Every parent's heart breaks at the news of any child's molestation and fills us with fear for our own children. Pictures of abducted children appear on our television screens and we snap right into action by warning our children (for the umpteenth time) about stranger-danger. We give the usual instructions: don't help a man who seems so nice find his lost puppy, don't take candy from a stranger, don't talk to anyone you don't know.
The miracle of change never ceases to amaze me. I’m not talking about the seasons, though they are certainly worthy of mention. No, I am talking about the miracle of change in people. In our KEEP THE CONNECTION WORKSHOPS℠, we find that most parents, grandparents, and other caregivers are raising their children the way their parents raised them.
What quality could be more important for your children's lives than to have the ability to bounce back from the troubles they will encounter? What do you need to know to make them resilient? Are some babies born with a natural ability to bounce back from their struggles and need no help from their parents, or do all children need help in becoming resilient? Child psychiatrist Bruce D. Perry claims that "some children are born with a high threshold for tolerating distress while other children are born with an extreme sensitivity to any stimulation and are easily overwhelmed." "But," he adds, "no matter what temperament, the capacity to deal with stressors is shaped by the child's caregivers." (Emphasis mine.)
In every home you will find people, from young to old, with different temperaments, different ideas, different tastes, different sensitivities, different ways of looking at the world. And despite their differences they are expected to not only live together but get along. How will that happen? What will bring each of these diverse personalities into a communal spirit? What will make these unique individuals a family and a strong one at that?
In America, in November, we take a collective and personal inventory of our blessings and celebrate them with our families around dining room tables laden with delectable foods. Some of us, with our children in tow, go to shelters to share our bounty with less fortunate people. Or we make contributions to social service agencies. We Americans are a generous people. We give from the heart.
As summer fades into fall, we’re faced with resuming our winter schedules. There are those among us who are the well-organized managers of daily living. For them, life runs like a well-oiled machine. Never ruffled or upset, (well, hardly ever,) they move smoothly from one task to another with time to spare. Even if they gave us their handbook on time management, most of the rest of us would soon return to our customary chaos of trying to get anywhere on time, fully dressed and fed.
It’s Spring – that wonder-filled graphic reminder of renewal when everything around us, every pale green tree and budding shrub announces another beginning. It is the season of hope and promise. Despite these troubling times, or because of it, it’s a perfect time to think about filling our children with the spirit of Spring. Let’s see how we can give them hope for the future and faith in themselves to handle whatever life hands them. What better symbol of resiliency than Spring? What better gift for their lives than resiliency?
The current financial and economic downturn in our country forces us to deal with new concerns for our children. Suddenly we are faced with a widespread decline in the moral values of integrity and honesty in our society. We hear that greed was the virus that contributed to the economic calamity — greed and excessive materialism. So how will such an atmosphere affect our children? And how, in this atmosphere, can we preserve for them our once-cherished values?
Back in the old days, when I was growing up, the marketplace had far fewer choices. The shelves in the little grocery store on the corner held but a handful of cereal choices, flakes made from corn, rice that made sounds in the milk, oatmeal, and a few others. Now I go to the supermarket and I’m overwhelmed by the seemingly endless number of choices. Too many for my weary brain. Sure, choices are good, but . . .
When my friend, Laura, a retired teacher, told me she used to start her classes with joke-telling, I was puzzled. The jokes didn’t even have to be funny for everyone to laugh, she said, because they were all instructed to laugh anyway. In fact, not getting the joke was in itself funny – and the infectious laugh of thirty kids had the classroom in an uproar. She didn’t say how long the hilarity lasted, but she did say that when they couldn’t laugh any longer, they were ready to get down to work.
Here we are in the month of February and, thanks to Valentine’s Day, our thoughts turn to love. We scurry around buying cards, flowers, trinkets, and chocolates to let those we love know how we feel about them. And everyone gets into the act. Little children give valentines’ cards to their classmates and teachers; husbands and wives exchange them; mothers, fathers, children, friends, neighbors, grandparents, the mailman, and even the family cat gets a card.
Have you ever wondered why June was the most frequently the month of choice for weddings? (I say “was” because wedding trackers report that August now outranks June in popularity.) I found two explanations (or myths) for June’s favored status. The first claims that the ancient Romans married in June as a tribute to Juno, their goddess of marriage. The second has a socially practical, and as you will see, a necessary purpose. It is believed that in the 1500s and 1600s people took their annual bath in the month of June, that made June the most bearable time for social events, or any other kind of event, for that matter.
Many years ago, I asked my grandfather, “How did it feel to fly for the first time when you were 90 years old?” “Wonder of wonders!” he answered. If you were asked about your first-time experiences, how would you respond? Would you say “wonder of wonders?” Or do you find it hard to deal with new situations or sudden change? Some of us have the ability to seamlessly accept the changes in our lives, or within ourselves, or in the world around us. Indeed, we don’t miss a beat as we welcome change as an exciting adventure.