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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )

Finding a vocabulary of grace for your child

Demanding. Mean. Relentless. Bully.

Impossible. Rebellious. Stubborn. Unmanageable.


I've finally surfaced the words I've been saying a long time in deeply subconscious places about one of our children.

If the words say something about the child, they also say something about me and the way I continue to parent (wrongly). I'm parenting without hope. I'm parenting out of the perceptions of others. I'm parenting unimaginatively.

What would it mean to see this child differently? Where in all those words could I find a vocabulary of grace?

Fearless. Courageous. Vibrant. Intense.


Confident. Focused. Persistent.


The best words are an invitation to space. They are broad and elastic with meaning, and they do their job of seeding a hope that grows tall and thick. Words are a pasture for the imagination.

The worst of words act like a belt that cinches. You gasp for air and lose breath in the words that condemn and accuse. They are narrow, unforgiving.

We know the respective sources: one, a renewing spring of life running clear; the other, a polluted pond of soul stagnation. The water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.


(I'm reading the book, Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child is More, by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. It think it can be helpful for the work of re-imagining a child whom you've begun to see in the unforgiving words I first used.)