By Heidi Stevens
I’m reading a lot lately about the importance of helping children find their voices.
They need to feel heard and understood within their families so that they learn the power of expressing themselves authentically. Speak up. Be clear. Don’t shrink.
I like this advice, particularly in the face of statistics about girls not raising their hands in class and boys swallowing their feelings to save face in front of pals, and kids, all of them, struggling to find their way online, where social media can be a cruel and unusual place.
One psychologist told me to think about my kids as adolescents facing pressure to smoke pot. Do I want them armed with their own voices and the ability to wield them? Or afraid to speak up for fear of rocking the boat?
The former. Without question.
But we’re embarking on a whole bunch of together time now that school’s out. And my kids’ voices are saying things like, “I don’t want to go to baseball. Why can’t I just watch videos of baseball?” And, “Ketchup is too a lunch.”
We’re all set on expressing ourselves authentically at my house. The challenge is how to greet the expressions that make me want to get lost in a rain forest.
(I don’t really want to get lost in a rain forest. I would miss my kids desperately, and I like to snack every couple of hours.)
The real challenge, then, is deciding which of the various demands, requests and pleas to give in to and which to bypass.
Some are easy. No, you can’t open the birthday gift we’re bringing to your friend’s party. No, you can’t just open it a little bit.
Others are more vexing.
For the 800th time in my life, I find myself turning to Judy Blume for wisdom. She was in town recently for the book tour of her new novel, “In the Unlikely Event” (Knopf), the story of three real-life plane crashes in Elizabeth, N.J., during the winter of 1951-1952.