To My Children
Too Much, Too Soon
On Mother's Day my children would sometimes ask me why there wasn't a Kid's Day. I'd respond with the same answer that my mother gave me when I asked the same question, "Because every day is Kid's Day!"
By their very nature, most mothers are nurturing and loving. But sometimes, we can do too much for our children and rather than helping them, it can keep them from becoming responsible, resilient and self-reliant. This Mother’s Day I realized that I owe my mother a debt of gratitude, not only for the things she did for me, but for the things she was wise enough NOT to do. Like most mothers of her era, my mom drove less, gave my brothers and myself less in the way of money and material things and entertained us less. But we didn’t feel any less loved.
It was a time when children learned to stand on their own two feet and heard things like, “you made your own bed, now you have to lie in it,” or “you reap what you sow.” Too often today, we take responsibility for our children’s irresponsibility—robbing them of the natural consequences that could teach them to become accountable. For example, my friend’s daughter, (a senior in high school) didn’t pass a class because she didn’t do the required homework. My friend said, “It was my fault; I should have made sure that she finished her work.” Believe me, that’s not what my mother or other mothers of her era would have said!
In many ways, today’s children are not as self-sufficient or responsible as their parents were at the same age. At the same time, they are growing up in a society that inappropriately exposes them to adult topics. Understandably, this leads them to believe that they’re much more ‘grown up’ than they really are. It’s difficult for parents to protect their children from being exposed to too much too soon, especially by the media. However, it’s important to try to do so because the problems that stem from this type of exposure are likely to snowball. In addition to becoming anxious and having sleep problems, children may become precocious and knowledgeable regarding adult topics. They become late bloomers with an early agenda and begin participating in grown up activities long before they have the emotional maturity to handle them. Of course, this leads to a whole host of additional problems.
In addition to being exposed to inappropriate topics, the media also teaches children to expect a lot in terms of toys and other material possessions. I will readily admit that at times I have succumbed and given my children too much. However, I’m not sure they would agree with my assessment of the situation…yet. Having been raised in southern California, they are convinced that I am hopelessly behind the times because I was born and raised in Nebraska. When I wouldn’t give them money for something they desperately wanted, they told me that I was out of step with the times and called me a “child of the corn.” Privately, I liked the nickname because I know that most Midwesterners have the very traits that I wanted to nurture in my children. For the most part, they are responsible, resourceful and reliable.
By not granting my every wish, my mother helped me to have the incentive to delay gratification for a long-term goal and to become self-reliant and capable. One day, perhaps when my children are raising their own sons and daughters, they will appreciate that I tried not to do too much for them. Since it may be a while before I hear these words of appreciation from them, I’d like to take this opportunity to express my own appreciation for some of the things that my mother didn’t do for me.
She didn’t do my work for me. I was expected to help with the dinner and the dishes, to do my own schoolwork and to complete my own chores. This was not done for a monetary reward. Like most families, we shared in the work and in the bounty. We knew ‘we were all in it together’ and we learned to be responsible not only for ourselves, but for those we loved.
She didn’t drive me to countless lessons or after school activities. I was expected to entertain myself. Therefore, I had a lot of carefree time—free to be creative, resourceful, and to enjoy my own company.
She didn’t give me too much money or buy me too many expensive toys or clothes. I learned that they really weren’t necessary and that if there was something I really wanted, I needed to work for it.
She didn’t pay for my entire college education and consequently,
I valued it. In addition, my numerous part time jobs taught
me a great deal about people and prepared me to support myself.
Mother Hearts Event:
This Mother’s Day was a very emotional day for me. It was the first Mother’s Day without my mom. And the women’s circle that I belong to--Mother Hearts, culminated three months work by gathering together the community of Santa Barbara in a ceremony that represented pure mother love. We gathered to honor and mourn the loss of lives in Iraq and to create an awareness of the original Mother’s Day Proclamation by Julia Ward Howe—given in 1870, urging mothers to unite in order to keep their children from going to war to kill other mother’s children. Sadly, Julia’s message is just as timely today.
The ceremony took pace at a stretch of beach in Santa Barbara, dubbed
Arlington West. Here, on Mother’s Day and every Sunday morning,
Veterans for Peace places individual white crosses in long straight
rows in the sand, one for each fallen soldier of war.
If you asked me what we accomplished, I would be hard pressed to give a definitive answer. And yet, I feel it was more than any of us will know. For we touched a lot of hearts on Mother’s Day. And who knows where those hearts will take us. We created a small wave, which will gain strength and become a force to be reckoned with.
Many of you, dear subscribers, have young children. I remember those
busy days. The war may seem far, far away. But our children grow up
so fast. You will love your children as much when they are 20 as you
do today. And I don’t want you to lose them to something as senseless
as war. If you’d like to learn more about the event, are interested
in starting you own circle, or contributing your thoughts, visit our
website at motherhearts.org.
The Dream Maker's May Dream Starters
Dream Starters are visualizations which promote relaxation, imagination and well-being as they guide children into the world of dreams.
To prepare for these dream starters, (or visualizations), create a quiet comfortable atmosphere in which your child can relax.
Step One ~ Progressive Relaxation (Tensing & Relaxing Muscle Groups)
Have your child lie down in his bed. Have him lift each arm and leg individually, holding each limb tightly before loosely flopping it down on his bed. Then have him wrinkle his face and hold his eyes tightly closed, before relaxing his face. (Tense each muscle group for at least 5 seconds.)
Step Two ~ Focus on the breath
Have your child get very quiet and watch his own breath.
Step Three ~ Creative Visualization
Now that your child is relaxed, read (or tell) the following visualization. Of course, feel free to modify it according to your child’s age and interests.
Playing in the Wildflowers
As you find yourself beginning to sleep and dream, you arrive in Dream Land—where sparkling, glittery dream dust fills the air. You join a group of children who have already gathered outside the crystal dome of the Dream Academy. The Dream Maker steps out of her doorway and greets you and the other dreaming children. She smiles and says, “Tonight we’re going to see the wild flowers in the Forest of Dreams.” The Dream Maker leads you and the other children over to the nearby Willow tree. Willow happily opens the hidden door on his trunk. If you have any worries, leave them on Willow’s strong branches before you go. Then step into his trunk and begin sliding down toward the Forest of Dreams.
When you step out of Willow’s trunk, you find yourself in the Forest of Dreams. It is beautiful and sunny. Surrounding the trees, there are fields of purple, blue, pink and yellow wildflowers in full bloom. Breathe in the sweet scent of the trees and flowers.
You decide to explore and enjoy the beauty of Dream Land on your own. The Dream Maker gives you a pouch of magical dream dust to take with you. You thank her and begin walking down a path towards a beautiful field of blue and yellow flowers. Birds are happily singing in the trees along the edge of the path. You stop when you arrive at the edge of the beautiful meadow—filled with blue and yellow wildflowers.
You feel something tapping on the top of your foot and see a little flower fairy trying to get your attention. The little flower fairy is about as big as your pointer finger and he is wearing an upside-down flower on his head. The blue petals hang down almost to his shoulders. He asks you if you want to play in the flowers with him. You do, but you’re afraid that you might trample them. You remember that you have a pouch of magical dream dust and you sprinkle some on yourself. You instantly shrink down to the size of your little friend and follow him into the field of flowers.
Now, the flowers seem like gigantic trees. As you look up, their petals hang down like colorful, upside down umbrellas. You and the flower fairy have fun laughing and chasing each other around the green flower stems. (Pause) You’re getting a little tired and notice that your new friend is climbing up a tall flower stem. You begin to follow him, slowly shimmying yourself up the waxy, green stem. When you get to the top, you peek over the flower’s petals and see your friend is lying inside the flower with his eyes closed. He looks very comfortable. You lie down on the other side of the flower and close your eyes. (Pause)
You listen to your friend’s soft, even breath and realize that
he is sound asleep. (Pause) You begin watching your own breath. (Pause)
Breathing in, the air feels cool. (Pause) Breathing out, you notice
it’s warmer. (Pause) Breathe in the cool air. (Pause) Breathe
out the warm air. (Pause) Breathe in the cool air. (Pause) Breathe out
the warm air. (Pause) The petals are soft and velvety. You feel safe
and protected inside the beautiful flower. The sunshine warms your arms,
legs and face. (Pause) Stay and enjoy sleeping in the wildflower for
as long as you’d like.