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My Children, My Teachers


My son, Nicholas, is traveling in the back of our minivan today as we journey back from our adventures in Pennsylvania this past weekend. He's joined by his sister, Sarah. He's 7 and she's 5 years old. Nicholas saw me typing on the keypad and said, "It would be nice if you wrote a story for me and Sarah." He knows of my love for storytelling and it warmed my heart to hear him say that.

As my wife drives along the turnpike, I've decided to dedicate this article to a few things that my children have taught me. Just a few moments ago, Nicholas said that the secret to being happy was laughing and having fun. It doesn't get much simpler than that folks. So, when was the last time you had a good belly laugh? Are you doing fun things in your life these days? Is your life fun?

Our lives are way too serious these days. Life is serious, isn't it? Or, maybe it's as serious as we decide it's going to be. Hmmm...

That reminds me... my daughter is a natural teacher. Her favorite beginning phrase to most of her sentences these days is "Did you know...?" I have caught myself several times in mid-stride saying, "Yes honey, I know." But I've realized that each time she does this she is excited about a topic she wants to teach me about. So, the proper response is "What can you teach me about..." This allows her to flex her mind muscles, show that she has something to contribute and to feel more self-confidant. Do you have a place where you get to show your sense of mastery?

Stereotypically, it's thought that mothers are the over-protectors, but in my case I was the one. One very important piece I've learned as a father is that loving too much can harm and hold children back. My wife once said to me, after I was scolding her for allowing my 8-month-old (Nicholas at the time) to play on the brick fireplace, "Do you really believe I would allow my child to do something they were not ready for?" I had to pause and realize that she was right. What if I never allowed Nicholas to climb or take any risks in his life? How do you think that would influence his confidence and ability to step out into the world in an excited and confident way? I was holding him back due to my love for him, as well as my fear that something bad might happen. It's a balancing act to know when and where the proper limits are and how to set them or not set them.

One other piece my wife and I are open-eared for is our children's dreams. How many of us forget what we dreamt about as kids? Nicholas wants to build and fly airplanes. Sarah wants to be a vetinarian and a mommy. We give them lots of opportunities to stretch into these areas, to play and come into alignment with whatever it is that really feels right to them. It feels wonderful to empower and provide avenues of expression. It's also an invitation to be playful myself, an invitation I take frequently. 

My daughter has taught me that girls can be all girl and tough as rawhide in a moments notice. Sarah loves dressing up, playing with her barbies, cuddling with daddy and at the same time she will direct a crowd if given the opening, shove someone back if pushed and debate a point with more ego than the president. It's a treat to see, unless of course the debate is with me ;-)

I've learned to not always become angry when my child's idea is a better one than my own. Or when I have said "no" to a particular request and then my child responds with a compromise that makes it a win-win situation for everyone involved. Sometimes I still say "NO" more so out of a need to be IN CONTROL. Obviously I have a lot to learn yet.

I just read what I've written so far to my kids. Nicholas wanted to make sure that you knew that flying planes is really fun! And, he's actually been allowed to co-pilot a Cessna last year at his birthday party. I had to take valium for that one! (Jus' kiddin')

Sarah wanted you to know that she wants to be a veterinarian because she "just loves kitties and horses."

Thought you should know!

Dave Turo-Shields (email)
Veteran Psychotherapist, Trainer & Life Coach

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"Children seldom misquote.  In fact, they usually repeat word for word what you shouldn't have said." (Smile)

Author Unknown

Ask Dave


Dear Dave,

"What is the secret of happiness and to be content with life?"

"How can I be normal again?"

"How can I achieve happiness?"

These questions all came this past week.


WARNING - It's Tough Talk Day!


I receive questions like those listed above with a lot of frequency.  They are all-encompassing, loaded questions which appear to seek the magic bullet in one fell swoop.

Please understand that I have no need to embarrass or make anyone feel poorly, so I have omitted any names whatsoever in reference to the above questions.

Today most of us  live in a world of convenience.  We enjoy so many privileges and have so many quick fixes available within arms reach.  How far away  is the Aspirin or Tylenol bottle from you right now?

I am caught in this lazy consumerist mentality as much as the next person.  What I've learned is that if I want to learn recovery, to succeed, to build confidence and move forward in my life with integrity it takes one key ingredient... work.

I've spent countless hours researching and publishing articles online for individuals suffering from depression. I've done this in order to help.  I know there was a time when I desperately needed to know what really worked.   Many of the questions I receive are already answered in the articles I've written.  From the questions I am sent I assume many do not take the time to simply browse the articles.  If you won't take time to read a one page article for your own recovery from depression, how far into recovery will you get?  

Today's accountability call will anger some of you.  A few of the angered will be working hard towards recovery.  Others will be angry at me because I have dared to tell the truth to them that I once struggled with myself.  The fact is we'd all like depression to simply go away.  We'd all love for there to be a miraculous moment of healing.  And I do count on miracles, but I don't wait around for them.  

The answer to depressions attack is action, a strong support system, clearing out negative thinking, exercise, a healthy diet, sometimes supplements/meds and a few other core areas.  It's simple, but rarely easy.  It takes the courage of walking the heroes path.

If someone's life was in danger and you cared deeply for them would you do whatever it takes to save them?  Of course you would.  Would you do whatever it takes to save your own life?  I plead with you to take a powerfully committed approach to your recovery and well-being.  Be willing to do whatever it takes.

In love,

Dave Turo-Shields 

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