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.
Tired of taking the blame, making excuses and following the rules.
I used to have dreams, hopes and a very clear vision of how my life would play out. I wanted a career, a family, vacations and friends. I wanted to be happy, secure in myself and feel safe. I wanted all of that.
Somehow, I find myself trying to live up to someone else’s standards. Someone else is calling the shots, making the rules and creating the expectations and try as I may, I am losing myself in this process. I used to have the ability to make decisions. I had a choice, I had a voice.
Now, all of that is gone. You took away my power, you hushed my voice. You said no one would listen to me. You said I was wrong. You said it was my fault. You told me I am weak. You made me feel stupid. You took away my friends and shunned my family. I am alone with you now, and I am afraid.
I am afraid for my safety, maybe not physically, because you have never laid a hand on me. But I am afraid of hurting myself because I am unable to live up to your standards. I am afraid of the world around me, because you said I wasn’t strong enough to handle it.
My life was not supposed to be like this. How did I get here? How do I get out? I am in a dark hole. I cannot see the sun.
I look at this huge scary world around me and I see people laughing. How can you just laugh without someone telling you the joke was funny? Aren’t you afraid your laugh is too loud? What did you have to do to get permission to be with friends? I’ll bet you’ll be in trouble when you get home.
Hanging out with friends is a distant memory, but it is a fond memory. If I allow myself (in the quiet moments while you are gone), I remember laughing. I remember not having to worry about what time I got home. I remember choosing who I spent time with. If I really work at it, I can remember.
It is these memories that get me through. It is these quiet times, when you are gone, that I am free to remember, free to feel, free to just be. I know I can’t spend too much time in my memories, and I know I can never share them with you. It is a sacred place in my heart and in my mind that keeps me going. There is a voice in these memories that speaks to me.
This voice tells me I am strong. I am smart. I am tough. I can be more. I can want more. This voice tells me I belong in a sidewalk café enjoying a coffee with friends. This voice gets a little bit louder each time I visit my memories. I am so torn. Torn between who I thought I was, and who you say I am. There is something missing. A piece of the puzzle that doesn’t quite fit.
I know you are stronger and wiser than I am, but I just have a feeling. A feeling that it doesn’t have to be this way. Other people look so happy and free. I think I want to try that. I want to experience joy (is that even a word, I’m not sure). I want to feel the sunshine on my face and drink coffee with friends. I used to be quite smart, I wonder if I still am? In my memories I dreamed of living by the water, playing on the beach and I think I felt important. What if there is truth in my memories?
You are so brave going out into the world everyday to earn a living for us. I could never do that. You said the world would just eat me up. You said I’m not strong enough or wise enough to venture out there. You said that I am grateful that you are willing to do this for me. Am I grateful? I’m sure I must be, but this doesn’t feel like gratitude. This feels like obligation. I think I want to try. I think I am going to try. I think I can.
The voice in my memories is growing louder. It is telling me that I am tired. I am tired of being at fault, taking the blame and making excuses. I am tired of living by your rules. I am tired of trying to be the person you expect me to be. I am tired of not being me. That’s it!! Right there, with you, I am not ME!!
I am going to be me! I am strong. Strong enough to venture into the world. I am smart. Smart enough to know there is more to life. I am tough. I am tough enough to break though all the pain, the heartache, the disappointment and find a way to be ME!
“I am tired,” she said, “tired of you.”
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, please contact your local Abuse Hotline for help!
When you are ready to create your future, please contact me. I will help you get there!!
In light of all the hatred spread across social media this week, I ask that your voice be louder than those that hate. Your voice of love and acceptance be the voice that is heard. By giving the haters a platform, they have won. Create your own platform. Stand united in acceptance – race, colour, creed, religion and ability; become one.
I do not follow a specific religion, nor am I political. I am, however; a person who still believes in the power of love, acceptance, compassion and the human spirit. I’m not really sure what my message is here, except that Good must triumph of evil – always. We must learn from past mistakes. We can do better, because we are better. We have learned the consequences of inaction & silence.
Stand up against injustices, feed the hungry, dress the poor, house the homeless, educate the sheltered but above all….teach those that hate to love.
Everyone of us needs a hand at some point, whether its in recovery, financial ruin, loss, disaster or empathy. Help those that do not understand the power of unconditional love and acceptance. By hating the hater, we have become haters. Please do not do this.
The stage is yours. As young adults or up & coming adults; today is the day you decide what your future planet looks like. Is it divided by hatred or is it a world where differences are appreciated and love is nurtured ?
You can sit idle and hope this just passes, after all it doesn’t really affect you….or you can make a difference; small, simple acts of kindness.
The choice is yours. What will you do?
Here is a little John Lennon – Imagine, if you need more inspiration….
I grew up in a very dysfunctional family. Abuse, addiction and violence were my norm. This lead me to a highly dysfunctional marriage. Today, I am strong, courageous, and FREE!
I struggled for several years caught in the cycle of anger, abuse, neglect, emotional starvation, and humiliation. It was not only my immediate family, but spread across to members of extended family & friends. I was abused, neglected & tormented. This was my norm as a child and as a result, this is what I chose as an adult. I naturally gravitated towards an angry, abusive husband, because this is how I thought I deserved to be treated. You see, for 40 years, the very people who were supposed to love me, guide me, nurture me and keep me safe, were the ones who tried to destroy me. Through years of therapy and Life Coaching, I have discovered that this is not my norm. This is not who I am!!
Today, I am happy to report that I am growing into my authentic self. The person I was designed to be and out of the person others tried to create. Today, I can tell you that they have failed. I have survived, and I have succeeded. I am not broken, I am healing. Today, I am a single Mom of an amazing young man. We have had our fair share of struggles, but we are learning to accept these as opportunities for growth. A chance to renew our perceptions.
I am choosing, everyday, to break the cycle. I do not want my son to know the pain of growing up in dysfunction. I want my son to know the power of self; self-conviction, self-empowerment, self-growth, self-confidence and self-esteem. Together we are rewriting our story.
From the ashes of disaster, grow the roses of success.
You can rewrite your story too. You can share your story to inspire more women, to end the cycle. Please join me in our fight to #endthecycle
…….this relationship first started; full of curiosity, excitement, joy?
……The hopes & dreams that flooded your heart when you first held your child in your arms?
…….You & your partner watched your child achieve all those first milestones; sitting up, holding a bottle, first steps, first tooth, first day of school?
Where did that excitement go? That feeling of desperately wanting to hang on to a moment and cherish it forever? Never wanting it to end. The feeling excitement when you spoke to your best friend about this new adventure, new person, new milestone? Let’s get that back!! 🙂
…..you are multitasking meals, work emails, homework, sports, laundry and quickly scanning a blog. Are you able to offer your full attention to any of them, do you have the time?
Every member of your family is in a different room, on the internet chatting with friends, responding to emails, checking quotes, playing games, watching videos, and everyone has 1 thing in common. Do you want to know what that is…..
Let’s back up….
Remember that feeling the first day you left your tinny toddler at the day care? Going back to work was something you dreaded for months. You have to work, but this tiny little creature full of poop & snot somehow brings you so much joy and again, we have a feeling we don’t want to let go of. We have bills to pay, college to save for and all the toys, sports, clothes that comes with being a parent. Kids aren’t cheap. And somewhere down the line, we lost that feeling of excitement. Somewhere, bills, tantrums and deadlines sucked the excitement out of parenting.
You were so full of joy, it spilled out of you and the whole world knew how happy you were, but now there is barely enough joy to fill your big toe. The rest of you is filled with stress, frustration, anxiety, worry and expectations. Now you have teenagers and life is no fun anymore.
I Want YOU To Get Excited About Your Life & Your Family!!!
Are you getting everything you possibly can out of LIFE, or is LIFE getting everything it can out of you?
We all have a “To Do” List and most of us have a “Bucket List”. Which one is more important for you? What’s on your partner’s wish list? Do your kids have wish lists? Start a conversation!!
Be the change you wish to see in the world.
Be the change you wish to see in your FAMILY!
I have faith in you!! Mom to Mom, I know how hard it is to see members of your family struggling. I understand how incredible hard it is to reach out and ask for the help you need. There is so much judgement, and we are expected to know how to keep it all together. I am a Mom and I, too, had a child who struggled. I spent hours searching the internet for help. Any piece of wisdom I could grab, and use to make my family better. From that struggle, I gathered loads of the most useful pieces of information and compiled them together to create a plan to unify my family and all of us help you create a plan, strategies that will actually work!!!
I know you have the drive, determination & motivation to create positive change in your family and that all of this is fueled by the LOVE you have for each of them. Get started today.
Reach out with any questions, I’d love to help you stir up some excitement!!!
I receive calls all the time about way-ward teens and a family in distress from parents at their wits-end, trying to figure how to control this child who refuses to go to school, get a job or is involved in the wrong crowd. The most common phrase I hear is: “I did not raise him/her to be like this“. The majority of these parents want me to work with the child to motivate them, set them straight or fix the problem. I’m good, but I’m not that good. YOU are that good!! You can motivate them, you can set them straight, you can fix them. I can help you do that, if you will allow me explain a little further.
The Heart Attack
Think of someone you know who has suffered a heart attack. The immediate response is not to shame the heart for stepping out of line. We do not ask the kidneys or the liver to pick up the slack. We certainly don’t kick the heart out until it changes it’s behaviour and try to go on with out it. We don’t blame some external force for the heart attack.
To effectively treat a heart attack, we examine all aspects of the body, internal functions & external forces to create a well-rounded plan to prevent further episodes. We look for ways to reduce both internal & external stressors. We improve our diet, our physical exercise and work to reduce the toxins going into the body. We find ways to reduce our stress at work & at home. A heart attack is a symptom of a much larger problem – lifestyle. To prevent another episode, we change our life-style.
The same can be said for how we address challenges within the family.
The Evolution of Parents
As a family grows, it develops processes for every situation. These processes are rooted in our own childhoods. Most of what we do as parents was taught to us by our parents. Whether you feel it worked, or it didn’t, this is what you know. Some parents (like me) choose to parent the opposite from what we were taught. In times of stress, we hear our parent’s words fall out of our mouths. For some of us, this is a pivotal moment. “I have become my mother/father. ”
Every generation of parents has new struggles. Our Grandparents raised our parents through the 50’s & 60″s. The hippie movement was not something our Grandparents new how to deal with. Our grandparents came from a generation of a stiff up lip. Feelings were not validated, it was all about the presentation.
Our parents were fighting to express their emotions & loosen the restrictions & expectations. As our parents grew older, they blended their parents with their own generation and we ended up with parents who want their children to be free, but still expect a level of socially acceptable behaviour (meaning we still are expected to put on the stiff upper lip and deal with it).
Now we are parents, and we want to abolish the stiff upper lip, express emotions and genuinely connect with our kids, but someone thought we should do this through the internet. What the @#$% do we do now?
You have a child who is not acting in line with the values you tried to teach him/her. You have tried everything. You have exhausted all possible resources. Your family now looks like this:
Mom is stressed beyond her limits, she’s not sleeping, struggling to find the energy to function at work. She is consumed with worry for her child and out of desperation she focuses all her attention on the one who is struggling. Mom, you are the nurturer. You feel like a failure because you can’t find a way to help your child.
Dad is also stressed, but it comes out in anger or distance. Dad has firm lines on acceptable behaviour. Dad is tormented by the effect this one child is having on his wife, his family. Dad, you are the hunter, the gatherer, the protector. You can’t see a way to protect this child, so you protect the rest of the family from this child.
The other siblings are watching all of this with a very attentive eye. They see Mom crying, they see Dad’s blood pressure go up. They see and feel the family disintegrating. They react to the situation in different ways:
The Pleaser – takes care of Mom and the other siblings. He/she tries to ease the stress in the family. Steps in during times of conflict to try to minimize the situation.
The Scapegoat – this child is blamed for the faults of others. The result is anger and self-defeating behaviours. (usually the child I am called to fix).
The Hero– The golden child. Works hard at school, get good grades, helps out around the house. Truly believes that if she/he is perfect enough, the family problems will go away.
The Lost Child – quiet, withdrawn, depressed & anxious. Chooses to be alone. Takes the blame for the issues in the family. (this may also be the child you want me to work with)
Working with the Family
Your family is a living, breathing entity that is connected on a very deep emotional level. Your family is a body. Each member of your family is a vital organ that is required to sustain life. One child – the heart – has an episode. You have seen it coming for a long time. It didn’t just happen. But now that it has, what do you do?
Just like treating a heart attack, we assess the family, the body. We look at all the processes you have in place to nurture this family. We look at some of the processes you brought in from previous generations. We build on what works, we tweak what isn’t working. We re-engage as a family with meaningful, purposeful, effective communication. We take ownership for our own mistakes and learn to not project them on others. We create a safe place where honesty is valued, nurtured and appreciated, no matter how much it hurts. Every member of the family will have a specific set of strengths and we will enhance those strengths to not only create a vibrant future for that member, but create peace & harmony within the family.
The end result will be a family that once again is connected on a very deep emotional level. A family who encourages individual talents, strengths and relies on that to enhance the family and each other. The child who was struggling will find balance in the new processes. The behaviours will cease and every member of the family will flourish.
You are already half way there. Reading this post (this really long post), suggests that you can relate to this information. You are not a terrible parent. In fact you’re just the opposite!! You are able to see an issue. You are searching for a resolution. You know that it is possible to return your family to the fun, loving, energetic, slightly crazy unit it once was. You have the power, the drive, the motivation and the love to help your family. You can see the unlimited possibilities on the horizon. You realize that now is the time. Today is the day. You see the natural talents in your family and it is your dream for everyone to live the best life possible.
I can and will work with your child that is struggling. The more effective approach is to work with the family. When you are ready, please find more information on my coaching packages.
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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.