Mentoring and Entering LC’s World

LC-KaliI met LC, my latest Seedling Mentee, last year when she was a kindergarten student at a school not too far from where I live. Her kindergarten teacher was kind, sweet, and a redhead like me, and I think that may have eased my way in starting this new mentoring relationship.

Seedling Mentoring is for children who deal with the trauma of having an incarcerated parent, and although the parent may come out of prison, Seedling does not end the mentoring relationship.

You see, they know that the trauma has already occurred and that a parent’s reentry into the child’s life can often be one more change they must deal with, emotionally and academically.

When I met LC, we immediately talked about my father and I disclosed that he went to prison. Seedling requires that Mentees are aware that their Mentors know about their situation and that there is no need to hide or be ashamed.

She was not able to express much about her experience and feelings yet but she could draw them. In the beginning, she drew many pictures, even a few that were a bit disturbing, but I schooled my reactions and encouraged her to keep drawing how she felt so that those things were no longer just in her head. Continue reading

Pets, Parallels and Principles

Indy, Cloud, & Murray

“There are many parallels between training dogs and raising children.”

I was reminded of this wisdom as my grown daughters have married and brought “fur babies” into their homes, both as puppies and as a slightly older rescue. The clarity and consistency of instruction that is required to make a dog feel safe, secure, loved, and well-behaved are often the same as required by young children, and for the very same reason.

When we feel safe and loved and our basic needs are met, we are able to perform to our highest potential.

Each dog has had its own individual needs and behaviors and as a mom of grown children, it has been fascinating to me to see our daughters applying many of the strategies and principles we used with them as they were maturing into toddlers.

  1. Lots of love and affection. Keep in mind, each child has his or her own love language and it is your job to figure out what it is and use it so that they are able to interpret and internalize the love you are expressing.
  2. Clear rules and boundaries. If you can’t explain it in a simple sentence, then don’t use it with your toddler. You don’t have to explain things to dogs, but it is difficult to remember rules that don’t have inherent logic, so why put yourself through that pointless mental exercise?
  3. Consequences. Express them simply, then apply them in a consistent manner. Children and dogs are all about precedent, so once you bend or break a rule, it is twice as hard to ever enforce again.
  4. Rewards. Yeah, this is the good part! Catch them doing something right and reinforce it with rewards. It works with dogs to train them and with kids to teach them a fundamental rule of life and society… Every action and decision they will ever make will have consequences, whether good or bad, and the good ones are more fun.
  5. Adequate levels of activity. Dogs and kids need to play to expend physical energy, promote good growth and socialization, and you get to share in the joy of their exuberant celebration of life. Both species suffer when there is not enough play in their daily routines.
  6. Realistic expectations. Believe it or not, this one often ties back to #5 in a big way. Whether you are dealing with a child or a dog, stress, pent-up energy, or over-stimulation will never make either easy to deal with and you need to be the parent or owner who anticipates, prepares, and then reacts fairly when difficulties arise.

You will think of many more parallels, and I hope you use them to your advantage so that the babies in your life, whether furry or not, grow to be confident, socially adept, and capable of loving you back as much as you love them!

 

_____________________________________

Claus Creativity

I begin with the fact that I am a Christian, attend church, and yes, I know the reason for the season.

That said, my husband and I decided to make Santa Claus the spirit of generosity in our house and to make it FUN! As the girls grew old enough to appreciate it, there was always a special last present from “Santa Claus,” and it was often the most desired gift on their list.

But that was not the good part, believe it or not! 

Each year Santa was left a cookie or two, a glass of milk, and perhaps a little treat for his reindeer by our daughters. He always responded with bites and sips taken from all and with a lovely, handwritten thank you note to them.

The delight on their faces each Christmas morning as they discovered evidence of Santa’s visit will live in our hearts forever. One year there were ashy footprints from the fireplace to the dining room. Another year, reindeer prints and reindeer poop (oatmeal mixed with chocolate powder and glitter) joined the mix. (Note: Do NOT do this on the carpet!) Continue reading

Quest for Turkey Perfection

Thanksgiving Turkey TossOh, Thanksgiving.

You should be one of my favorite holidays with your legendary link back to my Mayflower ancestors, the opportunity to gather with family, all of my favorite fall colors, and what may be one of the greatest excuses to bag the diet for the day EVER!

But, sadly and inevitably, when it came to my production of a perfectly browned, succulent turkey for that important day, the answer came back from fate with a resounding “No.”

My fortunes changed a bit after I married my husband and discovered that he had a deft hand in the kitchen and was not only willing but interested in making the turkey for our Thanksgiving feast.  Yes, he IS the perfect man. Continue reading

Ask the Woman Next to You

canstockphoto22077332-razyphoto

(c) Can Stock Photo / razyphoto

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but the people who experience it want you to be aware of it all of the time.

My first personal experience with a victim of domestic abuse was in my early twenties. I met a stunning woman who worked at my office and we became friends. Betty (not her real name) had dark hair worn full and glossy to her shoulders, porcelain skin, beautiful dark blue eyes, and a slender, feminine figure. We were talking one day and I expressed admiration at how lovely she was. She looked at me with a strange grimace on her face and said, “I didn’t always look like this.”

I laughed and said, “What, a little gilding on the lily?” She grew very quiet and pensive and I suddenly realized this was hard for her. I quickly assured her I didn’t mean to pry and she said, “No, you are a friend,” and she told me her story.

She married young to a man who was ten years older. Although she had no idea at the time that this was not the usual way to express love, he spent the next five years of their marriage isolating and tearing her down through emotional abuse. By the time they had a child, the abuse had become physical, but she was afraid to leave because he told her he would kill her if she ever left him and she believed him.

One night when her son was about four, the physical abuse affected him as well and she finally fought back. She never had before and she said, “It was like it was what he had been waiting for.” Continue reading