Laugh in the Face of Your Parenting Triggers

The stress of the school year and all of those end of year activities is a distant memory now that we’ve hit mid-summer, but you may be getting to the point in the dog days when you’re looking forward to your kids getting back IN to structure. In short, all this free time may be causing its own form of stress, you might be worried your little one has forgotten the entire alphabet, or you and your kid have launched into a summertime extra-curricular stress mode. Whatever concern has cropped up in July, I’m here to tell you that things are gonna be OK. A summer here on Bowen can give you and your offspring just what’s needed to get on track for September.

Fab mom Georgina Farah, a conflict management facilitator, reminded me in a recent interview reminded me that NATURE can not only be restorative but productive. Hmmm… an interesting idea, I responded. As much as I value beach, forest and meadow-time, I often choose “productive work” at the computer over a walk. I also find it interesting that while the Engineering camp at the local uni is full with a waiting list, Wild Art (thank you Emily!) offered in the heart of our rainforest was cancelled due to lack of enrolment. Perhaps, marketing had something to do with it, but I also wonder if we as parents place more merit on the programs that more directly steer our kids on a solid career path—hence, the popularity of engineering (and BTW we’ve have loved this camp!). 

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While there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with educational summer programs, I ask myself if I’m doing enough to ground my kid in unscheduled days, beach afternoons and forest hikes. Am I allowing enough time to restore, decompress and even be bored? White space…it’s essential to our brain recovery and health.

This’s why I LOVED Georgina’s candour on what most of us parents struggle with from time to time—“award envy”. 

So, imagine you’ve been tasked with setting up the end of year awards table at your school only to discover your beloved (did I fail to mention fabulous, gorgeous and talented, too?!) kids are going home empty handed—sans trophy. Most of us would feel a pang of disappointment…others, downright fury at the injustice of it.

It’s exactly why I deeply admire Georgina’s acknowledgement of the competitive parenting energy that sneakily rears its head more times than we may like to admit. Impressively, Georgina took it as her opportunity to embrace her dark side (yup, and we all have one!) and find the lightness in humour. Laughing, she shared, “I realized that I saw every award as a public declaration that my kids weren’t better than the others.” Yet, once she realized the ridiculousness of her thoughts, she was able to genuinely rise above and celebrate the other students.

So I wonder, are too many of us helping our kids to peak in high school, elementary school or preschool? And at what expense? Of course, we all wanna see our kids succeed, but do we do this at the cost of their health—how about ours? Whom does it serve? Don’t get me wrong, I partake in parent bragging on FB with the best of ‘em, but does too much pressure (on us and the kids) mean less mental and emotional health? Is our well-intended drive for high performance when it comes to good grades, good schools, and good extracurriculars getting in the way of our kids’ ultimate wellbeing?

Take Korean students, for example. While top of their class in the world in reading and mathematics, they get a failing grade in student happiness by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) based in Paris. Yup, they rank dead last here. Canadian students? While we’re definitely above average, there are at least 40 other countries that rank better than we do when it comes to the measurement of happiness.

Hmmmm… so would it be beneficial to consider the possibility that our kids can be happy with lower grades, and fewer awards? Can we be at peace with a parenting resume that doesn’t include so many participation awards and performance accolades? Can we loosen the pressure and let our kids be kids more—let our young people commune more with what matters most?


Join Kelly Elise Nault, M.A. and other Bowen moms in the new Mommy Calm, Kids Calm Success Habits parenting course. For more info or email

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