Bringing It Down to the Earth

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Love not War

Q: Hi, My name is Nicola, My nine year old is having problems with our next door neighbors daughter. There is a lot of nasty name calling and sometimes it gets physical. Its been going on for 5 years and as we live beside each other so you can imagine how difficult it is. I realize there are 2 sides and Holly (my daughter) is by no means perfect but physically she is much smaller and by nature more quiet. About a year ago I stopped Holly from going round to play because there had been a row and Megan was hitting Holly and my son Luke with a huge stick. I could see them from my kitchen window so went out because i could hear my daughter crying. My neighbor came out too and shouted at my daughter and son telling them they were only getting what they deserved. I no longer speak to the neighbor and tell Holly not to go in their garden for fear of arguments, but when they go outside (which isn’t very often now) they are being called stuck up, stubborn and even bitchy. Not the type of language you would want children to use so think they are hearing this from home. please help as i really am struggling to cope with this situation.

A: Hello Nicola,

Thank you for your important question.
First and foremost you do not want to establish or reinforce the idea of “victimhood” in your children. So despite what you may be now seeing, this situation with your neighbors is happening for you and your children not against you. But to see that you must ask yourself, “What’s the most productive and empowering way for me, and my children, to look at this situation?”

Here’s my suggestion: First sit down with your kids. Then, all three of you ask yourselves, “Why? Why is this happening?” And then with your children look at all of the reasons why this scenario is happening. But here’s the catch. Realize that because of this problem with your neighboring family you all have been given a great opportunity to share something very valuable – something that will aid and empower you all and enhance the rest of your lives.

You are now getting the opportunity to very carefully look at a situation that appears to only be detrimental in order to find the gift in it. That’s right. THE GIFT! You have been given an opportunity – a wonderful way – to remind yourself and to teach your children that no one has the power to upset you in any way – but yourself! Who can make you feel bad, or sad or disempowered if you choose not to feel that way?
The answer is, no one.

As a somewhat extreme, but beautiful example, I recently heard a story from a Holocaust survivor who was a teen at the time she was taken prisoner and sent to Auschwitz. She told about how every week, despite her emaciated and starving condition, she was chosen to give blood. When she found out that her blood was going to be given to the wounded German soldiers she said she thought, “How wonderful, they can have as much blood from me as they want, because I am a peace loving person, so the more German soldiers who have my blood the better. With my peaceful blood in them they will never win the war! ”

So where is your gift in this scenario? If you guide your children into seeing that there is often much power and insight to be gained from adversity you will be giving them tools that benefit them their entire life. You can teach them a little very empowering phrase, “I can see peace instead of this.” Then help them to look for the peace in the situation.

One way I often tell people to easily find the peace or the gift in any unsettling relationship is to realize that, when it comes to any conflict “only love is real.” By that I mean that love is the only real, strong and triumphant empowering emotion that is worth focusing on. It always feels good and joyful to feel love. Whereas fear, on the other hand makes us feel weak as well as a host of other negative emotions.

So we can look at everything in life as either love or fear – as either love, or a call for love. What are your neighbors children doing then? They are giving a call for love. Afraid of what? Who knows… you don’t have to figure that out. All you do have to know is that the one and only antidote to fear is love!

Maybe other people might not realize this, and therefore buy into their seemingly dramatic, combative story, and therefore experience “hell” right along with them as they war and battle it out. But consider what would happen if, just like that amazing teenager in Auschwitz (who is alive and loving her great-grand children today!) you taught your children to see something entirely different here. They can see that they are so strong and powerful that they can give love in return to any apparent assault. Not because your children are superior, or any better than your neighbors next door, but because EVERYONE deserves to feel loved. And what we give, we receive.

If your children return kindness and love to an assault from anyone, they’ll feel their own power and peace and love. And amazingly enough, they’ll feel like they live in heaven! Now, enjoy this great lesson in life fully as you sit down with your children and discover together how you can all unearth the love in this situation. Good luck and have fun as you all bring heaven to earth!

What is the Right Age to Allow My Child to Sign Up for Facebook?

image courtesy wan min

Question: At what age would you allow or not allow your child to have a Facebook?

Maureen‘s Answer:

I suggest that you sign up for your own Facebook account, get to know how it works and then you can make a better informed decision about this for yourself. I feel each child is individual and unique and so there is no “right” or “wrong” age for this. Once you join Facebook, you’ll see that it’s a fairly safe entity.

Then when your child does join Facebook, at whatever age they choose to do so, or that you both agree is appropriate for them to get the most out of it, you can “friend” them and actually become an even greater part of their world. Even see their life, quite possibly, from a whole new perspective. Are you aware that whatever you post on Facebook, is accessible by all of your friends and so everyone you know and love can see it?

So, I would say that if you are worried about Facebook’s safety, one you do join you’ll see that the way that it’s set up, you’ll actually be able to become involved, be informed about their lives and have access to your child’s “world” if you join in on the fun they are having with this online community.

I don’t feel that it’s ever beneficial to our children, or to ourselves, to approach any decisions we make from a perspective of fear.
Instead, you can look at this as a fun opportunity to share an online experience with them. Be sure of one thing though… this new way of communicating with the entire planet is here to stay and will mostly likely be expanding, changing and growing in years to come.

By the way, here’s my Facebook page and both of my daughters connect with me there often.

With thanks to wan min for the image.

How Can I Put My Child on a Diet Program Without Making Her Feel Self-Concious?

Question: My daughter is 5 years old and weighs 72 lbs. I dont want her to have a weight problem when she gets older. Is it wrong for me to put her on a diet and excercise program?

Maureen’s Answer:

You asked, “Is it wrong to put her on a diet and exercise program?” I feel the more effective question to ask yourself here is what feels “right” or “wrong” to you. And I‘d like you to consider that question with something very important in mind. On the deepest level there really is no right or wrong, only moving closer to love (feels right!) or further away from love (feels “wrong” – i.e. -unpeaceful, disconnected, empty, or bad). It’s really feeling a lack of love that so often compels people to overeat, in an unconscious effort to fill the void.

So if I am interpreting your real question correctly, you are asking, “How can I best help my daughter to feel, happy, accepted, safe, cared for, and loved?” Well, that doesn’t have to be a some-day-in-the-future experience for her (or you!), and you certainly don’t need to diet your way there! You can offer feelings of deep fulfillment to her right now—or with her next meal.

Share with your daughter the most effective “diet” there is, the only one that can bring the truest, most easily shared and enjoyable experience: “Eat with love, what’s grown with love, prepared with love and served with love.” Simple ’eh? All you have to do is ask yourself, “Is this food a symbol of my love?” If so, offer it joyously.

Do you realize that your daughter sees you as the most amazing, powerful, beautiful being on the planet? Therefore, whatever you see in her, she subconsciously desires to become. To all children, parents are the authority—they feel we know best. What a powerful opportunity that presents for you. See only her perfection, her beauty and—most importantly—her strength and unique individuality, and then just step back and watch! Believe me, you won’t feel fear for her well-being any longer. The only reason any of us parents are ever overly concerned for the well-being of our children is if we mistrust ourselves! While all the while, we hold within us such wisdom—because the gift that comes along with parenthood is the wisdom of love. It sounds to me like you just forgot how to access your own truest mother-lovin’ wisdom for a brief moment in time. (Fear does that to us, by the way.)

There is a way for you to discern whether or not your consideration of putting your daughter on a diet is fear-based or love-based. Here’s how: just sit still for a moment, and completely divorce yourself from the “good” or “bad” opinions of other people. Now, consider the same question you asked me, imagining that you and your daughter exist in a vacuum of sorts—there’s no one else on the planet to judge either one of you. There’s only, you, your daughter and love. Now you tell me, do you need to do anything… let alone put your daughter on a diet!? It’s the fear (most often of both the good or bad opinions of other people) that begets the emptiness that leads to guilt and excess weight. Show her she’s unconditionally loved, just as she already loves you! What beautiful mirrors you’ll be to one another then. Just relax and love yourself for being such a caring, amazing mother who now realizes it’s only the love that fulfills us all—it’s our deepest craving and at the very same time, who we really are! And then just enjoy her—and every meal you have the grace to share together—she’s perfect and so are you!

If you feel it may be healthy for your daughter to spend more time exercising, you can simply encourage her to spend more time outside. Children have a natural curiosity and playfulness, so there’s no need for a “diet or exercise program.” Just find out what sports and games she’s naturally interested in. It could be that a tap dance class, a place on the soccer team, or a friendly game of tag with the neighbors is all your daughter needs to spark a more active lifestyle.

For more from Soul-Full Eating: A (Delicious!) Path to Higher Consciousness visit eatwithsoul.com

Should I Make My Daughter Finish All of the Food on Her Plate?

Question: My two-year-old daughter often sits with us at the table and eats—usually. My question is, should I have her eat if she doesn’t want to? Should I force her to try new foods? Should I make her sit there until her plate is clean or until she’s eaten two bites of peas? If she asks to leave the table before her father and I are finished eating, do I let her?

Maureen‘s Answer:

As you may know, the theme of Soul-Full Eating is: “Eat with love, what’s grown with love, prepared with love and served with love.”

I feel that across the board, this simple statement is the answer to all kinds of struggles that adults have with food. But it’s important that as adults we ask ourselves, when do most food struggles begin? The answer is often in childhood. Many of us grew up in households where it was expected that we “clean our plates” before we could be excused from the table. Let’s get more specific to your questions now… to an inquisitive, on-the-go two-year-old this can be a torturous experience. Often, before the adults at the dining table have finished two mouthfuls of their food, a two year old will declare, “I’m done.” That’s because they’re genuinely satiated with one or two bites themselves and are now ready to move on to “more interesting things.”

So I’d like you to ask yourself, if you’re asking an “expert” how to feed your own child… maybe at some point you were led to believe that other people’s opinions and feelings are more valid and important than your own. The only question I believe you need to ask here—to yourself!—is, “what feels most loving to me now?” How can you best show my daughter that she is completely loved—even at the dinner table?

By the way, my sister-in-law still speaks about how traumatized she was by having to sit at the dining room table long after every one of her siblings was excused, until she ate those last three cold and wilting peas. As she relates it, as a child she rebelled and tried to assert her autonomy for hours and hours saying, “I don’t like peas!.” Unfortunately she’d eventually break and eat them—her dad was a military Colonel at the time, so he knew how to win a battle! But, at what cost?

We never crave food as much as we crave love. And you can teach your children self-love via eating food. Yes! Offer them good, wholesome, healthy choices—plenty of them—this will spark their creativity and feelings of empowerment as they can make their own choices and feel your love as they do so.

If you find that, as an adult, you are unsure if you are in a battle with food yourself, here’s an excerpted exercise from Soul-Full Eating, that’s often very revelatory for my readers. Try it and let me know what you find out. And remember, it’s through conscious parenting that we often discover the spontaneous, joyous, oh-so-loveable “lost child” in ourselves.

SOMETHING TO CHEW ON
Spend five minutes meditating on or writing about the following questions: When you were young, were you given praise for finishing every last bite on your plate? Were you ever coerced into eating even after you felt full by being told about the starving children in other parts of the world or about how others suffered and sacrificed to provide you with your meal?

If so, then it’s likely that guilt has been coloring your world when it comes to eating—guilt for not eating enough, or guilt for eating too much. We are all born with an internal comfort-seeking mechanism—the Soul—The “Voice” of sanity. However, for many of us, it’s been layered over, smothered and silenced by the guilt inherent in our fear-based conditioning.

SOUL-FULL EXERCISE #1
Just for one day, do only what you genuinely love to do. Can you do that? Lucky you, if you don’t have to put a hold on everything and completely rearrange your entire life to do this. That means you are already being True to your Soul!
But if you do have to do a bit of finagling of time and space in order to allow your authentic-self to emerge, that’s still fine. Why? Because now you can see that you really do deserve to love yourself more. Once you do this once, there may be no turning back!
Eating what you really don’t love, without love, is just one small symptom of a greater picture of denying your brilliance and self-worth.

Coconut Water: Better than Any Sports Drink

Question: What is the healthiest thing for my eight-year-old son to eat and drink before playing sports?

Maureen’s Answer:

Word hasn’t really hit the mainstream yet, but more and more people are discovering a truly wonderful source for the five essential electrolytes that help athletes perform at peak levels—not in manufactured sports drinks, but in coconut water! Tropical residents have known the benefits of drinking coconut water for a very long time. Because they work, play and live active lives in a hot, humid climate, they perspire often—and just as athletes, they must re-hydrate their bodies often to maintain optimum health.

Coconut water is a refreshing, tasty, and electrolyte-replacing beverage that—in my opinion—far surpasses every artificial sports drink. Coconut water contains no artificial sweeteners or added sugars. It’s not colored or artificially flavored and it’s fat and cholesterol free. But of most important concern to athletes, is that it’s an excellent source of the five essential electrolytes: potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and sodium—all delivered in nature’s perfect balance.

You can purchase whole Thai Baby Coconuts in oriental markets and in some natural foods stores, such as Whole Foods. These are not the little round brown coconuts—those are more mature and typically contain more coconut meat than water. Thai baby coconuts are found in the refrigerated sections of stores and they typically have the white husk still around the coconut shell.

These whole coconuts require some skill and tools to open, so although fresh, live coconuts are the best tasting, you can now purchase cartons (individual serving sized; or larger, 34 FL. Oz. sized cartons) that are convenient, easy to chill and drink from at any location—like sports fields! If you don’t have an oriental food store or natural food store nearby. Ask the grocers in your local supermarket to order some for you. Who knows, you may start a new trend for the folks in your neighborhood—and promote a winning (well-hydrated) team!

Two brands of coconut water that I particularly like are: Vita Coco and O.N.E. – here’s a link where you can find them on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/search?ie=UTF8&keywords=Vita%20Coco&tag=swoggle5776-20&search-alias=grocery&sort=salesrank

My Sister Gives Her New Boyfriend More Attention Than Her Kids.

Question: My nieces are 16, 14 and 5 years of age and their mother—my sister—has recently started dating a new guy. Since she met him, she has payed less and less attention to the girls. Naturally, they feel neglected and the oldest one got into an argument with her mom that was so bad that she recently told me and her grandmother—who also lives with them—that she was considering moving out. Right now it seems like my sister’s first priority is her new boyfriend. I want to show my nieces that my husband and I are there for them, but how do I do that without showing them more negativity about their mom? Also my sister is very unfair with my mom, treating her like a maid and is very unappreciative. Should I mention something to her or leave it alone?

Maureen’s Answer:

Here’s my personal philosophy: If you can’t say something supportive and helpful to someone, it’s best to say nothing at all.

Instead, realize that just being an example of what you’d like them to become will impact the situation for the better. In this case, it sounds as if all you really want for your family is to feel peaceful, loved and respected. That’s a very good intention, but getting into other people’s business is often the least effective way to accomplish such results.

Instead—since what you focus on, you’ll get more of—if you see your sister as “the insensitive culprit,” don’t be surprised if she exhibits behaviors that personify exactly that. Whereas, if you start by seeing everyone as doing the best they can at this time and respect them for that, you’ll approach the situation from an entirely different perspective—one that is typically more loving, less judgmental and one that can also have an impact for the better much more quickly. Obviously, what your sister really wants is love and if the only place she feels like she can get that at the moment is from her boyfriend, well then of course she’ll want to spend most of her time with him.

Here’s something powerful that you can share with your nieces. Maybe they don’t approve of their mother’s choices and decisions and yet feel that they are affected by them directly or indirectly. Instead of feeling victim to the situation, they can become victors over it by choosing to give what it is they most want to get… in this case it’s the love and caring attention of their mother. But truly, that brand of love—love that comes from someone else—is never, ever reliable, even from a mother, as you’ve so wonderfully illustrated with your question!

In this world filled with people living in separate bodies, driven by different likes, dislikes and intentions, we cannot expect for anyone else to truly make us live “happily ever after.” Situations and circumstances are always changing as are people evolving, growing and learning via the lives they live. We can’t expect anyone to put their life on hold for us—which is what so many mothers feel that they do for their children only to feel then that their children owe them something for that in return. They don’t! If you choose to sacrifice anything for another person, be prepared to realize that it is never loving. We can only receive perfect and undying love from ourselves! How do we know if we’ve actually succeeded in tapping that kind of love? We don’t need others to do anything for us in order for us to love them… we just love them because that’s what feels best to us! No matter how they are acting towards us, anyone else or themselves. Only that is true love.

Wouldn’t you rather your nieces master a lesson in true love early on and go on to be powerful, amazing self-reliant women in all of their relationships? Rather than make them victim to judgments about their mother, which will only serve to disempower them and lose sight of the love that they innately know and feel for her. Show them real, true undying love now, by asking them to join with you in accepting their mom just as she is and allowing for her to make mistakes as she must. And by the way, if your sister doesn’t feel judged, she’ll walk through situations that aren’t truly led by love—but fear—much more quickly.

For years, I worked with teens in the public school system, who came from “dysfunctional homes.” The members of these families were all craving love, yet no one really understood how to remove the obstacles to love’s presence. Instead they were all in denial, thinking they could live without sharing the very thing they all wanted to experience most. From my own personal experience, I knew that only one person in a family is needed to change everything. How? By deciding to love everyone just the way they are. That doesn’t mean you’ll be stuck with a situation you don’t like—that’s the power of love—once you accept people/things just as they are—they can change!

Source: Parental Wisdom Advisor Maureen Whitehouse

My Son is the Pickiest Eater Ever!

Question: My son Cooper is six-years-old and he is the pickiest eater ever! I have tried making fun recipes, different shapes out of food, everything. He would rather go to bed on an empty stomach than eat, or, if I am lucky enough to get him to try something, and he doesn’t like it, he gags on it and practically throws it up. What can I do?

Maureen’s Answer:

LOVE HIM! Exactly the way he is. “Picky” eating habits and all. What we focus on we get more of. If you begin to obsess about Cooper’s eating habits, he’ll subconsciously reinforce your perceptions of the way he eats and begin to eat less and less. What if instead, you continue to offer him the same great, wholesome and creative food choices that it sounds like you already are, and then consciously add just one other key ingredient that you’re leaving out: complete acceptance.

You’ll see very quickly that Cooper will pick up on your new unconditional acceptance of him and he’ll begin to gravitate towards the love you are subtly offering him along with the more tangible foods you put on his plate. To make it very simple, you can look at it this way: everything is either love, or a call for love. So what do you give your son if he is giving you a “call for love” via picky eating? You offer him love, of course! Once you accept him, just as he is now, the happiness, connection and joy you both feel will spill over naturally into other ways of sharing… even meals!

Relax. Have fun at mealtime with Cooper and honor his unique eating style. He’ll grow and evolve through all of this quite naturally, just as you will, if you let love and not fear lead the way. And keep in mind, what we all live for, thrive on and crave the most in life is love!

Recommended read Soul-Full Eating: A (Delicious!) Path to Higher Consciousness and visit www.eatwithsoul.com

Maureen is now featured on parentalwisdom.com Q&A

Ask Maureen your question by emailing her at Maureen@experienceaxiom.com

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