Tag Archives: parenting

We’re All On a Mission, But What Is It?

20 Nov

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It seems that we are all on a mission in life, but many of us don’t really know what that mission really is.  That is not a critical statement, just an observation.  I know this because I sometimes find myself asking the question that we all ask at one time or another,  “What the heck am I doing here.”

If you are like me you have likely asked this question more than once while dancing through the fog of child rearing.  I have actually wondered what it would be like if parents made a mission statement much like businesses, organizations, and even bloggers do to help focus and measure their direction.

I thought I would look around on the blogosphere and see if their was anyone else thinking about this and I found a wonderful description of why a mission statement for this purpose can make sense.  This link will get you to the blog that the quote that follows is taken from.  (I haven’t discovered yet  how to create a clip that links back to the original blog.  If any of you techies out there feel like doing your random act of kindness for today you could drop me a note about how it is done.)  http://mirajyoga.wordpress.com/2012/10/22/3-steps-to-discovering-your-lifes-mission/

“Your mission statement is there to give your actions a certain intention–an intention that emerged from a state of awareness and consciousness.  We know that we often act out of conditioned and learned behaviors and patterns that aren’t necessarily aligned with what we’re really about.”

That sounds familiar.  You wake up one day and wonder which day it was that you turned into your mother. Your thoughts spinning with “What did I just do?  My mother used to do that to me and I hated it.”  But really, what else do you know to do?  As they say in the military, when you are in a crisis, you fall back on your training.  For some of us that may not be in line with the direction we want to take with our children.

Most mission statements contain a goal as well as statements the guiding principles you will follow to get there.  So it seems that identifying your goal is the first step.   So you might say your mission is to raise responsible, loving children (or whatever your goal is).  Then you might say, through establishing appropriate boundaries, engaging with my children throughout the day, and showing that I love them even when we disagree.

But here comes the hard part, how are we going to accomplish this?  Kids don’t come with manuals and parents don’t always come with full toolboxes.  The funny thing is that the act of writing this down often begins the process of opening the path to discovering tools that can be helpful to accomplish your goal.  Once you have written down the idea that you want to establish, for example, appropriate boundaries, it becomes easy to start out on a journey to find new ways to do this.  You can start right here on WordPress.  Two wonderful resources that I have found here are Help4YourFamily http://help4yourfamily.com/2012/11/19/parent-affirmation-monday-empathic-11172012/ and Let Life In Practices http://letlifeinpractices.com/2012/04/16/9-ways-to-tell-your-children-that-you-love-them/#more-568 .

What little jewel of a technique, practice, or attitude have you found (and where did you find them) that has made a difference for your children, or for that matter any of your relationships?  Do share because I still have plenty of room in my toolbox to fill.

A Story Of Two Monks

5 Aug

Photo credit   http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Religion_g302-Thai_Monks_p37604.html

Recently I read a post through freshly pressed (I love freshly pressed) on 258 Days ’til 40: The Toll We Pay (For NOT Letting Go).   It is  about forgiveness and how it is really for the benefit of the one forgiving rather than the one forgiven.   She noted one of my favorite quotes “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” (not really sure who first said this ),  and talks about releasing your anger and hurt and moving on to create a beautiful, peaceful future for yourself. It was thought provoking and reminded me of a story about two monks.

The story goes something like this.   Two monks are walking near a river and happen upon a woman who needs cross the river to get to her family. The woman can’t swim and is terrified that she will drown if she tries to cross the river. The first monk listens to the woman’s fears and says, then I will carry you across.  The second monk looks at the first monk sternly and reminds him that they are forbidden to touch women.  But  the  first monk decides that he is willing to go against the prohibition in order to help the women cross the river safely so that she can be with her family.   The first monk picks the woman up and carries her across the river to safety.  The other monk looked on disapprovingly.

The monks resumed their journey and as the day went on the second monk continued his disapproving comments toward the first monk regarding his carrying the woman across the river.  Finally, at  the end of the day the first monk turns to the second monk and says, you know I put the woman down hours ago at the river’s edge, but you are still carrying her.

I know that this is a hard-won lesson as many people  are taught that holding on to hurt and pain is a form of protection from or power over others.  They do not see it for the poison that it is and choose to continue to drink it.  This brings to mind another quote to think about if If you absolutely must feel that you are getting “revenge” for a wrong done to you.   “Living well is the best revenge”.  George Herbert

Do you have a way that helps you to forgive others and/or yourself?  I would love to hear about it.

The Beautiful Day Song

1 Jul

Singing in the car ritual

Photo credit http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

“Family” rituals are very important and often come about in the most unplanned ways.   Our Beautiful Day song is a great example this.  It came to mind as I was writing the post Beautiful Blogger Award telling of the Navajo prayer about walking in beauty.  I filed that thought in the back of my mind but did nothing about it.

A few days ago, it came to mind again as I was reading a fabulous blog post at Help4YourFamily titled,  The Importance of Delight,  that talks about creating moments of joy (delight) with your children so that you both had something to draw on to help smooth life through the times of the mundane or times that are  less than ideal.  That post felt like a little light bulb going off for me and I suggest you check it out and see if it speaks to you also.  Still I did nothing.

Today, I read a blog post by Ken Lauher titled, Morning Sing-Along: Rituals To Make You Happy Right Now,  about a family whose ritual was a car sing-along on the way to school to Bohemian Rhapsody.  It has a fun video that really lets you feel how the energy you experience is lifted through singing.  It really is joyful to watch and you can do that by clicking on this link.  After you watch it I would ask you to take the time to scroll down to the comments because there is a wonderful exercise that is easy to do that will help you re-frame your thinking to allow you to be less reactive to negative behaviors (think kids specifically here) from others.   Please check these links out and let me know what you think.

Okay universe, I guess you win…today I am doing it.  I am sharing these great resources and I will add my story about the Beautiful Day Song.

I have the good fortune of having many children in my life and this story is about two who are dear to my heart.  When they were five years old, yes, they are twins, they decided that going to school was not what they wanted to do and the trip to school was a marathon of complaints, pouting and all round unpleasantness. Mornings were not a fun time at this stage of the game and to up the ante the trip to school took about 30 minutes on a good day.

One morning, as the protests from the back seat were escalating, I was wondering what I might do to shift the energy from unhappy to happy.  I found myself singing about the happy things that I  saw around me, making it up as I went.   It’s a beautiful day, it’s a beautiful day….the birds are singing and the butterflies are flying….It’s a beautiful day, It’s a beautiful day….. next verse….and so on.

The funny thing was that although my singing is not the best, it really is hard to feel unhappy when you are singing a happy song in an unrestrained way. The shift in my energy seemed to shift the feeling of the journey enough to get  the kids’ attention.  The mood lightened and the trip was more pleasant.

The next day as things escalated from the back seat, I broke out into the Beautiful Day Song and by the time I started in to the second verse I hear no, no, no, I want to sing it.  So from that point on they took turns singing their own verses of the song.  The trip to school had actually been fun.  Nice change.

The next day, it was raining.  We in Southern California do not respond well to rain so there was a bit of gloom floating around in the car that morning.   A short time  into the ride I decided to break out the Beautiful Day Song.  I hear from the back seat, what do you mean , it is not a beautiful day, it is raining!  I told them that yes, it was raining, but it could still be a beautiful day if we wanted to make it one.  They thought that was a good idea and took the idea further to use their imagination to sing about beautiful things that were not there at the present.  We got to school.  I enjoyed the ride home alone, with a happy song in my heart.

The next day, from the back seat I hear, let’s sing the Beautiful Day Song.  I started with the first verse and they took  it from there.  I guess you could think of this as the day the Beautiful Day Song became a ritual for us.

I no longer take the kids to school, but even today, once in a while, they will break out singing the beautiful day song and flash me a wink and a great smile.

What joyful rituals do you and your family practice?  Maybe you will be moved to share them, I would love to hear about them.

The 15 Minute Solution

26 Jun

Photo credit http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

This is not about Sherlock Holmes but you might feel like you just solved a mystery when you apply this 15 minute solution technique consistently with your children.  Our generation had been told that it is critical for kids to have strong self -esteem.  That sounds like a simple enough thing to foster and as one thing led to another, it seemed that actually teaching skills took a back seat  to bolstering our children’s  oh so fragile self-esteem.  Unfortunately, these children are now stepping out of the cocoon of academia, some with degrees, some without, (but who needs a degree when you are so naturally awesome), and find themselves suddenly facing the hard realities of life in the real world with no real life tools. It has left them, and us, as the parents and grand parents of these kids, asking the question: How can you help children develop strong self-esteem without creating an entitlement monster?

Of course this question is bigger than a blog post, but if you break it down into its most basic components this little practice is a good way to start.

When the kids have been to school all day or out at an activity and are returning home I always give them my undivided attention for the first 15 minutes.  That means that Facebook, phone, email, TV, magazines, even cooking dinner (unless they are happy helping) is off-limits.  This is harder to do than it sounds but it is well worth the effort.  What this does is tells your kids, with your actions, that they are the most important thing in the world to you.  This is when they will share with you what is important to them in this snapshot in time.  It may be that they saw the coolest yellow caterpillar inching across the sidewalk this morning, or that they heard Johnny say a word and they were not sure what it means, (you can use your imagination here), or that they got an award for spelling today that they had struggled to earn.

After 15 minutes you tell them that you have some work to do so would they go play, or do their homework, or clean their room, so you can get your work done.   This practice of investing the first 15 minutes with genuine loving focus on the kids has served me and all my kidlets well and I invite you to try it and see what happens.  It is a great first building block to fostering healthy self-esteem.  The confidence that this gives them by letting them feel their importance to you,  and by being heard by you, will reduce their need to constantly vie for your attention by less pleasant means.

Do you have a favorite practice to help your kids develop a healthy sense of self, or acquire life skills.  If so, please share.  I would love to hear about it.

I’ve Been Tagged – A (Spider) Web Game

5 May

Oh, I have been tagged.  I thank Kate of help4yourfamily for the fun and I am so glad it came with instructions. The instructions are simple.

  • Answer the question the “tagger” listed for you in their post
  • Create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer
  • Choose 11 people to tag and link to them in the post
  • Let each blogger know that you have tagged them

What I love about this (the Anthropologist in me is talking) is that the game works somewhat like this.  You bring together people with similar interests as well as adding to the mix with people whose interests have not yet been discovered by others.  It is like weaving together a beautiful cloth.  The Navajo express this as the Spider Grandmother speaking and weaving the world into existence through her web. I guess the nature of the web has changed, but the results are much the same.

For this post I will choose from Kate’s list of 11 great questions.

The winner is…# 10.What is your favorite blog post ever, and why (you can include your own)?

First I have to say that when my grand kids ask me which one of them is my favorite I tell them that they are all my favorites equally but for different reasons.  So in the same spirit, I am going to focus on several posts (woven together) that deal with very different aspects of a favorite subject that I have been contemplating lately.  Listening.

I have come to believe that listening is best practiced as an active endeavor.  It is not something that is done with just your ears.  It is not passive, it can become an act of creation.  Creative listening is best accomplished by engaging all your senses,  hearing, seeing, touching, smelling, feeling, even tasting.

The following list includes a few posts that focus on different ways to listen.  I encourage you to read them as they provide inspiring insight into the art of listening.  (Listed in no particular order.)   Here,  I will share a story about using taste to listen and how that lead to building trust.

I had the pleasure of spending time with a 5-year old who often displayed acting out behaviors. One night, she had a pretty bad cold and I wanted her to take some medicine.  The medicine was what her mother had provided.  When I presented the medicine the child refused it.  I remained calm and encouraged her to go ahead and take it.  She made a half effort and then refused to take it.  She told me it tasted bad.  Well, not too many medicines taste great so I that did not seem like the best reason not to take it to me.  It quickly was becoming a battle of wills and you know how that always ends.  Of course I had to point out that it was grape flavored , and that she liked grape flavor etc., etc., etc.

The turning point came when I decided to really listen to what the child was saying.  She said it did not taste good.  So I tasted it so I could say see, it does not taste that bad, it is grape, and exert my will on her.  Oh boy, I tasted it alright and I kept tasting it for hours.  It was the most horrible thing I had tasted in recent history!  I said you know, you are right.  This tastes awful.

The sunshine that came over her face at that moment said everything.  Because she was being heard she could now trust me.  Amazingly, from that moment on, that child began to listen to me too.

So here are the blogs that have recently inspired me to look at listening creatively (the post that inspired this is specifically named)  as well as some that I just enjoy reading.   (I am new to the blogosphere so if you have a blog to recommend please send me a link in the comments.)

1.  http://edrobinson.wordpress.com  -Leadership thought #346 Are you listening?

2.  http://ollinmorales.wordpress.com  –  The Toa

3.  http:// declutterorganizerpurpose.wordpress.com  -Raising a well-rounded kid how now

4.   http://helpyourfamily.com/   -4-Rules parents can live by

5.   http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/  – Low-hanging fruit is all gone the future is about teamwork humility innovation

6.   http://essaykaywrites.wordpress.com/    -Instilling self-esteem to children how much is too much

7.   http://christyspad.wordpress.com/ – The lessons I’ve learned from Grandma Pie and Buried Treasure is always fun to find

8.   http://semiswede.com/

9.   http://donnaonpalawan.wordpress.com/

10. http://somekindoflovelyride.com/

11. http://maggiesonebuttkitchen.wordpress.com/

Here is the list of 11 questions for those tagged.  Choose the one that moves you.

1.  What is the last thing that made you laugh out loud?

2.  What is your favorite quote (today) and what does it say to you?

3.  You once found a marvelous treasure.  What was it?

4.  What is your favorite question to ask?  What is your favorite question to answer?

5.  Why did you start blogging?

6.  If you could solve one mystery what would it be?

7.  Vanilla or chocolate?

8.  What scent transcends you to a happy time?

9.  What technology could you live without?

10.  What obstacle held the key to your greatest reward?

11.  What is your fondest memory of your Grandmother?

Happy Blogging!

Photo by Luc Viatour / http://www.Lucnix.be

Unconditional Love – 101

19 Apr

(Photo by Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot)

I was thinking about a previous post I made called Are you a Remote control Mom?.  It was written at the request of a friend who was amazed at the change in behavior her daughter displayed when I visited one day.  She couldn’t figure out why the child was so compliant and showed her best behavior with me.

I must say I completely related to that feeling.  When I was much younger, I had not a clue how to help guide children so that they could feel the freedom of unconditional love and the security of loving boundaries at the same time.  Because this is not a subject often taught nor commonly modeled often Kismet becomes the source of this information.  While thinking back on that post, I realized that while applying the techniques embedded in the example would be helpful, there might be some value in exploring the concepts that they are based on.  Kind of like moving from following a recipe to being able to apply the principles of cooking to whatever you happen to have handy in the kitchen.

Kismet was the source of the first, and I feel, and most important concept that I picked up along the way.  This idea was in a magazine advice column.  It was that you must separate the person from the behavior because people can’t change who they are but people can change the behavior that they choose.

So, if you first provide a safe place for them of unconditional love, by saying I love you and I will always love you not matter what you have given them a powerfully safe place to act from.  Of course this does not mean you do not give them loving boundaries. You then add, however, I do not like it when you choose not to do what I ask you to do, or insert whatever the situation dictates here, hit your sister, to use that whiny voice, etc. They do want to please you and rather than asking them to change who they are, you are asking them to make a different choice of behaviors.  This is a much easier task.  You are not saying that you are bad or you are lazy, it is the behavior that is disapproved of, not the person.

Recently, I have noticed that many are expressing a fear of unconditional love.  I believe that this maybe be in reaction to the practice of parents and schools bestowing approval on all behaviors equally.  Naturally this can create a sense of entitlement that will not serve the children well in later life. Unconditional love should not be confused with giving license to bad behavior and the crossing of your personal boundaries by others.  But this is a different post.

Often, the loving boundaries we wish to provide are for the safety of the child.  When we ask that they hold our hand in a parking lot they may see this as a restriction of their freedom.  This is a good opportunity to remind them that you love them and that you would feel so sad if they got hurt from running in the parking lot and getting hit by a car.  You do not like it when they choose to not listen when you ask them to hold your hand in the parking lot.  This also demonstrates that feeling of love and safety that we all need and search for.

Do you have a favorite tool to lovingly guide your children that you would like to share?

Photo Credit: <p><a href=”http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=1786″>Image: Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Are You a Remote Control Mom?

14 Jan

If this story sounds like your life yesterday, last week, (and hey…, is someone watching me), then you may be a remote control Mom.

It starts like this, Sweetie, don’t do (that) ______________ . (insert one of the following here…jump on the couch, run with those scissors, cut your sister’s hair, I know your kids are creative so you should have lots of options)

I said, don’t do that Sweetie. (laughter)

Stop that right now. (loud laughter and shrill screams, load crash)

I said stop that. (the laughter gets louder, the screams get shriller)

DON’T DO THAT. (running)

DO YOU WANT TO GO TO TIME OUT! (crashing noise, and crying)

THAT IS IT!   YOU GO TO YOUR ROOM AND NO TV FOR WEEK!  (fit ensues as the child is escorted to their room)

You are worn out, tired of fighting, feeling guilty because you love your kids, but you really do not like them right now, and those feelings are getting closer and closer together.

You are not alone.  This is like a video that plays at that almost everyone’s  home at least once and will play out again and again if they do not find a tool to use to change the channel.

What could that be, you say.  I have tried everything from being nice to punishment, to bribes and nothing seems to work.

A simple tool to change the channel of this kind of behavior is what I call putting down the remote control.  What this looks like is this.

Sweetie don’t so that (inset behavior here) ______________. (laughter)

Get up (don’t try to interact by remote control) and calmly go to the child, get down so you are on eye level with them and repeat your request. (turning away, squirming)

Please, look at me. ( more turning away, more squirming) This may have to be repeated a few times at first.

I am not angry, I just want to talk to you.  (they relax a little and look at you)

I love you no matter what, I will always love you, but I do not like it when you choose to ______________( insert your choice here… jump on the couch, climb up the shelves, paint the cat)  because you might get hurt and that would make me so sad. (they think about it, look confused and then and nod yes).

It will take a few times to practice this to allow it to become a calm and natural reaction but if you stand lovingly firm in consistently applying this tool you may find that a gentle reminder will become all you need to help your kids choose good behaviors.

We all want our kids to be happy and I believe that we, like our parents before us, do the best we can with the tools that we have at the time.

So if this sounds like your life, give this a try.  Something different might happen when you when you put down the remote control.  Let me know what happens.  I would love to hear your stories.