Parent’s Corner- Christmas Magic Lost and Found

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Dear Sue Ellen,

 

Last week our 10-year-old son told my 5-year-old daughter that Santa isn’t real. I think it has ruined Christmas for her this year. It has taken the fun out of it for all of us. I would like to find a way to bring back the Christmas spirit.

Cheryl

 

 

Dear Cheryl,

 

You can bring back the Christmas spirit to your family this year.  Here are some things to think about.  It’s the celebration of a miracle birth that is the most precious gift we will ever receive.  During the Christmas season, we hear beautiful holiday music, we see dazzling lights nearly everywhere we look, and people reach out to each other with assorted gifts and talk of peace and goodwill toward men.  Who doesn’t love the smell and taste of Christmas cookies and holiday cuisine?

 

We all experience holiday stressors: squabbling kids during the school break, the holiday shopping frenzy, weight gain, and concerns about spending too much money.  In spite of all the demands on you, do something special for yourself.  After a long day of holiday busyness, take a moment to walk outside.  Look up and see the wonderment of the night sky.  If you just relax and stand quietly, you will feel something in the air.  The hustle and bustle of the day has surrendered to an air of calmness and peace.  That is pure magic.

 

Don’t limit your family to Santa as the reason for the season.  Search for the magic.

This is your opportunity to teach your kids to love Christmas beyond Santa.  The holiday memories you make with your children will last them a lifetime.  When they are grown up, with families of their own, your children will (hopefully) laugh about the year your daughter was told Santa wasn’t real.

 

Dear readers, if you’ve experienced a Christmas miracle, would you be willing to share it with us?  Please email your Christmas miracle to sejackson@awarecentraltexas.org and put “Parent’s Corner” in the Subject line.  I look forward to hearing from you!

 

Merry Christmas!

Parent’s Corner – Christmas Makes me Sad

christmas-sadness

Christmas Makes me Sad

12-11-16

 

Dear Sue Ellen,

I wish I was different, but Christmas makes me sad.  My family doesn’t get along and I don’t have the money to buy my kids the things they want.  What is the point of it all?

R.K.

 

Dear R.K.

 

To hear that you (and others) are sad during the holidays makes me sad too.  I wish there was something I could say or do to eradicate that emotion from everyone battling it during this season of expectations and celebrations.

 

Since I can’t accomplish what I wish to do, can we reflect on the point of it all instead?

Retailers all over the world would say the point is spend, spend, spend.  Teachers and students would agree it’s about the winter break. People of faith would say it’s a religious celebration.  Neighborhoods would claim the most important thing is determining who has the best holiday lights. Musicians would maintain it’s about the music, and artists would say it’s about the art.  Friends would uphold the expectations of holiday parties.  It seems to me everyone has expectations of what the holidays should be.

 

What are your expectations for the holidays?  To be sad?  Have you considered changing your expectations?  Your children may not remember the presents they did (or didn’t) get for Christmas, but they will remember if you are sad or not.  If your sadness during the holidays prevents you from baking cookies with your kids, or putting up a Christmas tree, or singing carols with them in the car; you might be more than just sad about unmet expectations.  If you struggle with navigating through the season in a positive and productive manner, you might be depressed. Perhaps you should seek mental health counseling; there’s no shame in it.  A good therapist will give you a new set of coping skills for times when you feel an overwhelming sadness.  Depression is a common problem for lots of folks during the holidays.  Is that you?

 

Give yourself and your family the gift that keeps on giving all year long.  Get help.

 

 

 

 

Please email your parenting questions to sejackson@awarecentraltexas.org and put “Parent’s Corner” in the Subject line.

Parent’s Corner – How Far Should We Go?

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Parent’s Corner

 

 

 

Dear Sue Ellen,

My kids are teenagers now and they have everything they need, but they act like my husband and I don’t do enough for them.  We love our kids, but I think we may have gone too far with giving them everything they want.  I am thinking about skipping Christmas this year.  Do you think they would get the point?

Curious Mom

 

Dear Curious Mom,

 

I’m not sure I get the point.  We all have different expectations of Christmas; usually based on family traditions, or time with friends and loved ones.  I don’t think kids having stuff (or not having stuff) is bad, but what we teach our kids about the holidays is important.  We teach them by our actions, rather than what we say.  If you give your kids everything they want and you feel guilty about it, what are you teaching them about giving gifts?

 

Some people think shopping and gift giving is a lot of fun.   Others would prefer to avoid it altogether.  Here’s a suggestion. Shift your focus to doing something special together instead of giving (or not giving), gifts.  Your kids may love the idea of taking a cool family trip as an alternate way to celebrate the season.  Okay, I get it.   They could hate the idea, so here’s another thought.  Do it anyway.  Let them pout, bow up, roll their eyes or sulk.

 

I have met families that dote on their kids and give them everything they want.  Are you and your husband like that?  (Be honest with yourself.)  The kids of those parents end up being self-centered brats that everyone dreads seeing.  Of course, we are all too nice to tell those parents to their faces what we think about their over-indulgent parenting, so we shake our heads and let out a heavy sigh of relief when they leave.

 

You want your children to be more grateful for the things you and your husband give them.  How far are you willing to go to make that happen?  Take all their stuff away, sell your house and move off the grid?  Just think…you and your kids could build your own outhouse and have family bonding time during the construction.  The holidays are what we make of them.  Whatever you decide to do, please make happy memories doing it.  That is what your kids will remember about the holidays; not the stuff piled high in their rooms.

 

Please email your parenting questions to sejackson@awarecentraltexas.org and put “Parent’s Corner” in the Subject line.

Parent’s Corner- Trouble for my Son

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11-28-16

 

 

Dear Sue Ellen,

My son is a senior in high school.   He was going to college when he graduates, but now his girlfriend says she is pregnant.  I am sick about this and don’t know what to do.

Troubled Parent

 

Dear Trouble Parent,

 

Most likely, the first thing I would do is throw a hissy fit.  Maybe not around my son and his girlfriend because they would need for me to stay calm, but inside….I would be devastated.  I could remind you that we all make mistakes along the way; some bigger than others; but I would probably roll my eyes if I were in your shoes, and somebody said that to me.

 

You are about to have a grandchild.  This baby didn’t ask to be born under these circumstances.  Don’t let this new life become a “throw-away” child.   Find a way to support your son and his girlfriend through this.  Put your personal hurt and pain aside….now is not the time.  Step in and help these young parents, when they allow it; and bow out when you need to.  Empower them to surround their baby with love, nurturing and protection…no matter what that looks like.   Research shows that a child growing up in a dysfunctional home setting has a significantly better likelihood of growing up a healthy, responsible person in spite of their circumstances if there is at least one  person in their life that loves them and mentors them.  Find a way to celebrate this addition to your family.  Don’t judge.

 

My Daddy once told me a story about the mighty Oak Tree and the Palm Tree.  A big storm came, with very strong winds.  The Oak Tree stood his ground, determined not to bend under the force of the winds and sneered at the Palm Tree as he danced and swayed in the wind.  The winds grew even stronger and finally broke the magnificent Oak Tree.  It fell down, defeated and broken while the Palm Tree stood.

 

If I were in your shoes, I would be the Palm Tree.   I hope you like to dance and sway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please email your parenting questions to sejackson@awarecentraltexas.org and put “Parent’s Corner” in the Subject line.

Parent’s Corner -Not So Thankful at Thanksgiving

Blue Angry Bird

11-14-16

Dear Sue Ellen,

My sister-in-law is the most controlling person I have ever seen.  Whenever she comes over the first thing she does is adjust the thermostat of my house. She orders us to all be very quiet when she puts her baby down for a nap.  Her son is just an infant and she is already telling us what we can and cannot say around him.  I hate it when they come over and yesterday she told my husband they are planning to spend Thanksgiving weekend with us.  I can’t think of one thing about their visit that I will be thankful for.  Is there any gracious way to get out of this?

S.B.

 

Dear S.B.

Here are some suggestions for getting out of having your sister-in-law’s family visit Thanksgiving weekend:

Lying is a weak option. You need a truthful reason.  Make plans to go out of town for the weekend and tell them you won’t be home.  Then leave town and visit a distant relative.

This suggestion may cost you a little so you’ll have to decide if it is worth the investment.   Burn the turkey.

This option is much more involved and requires a long-term commitment. Go to the pound and adopt a dog or cat. Tell them your new puppy or kitten needs an adjustment period before anyone comes over.

Get your husband to blame you and say you don’t want any guests for the weekend.  If you are lucky, they will stay mad at you for a few months; or at least long enough to get you through the next few weeks.

Extended family members visiting can be stressful, especially during the holidays.  Whatever you decide to do about your sister-in-law, try to have peace, and allow time to reflect on things you are thankful for.  If they come over for the weekend anyway, watch the old movie ‘Mary Poppins’.  There is a good life lesson in the song she sings: “A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down”.  So when your sister-in-law has been with you for a couple of days and you are ready to screech at her and pull her hair out, remember that little song.  I hope it helps.   Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

Please email your parenting questions to sejackson@awarecentraltexas.org and put “Parent’s Corner on the subject line.

 

Parent’s Corner – Jealousy

 

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Dear Sue Ellen,

I have two daughters that are 3 years apart.   They are 9 and 12 years old.  My older daughter is a drama queen.  My younger daughter is quiet and sweet.  My older daughter is sweet too, but everything is just very emotional with her. She is closer to her dad, which is interesting because he is somewhat of a drama queen too.  It’s like my older daughter and my husband relate to each other on some level that my younger daughter and I don’t understand.  Anyway, my younger daughter is jealous of her flamboyant older sister.  I see it, but I don’t know how what to do about it.

Mary Beth

 

Dear Mary Beth,

I was talking to a friend the other day and she was sharing her life growing up with her sister and parents.  My friend loved her childhood, but said her older sister claims they had a terrible time growing up.  I have heard other people say similar things about their childhood.  How two people growing up in the same home can have such different opinions about growing up is a mystery to me.

Jealousy is a terrible thing.  It is like a disease.  It starts out small, but grows in our dark places, like cancer.  For years, I watched two of my cousins, who were sisters, at family get-togethers.  The older sister had been a sick child and had required a lot of her parent’s attention.  The younger sister was always in the background.  Rather than show concern and want to help her older sister, she was jealous because she wasn’t the one getting all the attention. When they were adults, the younger sister turned her back on her parents and her sister, breaking their hearts. Jealousy separates families. Jealousy is not rational, and does not believe in truth.  Jealousy likes to be angry, hateful, spiteful and revengeful.  Harboring bad feelings of rejection or misunderstandings can feed jealousy.  Jealous is the ultimate selfishness.

Try to get counseling for your family.  Talk to your husband and see if he will go for it.  If you bring your concerns out to the open, perhaps you can resolve this thing before it has a chance to turn into something ugly.  We all get jealous sometimes, but how we deal with it is the important part.  Your youngest daughter might just grow out of her jealous phase, but if she doesn’t, your family will have a real problem to deal with.

Please email your parenting questions to sejackson@awarecentraltexas.org and put “Parent’s Corner on the subject line.

 

Parent’s Corner- Night Shift

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Night Shift

10-31-16

Dear Sue Ellen,

My husband has recently been put on the night shift at his job. Our son is 3 years old. My husband would always be the one to put him in bed every night.  They would read stories together.  Now I am reading and tucking him in at night and he wants his daddy to do it.  He cries for his daddy every night and I don’t know what to do.

Carla

 

Dear Carla,

Things get hard in life sometimes.  Most of us parents want our children to have a perfect life.  We learn soon enough it isn’t possible to be that perfect parent who gives their children that perfect life.  When things get tough for families we beat ourselves up and feel guilty, or we worry that we have let our children down.

Children are amazing and resilient; more so than we are.  We should let them teach us how to be that way again.  We are usually mistaken about the things our children remember from their childhood. You may see your husband being away from your little boy at bedtime as a bad thing because he misses his daddy.  Have you considered the possibility that you and your little boy will make some lasting memories together when he adjusts to you reading him bedtime stories, rather than his daddy?

Your little boy may remember this: “When I was a little boy my mother and father read to me at bedtime.  Sometimes it was my Daddy and sometimes it was my Mama”.  What’s wrong with that?  When your little boy cries for his Daddy, let him.  Validate his feelings.  We all miss our Daddies sometimes.  Get your husband to leave him a message on your phone to reassure him.  Then read him his favorite story, tickle him, rub his back, tuck him in and kiss his sweet little boy cheeks.  Over time, he will adjust and so will his parents.

When I was a little girl, my Daddy could stick nickels in his ears and they would come out of mine.   It was magical!  That’s what I remember about my Daddy working the night shift and my mother working during the day.

 

Please email your parenting questions to sejackson@awarecentraltexas.org and put “Parent’s Corner on the subject line.

 

PARENT’S CORNER – Monsters at My Door

Monsters at My Door

10-24-16

Dear Sue Ellen,

I am a mother of 3 kiddos and they are getting excited about Halloween.  We live in a neighborhood that gets behind trick or treating, and it is a lot of fun.  The thing I have seen the past couple of years is how much more evil-looking the costumes are. When I was a kid we dressed as Strawberry Shortcake, Wonder Woman, Superman and cute scarecrows; stuff like that.  Now kids want to dress up as Zombies, vampires and terrifying aliens.  I am thinking about boycotting any kids coming to my door for treat-or-treat that are dressed in violent, evil costumes.  Will you join me in my campaign?

Sensible Mama

 

Dear Sensible Mama;

I too long for sweet princesses in pink and dashing pirates to entertain me on Halloween rather than (fake) blood-drenched ghouls.  It’s been my observation over the years that there has always been an element of the dark side lurking around on Halloween night.  The word on the street is Halloween represents a pagan celebration where you release your evil tendencies in preparation for a day of cleansing on November 1st.

You have inspired me to start my own campaign.  It wouldn’t be to punish scary little monsters at my door; it would be to fine their parents for using poor judgment in how they let their children dress up for trick-or-treat.  I would post signs everywhere that says “if you come to this door as a bloody hooker, zombie, alien, vampire, plastic axe toting monster or any other not-so-nice character, your parents will receive a $10 fine for letting you dress that way”.  I would appoint Costume Police to serve every neighborhood and even include rural areas where the tradition of trick-or-treat is celebrated.  Inappropriately dressed children would be sent home.  I would also determine what tricks would be allowed, for that night only.  For example:  rolling someone’s yard would be okay, but you can only use 1 double roll of any brand toilet paper.  Egging a house would not be permitted.  There would be a curfew.   The witching hour would end at midnight if it is on a weekend night (Friday or Saturday); and 9:00PM if it is a school night.  I would use all the $10 fines to award churches, clubs and other organizations that offer alternative celebrations such as fall harvests and trunk & treat parties.

In retrospect, this campaign makes me sad when I think about all the little innocent children that would be left out because their parent’s let them dress in a way that is not allowable.  Therefore, I respectfully withdraw from participating in either your, or my, campaign.

Please email your parenting questions to sejackson@awarecentraltexas.org and put “Parent’s Corner on the subject line.

closet-monsters

Parent’s Corner – I Am Afraid

 

10-31-16

 

I Am Afraid

Dear Sue Ellen,

I can’t give you my name because I am afraid.  My boyfriend is getting more and more hateful towards me.  I tried to break up with him, but he threatened to kill me if I did.  He’s all nice around everybody else, but when it’s just me and him, things are different.  Nobody believes that such a nice guy would every harm anyone.   I don’t know how to get out of this situation.  Please help me.

No Name

 

Dear No-Name:

You are in a very dangerous place.  Did you know that everyday three women die from domestic violence in America?  Some abusers are masters at covering their tracks.  You must find a way to get out of this situation.  There are shelters for victims of domestic violence, but charges have to be filed with police.  If he hasn’t physically abused you, or if you don’t have proof of the threats he has made, it will hinder the police from doing anything to protect you.

You must come up with a plan.  If you stay with this guy, it will only get worse.  Domestic Violence can be: physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse or a combination of all four.  I spoke to an expert in the field of domestic violence prevention and this is what she said about your situation.

You did the right thing by reaching out.  Leaving an abusive relationship is not only hard, but it is dangerous. In fact, violence may increase by as much as 75% upon separation. You need a plan that addresses how you are going to maintain safety while you are still with him; what things you need to do before you leave; and how you plan to be vigilant and safe after you leave.

I won’t lie to you and say everything’s going to be okay or that it will be easy to get out of this nightmare. There are many programs that can help you.  It’s just a matter of knowing about them and reaching out.  You can educate yourself about your rights as a victim and choose to regain control of your life.  It is possible for you to live free of fear and abuse.  Your local police department may have a victim assistance coordinator or another professional that can help you.  You have the right to speak to law enforcement without your boyfriend knowing.

Remember:  Safety is first and foremost right now.

Please email your parenting questions to sejackson@awarecentraltexas.org and put “Parent’s Corner on the subject line.

afraidne

 

 

Gender Issues

Dear Sue Ellen,

My daughter just opened up to me about liking girls. I was shocked but grateful that she trusts me. I’m worried about her getting bullied at school and church because she’s pretty active and involved in both. I’m mostly worried more about other adults telling her things that will hurt her feelings. The last thing I want is for her to lose faith because of intolerance and insensitivity from other Christians. What should I do? I want to protect her forever. I know I can’t but I still try? She’s my first born child and only daughter.

– Nanay

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