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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Listening 2 Children - New School Year = New Beginnings!

The new school year is here! The care-free times of summer are trailing behind and the more structured time of the fall is here. September has always been a huge new beginning for me and a very special time! Seeing the gorgeous leaves on the trees turning shades of red, yellow and orange, staying up later than usual to pack school lunches and the shopping for back to school supplies and clothes are some of my favorite memories from past September’s with my children.
In addition to such changes in the environment and my schedule, each September had me inquiring as to how I wanted to approach life differently. How could I support my children in a better way? Looking back at the past, I realize that I was attempting to see through my “blind spots”. My children may not think I was successful but it was my intention to see things anew!

We each develop our own way of looking at life. I’ve come to accept that my own “blind spots” through the years, gave me a tunnel vision at times! That’s why we need each other. We can help our loved ones, see through their “blind spots” and they can help us. If we approach the subject in the right way and are not attached to another’s response or reply, it can be a growing experience for all.

In this article, I’m raising the question to myself and to you the reader, “Are you “boxed-in”? Or are you keeping the child/ren in your life “boxed in”? Do you see yourself or others in a certain way and are closed to any evidence to the contrary?

Recently, I attended a workshop by the Emmy-Award winning writer, Gene Perret. He wrote for many famous Hollywood Stars such as Bob Hope, Carol Burnet, Phyllis Diller and many others! He suggests in his book, “Become a Richer Writer,” that one should, “Expand your writing into pioneer territory.” So, I invite you to ponder if you’d enjoy expanding yourself into “pioneer territory?” In addition, how about allowing your children to expand into pioneer territory? Perhaps you are already doing this, or perhaps not? I feel it’s human nature that we get “boxed in” at times and don’t expand into new territory! We figure out a way to do some aspect of life and we keep on repeating it. Many times this is a good thing. We don’t have to re-invent the wheel. On the other hand, perhaps the time is right for some things to be “unboxed!”

For example your child might say: “Dad and Mom, this year I don’t want to take piano lessons, I want to try the violin”! Your immediate “boxed in” response might be, “Oh, honey, you are so good at the piano, you don’t want to quit now”! And that may be true! Piano may be his/her gift. However, allowing for discussions around the subject might be a way of becoming ‘unboxed’ in your thinking. The end result may be the same, however, the process would be different.

I’ve certainly created my own “boxes” at times! One of my daughters is fluent in Spanish and wants to teach her future children the language from infancy. In addition, my other daughter is very well versed in the language! When they have invited me to learn the language in the past, my ‘boxed-in’ response has been, “I’m not good at language!” However, I’ve decided to “un-box” myself in this area! This year I’m going to explore learning to speak Spanish!

So I invite you to look around and see if you have any “boxed-up” folks living in your home? Would you like to “un-box” yourself from anything? Is your child or children asking to get “unboxed” from anything in their life? Sincere listening to one’s self and others is the key to such questions!

New Beginnings can take place at any time! I happen to feel that September is one of those especially great times, for newness! Newness is refreshing! Newness breeds openness! And Newness opens up new doors!

Sharon Ann Wikoff is an educator and has been working with children and families for over 25 years. She hosts the radio program, The Voice of Change, which can be heard at

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