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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Supporting Parents in Public | Travels with Children

One of the things we struggle with when taking the kids out is their behavior.  Over the years, I’ve had people tell me, “I don’t know how you take your kids to so many places by yourself,” or “We just can’t go out to eat in a restaurant, our kids just don’t behave.”

Well, first of all I’ll tell you that our kids do well a lot of the time, but there are plenty of times when we’ve left a place early, turned around for home when we were almost there, or had one parent take a child to the car while the others continued to eat.  It was one of these less-than-great occasions that I wrote about at Midwest Parents today.  We were eating at Famous Dave’s and the kids weren’t being awful but weren’t being great, and after a lot of reminding and reprimanding we were almost done eating when a woman came up to us and said that our kids were doing great, especially for their ages, and that we were doing well as parents.

That blog post caught the eye of the Minnesota Children’s Museum on twitter, where they mentioned something called Wakanheza:  MNChildMuseum @minnemom Just read your Midwest Parents post and it warmed my heart to hear Wakanheza practices in use. http://tinyurl.com/cjf284

Intrigued, I followed the link to learn more, and I liked what I saw.  Wakanheza, which is the Dakota word for “child,” is a method of supporting parents when they’re facing parenting challenges in public.  Intended to defuse tense situations, it’s a proactive way of helping stressed parents, including empathizing and reminding parents that they’re doing a good job.  The Minnesota Children’s Museum is a partner in the project, along with other community agencies.

It’s not new; an article in the St. Paul Pioneer Press was written in 2003.  But it is reaching around the state of Minnesota, with workshops available in Wakanheza principles.

Parenting in public is not easy.  I’m glad to have learned about the project; often I think parents are afraid to take their kids in public in case they misbehave.  If an informed public can help with some of those tough times, how much more can parents get out and do fun things with their kids?

I’ll never know if the woman at Famous Dave’s knew about Wakanheza, but I will remember the difference she made in our day.

To learn more about Wakanheza, including learning how to host a workshop for people in your area or workplace, visit these sites:

Supporting Parents in Public | Travels with Children

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