I have great, and sometimes ridiculous, discussions that build a solid relationship with my son.
I do a fair amount of training to acquire the skills and knowledge to protect my family. Keeping my family safe and healthy is my primary responsibility as a husband and a father. Whether that training is firearms, martial arts, medical, financial or preparedness related, I am always looking for a fun and effective way to learn new skills and increase my knowledge and effectiveness.
I met Brian and Shelley Hill from The Complete Combatant separately in classes I had enrolled in. While their personalities and enthusiasm are the first things that impress you, their philosophy and unique approach to training is what makes them both leaders in their field. The Image Based Decision Drills program is a great contextual and wholistic approach to self-defense training. It’s such a brilliant method. When I found out Shelly was developing the Smart Choices system for helping our children learn about the dangers and difficult decisions around them, I could not wait to see the result. I am also very impressed and inspired by this project. Shelley worked very hard to launch this product and it shows. It is a great reminder for all of us that anyone can develop a good idea into a successful product that can really help people. It just takes tenacity, drive and compassion for your customers.
I initially bought a copy of Smart Choices just to support a friend who I admire. It’s a great idea that I believe in, but since my son is only 4, I thought he wouldn’t get much out of it. I anticipated that it would sit on the shelf for a year or two until he was more mature and able to understand some of the cards. I was wrong. I think I often underestimate what my child can learn, and it really showed when we started going through the cards. My son is very curious, and he wants to ask questions and learn about things that he does not understand.
There were a couple things that continually surprise me when we spend time working with the Smart Choices system.
For anyone else with very active children, I would like to share a couple great ways I have found to use this system. Like every other modern parent, I’m guilty of letting my boy zone out with the iPad just to gain a few minutes of silence and bring some peace and calm into my day. Anyone who says they are above that kind of behavior is a liar! I feel guilty about this though, so I do try to limit the screen time. I find that a great place to substitute Smart Choices for the iPad is in the car. It stimulates great conversations with him and when we play as a family it allows my wife to bring up points from a female perspective and from someone who was raised in a large metropolitan environment. I get to drop a little country boy perspective and my boy gets a ton of insight on every situation.
Sometimes just sitting at a table can be a challenge when you are four years old. One way we have found to keep his attention and engagement is to hide a few cards around the house and then have an Easter egg hunt for them. Once we find a card, we talk about it in that location. Changing locations every few minutes and adding some activity adds a new dynamic.
One final benefit that I really appreciate is, as we are gong through the cards it helps me evaluate my environment, plans, and supplies, and systems to keep my family safe and healthy. The conversations we have help me think of things I need to do, that I probably would not have come up with on my own.
I am incredibly happy and impressed with this entire project. I am a very satisfied end user and as an entrepreneur and business owner I am incredibly impressed and a little jealous that I did not develop this myself. For the small price paid, this is going to pay dividends that I cannot even calculate. Hopefully along with many other factors, these cards can help me with my responsibility of raising a safe, smart, and compassionate young man. A man protecting his family rarely ever involves guns, knives, trauma kits, or chokeholds. We spend a lot of time and money training for something that hopefully will never happen. The real way we protect our children and spouses is by having discussions about the difficult decisions we face every day and give our children opportunities to practice making Smart Choices in a controlled environment with us before they need to make them alone in the real world.
Chris Weinrebe lives in Phoenix Arizona with his wife Melissa and son Nathan. He is an airline pilot and entrepreneur. He is the Director of Operations at Force Projection LLC, a company that uses dry-fire shooting simulators for mobile training, entertainment, and education.
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Shelley is the creator of Smart Choices, a public speaker, and a supporter of THINKING AHEAD. Smart Choices BLOG is a mixture of stories, Q & A interaction, new thought provoking ideas, guest BLOGS/videos, and MORE!