We talk to our children so much about being kind. Kind seems to be the big word these days. I love the words kind and love. I think they are two of the best words. I heard the social worker from Lillie’s school doing a lesson for her class about kindness. I know these are important lessons. However, do we teach our kids about standing up for themselves? Do we talk to our children about how we allow people to treat us and what is and isn’t okay? Do we teach them how to choose their friends? Based on my experiences, I talk to my children about this topic. I want them to be kind. I tell them I want to raise good people who put good things out into the universe. That is number one. There is so much more than that to teach them.

I was doing a Podcast with Kelly Hutcheson and she told me she was a recovering people pleaser. I completely related to that comment. We say that we have overcome something, but that we continue to work on it. One of my past blogs talked about my admitting that I was a people pleaser. I grew up so concerned with my parents and friends being happy. Then we add boyfriends (later a husband), my children, etc., and I continued to be very concerned with everyone’s happiness. There are so many down sides to this.

People wear that they are a people pleaser like a badge of honor. I do not at all. I knew it was a weakness and I knew that I needed to work on that. When we work on pleasing everyone else, we forget about ourselves. We are spread too thin and we aren’t giving to the most important things in our lives. We have to learn to prioritize and we have to learn what is most important to us. I don’t want my children to learn to say yes to everyone and everything. I want them to know how to set limits for themselves. Saying no to things is a skill we learn. I already noticed that my daughter Ella is better at saying no than I ever was.

I want you to picture yourself in the middle of a circle and I want you to draw circles around you. What comes first, second, third, fourth and fifth? Draw the circles around you and label them so that you can see what is most important and where you want your energy to go. Don’t forget yourself! You are the center. If we fill our own cup/our own needs, we are better wives, husbands, mothers, fathers and people in general. I will continue to keep saying this as I know myself and others need to hear it. We don’t need to give our energy to everything. We don’t need to please everyone. Let’s prioritize and adjust our focus.

Entering into the world of boyfriends and learning about relationships was not easy. We teach our kids math, social studies, science, etc., but there aren’t required courses on relationships, parenting and finances. Those are three classes that I would love to see mandatory for every high school student. I had to learn how to be a girlfriend. I started to learn what my strengths and weaknesses were. I started to learn what I liked and didn’t like in a boyfriend.

I told my husband about my regrets. You see, I tend to have trouble breaking up with people whether it’s a past boyfriend or a friendship. It took me a long time to get out of a bad relationship. I regret staying in that relationship so long. Seth, my husband so eloquently explained that if I hadn’t dated that person for so long, I may have met someone else and married someone else. He was happy that I “waited” to find him. I also tell myself that I learned what I didn’t want in a relationship and that it made me appreciate my husband. Is it ever really a mistake if we learn from it?

I want better for my kids. I want them to learn what they want in a relationship easier than I did. I can’t write their path for them. I tell them they all have their own paths to lead. I explained to them that I don’t want them to please me. I want them to figure out what they want in life and go after it. I want them to live for them and not for others. I’m not telling you that I want them to be selfish people. I just want them to learn what makes them happy in life. I also want them to not allow anyone to treat them poorly. I will raise them to do better than me. They need to choose boyfriends, girlfriends and friends who treat them like gold is my common line to my children.

As I teach my kids about standing up for themselves and not letting people treat them poorly, that also leads to a social media and phone conversation.  I have emphasized to my children to be careful with anything that they text a friend or put out into the social media world.  I want them to be able to tell someone what they are doing isn’t nice and I also want my kids to do it in a nice respectful way.  Our children are living in such a different world than we did.  We have to teach them so many things including the world of texts, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, emails, etc.  Principals, employers, teachers, parents and police are just a few people who have access to anything we put out into the universe.

We see red flags in relationships, and we continue in them anyway. At least I did. Whether it was a friend or a boyfriend, I found myself to be too forgiving. Is that a thing? I think it is. We have to learn what our boundaries are. We have to set limits with people. We allow people to treat us how they treat us. We allow people in our lives who we know we need to separate from.

My daughter heard a text message and ran to her phone to answer it. I had a discussion with her about it. There is so much to teach my children that I can get overwhelmed sometimes. I keep telling myself that day by day I am doing my best. I explained that she doesn’t have to respond right away. I told her if she is in the middle of something she doesn’t have to run to her phone. She was perplexed by this. I appreciate the fact that when I am out, and I text her, she will actually respond. I appreciate that she is reliable and responsible. I also want to teach her how to set limits. We don’t have to be available to people 24/7. If you go to bed at 10:00, don’t worry about a text or phone call or email coming through (unless it is an emergency).  It’s okay to set boundaries with people. Whether it is what time they text or how they speak to you. We are the ones who allow it.

I had to have a conversation with my husband about a similar thing. I know how busy he is. He is running multiple companies. I try really hard to remember this as I go about my day. However, I was getting upset with his lack of responses. I told him that I understood that he was busy but if he could check his phone once in a while, I would appreciate it. I also love when he sends me a text during his busy day. “I miss you,” is a little sentence that means so much and it takes him two seconds to send. Remember that lots of little acts of love in marriage add up to a good marriage. I had to tell him that I need him to always confirm with me if he is picking up one of our children. I explained that I need to know when he was coming home every day. His schedule is ever changing so I gave up on any form of consistency a long time ago. However, if he wants dinner from me, I would like to know when he is arriving. I would like to know if he is helping with our child taxi services or if I am doing it all. These are a type of boundaries that I had to draw with him and tell him what was expected from me. He also sets limits and boundaries with me. It goes both ways.

We learn what we want in a partner and we learn what we want in friendships. I don’t need my friends to have the same beliefs as I do. Whether it is religion, politics, or health and wellness topics, we don’t have to agree. I love learning about different religions. I am Jewish and I have loved learning about Catholicism from all my Catholic friends. I love hearing what someone’s political view is. I am open minded about politics and find myself siding with things from both sides of the coin. I tend to be able to see both sides. My parents own a health food store and my brother and sister in law are chiropractors, so I tend to lean towards the holistic way of doing things. That doesn’t mean I don’t like learning from my more medically minded friends. I like to learn something new every day. However, it is all about being respectful in how we communicate. I learned that I didn’t need to agree with them, I just needed to feel a mutual respect among us. This was something that I had to learn that I wanted from a friend and it was something that I continue to learn to do as a friend too. I am not a perfect wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, etc. I work on myself every day. My friends will set limits and boundaries with me and I will do the same.

It became larger than that to me. Not only was I noticing how my friends were talking to me, I started to notice how they were treating others. I also noticed my pattern continuing of taking too long to “break up with someone.” We decide who we talk to every day. We decide who we make plans with. We decide who we are friends with. I want to be friends with people who lift me up. I want to be friends with people who were loving and supportive. The biggest question we can ask ourselves is, “How do we feel after we are with someone? How do we feel after we talk to someone?”

I read a book about if you should break up with someone. It was back in the day when I was postponing the inevitable boyfriend break up. There was a very easy tool to evaluate if you should break up with someone in your life. Track how you feel every night with a smile or frown face in regards to that relationship. Mine wasn’t a frown, mine was a teary face. I was crying almost every night. Wasn’t that a sure sign to me? We want to fill our lives with people who give us a big happy face. Things are never going to be roses and sunshine all the time. My husband and I fight. My children can drive me nuts. I don’t expect everything in my life to be perfect. Perfect is never a realistic goal. Mostly happy is a more realistic goal.

Don’t take things personally was one of the best things that I have learned. We allow people to treat us and talk to us a certain way. We also need to remember that it is rarely about us. When someone is upset with you or upset near you, you have to ask yourself a few important questions. What is going on for them? What are they upset about? What else could this mean? What is the underlying issue? What need of theirs isn’t getting met? I know that if something didn’t go well at work, Seth may be a little cranky towards me. I usually make him aware that he is taking his frustration out on me. I also know not to take it personally. My daughter Ella may snap at me but she’s really mad at a friend. There is usually something going on with the person. Don’t take it personally is a whole topic in itself that I will cover another time.  I don’t want you to take things personally and I also think it’s important to draw a line with how someone can treat you.  We will focus on this topic more in a future blog.

You choose your village. You choose your spouse or significant other. You choose your friends. You surround yourself with people who are your choice. Make good choices. Also, if you decide to move on from a partner, friend or family member for your reasons, that doesn’t mean that you don’t wish them well. You can choose to not be friends with someone and still want the best for them.  We are the friends we keep. I hope you keep good friends.

What are my main messages today?

  • We have to set boundaries and limits with people. If you don’t like something – tell them.
  • We choose who our friends are. Surround yourself with good people. The older I get the choosier I get.
  • Learn from your mistakes. If we learn and grow from it was it really a mistake?
  • Be friends with people who lift you up.
  • Teach your children about being kind. Also teach your kids about setting boundaries and limits with people appropriately. We want to raise kind and strong children. We also want our children to choose their friends wisely.
  • Don’t take things personally. It usually has nothing to do with you.

I hope that you were able to take something away from this. I continue to learn and grow in this topic every day. I will continue to set limits and boundaries with people. It is never what we say, it is how we say it. Surround yourself with good people. Choose your friends wisely. I hope you will go lift someone up and will set limits as you need to. We don’t want to be a door mat. We want to be a welcome sign who welcomes the right people in.

Thank you for reading my blog! I hope you will tune in to a new Vlog every Wednesday night. I write my blog for every Wednesday and then discuss it in my Vlog. I’m also greatly enjoying sharing a Whinypaluza Podcast with you. If you have listened thank you so much. I hope you are enjoying it. If you haven’t checked it out yet I hope you will. I am always open to topic requests for my blog and guest suggestions for my podcast.

Laughing, Learning, Loving,

Rebecca Greene, LCSW-R