“you are important to me” and other messages

I have seen and heard a few things lately that have taken me aback. I have given quite a bit of thought to them and reflected on my own childhood.

Let me share with you and then you can tell me what you think and feel.

There is an advertisement on television for The American Women’s College at Bay Path University . It features about 4-5 women, aging from about 38 to 60 years. The ad is geared toward the ‘non-traditional student’. There are no men nor children in the commercial; there is one scraggly mutt.

They all say something about their dreams, their goals and the last statement is by the youngest woman and she says, “It’s my time, now.”

The unsaid words are that when she was responsible for caring for younger children they were a burden, an interference to her own desires which she has put off until now to pursue.

You get the sense that other women are divorced, widowed or otherwise single and not burdened by a man. The poor dog:  I hope he gets the care he needs when she is sitting in her Philosophy 101 course.

This dualistic thinking is not productive to living a genuine life. It is not “either or” but rather it is “and”.  I support women pursuing their goals, whatever they may be. Let’s be honest. If a woman has children and limited finances and time and cannot fit in college at that time, let’s be clear that it was her choice, hopefully a loving choice. Later on, she decides to pursue her education or her career, out of a loving place of freedom to choice, not because a burden [children, husband] no longer exists.

I never felt that I was a burden to my parents. Both of my parents were fiercely independent and they pursued their own personal goals, but never at the cost of their children. I can’t remember a time I was left with a babysitter other than my older brothers and that wasn’t too often because I don’t think they were too keen to tend to me.

My parents brought me with them~to the movies, out to dinner, to friends’ homes. I felt special to be with them. I didn’t feel I was keeping them from doing something else that they wanted to do. Until she passed, my mother made me feel I was the light of her life.

Have you seen the advertisement? Tell me what you think.

I saw a scene the other day that disturbed me.  As I was entering a church for weekly Lenten Service around noon, the day center was releasing the 2-4 year old children to their parents and some grand parents. The parents and children were scrambling with their arty papers and coats and hats and there were shouts of glee from the children to see their Mom or Dad. One Dad had broken free from the crowded hallway and was pulling his little one along and said to him in a scowling tone, “We don’t have all day.”

Really? I know there are adult time commitments, but do we need to make a child feel he is less important than something else? Is rushing the little tyke from the building to the car in the parking lot really going to save that much time? Why not savor the time with the child and make him feel that there is nothing more important to you at this moment than him?

“Let us make one point, that we meet each other with a smile, when it is difficult to smile. Smile at each other, make time for each other in your family.”  Mother Teresa

Once when I was in a retail store, I over heard a parent saying to a child, “You can’t have everything you want.” Really?  My father used to always says to Mare, “Give Susie whatever she wants.”   My parents also taught us that we could have whatever we wanted, as long as we worked for it.  Do you recall the Biblical story in Luke 11-13 where Jesus is teaching about fatherly love and Our Heavenly Father:

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?  Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Joe wasn’t a religious man, yet he wanted his children to have whatever he had and more. Mare did, too.

Parents, isn’t there a better way to teach your children about wanting and possessing, responsible giving and receiving than to say “You can’t have everything you want”?

You might even use Mick Jagger’s line which is a little softer and more hopeful: “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try real hard, you might just get what you need.”

Another time when I was in a store I heard a parent say to a child “Life isn’t fair.”

Really? What a terribly negative, limiting message to give a child. It is wholly untrue, to boot.

Universal laws are always in place, as well as spiritual laws. Gravity is never suspended. If you jump off a building, you will always go splat! Two plus two always equals four.  When you follow spiritual principles, “you become carefree and joyful, and your life becomes an expression of unbounded love”,  Deepak Chopra assures us. What could be fairer? Follow the laws of the universe and you shall prosper abundantly.  Always.

What do you think about the messages you were told as a child? What messages do you tell your children? Yourself? Are they negative, limiting, diminishing? Or are they positive, uplifting, life-giving?