To the mama who is giving up.

mother’s day card

Your life is so much more important than you can see in this moment. 

You need to hear that. People do not say it enough to you. 

The diapers you empty out of the diaper pail, the rooms that are covered in toys or technology, and crumbs you pick up by hand because the vacuum is too daunting, is not your identity. 

The smells that come from your home are not what you wear. 

As you read this, your child may be interrupting you…and that’s okay, come back to it.

You feel empty. Who is filling you up when you are pouring yourself out (and over and over again) on tiny beings that seem to need you for their very existence? They need you for every. little. thing. As you pour yourself out – you pour milk, laundry soap, apple sauce – you feel empty. You need breathing room, alone time, and a few moments to smell the grass outside. 

But the grass reminds you that it’s not cut and AGAIN you feel not only empty but overwhelmed. Maybe the smell of dish soap will do.

So you wait on children, and are not waited on in return. Your days are long, unpaid, and tiring. This is not what you thought being a mom would be. 

You have been cooped up like a hibernating bear (without the sleeping part) during the last 4 months and have either been homeschooling or entertaining. After all, you are your child’s best friend when he can’t be with his friends. 

You want to give up. No one notices what you do. Your child always wants more. What’s the point? 

You, mama, are your child’s role model and safe place. If you aren’t yet, you will be.

You are intentional, the kind of parent that raises tiny humans that are going to build a better world! Your children would not survive without you. Your identity is mama, but also woman. You do not lose yourself because you become a mama. 

You are a Mama with a capital “M”. Seer and doer of all, and you are better than you think! Do not compare, find friends that will build you up and help you come out of this hibernation. 

You need a break, so find it! Take room to breathe even if that means putting your fussy baby down in a safe place and turning on some music. Make some coffee and enjoy the first few sips before it gets cold.

When you are empty, remember that we were not created to be a funnel of never ending flow, but to ask for help and to take a minute. Take two minutes. Give yourself permission. Remember God, who IS Love, sees you and loves you! 

Because you, Mama, are the man! 

“I said now!”

After 15 minutes of changing diapers and clothes, cleaning up toys, and getting 2 year old Tim to stay in his bed, a pregnant mom says,

Mom: Good night Tim!

Tim: Hey mom! Can you get me some water?

Mom: Here’s your cup I got you earlier

Tim: Mom! Can I play cars with you?

Mom: No Tim, it’s time for night night, lay down. (Covers him up)

Tim: Mom! (Starts to cry) I want to play cars.

Mom: Tim! Stop milking it and lay down!

Tim: Mom! Can you lay in my bed?

Mom: No Tim, it’s time for you to listen to mom and be quiet. I don’t want to hear another word! Good night! ( mom leaves and closes the door as Tim cries. Mom feels horrible about leaving this way again, but she is tired and wants to lay down. She listens to Tim cry on the monitor. Then, turns the sound down. It’s only 8pm and she is exhausted, just like every night).

According to the John Gottman’s ”raising an emotionally intelligent child”, if we are attuned to our kids, we may find less fatigue. Now, don’t get me wrong, pregnant mamas are working hard to parent and are growing another human at the same time. This is difficult and exhausting. Intentional parenting is also something that is exhausting. In our example, mom may feel that she has given the child the necessary items and fulfilled needs for bed, but it is clear the child is not secure yet. The child is finding ways to keep the connection going. The child in our scenario is trying to get the mother to stay in the room. What could the child be thinking?

In these instances it is good to recognize the emotion the child has, and coach the child on that emotion. Maybe something like, “ are you feeling sad that mom is leaving?” And the child will respond. Maybe he will say “yes, I want you to stay! “  mom could reply with, “well sweetie, I love you and would love to spend time with you, but we have to go to bed too. Mom is going to bed and Tim is going to bed.” If the child is crying as talking because he understands the sadness and that you may not have the ability to stay a while longer, listen and empathize. “ I know sweetie, It’s hard. I will try tomorrow night to lay with you and in the morning we will get to have big hugs. Right now lay back and let me cover you. “

You may find that the connection with a child will change when you are less angry, more willing to listen, and consider how the child feels while providing a solution as the parent. If a child learns that you will not dismiss them regularly or get angry, the child may start to change behavior because of the connection. This is not to say you are not able to set limits and call your children out on their mistakes. However, being respectful and teaching them how to do things instead of “just stop that” is key.

Schedule a discovery call today to discuss your child and the disconnect and exhaustion you may feel. This free call can help determine if you are ready for coaching in a while new way than you thought possible!

what is the difference in guilt and shame?

Shame is a subject that like TED talk speaker and researcher, Brene Brown, I have come to appreciate. Dr. Brown has done much research on the subject and found that vulnerability is the core of feeling like you can belong and can have meaningful relationships.

Shame is the when a person feels they cannot be vulnerable, because they may be seen as unlovable, disgusting, or even unaccepted. Instead, we have become the most in debt, and self- medicated society in all of history. We are trying to be what we are not.

Guilt is the sense of feeling remorse or “bad” for a behavior, but overall believing that you are a good person and can rectify mistakes. Shame in a person gives the message, “I am the worst. I am a terrible person”, instead of the action was a mistake.

To really grip this, let’s look at a scenario. Let’s say I leave a family waiting for me to come write their homestudy for adoption. I had an appointment at 6pm, and I arrive at 6:20pm. Now, if I do not text or call them to let them know I will be late, it could be because of shame. Maybe they will say something mean back to me, and I already do not like myself. If I do text them, I would also apologize when I arrive, saying something like, I want you to know that I know our time if valuable, and I appreciate you waiting! Then, in guilt, I can let it go. In shame, I am kicking myself the whole time and feeling like the family hates me.

Shame is debilitating to some, and extremely lonely to many. It keeps us in secret and feels that we can drown in it. It is important when parenting your kids that you steer clear of trying to get wanted behaviors out of guilt and shame. In my years of counseling, I have concluded that perhaps your child will grow up much closer in relationship to you and their future spouse if they do not feel shamed by the people that are going to love them the most!

 

Soul Story

Soul Story.

“This is the story of your soul evolving through the act of parenting, and qualities evolve through it.”

The “act” of parenting is none like any other act. The feelings, thoughts, connections and actions come about in a variety of reasons as you parent, making it a difficult task to maneuver through well.

In private practice, I heard parents talk about how disappointing their relationships with their children are, because the connection they wanted with their children did not happen and now the children are 18 and over. Some parents feel they tried very hard to help their child succeed, become ‘something’, and are feeling distant today.

Some of the qualities that we think will help a child, or makes sense, actually can harm your relationship. I like the saying, “we can learn to CONNECT with our children while correcting them”- Karyn Purvis. This makes sense because there is a way to grow with your child while showing them what is appropriate or helping them to understand their behaviors. Once I grasped the concept of trying some new strategies instead of using power and thwarting out ‘bad behavior’ I felt much more peace in parenting my son. Working with foster parents in my past, I saw peace in their eyes as well.

One quality in my soul story is that feeling that I will never be old enough to help or teach, or that my child will not listen to me, (as I mentioned in another post,) and that belief has gradually changed. A second one that may relate to some of you is that feeling of not being chosen. So many adults feel this way and try to ring the necks of their children, thinking they are owed it from them. The thought here is that ‘my child will love me and choose me, be loyal to me, and if not I will demand it.’ Parents are trying to fill a hole in a way that seems to end many relationship in some sort of failure or another. Do you want a child to be loyal to you because of the fear and guilt in what you say to them? I would think not.

Being chosen needs to come from and be processed by the parent in other means, not being fulfilled by the child. Decipher why you think this way, and where it comes from. Then, remember your child is his own person and may have interests that could pull him away from you and your bubble of safety of feeling chosen. As an example of this, my belief is to remember that my son is not on this earth to love and care for me, but for me to raise him up in the words and ways of the Holy Spirit. So, if my child acts out or does to want to give me a kiss, I do not need to take it personally. I remember he is making his best effort to get a need met. It is my job to find out what his need is, and see if I can meet it, not to fill my own need.

There will be more to come on what needs you can look for in your child in future posts.

Emotional coaching for kids…

Being an “emotional coach” for your child is very important. If you have ever stopped in a moment to help your child through a negative behavior and turn the situation around, you have just become and emotional coach. I think you would agree that it is worth it, and necessary to keep doing too!

There is something called the PEACE process, which essentially means, letting go of how things are supposed to look, and just give empathy. Feelings are messy, but we can try this PEACE process every day as a means to feel emotions ourselves, and empathize with kids during outbursts.

Now, this is not to say that we let kids be disrespectful, or ‘have their way’ as some parents have coined the term “empathizing for their kids”. It is showing up with your kid daily, and helping them to work through feelings. For example, we can stop in the moment and just assess and observe. You do not need to speak yet, just observe, so you can be aware of what your child is feeling. You do not need to sugar coat feelings, but instead name in your head what you think the child literally feels. Is the child tired, uncomfortable, nervous? Next, allow yourself empathy to the means of feeling how you feel, and do not judge yourself. For example, ‘man! this kid’s behavior is making the car ride terrible right now! I’m getting angry.’ Then, see your child’s perspective and reassure him that you see him and his feelings. You could say, ‘I know this car ride is getting long for you.’ Or maybe, ‘I can tell you are tired, it’s going to be okay.’ Finally, make a solution for the issue. It could be that the child is kicking you and pulling your hair as you are trying to put him in his car seat. Maybe after he is still for a moment, maybe not buckled in yet, you can run this process through your head and understand that the child does not want to be locked down, or leave the store. The solution could be, ‘I know this is not fun right now, but would you like a snack while we drive in your seat- or, we cannot hit when we are mad because that hurts mom, but we can sit and play with toys while we drive.’

Instead of hitting your child or screaming because she hurt you while putting her in her car seat, or perhaps giving a teenager silent treatment which can translate as shaming after an argument, we can build connection. By making a shift to having beliefs that a child can do things well, or maybe did not understand how an action can hurt someone, we can build connection. If a child feels heard, he or she will grow to want to hear others and feel confident in communicating emotions. Children from 0-18 (and up to 24) have developing minds that need our guidance as an emotional coach.

Try this on and see what happens!

shifting limiting beliefs…

“Is it possible to shift a limiting belief and why?”

This question is one that I discuss with clients week after week, in differing ways, and also bring to parents of children 0-18. Why is this important to discuss?

I remember being stuck in a belief that would semi-paralyze me for years to come. It was the belief that I would never be “old enough to understand.” I feel that this belief needed to be removed, or shifted, in order for me to overcome the limit it drove within me.

I decided that I would look at the feelings I get when I thought about this concept, and how much hardship it brought me. I tried not to have judgement for myself, as I thought about the subject. I decided that in the emotion, I would let it be and not think of things such as ‘I shouldn’t feel this’ or ‘I need to just let this go’. I let it be what it was.

Trying to change, and believe in a different core belief is like running uphill, on ice, with no shoes in the winter. It’s difficult! But it was amazing when I stopped to just observe how I feel and then decided that I could overcome this belief, that things went into motion. For years I felt that I would always be inferior and people would not take me seriously. Maybe although I have great training and life experience that I would not be enough for clients. I have come to terms with this limiting belief and have started to shift that mindset.

The freedom that can be had in working to change how we think in turn comes out in our actions. We also feel a sense of peace. In parenting, be mindful about what emotions you have and what core belief they may come from. This could really help you to understand your type of parenting and the strategies you use.

This concept only scratches the surface of the healing that can come from shifting beliefs, but I wanted to get some of you thinking a little more in depth. It is amazing what YOU can do.

thoughts of a parent coach in training…

When asked “how does your child experience his/her strongest emotion and how does the shift of emotions happen for your child and how do you as a parent react?” I thought of my son and his reactions to not getting something resulting in anger or frustration.

In saying this, it was easy for my son’s “strong willed” reactions to run my emotions. Over the past year, it was a struggle for me from his tiny age of 10 months until about 19 months, to understand that this was happening. My son started throwing tantrums, putting all his dead weight into me and on the floor, from 10 months old. It was dangerous because he still did not have control of his body, and was hard on my back and psyche. I was puzzled about how to “teach” a nearly one year old how to behave.

I recently found that he was trying to tell me things, or maybe was frustrated that he could not communicate like he would like, and was acting his age. After learning more about the brain from Dr. Dan Seigel, I realized that while I have to stimulate him for his brain to grow and neurotransmitters to fire correctly, I also have to help his brain emotionally. With this said, I needed to realize that he will act his age and not understand how to handle emotions for a bit, and I can just try to figure out what he needs. Sometimes, it is okay to allow a child to tantrum, and they will feel a little better.

My response in the past toward my child has been to be angry with him when I am bit, smacked in the face, or pushed. I feel so much more freedom in trying this new idea of looking for what the root cause is for the behavior and seeing that my child is using “his best efforts to fulfill a need.” He is using the behaviors he feels would work best to get what he needs. As the adult, I gain freedom in having empathy for my child, instead of being quick to squelch the behavior. I am not saying that we should not correct our kids, as this is vitally important in teaching them boundaries and respect. But, respect can also come from treating them as little humans with needs and emotions.

There are also parts of the brain that are clearly different in boys than girls, but I will save that for later 🙂

expressing emotions and self-regulation as a part of a parenting pattern

Generational expressing of emotions and the cause/effect in the aftermath is quite interesting when looking over one’s childhood. Many parents feel they are not connecting with their children and are puzzled as to why. My interpretation of some of this could be related to parenting styles based on that parent’s past.

Upon looking at their own childhood and discerning what was appropriate in parenting patterns, and in expressing their emotions some adults found they are parenting based on what was appropriate to THEIR parents. In other words, their parents’ view of what is appropriate shaped the ways they themselves parent. If your parent was powerful in discipline and dictated how you need to feel and process emotions, maybe you felt that you needed to process that way in order to please your parent.

Sometimes the parenting pattern does not fit the child, even though it is done with ‘good intention’. In turn, the child does not feel heard or able to fully be himself emotionally. This can be problematic to a parenting situation with your own children in the future, if you follow this same strategy. It is important to look back over your life and decide how you were parented, and if some things could be changed according to what your child needs from you. For example, if it was not acceptable to display emotions in your childhood, are you able to teach your child about self-regulation when anger emerges? Can you help to discern where the anger comes from? Maybe your child is really feeling embarrassment that she just fell in front of other people, or fear that another child will make fun of her for the shirt that is just a little too tight? If you meet that child with words such as, ‘get over it we are late,’ or ‘you have to wear that because you shrunk it and I’m not wasting it’, or ‘get up, you don’t need to cry’, your child can feel that they need to listen to please you even though they are feeling something different. Maybe that anger comes out of your child no matter how hard you are trying, because your parenting style is not fitting the situation.

Helping a child to express emotions appropriately, and to also recognize why they are feeling something needs to start with the parent, and being insightful and intentional about reading the child. It is never too late to do this, but it starts with the parents being intentional to understand their childhood. Decide if some of your parenting comes from your own parents, and whether you are basing things off of what you saw or feels normal. Maybe there is a better way?

Daniel Seigel, in his book, “Parenting from the Inside Out”, discusses the brain functioning that goes on inside a child. The emotion that comes from explaining an experience comes from the right side of the brain, the emotional and creative side. The words and story line comes from the left side, the logical and straight forward side. When a person tells a story with no emotion, it can be because it was processed well.  When the story is told and the person breaks down in tears and cannot go on, it is because the story may not have been processed and right brain is taking over.  Something else that can happen in adults due to not processing your past is called ambivalence. What this means is, sometimes parents have great thoughts and intentions, but their emotions and thoughts inflict them into opposite behaviors.

                        Seigel says “Our automatic adaptations to earlier events become ‘who we  are’ and our life story becomes written for us, not by us…Unresolved issues  can directly influence how we know ourselves and interract with our children. We are no longer making thoughtful choices about how we want to parent our children, but are rather reacting on the basis of the experiences of our past”

An example Siegel gave was shocking to me. He said when he was in medical school part of his job was to take blood from children. He would hear them cry and a part of his brain was mechanically shut down so that he did not feel emotion. This was just his job and he had to get through it. Then, upon the birth of son, he heard crying everyday and began to dread the crying and was not able to soothe his son. He looked into his past and felt that his medical school history was the culprit. He then was able to pick up his son and think to himself something like, ‘I am being emotionally hijacked by my past, this is not about my son”. From there, healing started, and deep connection was built that may not have been there had he continued to let his wife do the soothing.

My challenge for you is to think about how to help your children by looking at your own history. Sometimes being willing to look at parenting styles and trauma not only helps you, but also helps your relationship with your children!

parenting coach training…active “list”ening without making a mental list

What happens when you offer your child or any member of your family active listening?

This is an interesting question. I have found through my life and my practice that communication is difficult for many individuals to do. Some of this is because of our history with our families, and some of it is because of our own confidence. When I say confidence, I mean we do not believe that our words will be heard or that they will be received without judgement.

As therapists, we are trained to actively listen but even in sessions, we can make mistakes if we do not understand how to listen. Some of the concepts I have recently learned are to listen intently without distraction, listen without judgement, try not to interrupt, and refrain from comparing the story or issue I am hearing to my own life.

As parents, we are asked through recent research to build relationships with our kids through active listening. In a marital relationship, active listening transforms mindsets towards each other, as a spouse starts to feel heard and accepted. This is especially true when the listener is not worried about how the information being heard is going to affect him/her and we are non-judgemental toward the person talking.

Whenever I have been able to truly hear someone, they usually say “Thank you”. This is a good feeling, as it builds a bond, rapport, and sometimes even acceptance that this person does not usually feel.

I acted this concept out with my husband this week. He asked me to process something with him and I found myself interjecting to be clear. When I was quiet, his demeanor and thoughts progressed. It was nice. He was able to stay on topic and felt heard. Really thinking about how things will affect me and learning to push them out of my head was difficult. It’s really not about me, but sometimes when we are married, it feels like it. Sometimes, just listening and then asking, “well, it sounds like you are processing and how can I help,” can be a good way to respond. Saying things like, “I like how you are thinking, you are on the right track,” is judgemental and helping to reinforce in a person that they are in line with you and therefore are accepted. What if they were not thinking like you? Would you allow the process, or try to make them be like you and do what you want?

When listening to others, master your mind instead of letting your mind master you and your mouth. 🙂 It could change your relationships with your kids and spouse in amazing ways.

the value of your word…

After running a private practice for the second time, once in a different state (whoa that was an adjustment!) I have learned that men and women often do not follow through on their word when it comes to scheduling.

Now, this could seem unimportant because after all, these are hurting people! Nevertheless, this is a very real concern to many mental health and medical providers, who want to help these people. Some may say, ‘I could not get out of bed”, others may have found something better to do. Some may experience depression or anxiety that holds them back from attending events they plan. Others may have kids whose schedules are difficult to maneuver through. While it is understood by professionals that you have a life outside of appointments, it seems we have become a nation of “if something else comes up, I will just cancel or even NO SHOW.”

I have been challenged on the idea of , ‘let your yes be yes and no be no’. I think it sank deep into my brain after realizing that people may be depending on me and I understood the frustration had when I was not able to depend on others. It is never my goal to shame or judge, but this idea can be healing and get you the help you need if you are vulnerable enough to push through the distractions.

When hair clients, medical patients, counseling clients, etc., schedule an appointment, providers feel they need to get a phone number or email to be able to text, remind, send a second text, email, confirm, confirm again, and on and on. It can be exhausting because it is their livelihood, along with the possibility that other individuals may have needed to have that appointment you scheduled, but did not show up. I recently had a doctor call me to reschedule an appointment, and man oh man, was I ever going to be there! I was in pain and though I was scared out of my wits, I was sad it was postponed. How badly do we want the help we are reaching out for? Breathing through the vulnerability and fear is sometimes a very good medicine.

This rambling post is not to say that things will not come up in your schedule, but how quickly do we jump to fear, someone asking us to dinner, thoughts about stigma, or even giving the provider a debit card that is expired, etc., making excuses rather than jumping in and showing up.

As a provider, I have to say that from the counseling standpoint, COUNSELING IS HARD FOR CLIENTS. Rightly so! It is a big deal to drive to a person’s office of which you will spill things to that most people do not want to think about. It brings pain, and they would rather it all go away. The problem is, the issues do not just go away, making the appointment worth trying. My mother used to run a daycare and would comment on various families in the fear she experienced due to late payments. Of course there is grace and kindness, but what if you are consistently doing this and the table was turned? “Sorry Jim, I’ll have to pay you next week, we are just not able to pay you right now.” “Hi Sally, I know you were planning on making $800 this week, but I can only give you $500.” I think not. (Actually this did happen to me – about $3500 worth of sessions I never received payment for- yikes.)

As I come to a close, I believe the importance of showing up and giving your word could be executed more in this country. The days of technology and social media making things and events at our finger tips, creating much more distraction are alive and well. Those of us that want the Millennial stigma to be changed could use a challenging word on showing up instead of giving up. Let this be an encouragement to call your provider ahead, warn the professional of your schedule or traffic you are in, and minimize distractions. Here’s to being ALL IN!