“Mommy, it’s okay to have big feelings.” These were the words my six-year-old ever so calmly and wisely whispered to me as he gently climbed up upon his stool to wipe away the tears from my cheeks. You see, just a day prior, our family lost a dear loved one. The pain being so fresh, raw and real could not be held in as the world continued to spin and move ever forward; All while I tried to keep up with the everyday tasks before me, starting with preparing our usual morning breakfast.
Life, especially in the elements that test us most, has a funny way of shining a bright light on irony at the most unexpected times. Just recently I posted a great quote on my timeline by Sue Atkins to fellow parents that said, “There is no such thing as being the perfect parent. So just be a real one.” How absolutely true and absolutely real was this quote in the moment with my son validating my sad and the reality that it was absolutely 100% okay for me to feel the raw sting of grief in that moment.
Thank goodness there is no such thing as the perfect parent! Because keeping it real is a far better, healthier and purposeful posture to consider embracing as we all continue to step bravely and boldly into this brand-new year! As so many families nationwide continue to reel from the ongoing pandemic, concerns surrounding the mental and emotional health of our children is becoming ever more front of mind as teachers and pediatricians, but most of all parents, take note of the unhealthy shifts in our children’s overall health and wellness. Now more than ever, parents are being called to step up and step into being the parent our children need us to be. But what does this look like? Where do we begin? It begins with Connection. In a time of increased stressed, more responsibilities upon our shoulders, unexpected shifts and changes abounding, a ripple of disconnect can so easily begin to flow through the conversations and interactions we have with our children if we are not mindful and careful. Consider pressing the pause button and assessing the dynamics influencing your relationship with your child at this time.
This assessment begins first and foremost with you! We as parents cannot give on an empty cup. Connection is going to be all the more challenging if we are experiencing a disconnect in the midst of exhaustion, increased stress, heightened emotions and more.
· Take this opportunity to pull out a sheet of paper with “How am I really doing…” written across the top with four columns just below with the headings, “Physically, Intellectually, Emotionally and Socially.” Below each column, fill in how you are currently doing in each. Be honest!
· From your assessment of self, what can you learn about your current state of overall health? This exercise may reveal positive areas of your health but also areas that need some work. The areas that need some work should not be
frowned upon but rather honored because your mind, body and spirit have led you to recognize and hold space, to look at them with fresh, insightful eyes.
· While there may be room for improvement in more than one area for you personally, select one category to focus on improving upon for a minimum of two weeks before adding in another area of improvement.
o For example: If you have been neglecting addressing toxic, repetitive self-talk like, “I am not good enough,” or “I am not smart enough,” choose to challenge the negative self-talk with encouraging words.
o Taking Post-it notes, write, “I am enough,” “I am smart,” “I am strong,” “I am capable” and so on that can be stuck to your bathroom mirror. Thus, every morning when you wake up to get ready for the day, you are surrounded by words of love, truth and light all around your reflection.
· Food for Thought: How powerful would it be for your child to see you choosing to speak words of love, truth and light about yourself before you start each new day? Do you think that modeling this healthy mind, body and spirit will positively influence the beliefs your child holds about themselves as well?
By making the conscious decision to address your overall physical, mental and emotional health and wellness, you are taking a bold step in being able to create space of greater connection with your child because there is now room for that connection to take place. Within this healthful space, consider creating special time with your child, exclusively for yourselves to reconnect. Maybe your date is getting outside to play in the snow or sunshine depending on where you live or doing an art project together as you engage in a heart to heart of how you both are doing.
· Special Tip: If your child shares with you some hurts, they are wrestling with i.e., “Mom, I always see you working. It’s like you have no time for me.” Or “Dad, we don’t play together anymore. This really makes me sad.” Hold these words, thoughts, feelings in the softest, most caring space for your child. It takes bravery and courage to speak one’s truth! When your child speaks with vulnerability, validate and honor their truth by saying, “Thank you for speaking your truth. I know that was not easy. I see you and I hear you. I am going to process this and together we will find a solution that works for us both moving forward.”
As I step away from the computer now to enjoy warm snuggles and the movie “Encanto” with my precious boy, I pray you too find the special moments of connection you and your child are needing in this season of life.
If you find yourself struggling in this area of your lives, please don’t hesitate to connect with one of our amazing team members. Our Pediatric Ninja Specialists are standing by to help assist you and your child in prospering physically, mentally, emotionally and socially throughout 2022. It takes a village to raise a child and we are honored to be a part of your incredible life’s journey!