Saturday, June 27, 2015

When #lovewins So Do Future Generations

The Supreme Court has ruled that the Constitution guarantees the right of same-sex couples to be married.  All over social media, profile pictures changed to the rainbow colors of the LGBTQ flag.  People celebrated and declared it a great day for America.  It is a bright shining moment because it means that people can, according to the law of the land, love whomever they choose.  It is a moment that people who had been denied the rights of married couples should celebrate.  They saw that #lovewins in the United States in their lifetime.  For so many young people struggling to be accepted for who they are, it is proof that in this country they have the right to be treated with dignity.  It is a ray of hope that shines through ignorant hatred.  For future generations, it is even more.

Future generations of Americans will be born into a country where their right to love anyone and to benefit equally will just exist.  They won’t know any other way.  They won’t grow up asking for the same rights as a married men and women.  They probably won’t believe it was any other way.

I am reminded of the first time I watched a movie about the Holocaust with my children.  They couldn’t believe that humans could treat each other that way.  Then we watched a movie about slavery in America and they were appalled.  They shook their heads at documentaries about civil rights and couldn’t comprehend people turning hoses on people who were just asking to be treated equally.  They grew up with two working parents and couldn’t relate to a time when women were not allowed to even vote.

The babies born now and in the future will simply know that anyone who is in love can marry.  They can marry and be next of kin at a hospital.  They can be “married filing jointly” and share tax and insurance benefits.  The children of the future will shake their heads at a time when being in love was a debate and people had to fight the LGBTQ inequality in the law.

As this government takes a giant leap forward in cultural awareness, diversity and acceptance, may we all work to educate the people who need to know that children are born straight or gay or lesbian or transgender.  They do not have a choice.  We do.  We can choose that #lovewins and we let people find the American dream which, when you peel away the layers, is happiness that comes from self-acceptance.
  
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Read this blog for more articles.  Ask your parenting & education questions and learn about early childhood workshops for parents & educators - Helping Kids Achieve.

For information about private coaching for adults, youth, teens and families -  Helping Families Achieve with Cindy Terebush, CPC, CYPFC

Copyright 2015 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved

Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

In Defense of the Middle School Graduation and Other School Milestone Rituals

This time of year every year, a debate ensues in the press and among my friends about the necessity of graduation ceremonies for students under 12th grade.  It seems that every few years from the time children finish preschool until their high school graduation, we are sitting in the heat listening to speeches that are too long and taking pictures with our children who never quite look right in the cap.  I live in a town that has ceremonies at the end of preschool, kindergarten, elementary school, middle school and high school.  That’s a lot of tassels and diploma paper.

I agree that calling every step a graduation may be an overstatement.  I have one friend who likes to point out that these lines of demarcation are remnants from a more agriculturally  based society when at any point, the children may have needed to stop their formal education to tend to the family farm.  He also accurately states that even as recently as our grandparents’ generation and before there were child labor laws, children left school to help support the family.  Today, it is expected that the majority of students will at least complete high school and a majority of them continue to college.  So, he and others ask, “Are these many graduations necessary and are we diminishing the real accomplishments of high school, college and advanced degrees by continuing to have them?”

The better question may be, “Who are these graduations about and what do they represent?”  Take away the cap and gown.  Spare us the many renditions of “Pomp & Circumstance” played by children with their shiny new instruments but not enough lessons to have perfected their instrument.  Strip it all away and what do we have?  We still have moments in time that require a message for our children.  The ceremonies, after all, are about them and not about us.  We get confused about that.  We forget that our discomfort in the bleacher seats is not the central message of the day.  The attire, songs and speeches aren’t the real message either.  At each stage – end of preschool, kindergarten, elementary school and middle school – we are marking a moment when the adult expectations of the children will be changing.  That deserves a ritual, not for us but for our children.  They need a moment outside of their normal routine.  They need that different day that says, “This phase of your growing up is ending.  You’ve done well.  We celebrate you.  Take a deep breath and take on the new challenges.”

It is not when we do it nor is it how often we do it that should be considered.  Joyful days of celebration are important for all of us.  Life is tough and periodically marking our children’s accomplishments helps us all to remember what is important.  We work hard to give not only to ourselves but to this next generation.  Give them days to feel good about themselves.  We should welcome any opportunity to feel happiness and pride.

We need to question the method, not the activity.  I have a few friends who live in towns where there is a ritual called a clap out.  Students who are aging out of their current elementary school status march through the school hallways and out of the building on their last day of school.  The teachers and other students line the hallways clapping for them.  The clap out is a lovely way to say, “Good job.  Times are changing for you.  We will expect more but be proud of what you’ve done.”  It requires no tickets or jockeying for seats on a hot June day.  It is a simple moment but different than the rest of the year.  Parents could be invited to line the path, too. 

While students are expected to finish middle school and continue to high school, they need the message that their lives are changing more than any of the younger students.  While they may not be leaving to tend the farm or work in a factory, they are leaving some of the toughest years behind.  The 6th-8th grade years are not remembered fondly by many people.  Children that age are caught somewhere between childhood and young adult.  They are neither here nor there and have trouble figuring themselves out.  They are often uncomfortable in their own skin, especially as their bodies are rapidly changing.  It is hard to know yourself when everything including your physicality is in transition.  They are unsure, insecure and lacking in emotional intelligence.  This lack of self-worth and self-awareness can bring out the worst in their peers and they discover that their elementary school friends who are seeking popularity can be mean and ugly.  When adults talk about how they wouldn’t want to repeat some of the years of their childhood, they are often talking about those years.  I see no harm in handing those 8th graders a cap and gown and saying, “Good news.   It’s over.  You survived and you are a better person for it.  Now go forth and embrace all that high school has to offer.”

  
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Read this blog for more articles.  Ask your parenting & education questions and learn about early childhood workshops for parents & educators - Helping Kids Achieve.

For information about private coaching for adults, youth, teens and families -  Helping Families Achieve with Cindy Terebush, CPC, CYPFC

Copyright 2015 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved

Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Lessons from My Son’s Emergency Surgery

On Monday, I rushed my son Michael to the hospital. He had been having mild pain off and on, but mostly off, for a few days.  He woke up Monday morning and was doubled over.  When my cell phone rang at work, I instinctively knew something was wrong.  I answered not with hello but with, “What’s wrong?”  He described his pain and we decided that it was time to go to the hospital.  In what was a short time in hospital hours, he was diagnosed with appendicitis and taken into surgery. 

We were strangers having to follow unfamiliar rules in an unfamiliar setting.  I couldn’t help but think of how similar this must feel to young children in their first school or any child who has to move to a new environment.  We were vulnerable.  Michael is 22 years old but this was his first experience with a major health issue.  Even though he is legally an adult, I am still his mother and simultaneous wanted the medical professionals to make this better and be careful to do no harm to my child.

Every situation has lessons you can learn if you just pay attention.  The lessons I will take away from this experience are about people, interactions and reactions:

Random Acts of Kindness require nothing but a few words.  

Another emergency room patient who was in a bed in a cubby opposite Michael was being wheeled to her room.  As her gurney passed my son’s gurney, she leaned toward him and said, “I heard what is going on with you.  You are going to be okay.”  She had her own emergency situation and her own pain.  We had no interaction with her before that moment.  It was an incredibly kind gesture and we haven’t stopped talking about it.

The understanding that chronological age has nothing to do with what a person needs should apply to all age groups, not just young children in preschool classrooms.  

Because my son is 22 years old, he is treated like the adult that he is and doesn’t have to receive any special consideration.  Everyone understood that he is still young and his chronological age had little to do with the current need.  They allowed me to stay with him as he waited for the surgeon in pre-op.  After surgery, a recovery nurse came to get me.  She said, “You can’t stay long and usually we don’t have anyone with the patients as they awake but he’s only 22 and he should see his mother’s face as he becomes more aware.” 

There is great power in just being there.  

After surgery, I wanted to be with my son for as many hours were allowed.  He really didn’t need me for any of his physical needs.  He was being well taken care of by hospital staff.  He had his electronics to cut the boredom and he was in the bed on social media and played video games. I brought my laptop and set up a makeshift desk with two chairs.  At some point I turned to him and said, “I don’t feel like I’m doing much.”  He said, “You are here.” 

The ability to separate facts from emotions is priceless and that knowledge is the good that can come from tough experiences.  

Anxiety, sadness and panic do not help when you need to be making split second decisions and listening to jargon that is unfamiliar.  A couple of years ago, I experienced a traumatic event that was the catalyst for one of the most valuable lessons I will ever learn.  Emotions and thoughts are not reality.  Emotions and thoughts just happen and one is not better than the other.  Sometimes we are happy.  Sometimes we are sad.  All emotions and thoughts change and pass like clouds in the sky so it is best to stick to the facts.  My son’s situation was certainly unpleasant but that didn’t matter.  I needed to be calm for him. I needed to be his second set of ears as the people with knowledge spoke to him.  I never thought I would be grateful for that prior trauma in my life but I was on Monday.  I firmly believed I functioned better because I had learned from it.


If I could wave a magic wand, I would go back about a week and change everything.  I would cast a spell so that my son didn’t have appendicitis.  Or would I?  What other lessons would not be learned had we not experienced the past few days? 
  
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Read this blog for more articles.  Ask your parenting & education questions and learn about early childhood workshops for parents & educators - Helping Kids Achieve.

For information about private coaching for adults, youth, teens and families -  Helping Families Achieve with Cindy Terebush, CPC, CYPFC

Copyright 2015 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved

Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

It’s Okay to Skip the School Trip

When my eldest son was in elementary school, I worked part time and volunteered to be the class parent.  I was at school for his class parties and had the first option to attend class trips.  I purposely skipped some trips.  I told the teacher to give someone else a chance.  Actually, I did it less for the sake of other parents and more for the sake of my son.  I wanted to give him the chance.  He needed the opportunity to see that he was capable.  He needed to know that he could manage without me.  It was okay to skip the school trip.

Children learn that they can be successfully independent from being apart from us at every age.  From the first time they leave their parents at preschool to their departure from our homes after high school, there are a multitude of times they can learn that they can manage without us – if only we don’t let our own fears stand in the way. 

On the first day of kindergarten for both of my children, I cried.  I wanted to protect them.  I wanted to see what they were seeing, watch what they were doing and prevent the other children from hurting their feelings.  I worried about how they were faring at their first sleepover at a friend’s house.  I wanted to hear every detail of their trips without me.  The best part of getting their first cell phones was knowing that they could text me upon arrival anywhere when I wasn’t with them.  When my son moved to college, I felt like a piece of me had been torn away.  All of that – every bit of the emotion – was about me and not my child.  It would only benefit me to be with my child more often.  It would not benefit my child in any way.

It’s okay to skip the school trip.  It’s important to encourage them to sleep at a friend’s house when invited.  It is essential that they be given the space to learn their own capability.  Children become confident in their ability to make good decisions by being given the freedom to do so without having you there to approve, disapprove or act as a safety net.

Children will naturally try to pull away from you.  They may say, “It’s okay if you don’t go.”  They will resist telling you everything and will treasure experiences that are all their own.   They will make friends who you don’t know.  They will answer your inquiry about what happened during the day with, “Nothing.”  Becoming separate from you is a natural process that enables them slowly but surely to leave your home and lead adult lives someday. 

When your children get on that bus or in that car or move into the dorm without you, think to yourself, “It is okay to skip this.  It is as it should be.”

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Read this blog for more articles.  Ask your parenting & education questions and learn about early childhood workshops for parents & educators - Helping Kids Achieve.

For information about private coaching for adults, youth, teens and families -  Helping Families Achieve with Cindy Terebush, CPC, CYPFC

Copyright 2015 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved


Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.                                                                                             

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Have You Noticed The Loss of Formalities?

My cousins and I dressed for a family
holiday dinner. Circa early 1970's
when families dressed for such gatherings.
When I was a girl, there were formalities.  I miss some of them. 

When I was a girl, the first day of school was quite an occasion.  During the summer, we shopped for our school clothes.  We made sure to buy one very special outfit for the first day.  We bought our school shoes and they stayed in the box from the time we purchased them in August until that first school day in September.  An anticipation built from having that box of shoes and bags of clothes that we weren’t allowed to wear.  The first day of school was so special.  Our parents didn’t have smartphones to take multiple pictures of us leaving the house to post on social media.  That first day wasn’t about posing and parental posting.  It was about feeling special in our brand new outfits.

There were other days that were made special with clothing.  We dressed nicely to visit family.  We wouldn’t dream of attending a religious service in jeans or shorts.  We had special clothes for birthday parties and outings and those rare occasions when we ate in restaurants.

When I was a girl, 5 year old children didn’t call their friends’ parents by first name.  Those people were Mr. This and Mrs. That until and unless we were told otherwise.  As a mother of two grown children, I will admit that I smile when my sons’ friends call me Mrs. Terebush and allow me to say, “Call me Cindy” when I deem it appropriate.  I don’t always deem it appropriate.  If I don’t know you well, “Mrs. Terebush” works for me. 

Today, college students call their professors by first name.  When I was in college, the professors were Dr. Someone, not my buddy Dave or Sue.  I wonder if that changed for the same reason so many preschool teachers are called by their first name by students.  There is a perception that it creates a friendlier environment.  I think the environment is made warm and friendly by the attitude of the people and not by the informality of the name. 

Many of my peers talk about young people having less respect for places and people than in the past.  Perhaps part of the problem is that we have made everything equal.  Many children dress the same for playing with friends and attending houses of worship.  They address adults and other authority figures in the same informal way that they address their peers.  There is no differentiation between place, age and educational level. 

When I was a girl, the formalities weren’t a burden.  We didn’t resent them.  I don’t even think I noticed when they started to disappear.  Slowly but surely, they just fell away.  I miss them….

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Read this blog for more articles.  Ask your parenting & education questions and learn about early childhood workshops for parents & educators - Helping Kids Achieve.

For information about private coaching for adults, youth, teens and families -  Helping Families Achieve with Cindy Terebush, CPC, CYPFC

Copyright 2015 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved

Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.