An Eye for an Eye… Really?

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“Bite him back!” This is something I have heard many people say as a parent and a former teacher.  It is especially present when there is a two year old in the house.  I understand that this is an easy solution to the problem at hand but I wonder, what is it really teaching our kids and what will the long term repercussions of that look like?
The concept of an eye for an eye is very old and long standing in our society and culture.  I don’t think it has served anyone well however.  In my mind, it comes from the space of the Monkey Mind…the fight or flight method.  Moving to a higher-level thinking skill when someone else hurts you would look more like using words and talking it out.  Using communication to solve the problem or removing yourself from the problem rather than acting out vengeance.
As parents, we are in a unique position with the ability to model appropriate problem solving skills and perhaps by doing so, save the world and bring peace.  I know that may sound like a big jump but think about it.  If our children go into their adult lives knowing how to solve problems and how to have their needs met in an effective way, there  would be no need for fighting and wars.
Along this line, I was disheartened to hear that their is anti-Japanese sentiment online while the Japanese are in the process of experiencing one of the world’s worst disasters.   This is upsetting to me because people are drawing from their past experience or worse, their families past experiences to draw their current ideas.  This is a problem that I would say keeps most of the crisis in the world alive.  Think about the Middle East for example, they have been battling in tribal wars for centuries.  Are these battles the current people’s issues or are they problems of the past?  I would venture to say that these wars are festered by people’s memories and recollections of the past.  Living in the present moment is a gift.  Letting it go is possible and would serve everyone well.
When people are hurting, even if you perceive that they have somehow harmed you or your family in the past, it is especially important to reach out to them and comfort them in their time of need.  This is healing not only to the people who are suffering but to the people who have reached out to help and to the world at large.  When generosity and forgiveness are witnessed it gives everyone permission to rise above the past and live in the present.  It model’s to our children that healing and moving forward are possible and that they too will not be limited by their past or their family’s.  They have the opportunity to truly create and live.  To let the past go and move forward in peace.
This week, take a minute to look at your own life.  Are you living in vengeance?  Are you teaching that behavior your child?  Forgiveness is golden for you and for your loved ones.  Modeling is everything and how our children truly learn.  Let’s create peace together!  Think about it!

Love thy Neighbor…

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This week, I snuck off to attend church. A rare event these days as my youngest refuses to stay with anyone other than mom, dad, or grandparents. The service started with a quick song of ‘Love Thy Neighbor’ which found it’s way into the sermon. It really struck me this week as I have been struggling with the thought of communicating to someone about something touchy. I was working out the best way to approach the person in question last week and a friend reminded me of this as well. She said to me, “How would you want to be treated?” I realized that I was spending time finding ways around direct communication and direct communication was exactly what I would want.
As for parenting, this also applies.  It is a great reminder for me to think about the golden rule and how I would want to be treated if the tables were turned.  I often find as a mother that I am to focused on the results of the moment and not focused on the long term results.  How am I choosing to communicate my wants and needs to my kids?  Am I yelling, forcing, manipulating, coaxing?  Would I want someone to get me from point A to point B in that way?  What am I teaching them when I say, “Mommy’s leaving without you if you don’t come NOW!”  It sounds to me, from an outside observer space, that I am teaching them to fear my leaving and saying that they will be left behind.  That is not my intention.  I just want to move from here to the car.  I can see, however, that my choice of words and who I am being in the moment, really makes a long term difference for how they see the world and the fears they hold.  It may take me a little longer to adjust my attitude and move into more words and explanation with my kids but communication building will make all the difference later for them and for me.   Now I choose to say, “We are going to the store to get some food.  What would you like at the store?  Do we have that at home now?  No.  Okay, then getting dressed and getting into the car to go get that would really be helpful.  Do you want to come with me?  Are you ready to go now? Great, let’s go.”

This contains many more words but will help them to establish the value of going to the store.  When there is value and understanding, there is less conflict and stress.  Let’s face it, no-one wants to be told what to do and how to do it even if they are two.  Giving the kids and ourselves space to get the value and to understand the purpose and possible outcomes of their choices, empowers them to fully participate and grow.  Manipulating, demanding, coaxing and such only teaches children to communicate in the same way when they want or need something themselves.  Love thy neighbor (and child) as thyself.  Words to communicate by!

Taking Care of Me?

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I find myself compulsively taking care of my email, my club duties, my FB account, my blogs and I wonder if this is just another addiction that keeps me from truly connecting with my family and my friends. Is this taking care of me or is this a way to avoid them?
I would venture to say it is an addiction. I would also say that taking care of me by doing things that full fill me (aka the blogging) as an individual is important to my family too.
So, what to do? Set time limits for myself? Limit my outside activities? Create set amounts of time that I focus specifically on my loved ones?
I will have to keep thinking on this one. I am not quite ready to give up that hit of seeing what my friend’s cat did today. Hmmm….

Bring in the Mommy Subs

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When I was teaching I always thought they should have a TA or a substitute teacher on the stand by for anyone who was having a really bad attitude day. This would protect everyone and keep the world a much happier place. As a parent, I have the same thought!
The past day or so I have felt like the worst mom in the world. I am in a total funk and having a bad attitude day/s. We all have them and it seems the world would be a better place if we could just call in the troops, put up our feet and take it easy for a few minutes. Have some time to be a conscious parent and get back to being positive.

Alas, the world is not perfect. There is an opportunity here for me though. A chance to see that I can ask for help when I need it and the kids would be better off for it. I have tons of places to look: Grandma, Daddy or a Babysitter for a few hours. It is okay for me to take a break and okay for the kids too. Worse case scenario, everyone could go to their rooms for a bit to take a rest. Just a thought…now where did I put that blow up mom!

The Red Dump Truck

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I had a great opportunity last week to look at my reluctance to trust, to see my jaded view of the world. I was at Lowe’s grabbing some leaf bags when an elderly man approached my youngest son and started patting him gently. He was laughing and smiling and told him that he had a truck to give him. I was watching him with my mama tiger eyes all the while thinking, Who is this man? , should I trust him? My other son walked up from the bookcase he was browsing and the man started saying he only had one truck so could he watch them fight over it? I was still skeptical and just humoring him. “Oh, they don’t fight too much. They know how to share.” He laughed and said that he had only one son so he wasn’t sure about sharing. Then he asked if I was done shopping and heading out. He casually followed me to the register and chatted up the sales people near the register while I finished making my purchase. All the while, I was sizing up the situation. Should I be worried? What does this guy want? Should I walk away, duck out? Hmmm… When I finished, he followed me through the door and pointed to his car that was a few feet away. I slowly moved towards it with him. He was telling me about the truck but I wasn’t completely processing what he was saying. He opened his trunk and pulled out a beautiful, handcrafted wooden red toy dump truck and handed it to my youngest son. I asked if I owed him some money. He ignored me. He then said, “I am 85 and I can still make stuff. I make these trucks 10 at a time and keep them in my trunk to give away to kids I see when I am out.” I was still stunned. I told him that it was my youngest sons birthday. The boys and I thanked him and we parted ways. As we walked away, I became filled with joy and hope. I was so taken back with how my fears kept me from truly receiving the gift of that moment. Why am I choosing to create from fear? Why am I choosing to see the world as dangerous? What am I passing on to my kids? I will never forget that red truck. It was such a blessing! So, I invite you to find your “red truck” and give it away this week. I invite you to be open to the gifts the world is trying to give you and the love that surrounds you.

What’s the Rule?

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A great friend just reminded me of the 3 to 1 rule and I realized I have been on the 1 to 3 rule lately. What is the 3 to 1 rule? It translates to 3 positive comments to 1 negative. Lately, it seems, I have been re-enforcing my two year old’s negative behaviors by paying most of my attention to the negative end of things. For example, the other day he decided to hang on all of my new curtains. I immediately started in with the stop, no, don’t, I’m going to count to 3 mister. I had an opportunity to redirect him to another activity and praise him for listening and following directions but I choose to concentrate on what wasn’t working and try to move his behavior by punishment and negative comments. The problem with this is that most behavior is attention getting behavior. Kids are very smart and they will give you what you pay attention too. So, when I run around after him and focus only on what isn’t working, he figures, “Hey, if I hang on mom’s new curtains, she looks at me, talks to me and focuses just on me. How wonderful.” When I take the time to focus on him and praise what is working or at least just look at him and engage in his positive behaviors just as intentionally, he then finds there is no need to do things to gain that attention that are inappropriate. Will this cure him of all his misbehavior? Most likely not, there are many reasons for misbehavior, including that he is two and flexing his independent muscles, testing his boundaries. This will reduce the amount however and provide us both with quality time that is meaningful and memorable. Memories of engaged and fun play, those are the kind of memories I want to create.

Creating the Tantruming Twos

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Today I was at the store with my kiddos who insisted on getting some chicken to snack on while I shopped. I gave into it thinking it would make things easier for me to get through the store with two young children. I made the mistake however, of giving the chicken to the two year old first. He immediately went into a possessive stance and refused to let his brother have any chicken. The screaming ensued and I again gave in to it by buying another round of chicken. Yikes…
I say “Yikes!” because I am creating a huge terrible two’s problem by giving into the screams. Now I have taught him that screaming in the middle of the store gets him what he wants. “Yikes!”
His new found knowledge is going to create the next issue to be even bigger and louder. He is a learning machine right now. He is picking up cues left and right and my actions and reactions are teaching him what works. It may have been uncomfortable to hear him scream and fuss in the middle of the dairy isle but sticking to my guns and working it out another way would have saved me many headaches to come. Yikes again!

New Year and New Parenting Goals:

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As the New Year approaches so do the opportunities for growth, transformation and intentional parenting. This New Year’s Eve is a great time to take stock of the past year and see what is working and what isn’t. It is time to create a new plan and a family vision.
My goal this year will be to have a weekly family meeting in which all take part and participate. We will have an agenda that is set by the group and everyone will have their ideas heard and valued. We also have an opportunity to veto the ideas put forth. Everyone is an equal partner and working towards a common goal. Creating this structure of family by-in and agreement will create space for all of us to take responsibility of our home and our lives as individuals and as a group.
This isn’t an original idea… it can be found in “Redirecting Children’s Behavior”. I love this structure and in the past it has worked great on the occasion of it’s use. Now I will implement it into our weekly lives and I will keep you up-to-date on the results.
What are some of your goals for your family this New Year?

Creating from Unworthy…Yikes!

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I realized a few days ago that I have been creating from a place of unworthy.  I am putting that onto my kiddo/ kiddos too.  Yikes!  This is the value of awareness and parenting consciously.  It can be difficult to look honestly at my motivations but when I do, it sets me free to make choices where before I was unaware of what was truly driving my decision making.I realized (with my life coaches help) that I hated school as a child.  I was diagnosed with dyslexia and struggled in reading and in math for a long time.  I didn’t understand why the other kids were in the red bird group and I was in the blue bird group.  I didn’t color in the lines and I didn’t feel like I fit in to the crowd.  I remember feeling lonely and sad and distant from the group.  I took this feeling and used it to make myself unworthy in many areas of my life including decision making regarding my children.  Recently, I decided to home-school my son.  I decided that he was struggling with some of the things I had (coloring in the lines) and that he might not fit in with the other kids easily at his young age.  He is a summer birthday so I used this as my justification.  He loves to bounce around and is definitely a kinesthetic learner.  I now get that I choose to home-school him not because of what is best for him but because of my feelings towards school and how I felt about my abilities.  I didn’t make the choice from an empowered place, I choose it from a dis-empowering place.  It isn’t necessarily the wrong decision, it is a decision created from a dis-empowered place.  The danger of that is that when I was looking at my reasons for why I was pulling him out of public school, I was rationalizing his abilities and current limitations to others in front of him.  Setting him up to believe something is wrong with him.  I don’t know if he has internalized this or not.  I only know that my intention isn’t to put my feelings of worthlessness on him by creating him to be wrong or bad to match my box of experience.  I really love homeschooling him and I feel like it worked out great for us this year.  I want to be able to make that call from an empowered place though.  One that says, hey you are a brilliant and gifted kid and I want to further that by creating a curriculum for you that matches your strengths.  I want him to feel empowered by his education not limited and limiting.The long and the short of it is that we can’t protect our kids from developing programing (egos).  It is part of human nature and even the best mom in the world (fictional at best) would still create some type of programming in her kiddo.  Human nature is to take on an ego (a personality).  Overcoming that ego or personality and recognizing it for what it is (one way to see, not every way to see) sets you free to make decisions from an empowered space for you and your family.

The Elf on the Shelf… Naughty or Nice?

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This week I put up The Elf on the Shelf.  It is a fun tradition we started last year.  I am running into some conflict about it within myself however.  The Elf comes with a book and the book has a traditional parenting technique for this time of year.  The old story that Santa only visits boys and girls that are nice.  I find that when I draw my kids attention to whether they are naughty or nice, I am likely to get more naughty behavior.  I don’t know if it is a coincidence that actually comes from all the extra sweets in the house or if it is that they are testing Santa.  I think it is the latter or a combination of both.  I noticed this as well when I taught.  The more infuses on good verses bad or naughty verses nice, the more the kids would swing between the two rather than resting in the center.  Are we setting our kids up for failure when we set up a duality? In my experience bringing the third power into being, shifts the perspective of everyone.  Rather than naughty and nice, how about Santa brings toys because you are you and that is great.  Can’t Santa just be about loving kindness, giving and receiving rather than a structure for keeping kids “in line”?   Wouldn’t it be a larger service, in the long run, for our kids to focus on generosity and an open heart that are also part of the Santa story and the Christ story that is Christmas?Just a thought…

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