It’s tough being a kid, learning how to cope with daily life, wondering whom to trust, and trying to discern how you fit into the world around you.
Informed Families Blog
The holidays are a great time to take a step back, unplug and check in with our children to see how they are navigating life’s challenges and managing stress. Stress is a normal human condition. It’s our body’s way of dealing with any kind of demand that is placed on us – big or small, positive or negative, real or perceived. For many of us adults, we have adapted to things like workplace stress and the demands that come with balancing our family, occupational and social lives.
What most of us don’t consider, though, is that children also have to deal with stress; including the pressure to do well in school, achieve their goals in sports and other extracurricular activities, maintain social relationships and strive to meet the real and perceived expectations of their parents, teachers, coaches and friends. Young people, like adults, experience stress. And as is the case with adults, too much of it, not knowing the warning signs, not having support and guidance through life’s ups and downs and not feeling the freedom to talk about stress can lead to some serious consequences.
DOES ADVICE DO MORE HARM THAN GOOD?
From the moment our children are born, we are faced with decisions, both important and mundane. Do we breastfeed or formula-feed? Cloth or disposable diapers?
Perhaps one of the most common and important concerns parents face after we have a child is HOW TO GET THE BABY TO SLEEP! So we turn to family, friends, experts, bloggers, books and even if we aren’t looking for help, people frequently offer unsolicited advice! And what do these sources tell us? Tons of conflicting advice. Even today’s “latest research” can contradict yesterday’s “latest research.” Here’s an excerpt from a hilarious blog, entitled “I Read All The Baby Sleep Books,” by Ava Neyer.
“You shouldn’t sleep train at all, before a year, before 6 months, or before 4 months, but if you wait too late, your baby will never be able to sleep without you. College-aged children never need to be nursed, rocked, helped to sleep, so don’t worry about any bad habits. Nursing, rocking, singing, swaddling, etc. to sleep are all bad habits and should be stopped immediately… Naps should only be taken in the bed, never in a swing, carseat, stroller, or when worn. Letting them sleep in the carseat or swing will damage their skulls. If your baby has trouble falling asleep in the bed, put them in a swing, carseat, stroller, or wear them.”
Is that a riot or what? Talk about “Analysis Paralysis.” That decision alone can make any of us crazy if we don’t just listen to our instincts. WHAT DID PARENTS DO LONG AGO when they couldn’t read or access this information? Do parents know more than they think but are afraid to trust their inner knowledge?
As Malcolm Gladwell shares in his book, Blink, experts (and I would add, parents) often make better decisions with snap judgments than they do with a great deal of analysis.
So, does advice do more harm than good? I would argue, “no,” as long as we put it in its proper place instead of letting it overwhelm and confuse us.
As a mother and grandmother, I can tell you that decisions affecting our children (and grandchildren) do not go away and over time as children get older, the issues can become even more complicated. Sure, we can always benefit from hearing different people’s perspectives and sharing our own with others (that’s part of the fun of being in a parent peer group), but ultimately, we have to listen to ourselves. The answers, if we listen closely enough, are usually within.
PS. If you take one piece of advice from me this month, let it be to Lock Your Meds; secure your medication, take regular inventory to be sure nothing is missing, safely dispose of unused meds and spread the word to family and friends. There’s a prescription drug abuse epidemic in our country.
IS THE PACE & STRUCTURE OF LIFE MAKING US CRAZY?
It’s December again and we are rushing around in a frenzy. We have gifts to purchase and wrap, parties to attend or to host, trips to plan, lines everywhere in airports, stores, on hold on the phone, traffic to fight, work to finish… on and on and on. WE ARE STRESSED BUT WE ARE CREATING OUR OWN STRESS!!!!
With all the things we are trying to achieve in our personal, family and professional lives simultaneously, we are succumbing to our unnoticeable addiction to technology. Have a free moment? Check your phone. Stopped at a light? Check your inbox. Waiting in line? Visit Facebook.
Does this describe you? If not, I commend you and encourage you to keep up the good work. For those of us who I’ve just described, I have a great solution that doesn’t cost money or require much time. Stop holding your breath, relax, release and breathe.
Give yourself the gift of disconnecting from all the technology and the “doing” and take some time each day to just sit and breathe. Invest your energy in appreciating the people around you and all the wonderful blessings you have in your life. Spend technology-free time with your children – play a board game, visit a park, take a walk, work on a puzzle, make cookies or just sit and talk. Everything else will be waiting for you when you return to your hectic life.
From all of us at Informed Families to you and your families, I wish you very happy, healthy, meaningful and stress-free holidays. We appreciate you and your unwavering support for helping kids grow up safe, healthy and drug free. Remember, Love Yourself!