By no means am I trying to provoke guilt. Life tends to be very busy for everyone and everyone has his/her unique situation to deal in and find a way through.
These are the general purposes behind this post:
To generate awareness of how you spend your time relative to your children. (Awareness is generally the first step of change—and an important seed for “laying the groundwork” for future relationships with your kids.)
To offer from-the-trenches-suggestions to help busy parent(s) work things out in a way that works for his/her/their unique family styles/lives.
Because, folks, when it’s all said and done and those “little ones” have morphed into “big ones,” what (IMHO) will have mattered most is the effort and intention behind all you have done as a parent. Not that it’s easy, especially in today’s work-driven, achievement-oriented society.
Quick story and then I’m done (for today):
A special-ed teacher/friend mentioned a conversation she had with the parent of one of her autistic students. (Let’s remember that, among other things, autism is a developmental delay of social skills.)
The teacher discussed using dinner time as a means of practicing and building social skills with“Mom.”
“Mom”—whose two older, non-classified children are honor students who attend an elite, enter-by-testing-only public school in the area—wasted no time answering the teacher. “We don’t have dinner together. Everyone eats while they study.”
Welcome back, all. If you’re a fan, I hope your pick won the Super Bowl–mine got eliminated by the Cardinals, but I suppose Cam Newton provides enough entertainment to make up for it. 🙂
A while back I was cleaning in my kids’ room. (“Is it ever clean enough for you?” a friend asked recently. It’s not so much the “clean,” it’s the constant fending off clutter that collects in small spaces. These clusters of stuff catch dirt and dust, and then you notice them when you’re doing something else…and you have to clean that spot…and the next…)
Back to topic.
In my boys’ room, I have a crate with some of their childhood books I can’t seem to part with. (My “boys” recently turned 19 and 17.)
As I moved things around for a more thorough cleaning than the weekly surface-get-the-house-back-to-baseline regimen, I came across this book:
My father was born and raised in Italy and apprenticed to a tailor. That’s the work he did here, as a naturalized US citizen, until health issues forced him to retire. He died not long after I met my husband, and never had a chance to meet or know his grandchildren.
That of course, goes both ways; his grandchildren never knew him either. So, when I happened on this book (at Barnes and Noble, most likely), picking it up was a no-brainer. It gave me a way to connect my kids to their nonno, and also provided a pattern for making the apron that “Bruno” made in the book.
Older Son and I cut that out together. We never made the time to sew it, but I when I happened across it in the basket at the bottom of the stairs (where I discovered the mother’s day coupons), I didn’t have the heart to throw it out. So, it is still saved upstairs—one more thing I can’t let go of—as a reminder of time spent together when he was younger. The scarf pictured above belonged to his Cub Scout uniform—every grade the scarf changed. I believe this was the last one, before he would have crossed over to Boy Scouts in 6th grade. (And I wonder why I have clutter.)
I know folks are busy these days. I suppose I was too, as that unfinished sewing project suggests.
So…in the interest of brevity, I’ll list more thoughts in the next post, and some ideas following that.
All thoughts on this topic welcome! (For the comment-shy crowd, please feel free to send me an email via my contact page.)
No, I haven’t gone totally missing. It’s been quite the challenge getting back into a routine is after a shift from the norm. (Summer ended how long ago??) Although somewhat dynamic, my new school schedule has fallen into some kind of place. I’m also getting a handle on the paperwork, which has been a bit more on overload than in previous years at this time.
With all that, I still get to be a parent too. Since I want this site to be a place where folks can relate, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share some universal emotions. Regardless that it’s a normal part of the parenting journey, these feelings are still new to me. Just like anyone else, I need to feel and deal, along with finding a way to embrace this stage.
Guess the beach was a place for letting go themes this past summer. Thanks to young-adult author Stacey Wilk for the inspiration to this post. It started out as a comment/response to arecent write-up at her blog and started growing, lol.
My family spent a few days at the shore during the summer. Older Son’s girlfriend had to leave after the second day, to attend an orientation at her new school. (Yep. The 2015 “class couple” are officially out of high school and on to the next phases of their lives. I keep wondering when they “grewed up”.)
So that his girl didn’t have to do the near-3-hour trek alone, Older Son opted to drive back with her the night before Hubby, myself and Younger Son were scheduled to leave. Younger Son (who is a few months shy of 17) got it in his head that he wanted to go with his brother.
Though we weren’t thrilled with the idea, Hubby and I gave the okay.
I was already working on coming to terms with the notion that one kid was old enough to take off. Watching them both go? All I’ll share is I stayed up on the balcony while they packed their stuff and themselves into Older Son’s car. Neither kid needed to see his mamma blubbering during the send-off. (Hey. That parkway can be a scary place. And I can always blame the hormones.)
I can’t tell you how strange it felt to know they were on their way ‘here’ (i.e., home), while we were ‘there.’ Hubby was emotion-choked too, though a bit more together than I. Immediately though, he offered to collect our things and head out behind them.
I held out. I knew once I got word they were home, I’d feel better. (I did.) It wasn’t so much them not being there as much as it was internalizing that “the next phase” has arrived. (You know, that tear-my-heart-up, Erma Bombeck, “No More Oatmeal Kisses” kind of next phase). I enjoy the freedom it brings, but I am dealing with the feelings of finality that our kids are grown. That vast space I couldn’t see at the end of when they were small and keeping me feeling overwhelmed has been bridged, and the bridge knocked out. There is no going back.
I know this is the way things should be. Generally speaking, kids grow. They put feelers out and look forward more often than they look back. As Stacey said her in her post, “…they get to the other end of the beach and I’m nothing more than a glance over their tanned shoulders.”
Morning came. Hubby and I enjoyed coffee on our balcony, renting and riding bikes on the boardwalk. We took our time checking out of our hotel, then drove back to serenity-ville (a.k.a., the gorgeous gardens of the Hereford Lighthouse and the seawall walkway, down at the North Wildwood end. (A very short, well-worth-the-ride trip.) From there we geared up for our trip home, back to our boys (er, young men).
Maybe we all “grewed up” a little on this particular trip.
In keeping with the theme, Younger Son is scheduled to get the DL come the end of November. He’s been searching the web and local streets for months; as of several days ago, his new/used Mazda is in the driveway, patiently waiting. It is what it is, and all part of letting go.
Where are you on this roller-coaster ride of parenting? Just starting out? Keeping your eye on the younger school-aged crowd or venturing into that tween-early-teen world of cell phones, texting and just starting to let them go to the closest convenience store within walking distance? Do you have any drivers yet? And how are you handling any/all of the above?
Welcome back. As always, thank you for your time and support!
Last time, we ended on how children might learn from shaming and belittling them (in public or otherwise–catch up with Part One here.).
Like everything else—in terms of action and reaction—shaming and belittling don’t lack for consequences.
What shaming and belittling do, IMHO, is:
• hurt a child’s sense of self-worth. Self-esteem drops. The child is put in a position to question his/her capability and/or intelligence.
• plant seeds of resentment (toward the parent and/or other authority figures, present and/or future): If treating him/her like that is the norm, what are the chances those seeds won’t wind up taking root and flourishing under a consistent diet of negativity and being put down?
• lay the groundwork for negative patterns: What are the chances that child will grow up to shame his/her children?
Reacting to what kids do is easy. Our impulses take over, our brains go on break and we want to say or do whatever responses—verbal and/or physical—the child’s action evokes.
Responding, on the other hand, takes practice. That means making a conscious effort to do any—and probably ALL of the following:
Take a step back.
Think about NOT saying or doing that reflex action, and…
Carefully choose our verbal and/or physical answers to our kids.
Respondingis a SKILL that can be cultivated. It takes awareness of one’s tendency to react, a consciousdesire to change that tendency to react and practice.
Empathy (i.e., identifying with how someone else feels) can be key to responding vs. reacting. Putting ourselves on the receiving end of our actions, (i.e., imagining our kids’ feelings and possible reactions to what we say and do), can go a long way to helping us be more positive in our responses.
Finally: It’s easy to assume kids understand the direction(s) we give. (Asking them to repeat the direction is a great way to be sure.)
Here is how I might have handled the boy at the supermarket:
Assuming he was of average or better intelligence, restating what I wanted him to do—in simple, concrete words and a calm voice—would have sufficed. “Henry, I asked you to stand in line until I got back.”
With specific words—and a normal voice—I also would have shown the “consequence” of not having followed the direction. “Now we’ll have to wait at the end of the line.”
Henry probably would have understood his error—that he hadn’t fully comprehended his parent’s directive—and the natural consequence of his action (or lack of it).
One more thing to consider: Henry wouldn’t have been publicly shamed. Chances are, he will most likely remember to stand in line next time and won’t resent the person admonishing him.
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” ―William James (Psst! Waiting in line isn’t a catastrophe. It’s an inconvenience. Just MHO. 😉 )
Another thought: “Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” Ephesians 4:29
So how might you have handled “Henry’s” situation? Have you found yourself in a similar one with your child, or someone else’s child? Do you throw in your two cents if you’re within earshot of someone dealing with a child in a negative manner? All comments and thoughts are welcome! (And if you’re shy, you can always email me via my CONTACT page.)
I’ll dedicate a future post or two to specific examples of how a parent or authority figure can respond vs. react, i.e., deal with a child in a more positive way.
Hi everyone. Please excuse my lack of posts since Mother’s Day. It’s been a busy past month. School begins its wind-down and the rush to last-minute paperwork on.
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” William James
I was waiting in line at the food market the other day. A boy—maybe about 10 (?) years of age—was standing next to me. He was looking toward the back of the store, and appearing a hair uncertain.
A woman—perhaps his mother or grandmother (?)—approached him, glanced at the line, then at him.
“Why are you so dumb?” Her raised voice and annoyed tones conveyed her frustration—and turned the heads of anyone nearby.
(I’ll surmise the boy should have been keeping the woman’s place in line.)
The folks ahead of me must have thought the same. They offered to let the boy back in. No harm. No foul.
Someone must have commented about there being no problem. The woman, however, maintained her (mild) indignation, and her right to admonish the boy. “He has to learn.”
People, I had to bite my tongue. The woman might have been old-school. She had an accent, which suggests culture might have influenced the way she addressed the boy. She also might truly believe she was acting out of love.
As I wrote this, I had to wonder: If shaming that child in public was her way of “teaching” him, how does she deal with him behind closed doors?
I don’t consider myself an expert at anything, folks. I do, however, care deeply about how others feel, children in particular.
I suppose belittling and shaming, publicly or privately, might get a child’s attention. Will they “learn” from the experience?
Chances are, the child will remember feeling embarrassed more than s/he remembers the infraction.
But like everything else—in terms of action and reaction—shaming and belittling don’t lack for consequences.
Received this AMAZING QUOTE by Gilda Radner in my inbox via Thoughtful Mind:
“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.”
This got me thinking. I know very little about Gilda Radner. She had a flourishing career on Saturday Night Live, and was married to Gene Wilder who supposedly loved her very much. (He probably still does.)
Life hit her.
Cancer doesn’t care who you are or about what’s going on in your life.
The little I read suggests she chose to make the best of it, until her short life came to its close. (She died at 43.)
Flexibility is key, folks. Life happens. People—kids included—do what they do. (Sometimes it stinks.) We roll with it and experience some modicum of peace, or fight with it and spend many of our days feeling miserable, resentful, cheated, hopeless—you name it.
Regardless of your situation, name ONE thing for which to be grateful. It can be big (that promotion you just got) or not-so-big (the thoughtfulness behind the ceramic loon your 8-year-old spent his money on at the flea market, figuring you’d love it 😉 ).
Make thankfulness a habit. Challenge yourself to name two things. Five. (You get the idea.) Miring oneself in gratitude—despite the stuff life brings—makes it really hard to stay sad. Just MHO and just sayin.’
“A man is as happy as he makes up his mind to be.” Abraham Lincoln. (I’m thinking this applies to women too! 😉 )
How do you practice gratitude and/or flexibility? Does either or both bring you peace? Share about it in the comments. You might just inspire someone else.