Question for Bernie
Your book, Love, Magic & Mudpies: Raising Your Kids to Feel Loved, Be Kind, and Make a Difference, is the most wonderful book. I can only do so much for myself and my kids. I would like some ideas about single parenting, and how to make sure my children get what they need to be okay with just one parent.
I have two boys and two girls with a lot of serious issues. I would like to talk to Bernie, if possible.
What your children need is to know that they are loved, and given mottoes to live by. Remember, as a parent you do not need to like what they are doing, but you need to love them and you must let them know that you do love them at every opportunity.
Ask each of your children to draw a picture of your home and family, and when each one shows you her/his drawing, see how that makes you feel. Be interested in each drawing, talking with each child about what he or she wanted to say about home and family life. Make sure you stress that this is a way to open up communication not only between the children and you, but also among the siblings themselves.
Do what makes you happy. Just because you have the responsibility of parenting four children alone does not mean that you must give up doing things that give you joy. In fact, it is very important that you model for your children the importance of prioritizing our need for experiencing joy every day. This is a powerful way to stay healthy and keep our immune systems strong.
As my own wonderful mother told me when I ran up against difficulties growing up, “God is redirecting you, and something good will come of your situation. Material things are here to make it a better world for everyone. Troubles like hunger, however, should lead us to find nourishment. When we find ourselves in situations which seem very difficult to bear, we usually discover that going through that “fire” pushes us out of our comfort zone for a reason—life is about learning, and when we go through difficult times, we tend to learn the most. Have faith—believe and really know that you have the ability to survive and thrive, with joy and purpose in your heart.
Many people say that when they became a grandparent, they really found joy and happiness with their grandchildren, so act like you are their grandmother. The tension between children and parents gets in the way of happiness. Grandparents are happy with their grandchildren because the stress we put on ourselves as parents is gone. Try to capture that sense of freedom that grandparents have—it comes from the absence of stress.
If you have any questions, or want to share some of your children’s issues, let me know.
Remember, the troublemaker gets attention, but the attention a troublemaker wants is to feel loved. When he or she has that from a parent, the troublemaking will stop. Discipline should be wrapped in a loving message, not a judgmental one.