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The Greatest Gift

by Mary Mazzoni on September 18, 2011

What’s the greatest gift you can give your child?

Take a moment. What comes to your mind and heart as you ask this question?

Likely, there’s more than one “great gift” that you long to give. Noticing and honoring our dearest desires for our children can bring perspective and clarity.

Take a moment now to click here and read a very short piece entitled The Greatest Gift.

What is your response? Surprise? Agreement? Resistance?

The piece appears on a research-based website about fostering resilience in our children.  The author is a pediatrician and researcher in adolescent wellness and development. Do you find yourself taking the words seriously, or dismissing them?

Self-care is a self-less and strategic act of good parenting

Do you believe that?

We’ve heard the airline pre-flight instruction metaphor. “Put on your own mask before attempting to assist your child.” But we parents sometimes persist in denying our own needs. In doing so, we’re often weary, and may not bring our whole, best selves to our parenting. We rarely pause to realize this. We’re too busy.

Thing is, Dr. Ginsburg isn’t merely saying self-care is important so we have the energy and presence of mind to parent well. He reminds us that our kids are watching.  We teach by our example. Whether we realize it or not.

He’s quite specific.

It’s flat-out important to teach our kids, not just with words, but by our example, that it’s safe to:

  • admit personal limitations
  • acknowledge and address problems
  • reach out to others to seek support and guidance

Wise and healthy practices. Do we resist or embrace them ourselves?

Ginsburg goes on to say that it’s by watching us that our kids learn to:

Small steps

I won’t kid you. I’m no master at balance and self-care myself. Just had a session with my counselor about it (again) this week.

But I’ve come a long way, in small steps.

There was a time when I denied any need for help. Even when my daughter was small, I was working a demanding full time job, and my husband was in and out of hospitals for cancer treatment. I was at the end of my rope when I finally asked friends at church for help with daily tasks, and found them more than happy to pitch in. I resisted counseling until I found myself unable to cope. Now, it’s an ongoing practice that helps me be honest with myself and live in a more free and loving way.

Little by little I’ve built self-care into my days. For me, it’s a bit of solitude and silence, a walk, enough sleep. Maybe some time with a craft project, reading, a phone call to a friend. Small, simple things that add up to a more balanced life. And a more present, refreshed, whole me to love my daughter and other dear ones in my life.

Self care looks different for everyone. And small steps can make a big difference. For us, and for our children – who are watching.

I wish for your children all the gifts you dearly desire to give them. And among these gifts, a well and healthy you.

Your turn

What do you think of Dr. Ginsburg’s post? What self-care challenges and successes have you experienced? Please comment below so we can all benefit from your insights.

Photo credit: Irishize at Flikr

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