Would Scooby Doo Make a Good Parent? Do Kids Need Detectives? Yes and No

Today I am starting this blog with the sincerest hope that you are having a good day.

Wow!  Intentionality is powerful! I started my New Year with the intention of being as sincerely positive as I can.

But that requires making an effort. Happiness is sometimes a turtle walking slowly toward us and sometimes a wave crashing over us so fast we almost miss the emotion. But either way, the problem is that if we wait for the turtle or the wave, happiness may come but not as fast as if we herald it.

So what does this have to do with kids? Everything. It is my observation that as our children become older, we forget to really “watch” them. We are so relieved to not change diapers, wake up at two am, or stop the car because our newly potty trained kid needs to go to the bathroom, again.

Sometimes I feel this exodus from parenting teenagers so strongly that I half expect Moses to appear to help the fleeing parents part a body of water for their faster escape.

And that’s a shame because beginnings of autonomy is not independence, and as much as they resemble adults they are not. Teens still need parents but what happens frequently in this transitional period is that the only communication between kids and their parents is filled with conflict.

Parent laments: “They don’t talk.” “They don’t want to be with us.” “I don’t understand them.”

And it’s true, most adolescents have not learned the life long skill of excellent communication, and most of them have NO ability to facilitate relationships with non teens. And they shouldn’t. Adults are the teachers and parents in their world. So sadly, much of what I observe is that the only communication that happens between teens and their parents is when something needs to be corrected, when a parent is disappointed, when an infraction has happened. We don’t mean it, but we have become people no one would voluntarily talk to.

And that’s where intentions and Scooby come in. Parents HAVE to pay attention to their teens, even though it’s frustrating, many times unrewarding, and confusing. We have to monitor their safety, discuss morality, and hopefully guide them to being their best selves.

Which is a long way to say that we have to have the intention of catching them at some good stuff in between the yuck. I’m not talking about achievements, I’m talking about a moment when they smiled instead of putting their bothersome brother in the microwave. A turtle moment, something that could be missed because it’s expected, and didn’t need correction.

Surprise yourself. Pay attention and quietly tell your kids that you’re proud that they did their homework last night, or that you are really relieved that they drive to school safely everyday.

You’ll be surprised. You both will. And this isn’t just something we can do for our children, we can do it for each other. Being nice is as much environmental as it is genetic. It just requires choice.

Thank you for reading my blog, I am touched that you take important minutes out of your day to share my thoughts and hopes for our children. I think you are amazing.

Divorce, Why Gray Is The New Black

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The baby boomers have exploded, and their marriages are the first casualty.  Divorce rates among people older than fifty have risen to one in four, a rate that has doubled in the last two decades.

These aren’t the one dimensional, commercial interrupted Kim Kardashians and Bachelor, Bachelorette, marriages either.  On the surface these people have made it.  They have stayed together to raise their children, and they have likely gone through some other traumas too including loss of a parent, job or change in health status.

Why are they baling now, when the kids are out of the house, they’re close to retiring and the have plenty of time for each other?

The WSJ reports that it’s a result of the “Me” generation.  Individuals who married expecting to be happy instead of expecting to stay married.  Researchers in white coats are investigating why this marriage ending cancer has infiltrated middle age American marriages, but before we complacently accept this statistic into our already lowered collective conscious, let’s do our own research.

A simple trip to any neighborhood restaurant, a walk around your manicured block, might reveal more than the article in the WSJ.  What’s missing from these pictures is the presence of these gray haired couples.  They forgot how to be together somewhere on the way to soccer, or piano  lessons or during the business of parenting, holding down a job and running a household.

It’s not a simple lesion to fix.  Once you get out of the habit of being together, the natural resolution is to be apart.

But it didn’t have to be that way.  It doesn’t have to be that way.  The couples in the WSJ weren’t abusive, malevolent or fiscally irresponsible.  They were unsatisfied.

In a society where an answer to a question is determined by the speed of your internet connection, where TV guide is obsolete because you can watch hand picked programs on your computer, satisfaction has become a tricky word.

We may have become a society of emotional masturbators, happy to satisfy ourselves alone or quickly rather than to patiently explore the constant reinviting, of another person into our pleasure.

I have no doubt that at fifty plus, after 10-15 years of emotional dissatisfaction these couples are done.  I just wondered what could have happened if 10-15 years ago they were able to turn to each other instead of turning away.

Being with someone is not as easy as falling in love on a reality TV show, or sparkly Disney movie, it’s a constant, daily commitment to invite someone to your table.  Someone with their own agenda’s likes and dislikes.

So tonight.  When your kids are about to slip away into the dark realm of their internet worlds, stop them.  Make them talk to you.  Talk to them.  Talk to your spouse.  Engage them.  Teach them to engage.  Teach them that the compromise required in vital relationships reap much more than you ever give up.

Who knows?  You may just be saving your own marriage.