November 23, 2009

Just when you think you have heard it all, you realize you haven’t. In this day and age, when kids (especially teenagers) are being categorized as egocentric beings totally sidetracked with electronic devices along with their own social foibles, we may tend to forget when they do do something right or say something that touches us. This happened with my 12 year old daughter, Maddie, a few days ago.

As always, she ran down the street at 3 o’clock on the dot after a long day at school to meet me at my car. Usually, I can barely get a word in edgewise after hearing her ramblings about her friends, teachers, weekend plans to be made etc., that I usually spend the next five minutes doing the standard head nod many of us moms have mastered over the years. However, this after school experience was different and reassured me (gotta grasp those “pat on the back mom moments”) that I am doing a fairly good job with my kids.

Maddie came into the passenger seat exclaiming, “Mom, I could barely concentrate in school!” She proclaimed. “I mean, Thanksgiving and Christmas are around the corner and I am so excited I can hardly pay attention in class.”

Here we go, I thought, a laundry list of the “I want this” and ” I want that” for the holidays. So, as I sigh trying to keep my composure I ask, “What’s going on?”

Taking me totally by surprise, Maddie proclaims every so simply, “I can’t wait to see my family for Thanksgiving and Christmas!”

What? I thought. No detailed description of the new Ugg boots she wants or the latest cell phone? There has to be a catch…..but there wasn’t.

Maddie went on to talk about, in great detail I might add, about all the big and not so big traditions we do for the holidays – from decorating the tree at her grandparent’s house to the certain shows we traditionally watch each year. From the taste of her Nan’s gravy to the smell of her favorite Christmas candle, her enthusiasm for what the holidays’ stand for was definitely far more important to her than her list of things she wants for Christmas.

Wow, I thought as I listened to her talking about “this tradition” and “that tradition”. Geez, I must have done something right after all!

After my divorce, I was so worried that the kids would only remember the negative things about the holidays – from the empty seat at the dinner table to the minus one stocking hanging over the fireplace – but they hadn’t! Instead of focusing on what they didn’t have during Thanksgiving and Christmas, I stepped it up a notch tried to instill the value of family and the importance of spending time together during our time of transition. Wow, I smiled proudly to myself – the kids will happily remember the holidays, after all is said and done. I wanted to get up and do The Happy Dance but decided to spare my daughter’s embarrassment and role with the moment.

As our conversation drifted from one favorite tradition to another, I realized that what is most important to Maddie, and to myself, I admit, are not only the traditions we instill year to year, but the reasons why those traditions come about. The traditions reflect culture (I am Norwegian so we celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve) and our past (as each ornament represents timeline to our lives). What we value and hold near and dear to our heart can be symbolized with the rituals of the season.

Overall, Maddie ended up talking about things I had no idea were important to her. Who would have thought a single cranberry candle would symbolize comfort to my 12 year old? But there is something safe and secure about upholding family traditions as well as creating new ones, especially during times of change. With so much going on around you, be it you are moving to another state or have decided to take the plunge into a new career, take note on the importance of tradition to create peace and comfort during what could be a potentially chaotic time.

Over the next month or so, notice the traditions in your life. Remember what they represented to you as a child as well as what they mean to you as an adult. Think about how you have passed along those traditions to your friends and family and how they have been received. In addition, try to come up with some new ones to add to the old. This is a perfect opportunity to create a building block to share with your loved ones as to how much they mean to you. This will not only be the best gift you can give your kids during their times of transition, but it will lay the foundation for a new and better you.

Happy Holidays!

Author's Bio: 

Patti's Bio

I am a forty something single mom of two awesome kids. In the past six years, I have: separated and divorced, finished a graduate degree with honor’s, started a part-time career as a writing instructor at a local college, opened up my own business as a transition coach, and as of November 2008, became newly engaged! In addition, as of June 13th, I will have finished my basic training to become part of the

Jersey Shore Collaborative Law Group. As you can see, it has been quite an eventful few years! However, I have never felt more fulfilled in my life.

How did I do it?

I can honestly tell you that I have utilized many of the same principles I learned in graduate school (I have an Master’s of Arts in Teaching) and applied them to my life. I thought, “What are my goals? Where do I want to be in one year – two years – five years? How am I going to get there?” (Think of this as being your own tutor!)

Like a teacher does with her class, I wrote out my lesson plans on how to achieve those goals. Hour-by-hour, day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month, slowly but surely, I kept my eye on those goals and made sure that I kept forging ahead, even on the days I barely could get out of bed. (On those days, I gave myself a gold star for even making myself a pot of coffee or going to the dry cleaners!)

This is a true testimony on how you can use a crisis to create a new path for your future. That is what I did. I took all the pain and suffering I had during my divorce, turned it around into a positive learning experience.

What is the magic formula that makes my business thrive?

I knew that knowledge was power and the better educated I was as to what I could expect from the divorce process, the better. I wanted to be one step ahead of the game when meeting with the professionals and my goal was to be the ideal client. I wanted to get the most for my money when meeting with my lawyers and other professionals for many reasons – I wanted to save money, not waste my time talking about emotional issues during our meetings and I wanted to get it over with as smoothly (and quickly) and possible.

In the meantime, I read and studied books on goal-setting and laws of attraction as well as countless books on divorce (refer to recommended book list) and interviewed many legal professionals.

While I was studying and researching the various aspects of divorce and how to do it right, so to speak, I would reward myself with reading books on how to achieve your dreams! As a result, Patricia Phelan Clapp M.A. LLC, the Transition Coach, was created!

You can do two things at once during times of crisis – you can work on YOU and go through the divorce process as skilled and knowledgeable as possible!

All you need to do is commit to wanting to move forward in a positive direction.

What will we do out your coaching sessions?

* We will find the necessary resources for you and clarify the various roles of the lawyer and other professionals as part of the legal process. In doing this, we will make it easier for those professionals to help you by implementing their legal, financial and psychological areas of expertise.

* We will focus on creating a positive client-based relationship that will give you the ability to compartmentalize the divorce process separate from your emotions.

* I will help you achieve your goals and find a balance between divorce and moving on with your life.

* A step-by-step plan will be devised on how to manage the legal and financial aspects of your divorce.

* In addition, personal goals will be set and a plan will be developed on how to achieve these goals.

* By creating a road map for you to follow during your divorce, we can concentrate on empowering you with the peace, self-respect and hope that may have been lost along the way.

Piff – Tomaro Professional Building

1704 Maxwell Drive

Suite 302

Wall, New Jersey 07719

(732) 865-5377

“Helping you find the resources you need to stay focused and balanced during times of transition.”