In the recent months I attended a “Celebration of Life” for Lydia Dees. I didn’t know Lydia personally. I attended this event because her granddaughter is a friend of mine. Yes, you read that correctly, her granddaughter who is my age or close to it. Lydia lived a long life.
The last years of Lydia’s life were spent in a nursing home specializing in memory care. She suffered from severe memory loss, fear and anxiety. My friend would go to be with her grandmother regularly. The tangible love she showed her grandmother, even in the midst of being a busy mom and wife, overwhelmed me. I knew from her words and actions how much she loved her granny so when the time came for the funeral I went to support my friend.
I didn’t realize what the life of Lydia Dees would suddenly mean to me.
We are a family of 5 - myself, my husband and our three girls. About a year and a half ago my oldest daughter moved 12 hours away to start a life at the age of 18 almost 19. With no interest in college she went to pursue an opportunity that ended up not working out. She is resilient and full of determination and decided to stay and pursue other things but in the same area (did I mention this is 12 hours away from home?). At first, as a mom, I felt rejected and confused. Why didn't she come home? Now, as I see her thriving in new directions, financially independent, starting a career in retail and enjoying life all while maintaining close family ties through phone calls, text messages, social media and visits I realize - we did our job. We raised a loving, kind, responsible person.
Now, on to "Christmas with 4"...
My youngest is off to camp this week. This in itself is a huge change for me as a mom. I was hugely overprotective until recent life experiences brought me to my knees to face myself and reevaluate basically everything in my life.
In years past, as a "rules" based, overprotective mom, I am not proud to admit,
Some kids stay on the outskirts of the group. Just observing at big gatherings I have noticed some girls, just hang on the outskirts no matter what, that's where they stay. Wanting to be pulled in, but when kids try to pull them in they stay on the outskirts. Does this mean the other girls are all the mean girls? The clique?
I have read some blog posts in the recent years about "mean girls" and one in particular focused on the excuses some mom's will make for their daughter's behavior. The author goes on to give a list so you can check to see if your daughter might be a "mean girl" and also see if you are the "mean mom" making excuses for your daughter.
Let me be clear, I know mean girls exist.
We live in a society (well my little spec of society anyway), that seems to be all inclusive, invite everyone all the time. I am not opposed to the all inclusive idea, I actually like it most of the time, however there are times when inviting everyone is not condusive to the event. Such as a sleepover at my house. We have a very small house. So the dilemma arises, one of my girls wants to have a party and who does she invite? What is the proper etiquette in this siutation in this day and age?
Jealousy, what is it really? According to www.dictionary.com it is resentment against someone who is experiencing success or an advantage, mental anguish from fear or suspicion of a rival, or of someone’s unfaithfulness such as being jealous of your love (or even a friend) paying attention to someone else suspecting they are being unfaithful. Also jealously can be understood as guarding something diligently.
We have all felt it, grasping our hearts and minds, dominating our thoughts, motivating our words and actions. We have all felt the bondage that is jealousy or envy. Wanting what someone else has or even wanting what we perceive they have. Wanting to be part of something or included in something that we were not included in. Social media has increased the chances of jealousy. Brought on by the fear of missing out. #FOMO (fear of missing out) is so common in our society today and is brought on by increased use of social media.
When contemplating jealousy and the fear of missing out in relation to my girls I came across a post on Things Teen. The post was actually a guest post from Girl Zone. In the post Madison Fraser explains:
Anyone in any situation can feel social anxiety from social media posts. You could be traveling the world with your family, eating crepes in Paris and climbing the Swiss Alps and still feel like you’re missing out on the girls shopping trip back home. While it’s convenient that our Facebook, Twitters, and Instagrams allow us to be connected and stay in touch with anyone in the world, it’s hard to be grateful for the present moment when you’re consistently exposed to social obligations elsewhere.
How do you handle it? Jealousy and the fear of missing out can make us lose sleep, lose our appetite, miss out on moments in life we could have enjoyed.
What do you do with it? How do we teach our children to live in their moment? I want to teach my girls to navigate social media while simultaneously living a healthy, content life. I want to find a way for my girls to be able to participate in social media while being loving, kind and not getting caught up in the #FOMO phenomenon taking place today.
"Be who you needed when you were younger."
An annonymous quote I saw recently. Very thought provoking seeing how I became who I didn't want to be for my my oldest daughter. Who did I need when I was younger? When I was growing up? I needed someone who would see me and listen to me. Really listen. Someone who would see between the lines, who could listen to what I was really saying without being distracted by what was next on the list. I needed someone who wasn't too tired or worried about how the bills were going to be paid or worried about what other people would think. I needed someone who would give me real advice not based on perceptions and people pleasing. Someone who didn't try to fix everything but could just help me try to figure things out for myself.
Who did you need?
I am thankful for another chance...
Loving Our Kids on Purpose by Danny Silk explains that in an environment where there are lots of rules there is a lack of love. I have contemplated this over and over again in recent months. At first I resisted it, I used to be a rules based person. 10 years ago, even 6 years ago maybe even 8 months ago I would have denied this statement fiercely reasoning that I have rules in my home as a result of love.
Then something happened. Something that rocked my world in a way I never thought possible. The specific details of this event will be shared one day but in the meantime, as a mom, I will warn you - do not take these few things for granted:
Due to this core rocking event and walking through the process of unpacking all that happened mentally, emotionally, spiritually, even physically I have a new outlook on rules vs. reason. You see, I previously parented out of fear. Fear I now realize is the opposite of love. Out of fear I had rules upon rules upon rules about TV shows, music, friends, boyfriends, sleepovers, texting, the internet, clothes - you name it I probably had a rule or expectation to go along with it and a list of reasons to justify my rules. If my precious daughter slipped up on one of these rules I quickly forced her back in to compliance with lectures, desperation, restrictions and removing electronic devices. I was fearful she would end up like I was as a young girl, fearful of being rejected by our friends, fearful of "losing her".
Thankfully this story is turning out to be one of restoration, love, freedom, connection and real relationship with my now adult daughter. Her younger sisters are reaping the reward of this new found wisdom and love. My eldest and I have a brand new relationship too. I am so thankful she has chosen to stay connected to her family, to rebuild and restore and have long lasting relationship with all of us.
Back to Rules vs. Reason - you can see where I am headed here. Does this mean no boundaries, a free for all in the home, on the internet, with boys, clothes, TV, music, movies and friends? No, but for our family this does mean guided behavior with boundaries, very different than rules. Talking, listening and helping my girls make their own decisions and then experience the consequences of those decisions while in the safety of our home. Learning to make good choices not just do what they are told or expected to do.
I am definitely a reason over rules parent now. Did I not really love my daughter when I had all my rules in place? I don't believe that at all. I love her and have always loved her but the environment I created due to my fearful parenting was not one of love, safety, freedom and acceptance. I was blinded by fear and missed some important opportunities to help my girl when she was struggling. As her story unfolded, pride and fear disappeared and the love I have for all my girls overflowed in humility and tenderness. I now know, fearless love is a fierce love and living in fear is very fragile.
Purchase these valuable resources here:
“As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”
When I was growing up being friends had a very different dynamic than it does today. Social media has changed not only the way we interact with people but the way we feel connected to them. My girls range in age from 10 - 19 so we have ridden the wave of social media interaction since the beginning. From MySpace to Facebook and now on to Snapchat and whatever the next big thing will be. It hasn't been easy and the truth is there have been times I have failed as I helped my girls navigate friendships in a social media world. At this point with my younger two we are at a slow crawl with social media connections. Outside of Instagram (which is a shared account two sisters and mom how cool is that? NOT for them but they tolerate it with a good attitude!) they don't have social media interaction, that I know of...but that is a post for another day.
On to friends, just being friends. I have a new found passion for friends, real life friends not social media friends. I am desperate to teach my girls how to be friends in real life. How to connect, feel connected and stay connected outside of social media. I believe it is possible. My goal is to teach them this while also teaching how to participate in social media. After all, social media is part of their world, it is part of our society. A wise woman in my life shared with me years ago - taking all social media and technology away from your children will only hurt them, they have to learn to navigate all of that in the world we live in today.
So what do friendships look like in today's world? Well some consist of lots of social media interaction such as "likes", comments and being tagged in posts. I have people in my life who do not feel connected to those with whom they are not actively interacting with on social media. Let's not forget about texting - I know some people who do not feel connected or begin to feel less of a friend if there is a lack of constant texting as well. So friendships in today's world are starting to look like social media interaction - sharing snapchats, texting, likes, comments, tagging each other in posts etc. some of this is private and some public for the world to see. None of it builds a true and lasting friendship. Key word build - I know we all keep in touch with friends near and far through social media. I believe that is one of its best benefits. For example I have a close group of college friends, we have a private group on facebook and use that to keep in touch with each other. Sharing news about our lives, families, careers, encouragement and planning our next trip together. These friendships were already built, we have roots, we have true connection. I do not believe likes, comments, tags in posts and the like build true connection.
What did friendships look like before social media? Talking to either in person or on the phone. Doing things together. Long distance friends had to call or write (and send via snail mail) letters or notes. High school friends would reconnect when home on breaks - and likewise reconnect with their college friends when they returned to school after breaks. Did these "breaks" mean the friendships were over or had become distant? No. With real friends you picked up where you left off - catch up on each others lives and there had no feeling of real distance - just that time had passed while you were in two different places living your life in the "now". Did you feel distant because you didn't have a real time window into what was going on like we do today through picture posting, likes, comments etc? No!
How do we merge these two worlds - the world of real connection and the world of social media interaction? That is what I am trying to figure out.
I know it takes time, and the risk of you getting caught up in your own social media web, but mom's please pay attention to your daughter's social media accounts. Read between the lines, see just past the selfies, read the comments, look at the likes. Why? Because they matter. This is how our our youth are relating to themselves and to their society. This is how they cry for help. This is where they fall into the trap of craving approval from others rather then just being themselves. This is where they live a "lie" - a life they want to portray to others but not exactly the life they are living. This is where they lash out at you (parents) or their friends. This is where "good" isn't always nice.
Talk to her. You don't have to comment, or interact on the social media sites. More than likely that will drive her away from you. Don't accuse or attack her but ask and actually listen. Be patient, keep trying.
How our girls handle their social media sites can help or hurt them the rest of their lives. Make sure you are involved and aware of what social media sites they have and what they are posting. Training during the younger years will help them handle social media when they are older.