Tuesday, September 25, 2007

What are we leaving them?

I often wonder: What kind of a world are we leaving our children? My son and I were talking about some of the differences when I was growing up compared to their childhoods. There is accepted recognition that people could more easily manage their financial lives in the 60's and 70's. Housing and food took less of the monthly paycheck. There was also less "Stuff." He said, "Yeah, if we lived simplier today like people did then, we would manage better, too." Today, there are so many more things that people need: cell phones, high definition TVs, Ipods, and Palm Pilots, video games and the equipment to play them, appliances for every possible need, designer clothes and the accessories to compliment the outfit, the latest model of car or van to commute long distances to work and drive kids to all those lessons and sports events we have scheduled, and big, spacious houses. Many things that were rare luxuries of the past are considered necessities today.

I know we must all decide for ourselves what is really most important for our family, for the quality of our lives. I just worry, though. How long can we put pressure on our resources to make all this "stuff" available for us? There are people in other countries who are desperate to have something of this "American dream" for themselves. Where is this all taking us?

In the long run, what do I want to leave my children? I hope they feel loved. I hope they know how to entertain themselves with a good book. I hope they know how to take care of themselves without depending upon having all this "stuff." And, I hope that we can all listen to the wisdom inside that knows we can't keep taking from the earth indefinitely. I hope more of us will begin to think before we buy. And I hope we will demand that our leaders make decisions that will help us heal the earth and manage our limited resources effectively. Is it too late? I hope not.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Expecting the best

Some children seem to be born with confidence. No matter what happens, they have a smile on their face. If something proves difficult, they are willing to try again and again. Others are more easily discouraged. No matter what a child’s natural temperament tendencies, labels are not helpful. Positive affirmations help children believe in themselves and their own potential.

“I know you can do it.”
“I’m sure if you think about it, you’ll find a better idea.”
“Your project is very creative.”
“I know that is hard, but I can tell you’re determined.”
“You and your little sister seem to be having fun together.”

Children’s behavior is often predictable. If we expect the worse, we often see it. But, if we expect the best, children can reach new heights. They will try hard to meet those beliefs that we have in them. Children really want to do their best.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Mindful mothering and fathering

I just found a wonderful new (2007) book by Denise Roy, MOMfulness - Mothering with Mindfulness, Compassion, and Grace. She had me hooked in the introduction:

"...motherhood leaves stretch marks on us - in so many ways! I have been stretched physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. .. Motherhood continues to stretch me to this day, and I see no end in sight. It teaches lessons that many spiritual disciplines teach: the transforming effect of true presence, the importance of close attention, the need for deep compassion, the celebration of embodiment, the recognition of the sacred in all things, and the power of community... When we mother with mindfulness and compassion and a willingness to let this vocation awaken our hearts and transform our lives, we walk a spiritual path."

When my kids were little, I often felt like I was out there alone blazing a new path, without instructions. For those of us who care for children, maybe this experience is always laced with mystery, confusion, joys, and surprises. But the support of family, friends, and helpful books really does make a difference.

So, here I am today. My sons are all adults. I'm still growing so I assume they are, too. And I continue to stretch as I am reminded every day to practice acceptance and mindful attention. I still get asked difficult questions by my grown sons. I know the answers are complicated, and often not mine to give. They still wonder why life seems so unfair. Why do good, hard-working people sometimes have to struggle so much? What is the meaning of life? What is our purpose? What am I supposed to do when I grow up? I ask these same things for myself. And I find my own way to the answers that work for me.

Thankfully my spiritual core often guided me when my kids were little. And I feel blessed today to have an even stronger connection to my Higher Power. We all need community. With the help of our connections, we find our way.