Dear Diary, I took the most amazing pictures of myself today. I put on my mother’s long earrings, and lots of her make-up. Then I got out her Chinese robe with the big giant flowers on it and put that on. Then after I made sure no one was in the house I started taking selfies of myself. I posed in the craziest positions. I lounged on the couch as if I were lying around on a Greek Island in the the 1920’s. Then I made all sorts of faces, some happy, some sad, some excited, some upset and I just kept taking picture after picture. It was such fun! I felt like I was on some sort of imaginary stage. What was so intereting was after making sad faces I actually felt happier. It felt so good to just be able to do anything I felt I needed to do with my face. I sent a few to Angela and she loved them. She said that when her parents and brothers leave later she will put on a costume of some sort and send pictures back to me. Too soon I had to get out the cold cream and clean off my face and put everything away. Today was my secret. Only Angela knows. And you, Dear Diary.
Every parents dream is for their child to grow up successful in life, with perhaps a loving spouse, a great job, and a happy family. The dreams of parents and their child may differ quite a bit in how these signs of success are supposed to transform from dreams to reality.
Even as kids, each child begins to find herself, who she likes, who she hates and what she dreams of becoming when she grows up. From the playground on kids form small cliques with other children who share similar interests, and eventually they form emotional and romantic bonds with others.
This can be hard and scary for both teens and parents alike. As parents, we want to protect our children from the pain and heartache that can come with romantic relationships. We want to know that the other person will love and
protect our children the way we have done. We also might not approve of the choice in partners our child chose if their standards don’t meet or differ from ours.
For the teen herself, knowing that she is in conflict with her parents, it can be hard to confide any longer with her parents about the real stuff of her life. She may want to, but fears disapproval or embarrassment.
This is perfectly normal and it doesn’t make you a bad parent, but here are a few things you can do:
- Keep In Communications!
Talk to your teen about their day, interests, and friends. Sometimes all you need to do is ask.
- Have an open mind!
This is very important. Keeping an open mind to your child’s sexuality and opinions, even if they differ from yours will build a stronger relationship.
- Trust them!
Trust your teen. After all, you raised them. If you trust and believe in your teenager, then they will trust and believe in you.
- Listen to them!
Sometimes your teen doesn’t want advice. All they really want is someone to listen and understand them, and maybe a shoulder to cry on. This can be really helpful and your teen will want to come and confide in you more often.
- Love them always!
This is the most important. Your teen needs to know you love them unconditionally. More than just hearing that you love them, your teen needs to feel it and see that you love them despite their mistakes, opinions, or sexuality.
If you use these tips, I assure you that your teen will grow up strong and successful and have you in part to thank, whether she ever actually says the words, you will know she feels gratitude for your kindness as she found her own place in the adult world.
As adults we forget how important mentors are to kids. A mentor can be a family dog that shares endless love, a teacher who never forgets to recognize and praise successes, a tree that teaches the comforts of just relaxing in the shade or even a television personality who is always there for a child to come home to. For me, one of my favorite mentors was Lucille Ball.
Oh, what ecstasy in my childhood to finish a dreary Monday by watching Lucy come to grips with her life in hysterical ways! She gave me courage to believe as a little girl that one could overcome adversity, have a life worth living, fill that life with positive emotions and fun, and stay happy even when faced with momentary distress. No one in the world could eat as many chocolates as fast as Lucy, working on an assembly line, bake a loaf of bread so large it overtook the kitchen, or carry a smelly cheese onto an international flight, wrapped up as baby! No one could make me laugh so hard!
Lucy has held the key to my humor heart at any time of day or night! Ah, I wish I could find her any time I need her — after a bad day, after bad news, after too big a dinner — after almost any occasion that could be buffered by a good laugh, and a comforting sense of the familiar.
What was her magic? How has she managed to take me to my Enchanted Self since I was a 10-year-old child, watching her in Fairfield, Connecticut on Monday nights? How has she engendered positive states of being again and again?
First of all, for most of us over 25, Lucy has become part of our history. She was always there, on a snow day, a day of illness, a late night when one couldn’t sleep. If you were lucky and flicked enough stations, there she was. Her smile was infectious, and her ineptness made us all feel comfortable. It was as if she revealed our most embarrassing moments for us. We never had to feel the shame or humiliation of tripping down the stairs with a giant showgirl hat on our heads or try to catch up with the real superman on the ledge to our apartment! Lucy did it for us. Yet, inside of each of us was the youngster that would have given anything to be in a show or looking for superman!
Secondly, she gave us the ‘real’ family that had a lot going for it, which not all of us had. They really seemed to love each other, they had good friends, they always made up when they fought, and nothing happened that was truly devastating. Silly mistakes were just that, and grudges were not held! They got to travel and meet famous people and eat in fancy restaurants! And, they had a baby and everyone was happy and loved the baby and no one was jealous. Lastly, they got to move up in life when they finally moved to the suburbs into a big house with lots of land and funny happenings. They even raised chickens!
What a beautiful world Lucy and her gang recreated for us. It was our country, our way of life, but on top of the familiar were humor, love, and always recovery from problems or embarrassments. In her own way she created positive psychology, before it had a name, for kids, tweens and teens.
In essence, she made the familiar the best it could be! She helped us live in our imaginations for a while, yet kept us earthbound at the same time. Yes, we were in states of well being, again and again — which is what THE ENCHANTED SELF is all about.
I realize now that she was one of my most important mentors. She was as important as Laura in Little House on The Prairie, one of the best books for girls that I ever read. Laura came to like in her books. Lucy came to life on our black and while tv screen. Thanks, Lucy! I hope I see you stuffing chocolates into your mouth again soon, so I can feel good about my silly moments and have another wonderful belly laugh!
In Secrets: You Tell Me Yours and I’ll Tell You Mine, the girl really worries about getting older and how hard it will be to be a teen. She is very aware. Aren’t all of our girls? She is writing a lot of songs, a few of them appear in the book. In one of the songs she says:
“What is in store for me as I get older?
How can I leave behind so much of me?”
Yes, we do leave behind parts of ourselves at each transition in life. And of course, we get new aspects to ourselves. It is very hard to transition. If you have had to move as an adult, or started a new job, or maybe lived through a marriage that fell apart, you know how terribly hard transitions can be. However, sometimes we forget how hard it is to grow up. It is but a distant memory as we go through our busy days. Yet we need to remember and to find ways to help our kids transition.
Can you remember being a kid moving toward puberty, and the teen years? I am asking readers for input. Here is what one reader shared:
“When I was growing up I felt like I couldn’t do anything right. My parents were not ever happy and I was always fighting with my brother and sister. The cool kids in school made fun of me because I was little heavy and most of my clothes were made by my mother or grandmother. We didn’t have a lot of money, in fact I cannot ever remember a time growing up where my parents weren’t worried about how they would pay the bills and put food on the table.
I was thankful that they made my clothes (and in some varity of my favorite color – red) and I wore them proudly but the feelings of shame and confusion because of the kids at school put me in an emotional whirlwind. Sometimes I didn’t know if I was coming or going!
I was worried about it getting worse as I approached middle school and having older kids around that would probably push me about and make fun of me as well. I was scared to death of getting older and things getting worse. I just couldn’t see that life is what I make of it and if I’m not happy with something then I’m the only one who can change it. At that age you are more worried about what your friends think, what rumors are being spread, your school work, and trying to have a little peace and harmony at home then to look at how you can better your own situation and emotional chaos.
Then there was my little sister who got away with everything, blamed me for the things she actually gets in trouble for and who I had to share everything with. We shared a room, had bunk beds, and I never had my own play things. In fact I was stuck with my sister in the same room until I was 17 and my older brother moved out but that is a story for another day and a whole different set of problems.
Growing up is hard, but I think if we stay positive and teach our kids that if they think positive and work towards shaping their life to how they desire it to be instead of following the herd that they can be happy, even during the emotional roller coaster of puberty!”
What a moving story. Our reader overcame many obstacles. And the truth is that most of us do come through puberty and grow up with strong resources, some degree of optimism, humor, caring for others, the capacity to love and many other great traits. But it isn’t easy, and we owe it to our girls to help them through the process with wisdom and support. That’s what I do in my work as a positive psychologist. You may be doing it as a parent, aunt, teacher, guidance counselor, grandparent.
Try reading passages together with your youngster from either The Truth or Secrets. You will find it fascinating, as feelings and thoughts and memories start to be exchanged. This is one of the most therapeutic ways to make sure you have really ‘heard’ and understand your youngster and the bonus is she gets a better chance to ‘hear’ and understand YOU! It is a win, win for both.
The Truth: I’m a Girl, I’m Smart, and I Know Everything
(now available as an ebook or a paperback)
For those grown-ups reading this blog: Do you realize that it is the ‘girl’ inside of you as an adult woman, who is your clue, not only to the real you, but to your energy bank of all the positive deposits that can still be withdrawn in your life now. These deposits have within them the sparks of emotional, physical and spiritual energy that you need to move forward to enjoy a meaningful fun life …
Also, do you want to know more about how to help your daughters to keep their positive energy alive as they grow up, so their self-esteem will stay strong and their zest for life will be terrific?
That’s what my life work is all about. Give me the an age of a girl or a woman and I can teach the same steps to help her either keep or get back the zest for life and the love of herself that she deserves!
Here are some simple steps to get you or your daughter started:
1. What you perceive to be your talents. Not what others tell you. For example, you may know you have a talent to get people in a better mood.
2. List your strengths. Again, not necessarily what others say. For instance, you know that you can think of new solutions to a problem even when others are ready to give up.
3. List your untapped potential. Go for this one. Dream on. Think about early hopes and longings and things you wanted to do. Don’t worry if it doesn’t seem to make sense now. A dream to be a ballet dancer can get reinvented as a person who enjoys square dancing or walking in the sand.
Now circle one item that seems to me the most to you from each list.
Play with how you could use all three items (one from each list) or just one or two to further your happiness over the next year.
Remember PLAY right now in your mind. This is not an exam or scary. Let the creative spark come alive and watch it dance.
You will be amazed. I’ll be back with more!
The Holiday Season is beautiful and we all hold on to some precious memories that go with the season. But the Holiday Season is also stressful. As adults, we often live an exhausted life of lists and obligations that go with the season. For some women, particularly moms with children living at home, an exhausting month is finally finished off by little sleep and the patter of little feet very early on Christmas morning. Even for those of us that celebrate simply or observe other traditions, such as Chanakah, the frenzy builds. Nobody wants to forget someone they should have remembered with a card, a present or a phone call. And most of us have certain favorite foods that go with the season. That means extra calories, an outfit that suddenly doesn’t fit right, or the tug of war with the latest batch of Christmas cookies sitting in the kitchen. And we know who usually wins! (The Cookies)
What some of us forget is that the kids have stress also. Particularly in harder times, like now, kids worry about how the season will go down for them and often for their families. Kids hear, know and feel a lot more than we give them credit for. If your family is having money problems, whether you tell them or not, they are most likely aware of the problems. If you and your husband are in disagreement over how to do the holidays, even if you argue behind closed doors, your daughter will be aware of the tension. Some here are a couple of suggestions to lower the stress for your kids:
1. Have a honest, but not overly dramatic or discouraging talk about this year’s decisions around present giving. If everyone will be receiving, say half of what they got two years ago, be honest about it. Discuss this openly and maybe agree on what gifts are the most important for an older child or a teen. If say your daughter really wants an item that is twice what you can afford, see if there is a way to figure out the purchase. Perhaps it can be for both Christmas and her birthday, plus she can take on a chore in the family for a few months that may help you out or even cut some expenses for you.
2. Also, have an honest chat about what you will do and not do for the Holidays. If you are not buying a big tree this year, let them know early so they won’t be disappointed. Perhaps it is the year for a family evening of making home made decorations and stringing popcorn trim? That can be a lot of fun. Also, kids are very creative and if they know that a food budget for a big Christmas gathering must be slimmed down, they will come up with ideas to help do that. For example, they may be willing to bake or help you cook more from scratch, as that usually costs less than packaged foods.
In summary, the important thing kids need is to feel in the loop of making decisions about the Holidays and presents and that they have something of value to offer the family either in terms of ideas or actions.
If you can help them feel valuable and in the loop and make clear that you want a great Holiday also, you will find yourself under less stress and for sure you daughter will feel even better about herself than she expected!
I remember standing on the playground at Stratfield School in Fairfield, Connecticut, as clear as if it’s yesterday. I can almost expect to walk up to the mirror and see the 9 year old girl in the mirror that was me. My hair was medium brown and wavy. I had on oxfords and high socks and a dress with a short jacket over it. It was cool but not freezing out. And I remember saying to myself, “I’m in fourth grade now, and my mind just seems to be working clearer. I understand things so much more easily. I know I am different than when I was in first, second, and third grades. I feel more grown up. I like the way my mind feels.”
As I look back now, I realize I felt and recognized some momentous change had happened in my cognitive functioning. And I can also say without hesitation that the result was a feeling of pleasure.
Exercise: Play Date with a Child in Your Life
Can you think of something special that you could offer a child in your life? You don’t have to be a parent or grandparent. You may know a child down the street, or a cousin or even a friend’s child. A special outing or treat can go a long way to bringing delight to a child.
I remember when my aunt Rose arrived at my cousin’s home with a surprise for me! It was a box in the shape of a treasure chest and it contained some perfume and soaps all designed for a little girl. I was thrilled and felt very special. I can still remember lovingly keeping my treasure chest and eventually filling it with other treasures after I had used all the soaps, lotions and bubble bath. Yes, this treasure chest did make me feel special, very feminine and created a great memory trace.
I know you will have fun with a play date. Keep us posted on what you do.