One of the things I have learned about the most as a parent of multicultural kids is the importance of being mindful and staying in the moment. This isn’t the easiest thing to do and yet, it’s one of the best things to do. You’ll see lots of parents blogging about how they’ve stopped yelling or stopped using their electronic devices as a way to be more mindful and present with their kids. Being mindful has its benefits in that it allows you to pay attention in the moment and, as parents, to use the moment to create meaningful connection with our kids.
As a multicultural parent, the same goal applies when being mindful in those quick moments of questioning that kids give us ever so often. When it comes to addressing cultural differences, many times we experience a hesitation that is just quick enough to send a message to our kids that “we don’t talk about differences.” And, in our not-so-great moments, we scold our kids for asking an age or developmentally appropriate question based on our own discomfort around differences.
When we are mindful we can create teaching moments in response to our kids’ curiosity by engaging in the present moment as it’s happening. There is a balance to doing this because you want to do it in a way that intentionally educates, demystifies, and normalizes differences so that you can connect with your child comfortably and confidently.
We’ve all met those people that seem to offer up more criticism than healthy advice or positive reinforcement. Learning how interact with those overly critical people without letting them bring you down can be a very difficult thing. Sometimes we may be able to simply walk away from them, but other times we are forced to have those people around us. If you ever struggle with this, here is an article with some of my thoughts and tips on how to more effectively respond to the critical people in your life.
Many of our lives are hectic, busy, and can become stressful. As humans it’s not unusual for us to feel angry at times and want to lash out when our buttons have been pushed. Some believe that getting their anger out is a form of catharsis and is the best way to overcome one’s negative feelings towards another.
Jeffrey Lohr, a psychology professor who studied “Venting in the Treatment of Anger” said, “Venting may make you feel different in the moment, but the change in emotional state doesn’t necessarily feel better; it may just feel less bad.” People may vent in all sorts of ways including punching a pillow, blowing up at another person, yelling and screaming, confronting someone immediately after the offense, slamming doors, or using social media as an outlet to rant about their anger.
Can children raised in dual-income households be happier than children raised by a stay-at-home parent? According to a landmark survey done by Ellen Galinsky (1999, 2005) the answer is yes! Galinsky found that children overwhelmingly endorse having both fathers and mothers working. It appears that the concern over who should work and how much they should work is largely limited to us as parents.
So what do children worry about? Through Galinsky’s surveys she found that children are focused on the time they have with their parents at home. They are concerned that when their parents are home, they be less stressed and tired and more emotionally available to them. Insert therapy buzzword [balance].
As parents we strive for balance, and whether or not they tell us directly, our children desire a balanced home. Here are ten practices that can support you and your partner as you work to attain balance in your home.
-Prioritize family time and well-being
-Emphasize overall equality and partnership, including joint decision making, equal influence over finances, and joint responsibility for housework
-Equally value each other’s work and life goals
-Share parental duties and “emotional work” of family life
-Maximize paly and fun at home
-Concentrate on work while at the workplace (If your home is also your workplace, make sure there is a well defined boundary between workspace/work time, and family space/family time)
-Take pride in family and in balancing multiple roles, and believing the family benefits from both parents working (rather than adsorbing the dominant cultural narrative of harm)
-Live simply, which includes limiting activities that impede active family engagement
-Adopt high but realistic expectations about household management; employing planning strategies that save time
-Be proactive in decision making and remain conscious of time’s value
Adapted from Normal Family Processes: Growing Diversity and Complexity, Fourth Edition By Froma Walsh PhD MSW
Perfectionism, the constant fear of failure and simply “not feeling good enough.” To a perfectionist mistakes are indications of personal flaws and the only way for acceptance is to be perfect. Our high expectations often leave us feeling inadequate and falling short of what we could be. But nobody is perfect at life, nothing is meant to be flawless. When we realize we are not expected to be perfect and that we are here to learn, we are able to develop compassion for ourselves and others.
This perfectionistic trait can easily be passed down to our children because they feel like they are not good enough in their parent’s and their own eyes. Here are some ideas to help interfere with this vicious cycle:
Women’s DBT Skills Group is a 3-series skills group that teaches basic skills
such as how to manage your emotions so they dont control your life-how
to cope effectively with difficult relationships- and learning how to
react calmly rather than impulsively in order to avoid unhealthy
escapes. This 3 module skill group will run in 6 week segments and
all are necessary to have lasting success.
Series 1: (6 weeks / Mar. 10 – Apr. 14) Mindfulness and Distress Tolerance
Series 2: (6 weeks / Apr. 21 – May. 26) Mindfulness and Emotional Regulation
Series 3: (6 weeks / Sept. 8 – Oct. 13) Mindfulness and Interpersonal Effectiveness
There are all sorts of advice out there on how to improve ourselves and our relationships. Some of those pieces of advice become so popular that we start implementing them across the board. The problem with this is that even some of the most common thoughts or ideas that have been put out there about mental health are not always the most healthy or helpful in different situations. Then, when we try to follow these ideas and they don’t work, we blame ourselves and often give up.
Click the link below to read about some of the most common pieces of bad advice you may be following, and why you might want to think about doing things a little differently.
I think it is safe to say that we live in a relatively fast-paced world. As comedian Brian Regan points out, there are instructions on how to microwave your pop tarts (if you don’t have the time to put them in the toaster oven)! Jokes aside, the impact of our rapidly changing environment on our minds, emotions, and bodies is real. Without noticing, we have become a culture that is plagued with anxiety, attention deficiency, and hyper-tension. Simply, we are stressed.
Understanding that our culture is probably not going to regress to the technologies and pace of the stone-age, how can we cope with, and even thrive in this rapidly changing, frenzied society?
We have to take a step out of it and re-charge. It is similar to a NASCAR race. The cars are zipping around, revving their engines, and going as fast as they can. However, without the pit-stops, they cannot complete the race. They will run out of gas, burn through their tires, or even spontaneously burst in flames. This is not the result that we are looking for.
So, how do we get pit stops in our lives? We need to create them and they need to be rejuvenating, or, effective. Many people have objections to being lazy or “wasting time.” As comedian/actor Jerry Seinfeld (who has practiced Transcendental Meditation for forty years) points out, it isn’t about time management, but about energy management. While creating his Seinfeld series, he would spend twenty minutes while others took their lunch break, and would meditate to “re-charge his batteries.” He said that he could not conceive accomplishing what he did without the much needed benefit of meditation.
I was moved to tears today when I read the heartfelt and inspiring letter penned by Kayla Mueller, the American hostage whose murder by the terror group ISIS was confirmed in the media on February 10, 2015. Kayla was kidnapped while volunteering for the humanitarian organization, Doctors Without Borders, in Syria in August 2013 and was held captive until her death in early 2015. The letter that former cell mates delivered to her family subsequent to their release reveals a beautiful, courageous young woman with a remarkably resilient spirit. In part the letter reads:
“Everyone, if you are receiving this letter, it means I am still detained but my cell mates have been released…..I wanted to write you a well thought out letter, but I could only write the letter a paragraph at a time, just the thought of you all sends me into a fit of tears.
“I remember mom always telling me that all in all in the end the only one thing you really have is God. I have come to a place in experience where, in every sense of the word, I have surrendered myself to our creator b/c literally there was no one else…..and by God and by your prayers I have felt tenderly cradled in freefall.