Five years ago, when Nina Sidell was hit by an oncoming SUV while crossing Broad Street, remarkably she was able to walk away from it with just soft-tissue damage. She was not hurt to the degree that she could or should have been. Moreover, she now understood how fragile life could be.
“I felt like something miraculous happened that day,” recalls Sidell. “It literally woke me up, and at that moment I knew that God had spared me because I had a much bigger purpose to fulfill.”
Even as a child, Sidell knew that she had to overcome her inherent shyness in order to help others, which she has always aspired to do. In her practice, as a psychotherapist for the past 25 years, she has done so but on a much smaller scale–navigating clients through life’s challenges to build resilient, loving relationships.
This mom of Matthew, 22, and Daniel, 16, has stepped way out of her comfort zone to write Parenting for Life, her book which will be released in April. She has created a blueprint for parents to nurture, evolve, and heal their relationship with their child—ultimately strengthening families. Sidell’s brush with death has compelled her to do what she calls: “Go big!”
“I have always felt happy with the work that I do, but I also knew that there was something much greater for me. The humbling part for me is that it is not about me; it’s about helping other people,” explains Sidell
Many experts believe that the very structure of the family unit is crumbling. Because each family contributes to shaping the communities where we live and work, Sidell asserts that we have to equip parents with the tools to build healthy relationships. She begins with the most sacred relationship of all–the bond that we have with each of our children.
Provide fertile soil
Today, Sidell says that parents are too busy worrying about what may happen tomorrow to be present for their child. They need to stop and take stock of the situation at hand.
Providing a warm, loving environment where the child feels safe to learn and explore is a process that begins by examining the quality of our soil. Sidell refers to this as introspection—a reflection of who we are as a parent.
When Sidell began working with two unmarried parents who conceived a child, the first step was to shift their focus. “What struck them most was that it was not about them anymore. They needed to be caregivers of someone who is dependent upon them, and they had to learn to relate to each other to create the best scenario for everyone, not just for the child.”
In Parenting for Life, Sidell holds parents accountable for examining their own history and perspective as they begin to understand their own child’s developmental needs. She takes a pro-active approach when she requires them to work through assignments contained in every chapter of the book to determine their parenting style and purpose.
Sidell feels that the two most common mistakes that parents make today are that they are too permissive, or they are anxious and exhausted. When parents are too permissive, there is a parent/child role reversal, and when parents are anxious, they tend to overreact to situations.
Sidell adds that in a healthy relationship, parenting is a great balancing act between creating stability by setting limits to keep children safe and making sure that they are listened to. “Parents are in charge and children have a voice.”
If a parent overreacts or feels disconnected to a situation it is important to tap into her own response and ask: ‘Why is this happening?’
“We get stuck as parents in the same places that our children are stuck: it is not our children’s fault. Many parents blame their children for their own deficits,” explains Sidell.
By reflecting back on how you were raised, how it made you feel, and whether or not you want to replicate that experience or create a different model for parenting, you will discover your stumbling blocks, Sidell explains, and this will change the way that you respond and interact with your child.
Plant the seeds and tend the garden
Experts agree that children need to know that they are loved, cared for, and heard–regardless of their achievements or goals. Sidell adds that each stage of a child’s development should be met with empathy, unconditional love, and respect.
“Love is felt, shared, expressed by the parent no matter what the child has done. Respect is when children’s boundaries, experiences, opinions, and perceptions are valued,” says Sidell, who calls herself a child-rights advocate.
Respecting boundaries could be as simple as heeding your teen’s request not to hug him in front of his peers. She believes that if parents go through their child’s boundaries that they should listen to the feedback, acknowledge the transgression, and learn from it.
Cultivate new gardens
Sidell believes that parenting does not end when your children become adults—hence the title “Parenting for Life.” “With young children you are making sure that they have the sustenance and nurturing that they need to help them flourish,” explains Sidell.
The title also means that you are parenting someone for their lifetime. “Simply put you are consciously creating your lifetime relationship.”
Sidell reminds parents that they are role models for their children. “Right now in the moment be cognizant that you are creating your future together and what you are doing today will impact their future relationships,” she says.
The key for creating healthy relationships asserts Sidell is that parents are growing and developing, too: “When parents get that they are progressing and evolving as their child is progressing and evolving; that’s the formula.”
If you want to read about dreamers who are discovering their passion or learn about dream seekers who are realizing their dreams , then visit my Dare to Dream blog and check out my latest stories “A Soldier’s Journey to Social Consciousness.”
My hope is to encourage the dreamers to take the risks and learn from the dream seekers who are connecting the dots and want to guide others to discover their purpose and realize their dreams, too. I will be interviewing dream makers like Rick Giandonato who inspire dreamers to exceed their reach. Is that you?
If you are a dreamer or dream seeker, let’s connect on LinkedIn so that I can tell your story. If you are a dream maker and already have millionaire habits, then I want to share them!