Archive for the ‘attachment’ category

Big lessons from little ones

February 28, 2011

slowing down, conscious parenting, savoring the moment, appreciating everything that children can teach us, living in the moment can all be learned from children. Children can be wise teachers. Carl Honore wrote about about being in the moment because of what his son taught him about bedtime routines and bedtime stories. Slowing down is an important lesson of parenting. Having patience is one of the most important things a parent can learn from their children. Parenting is about patience, love and forgiveness.Welcoming my firstborn into my world when I was 22 years old changed the course of my life and taught me more about life and love than I ever imagined.

Casey Anne and her three siblings put every human excrement imaginable on my narcissism and flushed it all down the toilet. She forced me to think about someone else besides me, and to put me second. Ironically, that became a habit. A decade later, I had to resurrect my needs from the toilet and take better care of me.

My children taught me how to be interrupted and still get something done — in addition to taking care of them. The hardest jobs are when you’re constantly interrupted — like secretaries, teachers, nurses and mothers.

Bob and I bought a house that had been neglected when the children were 4, 2 and 6 months old. The 35 windows were so gray with dirt that you couldn’t tell the weather outside. Every day for a month, I plopped them in front of Sesame Street and washed three windows until chaos erupted and I surrendered — another lesson from three children born in three-and-a-half years.

The most valuable lesson was patience, to slow down to their pace, to revel in the present moment. To appreciate humongous earth movers and construction sites; wild animals like squirrels, ants and robins; the wonder of a train station or airport.

Bob and I spent more than a decade giving the kids a nightly bath, reading a book, singing a song and tucking them in. It was like a meditation, and it worked, because they stayed in bed and went to sleep early. It bonded us for life.

In a lecture on Ted Talks,  journalist Carl Honore said that reading a bedtime story to his son taught him to slow down his hectic life. It inspired Honore to write a book “In Praise of Slowness,” a valuable lesson to most 21st century Americans.

Now in their 20s, my “children” continue to teach me different lessons about relationships, technology and  life. They’ve returned the favor — I was their most important teacher because humans learn more in the first four years than they do for the rest of their lives.

When my children were little, they patiently allowed me to make the same mistake, over and over, until I figured out to do something different. Nowadays, they could have more patience now with their ol’ Mom, but they haven’t had any children to teach them — yet.

What have your children taught you?

Shovel snow together and shovel away danger

January 24, 2011
There's an inverse relationship between bullying and a teens, tweens or child's relationshp to parents and adults. Children, kids, tweens, and teens are more susceptible to being bullies or being bullied when they have a weakened tie to parents. Chores are an excellent modality for parents to connect with children and teens and tweens and give them structure. Chores, like shovelling snow, teach self discipline, teamwork and nurtures self esteem. This shot was taken after Boston, Mass. got 41 inches of snow for the season in January. In Massachusetts, that's a lot of snow.
The family that shovels snow together is connected — insurance against many youth maladies.

My son Ian and I spent a few hours clearing snow from the driveway and moving wood from the woodpile to outside the back door. I multitasked: I got the chores done; got exercise; and connected with my son.

Chores provide opportunities for children, tweens and teens to work on a family team, even if the team is two people — mother and son. Relying on children, tweens and teens to contribute to the common good teaches young people:
  • * they are valued and have something to contribute;
  • * self-discipline;
  • * self-esteem;
  • * skills;
  • * a work ethic: and
  • * sometimes they have to do something they just don’t feel like.
One of the benefits to doing chores is the connection created between  kids and adults. This attachment can prevent a child from many dangers, including becoming a bully or from getting bullied according to “Hold onto your Kids: Why parents need to matter more than peers” by Gordon Neufeld, Ph.D. and Dr. Gabor Mate.
The book  gives examples of how children, tweens and teens who are attached to their parents are better off in myriad ways. They are less likely to become bullies or victims. They are more healthy emotionally.
One thing I found most interesting is that when a tween or teens is considered “Cool” they are cut off from their emotions –a precarious way to live. It’s more healthy to admit futility by breaking down into tears. There is much in life that can’t be changed. Crying in futility is healthy and normal. Sometimes I use this therapy myself.
Neufeld described a story in which he was interviewed on TV with parents who had lost a child to suicide after being bullied, and with a mother and her daughter who came home from school every day for three months in tears about bullying. 
Afterward, the host  of the show asked Neufeld if the girl was at risk of suicide. Quite the opposite. Her tears over the futility of the situation were healthy. She was alive. The others had perished without a word to their parents, who didn’t know anything was awry. She had an emotional lifeline to her mother.
Take the time and effort to use family meals, chores and family meetings to stay connected to your children, tweens and teens. Not only will you have a clean driveway at the end of the day and your kids will know how to cook and clean, you’ll have a resilient skilled young person who is connected to you —  insurance against many maladies.