Monday, March 18, 2013

2.5 year old asking about grandfather's death

I wonder could you give me a little advice? My Dad passed away 3 weeks ago, he was a huge part of my daughter’s life, she's 2 1/2. She asks where he is and I hold it together to explain, Grandad is gone to live with Nana in Heaven. My mam passed away before my daughter was born and she knows from Mams picture who she is etc. The thing is, she keeps asking my brother - What happened to Grandad? My poor brother can't answer it's like it hits him with a ton of bricks when she asks, I'm thinking she's not happy with my explanation and wants another? I've told her that grandad missed nana so went to live in heaven with her and that he's ok and not sick anymore.

I just wondered if you have any advice with this. I've asked her does she miss grandad and she said yes and I said I miss him to and that's ok etc. Just don't know if I'm missing something or should be saying something else.

I understand your very busy so no problem if you can't reply but if possible any advice would be much appreciated.

I’m so glad you wrote and would love to try to help.
I am so sorry for your loss. Dealing with a death in the family as well as trying to deal with its effects on our children is a difficult balance. I hope you are finding the time to grieve yourself and find the connection you need. It is totally natural for your daughter to be questioning things regarding the death of your father. Children have a stronger sense of the eternalness of spirit so the concept of him suddenly being gone will stir up a lot of questions for her. There is also always the issue of a child facing the fact that since one person is suddenly gone, it could happen to anyone.
When events happen that we have to answer our children’s questions there and then we often find that we don’t really know what we think ourselves, and unfortunately our children pick up on our own lack of conviction. Therefore, I would suggest taking some time to tap into your deepest version of yourself and getting a sense of what you believe deep down. Personally, as I was just telling a friend of mine today in fact, I find that death breaks down walls, and in thinking of the person who has passed we can get a sense of them, reassuring us that they are eternal beings, always around. When we’ve tapped into our own eternal states, we feel stronger about our belief in them and therefore when we speak of it, our children hear it clearer.
However, I think you’ve answered her question beautifully, clearly and well. It will probably delve into more complicated conversations as she gets older and I always find death an interesting way to start talking about spiritual matters to small children. For instance, “their body stopped working so they left it behind” creates the idea that we are more than our bodies. There are also some wonderful children’s books out there that give it in simple, natural terms, which can offer a sense of what the life cycle is to a small child, without causing them concern that any of their loved ones are next.
As far as your brother is concerned, I would suggest to your daughter that she asks someone else. It’s alright to ask her to not talk about it to him as he is hurting because he misses Grandad so much. Tell her he needs her help to feel better, ask if she can play with him and help him in this time. Is there anyone else she can talk to, maybe his partner, or a cousin? If not, then keep it simple, you do well to point out you still miss him, as his body isn’t around to see, but you know he is still around, watching over you, giving you love.
I had a woman write in with a similar question once and I mentioned two things which I think she found helpful in the transition, for it is a transition and soon your daughter’s life will resume to the regular day to day, although always slightly different than it was before.
One point was to offer a sense of ritual to the event for your daughter. Something that ties it all together. A funeral of course is ritual enough, but not suitable for a child to really absorb, but a ritual in the sense of drawing a picture for her grandfather and burying it (which my daughter did for a friend of hers when she passed away), planting seeds or a tree for him, creating something, or even doing small things like writing things to him/drawing things for him in the sand and letting the waves take them to him (which a friend on the SAP page does for her daughter. She finds it very healing) I think this sense of ritual creates a bridge for our children, from the seen to the unseen. SO be creative and find a way of tying it all together.
Another thing to create a bridge is to take part in something life giving. Plant a garden, visit a farm with baby animals, go for a nature walk and see the offerings of spring, start a new activity, Take part in something life giving and enjoy it together.
Often, as we grieve it is natural to hold ourselves back, it’s to protect ourselves from hurt and hold us in a place of healing. But sometimes our children can be part of the process too. She may be wanting to understand more of what’s happening so she can meet you there, to be part of your process. You don’t want her oblivious to the issue, but meet her half way. Death is part of life, we miss those who go before us, but they are always around in love. Take part in the love, play, explore and be in the moment with your daughter. She will soon shift focus from the issue, only taking more part in the missing, and you will heal with the joy you have in the moment with her.
I hope this helps a bit. Please let me know if I can help in any other way or get into further detail.
Be well and thrive.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

9 year old experiencing social trouble after dealing with father issues

My 9 yo daughter has had a terrible time with friendships for a few years now. Basically very low self worth and issues with a pathetic Dad she has shared custody with. he's emotionally manipulative, abusive, and withdrawn.

At school she is a very high achiever, academically gifted. She is also very creative, a true right thinker usually winning art awards.

Last year because of issues with her dad this resulted in her social skills suffering terribly. She alternated between bully-like behavior and being victimized. She has no malice I must make that clear. Her self esteem is low and faith and trust in people is non existent. Last year hormones struck too which compounded problems.
I want to help her but feel powerless. This year she has been separated from all her friends in the classroom via those parents' requests. My daughter is not stupid she knows their mums have told their daughters not to play with my daughter. How can I help my little girl deal with this?
Any advice welcome. Thank you.

I’m sorry to hear that you and your daughter have been through a rough time. Although it would be great to be able to offer you an answer to your daughter’s school problems and have it resolved quickly and easily, I feel that its best to suggest some foundational work first, and some of it might have to start with you. You are just as much an example to your daughter as your husband is and therefore by dealing with any trapped emotion you may have about him you may shift how she feels about people in general. First, I have to ask, whether you worry about your daughter being at her father’s house? Is it a question of her safety? Often, when spouses have different approaches and perspectives it can be a tool for our children to figure out exactly what they like, how they want to live and who they want to be. It can be a positive thing, and empower them to decide what they feel about it all, if we can bring it to that light. Therefore, provided you feel alright with the arrangements, and your instincts don’t suggest having them changed, then you and your daughter have to learn how to forgive your ex for who he’s chosen to be. By shifting the perspective to Love you can’t feel helpless. By telling your daughter that your ex made some bad choices, or doesn’t know any better, by reminding her and yourself of Who He is on a spiritual level, that he is acting from a place of disconnection and of bad feelings and must feel awful all the time, but to choose to send him positive intentions instead, you will offer your daughter a new perspective on humankind. We are all one. We are all positive spiritual beings who at our core are made of love. Sometimes people get disconnected from that... we all get disconnected from that, sometimes people do horrible things in that state of disconnection. It doesn’t mean she has to choose to even if her father has.
So forgive him (even if he is as bad as you say, and you are considering changing the custody agreement or not, even if he stops being part of your life at all, forgive him. You will always feel better.)
Choosing the path of love, and encouraging your daughter to do the same, will bring forth new options. It’s hard to get into the habit at first to not criticize or blame another person for everything that goes wrong, even if it is their “fault”. It’s not a question of blaming ourselves, just finding feeling better thoughts about the situation, such as “Yes, he did that, but in someways it taught me a lot.” Or “ It gives us opportunities to really decide how we want to live.” Softens the blows. Once our feelings “soften” regarding a situation, we shift our attraction point and things start to appear differently in our life.
The Law of Attraction is the universal law that like attracts like. whatever we are feeling we send out that energy and the law of attraction brings more things into our lives that feel the same. It’s a bit like how when we wake up on the wrong side of the bed, we always stub our toe or end up in traffic. When we chose to be positive and filled with love, focusing on the positive aspects of others and things, we attract more positive experiences and things shift.
Nine years old is a pivotal time for children (as a mother of a 9 year old and one who recently turned ten I can vouch for it.) They have so much information at their feet, from what they’ve gathered over the past 9 years, from the internet and from the people around them. They stand at the point of approaching teenagehood and are deciding what they like and who they want to be. It is a wonderful time to approach talk about the Law of Attraction and universal truths.
Yes, she may feel like a victim, but she knows deep down that she is a positive spirit, who came here with a purpose. She is important and the situation she is in, and has been in, has been designed to offer her choices and understanding. She gets to choose what she does with the information.
We get what we give, it never fails. When we treat people badly we send off the energy of that and it always comes back to us. So pass on to her the tool of treating people how she wants to be treated, no matter how they treat her.
She doesn’t like it when people treat her badly, so she can’t treat others as such. It’s the game we came to play.
Now, passing on fundamentals like this can take some time, and I would suggest some pragmatic things as well. Consider doing yoga together, or starting some meditation classes or tapes together. Also, consider enrolling her in some social thing on her own, so she can meet new people and not be seen as who she has been acting as, rather as who she really is. If she is passionate about art, than an art class or something at an art gallery could give her a chance to meet people who like the same things as her and she will feel more comfortable with.
With my own daughters of this age I find that I am shifting into the place of being a friend and confidant, letting them make their choices, but being there to remind them there are choices, not a set route. I remind them of how proud of them I am, for who they are and who they can be. I try to spend time laughing and playing with them, chatting over things on the computer or having special shows we watch at night together. Right now, at this time, I am trying to build a feeling of a fun relationship together. It feels wonderful and the natural course of things as we build toward becoming friends, and it means they always have a safe place to come, a place to smile, be positive, and feel like their truest selves.
I feel like I’ve written this a little blind, going on what I feel is happening in the situation. If I’ve gotten it wrong and you would like to fill me in on more details, please do so, or if you would like to discuss anything further, just ask.
Be well, happy and thrive.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Mother dealing with telling her 2.5 daughter about grandfather's death

I very much enjoy and feel inspired by your posts and hope this finds you well. I'm struggling with the recent sudden death of my dad and more so in explaining where papa is to my bright wonderful 2-year old (25 months) daughter. She asks if he is in the hospital, ambulance, his house, car, cafe and today asked if he was far away. I am trying not to fill her with concepts of heaven and angels that I fear may later invite religious and other limitations but instead have been responding each time to what comes up without saying anything untrue for momentary ease (I.e. avoiding saying he's away for a while or in hospital etc. I want her to be open to what I hope - that he is still with us but in a different way to before and that although we can’t go and visit him in the same way as before, we might still see, hear and feel him and have been trying to say this to her but not sure she understands. I also don't want her to think the rest of her close family could just disappear like he did (even though I know now the brutal truth that we can). It is all desperately heartbreakingly difficult at this time and I would appreciate any suggestions at all that you may have (perhaps you have experience of this?) whenever you find a moment to share.

I am so sorry to hear about your sudden loss. I know this must be a painful time for you and I commend you on your focus being on making your father’s transition easier for your young daughter.
First, what you want your daughter to see death as is completely right. We are all positive beings of energy and these bodies simply are the form we take momentarily. There is no doubt in my mind that your father is still with you, simply in a different form. There is always comfort in knowing that when you think of him you call him forth, when you need him he is there. He was simply ready to see life from a different perspective.
By you seeing his passing like this you are actually passing it on to your child by example. I get the feeling that she is in fact sensing it and at her young age she will have a deeper understanding of it then she will be able to form into words.
Although our family hasn’t yet experienced the death of a family member our children have had death around them in various forms all their lives. We live on a farm and with that death becomes a part of life, mirrored by birth. My daughter also experienced a friend of ours, whom she was very close to, suddenly die. Our conversations regarding death have developed as our children have grown, and of course you are right to say that when we talk about death the evitable comes to our children’s minds: if it can happen to them, who else can it happen to? However, we are co-creators and your father’s passing and your daughter’s understanding of it, will launch you all to new places.
I find that at a young age the best approach is the simple and honest one. When our three year old son asks about any of our animals or friends’ passing I simply say “Their bodies stopped working so they had to leave them. But they are always around.” Usually it seems to just be accepted and only asked to go further when they are a little older, but when more questions are asked I suggest they close their eyes and imagine the person/animal with them, reassuring that when we think of them we can feel them and interact with them. That they are always with us.
Saying that, your daughter will also sense you’re grieving and that’s alright to be honest about too. It’s alright to miss the physical side of someone and to tell our children that is why we’re upset. It’s alright for them to feel sad too, which for us as parents is a hard pill to swallow.
Going back to your point that she might fear losing other people too, it’s a valid one and I won’t tell you it might lead to some reaction. When death struck close to our home when our son was only 18 months he needed to sleep in our bed for sometime and the few months that followed he seemed more attached. However, the fear of losing our family members always dawns on a child at sometime, and has to be dealt with. Simply reassure her that you aren’t planning on going anywhere at anytime soon. Tell her that you are with her and always will be. Hold her tight, carry her often and soon it will pass as a fearful thing. You will also find that spending extra time with her, enjoying her discoveries, distracting both of you with new games and wonders will make the healing process go easier.
Something that I feel is important is the ritual of death. Having done it for some of our deaths and not for others I realize that we healed from the ones we had rituals for easier than the others. This doesn’t have to be in the form of a funeral, which of course is traumatic for anyone, rather a personal ritual. This can come in the form of planting a tree in memory of the person, creating something for them, or even encouraging your daughter to draw pictures for her grandpa. My daughter, when our friend passed, drew a picture and then we planted it amongst some flowers as a way of giving it to her. A friend of mine has her son write letters in the sand. Acknowledging the person who has passed in this way creates a natural flow of understanding that they are still around.
Follow your instincts, and don’t worry that you will do harm. It is a hard time for you as well and your daughter will sense that. Talk about it, but then find some form of new life to distract yourself and your daughter will. Walk unfamiliar paths, learn about something new together, plant seedlings, get busy and enjoy each other’s company. For death is always the mirror of new birth and in taking part in life, understanding of the opposite comes naturally.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

5 year old has tantrums when refused what she wants

Hi firstly i would like to say that i absolutely love your fb page I follow u daily and u bring me such Inspiration.
Right now I’m having major trouble with my 5 year old daughter she having the most amazing tantrums that if she can’t have something there and then she will scream and shout until she gets what she wants and i can’t seem to get it through to her that she can’t always have what she wants when she wants. Other to this she is well connected and an absolute beautiful and joy to be a part of her life. I’m at wits end as how i can approach this as I’ve tried everything to try and help her get through this. I would love to hear your thoughts on this

The age 5, like 3 was before, is such a difficult age to be. At that age we have all these opinions, all of these discoveries and questions and yet somewhere along the line people start to look at us differently. Whereas a toddler can be excused anything because they’re a toddler, and a 3 year old starts to get asked to do things but can still be “cute” and make people smile, getting away with things with a bit of charm, a 5-6 year old is suddenly facing the issue of growing up. It’s an age of awakening and it can be scary, unsettling and send a child into a hectic frenzy to make sense of it all. On top of all of that at 5 a child is usually starting school and there they are often a number, having to stick to a routine and follow the rules. There’s not a lot of space in a 5 year old’s life now to express their thoughts, their opinions, or even catch up to their own life story.
If your daughter is flipping out every time she can’t get her own way, it suggests that she doesn’t feel heard, that it is a battle to get what she wants and cute tricks aren’t going to work so she wants to force it. We all feel this way sometimes, let’s admit it. Many an adult has wanted to scream and shout when things aren’t going the way that we feel would suit us best.
I have a few suggestions.
First, try not to say no to her unless you have a good reason to say no. Often we say no and have to come up with an excuse to back up the no in the first place. Children sense this and it rings out as injustice. Allow conversations to build and take the time to hear her reasoning out. Often our children have good reasons for what they want, and even if its little things like needing extra time before bed to finish a game, when we give it to them they sense the fairness of the house. They then, in turn, understand why they need to be fair, so the system works. By shifting to a dialogue system of fair living, rather than her feeling like she’s always told what to do, and when to do it, she will feel free to start talking about her wants, rather than having to scream them to be heard.
When you talk about her tantrums do it when she’s not in one. You can do so in round about ways like if you see someone on tv screaming, or see a small child having a tantrum at the store. You can open up the conversation about how you never want to give things to people who scream at you, you never really hear them. Point out how you love it when she talks lovely and how nice it is to talk with her. If you feel like the direct approach is more you, do so with understanding at a time when you are having some downtime and when it feels right. You can ask her how she was feeling when it was going on, and tell her how it made you feel helpless and didn’t know what to do. Try not to imply that She MADE you feel bad, rather tell her your reasons for saying no and then say you felt trapped because you love to give her what she wants, but it felt wrong to do so. Ask her to talk to you about things she wants and make a deal to work as a team, where you are both fairly treated by each other.
If, even if you’ve given your reasons for saying no, and you’ve talked about things openly and fairly, she continues to have tantrums you can start passing on the golden rule. Ask her if you scream and shout at her when you want her to do something? Does she want you to? What sort of house would it be? (Are her friends shouting for what they want?) Tell her that you are ready to listen when she wants to talk, tell her you love her and you are there for her. If she’s open for a hug then give one, as her disconnection must be paining her, if she’s not ready for a hug sit quietly and wait for her to come to you, breathing deeply, focusing on love and compassion within yourself and changing the energy of the room for her. Often when our children create a negative scene it fills the house up with so much frustration we react to it. When we refocus the feeling space of the home it can breathe again and our children can connect again and work things out with us. If she asks what you are doing be honest and tell her.
Since this is the age of awakening, when she flips out and feels bad for not getting something simple, you can always ask her if she really wants to feel bad over a thing? I find that when I empower my children to see how they feel as a choice they can take a step back and choose. I usually go through thoughts that could help them feel better, such as appreciating the things they already have, or thinking about things they love to do or play.
Lastly, in this hectic time of your daughter’s life as she grapples with new ideas and expectations take some time and just play with her. Give her some time to be little again, with cuddles at night, or a good pillow fight. Try some calming activities together, such as yoga (there’s great books or YOGA PRETZEL activity cards on amazon), coloring, or taking walks. Start her noticing how she feels inside by offering contrasting situations. Playing frantically followed by sitting quietly with candles, fast kids shows on tv to peaceful music. Start taking some quiet time together before bed to connect and feel a different vibration than the frantic day to day activities.
I hope this helps and I would love to hear how it progresses. Your daughter sounds like a strong minded young woman, with strong ideas and an independent spirit. She just needs to know how to direct her power and to use it to feel good. She’s just the age to start learning.

Moving home with a 3.5 year old

I am emailing today to ask for your advice. I am the mother of a three year old boy. My son has gone through a lot in this past year including have a tumor (non-malignant) removed from his lung. All my sons life I have lived with my parents for 1. I divorced my sons father while pregnant and had no other place to go and 2. my mother is chronically ill and I take care of her. Why I am emailing and asking for advice with is due to family dysfunction caused by my very unstable and drug addicted sister with three children herself- I find it is time to move. The stress and the fights are not what I want my son growing up in. I myself grew up in this mess and want nothing like this around my son. My son is a very resilient and strong willed child but he is very attached to his grandfather. Why I am emailing is how do I make this move less stressful on my son. How do I effectively communicate why we are moving and our new home will be somewhere else. I am so afraid of doing more damage to my son then if we just stayed unhappy and hurt all the time in this mess at my parents. I am twenty five years old and a single mom it's time for me to separate myself from this mess. My son and I still co sleep and I strongly believe in attachment parenting. I know my son feels loved by me and my parents but how do I facilitate a separation without hurting my son. Any advice you can share would be greatly appreciated. I do not normally reach out ot strangers about my problems but when it comes to my son I will do anything. Thank you for your time.

First I want to tell you how impressed and in awe I am of your bravery and commitment to creating a better life for your son. You should have no doubt that you are making the right decision. Good for you.
Personally, I don’t think your son will have problems with the transition. I think he will know instinctively that it is to create a better life, a prettier life, and will appreciate it as it sounds like the current situation is literally taking his breath away. We respond physically to negative situations and our bodies literally give us indicators of what we are living. If he has already had health problems at his young age, starting a new life in a new home is the best thing for him.
Saying that, introduce the topic to him as an exciting adventure. Talk about the new home, go and see it, and make him part of the process. Talk about what you will do there, what you will bring that he has in the old home, and how you want to create a place that feels nicer. Children understand how places FEEL, so start the journey with that as a focus. When you move, make it as stress free as possible, not worried about his routine, going by his cues regarding setting the place up, eating on cardboard boxes as tables, stopping to play for a bit and then setting things up after he’s gone to sleep. Make it fun and he will go with the flow. He’ll sense that things already feel different, and he will probably relax into it, relieved.
Regarding his grandfather, I’m assuming you are staying in the same area, am I right? If he asks about when he will see your dad, tell him you’ll be having him over and you think it would be nice to have a place for your dad to visit which feels nicer than your parents’ house. Have your father over, or even help with the move if he would. Visit your family once you are set up, so that a new routine is set up. If you can’t then do a Skype visit and let your son show your father around his new house.
On a personal note, I was living at my folks when both our daughters were born. When we left they were young, but had known no other home and I was worried it would shake them and leave a scar. It hasn’t at all, and as long as they had the security of my arms they were fine. Since then, we’ve moved often, each time I’ve wondered how they would deal with it, and as long as we’ve brought what things they cherish, they were fine. Our 3 year old just moved again, this time back to Canada from the UK, and since we set it up as a new adventure, with fun, new things to do, he’s thrived with it, occasionally mentioning things he misses, but eager to do all the things he can over here. Life is about the Now, and as long as we make it a joyful, fun now, our children adapt quickly and are eager for more.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

visiting grandmother stressing house out

Your posts having been coming to mind frequently lately, as my mother has come to stay with us temporarily and the stress level as we all make this transition has been unusually high. My 3 y/o son's behavior has often been hyper, distracted, aggressive, "defiant," etc., ...generally "off" and I can tell he's really not his usual grounded self. I've particularly wondered about how to know when to follow his lead and when to be more directive about how we respond to a stressful moment. I realize that might be a rather vague question to raise, but if you have any particular thoughts on the matter, I'd be interested in hearing them. Again, many thanks for sharing your insights and inspirations.

First, I find that the first thing that disconnects our children is the dichotomy shift and how they are suddenly perceived. If usually your son has a routine, but also gets a lot of time being talked with, being listened too and has a voice in the household, often when guests come, especially family who we sit and chat to, our focus shifts and our children can’t get a word in. On top of that, for some reason when we are around our families our children can fall into being “the children”. Our parents are often from a generation that sees them as that. Therefore, suddenly they are expected to act in a certain way, like things that “children” like, sit quietly while the “adults” talk and basically they feel like the world has caved in. The rhythm of the house has been disturbed, and like I said in my post tonight, they won’t know it’s not forever. It’s easy to get disconnected over it, and easy to understand why he might start acting unlike himself.
Another thing that adds to it, is as he feels your stress, he might want to try to help connect you. He might try to convince you that he knows what you should do to feel better, which might be as simple as playing a game he wants to play, or checking something out with him, rather than talking to your family or dealing with life. He may be finding it frustrating that he can’t fix the house’s feeling state.
It’s not as dire as it may sound. It just takes being a little creative.
See if you can find some connection time with him. Every mother accepts the fact that we need to do some things with our children, such as bath time or bed time. Stretch them out a bit. You’ve got a great excuse with the holidays being over, you can say you want a bit more “routine” (another word most mothers understand) and then take that time with the door shut to spend time with your boy. Read stories, play a quiet game, talk, connect. Make him laugh, find out if he’s ok, talk to him about your mom and how she is YOUR mom, which he may find an interesting thought. Tell stories about growing up, tell him that soon things will be back to normal, but that since she’s your mom, you love her and it’s important to make the home feel pretty for her, to make it full of love. Make your time with him, connection time. You can even start a little bit of meditation with him, or appreciation lists, by just sitting quietly, in front of a candle, or just focus on both of you breathing. He’ll appreciate it if you point out how things have been stressed (or I like to say fast with my 3 year old) and you want to feel better.
You’ll find that by taking the time to de-stress and play with your boy, you will feel better too, and as you connect with his inner self you’ll see more opportunities to involve him in the day.
In the day, when you can’t involve him see if you can set him up with some distracted activity so he doesn’t get caught up in any stress of the house. Set up Playdough, art, a new truck, a cardboard box, plan it even the night before, to start him on a journey, will help him feel better and connect to his true essence.
One last thing, before bed, try to take some YOU time. Breathe deeply, focusing on each breath, appreciate little things and find the connection spot where you feel truest to yourself. Relax and let the situation flow. It’s alright for us and our children to have challenging situations, in fact it may be its just what we all need to grow and expand the way they wish and it defines more what we want and what we don’t. Allow it to flow as it should and you will find each day is easier to deal with any stress that comes your way.
Be well, happy and thrive and I’d love to hear how things progress.

3 year old challenging parents, discipline doesn't work.

Hello i am a first time mother. I have a 3 1/2 yr.old son who is going through let's see how much we can test mommy & daddy stage. He constantly says no to everything you ask him to do. Time out's, taking away of the toys, etc. does not work at all with him. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

3 years old and the year that follows are momentous for our children, and often challenging for us as parents! It is this time that our children go from being babies to full blown people, with their own thoughts, opinions and decided upon wants, that have been decided upon over the past few years of observing what’s around them. They have explored, pondered and questioned and quite frankly we’ve answered most of the questions about what’s around them. By three they are eager to explore new territory, and if we don’t spark new interest, new challenges, they just turn off and disconnect from their true nature. Also, as they look for new challenges, suddenly we feel like we’re on a battle ground of their will vs. ours and we start to refuse them a lot more rather than encouraging their explorations as we did when they were younger.
It’s a time when we as parents start to introduce how we work as a family. Often it comes in the form of control, (“we’re the parents, you’re the kid, you have to do as we say or suffer the consequences”) It can work for a time, but it wears thin as they become more determined to have their say and we have to try to maintain control. However, it’s the hierarchy that we have in our minds, because it’s the way it’s always been. What I like to encourage in a family is a team effort, a little bit of give, a little bit of take and everyone trying to be considerate to each other. It takes some time to establish, and even to form in our own mindset so don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Life, especially parenting, is a journey with the outcome sometimes unclear.
Saying that, your son may be saying no all the time because he feels that’s what’s done. In order to reset the household a little, try a day of YES. As much as possible set some time aside where he can do as he wants, or at least safe versions of it. If he wants to play cars, get on the floor and play with him, ask him what he wants for lunch, what he wants to wear. Give him what you want to be given. Then if you need something, rather than telling him to do it, tell him about it, why you need it, why it works, and what the benefit is to it getting done. Point out the things that everyone does in the family, such as brushing teeth, bathing etc, when you need him to do things that everyone else does. I find that with our 3 year old he loves to do the things his dad does as he feels bigger that way, so building on that note, see if Dad can ask him for help sometimes, or explain things to him. (My husband is often asked by me these days “Can you talk to him about this and this and why it’s dangerous... etc” and off they go for a guy to guy talk.)
3 years old is also a great time to talk about emotions, and how your boy is feeling. I’m just in the middle of writing my next book, and in it I suggest doing art projects with a 3-4 year old talking about how they feel. For 3-4 year olds frustration is the key negative emotion, as they are ready to try new things but get upset when they don’t nail it right away. So talking with them about what makes them feel good, what makes them feel bad, and that tight hurt inside that’s frustration helps them express what they are feeling. I like to get them to draw emotion, just with colors on paper, imagining how they feel and then drawing how they feel. It helps with the talking.
I also find that night time is a good check in point. Before bed it helps to ask them questions about anything they are thinking about, are worried about, things that upset them, things that feel good. Night time can get so rushed, but if a child is listened to at night, and considered then in the morning they feel like they can connect at that level too.
Communication is so important on this next stage of the journey. I try never to say no unless I can find a true reason. When I started on this path with our two girls, I would say no and then look for the reason why they couldn’t do something. It was silly. It feels better to say yes, unless you can say, “no... because”. A child is always wondering why and when we explain everything and take the time to tell them how things work, they respect our no’s more. Sometimes it means being really blunt, “honey, I’m sorry you can’t use the knife until you have bigger hands, I love your fingers so much and this knife could cut them off.” Following up with something they can do “here, can you stir this with this spoon instead.” Usually gives room to grow and learn.
One last thing. In this dawning of your son’s new interest in being involved, involve him more. If you’re washing dishes, let him wash some in a different pot, if you vacuum let him have a try, he might be good at it, and then he’ll get fed up. He can help carry, he can help move things, he can help. I am forever amazed at the capacity of understanding and ability our 3.5 year old has and at the sparkle in his eyes when we take his ideas and suggestions seriously.
Listen, communicate, have fun and create a team effort. By being what you want to see in him, you offer him the template for how to be and he’ll see it works well as a family affair.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Grandmother fears for her 3 year old grandson's home situation

Hello, My 21 year old daughter has a beautiful 3 year old son that she leaves with her boyfriend of 2 years, off and on, ( not the father) while she works full time. They do not live together (yet. Have talked about moving in together soon.) the boyfriend lives at home with his parents. My grandson has recently started crying whenever my daughter says they are going to the bf's house and says he doesn't like him. My daughter just ignores his cry and argues that they get along fine. However, I have witnessed on several occasions the bf being rude, bossy, demanding and very strict with my grandson. I've never seen him play with my grandson, or show him any affection, praise, or patience. The bf has even openly admitted that he doesn't have the patience to watch over S. (3 year old grandson.) Tonight I had to tell the bf to leave my home when he began yelling at S to stop crying and then began saying unprovoked, disrespectful things to me. I am in fear for my grandsons well being, safety, and health. And this is not just because of the bf's behavior this evening. My daughter has recently started denying S healthy snacks in the evening when he is hungry, saying that some doctor says its not good for him to eat hours before bed. Yet, S has no weight issues or any other health reasons for this restriction. She has also become very impatient with him and has even referred to S's behavior as being bratty and calls him her little brat! I've asked her not to do this and explained the harm that it causes, but she still does it and demands that I say out of her parenting her child. I am not able to watch over S while my daughter works, as I am also a single parent of two boys. One with a disability and on going issues with failed public school programs and placement. As well, once the school problems are resolved, I have to find work to support myself and the boys, as I receive no financial support from their father for the last 12 years. (Long court battles and no solutions provided so far.) and my daughter can not afford to pay for child care and has lost all funding from the state to cover child care costs. As well, I had to sign a contract that states my daughter would not be living with me past the age of 18, so that I could get help from the state, to pay my monthly rent. To top it all off, my daughter is now pregnant by the bf and is afraid if she ends the pregnancy the bf will no longer help her or even talk to her. She depends on him for financial help (thought very little), baby sitting, and has her car registered in his name because she can't pay off her tickets to get her license back. As of last week, he is helping her move in a studio where he is friends with the landlord. I understand that these are her problems, but her choices are now affecting my grandson and endangering him too. She is not open to listening to anything I have to say and admits she is not happy and that the bf is not a very nice person at all, but then says she has no choice because he is her only help. What can I do? I can't just turn my back knowing my grandson is being mentally, emotionally abused. Yet I can't help in any way financially, or otherwise to take care of my grandson either. S’s father lives at a rehab and does not take part in S’s life, by choice. It’s very heartbreaking. And again, my daughter will not listen to her own baby who tells her the bf is mean to him and to please not make him stay with him! It makes me sick inside!

When life gets as sticky as it seems to be with you and your family right now it can feel like there is no choices, no movement and it literally is being between a rock and a hard place. I can literally feel the stress come from each turn as I read your email, and quite honestly I sense it from your daughter as well. It must feel so hopeless to her to be in a loveless relationship, pregnant and worried about losing the financial support of her boyfriend. Through in the upset of her 3 year old boy, and also the upset of yourself, and she is in a hard place indeed. It seems like everyone is in a panic.
It is clear that the situation between your daughter’s boyfriend and your grandson has come to a head and can’t continue as its going. As a grandmother you have very little room legally, especially if you can’t manage to take care of him, and it sounds like your daughter is closing her eyes to the whole thing, probably because she’s scared what it means. Criticizing the boyfriend is just going to make things worse as it pushes her in a corner. She needs options. Personally, I would be on the look out for charitable neighbors or friends who could help a couple days a week once they know the issue or start asking around daycares (churches or other religious institutions may have solutions too once they know his immediate need), anyone who can offer your grandson a couple of hours reprieve a few times a week. It doesn’t have to be a complete solution, just lightening the load of the boyfriend by a few days, maybe adding an afternoon or two by you.
We can’t change people, no matter how much we wish we could sometimes, and we can’t make their choices for them. The only choice we ever have is to be the best version of ourselves we can be and to offer others the chance to be the best they can be. You stand as the grandmother, a position that I can tell you take seriously and passionately. Your grandson is very lucky to have you as an advocate. At the same time you are a mother, and your daughter is still young. Therefore, on an emotional and energy level, you have a strong position. You can offer change, but it’s best done on an energy, feeling space level, which will then effect the whole picture.
Perspective is a strange thing, for what and who we are around can convince us that we only have certain choices, and when those run out, we can see a situation as hopeless. Also, when we see people and know them by the actions they present to us, we hold them to that concept of themselves, we see them in their worst light, and then they have no space to rise to if they want to improve. I like Abraham Hicks’ analogy comparing it to a high school reunion, people always see us as who we were and when we are seen in that light, we feel we have to act the same as we were, rather than the newest version of ourselves.
I would suggest that the situation can be helped by shifting the feeling of the whole thing. It seems like you would like to be able to take care of your grandson, but it doesn’t have to be that drastic. It sounds like you still see him quite often. Therefore, rather than putting the focus on what your daughter is saying or doing, or her boyfriend, shift from the problem and look at your grandson as himself, as a three year old. He needs feeding love and that’s what you can give him. Encourage him, notice him, take part in his world. Play with him, no matter how much the adults want to talk, make your home a place of laughter and wonder that he can relax into whenever, no matter how infrequently, he walks through the doors. Be the grandma that “gets” him. He chose his parents and his situation. Before he was born he knew his life would start just as it has. The danger comes when he grows up thinking that’s all there is. By having you he has the two sides of the coin and can decide how he wants to be. Be the light, be the listener, talk to him about his time at your daughter’s boyfriends, offer support, tell him you’re waiting to see what you can do, but right now you don’t know the right answer. Remind him that you love his mother very much and that times are really rough right now. Be his trustful confidant. By seeing the best in him, by taking joy in his company, the energy will start to shift, and your daughter may start to see him through your eyes, rather than through the eyes of her boyfriend’s. You will be acting the change. It may even influence her boyfriend as well. It will also provide your grandson with a balance, seeing a different version of himself.
Another thing you could do is open up the problem to a higher power. As you know my advice is centred in Spiritually Aware Parenting. With that comes the understanding that there is deeper mechanics working in everyday life, and when we shift our focus, asking for help and then releasing the outcome, new options come. When we have problems, it’s so easy to let that become the focus, but each problem has a solution on its flipside. When we stop spinning around the problem and release it to whatever we perceive a higher power to be, we allow the solution to flow in. Therefore, take a moment to stop, sit quietly, focus on your breathing, appreciate what you have and those in you love, ponder on the little things that give you joy. When you feel better, when you feel true, relax and offer the problem up. You can write it down, or simply state it to yourself, even if it’s vague. “I would like my grandson to have a joyful home life.” Or “I wish my daughter would find happier solutions.” Whatever feels right to you. Then trust. I have experienced answers incredibly quickly, solutions literally appearing out of nowhere overnight. You never know what will happen, and what will help. Just asking, and then trusting it will flow in, starts to shift situations to better feeling options. Just say yes when they show up, for you never know where they will lead.
Life is ever flowing and things can change quickly. It is a question of being true to ourselves and following our gut instincts to things. If something feels off then admit it and try to find a feeling better option. But if something feels right, even if logically it doesn’t add up, then sometimes we have to take the plunge and see where it leads. Remind your daughter that she is worthy of great love and happiness. Encourage her, knowing that she is in a rough spot and must be scared. Her boyfriend must be overwhelmed as well and it sounds like he is trying to voice his concerns.... just badly.