“Parenting is the easiest thing in the world to have an opinion about, but the hardest thing in the world to do.”
Last night I put all four of you to sleep in your own cots. Waking up in the morning, in my bed, I’m arrested under a tangle of limbs in all directions and at the oddest angles. I was vaguely aware of them, one by one, crawling into my bed at different times in the night. Some parts of me feel truly sore from having stayed weighed under in the same position for the last few hours. But my heart feels so full and warm as I watch all of you cuddled up together.
As I reached out to ruffle your hair, my dearest daughter, remorse washed over me. Little one, am I being a good mother to you? Teaching you responsibility and independence at such an early age. You turn six next week. Just six! You are so much more responsible than your eight year old brother.Advertising
Your mother, your younger two sisters, spending time playing with them, helping me bathe them and dress them up. You even help me tidy up the rooms and fold the laundry in your own little ways. I love the way you tidy up the shoe rack, searching and collecting shoes scattered around the house, pairing them like you are solving puzzles and arranging them in neat rows on the rack. You make such a mundane task seem like a fun thing to do.
Making your Own Sunshine
But I worry little one. Am I doing it right? Your grandparents did what they thought was best for me as they raised their children.
But as Virginia Satir said “Every word, facial expression, gesture, or action on the part of a parent gives the child some message about self-worth. It is sad that so many parents don’t realize what messages they are sending.”
I write this letter to prepare you my dear child, to learn the good lessons from the bad experiences caused by toxic parenting. Parents also make mistakes despite their best intentions. But you, my sunny-natured one, can still come out shining from behind any cloud.
He who controls your purse strings, controls you
My best advice to you dear daughter is to stand on your own two feet. Be independent. Be strong. Let no one bully you. Not even your own parents. As you grow up, begin your career, get married and raise your own children, be in control of your finances. Today, you see me typing at my computer, working on articles, despite the pressures of raising four children. I am indulging in my passion, I have an outlet for my creativity and most importantly it gives me financial freedom.
Your father is the provider in our home, but I am not dependent on him for my personal needs. Fathers and husbands don’t quite understand a female’s unlimited fancy for clothes, makeup or shoes. But they tend to leave you alone as long as you don’t trouble them for the money. My weakness is buying pretty dresses for my children and cute plastic containers for the kitchen.Advertising
On a more serious note, financial independence gives you the means to take care of yourself, it equips you to handle better the obstacles life will throw at you. But remember, money is never enough and it shouldn’t be the goal.
Let Go of the Need to Seek Approval
Seeking validation from anyone, even parents, will only lead to harm and low self esteem. Correcting children’s mistakes is a an important part of parenting, but sometimes people don’t know where to stop. When parents are overly critical, the child tends to develop a harsh inner critic and many children end up with anxiety disorders as they grow older. Validating your own thoughts and feelings will help you manage your emotions more effectively.
Learn to Deal With Guilt and Manipulation
You are responsible for your own happiness. Expecting others to make you happy will only give you disappointments in life. The same rule applies to your parents too. Some toxic parents place unrealistic expectations on their children’s shoulders by repeatedly drilling in stories of sacrifices made to raise them up. Such parents may demand their children give up their own desires in order to do what the parents want.Advertising
Learn to deal firmly with anyone, even parents, if they use manipulation, guilt, and self-pity to make you do whatever they want.
The Healing Power of Forgiveness
Even I had my share of grudges against my parents, especially my father. But when I became a parent, I was better able to understand that no parent is perfect. I learned to stop judging them and blaming them for not understanding me better. They were times I felt abandoned, when they didn’t realize I needed them desperately by my side.
Finally getting through those troubled times by myself, solving my own problems, have actually made me a stronger and independent person. Even if they are unwilling to understand or acknowledge their mistakes, forgiving them and yourself, is the best way to begin healing.Advertising
These are valuable insights in any relationship. It applies to emotional dealings with all the people in your life, from your boss to your mother-in-law and your own children. Let no one dictate your life, your emotions or your happiness.
Featured photo credit: Flickr via flickr.com
The Gentle Art of Saying No
It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.
But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.
What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.
But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:
- Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
- Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
- Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
- Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
- Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
- Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
- Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
- Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
- Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
- It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.
Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com