The extroverted feeler and responsible behavior

My son is an extroverted feeler and my daughter is an introverted thinker.

When he was 12 and she was 7, their father and I were working out the details of a divorce. Their father moved out for a year, moved back in for a year, and now was out again. It had taken me two years of couple’s counseling to decide that yes, we did need to get divorced. Now we were in the year of hammering out the details.

One day he came over and was obnoxious and rude. I got angry and yelled and threw him out. I slammed the door after him. I didn’t usually do that and it felt both good and bad.

The kids were conferring. I wondered if I’d scared them, losing my temper. They both came to me.

“Mom, we don’t want you to yell at dad and make him leave.” said the EF, arms crossed. The IT stood beside him. “And no slamming doors.”

“But he was rude first!” I said, realizing as I said it, uh, lame. And where have I had this conversation before?

“We know that he was rude. But we aren’t talking about him. We are talking about your behavior. We don’t care what he does.” They both looked stern and fierce.

“So I have to behave no matter what he does.” I said. They nodded. “You are right. I apologize for yelling at dad, throwing him out and slamming the door. I need to behave anyhow. That’s what I tell you, right?”

“Yes, mom.” And then they both hugged me to comfort me.

I felt sheepish for behaving badly, but mostly proud. Proud that my kids felt comfortable confronting a misbehaving adult and the one with whom they were living, me. Right after a yelling tantrum, too. And proud that they were giving me back the message that I’d given them for years: I don’t care what the other kid did, that is not acceptable behavior. And overall I felt pretty good that I really had not yelled and slammed doors very often: we’d done the majority of our fighting in the counselor’s office and had tried to make it very clear that it was not the kids’ fault.

The photograph is of my son in Thailand. He was a Rotary Exchange Student, to Trang. I don’t know who took the photograph.

Previously published on everything2.com.

 

separation

This is one of the most beautiful and saddest photographs I have taken. It is my sister, about a month before she died of cancer. And her daughter, who was 13.

_______________________________

On the last visit to my sister, she was in kidney failure, dying. We had conversations that were surreal. All I wanted was to stay with her.

One day a friend of hers, another mother and I, were working to make her more comfortable.

“I am sad!” my sister said, and started crying.

“Why are you sad?” I said, “What are you sad about?”

“I won’t be there! I won’t be there when she graduates from high school! I won’t be there for her first date! I won’t be there when she gets married! I don’t want to die!”

By now we are all crying. “You will be there!” I say. I am certain. “You won’t be in this form. You will be in another form!”

“I will?” my sister said, crying.

“Yes.” I said, crying too. “You have to go. You have to transform. You can’t stay. But you will be there for her.”

We cried and held her.

And I know for certain that she is there, she is here, she is with her daughter as her daughter graduates from high school, goes on a date, does all the things that daughters do.

Now and forever.

And the living children must be returned to the living parents. We cannot do otherwise and call ourselves humans.

 

mother and child

I have a collection of parent and children pictures and sculptures. This is one. A mother ox and her baby. I was born in the Chinese Year of the Ox and so was my daughter. This little sculpture is about 3 by 2 inches, but both my daughter and I love it.

I am so proud of everyone who stood up for children yesterday, and for everyone who is saying, if it was MY child, I would want someone to stand up for them and for me.

Blessing and bring the children back to their parents.

young alone

I have a double lot, L shaped, because the 1930s garage extends 5 feet into the second lot.

I don’t mow the second lot. It is in the center of the block and has an apple tree, a plum tree, a maple with a tree house, wild roses and weeds.

The deer leave their young to stay. Intemittently there are young alone in my lot. I went to go in the tree house this weekend, but this small one was alone. I don’t like to scare them into the streets or more exposed yards, so I backed off.

containment in ceremony

This is for Taleweaver #147 – What brings you joy?

My minister talks about containment in ceremony.

That the ceremony can be a container for us to handle our worst selves and our best selves safely.

The Catholic mass is an example, particularly when it was in Latin. That it takes us through horror and suffering and death and then resurrection. This past weekend we performed the Mozart Requiem, from grief through joy.

My minister says that Western Civilization has lost the container for spirituality in the churches and instead holds the sacred in a love relationship. He says that the projection of one’s best self on the loved one can then flip into the projection of one’s worst, if we are not careful. We are attracted to people who have some of the aspects that we hide in our unconscious, so these are activated and projected. We magnify the talents and the beauty and wisdom of the love object. They are not real. True love is when we can slowly withdraw the projection and see the actual person who is there and then really love them.

I am taking a class where we are reading The Maiden Tsar. I am thinking of the chicken feet that Baba Yaga’s house stands on. We say that a person is chicken when they are afraid and won’t go forward, a coward. So Baba Yaga’s house on chicken feet: it is a house of fear, fear alive, terrifying. And what do we find in this most frightening place? We find that that our culture has most devalued: an old woman, not beautiful, not fertile. And she cares nothing for logic. In order to meet her challenge and not be destroyed, we must use our intuition, not our logic. No linear thinking, but a respect for magic and for humor.

I am thinking of the grandmother theory, that women have a dramatic menopause because they are the tribal memory. They have to survive the famine, raise the grandchildren, remember where there might be food, remember tricks and things forgotten. A useful man may remain fertile for the tribe, but a useful woman loses hers, because she is now a walking repository of knowledge. And western civilization has denigrated and ignored her: so she lives in the house with chicken feet.

My children are now adults but they do not have children yet. I am a practicing grandmother though. I am living alone for the first time in 28 years. I practice on other people’s children. A two year old loves my house: there is a stick dragon in the closet that roars if you press his throat. There are toys that he can’t take home. “That is mine. You may play with it while you are visiting.” I put a towel on the floor and get the espresso set out. I have never made espresso. He sits on the towel and pours water from the coffee pot until the cup overflows, the saucer overflows, the towel is soaked. He looks up at me, holding the coffee pot. “More?” I say. He hands it to me and I fill it with water again. His mother is surprised that he is wet from head to toe when she picks him up. By then the towel is cleared, the coffee set is drying, and he and I share a glance, our secrets safe. Until the next visit.

teens high risk for addiction

What teens are at high risk for addiction?

Would you say inner city, poor, abused, homeless?

This study : Adolescents from upper middle class communities: Substance misuse and addiction across early adulthood. which I first saw in WebMd, says that the privileged upper middle and rich children are at higher risk  for addiction than many of their peers.

350+ teens in New England were studied.

Drug and alcohol use was higher than across country norms, including inner city.

Rates of addiction diagnosis by age 26 were
19%-24% for girls
23%-40% for boys
These rates are two to three times the norms across the country.

Rates for addiction diagnosis by age 22 were
11%-16% for girls
19%-27% for boys
These rates are close to the same in girls, but twice as high in boys as peers across the country.

The teens were often popular high achievers who are A students. Parents tended to drink more in those cohorts than the norms.

Also: “Findings also showed the protective power of parents’ containment (anticipated stringency of repercussions for substance use) at age 18; this was inversely associated with frequency of drunkenness and marijuana and stimulant use in adulthood.” That is, parents who sent a clear message that consequences for illegal and underage substance use including alcohol and marijuana would be serious, provided protection for their teens.

A second article: Children of the Affluent: Challenges to Well-Being says this:

“Results also revealed the surprising unique significance of children’s eating dinner with at least one parent on most nights. Even after the other six parenting dimensions (including emotional closeness both to mothers and to fathers) were taken into account, this simple family routine was linked not only to children’s self-reported adjustment, but also to their performance at school. Striking, too, were the similarities of links involving family dining among families ostensibly easily able to arrange for shared leisure time and those who had to cope with the sundry exigencies of everyday life in poverty.”

Other children’s perception of parenting examined included:

felt closeness to mothers
felt closeness to fathers
parental values emphasizing integrity
regularity of eating dinner with parents
parental criticism
lack of after-school supervision
parental expectations

This aligns with my observations both in my town and with patients. I see parents “check out” sometimes when their children are in their teens. “I can’t control him/her. They are going to use drugs and alcohol.” I told my children that if they partied I would NOT be the parent who says, “Oh, he needs to play football anyhow.” I would be the parent who would be yelling “Throw the book at him/her. Bench them.” And I saw parents of teens going out to the parking lot to smoke marijuana at a church fundraiser when it was still illegal. And saying “Oh, our kids don’t know.” I thought, “Your kids are not that dumb.” They invited me along. I said, “No.” And I really lost respect for that group of parents. What example and message are they sending to their teens? Yeah, cool, do illegal things in the parking lot, nod, nod, wink, wink.

Meanwhile, my children keep me honest. “You are speeding, mom.”

“Yeah,” I say. “You are right. Sometimes I do.” And I slow down.