I love working with parents. I love listening to us, I love how hard we work, I love what a force for change we represent – we would do almost anything for our kids. I love how hard we strive for integrity.
This year, what would I like for parents? I’d love that we get paid for the work we do. I’d love that we had enough training. I’d love that there was enough practical help and support that we could get a regular, reliable break when we needed it.
But the real killer, for parents, is what happens to the inside of our heads. We are soooo hard on ourselves. I’d love for us to stop that. Continue reading →
It’s easy to put off Special Time. After all, family life is busy, and in some ways gets oddly busier when we have older children. But Special Time it brings rich benefits when we do it. Most importantly it builds emotional safety.
Even when it is “pretty basic”, as this mother puts it, Special Time refreshes and renews our children’s sense of our confidence in and for them, and reassures them of our love for them. This is what our children need in order to begin offloading the emotional backpacks they are carrying around. As they get older, those backpacks are more tightly buckled down that they used to be. Our children learn to “suck it up” and hold it in for fear of social death if they let their feelings show.
So after Special Time, this mother finds her 11 year old daughter’s grumpy mood dissolves, and out rolls a big upset. It can be hard to know whether to go or stay when our children tell us to go away. At least sometimes, however, it’s worth staying, and listening it out… Continue reading →
Sometimes, holding a limit on something – so long as we are pretty sure the limit is reasonable – can open up a whole lot of feelings about other things. This is as true of our pre-adolescent and adolescent children as is is of our younger children. In fact, as young people internalise the message that they shouldn’t show their feelings, a well-held limit can provide just the opening. Here’s how it worked for one mother and her daughter: Continue reading →
Mother’s Day is upon us again, and our families either struggle or rejoice in the business of celebrating us. It’s a sweet ritual, once you get past the fact that it can look like just another opportunity to sell us something.
But I’ve been thinking about our challenge, as mothers, to rejoice in ourselves. To be pleased with ourselves. Really. Deeply. Without criticism or recrimination. To know that we are enough.
I remember going into our Local Government Chambers to hire an infant baby carrier for the car (what a wonderful service, given that we only need the thing for a few months). My baby was still in my belly, soon to arrive. I was fresh to parenting, unharried, excited. Beside me was a mother returning the carrier that she had been using. She had a toddler in tow, and a baby – maybe nine months old, in a stroller.
She looked tired and harassed. Her attention was not on her children, but on interacting with the Customer Service Person. But I noticed her younger child. He had his gaze fixed firmly on her. And the look on his face told me that she was the centre of his universe. Simply, without anxiety, to him she was everything. His look said “Isn’t it wonderful? You are my Sun and my Moon!”
He was adoring, but more. For better or worse, she was his, they were connected. He knew that his mother was “enough”. She was busy, and I guess she knew, at some level, how important she was to him. But I doubt she stopped very often to really absorb it.
And if she did, I bet there was part of her that would not feel worthy.