If We Judged Politicians by Their Parenting Skills…

White House, Mansion, President, Home

If the President of the United States is the one in charge of our country, wouldn’t it make sense to see how good of a job they did being in charge of another human being?

What if we paid less attention to all of the back biting at the debate podiums and started paying attention to how their kids turned out?

I’d love to see the KIDS of the candidates be interviewed…  What are they doing now?  Who would refuse to speak?  Do they show signs of coaching?  How do they react to a curve-ball question?

So if this reaches anybody in the media, I pose this challenge: ask the candidates’ kids what their childhood was like and how they think this would translate into what kind of nation we would have if their dad (or mom!) were to become president.

Kids and Stress… Round Peg; Square Hole

Sad, Learning, School, Reading, Challenging

The last hour of the Stress Workshop I attended was supposed to be a Q and A about how to best address stress with you children once it rears its ugly head.  I was looking forward to learning some tips and maybe even some proactive strategies.  It didn’t happen.

Instead, these were some of the questions that parents asked:

  • How can I get my kid to hand in her homework?
  • Why won’t my kid do his homework?
  • How can I get my kids to listen to me?
  • Why won’t my kid do his chores?

You see the pattern?  These weren’t actual open ended questions about how to HELP their kids; these were actually complaints disguised as questions.

Continue reading “Kids and Stress… Round Peg; Square Hole”

Managing Stress: It’s a Continuum

This is the third installment on my series of notes from the Stress Workshop I attended last week hosted by our school district…

Once the speaker, psychologist Lou Bevilacqua, defined stress and who gets it, he gave some basic tips on what to do.

Angry Man, Point, Finger, India, AngryFirst, he said the following strategies do NOT work:

  • yelling
  • threatening
  • shutting down
  • melting down
  • lecturing
  • bribing
  • blackmailing
  • nagging

and finally,

  • ignoring
  • invalidating

Continue reading “Managing Stress: It’s a Continuum”

What You Kept Hearing as a Kid…

Close-Up, Communication, Deaf, EarPositive or not, what your parents said to you over and over when you were growing up has a lasting effect.

It becomes a mantra –consciously or otherwise — and will manifest in your own parenting if not acknowledged.

A little memory exercise to recall what you heard as a kid might create some awareness in what you say to your own children.

The ones I heard were:

  • Stop crying, or I’ll give you something to cry about
  • Either put it away, or chuck it away
  • JENNIFER!!! (usually from another room, just before the you-know-what hit the fan)
  • If you hate me so much, then just divorce me (said by Mom to Dad after his criticism)
  • Jerk
  • Candy Ass
  • Lazy
  • You’ll never get into college and will wind up homeless

and then, the most confusing:

  • I love you/I’m sorry

I make it my #153Promise ever day to not belittle my children and/or send them mixed messages.  I love them.  I appreciate them.  I value them.  Love should not bring shame, fear or guilt.

Saint, Meditation, Yoga, Meditating

Please make it your #153Promise to examine the messages you send to you children.  Ask them what they hear you say a lot.  Make it during a calm time.  Make them feel safe with their response.

It may just open your eyes… and ears.

-Kisses! XxXx

A Traumatic Statistic: Prevalence of PTSD

Fear, Woman, Crack, Notch, Furrow

Did you know that a whopping 70% of the general public will experience a traumatic event, and of those who do, 20% go on to develop PTSD?

Children lack the proper coping mechanisms, so they are particularly vulnerable.

War is not the only way to get PTSD.  Other traumatic events can include:

  • a serious injury or illness
  • a death
  • a car accident
  • a significant life change, like a divorce or move
  • abuse or bullying
  • dysfunction in the home, like yelling or addiction
  • a disaster like a fire
  • a crime
  • either first-hand experience of the events above or even witnessing them second-hand

The key to not developing PTSD in the first place is to get immediate aftercare.  But if that did not happen, it’s not too late to seek treatment for your child months or even years afterward.

Some of the symptoms of PTSD, according to the Mayo Clinic and WebMD re:

  • Irritability, angry outbursts or aggressive behavior
  • Always being on guard for danger
  • Overwhelming guilt or shame
  • Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much or driving too fast
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Not enjoying activities usually enjoyed
  • Avoiding certain situations
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Bad dreams
  • Being easily startled or frightened
  • Panic attacks
  • Headaches, stomach aches, muscle pain without specific injury

For students, these may also manifest as lowered grades or discipline problems at school.

Candle, Rose, Tealight, Quiet

Every child deserves to feel at peace and safe in their environment.  You never know if something they experienced may have been recorded as a trauma in their brain and they need professional help to learn how to re-regulate their emotions.

If your child starts to begin to display any of the signs above, or if they or your family has experienced any of the major events listed above,  please make the #153Promise to contact their guidance counselor and share your concerns.

They may need validation from someone who understands what they are going through.

-KissesXxXx

 

Tween Bras Are All Thumbs Down

Bra, Clothing, Garments, Bust Holder, LingerieI woke up this morning and found this article about bras for tweens on my “news” feed this morning.

I’m sorry, PopSugarMoms, but I do not agree with rushing little girls into womanhood.

In it, the author writes:

Because there’s NOTHING sexual about an age-appropriate bra for a kid who wants one. There are styles made just for little girls, just as there are for adolescents and teens. There’s even a cool new line of Star Wars bras and sports bras for girls.

Who wants to buy her daughter a bra she doesn’t need just because she wants one?

*both thumbs down* NOT this gal.

I just don’t think it’s sending the correct message to want to rush things she’ll have plenty of time for when she’s older.

I’ve had the battle with my ex and he actually went behind my back to buy one.

But I’m sticking to my guns (no put intended) and making it my #153Promise to myself to be true to my convictions and not follow trends just because.

What do you stand for or against?  Are you willing to stay strong even when you don’t have the support???

 

 

Jesus is a Hugger and a Kite… My Son’s Lesson on Perspective

I thought I’d make a post about why my 3.5 year old son’s been saying about Jesus for the past few months.

Jesus Christ, Cross, Jesus, Faith, Christ, Religion

Almost every night after I pick him up from preschool, we drive past a Catholic cemetery with a giant crucifix prominently light up at night.  Once my son started noticing the statue, he asked who that was.  When I told him, he responded from the back seat with his arms outstretched, proudly saying, “I’m Jesus, too!

Then, just the other week, my son said, “Jesus is giving me a hug!

Wow.  I was raised Catholic.  We went to church every Sunday.  I attended Youth Group.  I even was the Cantor for mass.  In all those years, never ONCE did I ever think Jesus, with his arms outstretched, was giving me a hug; it was always about Jesus’ persecution and sacrifice.

Aviator, Air, Wind KiteA few days ago, my son then added a new perspective on Jesus when he exclaimed, “Jesus looks like a kite.”  Okay… that’s getting waaaay out of the box, but I totally see how he came up with that…  I can only imagine what Jesus is going to do next in the eyes of my son.

Now, every time I see Jesus on the cross, I think of how much Jesus loved us and wants us to have a relationship with God.  (No matter what faith you are, Jesus’ teachings are clearly documented.)

And I now also associate Jesus with soaring freely, knowing that God’s love will support me in flight, but also keep me firmly grounded throughout my life.

Pretty deep lesson from a three year old.

I would have lost all of that if I did not Listen to what my son said, Observed what he saw, Validated his perspective and Empathized with his point of view so I could find the metaphors.

Make it your #153Promise today to approach your day-to-day activities with a fresh perspective… maybe from your own children’s.

Sometimes, you just need to look at the world through different lenses to see things more clearly.

-Kisses! XxXx

Cursing Cupid- Shoot an Arrow through Expectations

Love, Valentine'S Day, Pose, HeartT minus four days and counting…  The “holiday” that gets men in a panic and parents in a bind.

The internet is bursting with last minute ideas for “romantic” gifts.  Dollar stores (thank God!) still have boxes of cards on their shelves.  And adults everywhere are cursing Cupid.

But I’m kwel as a Kit Kat.  Why?

Because I have no expectations.  Zero.  Zilch.  Nada.

I tend to think that the more someone “needs” someone else to make a big deal over these special days, the more likely it is that that person has been ignored all year.

I’m not into a bipolar, feast or famine type of situation.  I just want to feel appreciated on a daily basis.  No need for fancy cards, flowers, or dinner to get my motor running.  Know what turns me on?  Coming home after a busy day to an empty sink and some folded laundry.  Oh, yeah…  Bow chick-a wow wow.

I was a Twelve-Stepper for a spell when I was working on my codependency issues, and I learned a great saying:

Expectations are just premeditated resentments.

It pretty much blew my mind.  If I expect a certain person to act a certain way or do a certain thing, then I’m just setting myself up to be disappointed.  However, I think the word “Passive” needs to be added at the start of the sentence.

Passive expectations are just premeditated resentments.

If I expect somebody to do something, but I don’t actively express to them my desires, I don’t think it’s fair to hold them hostage when they fail to read my mind.

Heart, Love, Romance, Valentine

So if you want to go out for dinner, tell your spouse.  If you want your children to set the table, tell them.  Then, after a while, they’ll do it on their own without you asking because they see how darn happy it makes you.

The same applies with my children. I’d rather them experience true happiness on a daily basis, rather than getting all worked up into a lather a few times a year.  It says to me that they feel special every day.

Lorenz Hart (ironically) wrote “My Funny Valentine,” and his lyrics express this sentiment perfectly:

Your looks are laughable; unphotograph-able…

Yet you’re my favorite work of art….

Each day is Valentines’ Day.

Make it your #153Promise this Valentines’ Day to have low expectations and to actively express them.

Shoot an arrow right through the hype.

-Kisses! XxXx

 

 

And “E” is for…

Empathize!

At first, one may think it’s the same as Validate, but not so.

  • To Validate, one must ask, “How do they feel?”
  • To Empathize, one must ask, “How would feel?”
  • To Validate, one must wonder, “What are their emotions?”
  • To Empathize, one must wonder, “Why are they having those emotions?”
  • To Validate, you let them know that you understand their perspective, even if you don’t agree.
  • To Empathize, you have to force yourself to know why they must be feeling that way.

Forest Path, Girl, Forest, Nature, PathI like to think of it this way… Do you know that famous saying adopted from the Native American culture, “Don’t judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes”?  Well, I am a very literal person, so that means that I STOLE their shoes!  (Also meaning it’s impossible to know 100% what ANOTHER person must feel.) Instead, I like to think of it as:

“Walk down the PATH they’ve walked; then see how YOU feel.”

The moment I start doing that with my students, I develop a much better relationship with them.  A kid doesn’t have their homework because they got home late from a swim meet and they were tired?  I get it….  I now have a ten year old and I am now walking the walk.  Sometimes, it just doesn’t get done.

It’s easier to do that to someone else’s kid because there’s the distance factor…  But it’s really easy so say to our own family members, “I AM walking that path.

But are you???

Arapaho, Moccasins, Shoes, Bata, ShoeWhen was the last time you were smaller than everybody else?  When was the last time you had almost ZERO control over your circumstances?  When was the last time someone ELSE paid your rent/mortgage and held it against you?  Or chose what you had to eat?  Or wear?

Hmmmm…. kind of sounds like prison, right?

My point is not to start indulging our kids all the time; but maybe we should stop some times and try to feel their angst.  Their pain.  Their fear and frustration.  Maybe then, we’ll be less likely to judge their actions if we understand what motivates them.

THEN, we can Validate them and work to find some common ground.

Make the #153Promise to Walk their Path.

-Kisses!  XxXx

“V” is for Validate

In order to begin to write this post, I “Googled” the word:ValidateIf Google gives an example using healthy families, I must be onto something.

Approval, Female, Gesture, Hand, Happy, Isolated

I started to use validation as key to getting along with my very opinionated three year old son, and it’s made him so much happier.  Me, too!  Here’s just one example: vending machines at the YMCA.  Kids like to slide quarters into those machines like my 91 year old aunt in Atlantic City.  Almost every time I take him to the gym, I’ll get a, “I want-” with his current obsession- pretzels, animal crackers, chocolate wafers…

Instead of me saying, “No,” which logically would set him up to reply, “But, I WANT it,” I say, “Wow!  They do look really tasty.  I can see why you like them.  I’d like some, too.  Right now, I don’t have any quarters.  But we do have them at home.  How about I give you a snack of pretzels after we leave here… in about five minutes.  Can you be a good boy and be patient to wait until then?”  He always agrees to be a good boy.  I make good on my promise.  He now trusts me to validate his feelings… and they have never escalated since validating him.

It’s really an amazing shift to observe.

It’s tied in very closely to the “L” of Love, “Listen.”

Kids — and people in general — just want to know that they are being heard and valued.  That’s it.  It’s why wives resent it when their husbands try to fix their problems, when all they wanted was a sympathetic ear.  It’s why tweens resort to whining.  It’s why customer service stinks half the time.  We just want to be validated that we have a right to our feelings.

Make the #153Promise to validate your children’s feelings.  Let them know that even if you’re not willing to buy that outfit at the mall, you understand why they want it.  And then work together to find an acceptable alternative to both sides, rather than just saying, “No… because I SAY so!”  The last thing you want to do is shut them down.  They’ll only resort to either being sneaky or going to someone else instead who “Gets” them.

Try it this weekend.  Make the #153Promise to validate each one of your children at least once when you catch yourself wanting to say “No” and watch what happens.

Then validate ME by coming back and posting a comment about how it went!

-Kisses! XxXx