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Archive for the ‘Tender Minds’ Category

PostHeaderIcon So what if there’s a little mess…

Children are little people. They are allowed to spill, to make a mess, to break things, to play, to make noise, to play with more than one toy at one time without putting the others back in place…it’s all part of growing up. That’s how they learn, that’s how they get in touch with their inner feelings. When a favorite toy falls apart, a child struggles to fix it or to find an alibi or to discover ways to replace it. It’s a mental exercise towards problem solving. Even someone as old as me loves to buy houses in Monopoly and see my opponent pay rent. So what if I scream when they get to go to jail and miss a turn.

Yes we all need some quiet and alone time, but just imagine if all our homes were empty. The silence would be claustrophobic. There wouldn’t be any random, out of place laughter. There wouldn’t be anyone who’d come from behind and give us a hug, all of a sudden, and then hide under the table! And if everything were always in order, we’d be like robots or soldiers, marching through life with stiff arms, too rigid to feel the warmth of living… :)

PostHeaderIcon “Back in my day”

A few days ago, I heard a parent yelling at her 5 year old kindergartner. “Stop crying! Back in my day, I used to walk to school alone, and I didn’t have my mother drop me off and take care of my crying business!”

The little kid, hurt and torn, then waited quietly in the gym for the school bell to ring.

I hear that more often that I’d like to hear. What happened with me back in my day is my memory, my circumstances. It isn’t my kid’s fault. It is also not fair to expect my child to go through what I went through, good or bad, because the times have changed. If I walked to school alone at age 5-6, it’s probably because I could do so without getting hit by a drunk driver or a mad rush. If I had only 4 outfits in my closet it’s probably because that’s all my parents could afford. If I didn’t watch any TV it’s because darn it, there weren’t any shows for kids and there was only one TV in the neighborhood. And the list goes on. And if everything was so perfect way back in my day, I would be the most amazing person with absolutely no flaws…and we all know that’s not possible, is it now?

So then is it fair to repeatedly take our children on guilt trips? It was my trip, not theirs. Why let my not so savvy parenting present itself in a barbaric manner? Why must my children suffer because I have not been able to handle that project that was due last week or because I had an argument with my spouse earlier this morning?

It is one thing to share stories of our childhood with our children…in fact, it’s an amazing way to bond with our kids. But just because I drank water from a well isn’t justification for slamming at them for drinking treated water.

The goal is to enhance our kids life, make it a bit better than what ours was, enable them to make good decisions, expose them to the world as we see it today. And it isn’t that I’m not guilty of telling my kids that I knew how to make roti at age 11…but as soon as I say that, I realize that it would have made no difference in my life if I had learned it at 18 instead. :)


PostHeaderIcon Dealing with death

Today has been a new challenge as a parent for me. Someone my daughters know and look up to, a young teenager, passed away after fighting cancer for a few years. The news has been shocking for them and I see them sitting quietly at times, and other times, asking me questions about the disease.

At this age, my children understand that death is irreversible. I’ve always been the type of parent who likes to talk to my kids and drive them to ask questions so they don’t carry a heavy burden of unknowns in their tender hearts and minds. How I choose to answer the questions has to be strategic and appropriate for their level of understanding, of course. But I can’t help feeling all of the grief myself and find myself working hard to not let my own sadness pour into theirs. However, I’ve noticed that allowing myself to be sad is making them relate better and understand that it’s alright to feel that way. I guess it gives them comfort when I express my feelings openly so they, in turn, do the same.

Overall, it’s going well, but I have to say that parenting isn’t always about protecting our children from pain and suffering. It’s teaching them how to deal with what comes their way, and in the process of teaching them, I guess we become better students as well.

PostHeaderIcon Helping your children develop their talents

It’s a privilege to see my children growing each day, physically and emotionally, building their personalities and developing from little people into young ladies. I have also noticed how they each have their set of interests and talents and as a parent, it is my responsibility to help nurture these.

But first, as sometimes children exhibit random interests, it may be confusing to figure out which areas to pursue. I have, therefore, exposed my children to a variety of activities such as sports, the creative arts and technology to help discover where their interests and abilities lie. Once those areas were identified, I engaged my children in acquiring knowledge and skills to further develop those interests.

Many parents force their children to pursue activities that their children may not enjoy, and while to a certain extent, this may be a necessary process in identifying the child’s interests, it may distract the child from what is his or her natural talent. When a child expresses their interest in a particular activity, that is a pathway for the parent to steer them on the right track. And with time, their interests may change and as parents we need to be flexible enough to change with them. This is all part of the learning experience and it really isn’t as daunting as it may seem. It is, in fact, an opportunity for creating memorable bonds between the parent and the child.

Also, it is important to challenge children but while they are busy testing the waters, some parents tend to set very high standards. We have to be careful not to demoralize the child by having unrealistic expectations so we must work on striking a fair balance during the learning process. This where we need to understand the difference between “nurturing” and “pushing.” And if as a parent, we are unable to provide the coaching and mentorship needed, we can check out resources available that can provide the help the child needs.

There is great joy in seeing watching your children’s talents bloom. And there is even greater joy in knowing that you are experiencing the journey with them.


PostHeaderIcon Reaching inside the mind of a 7 year old

Change of any kind requires a shift in the mental comfort zones we all create for ourselves. There’s a fear of the unknown, speculations and apprehensions, as our familiar routines become displaced.

And so for even a little child who exists within a psychosocial framework, emotions present themselves in different ways. Some children verbalize their thoughts while some are more passive in their expression. However, as a parent, I realize that my children have the same human emotions I do, and while their manifestations may be different, they must be given their due respect.

Our upcoming move has been an example of such a change where my 7 year old daughter’s affectation was beginning to look like her reality. She seemed like she was alright with it all and as long as she was with her family, nothing else mattered, until yesterday, when all of a sudden, I saw her fighting with her inner sadness, but it could be contained no more. At that point, I knew I had to create a dialog where she would get in touch with her true feelings and pour out her thoughts freely. It is at times like this when I wish I could buy pills of patience and swallow them so I could work with the situation at hand instead of hoping that it would just fix itself. It isn’t easy to see your child suffer even when you know that life can never be a steady path of predictable events, and that every person must be subjected to their share of change.

So we talked like we always do. Her feelings were exactly the same as mine the only difference  being that as a grown up, I know that change is inevitable, and we can control certain factors that could make us uncomfortable. I can also see positive in the change because my exposure is greater and battle with the transition anxiety by focusing on the benefits of the change we are about to experience. It is imperative to validate the feelings in a child because that relaxes their mind and they know that it is not wrong to feel uncomfortable. Then, we address the fears by breaking them down into tinier problems and offer solutions to deal with those problems. At the end, it is all about offering reassurance to a tender mind that can cook up a storm inside. And once a dialog is in the process, the red lights soon fade into lighter colors as we help the child to think beyond their doubts and fears.

PostHeaderIcon Lessons from my children

Here’s a collection of nuggets from my children (some sentences have been restructured to summarize the actual conversation):

  1. Respect us. Listen to us so we feel important. We can’t always be wrong.
  2. Please try not to raise your voice when you are trying to tell us we did something wrong. We can’t really hear what you are saying then.
  3. Please don’t tell us not to use “bad” words if you use them in front of us. That makes no sense.
  4. When you tell us about all the poor kids in the world who don’t get to eat all the yummy food we get to eat but don’t, we lose our appetite, so please use another motivational strategy.
  5. We’ve been around long enough to know when you’re being sarcastic so if you just tell us straight, it will be so much cleaner.
  6. We need you very much so please be available for us. We truly love you and even though we’re brats some days, it’s only because we can be comfortable with YOU.

Please add more of what you’ve learned from your children. :)



PostHeaderIcon The power of submission

Growing up, I was under the impression that submission is a weakness where you assume the position of a lesser being. Today, I realize that in submission lies a great power. Submission isn’t being a doormat, but in a way, demonstrating an absence of rebelliousness.

PostHeaderIcon Fragile minds

2 things to never do to your children:
– Never tell them they are worthless even in your most angry state
– Never tell them they are the cause of your worries

What I have learned is to reprimand the act or issue, not the person. It’s hard sometimes because letting go of your inner frustration by using dramatic exclamations can be satisfying, but your satisfaction can bruise a child’s fragile mind in ways you cannot imagine.

PostHeaderIcon Learning from a bully

Since the start of the school year last September, my first grader had an arch nemesis. She’d come back from school telling endless tales of her battles and suffering. There was exaggeration of course but great lessons were learned on dealing with people. Looks like this girl moved out of town and yesterday, my daughter says, “mom, funny I miss my bully. I have no challenge anymore.”

I told her, “well, I’m sure you can focus on other things now that you don’t have to worry about anyone making smarty pant comments or stealing your homework or spilling your box of crayons.” So she goes, “well mom, it’s more fun to focus when there’s distractions. Otherwise it gets boring.”

Aah. Children are amazing, aren’t they?

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