My daughter is in her first year of high school and navigating the world of girl drama, boyfriends and school dances. As painful as it can be to watch her suffer through some of this, I want her to know a few things that I wish I'd known at her age.
When I first learned I was having twins, I did what any self-respecting woman would do: I panicked. I also scoured the Internet for advice, war stories -- anything that would help my husband and I survive becoming first-time parents to, not one, but two newborns.
For my daughter, who's obsessed with hearts and flowers and the idea of love, Valentines Day is a pretty big deal. As she finds her way through puppy love and first crushes, I find I'm learning right along with her.
Sometimes life doesn't turn out as you had expected. But the truth is, when you are dealt a bad hand, you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back in the game. Giving up, feeling sorry for yourself, and crying over the unfairness of it all doesn't cut it. Parents of special needs children know this to be true.
As a mom with a 20-year career in matchmaking, I expected to teach my kids some life lessons. Instead, it's my children who constantly teach me about life and love by showing me the following characteristics.
In my opinion, there are two basic types of partner-less parents: single parents and solo parents. I've been both, and I can tell you that there are good things and bad things about each situation.
Three kids later, I still see beauty when I look in the mirror. I don't see just a body. Sure, I see crow's feet snaking out from my eyes when I smile; I see a mass of curly hair. But mostly, I see a person: my husband's wife, my children's mother, my students' teacher...
In all my years as a parent educator, I have never met parents who earnestly wanted to hurt their children. Most parents sincerely want to encourage and empower their children to lead strong, successful lives. However, it is their lack of mindfulness that defaults into old patterns and belief systems that teach their children harmful messages rather accidently.
As a woman, body image issues have drifted in and out of my life for as long as I can remember. They're that little albatross I can't quite shake: Every time I squeeze into a pair of jeans or put on my swimsuit for my daughters' Saturday morning lessons, every time I turn sideways to see my reflection in a mirror or compare myself to someone beautiful. They're the questions that tumble around in my head: Am I old? Am I fat? Am I pretty? When my daughter started asking the same questions, I knew it was time to break the cycle.
There are a few things we know for sure. Don't abuse your children. Do feed, clothe and shelter them. Beyond that, you can probably find some sketchy opinion or study to back up any position you take on parenting.