Recently, Inc. Magazine published an article by Jessica Stillman entitled “A Review of 174 Studies Concluded This Is the Most Important Quality for Happy Relationships.”
Spoiler alert: it’s psychological flexibility.
I had my own experience with psychological flexibility in a recent family photoshoot. We spent hours getting ready: organizing matching outfits, getting the backdrop ready, curling my daughter’s waist-long hair, doing my own hair and makeup…only to have the shots turn out disastrously. No one would sit still. The toddler had her own ideas of where she wanted to be and play (and it did not align with my plans). She cried if we tried to stop her. The four-year-old crawled around like a tiger. …
“Moooommmmy, I’m dooooone,” my daughter’s sweet voice trails from the bathroom. “Come wipe my butt!” I particularly enjoy it when this happens during my zoom meetings for work. My colleagues laugh at my misfortune as I grudgingly get up and take care of it. If there is any question of who is in charge of a parent-child relationship, remember — you have to wipe their poop.
You may be wondering if you are in a meeting- why doesn’t your husband do it? Well, he has tried many times. If he enters the bathroom, there is usually a shriek followed by “I want Mommy!” …
While my kids have loads of presents sitting under the tree and ready to fill their stocking, it has dawned on me that I have much more valuable gifts I need to instill. I sat down and reflected on what I really want them to understand about the holiday season. For some people, the holidays are magical. I know people who start decorating in August and count down the days.
For other people, the holidays are extremely difficult. People remember loved ones they have lost, they face the holidays alone, and/or they may not be able to buy presents for their loved ones. It can be a paradoxical season — filled with joy and pain. …
Mommy, will you play with me? I must get asked that question twenty times a day. When my daughter was little, I was terrified of not being a “present parent.” Every time she asked, I would immediately drop what I was doing and play. I always felt a little guilty, too, because, to be honest, I never wanted to play. I started to notice that my daughter would rarely play on her own, didn’t engage in creative play on her own, and seemed overly dependent on me. …
While making dinner I heard the very familiar sound of my one year old shriek. I instantly knew it wasn’t an all-out-pain cry. It was more an I’ve-been-temporarily-inconvenienced-cry. I know the difference well.
I walked over and saw my four year old sitting on the ground looking up at me with wide eyes. I asked her what happened. “Well, I’m a little afraid you’ll be mad at me, but I didn’t want her to pass here, so I accidently pushed her over,” she explained.
I crouched down and brushed her hair out of her face and looked her in the eye, “you are a good truth teller. I’m not mad at you because you told the truth.” I make a point not to punish her when she tells me something bad she has done. …
One night, I was awakened by the sound of my 3-year-old daughter moaning in the hallway. I hurried out to find her aimlessly walking around. I called to her and tried to urge her back to bed. She let out a noise (similar to what a threatened or frightened animal might do) and swatted at me before returning to wandering around.
Again, I shuffled her towards her room, but the more I attempted to interact with her, the more agitated she became. I tried to ask questions, but the reply was a loud and decisive NO. …
One April morning, I held my then two-year-old daughter in my arms as we walked down the stairs. She looked out the front door, surprised to see the front yard covered in white from the freak snowstorm the night before. (She’s not a fan of snow).
“What the f*ck?!” She said, gesturing towards the window.
I almost choked. It was the first time I heard my own potty mouth reflected in her speech. I decided to try ignoring it. If I didn’t make a big deal, she wouldn’t be incentivized to do it again. Though I admit, I thought it was more than a little funny, and I retold the story with a hint of pride. …
I have some nerve writing this article. In the somewhat recent past, my daughter’s listening ears were less than stellar. That’s not entirely my fault — there is something to be said for impulse control and children, but — I had some of my own behaviors to fix.
I used to teach at a low-income, inner-city school. There, I encountered all sorts of individuals with crazy life situations. Yes, some behaviors were atrocious, unbearable even. Most people I know, wouldn’t last a week teaching in that environment.
There was one student who had come into school a day after abandoning his uncle’s dead body. His uncle was killed in a shootout, and his father instructed him to hide the evidence (the body) by driving it to a different city. The kid couldn’t do it (of course), and the car was left (body still inside) on the highway. The school was on alert in case rivals showed up to continue the gunfight. …
My voice died a little that day
The day the boy kept pushing when I said NO.
Come on, he said
It will just..
Just this once..
and then I found out I never had the choice anyway.
My voice died a little more
When one by one my friends left the table
“Sorry you guys broke up but we were more his friends anyway”
I sat at the table
Quietly singing happy birthday.
With shaking hands I stacked these bricks
and built a wall instead of me. …
As I walked out of the grocery store with my daughter, I had the audacity to pull her out of the cart when we got to my car. She loves riding in the cart. How dare I interrupt her moment of joy? (Of course, she had just gotten a full 30 minute ride as I leisurely shopped, but what did that matter?). She reacted as any small child under the age of three would when something they love is taken away: she lost her marbles. I pulled her out of the cart and she immediately went into stiff, arched-back mode as I tried to wrestle her into her car seat. My normal baby seemed to sprout multiple arms and legs that kicked, flailed, and pushed off of the car seat. Her head tiled back and she let out a shriek that would convince any passerby that I was clearly kidnapping her or causing her severe pain. …