Each year, between 20,000 to 25,000 foster children age out of the system and attempt to begin life on their own. Of the 500,000 children in care in the United States each year, this is a large number and disturbing percentage. For many foster children, foster care is a temporary service before returning home to a parent, moving in with a biological family member, or even beginning a new life in an adopted home. Yet, for thousands who do not find reunification with family in their lives, reaching 18 years of age can be a tremendously frightening experience. For others, 21 is the year where they may find themselves no longer part of the foster care system, depending upon the state the foster children reside in. Continue reading
I love to listen to the children this time of year. They don’t have the same constraints on creating their heart’s desires that adults do, so kids make their wish lists with reckless abandon anticipating surprises that delight. This year, the current economy has caused many families to curb or quash children’s anticipations. Where is the balance?
I am a firm believer in charity work, reaching out and the spirit of community that gets fostered during the holidays, but the creative energy that ignites in children this time of year really makes me excited. This is one time of year when kids can create what they want and almost instantly see the fruits of their creations. What great validation. Trouble comes when well-intentioned parents try to thwart the creative process to avoid disappointment.
Balance in this process comes from teaching our children to dream, create and imagine, while having gratitude for whatever the universe delivers; for it is always perfect and timely. As your children make their holiday, or even birthday wish lists, try to avoid comments like, "That’s really expensive" or "Only put a couple of things on your list" or "It’s going to be a tight birthday this year." All of these statements, while well-meaning, are designed to lower expectations and ward off disappointment. It doesn’t usually occur to us that we are creating the very disappointed we were trying to avoid. Kids want to dream and create — let them. That hydrogen fueled car may be something you cannot imagine being able to afford or have the space to play with, but the unexpected happens everyday.
It is appropriate to help your child be comfortable with the perfection and timing of the Universe. As they make their list try some of these techniques that will empower them and your whole family to create. Then sit back and watch as things you never thought possible come into your life.
As your child makes their list have them prioritize the items, moving to the top 3-5 things they want most. It’s easier to create when we know what we most desire. Let them change the list a few times — children live very present moment and their desires can change quickly. If we give them opportunity they manifest quickly too. Ward off entitlement by saying things like, "I’m sure that you will get the gifts that are perfect for you right now." Set them up to be grateful. Sit with your child and imagine being happy on the big day(s). Talk about how much fun the family will have, how festive the party will be or how it will feel to see your creation(s) come true.
This all may seem out of reach to you, so let me share a quick story. A friend of mine is struggling financially this year and her son’s handheld electronic device is old and fading. In her mind she just couldn’t figure out how she could replace that loved item this year, but still let her son put it on his Christmas list. She empowered him to prioritize and create and so did she. She knew that if it was in alignment she would find a way. She was in a thrift shop a recently and a brand new device was there along with a few new games. She was able to pick them up for prices that fit her budget. She didn’t let her awareness of tight finances get in the way of the creation. She held on to the desire with her son and they anticipated a good holiday no matter what. Those are the keys to creative success.
When I was a young girl I was so unsure of myself. I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up but I knew one thing for sure, I wanted to be a mother. It doesn’t sound like I was much of a feminist does it ? I had no idea that when I became a mother how much more of a feminist I would be!
I took on the role of motherhood with a fervor, reading every book possible, studying and preparing for the birth of my first child. Based on what I had read about childbirth in America, I had decided that I was going to have a homebirth (this was back in 1980). Things didn’t go as planned so I ended up in a hospital, hooked up to all kinds of monitors with a bag of pit (pitocin) dripping into my arm. It wasn’t an ideal birth by any stretch of the imagination but I was awake, alert and an active participant in my son’s birth.
The whole experience awakened my ferocious inner mama! When I was pregnant with my second child I was more confident in myself and even more determined to have him at home. This time is worked out beautifully! Both experiences empowered me in ways I never knew possible. I became a strong advocate for breastfeeding and the birth rights of mothers which ultimately led me to forming a nonprofit organization with a friend to advocate, educate and support parents. I finally figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up- a maternal feminist!
I often say that my children have taught me more than I have taught them. If I were to offer any advice to parents in light of Mothers Day it would this- Listen with your hearts, be conscious and kind in your actions and interactions with your children. When you know you’ve blown it with your child keep it real- talk about it, apologize and find ways to re-strengthen the connection like doing something fun together. It’s ok if you don’t have all the answers- motherhood (and fatherhood) is a learning process that goes on for life (yes even into adulthood, marriage & grandchildren.)
If you feel alone and isolated, seek out friends who share your values to become your "tribe" of support. Last but not least, make time to nurture yourself! If your emotional tank is empty you won’t be able to nurture your children.
May you embrace the power of your inner mama and move the world closer toward compassion and peace.
Happy Mothers’ Day!