By Dr. Susan Bartell

In the Spirit: A Month of Reflection and Appreciation

  |  CHILD RAISING   

November—the beginning of the holiday season and the almost-end of the year—is, for one Long Island mom, a month of appreciation, and a time to reflect on what she has learned from her family and children.

Mom and Son EmbracingTo begin, I am grateful for my children—but not only in the ways that you might imagine (of course I am thankful for their health and happiness). Every single day, my children challenge me to be a better person—to be more patient, to listen more attentively, to be empathic about their challenges, however small they may seem relative to my adult challenges.

My son teaches me that you can play hard, fight hard, and then simply move on, holding no grudges. My older daughter is a reminder not to pre-judge: Even though your bedroom perpetually looks like it was hit by a hurricane, you can somehow still walk out of it looking ultra-fashionable. And, my younger daughter offers the important lesson that no matter how hard you work (and she does work hard), getting enough sleep is just as important…even if your sleep begins at 1am and ends at 1pm. How have your children made you a better person?

Of course, I am not just a mother. I am a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, an aunt, a psychologist, a writer…and a chocoholic. Each of these roles in my life challenges me to consider the parts of myself with which I am satisfied, and to work on changing those that do not reflect my best self. Every one of the central roles in my life also reminds me about the importance of the hard work that is necessary in order for me to become better at each of these important relationships (except for my relationship with chocolate—it seems to require little work other than restraint!).

I want to be the best wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, and aunt that I can possibly be. I want to be sure that I am truly helping the kids and adults who entrust me with their life struggles, and I want to touch the lives of those who read my books and articles.

I do not always find it easy to do all of this, and I’m sure that you, too, don’t find it simple to reach the relationship goals that you set for yourself—whether they are as a mom or a wife, or whether they are with chocolate or a messy room. But our aim is to do the best that we can, and to keep trying to do better. In the process of recognizing that we are not perfect, we must forgive those in our lives for their imperfections so that we can all move forward together harmoniously.

Indeed, I believe that this is the true spirit of the holiday season and a good reflection for the approaching end of another year. Happy holidays to you and the loved ones in your life.

Dr. Susan Bartell is a Long Island-based, nationally recognized child psychologist, speaker, and award-winning author. Her latest book is “The Top 50 Questions Kids Ask.” You can learn more about Dr. Bartell at drsusanbartell.com.

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