What do you all think? Isn't this so much more fun than my boring old Wordpress blog?
Huge appreciation goes to Mon of Holistic Mama who set up my new, fancy template and made this a smooth and easy transition to Blogger.com! Thanks, Mon!
Now that I'm on Blogger, you can easily Follow Me with Google Friend Connect. Just scroll down the right sidebar until you find the little button for it. Mon looks lonely there. I'm sure she'd like more company. :)
I have no idea what my feeburner account is going to do with my subscribers. I haven't gotten that far yet.
If you commented on my blog in the last few days, your comments may not have made the transition over here with the rest of the posts. (Lisa, I think this just applies to you - and you had such lovely comments, too! If I email them back to you, would you mind posting them again here in their respective posts so others will have the opportunity to read them? Thanks!)
That's all for now. Still working out quirks and getting to know the new system.
Let me know what you think. I appreciate your feedback!
What do you all think? Isn't this so much more fun than my boring old Wordpress blog?
I got slapped by my son three times yesterday.
Lucas has always struggled with … wait, no … I have always struggled with Lucas feeling a bit too big for his britches. Walking that fine line of helping him own and express his power while keeping in check his sense of entitlement to the world has probably been one of my biggest parenting challenges. It has heightened with his latest independent leap into preschool. He's a big boy, and so he's apparently ready to call all the shots now.
Yes, we have firm and consistent boundaries. And every time he butts up against one of them these days, all hell breaks loose. I can honestly say that I have never, ever, ever, given in to him when he has pitched a fit about something. Ever! I fully understand the implications of caving in to this kind of behavior, and so, no matter how inconvenient, I've never allowed a tantrum to gain him any ground. And yet … he continues to try this strategy to see if it will one day work. I suppose tenacity has its merits.
It occurs to me that, in addition to grappling for a peaceful resolution, I am also wrestling down some self-judgment that stems from common myths about parenting. This job is never easy. It doesn't help to layer on the guilt. In my experience, the best way to deal with guilt is to face it head-on, so here are some of the myths behind my guilt, and my real-life experiences to counter them.
While I was under the assumption that these myths were true, I was at a loss to explain Lucas' behavior. According to the myths, he shouldn't be throwing tantrums, hitting or acting so entitled. He just shouldn't be!
Refusing reality is rather counterproductive, don't you think?
By removing these misconceptions about how my son should be behaving, I could look at his current actions more clearly. He's testing boundaries again because there has been a huge change in his life since starting preschool. It's a whole new world for him there, and now he wonders what else has changed. Are boundaries different from home to school? Now that he's a "big boy" does he get to decide more things? Does he get to decide everything? Why not try it out? Perhaps his expectations were such that he thought he'd get way more freedom with this change, and when that was thwarted again and again, he was terribly disappointed.
This is not to say that we just went along with the hitting and screaming and said, "Oh, we understand why you're abusing Mommy. It's okay." Uh, no.
My immediate response was to restrain his arms so he couldn't continue to hit, tell him as calmly as I could, (doing my best to not grit my teeth) "We don't hit. Hitting hurts. We don't hurt others," and then remove him from whatever situation we were in; from the living room to the bedroom, or from the café to my car, whatever. We then had some quiet cool-down time together. At home, this lasted about five minutes. When we were in the car, it lasted the whole ride home – about ten minutes. After the cool-down time, I reiterated that we don't hit, that we are gentle with our hands. I affirmed that I noticed he was frustrated about x, y, z. Since he's very verbal, I gave him some things he could say to express his anger or frustration instead of using his hands.
I've never asked him to say he was sorry about anything. He shows his remorse or reconciliation attempts in his own way. At the end of this exchange, I asked him if there was anything else he wanted to say to me about this. He said, "I want to give you a hug."
I love Alfie Kohn and his unconditional parenting approach. We don't use rewards or punishment in our home. It's a much trickier road to navigate, with far fewer role models, to be sure, but I deeply believe in the benefits of this kind of respectful parenting. With that in mind, I was a bit at a loss for what else to do if the hitting continued.
Therefore, I decided to make an exception. I don't know if it's the right thing to do or not. It's just something I'm willing to try. I really want to nip this hitting thing in the bud. Lucas has a very strong personality and a quick fuse, and I don't want to take the chance of him hitting other children. Therefore, at the end of our conversation together, I told him that I was so serious about the hitting, that if he did it even one more time, his precious guitar would be placed out of reach for a whole day, and he would have no access to the stereo. This is like forever in toddler time, and his eyes widened in understanding.
We'll see how it goes. I don't feel 100% great about this decision, but I also don't want the hitting to escalate.
Another idea I have is to create some new routines at home, now that school has started, so he can predict more of what will happen in his day – maybe even down to which snacks he gets, when. While it seems restrictive, I think at this age, the routine is soothing, and it allows him to flow from one thing to the next without me needing to direct him. The greater structure actually allows him to take more responsibility for himself.
What ideas do you all have for dealing with these issues? How have you handled hitting and tantrums? As always, I dearly appreciate your comments!
Did anyone else have a very strange night's sleep the night before last? That would have been Saturday night, the 19th.
Lucas woke up in crazy crying fits from 11pm until 2:30ish. When he first started to wail and cry, I went in his room to soothe him and he seemed like he was still asleep, even though his eyes were open and he was crying. When I tried to pick him up, he pitched a fit and tried to shake me off. I tried offering him water and he knocked it out of my hand. He wouldn't let me hold him or put him down – if you can imagine trying to navigate that one. There was no reasoning with him, because he wasn't actually awake.
He's actually had these nighttime fits a number of times before, but they were always very brief and he'd go back to sleep for the rest of the night. This time, he'd settle for five minutes and then it would start all over again. I finally crawled into bed with him and that close physical contact seemed to soothe him a bit. His sleep was very fitful, though, and he still woke up, but it was every fifteen or twenty minutes instead of every five. (Remember, this isn't an infant we're talking about. He'll be three next week, for crying out loud.)
At one point, three hours into this dance, I had fallen asleep when he woke again suddenly with another panicked cry. I was not fully awake, and I had the sensation of him being pulled up and away from me. Of course his body was lying right there on the bed, but the sensation was of him being pulled away. I instinctively threw my arm across him and grabbed onto him tightly. He instantly calmed down and fell right back to sleep. A little while later, he crawled down off the bed, still asleep, and stretched out face-down on the floor. It was about 2:30 in the morning at this point, and he slept there peacefully the rest of the night.
My sense of it is that he needed to feel grounded. I don't know what was going on energetically to make me think he was being pulled away, but when I shared this with a young woman who is also very sensitive, she shared that she'd experienced that same exact feeling that night. She couldn't sleep, no matter what, and she felt like she was being pulled out of her body.
Anyone know what was going on? Did it have to do with the lead-up to today's autumnal equinox?
Sometimes life over here is like living in the Twilight Zone.
While this post has very little to do with raising a crystal child, it has everything to do with my process of helping other parents who are raising crystal children. Therefore, call it a tangent, but it stays.
My thoughts are a bit scattered, as they have been lately, but I'll try to rein them in so they'll make some sense. As I sit at home with my first cold in seven months, I realize this is an opportune time for regrouping; for taking stock of what I've accomplished so far, and for looking ahead to what I'm trying to create with my writing.
While I feel really good about what I've written and how I'm helping people, I'm having a hard time believing that it's not just a fluke.
I'm delighted, yet surprised with each new comment on my blog. When parents of other crystal children approach me asking for my advice, I think, "Who? Me? Really?" I know it can't be a coincidence that everywhere I go I'm meeting other mothers who tell me, seemingly out of the blue, that their children seem highly sensitive. When I tentatively tell them about my blog, wondering if they'll think I'm nuts, they thank me without blinking an eye, and come back later to tell me how much it helped them. It can't be coincidence that, of those students I taught 15 years ago, the ones who are resurfacing and connecting with me right now happen to be Indigos, and … that more Indigos in that age group are finding my blog and in it, some common ground. (Hi Liz!)
It can't be coincidence. The evidence is piling up to tell me it's not just a fluke. Yet, still … I doubt myself. And so, my posts have slowed to a trickle, my book-writing has dried up, and though there is a mountain of material building up in my head, it seems I can't find the next starting place to get the flow moving again.
I know I'm butting up against another wall of self-imposed limitation, and therefore, this is a crucial time for me to explore what it is that's holding me back. I know what it is. It's fear of success. While this would appear to be a ridiculous fear – after all, who wouldn't want to be successful? - I suspect it's quite common. Any change is difficult. The transition from one place to another, one job to another or one way of being to another are all uncomfortable, even if the new place, job or way of being are far superior to the current situation.
We have our default settings all dialed in, and no matter how limiting they are, it's easier to stay on default than to figure out how to reprogram the whole shebang. There's no down-time spent learning a new system. There's no worry about losing programs or data (or friends, careers, what have you) in the change-over process. It's easier to just keep on using our obsolete Word Perfect program … until it doesn't work anymore.
Staying with the analogy, we can choose to change when it feels like an upgrade would do us good or make life better. Or we can wait until everything breaks down around us and we have no choice but to update our program. For me, I'd rather make the switch when everything is still in relatively good working order – like now.
My outdated default program is to wish big and play small, and so I enthusiastically chase my own tail, exhaust myself, and go nowhere. Now that I'm beginning to see my own potential of playing a bit bigger, helping more people, and reaching larger audiences, I don't know what to do with it. That tail is tempting. It's what I do. What will it take for me to let go of the tail and just keep running forward?
(We need clicker training for people. Hey – that's hypnosis, isn't it? I should try that!)
But seriously, I think a big part of it is facing the fear. What do I fear will happen if I succeed in a big way? Here are a few things that come to mind:
- I will be way too busy, and I won't get to spend as much time with Lucas
- I won't know how to manage all of the complicated things that success will bring
- More people will have the opportunity to tell me I'm wrong or crazy
- I will make mistakes and they'll be bigger mistakes than ones I've made while playing small
- This one isn't a fear, but I just don't know what it feels like to feel successful
- I'll be able delegate things I don't want to do, so I'll have plenty of time with Lucas
- I am a fast learner and I adapt quickly to new situations
- I am a good organizer, so it will be easy and natural to keep it all organized
- More people will have the opportunity to learn from me, and I'm not here to please everyone
- I always learn from my mistakes; the bigger the mistake, the deeper the learning
- I am willing to accept the feeling of success
Honestly, this isn't a long-winded appeal for encouragement (though I do love your comments!). It's just meant as a way of sharing my process with you. For some reason, I think it's an important piece of the puzzle I'm putting together here on this blog. I keep writing that the most important thing we can do for our kids is to attend to our own healing and growth. Well, here's my current learning edge. I hope sharing it with you inspires you to explore yours.
As parents, when we think of our own nightmares, we think of dreams that frighten or disturb us in some way. We assume it's just our imagination taking us down some dark alleys we'd rather avoid. We trust that "It's not real," and that knowledge seems to help us let go of the fear and go back to sleep.
When our children wake up scared, it's tempting to mumble, "It's not real. It's nothing. Go back to sleep." After all, it's annoying to be awakened in the middle of the night, and so we try soothe the fear in the way that makes sense to us … and quickly, so we can all get back to sleep.
How many of you have taken this route? How's that working for you?
If your son is anything like mine, it's not working so well.
Here's my take on why, and I hope it doesn't freak you out: These things that scare them, well … they're real. You see, sensitive kids attract all kinds of energies or spirits, if you will. These beings know that these special kids are able to see things that others can't, and so they are curious and want to connect. Some are fun, like great-grandma and little playmates. Others aren't so much fun, and though they can't hurt your child, they are still scary as heck for them.
At this point, if you think I'm totally crazy and there is nothing real in your child's room, I'm still suggesting that you try to go along with it anyway, and see what happens.
So, let's assume (whether you believe me or not) that real things are coming into your child's room at night when it's quiet and they can have your child's full attention. What do you think happens to your child when you tell him or her that these things aren't real, that it's just their imagination? What do you think happens to their trust in you? What do you think happens to their sense of safety? If you (their protector) don't see or understand what's happening in your own home, then how can you protect them from it? Do you see how this can amplify their fears?
Think about it … the unknown is far scarier than something that we confront head-on. If Mommy says, "Oh, yes, those guys. I know all about them. Yeah, well, I know they look scary, but they won't hurt you. Let me help you send them away if you really don't want them around," how much more comforting is that than if Mommy says, essentially, "You're nuts, nothing's there, go to sleep?"
What do you think happens to their sense of trust in themselves? If they are, indeed, seeing things you can't see, and you tell them they aren't, they will begin to doubt themselves and shut down these gifts.
These are the reasons why I believe my son when he tells me something purple came through his window and touched his back. What do I do about it? Here are those tips I promised you in the title:
Tips for Alleviating Fear of Nighttime Visitors
- Acknowledge your child's experiences. For example, say, "Tell me some more about that," or "They can't hurt you, but I know they're still scary, aren't they? They're just curious about you, that's all." Be very matter of fact about it.
- Acknowledge your child's power to send them away. For example, say, "You are very powerful, and if something comes in your room and you don't want it here, you can get it to leave just by saying, 'You don't get to be here. I don't want you in my room. I want you to leave now.' You can even point to the window so the visitor knows the way out." Let them know that you believe in their power to send them away. Model a firm and no-nonsense voice when you show them how to send the visitors away.
- Do a space clearing with your child during the day. Light a white candle in the room, and use a sage smudge stick to clear any lingering energies. Focus the smoke from the smudge stick in the corners and upper walls. Clap or ring bells in the corners and loudly command them to go. (Don't worry about the neighbors – your child's mental health is more important.) As you do this, ask your child to give you feedback on whether the visitors are still there, or if the space feels cleared. They'll let you know if you take them seriously.
- Teach them to use a space bubble before they go to bed at night: In a fun and playful way, help them imagine an egg-shaped bubble surrounding them. It's completely sealed, but they can see out through it. Lucas likes to use a pretend zipper to close up his space bubble. Then, imagine filling the bubble with white light. You could say it's like filling the bubble with fluffy, white clouds, protecting them with love. Finally, imagine covering the outside surface of the bubble with mirrors, facing outward. The mirrors scare the visitors away when they see themselves reflected.
Just for argument's sake, let's take the skeptic's view for a moment. What if they're not really seeing anything? What if they're yanking your chain for attention? If that's the case, and you give them this attention like I suggest, then you're meeting that need, and the behaviors will subside on their own, regardless of the reality of the situation.
Another argument might be that we'd make our children more afraid by admitting that there's something real there. All I can say is that's not my experience, and it's not the experience of families I've helped with these very same tips. Approaching the reality of their experience in a matter-of-fact and comforting way, while giving them empowering tools to help themselves has only resulted in full nights of restful sleep.
Let me know how it goes. I'd love to hear back!
I've written before about the positive impact I have on my family when I simply remember to take care of myself. It's so true and yet so easy to forget that I am the center of my family's world, and if I'm not centered, everyone else spins out of control with me.
From the outside, taking care of myself looks like spending time with girlfriends who fill my soul, getting plenty of rest, reading a good book, getting out in nature, and maybe doing some art here and there. While these things go a long way toward helping me feel happy, they merely touch the surface of what it means to truly take care of myself.
To truly take care of myself and continually grow into the person I'd most like to be, the mother, wife, community member I'd most like to be, I need to attend to my own healing and spiritual growth. As a mother, I think this is the most important thing I can do for my son. In order for me to nurture him into becoming a confident, compassionate, curious, open-minded and socially conscious adult, I need to clean out some skeletons in my own closet and find a way to embody these qualities, myself. After all, children do as we do, not as we say. Plus, the more clear I can be about who I really am, the less swayed I am by the opinions of others when it comes to raising my son. Whether those opinions come from well-meaning family members or mainstream culture, there is certainly no shortage of them, and holding strong to what I believe can be challenging, at best.
So, to help me stay centered, to help me grow into the best me I can be, I attend to my spiritual growth. For those of you who've been on a spiritual path for a while, you already have a sense of what this means, but for others, I may as well be speaking in tongues. Some of you might be asking, "What does it mean to attend to my spiritual growth? How do I do it? Where do I start?"
Ta-da! Have I got a great resource for you! I just finished reading "Ask Yourself This" by Wendy Craig-Purcell, and I think it's the perfect starting point for those who aren't sure where to begin in their search for deeper meaning. The book is a quick read, and is cleverly organized around unique and probing questions that challenge us to look within and find our own answers. Though I've been on a spiritual journey for quite some time, I found the questions in the book enlightening, causing me to see myself in new ways.
One of the questions that got my mind spinning in new directions was, "If I could solve the how, what would I do?" The powerful example she used was her story of approaching the decision to have children. She was already running a successful and growing ministry, and wondered how on earth she could possibly be the kind of mother she wanted to be with all of these other responsibilities. The more she focused on the "how", the farther away she got from what truly mattered to her. (Boy, can I ever relate to this one!) She realized she was asking herself the wrong question. When she asked herself, "If I could solve the problems, what would my decision be?" the answer suddenly became clear. Not only did she and her husband raise two fabulous (and I mean really fabulous) children while leading a huge Unity congregation, but they managed to home-school them, as well!
I think this question applies to so many of the decisions we're faced with as mothers and conscious human beings right now. She writes,
Finally, her last chapter is a precious gift to parents. In it, she shares her bedtime ritual made up of questions that have built deep trust and open communication with her children (now college-age and middle school) over the years. I look forward to adapting these questions to use with Lucas when he's just a little bit older.
I encourage you to spend some time with this book and its questions. As mothers, we are such powerful agents for change in the world. When we change ourselves, we change the way we parent, which changes the way our children see the world, which changes the world. It all starts with us.
On NPR this morning, there was a piece on the global campaign to get people to stop texting while driving. In case you didn't know it or couldn't see it coming, this is now a worldwide safety issue. There is apparently a very graphic and troubling YouTube video making the rounds that aims to be an effective PSA against this practice. It targets teens, who are already a fairly menacing group when it comes to driving. One interviewee claimed that, though the video is deeply disturbing, it won't change viewers' behavior. It won't get them to stop texting while driving. I agree. Ask the geniuses who came up with the "Just Say No" campaign. Changing human behavior is tricky business.
This got me thinking … about marketing and advertising, about teens and peer pressure, about culture and coolness, and mostly about all of the things we assume we know about human behavior. This last one really sparked a chain of thought that I just had to share. We assume that it's human nature to take advantage when given the chance. We assume that it's human nature for teens to only think about their own desires in the moment and not consider the consequences. We assume that peer pressure will outweigh parental preferences, or at least intelligent decision-making in teenagers.
There are countless studies that back up these assumptions. However, all of these studies were performed with subjects raised within a predominantly authoritative parenting culture. We think parenting styles have changed over the years, but in reality, most of those changes have been minor tweaks within an ongoing, overarching paradigm that has been passed from generation to generation. The dominant culture still values obedience and deference to authority. We tell ourselves that our children must learn to respect authority and follow rules in order to be successful in the real world. Thus, the real world of our grandparents is perpetuated, through the generations, with updates in technology, style, and vocabulary. Look at the slew of parenting books! The overwhelming majority of them (Alfie Kohn is one glowing exception) offer shiny new strategies to help you get your kids to do what you want. The name of the game is obedience, no matter how it's disguised. And so we watch our youth rebel, over and over again, until they succumb to the real world, and then inflict it on their children.
People take advantage. Teens are impulsive and inconsiderate.
We call these traits human nature. We say it's the way people are.
I say that's a cowardly and short-sighted assumption. The way people are is affected tremendously – TREMENDOUSLY - by how they are raised. How they are raised is mostly dependent on how their parents were raised. Unless a parent is brave enough to go against family dynamics AND the dominant culture, they will recreate the same parenting cycle of domination, rebellion, and submission.
Ask most parents why they send their kids to preschool and you'll get some variation of, "So they can start learning how to take turns, stand in line, and sit quietly in a classroom." You know, to prepare them for kindergarten, grade school, high school, college, and … the real world. Obedience. Order. Respect for authority. This is certainly not why I'm sending my child to preschool, and if it starts to look like this, I'll pull him out faster than you can say, "classroom rules." Are we really to assume that without this training, our children will become anarchists? Please.
I'm certainly not suggesting we abandon all discipline. Quite the contrary. Clear boundaries and expectations create safety for kids. Consistency is crucial for them to learn what is and is not safe and appropriate. This can be accomplished without resorting to fear and manipulation, though. When we show our kids the respect they deserve, we get cooperation instead of obedience. We get intelligent discussion instead of rebellion, and we get empowered young adults instead of approval-hungry automatons ready to swallow the blue pill of the status quo.
I see more and more parents waking up and taking the courageous step of parenting consciously, in the best way they know how. It's very difficult when the bulk of society wants to pull us back into its old paradigm, but we're feeling our way through it, supporting one another, and trusting our children to guide us. I see more and more alternative education programs that focus on collaboration instead of competition, innovation instead of repetition, and nurturing children's innate gifts, instead of labeling anyone outside the narrow band of "normal" with a learning disability.
When these kids come of age and become the voice of the new mainstream culture, I wonder what will then be said about human nature. I imagine it will be something quite different than what we assume today.