The look of love
The look of fear
The look of contempt
Those looks you hate?
It may not be their fault.
It may be because of the choices you made, the choices WE made as parents of these incredible children we have been given.
As a child, sustaining repeated and persistent abuse, I had a significant thought…
Why did you have me?
This took many other word forms such as:
Why did you have a child?
Why did you have another child?
I am not blaming the way children turn out on their caregivers; I am reminding caregivers to make better choices so that we can say that we tried our very best when our children have the “looks” that are “cringeworthy.”
I was speaking to a very dear friend the other day.
She said that she had 6 beautiful bowls that someone had given to her a long time ago.
The other day she noticed that there were only 3 and she realized that some of them were broken.
She felt happy that she had 3 left.
She began to tell her young daughter who had been helping with her dishes.
She turned away to do something and heard the awful sound…
She froze and realized that something had broken.
She did not know what it was. She turned to the sink full of dishes and saw her sweet daughter, shaking and fearful and she heard these words, “Sorry mom it was an accident, I did not mean it. Sorry mom.”
My dear friend said, “Now there are two.”
And then she smiled.
The worry on the daughter melted away and the mom showed her child how easy it was to show compassion and to to teach her child that mistakes can and will happen.
As my friend was telling me this story I saw the realization on her face that her child had been shaking because she fully expected to be yelled and screamed at.
My friend knew that she had been a teller and she had parented with anger in the past.
She also knew that she had been intentional in the way she had been parenting the past few years and that she had significantly changed the energy in the family.
She had been able to forge a deeper connection with her son and she had been showing her daughter what unconditional love really is.
Here, at this moment, it meant that she loved her daughter MORE than she ever could love those dishes.
She chose to NOT break her child.
She chose to parent with understanding and respect.
I have known this woman for a long time. I know how hard this woman has worked to get to a place of peace and tranquility.
I applaud her willingness to change the way she used to parent and to seek new ways and to know that she was doing the best for her kids.
Most people say, “My parents did it this way and I turned out ok.”
My view is why just settle for OK when we can be wiser and better than OK?
Let us thrive as parents and constantly better ourselves so we can raise a brighter generation. One that will know more than we will ever know and will be in charge of the welfare of our grandchildren.
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When I hear the word Ninja, I think of a person who is stealthy, nimble and agile and uses the forces of his opponents to his advantage.
He only fights when necessary, and then too, only to defend himself or his family, or to right a terrible wrong.
My father is a Ninja.
He never let on to any of his three children how difficult it was to put food on the table. He never allowed us to suffer the stigma of “poverty” and always found ways to provide what we needed to succeed as students and young people. He encouraged all of our friends to visit, sleep over (often in drunken hazes when we were teenagers) and never once do I remember him lecturing or making us feel like losers for our immature behaviors.
He always led with love and followed with well placed stories with metaphorical lessons that somehow always made sense.
As my father lays in a sedated coma due to a severe stroke, we his children are left to remember the greatness of the Ninja skills he wielded so magnificently and we are left to wonder IF we managed to become the adults he always believed we could be and if we told him we loved him and showed it as much as we could.
I am so grateful that he never considered that his daughters be married off at young ages so that he would be relieved of our care.
He always stressed as much education as we were capable of and never wavered in his belief in our abilities to become fully functioning members of society.
I read about fathers and mothers who sell children into prostitution as a solution to bring money to the family. I cannot even imagine what my father would say to theses practices.
I read about parents dragging their girls out of school so that they can take care of the house and the younger siblings. I cannot even imagine what my Ninja father would say about that.
I cannot imagine lots of atrocities that I hear about fathers around the world. I am grateful that I had a DAD who would have given his last ounce of blood to keep his children safe and secure.
My father was a Ninja and as he sleeps in his coma, I can only hope that his dreams are of better times with me in Texas, where he loved to be.
He loved to go to the giant grocery stores and to buy what he wanted and came home to cook it for me and my children.
He loved driving my son to elementary school almost 25 miles away from home while I took care of a new baby.
He loved to go to Target and to be able to buy whatever his heart desired and it always desired very little.
If he had two pairs of pants, it was enough.
If he had four, he would say something like, “but I can only wear one pair at a time while I wash the other one.”
He was not a hoarder of material goods. He spent wisely and knew the value of a dollar.
My Ninja father taught me so very much and most of all he taught me the value of the relationship between Father and Daughter.
A bond that should never be taken lightly.
A bond that sets up the girl for a life of happiness or dread.
A bond that cements the way a girl feels about men.
My father, the Ninja, is my everything.
He is and will always be my hero.
Dad, As you sleep know that I respect what you have taught me and I hope to continue to make you proud.
Love and light,
Daughter of Ralph Augustine Nathu.
A few weeks ago in the NY Times, I read an article on how Olympians use imagery to practice their jumps, runs and plays.
One of the team psychologists, Nicole Dietling said, “In images, it is absolutely crucial that you don’t fail. You are training those muscles and if you train those muscles to fail that is not where you really want to be. So one of the things I will do is if they fail in the image, we stop, rewind and replay again and again and again.”
I think that we can use this technique for creating the quality of life we expect for ourselves. We cannot use imagery to change another’s behaviors but we can use imagery to change our own behaviors.
Let’s say for example, that you have a teenager that drives you batty. You have tried everything you know and still the two of you end up in screaming and shouting matches.
YOU can use imagery to change the behaviors you want to change in yourself.
If you wish to NOT be in a shouting match, you can use imagery to bring up a fight that recurs with your child and when you SEE yourself losing it, STOP and rewind to the beginning of the fight and imagine yourself using a different behavior.
The sports psychologists who teach imagery teach that the athletes must see, feel, smell, hear and taste the entire scenario. So an athlete will be able to conjure up the wind in their face, the taste of the air, the smells of the venue, etc.
Similarly, you can use imagery to see which areas of contention get to you the most with the teenager.
You can begin to change your reactions to the child and control where the conversation will go.
When I had teenagers, I hated that I would often fall into the very shouting match I so desperately wanted to avoid.
I wish I would have known about imagery back then.
I think as parents we need to use every tool we have at our disposal to teach our children how to be calm and controlled adults and when we lose it, we just teach them that we have a lot of learning to do.
Let’s try to utilize all the techniques that are proven so we can model great parenting for our children. After all, most of us want grand kids and do we want our children yelling at our grand kids the way we are yelling at them?
I hope this helps the next time you feel that you are losing it, but it will ONLY help if you practice using imagery when you are not in the midst of the crisis.
Love and light,
This was a saying that I used to hear while growing up in Trinidad, in The West Indies.
It was usually lobbed at me from a very angry parent, (read rageful) and it was usually because someone hit me and I hit them back.
I never understood why I should not defend myself.
Recently I visited my childhood home and as someone was telling a story about a child making a mistake, the saying “Two wrongs don’t make a right” popped into my head.
The storyteller was relaying that a teenager had taken a dish into their kitchen and showed that the dish was still dirty.
A family member of the teenager then said, “Get the HELL out of the kitchen and put the damn cup down!”
The teller of the story was chuckling, gleefully, because the teenager had been “put in their place.”
In a flash, I was filled with anger and disgust and said, “Was it really necessary to curse and embarrass the teenager?”
The story teller was not at all pleased with the way their story landed on my psyche.
The storyteller did not see that yelling at children and publicly embarrassing them was not the way to teach.
It constantly amazes me that “mature” people still think screaming at children is the way to their hearts and minds.
Children need love, care, feeding and watering.
Parents, if you are still screaming, embarrassing and denigrating your children, please take as long as you need to look at your destructive behaviors.
You are destroying the next generation.
Please sign up for some parenting classes and I do not mean any of the “spare the rod, spoil the child” kind of classes.
I mean the class that shows you, the parent, that children are gifts from a divine source and that they are given to us to cherish and protect.
Love and light,
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