Monday, April 25, 2011

Mindfulness and Attachments

Two weeks ago I was counting the days until my new iPad arrived.  I checked the Apple site several times a day, despite knowing I'd receive an email when it shipped.  The marketing department for Apple must be amazing to have so many people going to the store in the wee morning hours to stand in line to get a number to buy that product.  I guess it helps that the iPad is, well, really cool. 

What fascinates me though is my own behavior. I've been through gadget mania, believing that the latest gadget would add so much to my life, create happiness or magic or some wondrous result.  What really happens, of course, is that I get the gadget (or dress, or car, or whatever) and then a week later I want something else.  There is no end to wanting.  Whatever you get, you want something else. We don't wait for possessions to wear out anymore or until we need something new.  How many people wait until they need a new pair of shoes before buying? Or new clothes? Most of us buy based on want, not need. Sometimes I try to fool myself.  I don't have any yellow heels.  So I need those.  then, well,  I don't have any yellow flats.  I need yellow flats and then that will be the last pair I buy.  Ha.  I am embarrassed to say how many pairs of shoes are in my closet right now.  I certainly don't need more.  

All this wanting leads to working more to earn more money to pay for all the stuff I buy.  

Wanting creates discontentment.  Getting things truly doesn't bring happiness.  I've found that out for myself.  Plus research done in positive psychology has shown that to be true.  Not to mention that all this buying from want means working more hours to earn more money to pay for all the stuff that doesn't make me happy.  And takes away from free time that I could spend writing, with friends and with family--the choices that really do make me happy. My behavior makes no sense.  And I know it.  And I still do it.

The iPad really is cool though.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Finding Happiness in Parenting

Parenting is so complicated. So many times parents come in to my office and say "My daughter was absolutely perfect until she hit the teen years. Then she is like a different person."  The problem is that often a child who seems "perfect" and never causes any trouble may also be the child who is not developing their own sense of identity.  This is a problem because during the teen years the same child will do everything a peer group does, just like she used to do everything you said.  She gets her sense of acceptance by being like the people she wants to accept her.

How awful that parents must worry not only if their child is getting into trouble but must also worry if their child is too perfect.  What's up with that?  That hardly seems fair, does it?

Developing a sense of identity is an important developmental task. Identity is made up mostly of a person's likes and dislikes. Make sure your child has a voice, can tell you what his preferences are and how he feels about different situations and experiences. Listen, don't try to shape his opinion no matter how much you disagree. It's important that his opinion is his opinion and he feels his opinion is accepted.  Let him express his preference for a restaurant, clothes, television shows, and friends. Give him lots of opportunties to make choices that are appropriate for his age.

Helping your child develop a sense of identity is just one way to start preparing for those teen years, which is good for your child and will make your life easier. You know those times, that's when you as a parent know nothing and are just out to make your child's  life miserable. It's all just developmental, and that too will pass!