Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Vayigash 75 - Nurture Yourself so that You Look Good

At their first meeting Pharaoh is struck by Jacob- Yaakov's appearance .This prompts him to ask Jacob his age, something that a king would not normally inquire of a visitor. Yaakov felt that he had to justify   and explain why he looked much older than he was. He answered that he was 130 years old.  He   had not lived as long in a qualitative sense as his forefathers as his life was not a happy one with many problems, living as a stranger in other peoples lands. The commentators note that God criticized Yaakov.  Yaakov's complaining about his life was in fact a complaint against God. Although Jacob had   had serious problems concerning Aisav-Esau, Lavan, Dina and Joseph  that made life very hard and difficult for so many years, there was a 'happy ending'. In any case, despite problems people should be happy and grateful for life itself. As a consequence, Yaakov's lifespan was shortened by 33 years because of the 33 words of complaint he had voiced. Instead of living to 180 years like his father Isaac- Yitzchak, Yaakov died at the age of 147. But if we look at the verses in the Torah, we see that  Yaakov only uttered 25 words including the words and 'Yaakov said to Pharaoh.'  Only if we add Pharaoh's question – 8 words, we get 33 words. Yaakov is not only held  accountable for complaining about his life but also for the way he looked – something that prompted Pharaoh to ask his question. If we happily accept reality and don't complain we will have less stressful lives, deal with situations more creatively and   look so much better.
As parents we have a responsibility to nurture ourselves and have the right attitude so we look good. We need to be thankful and feel honored by God for believing in our abilities and giving us the privilege to raise these ' challenging kids '. We need to be the source of happiness, hope and joy, so it is fun to be around us. We have to be the ' Thermostat' that calms things down  in the home, avoids conflict and solves problems in a collaborative way, rather than causing stress.

Nurturing oneself is for your children and the following story explains it well. It is important for all parents and especially parents of challenging kids.  A woman went to check out what was happening at her neighbors, a young widow who  had 7 children. The kids were in the yard, some were crying and the others did not look too happy. The woman went into the house and to her dismay found the mother eating a good meal. The widow explained that if she wants to have the strength and energy to look after 7 hungry kids, she needs to eat well. So we need to be selfish - it is for the kids.

 Nurture yourself; consider yourself a person who has needs, for relaxation, privacy, rest, exercise, to eat well, reading, socializing, and learning, being empowered emotionally and spiritually. Live your own life .If you don't consider yourself worthy of the above, your kids will treat you as a doormat and not a real person with needs.
 Be positive and think positively about others and remember the CPS mantra, – children (also people) do well if they can.  Deal   with negative thoughts and decide that you want to be happy and not be  right. When we rely less on others, and don't have expectations we are less likely to become angry. Don't take issues personally, mouthing is part of the poor coping skills. Put your relationship with your kids first before getting them to do things. Remember to use – LEE = low expressed emotion and not HEE- high expressed emotion.   

 Nurture your relationship with your spouse, spend time together not talking about the kids, best to have fixed times during the week.  Let your kids do 'sleep over's' during the school week - respite for you and generally they ' think ' better at others and it is a good learning experience. Find mentors, buddy-tutors, family, baby sitters who can spend time with your kids, good for them, respite for you. Get support from local charities, your community, an older brother or buddy from the local school.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Understand that education is a process; there are no quick fixes or magic bullet. Patience is the name of the game. But think positively about your kids so that you attract positive forces. Only talk to the few people who understand how stressful parenting a challenging kid is, get support on forums or other support groups. To the others say that your child has certain challenges and that you are following expert advice.  But believe in yourself, that you are moving in the right direction and have the ability to parent your kids.

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