Archive for April, 2010

Parenting – Are You Still Cutting Off the End of Your Ham?

by on Monday, April 26th, 2010

A newly married  young woman, while preparing an Easter dinner for her husband, cut off the end of the ham before putting it in the pan to roast, just like her Mother had done before her. One afternoon while her Mother was visiting, her daughter asked her why she had always cut the end off the ham. The Mother replied that it was what her Mother had always done.  Mother and daughter decided to pay a visit to Grandma to find the answer to their question.

Baked Ham

So the following Sunday, while visiting Grandma, they asked her why she had always cut the end off the ham before putting it in the roasting pan.  She replied, “ I only had a small pan and it was usually too small for the size of the ham!”  This story beautifully illustrates what can happen when we blindly follow tradition without asking the appropriate questions.

Parenting is one of, if not the most, difficult job there is to do.  And to follow without questioning the traditional ways of our parents and grandparents is like unnecessarily cutting off the end of the ham. These new ultra sensitive beings that are populating the planet are not ones that can be parented in a traditional way, for the most part.  They are different than the generations before in that they are very much more intuitive and can see through that which is unnecessary and when they are being deceived. They are often so sensitive to their environment that crying and temper tantrums can be continuous. They become uncomfortable and frustrated as they naturally pick up the chaotic energies around them (these can also be the intense global energies that affect us all) and any nervousness and crankiness of the parents and household.

What are the new ways to parent these exceptional beings?  There is much information on these children on the internet and if you are stressed out and confused about how to parent in a more effective and efficient way,  do a Google search on Crystal Children.

My Grandchildren

I have seven children and eight grandchildren, and I have counseled numerous parents. And through these personal experiences, I have learned that every person is different and sees and interprets the world through their own unique lens. No one is born with an owners manual. It requires much trial and error for parents to work through the growing cycles of their children from infancy to adulthood. If parented with knowledge and skill, children can be guided to what is best suited for their unique gifts.  No child should be forced to become like someone else or forced to live another’s life.  Each should be competently guided toward healthy development and their particular intrinsic destiny. I have included below some strategies I have learned that could prove helpful.

Hopes, Dreams and Pain

When pregnant with a child all our hopes and dreams are focused on having the perfect little one to love and cherish who will love and adore us in return.  In other words, we desire a truly rewarding experience, hoping it will be easy.

My Granddaughter Llia

Unfortunately, this is not consistently the case. There is no way to know in advance if the child you bring into the world will be compatible with either of the parents. There could be significant personality clashes. Clashes between parents and children are very common.

The greatest pain a woman can feel is to believe she has somehow failed in her role as mother. When a child is difficult as an infant and toddler, a mother can be devastated and feel guilty as though she is inadvertently doing something to cause the problem. In most instances this is not the case. I have found that difficult babies are just that, difficult, and it wouldn’t matter who was parenting them. They will become easier to parent as they get a little older and considerably easier around age 6 to 8, if the parent sticks to new helpful parenting as apposed to lashing out like parents of past generations with anger from feelings of failure and fear.

Your child’s unconscious drives and sensitivity to their environment are not your fault. Calmly teaching a child to appropriately channel these energies and what is acceptable behavior IS the responsibility of the parents. This can help the difficult child learn boundaries and consequences.  So, it is essential that you stick with it.  It will get easier.

A mother’s guilt and pain can increase quickly when her child reaches puberty and develops a mind of their own and may become disrespectful, disobedient and try harmful and risky behavior.  I have experienced this pain and these conditions first hand, I know how devastating it can be.  There is no physical pain that can compare. Not all children will rebel.  However, there are those that do need to find their own way and express themselves, and learn what works and what doesn’t through trial and lots of error. Often there is nothing you could do or could have done to prevent them from going their own way. The pain they create will assist in their learning. Stop feeling responsible and guilty. They would have rebelled and experimented no matter who their parents were as we see in families where some rebel and others don’t, though they were all raised in the same way.

Pick Your Battles Wisely

My Granddaughter Sierra

These new children are often quite powerful and stubborn, everything seems to be a power struggle. You want to conserve your energy for the important issues. Too often we get caught up in what others will think of us and we waste too much energy trying to control our children to do things and to behave in ways that make us look good as a parent. Stop worrying about what others may think and use the adage “What others think of me is none of my business!”

One parent I know has taken this concept to heart. With two very strong little girls, who refuse to take direction, particularly about what they wear, she allows them complete control over what they wear to school each day. Initially, Mom talked with their teachers explaining her strategy and that she was no longer worrying about how they looked and the coordination of their daily outfits. Eliminating this morning battle freed Mom to spend her energy more productively. Often the outfits the girls chose were hysterical. Some days they would wear a princess dress with red cowboy boots! Or, they would wear the same outfit for 2 days in a row.  It provided much laughter and fun for the teachers as they actually enjoyed the anticipation of seeing what the girls chose to wear each day.

This makes an interesting point.  What mothers struggle over – what others and including the teachers may think of them– can actually be illuminated with a little ingenuity and communication. Think outside the box!

Choices

Give your children choices within parameters.  These strong children need to feel they have some power and control. This is a good thing and over time will create feelings of self confidence and trust. The parameters are your tolerance levels, what is acceptable to you. You might say, “ You can choose any one of these 5 things”, then let them make their choice. This can be especially helpful if your little one is a fussy eater. Get creative with it. This system is win win. You need to let your child feel the power of winning some of the time.  We all need that.  Think of when you were young and how good you felt when you were able to choose what you wore and what you ate.

No and Don’t

The words no and don’t, mean yes and do, in a child’s mind, and do not work well for successful parenting in general. The brain interprets these words in the opposite way they were intended as any experienced parent will admit.  So remove them from your vocabulary except in extreme situations. Use choice, and consequences for choices, as your leverage instead. “If you choose to do this, this is what will happen.” Then, follow through with the consequences. This training will help any child grasp the important concept that their choices are ultimately their responsibility and can’t be blamed on others.

Violence, Anger and Fear

No one feels good in an atmosphere of manipulation, shame, guilt, threats, force or violence.  There is always loss associated with these behaviors.  Children may comply for a time, but resentment, lack of trust, hatred, and usually more violence will result, leaving huge damage to undo.  All too often the scars are too deep and the damage is irreparable.

It is unfortunate that frequently family members — those who should treat each other with the greatest amount of love and respect — are the most unkind to one another. Daily media reports graphically show unspeakable crimes committed in the name of love.  Parenting can be painful and exasperating leaving one uncertain about the best course of action.  But, one can’t expect the child to exemplify better behavior than the parents exhibit.  You must balance and discipline yourself before you can expect your child’s behavior to improve. Lashing out in anger with physical punishment is never helpful.

Loving Words

I am a huge proponent for speaking lovingly to one another.  When I was young, those who spoke lovingly and encouragingly to me, made a profound impact on my life, and I will be forever grateful. It has been my unstinting goal to implement this philosophy into my grandparenting. I had one Grandmother who was horribly abusive and another that was lovely, respectful and kind. I felt the emotional difference at a very young age.

My Granddaughter Janet

Children need to know they are approved of.  This is critical for their emotional stability. All human beings desire to be loved and appreciated.   Anytime you sincerely praise the wonderful qualities and performance of your child, husband, or another you are doing something of great value.  A bond of love is formed which enhances your interactions with all of these individuals and improves their self-esteem. Receiving approval from someone we respect is the most powerful builder of self-confidence.  As you speak kind and loving words your life will become a source of strength and encouragement to those around you through your positive and loving example. Children learn best by example!

The Emotions of Words

Here is a list of descriptions of the emotions that loving words generate.  (Think about the high energy associated with these emotions and how they positively effect the state of ones health.)

Self-acceptance, love, self-worth, peace, loyalty, security, health, happiness, joy, devotion, safety,   trust, beauty, freedom, unity, productivity, creativity, generosity, spirituality, compassion, harmony, enthusiasm, motivation, contentment, relaxation, excitement, playfulness, approval and satisfaction.

The absence of loving words and the use of unkind words generate feelings of: (Now feel the low frequency of the emotions associated with these words and feelings. They also impact ones health, but in a negative way.)

Emotional and physical pain, insecurity,  frustration, illness, self-hate, selfishness, self-consciousness, fear, doubt, mistrust, grief, insomnia, stress, tension, mental preoccupation, depression, lack of feeling, meanness, cruelty, anger, violence, hatred, despair, rejection, jealousy, bitterness, inadequacy, remorse, defiance, and vengeance.

The contrast is shocking.  Why would you ever want your child to grow up in any realm other than the beautiful and life-affirming environment created by the expression of loving words? The magic of sincere, loving words creates miracles.

Apologize

If you do or say something unkind, instantly apologize.  The ability to admit you were unkind or thoughtless or even wrong is highly endearing.  It can literally melt anger and diffuse the entire situation with love. The ability to apologize shows great strength and maturity.  It demonstrates to your child that you are human and your motivation is to be kind, considerate, and fair, even though you may still have differences.

The “I LIKE” or “I LOVE” Formula

“I like” is a phrase that is particularly important. The mere fact that you like something about your child builds their feelings of confidence, for it truly is your approval your child seeks. Children are particularly susceptible to praise and demonstrations of your approval. The “I like” or “I love” formula works very well in strengthening a child’s self-esteem. Children are sensitive to competitive peer pressure.  When you express that you like who they are and the positive things they do, in a non-competitive way, you empower them with self-confidence and better their chances for success.  How you express the “ I like” phrase is the key.

If you were to say, “Molly, you look good in that outfit” you would have inadvertently compared her appearance to an arbitrary standard of what Molly perceives to be good or bad. When complimented in this way,  filters surface.  She might spontaneously think, “I know I don’t look good compared to Janey, or the popular Jill from Sunday school.” Filters twist the meaning of your words and could actually remind the child that she feels inadequate.

My Children - fabulous all...

The following technique is a more beneficial way to deliver compliments which bypasses filters and communicates what you like.  Your opinion is what matters. The way to compliment, which removes competition, and speaks directly to the heart, would be, “Bella, I like the way you look in that outfit” or “ I like how you put such cute outfits together”, “Molly, I love the color of your eyes” or “I like the way you take care of your toys” or “I like the picture you painted, tell me about it” or “I  like spending time with you” orI love how you share your toys with others.” Every comment should be positive and uplifting, pointing to your child’s perfection in your eyes.

Below is a list of little things that you can do to strengthen the bond with your child and other loved ones. Remember: without question, KINDNESS in words and actions is THE most significant way a parent can speak to a childs’s heart.

The Power of Touch

I refer to appropriate physical displays of affection which create positive feelings of wholeness and acceptance.  These loving gestures include clasping the hand, stroking the head and hair, or gently caressing your child’s face.  A hand on the shoulder or back can be especially comforting.  As long as they will allow sitting on your lap, take advantage of that and read a book with them. Many children have an actual physiological need to be touched and held which creates feelings of acceptance.

The Smile

A smile is the perfect display of approval.  This principle of generosity and acceptance applies deeply with your loved ones.  Our daughter provides an excellent example: One morning my youngest daughter, nine year old Liz, walked into our room. I glanced in her direction, but remained immersed in concentration on a project. She painfully asked, “Are you mad at me?  You didn’t smile at me this morning.”

It is easy to recall the pain of not feeling approval, particularly from male authority figures during childhood.  From the limited experience of a child, it was impossible to tell if these adults liked or approved of you by the expression on their faces. It was uncomfortable to be around these people. Their stern demeanor created uncertainty and fear. The goal is to break this cycle of fear and abolish this austere stereotype. Smile.  This loving gesture shows the world is a safe and loving place.

Taking an Interest

Take an interest in who your child is: play and read with the little ones, ask about their friends, what they like to do, express your pleasure in their accomplishments.  Find what gives them their identity and discuss their dreams and goals. Praise and honor your child with sincere attention. This means considerably more focus and attention than a passing, “How was school day?”  Be a good listener, it shows that you care. Time does not always allow for daily sessions, but as often as you are able, take the time to sincerely focus and communicate with your child.

Eye contact is very important as you listen to your child. It shows they have your attention — that you’re listening to and hearing what they have to say. If your eyes are constantly watching the time, or you seem distracted, they feel that what they say is unimportant to you and you would rather be doing something else. For maximum effect, maintain a consistent eye lock. You might need to begin the conversation by stating you have 15 minutes or a half an hour.   Your child needs to feel they have your undivided attention for the specified period of time to talk about whatever is important to them without judgment.

Our family

As your child gets older, these talks are even more important. It is vital you pay attention to moods and what is going on with them generally.  Moodiness can be an indicator of serious problems from drug abuse to bullying and other social issues. Stay communicative and involved.

Encouragement

Everyone can benefit from a cheering section.  Life is a continuing cycle of ups and downs.  We all need a special person to be helpful and encouraging during the down times; someone to build us up when we feel like a failure or to cheer for us at times of accomplishment and success.  It is of great sustaining value to know there is someone who always believes in you. Children crave these encouraging and nurturing words. Any child will progress at a faster pace when surrounded by love and encouragement. No individual, young or old, can go through life and develop their potential without the support and love of other human beings.

Laughter

It is healthy to laugh out loud and often.  Taking ourselves too seriously causes stress which creates disease.

Mark and me

It is common knowledge that laughing reduces stress and relieves tension. It can let the steam out of an argument. Have fun and happy times with your child. Laugh with each other, watch funny movies and videos together. Lighten up and stop taking yourself and your opinions too seriously.

Humor is magical and can transform a mountain into a molehill. When confronting differences, keep your communication light and to the point. The overall health of the relationship is more important than getting your way, or proving your point, or being right. Often, you can afford to wait and  let  common experience  be  the  judge. Laughter is a way of maintaining a perspective on what’s most important in our lives.

A word of caution. Humor is a two-edged sword.  It can also be used as a tool to poke fun at a personal weakness in another, or for ridicule or sarcasm. These are not appropriate uses of laughter in raising a child. Ridicule in any form can be devastating to your child.  This brand of humor will erode the trust that healthy parenting demands.

Support Groups

We are in an age where sharing our experiences and social networking is a vital part of our lives. We need to hear about what other families are experiencing with these new children and how they are handling and coping with the associated issues. If you don’t currently belong to any groups, I recommend you find some that feel good and comfortable to you.  There is a great one on the internet called, Better Way Moms, that provides wonderful real information. Or, start your own. Don’t hesitate to admit that you don’t have the answers.  These are complex challenges and we are feeling our way through them together.  Experiment. When something doesn’t work, try something else. Remember the saying, “If you always do what you’ve always done, then you will always get what you always got!” You must make different choices  in order for circumstances and outcomes to change.

I do not suggest that this information can solve all the problems associated with parenting.  These are some helpful techniques only. There are many new challenges that modern day parents face that require attention. However, if the information I provide is consistently applied, it can make improvements in the tasks at hand, help keep the relationship with your child positive and loving, and make parenting a more satisfying and joyful experience.