Moms · Personal Success · teens

Ease Up

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photo by Clem Onojeghuo

I’ve mentioned a tense relationship between my daughter and me on this blog. It has gotten pretty distressing at times and when I decided to push my ego aside, I realized I had to surrender. Pestering was not working. I had reflected on my intention. Was my primary motive to help her be “successful” in life? Was hounding her to do homework and practice her violin most important? No. But that was what I was practicing.

I set my priorities clearly. First of all, she must know I love her unconditionally. Secondly, this is her life. I trust her with it. She knows what to do and if she doesn’t do it, she will have to face the consequences. That’s how she will grow. Throughout it all, I will love her, absolutely.

What I DO owe her is a happy mother. Every time I start to resort to my habit of nagging, I redirect my energies to what I want to do: plant lantana in the backyard (even in 100 degree heat), exercise, write, cook and so on.

Since I’ve put this practice in place, a magnificent event has occurred. We’ve become closer than ever. She wanted to get into shape. I took her to a fitness club. We signed her up for a four week membership (realizing there will be NO time for the gym once school starts). The club gave me a 2 week free pass. Organically…naturally…completely unplanned…I’ve become her trainer. We work out together and laugh and (sometimes) partake in junk food afterwards. There is ease and love where angst and friction once were. And if I ask her to do something, she does it. Most of the time. And that’s OK.

The intention came first. Space (a lot of it) came next. And then complete awareness and unconditional love.  I’d say this works for all relationships.

comic · Moms · Personal Success · relationships · teens

Thanks, Nora!

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Have you ever read something that was just what you needed to read?

I finished reading Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck. There is an essay/chapter within it titled “Parenting in Three Stages.”

“Adolescence comes as a gigantic shock to the modern parent, in large part because it seems so much like the adolescence you yourself went through. Your adolescent is sullen. Your adolescent is angry. Your adolescent is mean. In fact, your adolescent is mean to you.”

Back when they looked like this,

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I could ask them to make their beds and they’d respond with sweet laughter (even if they didn’t make their beds).

But now, they look more like this:

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YouTube

and if I ask them to do the smallest thing, fire comes out of their ears. They whine. They sigh heavily. They’re angry.

Thank you, Nora, for letting me know their behavior is normal. I can laugh it off now. Kinda.

 

 

 

 

 

Moms · teens

Pick Your Battles

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by Annie Harrison

Today was the first day of Tetra Quartet Summer Camp for my daughters, 14 and 15. They both play violin.

The 15-year-old is a night owl. But for camp, she needs to wake up by 7:30 am, not her preferred hour of noon.

She was a sleeping angel – so cute! – who was about to become a demon. I dreaded it. I gave her a hug and kiss. Nothing.

I nudged her a little later. Nothing.

I yelled out from the hallway, “Got to get up soon!” Nothing.

My mind flashed past articles I read about not waking your children. Something about being a helicopter parent. I’m not a helicopter parent! Still…she needed to get up. My BP was rising.

At last, she woke. Grumpy. She slammed things. She packed her music stand roughly. I held my tongue. I asked her to do that last night! How dare she get angry because she didn’t prepare! But I remained quiet.

We were in the car. She wanted me to hurry, because tardy musicians must do a little song and dance for the (on time) group.

As calmly as I could manage, I said, “You weren’t prepared for this morning. Your oversight is not my emergency. I’m not going to rush and risk an accident. You have a cell phone with an alarm clock. I will not wake you up anymore. If you can’t get up, you’ll be late. Your song and dance consequence is not my concern.” Sitting in the backseat, the 14-year-old’s silence was deafening. Good – a bit of peer pressure for the older sibling.

We sat in peace for the rest of the ride.

I realized that had I said something earlier, when she was huffing and puffing, and slamming things, we would have had a “blow out.” Instead, I waited until I was calm (and she was calmer) and stated in a factual matter what was what.

Result: no arguments.

Ah! Sweet music.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

fears · Health · Moms · Personal Success · teens

Eat Your Words

While pregnant with her, the most astounding thing happened! I would put food in my mouth and chew. She’d kick like mad before I even swallowed. This occurred every time. I was incredulous – what a baby! 

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Providence Doucet

When she was two, she had chocolate cake. She kicked her feet high in delight. The frosting was all over her face and her eyes shone with joy.

At four, she had pizza. How she held it in her tiny, pudgy hands!

She’s had many meals since then. With girlish abandon, she eats what she wants when she wants: warm bread with butter, garlic mashed potatoes, steak, ice cream sundaes and healthy food, too.

She. Loves. Food. She likes high quality food. She can discern whether ingredients are fresh and she doesn’t like gristle on her steak.

She also loves dance class. She loves to learn challenging moves and practice them over and over and get good at it. She’s made such progress! Her body is lithe, supple and strong.

She’s my baby. She’s 15, but she’s my baby and I want her to be happy and healthy. I want her to love eating, dancing, laughing and playing violin all the rest of her days. I want her to enjoy life!

But our culture wants to destroy her. American society wants her mind to be cloudy with insecurity and a bit of self-hatred. Air-brushed models are in magazines,  surgically modified celebrities are on TV, the Internet and film.

Even family members make comments. Grandparents plant seeds of doubt when they caution against weight gain. They compare sisters to each other, silently massacring dreams and self-confidence. They undermine the strong sisterly bond that exists. Well, they try anyway. These girls have each other’s backs, thank goodness.

If she were my son, would you tell him to watch what he eats? Would you scare him and tell him he might get fat if he “puts that” in his mouth? Would you comment on his figure as he stands in front of the fridge?

Please…I implore you…stop it. Stop with the comments and the body shaming. Stop trying to exert control through fear.

Let her enjoy all that life has to offer.

 

 

 

education · Health · Moms · Personal Success · teens

Helicopter? – No! Says Eric Hoffer*

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Helicopter parent

noun

informal
  1. a parent who takes an overprotective or excessive interest in the life of their child or children.

Constantly hovering over children while they study, work, and do sports, etc. has been shown to “increase anxiety, depression and can lead to academic difficulties” (Psychology Today).

Effective parenting, is, in fact, nurturing your child to become independent!

Psychology Today offers these guidelines (abbreviated):

-Listen to your child, rather than imposing your goals and wishes on him or her. Listening to your child encourages independent thought and critical thinking. It helps you avoid a common downfall of helicopter parents: imposing your values on your child.
-Don’t manage your child’s relationships or communications for him or her.
-Don’t try to help your child escape consequences for his or her actions, unless you believe those consequences are unfair or life-altering. It’s fine to hire your child a lawyer if he or she is in legal trouble, or to intervene with a bullying teacher. But don’t try to get your kid out of detention or berate another parent who talks to your child about problematic behavior.
-Don’t raise your child to expect treatment that is different from, or better than, the treatment other children receive. Your child shouldn’t expect to get something they don’t deserve or didn’t earn.
-Encourage your children to solve their own problems by asking them to contemplate potential solutions.

-Don’t do your child’s work for them, or keep track of deadlines for them. Even school-aged children can learn to remember test dates and classroom projects. By middle school, your child should be managing their schoolwork largely on their own, with only as-needed help.

-Support your child’s teacher, and encourage your child to respect the teacher’s opinions.
-Allow your child to face natural consequences for their actions. Don’t allow a child to stay home sick just because she or he didn’t timely complete a school project.

 

*Eric Hoffer was a great American thinker and he never actually said anything about helicoptering parenting. It just rhymes nicely.

education · Moms · motivation · Personal Success · relationships · teens

Parenting Pain

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No longer mine – can’t carry you anymore,

you’ll stumble, fall and eventually – soar,

As your path widens and grows long,

I realize how I was so very wrong

 

 

You take your steps while I watch

sometimes wincing

Your self-determination can be dreadful

yet entirely convincing

It’s fast becoming apparent

that your flubs and whims aren’t errant

You don’t own reasons for my heart breakin’

for I never “owned” you, in that, I was mistaken

Health · Personal Success · teens

The Non-Judgment Experiment

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Photo from Sebastian Spindler

 

Animals and Zen masters are the most peaceful living creatures. They don’t judge.

 

I’ve noticed that I’m a lot more judgmental than I’d like to be. And this tendency is a formidable block to inner peace.

I’m on a self-imposed challenge: stop judging people. First, I must be aware of when I judge. It’s strongest when I’m driving. Wow! Do I have very negative thoughts! The good news is that it’s completely impersonal. I don’t know these people.  But still…

Will you join me? Next time you’re in the company of one or more other people, notice your thoughts. Are you judging? Be aware. And then let it go. Don’t try to fight it. Just let it go. Just say to yourself, isn’t that interesting? My mind is judging. 

As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him.

Gandhi

 

When you change, your world will change.