!”

Foundation First

In order to understand and apply the lessons, it is vital that the term self-government be understood. Self-Government is being able to determine the cause and effect of any given situation and possessing a knowledge of your own behaviors so that you can control them. This means that a person makes a plan for her life, analyzes her progress toward her desired version of herself, and then willingly makes course corrections to align with her goals and principles.

All of the lessons here are built upon the understanding that the principle of self-government leads to free nations, united families, and increased personal success. When outside forces try to control an individual or decrease the motivation for self-government, then the individual is disempowered and most often loses freedom. Government or social systems that embrace forcing individuals ultimately lead society to entitlement, apathy, lack of trust in others or the government, and widespread fear.

Self-government is born in the family and needs to continually be nurtured there if society is going to recover from the current social/political wars. Parents, the most influential decision-makers in society, have the power to reverse social trends and lead children toward truth by deliberately transforming their family cultures into academic and ideological gymnasiums. It used to be that we looked to schools to provide the intellectual gymnastics that opened thought. However, in modern times, many families are seeing that the best, well-rounded dialog is better suited to home life.

12 Lessons for Teaching Children Self-Government Principles that help Children Stand Out & Speak Up 

1. People who follow true principles are happy.

There is a difference between rules and principles. It’s imperative that parents teach their children the difference between these so that they can identify truth and manipulation. Two TSG podcasts have been dedicated to comparing principles and rules; podcasts 36 and 60.

Principles are components of broader truths, provide direction, do not change, are not behavior-specific, and provide basic guidelines for behavior and action. When a person lives by principle, they do a better job of self-governing themselves and they rarely need an overabundance of rules/applications.

Rules/applications are behaviors, steps, practices, and procedures by which the principles are enacted. However, some rules are not based on principles and just lead to control. Rules/applications change by situation or circumstance.

Activities:

  1. Teach the principle of self-government to the family and discuss what it means. For additional insight read “Parenting A House Untied” chapter 1.
  2. Tell stories to the children of heroes who had self-government.

 Possible books to read aloud and discuss: Teddys Button,” “Red Scarf Girl,” “Little House on the Prairie” books, “The Hiding Place,” “The Little Maid” series, “Caddie Woodlawn,” “The Oracle Sphere,” “Little Men,” “Little Women,” “Little Britches”series, “Little Princess,” “The Alliance,” “Lonesome Gods,” “The Hobbit” & “Lord of the Rings,” Narnia books, “Sign of the Beaver”…

2. Maintain Identity and Honor
Who are you? Who are they? Our true identities are NOT a list of things we’ve done or things we like and enjoy. True identity is based on self-evident, non-changing truths. The moment I had a child, I was a mother, and the moment my child was born, he was a child. These truths are self-evident even if we didn’t have a good relationship or live together. One self-evident truth my mother taught me when I was young was that I am a child of God. She taught me this simple lesson through a sweet song and discussion and by treating me as a person who had value, even though I was small.

Teach the children that their family roles and identities lead to peace and empowerment. When a family doesn’t honor basic family roles, then parents don’t teach and children don’t learn. This is the recipe for family dysfunction.

It’s important to remember that history can inspire us forward or hold us back. How we process our history can have a lasting impact on our happiness. Our past, or the past of our family members and friends, isn’t our identity, but it’s our journey instead. A journey can produce a hero. But, a person trapped in the past only produces more and more victims.

The word honor means “dignity, exalted rank, distinction, reverence, true nobleness of mind.” (Webster’s 1828 dictionary) When a family culture honors each individual, then that family encourages the children to honor themselves as members of the family. People live more with dignity when they learn to honor themselves.

One way we honor ourselves is by making standards to live by that match our morals and principles. Standards are rules that help us behave in a more principled way so that we can act in harmony with our ideals.

Activities:

  1. Read the book, “Roles: The Secret To Family, Business, and Social Success,” and discuss it as a family. Optional: read “The Dream Giver” and discuss.
  2. Identify family standards you can live by. For a list of standards, you may want to consider reading, “Parenting A House United” chapter 15.

3. Examine Your Heart

We all have freedom to choose who/what we follow and give allegiance to. A person has allegiance to either goodness/God, evil, self, or others. Only an allegiance to goodness brings peace and the acceptance of others.

What is the desire of your heart? Who do you want to be like? What is your definition of good? How does that relate to the real meaning of good?

Good means God-like, or of high moral qualities.

Activities:

  1. Teach them about their moral agency to choose and have them write down what their heart desires most for their life.
  2. Teach them the difference between good and bad, right and wrong, true and false.

Identify when characters in stories do the wrong thing by reading and discussing, “Peter Rabbit,” (teaches right and wrong), “Little Red Riding Hood,” (teaches good and bad), “The Little Boy Who Cried Wolf,” (teaches true and false), “Three Little Pigs,” (teaches true and false), and/or AESOP’S Fables (teaches multiple morals and good decision making).

4. Turn Heart To Goodness and Away From Selfishness

Discuss selfishness with your children and help them to see how an individual who exclusively focuses on what they want or how they feel in a situation is likely being selfish. Teach them about mental traps people can fall into that lead to selfishness, such as thinking, “Nobody cares about me,” “I can’t do that hard thing or help those people,” or, “If only I could _______, then I’d be happy.”

Focusing on goodness and truth are the opposite of selfishness because goodness leads a person to take positive social action.

Dive into goodness each day by setting time aside for studying principles of goodness. Diligently study your family’s core book in order to infuse your life with core beliefs and principled morals. Many families study and discuss religious and gospel truths during this time. When parents need to become the students of truth, then the children will follow their parents’ example.

Core books and principles become a standard of truth for the family and allow the family to repeatedly compare all their other studies to their core book.

Activities:

  1. Immerse yourself in truth-seeking by setting a goal to do daily/weekly study and by studying truths and principles as a family.
  2. Set a goal to search core books and discuss each day as a family. Write your start day on your calendar.

5. Making A House United

Unity at home must occur before social unity can happen on a larger scale. Unity heals, empowers, inspires, and motivates. For our children to thrive in society, we need to give them a foundation of unity. If they don’t know what unity feels like from home life, they can’t promote it in the broader culture.

Plan for family unity by creating a family vision, improving communication, increasing problem-solving abilities, and lovingly correcting problems.  Families who pre-plan their family culture and deliberately live according to their plan always find more unity and success because the family is consistently reminded of who they are and where they are headed.

Activities:

  1. Talk about what a united family feels like and does. Write down your thoughts and key ideas.
  2. Make a family vision for 10-20 years in the future. The process for making a lasting family vision is contained in “Parenting A House United” chapter 3.

6. How To Communicate Effectively

Another key ingredient to make a house united is planning how the family will communicate. Good self-government communication means having a calm and loving voice tone, while firmly and consistently teaching, correcting, and praising the children.

Prepare the family for communication success by teaching everyone the skills they need for self-government. The Four Basic Skills are a good place to start. These skills are: Following Instructions, Accepting “no” Answers/Criticism, Accepting Consequences, and Disagreeing Appropriately. When you make a plan for how you will communicate, meetings become the place to check up on how the family communication is happening. Giving feedback by effectively correcting and praising keeps the family connected and learning together in love each day.

Preparing for success and analyzing problems that need fixing create a motivating self-government home environment. The skills promote principles such as letting go of harmful emotions and debilitating thoughts, understanding and bonding to others, and improving calmness.

Activities:

  1. Watch the Calm Parenting Toolkit videos for FREE. Then start teaching your children about calmness.
  2. Study self-government communication skills and meetings formats in “Parenting A House United” or the “TSG Parenting Course.”
  3. Practice effective communication by role playing common family communication scenarios. (Switching roles during the role plays can be fun.)

7. Learn and Listen: Teaching Discernment

Discernment is the “power of perceiving differences of things or ideas.” (Webster’s 1828 dictionary) No discernment is more motivating than moral/spiritual discernment. Children learn this discernment from their parents or the most involved influences in their lives.

In order to learn discernment, a person has to be surrounded by truth most of the time. Identify trusted leaders to seek inspiration from. Trusted leaders can include parents, core books, grandparents, and the Spiritual Voice of Discernment. To properly discern, a person listens with their heart and mind to learn the truth. Both heart and mind should agree when you have found the truth.

Activities:

  1. Tell your children discernment stories of times when you have followed wise council or promptings, including what it felt like and the thoughts and outcomes you had. These stories will give them confidence to follow wise counsel and inspiration, too.
  2. Talk about truths and values they already know and how they can follow those in daily life. Role play common scenarios they may have. Role plays are one of the most powerful ways to learn. (Many programs are using role play to teach different values. Don’t skip the role plays because your values could differ from role plays done as part of other environments or groups.)

8. Follow Instructions & Ask For Direction

After discerning what is true, a person then follows instructions in order to bring herself into alignment with the truth she learned. From time to time, during the process of following truth, a person might need more information. This is when they need to learn how to ask trusted sources good questions.

Following instructions is a vital skill for acting upon discernment. The steps to following instructions are:

  • Look at the person, situation, truth
  • With a calm face, voice, and body
  • Say, “okay,” or ask to disagree appropriately
  • Do the task immediately
  • Check back (Report on progress)

Teaching your child to follow instructions prepares them to give themselves instructions to act in the future, which is a part of being a self-governed person.

Asking the right questions of a trusted source takes practice. Communicate with calmness and a desire to understand. Using the Disagreeing Appropriately skill as a model for communication is always effective.

If a person or news source shares an opinion or gives you information that you don’t feel good about, then this is a good practice to follow. Think, “This is where they are at.” Ask, “How does this compare to my core beliefs and truths I already know?” and, “What principles could this person not be seeing or remembering?” If necessary, research their perspective and research your perspective to fully understand the situation. Listen (discern) and form more questions as you learn. Try to see what is not seen.

Recently a woman was complaining online about her church not giving women equal talk time in a certain service. When I read her comment, I could have allowed myself to become emotional about it, like she was. But, instead I questioned, “What did she get out of the service? What was the topic?” It occurred to me that this woman might have been myopic; only seeing the issue she cared about that day, but not looking for any other good messages. I also wondered why she didn’t value all people and why she chose to assume that people had malicious intentions toward her and her important issues. Maybe they didn’t. After all, no hostile actions were mentioned. She only said that she noticed men giving talks.

This woman wasn’t accepting “no” answers. The Accepting “No” Answers skill prepares a person to stay calm and drop the subject when things don’t go their way. It could have helped her have a more fulfilling and productive church time. How many times had she focused on her one observation? Had that hyper-focus increased her happiness or decreased her happiness and inner peace? I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I do know that obsessing over one topic and hunting for violations of the one issue never leads a person to peace. When a person doesn’t have peace, they lose the ability to have positive influence on others.

The seeking to understand principle utilized in Disagreeing Appropriately could have also benefited her.

Activities:

  1. Learn the Four Basic Skills of Communication, which can be found in TSG books and courses.
  2. Read current events and analyze them from a non-biased perspective. See what is not seen in the news stories, then discuss.

9. Fight Lies, Not People

Don’t quarrel or make war at home or abroad. We learn peace through the habit of establishing peace at home through parenting and good communication.

So many homes are at war. Children’s hearts are turned from their parents and parent’s hearts are turned from their children. Sure, these war-like homes would profess loving each other, but they continually treat each other with contempt, which is the opposite of love. This shows an inner focus of self during war times.

Power struggles can be started by children or parents. Learning to identify power struggles and replacing them with calm communication puts the primary focus on each individual governing themselves, instead of trying to control everyone else.

When people don’t get along, talk about communication and the skills needed, not about the people and their shortcomings. People aren’t the enemy; people are learning. The enemy is all the lies.

Lies are all around us. When we power struggle, we are assuming lies about the other person. When we stress, we are believing a lie, too. We think we can’t do something when we probably can. Or, at the very least, trying won’t hurt us.

When the lies and wars surround us, we need to check ourselves for calmness, choose our words carefully, love others, and say the truth with compassion.

Seeking to understand, then to be understood, is a principle that is behind the skill Disagreeing Appropriately. This skill helps us govern our tongues.

My father used to say, “Master your mother tongue, and you will make a mark upon the world that will be noticed.”

Activities:

  1. Discuss making your home free from war and why corrections need to happen.
  2. Teach the children how to correct with love and use those corrections daily. (see course, etc.)
  3. Practice Disagree Appropriately role plays related to current events or current social issues.

10. Stand Upon Your Own Feet: Work

Teach the children that every person is rewarded for his own labor. Books like, “Tortoise and the Hare,” “Little Red Hen,” and, “The Little Engine That Could,” all teach us that work pays off and feels good in the end.

Teach the children to work by having regular work times as a family, as well as daily chores that are assigned. Work is a key ingredient in the recipe of freedom. So, even if they are complaining about pulling weeds or doing a family project with you, remember that you are doing them a great service. And, correct them for not Disagreeing Appropriately. (See TSG books and courses for correction steps.)

Parents set the tone on the acceptance of work and chores. If work or chores are bad in the parent’s eyes, they will be bad in the child’s eyes, too. Decide now to value and enjoy work so that your children don’t see work as a drudgery, but something that can be enjoyable.

Activities:

  1. Read, “Tortoise and the Hare,” “Little Red Hen,” “The Little Engine That Could,” and discuss.
  2. Do daily chores, family work, and projects…Schedule a family work time for this week.

11. Serve Others No Matter What

We are never truly happy when we only look out for ourselves. No great mission or life’s purpose only serves the individual. Doing good involves helping others. To counter the selfish ideological battles that are raging around us, teach the children to find joy in service.

Parents are the best example of service. If they serve and love their families and others happily, the children will see service as a component of a life’s purpose. But, it doesn’t hurt to also explain how a life’s purpose will also include impacting others for good.

“Service is love in action.” Jennifer Cleveland

Activities:

  1. Study inspiring people from history who led a life of service and discuss. (Gandhi, Mother Theresa, George Washington, Corey Ten-boom, your ancestors, and others…) Look for stories of people who belong to your faith that have really made a difference for all who came after them and study their biographies and discuss.
  2. Develop a service mindset. Plan a family service project for this week and start planning ways to serve others each month/week thereafter.

12. Doubt Not, Fear Not!

Teach them to Stand Out and Speak Up and not to be afraid. Fear can cripple a principled person because it distracts from truth and faith. No matter what religion you are, the faith you have in truth gives you the strength to doubt your fears and step forward with faith and hope. If children are focusing on true principles, then they can be confident, even when other people have different opinions.

Two ways to practice speaking up are discussing books and articles as a family and holding regular family meetings to discuss family goals and problems as a group. In family meetings, all voices are heard and everyone gets the chance to make sure the discussions show understanding of all family members. In family meetings, love and diplomacy are vital tone elements.

Having a connection to a family that acknowledges the same truths and loves them helps our children go forward with more strength to be different and stand out in a world of sameness.

Society always tries to tear down those who stand for truths, so prepare the children that they won’t always sway other people’s opinion or be liked. But, they can always rely on the skill Accepting “No” Answers when things don’t go their way. Skills such as keeping calm and dropping the subject after a conversation are skills that help a person attach to people and detach from issues when they can’t come to an agreement about everything.

Embrace being peculiar. The only people who really stand out are people who know what they stand for and aren’t afraid to take a stand on principle. If parents live intentionally by principle, that is considered peculiar in this day and age. But, if parents embrace making deliberate, peculiar choices, then children will see that being peculiar is okay, too. Peculiar doesn’t mean a person doesn’t have friends; it means that they confidently stand out in a crowd of sameness.

Activities:

  1. Set the example of standing out by living intentionally. Discuss your intentional living.
  2. Have regular meetings as a family. Start by picking a day and time to meet each week. Family meetings are not for lectures; they are for discussion. They should not take longer than 20 minutes in order to keep the children engaged.
  3. Role play possible social situations when the child may have to speak up or stand out. and how to handle them while staying true to who they are.

For the class associated with this curriculum, listen to the TSG Podcast 68 – Stand Out & Speak Up – Self-Government Principles For Our Day!

During a recent training, a mother said to me, “Nicholeen, when I took your parenting course, I wanted help for our family unity and behaviors, but now I see the world completely differently, too. I can’t unsee what I now see because my family is focused on living according to principles.”

This mother was saying that living by principle was helping her make sense of so many things that were going on around her. That is the power of living by principles. Self-government is a principle that is fading away in mainstream culture, but the principle is still there and makes a big difference in helping solve social problems. Thank you for joining with me to make self-government and seeking for true principles part of your family culture. I know that one principled person really can change the world for good. Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” This principle is what parents and families must do to keep families and societies connected and intact during these difficult times.

Mixed Messages About Anxiety & Fragility

The subject of anxiety can be confusing. Anxiety seems to be part of everyday conversation these days. I’ve heard some people shake their heads and call anxiety a “contagious, modern epidemic,” and yet I’ve seen many real, intense anxiety attacks that leave people worn out and hopeless. Some people say that anxiety is something a person can’t overcome, yet I see people, including myself, not give in to anxiety all the time.

Anxiety is real and can be hard to handle sometimes. But, are we using anxiety as an excuse not step out of our comfort zones, thereby encouraging fragility? Who is at risk for anxiety? And, what can we do to lovingly help someone not become fragile or debilitated by their anxiety episodes?

Who Is At Risk For Anxiety? 

Everyone is at risk for anxiety, but especially children because their brains aren’t fully developed, which makes them less able to solve their own problems. If everyone experiences anxiety, then why does it seem like we’re having a harder time with anxiety than ever before?

Problems are more pronounced when they are labeled. Nowadays we label anxiety and every other processing difficulty. Our society loves putting people into boxes based on what they think, feel, believe, desire, how they process, or their emotions. The term anxiety is a very common box we put others and ourselves into.

We all experience excitement, stress, fear of the unknown, or lack of knowledge sometimes. Anxiety is less of a diagnosis and more of a moment to get through when it’s called butterflies, nervousness, and stress or concern instead of anxiety. Since overcoming anxiety is common, let’s not use anxiety as an excuse; let’s think of it as an opportunity to step out, overcome, and grow.

It was 1992. My teenage heart seemed to be pounding extra loudly in my chest, my breathing was quicker, my thoughts were racing. What was my line again? I couldn’t remember. It was almost time to go on stage and I wasn’t sure I would even remember my cue. At this point a fellow actor asked me, “Do you ever get nervous before you go on stage?”

This question brought me back to reality. I took a deep breath and responded with, “Yes, I guess I do. I seem to be having some butterflies right now, in fact.”

I was having butterflies, also known as anxiety, but I knew I had to go on that stage and take action despite my anxiety. Long ago I made taking a deep breath and a leap of faith my go-tos for butterflies and anxiety.

After countless plays and singing and speaking opportunities, I don’t get stage anxiety very often, but it occasionally still happens. A few times, when I was young, I completely shut down because of the anxiety, but I eventually learned how to keep going and get myself to calm down and focus.

Playing piano in public was and still is my scariest action to perform. At multiple piano recitals and performances, my brain shut down completely. I didn’t know what line I was on, what the notes were, or where my hands were supposed to go. I really didn’t know. I was overtaken with anxiety. It’s awfully embarrassing to sit at a piano in silence in the middle of a song with people looking on or trying to sing and know my brain has shut down due to stress. By age 21 I taught myself a useful skill; don’t listen to the music or watch the hands, just read the notes and trust. This stopped me from focusing on my anxious feelings.

There’s Anxiety and Then There’s Anxiety!

Normal anxiety, like the kind I experienced before going on stage and when publicly playing the piano, is common, but clinical anxiety is not. If a person has clinical anxiety, it will last for a long period of time (6 months or so), the episodes will be extremely intense compared to normal anxiety, and the person will likely be impaired in some way (i.e. not behaving at age level).

How To Help!

For years I did treatment foster care for youth, and many of them had issues with anxiety. No matter if they had clinical anxiety or normal anxiety, the solutions were the same.

This was the recipe I used to help my foster children, and I have since used it to help my biological children and others that I’ve been privileged to be able to help get through anxiousness.

  • Create a strong bond with the person.
  • Treat people like people, not conditions.
  • Do not coddle anyone. Coddling leads to entitlement and more fear.
  • Think about how much you love the person, even if they are being difficult right now. Make sure that love shows in your eyes, body, and tone of voice.
  • Remember and remind the person that they can do more than they think they can when they are feeling anxious.
  • Anxiety can be useful for survival, but it can also stop a person from thriving. Is this person really in danger or just stopping themselves from thriving? If the person is wisely averting an actual danger, then discuss that. If a person is stopping themselves from thriving by not stepping out, then they might need a nudge, an assurance, and a skill to fall back on.
  • What does a developmentally normal person do to overcome this fear or problem? Even if the person has clinical anxiety, the same skills will work. One important skill I usually teach youth is how to “drop the subject” in their mind.
  • When a person makes a mistake or fails, that is still a success because they tried. All successful people “fail forward.” Praise their effort and talk about the increased confidence they gained for pushing through the anxiousness or stress.
  • Help people have a can-do attitude. Doubts hold us back and are often nothing more than lies. Focus on the truths you know instead of the lie that the anxiety is creating in your head.
  • Help people become anti-fragile by recognizing the signs of anxiety that inhibit thriving and teaching them to say to themselves, “That’s just anxiety. I choose not to think those thoughts anymore. I’m going to take a deep, cleansing breath, and take an action step forward.”

Catering to Anxiety Leads to a Fragility Mindset.

When I was young, people didn’t label or diagnose my panic; they just told me lovingly that panic/anxiety happens sometimes and to keep trying. It used to be commonplace for people to promote mental toughness. It’s true that sometimes people erred by not understanding or showing compassion when trying to teach mental toughness. But, most people taught that as every person learns and grows, they must try new things, occasionally fail and freeze up, and try again. This was the pattern for success. Society and adults didn’t save a person from their mistakes or baby them. Instead, they understood and then helped them make new goals to try again to beat their fear or accomplish their goal. This was motivating and led to increased maturity and problem-solving skill development.

There are three options when anxiety episodes hit us. First, be fragile and allow the anxiety to stop us from doing new or hard things permanently. Second, don’t do a new or hard thing, but then be resilient and decide to try again next time. Third, be anti-fragile by knowing how to regulate anxiety and do that hard or new thing. No matter what, new actions, situations, and changes are hard, but people were engineered to adapt, overcome, and have faith that they can do hard things.

Nicholeen’s free Calm Parenting Toolkit is a great resource for helping you and your loved ones learn the skills of calmness to combat their anxiety.