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Meet the Smiths...

Brent and I have 8 children ages 17 down to 2: two boys, then five girls in a row, then 1 more boy (we need an updated picture!). We also foster parented two teenage girls years ago and we have given service among children and youth for nearly our entire 19 years of marriage.

As a child, I wanted to be a mother when I grew up. Three months after graduating with a BA in Communications, I became one.

Trudging down the trenches of parenting with one, then two, then three young children jolted me to an awareness that motherhood sparks all sorts of unchartered emotions--some heart-warming and wonderful...others not so much.

While I thoroughly enjoyed many moments as a new mother, I also started to identify a few challenging issues:

1. Young children are frequently out of control emotionally and physically.
2. I found myself frequently feeling out of control emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
3. The emotional mood of one person dramatically affects the behavior of others, and since 1 and 2 were true, our daily prospects of peaceful living started to grow grim.

This lame discovery changed my life. It put a shovel in my hands and made me dig through countless parenting/psychology/child development/education/neurobiology/religion books in search for a solution to the popular parenting problem:

What should we DO when our children are out of control??

We found a gazillion different answers...and tested many of them...and then discovered a new problem:

Most of the tactics suggested by leading parenting books that are intended to control behavioral and emotional struggles worked short-term (made the kids momentarily stop crying, whining, fighting, teasing, misbehaving, etc), but none seemed to improve our family’s long-term emotional maturity.

But in the process of finding an answer that worked for us, I uncovered my passion for brain science and in the spring of 2009 we created our own disciplinary guide, or pyramid, which is based on my hypothesis that discipline should be focused on developing the child’s prefrontal cortex in order to establish true long-term peace and happiness. And amazingly, the development of the child's prefrontal cortex happens quite naturally if the child's parents are more concerned about influencing their child through controlling their own behavior rather than on controlling their child's behavior through manipulative disciplinary tactics. 

In 2012, when we felt inspired to share our experiences with other parents, we created the concept of Present Parenting...which is based on our hypothesis that there are four basic parenting responses: Defensive, Offensive, Absent, and Present. The first three responses are normal and natural (and very likely to occur and even have their place in life), but only the Present Response yields proper growth in the prefrontal cortex region of the brain that allows for long-term maturity in both the child and the parent.

Present Parenting uses the Accountability Pyramid as a guide to disciplinary actions that support a parent's ability to influence a child's behavior throughout the life-long path towards true maturity.

By creating this website, we are not proclaiming to the world that we know everything about parenting. Of course we don’t. And we are not announcing that our ideas about parenting are the best way for everyone in the world to raise their children. Likely not. And we are not declaring that we are perfect at being fully present with our children 100% of the time. Far from.

By creating this website, we are simply sharing how present moments with our children are in the process of transforming our family--children and parents--into happier, more peaceful, more complete people.