Another Takes Their Own Life!

young girl

For many of us who live in Pinellas County it was just yesterday that we read in the local newspaper about a young, talented local girl who recently graduated valedictorian and was attending a prestigious university who apparently jumped to her death.   And not long prior to this tragedy a local teenage boy who was a very talented swimmer and from all accounts was jovial and happy, ended his young life.

While I don’t know the specifics of either of these individuals’ situations it breaks my heart that so many of our teenagers don’t make it into adult hood.  I don’t want to age myself when I say “times have changed!”  While during my teenage years their certainly was a lot of drama that occurred and, yes, there was competition amongst students for various reasons.  It seems to me that the pressures on our young kids today is amplified compared to the days of past.

It isn’t just peer pressure; we currently have higher educational demands.  A weighted GPA’s above 4.0 is common.  Now dual enrollment is seen frequently.   College admission requirements are demanding more of their applicants.  The increase in pressure in the sports arena is also evident.

I am not saying some of the changes that have occurred in the educational and sports arenas’ aren’t good.   However, one may wonder if we as a culture have gone too far with these increased demands.  As adults we know the pressures of today’s world.  In theory, we are supposed to be more equipped than our adolescent children to handle these multiple stressors.

And so I ask; what are we to take away from these local tragedies and the many others all around the globe?   Since most of us don’t know the families immediately touched by these losses, what can we do to help?   Maybe we could each choose to be a little kinder to those around us.  Maybe the next time someone accidently cuts you off in traffic you can be more patient.  Or you could be more patient in the grocery line, perhaps even let someone who has less groceries go ahead of you.

My kids often get embarrassed by me because they say I talk to too many people.  They will even ask me why I have to talk to everyone.  And my response is “why not?”  What’s wrong with being friendly?  In essence, maybe we adults can move slower and be more mindful of those around us.  We can take less for granted and be thankful for what we do have instead of focusing on all we don’t have.

And those of us who are parents I imagine we can be as alert as possible to the surrounding of our children. Also, to focus more on the positive traits of our children and point out the many things they do correctly.  How easy it is to notice all they do wrong, sometimes it’s almost second nature.

So today I implore each of us to notice the positive before the negative.  Share with those in your life what you like before sharing your complaint.  Be more encouraging than discouraging.  And pray for those who are suffering that they may reach out for support and that support will be given.  For whoever really knows the soul of another!   Here is one of many links if you want to learn more about suicide prevention:  http://www.apa.org/research/action/suicide.aspx

 

 

 

What Makes a Good Father?

emotional intelligence
It seems only fair that since I wrote a blog about mothers close to Mother’s Day that I give equal honor to this upcoming Father’s Day. It is interesting what emerged for me as I was pondering on the idea of what a healthy father might be like. I realized that this person I am describing would be rather “new age” if you will, in the sense that I don’t think many of use experienced a father that embraced all these characteristics. But, you may prove me wrong.

If I was going to nutshell what I think would be essential features in a father I would say that he would have at least an above average amount of emotional intelligence. If you haven’t heard this wording it is worth looking it up to gain a better understanding. A father who is more emotionally intelligent is aware of his and others emotions and also able to regulate his emotions in reference to others and situations.

While traditionally many would say a good father is one that provides well for his family; is a hard worker and a good disciplinarian. While these qualities are admirable and fine the child also benefits from a father who is able to be more emotionally present. A dad who can share emotions (and not just anger) with his child is a wonderful gift. A father who is able to honor and comfort the child’s many emotions validates the child.

Following in line with being more emotionally open is being able to verbally and physically express kind, loving words and physical gestures to the child. Hugging often; saying I love you on a regular basis. A father who is consistent and reliable in showing these qualities to not just the child but also to his partner, family and friends is what makes him genuine.

So am I sounding like we need a mother for a father? Segregating different roles to the mother and father is no longer in the best service of the child. Both parents need to own what we have traditionally called feminine or masculine qualities. So, do we all possess this capacity?

Psychologist still debate whether emotional intelligence is something one can learn or if it is strictly a genetic tendency. While I know our innate temperament does affect this ability in each of us, I can’t help but believe that these important qualities can also be learned if so desired by the one lacking them.

In raising three boys I have witnessed the differences that are biologically rooted. I have one boy who is naturally more expressive with his feelings. However, I have seen how the lineage of my children’s father and his father and his father’s father has travelled generationally shaping the boys in this family. It is my hope that more parents will break down the barriers of traditional roles and learn to embrace the whole of their being.

Stop Sabotaging Yourself – Tip Four!

Tree in the shape of heart, valentines day background,
Another hugely powerful key to stop sabotaging yourself is to be more selective in your relationships. Who are the people you spend most of your time with? How is the quality of those relationships? Do these relationships help you be a better person? Do these relationships encourage you or do they drain you? Are you doing more giving than receiving?

Our friendships mirror us. As do all of our relationships. They are reflections of who we are at some level. It is imperative that you take responsibility in all your relationship choices. Are your friendships in alignment with your values? Are they helping or hindering you in achieving your goals? The people you choose to spend close personal time with need to be people that encourage you more than discourage you. You do have the ability to manage who you give your energy to and who you don’t.

I often hear people say “well, you can’t pick your family,” which is true, however, that doesn’t mean you have to tolerate hurtful or inappropriate behaviors. Even with family you have to learn to set limits and boundaries. You can control how much time you spend with them and what activities you are comfortable participating in with them. You can create safer ways to interact with family members without having to extract them from your life.

I end with sharing this wonderful poem. Unfortunately, the author is unknown. I think this is a great analogy of our responsibilities in all our relationships:

Not everyone is healthy enough to have a front row seat in our lives.
There are some people in your life that need to be loved from a distance.
It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you let go of or at least minimize your time with draining, negative, incompatible, not going anywhere relationships/friendships.
Observe the relationships around you. Pay attention.
Which ones lift and which ones lean?
Which ones encourage and which ones discourage?
Which ones are one a path of growth uphill and which ones are going downhill?
When you leave certain people do you feel better or worse?
Which ones always have drama or don’t really understand, know, or appreciate you?
The more you seek quality, respect, growth, peace of mind, love, and truth around you,
The easier it will become for you to decide who gets to sit in the front row and who should be moved to the balcony of your life.
If you cannot “change” the people around you, change the people you are around.

Mother Dearest

As I think about the month of May many meanings come to mind.  From symbolic days such as Mother’s Day and Memorial Day; to National Brain Tumor Month and Mental Health Awareness Month, to name a few.   I am going to reference some things about mother’s and our mental health.  I figure that will be a loaded topic for many!  There are many aspects to mother’s.  We can talk about the mother you each had or have, since we all were birthed by one.   The type of mother you were parented by has great impact on shaping you into the person you are today.  If you were blessed enough to be raised by a loving, consistent, nurturing mother then you were granted one of your many birth rights.  What I mean by that is that each and every one of you merits such an experience with the mother who raised you.  You were born with the right to receive that from your mother.  You were and are good and needed to experience unconditional love from your mother.  If you received that from the earliest stages of development, then there is a good chance you have a core belief about yourself that tells you that you are ok, even good.  You probably believe you are loveable.  It is much easier to manage the rough roads of life when you have the core belief that you are good and lovable.  The impact of the mother’s reactions and responses to her child are crucial to the child’s future emotional development.  While many factors contribute to your wellbeing, the role of “mother” cannot be discounted.

If your experience with the mother of your childhood was not so consistent and loving, a scar is often left within that is difficult to heal.  If your mother was critical, harsh, neglectful, abusive or abandoned you in one way or another; often you feel bad, or defective.  This can make you feel like something is wrong with you.  Maybe this isn’t something you are amply conscious of enough to put into words; and for many of you, you are very aware of what I am speaking about.  The longer one goes through life without recognizing the negative effects that have been created by the mothering you received the more your present life is guided by your negative learning’s.  This injured belief affects every aspect of your life, from the relationships you choose to be involved in to your own personal self-care.  And, what for me is a great concern, is that you can accidently pass these negative core beliefs onto any children you may have or raise.

The good news is that healing can occur at any point in your life.  Certainly, the younger you are when you begin the restorative and recovery process, the better.  It is your birth right to feel better about yourself.  While this brief blog in no way covers all the ways one can be injured in their formative years; and certainly doesn’t discuss all the ways we can grow and heal, my hope is that it will be a reminder to you that it is never too late to feel better about yourself.  If you were/are blessed to have a more positive experience with your mother then be sure to celebrate that wonderful blessing.  If you were one of the many who were parented by a mother who was too wounded herself to parent you well, then please know that there is hope.  There is always hope.  Seek healing for yourself.  The resources for this healing are plentiful.  Chapter Five in my book, BE HAPPY NOW, is a good avenue to begin the self-nurturing process.