Living in the here and now, living with intention, parenting

Fresh Eyes

It is Friday and the Fourth of July is right around the corner. Most of us hope to enjoy time with family and friends. These upcoming days offer some wonderful opportunities to live in the here and now, even if only for a couple hours. Commit to looking at others with ‘fresh eyes’, including your kiddos. Put aside automatic beliefs and thoughts. Let anger, worries and fears go for now and appreciate the positive moments you have been given with each other. Give yourself permission to release negative thoughts and practice seeing others as if meeting for the first time. See the unique qualities of others. You will be amazed at what you see and feel. It is one of our challenges as humans to be in the moment and to put aside negative, non-productive thoughts. However, if we choose to commit to  moments, such as taking a walk or sharing a meal with ‘fresh eyes’, you will open yourself up to different ways of thinking and relating to others. You get to choose.

So, give it a try! We all want to feel lighter and experience more joy in the moment. This takes practice. The more times you practice this skill the easier it will become. Good luck catching some great moments.

Emotionally distressed kids, Listening to our children, parenting

Parents, Please Listen!

You probably will not believe me when I tell you that good, loving, and well intentioned parents often do not listen to their children when they express thoughts of distress or suicidal ideation. It doesn’t seem possible but it is true. As a therapist I have worked with children/adolescents in distress and asked them if they shared their feelings of hopelessness with family and most often the response is yes. They have then gone on to share that to their surprise nothing changed.  The kids are often perplexed why little to no changes occurred when they shared something so painful and profound.  As a therapist I have spoken with parents about their child’s suicidal thoughts and many times I have needed to convince parents to seek additional support/treatment. Why would a caring parent not seek help for their child immediately when so much is at stake?

After years of observation, I have come to believe that a parent’s own beliefs and defenses surface which leads to a struggle to absorb the thought that their child could truly be suicidal. Yes, maybe they have been a bit down or stressed but…. The rationalizing and minimizing of this very real challenge is truly disturbing and needs to be acknowledged. No other health issue would be met with such reluctance to pursue additional treatment.

The idea that a parent can control and protect their child is a powerful and consuming belief that is simply not accurate and one that makes less and less sense as kids get older. In addition, the belief that we know what is best for our child is often flawed as well.  The idea that we can be everything to our children leads us to dangerous assumptions and behavior choices.

While we have continued to work to remove the stigma of mental health needs, we need to do more. Parents need to do more. Listen to your kids if they tell you they are struggling and get them help now. By the time your child tells you about their struggles, chances are good they have been trying to cope for some time and haven’t been able to manage.

Do your own work and explore your beliefs about mental health, depression and the contemplation of ending a life through suicide.  Your kids need you to be there for them and that means putting your own beliefs aside and hearing them when they are in distress. We can all do a better job at listening to each other but in this area, it is critical for parents to be at their best and be ready to listen.

living with intention, parenting

Parenting with Intention

Parenting with intention takes regular thought and practice. Increasing awareness, listening to our thoughts and emotions which drives our behavior choices takes effort. Without a will to listen to ourselves we simply become reactive when responding to our children.  It is empowering to choose something different and maybe even create something you intended. Starting with small moments is meaningful and can lead to much more.

All of us have varying intentions each day, however, none of us wake up and decide we want to have a mediocre day. Most of us wake up with some initial anxiety about what the day may bring but hopefully after indulging in a bit of anxious thinking, we switch the gear and move toward intentional thoughts such as, I want to spend more fun time with my child or I want to take a walk after dinner with my family.  These are all great intentions most would agree. So what derails us can be a variety of factors such as our jobs, fatigue, chronic pain, etc. This is the moment we get to choose differently despite everything else going on. Yes, some things are out of our control and too often we focus on what we cannot do for a variety of reasons. But what if today we decide to focus on what we can do? We actually choose to make something different happen such as eating dinner picnic style on the floor in the living room or in a tent fort. The art of choosing something different can be powerful even with small shifts. The benefits can include a positive change in mood, decreased tension and some great laughter built in the day.

I love the idea of creating a moment.  I choose to celebrate the positive moments in my life and build in more as that is my intention.

parenting, Uncategorized

Clarifying Parenting Expectations Versus Privileges

We are all looking to find balance in our lives, families and homes. Given our busy schedules it is more important than ever to set ourselves up to build successes in our daily lives. When parenting, an essential component to creating more successes centers on the need to understand the difference between a parental expectation and a privilege in your home. Spending time to talk with your partner about this concept will be rewarding and prevent needless disagreements.

If you have not had this discussion, simply take a few minutes for each of you to list what you consider to be reasonable expectations as well as appropriate privileges for your child. Then come together and listen to each other without interruption or judgment. Take some time away from this subject to contemplate and come back later to discuss. It is hoped that going through this simple exploration will lead you as parents to a clearer understanding of how you each see expectations and privileges. You may not see common ground on all aspects but do not despair. This does not prevent you from beginning to create your family expectations and privileges list on all that you can agree upon. Armed with this knowledge, begin to teach your child about what you have decided to be important in your family/home.

Whatever you and your parenting partner have decided upon is a great start! Do your best to teach expectations well through consistent words/ actions and clearly define what privileges look like in your home. Please see below for some examples to get you started😊.

 

Examples of expectations: (taught and reinforced daily/weekly)

-follow bedtime routine

-help set and clear the table

-no television/electronic gaming on school nights

 

Examples of privileges: (parents control when and how long these are utilized)

-use of any and all electronic devices

-use of special craft supplies

-cooking/baking with family