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The kids are gone, now what?

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Photo by Oscar Due Wang on Pexels.com

So the kids are gone and I have a new normal and they call it “empty nest“.  My husband jokingly calls it “full nest“. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Is it?  A big deal has been made by a whole lot of people about this whole phenomenon. Okay, yes of course, we should make a big deal of it because after all we all love our kids and will miss them dearly when they leave home. I even cried when I dropped off my boy at college last month, but now that the dust has settled, should I feel guilty that I don’t have those traditional empty nest feelings?

One of my friends who also just dropped off their last kid at college, said to me the other day, “my husband and I sit at the breakfast table and have nothing much to say to each other without the kids running interference”.  That made me realize why so many couples divorce once the kids leave home. Our lives get so wrapped up in the kids that we ignore our relationship. Well, my friends you should never allow yourselves to get to that point. If you are in my same boat and or close to being in my same boat, I have a few suggestions on how to transition without feeling that you have an empty nest and living with a stranger.

First and foremost, remember that you married your spouse for a reason. You met him/her and fell in love. You had some time before the kids when you talked, socialized, shopped, cooked, exercised, cleaned and did many things together. Then the kids came along and all that changed. My question is, why does it have to change? Yes I know that kids demand a whole lot of your time and attention and with the running around involved with raising children, there is hardly any time left for you. But that is where so many parents go wrong. We give up so much of our time to our children and never prepare for the eventuality that they will someday leave the nest, so when it does happen it catches us unawares.

Whether you met and courted your spouse one day, one month, one year, ten years before marriage and kids, the fundamental thing is to never stop the courtship. Make time for the two of you to do the things you enjoyed prior to kids. Set up one or 2 nights or days out of the week when it is just the two of you. Call it date night or date day or romance day or mommy/daddy time – you get the point. It is all about you two. Here are some suggestions of what to do with that time:

1-Go to the movies or a show.

2-Sit together and binge watch a show together

3-Go out to dinner or drinks.

4-Walk, bike or run around the park.

5- Play tennis, golf, racquetball, table tennis together

6- More of an indoor game couple?- chess, checkers, board games, pool.

7-Get a hotel room in town and spend a romantic night out of the house

8- Go for a long drive out of town and spend the weekend in another city

9- Travel far – go out of state or be adventurous and go out of the country

10- Stay in and do house chores together – cleaning, laundry, gardening, painting, reorganizing

Remember this time is for just the two of you sans kids. And oh, try not to talk about the kids during this time. If you do, it should be in passing. Essentially continue to date each other after marriage and after kids. You can also do some of these things with other couples, you can call it double dating. I believe that being around other couples in a healthy marriage helps to strengthen relationships.

Something else that I find important is to have a life outside of your spouse. It is very important and healthy to have some alone “me” time.  A good relationship is not about suffocating each other. You should each have your own interests so that when you do come together you have more to talk about.

Trust me, this will help you transition once the kids are out of the house because it allows you to continue to live your life per usual. You will just continue to do what you always do. And when the kids do come home for holidays and such, you incorporate them back into your life and activities again. It makes it easier when they have to go back to school. It also makes it easier for the kids to go back knowing that their parents are doing well.

So empty nest is not a bad thing. This is part of life’s cycle. We are born, we grow up with our parents, they let us loose, we find a mate, we raise children and then they too flee the nest. We want this for them so they can continue the cycle. This does not mean that we should shrivel up and die. This just means that it is your time to continue to live a full life and perhaps get ready for grand children some day.

My advice, if you find yourself in that scenario, where the kids are gone, and you did not prepare yourself, is that it is never too late. Take pen to paper and jot down all the reasons you married your spouse. What attracted you to them? What are their best qualities? What fun things did you both enjoy before kids? For some, it will take a whole lot of work, but take the items on your list one at a time and re discover each other. Re ignite your love and passion. Fall in love all over again.

For my husband and I, it is indeed a “full nest” as our plates are full with all the fun we are having and plan to have!

Please feel free to comment below and as always. thanks for reading,

J

 

 

 

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Are you happy?

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Photo by Rene Asmussen on Pexels.com

 

I just saw something come across my email the other day asking “Is it healthier to be happy?” Intuitively I would say yes of course it is! It makes sense physiologically and biologically that when you are happy, you are not stressed. We all know that when the cells are stressed, that is when we develop diseases and illness. Therefore, being happy should mean happy cells and subsequently a healthier you.  If that is all it takes to be happy, why are we not all happy? And for that matter what is happiness?

The New Oxford dictionary defines “Happy” as a state of feeling or showing pleasure or contentment. That sounds like a pretty accurate definition. So, if I asked 100 people that question. Are you happy? Or what is happiness to you, I think we would all probably define it a bit differently. And the meaning will for sure be all over the place for each of us.

Some people would say I am happy when my family is well and healthy. Some people are happy when they are with friends and family. Others would probably say their children, their pets, their jobs make them happy. I have friends who are happy just eating good food. For some it would mean financial security.

My own definition of happiness for me has always been very complex. I would say that I am happy when every aspect of my life is completely lined up. This means my personal life is in order, my inner circle is right and my outer circle is aligned.

Let me break it down for you.

Personal has to do with me and me alone. How is my emotional state? How is my health? Is my weight where I need it to be? I’m I getting enough sleep? I’m I exercising like I want to?  I’m I being the best me that I can be?

Inner circle has to do with your relationship with close family and friends. Your people, your village, your posse – whatever you call them. Is this relationship okay? Are you fighting? Not speaking? Are they healthy? Are they well? Are any of them going through problems/issues at the moment that can impact your life as a person close to them. That means illness, death, financial problems, relationship problems, loss of jobs etcetra.

Outer circle are those people and things that are not related to you or close enough to be friends but nonetheless can impact your life positively or negatively. These includes work or career life, school life, neighbors, acquaintances, the world. Are there issue at work? Demotion? Pay cut? Lack of respect of coworkers? A bad neighbor making your life hell? Is your city, your country in crisis?

So given that definition I ask myself, are you happy? When I think about what my answer would be to that question, given my criteria above, I realize that I cannot answer it with a 100 percent affirmative because, I may be happy with one aspect of my life and unhappy with another. I bet it will be truly rare to find someone where all three aspects align perfectly.

So as I sit here pondering this question, I have come to the conclusion that my definition is too strict. I don’t believe happiness has to be 100 percent. It can’t possibly be. I personally, will take 70-80 percent any day but the closer to 100 percent you can get, I’m sure the better. I know that it is healthier to be happy and I most certainly want to be healthy. Therefore, moving forth, when asked if I am happy, I will give a resounding Yes! because I am a glass full kind of person! And honestly life in general is good. If I complained or thought otherwise, it would not be fair to the many people out there who are not as fortunate or have real problems.

Think about that the next time, you feel that you are unhappy. Yes, a part of your life may not be okay at the moment, but look, the other parts are okay. When all else fails, remember that you got out of bed today. I know so many people who would give up so much to be able to do just that.

As always please let me know your thoughts and thanks for reading,

J

 

My summer reads

It was a busy summer, but somehow I found time for my favorite pastime- books. Seriously if you are a reader or a wanna be reader who feel they have no time, look into audiobooks. I love audible as it has changed my life in immeasurable ways. I can multitask and read while doing virtually anything. I want to share my summer reads with you. I will try not to give up too much of the plot. Hope you’ll get a chance to check out these books.

1- Children of blood and bone by Tomi Adeyemi

This debut novel was a totally fun read set in the fictional West African land of Orisha. It is a epic mix of fantasy, magic and adventure as our heroine and her friends strive to restore the legacy of Orisha. Lovers of Harry Porter, Hunger games and Twilight will like this. Plus Steven Spielberg bought the movie rights so look out for a blockbuster movie in the near future.

2- An American marriage by Tayari Jones

This story was so engrossing and promises to generate a whole lot of discussion. A young married couple and in an unexpected turn of events are put in an impossible situation. This is the story of how they navigate their circumstances to come out on the other side.

3- The hate you give by Angie Thomas

Wow. I did not think I would like this book since I never like books about racial tensions. But this book looks at race and race relations from a different point of view than what we are used to- the view of a teenage girl who is an eye witness to the police shooting of her friend. Another book that’s sure to generate a whole lot of discussion.

4- Before we were yours by Lisa Wingate

This story is based on the real life scandal of an adoption agency in Memphis that kidnapped poor children and sold them to wealthy families around the country. It follows children from one family from when they were kidnapped to present day, 2 generations later. This story will tug at your heart and enrage you at the same time.

5- The book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir

This is a debut novel by Dr Weir. This story about a pregnant teen who is the daughter of a televangelist and part of a popular reality TV show. How they spin the story of her pregnancy in an attempt to keep family secrets is the subject of this book.

Hope you guys check these books out. And if you have read these already please do tell me what you thought.

As always, thanks for reading

J

I’m back!

Hi all in the bloggersphere and beyond. I’m back for now to my once weekly postings (I will try really hard to stick to this).

It’s been one of the busiest summers to date. In addition to working full time taking care of breast cancer patients in my practice, I’ve been extremely busy doing other things.

My son graduated from high school in May so there has been graduation, then graduation parties and a couple of trips to his new school for orientation, moving him in and settling him into his new dorm.

We are now officially empty nesters. I have mixed feelings about it all. I’m excited for him as he embarks on the start of the rest of his life. He will be meeting new people, learning and discovering himself outside of family. I’m also nervous for him and hoping he remembers all the various life lessons we have thought him over the years and hoping he makes great life decisions and choices. And I wish him all the success in life. He on the other hand is so excited and happy and looking forward to everything. This makes me happy, seeing that he is happy.

On the home front, my husband and I will miss the kids terribly but we are also happy to have them gone and looking forward to our new life without human kids- my husband has 2 Belgian Shepards- his fur babies. I try not to claim them but they’re wearing me down.

Me with Lila and Caesar- our Belgian shepherds

Also this summer, my parents celebrated 50 years of married life. There was ofcourse a big party because you have to celebrate this huge milestone. The preparations included traditional custom made tailored clothing for all the children, their spouses and grandchildren. There was also coordinating all the children, grand children, spouses, inlaws and various family members traveling from all over and their accommodations. There was a church ceremony with vow renewal and a big gala party. All exhausting but beautiful and something to aspire to. This was the first time my entire family (me, my parents and siblings) have been together in about 23 years. The epic fail was not having a chance to do a big family photo with everyone. Hopeful there will be another chance soon.

Mom and Dad at vow renewal

I also had a chance to go with my husband on one of his golf trips. This was way more fun than I had anticipated. He usually travels by himself to bond with his golf buddies and I’m sure there are lots of ‘boys will be boys stuff’ that go on. But it was kind of nice to go and get to meet the other wives (my fellow golf widows.)

Me & hubby at the golf gala night

We were in Los Angelos for my husband’s high school reunion weekend. This was a whole weekend of brotherhood and making new friends and acquaintances. And another chance to dress up at the gala night.

Gala night in LA

Both of my kids also celebrated birthdays this summer. My daughter turned 22 in August and my son 18 in June.

They always insist on BD cake

We travelled to New Orleans this summer, as well, with friends for the Essence music festival. This was so much fun as you can imagine a bunch of adults in New Orleans. The nightly concerts were amazing. From a private suite, we enjoyed musical performances by Mary J Blige, Janet Jackson, Snoop Dog, Queen Latifah, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Ella Mae, Idris Elba, Miguel, and so much more.

Mary J Blige

Janet Jackson

Ella Mae

I also made some time to continue monthly dinner club outings with my girlfriends and a few happy hours. I find it is important to maintain these friendships.

Truthfully, I am quite exhausted after such a whirlwind summer. I am now ready to get back to ‘normal’. But first, I will be doing a top to bottom house cleaning since the kids are gone, re organizing my kitchen and closets (I have a lot to donate) and doing some yard work (not my favorite thing to do). I may blog about how I accomplish these things later.

There were so many other events and outings that happened this summer that I’m forgetting about. But for now, I’m happy to be back and looking forward to reading all of your blogs and posting some of my own.

As always, thanks for reading

And don’t forget to check out my Instagram @lifewithjovita

J

Why was I born?

I once heard someone say that the two most important days in your life are the day you were born and and the day you figure out why.

I have spent many hours and many days mulling over this simple statement. I have even re quoted it to lots of family and friends. The only thing though is that I don’t think I have figured it out yet for myself.

Why was I born? Am I there yet and just don’t know it?

A few years ago, I read a Jodi Picoult novel My Sister’s Keeper about parents who had a child for the sole purpose of having a bone marrow donor for their other child who had leukemia. Here is a case of knowing for sure the exact reason you were born. The reason unfortunately is not this crystal clear for the rest of us.

Sure I have a profession as do many of you. But is my profession or my job, why I was born, what I am meant to be doing? Is it my reason for being. Or is there something else that I have still to uncover. Many of us decide on a profession upon getting to college at the age of 16-18 years old. Is that old enough, wise enough to have that kind of knowledge? Maybe not. Evidenced by the fact that many people change their majors several times in the first 2 years of college. Yet many others change careers later on in life. Perhaps that’s because they found their calling or their reason for being.

But still I ask, how do we know? Will there be the proverbial Oprah aha! moment or lightbulb moment or lightning or thunder? Or is it something that we just feel. Or maybe we are there and just don’t know it.

I don’t know why, but this really bothers me.

I am the kind of person that want answers. I hate riddles for that reason. So this particular question bugs me and I really want to know.

What about you? Have you figured out why you were born?

If so how did you find out?

Please share your insights into this puzzling question.

As always thanks for reading.

J

What is your health routine?

I talk so much about health and being healthy that I have been asked a lot lately what my routine is for diet and exercise. I never ask people to do anything that I would not do myself but I truly believe we should all have a routine. So I wanted to take this opportunity to blog about my particular routine.

The relationship between what we eat and how we move and our health is such an important one. There is so much data to collaborate this fact. But as much as we know this, it is not easy to do

I’ve been known to say that the only reason I exercise is so I can eat

This is truth.

But not the only reason.

I can assure you that no one who exercises regularly really really enjoy it. I’m not going to lie to you, the first 20 to 30 minutes is pure hell. But once you get into it and your muscles loosen up, then it starts to be tolerable. It is important to establish clear reasons and clear goals for yourself. What are your reasons for wanting to exercise and eat right and what are your goals?

These are my reasons.

– I want to maintain a healthy weight so I can fit and look good in my clothes as I love all things fashion.

– I want for the most part to be healthy. I want to prevent diabetes, prevent the complications of hypertension, decrease the risk of heart disease and cancer. Especially since high blood pressure and diabetes run in my family

– I want to live long so I can see my kids grow up

– I want to be healthy so I can continue to do the activities that I enjoy

– I want to be able to eat what I want because I hate to diet

My goal is a certain BMI, weight and clothing size.

How do I achieve this?

– I try to do 4-5 days a week. If I can do 3 then that’s okay too.

– My two go to exercises are running and The Barmethod. I run or walk for cardio and do the Barmethod (a form of Pilates and yoga) for strength training

– I run on my treadmill at home. When the weather is good, I run or walk outside.

– When I can’t exercise, I make an effort to decrease the amount of calories I consume

– I use a food recording app to document everything I put in my mouth. This keeps me accountable

– I walk as much as I can. I always try to hit 10000 steps a day. I take the steps over the elevator as much as I can. I try not to seat for long periods at work so I get up and walk around when I can.

– As regards diet, I am getting closer and closer to a plant based diet. I am maybe 70% and don’t know that I will ever get to 100%. So….there is a whole lotta hoopla about plant based diets and this is understandable because let’s face it the health benefits are scientifically proven and can’t be ignored.

– My go to meal is oatmeal for breakfast, if I eat breakfast. Greek yogurt and granola for lunch and a salad for dinner.

– About 3 times a year I crave a burger or steak. And I go for it.

– I try to minimize carbs- bread, pasta, rice and sugars in general.

– I do not drink sodas at all

– I try to eat as much fruits and vegetables as I can

For me it’s really all about balance. I don’t like to deny myself because otherwise, I crave that which I cannot have. And craving leads to binging which is not healthy. So I exercise and I eat healthy.

The more often you do this,

the more likely it is to become habit. No big revelations here. You get out what you put in.

What are your thoughts?

As always, thanks for reading

J

What do we have to loose?

Have you heard of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?

Up until a few days ago, I had not and I think you should all get to know her especially with Fourth of July around the corner. I generally try to stir away from politics because I get so angry at the divisiveness and postering and lack of bipartisanship when all I want to say is ‘why can’t we all just get along?’

This is the opposite of my husband who cannot get enough of it. He wakes up to the news, drives to work listening to the news, comes home and turns it on and eventually goes to sleep with the news on. It’s CNN, FOX, MSNBC, BBC and whatever other alphabet station there is out there. He goes back and forth from one to the other. Thank goodness for the World Cup, this month, that has temporarily occupied him.

One morning he had the news on and as usual I was half listening but had to stop when I heard a young lady being interviewed by Mika Brzezinski of the Morning Joe show.

This is why I stopped. This young lady’s name is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She is 28 years old and just beat out a 10 term incumbent to win the congressional primary race in New York. She did not catch my attention because of her politics. She had my attention because up until she ran she was an educator and a bartender. She won on the socialist platform of Medicare for all, tuition free public college education, gun control, criminal justice reform and housing as a human right. Again this is not about her politics. When asked why she ran for political office she said ‘what did we have to loose?’

So simple, so genius. This sentence stopped me in my tracks.

Put another way. You will never know until you try. How many of us go through life afraid to try? Afraid of failure? Afraid of what we may loose?

Don’t let fear stop you in your tracks and prevent you from being your best and reaching your full potential. This young lady may one day be president of the United States. Who knows? And I would not be surprised if that happens someday, with the drive and determination that I see in her. If her main concern in life was fear of loosing instead of ‘what do I have to loose?’ she would not be where she is right now, winner of a major congressional primary race and possibly on her way to Washington to do great things.

I think that this is a great lesson for all of us. We should never be afraid to put ourselves out there. We should remember that we have nothing to loose but everything to gain. We should all teach this to our kids as well. This is how change and progress happens. This is the beauty of this country. We all potentially have an opportunity to be whatever we want to be as long as we work hard towards it, believe in ourselves and not be afraid to try.

You want to write a novel? Get to it. You want to be an actor? Go and audition. You want to be an entrepreneur? Get on it. A politician? A chef? A doctor? A lawyer? A designer? An engineer? Do some research and learn the specifics and requirements of what you want to do. There may be prerequisites like more schooling or reading/learning or internships or apprenticeship. This young lady obviously did the background work of learning politics and policy and law and history.

The only thing to fear is fear itself and Just do it are some of my favorite quotes that apply here. Let’s learn from this future leader.

As always, thanks for reading and please don’t forget to leave a comment below.

J

The Inside my head tag

The Inside My Head Tag

Hi Everyone!

I have been so busy the past couple of months and have not acknowledged this award.

I want to thank Richa from Iscrblr for tagging me for this super fun “The Inside My Head Tag”! I truly appreciate it and you!

Let’s get started –

• How do I feel at the moment? – I actually feel great even though I only got 3 hours of sleep but I made my 6am flight on my way to LA with my hubby!

• What do I need more in my life? – I have so much I feel guilty needing anything.

• What would make me happy right now? – Travel always makes me happy so I am very happy right now.

• What is going right in my life? – Everything! I am healthy. My family is healthy. We have a roof over our head and food to eat.

• What am I most grateful for? List 10 things. – my children, my husband, my parents, my siblings, my extended family, my friends, good health, a job, a home, my patients

• When did I experience joy this week? – having dinner with my kids and pondering what good people they have grown up to be!

• List a small victory/success? – making the 6am flight this morning as they were about to close the airplane doors!!!

• What is bothering me & why? – A lot of things bother me. Racism, sexism, homophobia, world hunger, sex trafficking, child abuse, religious and ethnic persecution. All bother me for obvious reasons.

• What are my priorities at the moment? – my priority at the moment is preparing to move my son to college in August.

• What do I love about my self? – I love that I am empathetic and care about social issues

• Who means the world to me & why? – my entire family mean everything to me especially you husband and children. They keep me sane and keep me going

• If I could share one message with the world, what would it be? – Love one another. There is only one race- the human race.

• What advice would I give to my younger self? – work hard now because it will all pay off in the future.

• What lesson did I learn this week? – when they go low, you go high

• If I had all the time in the world, what would I do first ? – Travel, travel and more travel.

• What’s draining my energy? – trying to squeeze way too much into 24 hours!

• What does my ideal morning look like? – I wake up 6ish, then brush teeth, shower, get dressed and off to work. About 40 minutes to do all this before I leave the house. Not a breakfast person. Tea is a must when I get to work.

• What makes me come alive? – planning or organizing something! Can you tell I enjoy being busy.

• What/who inspires me the most? – my patients inspire me as they battle daily with illness and still holding down their families!

• Where does my pain originate? – from all the hate and intolerance in the world

• What are my strengths? – I am kind, generous, honest, compassionate, organized.

• What is something I’ve always wanted but too scared to get? – I honestly can’t think of anything

• What is something I would love to learn? – I would love to learn how to swim.

• Where would I want to live my ideal life? – Cape Town or Auckland

• Where would I like to travel in the next 5 years? – Japan, Thailand, India, Israel, Egypt, Mozambique, Morocco, Iceland, Holland, Switzerland, Germany, Russia, Amsterdam!

• What can I do to take better care of myself? – I need to sleep more👀👀

• What hobbies would I like to try? – I would like to learn how to use a sewing machine so I can design and sew clothes, and I would love to learn to play the piano.

• When have I done something that I thought I couldn’t do? – Hand gliding in the ocean(I can’t swim)!

• At the end of my life, what do I want my legacy to be? – I want to be known as a good person – kind, compassionate, generous, loving. A great doctor. A person that appreciated all people and was not afraid to live life.

MY NOMINATIONS

I’m looking forward to reading all your answers!

HERE ARE THE RULES:

1 Thank & tag the person that has tagged you

2 Attach the tag photo

3 Answer the ‘The Inside My Head Tag’ questions

4  Tag 10-20 friends.

Thank you! Richa for this awesome nomination. I actually had a great time answering all these questions!

Cheers and Enjoy!

J

Why do I Instagram?

apple applications apps cell phone

Those who know me know that I am a very private person. I had to be dragged, kicking and screaming plus a whole lot of peer pressure into the whole social media craze. I started tentatively with LinkedIn as this was professional, then ventured into Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and finally Instagram. Honestly I don’t even understand how some of these social sites work, especially Snapchat which my kids and their friends love. I have recently started to stir away from Facebook as I don’t appreciate some of its malignant potential. I find that there is lots of showoffiness (is that even a word?) , bullying and political grandstanding, that goes against the original intent of the medium. This is so different from Instagram, which I really like because you can post a photo with little or no words and it tells a story. It is so much easier, for me, to navigate than a lot of the other social sites and has become my go to.

I initially started to Instagram just to share family photos and various activities and trips. Earlier this year after a lot of soul searching that can only happen after a milestone birthday, I decided to shift my focus slightly.

As a cancer doctor, I see so many young women with young children diagnosed with breast cancer. Many survive and many still do not. I started to think of what else I can do for these women. Medically, I have done all I can. Their families and friends I know do so much else for them with home care and childcare. I still felt that I could do more.

When you are faced with a potentially fatal illness all you can think about is,  ‘ Am I going to die?’ And the answer is, yes we are all going to die. But no one wants to die right now at a young age. We all want to live long enough to see our kids graduate from school, get married, have our grand children etc. No one wants to die before they have actually had a chance to LIVE.

So with that Live! Balancing life with Jovita was born. My Instagram handle was changed to @lifewithjovita.

app contemporary dark design

The idea being that I wanted to live the life that some of my patients and many others suffering from debilitating or fatal illnesses cannot. I am very social and enjoy outings and parties and friends. But I, like so many of us get caught up and so busy with our lives and work and family that we don’t get to make time for the fun stuff. So I started to Instagram my various fun activities and outings because I want to encourage all able bodied, healthy women to go out there and LIVE. Live for yourself. Live for my patients. Live for those who cannot do so.

Life is too short and you only live once is not a cliche. It is reality. I know this because I see it daily in practice. People get sick unexpectedly and then all those things we put off to do later in life never get done.  Live for now. Live with no regrets. Travel when you can. Hug your children often. Have fun with your friends. Make time for your spouse or significant other. Eat out. Go dancing. Take a day off. Play in the rain or the snow. Laugh often. Believe in something. Don’t get caught up in the minutia of life. Don’t judge others, they too are living their lives.

So why do I Instagram? I Instagram to share the life that I am living for me and for those who cannot.

As always thanks for reading and check me out on Instagram @lifewithjovita

J

Are today’s kids fragile and entitled?

baby children cute dress
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Are kids today more emotionally fragile than we were at their age?

Are said kids more entitled than we were?

This topic could spark debate for days. So this question came about as I watch my kids and their friends and then go back to the way I and my husband, my siblings and some of our friends were raised by our parents. And dare I say, my kids will never have survived in our household.

Growing up, it was understood that our job was to go to school, study hard and do well in school. And it was also understood that we had to do our share of chores in the household – cleaning, laundry, taking out trash and when old enough cooking and helping to take care of younger siblings.

On the school front, often I have come home with a grade of 97% and my parents have been known to say, ‘what happened to the other 3 points?’ Or if I placed 2nd or 3rd in class, they would say, did the kid that placed first have 2 brains? This behavior made us stronger and more competitive. It never made us inadequate or sad or depressed or anxious. It just made us work harder. They wanted us to be the best and we wanted it for ourselves too. And the competition was always to do better than we did on the last test, exam, race, paper, whatever. The competition was not against the other kids because it was already understood that we were better than them.

Contrast this with todays children, mine included of course. I can never imagine not praising or rewarding my kid for a 97% on a test. They would demand it! And what about chores? Do your children ask you to pay them for doing chores in the house? Mine do, and no they don’t get paid for doing chore. I do know people that pay their kids for chores though.

So why can’t we talk to them like our parents did us? I think a big part of it is that we as parents today fear pushing our kids too far for fear of pushing them off the ledge. Why did this work on us and won’t work on kids today? I don’t think there are any good answers but this is part of the emotional blackmail that we are subject to today as parents.

Do you remember your parents saying to you ( I think every parent has said this at some point) -‘I used to walk to school barefoot, uphill,  in the snow(or snow equivalent), carrying my books on my head…’ I think our generation of kids actually believed it. My kids laugh when I try to say anything like that to them. First, I think our kids generation have photographic evidence of our childhoods that we did not, so our kids are less likely to believe us. Secondly our kids cannot imagine this because a lot of them have not had any hardships in life, so telling them about our hardships sounds like a fairy tale.

A possible huge factor in all of this is the whole social media and technology explosion today. We simply did not have all of this growing up. We had no cell phones(at least not cool ones), no video games, no endless TV shows and movies to choose from, no Google, no Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Tweeter etc. What all this means is that they are a generation that have both immediate gratification and no interpersonal skills. This is such a bad combination. I believe this lack of interpersonal skills makes one fragile to real life critique, failures and disappointments. The need for immediate gratification makes them feel entitled because everything you need is right at your fingertips.

We are stronger because we have learned to play outside with other kids and actually talk to them and learn all those nuances of friendship and connecting with others. We have also had to work for everything we have. If we need to do research, we go to the library or an encyclopedia instead of googling it. If we want a car or the new hot thing all the other kids have, we work after school to make some extra money. If mom and dad gave us extra, we are very appreciative because we understand that it is extra, not our right.

I hate to spout off problems that I see and not have any solutions for them. And I have to admit that I am one of those parents that fear pushing their kids off the ledge, but I’m lucky to have a partner who is onto the game. The key apparently is starting young. We consider young as early as preschool. Once children get to school, you have lost your window. The reasoning being that today’s kids are so much smarter and more advanced than we ever were. Their mental age at age one is the same as ours at age 6. So if you lay the groundwork from a young age, they are more likely to fall in line later on in life.

Laying down the ground work for us involves no social media or technology at home early on. They will get all of that at school. They should be involved in as much outdoor activity as you can get them into. There should be no televisions, computers or cellphones in the bedrooms and all must be shut down and not within reach at bed time. We did not let our children watch television on school nights and encouraged reading actual books not kindle when there was no homework to work on.

We do believe in the reward system. So long as the grades are good, chores are being done, and rules are not being broken, we give them what they ask for within reason.

These are just things that we have done that worked for our family and not meant to be the bible for raising kids.  Hopefully those of my generation that read this can back me up a little and may have some other solutions. If so please share.

As always thanks for reading and leave your comments below.

J

 

 

 

 

 

how will they remember you?

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This is not meant to be a morbid post, but I feel that from time to time we each have to think about our mortality. We all know that no one lives forever, yet we don’t like to acknowledge that fact. Knowing this fact, what I have started to think about lately is, “what is my legacy?’, ‘how will people remember me?’, ‘have I made a positive or negative impact?.’

We do not all have to be Steve Jobs or Barack Obama or Mother Theresa to leave any kind of legacy or impact in life. Our individual legacy or impact will be different. Some will be on a small scale and some will be on the big stage. As a matter of fact, I think it is important to start small. It may get big depending on where life leads you.

These are a few ways you can start to do small things that will leave an impact.

1- Be kind. They say charity begins at home. So true! This is so simple. Be nice to your siblings, parents, children, friends. Volunteer to help when they need help. Say kind words of encouragement whenever you can. Be supportive of them and their efforts especially if its not the norm. Give a helping hand to someone that’s struggling. Remember anything you give whether it is your time, or money will be repaid to you in multiples. I truly believe this!

2- Be socially conscious. Once you master kindness to close friends and family then it is easier to take it beyond. There are so many causes out there in need of support. Pick one or two or three- whatever you can handle and support it. Again support can be in the form of your time or money. A few ideas for causes out there are- Komen breast cancer foundation, St Jude children’s research hospital, American foundation for Suicide prevention, Alzheimer’s foundation, Foundation for the homeless, Global hunger foundation, Stop bullying Foundation, LGBTQ foundation and so many more.

3- Be a global citizen. So now that you are kind to your close people and you are involved in social causes around you, it is now time to take it global. You don’t even have to leave the comfort of your home. All that’s involved for this is to pay attention to what is happening globally- racism, child trafficking, injustices to women, ethnic cleansing, religious persecution, lack of access to healthcare, and corruption. Watch the news and please do go beyond CNN and venture into BBC. Talk about these injustices, blog about it, post about it on social media so that more people are aware that it is going on. After all, we are all part of one race- the human race

4- Advocate for those who cannot do so for themselves. This includes children, the elderly, disabled people and minority groups. Again start small- speak up if you hear someone use a derogatory term or racial slur or make an inappropriate joke.

5- Always be on the right side of history politically. We all know instinctively what is right and what is wrong but because of our political party affiliate often doing what is right or wrong is a whole other story. An example of this is: Let’s say you are in your 70s and your grandchild is studying the year 2018 in history class and asks what your stance was on the Syrian refugee crisis for instance. We know what the right answer to that is. But will that be the answer you give your grandchild? So, it is important to think beyond today as your actions have future impact.

These are just a few things that are important for us all to be doing as part of the human race. When you are no longer here these are some things that people may say about you:

He/she was very kind. Always ready to help, always supportive and always has something nice to say.

He/she cared so much about the homeless and their plight. They always donated food and clothes to the homeless. They also left donations in their will to several charities

He/she was always so concerned about lack of access to healthcare in certain parts of the world and made sure everyone supported The American Red cross and doctors without borders.

He/she was very passionate about the disabled and not only volunteered but would not hear anyone speak badly of them in their presense

He/she did not belong to any political party. They just wanted someone in office who would do the right things for the country so they fought for individual issues.

Does that not sound nice?

So, what will your legacy be?

Please leave your comments below.

As always, Thanks for reading

J

You have to be a good friend to have good friends

Friendship. Such a simple concept yet so complicated

I spent the past weekend with very dear old friends celebrating a milestone birthday. And it got me to thinking and reflecting about friendships in general.

The nuances, the subtlety, the intricacies of making and keeping friends is something we start to learn as early as kindergarten. We continue to hone these skills through elementary school and our teenage years. Even so, way into adulthood some of us never quite get it right.

Why don’t we start with the new Oxford American dictionary definition of friendship. They define a friend as a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection typically exclusive of sexual or family relations. Well that’s a good definition but to me, it does not really describe all the sentiments and emotion that go along with that word.

My definition of a friend or friendship is that relationship which is definitely exclusive of sexual or family relations. A relationship that is built in mutual respect and trust. One of emotional support for each other. A friend has knowledge of most of your secrets and is fiercely protective of those secrets and you. A true friendship is easy. There is no very little drama, no jealousy and no competition. If there is any drama it is usually resolved quickly.

Unfortunately not everyone knows how to be a friend or how to maintain a friend. I consider myself someone who is a good friend and someone who also has maintained many good friendships over the years. I am very proud to say that I have friends from all stages of life that I stay in contact with. And it is not about talking daily or seeing them everyday. Without being boastful, I can honestly say that anyone that cannot be friends with me will likely not be able to be friends with anyone.

These 6 things are to me what makes a good friend:

1- Be there/make time. You and your friends are going to go through good times and bad times. Just be there when they need you to listen, to hold their hand, to wipe away tears or to laugh and celebrate good times. We are all very busy in our lives, but do make time for your friends. This will had a long way.

2- Just because. Again it’s not necessary to talk or see each other daily but do reach out from time to time to check in. Call when it’s not their birthday or a holiday and see what’s up. Drop by from time to time if you live close and see how they’re doing.

3- Be interested. What’s going on in their life at present. Was there a promotion? Did they start a new business? Did a kid graduate? Are they having personal, marital, children or career issues?

4- Know their family. Your friends immediate and if applicable some of their extended family should be like your family. Know their husbands, wives and kids names and birthdays – it helps to write this down somewhere especially if you have many friends and they have lots of kids and you have trouble keeping names straight.

5- The little things. If I’m out shopping and I see something that reminds me of my friend or something I think will look good on them, I buy it. Pick up the tab sometimes when you are out with your friend without keeping tabs on who paid the last time.

6- Be the vault. When your friend entrusts you with their innermost secrets, you are obligated to keep it to yourself

If you are able to keep these things in mind in your friend relationships, you will have no problems keeping your friends for life. If you are having problems keeping or maintaining good friends, there is a possibility you are the problem.

Try my suggestions. If you agree or disagree or have your own friend requirements, please comment below.

As always, thanks for reading

J

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