How do you teach your kids kindness, love and empathy?

When people make mistakes, wrong choices, and are maybe going through a rough time, that is when they need love and support from everyone around them. When others choose to pass judgment on someone for their mistakes and whatever they me be going through, and define them as that, it makes that person feel even more alone and question everything about themselves. Not to mention, it makes it harder for them to keep positive, have love and empathy for those who are judging them. Now imagine if this was your child? What if your child, did something, made some bad choices, and was going through a tough time? What if others, peers and parents decided the choices your child made, defined them as a person, the way everyone would now see them?

How do you teach your child to have kindness, love and empathy for others, when the worlds seems to be turning against them? These are questions that I ask myself daily. It seems that our world has become unforgiving, full of judgment and honestly fear stricken. Is it where you live? The people who live there? I don’t know… I do know that people find it easier to turn against one another than to come together, support, love and uplift.

I could write how great my daughter Pressley is, but really it doesn’t matter what others think or believe. I know who she is, her family does and at the end of the day that is all that matters. But for her, at her age, it effects her whole life with how and what people say and think about her. I understand parents when they hear things about other kids, what trouble they may have gotten in, poor choices they made, I do. What I don’t understand is when parents don’t ever think about how something could or would effect their own child if this happened to them… It is so much easier to say to your child,” you can’t hang out or talk to this person again”, than it is to say, “why don’t you talk to them and see if they need a friend”? This really breaks my heart on so many levels, not just for my girl, but for how people really are not kind, forgiving, and have no empathy for anyone, not even an 11 year old. Believe me, I understand parents want to protect their children from anything and everything, but I would also say, parents need to start educating themselves on what it means to be a loving human. I look at each person I meet everyday and think how they have their own story, their own struggles, I never try to pass judgment on anyone, that is taking the path of fear.

I have no anger for these parents and their kids, I can’t, they are not capable of looking at people as loving beings. I have empathy for them, I have sadness for them, for they don’t know what our life has been like. The struggles, challenges and how hard she works everyday to be happy. If they knew what she has gone through and the work she does everyday to be a better, happier person, they might rethink there thoughts. I am teaching her, this is a short period of time, that this does NOT define her as a person, it is just a bump in her path, a learning lesson that will serve a purpose. She doesn’t fully understand that and I don’t expect her to, but to teach her to love, be kind and have empathy for those who don’t for her, is only going to make her a better, stronger and loving being. The old saying “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” is really a true statement, you miss out on some amazing people by judging them, by listening to others and to not read a few pages.

We all have the choice to be loving, kind and to have empathy, our kids, learn this from us, what are you teaching them?

Nothing defines you, unless you let it.

Thanks for stopping by and reading. Please sign up to follow me.

XO-Rach

What does it mean to be a parent?

I love looking up what the true meaning of words are, as it sometimes takes on a whole new dimension of how I might have thought about the word. Merriam-Webster defines Parent as this: a person who is a father or mother; a person who has a child: an animal or plant that produces a young animal or plant. something out of which another thing has developed. I had to go even farther in this and look up what it means to be a father and a mother. Father: a man who has begotten a child. Mother: a female parent: a woman in authority: maternal tenderness or affection. I have to say, these definitions, seem a little cold, no real terminology of how it truly feels to be a parent, but that brings me to my point, everyone looks at being a parent differently. I think about growing up and my own parents, how I viewed them and how they parented me. My dad was the strict one, the enforcer if you want say, while my mom was the one who was the more loving, affection one. Probably pretty typical of parenting back then and how their parents where as well. The thing is I knew when I was little that I wanted to be a different kind of parent, not because I got into trouble all the time, but that they never heard me, listened to me, or really thought of me as a human being. Might sound weird, of course they knew I was alive, but they didn’t have the capability of seeing me as an individual, who had thoughts, feelings, and that I was going to grow up into an adult and be my own person one day. I know that is why we had so many problems when I was younger, as I wanted to be heard, I wanted to be acknowledged as a person, I wanted to be able to talk to them about so many things, but that never was to happen until I was in my adulthood. I think life could have been so different, I believe for the better, if they could have been opened to being different parents. I know if they were still alive they would actually agree with me, my dad for sure as he did become my best friend and at the end we had the relationship I had always wanted.

I know many parents believe you can’t be your kids friends, that you are this “holy person” or you are older and that makes you wiser. Why is that? Who taught you that and why do you believe that? I look at being a mom as the biggest blessing that I could have ever been given. Each 9 months, was a gift even though it was hard and you gave up so much of yourself, but the end result was this beautiful being. I knew I was going to have this bond with each of my children, that they would always have someone to talk to about anything, that I would be “their friend”, their supporter, guide, and the ONE person who would always be there no matter what. Today, more than ever I am grateful for making this choice, for being the different parent, one that does get judged because I am their friend. I really laugh at how some think, that means there are no rules, no guidance, and that my house is a free for all, but in reality, I don’t care, because only me and my kids know how we live, what we do and at the end of the day, that is all that really matters. For my girls especially this has been vital for them, for me to be a real human to them, not just their mom. To let them speak, feel and have no fear to talk to me. I can’t imagine how life would be IF I didn’t want it this way, how they would have dealt with all they have had to alone. Human beings want to feel accepted, loved, have their thoughts heard, emotions met, and feel they have a voice. I know some think that when they are 18, they are an adult and that is when they can be their friend, like that is when you stop being a parent? What about all you missed up to that point? How do you just expect anyone to open up, share feelings, all the things that friends are and do? I am not here to say I am a perfect person, parent or that this is the way you should parent. I am here to make you think, evaluate, and maybe question why you parent the way you do. You might be surprised at what you find out.

Today in Minnesota it was 47 degrees! So I said let’s go tubing! Mason’s girlfriend Bella came with, just us girls 🙂

My mini me, who is not so mini anymore.

I would not want to spend my time with anyone else in this world, my kids, are the best people. They have learned to be around the people who bring out the best in them, bring them good energy, make them better people and challenge them to grow and learn. I am beyond blessed that we do this for each other.

Thank you for stopping by, if you have any comments to share, please do so, I will alway respond. If you haven’t signed up to follow me, please do!

XO-Rach

New Year, new change.

I think one of the hardest things to teach our kids is kindness. 2018, was a year for me to change many things about myself, the way I think, the way I act and what I say. 2018, also showed me how kids today are so different, in how they act, the way they think and what they say… I believe it is because the way the world is today, social media, more pressure for them to exceed in school and sports, and everything you read and see is all about violence and hate. It is always around them, literally in their hands, anything they want to see, hear or read in an instant. So how do you get back to the basics of being kind? I don’t think there is any kind of class like that being taught in schools, teaching kids how to have empathy for others, respect for people, and kindness. So maybe it all starts in our homes?…

Being a parent isn’t always sunshine and roses, anyone who has kids, I am sure would agree! There are more challenges with each stage they go through, more worries, more of everything. I know some people out in this world think being a parent is about discipline and making sure kids are doing what they are suppose to, getting good grades, cleaning their rooms, and not talking back to them. I guess I have always thought of being a parent differently, some think I am too much a friend and not their mom. I laugh at that though, because why can’t you be friends and a mom to your kids? I don’t think I am better than my kids, smarter, or have any sort of authority over them, my job is to keep them safe, provide for them with all their needs, and to teach them how to be good people and do good in this world. I take a human approach to parenting, believe me my kids know I am their mom, that has never been a question for them. The difference is though, I talk to them, I go to their level, I am honest, real, and I share anything that I can or think will help them in different situations. We all were their age at one time, so why would you not share information that could help them? I know why this has been so difficult for me in all that Pressley has been dealing with these 3 months or more, because I never went through anything like she has been… Yes, I remember having friends come and go in life, or friends who would be mean from time to time, but nothing at the levels she has endured today. It is hard to teach your kids to be kind, have empathy for others and take the high road, when it seems like no other parents are doing the same. It is like making your kid even more weird or singled out to do and be good people. But to that, I honestly tell Press, everyone is weird, so don’t worry about it 🙂

So this brings me to last night, Monday, New Year’s Eve. Me and the girls were together, Leighton and her boyfriend had just broken up the night before and Press well, didn’t have any friends to be with, so we made new vision boards, colored Leighton’s hair, and watched episodes of Friends. It was probably one of the best NYE I have had in many years, no drinking, just being with two of the most amazing people, doing things to improve our lives, talking, laughing, and being connected. I started a project 5 days ago, I got this great idea in my head, not really thinking how BIG of a project it would be… I painted mason jars, typed out 365 inspirational, motivational quotes (which took 100 pages of paper and I did write half of them on my own!) cut them out, folded them and put them in the jars. So each day of 2019, they will take one out and read it, my hope is that it inspires them, makes them think, and motivate them to be more kind, loving and have empathy towards others. It doesn’t solve the problems of the world, or theirs, but it is something that will make them smile, feel loved and give them courage to be themselves. Kindness does start at home, empathy, love all of it. As parents that is our job, reality it should be one of the top things to show and give our kids. The world needs more good people, it is the only way things will ever change for the better.

Thank you for stopping by! Please sign up to follow me, there are many exciting things that are going to happen this year, we are all excited for 2019!!!

Leight and Press making their boards.

Leight’s midnight kiss, Georgie 🙂
Press’s, Honey 🙂
I am NOT Martha Stewart, but that is not what this is about. 🙂

XO-Rach

Stats don’t lie…There is a BIG problem out there.

Last night I was up way too late, reading various articles and looking at many different sites relating to depression, anxiety and social media with kids today. To say I was surprised would be an understatement, I was alarmed at the increase of anxiety and depression in our youth and how social media is really one of the BIG factors playing in this whole rise of mental health.

There was an article on The Washington Post website that I found to have the most helpful information. Marco Grados, associate professor of psychiatry and clinical director of child and adolescents psychiatry of Johns Hopkins Hospital, said the following…” With (social media) it’s all about the self image, who’s liking them, who’s watching them, who clicked on their picture”. “Everything can turn into something negative…Kids are exposed to that day after day, and it’s not good for them”. He is absolutely right. When you think of your kids posting an innocent picture, you don’t think about anyone ever turning it into a negative, but the thing is, it happens all the time. Kids put out their best pictures, make their lives look perfect, everything they say or do really is just an illusion of what their life actually is. Reality, that is all that social media has become for them, it is more of a competition than it is sharing their real life. Kids today have lost the ability to speak to one another, it is easier to say mean things over a text or a post than it would be to say to someone’s face. It is no wonder that from 2007 to 2012 there was a 20% increase for anxiety in kids ages 6-17 and depression rose, but at a .2% rate. Anxiety is the leading mental health issue among Americans youth and research suggest it is rising. When you stop to think about what kids deal with every single day, this should not surprise you… They now have seen school shootings, practice lockdowns, and everything in school learning is about being a number. Far more pressure than I ever had to experience as a youth.

Besides social media being a big factor, think about this, today’s world has become so fast paced… Literally kids are going from school, to sports, to music class, or whatever else is going on for them. What happened to family dinners, playing outside in the fresh air, riding bikes (getting exercise), these have been replaced by more technology and lack of supervision with them. As a parent it is our job to make certain things happen. I can honestly say ONE thing my kids always had was family dinners up till the day I moved out. That was important to me and my ex, it was our way of catching up on everyone’s day, a time to share, talk and be together. Today, it still happens in my house, dinner time, is family time.

One thing that really struck me was the statics of depression. I was on a website, Centerfordiscovery.com and on there they had information from suicide.org… Every 100 minutes a teen takes their own life. Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death in young people 15-24. 20% of all teens experience depression before they reach adulthood. Only about 30% are actually being treated. This makes me incredibly sad… Kids should not have to deal with their feelings alone and as parents it is OUR job to make sure they don’t, that they have us or someone else to talk to and that they are being treated by a doctor. I say this so often, but it is all about talking, talking and more talking with our kids. They are in a whole different life than we ever had to be growing up. They have far more pressure, challenges and the technology to go along with it all.

Knowing I have two girls who fall into these statics makes me more passionate about helping them and others. I am learning everyday about each of these subjects, anxiety, depression and social media. There are days when I do feel overwhelmed by it all, but I stop to think about what they must feel like each and everyday… And that gives me the strength to keep moving forward with all that I want to do and accomplish to make things better for them, for all of the kids who struggle each and everyday.

I wanted to add this side note to any parent who is reading this… If you find out a friend of your kids has made some poor choices, please do not keep them away from that other child. Instead, teach your own kid to have empathy, kindness and to think about how it could have been your child. I say this as Press knows some kids can no longer hang out with her and how some parents do not like her anymore. For me, this breaks my heart, what mistakes you make in your life, what health issue(s) you may have, these things do NOT define you as a person. It seems though this is how the world has become, we should not treat each other because of our difficult times, we should be coming together, helping, supporting and being kind.

Thank you for stopping by and reading. If you have any comments to share, please leave and I will always respond. Sign up to follow me. Thank you!

She is the strongest, kindest, and one of the most loving people I know.

XO-Rach

How much is enough? Social Media.

With everything that has been going on with Press, the one thing I know is that she gets sucked into social media. It is alarming to watch, like she becomes someone completely different, like an alien or something takes over her… This is totally new to me, for the fact that her older siblings never experienced this at her age or ever for that matter. It is something I now know I need to be completely in charge of, mainly because it is NOT healthy for her to live in some fantasy land, where she loses herself and becomes an unhappy person.

Last night we were talking, while she was writing in her new journal, I told her my number one worry was her going back to how things had been, how she loses herself when she has an iPad or her phone. She actually agreed and said she knows she becomes someone different and actually doesn’t want to be that person. I told her I have loved how it has been since she lost her phone and iPad again, because she is using her mind on different things, she is talking more, doing more things, and bottom line, she is a much happier person. She also agreed with all of this, which makes me very happy that she does see how social media sucks her in and how she loses the ability to do other things that do not contain a phone or iPad. So she actually brought up monitoring her phone (when she gets it back), but I was not sure how to really do that since she has a plan with her dad, not mine. Today, however she had a doctor appointment for her med check and the doctor showed us on her phone how we can all shut down things at different times, whatever apps, and how you can see how much time is going for being on your phone. Something I did not know about, as I never needed to before. I obviously know she could go into her phone or iPad and shut this off at anytime, but here again, I have to be able to trust her at some point and believe that she wants better for herself… I told her I will be setting this up on my phone as well, as I think we all should be able to shut down and put our phones away and be present when we should and need to be. I guess if anything, I want to be as supportive as I can, something we can do and learn together and really will just be a positive thing for both of us. I know now the signs now, when she is becoming sucked in, when she loses herself and that is the most important thing.

Social media for adults is so different than it is for our kids, but I believe us adults with kids, NEED to be aware of what is going on in our kids phones, iPads, whatever device they are using. You can trust your kid with everything, but reality is, social media can suck them in. I still am shocked what kids post, say and show, but I am not surprised that many parents do not even know what is going on. We all have a choice to live in a place where we think nothing is going on or we can chose to see what is really going on, by looking into what apps they are on, who they are socializing with, and the words that they use. This has been an eye opener for me, it honestly has helped me be a better parent and to help her navigate this whole world of social media. Obviously I would rather she never be on anything again, but that is not being realistic, so all I can do is put time limits, monitor, and talk, talk, talk about what is going on. I know she loves to do so many other things, so that is where it takes more time for me, to make sure she is doing other things than sitting on a device. I know for parents it is much easier to think our kids are good with a phone, they are socializing, talking with friends, whatever, but reality, they are not… I do not want her to lose her mind, her creative side, her passion for the many other things that she loves to do. This takes more effort on my part, but after everything we have been through, I am all in, because honestly I love seeing her using her mind, talking, and really being happy. Kids need to know, it doesn’t matter how many likes, hits, or streaks you have or get, that means absolutely nothing. But reality, for them this is how life has become. I know she is growing up, but I don’t need her to pass the age is she at right now, I want her to be 11.5, doing things that she should be doing and learning. It takes more strength to NOT go with the flow of other kids, it might make you look weird, it might make you feel more alone, but honestly in the end I know she will be a much happier person and for me that is all I ever want for her. We all our weird in our own way, I just want her to have no fear in being who she is, because she is AmazingU. We all are!

Happy to get her Alvin and The Chipmunk movies 🙂

Playing Catan on Christmas Eve, of course Honey had to sit on her lap too.

Thank you for stopping by. If you have any comments or know of anymore tricks for monitoring Social Media, please share, I have done a lot of looking into many different apps…

Please sign up to follow me, thank you again for stopping by!

XO-Rach