Tag Archives: Family

Family Holiday Traditions

(Taken from “Connected e-newsletter, By FamilyBy Design)

We have noticed that when we think of the holiday season we think of traditions and traditional activities. And it is not because we have holiday traditions. It is because holidays are traditions. No tradition, no holiday. Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, et al, are traditions, as are all the activities associated with them.

During this time of year, we celebrate Christmas. And we cannot think of Christmas without thinking of traditions, mostly family traditions. Even if we tried, we cannot help but think of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, Christmas Eve church service, carols and other Christmas music, decorating our home with a lighted fir tree and garlands, dolls and other keepsakes, and having our family, neighbors and friends to our home for holiday food and drink. As Ray Charland said during one of our Families and the Holidays teleconversations, “It wouldn’t be Christmas without those things.”

Family holiday traditions seem to be a source of warmth and joy and also stress and upset, both of which seem to increase during the holidays. How can that be?

Well, the family part of family holiday traditions is relationship … warm and joyful.

The holi part calls for the day(s) to be sacred, pure and perfect – uh oh!

The traditions part is “long-established customs and practices that have the effect of unwritten law” (dictionary definition). And law is agreements/promises transmuted into expectations. And since our expectations are rooted in fantasies (i.e. purity and perfection), stress, upset and disappointment are unavoidable – built into the notion of The Holiday Season.

You may ask, ‘how did this tradition get started?’ I’ll tell you. I don’t know. But because of our traditions, every one of us knows who he is and what God expects him to do. Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof

While traditions may tell us who we are and what is expected of us, they cannot be counted on to deliver happiness and joy.

So when you and/or members of your family find yourselves upset during the holidays, there’s nothing wrong with you. It comes with the package. It’s normal and ordinary.

What may be extraordinary is being aware that traditions and traditional activities do not guarantee joy and fulfillment in your holidays. However, you can use traditions as a reminder that you can bring warmth and joy to life in your relationships and families. You can bring your unabashed expression of love and appreciation to the people you hold so dear.

We wish you a wonderful Holiday Season and a happy entry into 2011.

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Parenthood In The Middle

When asked how the workshop went last weekend, “It was amazing,” I said.

It was amazing not because parents now would have angelic little children await when they get home.

It was amazing not because parents now have the instructions to fix and change their children or their parenting styles–the workshop did not, and will never intend to fix or change people, or families.

It was amazing to see people in the workshop experience being free, peaceful, and at ease about being parents.

It was amazing because I did not have to have the answers to what parents are dealing with. Through generous and authentic sharing, they saw answers for themselves, and realized the upset, frustration, worries, and overwhelmed they have been experiencing from time to time as parents is nothing more than the desire of wanting their children to turn out. Somehow that desire turned into unfulfilled expectation. Love and joy of parenting had gone out of the window.

A friend of ours, Leah Siegel, mother of three young children, passed away last Monday due to breast cancer. The journey of fighting the illness was “haunted by the idea that her children would grow up without any memory of her.As I read the tribute Sunday morning, tears streamed down on my face. Leah said, It breaks my heart that they may not get to know me… That’s half the reason I keep fighting, damn it. I’m going to stay alive long enough for them to have some kind of memory of me. My heart ached for what Leah had to go through–the physical pain and emotional turmoil–all of it for loving her children. I wondered…

Where did the burden and fear of not having to do an impeccable job in protecting and raising our children come from? We expect we SHOULD provide our children a perfect life, a life without set backs and tragedies, because one mistake may ruin them.

Maybe we have assumed too much as parents–too much responsibility, too much seriousness, too much burden. Maybe we have assumed too much about ourselves and our children. Maybe as a society, we don’t even know what a parent is, not to mention what a parent’s job is.

Perhaps it’s time to unburden yourself. Allow yourself to put those nagging questions “Have I done my job?” “Would my children be OK/turn out without me?” to rest, and never have to rustle with them any more. Peace and freedom is just a conversation away. Join us in the next Familying Workshop in which you regain the experience of joy and wonder of being parents.

Familying Workshop Is Coming To Texas!!

It is with joy and excitement to announce that I will be leading the very first Familying Workshop in July!!

The journey of creating “Familying” started in 2009. Through your generous contribution and support, I was able to use the structure and the distinctions of Power and Contribution Course to discover many hidden discourses of being a parent, and how they unknowingly impact the dynamic between parents children. Another thing I realized (which is nothing new to most of us) was that how we are in relationship with others can traced back to our own relationship with our parents. Simply say, family experience is life-defining: it shapes who you are, what is possible and not possible in every relationship and every aspect of your life.

In sharing with others about Familying Initiative, I was referred to Sandy and Lon Golnick, the owner of “Relationship and FamiliesBy Design.”  The work they have started six years ago paved the path for a new paradigm, called “Familying”. I am honored to be in partnership with them, create, produce, and conduct workshops and coaching for parents who have a commitment to experience a new peace, freedom, and ease in their roles as parents.

So, stay tune!!  More details to come!!!

What is a family?

By Sarah Lusher 10/04/05

What is a family?
Of whom, or what does it consist?
A family is not standard
A family is not tradition
Sunshine warms a cold cheek
A once unseen door
Not only appears – but opens
Kittens purring, blankets stirring,
Presents piled under a lively green tree
As the snow lies outside
Soft and silent and cold
The radiance within
That you feel for another
That is love
And that is a family
It only takes two people
To make a family
Relation is not required
What is a family?
The embodiment of Love

Family In Partnership

Ever wonder why sometimes the job of being a parent is like playing a curling sport–moving the rock around and hoping the game would turn out. 

See if you can tell the similarities (hints: the athletes=parents, the curling rock=the child)

When it comes to child-rearing practices, they all seem geared toward knowing what to do and what not to do when a behavior or situation occurs. This might make child-rearing look like two entities “against” one another (“adult” vs. “child”), like an “object to object” model. Either the adult does something to a child (i.e., calling time-out, presenting choices, or grounding a child), or the child does something to an adult (i.e., throwing a tantrum, breaking ground rules, or talking back). The “object to object” model, which is not bad, could also leave parents wonder: “Am I doing the right thing for my child because the tips in parenting books and magazines don’t seem to work.”

The “object to object” parenting model often deals with issues as if issues are problematic.  The model only creates structures for behavior instead of realizing that a behavior as an assessment just benefits adults. Let’s take “temper tantrum” as an example. It is one of the top concerns for families with a toddler, and it is usually seen as a problematic behavior for adults. For that reason, tons of strategies are created to prevent such behavior from happening, or to stop it. In the meantime, we look at a tantrum (behavior) as a thermometer (assessment) of how children are well-behaved, or being cooperative. The most limiting aspect of “object to object” approach is that, it often takes place from the view of adults with their own explanations of what the behavior meant to them. Family members are unknowingly stuck in roles that define and limit each of them, what they see and know about the other family members would be partial. What if the relationship between a parent and a child is no longer about dealing with a behavior, or conforming to norms, like, “it should be/shouldn’t be”? 

What if, having a tantrum is not a problem, but an opportunity? What opportunity, you might ask?  What if, it’s an opportunity for toddlers to exercise what self-respect is, and gain control over their environment? As for the adults, could the opportunity be the role of partners, and most importantly, allows our children be partners with us as well?

Another thing I have noticed lately is that, as a society, we see children/youth as “property”. They are not related to as human beings. I am no expert in “child-rearing”, but the notion that children are “raised” seems disturbing, something akin to growing crops, herding cattle or domesticating animals. It views children like chattel, expected them to kowtow to the wishes and the rules of adults who are suppressed from time to time.

What if the purpose of “family” is exploring and discovering the view of ALL individuals, and creating what works for all?  

One of the little boys I work with is three years old. One afternoon, as we were dancing to his favorite music, I noticed it was 5 minutes till dinner time.

Me: It’s almost time for dinner. Let’s go wash your hands.

Little Boy: (with frustration) No. I don’t want to.

I could have insisted he should wash his hands right then because the fact was, it’s also my time to go, and I would be late for my appointment if this washing hand scenario was going to take more than 5 minutes of “my time.”  As soon as I caught myself that I WANTED him to do what I wanted him to do, and wanted him to follow “my schedule/my time (a.k.a. “My view is more important than a three-year-old.”).  I thought, “What would he want me to do at this moment?”

Me: You want to dance some more?

Little Boy: (big smile) Yeah, I want to dance with my friends (his stuffed animals).

Me: I want to dance with you and your friends, too. But I have a problem.

Little Boy: (looked at me) What problem?

Me: I need to go now, AND I also want to dance with you. How can we make it work?

Little Boy: silent for about 10 seconds) How about dance 10 times?

Me: (smile) Hmmm, how about going downstairs and dance with mommy for 5 times?

He grabbed 4 stuffed animals immediately, and joyfully ran downstairs. We danced 5 times, and he washed his hands. Surprisingly, I arrived at my appointment on time.

What if all we had to do was shift our orientation to the baby, the toddler, 2 and 3 year old, pre K and kindergartener, and create partnership from there with our children?  By the time a child is five, they are generally engaged with the same concerns as adults. In fact, their world has much more variety and creativity. They can fully distinguish work from play. They are sexually curious, belonging is an issue, a career or the thoughts of what they want to be when they grow up is fully engaged (i.e., wanting to be a dancer, artist, soccer player or a stock broker). Family is important and so are their friends. They have environmental concerns, money (ownership and charity), education (discovery and learning), physical activities and well-being, being in communication and aware of social conventions (cultural awareness).

What if a partnership between parents and children is created through the notion of “all views are valid, and valued; therefore, appreciated and celebrated”? What would “family” look like then?  

Could this be a time for families to design their own model free from the social standards?

One Chicken, Or Two?

 

My grandmother passed away two days ago. “She left with peace, Ah-Ling,” my mother said to me on the phone. “No regrets, just like how she has lived.”  

When I was about eight years old, I asked my grandmother, “Why do you like boys more than girls?”  She looked at me with disbelieve, “Why did you ask such question?”  “Well, you gave Auntie Mei one chicken after she had a baby girl, but you gave Auntie Lui two chickens after she had a baby boy.”* My grandmother shook her head with a smile, “No, I love them equally. It’s just how things get done here in our family.”  Not a tradition again, I said to myself. I did not stop there. I was going to proof she was wrong for playing favor. “Ah-Ma (“Grandmother” in Taiwanese), you do like boys more than girls. You gave my Mom one chicken when she had me, and gave her two when she had my brothers. Why don’t you just admit that you like boys more than girls?”  She raised her hand up (I thought, “She is gonna smack me. I am in trouble again for talking back at an adult,”) and gently rested her palm against my cheek, “Chan-Rai (my father, her son-in-law, was sitting next to her), you have raised this girl to be out spoken, haven’t you?” 

My grandmother might be right about how my father has raised me. But what she did not know is that never-surrender-to-status-quo and the unstoppable-ness of me are really her—she has weaved that part of her into my heart and my soul.  

My grandmother was the only woman in her village refused to marry to a man she had never met. Are you kidding—she could have been shamed, and disowned by her father, and her community.  She managed to let her voice heard—“I told my father, ‘Over my dead body should you force me to marry to that man.’ ”—and married to my grandfather. I asked her, “So you and grandfather actually dated a few times before you got married?”  She laughed, “No, of course not. People didn’t date back then.” “So you and grandfather’s marriage is an arranged marriage after all?” I was disappointed since I thought my grandmother was a “feminist” in her time. “I had seen your grandfather a few times around town, but didn’t know him well. At least, I got to say who I want to marry, and being responsible for what I chose.”  That is another part of her that she weaved into my being. 

I love you, Ah-Ma, for you had taught me living a life fully, and to be true to one’s commitment. Your love forever moving on this planet, and the love that I will weave and generate into the future.  Just like the song, “Breaths,” sung by Sweet Honey in the Rock…… (Thanks, Jerrie, for sharing this with me)  

Those who have died have never never left
The dead have a pact with the living
They are in the woman’s breast
They are in the wailing child
They are with us in the home
They are with us in the crowd
The dead have a pact with the living…
 

‘Tis the ancestors’ breath
In the voice of the waters

*As one of the Taiwanese traditions, “Drunken chicken” is cooked for and served to a new mother to help breast milk production. In my grandmother’s family, the amount of chicken given is determined by the sex of the baby. Say if you have a baby boy, then you get two chickens, if you have a baby girl, you get one chicken.

Milestones

  

By Korrie Anne Everett

Here’s the story of my children. H, my youngest son, is 2 1/2 years old now, and has Down syndrome. My daughter, A, has chronic lung disease, and ADHD. R has poor vision due to retinopathy of prematurity. So far, she has not received a diagnosis of ADD of ADHD, but I have a feeling it’s not far off. My middle son, M, who will be 4 on Halloween, has ADHD and ODD. Each of my children has a challenge in this lifetime, but I try to help them see it’s what makes them special and unique. They take on it as a blessing and an opportunity. We emphasize that everyone is how they are because that is how God made them- that life would be boring if God made us all the same. 🙂

This week has been hectic for us with all 4 kids, a tummy virus, sinus infection, no sleep and the start of kindergarten!  I always thought I would be the Mommy hiding outside the classroom, peeking in the window to be sure the girls didn’t miss me!  It was such a special day for all of us- a day I never thought we would get to have; a day I feel so blessed to experience.

My daughters (A and R) went off to pre-k through the school district last year, and they even rode the bus. But, this year, I’m driving them. I was not thrilled with the idea of them being on the school bus with 4th and 5th graders. A is really upset about me driving her. She is telling me,”I am a big girl now, mommy!”

Five and a half years ago, my daughters, along with their triplet brother, were born 16 weeks prematurely at 24 weeks 3 days gestation. The “border of viability.” I will NEVER forget the doctor telling me what we could expect and what they would do to help the babies. Three days before I delivered them, the neonatologist came to speak to me about what would happen. He said, in all likelihood, the babies would not survive the cesarean section delivery. He gave us the option of having them delivered then just being with them until they died. We told him that it was NOT an option, and they would be doing ALL they possibly could to save the triplets. Then the Doctor told us that IF they survived (and their chances were less than 10%), they would most likely be severely retarded (HIS word, not mine). They could have cerebral palsy, they could be blind, deaf, developmentally delayed, and probably never catch up to their peers. He said, for them to survive *intact* (with no delays at all) or disabilities, it would be even less than 10%. It most likely was not a realistic possibility– they would be delayed. Well, I was already deeply in love with those 3 babies.  I knew their names, their personalities and what they would look like! There was NO WAY I was going to give up on them that easily!

Three days later, at 5pm, I was rolled into the OR, scared to DEATH, quite literally, and shaking so bad from terror. The babies HAD to come out. We were all dying– me from pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure), HELPP syndrome (organs begin shutting down), and pulmonary edema (fluid build up around the heart). My son, J’s sac had broken and the Doctor suspected he had an infection. In pre-eclampsia, the placentas begin shutting down too and they are obviously the babies’ lifelines.

At 5:24pm, J arrived weighing one pound and five ounces and 11 1/2 inches long. I heard a nurse said, “Oh my God! He’s trying to cry!”  The Doctors had warned me previously that the babies would most likely NOT cry or even make any sounds. They were still too tiny and sick. Next was R, at 5:25pm, weighing 1lb 6 ozs and 12 inches long.  She made a sound like a kitten mewing. Thirty seconds later, A, arrived at 1lb, 2 ozs and 11 3/4 inches, madder than heck and bellowing as loud as an 18 ozs baby can!!  It was still not much more than a tiny squeak, but it shocked the 35 medical professionals in O.R. that day! She’s a feisty little girl! 🙂

I got to see their tiny little faces under those little caps and all swaddled in blankets as they rolled them past me on the way to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. (NICU). To this day, I do NOT recall them being hooked up to ventilators but I’m told they were being “bagged,” and had the tubes in their throats already. All I remember seeing was those precious, itty-bitty faces with their button noses and eyes closed. They were so early that their eyes were still sealed shut. They did not open for another 11 days! They also had no eyebrows or eyelashes but they did have finger and toenails.

Ten days after their births, we had to say goodbye to J. He had had too many complications, and surgery had not been able to correct the one that would kill him. To end his suffering, we made the decision to remove him from life support. I held him while he passed.

The girls stayed in the hospital for 4 and 5 months. They came home that summer medically fragile and with no guarantees that they would develop “normally.” A had have a brain bleed-level 2 while in her early days there. It had resolved completely, but that did not mean that it had not damaged any parts of her brain. She had also died in my arms one day when her CPAP tube clogged up. The Doctor and nurse resuscitated her in my lap. We spent the next 3-4 years in many therapies: physical, occupational, and speech. R had laser surgery on her eyes while in the NICU.  She developed ROP, a common eye disease in preemies that can cause blindness. She is nearsighted and has worn glasses since her first birthday. A had a speech delay and refused to speak. She only wanted to use sign until she turned 3. Today, the child will NOT shut up! She even talks in her sleep!

So, when A’s sister, two brothers and I walked her to her kindergarten room, she ran in yelling ” Miss Hartrine! (She says her teacher’s name backwards!), where do I put my backpack?!” and left me with hardly a backwards glance or a goodbye.  I wanted to cry…  But I had one more tiny baby to deliver….. 🙂 She, too, walked proudly into her new kindergarten room, quickly found her new nametag and hung up her backpack on her hook while her siblings peeked around, then brushed me off just as quickly, to join her new friends. 🙂 The boys and I left. My almost 4-year-old asking,” Mommy, where’s MY new classroom?” THAT IS when I almost bawled!!

Today, again, I watched those tiny pigtails and strong little legs carrying the HUGE backpacks walk into school all by themselves because “We are big girls, Mommy.” I did not cry outwardly remembering the Doctor’s words, and thanking God for how wrong the predictions were!

Sweet Baby Boy   By Korrie Anne Everett

My “chubby delicious”

lavender scented baby.

Your eyes turn to almonds

when you smile your gummy smile at me.

I love waking to your babbles and hiccups;

seeing your fat, soft arms and starfish hands

reaching up for me.

You are the whole world to me,

and I, to you.

Your innocence

never to be lost.

One extraneous bit of DNA

was all it took

to render you

forever my baby.

Heavensent    By Korrie Anne Everett 

Little blonde-haired boy

pouting beneath the rose bush.

Looking so sad And so much

like your brother before you.

 I fold you into my arms

and you mold yourself to me,

The relief of my affection

loosening your limbs.

Your soul starved

for my love,

my magical middle son.