As of today, I have been a parent for 26 years. Most of those were good, actually all the years were good, but we sure did have some rough moments. Let me take some time to review a few of our struggles now that time has put them into perspective.
Croup – there is not a parent in the world who wants to deal with this one. Your tiny little baby is so sick. Leaving her in a croup tent for a week, just about killed me!!!
Asthma – probably should have seen this one coming. Other than a few misguided supply staff at school this wasn’t a big one. Just the odd trip to emerg for a quick treatment and we were good again.
Rockin John – your imaginary friend. Not sure where he came from, but he lived under the stairs and you loved hanging out with him.
Sister – you were skilled at tormenting your sister. I’m not sure how many times I had to rescue her from the clothes dryer….come to think of it…I should have seen this one coming too – I vaguely remember lifting the lid to the toilet at 3 am and having a very pissed off cat jump out at me…..
Pulmonary Embolism – this was the worst. I was never so scared. But you were a trooper, took it all in stride…
High School – had I known, I probably would have sent you to an all girls school….
Driving – you were so happy when you bought your car, you were never home. You were everyone’s chauffeur….until you weren’t…
Car Accident – “you hit a mailbox, took out 7 trees, jumped a fence and did a barrel roll in your car and lived to tell the tale…” Please don’t do this one again….
Concussion Collection – the next few years were interesting….I’m glad you are finally receiving recognition for the symptoms. Try collecting stamps…
Boyfriends – some were abusive, some were just idiots and a couple of them were really nice guys. I kinda like the one you have now, he’s my fav so far…
College – I am so proud of you for choosing a career path that suits your nature and desire to work with people!!!
26 years and we’re both still alive. I have never been more proud of you (I know I say that every year, but honestly you amaze me time and time again!!!)
Here’s the point of my story, parenting, in the moment, is difficult, confusing, heartbreaking and gut-wrenching; but when you look back on all of it, the pain, the suffering and the heart ache melt into love, pride, admiration and the realization that all those tiny moments, were just pieces of a greater puzzle that is creating the most beautiful memories.
Hang in there parents, it will all be worth it.
If your family is struggling to adjust to or accept some of life’s hurdles, I can help you all get “Back On Track“.
Loads of Love
What is the most outrageous thing your child ever did? Leave a comment below.
Twenty-five – thirty years ago, the world was a different place. The internet was in it’s infancy, cellphones were massive & usually installed in your car and satellite dishes were just making their way into homes (or backyards). Kids played outside with their friends and were involved in after-school programs, community groups and sports teams. At home, there were chores to help out around the house. In high school, you had a part-time job with the responsibility of getting there unsupervised. School projects were researched in the library using a very heavy set of Encyclopedia’s and pictures cut out of magazines (cut & paste had a much different definition). If there was a question to be answered, you had to go find an adult. Back in the 80’s or 90’s, life was a little simpler and the world just a little smaller. Our basic needs were met through interpersonal relationships that do not exist today.
Today, with the internet at our finger tips and cable TV, our children have access to information 24/7. Not all the information is helpful or accurate. Today, we have an extreme influx of Teens diagnosed with Depression & Anxiety. Today, we also have a government that feels they are being helpful by making prescriptions free to those under 25 (but we’ll talk about that in a later post).
I recently read an article by Johann Hari “Is everything you think you know about depression wrong?“** Hari talks about his search for answers regarding his own clinical diagnosis and comes across some very interesting points to ponder. The outcome is a new thought process surrounding depression & anxiety – yes there are biological components in some cases that may require medications combined with therapy to over-come, however; there are key factors to how we live today that directly contribute to these diagnosis.
So, let’s compare 1980 to 2018.
In the 80’s, kids played outside. Their friends were physically connected, by streets, school, teams, relations.
Face to face relationships teach us a multitude of skills:
Physically connecting with people also serves our basic psychological needs of belonging, acceptance and value. We, as humans need to belong to a group. We were not designed to be solitary and thus we live in colonies or families and communities. We need to feel as though we are a valued member of the group; our thoughts, feelings and opinions matter.
It is believed that some diagnosed cases of depression or anxiety are rooted in denying basic psychological needs and thus we have the influx that we are seeing today. There is also growing research that tells us that technology has the same effect on the brain as heroine or cocaine. Creating a strong, debilitating addiction.
If you are depressed and anxious, you are not a machine with malfunctioning parts. You are a human being with unmet needs. The only real way out of our epidemic of despair, is for all of us, together, to begin to meet those human needs – a deep connection, to the things that really matter in life. ~ Johann Hari
If you have a Teen that is struggling, take a look at the broader picture. Are their basic needs being met? Do they have the skills they need to succeed? Do they belong to a group? Do they feel valued?
When one member of the family struggles, the entire family struggles. I have found that the best way to create stability in the family is to look at the family as a whole. Raising children today is difficult, I know that. We are rather quick to point the blame to external forces rather than admit that perhaps we are less than perfect. There are no perfect parents, but I will tell you, the best ones are the parents who are willing to take a look at themselves to find solutions for their children. It’s not about what you’re doing wrong, it’s about finding processes that fit your family, and the needs of every individual in your family.
Getting your family back on track may not be a long, complicated process. We may be able to find solutions and implement processes that will see dramatic results in as little as 6 weeks. Together we will explore the processes that work for your family, and through simple conversation, a few fun & engaging games, we will begin to implement strategies that ensure basic needs are met. We will expand your awareness and allow you to visualize your family’s unlimited possibilities.
Written by: Staci Hissong – Staci is a gifted & compassionate Life Coach using her story to empower others.
Standing with my back against the wall, literally and figuratively, with his hands on either side of my shoulders and it struck me; “How the hell did I get here?’
Of course, that is not how my story started. That is not how any survivor’s story starts. Most stories start with glitter and rainbows, with affection and love, with gifts and adoration. And then it’s like a fucking switch flips and you are left standing in the dark with confusion and hurt. My story is not the exception. It starts when I was a 19 year old, college sophomore during “Welcome Week,” out with my friends and deciding to leap up and kiss a ‘friend’ that would turn in to so much more. It started innocently enough; a lot of flirtation, hook-ups, and laughter. Feeling carefree and understood, moving from the occasional hook-up to actual dates to staying the night with each other every night. Sleeping alone became a thing of the past, which is quite hilarious to me now that two full sized humans slept in a twin-sized loft each and every night because the idea of being apart was more uncomfortable than the actual closeness the beds provided. The first year continued with butterflies and unicorns and I did not believe it could be possible to be happier. Then summer hit. We were thankfully from the same hometown so we did not have to figure out distance in our relationship, but we did come from different socioeconomic situations. His Dad would write a check for his tuition each semester, and I sit here 12 years after graduation still paying off my loans. This meant I had to work every day that summer, so I did.
And that is when the switch flipped.
He no longer was the center of my life. I had to do what was best for me, and that was finding a way to sustain living through the upcoming year with work. He started getting angry at me all the time because I could not go to every party. I could not stay out all night. And I would say no to things, which was completely different from how the previous year of our relationship had been. The arguing started, and really never stopped. Everything was consistently my fault because I did not put our relationship first. He hated this and let me know with his words. Very loud and hurtful words at times which I will explain later. He then decided we needed to “take a break until we got back to school,” which I later found out meant he was sleeping with another girl from home but wanted to get back to our relationship when he had my undivided attention. I was devastated, heartbroken; but I figured there were only a few weeks before we went back to school, so it would all work out.
“Welcome Week” was upon us again and I anticipated things going right back to normal. But little did I know, that was not his plan at all. He wanted his cake and to eat it to. He invited this girl up to school, and SHE was the one to tell me she started sleeping with him. Are You Fucking Kidding Me? This has got to be a joke. All while he was telling me we were “working things out,” he “loved me,” we were “meant to be.” Well fueled by heartbreak and a lot of liquor, I walked in on him with her at this party and instead of being the stereotypical girl and going after the “other woman,” I went after him. I punched him repeatedly in the face and busted his nose. His very fit friend had to lift me off of him with such force I had finger bruises on arms from the strength he had to use due to my adrenaline. As I stood there, he just kept calling me a “crazy bitch,” over and over and over. A term he used quite often when speaking to me. A term that set something off inside of me due to my history with depression and anxiety, as well as self-harm behaviors. All things that he knew about me and used against me at the drop of a hat. Knowing that I was terrified that I may actually be “crazy,” he took every opportunity to reinforce that fear. Every interaction over the last few months between us had been toxic. Ending in screaming and crying and just plain ugly words being spewed.
At this point, I should of walked away.
That’s what you would have done right? He had finally made it apparent I was worthless and everyone else thought I was crazy, so why in the fuck would I ever even speak to him again? Well, because I loved him. Did you just say, “how?” to yourself? Don’t worry, today that is what I say too, but understand he had taken the power and control from me and from our relationship well before this situation happened. I was dependent on any morsel of attention and positive words he would give me. And without fail, two days later he called, we talked, worked it out, and went back to dating. The thing was, he continued to sleep with this other girl…for what I found out later was months. And I caught him many more times; and he managed to convince me I was the crazy one for driving by his house to see if she was there or going through his phone when he walked out of the room. So, I forgave him every time. Each time, losing more and more of me. I lost like 30 lbs in a month from the stress, lost friendships because I would not allow myself to see what they saw, and just chose to look the other way.
The thing was, if you did not know what was being done and said behind closed doors, you would have thought we were good together. Until we added the alcohol and my insecurity crept out and his vulgarity towards me crept out and we would cause a scene at every party. And then go home together afterwards like nothing was abnormal. He consistently told me what a worthless piece of trash I was and how lucky I was to be with him.
I stayed in this relationship until right before my 22nd birthday. Almost three years. Three years of questioning my sanity. Three years of him whispering “You’re crazy” to me in front of people where no one else heard until I would lose it and he would be like what are you talking about? Legit, making me look crazy!! In front of friends, at the bar, in an elevator with a stranger in Chicago. Any time he could. Three years of on and off toxicity. One time I followed through with ending the relationship. He called me 53 times in an hour without me picking up. He called my parents who told him I was back at school, when in reality I was not. I got a call from my roommate shortly after that he was at our door screaming and pounding on the door and she did not know what to do. I recommended she call the police, but that never happened because he left and started calling my phone again. Then he left me a voicemail stating he needed to talk because his mom was sick, and he needed me. I fell back in, and within a week, right back to the screaming and name calling. On my 21st birthday, I went hard as many people do on their 21st while away at college. He carried me back to his house, which everyone gave him so much credit for taking care of me. We went into his room and started having sex. Well I was definitely too drunk to do that, and the motion made me vomit down the side of his bed. He picked me up, threw me in the shower and left me on the floor in there for I could not even tell you how long. The next morning his roommate told me he could hear me crying through the wall; saying that I was going to die and he wanted to come in and help me but knew I was naked and felt like that would violate me. My boyfriend was upstairs, so the roommate went up to tell him he could hear me, and my boyfriend did not budge. He kept drinking and left me there. When he finally came to help me out of the shower, we went back into his room where he brought new sheets and stood there while I was made to change them since I was the one who got sick on them. I stayed with him still for almost another year!!!
It finally ended,
It finally ended one night when he picked me up from the bar after a bar crawl and he was yelling at me and I just did not care anymore. I had no reaction. He yelled more, I just did not have it in me to fight back. He said it was over and I said ok. (He was also sleeping with a mutual ‘friend’ of ours by this point as well). I felt free. I was ready for it to be over. I finally was done, relief! But it again would not prove to be so easy. He had expected me to fight to keep the relationship as I always did, and when I did not, he became infuriated. He began calling me repeatedly again and telling me he wanted everything he ever bought me back. I finally just said fine and threw up my hands. If that would end this, then I would give it all back. I walked over to his apartment, which by this point we only lived like seven minutes apart on a walk and gave him the bag of stuff. He said he was going to give me back everything I had bought him. I stated repeatedly I did not want anything back because that was not how gifts worked and he got so angry. He began screaming and yelling at me that I was going to take it all. Upon refusal again, he picked up the DVD player I had bought him and threw it at my head. Now I don’t know if you all remember how heavy DVD players were, but they were not these lightweight things like Blu-ray players are today. I moved and did not get hit, but I remember being completely frightened for the first time of him in that moment. He emotionally hurt me, verbally abused me, spiritually broke me, but he had never laid a finger on me. But in that moment, I felt that possibility upon me. He lunged at me and I flinched. I will never forget what happened next. He backed me up against the wall in his dining room with his hands on either side of shoulders and said “You think I’m going to hit you? You really think I am going to hit you? If I was going to hit you, I would have done that a long time ago!” I moved out of the way and left the apartment. That was it, it was the moment, the breaking point. I knew we were completely over. On that seven-minute walk home, he called my phone numerous times and left me four voicemails. The final voicemail stating I was a “fucking cunt who should’ve killed [myself] a long time ago” and would “never amount to anything and be poor” and would be “worthless without [him] because no one else would ever want [me].” I got home, locked that apartment door as hard as I could and sat in my room and sobbed.
We saw each other out in public regularly following that. There are only so many bars in a college town after all, and we had many of the same friends. Many more ridiculous exchanges, or avoiding one another, for the final two months before graduation. I saw him a few months later back in our hometown. I broke down and slept with him only to find out he was still seeing that mutual ‘friend’ of ours and made sure to let me know after we had sex that he was glad he was done with such a “whore” like me. And that was that. We were over, ties cut. Until three years later when he was at a bachelor party I think, and he called me and begged to see me, still with the same girl from the end of college. He had nothing but negative things to say about her and just showered me with words of affirmation. He just kept saying we were too young when we met and the love he had for me was just too intense for that age. And even then, there was a part of me that believed that to be true. I refused to see him though so at least there was some progress on my part.
The Journey to Myself
Fast forward to five years after graduation, I was beginning an internship for my Master’s degree in counseling at a domestic violence shelter. Before you can work there you have to go through an intensive 40-hour training course. The first day of the training they defined domestic abuse. HOLY SHIT! I had been in an abusive relationship? Are you fucking kidding me? But he never laid a finger on me! How is this possible? But it all made so much sense. I cannot be around men who raise their voices, I had severe trust issues in relationships, and I felt pulled to this internship for some reason. I had been going to therapy for about four months at this point and I walked in to my next session and said, “Did you know my college relationship was domestic abuse?” My therapist threw her hands in the air and said “Oh, thank god! I have been waiting for you to get there!” I suffered Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder following this relationship. My view on a relationship was so fucked up it made sense why I could not make one work and I kept choosing the wrong men.
So here I am.
Twelve years removed from the relationship, seven years after realizing that I was in an abusive relationship throughout college. This is the first time I have ever put pen to paper about it, or more so fingers to keys. I actually just verbally told my story for the first time last October during Domestic Violence Awareness Month to do my part in spreading the word that not all abuse looks the same. I can tell you in writing this, I still cannot believe that was me. I am such a different person today than I was then. First of all, I am older and wiser and the regular grey hair I have to color proves that. But more than that, I have grown as a person and as a woman. I was so quick to judge when I was younger, and I can guarantee if someone else told me this is how their relationship was I would ask them what the hell was wrong with them to stay? And now, I understand there are so many underlying factors to an abusive relationship that others will not understand. And yet, almost all of these relationships are the same at their core. It is about power and control for the abuser and stripping you of who you are.
This process has taken a very long time for me. This is not something that I got out of magically found glitter and rainbows again. Um, fuck no. It did not happen like that at all. It is only over the last year that I can share this story without shame; still not without anger but I am working on that. It took therapy, self-reflection, and a lot of personal development to get here. And where is here? Well I now own two of my own businesses, I have a Master’s degree and am a Licensed Professional Counselor, and I can finally say that I can see some good in the world. I am mindset coach now for women to help them build their confidence and learn how to move forward in life.
I love that I get to empower women each and every day. If you find that you are still in a toxic relationship, YOU ARE WORTH MORE! I know nothing I say to you can make you fully believe that, but I hope that in reading this story you can see that you are not alone and there is a strong network of women who will help uplift you when you are ready.
Do you have a Hero? Someone you look up to? A target of you would like to be, or what you like to achieve?
We envision a Hero to have huge bulky muscles, wear tights and have a cape the flows in the wind. And for some of us, Superman, might just fit the description of what we want to achieve in our own lives. But for most of us, a Hero blends in with the crowd, wears civilian clothes and works hard every day.
I have several Hero’s. I have a Hero for every hat I wear. I have my Mom Hero – a woman who taught me that Mom’s are kind, loving, understanding, yet firm with boundaries & expectations. I have a business Hero – Oprah Winfrey. There’s a woman who defied the odds and continued to pursue her dreams. My Coaching Hero – Emma Louise Elsey
My Life Hero, stood 6’2″ tall. He wore work clothes & steel-toed rubber boots. He didn’t drive a Maserati, he drove a dirty old pick-up truck, or a tractor and depending on the season, he drove a combine. He was up every day well before dawn and usually watched the sun set before his day ended. He was kind, gentle, caring, dedicated and hard-working. There wasn’t anything this man could not do. He was always willing to have us kids “help out”, although I’m sure we weren’t much help at all. He was exactly the Dad most girls want. We played, laughed and worked, side-by-side. He taught me the value of hard-work, dedication and perseverance. This Hero was my Dad.
The Purpose of a Hero
A Hero gives us a goal. A level to achieve. A dream to aspire to. A Hero allows us to check-in when those difficult decisions come up – What would Oprah do? How would my Dad handle this? They give us time to reflect and make rational choices that will move us forward instead of just staying stuck. A Hero is someone we aspire to be. Not be exactly like them, just obtain the qualities of their lives that we choose to adapt to our own lives.
I know I will probably never stand beside Oprah in a photo shoot, and that’s ok. I don’t need to meet her, I just need to follow her. She blazed a trail for so many women!
I also have a list of those I can easily be, but choose NOT to be. I can be the old me with very negative self-defeating thoughts that take me backwards or leave me stuck. I can be a Mom who degrades her children because she needs to be the powerhouse. I can be the victim of abuse, neglect & abandonment. Every single day, I choose NOT to be this person. I choose to be better, do better!! I choose to follow those like Oprah, my Dad & Emma Louise, because following them, will lead me to the places I want to be. The places I deserve to be. They will surround me with greatness that will support my growth & my healing. They will teach me what I need to know to move forward. They will help me to help others.
I have one other Hero I should mention.
My Hero is a woman 10 years older than I. She has a very successful Coaching Business, and an amazing self-sufficient passive income that has allowed her husband to retire. She has children who are all successful in their own rights. She has time for her grand babies or puppies. She enjoys her time traveling and creating. She has a very long list of successful women in her Tribe. I will get to meet this woman, because she is me, 5 years from now. I am my own Hero. I have defied the odds several times and I will do it again, and again.
I can help you defy the odds, too.
So, I ask you, Who is Your Hero? Who do you strive to be? Who makes you want to do better, be better?
For a little more inspiration on finding a Hero, watch Matthew McConaughey’s Best Actor acceptance speech.
Find your Hero, chase your dreams, create your reality!!!
Thank you for sharing this post. You have offered a little inspiration to someone who needed it!!
Tell me about your Hero in the comments below. Who is it? Why did you choose that person?
Send me a quick email if you are struggling to find your Hero.
THE DAY MY CHILD LOST HER JOY
In an especially chaotic rush out the door to go on a family vacation, I sat in the passenger seat fuming. Mad because I didn’t have time to put the dishes in the dishwasher. Mad because we were late getting on the road. Mad because the garage door was acting up. I’m talking trivial, insignificant, minor inconveniences here, but that was the state of a distracted woman who could no longer see the blessings, only the inconveniences, of her life.
Before we were about to pull out of the driveway, my husband looked at me as if someone he loved very much had died. In a barely audible whisper he said, “You’re never happy anymore.”
I wanted to defend.
I wanted to excuse.
I wanted to deny.
But I couldn’t.
Because I knew he was right.
Where had that happy woman gone? The one who smiled at people she passed on the street just because. The one whose friends often spoke of her positive outlook on life. The one who felt happy simply because she heard her favorite song or had a pack of strawberry Twizzlers in her purse. The one who could laugh off mistakes because mistakes happen, and they are certainly not the end of the world.
Where had she gone?
And that’s when I glanced to the backseat to see if my children, then ages six and three, had heard my husband’s words. Staring back at me was my older daughter picking her lip with worry the size of a small boulder weighing down her small shoulders.
As she pinched that tiny piece of fragile skin on her upper lip with wide eyes, I could practically read her mind:
But there was more. I could practically hear how a young child would interpret her mother’s unhappiness.
Mom’s mad at me.
Mom’s tired because of me.
Mom’s stressed because of something I did.
That’s when an even more powerful question hit me.
Where had my happy little girl gone? The one who woke up with the most gorgeous bedhead and good morning smile. The one who beamed at the words “sprinkler,” “cotton candy,” and “pet store.” The one who laughed so hard tears came to her eyes. The one who licked beaters with sheer pleasure and danced happily to any song with a beat.
Where had she gone?
Because my happiness was based on external measures—on tasks being completed, plans running accordingly, goals being met, hairs being in place—I was continually disappointed … upset … impatient … and stressed. In the process of making my own life miserable, I’d funneled my unhappiness straight into my daughter’s once joyful heart and spirit. Her pain was a direct reflection of the expression I wore on my face.
I desperately wanted to bring a smile back to my daughter’s face. I knew I must bring it back to my own. I began praying for small steps I could take to become a more positive, present, and peace-filled person. On brightly colored sticky notes, I posted daily goals and positive mantras that came to me during morning prayer time. Especially prominent on my mirrors and cabinets were these two go-to phrases: “Only Love Today” and “See Flowers Not Weeds.”
I used the phrase Only Love Today to silence my inner bully. Whenever a critical thought would come to my mind or my mouth, I’d cut it off with Only Love Today. I used See Flowers Not Weeds as a pathway to gratitude, to see what was good in situations and people.
As Only Love Today and See Flowers Not Weeds became a daily practice, I felt a profound transformation occurring in my heart and home. No longer were my goals exclusively items that could be measured or checked off—they consisted of immeasurable items like listening, laughing, dreaming, playing, connecting, and loving. With a more meaningful daily goal, I was able to see the blessings in my imperfect self and in my imperfect life. My eager-to-please, helpful older child looked different too. I saw her for who she was, not an annoyance or a bother, but a loving child with clever thoughts and ideas. For once, I could see all the things she was capable of doing—not perfectly, but good enough for today. The tightness in my face relaxed and the smiles came more easily for both of us.
One morning, I looked out the kitchen window to see her making a little garden right there in the middle of the yard. I watched as she tended to her miniature plot. Her joyful smile made me take pause. Clearly, she was at peace tending to her garden. I took a picture and sent it to my parents. Nothing could have prepared me for the response I received. My parents wrote:
“Thank for this precious picture of our beautiful granddaughter. Over the last two years, we have seen a tremendous change in her. We no longer see a scared look in her eyes; she is less fearful about you being upset or impatient with her. She is much happier and more relaxed. She is thriving and growing into a content, creative, and nurturing person. We know for a fact the changes we see in her coincide with the changes we have also seen in you.”
I covered my mouth to muffle the sobs.
When I was struggling to breathe beneath the weight of perfection, distraction, and self-induced pressure, my child was too.
My daughter had absorbed my tension.
She had absorbed my frustration.
She had absorbed my anxiety.
She had absorbed my unhappiness.
And as my negative emotions were being filtered down to her, they impacted her ability to grow, thrive, and blossom.
If I didn’t know it before, I know it now:
Our children are our garden. They absorb our stress, just as they absorb our peace. They absorb our negativity just as they absorb our joy. And we have the power to control what they absorb, but first, we must tend to ourselves.
It might sound like this:
Dear one, you have feelings. They are worth listening to and acknowledging.
You have limits. They are necessary to keep in place as a means of valuing your time and honoring your health.
You have dreams. You are worthy of time to pursue what makes your heart come alive.
You have needs. You deserve affection, rest, sustenance, and grace.
Perhaps you forgot that it is necessary to look after YOU. It’s okay. I forget too. But we still have today. Thank God, we still have today.Today let’s tend to ourselves as we do our loved ones. Perhaps we can make it a habit. We’ll never know how much we can grow and flourish until we take time to tend to what is most precious.
***Negative behaviours in your children are often a direct result of your own emotions. Emotions your children feel, cannot understand, but simply react to. If you’d like to reduce the effects of your emotions on your children, please contact me for a FREE Consultation.
This post was written by Molly Kathleen. Thank you Molly for articulating this in a way that I couldn’t. This is powerful, raw, and direct.
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Boredom teaches some of the most valuable skills we will ever use In life. Parents are afraid of letting their kids be bored. But why? Why the need to have them occupied every minute of every day?
“Mommy, I’m bored.”
When I was a kid, those were 3 words that never fell out of our mouths. Mom’s response was usually to occupy us with some horrible chore, scrubbing the bathroom floor, cleaning out the cupboards or weeding flower beds. We very quickly learned that it was going to be much more fun to occupy ourselves. We climbed trees, invented imaginary friends, played with real friends, rode our bikes and usually got quite dirty. BUT, we weren’t scrubbing floors.
I always thought it was horrible of my mother to expect us to do such horrible tasks when we were so little. I vowed that I would never ask my kids to do such terrible things.
Then I became a Mom and I heard “Mom, I’m bored”. I think it was the only thing my kids knew how to say. It was their go to response for everything! Suddenly, I hear myself saying, “Go find something to do, or I will find you something to do”, and they were off like a shot and I had become my mother…
Here’s the thing about boredom;
Boredom teaches us amazing things.
Problem-solving skills – I needed to NOT scrub floors, so I solved that problem by climbing trees.
Self-awareness – when I was little, scrubbing floors reminded me of Cinderella. I knew we did not live in a land of magical Princes and I was not going to be rescued, so I was not going to start a life of scrubbing floors.
Decision-making Skills – I didn’t like the choices my mother had for me, so I decided to make some choices for myself.
Creative Thinking – My sister & I built forts, climbed trees, and pretended we had lovely little prefect lives. We had careers, husbands, and mansions in the trees. We were creative and we had huge, endless imaginations when we were little, that guided us through the rest of our lives.
Today, kids are glued to some sort of device from a very early age. I see toddlers playing games of phones while they wait in line at the grocery store. Electronic games do not allow you to develop these skills as effectively. There is always a button that gives you further instruction. They enter an imaginary world that is completely designed for them, they don’t get to make any choices or creatively influence the story. They just follow along like little sheep. There are several games that promote creativity, problem-solving or decision-making, but they are not designed for real world issues. My sister & I created our imaginary world from the world we actually lived in. We chose the parts of life we liked and inserted them into our imagination and we corrected the parts we didn’t like. Skills we still use today.
Guide to Introducing Technology and other handy resourceshere.
The greatest skills our children are lacking:
Interpersonal Relationships – When my sister & I fought (and we fought a lot), we learned quite early that it was best for us to settle our differences, because Mom’s solution was not going to be fun. So we taught ourselves to compromise, to reason, to be fair and to apologize.
Effective Communication – In our tiny little, perfect, imaginary worlds, we still had needs. There were no adults there (because we didn’t want them), so we had to learn to use our words, to say what we needed, and say it in a way that was polite and respectful.
Empathy – One day, when we were in our imaginary world’s, I slipped and fell out of the tree, hitting my head on a rock. I don’t remember a lot about that, but I do remember watching as my sister suddenly had super-human speed & strength. She was out of her tree, beside me, helping me up and screaming for Mom or Dad all in the blink of an eye. She was my Hero that day. She never left my side, sitting there, right beside me as the doctor stitched my head back together. She was there holding my hand. She was there for the next few days as we moved our imaginary worlds a little closer to the ground (problem-solving & creative thinking). I knew she felt bad, even though none of it was her fault.
Managing feelings/Emotions – I think the worst sin was to swear at either of my parents. Yes, they made me angry. The expectation was, that I would use some of my Effective Communication skills to try to manage my anger and respectfully state my case. I developed quite a skill and still use it today.
Dealing with stress – kids have all kinds of stresses in the real world. We learned to deal with it in our imaginary worlds.
I think the most important skill is Critical Thinking. Critical thinking is what allows us to learn from our mistakes. Take all of the skills we have learned and apply them to create solutions. Allowing children to experience Natural Consequences is one of the greatest gifts you can give them. We have all had that argument about wearing a coat. Some days you just have to let them figure it out by themselves. I will write another post about Natural Consequences later (it’s a topic all by itself).
So, in short, unplug your kids. Let them be bored. Let them get dirty. Let them run, play, create, believe, argue, fall and scrape a knee. Let them be kids, but most importantly; let them learn.
We live in a world where everything is indoors, online, quick and easy. Today’s generation understands immediate gratification, social media and “as seen on TV” (or any other screen).
We’ve lost the social interaction, patience, gratitude and quality time spent with family and friends (in person).
This week, our family rented a little cottage on the water in Muskoka. My husband and I enjoy the outdoors, waterfalls, fishing, boating and hiking. All of these activities were completely foreign to our foster child. She struggled with debilitating anxiety just thinking about this trip. But once we got here, her world changed completely.
She is in awe of the beauty all around her. The huge rock formations that suddenly open up to vast lakes, the height and density of the trees, the stillness of the water, the people are so friendly. All of this was something she just couldn’t understand because she had never been outside the city.
The first day, it was obvious that she wanted to try everything, but didn’t know how to do any of it. I fitted her with a life jacket and we hopped on a paddle boat to tour the lake. Her fear of being on the water vanished as she allowed herself to just breath. She told me that it’s so relaxing here, she can’t get anxious about anything, even the things she would get very upset about at home, don’t bother her here.
After that, she quickly learned to Kayak, Canoe, fish and eagerly looked forward to our little day trips. She can rig her own fishing pole (including the worms), and somehow managed to catch a huge snapping turtle (which we quickly released).
We took her to High Falls, just North of Bracebridge and she was off like a shot. She became our tour guide and lead us to several little falls in the park. She crossed downed trees to reach the other side of the river, she climbed steep rocks, stood on the edge of a cliff looking down, snapping pictures the whole time.
We sat down to chat one evening and I asked her if all the excruciating headaches and anxiety were worth it? No, she said, it was all just a waste of time, this place is amazing! I asked her about her fear of heights and she replied that apparently she doesn’t have that fear anymore.
This trip has been an interesting point of self-discovery for this bright, beautiful and now; highly spirited young lady. She is going to camp for the first time in August and prior to this trip, had spent enormous amounts of time stressing and worrying because she didn’t have anything to compare the experience too, and now she does. Now, she is looking forward to camp and all the activities, the people, and especially the scenery.
Moral of the Story
“if you change your view, you can change your point of view.”
I have struggled with the word “Failure” for most of my life. My mother frequently reminded me that I wasn’t good enough. I didn’t try hard enough. If I would just use some of the negative energy for positive things, I might be something.
These are challenging words to overcome. I felt defined by those words. If your mother says them, they must be true. Why would she, of all people, tell me something that wasn’t true?
An emotionally vacant parent, lead to an emotionally empty and abusive husband, which leads to an ugly divorce, which leads to an abusive relationship, which leads to life as a single mom and a desire for more. More me. More happiness, more life, MORE….but what is MORE???
I was so confused…..
Ultimately I had 30 years of degrading internal dialogue or self-talk. NO-ONE was meaner to me than I was.
My faults, shortcomings, and misgivings were regularly highlighted. Seldom did I feel as though I could do anything right, so eventually I gave up trying. But still, I wanted MORE. More meant changing my internal dialogue. The dialogue I had to change was so embedded in me that I felt as though I was learning an entirely new language.
This was a terrible thing to change. When I sat quietly and listened, I could hear that very tiny, very soft voice within myself that said, “You can do this.” This voice was familiar, as I had spent years pushing it away. Convincing ME that I was lying to ME!!!! (Wow, as I write this, I am still a little sad for that girl I was so long ago.)
But with time, that voice grew louder. Every day I got out of bed, fed my kids, and ticked just one thing off my TO Do List, gave the voice more power. Every day, step by step, that voice grew stronger, and so did I.
I have had my setbacks since then, but that’s exactly what they are – setbacks; an opportunity to re-evaluate that last move, a point of growth.
Today, I use my story, my failures, successes, struggles, and achievements to inspire others to do the same.
Today, I have two happy, healthy kids, a supportive, loving husband, and a list of friends that continue to grow. I have an amazing circle of support. I have learned to lean on this circle when those negative thoughts come back, when I’m having a “stuck moment” or when I’m feeling a little less than me.
I have struggled, we all have. I can honestly tell you, that without those struggles, I would not be who I am today. And for that I am grateful!!!
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~Come as you are, become who you want to be…