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Member Musings: From Pressure to Presence

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 13, 2016
The community where I live with my family, Palo Alto, CA, has experienced a crisis of high school student suicides in the past few years. The Atlantic ran a front page story called Silicon Valley Suicides in November, a few days after the one year anniversary

date of the suicide of one of our community’s rising stars, Cameron Lee, who was a junior at Gunn High School when he took his life.

Of course, as a parent of two young girls who are living in the Gunn High School area, my personal interest in addressing the crisis of pressurized parenting in Silicon Valley and beyond is real and important.

I, too, was raised with pressurized parenting. My father was an immigrant from India, an engineer and Ph.D. in Materials Science, who imposed a very strong external ideal of success onto myself and my siblings from a young age. When I reflect on several interactions with my father over my lifetime, I realize how different it would have been to have been parented with presence rather than pressure.

When I was 11 and brought home the sub-par grade in my father’s eyes of 88% on a math test, I was scolded and told I had better not bring home anything less than a 98% if I wanted to get into the Ivy League. Had my father chosen to parent with presence and connection, he would have responded with questions like: “How do you feel about your math score? Did you do your best? What did you do well? What can you do better on the next one? What did you learn? What’s your goal for your next exam? Do you need any support from me to reach your goal?”

At 14, when I began asking my father about college majors and careers, instead of insistently telling me to become an engineer because of job security, he could have been present with my curiosity, interests, strengths and passions. He could have asked me what I loved, what I was good at, what I thought a career’s purpose was — and gotten a full picture of the kind of life I wanted to lead and the kind of person I wanted to be and how a career fits in to facilitate one’s larger life goals.

Parenting with presence asks parents to let go of the pressures and realities they faced as children, and perhaps even ones they left behind in order to seek new opportunities for the next generation.

Parenting with presence asks parents to engage with their child and see the exam scores and college choices through the child’s eyes rather than through parents’ eyes — fearful of the unknown or from a parent’s egoic need for a certain type of children’s success.

Most of us haven’t been parented this more attuned and authentic way.

Living in Palo Alto and/or any affluent community with a teen suicide problem, we parents are compelled to offer this type of attunement, collaboration, presence and empathy to our kids.

I’ve learned to parent from presence rather than pressure, though the internal conditioning of my own upbringing takes mindfulness to undo and re-wire on a daily basis. I emphasize asking good questions, listening, attuning to emotional states, spending special time, offering curiosity and exploration of my child’s true desires, empathy with challenging emotions, playing physically and being present in all that I do with my kids.

No parent is perfect, but I know that these moments and interactions based in presence, curiosity, connection, compassion and mindfulness are what make the parent-child relationship strong, build trust and rudder authentic selves’ most satisfying lives.


PAMP gladly accepts member blog submissions, including anecdotes, advice, confessions, recipes, outing suggestions and more! Want to join in the fun? Submit your own musings.

Kiran Gaind of The Connected Family works with parents who are overwhelmed by their responsibilities and exhausted by the demands of parenting to feel overjoyed by their lives and being parents again.

Tags:  family 

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Create Special Memories at PAMP’s Family Day

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Family Day is one of PAMP’s largest events of the year. And every year, PAMP adds new and exciting aspects to keep it fresh and appealing. This year, PAMP has invited new entertainers including Andy Z, a delightfully engaging musician that will get the entire crowd moving. Other things to do at the event include Family Zumba, a bouncy house, pony rides and a petting zoo. And don’t forget about the storytime and photo opportunities with the Snow Queen!

PAMP is also encouraging members to pay-it-forward by participating in the Diaper Drive benefiting HAMO. If you have extra diapers that you’d like to pass on (even open packs!), please bring them. But do not buy diapers just to donate them! Remember that monetary donations go a long way with HAMO. Either bring cash or check to Family Day or donate today.

“I have been to four Family Day events now and each year they get better and better!” exclaims Chanden Moya, PAMP member and former Board President. “What I enjoy the most about this event is that it is a great opportunity for us to get out with our families and be able to meet so many other families that have more than just the fact that they are parents in common with us… they are members of PAMP!”

Creating special memories at Family Day is what keeps members coming back. Chanden explains, “In 2013, my youngest son, at that time who was only one, was so excited to go to the bubble area that he tripped and fell straight into the bubble bin! I thought he was going to cry but he was just so excited that he just sat there with the big bubble wand and tried to make bubbles from what was still left in the bin.”

Chanden continued, “In 2014, my eldest son, who was 4 then, had such a hard time trying to decide if he should stay at the “Lego” table or at the “Sticker” table. He eventually chose the Sticker table because they had an empty chair in the shade for him.”

“Family Day is where my own family meets my PAMP family. We enjoy reconnecting with old friends and making new ones!,” says Maya Herstein, Co-President of PAMP. “The kids have a blast playing games and snacking on foods while I talk to other parents in our community. This year I will also be greeting our members at the board table. Please come and introduce yourself!”

Don’t miss the opportunity to attend Family Day and create your own lasting memories.

Tags:  activities  family 

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All About Separation Anxiety

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, March 16, 2016

It’s a common scene at any daycare, playground or birthday party: a crying child clinging to a parent who is desperately trying to convince the child to let go and join the fun. Almost all children have some aspect of separation anxiety during the first six years of life. Separation anxiety should not be feared or even wished away, as it is an obvious and identifiable sign of your child’s love and trust in you.

It is the grand indicator that your child believes you represent the ultimate in safety and security, above anyone else in this world.

What causes Separation Anxiety?
Separation anxiety is a perfectly normal and important developmental adaptation of a child’s emotional and mental growth. It does not have a particular “cause.” Nothing you have done has “made” your child develop separation anxiety.

Even though separation anxiety has not been caused by any particular action or event, there are caregiver actions that can either heighten or reduce a child’s anxiety. There are many things that can help build a child’s trust and confidence in his relationship with you so that he can transfer these feelings to other trusted adults who will help him feel safe away from his home base.

How common is it?
It makes perfect sense that children experience separation anxiety when pulled apart from their main caregiver. Nearly all children experience some aspect of separation anxiety. For some children the stage begins earlier, even at a few months of age. For some, the effects begin later, and some children have anxiety that lasts for longer spells than others. Some children have very visible, obvious indicators of their feelings, but there are also children who have less apparent reactions. There is no exact pattern or set of symptoms, but almost all children have it to some degree.

Does my child have separation anxiety?Separation anxiety has many different symptoms, but it is often easy for parents to spot in their own child. It helps if you know exactly what to look for. The following are behaviors are most typically used to define normal separation anxiety:

  • Clinginess
  • Crying when a parent is out of sight
  • Strong preference for only one parent over all other human beings
  • Fear of strangers, or of family and friends who are not frequently seen
  • Resistance to separation at bedtime or naptime
  • Waking at night crying for a parent
  • Regression to an earlier stage of development, such as thumbsucking or babytalk
  • Anxiety that is easily eliminated upon a parent’s appearance

How you can help your baby with separation anxiety

  • Give your baby lessons in object permanence. As your baby learns that things continue to exist even when she can’t see them, she’ll feel better about letting you out of her sight. Games like peek-a-boo and hide-and-seek will help her understand this phenomenon.
  • Practice with quick, safe separations. Throughout the day, create situations of brief separation. When you go into another room, whistle, sing, or talk to your baby so he knows you’re still there, even though he can’t see you.
  • Don’t sneak away when you have to leave her. It may seem easier than dealing with a tearful goodbye, but it will just cause her constant worry that you’re going to disappear without warning at any given moment. The result? Even more clinginess, and diminished trust in your relationship.
  • Tell your baby what to expect. If you are going to the store and leaving him at home with Grandma, explain where you are going and tell him when you’ll be back. Eventually, he’ll come to understand your explanations.
  • Don’t rush the parting, but don’t prolong it, either. Give your baby ample time to process your leave-taking, but don’t drag it out and make it more painful for both of you.
  • Invite distractions. If you’re leaving your baby with a caregiver or relative, encourage that person to get your baby involved with playtime as you leave. Say a quick good-bye and let your baby be distracted by an interesting activity.
  • Allow your baby the separation that she initiates. If she crawls off to another room, don’t rush after her. Listen and peek, of course, to make sure that she’s safe, but let her know it’s fine for her to go off exploring on her own.

This too shall pass
Separation anxiety doesn’t have a specific beginning nor does it have an exact end. It shows itself in peaks and valleys – good days and bad, good weeks and bad, and even good years followed by bad weeks. It can be bewildering to parents when their child shifts from confidence to anxiety and back again many times during the first six to eight years of life, but this unpredictable behavior is normal. Gaining the maturity and skills to handle separation with confidence is a process, not a single event.

This stage, like so many others in childhood, will pass. In time, your child will learn that she canseparate from you, that you will return, and that everything will be okay between those two points in time. Much of this learning is based on trust and experience, which, just as for every human being young or old, takes time to build.

 

Excerpted with permission by McGraw-Hill Publishing from The No-Cry Separation Anxiety Solution by Elizabeth Pantley.

Tags:  child behavior  child development  family 

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