Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The World At Their Fingertips

There are days, a lot of them actually, where I find being a parent of girls, frightening! The funny thing is, that I grew up surrounded by girls.  Being the 5th of 6 girls, or 6th of 8 girls, depending on how you want to count – but, that is a topic for another blog all together – you would think I wouldn’t find it so unsettling.  I think though, that is exactly why I’m so unsettled about it in the first place.  I know girls!

I know how irrational and emotional they can be.  I know how influenced they can be by friends, their surroundings, by boys.  I remember how I felt about what my friends did or said, and I remember what I did, in response or in reaction to those feelings.

I have friends and siblings who have raised, or are raising, daughters older than mine.  I have been paying attention!  Frankly though, it’s not doing a lot to alleviate my fears.  In fact, in some cases, it’s only making my anxiety worse. 

From the time the girls were about 7, it seems like the world has been out to steal their innocence.  Their childhood.  Every where you turn there is mass media that is soooo sexualized.  From dolls to pop stars.  I mean, have you seen the Bratz Dolls?  I am not a prude nor provincial, but I do think there is something seriously wrong with a doll that looks like a hooker.  What is more disturbing than the fact that Bratz Dolls can be found on the shelf of your local toy store, is the fact that parents actually buy them for their girls! 

My fear isn’t really about the products, the music, the movies….the level of skin exposure that is apparently acceptable for a trip to the mall.  My fear is in my ability to arm them with the self-reliance, the self-respect, trust and faith, that I know they must possess to be resistant and resilient to the lure of bad choices.  

It’s also about timing.  It feels like there is not enough time for me to build their foundation for good judgment.  Because……the products, the music, the movies…..they are literally at the girls' fingertips all the time. 

I know that the “do as I say, not as I do” program is seriously flawed.  So, I work at parenting by example.  From how I treat people, to what I put on the table for dinner.  It all matters and they are paying attention.  Children will mimic parents behaviors, whether they are good behaviors or bad behaviors. 

When we were working on teaching the girls that God made them beautiful and they didn’t need make-up or hair coloring, I stopped having my hair colored.  I don’t really believe that there is anything wrong with coloring your hair, but it did seem, at the time, seriously hypocritical of me to tell them one thing, and go see my stylist the next day.  Plus, it was all about the timing.  They were in the 3rd or 4th grade, after all.  There may be a time for altering your hair color, but it is definitely NOT in grade school. 

Now that the girls are teens, their world is expanding…..so damned fast! I know that they need more freedoms in order to fully develop their trust “muscle”.  They need to exercise this muscle so that it’s solid, firm and strong.  They need to know that they can flex this muscle to protect themselves, and maybe their friends. When I say, “trust”, I mean that they trust their judgment, their instincts, and their intelligence. 

Decision making is about trusting yourself.  Teaching our children to trust themselves, is one of the most difficult aspects of parenting, I think.  In order to do it, you have to let them go, let them fail, let them act foolishly. Then, if they fall down, you have to pick them up, talk to them about how they could have made different choices and let them try again.  (Reminds me of a shampoo bottle, “Rinse and repeat, daily.”) When they are successful, you can't forget to acknowledge their success and talk with them about their choices.  Affirmation will help build that trust muscle. 

Protecting or sheltering our children from the world they have to live in, is not the answer. (Unless, of course, you want to provide for them indefinitely, and there are books on that.  Google “codependent”.)  Whether we like it or not, the world they will have to navigate as adults is the one at their fingertips today. 

My hope is that my girls grow to be women who have a strong sense of self.  That one day, if they decide to leave their house (not mine!) dressed like a Bratz Doll, it’s just a costume and not a reflection of their inner belief about their value or self-worth. 

I don’t have the answers or fool-proof methods about how we parent the girls today into the women of tomorrow.  I just hope that parents are trying.  I hope parents are remembering to teach their girls that beauty and strength comes from within and from positive, thoughtful, affirming actions.  Because, the world at their fingertips is telling them an entirely different story. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Words have energy.  Once spoken they cannot be retracted.  Just like the pebble thrown in a pond, words spoken, written or read will create a ripple affect.  Often time the person delivering the words will never know their impact on the person(s) receiving them.  

I am always reminding my children to pay attention to their words.  What they speak matters.  Whether they say it in their head, or out loud.  There is a very different energy created when they say, “I can’t do it”, rather than “I haven’t been able to figure it out yet.”  One creates energy of defeat, and the other creates energy of hope.  I want my children to always be hopeful.  I want my children to be positive and to constantly be seeking the good in life.   

In my role of parent I try to always practice what I preach, because I know that is really how children learn to be adults, parents, partners in relationships, and a friend.  Using my words to create positive energy is part of what I practice, daily.  It’s become a habit for me now.  I also find myself listening to how people use their words and if their words match their actions.  Maybe not so surprising, I find that people use phrases that regularly do not support what I see by the actions in their lives.  I often wonder if they realize the inconsistency of what they say and what they do. I suspect not.   

If you find yourself at odds with the world, try reframing your perspective with words.  I know it’s been powerful in my life.  I’m hoping that one day it’s powerful in the lives of my children. 

Here are some words and phrases that I encourage my girls to exclude from their vocabulary: 

  • “I can’t”
  • “I’m bored” (Say this in many households in my family and you might find yourself cleaning the toilet.  It always needs to be cleaned, and is a perfect job to avert boredom.  So says my oldest sister!)
  • “I don’t know”

Will there be things in life that you truly can’t do, or won’t know?  Of course!!  The purpose is to not let these phrases become habits of speech.  The purpose is to THINK about what you say and determine if it’s true or authentic.  Take 30 seconds to figure out if there is a better, more affirmative, way to say what you really mean. 

Try letting your words ripple in the world around you…creating positive energy for you and others.  Don’t forget about the words you use in your head; your self-talk. Those words may be more important for your overall perspective on life than the ones you speak out loud.  

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Seasonal Idea, and not just for this season

I have been trying to find the words to express an idea.  A holiday, seasonal idea.  My problem is that this idea triggers a hundred other ideas, commentaries, opinions and I haven’t been about to figure out how to not go off on a tangent!  Plus, I find myself getting very keyed up when thinking about the subject(s) and tend to find myself on a soap-box by the time I’m done.

Here’s my warning….. I couldn't avoid the soap box.  Sorry!

And….here’s the idea…….Think global.  Act local. 

I know what you’re thinking.  “This isn’t a new idea!”

You are 100% correct.  However, now, more than ever, I think this idea needs to be embraced and put into practice. 

Our economy is in the toilet!  Many believe it’s going to get worse before it gets better.  Frankly, I’m not sure what I believe about the future.  But what I do know is this – if I buy a locally-sourced product or service from someone in my local area, then my spending will benefit my local economy.  Period!  This isn’t a fairy tale.  My dollar can and will have an impact on the life of my neighbor (not in a literal ‘the guy next door’ sense). 

I do feel that we can impact our economy by practicing better spending habits.  Spending locally can create a ripple effect, thereby impacting our state’s economy and hopefully our national economy.  The point is, that it has to start somewhere.  Right?  So, why not you?  Why not now?

The holiday shopping season is upon us.  If you must buy gifts (this one of the tangents that I kept getting caught up in….expect to see a blog on consumption at some point), then buy a product or a service from your home town.  A gift card to have mom’s car detailed, a handmade scarf from a holiday bazaar, a massage or facial from a locally owned salon.  There are hundreds of small businesses in our communities that are struggling to stay in business and you can be a part of their success. 

I know that some people will argue that the prices at Walmart or Costco are less.  I cannot argue with that.  The cost of items may be less, but the prices we are paying in our communities are certainly higher.  So, instead of buying a Cordless Wine Opener from Costco for $27.99, drive to your local vineyard or winery a buy a bottle of their wine instead.  This is just one example of how you might re-tool your shopping list. 

I suspect many of you will have one excuse or another about why you cannot spend this way, but I suspect that most of these are just that, excuses, driven by self-absorbed, egoistical consumerism…on some level.  If you plan to spend money on buying gifts this holiday season, then don’t give me the “we can’t afford it” spiel.  I’m not buying it. 

If you are a part of the 99%, like my family is, then you can choose to stop spending your money to line the pockets of 1%.  I encourage you to give your money to the other 1%ers in your town, in exchange for goods or services. It's really quite easy, and trust me on this one -- satisfying.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

And so it begins.

Every morning my mind is rushing a mile a second.  Random thoughts.  Precariously linked together.  Spinning uncontrollably. I think to myself that I should put these thoughts to paper, or in today’s world, blog. 

I feel they need to be expanded, thoroughly vetted, exposed.  They may have value, or at least entertainment.  They may inspire.  They may not.  Perhaps they’ll trigger……something.  Something not random.  Something concrete, actionable.  Who knows?  I certainly don’t, but I do have to get these thoughts organized. 

Join me, if you dare, and together we’ll see where this goes.  Although, I do not promise it will go anywhere specific.  As they say, life is about the journey, not the destination.