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5 Tips for Unloved Daughters on Mother's Day

Article by Rena Goldman and originally posted at PsychCentral.com 

A reminder that you don’t have to put up with toxic behavior, even from your mother.

When your childhood wasn’t exactly ideal, Mother’s Day can bring on some complex emotions. Each year, there’s an endless barrage of ads, gift roundup articles, and sappy social media posts. If, like me, you have a complicated or nonexistent relationship with your mother, seeing representations of how American society views mothers can bring feelings of deep sadness and even rage. You might be left wondering why you drew the short straw when it comes to mothers. I’ve had no contact with my mother for over 15 years now, so there’s been a lot of time to process. Honestly, I don’t think much about Mother’s Day at all because I view it as something that doesn’t pertain to me — sort of like Christmas when you’re raised Jewish. It wasn’t always this way. There were definitely years where the mention of Mother’s Day brought anger, jealousy, shame, and feelings of inadequacy. Reading, processing, talking with other unloved daughters, and practicing different types of self-care have helped me get to where I am today. Here are my tips for tackling Mother’s Day as an unloved daughter. Read the full article

35 Gifts Your Children Will Never Forget

Originally posted at www.becomingminimalist.com/35-gifts-your-children-will-never-forget Own less. Live more. Finding minimalism in a world of consumerism. “You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” – Kahlil Gibran I have countless holiday memories. Most of them center around faith, family, and traditions. Very few childhood memories actually include the gifts I received. I distinctly remember the year that I got a blue dirt bike, the evening my brother and I received a Nintendo, and opening socks every year from my grandparents. But other than that, my gift-receiving memories are pretty sparse. Which got me thinking… what type of gifts can we give to our children that they will never forget? What gifts will truly impact their lives and change them forever? To that end, here is an alphabetical list of 35 Gifts Your Children Will Never Forget.
  1. Affirmation. Sometimes one simple word of affirmation can change an entire life. So make sure your children know how much you appreciate them. And then, remind them every chance you get.
  2. Art. With the advent of the Internet, everyone who wants to create… can. The world just needs more people who want to…
  3. Challenge. Encourage your child to dream big dreams. In turn, they will accomplish more than they thought possible… and probably even more than you thought possible.
  4. Compassion/Justice. Life isn’t fair. It never will be – there are just too many variables. But when a wrong has been committed or a playing field can be leveled, I want my child to be active in helping to level it.
  5. Contentment. The need for more is contagious. Therefore, one of the greatest gifts you can give your children is an appreciation for being content with what they have… but not with who they are.
  6. Curiosity. Teach your children to ask questions about who, what, where, how, why, and why not. “Stop asking so many questions” are words that should never leave a parents’ mouth.
  7. Determination. One of the greatest determining factors in one’s success is the size of their will. How can you help grow your child’s today?
  8. Discipline. Children need to learn everything from the ground-up including appropriate behaviors, how to get along with others, how to get results, and how to achieve their dreams. Discipline should not be avoided or withheld. Instead, it should be consistent and positive.
  9. Encouragement. Words are powerful. They can create or they can destroy. The simple words that you choose to speak today can offer encouragement and positive thoughts to another child. Or your words can send them further into despair. So choose them carefully.
  10. Faithfulness to your Spouse. Faithfulness in marriage includes more than just our bodies. It also includes our eyes, mind, heart, and soul. Guard your sexuality daily and devote it entirely to your spouse. Your children will absolutely take notice.
  11. Finding Beauty. Help your children find beauty in everything they see… and in everyone they meet.
  12. Generosity. Teach your children to be generous with your stuff so that they will become generous with theirs.
  13. Honesty/Integrity. Children who learn the value and importance of honesty at a young age have a far greater opportunity to become honest adults. And honest adults who deal truthfully with others tend to feel better about themselves, enjoy their lives more, and sleep better at night.
  14. Hope. Hope is knowing and believing that things will get better and improve. It creates strength, endurance, and resolve. And in the desperately difficult times of life, it calls us to press onward.
  15. Hugs and Kisses. I once heard the story of a man who told his 7-year old son that he had grown too old for kisses. I tear up every time I think of it. Know that your children are never too old to receive physical affirmation of your love for them.
  16. Imagination. If we’ve learned anything over the past 20 years, it’s that life is changing faster and faster with every passing day. The world tomorrow looks nothing like the world today. And the people with imagination are the ones not just living it, they are creating it.
  17. Intentionality. I believe strongly in intentional living and intentional parenting. Slow down, consider who you are, where you are going, and how to get there. And do the same for each of your children.
  18. Your Lap. It’s the best place in the entire world for a book, story, or conversation. And it’s been right in front of you the whole time.
  19. Lifelong Learning. A passion for learning is different from just studying to earn a grade or please teachers. It begins in the home. So read, ask questions, analyze, and expose. In other words, learn to love learning yourself.
  20. Love. …but the greatest of these is love.
  21. Meals Together. Meals provide unparalleled opportunity for relationship, the likes of which can not be found anywhere else. So much so, that a family that does not eat together does not grow together.
  22. Nature. Children who learn to appreciate the world around them take care of the world around them. As a parent, I am frequently asking my kids to keep their rooms inside the house neat, clean, and orderly. Shouldn’t we also be teaching them to keep their world outside neat, clean, and orderly?
  23. Opportunity. Kids need opportunities to experience new things so they can find out what they enjoy and what they are good at. And contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t have to require much money.
  24. Optimism. Pessimists don’t change the world. Optimists do.
  25. Peace. On a worldwide scale, you may think this is out of our hands. But in relation to the people around you, this is completely within your hands… and that’s a darn good place to start.
  26. Pride. Celebrate the little things in life. After all, it is the little accomplishments in life that become the big accomplishments.
  27. Room to Make mistakes. Kids are kids. That’s what makes them so much fun… and so desperately in need of your patience. Give them room to experiment, explore, and make mistakes.
  28. Self-Esteem. People who learn to value themselves are more likely to have self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth. As a result, they are more likely to become adults who respect their values and stick to them… even when no one else is.
  29. Sense of Humor. Laugh with your children everyday… for your sake and theirs.
  30. Spirituality. Faith elevates our view of the universe, our world, and our lives. We would be wise to instill into our kids that they are more than just flesh and blood taking up space. They are also made of mind, heart, soul, and will. And decisions in their life should be based on more than just what everyone else with flesh and blood is doing.
  31. Stability. A stable home becomes the foundation on which children build the rest of their lives. They need to know their place in the family, who they can trust, and who is going to be there for them. Don’t keep changing those things.
  32. Time. The gift of time is the one gift you can never get back or take back. So think carefully about who (or what) is getting yours.
  33. Undivided Attention. Maybe this imagery will be helpful: Disconnect to Connect.
  34. Uniqueness. What makes us different is what makes us special. Uniqueness should not be hidden. It should be proudly displayed for all the world to see, appreciate, and enjoy.
  35. A Welcoming Home. To know that you can always come home is among the sweetest and most life-giving assurances in all the world. Is your home breathing life into your child?
Of course, none of these gifts are on sale at your local department store. But, I think that’s the point.

Mother's Day or Doomsday

Mother's Day. Images of mothers and happy children are everywhere. It seems that everyone is part of this joyous celebration. Everyone, that is, except the woman who has not been able to conceive. For her, Mother's Day is a nightmare, a painful reminder of her failure. She feels disappointed in herself, disillusioned that her body has betrayed her, and defective as a woman. Men have been socialized to think of parenthood as one possible ingredient in their traditional adult roles; girls are programmed to think of the achievement of motherhood as an absolute necessity to their identity as adult women. They perceive a threat to their ability to become mothers as a threat to their ability to be seen as legitimate adult females. No other activity can substitute for it. A woman without children often feels cheated, angry, depressed, jealous and anxious. She doesn't have what she's dreamed of all her life. Her body isn't cooperating with her desire to become a mother. She feels like a failure. She is jealous of people who have children, and guilty for feeling jealous. She is tired of all of the questions and advice from family, friends, and even strangers. She is frustrated that the medical tests and procedures have not worked. Each month she rides an emotional roller coaster first hopeful and then devastated. Caught up in the quest to have a child, women forget that they are anything other than childless. It is important for infertile women to reclaim their lives, regain control and once again feel joy and meaning in their lives. There are powerful psychological tools that women can use to help themselves. They can learn to change their negative thoughts. They can learn how to nourish themselves. They can improve communication with their spouses. These techniques have helped many women feel more optimistic, and less anxious and stressed. They feel better, their lives feel more meaningful, and sometimes, once they have have done these things, they may find themselves pregnant.

What Do We Owe Our Children?

What do we owe our children? Are we wrong to spend our time and money on ourselves when our children are having hard times? These questions come up for discussion over and over again among parents of adult children. Some of these parents are part of the self made generation who started with little and became successful through years of thrift and hard work. Some pursued higher education and paid for it themselves, others did not go to college. Their goal was to give their children the comforts and advantages that they missed when they were growing up. They reminisce about their immigrant parents and are proud of their own independence and that, on their own, they became more successful than their parents. They are critical of their adult children who seem to feel entitled to the luxuries that their parents waited for for many years. Parents seem unaware that by rescuing and indulging, they helped to mold their children into adults who are less resilient when they fall on hard time. Unlike the parent's generation, their adult children are not as independent and are quite comfortable asking for childcare help or for money to help them maintain their expensive lifestyles. Some parents of the senior generation have trouble giving to themselves long after the financial necessity of counting pennies has past. The other day I spoke with an 90 year old woman who was wracked with guilt at the thought of spending some of her dwindling financial resources on her own medical needs at a time when her married child's business was slow. She was quite able to empathize with his financial concerns, but did not feel entitled to expenditures for herself that she would consider luxuries, but were truly necessities. This was very disturbing to me. So what do we owe them? One excellent answer came from Jonas Salk. He said "Good parents give their children roots and wings." Roots give them a knowledge of home and keep them grounded through tough times, and wings recognize the need for autonomy so that they feel comfortable venturing out into the world and maybe even flying farther than we ever did. Perhaps as we recognize their strengths and encourage their autonomy, we can develop a more mutual relationship with our adult children.

Trust

Researchers have found that the capacity to develop intimate relationships is highly influenced by the kind of relationships the child had early in life. The ability to trust is basic to any relationship. Trust comes more easily for some people than for others depending upon their past experiences. A child who successfully develops trust will feel safe and secure in his world. Those who are unable to develop trust are more likely to view their world as inconsistent and unpredictable.

Learning to trust begins at birth. Eric Erikson describes this as the most fundamental stage in a person's psychological development. Babies are born completely helpless and dependent upon their caregivers for food, shelter, comfort and love. When a baby's cries are responded to in a loving, attentive, and consistent manner, he will feel safe and learn to trust his environment. This kind of positive parent-child relationship teaches him that he can communicate in order to get his needs met. If instead, his parents are inconsistent, rejecting or emotionally unavailable, he is more likely to feel mistrust and may carry a sense of shame and inadequacy into his adult relationships.

Trust is the cornerstone of a meaningful and lasting relationship. When you trust someone, you believe that he will be honest, loyal, and faithful and will not abandon you. You believe that she will forgive you and accept you unconditionally. You think of your partner as your ally, not your foe. Only when you feel safe with your partner will you be willing to be authentic and vulnerable.

Previous hurts and losses can interfere with a person's ability to trust and be honest in a relationship. The adult whose childhood relationships were painful will be more likely to view situations that others would perceive as innocuous through a lens of mistrust. The wounds of an adult who has been betrayed by someone she loved, admired and trusted will take time to heal. It is not easy, but regardless of the past, people do have the capacity to recover and trust again. Sometimes while recovering from a hurtful relationship, a person will develop greater personal strength, self awareness and the capacity for more fulfilling relationships.

Childhood and Society, Erik Erikson
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