“Trust the journey and enjoy the detours.” That’s not the typical advice associated with parenting, but it’s one that Lynn Sanchez preaches. Author of the light-hearted and practical guide for parents (and grandparents) Behind the Brussel Sprouts: Why YOU Have What It Takes to Be the Best Parent for Your Child, Sanchez draws on her 50 years of experience as both a parent and as an early childhood educator to help guide mothers and fathers through the challenging, messy, often scary, and rewarding experiences of child-rearing.
Based on 30 years of notes Sanchez kept while raising her three boys, the book was written, she said, to help parents relax and enjoy the experience of parenting, something she had not always been able to do. “In the book, I described myself as more than just a helicopter parent; I was a hovercraft! Since I majored in child development and worked in that field, I considered myself a professional parent and put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself. But there were also a lot of lessons I learned along the way that I wanted to share.”
Born in Nova Scotia, Canada, Sanchez moved 11 times by the time she became a teen. As an only child, her parents were committed to not raising a spoiled child. “They were very, very, very strict,” she said. Despite all that, by the time Sanchez started college, children were her focus, and she earned a degree in Child Development and then a Master’s in Education. She worked in the psychiatric and educational field for some years before moving to the Eastern Shore, where she taught preschool and was an assistant professor at Chesapeake College. However, her association with noted author and pediatrician T. Berry Brazelton and his ‘Touchpoint’ theory of child development helped cultivate and solidify her ideas as she created this parental guide.
The 127-page book contains twelve chapters (and two fun appendices), real-life memories, and quotable quotes that cover a variety of innovative solutions to challenging parenting situations, being also mindful that a one-size-fits-all approach may not necessarily work. Sanchez, however, is quick to point out that this is not a ‘how-to’ but a ‘what-if’ book. What if, she says, you acknowledge instead of praise, guide instead of discipline, or create logical consequences.
Some solutions, Sanchez reflects, are simpler than others. For instance, the value of how changing one word in a sentence turns a bribe or a threat into an agreement., “A bribe goes like this,” she says, “‘If you eat your dinner, you get dessert,’ Instead say, ‘When dinner is finished, dessert will be served.’ That’s an agreement. That helps a child make a choice.”
As her children grew, these choices became written and signed contracts in the Sanchez family. Did it work? “My children never broke a contract,” she said. “And trust me, I had kids who could work a system like you’ve never seen. The contract helped me remember what I had asked of them, and they remembered what they agreed to. It was right there in black and white on the refrigerator door.”
Sanchez also discusses the importance of parental collaboration. Raising three boys born within a four-and-a-half-year span and supporting husband, Rob Sanchez, through the challenges of med school, the couple instituted ‘catch-up calls.’ “It was important that Rob did not walk in the door being bombarded by three humans,” she said. “So I would call him before he came home and tell him what was going on with the kids—from who was spending the night somewhere else to who didn’t do well in math. When he walked in, he already knew the lay of the land.”
The end of the evening after the kids were in bed was ‘we time’ an opportunity to nurture the grown-up relationship between the couple. “He didn’t talk about work, and I didn’t complain about the children.” (Although their children are grown and work is no longer as intrusive, the Sanchez’, after 53 years of marriage, still keep up with this tradition.)
That same one-on-one connection was also established between Rob and the children. Calling it their ‘monthly adventure,’ Rob would pick one Saturday a month to spend individually with each child. Explained Sanchez, “The boys could choose to do whatever they wanted on their ‘date’ with Dad. No matter how long he was gone, when he was with them, he was there 100%.”
These parenting insights have been transmitted into another one of Sanchez’s talents, her deep involvement in the Tred Avon Players (TAP) theater scene. Here she can be seen bringing her characters to life on stage by integrating her unique perspective on empathy, communication, and creative problem-solving.
Sanchez continues to work on getting her message across. She is on the board at Critchlow Adkins, works with For All Seasons ‘whenever she is needed,’ and she and Rob are an integral part of Talbot Hospice Child Loss Support Group, an organization they helped start after the death of their son, Rion. Her current emphasis is creating collaborative efforts with her connections to deal with the rise in children’s mental health issues.
That is why Easton’s For All Seasons partnered with Sanchez to launch and make available her book to the community (and beyond). President and CEO Beth Anne (Langrell) Dorman has written a forward to the book praising Sanchez for her ‘moments of wisdom, ’remembering how she, too, had relied on Sanchez’s advice in raising her children.
The book, of course, is more than just advice; it’s a refreshing perspective for parents who are uneasy or overwhelmed in their role. It’s also an assurance and constant reminder that although they may not be aware of it, parents have what it takes to guide their children to joy and strength.
“Trust the journey and enjoy the detours,” Sanchez will tell you. It’s the time together on the trip, not the destination, that makes lasting memories.
As to why it’s named, Behind the Brussel Sprouts, you’ll just have to read the book and find out.
For information about Behind the Brussels Sprouts, contact Lynn Sanchez at [email protected]. The book is available for purchase on Amazon.com