Dear Parents…

I would like to preface this letter with the fact that I am not a parent myself and do understand that when you have children of your own, your perceptions do change.  With that being said, it seems today, that parents have this internal conflict with trying to form such a positive relationship with their child that they don’t know where to discipline and where to provide some leeway.  They have this vision of being best friends with their child and fear that providing boundaries and consequences will some how hinder their vision.

As a middle child, I certainly did not make parenting easy.  Despite my dramatic cries and tantrum throwing efforts, my parents managed to maintained a close and positive relationship with me.   They both made an effort so that I was comfortable coming to them.  I was never scolded for being open and honest and they did their best to truly listen.  At the same time I knew what their expectations were.  The expectations my parents held for me at home carried across multiple platforms.  These platforms included sports, friends’ houses, school, and even work.  I was to be respectful and help where I could; say please and thank you; be responsible; and not talk back to any adults.  These expectations helped me navigate through life and taught me a sense of right and wrong, moral and immoral, and that there were consequences for my actions (both good and bad).

I feel it is important to hold our children to these same expectations.  Children need to be aware what is allowed and what is not allowed.  They need to be taught these expectations so they can practice them and be successful in the real world – whatever their endeavors may be.  By having firm boundaries, children know what to expect.  They aren’t left in a gray area uncertain and questioning if they are going to get in trouble this time if they didn’t get in trouble last time.  This is where consistency and followthrough are important.  Threatening children with consequences and then not ever enforcing them teaches them that they don’t have to listen because those consequences won’t actually happen.  This could easily have a negative impact as time goes on if not corrected – just imagine Bobby in the work place not believe his boss will truly fire him if he doesn’t get his paperwork completed.

I also feel it is important that our children not only be held to these expectations, but made aware that these are universal expectations.  Children need to realize that they will be held accountable in all aspects of their life and that there will most definitely be consequences for their actions.  If you are disrespectful to your parent, you very well may be grounded, lose a privilege or be given an additional chore.  Likewise, if you are disrespectful at school you will lose recess (this is a debatable consequence and can be discussed at a later time); lose a privilege or be given an additional task. On the other end of the spectrum, students should also learn that if they work hard, are helpful, and go above and beyond that their efforts will be acknowledged (whether it be through a sticker; verbal acknowledgment; or even a natural, good, internal feeling).  I feel that if we want our children to be set up for success, not only do they need to understand these expectations but also understand that humility is an admirable thing.  Their ownership and honesty should be acknowledged when they take accountability (they should still have consequences enforced, but recognition for their honesty is a must!).  Accountability in the classroom is something that I see lacking greatly, today.

In order to ensure our children are set up for success emotionally and academically, we need to let them know that we are a team.  We need to recognize that despite the fear of burdening a parent-child relationship, there is probably some fault that the child can take ownership of.  We as a team, need to communicate with one another about what we are witnessing at home and in the classroom.  We need to acknowledge problems that are arising and positive behaviors that are also being observed.  We want the child to see and be aware that we are on the same page and that our expectations will be enforced across different domains.    Therefore, as a teacher, I need you to have faith in the integrity of what I am telling you.

As a teacher, I am in no way trying to tell you that your son is a horrible human being.  I am in no way trying to tell you that your daughter is the only guilty party in a given situation.  I apologize for any negative experiences you may have had with previous teachers, coaches, and/or parents of another child.  But please try to recognize that the majority of adults truly want what’s best for your child and are simply trying to reach out for help – help in managing a situation your child can learn and grow from.  Please do not automatically assume I am out to get your child or pass judgment on him/her/you.  And lastly, if you promise to not believe every single thing your child says about school, I promise to not believe every single thing I hear about home.

We are in this together.  In order to ensure success for our children we need to help them navigate them through life so they can be independent and good human beings.  They may fight you along the way, but I promise as they become adults, they will thank you.  But furthermore, they will respect you.

Sincerely,

A loving teacher trying her best

 

Something All Men Should Know

Dear Gentlemen,

Most of you guys who have been around at least one woman, know that the last thing you should ask her is, “Is it that time of month?” or “Are you PMSing?”  This should be a well-known fact.  You know that the second those words come out of your mouth, you are about to experience a fiery wrath from a woman that you never thought was possible.  Despite that notorious understanding, there are some you who still have the audacity to do so.  You don’t even necessarily mean to say it in a douchebag way, but are sincerely trying to understand that moodiness that has consumed your once lovely sister, girlfriend, daughter, mother or wife.  So I felt I should clue you in on some things.

I will preface this letter that even the best of you can still screw this up.  I am blessed to have a very patient husband.  He is rational beyond belief (almost to an annoying point) and understands, to the best of his ability, what this monthly gift encompasses.  But, even him too, still seems to not completely comprehend the rules that stand when TOM is in town (aka: time of month).

Have you ever seen the show Charmed or watched any sort of exorcism movie?  You all know the clip of where a demon has possessed someone’s body and although they have taken over the body, that precious person is still in there somewhere fighting for life.  After fighting with this demon, you get a glimpse of the person you love for just a moment and see that she is still indeed alive and you just have to have hope and faith this demon will leave.  This is what PMS is like.

Despite our best efforts, our emotions get the best of us.  We cannot help it.  We have no control.  I’m sorry that when you asked if I was ready, that I responded in a tone that implied you were the dumbest person alive.  I want to apologize for literally having to sit down and just cry because I was hungry.  I apologize that despite you trying to just ignore the obvious mood swings, that I still got upset because you were not sympathetic enough.

But gentlemen, please, if you take one thing away from this.  Please, for the love of God, please do not ever tell me to, “Calm down.”  NEVER in the history of any language, have those two words ever achieved what you meant for them to do.  In fact, you were just better off hoping I would self-destruct due to the fact that I was hungry and uncomfortable.  But calm down? Are you kidding me?  Do not ever tell any hormonal woman, ever, to just calm down.

I know that we are not easy.  Half the time you have to do the opposite of what we say, understand that we don’t mean whatever we said when we were tired or hungry, and that for anywhere from 1-6 days a month we could be your worst nightmare.  I am fortunate enough to have little moments where I do “come back”  and can recognize that I am being completely ridiculous and irrational.  However, please understand that in the heat of the moment I have no control.  And as I have told a friend of mine, in the heat of the moment when I am infuriated, I’ve already committed.  My brain might be screaming at me that I’m being foolish, but I’ve already committed to acting like a woman in the middle of war and you just need to hang in for the ride.

The last thing that I would like to persuade you to resist is cracking stupid jokes.  After thoroughly being warned that we are not thinking clearly and are committed to burning down the city when we are enraged, please do not make some stupid sarcastic, smart-ass joke thinking it will go over well.  I am already not feeling great.  I’m hormonal.  I’m frustrated for stupid reasons.  And now you think it’s a good time to make a joke where the chance of the joke going over well is about equal to the chance of you winning the lottery.  Not good.

Like I said before, it’s not easy.  I cant recognize that hormones can get the best of us.  But please remind yourself it’s just a storm.  It’s not like this forever and you just have to be patient. Please recognize that now, more than ever, not only do we need your patience but we need that respect, that kindness, and your loving actions.  If you notice I’m particularly testy, bring me chocolate and a nice glass of wine.  Distract me.  I will apologize on the behalf of all women who act crazy when TOM comes into town.  TOM is a dick.  We don’t do it on purpose and it’s not fun for us either.  I would much rather be a go-with-the-flow gal and enjoy the evening.

Sincerely,

A woman who sincerely hates TOM

The Truth About Marriage

When speaking with my pastor a week before my wedding, we were discussing the idea of “the one.”  He told me he didn’t believe in being meant for one person.  He believed that marriage was about being with a person whom you love that you choose to work on things with each and every day.  “There will always be someone who is taller, richer or funnier.  There will be people we find attractive.  However, marriage is about loving that one person you choose and working through things with each other day in and day out.”

This is something that has stuck with me more than any other piece of marriage advice (however, “happy wife, happy life” is a close second).  I think this philosophy takes off the pressure and the fear of marrying the wrong person.  How many times have you heard, “How do you know he’s the one?”  That’s a scary thought, right?  It’s scary to think that you are only meant for one person out of the nearly 7.5 billion people on this earth.  Not to mention that puts an immense amount of pressure on the relationship itself.

We live in an age, today, where people are constantly looking for the new and improved.  Aziz Ansari, in his book Modern Romance, described how while he was on his way to a date, he was on Tinder swiping just to see if there was anyone who peeked his interest more than the person he was about to meet.  I’ve heard friends talk about how they met a guy and had this great chemistry and he was so funny and immediately wrote their fairytale story before even embarking on their first date.

We read into too many things. We get nervous that the person we chose to spend the rest of or life with may not have been the right choice.  I have had those doubts.  I got married at the age of 21.  Those doubts got amplified when things in our marriage were going awry (fertility issues, a career that moved us away from family, sacrifices that had to be made, etc).  It’s those doubts that I think are the most harmful to a relationship.  Once you allow yourself to doubt things, it’s like a domino effect.

This last year was a struggle for our marriage.  My husband was offered a job in Arizona, the last place I ever wanted to live.  When I was under the impression we were being uprooted to a place far from my family where I didn’t want to be, the doubts I had grew exponentially.  I then confessed my doubts to my husband and that did not help matters.  My doubts made him feel more insecure and therefore he withdrew a little and it was just hard.  We were both sensitive to the tiniest things.

However, that’s the thing.  Marriage is not always easy.   Marriage requires sacrifice – you both take turns with who has to sacrifice what.  But you do it for a greater cause.  And, you don’t keep track of who gave what up.  It is what it is.  A lot of people think that after you say, “I do” that all of your life problems will be solved.  A lot of people don’t talk about the struggles they have had or the sacrifices they have had to make.  They don’t share their struggles on Facebook and therefore you’re more likely to feel alone – like you’re marriage is bad or you’re the only person going through this.  That feeling in itself doesn’t make things any easier.

I think what I have learned most from this last year is that it’s important to be honest and communicate your feelings, fears, needs, hopes, etc to your partner – no matter how hard it is.  It’s important to have those hard conversations and recognize what you need and want.  Ownership is also a must.  You need to own up to what your faults are in the relationship and support each other.  You need to be willing to give your partner what they need.  Sometimes it’s simple things.  For example, I’m guilty of not complimenting my husband as much as I should.  I’ve never been good about giving compliments – but after the ups and downs we have had, it’s important that he hears them.  I would be just as insecure or frustrated if I didn’t hear those positive words from him.  It needs to go both ways.

I think it’s easy to write things off.  It’s easier to quit than work through things.  It’s easier to say, “It wasn’t meant to be” than to take responsibility for your faults in the marriage, correct them, work through issues, communicate, stumble, rebuild, stumble, communicate, breathe, and work through things little by little.  In fact, that sounds like a lot more work, but it’s worth it.

After talking through things and recognizing what we have endured, how far we have come, and what we love about each other, it makes us feel so much more worthy of the relationship we have.  When you are both willing to put in the effort and put the other person before you, you are going to succeed.  Because marriage is about the person you choose to be with and work through things with day in and day out.  There will always be people you are compatible with, whom you find attractive, funny, or smart.  But you chose your spouse for a reason – and you need to remember those reasons.

Lastly, humor is a huge element.  Without humor I truly think my husband and I would have been lost.  You need to be able to find things to laugh about and break the tension. Even if it’s just temporary. Trying to make one another laugh is always a fun thing and humor releases endorphins causing that “feel-good” emotion.  It’s healthy.  Fortunately for me, my husband’s sense of humor is one of the things I find most attractive about him.  He is good at finding the light in dark situations and when going through ups and downs, that humor is badly needed.

So if you find yourself reading this, and you or someone you know is going through rough times, just know it’s not a forever thing.  It doesn’t have to be a forever thing.  It does take work, communication, ownership, patience, and humor.  But it’s worth it.   Despite my doubts, we’re in a place where we are stronger than ever.  We have family and friends to thank.  We recognize what one another needs to feel secure and empowered and we recognize that we are in this for the long haul – forever and always.

 

 

 

 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”  

1 Corinthians 13:4-8