Great resource for parents and caregivers about Sexual Assault Awareness Month
This time of year, many of us are faced with the "gimmie-gimmies" and the "I want the whole world or at least the whole toy catalog" syndromes in our children.
Wanting things, especially in our culture, where billions of dollars are spent annually marketing especially to children, is part of growing up. How we, as parents, handle this, is up to us.
Take a moment to think what kind of a person you want to help develop in your child. If you, like many, want a generous person to emerge, there is some work to do. It may not always be pretty or fun or easy, but it can be done.
It is important for children to realize there are limits to what they will be given, even during a holiday season as commercialized as Christmas is in our culture. It's OK for them to want the world, and it's also OK for you to let them know that there is a limit to how much they will receive.
When they are younger, this may be a number of gifts. As they get older, let them know you have a budget (if you don't have one, make one!), and that if they ask for something expensive, they will not be receiving as many other presents.
I remember the year one of our sons was 12 and put this to the test. He got the expensive item he wanted, but not much else. It was not the happiest Christmas morning for him. (I found out later that the same scenario had played itself out down the street at a friend's home with her daughter)
However, we had discussed our values and clearly decided there was a limit to how much we were willing to spend on one day of the year.
That day, to my spouse and I, is about so much more than pricey gifts--it is about family, and connection, and our faith. So we held our line, in order to teach these values with more than words, and had an upset kid. And yet, valuable lessons were learned. This child is extremely thoughtful and creative as a gift-giver, generous with his time and talent, and aware of what is a "want" and what is a "need."
How do you teach generosity in a world full of materialism? Be sure to read the next article for some practical ideas you can use all year long.
This morning, I was listening to the radio on my way to yoga. The hosts were discussing gratitude and moved to a story about a hospice nurse, who was sharing her wisdom from over 25 years doing her work. She mentioned that people often die the way they live. Some people are grateful and peaceful, others are resentful and angry. You can read or listen to the story here: http://mynorthwest.com/11/2128561/Hospice-nurse-shares-list-of-five-things-you-must-say-before-you-die
What struck me, though, was her advice about five things we should say before we die. They are:
I was thinking about this in terms of parenting, and here are my thoughts. First of all, in addition to being parents, each of us is also a child. As that child, perhaps you are dealing with an aging parent. Perhaps your parents are in great health, or perhaps, they are already gone. If your parents are still with you, find a way this month to say thank you for what they have given you. Find a way to say “I love you.” Are there things you regret in your relationship that you have responsibility for? If so, say “I’m sorry” and “Please forgive me.” If you do this, I can almost guarantee it will be easier for you to say goodbye when the time comes.
If your parents are already gone, you can do this as a journal exercise or as a prayer.
Now, think about your children. Are there things you would like to thank them for? Don’t wait. Thank them now, and thank them often. Find ways to say “I love you.” You may want to check out Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages (www.5lovelanguages.com) to figure out how your child likes to give and receive love.
Have you blown it lately? We all do from time to time. Say “I’m sorry.” I often have said, “I’m sorry I acted that way; however, I’m not sorry I was upset.” Feelings are all ok, but we need to be responsible for our behavior. Modeling this for our children is a priceless gift, as is asking for forgiveness.
I hope you are not in a place where you know you are going to die soon, but if you are, or if that happens in the future, be sure to take some time to say goodbye. We are not really great at this in our culture, yet it is so very important. Giving someone the gift of goodbye allows them to say hello to the next step.
These practices, as part of our daily lives, can help us create open, healthy relationships with our parents and children, and help prepare us for the inevitable. Everyone with a belly button has limited time on this earth. Make it count.
Brain research is fascinating and changing all the time. Current research shows that our brains are growing, changing, and evolving throughout our lives—which brings me to something I like to call the "silver van effect.”
Currently, I drive a sliver van. I've had it for several years. When we got it, I knew there were many silver vans in the world; however, after I began to drive one, I started to see them everywhere. In fact, there were so many that I decided to put a distinguishing antenna ball on my car so I could find it in a parking lot where anywhere from one to several silver vans were parked near mine.
Now, were there all of the sudden more silver vans around? No. What happened was that my world view changed. And my world view changed because my thoughts changed. And my thoughts changed because I was driving a silver van.
I was seeing this silver van each day when I got into it, so my brain became quickly programmed to notice other things similar to this.
The really amazing thing about this is that attention changes the brain--and it does so quickly--within seconds, in fact. So, what we pay attention to, we will see more of in our surroundings. And this changes our thoughts, which changes our world view. Read more here.
Let's take this to parenting. If you want a better relationship with your children, then start by focusing on what you love about them, what you admire about them, what you appreciate about them. The best time to do this is first thing in the morning before interacting with them, and before you go to bed, so you are thinking about those things as you fall asleep.
In workshops, I give people a handout to make a list of 5 things they love about each child, so they can post it up somewhere they'll see it each day.
When you focus on these positives (I appreciate when she puts toys away. I appreciate that he is neat. I appreciate that she loves running. I appreciate his energy), your thoughts shift, and your brain helps you focus more on these things, so you will see them more. If we focus on the negatives (Arrgh! She always leaves her shoes in the middle of the floor!), then that shifts our thoughts and focus, too, to see more of what's out of place than what is in place.
Of course, no one is perfectly positive all the time. These thoughts--whether positive or negative--create patterns that literally and physically strengthen over time in our brains. The great news is that you can change the connections by repeating a new pattern.
So, what are you waiting for? Make that list today of 5 things you love about your child. Your partner. Your self. And give thanks for all of these qualities in your life.
Research also shows that if you write down as few as five things each day for which you are grateful, and you do this for a few months, your sense of contentment with the world will increase.
Go gratefully forward this month and let me know what happens!
Several years ago, I was teaching a class to junior high students, and the topic was gender roles. I remember thinking, this will be so fun, because things will be so different for them than they were for me.
Unfortunately, gender roles and stereotypes are alive and well in teen culture. Girls are still often harassed by guys about their looks, dress, body parts, and more. Guys feel pressure to be muscular and cool. Girls feel pressure to be thin and sexy. Guys still feel the pressure to initiate a relationship. Girls fear that if they are too forward, guys will not like them.
As parents, we need to make sure we are addressing these issues head on. Talk about them directly with your teen. Talk about the stereotypes, what’s underneath them, and how to counter them.
Give your girls messages that they are strong, and your boys messages that they are sensitive. Help them both learn how to communicate with each other. Engage in stereotype-busting behavior yourself, and encourage them to do the same. Require the boys to do dishes, and the girls to mow the lawn. Have the boys clean the bathroom sometimes, and teach the girls how to change the oil in the car.
In middle and high school, stereotypes are strong, and peer pressure is great. There is often less in college, but it can still be present. Make sure your children have exposure to activities and attitudes that counter destructive stereotypes and help them become well-rounded young people in our world.
Important reminder, moms of South King County, WA!
For Girls Only is coming to Federal Way on May 29th and June 6th. This fun and educational program is for moms and daughters to attend together. Grab your 10-12 year-old and sign up today!
What mom isn’t looking for help to get her kids to toe-the-line, find time for herself and make her life go more smoothly? Wouldn’t it be great if moms had a place they could go to get a year’s worth of great advice and support for their endless and often thankless work in just one day?
That place exists and it’s called MamaCon - Inspiration and Tools for Modern Moms [www.mamacon.net]. MamaCon, May 18 and 19, 2012, at the Bellevue Hilton, is the brainchild of Seattle area moms and parent educators Amy Lang and Kim Estes.
Amy and Kim decided the time has come for a conference solely devoted to the “business” of motherhood. Here’s a taste of some excellent tips and advice from several of MamaCon’s amazing speakers and experts.
Dr. Shirin Shirkat, Create Happy Kids, [www.createhappykids.com], tells moms to “say it only once and be heard” by using this magical sentence, “First, _________ then, ____________.” For example, “First eat your dinner, then you can have ice cream.” Keep this short, clear and concrete if you want it to be powerful and effective.
Sara Eizen, Nest Seattle, [www.nestseattle.com], helps moms go from “clutter to calm.” One of her best tips is to take the hanging rod out of the coat closet and install hooks instead. No more hangers and plenty of room to get all those coats and jackets put away.
Margit Crane, Gifted With ADD, [www.giftedwithadd.com] says moms need to understand sometimes your child is going to be like a “hot house flower.” Your child may need extra reminding, love, attention, support, reminding again and excessive cajoling. Do what they need to thrive. She says this is usually a passing phase and kids end up able to function well without mom’s intensive help.
Too tired for sex? Amy Johnson, Diligent Joy, [www.diligentjoy.com]suggests having a regular date with your spouse or partner and having sex before you go out for dinner or to the movies. Also, exploring your own sexuality holistically can help you and your relationship.
Kathy Slattengren, Priceless Parenting, [www.pricelessparenting.com] suggests using “silent self-talk” as the first step to moving from anger to empathy. All those snarky, sarcastic and downright mean things you sometimes say to try to motivate your kids? Feel free to think them all you want. Saying them won’t do anyone any good and certainly won’t get your kid moving. Silent self-talk allows you to vent and then connect with your child.
Some of our topics:
Solving the Dinner Dilemma: Stress-Free Cooking For Busy Moms - Make Ahead Mamas (Claudia Pettis, Deb Kapsner, and Maia Kelly)
Envy the Energizer Bunny? Sleep for the Exhausted Mama - Catherine Darley, ND
Vodka: It’s Not Just for Drinking Jim Allen
Getting Your Groove Back: Sex for the Exhausted Mama - Amy Johnson
From Clutter to Calm - Sara Eizen
Motherhood, Money and Mayhem - Debbie Whitlock
The Momarchy: Take Your Life Back From Your Kids - Angela Toussaint
Raising Resilient Kids- Avoiding Praise Junkies! - Sarina Behar Natkin
Turn It Off! Tips and Tools for Parenting in the Age of Technology - Ann Hungar Steel
Chores Without Challenge - Patricia Nan Anderson
Turning Anger to Empathy: Responding to Misbehavior with Empathy - Kathy Slattengren
Creating Grateful Kids - Shirin Shirkat
That Would Never Happen to MY Daughter! - Kelly Marquet
Picky Eating: It’s Not Your Fault! - Matthew Amster-Burton
With over 50 parenting and life speakers and experts, including Rosalind Wiseman, New York Times best selling author of Queen Bees and Wannabes, free mini-spa treatments, wine tasting, a comedy show and Seattle Mom Prom [www.seattlemomprom.com] local moms will get just what they need to be happier, savvier mamas.
If mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy and MamaCon [www.mamacon.net] is all about creating happy moms!
300 112th Avenue SE
Bellevue, Washington 98004
Marketplace Preview and Kick-Off Cocktail Party!
Friday, May 18, 2012 - 3PM to 9PM
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!
MamaCon - Inspiration and Tools for Modern Moms
Saturday, May 19, 2012 - 8AM (registration) to 12PM
Tickets! Use Code MCNSPEC for $20 off.
Here's an article I wrote for Examiner.com re: sexual assault awareness and prevention.
In addition, parents, be sure to watch the short video I've embedded here (it's in the article too) so you can start talking about ALL the things that are important to prevent sexual violence, like:
All these things are a part of healthy, consensual experiences and relationships!