Mother’s Day is a Cruel Trick!

Mother’s Day is a Cruel Trick!

If you are mother, grandmother or a person who supports children, you are a powerful group of humans and have my highest respect.  Being a mother for 41 years and a grandmother (Barbie) for 8, the enormity of the role is overwhelming.  It is even more so for Mothers today than it was for my generation.  From my long view of life, I believe the growing burdens placed on mothers today are totally unacceptable. 

As I contemplated what to write for Mother’s Day this year, I struggled over what to say.  In my more than twenty years in business, I have worked with the entire demographic of mothers.  And, I am embarrassed to admit that it took COVID-19 for me to witness upfront and personal these unnecessary burdens that mothers carry.  Let me offer my most sincere apology for this egregious oversight.

I would feel disloyal to write anything that would encourage mothers to believe that they should carry on making so many sacrifices for their family, especially at the expense of their own health and wellbeing.  While society is quick to tell mothers “To put the oxygen mask on first,” it is in all truth the most contradictory statement of all times.  Hence, this is why I am here to say that Mother’s Day is a Cruel Trick. 

My experience tells me that the “oxygen mask” statement, like Mother’s Day, is really a decoy that distract us.  These little crumbs of attention along with a sprinkling of guilt are tricksters that give us enough energy to get back in the game.  This is trumpery at its best.

I was an adolescent in the middle of the feminist movement.  The uproar over the movement was extraordinary.  Men were threatened and women of my mother’s generation too fearful to end the loyalty to the patriarchal system.  When I started to use the title “Ms.” instead of “Miss,” I was told by the matriarchs in my family that I am a Miss or a Mrs. but not a Ms.  The societal pressure was real and progress in the feminist movement was slow but steady.  The movement advocated for three things for women; freedom, equal opportunity, and control over their lives.  That was sixty years ago and tragically equal, free and in full control is not close to being realized.

So, do we deserve a day of honor?  You bet we do but let’s be mindful of the terminology.  We certainly deserve a day of honor, but it is our right to have freedom, equal opportunity, and control over our lives.  I have two daughters, two granddaughters and countless numbers of young woman I am blessed to know and to work with.  This is my message to them and to you, these are your rights, not something you have to earn or prove. 

I have coached many women through quiet moments of despair these last few years. Many so desperate, they just wanted to run away.  What I say to them and to you is to welcome these moments, don’t fear them.  Use this time to get reacquainted with your unique and powerful genius and you will rise with a conviction to use your power for your greatest good. And of course, let’s not forget that necessity is the mother of invention. 

To all mothers, I stand in awe of you.  Let this Mother’s Day be the moment you step into your power and shine your light so brilliantly that it blinds those who expect you to yield.

Parent Action for Healthy Kids - Barb Flis

Barbara Flis,
Founder Parent Action for Healthy Kids

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Do you feel “ghosted” by parents? Maybe it’s the Experts’ Curse!

Do you feel "ghosted" by Parents? Maybe it's the experts curse?

Do you feel “ghosted” by parents?  Maybe it’s the Experts’ Curse!

You have dedicated, passionate staff doing incredible work with children and adolescents, but there appears to be silence on the home front except when an issue or emergency arises. It can often feel as if you are being “ghosted” by parents, abandoning you to go it alone.  You might not be totally off base. Ghosting has a lot to do with a person’s comfort level with communication (yours and theirs). Humans will do anything to avoid feeling uncomfortable or the feeling of not being enough, not to mention the fear of confrontation.

Communication flows easily when we like each other, and have something in common.  The more we know each other and the more we have in common, the easier it is to be ourselves.  Being authentic is where real connection and communication begin. It’s understandable to think that the child’s well-being should be enough commonality to get the communication flowing, but it is not. 

There are a couple of reasons for this. First, we forget a parents’ confidence level can be a roller-coaster, it slowly climbs up and quickly plunges down. The fear of judgment and the feeling that they are not measuring up as a parent becomes a demotivator for engaging in any form of communication. 

Secondly, it’s important to remember we are asking parents to engage in an arena they know little about. This is where the “Experts Curse” comes in. We have so much expertise and are so skilled at navigating and functioning within our system, be it education or health, that we forget the need to translate the lingo and give some context to what we are trying to convey. The playing field of knowledge is definitely not a level one. Parents don’t have your unique content knowledge.

The majority of providers I have worked with really have given a good effort in communication. However, the “Experts Curse” gets in the way when we don’t sort out “need to know,” from “nice to know.” Too much information on unfamiliar content especially to a person with an emotional stake in it will cause a shutdown. An expert is like a website with lots of good information but the consumer can’t find anything because they “don’t know what they don’t know.”

Third and last, believe it or not, parents don’t feel their concern is something they should bother you with so they hesitate to reach out. Sometimes there is the fear of looking stupid, they think they should know the answer already, maybe they were told and they missed it; they hold your role in high regard and don’t want to intrude on your time, and sometimes their child/adolescent is begging them not to contact you.

In my decades of work helping to bridge the gap between parents and providers, I can honestly say that ghosting is a two-way street. I know with the hectic pace today, it is hard to ask people to slow down, but for our kids’ sake, we need to do just that. 

Take a few minutes to get to know each other first as people and trust that you will organically move from the delivery of a report to authentic dialogue. I guarantee you the “ghosting” will stop and both experts (provider and parent) will be seen and understood. 

Parent Action for Healthy Kids will be welcoming in spring by hosting two FREE webinars for parents.
I invite you to join us and see for yourself the high level of interest parents have in learning how to best support their kids.

Check out the events page for more details!

Parent Action for Healthy Kids - Barb Flis

Barbara Flis,
Founder Parent Action for Healthy Kids

You can listen to the blog too!

Parent Action for Healthy Kids is on soundcloud!

Three Tips to make Parent Teacher Conferences Worry Free

3 Tips to make parent teacher conferences worry free

It’s Parent-Teacher Conference time and everyone is wringing their hands worrying over how far behind students are because of the pandemic.  Worries and concerns are gobbling up a lot of our precious energy. Not to mention, it’s taking up a lot of headspace with its relentless doomsday story. What if just for Parent/Teacher Conferences we put the worry aside?  Then, what would we have more room for? Here are three tips that can help you park the worry and leave room to see a bright future.

I Like You, You Like Me – Say this to yourself right before conferences. Just repeating this to yourself will bring a sense of calm to the meeting. Our brain has mirror neurons that are always on duty. Your energy is mirrored to others and theirs is mirrored to you. Imagine the disaster when two worry-warts are mirroring each other’s emotions. The best way to help a student, is to help them feel safe. So, their safety net, parents and teachers, have to feel safe and secure so they can mirror that to each other and to the student.

Share the students’ strengths – If the teacher and the parent each share three strengths they see in the student, the foundation for a partnership for student success is well on its way. It also moves both parent and teacher out of the zone of their negativity bias. The brains of humans are wired to look for what’s going wrong in order to feel safe. The pathway of the brain that runs the negativity bias doesn’t know that it needs to check the “not applicable” box for parent-teacher conferences.

Play Offense not Defense – With all the stress and exhaustion these days, the conditions are ripe for being reactive and going on the defensive. A simple acknowledgment to yourself of your emotional state will lessen the chance of personalizing and reacting to what is discussed.

It might not feel like it, but we do have a choice here. We can continue to worry and send our kids a doomsday message that they will never dig their way out, or we can make sure they have the right tools, the adults in their lives, as positive supports, to get the job done.

Don’t forget to check out our events page for FREE Events for parents (and educators too).

Parent Action for Healthy Kids - Barb Flis

Barbara Flis,
Founder Parent Action for Healthy Kids

You can listen to the blog too!

Parent Action for Healthy Kids is on soundcloud!

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do Hero Image

Are you suffering from a Valentine’s Day hangover? Being a day that represents true love, it tends to get magnified and inflicts undue pressure. We shower people we care about with love and if we are honest, we want a few sprinkles from that shower reciprocated. We can say, “it’s just another day,” and that’s true, however, it’s also true that as humans we’re wired for connection with others and to feel we belong. As uncomfortable as it might be to accept the fact that we all need connection with others, it is a hard truth worthy of our attention.  

The first step to true love is being true to yourself. This is where the “break up” comes in. It’s no easy task to undo all the beliefs and behaviors that leave us feeling abandoned and alone. However, if we continue looking outside of ourselves for that shower of love, we will always feel scorched. 

Speaking from experience in my journey to loving and being true to myself, I echo Neil Sedaka’s lyrics from the sixties, “They say that breaking up is hard to do, now I know, I know that it’s true.”  I am a recovering clinger, I resisted breaking up at every turn, I was always sure that I could make everything work if I just try harder. I clung to people, jobs, and things that clearly were not serving my highest good and were begging to be blessed and sent on their way. The resistance to letting go of people, jobs, and things, were fed by deceptive habits and behaviors that my true self was begging to break up with. My brain was standing by waiting to serve me and my body was showing all the signs of an SOS.  

My first breakup was with people-pleasing. It was an intense relationship so it called for a slow, steady, and gentle letting go. Like a relationship with a person, it was a package deal, my people-pleasing had many friends and family, or should I say accomplices, who felt the pang of the breakup. 

Breaking up is hard to do. Even the accomplices started to squirm – perfectionism, comparing, fixing, and the need for approval were quick to squawk, clinging to me desperately as if it was life or death. There was a prideful ruthlessness about them led by none other than my inner critic. This made me realize it was always about them and never about me. If we all need connection with others, then I must feel connected to myself first. Breakups are hard but they don’t have to be ugly. My habits and behaviors were well-intended but way out of balance. There is a time to break up, bless people, jobs, things, behaviors, and habits and send them on their way.  

As odd as it may sound, once the breakup began, the habits and behaviors stopped being so clingy and the urge to grab all the gusto of life, as if there was a shortage, fell away. My brain and body felt peaceful and content. On most days the shower of love is given and received. Breaking up is hard to do, but you are worth it!

What do you need to break up with in order to Make 2022 About You?

Join me for a free event “Make 2022 About You!” on Wednesday, March 2, 2022, 6 -7 pm ET

Parent Action for Healthy Kids - Barb Flis

Barbara Flis,
Founder Parent Action for Healthy Kids

You can listen to the blog too!

Parent Action for Healthy Kids is on soundcloud!