Thursday, July 31, 2014

Your Seed

When you look at your baby and you see that little face, it's hard not to plan an entire future for them.
From what they wear day to day,  to what they say in their valedictorian speech at their Harvard graduation ceremony. It's hard not to get carried away. Even become intoxicated by power. Sadly many parents fall into a trap of projecting their hopes and dreams so strongly onto their children.

Some children will eventually accept the fate their parents predestined for them, while others rebel. Rebellion can be both destructive and constructive. Rebellion leads to our social evolution. Young people, for better or for worse, rebel against the ideal of generations past, leading in directions that tell you what to wear, to when to go to war. The children who absorb their parents influence can lose out in knowing their personal identity.

This concept can effect in all areas of the child's life, such as religion, diet, health, education, political beliefs, emotional well being, etc... I could write books going over this in any of these one topics, but I feel it's better to narrow down basic problem that effects all these areas and that is control. Whether you work a low level job and project your anger on your children or a successful business person, determine to mold your children into your image, these concepts are direct causes of the destructive behavior you are trying to avoid.

As parents, we will influence our children, but what is okay to guide and direct and when do we let well enough alone?
This is a long a complex question, that I myself haven't fully answered. I merely have a goal in mind, to ensure my child is happy. Which means I must accept my concept of happiness isn't necessarily going to be my child's.

Often I hear adults assert to children, of future plans. Seemingly innocent comment to an impressionable child future predictions. " When you get married" and "When you have children of your own." It assumes to the child they will get married and have children. Children have these assumptions drilled into them very early on. Family, friends and society asserting directions of large decisions onto children, which should be a personal decision an individual should make themselves.

I have met men and women who do not want a relationship. Whoopi Goldberg is a perfect example of person who enjoys being single. In an interview with William Shatner, Shatner kept pushing the idea of feeling alone, but Goldberg explained essentially, that being alone didn't mean she was lonely. Many people feel this way. It's part of their individuality. Being in a relationship for a person who isn't ready or doesn't want to be in one, can lead to abuse, neglect, adultery, depression, etc....  Mostly it will bring unhappiness to
 the individual who doesn't want a relationship or the advancement of marriage. Just because your marriage, your parents marriage, in-laws marriage, were happy doesn't mean your child will carry this sentiment.

This also applies to having children. For myself, being a parent is wonderful and my daughter is the joy of my life. I've always wanted to be a mother. Although I love being a parent, I completely understand that this responsibility is not for everyone. There are lots of people who do not want children. People who don't want children rank high on the list of people who should not have them. These people often have other dreams like traveling, careers, wealth, healthier marriages (quite often divorces happen shortly after a new child comes into the family,) and much more.

One of my friends, who doesn't want children, has three horse's. She works tirelessly to support them, while studying to be a veterinarian. I honestly don't know how she does it. I admit I couldn't do what she is doing and I admire her for it.
Then there are people who simply can not find the right match and marry incompatible partners or become depressed that they didn't achieve their goal in getting married. By accepting single individual, childless couples or single parents, gives lead to healthy alternative to the cookie cutter idea of a person's life. If your daughter can't find Mr/Mrs. Right, don't pressure her to marry Mr/ Mrs. Wrong just so she can have children. Instead, encourage her to financially capable to raise a child on her own. If your son and his partner are happy traveling the world and don't want the stress of raising a child, respect their wishes.

Another huge mistake parents often make is forcing college and careers onto their children. This is a mistake you will regret. Not all children are meant for college and there is nothing wrong with that. There are many careers offered in trade schools that can even offer higher salaries and benefits than some of the more common careers college graduates receive. If your child has learning disabilities, behavior issues, immaturity or other concerns, college may be just a waste of money. It's not impossible for people with any of these problems to graduate college, but desire is key.

Even if your child is a super genius, if he or she doesn't desire the career path they are on, it can again result in their unhappiness. Your son may have trouble listening, but taught himself how to program computer and can financially support himself that way. Your daughter might go to college, but wants to pursue an art career, instead of accounting as you hoped. Rather than threaten to take away her financial support, compromise. Suggest she takes marketing to promote their art. Where you may see education as a way to reach financial independence, your children see it as an opportunity to do something with their life they enjoy. I encourage both.

Children are not branches that extend from your trunk, if you were a tree, but the fruit which grows from your ever bending branches. Your seed, which will separate from you and grow their own way.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Nomadic Families

Stability and routine are often lumped together as one and the same in child rearing. We are all sold the story of the house with a white picket fence you buy when you get married, that has three bedrooms for your two point five children. Days go by in a blur of work and school, family dinners and rituals before bed. The American dream, so we have been told.

However for many families, for better or worse, are not in such a situation. There are families who must uproot for multiple reasons. The first that comes to mind is the military, but other careers as well as unemployment and poverty, has caused families to move often than past generations. Being a traveling family isn't necessarily bad.
Many families have successfully lived happily lives traveling together. Traveling  vendors, artist, performers, truck drivers, etc... have traveled together throughout their children's lives. Although I can not prevent your move, I do have suggestions on making the traveling easier on you and your family.

First, you need to come to terms with the move. No matter the circumstances, accept your losses and the challenges ahead of you. Breaking yourself with stress will only make any current problems worse and create new ones.

Second, get rid of as much stuff as you possibly can. When moving around a lot your items will slow you down. It cost more money to store and transport your possessions. Yard sales and charities are great ways to unload extra stuff, that can hold you down. Let your children actively play a role in what they give up. Ridding yourself of this physical excess baggage will help you with your moving run smoother.

Third, make plans for your new home. Whether it's a club house in a back yard or a garden in a flower pot in a small apartment, try to come up with an activity to make your new home more inviting.

Fourth, parents ideally try to move over the summer so their children can finish the school year at their current schools. However, moves can be sudden and inconsiderate at times, which is why I suggest home schooling if you are able to provide it for your children.
If you are going to consistently move throughout their childhood, you should consider this option, so your children's grades don't suffer.

Fifth, keep contact with the friends you and your family encounter through your travels. This will give your children the childhood friends memories are made of. Moving a lot has its benefits, such as meeting all kinds of people who come from different walks of life. Where other children may graduate with the same people they have known since kindergarten, your children will have the opportunity to meet lots of different people.

Sixth, no matter how far or often you move, remember this is your families life. Make the best of it to create a happy life and happy memories. Try to keep, keepsakes from each place to be a part of the root of your family life.

Families come in all shapes and sizes. Some of us travel, a lot. Remember, not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The negative impact of your own self image!

 For a long time, I've tried to stay out of photographs. I always thought my face was weird, I felt my nose looked too pointy, I've had acne for two thirds of my life, my face always was too round to me...No matter how hard I tried, I was never the weight, via scale, I wanted to be. My thighs always touched, my arms were flabby and I never had a flat stomach.I could criticize myself all day. 

Then one day, I saw photo of myself that was a few years old and I wasn't embarrassed about my physical appearance. It was taken less than a year from me giving birth, but looking at the photo, I realized I didn't look grotesque, as I often saw myself. I started to go through albums I've kept on my computer. I didn't start saving pictures until shortly before my daughter was born. Looking at body photos, that I use to be ashamed to look at, now seemed fine. Face shots, I couldn't stand, because how I saw my own face, now appeared young and vibrant.

I like many women struggled with these issues. Nearly all women I know, including my mother, have had to live with an unhealthy body image. Never once has my mother been happy with her body and that is truly tragic. Never once in my lifetime had she dawned a bikini at the beach, because her body didn't fit the image of social beauty and when it did, her mind didn't see it.

Being a mother of a little girl, one of my biggest concerns is how she feels about herself. I remind my daughter, daily that she is smart, but also that she is beautiful. However, as her parent, it is not just about how I tell or treat her that she is smart and beautiful, but how I treat myself. Being insecure in this manner can be harmful and chances are it has harmed you. The best thing you can give your child in this case is your own confidence.

A trend has been buzzing around, of women of all shapes and sizes wearing bikinis. Giving a diverse view of what beauty is. Before mass visual media, what was considered attractive had more diversity. Women of all weights and sizes, were considered beautiful to different people. Some wanted the style of beauty that is popular today, others wanted larger women from moderate too extreme. Body hair wasn't even an issue and poor teeth was to be expected. There wasn't plastic surgery to make things bigger, smaller or cut away. People worked with what they had and did so with a confidences few today posses.

People are tired of being ashamed of themselves and I agree with this logic. People have had enough of being critical over issue that are literally skin deep, that the internet has been flooded with all different kinks, preferences, personalities, physical appearances, etc. Returning our whole species to again a more diverse desires in regards to what is beauty, what is sexy, what is really important, etc...

Not only must we end our own insecurities, we as parents have to protect and build our children self-esteem. There are simple habits I picked up that helps. 

One I never buy, read or acknowledge the tabloids, fashion magazines, etc... all together. I don't care about celebrities personal lives and anything in a magazine can be found for free online, along with an immeasurable amount other options. Honestly, ridding yourself of this habit will greatly improve your self confidence. If you find yourself bored at the check out line, most people can just do anything they like on the phone. If you are like me and have a basic phone, I suggest to bring a book or if you have children with you use this time as a moment to give them attention. 

Two as a rule I never discuss my weight or any insecurities about my appearance around my child. I've gotten to the point to were I never talk about it. I'm not what most considered thin or even attractive, but I don't care. I realized I'm not so bad. I do yoga, body toning and some aerobics. I have a sweet tooth, but I keep it at bay. I've come to accept the body I'm in. I enjoy the loosening of my clothes, but I won't freak out when they begin to feel tight. I don't have a scale, because weight doesn't tell you body fat and muscle compositions. I eat mostly home cooked meals and keep portions at a healthy level. I exercise daily and do so in front of my daughter. I want to give her healthy habits, not low self-esteem.

Three, as a woman in my thirties I have found natural beauty to be more attractive than plastic surgery, Photoshopped images, makeup, materialism or the overtly thin woman. What many people see as flaws, like wrinkles, body fat, scars, etc... I  find to be a beautiful, unique difference in every person. I'm not sure whether I stopped judging others or myself first, the world is a less uglier place, when your mind is not busy looking for flaws in everyone and everything you come across. This is the world I would prefer my daughter to see.

Four make a point to watch with your children the process of how pictures are photoshopped, especially models. The more you watch these videos, you see how the person image in the picture is distorted from that of an oil painting. It's a likeness, but not what the actual model looks like. Put the science behind the image, in your child's head first, to avoid a false idol, metaphorically speaking.

Five try to expose yourself and your children to diverse groups of people. Encourage tolerance, acceptance and free expression for your children. This will expand their horizons in many areas, including different ideas of beauty

Six, be kind to yourself and others. Say someone in the family may need to lose weight for medical reasons, rather than criticize yourself or others, be open to solutions of expanding your palette to different foods and your body to exercise. Btw, even if it's not you, there is no reason not to offer to exercise with them. Regardless :/your actions are needed more than your harsh words. You also don't need a gym membership to exercise. On nice days go to the park or your backyard. Chase your kids on play ground, that's a work out, plus it's free and your with your kids spending quality time. On rainy days you can lifted containers of water or invest in weights. In the end, the point is pretty much, stop being a dick to yourself or others. Be a part of the solution not the problem. If your teenager gets pregnant, don't be the first to call her a slut. If you don't get a promotion, don't spend time putting yourself down. 

Seven, use anatomically correct terms for genitals. Penis and vagina are not bad words, but correct medical terms. We shouldn't encourage the notion that there is a part our body that is inherently wrong. It may take practice, but it gives your children a healthy and medically sound prespective of their own body.

Eight, don't ban make up or make it a requirement for personal happiness. Make-up is simply paint. It's an art medium, nothing more.  It is the mask we paint with make up to hide and run from our insecurities, that is harmful. If you wear make up that is fine, but never put down the face behind the mask. Let your children see your natural face as often as possible. Keep make up a ritual for special occasions or a for certain daily requirement, such as employment. Let your children of both genders play with it. Let them draw on their face and body a little. Simply make them wash it off when their done. Keeping makeup away, creates the desire to want it, then making it a requirement makes the idea of self image as dirty as we use to sex.

Nine, be aware it's okay not to be attracted to everyone and not everyone will be attracted to either and that's okay. Everyone has their own personal taste and we shouldn't be offended if we aren't some else's idea of beauty. It's no different than ice cream flavors and there is always variety.

When all is said and done, the rewards of giving your child a happy and healthy out look about themselves and the world around them. My daughter tells me I'm beautiful and I believe her. There is no opinion means more or is more genuine.