Teens and Funerals

You are going to think I’m weird

You are going to think I’m weird but since I just talked with my Launching Girl Leaders about your weirdness being an important sign, coming from your essence, I figure I should let my freak flag fly and tell you, I actually like going to funerals. I have two this week and I love the opportunity to come together and collectively celebrate the essence of this person. There may be a detail or two about their accomplishments but mostly, people speak about who they were: their unique personality, loves, joys, their weird and wonderful ways. Instead of putting on a social facade, there is a vibe of authenticity and genuine emotions. It’s also a great chance to reflect on our own lives and make sure we are living aligned with our highest values. I always come away appreciative of the life I have and inspired to make positive changes. With so much positivity, who wouldn’t like going to funerals?

Teenagers and pre-teens.

Teens don’t always tell us what’s going through their minds but they can get nervous in environments they haven’t experienced before, like a funeral. Some of the concerns teens may have are:

“What if I’m not sad?”

“Can I sit with my friends?”

“I don’t have anything black to wear”

“How long will I have to stay dressed up?”

“What if I see the dead body and freak out?”

“What if I can’t stop crying and embarrass myself?”

“Will have to talk to relatives I don’t know?”

“How am I supposed to sit that long without eating?” 

Because our kids look and talk so grown up, sometimes we expect them to act like grown ups. Most adolescents haven’t attended a funeral before so their pre-conceived ideas might be coming from movies, TV, or their own imaginations.

If you are taking your teen or pre-teen to a funeral, explain a few things to them ahead of time to engage cooperation, appropriate behavior and social etiquette.

 Express these to your kids and help set them up for a successful day:

  1. You do not have to wear black. Unlike TV, people wear patterns, prints and a variety of colors. It’s more important to dress modestly and formally, than to wear all black.
  2. You do not have to feel sad. It’s ok to just listen and learn about that person’s life. Being happy celebrates their life.
  3. It’s ok to be sad. Sometimes watching other people cry, makes us cry. Don’t be embarrassed if you are crying, but didn’t know the deceased, it’s good to be empathic.
  4. You do not have to look at the dead body if you don’t want to, it’s ok to stay in your seat. If you want to look, that’s ok, too. Just know that if you touch or kiss the body, it will be cold.
  5. You will want to eat before you go. The length of time funerals take can vary. There will be food after, but it’s ok to put a granola bar in your pocket if you need to sneak away and eat something.
  6. Grown ups will come up and want to talk to you. They will mention how much you’ve grown and ask you what you are up to. Fill them in on a few details of your life and ask them how they are doing. You might have to repeat the same thing multiple times and hug people you don’t know. It’s good practice for adult life and you can handle it.
  7. Funerals are a great time to talk about happy memories you have of the deceased, funny stories or special moments you shared with them. You don’t have to be sad in order to show respect.
  8. You will need to sit quietly and listen during the service. AFTER, you can hang with your friends, talk, climb trees, eat, but NO CELL PHONES! Posting pictures and #funeral on social media is not yet considered polite behavior.

Helping kids set goals

and goal setting for parents, too!

Last month I got to spend 10 days traveling around England with my teenage son. It was so great to have that one on one time with him, exploring castles and cathedrals, seeing historical sights and beautiful architecture, and visiting wonderful friends. This trip was my son’s dream come true and I’m going to use it as an example of how to turn a dream into an accomplishment.

Before you start helping your kids’ accomplish their goals, make sure you are a living example. Do you give yourself permission dream? Are you setting goals that inspire you? When we become parents, sometimes our kids’ dreams become our own. Children need to see us creating lives that inspire us, not just living our lives through them.

Whether it’s your dreams, or your kid’s, follow these 6 steps to setting and achieving your goals.

  1. Make sure it’s YOUR goal, aligned with soul’s calling. If your kid sets a goal to get straight A’s, but he’s doing it for you or for his teacher’s approval, it’s not the right goal. If your kid wants to “be rich”, she’ll need to be more specific about when, why and how much. One way to tell if the goal is coming from your essence and not your ego is to ask yourself, “If nobody knew I accomplished this goal, would I still want it?”
  2. Make sure the goal scares you a little. We have an innate drive to grow and expand who we are. Setting and accomplishing goals are important because it helps us become a different, more expanded version of ourselves through the process. When I first suggested to my son that he start saving up to travel to England, he was full of doubts. “It’s too expensive” “I don’t have enough money”, “My volleyball team needs me”, “Dad and sister don’t like museums or historical tours, they’d rather go to a beach resort.” The doubts are a good sign! It means you have to grow! Write down all of them and question their validity. Are they really true? How could you solve these problems? It is a hugely valuable life lesson to learn that just because you think it, doesn’t make it true.
  3. Believe in your ability to accomplish your goal. In my son’s case, family members started giving him travel books, maps of England, advice on where to stay. They asked him when he was going, encouraged him. I bought him England T-shirts and watched travel shows and documentaries with him. He was so surrounded by positive peer pressure that it became hard for him to believe this goal would not happen.
  4. Get specific. What’s the difference between a dream and a goal? NUMBERS. Put a date on the calendar. Find out how much you’ll need to save. (My son paid for his own plane ticket and some spending money). This will trigger more negative thinking, “I’ll wait” “I don’t know” “Maybe I should save for college instead”. Write down your doubts, notice how it detracts you from your goal, and recommit. Accomplishing goals is about commitment, focus and belief. Instead of wavering, start using the word HOW. How can I make more money before June? How can travel during off season without missing school?
  5. Go to your future self for advice. Imagine you have already accomplished your goal. You are yourself a year into the future and you did it! Ask your future self, “how did you make it happen?” “What steps did you take?” “What did you do when you got side-tracked and lost focus?” Have your future self write your action plan for you. What research do you need to do? How much money do you need to make? Who is a good person to share this goal with and who isn’t?
  6. Stretch yourself. Setting goals helps us discover new things about ourselves and benefit from “strategic byproducts” that we couldn’t have imagined before. Your goal might be to lose weight but in the process you find out you are allergic to dairy and you love doing yoga. I had a client “hire me to help with her career, but ended up saving her marriage.” When we do things outside our comfort zone, that feel aligned with who we are meant to be, all sorts of good things can happen. As little sister watched big brother accomplish his goal, now she is saving up to visit her friend and travel through Costa Rica.

I am working to turn my dream into a goal. Saying it out loud was scary at first (another good sign!) but here it is. My goal is to live in Lake Tahoe for a month next summer. If you know anyone who needs a house sitter, let them know I’m flexible on dates!

Want help setting goals turning your dreams into reality? Schedule a free discovery call at www.lifecoachingforparents.com/work-with-me

Arguing Siblings

and minding my own business.

My kids are driving me crazy. I am listening to them ARUGE and BICKER about the most mundane, annoying things.  Now that I have two teenagers in the house, I expected our conversations to become more interesting, sophisticated even.  Rarely have our dinner conversations been intellectually inspiring but I kinda hoped we might be heading that direction. NOPE.

Don’t get me wrong, my kids are great to talk to individually. For some reason, when they get together, the conversation turns into “right fighting”. Each child defending some ridiculously unimportant stance to prove that they are right about something.

Here’s what I’m listening to my kids argue about:

-Who can pronounce the word “tomorrow” with the best Australian accent.

-The difference between the words curricula and curriculum and when each should be applied.

-The correct lyrics to the Calliou theme song.

I wouldn’t mind if this was a DISCUSSION, but the passion, voice tone and IMPORTANCE of these debates is awful to me. I can’t stand arguing. I can’t watch Judge Judy or The Women Tell All. My Mom wrote in my baby book, “Victoria would love Kindergarten if it weren’t for yelling teachers”.

But here’s the thing, not once did either kid walk away. What I learned from watching is that THEY don’t hate arguing, just me. They kept it up for an hour! Were these arguing siblings actually ENJOYING themselves? There was plenty of other things to do yet they were CHOOSING to engage in this verbal jousting. And you know what else? They’ve been playing together better than I’ve seen them in years. In the past, I would have interrupted, made them stop or repeated my constant request to please “elevate” the conversation. This time, I let em go, and now they are actually choosing to spend time together (without arguing).

I think raising teens is a lot about recognizing what is OUR business, and removing the expectation that our teens to be the way we want them to be. As our kids grow older, their relationship becomes none of our business. Whether they choose to play nicely or argue fiercely, how they bond is up to them. I think our job is to let them have the relationship they are going to have.

The best way to stay sane while raising teens is to figure out what is our business, their business, and God/Universe’s business. I’m going to call it God’s business that my kids are different genders, different personalities and 4.5 years apart. Those are just circumstances beyond anyone’s control. Their business is what they make of this, how they play, talk, bond, interact. My business is upholding certain house rules, letting go of expectations and allowing them build a relationship separate from me.

  • When dealing with siblings, it’s important to establish house rules like no name calling, eating together as a family, doing chores, etc. If you find yourself struggling with sibling bickering, see if you can figure out where you trying to control something that is someone else’s business.  If you want help with this or establishing and upholding your own “house rules”, schedule a free discovery call. 

Got a strong-willed child?

Make your life easier by avoiding these two parenting traps.

Strong-willed kids know what they want and they feel determined to get it. Your opinion is heard, but just doesn’t carry as much weight as it does for a child who loves to please. Strong-willed kids like to learn experientially (just because you TELL them the ground is hot, doesn’t mean they are going to believe you until they try it for themselves). If your child has a strong desire to be in charge of themselves and follow through on their own ideas, this blog is for you. 

Raising a strong-willed preschooler takes a lot of work, patience and parenting savvy. As they grow older, their determination can be directed at things other than defying MOM & DAD. Often, these children will direct their passion towards women’s rights, animal rights, or other causes they feel strongly about. It can be a joy to watch these strong-willed kids make their mark on the world. 

HOWEVER, parenting them when they are little is a big job! We have to try and keep them ALIVE in order for them to change the world and we’ve got to watch out for the dreaded POWER STRUGGLE. Power struggles are a lose-lose situation (click here to read my blog about power struggles) and one of the biggest reasons we get into them is our desire to be a good mom. 

We often don’t even realize that our beliefs about being a good mom have been triggered. We might have subconscious beliefs that sound like this:

A good mom has a kids who get good grades and go to college.

A good mom has kids who eat healthy foods and bathe regularly.

A good mom doesn’t have children with depression or anxiety.

My strong-willed daughter is crispy red right now with a horrible sunburn. This triggers my “I’m a bad Mom” because a “good mom” wouldn’t let this happen.

I tried to put sunscreen on her. I offered, I cajoled, I reminded, but she’s a strong-willed 13 year old and I can only do so much to protect her fair Irish skin. I have learned that if she’s going to make smart choices, it has to be her idea, not mine. If I stay out of it and act like I don’t care, I’m hoping the pain of the sunburn will teach her all she needs to know. (I was hoping her Dad’s skin cancer treatments might send the message but NOT YET!) 

In order to not enter into a power struggle, I have to believe I am still a good Mom, even while she has a terrible sunburn and is damaging her skin.

I have clients who struggle in these areas:

Am I still a good Mom even if my son doesn’t go to college?

Can I be happy and proud of myself as a parent, even if my daughter is depressed?

What if he does break every bone in his body? Can I still think I’ve done my job as his Mom?

Don’t put your ability to believe you’re a good parent, in the hands of your children. It’s a disaster waiting to happen!  It makes us cling with fear and ferocity, to the manner in which our children live their lives. When they sense how invested we are in their behavior, it’s a recipe for rebellion. If you’ve got a strong willed child, notice where your biggest triggers are and consider the idea that you could be a great Mom, no matter what they do. Make room for imperfection in yourself and your children. It will make your life so much easier and your child won’t feel the need to rebel against you.

Believing we are good parents will make parenting a strong-willed child easier, more enjoyable, and pave a quicker path to happiness (and maybe even compliance) for the both of you.

One Habit Happy Parents Have in Common

Do this one thing today to help create more cooperative kids and happier parents.

There is one thing you can do today to have happier, more responsible, self-confident kids. PRAISE THEM. I don’t just mean “You are a great kid” or other general statements. I mean specific, timely, honest praise that gets you more of what you want.  Let’s say you have a 10 year old slob living in your home. He leaves food, shoes, backpacks and smelly socks everywhere. It drives you bonkers. You are constantly bouncing back and forth between frustration, nagging and hopelessness. Turn your attention and try to catch him doing SOMETHING towards your goal of cleanliness. “I noticed that instead of kicking off your shoe so that it would fly and hit the ceiling, you wedged it off and left it in the entry way. Thanks for aiming closer to it’s designated spot, I really appreciate your effort in helping our house stay tidy.”  Even if it’s nearly impossible to find something praise worthy, keep trying and look for the slightest nudge towards what you want. 

Perhaps you live with a surly, private 13 year old whose moods change on a dime. If you want to reinforce more steady, polite behavior, find a moment to praise it. “I notice when your friend came to the door, you were polite and sociable. That must have been hard since you were so grumpy a minute earlier. Being able to manage your emotions is a wonderful life skill and I’m impressed you are learning it at such a young age.”

You don’t want to lie or be sarcastic. Just find one small, incremental movement that demonstrates effort in the direction you want to see. Notice my title says “One thing happy PARENTS have in common”.  Sure, this will help your children be happy, but so will happier parents!  It’s just too easy to see the shortcomings in our kids, especially during adolescence. When we only see the negative in our kids it feels heavy and yucky to us, and to them. Focusing on what our kids are doing well will make everyone feel happier and more at peace. Try it today. Pick a behavior that bugs you and then find something to praise about it. “You brought your dish to the sink!” “Sharing space on your plate with a vegetable takes courage and that zucchini sat there the whole time!”  “I noticed how when you got angry with your sister, you went to your room to cool off instead of letting it escalate.” “You remembered you have a test tomorrow!” “You still brush your teeth every night even though I stopped reminding you!  You are so responsible!”

Avoid “You are so smart” or “Great Job” or anything fixed like intelligence, appearance, talent or skill. The key is to praise their EFFORT, something they have power over changing. Find something every day to praise, you will never regret it!