What an emotionally complex time this is! The joy and numerous activities of the holidays. The tragic mass shooting and suicide in Connecticut. How to feel emotionally? Is it okay to feel love and joy when other parents are struggling with the grief of losing their child?

This is not something you can sort out intellectually. Emotions are not like that. How to be? Be wherever you are in the moment. Sad and filled with deep appreciation for your own child when you think of the children we have lost. Filled with delight when you see the magic of the holidays in your child’s eyes.

You can choose where you want to put your attention. Suppressing or feeling guilty about your own joy when others are in grief does not help them. Reaching out to them in love and caring energetically or in some real tangible way are more uplifting to them and to you. Joining them in their sadness and staying there denies your own joy to you and to them.

Yes, it may feel hard and it is do-able. It will make you a better person and parent. How’s that for big rewards?

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Here is an article I wrote in March of this year related to this topic Another School Shooting…Are You Paying Attention?

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Guidelines for Talking with Your Child about Tragedy and Traumatic Events

Times of crisis and distress are difficult and confusing for parents and children alike. How can you best support your child during these times? Here are guidelines to help you and your child navigate the challenging waters of painful events.

1. Remember that you and your child are separate and different people, and you will each feel your own unique emotions and process them in your own way. Your child’s and your experience may be profoundly different. Be prepared for this and be open to exploring your child’s feelings and thoughts separate from your own.

2. Before interacting with your child, focus on yourself first. What are you feeling? Be deeply honest here. Sometimes writing down your emotions can help you explore and clarify what you’re feeling and how you can take care of yourself and process the tragedy. Perhaps you can share your complicated feelings and thoughts with someone you trust.

By clarifying your own emotions and thoughts for yourself first, you can be more lovingly, neutrally present for your child. One thing you do not want to do is process your own feelings with your child.

3. If your child is young (under 8 or so) and she is not aware of the tragedy, there is nothing to be gained by telling her. Young children have greater difficulty understanding and putting in perspective what has happened than older children. There is no reason to stir up stress for your child.

4. In talking with your child, the most important thing you can discuss is their feelings about the event. Be there for your child.

Most articles I’ve read recommend answering your child’s question about the Connecticut shooting. I think this can be helpful, and what you’re doing is giving your child your perspective to help him. It is ‘your’ perspective.

Much more powerful and effective is to help your child explore his feelings and ideas, how he can best find his own way through this. Your best resources are deep listening, asking questions to understand, your love and caring, your time.

In asking your child questions, give him time to think things through within himself. Allow for times of silence in the conversation and be present. You may find your child has an immediate thought. Yet with a little more time, new insights and understanding may occur to him.

Here are some suggestions for the kinds of questions your child will find helpful:

~ How do you feel about ____ (description of the event)?

~ What do you wish would have happened?

~ What do you think you would have done in this situation?

~ Tell me more.

If your child expresses fear about her own safety:

~ What are you afraid might happen?

~ Has this ever happened before?

~ What do you want me to do? How can I help you?

~ What can you do to help you feel safe?

Of course, reassure your child based on your own experiences and be honest about your own feelings in a way that is as objective and neutral as you can. Do this after you listen to your child.

By listening to your child first, you will be able to more clearly respond to your child’s needs and feelings because you’ll understand more about what he is experiencing.

If your child asks why this happened:

~ Why do you think this happened?

~ What do you think the person who did this was feeling?

~ What could you do if you were feeling this way?

Again, your answer to this question is very appropriate here…after listening to your child.

Make it a sharing between the two of you as people with most of the sharing done by your child.

5. Observe your child to notice any changes in her behavior. If you notice anything that is troubling, be sure to bring up the subject again.

If, at the end of your conversation, your child seems happy and confident and you see no changes in behavior that indicate further stress, simply carry on with your life with no need to discuss it further. If your child continues to be trying to sort it all out, be open to continued conversations when she brings it up.

Remember, your most powerful resources in helping your child process tragic events are your love, being aware and observant of your child, your presence, focusing on yourself first, listening and asking questions.

I’d love to know how you’re feeling with this recent school shooting. How have you resolved it for yourself? What have you experienced or discovered in talking with your child about it? Please share in Comments below.

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Click here to read another thoughtful article that raises important questions and observations.

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That Annoying ‘Taken for Granted’ Feeling

by Connie Allen on November 27, 2012

For those of you in the U.S., I hope your Thanksgiving was joyous and that you shared many warm, precious moments with your family. For me, it felt even more wonderful that usual. Here is what I’ve discovered.

For me, a joyous Thanksgiving means…

Feeling lovingly connected and relaxed with my family

Preparing, enjoying, and celebrating good food together

Sharing the food preparation so everyone contributes and does as much as s/he wants

Making pumpkin pie with ease the day before with two wonderful grandchildren ready with a tasting spoon each

Feeling refreshed and nourished at the end of the day

Cherishing my wonderful memories of a day well lived

What made your day special for you?

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That Annoying ‘Taken for Granted’ Feeling

When I talk deeply and honestly with parents about their parenting challenges, there is one that eventually surfaces. Buried under layers of their child’s misbehaviors is the feeling of being taken for granted by their child.

Feeling unappreciated and recognized for all they give and do for their child. Sometimes they call it “feeling disrespected.”

This truth is often shared quietly and with a feeling of shame and hesitancy to admit it, even to themselves.

What I find is parents often ignore this feeling because they’re focused on their child’s observable behaviors, the things they can see and hear, and not on the sub-text of their communication together.

Sometimes they don’t recognize it because they are busy doing, giving, and taking care of their child.

Does this sound familiar?

On the slip side, sometimes parents don’t recognize appreciation from their child when it is given, for example when your child does something thoughtful for you or gives you a big hug and says, “I love you!”

Often when parents feel unappreciated and taken for granted, their tempers flare more easily because they feel exhausted and drained. Yet, underneath this lies the debilitating feeling of being unappreciated for all they give to their child.

If you feel taken for granted, it is not a flaw in your child. The truth is your child longs to feel loving and appreciative toward you. She may not consciously recognize this desire nor have the awareness, but she feels it, nonetheless …even your seemingly uncaring teen or tween.

If you want to feel more appreciated by your child of any age, then it is you who must step up to make the change in yourself. It is you who has the insight, awareness, and resources to create a better relationship between you and your child.

I invite you to explore this for yourself. Here are some questions to get you started.

1. What are the ways or situations in which you feel appreciated by your child?

2. What are the things you do for your child that leave you feeling exhausted and taken for granted?

3. What are the things you’d most like your child to appreciate about you or what you’ve done or given? Write them down.

4. What does being taken for granted feel like to you?

5. What do you do or say when you feel taken for granted by your child?

What are the times you feel appreciated by your child? Please let me know in the Comments below.

Today is a great day to take action! If you’d like some help knowing how to have your child appreciate you more, I invite to you get my video series “How to Foster Heart-Felt Appreciation, Politeness, and Kindness in your Child.”

You can get this program for almost 50% off from now until this Friday, November 30.

Click here to get this for yourself and your child.

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Connie Recommends: “How to Foster Heart-Felt Appreciation, Politeness, and Kindness in your Child”

If you’d like to learn a new, easier approach that actually gets results without all of the reminding and frustration, I invite you get my new video series “How to Foster Heart-Felt Appreciation, Politeness, and Kindness in your Child.”

Every parent wants their child to be on their best behavior during the holidays and year round. This creates a lot of stress for you and your child. That makes this an excellent time of year to support your child to develop and live the art of heart-felt appreciation and kindness.

This information-packed video series teaches you specific steps you can implement immediately and will be invaluable for children of all ages. Plus, you’ll be able to watch the videos anytime, anywhere that is convenient for you, especially during this busy time of year.

You can get the video series for almost 50% off plus a F.EEE bonus by acting today.

Click here to get your program and to learn more..

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What’s Connie Up To?

Saturday, January 5

Imagine setting aside a few short hours to focus on your family and to reflect on what worked and didn’t work in 2012. Then be guided through a process to help you clarify your priorities for 2013 and to create specific ideas and plans to make the New Year even more harmonious, fun, and easy with your child. This F.REE event will be from 9 – 11:30 am Pacific.

Mark your calendars! I’ll send you more information as the time gets closer.

End of January Joyous Parenting Training

This is the class that will rock your socks when it comes to parenting and lay a foundation of deep understanding of how to be the parent your child wants you to be, the parent you will most enjoy being. Seven classes plus options for additional support. More info coming soon.

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3 Important Ways Teaching Manners Can Limit Your Child

November 17, 2012

I had my 2-year-old granddaughter Madison yesterday morning, and she must have said “Thank you” to me at least 5 times in the short time I had her. In fact, “Thank you” were some of her very first words, and it always delights me to hear her say it. Especially since no one has ever […]

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What is Your Appreciation Quotient?

November 8, 2012

I spent much of yesterday developing the content for my soon-to-be-released video series “How to Foster Heart-Felt Appreciation, Politeness, and Kindness in Your Child.” I am SO EXCITED to be sharing this information with you! I can hardly contain myself! I’ve been wanting to share this easy, effective approach with your for quite a while. […]

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Are You Missing Out on Heart-Felt Appreciation from Your Child?

November 2, 2012

Almost every parent I talk with in depth admits they don’t feel appreciated by their child. Parents of young children don’t expect appreciation, believing their youngster is incapable of such awareness. Parents of teens hate the lack of appreciation they receive for all they’ve done and are continuing to do for their adolescent, yet it […]

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What Kind of Day Are You Creating for Yourself?

November 1, 2012

Doug and I were camping and literally ‘driving off the beaten track’ last week in Anza Borrego Desert State Park. We camped in Hawk Canyon, one of our favorite places in the park. We went there because the wind was gusting hard, making it impossible for me to relax and enjoy where we were. When […]

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