Friday, October 26, 2007

Into the beyond

"On Children" from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of
Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you
yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love,
but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies
but not their souls.
For their souls dwell
in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit,
not even in your dreams.

This is one of my favorite writings about children. They are with us only a very short time. They are not ours. They belong to the future. It can be so hard to let go of our expectations for them. When they are little, we have no idea what they will really need to be able to be successful in their world, because we don't know what that world will look like. We do the best we can to provide love and guidance. We offer them opportunities to learn. And then we step back as they step forward into the future, making their own choices. Today, we hope. We hope we have given them what they will need to meet the demands they will face.

What kind of world are we leaving for them? What are we doing to prepare children to meet the future?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Be prepared

I was born and raised in San Diego, CA, and still have most of my family there. For the last several days, there have been major fires. My sister and her son were evacuated from their home and are staying with my parents. Only a few years ago, they had devastating fires in San Diego County. My cousin lost her house of 25+year in that fire. They rebuilt and moved in a little over a year ago and now are packed in case they are evacuated again.

One of the things I have been very impressed with is the amazing outpouring of kindness and support to the citizens who have been displaced. Americans are often very generous. Thanks to all who help in times of emergency and need.

This has also gotten me thinking about the importance of preparation for these kinds of events. We never know when an unexpected event might require us to get up and go, with no warning. How many of us are prepared for this? What would you take with you if you had to leave immediately? Some people have a box of important papers that they can grab and take along, with birth certificates, passports, insurance paperwork, some of our family photos. Could you put your hands on these things quickly if you needed too?

Of course, people are most important. Do you have emergency plans? Do you have a meeting place or a contact person if you should become separated? One of the evacuees in San Diego County who just lost his house said, "It's just a house. We can rebuild. I'm just glad we are together and we are safe." In times like these, even when I am not experiencing it first hand, it is good to remember what's important.

I am grateful for family and friends.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sabbath Rest

Whether you hold religious beliefs, or not, the concept of "sabbath" is a good one. We all need times when we do less and rest.

Kids also need this today. Too often we have them scheduled to the max, just like ourselves. We all need some down time to play and relax. Some kids say they are "bored" because they don't have any experience with finding their fun or devising creative play. It helps when we are good role models... when we show them how to have fun.

There are lots of "toys" to keep a kid busy. But they also often want more.... the newest game, or the next model. We don't have to buy into this.

What can be done today to relax, enjoy and just be?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Getting help for depression

Sometimes kids become depressed. Not just sad for today, or frustrated about an experience. But a melancholy that permeates everything they do or say. They become isolated from family and friends as they close themselves off from people. They sometimes become too focused on the negative, noticing only what is going wrong in their lives, and around them. Their eating and sleeping may be affected, too much or too little.

Finding the right help for your child can be challenging. Some communities have an abundance of mental health services. In others these resources are pretty sparse. The therapy that will work best for each child depends upon their age, temperament, and their particular issue. Very young children often benefit from play therapy. As children get older, talk therapy can help. In addition to the provider's counseling skills, children also need to feel comfortable with their therapist, so they can trust them enough to work on their issues.

One of my regrets from my children's childhoods is that I didn't work harder to find the right match. I wasn't as persistent as I could be. Granted, my child was resistant to getting help, but it was my job to make that happen. He went to counseling. He got some relief, but looking back, I know I could have done more. I am not saying this out of guilt, just from having learned from my experience. Therapy for children can be costly. Some places offer a sliding scale. And of course, if we are feeling overwhelmed and depressed, we need support, too.

With the wisdom of experience, I look back and realize that when children are young and struggling, we are investing in a healthy adulthood.