31 Thoughts for a Happy Holiday Season

Find the Balance between Holding Nothing Back and Giving Too Much Away

I think I meant to write it that way.  (I often write down the main thought in my head at any given time and then come back later—sometimes days or weeks later as in this case—to provide explanation.)  Follow me on this: We want to hold nothing back when we live.  It’s where happiness abounds.  Something about generosity of spirit and doing things with abandon.  But how can we protect ourselves—protect is a strong word, I know—from the negative effects of giving too much of ourselves and our hearts away?  I know it’s “only” our family we’re talking about here and not peer-level heart-breakers we may have encountered before we settled down, but we can still end up really ravaged (too strong a word, I know) in our soul by loving and giving to our spouses/co-parents and our children more than we feel we are receiving in return.  The quick answer is that we a) include ourselves in our day without being self-centered, per se, about it (i.e., increase self-love, self-compassion, and self-care) and b) let go of trying to “make” anyone do anything (i.e., decrease negative forms of control).  As parents, both of these things can feel like a tough line to walk because, related to a), there is so much that we do for our children that there’s not a lot of space for us and our needs that is readily available—we will need to be deliberate about remembering to include ourselves in our daily nurturing, and related to b), there is so much that, as good parents, we are expected to “make” our children do.  Brush their teeth.  Eat their vegetables.  Wear a helmet.  Use their manners.  It’s tough sometimes to know when to let something go and when to make an issue out of it—even with the same “thing” under different circumstances, in different contexts.  Positive forms of control (e.g., logical incentives and logical consequences) and a scaffolding kind of influence (e.g., encouragement and gentle guidance) are what we want to focus on as we seek to become more effective parents (what is sometimes referred to as “positive discipline”).  So—to bring it back to the main thought—let us learn to hold nothing back without giving too much away.  This is a skill and a half and probably something that we will be working on over time since we learned from a very early age that these two things are one and the same (they aren’t!).