As 2011 comes to a close I’m thinking about how life events that appear as endings are always new beginnings in disguise.
This an important lesson I think to help kids understand – what looks like a sad ending can actually be a fresh start if you are clear about what you have control over and what you do not. Of course you must feel and honor your feelings. But learning to transmute our feelings through our thoughts, words, and behaviors empowers us so we’re not victimized by them.
My 8 year old daughter came home from school 3 weeks ago visibly upset that in her friend’s families, their Dads live with them, but in her family, her Dad does not. “I’m sad and embarrassed, Mommy!” came from Ava’s pouty mouth.
First, I commended her (and Onionhead) for her ability to so beautifully identify and express her feelings. Next, I honored Ava’s feelings by attentively listening to the details and giving her a hug. To help process, I suggesting she write out exactly what was on her mind and in her heart. She wrote a most articulate and sincere letter to her father, explaining how angry she was, how she cries, and how out-of-control she feels over her situation.
Next, on to the job of transmuting her distress . . . . Once we had truly acknowledged and released her negative feelings, we were free to fill the space with positive ones. I asked her what was good about her family. She quickly replied that we’re active, humorous, we read together and she loves her big brothers.
To address her feeling of embarrassment, she and I talked about the make-up of the many families in our neighborhood and she quickly understood that happy families take many shapes and forms, that she was not alone. Then we talked about some reasons she might feel good about her father – he’s a good gardener, funny and he plays cards with her.
She was now feeling positive and empowered instead of sad and victimized by her situation. I’m so pleased to see her developing this mental muscle; a muscle that will help her get control of her feelings. It gets stronger each time she flexes it, and it will see her through all of life’s hard endings.
Ava faces 2012 with great hope and excitement. However, no matter what the New Year brings, she’s developing a life-skill that will help her cope. By honoring and releasing her feelings, then filling the space with gratitude, she makes her own new beginning.
What more could a mother ask for?