RAISE THE CHILD YOU HAVE & NOT THE CHILD YOU WANT.

So many people raise their children in opposition to how they were raised. They decide in advance what they will do differently, how their methods will ensure that what happened to them won’t happen to their own child. This is understandable on many levels, but it’s not practical, and more importantly, it’s not fair. You can’t base the parenting choices you make on the choices your parents made when they raised you. I mean, you can. Go for it, but you’ll simply be perpetuating the very cycle of parenting styles you are hoping to break. When you have a child, you don’t give birth to a mini-version of yourself. Certainly, your child might LOOK like a mini-you, but internally, they are their own person, and it’s that person that needs to be raised.

I don’t have children, but I have read more parenting books than most parents. And I’ve done this because I was a panicked-disordered little kid who needed to be raised differently than I was–but how? Parenting books have told me, and I’ve been able to understand what I needed versus what I got. Knowing this has taught me the reasons for some of my disabling fears, and in understanding what I got vs what I needed has been incredibly valuable for recognizing why I am the way I am, and how I can teach myself the things I never learned. It’s also taught me about the fundamental mistakes that parents make and the most fundamental mistake is this:

Parents so often raise the child they want, and not the child they have.

Little Panicker dancing

Here’s what that looks like. Your child is struggling in school. She’s getting bad grades. You ask her whether she can see the board, hear the teacher. She says yes, but just in case, you take her to the eye doctor, and to an audiologist. When everything comes back all clear, you take her for an educational assessment. You’re told she has a learning disability, and so you meet with her teachers to inform them, sit with her while she does her homework, get her a tutor, ask if she can work one-on-one with the teacher after class. These feel like the right things to do, but each one of these efforts has one thing in common–YOU. You are worried. You don’t want your kid to do poorly. You want your kid to succeed and you want to set her up for that success, and so you do all the things a parent is supposed to do to guarantee your child has what you didn’t. In your search for the answer, you are not only ignoring your child who actually HAS the answers for what is going on with her you’re also sending her the message that there is a way to be, and she’s not being it. You are working hard so that your kid matches the kid you expect her to be and not the kid she is.

But she has a learning disability, you’re saying! Okay, sure. She learns differently from you. But guess what? You learn differently from her. So, do you have a learning disability? There isn’t one way to learn. We are not all the same. The way you learn might work better for the type of educational system that we’ve instituted for all our children, but just because it’s not right for her, doesn’t mean she’s the one who’s wrong. We spend so much of our time trying to bend our child to fit the world, and never work to bend the world to fit our children.

When I was little, my best friend was deaf. She could read lips, and she didn’t sign. It was up to HER to keep up with us. But what if we had all learned how to sign? What if we had helped prepare her to be part of the deaf world as well as the hearing world? We would have learned a new language, she would have felt included and she wouldn’t have had to bear the brunt of learning at the same rate as the hearing kids.

Our children shouldn’t have to prove themselves to us. We should be proving ourselves to our kids. I know people who are constantly pushing their kids to prove to adults how well they can read, or how well they can dance. And when the kid doesn’t measure up while “proving” how well she reads, the parent apologizes on her behalf, assuring the audience of adults that she in fact “can read very well for her age, she’s just being shy.” These demands and apologies send the message to your child that the things about her that are valuable are the things YOU think are valuable. What does she value? What does she feel? Why not celebrate those things?

“Children of Langa” byznagelphotography is licensed underCC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Our children have so much to teach us, but when we’re so focused on getting them to fit into the world as we know it, we’re actually overlooking the essence of what makes our kids so interesting and individual. Let’s spend more time allowing our kids to show us who they are, and a bit less time telling them how we want them to be.

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I am sick

I don’t feel well. I’ve been fighting off a cold for two or three weeks, but now it’s descended upon me and I’m sick. As an anxious person, getting sick is always a little scary. If a new symptom arises, one that’s not normally associated with the cold I’m used to getting, I become worried that I have Cancer. I am always afraid I have Cancer. My back hurts a bit and I immediately worry that it’s terminal. This is because I’m afraid of death, and I’m afraid of death because I have extreme separation anxiety, and–get ready for this one–I’m afraid to be away from the people I love after I die (despite not believing in an afterlife). I’m also afraid I’ll be forgotten.

But, back to getting sick. I get sick a lot. I get sick when there is something big on the horizon I don’t want to get sick for. I get sick when I start dating someone I REALLY like. Essentially, I have mastered the art of willing myself ill. I don’t like having low energy. Or feeling too unwell to get out of bed and walk my dog. When I’m sick, I worry that I’ll never get well. That this is the sickness that will last forever. That I will be the one person in the world to catch the UNcommon cold, which never ceases.

“sickness spreading” by bornazombie is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Because I grew up with a heavy mist of dread taking up all the room inside my body, I am not a fan of feeling symptoms that suggest I am not well. Until I went on Anti-Depressants when I was 25, my anxiety was relentless, all-encompassing, and it scared me. When it grew thicker and more ominous, I often couldn’t move because I was afraid I’d knock something loose and the dread would grow worse and kill me. So much of my childhood was spent being held against my will by the symptoms inside my body, that now, when I get sick, it scares me in the same way my anxiety scared me growing up.

And, because whatever was plaguing me didn’t plague other kids, I naturally assumed I was the only person in the world to be suffering in this particular way. Now, when I get sick, I often need to announce my ailments and ask other sick people what their symptoms are, just to make sure ours match and that I don’t have a rare form of something that might kill me.

This is all to say that anxious people, when sick, are unhappy in a very specific way.

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So long, see you…never?

Often you say goodbye to your childhood home when you’re younger, but as a third generation native, Manhattan-ite, my family tends to stay put in the apartments and houses they bought in the 20th Century.

My mom bought her townhouse on MacDougal Street 37 years ago. It’s the only home I’ve ever known. Its served as the central hub for me, my friends, my family (and to be fair – some strangers) my entire life. The house on MacDougal Street wasn’t just a home to me – it was a home to everyone. We were, and are, a social family. We hosted dinner parties, holidays and birthdays, for any, and everyone. The more, the merrier.

For reasons that aren’t good ones, my mother has to leave, and has three weeks to pack up 37 years of hers and our, life. I’ve lost a few people already this summer, and losing this house, is too big a grief for me to truly feel. It’s only when I hear and see the reactions of a few close friends who understand what losing this house means, that I am able to feel tiny waves of searing loss.

I grew up in a secret garden community. Twenty-two row houses in all (eleven on MacDougal Street, eleven on Sullivan) and in the middle, a huge communal garden. This isn’t a place you leave. Once you’re there, you’re there. All the families I grew up with still live there, and all of us kids, now grown, still visit our parents there, still make use of the garden. But now, that’s about to end, and packing up that house and saying goodbye has left me feeling asymmetric and rootless.

Finding notes and letters from people and times that no longer exist can compromise your equilibrium, changing the conditions in which you receive information. Your world (well, mine at least) unpools as some type of technical glitch – accelerated stop motion.  I came across letters my late stepfather wrote me when I was at camp, old slides I hadn’t known existed, and journal entries about my best friend Melissa, who died when we were both 8. Everything has extra weight and meaning now, but some things can get right to the point in only 3 short sentences.

I am six. I will never be five again. That’s what Melissa told me.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Huh?

Someone got to this site by searching for: “dr. david blumethal nyc.”

Thought you might like to know.

Okay — so listen all 0 of you who visit this blog — I have this Joe’s Pub thing coming up Wednesday and I’ve a lot to do and two articles to write so naturally, I’m posting instead. Things will be quiet here for a couple days, but when I return you’ll read, not only about the Joe’s Pub event, but about:

The Groupo Corpo show I saw at BAM Saturday night
My first time playing Guitar Hero
My ex-husband, Pablo Ouziel
A story about a bag
Older Happy Ending events

For now, enjoy this picture of me from when I was 13…

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