Calming, Healing and Reaching Out
The Peaceful Parenting Newsletter
A free e-mail newsletter from Naomi Drew
As we move on with our lives and try to make sense of all the events around us, one thing becomes crystal clear: its essential to stay focused on this moment and not project our fears into the future. For our own mental health and the mental health of our children we need to stay grounded in the present. And how do we make this happen? Here are some things you can do right now:
- Focus on gratitude. What are you thankful for right now? Consider the small things too. As I type these words I glance out the window and before me is this beautiful panorama of falling leaves and lawns dappled with sunlight. For this I am acutely grateful. How about you?
- Feel the feelings that arise in each moment, even the bad ones. Let your feelings up (cry if you need to), name the feeling (sadness, frustration, fear), breathe into the feeling with deep abdominal breaths, then let the feeling go. Shift your focus to something that can uplift you - your gratitude list, reaching out to others, physical activity, and more.
- Regard each moment with a sense of reverence. The events of September 11th have given us a gift: we see, perhaps for the first time, that life is finite, and each moment cannot be guaranteed. Knowing this calls us to live with a glorious immediacy, honoring the time we have, not squandering it. How can you honor each of the moments you have been given?
- Make a Difference. We empower ourselves and release the grip of fear when we help others. Reach out to someone in need. There are so many people right in our own communities whose needs have been forgotten, particularly since Sept. 11th.
Who can you reach out to today?
May this week bring with it a sense of peace, and the inspiration to make a difference.
Things to do With Your Kids
Visiting the Hopewell Elementary school recently I was touched by the depth and compassion of the children. Why cant we find ways to live in peace instead of hurting each other? asked a fourth- grade boy. The people of Afghanistan are are human beings too. It makes me feel so sad that were hurting them. Im glad were giving them food, said another child.
Children are very much aware of events going on in the world, even if they are not verbalizing it. Its critical that we provide opportunities for our children to process what they are experiencing. Here are some things you can do to help your children process, cope, and make a difference:
- Open up discussion of recent events, but dont push. Your children will let you know how far they want to go. Admit having fears, but dont focus on them. Focus instead on all thats being done to keep us safe and the fact that we are actually safe right now. Allow your child to speak his or her truth in this moment.
- Encourage your child to express feelings using different modalities. If your child isnt comfortable verbalizing feelings, offer him or her the opportunity to write, draw, or engage in dramatic play. Provide your child with related materials. Sometimes a reticent child will talk about something he or she draws or paintings; from there feelings may emerge.
- Listen with an open heart to what your child has to say. Refrain from judgments or opinions, particularly with pre-adolescents and adolescents. Just listen compassionately and reflect back what you heard your child say. This will open doors to communication.
- Encourage your child to keep a gratitude journal, and do the same yourself. Be cognizant and appreciative of all the large and small gifts of life. Share with your child what you have included in your journal, and encourage him or her to do the same. Doing so casts a light of awareness on gifts of life that may have otherwise remained obscured.
- Help your child make a difference. As I said before, one of the most powerful antidotes to fear is action. Even doing small things can help. A child I talked to recently expressed great pride about helping put together a carwash that raised several hundred dollars for the Red Cross. A fifth grader told me about sending his allowance to the White House to help the people of Afghanistan. These children were empowered by their actions, and bolstered beyond the sense of helplessness many of us have been feeling.
- Get involved in a family project. Heres one Id highly recommend. Its called Comfort Quilts. Heres a description of the project from their website:
Children can make quilts to share with other children who need comforting. The project was created in response to the caring needs of children receiving medical hospital or clinic care, devastating effects of natural disasters and in transition, crisis or displacement from their homes. Each participating school/class or organization makes one or more quilts using fabric squares on which they have drawn smiling faces. Many schools are currently creating quilts for victims of the September 11th attacks. One group made a comfort quilt for a visiting Pakistan teacher, to take to the Pediatric Center at a hospital in Karachi, Pakistan.
Go to the website and see how you can get started. Share this information with your childs school, scouting troop, or religious education program.
Honoring Each Moment
I received this wonderful and moving letter from a mom, teacher and, good friend, Leslie Moore. She was kind enough to let me share it with you:
Since September 11th things seemed to have changed, but not really.
The flowers seem more vibrant than ever.
The leaves seem to have taken on more colors than I remember.
The air seems "crisp" not cold.
Hugs seem to last longer. Tighter than before.
The touch of my boys hands, or body seems secure, warm...and new.
The desire to be with my family seems urgent.
But with each new morning, I see it is again just another day. A new day. The only day I have. The only day I have ever had. For tomorrow has only ever been a dream. Something we wish for, something we pray will be. But really...tomorrow never exists at all. Because when tomorrow comes....surely it becomes today.
And as Dr. Seuss would say, "today is your day"....so why not make it a great one?
You're in my thoughts always.
You Are Invited
I will be leading a Peaceful Parenting workshop at the Lawrence Library on Route 1 in Lawrenceville on November 28th, sponsored by the Association for Resolving Conflicts. This workshop is free and open to the public. Registration is at 6:30 and the talk starts at 7:00. My books will be available for purchase and signing. Please come and bring as many friends as youd like. For more information contact Blaine Greenfield at BGinNJ@aol.com.
My sister wrote this lovely poem. I hope you all enjoy it:
Prayer for World Peace
Bless this ground on which I step
May I learn from its strength
Bless this air in which I breathe
Even though there is a deep void today
May I learn from it how quickly
One can fill that void
with sustenance, good health and hope
Bless the calm waters
May I bask in their everlasting peace
Bless the sun
May I feel its warmth and love
Providing for all
Regardless of religion
Bless this earth
May I learn from it unity and support
How all of humanity is connected
By a single threat
In case you havent given . . .
Make a Difference Now
The father of a former student of mine was killed in the attack on the World Trade Center. There are four young children in the family 9 and under, and even before this happened there was difficulty making ends meet. The mother was not working outside of the home when this tragedy took place. The Cambridge School the children attend has set up a fund to help. Please consider contributing even if it is a small amount. Anything you can send is much needed and will be immensely appreciated. Please make checks payable to:
The Millicent Robinson Family Fund
35 Cambridge Rd.
Kendall Park, NJ 08824
C/O Anna Pinelli
Peaceful Parenting Coaching
Peaceful Parenting Coaching enables parents to work individually, as couples, or with their children on practical strategies that create greater harmony, less conflict. Sessions can be done by phone or in person. Crisis coaching is also available.
To schedule a complimentary "Peaceful Parenting" coaching session by phone, e-mail Naomi Drew at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 609-844-1138.
Naomi Drew is the author of three books, all available through Amazon.com:
Peaceful Parents, Peaceful Kids (Kensington Publishers)
Learning the Skills of Peacemaking (Jalmar Press)
The Peaceful Classroom in Action (Jalmar Press)
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Copyright Naomi Drew, August, 2001 All Rights Reserved.
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Love and Peace to All of You.