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!The Greatest Gift You Can Give Children

I believe most of us have what it takes to be genuinely great parents; regardless if we have been separated, divorced or attempting to co-parent. More often than not, it is through our efforts to juggle an already rather hectic lifestyle that we neglect some of the most crucial aspects of parenting. Beyond the basic requirements of love, nurturing, food, clothing, shelter, and education, the next layer involves four key elements. These four key elements are: Time, Structure, Stimulation, and Protection. Today's article is to look at Time.

There is a debate amongst those who facilitate parental education that has raged for years - Quantity vs. Quality. These two opinions have been frequently flaunted by those on either side of Mothers Working Outside of the Home argument. The purest believe that children need their mother at home and that the quantity of time spent with them is of paramount importance. The progressive attitudes in defense of the working mother, place weight on the quality of time. Free from judgement either way (as I have done both), I have come to satisfy my requirement for an answer through what I believe is more important than both;

"Wherever You Are, Be There."

Today, more than any time previously known in our history, distraction is our new norm. We will answer phone calls, return text messages, or read a magazine or newspaper while we wait for our coffee to be brought to our table, whilst our child sits alongside, regardless of what side of the Quantity/Quality argument we believe we belong on. Between mobile phones, iPods, and all other forms of screen-based entertainment, we have our attention more focused on those absent, than with those in front of us. To give our children Time is to be Present. It is to value the interaction regardless of how ordinary it may appear.

John is a well-paid senior executive who can provide every new toy imaginable for his kids - and he does. They have the latest and greatest technology money can buy, ranging from personal iPods to full in-home theatre. He is not unlike many diligent, hardworking, and intelligent men; he possess a fatherly desire to be at as many kid's events as his work allows.

Rushing from the office to make the 7:00 p.m. parent-teacher interviews, he greets his boy with a quick hug, asks about his day for a gratuitous 30 seconds, and as he does, automatically reaches into his pocket for his new phone. Proudly giving facts and figures as to its brilliance, how he can now access his work inbox from anywhere, anytime. "Ding." His concentration snaps elsewhere, he immediately texts, and laughs audibly at a reply while sadly his attention has moved to another, and away from his son sitting quietly beside him.

John is perplexed at the teacher's concern for his boy's lack of concentration.

This is alarmingly common; and let's not pretend we don't do it ourselves. Many women take comfort believing they can multitask and therefore excuse themselves, but I beg to offer an alternative opinion. We are no more able to focus on texting and at the same time hold a meaningful conversation with someone in front of us than men are. And our children feel it. Quietly, distraction robs us of opportunities that our present moment offers. Whether we are doing the washing, taxiing kids, writing a thesis, having dinner, or going shopping, be there. Pay attention to whatever it is you are doing and absorb the uniqueness within each instance. When you do this, you will excel in all your doings.

For our children to feel they are valued and important, loved and worthwhile, a simple priority of focus is pivotal. If we are miles away in thought while with our children, the time with them is of little consequence and can be fulfilled by anyone. Have you heard yourself ask the question "How's your day been?", and then be unable to recall the answer. We may even ask it again before we get pulled up by our child for having just told us. How many of us know our children's friends' names? What about what they look like? Would you be able to spot them around the local shops, especially out of school uniform? Have we taken the time to understand what is happening inside their friends' families? The next time you are ready to scold your teen for their dismissive glance towards your friend, ask yourself, do you know theirs?

Our children (especially teens) need our support, wisdom, and guidance as we move through this change in family structure; perhaps they felt too much distance when it didn't really matter to believe we will truly be there for them now that it does. Being There is about focus, attention, and intention. The debate about quantity and quality cannot be settled outside of circumstantial factors, this can only be done at the core of Being Present.

برچسب ها : !The Greatest Gift You Can Give Children ,

ادامه مطلب...

Consequences of speak ill

Speaking poorly of your child's other parent is one of the largest issues overlooked by co-parents - and yet it is one of the easiest for you to resolve. The reasons (or should I say excuses) that it is acceptable to slag off about your Ex to your children are numerous and yet the confusion that it causes in their life is immeasurable.

Every time you diminish your Ex to your children, you diminish your own parenting - and significantly so. To place your children into a position where they could be left to feel they must choose between where their loyalty lies, invites further deadening of life's passions and thirst for creativity. This choice is felt every time you contradict the views held by your Ex. This may have you ask "how do I not contradict when I firmly disagree with them?" This is a very important part of constructively parenting beyond separation. You are entitled to hold different views than you Ex - and often the level of strength with which these are held are the very reason you are now Ex's - so what is the answer?

Unwrapping right and wrong, we reframe situations as being appropriate or inappropriate. Free from judgement about events being right or wrong, basically Events are held as neutral - they just happen - but it is our assessment of the event (usually in context) that gives it a label of being right or wrong. What we do with that judgement is our response and a matter of Choice; we can either be reactive or proactive. This is to say that we either consciously choose our response or we unconsciously react from previous experiences. This will then determine the next Outcome. Event + Choice = Outcome

This means we cease to judge the event, and instead, observe the outcome in context of whether they are appropriate or inappropriate in achieving the initial intension. As you come to understand the reasons for removing right and wrong from your conversations, you'll learn that - regardless of the temptation to do so - using your Ex as an example of what your children should, or should not do, is not only ineffective, it's inappropriate. It sends powerful, yet silent messages that infiltrate their thinking - messages that your children will find challenging to undo in the years to come. Discussion and examination of actions as either appropriate or inappropriate, provided we are constructive, presents a great opportunity to learn.

Here is a case study of this in action: Peter is a particularly neat and tidy sort of person who spent several years in the armed forces and learned discipline and duty. He believes his boys should mimic this orderly behaviour in their bedrooms as a basic household standard. Kim is quite the opposite. She's a happy-go-lucky woman who is far more focused on providing a homely feel to the house, so having stuff left lying around isn't of any consequence to her.

While Peter and Kim were together, their opposing views (while they caused tension) contributed a certain balance to the home. Now that they live apart, this difference has become very apparent. During the routine pick-ups and drop-offs, Peter can't help but notice the chaos. Unable to contain his growing concern about what he believes is a poor parenting standard for his boys, when he gets them into the car he tells them how bad it is that they live in a pigsty. "That's not how it's meant to be. Your rooms should be tidy, clothes put away, and everything cleaned at least once a week." Of course the boys already know this because that's how it is in Dad's house and has been for quite some time.

What Peter has actually told his children is very different from what he thinks he has told them. He has said "Mum is wrong; I am right."

While there may be great merit in orderliness in your children's bedrooms - goodness, we all wish for that - unfortunately, Peter's desire for orderliness is lost through the tone of right and wrong in his delivery. Can you see that his conversation is targeting the circumstantial layer, while the message that is silently sent to his children hits at their belief layer instead? It may affect the situation in Peter's favour in the short-term, but it profoundly affects the children's beliefs for years to come.

By keeping your discussions within the context of appropriate or inappropriate, with a little practice, you can send messages that consistently build constructive beliefs, and still attend to the needs of the moment. There is no reason to ever bad-mouth your Ex, especially in the presence of your children; while it is not always easy to do, it is as simple as making a good choice in each moment. Your children need to learn to love themselves - even their most irritating genetic side.

برچسب ها : speak ill ,

ادامه مطلب...

Love, Fear, and Prayer

The price of love of fear of loss. If we wouldn’t be sad by the loss of a loved one or by being rejected by someone we deeply love, love would have no bond, no intimacy, and no joy. To love is to risk the vulnerability of our inner most being. At least that’s what the most genuine and delicious level of love requires. Some love is virtually involuntary. It seems you have no choice but to love. To love without restraint. One case where this is most potent is with young grandchildren. Love from a grandchild is unpolluted from typical parental responsibilities or the duties of discipline. The relationship between a grandparent and grandchild is like dessert. When you surrender to a chocolate lava cake or two scoops of gelato in a waffle cone you are unconcerned about protein and fiber. Balance is out the window in the face of unrestrained enjoyment.

But…our tenuous vulnerability is always lurking. This past 4th of July my six-year-old grandson, Antonio, was run over by a float in a small town parade. The wheels of a 12 foot steel snowmobile trailer carrying 12 other children rolled directly over his head ripping his scalp away from his skull. Antonio does not suffer from a lack of confidence or a shortage of what-can-I-do-next ideas. As the parade was coming close to its finish he decided to join many of his cousins who were riding in the trailer. In one ugly instant he slipped directly in front of the trailer as it began a turn, then he tripped and there on the ground he later said he saw the tires rolling toward him. He froze and closed his eyes while scores of eyewitnesses began screaming, some already crying, the trailer rumbled directly over him. The children on board later said they all felt the bump. As blood flushed over his face his uncle leaped forward and picked him up carefully, holding Antonio’s skin on his skull. Everyone was terrified.

Except Antonio. He said, “I don’t have any broken bones. Clean me up and bring me back. I don’t want to miss anything.” You see Antonio had broken his arm a few years ago and he somehow remembered what that felt like. The paramedics were there almost instantly because their emergency vehicle had been in the parade. As they put Antonio inside, he said, looking at no one in particular but in the form of an announcement, “No shots.”

What transpired over the next twelve hours confirmed the impossible had happened. Although several eyewitnesses said Antonio’s head should have been crushed like a grape, he instead was fine. Of course he had to have over 100 stitches, mostly under his scalp and thankfully not across his handsome face, but after CAT scans and many neurological tests there was no permanent or even critical injuries. No cracked skull, not even the sign of a concussion. Lots of swelling though. The next day, still in the hospital with his head the size of a Halloween pumpkin and one eye swollen shut, he was playing a video game with his 12-year-old girl cousin. He was overheard telling her, “I am 6 years old with one good eye and I can still beat you.” Ah, my sweet little Antonio.

So how can I explain a miracle? I can’t. The whole of reality is like trying to explain art using only technical analysis. Describing the science behind our optic nerve or the chemistry of paint pigment tells us nothing about the experience of a breathtaking Monet or the wonder of the Mona Lisa. I don’t know why and certainly not how Antonio’s life and health was spared. What I can tell you is that the experience of love and gratitude brings me to a sense of meaning far deeper than daily life, the evening news or my trivial complaints. It also fills me with compassion for the scores of good fellow human beings who every day desperately need miracles to save their child or grandchild and don’t get one. I don’t know why. But I pray for them. I pray because I am humbled by what I don’t know. What I don’t understand. I pray because I feel in some way connected to something bigger than I can understand. I pray because I believe that personal and collective energy of compassion somehow matters. I pray because it fuels my optimism. I pray most of all because it changes me. It changes what I desire. It changes how I see things. It changes the quality of my everyday encounter with life.

And the next time I get frustrated or fail I will think of my grandson Antonio’s words: “Clean me up and bring me back. I don’t want to miss anything.”

برچسب ها : Love , Fear , and Prayer ,

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