Parenting

LXXXIV: To Be A Child...

To be a child today is to be fearful and [hopefully] religious.

I want to start by saying that, children today have to be way stronger than I had to be as a a child and, for that, I feel so badly. They deal with issues that force them to grow up way faster than I could ever fathom having to grow.

We see it in the news, we see it in their actions as they get older and we see it in their faces, children have to deal with a lot, and this post is just to bring attention to a couple of the things that children may be dealing with that we may be ignoring.

FEAR IN ATTENDING PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Unfortunately, school shootings have become a thing that we see all too much. If there isn’t an actual school shooting, then there is a threat of yet another.

Students in elementary, middle and high school can’t even deal with the pressures and hard work tied to getting their education because they have to worry themselves with whether or not today will be the day that someone goes through with such senseless acts.

I remember being young and being afraid of the fire alarms going off, so I can’t even imagine having to deal with this type of fear as a youth.

EXPOSURE TO DEATH/SUICIDE/HOMICIDE

Never have we seen an influx in child suicides similar to what we have seen in these past couple of years.

The rate at which children are committing suicide, or turning on the television only to see senseless killing, or are otherwise exposed to death is alarming. It results in them learning these ways and starts the manifestation of these thoughts and actions.

When I was younger, I had no clue what suicide was let alone how to commit it myself, so the fact that children who are younger and younger, know what it is and how to do it is insane to me and, I’m sure, to their parents as well.

It takes additional work, but there has to be some elements of youth and innocence that we allow children to keep for a while — for their adulthood sanity and for their survival.

SOCIAL PRESSURES

When you’re young, you’re usually also impressionable whether you’ll admit it or not. The social pressures of everything around you seem appealing and, sometimes, you cave into things that you know are wrong.

These days, the pressures are endless, and I feel so badly for the children and the amount of strength that they have to exercise daily!

Now, when I was younger, I wasn’t interested in people apart from my family. I hung out with my grandma, dad and aunt all the time and when I wasn’t with them I was following my older sister around. They were my people of preference (and still are). As far as everyone else was concerned, it was hard to even get a word out of me until the end of middle school. So I was not fully exposed to social pressures the way that the youth are today.

But, I am here to say to any youth that come across this post:

The real strength is shown by your own restraint. Save ‘taking chances’ for the things that can change your lives for the better.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Social media is super present in the lives of children. Parents are giving their kids tablets for games and Youtube; teens are requesting phones and registering for apps like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram; and within all of these apps are those whose goal in life is to, in one way or another, harm children.

We all know that social media is a huge problem when you get the youth in the mix, so I am not even going to touch this topic apart from acknowledging that it is a problem.

LACK OF ADEQUATE PARENTAL FIGURES

Now, I’ll preface this by saying that there are a lot of good parents out there who are doing their absolute best to raise upstanding children, but there are also a lot of people out there who are completely neglecting their children. This leaves them to be raised by their surroundings, or what they see on the television or in movies, or really just anything else.

Even for the parents who are there and provide financially but do not talk to their children, or check on their children, or who just shove electronics into the faces of their children instead of being in their lives — these acts are, by definition, a lack of parental presence.

The youth of these upcoming generations need their parents more than ever. They need guidance more than ever. And, they need good examples more than ever.

Simply being there and listening to your child can go such a long way, but it’s something that so many parents forget…

Children will forever be the future, so why not be an integral part of the reason that they are great?

VIII: What I've Learned, Thus Far, From 2017? (Part Two)

As we near the end of the year I find it benefits us all to reflect and more importantly, self-evaluate. What did I learn? What are the areas that I need growth? How can I better handle unexpected situations going forward? These were just a few questions I ponder before deciding to create this post.

For me, 2017 has but nothing short of a rollercoaster ride and throughout all the pain and joy I’ve experienced, I’ve learned a lot about myself and even adjusted my perspective on life. Here are just a few of the things that I chose to focus on:

Parenting 101

I’ve accepted the fact that there is no way to learn how to be a parent. There’s no rulebook or self-help guide that can mentally and emotionally prepare you to tackle the task of parenthood. As delicate as the lives of our children are, unfortunately, parenting is trial and error. You learn as you go. I think back to my potty training stages. I read several blogs, joined support groups and purchased books that were supposed to help me successfully potty-train my daughter. That was a mistake! All it did was stress me out. The authors were basically putting deadlines on when your child should have grasped the concept of using the bathroom on their own. There were schedules and intricate techniques on ways to get your child to use the bathroom. Luckily, I had my mother to guide in the better direction which was to let my daughter get it on her own. “Stop trying to force her and get yourself frustrated when she doesn’t perform like everyone else says she should. Society establishes these timeframes but you don’t have to ensure she follows suit. She’s a baby.” That’s what my mother would tell me. I was so overwhelmed with trying to train her, I finally decided to just let go. Let her get it on her own. She’s perceptive, she’s articulate, she will get it eventually and sure enough, she did. Slowly but surely, she would tell me she wanted to use her own potty and that she no longer wanted her “diappy.” So, I’m encouraging the parents out there to accomplish the child-rearing milestones in your own time. Be patient. Enjoy the journey with your child. Don’t be so hard on them, they’re children. I know there’s a lot of frustration that comes along with the job, but I’ve also learned to release the stress in the form of laughter. It takes less energy out of you in comparison to disciplining.

Sometimes, It’s just Over

“Stop trying to breathe new life into dead things”, a quote that resonated with me from Bishop T.D. Jakes. I am so guilty of trying to bring back things from the past, trying to relive them again, or trying making it work. You know, ‘make things how they used to be.’ Unfortunately, some situations and some relationships are just dead and over with. I’ve learned that, as hard of pill as that is to swallow, I have to let go. People and opportunities will continuously enter and exit our lives, and I’ve come to accept that as a necessary occurrence of life.

As it pertains to people, most come for a reason and a season – after that, they’re gone. Same with opportunities, they come and they go. The key is learning to adjust. Learn from that relationship or that opportunity, grow and continue to move forward. I have truly struggled with letting people go and trying to make things right or to make them okay, but I learned that it won’t be. That relationship/opportunity served its purpose and now I need to move forward. So, if you feel you’re continuing to entertain a relationship – be that a platonic or romantic, if it’s lingered a little longer than it should have, let it go. Move on and look forward to new possibilities.

Love Yourself

I believe that we are all out here in search of someone to love who will love us in return. I did discover however, that it’s impossible to love another properly if you don’t fully and unconditionally love yourself. I know I can be extremely hard and critical of myself. Not liking certain aspects of my appearance because someone else decided they didn’t, or feeling like a failure because I didn’t accomplish all I should have based on society’s rules. Or even, not liking like my own character or things that make me me, because someone else has continually condemned those things. I have also succumbed to allowing other people to use me as their punching bag because they don’t like themselves either. All that has done is tear down my self-esteem and self-worth. I wasn’t loving myself when I continued to tolerate emotional and verbal abuse. I literally had to check myself I had to learn to love myself enough to say ‘no’ and walk away from those situations. It was hard. We, as humans, get comfortable and we romanticize certain situations in the hopes of creating a better outcome than what we’re really experiencing. I had to literally tell myself, “No.” “No Nicole, you will not settle and you will not tolerate mistreatment. You’re going to love yourself.” I had to tell myself, “I love me” out loud, throughout the day. As crazy as it sounds, the more I said it the more I believed it. For the things that I didn’t like, it became a matter of accepting them or doing what it takes to change them. Under no circumstances was I ever going to neglect myself the way I had ever again. If you’re experiencing or have experienced similar situations, I don’t care who it was from – whether it be from a spouse, friend, family member, or whoever, just tell them “no.” Walk away and learn to love you.

As the New Year approaches, hopefully you all will take time to reflect and focus on those areas that we know require improvement. If nothing else, here are a few things I encourage all of you to do. Learn to be gentle. Be kind. Be patient – with not just others but also yourself. Run your own race. Love freely.  Experience new things. Learn to let go. Laugh often. Set your own timeframes for accomplishments. Most importantly, enjoy the journey!