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A Decade of Lessons in Parenting


Lesson #4: Spin is Everything

The week before Zander started school, we moved 3,000 miles from the only home he'd ever known. The move itself was great--we took weeks to drive cross-country, and the trip was a fun-filled camping adventure—but the minute we pulled into our new driveway, my stomach knotted in dread. The next day, our neighbor spent 30 minutes telling me terrible things about one of Zander's new teachers. The night before school started, I was a total wreck.

But I figured it was vital to keep my misgivings to myself. When I was little, my family moved every couple of years—yet my parents managed to convince us kids that our wanderings were thrilling, not frightening. If they worried we'd have trouble adjusting, they certainly never let on. So I swallowed my anxiety, talked up school as if it were a three-ring circus of delight, and waited until the bus was safely out of sight before collapsing on the sofa with my fist in my mouth. To my utter disbelief, Zander adored his class. And his teacher—despite her bad press—encouraged and challenged him beyond my wildest dreams.

Okay, we got lucky. But I honestly believe kids have an uncanny ability to sense (and react to) parental ambivalence. By modifying our attitudes, we can help our kids cope with life's inevitable curveballs.