My Daughter, My Teacher

This blog post was written by Jane Leyden Cavanaugh, School Relations Representative and Joe Cavanaugh’s wife.

When my daughter Tess was born eight years ago, my world predictably shifted. No matter who you are, having a child will change your life and teach you so much about your own strengths and weaknesses.READ MORE


Top Wintertime Movies for Family Movie Night

Too often, my week is hectic — running around from here to there. By Friday night, I want and need to be home with Jane and Tess. We have created “Friday movie night” where we make popcorn, sit on the couch and watch a movie together. It’s one of the highlights of my week.

Here in the Midwest, December means cold, dark and snow. Although many of us like to embrace the cold with outdoor activities like ice fishing and skiing, winter is also the perfect time to have your own family movie night. Make some popcorn, grab a blanket and gather on the couch for one of these family-friendly winter flicks compiled and recommended by moms and dads from Youth Frontiers: READ MORE


Blah, Blah, Blah

Sometimes I overestimate both the importance of what I have to say and the hunger of my audience. This especially happens with my daughter, Tess. When Tess asks me a simple questions like, “Why is the sky blue?”, I’ll give her a needlessly long and complicated answer. So when she asks me a more complicated question like, “Where do babies come from?”, I’m ready to give her a treatise on the meaning of life.READ MORE


Happy Thanksgiving!

For me, what makes Thanksgiving so important is the coming together of people in relationship, whether it’s as a family, community or nation. This is what Youth Frontiers does every day with students and educators on our retreats. READ MORE


The Magic of Enough

On a trip not too long ago to Target, Tess and I were in the checkout line when she saw a Disney Cinderella doll. She took it off the shelf and put it in our cart. I took the doll out and put it back. “But, Daddy,” Tess said, “I need that.”READ MORE


Tikkun Olam – Inspiring Our Kids to Repair the World

In the fall of 2008, I visited with a friend of mine whose son, Steven*, had just been cut from his high school basketball team. Steven was a competitive kid who attended a competitive school in an affluent, first-tier suburb of Minneapolis – and he loved basketball. Not only was Steven disappointed, but his pride was wounded. He wasn’t part of a school culture where failure was taken lightly. Furthermore, as a junior, Steven had a lot of high school ahead of him and legitimately wondered what to do with all the time he had set aside for basketball glory. READ MORE


What Defines a School

I once met a school bus driver named Donna who hated driving the school bus. She was new to the job and had only accepted it out of financial necessity. Because she was new, Donna was given one of the worst routes in the system. When she first started, the kids ignored her efforts to keep them in their seats. They fought with each other. They showed little respect to her. READ MORE


Be Aware of Your Shadow

A friend of mine told me a story about the time she and her husband went to France with their 11-year-old daughter. The daughter had been taking French lessons and the parents were very proud of her accomplishments. They were so proud of her, in fact, that they had their daughter act as an informal translator on the trip. For the most part the daughter did great, but one day the family was running late for a train. In the bustle and confusion at the station, the daughter got overwhelmed and couldn’t figure out how to use the automatic ticket kiosk. She broke down crying and the parents realized that they had put too much responsibility on her shoulders. A well-intentioned idea had an unfortunate impact.READ MORE


Reflective Parenting: The Case of the Pool Mom

On one of those days of 90-degree heat in August, I took Tess to our local pool for a swimming lesson. As she was getting in the water with her instructor, a mother and her son made a loud and harried entrance. The little boy was throwing a fit. He didn’t want to swim today. At first the mom tried gentle encouragement, but the more her child refused the less patient she became. The “it’s time for your lesson” sing-song turned into the exasperated “mommy gets her own time too” which finally degenerated into a shout, “If you don’t get into the water right now, you won’t get to play with your Legos when you get home!” At this point the little boy completely lost it and fell on to the deck crying.READ MORE