Who Do You Love?

What or who do you love?

My younger son can easily articulate what and who he loves. He says I love you to my husband and I without any discomfort, and for the most part is comfortable sharing his feelings openly and honestly with others. I think he is just wired this way. My oldest keeps his emotions close. He can come across as being quick to anger or unhappiness, but am now better understanding that it is his discomfort that is causing these emotional reactions.

I’m thinking of having my oldest keep a gratitude journal. Peggy Orenstein’s talk and my Head and Heart blog made me think this is one way we can help our son keep his head and heart connected. My hope is that by journaling he’ll grow to appreciate all the good things in his life, and that while disappoint and discomfort will happen there is a different way he can respond because he’ll remember he’s loved and has a lot of things to love in his life.

How does your child express their emotions? How are you helping them remember all that is positive in their life?

Head and Heart

How does your child show others who they are?

My family and I were fortune to see Peggy Orenstein talk about her book Boys & Sex: Young Men on Hookups, Love, Porn, Consent, and Navigating the New Masculinity. My husband and I decided to have our sons attend with us. While the idea of having to hear about sex, intimacy, and porn with my kids made me uncomfortable, my husband and I knew if these topics were ‘out in the open’ we could talk more openly with our kids about what they are seeing, hearing, and thinking.

My kids shared my discomfort. “Mom, do we have to go?,” they asked. There was no getting out of it. If I as going to power through my discomfort so we’re they. We were going to this talk as a family. I did suggest a compromise, “I know you’re uncomfortable being with mom and dad at this event. If you want to sit away from us, that’s okay.” That seemed to make us all feel a little better.

One of the most powerful revelations I had during Peggy’s talk was when she shared what her work uncovered — that girls are taught to disconnect from their bodies (who you are is one thing, your body or outward appearance another), and boys are taught to disconnect from their heart (have feelings, empathy, etc., but not be able to show them). I thought about how I’ve seen my oldest son struggle with this. It’s like the empathetic kid I’ve known has been working hard to stuff his feelings and empathy way down–with it rarely surfacing as he ages. My husband and I have talked to him about toxic masculinity and encouraged him not to buy into it (or fall into its trap), but Peggy shared insights that helped outline just how hard that is. Our kids are up against what the see on TV, the internet, etc., and risk isolating themselves when they break from the “norm” — stand up for others, or freely express how they feel.

The talk has helped us start a more useful dialogue as a family around what our boys are up against. My husband and my’s goal is to teach them to keep their head and heart connected. It won’t be easy, but us being willing to be uncomfortable together has been for us a great place to start.

How are you helping your child be true to who they are?

The Perfect Present

What does your child want for the holidays?

My boys are old enough now to articulate what they want. They are at the age where gift cards are fine, and they rarely ask for anything that would be hard to get. I’m lucky, I know.

I remember when Cabbage Patch Kids we’re all the rage and parents were desperate to get their hands on one. Of course, at my young age I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about as I figured Santa would ultimately track down any folks that were needed — ah, youth.

The point is these parents were desperate for the doll for their child because they thought it was the perfect gift (or near perfect given all the trouble and effort, not to mention, money people were putting out to get one).

I have always liked getting gifts for my boys that show I’m paying attention to their interests and desires–whether they are outwardly spoken or not. I’m always in search of the perfect gift.

But in listening to carols in the car I was reminded that the perfect gift isn’t something you give on a holiday or birthday. It’s something you can give everyday, means more to your child than any material possession they’ll ever have, and doesn’t cost a thing. The perfect gift? Your heart.

Listening to, loving, supporting, caring, teaching, encouraging, and molding are ways we share our hearts with our children. It’s the perfect gift we can offer every day.

What gift will you be giving your child this year?

I will taking a few weeks off to spend time with family and will be back in January. Happy Holidays!

What Luck

Have you ever felt lucky?

Like any parent, I feel like I am constantly busy — going from one thing to the next all-day everyday. Imagine my surprise when I was sitting in my kids dentist office stressing about getting my oldest to school on time, when a text came across my phone. It was from a close family member who simply said, “I’m in the hospital. I’m okay. I’ve had a mild heart attack. The cellphone reception here stinks or I would have called.” I re-read the text one more time. Here I am stressing about getting my son to school and someone I dearly love had a heart attack. My stress moved from being concerned about getting my son to school and moved to checking on my family member. I tried calling, but as they told me the reception wasn’t great and I went to voicemail. I tried another member of the family and got up to speed on the situation from them. Everything was okay for the moment and there was nothing I could do to help. I switched back to stressing about getting my son to school. Later in the day, I reveled at my ability to compartmentalize the days stresses and get through it.

Later, when I finally was able to reach my family member, we discussed how she was doing, how things happened, who was with her, did she want me to come to her and I really wanted to hear ‘everything’s going to be okay.’ I couldn’t imagine losing this person at this point in my life. I’m not sure we’re ever prepared to lose a loved one. She was very lucky to be near an urgent care center who saw her and quickly guided her to a nearby hospital who admitted her. She was lucky to have friends nearby who could be there with her and help her. They ran numerous tests and couldn’t determine what triggered the event, she stopped showing symptoms and was eventually released. Lucky. Lucky. Lucky.

I struggled with what to tell my kids about the situation. It was serious and I thought they were old enough to handle it, but I also didn’t want them to worry. Thankfully I was able to share the news with them and reassure them that everything was going to be ‘okay’ or as okay as it can be. We were lucky what happened wasn’t more serious. They took it better than I thought. They were concerned, but once they saw I was okay about it (I’ll admit I was trying to come across as cool as a cucumber even though I wasn’t), they were okay about it as well.

Have you experienced a health scare in your family you feel lucky to have gotten through?