Archive for the ‘listening’ category

Missing Mom

May 7, 2012
Mothers of large families with five or more children have a special place in the world. There were many big catholic families in the 1950s and 1960s. Not so much anymore. Now mormons have the corner on big families. My mother was an incredible woman. I honor her on Mother's Day.

Our family in 1962. I’m sitting on my father’s lap in this annual holiday photo tradition.

No matter what your relationship with your mother, you will miss her when she dies.The ache is doubled if your mother was like mine, with whom I felt connected, accepted and respected. Mildred has been gone for six years now. I still want to call her when I feel up or down.Motherhood for Mildred was not about if her children made her look good or feel good. I never remember her saying, “I’m proud of you.” Her objective was not how she felt/thought/looked about us, but how we felt/thought/looked.

Mother's Day is a day to remember our mothers- what they did for us, what they didn't do for us, and how they loved us. Mother's Day will not feel the same this year without my mother, who influenced me so much. I still mis her. Mildred was a remarkable woman.

Mildred Mary Margaret Theresa Rees Tordella, 1921- 2005. Mother of nine, grandmother to 25, great-grandmother to 11 and counting, and friend to countless.

Parental pride/praise sends the silent virulent message of, “I love you best when you make me look good and feel good. Don’t let me down.” Praise and pride can motivate children to achieve for parents. One unfortunate outcome of parental pride is for a young person to choose a career parents want, which eventually lands them in the psychiatrist’s office, miserable.

Without the risk of “letting Mom down,” it freed me to call her when I had been fired from a job, yelled at my kids or fought with my spouse. She held me in failure and celebrated my joys. I long to call or visit her one more time, to bask in that kind of connection, acceptance and mutual respect.

Mother's Day is a special day for parents and children, especially mothers and daughters. I really miss my mother, who inspired so many of us to be independent and loving. She believed in chores and self-discipline and cultivating responsibility. She showed me encouragement and mutual respect. On Mother's Day, I still miss her. If only mothers could be perfect, but we can't so we have to accept them the way they are. and forgive them for not being perfect.

Mom in her early 20s.

My parents never referred to their posse of grown children as “the kids,” a common practice, often justified because “You’re younger than us.” Yuck — what a barrier that sentiment erects. One of the most difficult aspects of motherhood is knowing and seeing we are setting up lifelong habits and forming personalities. Ugh! What a responsibility — and opportunity.

My mother mastered the art of encouragement. She stayed out of our way and let us find our own way. Five of us have our own businesses. We all have high degrees of internal motivation, thanks to the chores we were expected to do, that taught us self-discipline.

Mildred specialized in listening with an open heart and asking questions. Questions pointed my needle in the right direction.”What do you think? How did that happen? What are you going to do next?”  I trusted her to listen objectively, not make me wrong, or risk disappointing her. When whining about my marriage [what marriage is perfect?] she inevitably sided with Bob, much to my annoyance. She was usually right, too, because I had failed to manage my emotions around whatever petty annoyances.

Even though her parents had been dead for years, Mildred often said, “My parents are with me every day.” I scoffed at that sentiment when she was still alive, and like much of her wisdom, I’ve come find out she was right.

Mom, you’re with me every day. Thanks for everything. I love you and miss you.

Source: www.buynaturalgarciniacambogia.com

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Barbie Dolls, toy guns and the cocoon

March 12, 2012
The writing on this poster made by the Body Shop to raise money to eradicate violence against women reads, "There are 3 billion women who don't look like supermodels and only 8 who do." Mattel sued The Body Shop and forced them to stop selling this poster.

The writing says, "There are 3 billion women who don't look like supermodels and only 8 who do." Mattel sued The Body Shop and forced them to stop selling this poster intended to raise money to end violence against women.

My pledge to ban Barbies lasted until my oldest, Casey was 2.5 years old and the landlady of a vacation rental gave her Barbie doll abandoned by a previous tenant. Casey fell in love with the plastic icon of everything I didn’t want her to be: a sparkly, skinny-to-a-fault, sex object. It launched a sickening decade-long investment in all things Barbie.

Had I snatched the toy from Casey’s little hands or banned toy guns from our toy chest, I would’ve created forbidden fruits. Instead, I put up the poster at left, in our family room over where Casey and her sister Kristen played Barbies for hours. We talked about gun control and weapons and kept no real guns. I helped gussy-up the girls like Barbie dolls for prom nights, even though that racket contradicted my principles.

Sometimes moms have to go with the flow and relinquish control. Our protective cocoon starts breaking apart from birth on, when land-ladies, relatives, friends and society start giving gifts of Barbies and toy guns. Ban guns and your kids will make guns out of sticks and Legos and grab every gun at their friends’ houses.

Why? Because guns, like Barbies, epitomize power in our culture. Our kids need to play around with that power so they’re comfortable with it, whether they reject or accept what goes with it. Barbies don’t cause anorexia Families ought to pay more attention to how they handle power and beauty instead of a plastic toy doll.

Have a family meeting, give your kids the opportunity to run them regularly, encourage them to speak up. Listen to what they say and implement their ideas. This will empower them more than shooting a gun or showing their cleavage to the world. Give girls the gift of being seen, heard and respected for who they are, not how they look.

The owner of this ankle LOVED to play with barbies and still loves to get dressed up. She does not suffer from anorexia and has a very positive body image.

The owner of this ankle damaged by playing floor hockey LOVED to play with Barbies and still loves to get dressed up.

Instead of perpetuating an artificial cocoon without sexist toys, weapons, knives, scissors and fire, it’s far better to allow our kids to experience them and make their own decisions. They will eventually do that — no matter what we say, and more importantly, what we do.

Casey is the unicorn -- a costume she made. Visit her blog at http://smazzle.blogspot.com/

They need venues and toys to act out what they observe in the adult world — full of warfare, highly sexualized women and men in a consumer culture. Their only crime is reflecting us and the world we inhabit and perpetuate, and we don’t like it.

Kristen became an artist. Some of her work contradicts the image of woman in society. I love that she’s comfortable enough with Barbie images to use them in her work.

That’s a hammer Kristen is swinging in this performance art.

Is my child deaf?

October 3, 2011
These boys are under water and can't hear their parents. They have become mother deaf. "My kids won't listen" is a common complaint of parents. Part of discipline and disciplining is to teach children how to listen. This means you must ACT not YAK . The more you yak, the less they listen. If you do not follow througn in a kind, firm friendly and immediate manner, you will train your child NOT to listen. This is a parental problem.
These boys really can’t hear what their parents are saying.

“My child doesn’t listen” is the most common complaint I’m hearing during my fall parenting skills workshops. One parent described it brilliantly when she said, “It’s like I’m not even here. I’m invisible.”

The good news is that this situation can be changed. You can restore your child’s hearing abilities.
The bad news? Mom and Dad have trained the child to be parent-deaf. As with many discipline issues, the problem is the parent. Trust me, I’ve been the guilty party a hundred times and had to change MY behavior. Then the kids change.  As you know, we cannot change them. We can only change ourselves.

Here’s the roadmap on how to eliminate parent-deafness.
1. Start with awareness and determine what is most important. Notice I didn’t say, “Choose your battles.” This sets the stage for power struggles. They are ugly, trust me, I’ve been in enough of them.
2. When you say something to your child, get his attention. Look him in the eye. Say it once. Do not repeat it. Make sure what you are saying is worth following up on. If he doesn’t respond, ask, “Did you hear what I said?”
If he says “What?” to everything you say, he might have the “what disease.” Then you need a pretend vaccination against it. Give it to him, right in the arm, with humor. Say “I’m vaccinating you against the ‘what disease.'” From then on, whenever he says “What?” say, “I think you heard me.” or “What do you think I said?” or ask, “Do the vaccination wear off? Do you need a booster?” Then grab him close, laughing, and give him another what-disease shot in the arm.
3. If your child has heard you and chooses not to respond, you must ACT not YAK. (Thanks to Dr. Sam Goldstein for the brilliant Act Don’t Yak.) Do not repeat what you said unless you want to continue to train her to ignore what you say.
Can you see how it is imperative to follow through immediately by acting? Make sure you are kind, firm and immediate. You will have to get up, interrupt what you’re doing and prove you mean business.
Here are some examples.
1. “Pick up your toys.” If you have kids under 24 years old, get used to picking up. The younger they are, the more you will have to act by picking up with them. Endless picking up is a fact of raising kids. It is not fair. Get rid of some toys or rotate bags of toys to the attic. Yakking, “Clean up your room” is like saying to you, “Go clean up K-Mart.” Where do you start?
2. “Go brush your teeth and get ready for bed.” Most normal children will ignore this. You must ACT and do it with them. Establish a bedtime routine where you are with them every step of the way, which also insures they will stay in bed.
3. “Get ready for school!” You can only take preventative action on this one by preparing a plan. Talk about the morning routine at a family meeting. Read my free e-book “Are you ready yet?” After educating them on how to take responsibility in the morning for getting ready on time, have an ACTion plan. Have your little diva choose her clothes the night before. Be ready  to go out to the car with her clothes in a bag if she is not ready at the agreed upon time. She will inevitably choose the coldest wettest day of the year to test your resolve.
Parenting is not for the faint-hearted. Parent-deafness can be deadly. Start with awareness and begin the new training today. Allow three weeks to three months to develop a new habit. You can do it.