Parenting is a challenging experience. Despite our best efforts, sometimes life throws us a curve ball. These moments can feel overwhelming when we are trying to raise and nurture children. It is important for parents to remember that while we can not control circumstances in our lives we can control our responses to them. The most important gift that we can give to our children at any time but especially during times of crisis and difficulty is to role model for them how in one’s own way we can remain flexible and resilient in the face of uncertainty; that there is a lesson to be learned from every experience. We can role model the human side and the human values of life-honesty, good communication, respect, the importance of family, relationships, caring, kindness, doing one’s best, taking good care of ourselves and making a difference.
As Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn wrote in their wonderful book entitled Everyday blessings The inner work of mindful parenting that “In the moments when we are able to catch ourselves and change course, when we choose to act differently and in a way that is in the best interests of our child, a transformation and a healing take place within ourselves. It becomes a healing moment”.
The journey of parenting after an experience of cancer of oneself or a family member can be a healing moment in many ways. It can be a renewed sense of taking good care of our minds, our bodies, our emotions, our souls, and our spirits. The benefit is not only to ourselves but also to our children. We not only pass on our names, our genes, and our inheritance to our children, we also pass on our habits of eating and exercise, healthful living and wellness.
More and more research is pointing to the importance of critical periods of growth and development in our lives. The critical periods of fetal growth through 2 or 3 years old as well as the prepubescent period through the adolescent years. It appears that these critical periods not only influence our health throughout our adult lives but also the lives of our children and potentially the next several generations of our children’s children. Creating our W.e.l.l.n.e.s.s.4Life can become our Healing Moment ….and a wonderful legacy for our children……
It takes a lot of strength, energy and resiliency to deal with cancer and its symptoms and its treatment. Cancer does not exist in a vacuum, however. There is a whole network of family, children, friends, and community that extends their kindness, energy, strength, compassion and resiliency to help the person with cancer! Let us give Thanks and Acknowlegement to all those who CARE for the person with CANCER! It could not be done without them!!
Holidays have their own inherent stresses but Holidays when someone in the family has cancer adds an additional stress to the family. As parents, we have concerns about our kids and how best to meet their needs. December is a month when we can feel easily overwhelmed with all that has to happen for the Hanukkah and Christmas holidays…Black Friday, CyberMonday, GivingTuesday and we haven’t even tackled grocery shopping, cooking, buying presents, sending out Christmas/ Holiday cards and letters, wrapping presents, decorating the tree, work parties, going to services!! …the list goes on and on. These are the tasks of the season….
As parents, we can stay grounded in the wholehearted and soulful meaning of the holiday season….a season of HOPE, MIRACLES AND LIGHT!! Hanukkah is a celebration of hope, miracles and bringing light into the world…..Christmas happens near the longest and darkest days of the year, when the birth of Jesus brings light into the world. Jesus invited us to do unto others as we would want others to do unto us. Similarly, in the Islamic religion, 2015 it is a very significant year because this month, Mohammed’s Birthday falls on December 24, one day before Christ’s Birthday. Mohammed is the Prophet of the Islamic religion and his main message was Peace and Mercy for all humanity. In fact, the word ‘Islam’ translated in Arabic means “Peace”. So the 3 main Monotheistic religions stemming from Abraham all have significant events this month!
As parents-moms and dads, we can ask ourselves…in this holiday season, how are we bringing light, hope and peace into this dynamic and often times uncertain world? How are we shining our light in the world? Perhaps we need to set our own rhythm for the holidays, one that fits with our purposeful meaning of the season and for our children.
Maybe there is someone who is sick in our family, or neighborhood… Maybe we enjoy shopping but want to limit the amount per person. Maybe we have decided that we will skip the cards this year or decide to spend one day giving back to the community by bringing a warm meal to a neighbor who is undergoing radiation or chemotherapy or by volunteering with our kids to make blankets for a homeless shelter.
Maybe we will choose to spend a day just with our kids…no errands, no presents, no chores….just spending time doing something that our kids enjoy…one on one time with mom or dad or both. When I look back on my childhood, it was not the big moments but the little moments that meant so much to me…the time spent responding to my questions, helping me with a problem, enjoying my company and caring about the things that I was interested in…this is what children need, want and crave. How do you navigate the holiday season as a parent….
I believe, that in this holiday season, one of the most fitting gifts that we can give our children is the gift of our unconditional Love for them and remaining grounded in the Hope for their life and this world!!