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The pothole story… a metaphor for change

Once upon a time, on a Monday, a man was walking down a road.  All of a sudden, out of nowhere, he found himself at the bottom of a big, dark place.  It was scary!  After several hours, he figured out that he had fallen into a very large pothole.  He wasn’t able to get out on his own–actually it required a lot of help to get out, but eventually he did get out.  It was awful.

The very next day–Tuesday, the man was walking down the road and fell into the pothole again.  This time he immediately recognized where he was, but he still couldn’t get out.  He needed help again.

Wednesday, when the man fell in the pothole for the 3rd time, he remembered how to get out, and–with much hard work–was able to get out on his own.  Whew!

On Thursday, the man was walking down the street again.  As he approached the pothole, he remembered his previous falls.  He even saw the pothole when he got close… but unfortunately he fell in anyway.  But he knew the way out pretty well this time, and got out quickly.

On Friday, the man saw the pothole from a good distance away.  He felt so proud of himself for spotting it, and while it took a lot of effort, he did manage to walk around it safely, and didn’t fall in for the first time in a long time!  Hurrah!

On Saturday, the man took a different road.

I love this story (it’s not mine, and I have no idea where it came from) as a metaphor for life change.  I imagine the potholes as arguments or really bad habits that we find ourselves sucked into without meaning to go there!  One of the first steps to change is always awareness, then hard work, and finally comes success.  Eventually, living our lives the way we want to–having our relationships look like we want them to–stops being a ton of effort, and we find ourselves on a smooth path with no (okay, few) potholes.

Here’s to having a smoother path before you this week!

Book Review: Mama and Daddy Bear’s Divorce

When parents of young children divorce, explaining the concept of divorce is often a great challenge.  Books can help with this, in part because they give parents a script to follow, concepts to go along with the words, and pictures that give kids a concrete visual image to go along with the words.

Mama and Daddy Bear’s Divorce, by Cornelia Maude Spelman is a great book about divorce for young children.  The story is about “Dinah” (a bear,) who loves her family but tells us that: “…one day, something sad happened.  Mama and Daddy said they were going to get a divorce.”   Dinah talks about her feelings (sad and scared) and some of her inner questions.  She talks to her parents about her feelings, and both parents reassure her that they will always be her mama/daddy.  As the book progresses, she describes how she spends time with both parents separately.  Her parents make some mistakes, but the theme of parental love and involvement persists.  The book concludes by saying that after time she feels less sad, and that her parents and sister will always be her family.  It’s a peaceful and positive ending.

I highly recommend this book, available at your public library, or from amazon here.

“Raising Cain”, the prefrontal cortex, and pretend violence…

I was recently watching a wonderful PBS documentary based on the book “Raising Cain,” and was struck by a particular comment.  The narrator quotes current brain research that finds that the pre-frontal cortex, the part of the brain that controls impulse control, isn’t fully developed at age 18.  (More on the pre-frontal cortex here.)

This is such a good message for us to remember.  Since most parents DO have the skills & abilities for planning/social appropriateness/impulse control –we tend to forget that we haven’t always had those abilities.  Our kids–even our older teens–really aren’t quite adults yet, despite what they’d probably prefer us to believe.  All the more reason to support them with safe learning environments. 

Another one of his messages, repeated multiple times, is that “Play-acting violence is not the same as real violence, and when we treat them the same, we lose credibility with our kids.”  Such good food for thought.  By the way… the documentary is a little less than 2 hours long, and highly recommended.