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6 entries from March 2014

Dealing with Mommy guilt

This is the first post in a series of posts dealing with "mommy" guilt. The other posts are written and ready to go so be sure to come back over the next few days to read them. You can also always subscribe to this blog's feed by adding your email address to the subscribe button located on the side of this webpage.

There seems to be no shortage of people expressing guilt today.
In what is arguably the most affluent, and free society in the history of humanity, it seems to me that there is almost always someone who is expressing angst, frustration or anger over someone .
In fact, we’ve created a brand new term in the last decade. Mommy guilt. Of course mommy guilt isn’t the only term. There’s Daddy guilt and grandma guilt…grandpa guilt.

It’s practically pandemic.

But do we do with this new disease? What do we do with this new problem?
Well, like all disease, we need to figure out the different origins of this problem.

One of the most common areas where I see parent guilt is when another parent is doing something that the first parent can’t do.

Kate takes Peter to the Bahamas
Elisabeth feels “mommy guilt” because she can’t take Neal to the Bahamas. She becomes more and more bitter as she sees more and more pictures of the trip on Facebook.
This version of mommy guilt can get played out mommy baking cookies that are truly Pintrest worthy, or someone else’s dad gets to be the coach. Essentially it boils down to someone else gets to do something for their kids that I don’t get to do for my own.

I actually have a problem with this version of mommy guilt. It’s based out of envy.  
To some extent, we’ve lost the ability to actually be happy for those who are better off than us in society.
I’m afraid we no longer rejoice with those who rejoice—perhaps we never did but this is the worst kind of mommy (parent) guilt because it minimizes other people’s true struggles about what they can offer their children.
It puts the onus for our contentment on other people. It removes it from us our own ability to learn to be happy where we are at in life. It devalues true contentment. It drives us to falsely believe our children care as much about stuff as we do.

But let’s be honest, there are a lot of other versions of mommy (parent) guilt.

There’s the parent guilt from not being able to actually spend what we feel is the appropriate amount of time or enough time with their children.
The mom who has to work so she can’t stay at home with her children. The mom who has chosen to stay hom but worries she won't have the means to provide for her children to the level she desires.The Dad who has to pick up another shift in order to pay for his kids orthodontics…or to put food on the table.
The parent that realizes their own issues have bled into their parenting style. They’ve been yelling or ignoring their child.
The parent that knows they’ve made the “big” mistakes. You know, they spent the first twelve years of their children’s life hidden inside a bottle or floating on some drug induced cloud.
The parent with the divorce haunting them…even though they didn’t have a choice…or they did have a choice and now regret it.
The parents who don’t have any “big” problems but let’s be honest, there is nothing we do that has a greater invitation to revet than parenting.

Tomorrow we’ll start dealing with those issues of mommy (parent) guilt.

Get back up and fight

Sometimes you get knocked down.

You're walking along, moving through life and something happens through no fault of your own and you get knocked down.

Your parents make a mistake that blows up your life.

Your lover cheats

Someone you trusted, causes you severe pain and it feels like your word is falling apart.

Sometimes you jump into trouble.

You purposely engage into that behavior that you know will tear your life apart.

You make the same mistake again, even though you know will get caught and the person you love will be hurt by your actions.

You completely blow up your own life.

Get up anyhow and fight. Fight for change. Change is possible. It will cost you. It will be painful. It will cost you.

It will force you to risk.

Change is never easy.

Change is possible.

Whether you've been knocked down or willingly jumped, please get up and fight.
Do whatever it takes.

Go make an appointment with a counselor.

Register at that school for those chances.

Call your loved one and apologize.

Offer an olive branch.

Just get up. Don't stay down. Don't be defined by your failure. It doesn't have to be the last chapter in the story. It doesn't even have to be the defining story.

It can just be a chapter.

Get up. Don't stay down. Borrow my belief in you, even if you don't believe yourself yet. Engage the change process. Belief will come.

Why I fight to save marriages

Sometimes, people will ask me why I fight so hard to keep marriages together, even when the marriage is in obvious trouble. This quote is from the book, The Unexpecteded Legacy of Divorce, and it articulates well one of the many reasons I engage in this fight. It explains why I am so passionate about what I do.

Children in post-divorce families do not, on the whole, look happier, healthier, or more well adjusted even if one or both parents are happier. National studies1 show that children from divorced and remarried families are more aggressive toward their parents and teachers. They experience more depression, have more learning difficulties, and suffer from more problems with peers than children from intact families. Children from divorced and remarried families are two to three times more likely to be referred for psychological help at school than their peers from intact families. More of them end up in mental health clinics and hospital settings. There is earlier sexual activity, more children born out of wedlock, less marriage, and more divorce. Numerous studies2 show that adult children of divorce have more psychological problems than those raised in intact marriages.

Wallerstein, Judith S. (2001-10-01). The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce (Kindle Locations 340-347). Hyperion. Kindle Edition.

Incidentally, an associate at our office has written an excellent piece about saying the divorce was for the kids. You can find Wayne's piece here.

Points to Ponder: 100 words or less (Talking about love)

After collecting thousands of stories, I’m willing to call this a fact: A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all women, men, and children. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick. There are certainly other causes of illness, numbing, and hurt, but the absence of love and belonging will always lead to suffering. (96)

Brené Brown

What is forgiveness? A beginning of a discussion

Tom sat in my driveway his car idling softly as he looked at me and poured his heart out about the rejection he felt because of his father. Tom was torn, he felt a natural desire to fix things with his father and something else.

He explained to me how his wife was mad at him because she felt that a letter that he had recently sent to his father detailing much of his frustration was not “hard enough.” When I asked him what she meant by that he said, well you know I was too...he paused to find the right word,

"You were too nice," I offered.

“No, no, no, nothing like that.” He seemed genuinely hurt that I would suggest such a thing.

A few days later we were talking on the phone. The topic of the letter came up again. His wife was still mad at him. I prodded, “What would be the point of sending a ‘meaner’ letter?”           

“Well, don’t you think he should...” Tom’s voice trailed off.            

“Hurt,” I left the question hang like a slow looping curveball.

"Tom, what do you think it would like to forgive your Dad? What does forgiveness mean?"

I knew that Tom's faith was important to him so I asked him what role should his faith play into his forgiving his father. His answer is actually a rather common one.

The confusion palpable in his voice, he said to me "I know I'm supposed to forgive him, but I have stinking clue what that means! I don't even know if he wants my forgiveness." Tom's eyes darted around the car like small orbs caught in a magnetic vortex of pain and confusion. Forgiveness is a necessary component of any relationship that we are in and yet there is so little real training on how to forgive others. There is so little understanding about what it means to forgive people.

As relationships seem to fall like buildings being taken down by professional demolition crews, I cannot help but wonder if at least part of the reason is because we have not learned what it means to forgive. Joshua Straub has written

But problems are never really the issue. We all have more than our share. What we choose to do with the problems, makes all the difference” ~Joshua Straub

I think this quote aptly applies to our relationship problems. Over the next few weeks, in no particular pattern I want to explore this issue of forgiveness. I believe it will probably lead us to many other topics and it will probably be quite a bit of fun to look at deeply.