Wednesday, March 3, 2021

It's Been A Long Time Coming!

 It's been a long time since I posted my last blog. This has surprised me, as have many things about living through a pandemic! I have always been a high-energy, forward thinking, glass-full kind of gal. My blog has never been a choice for me about whether to write or video, it was just something I did....until I didn't. For the last 10 months, with MORE than enough time on my hands, I would have thought that I would have been writing more, not less. In fact, I would have expected my blogs to be epic and inspirational, and guide parents through this unprecedented time, and who knows maybe I would have even been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. You know, like  Jared Kushner. But alas, I have done just the opposite, and that has been a huge surprise to me, and I feel both a disappointment in myself, and also a curiosity about where and how we find our motivation.

Which of course leads me to all of you. It is you that have inspired me! It is you who should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. It is you that has brought peace to your families, your children, your parents, your community. You don't have the narcissistic luxury like me of deciding "whether of not." You just do, you just keep on going, buying your groceries, provide sustenance to your family, teach your children, adapt to a new work environment, help older people like me get vaccinated. ( I am proud to say I am half vaccinated and did it 'all by myself!" I have worked with many parents over the last year either though coaching or webinars, and one of the things that stood out for me was that for all the amazing work of juggling and problem solving that they and you have been doing, there has been an overriding feeling of not exactly failure, but of not being good enough. There have been so many times parents have described the feeling of losing control. Fights with kids blowing up, fights with partners blowing up, and complete exasperation with systems you can't control and blowing up. Blowing up being the actionable word. Seriously how could you not blow up!! You must be tired, and feel depleted at times. And I hope at other times feel a sense of pride that you have coped and that your kids have coped, and that your partner has coped, and that your community and school has coped. 

We will look back on this year of covid and take stock of how sustained stress takes its toll on individuals, on families, on schools, on business and on communities. Some of us...yes me has suffered with a major drop in motivation. Maybe your kids, after a year of zoom schooling are feeling this lack of motivation,  and a lack of desire to engage, not only with school, but with the family and maybe even with friends. I know that feeling well. Without the energy and fuel of living life normally, I have too easily dropped out. My circle of connections has become quite small, and my energy to get out of the house and do more than the absolute minimum is low. 

But here is what I truly believe. I truly believe that we will find our new normal. I say new, because we have all changed over this year. We have learned things about ourselves, our resilience, our creativity, our connection to family, discovered perhaps new things about ourselves, both bad and good. I took up making candle holders from concrete ( I know so random), I learned to build Adirondack chairs from scratch, and refinish old ones. All of this is to say there have been the yin and yang of this year, and whatever it has been, it will now be a part of me.

Your kids will take away so much from this learned experience that will truly last a lifetime. It will become part of their personal story and history in a way that doing a calculus problem or term paper won't. The life skills they have learned and integrated, will serve them quite well as they move into adulthood. So when you get frustrated and worried for their future. I will tell you not to be. Look at me, I thought I would never write another blog, and here I am blathering endlessly to you. What got me to write today, truly I think I felt I was losing a little bit of myself that I needed to find again. The time just felt right, and that is what resilience is all about. A belief and innate need for self preservation. We all have it, sometimes  we lose it for a time, but it is always ready to be accessible when we are ready! Trust in your children, and most importantly trust in yourselves. 

I am getting back in gear here. If there is anything you would like me to write about, please put in comment section. Also I have been doing small group zoom groups that have been a lot of fun, except I have to put make up on. If you have a group of friends who are all dealing with the same issues. Pour a glass a wine, and we can meet at our local zoom bar! 

Take care

Joani



Wednesday, June 24, 2020

A Time For Self-Reflection and Honesty....Me Too!

It's been a while since I've penned a blog. When covid hit, I decided that I could be most useful to parents by offering in-person-ish support through live broadcasts with tips on surviving and yes, even taking some enjoyment in all this forced family time. Since we are still in a pandemic, you can access all those videos by going to my facebook page: Joani geltman parenting expert. There are a lot of them!! You'll get sick of me if you watch all of them, but I do hope you can find some comfort.

Now we are facing a new kind of pandemic. The pandemic of racism. The murders of black men and women has been excruciatingly painful for the black community, and the white community is now finally looking at our complicity that is this toxic culture of systemic racism in our world. I too, have been looking at my own complicity, and some stomach turning ways I have contributed to making specifically my black students to feel marginalized.

I have taken this past month to do the kind of reading and learning I should have been doing since beginning grade school. I always knew the broad outlines of racism, but not the more personal and less obvious ways POC have been made to feel less then. I have a lot to learn, and I have made it a priority to do this. Some of the most meaningful writing I have read is by black students 'real time experiences of living and being schooled amongst white people. I have linked below an amazing article by a young man who was a METCO student in a wealthy white community. I will let him speak for himself.
https://humanparts.medium.com/reflections-from-a-token-black-friend-2f1ea522d42d



I have also been extremely moved and humbled by reading a number of instagram groups that have formed to share their experiences as black students in predominately white private and public schools. A few I have read are blackatwellesley, blackatandover, blackattabor.  It is these posts that have made me realize my own lack of awareness. Above is a post from a student who comments on a teacher who kept mistaking her for another black student in the class....repeatedly! As I read that, I felt in the pit of my stomach that "oh my god moment" of I have done this!!! A few years ago, in one of my college classes I had three black young women who often sat together. I am always a bit bumbling in general in my efforts to remember my students names, but I do remember vividly that I often mixed up their names. I always apologized but I feel the shame now of how I must have made those three students feel. I have to do better, I will do better. What I have realized is how much I didn't understand the emotional life and deep hurt POC carry around all the time. Reading these posts from these young people have opened my eyes and help me to firmly commit to myself to learn and understand.


As we all try to figure out how we can do better, one place is to start is with your family. Using the article linked above and these instagram groups would be a great place to start. Read them aloud at family time, share your own experiences where you might have unknowingly said something or done something that might have made a person of color feel less than. Model for your kids that acknowledging is the first step in changing. As you read these posts, ask them if any sound or feel familiar. Have they witnessed someone else doing or saying something or is there something they said or did that might have been disrespectful to a person of color. As we all learn about anti-racism, we must first take the important step of taking responsibility for our own part in it, and commit to ourselves and our community to do better!

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Coronavirus Parenting Help: Live and in Person

Hello fellow coronavirus shut-ins!! I hope you are all well. In light of this new world order, I have decided to replace my weekly blogs with facebook live broadcasts. This week I will be broadcasting Wednesday/Thursday/Friday at 4 PM. And then starting next week will broadcast Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. This is a time for parents to ask questions and get support and info from me. Parents can either email me questions before hand at joani@joanigeltman.com or ask them in the comments section during the broadcast. We are all in uncharted parenting territory! And I hope to give support and guidance to help you all through it.

You can access the broadcast by putting my name in the facebook search engine and join us live at 4 PM or you can watch it later, by putting my name in the facebook search engine. I will also embed each new link after each broadcast on my blogHere is yesterdays link.
.https://www.facebook.com/joani.geltman/videos/10157071476326914/ 

PLEASE let me know what your parenting struggles are. I'm sure that whatever you struggle with, other parents are as well.

Stay well
we will learn and grow together..
Joani

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Parenting In The Age Of The Coronavirus

We are in a challenging moment of time. As parents we have a choice to make about how we communicate and protect our children from this very scary and for most of us unprecedented virus. Because most of us have never experienced this type of threat, we have no roadmap on how to care for our children both emotionally and medically.

We all come to the table with our own personality styles. Some of us are laid back, have low anxiety about the things we can't control, and some of us feel the need to control what we can, to manage our own anxiety in order to function. This virus will challenge either style. Laid backers will need to be more directive than they usually are in teaching their children about hygiene and hand washing, and appropriate coughing and sneezing protocol. Their natural go-to, don't worry, it will all be fine, will need some adjustment. Teens by nature think they are invincible and wear a protective armor that nothing bad will happen to them. So they might not be on top of what they need to do to stay safe. They may be resentful, angry and resistant to what they see as trying to be controlled, especially if you have been a more laid back parent. But you will need to model and realistically communicate that this is a time where "it will all work out" needs to move towards, we need to be more active about our own safety.

On the other hand, if you are a person who has a tendency and need to control, and are in a state of high anxiety about your children, you may need to pull back a bit. One thing we don't want our kids to do, is to develop and integrate our fears. Some kids are very cautious and fearful by nature. And for them this can be a terrifying time, feeling the world is going to end, and they will be left alone in it. As a parent with your own big fears, it will be important to understand their anxiety, but also let them know that there are very concrete things we can do to keep us safe. And that we are all here to take care and protect each other.

And again if you have a teen who does not carry a lot of anxiety around with them, they will certainly be extremely resistant if you ask them to give up and not go to places and events that they feel entitled to go. Prepare for a fight. But if you stay calm, and use this I Get It conversation, you may get less resistant. Rather than" You are not going, don't you get how dangerous this virus is. Haven't you heard about the kid that ........Sorry but you are not going!"
Instead say " you know honey, I get how unfair this feels. I know how important and how you were so looking forward to XYZ. But until the experts tell us that these kinds of events are OK and safe, we need to follow their lead. Let's think of an alternative that will be fun and safe."

Neither "Don't worry it will all be fine" or "you are not leaving the house" is useful. There is a middle ground of "this is scary AND we need to take care and still live our lives the best we can.

Stay healthy everyone, AND go enjoy this beautiful day!!!

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

High School Is A Moment In Time

I've been reading the actress/comedian/writer/producer Mindy Kaling's book called Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?   It's not only hilarious, but full of great life lessons, albeit funny ones, especially for teens. She captures so brilliantly the hyper-self-consciousness that is a such a presence in a teen's life, and also the drama that teens experience.  You know when your teen experiences a humiliation, betrayal, or exclusion, that it feels to them literally like the end of the world. Here's what Mindy says about that:

"Teenage girls, please don't worry about being super popular in high school, or being the best actress in high school, or the best athlete. Not only do people not care about any of that the second you graduate, but when you get older, if you reference your successes in high school too much, it actually makes you look kind of pitiful, like some babbling old Tennessee Williams character with nothing else going on in her current life. What I've noticed is that almost no one who was a big star in high school is also a big star later in life. For us overlooked kids, it's so wonderfully fair. 
    I just want ambitious teenagers to know it is totally fine to be quiet, observant kids. Besides being a delight to your parents, you will find you have plenty of time later to catch up."

She talks about what it's like being a girl, well because she's a girl, but these life lessons are not gender specific. The high school experience is just a moment a time. It's not only a good lesson for your teens, but it's also a really good lesson for parents. The most important years of your teen's life are yet to come. High school is NOT the defining moment. Your teen might not know that, but you should!

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Distracted Driving: Teaching Your Teens Cellphone Safety

This week, Massachusetts finally enacted a hands-free cellphone law. Financial penalties are very stiff, especially for teen drivers under the age of 18. I know for those of you with driving teens, you have already been promoting this message, but unless you have a camera in your teen's car, you have no idea what they do when they are alone in the car. Teens feel invincible! It is a biological function of the  growing teen age brain. In the best of times it helps them to leave the comfort and safety of childhood and take the kinds of risks that teach them how to be independent and successful as they move into adulthood. Being able to stay home alone, develop new passions and interests, do things that are unfamiliar and maybe uncomfortable. These are all good risk taking behavior. Unfortunately there are the bad and scary risk taking behaviors that they believe they can handle: driving and texting, smoking pot and drinking and driving, sexual experimentation and the list goes on.

Whatever state you live in, if you have driving teens you will need to "teach" them how to be phone safe while they are driving. You'll notice I said teach and not tell! Just lecturing about the No No's of driving and texting is ineffective in actually changing behavior.

I wrote this article for The Boston Globe on teaching teens about distracted driving in teens a few years ago, and it certainly stands up to the test of time. In it there are very practical tips on how to help your teens. Enjoy

A few scary statistics to motivate:

More than 3000 teens die every year from texting and driving!
More than 50% of teens admit to texting and driving. Than is 1 our of very 2 teens. That is a lot!!!


https://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/2016/04/08/distracted-driving-teaching-your-teens-cellphone-safe/FJcENEcsm9SJD0MZN55AUO/story.html