Monday, September 19, 2016

Mom and Dad, Your'e Doing Alright

By: Jamie Perillo, LPC          

            Parents often ask me, “Am I doing the parenting thing right?” “I want to be a good Mom,” or “I hope my kids remember some of the good stuff and not all of my mess-ups.” I see the agony on their faces when their child is hurting, and I hear their inner plea,” Please, don’t let it be because of me.” When there was something, perhaps they could have done differently I see their breathing shallow and their eyes silently begging for their child’s forgiveness.  Sometimes I see a parent’s fatigue, overwhelm, and exhaustion. I hear from deep in their gut a quiet yell, “Damn, this is hard.” And when something wonderful, even the tiniest of wonderful occurs, I see their eyes fill with tears of pure joy and relief.

I’ve had parent’s ask me, "Do you think my kids will remember any of the good or just my mistakes?' Here’s my answer:

In the seventeen years my mother was alive, I probably complained a lot. No, I know I complained a lot. When I was an early teenager I threw out a few blaming “It’s because of you” or “It’s all your fault” statements. Now, eighteen years later I can’t remember why I said those things - all I remember is the good stuff. My mother standing at the top of the stairs, cooking chicken soup in the kitchen, and smiling as I came in the front door from school, her arms open wide to greet me. I remember her studying social studies facts with me, writing “you’ll do great” on my arm, trying  to relax my anxious mind; and when I was afraid of  the playground ghost stories she would sit in the beanbag chair in my bedroom until I fell asleep. I remember watching her at the kitchen table doing homework with my sister in the evening, after she had already picked me up from tennis practice and made dinner – hours after she had undergone chemotherapy and radiation– sitting giving time to us.

Your kids will remember your tiny gestures -when you rub their back when they have a cold, tucking them in at night and allowing that extra bedtime story – just because.  They’ll remember when you greet them at the door, or put your phone/work/emails down to listen to the new joke they learned, or you surprising them at school for an ice-cream date. They will look back one day and understand you did the best you could with what you had at the time.

I had my mom for seventeen years. It was not nearly long enough. But when she was here – she was here; she was present. We knew we were loved and she took the time to make sure of that. She filled us up with enough love to last, and for that I am grateful.

Give your children TIME, create memories, participate in family ritual (traditions), laugh and joke together, give hugs, say, “I love you,” say, ”I’m sorry,” and  look them in their eyes and  listen. These are the things they will remember. Give yourself a break - you are doing a great job.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Ease into School: Help Your Child Form their Team with 10 Simple Questions

By: Jamie Perillo, LPC   
    It’s that time of year again – to trade in the beach towels for backpacks, lazy summer days for early morning alarms, and the comforts of home and camp friends for new teachers, classmates, and schoolwork. This transition is not easy for many kids. Help your child reduce their anxiety by “creating their team” with a few simple questions.

    By creating a “team” of supports your child will feel comforted, confident, and in control. Here are a few questions to help your child choose their team players:

1. Who are your helpers? If you need help with schoolwork, finding something, or just need help who can you ask? Then help them list the appropriate people – perhaps a teacher, principal, nurse, lunch aid, para, or friend.

2. Who are your school work helpers? If you don’t understand something who can you ask?

3. Who are your “fun” team members? Who can you be silly with? (When it’s appropriate) Who can you ask to play with?

4. Who are your lunch team members? Who would you like to sit with if you can?

5. Who are your bus team members? If there’s a problem on the bus who are your helpers?

6. If something doesn’t feel good, who are your helpers? Or if your child has a specific medical condition such as food allergies, asthma, or diabetes – who are their designated helpers?

7. Who are your funny friends? If you need to laugh who can you find?

8. If you are having a difficult feeling – feeling sad, missing mom or dad, worried, or angry or upset about something who is on your team that can help? Perhaps a school social worker, teacher, principal, para, or friend.

9. If someone in school is bugging you who is on your team that can help?

10. When you are ready to kick off your shoes at the end of the day, who on your team can dance, play, or relax with you?

    By asking these questions, and helping your child form their team, you are empowering your child and building the confidence they can handle issues as they arise by seeking the appropriate help. This exercise reminds your child they are not alone – in fact they have a whole team of support! Just as parents need that reminder, so do kids. Don’t forget to remind your child they are the captain of their team and they can hire and fire as they choose.