As a “recovering perfectionist” my aim in life is to make everything nice for everyone, but also to my liking. As a mom, that desire has multiplied tenfold. As a single mom, it has the propensity to exponentiate to a degree unheard of. As my children acclimate to new living arrangements, I need to keep my desire to fix their problems at arm’s length and away from them. Because, in my desire to fix the problem, I create more issues.
Make sure to check out my other blog post about how the "perfect mother" is an antiquated idea that has been ingrained in us from past generations.
Here's what I mean: By trying to fix their problems, I rob them of so many life skills that they will at some point need to learn. First, I rob them of the chance to take responsibility for their actions and their words. If they express a feeling such as “I miss you, Mami,” and I jump in to offer solutions to their saudade or longing, I inadvertently teach them that they just need to express something and someone else will take care of it. Kind of like the people who say, “It’s hot in here,” instead of, “Can you lower the AC?” It also teaches them that people, (or perhaps more specifically I, their mother), are mind readers and can assume what they meant or what they want with these statements. Talk about the start of communication issues and relationship drama! If you think that the other person can assume what you want from a relationship by making a blanket statement, you set yourself up for disappointment and resentment when they don’t meet your expectations.
Secondly, I send a message that when they make a comment in the realm of sadness, longing, discomfort or anger, it is perceived as a problem that needs to go away. The other day, while in session, I was sharing with my inspiring zen-like psychologist, the need I have to fix the “problem” of them missing me by asking their father for time to see them during the weekends that they are to be with him. She helped me explore my tendency to view this as a problem instead of a learning experience for them, and for me. This is our new reality. Time will be shared with each parent, for the most part, exclusively. I got the lesson intellectually. However, it was not until the next day when I was with my daughter and her grandmother that the lesson hit home.
My daughter had slept over her grandmother’s house. They spent the day together, then later her brother and I joined them. When it was time to say goodbye, my daughter became upset and my thoughts went immediately to “fix this for her, Eva. How many separations must she go through in one week?” I asked her if she wanted to call her grandmother to feel better or if there was anything she or I could do for her to feel better. Her response, “Mami. You can’t fix this. Let me be sad. Let me miss her.”
I was floored. Was she somehow tapping in my conversations with my psychologist? Was she reading my books on compassion, acceptance of as is, and flow? She’s seven- years old! And, as it is for me in many of my areas of personal growth, my kids are my biggest teachers. She was right. The message registered in my heart and in my mind. And before you knew it, she was fine again. I thanked her for that special moment; she smiled, and we moved on.
We can’t fix our kids’ lives. The more we try, the more we fail. Life is meant to be lived by each individual. And as moms, we want to protect our babies from pain, especially if that pain is caused by our decisions that have both nothing and everything to do with them.
No, it’s not fair that they are casualties of divorce. But would they be considered casualties of an unhappy marriage, as well? Our perspective that divorce is bad and being married is good also sets our children to grow up feeling pity for themselves. If we want to teach them well, we must let them sit with the feelings of sadness and anger. We must let them express themselves. We must teach them to be direct and honest so that their relationships can be healthy and mutually satisfying. There is a major caveat to this lesson – and that is boundaries. Our children can be very angry about something but that does not give them the right to become physically aggressive with anyone for the sake of letting out their feelings.
That is how we deal or fix the problem: by letting them live it and go through it. Much in the same way as we as moms, single or in a relationship, have had to go through our uncomfortable moments to get to the other side.
Talking through these issues with professionals and loved ones can help. When you are so in it, and especially when everything is still raw and new, it is so easy to get sidetracked and fall back into unhealthy patterns. If any of this resonates with you, and you need someone to talk to, know that you can reach out to me. Give me a call at (786) 383-4942 or email me at email@example.com.
If yoWith back-to-school shopping soon to be underway, added along with summer expenses like camp and vacations and the (regular list of food, clothes, toys, and gifts, your kids may notice the spending ask you questions related to money. Living in Miami doesn’t help. With such an abundance of goodies available, at all price ranges, and such stark contrasts between what social circles can afford, it’s no wonder our kids bombarded with the twinkling fantasy of having so much, just as much as we are as adults.
Questions like this may have you wondering how to talk to your kids about money:
“Why can’t I have two sneakers of XYZ brand instead of one?”
“How come you say that you can pay for this camp, but not the other one?”
“Why do I need to use these old school supplies instead of buying new ones?”
“How come we go to private school when so-and-so goes to public school?”
“Why do people ask for money on the street?”
“How much money do you make?”
“How much does our house cost?”
“Are we rich/poor?”
The list of questions goes on. And really, our kids can ask about money at any given point- so, it’s best that we have some idea of how we wish to respond instead of answering things like:
“That’s none of your business.”
“Why are you being nosy?”
“Talking about money is bad manners.”
“Because we can’t afford it.” (True or not!)
Or, saying nothing, changing the subject or ignoring the child’s question altogether.
Sometimes, you might take these questions personally, like our children are attacking or questioning our ability to provide for them. Many parents feel like their children are questioning our ability to be “good parents.”
You might find yourself feeling or thinking:
“How dare she complain about how many shoes I buy her! Doesn’t she realize how hard I work?”
“Is he that ungrateful that he is jealous of his friends?”
“I need to work harder. Maybe she feels lesser than because we can’t afford the same things as her friends. I don’t want her to feel left out. I can just put it on the credit card and pay for it later.”
“I should have become an accountant. This job pays #$&*%.”
“Am I raising a spoiled brat?”
These are great questions to ponder! Maybe not while you’re in the middle of the shoe rack aisles with one kid trying on shoes five times too small and the other kid is whining over Converse sneakers…but good ones to consider nonetheless. Why? Our kids come to this world to push our buttons. They push us to see the yucky-muck things within ourselves and to evolve. Let’s deconstruct…
If you are talking about money with your kids and taking it personally as an attack on your ability to provide for your family, sit down and take a seat. Consider these thoughts and questions:
Money is such a loaded subject, isn’t it? We are taught not to talk about money. For some people, talking about money is like talking about religion, sex and politics. The conversation is only to be had with your most trusted circle and even then, with major care.
As parents, we wonder when to start talking to our kids about wealth? How do we handle money? Do we start an allowance for chores? What about the tooth fairy, birthday gifts, toys, etc. The list goes on…
First, it’s important, as in most parenting decisions, to be on the same page with your partner or significant other on this topic. Once you have dealt with your own feelings about money, you can begin teaching your kids about money. Reflection is always a good place to start.
“I see you want to buy more than one pair of shoes.”
“You’re wondering about the people on the street with signs asking for money.”
Then, be honest with how you decide how to spend the money. Including your children in the process can help them understand how the world works and the importance of saving and spending money. If they are questioning why you spend on something verses another thing, they are questioning your values because they want to learn. This can be difficult if you don’t have an idea of your values. It’s always okay to say, “Let me get back to you on that one.” But make sure you really do when you’re ready. The more taboo you make a topic, the hungrier and more resourceful your kids will get at finding out the answers.
So don't shy away from those difficult conversations to have with your kids! If they are asking about an adult topic or subject, it's a good sign you have a curious little person that is interested in learning how the world works. Have you had a talk with your kids about money? How did it go? Are you thinking about teaching your preschooler about money? Do you wonder how to have this conversation with your kids? Let’s talk about it.
Dr. Eva Benmeleh
I am a licensed clinical child psychologist in Hallandale Beach. I hope you enjoy the site!
221 West Hallandale Beach Blvd., Suite 202
Hallandale, FL 33009