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Posted on 30 Jan, 2017 | 6 comments

Children’s Party Games – Who Gets To Make The Rules?

 

I’m planning my son’s birthday party. It’s such a cute thing to do.

We like to keep parties simple in my family. We don’t hire in and we try to keep the list short. I’ve noticed children have more fun that way. When there are too many people the birthday child is either overwhelmed or plays with one or two friends while the others do their own thing. I don’t see how that is a birthday party for a specific someone. In my view a birthday party is a chance to celebrate the person who was born into our lives. I guess, as in discipline and life choices, my preference is connect first, everything else second. I see a birthday party as an opportunity to deepen connection.

Anyway so the friends have been invited and each one means something to my little guy. As each friend informs us he or she can make it my boy grins and settles a little more into the joyful anticipation of having them there at his special day.

Now it’s time to decide what games and activities we play. He knows what he wants and my job is to organize it into a workable format. Big brother wants to help manage the party so he is My Helper. This should be interesting – we both like to be in control. I’m reminding myself now as I write that I need to settle into working WITH him rather than be his boss. I hope I remember that otherwise he will just get frustrated and sulk. As would anybody who understands they are a partner in a project only to find they are merely a powerless lackey.

Anyway back to the planning. Someone spoke to me about how the game Pass The Parcel has changed. “In the Old Days”, they said (ie the hardcore 80s), “there was a parcel with layers which was passed around a circle. When the music stopped whoever was holding the parcel ripped off one layer. Slowly the parcel became smaller and smaller and the anticipation built to see who would be holding the parcel for the final layer because that person could keep the prize in the center”.

I remember this as fun. I don’t remember times I won or lost, I just remember the excitement. “Nowadays”, this person continued, “we are so afraid of our children’s disappointment that we put a prize in each layer and make sure everyone has had a turn.” Maybe our parents also sneaked a peek to make sure the music stopped on the child who hadn’t yet had a turn, but I don’t remember tantrums and tears and screams of “It’s not fair!” I know I have seen that nowadays.

I also know that last year I found myself packing a parcel chockablock with little surprises in every layer and feeling concerned that it would work out unfairly. I wondered about the idea that we don’t give our children practice in dealing with disappointment.

By the way, my solution worked really well. I only put gifts in some layers and each surprise that was uncovered was put by the children into a bowl that sat in the center. They were informed the contents would be shared out fairly at the end so they sat there and were excited by each thing that was added to the bowl for them as a group. It was fun. No fears of unfairness and disappointment for them or me.

This year my boy wants to play The Chocolate Game. It’s a super fun game for those who may not know it. A large bar of chocolate sits on a bread board in the center of the circle along with a fork, knife and some articles of clothing – a hat, scarf, large jacket. It’s great fun if the clothing is large or floppy or interferes with dexterity in some way. The children pass a die around and when someone rolls a six he or she jumps up, puts on the clothing and sits down to eat the chocolate with a knife and fork only. No fingers allowed. They sit there eating chocolate until someone else throws a six at which point they must immediately stop and pass the clothing onto the next person. Sometimes it takes time before the next six is thrown and sometimes it is immediate… There is a lot of fun and hilarity.

So my two boys were discussing this and said, “We must leave some chocolate aside so that if someone doesn’t get a chance at all then at the end they get given some chocolate.”

I found myself having an old-school reaction to this. “What? Toughen up, life isn’t fair, que sera sera, you need to learn to cope…” Luckily I shut up. I simply observed myself. It’s true that life can seem very unfair and they’ll learn this, but is a children’s party really the moment to force them to engage with this? Anyway, where did this tough attitude get us? Maybe it’s this very attitude that has caused the problems in our world today? Who is to say a softer approach won’t create a kinder world? If we aren’t all hardening ourselves against the ‘harsh reality’ and ‘unfairness’ we could concentrate more on connecting and having fun.

Back when children were seen and not heard young folk didn’t get much of a say in how games went: parents said and we did. Nowadays children get to say so much and we – having not enjoyed the experience of being silenced – listen to them.

It was a small but meaningful moment for me as I relinquished the decision making to the children. They wanted to make the game fair. A socially trained part of me wanted to stop them. For what? To maintain the skewed power dynamics in our world that we have been taught are ‘right’? The very same power dynamics populations around the world are rising up in great masses to rebel against? Funny how our children reveal our imbalances and indoctrinations in the oddest places – we’re talking about the Chocolate Game fer goodness sake!

So, to help make the world right again in little and big ways, I will keep some chocolate aside so if there are some who don’t get during the game, they will get after the game is done.

World peace and fairness will prevail in our Chocolate Game.

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Posted on 12 Sep, 2016 | 4 comments

Just A Reminder: Parenting Is About Self-Love

lost-heart

Parenting is so daily, full-on that it can be easy to fall back into the default functioning of believing, “It is my child that makes me angry”.

It isn’t. It is the pain of bumping into an area in which you don’t love yourself that makes you angry or frustrated or hurt – or whatever your wound of preference is.

I know you already know this if you have been reading my blog but really, the traditional way of seeing parenting is so ingrained in us, we need regular reminders of this other way of seeing things.

I know I do.

Parenting is an area in which the places you don’t love yourself rear up and tantrum at you. They throw up on you, keep you awake, drive you to distraction, whine at you, elicit waves of sudden uncontrollable rage, make you crumple to the floor in a sobbing heap… in other words, you see them through your reactions to your children.

If you can remember that any reaction you have to your child is simply a reflection of how well you are loving yourself in that moment, you will feel a lot less overwhelmed in those overwhelming moments that seem to string together to make up the experience of parenting.

It can also help you lean more openly and frequently into those wonderful chest-swelling moments in which you feel love chiming through your whole being.

I find it remarkably reassuring to look at my feelings and reactions as simply reflections of my inner state. If I look at my child as something I am supposed to control, manage or make behave in certain ways, then I feel overwhelmed immediately. Why? Because we CAN’T control anything outside of ourselves – more particularly, we can’t control other people. Definitely not their behaviours or their intentions or motivations or feelings.

But oh how we would love to be able to…

So when I feel irritated or angry at my child, it’s not really about him. It is something about his behaviour – or the situation I find myself in – that is touching on a previous experience I’ve had which somehow was one of the causes of why I don’t love myself wholly in my life. Our anger or pain or hurt (to anything) is just an indicator, a symptom. In the same way as your body uses symptoms to indicate to you an area in which your self-love is not flowing freely, big negative reactions to your child’s (or anyone else’s) behaviour are symptoms of areas in which your self-love is not flowing freely.

What to do about it? The best technique I have found so far is to check in with myself regularly and especially in those stuck or overwhelmed moments to ask myself, “If I loved myself, what would I choose to do now?” Then listen to the Truth that arises within me, the Truth that soothes my being and try to follow that as best I can.

Like I believe about discipline with children, first love and connection, everything else second.

Love yourself parent. The rest will just flow so easily…

Please pass this on to any parent you can think of. We all need this reminder that we are not under assault by parenting – it is merely a long and detailed lesson in loving ourselves better and better. Remind your friends to love themselves.

Our children will thank us for it. So will our world.

Think of the places your own parents could not love themselves and how those impacted on you…

See?

Now get to it! Start loving yourself more. Shine. You are already wonderful.

I always love to hear from you. What did this raise for you?

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Posted on 11 Jul, 2016 | 4 comments

If I Can’t Also Look At My Dark Stuff, Then I’m Just Faking It

Being a parent can either be a distraction from the goal of becoming the shining, glorious beings we inherently are or it can fast forward you towards it. I learned this when I became a parent and lost my mind and my self-control a good few times. It all depends on what you do with it. The clay is there, what are you going to make from it?Going Mad

Knowledge is power, said Foucault famously. The way I see it is this; everything in my life offers me insight into myself. It offers me

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Posted on 4 Apr, 2016 | 12 comments

Are You Ok With Who And Where You Are?

I am all astir. Riled up. In the midst of an inner uprising.

I feel furious and outraged. I was fantasising about sending out various letters to various people whose actions have raised my ire and then thankfully I said, “Hang on a minute. If I’m this affected it means something about this is mine. Let me pause before I make it about the outside and first look at what is happening inside.”

look inside

Isn’t it amazing how the outside constantly reflects our inside to us?

There were two (enraging) outside situations that made me aware of my inner situation. Did I mention they were really upsetting?

So firstly a group

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Posted on 21 Mar, 2016 | 4 comments

I Think Parents Are Awesome

(School hols again – this week and next are old favourites.)

I think parents are awesome. I truly do. I stand in awe at what parents around me do – and how little they seem to get out of what they are doing – and what they put up with from their kids and bosses and society and schools. They’re totally and admirably mad.

Oprah keeps telling us that being a parent is the toughest job in the world. If you actually think about it as a job for a moment you’d see that no-one in their right mind would sign on for parenting with the kind of salary and benefits it seems to offer – at first glance anyway. And I’m sorry if I’m being depressing by focusing on this but did you know that if you Google “I hate being a parent”

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Posted on 2 Nov, 2015 | 6 comments

This 9-Year-Old Thing – And Control

I’m constantly amazed anew at the effectiveness of this technique of using the challenges your child offers you for your own growth and healing. If anything makes me feel overwhelmed, upset, scared, angry – whatever – and I take the time to look and ask, “If this is my teacher, if this is carefully, lovingly orchestrated to teach me, what is the lesson here?” I get the answer. Always. It’s really amazing.

You know what else is also amazing? How many times in the parenting experience I look at my child and think, “I really don’t know what to do right now.”

what now

You know those times? You are being challenged, you know you need to do something – something needs to be done – but in the moment you just don’t know how to resolve it.

My child is going through another big life development phase (so what’s new?). This 9 year-old thing, where the child’s consciousness suddenly expands beyond the small sphere of home and family and he or she becomes more aware of the big wide world. Poor little mites go from being the big fish in a small pond (home) to small fish in a big pond (world). Not easy by any means. Each child and family deals with it differently but in my home confusion, power battles, anger, fear, tantrums, must-have-it-my-way is the order of the day. It’s fun, fun, FUN for the whole family!

He needs bigger territory, more responsibilities, more freedom to accommodate his growth and his need for adventure and independence – but at the same time he needs to know we are there keeping him safe. I’m trying to be kind and understanding while holding my boundaries firm but its ever-so tricky to do this Boundaried-Independence thing.

Another tackle with him this morning left me

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Posted on 3 Aug, 2015 | 2 comments

Forcing An Issue – What’s That About?

We are going to a party and I ask my son to change into a nicer pair of trousers before we go. He looks nice enough but he is in tracksuit trousers and it’s a very casual look. I want us to present well, right?

There’s a catch though – he doesn’t want to change trousers.

change

“Ok, I get it, you don’t want to change, but you need to, so just do it quickly and we can go.”

“But I don’t want to.”

I pause a moment to consider. How strongly do I feel about this Changing Of The Trousers? Is this a battle I want to step into? If I let him go like this he will be comfortable but what will I be teaching him about respect for others? If he rocks up in a tracksuit to the party what will people think about me and my family?

Such a lot of crap we have floating around in our heads, don’t we?

But this trouser thing had bumped into one of my own big ongoing dilemmas: In a conflict of interests, where is the line between respecting others and disrespecting yourself.

That day I decided I wanted to teach him respect for others and couldn’t leave the stupid trouser issue until I had quite ruined the whole party-going atmosphere for us all. I was aware of what I was doing and chose my actions moment by moment but I was driven by my anguish and indecision about ‘forcing’ him to do something he didn’t want to do – which is NOT my usual style at all – and, I suppose, fearing losing respect from others for my lack of social appropriateness. Pain facing me on either choice. Big-time triggered.

In the end I

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Posted on 6 Jul, 2015 | 2 comments

When It’s Irritating Because It Reflects You

Originally posted on  Jul 22, 2013

This week we’ll use Mary to show us how a child’s behaviour can get a big reaction from you because it’s dredging up an old well-hidden past hurt that you are unconsciously trying to avoid. Next Monday we’ll look at when it GETS to you because it’s positioning you into a dynamic that reminds you of an old well-hidden past hurt that you are unconsciously trying to avoid. Are you sensing a pattern here?

Ok, here goes.

If Mary immediately feels irritated when a child is needy, it’s very likely she has some old hurt connected to a child being needy. Because all children are needy – that’s their design – but not everyone has a problem with it.

What Mary finds irritating is probably reflecting something about HER. That means her reaction to the child is showing how SHE feels about what’s being reflected about HERSELF.

Huh?Untitled...

Keep going, It’ll get clearer.

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Posted on 9 Mar, 2015 | 0 comments

My 5-Year Old Won’t Listen!

Bless my little 5-year old master teacher. He just won’t listen to us. I think he’s beginning on the “You’re-Not-The-Boss-Of-Me” journey.

Lord help us all!

I wrote about this before when my other one was in this phase. Please click here afterwards and read it if your child is between 5 – 7 years old. It explains a lot. Share this with other parents in this phase. It can be so reassuring to know there is method to the madness.

This time of life for a child is a deep exploration of power and self. If you’ve been reading my posts lately that sentence will probably make you laugh! I’ve been dancing with those subjects intensely but I’ve only just realised the connection to my child. Of course. Hard to see what’s in front of your face, right?

I quote from my post: So what happens during this very important transition is that the child loses her external source of guidance about herself and life and she has to find and learn about the new source of guidance which lives deep within her.”

Yes. Well.

So it’s another level of delving into the murky waters of who am I, who do I listen to, who is actually in charge here, how much power do I have to say no…

Applied equally to me and my child.

He is very much exploring his own power. He wandered off the other day, in clear contravention of Rule No 1. to being in public places: “Always stay where you can see us and we can see you.” He went so far away we had no idea where he was. We all went in different directions to search and my legs are still stiff from sprinting half a kilometre while calling his name. I managed to keep panic from rising in me and I finally found him quietly waiting for us to catch up with him! Unfazed.

yikes

Terrifying.

Anyhoo, our family is starting to feel the pain of not being heard. We say something to him, like “Stop banging the knife and cutting marks into the table!” and he, either glances at us and then simply continues what he was doing, or he actually puts his hands over his ears and says, “Stop talking!”

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Posted on 19 Jan, 2015 | 4 comments

Instead Of Blaming…

I was listening to an Esther Hicks recording and she said this to a man who was asking about relationships:

“The relationship you are seeking to achieve is the relationship between you and You. Then all the other relationships just fall into place.”

Self

He asked her about relationship deal-breakers and she said: “Deal-breaker; that is a reality that I am forced to look at, forced to face because its being presented, that I cannot overcome with the power of my mind. It’s saying to your partner, ‘You have challenged my ability to create my own reality too much. Therefore I must leave you. It’s too hard for me’.”

There is something about her phrasing that really stuck with me. She’s pretty much saying that if I have a problem with something about someone it means I’m out of alignment with ME. Hmmm… So that means it’s not about you, it’s about me?

Ok yes, I know I’ve been saying this very thing for ages, and I even have a whole blog about it,think about it, write weekly about it, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to understand! Each time I realise it again and it goes a little deeper in. I read a quote once that said, “The longest journey you will ever make in your life is from your head to your heart.” So it’s like that. When I heard what she said, my heart understood it a little more deeply.

I thought of a relationship I’m having some difficulty opening up to lately. I feel like I have my reasons for that and they seem to make sense, but at the same time I’m aware that my reasons just might be more like excuses to avoid intimacy than actual reasons.

So I looked at my list of Things Wrong With The Other and thought, “Ok, if this is about me and Me, how can I find alignment with my highest truth even in the face of these things that I judge to be not-the-way-I-would-do-it? Can I make a plan to feel good even as I stand here with this stuff that bugs me about this person?”

You see, if how I feel in the relationship is always about ME, and if everything which challenges or thwarts my good feeling is just an exercise for ME, then dammit, BRING IT ON!!! I always liked a challenge! Let’s be clear, I’m not asking for trouble, but if Trouble is already here – quick glance at my List of Things Wrong With Them – then I suddenly see that ‘Trouble’ is actually my trainer, my sensei, my guru, my Mr Miyagi.

I mean, who gets to decide if I feel good? Me or some silly judgement I have about how something ‘should’ be according to my preconceptions and fears? Wax on, wax off.

Yessirree. That list is my good friend. It’s training me even when I think it’s just messing me around – making me paint fences and wax cars (those who are lost on the whole Mr Miyagi, wax on wax off comments, check out movie Karate Kid which is profound in the way only an 80’s mainstream hit movie can be).

This is the point. When I feel crap I’m being shown that I’ve lost sight of my truth, my soul, my highest self. I’ve lost my perspective of what’s important. In my case I think I’ve been trying to make the person behave in a different way because I’m hoping that way I will be more open to connecting with them. If they change I will feel better and then it will all be fine.

Sigh.

Talk about giving away your power! I’d rather use the energy I’ve been wasting in

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Posted on 8 Dec, 2014 | 6 comments

On ‘Substandard’ Children

Before we begin, please take a moment to click on the red badge on the right to vote for this blog. You only need to vote once to help spread the message of this blog, “Parents, remember and affirm your own light.”

Ok, here we go…

……………………..

What kind of title is that?! No-one says things like ‘substandard children’– well, not out loud anyway – even though the truth is we think it quietly and live in fear of it.

“Of course some children have ‘problems’, it happens. I just hope it isn’t ever my child!”

not me

I recently heard from yet another parent whose child is being declared ‘not up to par’ by the system. She is emotionally less mature than her classmates – just slightly mind you – and the teacher (very good and kind according to everyone else’s stories) is mildly impatient to have to deal with a child like this in her class. Theirs is a mild experience and their daughter will be just fine in her own sweet time, but still these parents have felt judged, not good enough, they have a ‘faulty’ child, fear rejection by the school and their community…

The way our society treats ‘different’ children pisses me off quite frankly, REALLY pisses me off (which is funny considering last week’s post). There is NO such thing as a ‘faulty’ or ‘substandard’ child. Inconvenient and challenging for the caretakers, oh hell yes, but ‘faulty’ or ‘substandard’? No.

But why does it stir me up like this? Why do I want to shout it out at everyone and then hide myself away? Where is it hooking into my own shadow? (See? I’m listening to last week’s post) I have to share with you that writing this post really got to me! There were rants and tears involved. I thought about not doing it. It became a deep, DEEP journey across my inner geography – my highs and my lows – to figure out what I actually want to say about this and why I wanted to say it. And still it’s not ‘perfect’. During the writing process I had to face my own mess, my own fears, my own inadequacies and my own excellence. Each of these brought fear and judgement with them. All this just from pondering the idea of ‘substandard children’ for heaven’s sake! You see, I think that’s part of what ‘different’ children do to us. This is part of why we get scared about having or working with children ‘with problems’.

When we see or engage with a child who is struggling to express himself, or can’t understand us or concentrate, or doesn’t sit still, or cannot control himself, it’s a real challenge for the parts of us that like to be in control and feel competent and good enough. I, for example, like helping people, it makes me feel good. But when I try all my clever tricks to help the child and none of them work, I’m left feeling powerless and useless. Then I imagine how his parents must feel every day and I’m filled with respect for them.

We humans tend to be afraid of ‘different’. When we meet it we want to kill it, control it or avoid it – we feel less vulnerable that way. We don’t mean to be mean but… This is the dynamic at play when your child has learning difficulties and the nice teacher implies it’s your fault somehow. Or when your child struggles to sit still and pay attention so people judge your parenting. Or when your child has intellectual disability and people move away from you. Or when your child has physical disabilities and kind people look away or talk to her as though she is deaf or ‘retarded’. None of us is totally immune from this. I catch myself at it sometimes too.

When we judge those who are different to our perception of the ‘norm’ it’s usually because they make us re-examine our values and ways of being. Being faced with an example of something different throws into question our own arrangement of our world. Who wants to see they don’t know everything, that they might be wrong or lacking in some way? (Those very same outliers, by the way, sometimes later turn out to be geniuses who improve the world – see Albert Jack’s funny book They Laughed At Galileo).

So here it is. This is the crux, the key to what’s going on with us when we judge and avoid. (And this is why I was getting all riled up about this ‘substandard’ crap.) In the VERY same way as we judge and want to avoid these outliers, we also severely judge and reject the parts of ourselves that do not conform to what we deem to be ‘normal’ or ‘ok’. This is what was going on in me, you see, hence the histrionics. I’m angry that society judges and fears ‘outlying’ children this way – all the while I’m rejecting the ‘outlying’ parts of my own self just as harshly. My anger is actually about my own pain of being judged and rejected – by myself. Writing this post was making me see those parts of myself as well as my treatment of them. Very uncomfortable! (The irony is that these outlying parts of ourselves may also well be the geniuses that hold the secrets for our happiness. They are often our inner revolutionaries. Embracing the full spectrum of who we are – both shadow and light – is what brings us our ultimate healing and joy. I suppose in essence that’s what this post is all about – that’s the process it has taken me through.)

So this is it – the key. The fear and pain about ourselves is where all that judgement about those children comes from.

dont want to see

When we avoid children with ADHD, or dyslexia or intellectual disability or Aspergers or tics or anxiety or ODD or anything else that is ‘not comfortable’ to be around, it’s because these blessings of children are forcing us to engage with our own inadequacies. They sure are!

It’s for our own good.

Why do I say that?

Most of us ‘normal folk’ walk around with secret fears of not being good enough, not fitting in, fears of being rejected for who we are, or that something about us is not ok…? Brene Brown has written whole books on the shame and fear we feel about this. We ‘normal’ ones can hide those secret fears and keep them deep inside ourselves but children with ‘challenges’ are just hanging out there on display as ‘different’ and ‘not good enough’. It’s like my obese friend once told me, “Everyone has issues but they can hide them. I can’t hide my issue and so everyone can see it and they judge me for it.”

When we see these children, we see our own hidden fears come to life. They face us with our shadow, so we judge, fear or reject them – but we are actually judging, fearing and rejecting ourselves.

Oh these children are beings of great light. I mean you have to be to take on society’s crap like that, right? They have so much to show us in terms of new ways to do and see things – but if we are caught up in being afraid of our own inadequacy then we miss it. We miss the show. We miss the lesson. And we hurt, oh how we hurt everyone involved.

But let’s get real. It’s very uncomfortable to see your own inadequacies and powerlessness. I mean it’s really in your face that you are not getting it ‘right’ when that child is bouncing around, breaking things, hitting at you and not listening to your limit setting. Or when you don’t understand your child because they can’t express in words. Or when your ADD highly sensitive child is falling apart because she hadn’t realised her big project is due tomorrow and there’s nothing you can really do to help her. Or when your child doesn’t get it, or others don’t get him. We’d rather avoid all that discomfort if we can, right?

Well maybe not.

As I always write, everything our children bring us is a reminder of our own light. Therefore ‘abnormal’ children actually offer something abnormally powerful to

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