As a school psychologist on the elementary level, Karen was in search of professional development tools, and in doing so, found an avenue to help her in raising her three sons. “As any parent knows, parenting is the toughest job that you will ever love and my experience is no exception. People may think that, as a school psychologist, parenting might be easier as I am constantly problem-solving academic, social, and behavioral issues. However, it is one thing to do this professionally and quite another to apply the skills you know to your children at home!”
“Parenting has provided our family with our greatest gifts and greatest challenges,” says Karen. “My oldest was diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD as a first grader. I remember feeling overwhelmed, and there were many days that I felt so anxious about his future. How could I help my child with unique learning needs thrive in his environment?”
Karen shares that with hard work, as well as both in and out of school supports, her son progressed to a point where he no longer met those diagnostic labels. “He is now an Academic All-American and wrestles in college. Sitting here now, and seeing the whole picture, it is beautiful. But when he was young and we were living in it, there were few days that I could have anticipated this outcome.”
Karen and her husband encountered several struggles in raising three unique boys, who now range in age from 13 to 20. “Our pitfall was that we weren’t always consistent. And our kids picked up on that, and it made daily parenting life a challenge at times. We didn’t really have tools, so, we relied on our own life experience, talked to friends, and applied one strategy after another only to quickly abandon it when it did not produce an immediate impact.”
“It is always so amazing and humbling that you can raise three children in the same household and their personalities and temperaments can be so very different,” says Karen. “It is really step-by-step, and day-by-day, walking hand-in-hand with our kids, to see them for who they are, meet them there and give them the tools to learn and grow. My husband and I really wanted something to give us structure, but also the freedom to parent our children as individuals.”
As a professional working with students and their families, Karen was seeking a greater community to connect with on topics relating to professional development, effective time management, and serving her school community. This is when she saw an advertisement that led her to the Thriving School Psychologist Collective and Dr. Rebecca Branstetter. She also purchased the book Make Social Learning Stick from Elizabeth Sauter, which she found to be an incredibly helpful resource for the families within her school who were seeking to support social skills at home.
And this is when her revelation happened. “I saw that Rebecca and Elizabeth were collaborating to provide a parenting course called theMake It Stick Program, and I knew that it would benefit me professionally and personally. So, I went all in, and signed up."
“The concepts are relatable no matter where you are within your parenting journey. It is a course that I wish I had been able to access when my children were young, and when my husband and I doubted our approaches, felt lost, discouraged, or ineffective. But even now, it is still useful, because parenting is a lifelong endeavor,” Karen says.
According to Karen, “The course itself takes big parenting concepts such as executive function and tantrums and makes it real for families through examples that all parents can identify with. And because the classes were in bite-sized chunks, they were manageable and easily added into everyday activities. I could literally fit them in the small pockets of my day.”
Karen started her journey looking for community and feels the course has helped bring that full circle. “The course comes from two professionals … two moms, so it was relatable. I found myself releasing this notion of perfect parenting because it doesn’t exist. I felt supported, never judged, and both Rebecca and Elizabeth share their own successes and parenting foibles, which caused me to laugh and sigh in relief. We aren’t alone on our journeys, and I realize that now.”
** This member has permitted GENM to write and share her story.