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    Don t jump you can stage the ultimate children s party

     

    Organising a kids party is great fun! No, wait! Come back! I’ll explain… How many times have you dropped your kids off at a party, only to witness chaos as soon as the door is opened by a hassled mother whose eyes are begging you to take her away from all of this and put her out of her misery? Behind her, two kids are swinging from the light fittings; another pair are tearing up the carpet, presumably trying to find a hidden entrance to the magical world of Narnia; and the rest are deeply engrossed in a who-can-stuff-the-most-hamsters-into-your-mouth contest. It needn’t be like that... The only reason that kids parties dissolve into little sessions of anarchy is boredom - and that, dear parent, is all down to you. “But, I tried so hard!”, I hear you cry. Yes, you probably did: lots of crisps, a big cake, and plenty of balloons. The thing is, you broke the number one rule of kids parties. The rule that you must obey at all costs, unless you want your house destroyed by a legion of little monsters… NEVER, EVER PLAY MUSICAL CHAIRS! Here’s a secret: kids hate the game. Even if they once enjoyed it, they’ve played it at every birthday, Christmas and end of school party they’ve ever been to. Plus, you’re the one who has to cope with a dozen or more bored kids careering round the edges of the room while two determined finalists battle is out for that final seat. That leads me nicely to rule number two: NEVER PLAY ANY GAME THAT INVOLVE KIDS BEING ‘OUT’ If you play games that keep all the kids involved from start to finish, you’ve got their attention – and when you’ve got their attention, they aren’t scratching their name into the varnish of your dining table. Simple, really. Here are a few more tried and tested party laws: GET RID OF THE PARENTS Aside from the ones that are there to help, parents get in the way. Plus, their kids won’t really start to enjoy themselves until their figure of authority has gone. GIVE EACH KID A NAME STICKER Not only will you remember who everyone is, they also help quieter children to break the ice, and you can write everything from parent’s mobile phone numbers to special dietary requirements on them, thus avoiding needless stress. See how easy it can be? ALWAYS HAVE A PARTY THEME It’s the 21st century. A few party poppers and re-lighting candles just don’t do it anymore. A party theme gets the kids excited from the moment they receive their invitation, and gives you something to do on the big day as they start to arrive. The early kids can make extra bits of costume or help with last minute decorations while they’re waiting for their friends to turn up. Then, run the party in this order: GAMES – FOOD – PRESENTS It may seem cruel to the party child, but always leave the opening of the presents to the end of the party to avoid gifts getting broken or lost in the fun. And if you get the kids running wild after they’ve had food, you’re just asking for trouble! That’s all there is to it. Follow those six simple rules, and you’ll enjoy the party almost as much as your kids. Plus, you’ll be considered a hero at the school gates on Monday morning! And remember to have fun! It is a party after all!

         
    Dressing baby for the winter

     

    Jackets and coats make a huge difference! When most people think of baby clothes they conjure images of cute sailor suits and frilly pink dresses or perhaps little white “Onesies,” soiled with spit-up Isomil formula. Rarely do they think of heavy winter coats and wind resistant jackets. In a cold climate, however (or on cold days in a warm climate), babies need the protection of a coat or jacket just as much as an adult does, in fact more so. Fortunately the designers of the finest baby apparel are well aware of the need infants and toddlers have for warm winter wear and have designed several lines of simply adorable coats, jackets, and other winter wear just for the little ones in your family. Most of these are available in fine stores everywhere as well as through mail order and online retailers. The examples listed here were found on the designer baby clothing site known as Tutti Bella (“all beautiful” in Italian). Jean Bourget For the days when the weather is cool, not “cold,” designer Jean Bourget offers a smart and attractive hooded Khaki Spring Coat. With a lightly striped inner lining, four silver snap fasteners, and a left breast pocket, your little man will be the coolest bambino on the campo da giuoco. Available in sizes from three to twenty-four months, this item retails for $62.95. Zutano To help keep older baby girls all warm and toasty, Zutano offers up a gorgeous reversible Pink Print Jacket. Made of 100% cotton, this is a coat for double occasions with a pink floral print on one side and seersucker stripes on the other. The jacket zips in front and includes a hood. This Zutano masterpiece comes in sizes from 24 months to five years and sells for $48.95. Of course not everyone can afford to clothe their babies in designer styles at runway model prices. While $50-$60 is not a bad price for an older child’s winter coat, it is a bit steep for a baby’s piece that, purchased in September will probably no longer fit in March. For the rest of us there’s Wal-Mart, Target, Kmart, and, for the more adventurous, Old Navy. Baby coats can be purchased at these locations for prices that are a bit more down to Earth and the items will still keep the kiddies warm all winter long. The point is that it is important to remember that babies get the chills and need to be kept warm just like the rest of us. When purchasing baby clothes, make sure that you allot space in both the budget and the closet for a good quality coat or jacket to protect your baby when the colder climes settle in and old Jack Frost starts blowing his icy vapor across your part of the world.

         
    Drug use in schools

     

    The availability of drugs at schools has increased over the last ten years although the overall use of illicit drugs has declined. Yet too many teenagers are still abusing drugs. In the National Institute on Drug Abuse 2005 Monitoring the Future survey researchers found that 50% of high school seniors report some use of an illicit drug during their life. Drugs are easily obtained and teenagers know who they can contact to get them. The Bureau of Justice reports that 85% of teens say they know where to get marijuana and 55% know how to get amphetamines. Knowledge of drug availability is similar regardless of race or location. Students living in rural, suburban, and urban areas all reported similar levels of drug availability at about 35% overall. Even more frightening is that 29% of students say that someone has "offered, sold, or given them an illegal drug on school property." Some officials believe that the percentages of actual drug abuse are low because of the number of teenagers that have dropped out or are truant are not represented in the survey. These teenagers often have a higher involvement with drugs than those still in school. Alcohol is the most common substance used, with 75% of seniors having at least tried alcohol and 23% within the last month. Alcohol use is often glamorized in the media and teens try to imitate the behaviors they see. Cigarettes are the next most common drugs abused by teenagers. Most teens assume they can quit smoking at will. Instead they often find themselves addicted. Few people start smoking after the teenage years. Marijuana has been used by 44% of seniors. The NIDA reports that 60% of teens that do use drugs use marijuana. The most recent survey found that fewer eighth graders today see a risk in smoking marijuana than in the past. Inhalants are the most commonly abused illegal drug among those in middle school with 17.1% of eight graders having tried them. Inhalants are cheap and easily purchased. Most of them are common household substances like paint thinners, glues, spray paint, whipped cream dispensers, hair sprays and other substances. Prescription Drug use among teenagers has been rising at a rate of 25% per year since 2001. Most teens take prescription drugs because of personal or family-related stress. Many teenagers are getting the message through school, parents, and the media that drugs are harmful. But many are still not receiving or are choosing to ignore the message. The best way to combat teenage drug abuse is by education that means consistently talking about drugs both formally and informally. written by Teresa McEntire

         
    Easy simple ways to build up your child s brainpower

     

    Centuries ago, midwives and mothers advised pregnant women to stay happy, listen to music, be around nature, and embrace good health. Now advanced research in child development shows that brain development in children does not occur after birth but begins in the womb itself. So, it is important for both parents but especially mothers to avoid smoking, alcohol, and substance abuse when pregnant and to adopt a healthy lifestyle. It is just not about food and exercise. It is about staying positive in thoughts, keeping a happy frame of mind, exposing the child in the womb to wonderful happy thoughts and music. There are parents who talk to the unborn child and swear that their child is clever and an achiever because of this. Try it, ask your doctors about it. Changes in Routine Help Babies as well as toddlers and older kids respond to the stimulus offered by experiences in their home and environment. Did you know that the brain of children is stimulated by the variety of sensations encountered each day? So, you can set the wheels in motion by introducing activities within the house as well as outdoors. These will promote learning and interactive experiences. Talk to the child as much as you can. Maintain eye contact and allow the child to absorb your facial expressions. Savor every attempt at communication made by the child be it a hand extended towards you, a gurgle, or smile. Create a rapport between you and the child and you will be surprised to see that the child understands and responds. Food for Thought It is not just brain-stimulating activities that boost brain power, the food a child eats affects its thinking as well. Did you know, a brain needs plenty of carbohydrates, fats, as well as proteins, vitamins and minerals for both repair as well as function? In fact, many mothers are witness to mood swings and erratic behavior in their children after the consumption of chocolates or junk sugar foods like candy, icing, syrups, and packaged baked products. The sugar highs and lows caused by certain kinds of foods can make a child fidgety, irritable, inattentive, and sleepy. Sharpen the Intellect The goal of education is to teach children to be effective thinkers ---as you know, this is what equips them to stay ahead in situations where solutions need to be found at the snap of fingers. So, you must focus on cognitive development and higher order thinking. As a parent there are a great many ways in which you can work towards the goal of effective thinking and higher reasoning. Technology has made available several computer programs, software CDs, and DVDs that are fun to use and place the children in more and more difficult situations, which they need to solve. The focus of companies such as Smart Neurons are educational teaching aids and toys which fulfill the goal of enhancing thinking, mathematical abilities, and problem solving in children.

         
    Easy fitness for time crunched moms

     

    Moms have a tough time. They are the cook, the maid, the taxi driver, the teacher, the referee, and the list could go on. Mom’s know how to get everything done for everyone else, but by doing this they often don’t take care of themselves. There is no question that it is hard; children keep parents on the go, it is difficult to do the things you’d like to do. They can squeeze in a last minute dentist appointment for little Teddy and show up without a moment to spare for a class play that little Tommy forgot to mention. Super mom can always find time to do whatever needs to be done to run a happy home for all of the occupants. School schedules, car pools and after school activities combined with household chores and a full-time job doesn’t allow for much time to exercise. That is no longer good enough it is only an excuse. Taking care of yourself with plenty of rest and exercise should just be one of those little things that you mark on the calendar and do. In fact, do it now. Mark in your day planner or on the dry-erase board your “me-time.” Then, dust off that tennis racket and head on out for the courts with one of your girlfriends, or join a Fitness Center, or take up walking for overall health and fitness. Procrastination is a word that has no meaning for moms wanting to do something nice for their children, the same should apply for what you want or need to do. Diversify your fitness schedule to include solo walks, tennis matches with girlfriends, and horseback riding with your husband. Be creative in planning your week ahead. If you know that on Monday you have to pick up your daughter from school at 3:00, but your son gets out at 2:30, make proper use of your time and throw your Nike shoes in a gym bag and walk while you wait. If your daughter has a volleyball practice 25 minutes across town at the high school, then take your swimsuit and use the school’s swimming pool to swim laps. Most schools don’t mind if you call ahead and some even offer free swims on certain days of the week. The important thing for you to remember is that because you are a mom, you may have to jump in and take advantage of a thirty-minute window just to exercise. Be ready for these chances and learn to expect the unexpected and take care to use the time wisely. If the birthday party you son is at ends up being late, take the chance to walk once or twice around the block. When you get back you’ll have helped out your heart and your son will be ready to go. It doesn’t take much except taking the opportunities to exercise when they present themselves.

         
    Easy tips to keeping kids quiet while you re on the phone

     

    One of the easiest ways to get into the telecommuting industry is to get a phone job. These phone jobs are more readily available than other telecommuting jobs and usually pay pretty well. When you first start working on the phone from home, keeping the kids quiet can be a bit of a challenge. There is a fine line between keeping your child quiet and stifling the fun that kids should have every day. Here are some age-appropriate ideas on what you can do to make sure you get at least some quiet phone time in each day. For Babies: 1. Keep them busy with some soft toys that make little or no noise. Fabric dolls and stuffed animals are a good choice. You can also use the stackable plastic rings. I found a soft, fabric covered box that came with a set of 4 finger puppets. The box had different openings and a mirror on one side. My baby spent hours putting the animals in and taking them back out. 2. Wear your baby in a sling. You will be able to nurse her while you work and she can take a nap in mommy’s lap. Get her used to the noise of everyday life in your house from the day you bring her home from the hospital. Don’t keep everyone in the house quiet. The baby will get used to hearing your voice and will be able to sleep even when you are talking on the phone…in fact she will find comfort in it. 3. Work while your baby naps. Try to get your baby on a good sleeping schedule that works for you and your job. Make sure you have something around that will sooth her quickly – like a favorite stuffed animal – should she wake up early while you are on the phone. 4. Work when someone else can watch the baby. You can get a few hours of work in while your husband is home. Ask a relative if she would be willing to watch the baby a few hours a week. You can also trade babysitting with a friend or neighbor. Offer to watch her child for a few hours a week, if she will do the same for you. For Children: 1. Get your children on a sleeping schedule and work while they nap. Don’t let them sleep too late in the afternoon, or you will have a hard time getting them down at night. 2. Work while you husband or significant other is home, or ask a relative if she would be willing to watch your children for a few hours a day. You can also look for a Mom’s morning off program in your area. Your child will get to play with other kids while you work. Trading babysitting or arranging play-dates will work as well. 3. Give your kids a special game to play. Many board games work well, or if you have an additional computer you can pick up some age appropriate software. The key is to find something that doesn’t make a lot of noise and will keep their attention for a little while. Make sure you don’t use any given game too often, or your child will get board with it quickly. 4. Use a noise-quieting headset. If your kids do get loud from time to time – and believe me they will – the headset will cancel most of the noise. It’s well worth the small investment. Be sure to invest in a good quality headset though. 5. Work in short intervals while the kids are around. Kids can only be good and quiet for so long. Make sure you take frequent breaks to play with them. Have a tickle session, take them out to the yard to play catch, play hide and go seek for a few minutes. Just let them be kids and get rid of some of that build up energy. 6. Teach them that they need to listen to you when you ask them to be quiet. They will learn to respect your need for some time to work. Make sure you give them something interesting to do and pay them lots of attention when you are not working. This should work as long as you don’t ask them to stay quiet for hours at a time. Just be firm and stick to your guns when they do get noisy while you work. Always remember that kids will be kids. Keep your sense of humor. It’s not the end of the world if you have to excuse yourself from a phone conversation to break up a fight or attend to a child that needs you. Your kids will get noisy from time to time. Try your best to keep them quiet, but not at the expense of stressing yourself out or expecting too much from your kids.

         
    Ecstacy and teens

     

    Ecstasy is known as the "club drug" since it is often used in dance clubs and music raves. Many teens believe that ecstasy is harmless and just enhances the party experience. But in fact ecstasy is dangerous and even deadly. In 2003 1 out of every 12 twelfth graders said they had tried ecstasy. 1 "A study by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America found that 9 in 10 parents know of ecstasy and see it as a danger to those who use it. Yet, parents are less likely to talk with their kids about ecstasy than any other drug."2 Since ecstasy is a new drug many parents don't know much about the drug or believe their child isn't taking it. Yet since teens are using ecstasy it is important that parents talk about it. What is ecstasy? Ecstasy is an odorless and colorless drug that is taken orally. Ecstasy affects the central nervous system and is a stimulant related to amphetamines. It has a stimulating effect and can cause hallucinations. What are the dangers of ecstasy? Not much is known about the long-term effects of ecstasy use upon the central nervous system since it has only been in use since the 1990's. Currently studies are being done. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse ecstasy damages nerve endings related to critical thought and memory. It also impairs the brains ability to make serotonin, a chemical that regulates mood, memory, sleep, and appetite. Ecstasy users do not know exactly how much of the drug they are taking since pills can vary in potency. They might also be mixed with other harmful drugs. Ecstasy is often slipped into drinks at clubs causing the unaware user to become a victim of sexual assault. "Stacking" or taking multiple doses can lead to seizure, heart attack, or even death. What are the signs of ecstasy use? • Increased heart rate and blood pressure • Extremely alert • Teeth grinding – ecstasy causes tension in the jaw • Mood swings – a person often feels depressed after taking the drug • Slurred speech • Poor short-term memory and inability to focus • Sweating or Hypothermia (cold) – inability to control body temperature • Decrease in academic performance • Agitation (excessive agitation is a serious sign) • Dry mouth – excessively thirsty Written by Teresa McEntire

         
    Educational videos and your child s development

     

    There is much to be said about how much television is too much television for children. As parents we are constantly reminded that our children should not be watching television at all. We hear about the risks of Attention Deficit Disorder, overall disobedience, and many other terrible consequences. I don’t disagree completely, but I do believe this topic needs to be discussed in greater detail. I have a two year old son. I allow him to watch certain television shows and/or videos. Do I use the television as a babysitter or some other form of replacement for my presence? Never. I choose these programs carefully, ensuring that what they project is in accordance with what I want my son to learn. I use the television shows as reinforcement for the tools and lessons I am already teaching him AND I always watch his videos with him in order to help clarify or repeat words if necessary. Let me share with you an example. Ever since my son had the dexterity to be able to point to the different parts of his body, my husband and I have been rehearsing the corresponding words for him to learn. Over and over and over we repeat these words. We also use children’s books to share these same words. Throw in a couple videos of kids singing “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” and you have a child who can put all these images and words together. I am NOT saying that the video was the key ingredient that taught my son these words. I am saying that children, just like adults, learn in a number of different ways. Why not introduce them to the world around them through various types of media. I believe the combination of books, imaginary play, music, and the right television programs can assist children in learning more than just one of these avenues by itself. I also believe children learn by watching other children. If you don’t believe me, spend a few hours at your local preschool sometime and just observe. You’d be amazed at how children (toddlers especially) imitate one another. In my case, my son is still an only child at this time. I do my best to take him to play groups, tumbling class, and any other socialization activity I can get him to. When he is around other children, I can see an increased desire from him to want to communicate with the other children – moreso than even his need to communicate with me! Having said that, he still spends the majority of his time without the company of other children. We own several children’s videos (and watch special television programs) that involve children his age and slightly older. He is able to see these children interact, communicate, dance, sing, and even display their good manners. These programs have been a positive enhancement to the social skills my son has picked up at home and at play. The bottom line to this discussion is not whether television in and of itself is evil and should be kept as far from children as possible. It boils down to WHAT children are watching, how the programs are playing a part in the child’s overall learning curriculum (is it the only source or is it a supplement to many other resources?), and the importance of having the child’s caregiver nearby to interact along with the program. I take an active part in watching television programs with my son so we can learn and have fun together. I realize everyone has their own views about watching television and I’m definitely no expert, but this has worked in my home and I hope by sharing my experience that you will be able to gain a little something from it. Best wishes in parenting!

         
    Effect of birth order on children

     

    Older sister, younger brother, or middle child are more than just labels that people have in a family; psychologist say that birth order has an effect on all aspects of a child’s personality. First Born: First born children are born as natural leaders. They also tend to be perfectionists, reliable and conscientious people. First born children do not react well to surprises and can be aggressive, however are often people pleasers. Children who are first born have a strong need for approval by others. Examples of first born children include Oprah Winfrey, Peter Jennings, Rush Limbaugh and over half of all U. S.A presidents. Only Child: Only children are similar to first born children. The characteristics in an only child however are typically three fold. They are even bigger perfectionists, are more responsible and tend to get along better with older people than individuals there own age. Examples of only children are Robin Williams, Natalie Portman, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Frank Sinatra and Lauren Bacall. Middle Child: The middle child is often the most difficult to stereotype. They are almost always guaranteed to be the opposite of their older sibling, but this can manifest in a variety of ways. Middle children typically feel as though their older sibling stole the spotlight from them, while their younger siblings could get away with murder. They tend to be secretive, more withdrawn and not prone to talk about their emotions. Since middle children feel as though they were overlook by their family they grow stronger connections with peers and are excellent people readers and peacemakers. Last Born: The children who are born last tend to be outgoing, social butterflies. They are also the most financially unstable of all the other siblings since their primary interest is in having a good time. The youngest children of the family are often very charming, but can also be manipulative and spoiled. Examples of some babies of the family are Billy Crystal, Goldie Hawn, Drew Carey, Jim Carey and Steve Martin. While these are typically characteristics of birth order, there are some exceptions such as a larger space between the children may allow for some crossing over of characteristics or if the first born is a girl and the next child is a boy he will have some first sibling characteristics since he was the first male child in the family. Deaths, adoptions and blended families can also have an effect on these characteristics.

         
    Effective strategies for dealing with diaper rash

     

    Diaper rash is a really annoying baby problem. It can get out of control easily, and can make your baby miserable. Luckily, it can be controlled with a little effort on your part. Following are some remedies that worked well with my children. Some babies are just more prone to diaper rash than others, and if yours is prone, you’ll really have to keep on top of the problem. The most important thing you can do is change your baby’s diaper regularly. Diaper rash is caused by the skin being constantly exposed to wetness, so changing frequently can prevent the problem. Most of the diaper rash ointments on the market are designed simply to protect your baby’s skin from wetness, so they are great at preventing diaper rash. If your baby is diaper rash prone, you might want to use an ointment at every changing as a preventative measure. But, what if your baby already has a raging case of diaper rash? As I said, most of the products labeled as diaper rash ointments are best at preventing diaper rash, not healing it. There are a few concoctions that can help cure a bad case of diaper rash. The first is Maalox – yes Maalox. Put some liquid Maalox on a cotton ball and apply to baby’s sore bottom. Let it dry a bit before diapering. For obvious reasons, don’t buy the mint flavor, and don’t use this bottle of Maalox for anything but treating diaper rash. A second helpful treatment for diaper rash is an oatmeal bath. There are some good oatmeal bath products on the market, even some designed especially for baby. These work wonders on diaper rash. Usually one or two baths is all it takes. Finally, I had great luck when I mixed diaper rash ointment with a little bit of hydrocortisone cream. About 3 parts diaper rash ointment to one part hydrocortisone. One caution here - check with your doctor before you try this one, since hydrocortisone cream is normally not recommended for use on children under the age of two years. If these remedies don’t work, check with your pediatrician. There may be some prescription products for extreme cases. But, the most important measure to take for diaper rash seems to be persistence. Keeping on top of the problem is your best bet for keeping the rash at bay.

         
    Eight tips for potty training your toddler

     

    Getting your toddler to perform toileting independently is a welcome milestone for any parent. Few of us want to be changing diapers much past the child’s second birthday. However, children vary greatly in their adoption of the potty routine which is influenced by a child’s innate ability, aptitude and maturity. However, there several tips and techniques you can use to hasten the blessed day when your toddler says: “Mommy, I did potty by myself”. 1) Get your child ready - explain to your child that it's time to do "pee-pee" and "poo-poo" in the potty. Promote the benefits of being trained such as no more diaper rash, interruptions for diaper changing, being clean and dry. Discuss training as an important stage of growing up. 2) Make it fun – first and foremost, make this a game. Children will naturally resist anything which is not framed as a fun learning experience. Use play, music, toys, and stories as part of the experience to keep the child from getting bored or distracted. 3) Create a ritual – try to make the experience repeatable so your child knows what to expect each time and gets into the routine of sitting and staying on the potty. 4) Use props – use of books, toys, videos and music all help create an atmosphere of fun and enjoyment which is so essential. 5) Time it right – Try repeating the process every hour for 2 to 4 minutes. If you can do this close to times your child usually has a bowel movement or urination, such as just after a meal, even better. 6) Be prepared - If you are traveling or away from home, bring a folding, plastic adapter ring that fits onto an adult toilet seat is useful. Extra tissue and wipes will be useful in bathrooms that are short on supplies. 7) Give praise – give you child social praise for sitting on the potty patiently or for staying dry. If the potty routine is successful, consider some reward (e. g. special prize, book or foods) that are especially valued. 8) Show your child how to clean up - demonstrate how to wash hands and dry hands on a towel. Remember that training you child takes patience and perseverance. Staying on task and being consistent send an important message to your child. Above all, don’t let your child feel forced. It’s important to keep the whole experience fun and enjoyable for the best results.

         
    Empty nest syndrome

     

    Paula’s last child had just gone off to college and Paula was struggling with a deep inner emptiness. While she knew this day was coming, she was not really prepared for the intense hollowness that welled up within. After all, she had a life of her own. Her work as an occupational therapist, which she had gone back to after all her three children were in school, was fulfilling to her. She was fortunate in having been able to schedule her time to be home when her children came home from school so she could take them to their various activities. Paula had been a loving and devoted mother and was very proud of her children. She had been looking forward to this time for herself and her husband, but now that it was here, Paula felt lost. It’s not that she didn’t have things she loved to do. She was a talented and athletic woman and had many creative and physical activities that she enjoyed. She and her husband had a good relationship with a wide circle of friends they often spent social time with. So, why this emptiness? Paula sought my help when she realized that she was slipping into depression. “I just can’t figure out what’s wrong,” she stated in our first session together. “My marriage is fine, my work is fine, I have lots of friends and activities I enjoy. I don’t understand why I’m feeling so unhappy.” I asked Paula to tune inside to the unhappy part of her and let this part of her speak. “Imagine that the unhappy part of you is a child within. There is some very good reason this inner child is feeling so unhappy, and you need to ask her. Start out with asking her how she feels about you as the inner parent.” Paula asked and was quite surprised at the answer. “You never want to know how I feel,” her inner child complained. “You always wanted to know how the children felt, and you were always there for their feelings, but not for mine. You spend your time in ways you think make us happy, but you never ask me about it. While the kids were growing up, you were able to ignore my sadness, but you can’t ignore me anymore. I’m here, and I need you to pay attention to me.” “I don’t get this,” said Paula, “What does this unhappy part of me want me to do?” “Ask her,” I stated. Paula asked and the answer came. “Our work and all our activities are fine, but I need something deeper. I’ve been wanting you to open to something spiritual, but you haven’t listened to me.” “I have tried going back to church, but that doesn’t seem to be doing it for me. This does seem to be some kind of spiritual emptiness, but I don’t know what to do about it.” Paula had never taken the time to develop a personal relationship with God. While she believed in a Higher Power, it was something “out there”, not something she connected with and brought into her heart and soul. Her soul was missing the sense of deep connection and inner fullness that comes from having a personal relationship with a spirit source of love and guidance, as well as with her own inner feelings. While her children were filling this empty space, she didn’t deal with it, but now that they were gone, it was time to face the emptiness that had always been there but had been covered up with mothering. I asked Paula to close her eyes and imagine a wise and loving spiritual being, perhaps her own highest self, perhaps a relative who had died that she loved, perhaps a religious figure she felt connected with, or an image of a teacher, mentor, or guardian angel. She was able to imagine an angelic Presence that made her feel very loved and safe. “Now bring the love from this Presence into your heart and then down into the empty place within. Imagine that you are loving the child within in the same way you have loved your children, hearing your inner child’s feelings and needs in the same way you did with your children. If you also open to learning with this Presence about what is loving to your inner child, and then take the loving action for yourself, you will start to fill that emptiness within you. Are you willing to try this?” Paula was very willing to learn to create the deeper connection with Self and with Spirit. She reported to me a few weeks later that she was no longer feeling depressed. Her “empty nest” was now being filled with her inner and spiritual connection.

         
     
         
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