Tuesday, August 28, 2007

From Known to Unknown

Think about it. We struggle when we go from the known, what is comfortable, to the unknown. We often resist change. We seek the reassurance we feel in our comfort zones and sometimes go kicking and screaming into new experiences.

I got to thinking about this today because I am moving into some unfamiliar territory in some areas of my life. This can be scary and unsettling, even though I have had many previous opportunities to gain skills for coping and growing through these experiences.

So why do we give kids such a hard time for their understandable defiance when we ask them to do something new. New is a strange food. New is an unfamiliar social experience. New is a person they don't know. New is a place they have never been before. New is a classroom full of kids. We have things we resist, too.

Some children are born adventurers. In fact, we made need to hold on, just a little, and supervise closely so they don't get hurt. Others need our encouragement to try new things. Pushing them doesn't help. Support and reassurance does. Eventually new experiences become part of the everyday and may even become something that can be counted on. They become known to us.

We take this passage from the known to the unknown many times in our lives. Let us remember the challenges and resistances that the venture into the unknown can bring. With this awareness, we can encourage children to move forward into new possibilities with our support and understanding.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Daily Lessons

Learning is forever. Or it can be if we are open and willing.

Hmmm. Kids are not always receptive to what we have to say, and what we want them to learn. And neither are we. It can help to wait and consider several things before we jump in:

** Do I need to say something about this right now?
** If so, what do I need to say right now?
** How can I say this in a way that will make it most likely to be heard?
** How can I adjust my expectations to accept the response(or non-response) to my input?

Seems like I need to live through the same lessons over and over before they sink in, if they are going to at all. The lesson that has been rumbling around for me often lately is about my powerlessness. I would often like to believe that I know best. If they would only do "it" my way, everything would be alright. Well, of course, this isn't true. We don't have all the answers. And there is a very good chance that our answer is not exactly what that other person needs. Yes, when children are babies and little ones, we have to make alot of decisions for them. And remember, sometimes we chose wrong. And then once they move into toddlerhood, they want to make at least some of their own choices.

Even with my grown children, my own parents, my siblings and their kids, my partner, I have ideas about what would be best. And everyday, I need to remember to accept the things I cannot change. And work on my own issues, which is the only place where I really have any influence. I have to remember this, and possibly learn this anew, every day.

I just heard a thought tonight that will be helpful for me in the moment, when I am considering giving my input. Or if I am bringing expectations to an interaction:

Let me set aside everything I think I know about ____
so that I may be open to this new experience,
or new idea, or someone else's perspective.

Today's lesson for me is about being open to learning. What is your's?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Hopeful thoughts

Oh, my, where does the time go? I just returned from a short stay in Tuolumne Meadows at Yosemite. What a great weekend I had - 3 nights and 2 full days in the Sierra high country, plus traveling each way. I went alone, which was an adventure in itself. And I met many wonderful people there. At least two hopeful thoughts emerged from this experience.

First, it was very encouraging to see so many families: young families with small children, multi-generational groups, and several father-son pairs who were enjoying long back-packing trips together. One cynical man said he would not be able to stand being with his family for anywhere near that long. But the overwhelming impression I got from most people was about the strength of these family relationships. The future looks a little brighter if families stick together and find ways to play and appreciate each other.

My other hopeful thought was about the resiliency of nature and also our own. I can get very frustrated about what seems to be lack of insight and concern when it comes to this planet. We are using up resources way faster than they can be replenished. But out there in the wilderness, I could see evidence of nature's cycle of growth, depletion, and renewal. I was reminded that this planet is fully capable of supporting life. Our own stay here is very short. The earth has been here for a long, long time. It will go on far beyond today.

This doesn't mean we have permission to throw our hands up and just say "oh, well, what can I do?" We can do our small part, and we can teach our children to do the same. In fact, sometimes the children teach us. At least part of our own resilience is recognized in our capacity for growth. We are never to old to learn something new. I have returned from my time away with renewed enthusiasm and openness to this world of possibilities.

Sunday, August 5, 2007


Is it really so perfect in Perfectland? There is not a hair out of place. Clothes are all clean and match beautifully. Children always obey and do what they are told. But, do these people know how to have fun? Can kids be kids in Perfectland? Have you ever been there? Do you want to go?

What is really important, anyway? We want children to know we love them. We can encourage their creativity. We demonstrate our flexibility and understanding when we show our acceptance of them, just as they are!

When we have unrealistic expectations for children, sometimes they feel like they can’t do anything right. They never can do enough to reach the impossible assumption of eventual perfection.

Well, we all make mistakes. I notice mine on a regular basis. We all have our individual “flaws” and we have many strengths, too. Children’s individual abilities and uniqueness are what will take them forward into the future. They are not perfect. We are not perfect. But, we each have a lot to offer, just as we are!