Do you expect too much from yourself?

Every parent hears this word from others and from within. As a parent you are confronted with the demands of others every day. Self-imposed demands add to these expectations as do expectations we hear and see in the media. When we are at the mall or shopping at the grocery store it is impossible not to see parent-child interactions that we wish to model or avoid. We file these desires away with all the other sights and sounds from the day. We pretend we have forgotten these events and the expectations associated with them but have we?

Your life is busy. Working, parenting, maintaining the household, doing laundry, yard chores, working out and eating rarely allow our minds to become quiet. Even sleep can become a fitful activity filled with strange dreams and unexplained fears. Allow of these tasks distract us from purposeful contemplation about our own needs, wants, feelings and aspirations. In this absence our brains are constantly recycling thoughts about what we could have done, should have done or would have done.

Our survival depends on the brain’s automated ability to perform functions without our active thought and participation. We breathe, digest food and maintain our balance blood pressure and heart rate without the slightest awareness. These autopilot capabilities of our central nervous system are unparalleled. Checks and balances, feedback systems and internal debriefing systems abound within each of us and function daily without us being aware.

This autopilot capability also manages our mental attitude. This is why the patterns of thinking we pursue and prefer are so important. Our thoughts train our brain in the same way as our movements and actions. By affirming happiness, fulfillment and opportunity our brain becomes trained to perform this same way when we are busy with decisions at work, at home or at play. If we affirm sadness, loss and inadequacy then our brain will mirror and recycle these patterns. By building brain circuitry upon a foundation of positive affirmations your automated thoughts and expectations will always be playing in this ” hidden brain” within each of us.

The choice is yours. What will be your playlist?

Joe Barber, MD

Why every parent needs to learn about social media.

Whether you like it or not social media is here to stay. Parents have two choices. Either close your eyes and wish it away or learn about it so you are able to educate your children directly and indirectly about the value and risks of social media.

This does not mean you have to become an active user of Facebook, Twitter or any of the other platforms. You do have a responsibility, however, to become comfortable and familiar with how it is used, when it is used, who it is used by and why it is used. Parents set boundaries. You decide when to allow your child to cross the street alone, ride the bus alone, go to the bathroom alone, babysit, have a cell phone and go to the mall or library alone. Each parent judges readiness differently but all parents believe their child should not do these things until they are ready.

The definition of ready differs not only by age and experience but also by culture and generation. Certainly there are children who are more capable intellectually or physically and have the emotional and judgment self-awareness skills to allow them to perform any number of skills earlier than other children. Although each of you will set the ages for when your child is allowed to explore and begin “risky” activities every parent should also include a period of joint performance of these skills before moving on to a period of parental observation and external time constraints.

As parents we must encourage our children to explore the world. We must give them the freedom to find out that every time they fall down they do not fail and recognize getting hurt does not mean the world is a mean, fearful and angry place where people are out to get them. Every child deserves the opportunity to make choices and explore. If they do not have this power of choice they will exchange exploration and experimentation with self-doubt and self-respect and self-esteem will not develop.

By having opportunities to stretch and extend boundaries your child can learn the importance of giving and sharing with other, of not being judgmental and learning to accept things as they are while learning to strive for things as they wish them to be. These learning experiences interwoven with a tolerance for change and transitions allow your child to recognize and express their divine being and become an adult who is able to seek, accept and understand the meaning of self love. Young children and young adults who are shackled by doubt and fear do not have this opportunity.

So what about social media? Don’t run and hide. Embrace and acknowledge the experiences and opportunities it provides. Allow social media to entertain, enhance, expand and empower your child to seek questions and answers.

Here are some tips:

  • Consider technology your friend and not your enemy.
  • Ask your child to help you understand and use social media.
  • Find creative, family and work related uses for social media.
  • Set limits for the use of social media by your children and teens.
  • Make sure the limits you set are reasonable for both you and your child.
  • Enforce these rules consistently.
  • Commit to this process and monitor your child’s social media use