Ask Toi: Do you think people should go to counseling before having Children?

Yes and no. I think that if you have had things happen in your childhood that affects your ability to raise your children then yes. If once you have children you notice things that come up, by all means run don’t walk and go to counseling. If you feel like your childhood wasn’t an issue than no. Not everyone has bad childhoods. If you feel like you did or as an adult even before having children, you yourself know or can feel triggers. Also regardless of being a parent or not, you can see a counselor to help you get better at self-care. Everyone I believe can benefit if that is a choice they take from speaking to a licensed professional.  Having children will test you in ways that no one can prepare for. It takes a lot more than knowing how to keep a child alive, feeding, or housing them to be a parent. Each child is here on this Earth for a purpose but some people don’t realize that the child rearing years can push them further away from their purpose if you don’t keep a clear mind and watch how you treat them. What we say, how we talk, what consequences we give matters. They aren’t just dolls for us to take care of and show off. They are humans who need guidance and we as parents are responsible in how we do it.

What I know is that regardless of children or not, I for one felt triggered having my kids. Part of that was going through postpartum depression. I have said openly that I went to counseling and took medication to work through my own issues.  During that time of counseling things that I hadn’t talked about or dealt with came out. I worked through them and continue to work through them. It doesn’t necessarily mean that my childhood was awful.  It meant that I found as an adult things that I would rather deal with to be a better parent.  For me my ultimate goal is to be the best parent for my kids. All three of them have different needs. I didn’t have to feel after going to counseling that I had to treat them the same as far as giving them the same exact method in how they receive correction.   It’s my job to find out what works best for them to be their best. It’s not about me, my ego, what my parents said goes, what my husband’s mom said goes, it’s about them and being to them what they need, period.

I for one don’t like yelling. However as a parent I find that if I am not mindful I will do it. I don’t want my kids raised in a home with yelling so when I was in counseling its something that I worked on to eliminate it. I don’t even take my kids around folks that do a lot of arguing or fighting. Should I find that we are in that type of environment I will immediately remove my kids from it. I think yelling is unnecessary. As a parent I can speak to my kids and give them respect and expect it from them without yelling to get my point across. It doesn’t mean that my patience tank as I call it is always full. When I find that it’s not I apologize and work with my kids to be understanding. This I found out how to do in counseling. I had to let a friend of mine know who was keeping my kids why one of my kids responded the way they do to yelling. It’s not that I want to keep my kids in a bubble but I do feel an in control parent can watch how they speak and that’s just as important to the message.

I have talked to other parents who stated that things in their childhood didn’t come out until they had children. I would say be proactive in dealing with it. I know I am not perfect but if I am constantly checking myself and willing to tweak what I do where my kids are concerned, I know and pray they have a good outcome from that. Sometimes I also think, if my voice is their voice would I want my kids to yell unnecessarily to my grandkids in the future?  If I am putting them down, who is going to pull them up?  There are parents who belittle their kids and then when their kids do “great” things they take the credit? I don’t want that. I want them to shine because their support system behind them helps them shine! All adults need to have an outlet whether they are parents or not. If anything is on our heart and mind and talking to a licensed professional is a good thing for self-care.

Having kids will bring out things in your childhood if its left unchecked. That is a good and bad thing. To fuse two different upbringing from my husband and I and knowing that we can take from both and find what works for us with our own takes a lot of finesse. I would say if you are talking about having kids that you have some real conversations on how those kids will be raised. It’s not the time to wait until they arrive.  Counseling is another way of helping to deal with those difficult decisions for any part of your life not just parenting. Also be prepared for those around you specifically parents to say things like you weren’t raised that way. It is true.  A lot of the things that we do for our children don’t mirror my parents or his mom. However end of day you have to take into consideration resources available, times, and your kids personalities and they way they learn. I would rather support their way of learning and have them find ways to be that much better than to only do what I was taught to please any one of the sets of parents. Parenting for where my husband and I are right now is a lot of meshing. We mesh both sides and what we see and what we deal with when dealing with our kids.

If you are concerned with if counseling will work, I would say go to a few sessions and find out for yourself. I find that I feel better equipped for the time I went to counseling. I was given tools to work through me which in the end of the day will help in how I deal and heal with my kids. They are the best parts of me. I see myself in all 3 and I would hope the things that I didn’t master they master. I would hope that the things I wanted in my childhood I make sure they have and its beyond material things. I want them to feel secure in being them. I want them to be able to not hide who they are. I know they will not fit what I think they should be. I hope as they figure out who they are that they can count on me and my husband to love them through it. I pray constantly that I would choose my words carefully when interacting with them.

People give counseling a bad name. Going to counseling doesn’t mean you have issues with everyone, you’re weak, you are unstable and any other negative word choices people give it. The notion of keeping your business to yourself is the reason why people respond to life the way you do. You should be open to speak honestly about things without fear that if you do something is going to happen. Getting help is not a problem. You should be getting help and in that shows strength. If you are someone who needs a counselor regardless if you are a parent or not or if you are being triggered or not, go and get that help. I would rather someone be in counseling than to treat a child wrongfully indirectly because they were taught not to speak up.

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Monday Motivation: Mario Kart Life

Today is a day like any day to make the best out of our situations. Let’s not front and act as if everyone woke up with their affairs in order. You might have gotten up this morning with stress on your heart and feeling overwhelmed. I sympathize with you. I want you to know that no matter what’s going on in your life, mind, or heart we have to press through. There may not be someone to come and save you but don’t have to let your situation overtake you.

I know you’re saying that it may be easy for me to say but it’s not. Most days lately have been pure crazy. If I could touch on the things you would be like wow. I know that life happens to all of us. I know that even with crazy life circumstances, what will pull me through is resetting myself daily. It’s going to take me being in charge of what I entertain in my mind and who I allow around me. Your thoughts matter. It’s the first line of defense in how you continue in your day. If all you speak is negativity and worry that’s all you look to see. Even in bad situations I’m like what’s the lesson and where is the good that can come out of this. I know I’ve been in worst situations and I know some how I’ve come out. That’s the reassurance that motivates me to wake up and intentionally push.

Some mornings especially in this holiday season I can feel grieve and sadness around me. So I do what I need to do for me to push out of it. Prayer is how I start, music and speaking to my children is also how I push through. Sometimes journaling. Whatever you need, grab it while your situations work themselves out. Take care of you while life happens. The worst thing you can do is fall apart and while life is happening to you. The stress of life is going to be there. Losing your mind or losing yourself is not worth it.

man climbing on gray concrete peak at daytime

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Take Monday by the horns and have a great day on purpose. You ever play Mario Kart?  In the game all kinds of objects are being thrown. The objective is to dodge the objectives and keep going. Sometimes life is like that. I think about that when I am driving in Philly and trying to avoid the potholes. Life is like that sometimes. You have everything being thrown to you at one time only to find that some you miss and others you don’t. The objective is to keep going and win. It didn’t say it would be easy. It didn’t say it would work out, life is about not quitting. Usually regardless of skill set, resources, and help the person who wins in life is the one who doesn’t give up. They are the ones that push through.  How about you?

National Make A Difference Day

How can you make a difference? This is such an open-ended question. We always have a tenacity to go to what we don’t have before we answer. You start listing all of the things you aren’t before you can just simply find ways to be the difference in someone else’s lives.

Whatever gifts and talents that are inside of you is more than enough to make a difference. Here are a few ways you can give back and make a difference:

 

Home Life

One charity starts at home. I hate to see people who are super bomb to everyone around them except their own family. I hate to see it with parents who go out and win everyone else’s child but ignore the issues with their own. I hate to see husbands and wives flex on social media but behind closed doors, give silent treatments and ignore the needs of their spouse. We all have to do better.

  • Spend more time with your children. Yes you work to provide. Provision is responsibility. Taking time away from your phone, to sing a song, or play one of their games, or sit and ask them what they like and what’s bothering them makes a difference for a child. Try it some time.
  • Love on your mate. Whether it’s a boo, boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife, take some time and spend it on them. Yes gifts are great, but how about watch one of their shows actively with them. How about talk and make sure the air is clear? You can also make a dessert together. These are inexpensive ways to show the ones you love that you are one with them.
  • Check in on loved ones. We say we love folks but the only time we check in on them is if we have the tea about another family member. Change that. Call and ask if all is well and mean it. Than when you find out it’s not if you can help, help. Also unless someone told you to tell another person, build trust and just listen and not take their issues to another family member so you “can pray about it.”

Work Life

  • Show up and be on time ready to work. That’s a ministry all in itself.
  • Don’t be apart of the office gossip-remember the same lips bringing you the tea, is the same one taking your tea to stir at another pot on you
  • Be the change in the office you want to see
  • If the job no longer serves you, don’t stay get an exit plan. This may take time, but be proactive in leaving
  • Find ways to be more productive even if that means changing the scenery. When work starts to get to me sometimes I redecorate to fit a new mood. It helps me about 60% of the time

Social Media Life

  • Don’t go back and forth with them……. (in my Lil Duval voice) if you find yourself having to respond to more than one comment just stop. You aren’t going to win an argument on social media with trolls
  • Be who you post to be. Yeah that’s right. Align your social media to reflect who you are. On my social media I highlight me as a mom and wife. I don’t create doors to let anyone think they have space to slide in the DM. They do but at that point they just are trying to do the most.
  • Make sure you don’t do subliminal post. This is hard even for me at times. You see a post and it speaks to you but post it cause it spoke to YOU. You can’t be out here taking shots at folks you don’t even @

 

We all have things that we can give to the world. I came across a young lady on social media that is a hair dresser and she feeds the homeless. This is her life work. She literally gets out there with the folks that many would snub their noses at, and she feeds them and cleans them up and does their hair. She has a whole team of folks that assist her. Think about how her being there does for them. She treats them with dignity and respect. I know if I was down and out the last thing I would want is someone kicking me when I was done. What about those who raise money for others?  They are making a difference in the causes by which they are raising it for. How about those who set up camps at the bus stops for kids to make sure all of the kids have breakfast. You don’t know what someone may be going through at home. Everybody ain’t sitting at home collecting checks. Some middle class folks work everyday and still can’t make ends meet. How about the men who go into the community to pray over the city. There are a few groups here in Philadelphia who do it consistently. What can you do? Whatever gift is inside of you can help make a difference.

I said it before but around thanksgiving I see so many companies give back to others and it warms my heart. If you cut hair, how about offer your services to people who can’t afford to maintain their cuts on a regular basis? If you are a financial planner, offer your services to a few families for free to get them out of debt?  The sky is the limit. Whatever you do, do it well. Someone needs the very thing you have and complain about. Make a difference today and everyday!

 

Checking in on Your Loved Ones

There is something to be said when you check in on your loved ones. Whether it’s a quick check in or a full on call and listen session we need to be proactive in doing more for each other. We are connected and we need to keep that connection as strong as it possibly can be. We need to do a better job on spreading love to everyone and even the ones we know well. We tend to give better compliments to strangers at times than we do to those we are around. Be the type of person that is nurturing to one another and attempt to find the good in your circle of loved ones.

So for that I am challenging all of my followers to do a quick check in. I know that often times we use text messages and we don’t talk on the actual phone, but it may be time to do a full on call. You can use text messages as a lead way but overall it would be good to hear a voice and be sure that your friends and family are truly okay. Its getting colder out and seasonal depression is real. Even the ones who you think is totally fine and there are no issues present could be fighting a silent fight.

three women sitting on grass

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You would do yourself a disservice to ignore your loved ones in this season. So spend a little time and make it your business to reach out to a few folks over the next couple of weeks. Be sure that if you do that you ask open-ended questions too. Sometimes people will hit you with the yes and no and true interaction is engaging. Also keep in mind some people are private. Make sure the conversation and space is safe for them to open up and speak. Don’t judge what they have to say. Just be sure that you are truly inviting and be there. Some people don’t want a fix they just need to vent. I want to be able to look back and know that I attempted to be there for my friends and loved ones and I encourage you to do the same!!

Evaluate Your Life

I think doing check ins with yourself is important. It’s not just something you do when the New Year hits or on your birthday. A life check up and check in helps to reinforce your goals. T

So what do you do when you check in and discover your life is heading left and you are off task of completing your goals?

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You take a deep breath. You find out what caused you to lose focus. Was it not investing enough time into yourself. This happens more often than most people think. If you aren’t doing a monthly or even weekly check up you can find that on your lists of importance you are on the bottom. You can’t give to someone when you have nothing to give of yourself. Take the time to put you back on the top of your list and make your dreams come true.

What if you don’t have enough resources?

A lot of us don’t have enough resources. We simply are acquiring them as we go along. Join the crowd. End of day, you can still make things happen. If you work your plan and find hiccups, set some intentions. Research what you need and how others in your same position got them. If it worked for them it can work for you. The difference is when you don’t have resources you have to learn to make them. Ask a mom who has limited resources but her children have many needs. If she loves her kids, she gets up and makes it happen.

What if the list are long and overwhelming?

Take that list and put them into categories. What can you do right now? What will take time? List them in order of the time you think it will take to make it happen. Not all dreams if not most are build over night. You have to be doing the work and being consistent. Its like the stories of those who are looking for a job and interviewing. They may hear a thousand Nos until they get to that Yes. Be consistent and keep moving.

What if you lose hope?

Hope isn’t lost its just shifted. You have to be able to refocus yourself. How do you refocus yourself? Look at what you want. Is it something that no matter how many times you put it down, you keep coming back to it? Is it a passion that you feel on a daily basis. If you are at work is it always on your mind? This is where your hope is. Just because you laid your dream down, it didn’t die its crying out to you to pick it up. This is why you talk about it all the time. This is why the desire is burning so bright. It has a hold of you tighter than you have a hold on it. Tighten it up. Get back out there. Be ready for a few Nos. Be ready for times when you feel overwhelmed.

woman writing on a notebook beside teacup and tablet computer

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Evaluating your life can be exhausting. It can be mentally draining. All you do is focus on what you don’t have, where you aren’t, the time wasted, etc. you will find it hard to keep going. Find the little victories along the way. Get back up, dust yourself. and get back into your life. Don’t quit on life, make your life happen. Even if that dream takes years as long as you keep moving you will get there. Everyday there is at least one more thing you can do to make your dream happen. If you aren’t doing something everyday than you aren’t working hard enough or smart enough. If you want to lose weight, everyday you should be drinking your water, increasing your exercise, substituting better food in place of bad food. This is daily. If you want to go to school, you need to prepare. Have you gone to the school of your choice and spoke to a counselor? Have you applied for grants online and in your community? Have you filled out the application? Are you working hard in the day to finance school? This is called an action plan. The part where you take your dreams from off the paper and push them into the atmosphere of action so you can see the reward!

 

Sunday Message: Being Aware

One of the biggest things that we don’t always do is make ourselves aware of ourselves. This week I was super agitated. It wasn’t anything that anyone had done. I had to find a balance between the news and all of the events surrounding myself.  It was hard to balance. I found myself semi-triggered at times. Thinking to myself how hard it was to not be upset because whatever was going on around me was triggered.

I had to remove myself from conversations with certain people this week. I had to walk away and say I can’t do anymore than I am doing. As someone who is an ultimate care giver, I find myself in that mode all the time.  My kids can be at school all day and I am still over thinking about what has to be done as soon as I get home. It’s a part of my personality honestly to be on top of it all.  With wanting to stay up to date with current events especially with the elections around the corner, researching candidates so I can make an informed decision, self-care, eating right, working out, and training for this half marathon has been mentally draining. I swear my wrist got tired just typing all of that. Nonetheless taking a moment when I took a step back to see when I was breathing heavier trying to prevent myself from reacting, or watching my kids laugh instead of just walking around like a stress bomb made me take more account of myself.

close up photo of a woman listening to music

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What do I need? It’s always okay to step out and grab what you need in the moments but we pretend that we have to have it altogether and we don’t. Being aware of my husband and the things he is processing is a learned skill. To know when he needs me to just let him talk so he can vent and I just listen has been a task this week.  It is hard because we all have stuff pulling on us.  Being aware when my kids just want more hugs instead of me so excited for their bedtime so I can decompress.  It was a challenge this week. It wasn’t this natural happy flow. I had to work at it. I had to step back and make myself be in the moments.

What are you needing to be aware?  What can being aware help you accomplish?  You will be surprised of the inspiration that comes from it. You will be more zen to handle your life instead of your life handling you. Take a moment and be in the moments of life. Don’t let time slip by and you don’t even know how you got there!

The Worst Advice I Have Ever Received…

So I think bad advice is any advice that is strictly from another person that doesn’t take into account your life. There is not one word that fits everyone. We think that just because it seems like good advice that it will work out all the same. But that is not the case. Just like with life advice seems to be work out differently and varies from person to person.

So let’s get to it…..having children is so super natural that after you birth them you know exactly what to do. It is not as natural as everyone makes it out to be. At least not for me. I knew how to do the basics, but there are a lot of things that comes with having children that didn’t feel as authentic as the books and folks makes it sound. Let me squash all the folks that would love to try to “go up on Tuesday,” I love all 3 of my children. So let’s squash that now. It was never lack of love but lack of mothering skills that I thought I wouldn’t be enough for them.

mothers

My pregnancy with each of my children were all different. Each pregnancy came with their own sets of issues. The bonding with each child also was different too. That is fine as I believe to this day that the difference with having 3 kids should always be taken into consideration with how they are raised. However when you add in the birthing experience and nursing, pumping or bottle feeding and all the things you must quickly learn, the natural instinct didn’t kick in like folks tried to sell me. Some folks said once the baby was out of your womb you would just feel like you had been having kids all your life. I have to STAWP you there, that didn’t happen. I felt like I was tired all of my life. I felt like I was overwhelmed all my life. I felt like I was not prepared all my life, but not one time did I feel like a champ of motherhood just from birthing my kids. I needed so much guidance. I got to shout out the mothers.  I don’t mean just women who have babies. I am talking about the old mothers that we lack today. It’s rare to find a mother of Zion like the old folks used to call them that would give you advice, had enough tenacity to listen, and be there for younger mothers. You see that, teach AND listen. It’s a lost art.

We love to tell folks that don’t have kids how great it will be. It is great if you are talking about the overall sense of accomplishment. We fail to tell folks the real of what to expect. Handing me my oldest child in the hospital came as a shock.  I didn’t get to connect with her right after birth due to her being premature and that made me feel like I had no clue who she was. I felt more connected to her in the womb than outside. Reality hit me like a ton on bricks. I knew how to feed her and told myself well the other things would come. It did but those first few months as she was sick, listening to everyone tell me what I was supposed to do didn’t feel as organic as everyone suggested.  I really wish I could go back and set a few folks straight about a few things. Having a baby is an outer body experience. There are more times that I felt like I didn’t know what to do or who I was becoming. That has nothing to do with the actual child but the preconception of what I believed as a mother in the early years. News flash, even after the 3rd child I still wondered if I having another one was a good idea. It was obviously, but that feeling of natural instinct is always shuttered by doubt and lack of information.

crescent moon and cloud wind chimes

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I really hope that other mothers who I KNOW FOR A FACT have gone through this, would be honest. It’s not a lack of love for your child (ren) but its a lack of trusting in yourself or lack of information to the new expectations of motherhood. So let’s mark false to all mothers having this natural nurturing ways about them as soon as they birth. Overtime you get better. Over time you develop what your child needs. So although our womanly body is “made” to birth babies, the mind and the body and the emotions have to link together to make the whole experience better.  I applaud all women to understand that above thinking that it will all just come together like a jigsaw puzzle on its own.