Wednesday, August 8, 2012

What is your dream, your vision of how you want your family to be?  Do you have one?  If you have one have you shared it with your partner and the rest of your family?  Have you taken the time to firmly anchor your vision by discussing it, agreeing to it, committing to making it real, and living it?  The vast majority of people will answer ‘no’ to those questions for our cultures do not teach that we can create anything and that creation starts from within, not by acquiring the things we believe will create what we want. 
If you desire to have a whole and healthy family then I suggest you begin your quest to create that and you can begin the quest for creating a whole and healthy family by talking about the EXPERIENCE you want to have with your family.  What do you want to feel like when you are with family?  What do you want your partner to experience; your children to experience; your siblings and parents?  In this vision, when you wake up in the morning how do you want to feel about seeing your family members?  What emotional environment do you want your children and others to experience as they grow?  What support do you want to feel and offer in this vision?  How do you want to be treated?  How do the others in your family want to be treated?  How do you want to feel when communicating?  If conflict arises, how do you want to experience resolving the conflict?  What is important for your children to experience of themselves and how do you envision supporting that experience to be created?
ANY CREATION STARTS WITH A DREAM.  IF YOU WANT A WHOLE AND HEALTHY FAMILY THEN DREAM IT FIRST.  THE KEY is, however, to be sure that there is a strong VISION that is discussed, agreed to, committed to and ACTED UPON; starting with the parents and, through living this commitment, suffused within the family environment so that the children know it.
That being said, yes I do believe that there are foundational elements that are essential in this creation and I will effort to address many of those.  But remember, these are my essential elements – yours may be different. 
Foundational Elements:
     1.     Love.   Love certainly is, in my view, the most important.  Loving self,      loving others, providing nurturing love to self and others ALWAYS is the foundation of any creation of a whole and healthy self and a whole and healthy family. 
2.     Heal self.  Whole and healthy families are made up of whole and healthy individuals.  Therefore, each member creating a whole and healthy self is critical and must be worked on constantly until each has healed all of their own issues and wounds.  This does not mean that the family must wait until all have reached this sometimes elusive goal but the act of taking on personal responsibility for healing creates, in and of itself, an essential element in creating the whole. 
 3.     Respect all.  This means that you respect each other AND yourself for being human with certain knowledge that being human is not to be perfect but to make mistakes and to learn from mistakes.  Even if you do not respect another’s behavior (and that is certainly understandable) you still can continue to respect the humanity of the one who is doing the behavior.  Remember that negative behavior comes from some wound, most often hidden, that has resulted in this behavior.  Humans have tended to use pain to try to change another’s behavior, whether that pain is in reactive anger or punishment inflicted on the person.  This is not respect but rather the use of the same pain that one carries within self. 
4.     Support uniqueness.  Most want to be viewed as “normal” which invites trying to control everything that impacts how they are viewed – including family members.  This often is the greatest influence of discord within the family.  If each were to embrace and support their own uniqueness and their own abilities (and we all have abilities) they would also embrace and support the uniqueness of each within a family.  Celebrate each other’s uniqueness with joy and passion.
5.     Passion.  Live life with passion and infuse that energy within your family.  Love life.  Love the hurdles you create and the learning that comes from them.  Find something to love in everyone and everything you encounter.  Love loving itself.  Do this with fire in your heart!
6.     Joy.  Live life with joy in your heart.  This comes from living in the moment and letting go of the past.  It comes from letting go of judgment and condemnation of others and finding learning, humor and laughter in all things.  In living this joy you share it with others, especially your family and that sharing invites others to live in that same joy.
7.     Compassion.  When you allow yourself to view life with compassionate eyes you begin to see in others their humanity and greatness instead of their faults and imperfections.  While most understand this intellectually, few embrace it or practice it for it first requires one to be compassionate towards themselves.  Practice this compassion for self by letting go of judgment.
I encourage you all, no matter what your family structure is – with or without kids, older kids versus younger kids, kids in trouble or kids who are not, and so forth – to create a VISION of what you want your family to be, feel like and to act like.  Take the time to write your own story or verbally paint the picture of your own “whole and healthy family.”  Take the time to do this for it is your vision.  If you give this vision only scant effort the result will be a scant result.  Visioning requires creating such a firm effort that the final result is grounded into all that you are as a family.  Continue to discuss and modify this vision.  Continue to act on this vision.  Continue to make this at least a weekly discussion until you all feel it as part of you.  Will you take as much time as is necessary for this to be created? 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

What About Bullying?


A few days ago my daughter asked if I thought her son, who just turned one, was going to be as tall as I am.  (I am 6’7” tall and my grandson is off the charts in height and weight for his age – he was 12 lbs 2 oz and 22 inches at birth).  I answered that I thought he would end up at least as tall as me if not taller.  My daughter voiced her concern that both her children (her oldest is also tall for her age) will suffer some taunts and teasing as they grow older.  This got me to thinking about all of the bullying that goes on today; about where bullying comes from and what parents can do to protect their children from bullying as they grow older.


The most important fact that we must accept is that children learn this behavior.  Bullying and the emotions that feed it are not part of our innate knowledge (meaning not the part of us that is our natural beingness).  Bullying is something that children learn from their parents, from other adults, from their peers, and from all of the outside influences that are rampant in today’s society. 

It is also critical to understand that bullying is, for the most part, about trying to both cover one’s fear of survival (typically expressed as fear of change or fear of failure) and a need to build one’s self up by putting another down.  This is seen most often when one is perceived to be different than another or a group.  For some reason society cannot seem to tolerate someone who is different so it has this need to force compliance to the accepted norms of the day – no matter that those acceptable norms may be a form of anger and hate.  This push for compliance is everywhere.  It is in our schools, our governments, our religions, our commercial activities, our sports, our friends – in other words, everywhere.

Society places standards of parenting success on us all, or at least on those who choose to try and comply with those standards.  Society says:  “be normal,” “comply with all rules,” “look like the beautiful people,” “be popular,” “make lots of money,” “don’t rock the boat,” and so on.  And society teaches us to condemn, and therefore bully, others who do not meet those standards.

Perhaps even more insidious is that individuals bully themselves more than they bully others.  It starts by taking on a belief that “I am only as good as what others perceive in me.”   As children many of us are taught to believe that we must COMPLY with the norms of society in order to be acceptable.  My mother was a champion at that.  From her own wounds she constantly nagged us to “look good,” “to do everything right,” “to make sure that others complimented us so that she would feel good about herself.”  When we accept this belief we then begin to judge ourselves (meaning we condemn ourselves) for any behavior that does not comply to another’s expectations.  This condemnation eventually can turn us into self-bullying and then to bullying others.

I took on the belief from my mother ‘that who I am naturally was not good enough and that in order to be good enough I must think and act in accordance to my mother’s or society’s standards.’  I had to learn to let this go and to let my anger at my mother go for she was only doing what she had been taught herself.  (This legacy of compliance to another’s perspective went back several generations.)  In my work with children and families I see this demand for compliance in so many.  It is contrary to who we are as souls.


No.  But we can prepare them to NOT be affected by what others say about them.  We can prepare them to respond to such taunts without anger but with understanding and love.  In fact, we can teach our children to live a life of joy, harmony and love. Isn’t this teaching what parenting is all about?

We all carry an innate goodness, an innate compassion, an innate connection to one another.  When parents foster these innate traits in their children those children build their own self-esteem and self-confidence.  And, while it may be contrary to our own upbringing and contrary to what society demands of us, fostering this in our children is not that difficult. 

I do acknowledge that we will be challenged to find the patience not to follow the old parenting patterns we have been taught.  My daughter and her husband constantly are challenged to be patient with their (almost) 3-year-old.  When she gets frustrated that child can certainly act in a disruptive way.  Thankfully, and to their credit, my daughter and son-in-law take the time to coach and direct this child to make other choices while teaching her to be her natural, loving self.  Does it always work perfectly?  Not at all.  But their parenting practice is always to allow their daughter to find her own way of behaving in a natural and loving way. 

I do not mean to suggest to not enforce consequences when our children act in some non-beneficial way.  On the contrary, I suggest that it is our duty as parents to teach our children that with every choice there is a consequence – either positive or negative.  When their behavior is negative, then there needs to be a consequence fitting to that behavior, but not from a place of punishment.  By its very definition “punishment” has anger, fear and pain attached to it.  Consequences then are about teaching children to make positive choices so also remember to offer consequences to positive behavior as well.  And remember, when your child(ren) resist you or act out in some unacceptable way, always remember to offer them love along with a consequence.

I do not believe that bullying will stop in our society for society will continue to demand compliance to its own righteousness.  I suspect the majority will continue to seek to comply to society’s rigid standards and in so doing will deny their own uniqueness and ultimately their own love.  When we deny our innate ability to love ourselves we deny that love to others and we fall prey to seeking love outside of ourselves by striving to be what others want us to be. 

That being said, we each can be responsible to STOP bullying ourselves and to teach our children to not bully themselves.  We can be responsible to foster our own and our children’s innate and glorious natural beingness.  I often tell clients that my teaching is “simple” but it is not necessarily “easy.”  But isn’t any change always this way?  Just because it requires being uncomfortable and often demanding great patience, do not give up on teaching your children (no matter their age) that love is more powerful than anger and that each person (including ourselves) deserves our love and compassion.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Whole and Healthy Families, A 21st Century Challenge

Throughout the world today people are being particularly challenged by the fast pace of change, the stress of change and the fear of change.  But no matter the challenge, no matter the struggle to keep the status quo, change is here and the speed and impact of that change continues to be more and more dramatic.  The challenge is to move from an old paradigm to a new paradigm.

The impact of this challenge is especially felt within families.  Our current generation of children have a unique role to play in guiding the transition from the old to the new; and, with this role, they face the conflict between tradition and innovation; between the drive to be successful (however that is interpreted) and the drive to follow their own path; between control and allowance; between anger and forgiveness; between the need to please parents and the drive to be themselves; between acceptance/approval needs and self-acceptance; between hate and love.  These children come armed with enhanced abilities to achieve this collective purpose.  They have unique talents, they are often hyper-sensitive emotionally, they have a unique sense of compassion, and they have an enhanced desire not to conform to the old. 

The first challenge that children face is being born into an environment of old patterns of fear, mostly fostered by parent and family traditions.  Understandably, most of today’s parents remain woefully unaware of the uniqueness of their own children as they continue to parent in the old style of control, dominance and punishment/reward, laced certainly with love at the outset but with heightened frustration during adolescence. 

The role of today’s guides and teachers of this generation is two-fold. The first is to assist the child to: a.) heal those issues that they allow to block them from joy, b.) strengthen their own individual abilities and self-esteem and c.) become aware of and follow their own unique purpose and path in life.  The second role is to assist parents to break away from their demand for ‘compliance to tradition’ in order to foster a more beneficial environment for their children’s growth and happiness.