One Spoonful, One Single Act of Kindness

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It was 1977. I was scared, but I knew I was in a good place. Surrounded by 10 other girls my age, I was just dropped off at summer camp for the first time. I was a shy, but athletic kid. I could overcome my social awkwardness by kicking one of those slightly squishy oversized red balls over the heads of the most hopeful of outfielders. Always, I was the first picked for any teams, and the fastest runner. Yet, none of my strength or speed helped that late morning, when I first stood at the foot of my bed, watching many of the other girls, laughing and reuniting from last summer.

It was a moment of relief, when one of my counselors walked over to me, sensing how I was feeling. “I’m Gina,” she said, pointing to her name tag. I smiled, shyly. “Come on, let’s go meet the other girls.” I let her lead me over to the group, still feeling awkward, but joining in a game of jacks. By the end of the morning, I was already feeling better, thanks to Gina. At that moment, I could not know that 10 days later, Gina would reach out to me again, in the moment I would need it most.

As a former recruiter, I know you can only find so much about a person before you hire them. You ask questions, scan resumes, but in the end you must make assumptions that you hope are right. Most of the time, you get it right – but not always. Some people look good on paper or over the phone, but do not end up being the best fit for a job. Others – you don’t realize just how good they are. That summer at camp, I had both. An incredible counselor, Gina, and a less than optimal one, Nancy.

It was about 10 days into camp (so 10 months), and we were all sitting around our dining table. Servers, who were also bunkmates, were moving back and forth, bringing bug juice, cups, plates, and whatever dinner was prepared that evening. I was a picky eater. No worries. There was always peanut butter and jelly on the table – my favorite.

Dinner that night was some sort of meat. I think it was pot roast -not my favorite. I went to reach for the peanut butter and jelly, the loaf of soft white bread, glistening against the wooden table. Nancy stopped me in my tracks, “No!” She uttered, grabbing my hand. Nancy liked to exert control over us, because she could. Her moods affected her action more than common sense. More often than not, she made up her own rules. We did not know when and where she was going to strike, but when she did, we listened. I took my hand back like I had been burned, and held it in my lap.

Tears sprung to my eyes at the thought of going hungry, or worse having to eat the pot roast. But it was more than that. I was tasting the feeling of fear upon my tongue. I knew that feeling well, as it was a familiar feeling at home, one akin to walking on eggshells. Sometimes the mood was better, and you felt free to be yourself, but then the rules could change in a heartbeat, and you got burned.

But this was camp, my safe place. Yet, there I sat, helpless, my plate empty, waiting for Nancy’s emotions to calm, and her need for control to pass. There I sat, helpless, trying to make myself invisible in a room full of screaming campers, feeling scared and alone as I did that first day. 

Problem was, dinner was ending, and having run around all day, I was really hungry, and afraid to speak up. It was then, I felt it. A tap on my knee. I looked beneath the table, and there was a hand. It was Gina’s. Her fingers held on to a spoon, filled with peanut butter. I realized in that moment, I was not the only one afraid of Nancy. We are never alone – we just think we are.

I looked up at Gina, as if that spoon was a scalpel and we were about to do surgery. She nodded at me. Take it. her eyes pleaded. I nodded back, and took the spoon, got up from the table, away from Nancy’s disapproving eyes. I hid in the corner, eating that spoonful of peanut butter, feeling both shame and relief. Feelings that would fight for bragging rights over the course of most of my life, until I would finally name them both.

As I reach into the my memory box, clearing away some of the cobwebs to come up with the details of this story, I admit to not even remembering if Nancy is her real name, while Gina’s name, I will never forget.

If Gina had not reached out to me, I could have gone a bit hungry that night, but probably not. Nobody went hungry at camp. We were likely getting canteen, candy in an hour or two, or making s’mores by the campfire. But she did, and it meant more to me than she will ever know. She reached out to me, not knowing the impact. 

There were many people in my life, that went on to hand me spoonfuls of peanut butter. My incredible life long friends, my dear husband, my former kind and patient boss, my children and my dogs – all scoops of peanut butter. Playing cards with my father when I was sick, sitting on the grass in the college quad with my wonderful poetry professor, laughing till our sides ache with my husband – all scoops of peanut butter. I have even learned how to scoop my own peanut butter with a nap on the beach, a walk through a wooded path, a funny movie and a warm fire on a icy winter morning.

Summer camp, as it turned out would become one big scoop of peanut butter after another, a place even my daughters would eventually call home, many years later.

I am sure Gina would not remember that night, or knew the impact of such a small act of compassion. Just as we do not know if our smile at a stranger or a quick text to a friend could brighten their day, or even prevent him from hurting himself. Kindness can have more of an impact than abuse, hatred and drama – especially when someone has been the recipient of both. One spoonful, one single act of kindness – so simple and yet so meaningful. We can all impact each other, choose how we connect. Why not choose kindness?

Today, I sometimes wonder where Gina is – if she has a family, what jobs she took on, if she travelled as a single warrior woman, or made a home, nestled in the security of suburbia. I would like to think she is still handing out spoonfuls of peanut butter wherever she goes.

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The Hidden Truth of Depression

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Like many, I have experienced depression at different times in my life. I have never felt the “I cannot get out of bed depression” or the “I cannot go on” depression, but I have experienced those feelings of emptiness, loneliness, loss of appetite, interest and connection.

If you experienced the devastating effects of deep depression, medication can be a life saver. It can give you the space you need to be able to even receive what I am saying or to be able to think differently about your situation. This is the moment, where I remind you that I am not a doctor. And if you think you need help for your depression, there is no shame in reaching out.

Very often, I receive very strong messages that come to me at times during meditation or when I least expect it. Yesterday, I was given the awareness we need to view depression, not as an inconvenience or detriment, but as a gift. Stay with me.

Depression is a space that is left when our ego has begun to unravel. This can happen from a loss, a change in routine, or during ongoing self-awareness. Our ego is there to help us – to keep track of time and space, and our daily lives. But egos can be very inflexible, and change is a part of being human, and living our lives. Change causes our ego to release its grip upon our psyche, and this can feel uncomfortable and empty. Imagine a person hugging tightly to you, and then they back away. While freeing, it can feel different, uncomfortable, empty. You are very aware of the space that is now there. All those patterns, routines and security are now gone.

Loss of loved one or job. Divorce. Life Change (children moving out). Therapy. Illness. Awareness and insight. Even a change in routine can trigger the space of emptiness. Your yoga teacher cancels, your child gets in trouble at school, you become demoted – can all lead to emptiness.

If we rush to fill that space with food, drugs, alcohol or technology, we never move beyond it. It is then, we can become stuck. We have now just become “addicted”, in addition to  “depressed.”

What if we allow that space to unfold, and treat ourselves kindly, like we are dancing into new territory, one that can feel strange, but also exciting. If we name this space of emptiness as a “time out” and don’t try to rush it away, self-medicate it. If we allow it to just be, for as long as it needs. We will change! It will not go on forever, even if it feels like it will. But we cannot force it to go, for then like an unwanted house guest, it will stay well beyond its welcome.

It is not about rehashing, but healing. It is not about running away from, but allowing. It is about becoming comfortable with uncomfortable empty spaces, and the feelings that may come and go.

I am not only relaying what I intuitively received – I have done all of this. It is always just beyond my actions that the awareness comes in. It has become my practice to do something as intuitively guided, and then the understanding follows.  I know from experience, it is not easy, but allowing the space to just “be” allows for not only a deeper understanding of our selves, but so much more.

Sometimes, it can get rough – as dark feelings can move in and out of that emptiness. Shadow feelings of grief, anger, resentment, and sadness can move in. Don’t raise the rent, allow them to linger until they move on. Their stay is temporary, I promise. This too shall pass, and in its place will come everything you can imagine.

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While allowing the space, it is important to also practice self-care. Picture your self in a new place, a new room, with an open door. Feelings can come in and out, as they need, no appointment is necessary. Make that room as comfortable as you can – put in a fireplace, a warm couch with a soft blanket, some ice-cold water to keep you hydrated, or hot tea to warm you. Hang some beautiful pictures on the wall. Even bring in a soft big teddy bear. Think comfort and safety. Make it all about you, and what you need. This is what self-care is about, and it needs to happen even more when we are moving into that space of emptiness, so that we can withstand the discomfort.

What does this self-care look like in real life? Releasing toxic relationships, saying no, putting up boundaries, a hot bath, a good book, a warm nourishing meal, a funny movie, or even just letting someone know how you feel. It is whatever you need in any given moment without judgement.

Just on the other side of the depression is a life you have always dreamed about. The confidence to move away from addiction, and into awareness. Our minds can benefit along with our hearts. The release of all those egoic and competitive needs – to be right, better, higher than others. Obsessions, fears and bad habits, can fade as we move into a more open-hearted way of living and loving. Everything we ever wanted – all the joy, peace and self-love – is bestowed upon us.

It gets easier, I promise. Many years ago, I would have done whatever I could to rid myself of any feelings of emptiness – run, eat, drink – you name it. Today, I become excited when I sense it because I know what is happening, and how I am continuing to move along my life journey. I am about to embark on something new, and release a piece of old conditioning that is no longer serving me.

So let’s stop calling it “depression” and call it “a time out.” Let’s view it as a gift, and if we can see it as such, we can unwrap our self, unwind our ego. Inside, we find the beauty of our true self. Rest in the beauty of that emptiness, take a pregnant pause and allow it to unfold as we are guided through the uncomfortable feelings, we move into a life we can only imagine. Everything we ever wanted is just outside of this discomfort zone.

The Supermom is Dying, and I am Helping Dig her Grave.

 

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This is my teenage daughter’s closet. I am not posting this picture to embarrass her, or pretend my closet growing up was any different. I am posting it because it helps all us moms breathe easier. We are not alone, and although the supermom image is still hanging around like an old Yearbook photo, it is fading.

I always hated the saying, “Fake it Till You Make it.” It’ screams out, lie about where you are at – speaking the truth and being vulnerable is wrong. It is just as detrimental a saying as “Never let them see you sweat.” Guess what? We all sweat, we all have bad days, and we all struggle until we make it.

We have been dooped, led by Gillette’s marketing geniuses that tell us as women, we are not supposed to show our sweat. Even though it was to sell a product, it seeped into our culture, clogging our minds, along with our pores.

Thank God for our children. As toddlers, their strained carrots seeped into our carpets, as their round cheeks planted roots within our hearts. It was also common place for me to pull a pair of dirty jeans off the floor, but pretend they were clean. When those children turned into teenagers, my dirty jeans morphed into yesterday’s leggings. My wonderful boundary pushing mini adults with their messy rooms and natural self-centeredness, made sure I could not be a supermom even if I tried.

Freedom came when I remembered what I have always known. My daughter’s room with the clothes on the floor and her very messy closet, is not a reflection on my parenting skills or how valuable she is as a person. Her floor is messy because she is busy with her college acceptance process, preparing to leave the only home she’s known. She is buying shoes for Prom, studying hard, volunteering, working out and earning money as a dog walker. I am not saying don’t tell your kids to clean their room, I am saying shut the door and don’t take it personally. I am saying, DO NOT fake it to you make it. Keep it real, and be honest. Show your pictures of your kids’ messy rooms and dirty faces.

I am also saying, let’s slap on a cape, and turn all of us supermom wantabees into superheroes. Messy rooms, messy hair and messy houses is just small stuff.

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I love my daughter, but her messiness is no more a reflection on me than the college sticker on the back of my car. I love her in all her beauty and messiness. And guess what? I was the same way. I was messy, and today at times, I still am. In fact, the messier my house, the happier I am. It means I am busy writing, talking with my husband, sitting with my son and giving him my full attention when he wants to show me his latest Lego creation. It means I would rather bake fresh home-made cookies, making a mess of my kitchen and talk on Facetime with my college daughter, than have an immaculate house.

It’s a six step process to go from supermom to superhero:

  1. Sweat
  2. Admit we sweat – keeping it real
  3. Understand our children are not a reflection upon us.
  4. Order our superhero cape – it is on sale on Amazon Prime
  5. Grab a shovel and start digging – join me in burying the supermom
  6. Know we are not alone.

The trend has been going from #supermom to #keepingitreal for years. Websites like Scary Mommy  and movies like Bad Moms, are letting us off the hook. YouTube Videos of moms trying on bathing suits with less than optimal bodies and drinking wine in the laundry room, are the new normal, encouraging us to be real and laugh at our selves.

It has been my direct experience as a writer and mom that when we keep it real, there is a big sigh of relief; a feeling of gratitude when a mom comes clean and shows her child’s messy room, her own realistic unphotoshopped body, or her child’s college rejection letter. It is time to stop pretending and start laughing. Let’s smother the flames of perfectionism with a smile and the truth.

We are not there, but we are getting better. As more posts and videos pop up of moms keeping it real, more supermom posts will die in the wake of fake smiles and impossible to keep immaculate bedrooms.

The supermom is dying, and I am helping dig her grave. 

Next time, I may go crazy and show you my junk drawer and garage. Keeping it real.

 

 

The World is Abundant, and Waiting for You to Reach Out and Grab it.

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I entered a short story creative writing contest for fun, and my piece was selected among many submitted stories to be published in a book. I did it for fun, but also, I learned something from the experience.

I have always known that there is enough to go around, that our world is abundant, but there was a part of me that never quite believed it, especially in the areas where I perceived I was lacking. For example, I have always been blessed to have a wonderful marriage and life partner that is also my best friend. So I never doubted that there is someone out there for everyone. That was never a question in my mind. I believed it with all my heart. I never looked at someone’s relationship and thought, why don’t I have that? What are they doing that I am not? I have always felt abundant when it came to relationships. I only felt happiness for anyone who found a significant other that treated them well, and loved them unconditionally.

It is the areas where we feel we may be coming up short, or at least less than perfect in our own eyes, that can lead to feelings of lack. And when we feel lack, we may then compare our self to others. For me, my career outside the home has been less than traditional. And my desire to be a writer has been lurking inside for many years. It began when my children were little, and 18 years later, I am still writing – yet my best selling whatever, is still out there – so is my ability to make a substantial income off of my writing.

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I used to feel envious when I looked at others with a successful career, those who knew exactly what they were capable of, and went out and got it. And the comparison made me feel less than. And it was not working for me – it was working against me. It pushed me away from my keyboard, and I stopped writing. Like anything, the key to finding success and improving, is doing it. Thus, this feelings of lack, was not bringing me any closer towards my goals.

It is only lately that I am beginning to get traction with my writing, and others are taking notice. Not coincidentally, I have also stopped comparing my self to others. I have just been putting my head down and been writing, writing, and writing.

The writing contest I entered was fun. I did not win first prize, so I did not receive any money. But that is ok. I have faith that if I keep writing, the money will follow. And I have always believed there is a lesson, a gift in everything. Had I only felt less than for not winning first place, I would have missed the gift. It came when I read the short story of the winner of the contest. Her style was so different than mine – it was like comparing apples to oranges. The gift was the reinforcement of the belief in the abundance of the Universe. We are all unique and all have something to contribute, and there is more than enough to go around. We just need to find the right audience – whether it is a reader, significant other or company. Thinking that there is a limited supply of whatever we desire, is simply not true.

When I stopped comparing my self, and started looking to others to learn what they did to make them successful, I saw the abundance. One is based on envy, the other, curiosity. I stopped wishing I was Danielle Steele or John Grisham, and began to write like me. Turns out, I like to tell stories, and it does not matter how the story is formed – an essay, short story, novel or article. What matters is that I understand that I know I am unique, and my style is my own. 

In this contest, more judges liked her piece, but some liked mine enough to accept it for publication. Perhaps next time, my piece will win first prize, or not. There is enough styles, judges, editors, readers out there for my work, that I do not have to compare my self to others and feel lack. I just need to be myself, and follow through on my commitment to write each and every day. And then, I need to share it.

The world is abundant, and waiting for each of us to reach out and grab it. Whether it is writing or a relationship or a job, coming from this perspective and making the effort, will put us well on our way to achieving what we desire.

We need to stop wasting our time comparing our self for others, and grab a hold of the three keys to start receiving what we desire:  

  1. Come from a place of abundance. We need to change our belief in lack, stop comparing and start learning from others.
  2. Make a commitment and do it – every single day.
  3. Put our self out there. If nobody sees our work, or resume or if we do not join any dating sites or meet up groups, then it does not matter how much time or effort we put in.

Rejection is part of the game, and it no longer bothers me. I used to take it personally. Now, I just know it is just someone doing me a favor, saying “next.” Pushing me one step closer to a yes.

Bring forth your uniqueness, talent and faith. Put your head down, and go for it, but do not forget to look up from time to time. And not to compare your self to others, but to pat your self on the back.

You are unique. You matter. The world needs you.

 

 

15 SILLY (BUT VERY REAL) QUESTIONS ALL MOMS ASK THEMSELVES

As a parent of a teen, I often find myself wondering, am I missing anything with my teenage daughters? Should I be asking more questions? And then I think, of course I am missing something; I am human. The trick is to not miss the really important stuff that could happen to any of our children – depression, bullying, drug use. And I do always remind myself to ask the important questions.

Is she ok? Is he happy? Do I need to intervene?

And then there are the not so important questions that probably come up as a mom of teens, more often than we realize. It seems as the years go by, and our children grow up and change, we change, too. And like we had to pick our battles with our toddlers, when raising teens, it is healthy to let go our perfectionism and rules. But, letting ourselves off the hook can result is some strange and often funny questions we may not even realize we are asking ourselves. The ones we probably don’t ask out loud.

The questions all moms ask themselves

Here are just a few of the questions I have come to know well that all go on inside my head:

1. After stumbling upon a pile of clothes, unfolded, stuffed in our teenager’s drawer. Are these dirty or clean? If they are dirty, will it kill her to wear it again

2. Is it ok that the swear word my teenage daughter uses most, is the same one I use most?

3. While lying on the couch exhausted and I cannot get up, is it hypocritical to have pizza delivered two nights in a row when I keep reminding my teens to eat healthy?

4. Do I really need to shower every day? I mean, wasn’t deodorant specifically invented for this circumstance?

5. If I think for half a second that I am being followed on the way to the grocery store does that mean I should stop binge-watching Homeland? Is this what our kids feel like on a regular basis?

6. Is, “worrying whenever my teen goes out at night induced insomnia,” a diagnosable syndrome?

7. Maybe ketchup can count as a vegetable if we are pressed for time and did not have a chance to go to the market to pick up salad stuff. Did anyone actually hear me think that?

8. Am I completely misusing and taking advantage of the black leggings fashion trend if I wear them every day?

9. Why do I not like how much my teenagers are on the phone, but text them a lot more than is necessary? (Even while they are in class)

10. Am I weird if the last thing I think about at night is, will Reese Witherspoon will make another movie soon? I mean, come on, didn’t you see Legally BlondeWildWalk the Line?

11. Does keeping up with the Joneses have to include always buying organic, having a shed free dog like a Goldendoodle or Cockapoo, or debating vaccine use? Spoiler alert: dog hair is sometimes a condiment in our house.

13. If I don’t mind catching a cold, and then needing to stay in bed for two days, having my husband care for me, is this bad? Does this count as a sexual fantasy?

14. Did anyone actually see me wearing this outfit yesterday?

15. Can my Amazon Prime membership get revoked from overuse especially when our college sophomore has the login and pass code memorized?

Although, I have shared 15 of these sometimes silly but very real thoughts we as moms can have, I must admit, there are more.

But like many things, some things in life are truly better left unsaid.

– my essay – originally published on grownandflown.com

WHAT MY TEENAGE DAUGHTERS TAUGHT ME ABOUT INSTAGRAM, THE BREAKFAST CLUB AND LIFE

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Yes! Parenting is amazing, tough, rewarding, challenging, incredible, invigorating and exhausting all at the same time. Throw in a couple of teenage daughters into the mix, and life is brought to a whole new level.

We teach our children each and every day, but they also teach us!

Many parents complain that the teenage years are rough. And perhaps they are, but I have always believed that within each challenge is a gift. We just need to know where to look for it.

20 lessons from teenage daughters to their mom

I took some time over the past few weeks, as my second daughter, a senior in high school, is preparing to leave the this August, to think about all the gifts I have received by raising two daughters through their teenage years. Narrowing it down was tough, but listed below are the top twenty things that my teenagers have taught me:

20 Lessons From My Teenage Daughters

1. The snooze button, that goes off at least ten times, works for waking up the entire house. So you really never need to purchase an alarm clock.

2. Snapchat filter is the easiest and cheapest way to look 10 years younger. Forgo the Facelift and Makeover!

3. There is such a thing as posting too much or too little on Social Media. Finding the right balance is as important as discovering the best Chinese food restaurant for take out.

4. There is an app for everything.

5. You do not need a date to go to the prom, but you do need to buy your dress months in advance, showcase it to everyone on a specific Facebook group, so nobody shows up wearing the same dress. (Because that is far worse than bad tasting Chinese take out)

6. Starbucks is the new “library” and the best place to study, no matter how loud it gets.

7. Facebook is out, Instagram is in, until Facebook becomes in again, and then Instagram is out. (This can happen all in the same day)

8. The Breakfast Club is still a cool movie.

9. It is ok to follow someone on Instagram, it is not ok to do this in real life. Then it’s called stalking.

10.It is more acceptable to break up with someone face to face, although nobody does it.

11. Actually calling someone as opposed to texting is only acceptable in an emergency and if you are over the age of forty.

12. Coming out is brave, bullying is cowardly, and both of these are always happening somewhere in the United States every day.

13. Where you choose to go to college depends on, but is not limited to: reviews on website, what friends you have met online before you even set foot on campus, what the dress is for football games, if the mascot and school colors are cool.

14. What college chooses you depends upon highest ACT score even if you have taken it ten times, how many extra curricular activities you can jam into one so you don’t have time to breathe, how much you stand out, even though everyone is trying to stand out.

15. Having a family dog is awesome. Cleaning up poop or throw up from the dog – not so much.

16. Popularity still matters, but only to those who are popular.

17. Getting your driver’s license is code for “I will be eating dinner out at Qdoba or Panera at least five times this week” and “I didn’t have time to pick up your dry cleaning.”

18. You do not run to the mailbox to check for large envelopes of college acceptance letters but you do check your email at least ten times a day for a notification that you have been notified.

19. It is no longer a thing to go out in “groups” but is a thing to be in a “group chat.”

20. When teenage daughters are dying to grow up and go off to college , it is the exact moment when they realize all that they will miss and love about home. This is the real definition of having mixed feelings.

 

***This blog post was published as well on Grown and Flown online parenting website, and can be found here, Grown and Flown, where parenting never ends along with other incredible articles on parenting through the high school and college years.

My Response to my 9-year-old son’s Statement: “Immigrants cause Cancer.”

My latest essay published on Elephant Journal:

 

My Response to my 9-year-old son’s Statement: “Immigrants cause Cancer.”

“Do you want to hear something funny, Mom?”

I glanced at my nine-year-old son, but was also busy fixing my rear-view mirror and adjusting the heat in the car.

Because we were running late for school, I was only half paying attention when he said, “Immigrants cause cancer.”

If I had taken a sip of coffee, I would have spit it out right then.

“Where did you hear that?” I asked, holding my breath. I mean, it could have been a myriad of places—another kid, who heard it from another kid, who heard it from his parents…or the internet, as turned out to be the case. In a YouTube video.

While the video itself is clearly intended to be humorous, I was dumbfounded. I immediately replied to my son, who I adopted from Russia, “Did you know that you are an immigrant?” I paused to let that sink in. “And there are many reasons why that statement is not funny. Let me explain.”

Stunned, my son sat in complete silence.

In that moment, I realized there are so many things a nine-year-old just doesn’t understand. Most children his age are only just trying to grasp the nature of our world, and nowadays, it is right there in front of them to take in. Donald Trump has created the newest form of reality TV—he and his policies are everywhere.

Now, should my nine-year-old be watching YouTube uncensored? Maybe not. Which begs the question, should he even be anywhere within 10 feet of the TV when we are watching CNN, Stephen Colbert, or Saturday Night Live? Because there is hardly a difference anymore.

Technology has brought the outside world into our homes. And a big part of the outside world, at least in America, is “The Donald Trump Show.”

No matter how much we would like to shelter our children so that they can one day create their own objective views of the world when they’re old enough to actually form them based on higher learning, we simply can’t.

As parents, most of us have been sucked into “The Donald Trump Show,” regardless of which side we are on. We toss our opinions around like a pizza, eventually dropping them on the counter, placing some good-tasting stuff on top, and hoping that someone agrees ours is the best one to sink their teeth into.

Politics is everywhere because of Donald Trump. Social media is everywhere, too, and our kids are learning how to navigate the world of technology at a very early age. The combination of these means that our children will hear things that are racist, biased, false, vindictive, and just plain mean. How can we expect our children to act responsibly online if our president won’t even do so? Or if their role models—athletes, movie stars, singers—post Instagram pictures showcasing how good they look in a bathing suit, as if that’s all that matters in life?

Well, we can, if we teach them the value our words and actions carry.

We are not going to change our world overnight, nor are we going to impeach our president anytime soon—and maybe we shouldn’t. Maybe the lessons we are all learning from this are invaluable.

Our children are growing up in the age of technology, and there is really no way around it. We, as parents, need to show them why our words matter. Posting should follow The Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Technology ensures that our words and pictures stay out there for more than a moment—and sometimes forever.

That morning, it didn’t matter that we were late for school. I pulled over to talk about why that video was hurtful. And it was a good lesson.

On my way home, I thought about censoring my son’s time online, which I already do because, well, the whole shorter attention span thing. And the addictive nature of technology. And the “stranger danger” worries. But he is not learning compassion for others from the internet; he is learning it at home. And he is making some mistakes, just as we did growing up (teasing someone without realizing its impact, for instance). Many of us grew into compassionate, responsible adults, and so will our children.

Taking away our children’s social media will just postpone the lessons they will learn. We do not take away the stove so they won’t burn themselves, or the stairs so they won’t trip. They will fall, and they will burn themselves, and they will learn the lesson, hopefully sooner rather than later, that words matter, that what we read online is usually just one person’s opinion, that there are people out there who are unhappy and in pain and lash out with criticisms and judgments online as a result. And there are those in power who have access to Twitter who are able to say whatever they wish to whomever they please.

What we can do, as parents, is teach our children the difference between right and wrong. To slow down and think about the impact their words might have on another. To remember the tenets of mindful speech.

Yes, our words matter, even if our president does not understand this truth. Allowing our children to learn this lesson early will help them become more aware about the nature and importance of responsible posting, texting, tweeting, and commenting. Preventing them access will just keep them in a bubble, which will inevitably burst.

 

 

You can find this essay on Elephant Journal, as well as other thought provoking articles.

https://www.elephantjournal.com/2018/01/my-response-to-my-9-year-old-sons-statement-immigrants-cause-cancer/