The purpose of the “Back to Center” advice column is to provide perspectives for personal realignment and empowered living in the COVID era. Sarah encourages you to reach out to her with requests for advice about self-development and emotional and mental well-being in these complicated times. Please send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Anonymous and secure. Looking forward to hearing from you!
For all other inquiries, please direct your questions to email@example.com.
My husband and I have five children, thank God, and we've recently been talking about wanting to have another, an idea that fills us both with excitement and joy.
I happened to mention this to a relative of mine recently, and she got way up in arms about it. She knows that our family's finances are usually somewhat tight, and so she started harping on me about the cost of having another child. How could we possibly be thinking about expanding our family when we're already stretched thin, she asked…and then she went bigger, asking how we could be considering bringing another child into this world when resources are in short supply, inflation keeps rising, and what about all the other children who already don't have enough?…and on and on.
Now, I am fully aware that this relative has a very different worldview from me and my husband, but still, her response got to me. Are we being irresponsible to think of having another child in today's world?
Thank you for your question! There are so many voices out there right now - some of them quite loud - talking about this very topic. It's so important for us to give it a look here and help you tune into what your own inner voice is saying about it.
To start, let’s leave your relative and the rest of the world out of it for the moment, and just focus on you and your husband. You said in your message that the thought of having another child “fills us both with excitement and joy.” Amazing! It sounds like it’s something you both really want. It’s only when other voices and external ideas enter the picture that you start to second guess that longing to expand your family. Suddenly your beautiful feelings are overcome with doubts, self-judgment, guilt, and thoughts of what is “responsible" and what isn't.
What it boils down to is the all-too-common tendency to let people and forces outside of you take you away from your own personal sense of who you are and what you want. It’s letting yourself be talked into thoughts and decisions that are not authentically you. Many, many people struggle with this, whether consciously or unconsciously (I have been there myself!).
So, how can you stay aligned with your authentic thoughts and feelings - with your desire for another child - even when others are raising their voices about what a bad, selfish, irresponsible idea it is to bring a baby into this world right now?
First, I encourage you and your husband (you can do this separately or together) to set aside some quiet time for strengthening your sense of connection to what you want. Do some writing about how you feel when you think about having another child, the reasons you want to take this step of expanding your family, and your vision of what your family would be like with another member. Let yourself feel all the feelings that come up. If any fears or doubts arise, write those down too. Make this quiet time of reflection just about you and your husband – not about anyone else.
Then, in the event of another anti-baby attack, you will be able to return to what you wrote down, understand which thoughts and feelings are authentically your own, and which ones are being foisted upon you by something on the outside. If you make a conscious practice of separating the two, it will become easier to brush off those outside influences and say, “No thanks, that’s not for me.”
Your desire to bring new life into this world is beautiful and courageous and stands as a shining light in opposition to the dark, anti-life agenda that is so widespread in the world today. Children bring blessings of abundance, not scarcity. If another child is what you want, stand firm and don’t let anyone else fill you with fear and doubt about it. You and your husband know what is best for your family. Sending you blessings for the journey ahead!
I’ve been doing a lot of reading about all the CRAZY things that are happening these days around parents’ rights - medical kidnappings, kids being removed from their homes by Child Protective Services for no valid reason, and the way CPS harasses families and seems to be looking for any opportunity to break them up. Honestly, it leaves me feeling really freaked out.
I believe the home my wife and I have built is a healthy one, but I’m starting to feel like one wrong move, one wrong word from me or my children to the wrong person could open up a nightmare for us – like it could take so little for our lives to be ruined, like these families I read about. I feel paranoid, on edge, and like I don’t know who I can trust. It’s terrible! I don’t want to feel this way, but I have to keep my family safe. What can I do?
I’m so glad you reached out. Yes, there are some scary things happening to families out there. I hope what I have to share with you will be helpful as you relate to these events.
It seems to me that you are trying to use your fear to control a hypothetical situation – that someone will find a reason to take your children and your lives will be ruined. There are two things to look at here; let’s take them one at a time.
First, the fear. While feeling fear is a totally normal experience, it’s not a tool we can use to control anything. Letting fear rule your life will not keep the thing you fear from happening to you. It will not keep you and your kids safe. It will not keep the bad folks away.
The only thing your fear can control is you. The kind of fear you are feeling is a prison that will keep you locked up in misery, paranoia, and disconnection from reality. It’s terrible, as you said!
What’s the key to letting go of this kind of paralyzing fear? One way to start is by acknowledging that the only thing you can control is yourself – the thoughts you allow to take up space within your mind, what you choose to focus on, and the actions you take.
What thoughts would you like to fill your mind with about this situation? What thoughts would you like to get rid of? Take some time to write both down, and when the overwhelming fears come up, go to your list and make a conscious decision to choose the kind of thought you want to have. Your new positive thoughts will translate into feelings that are more positive, and you will start to feel a shift.
While we can’t have total control over what comes into our sphere of existence, we can choose to take actions in the direction we want to go. There’s nothing wrong with giving careful thought to your family’s safety, to who you interact with, to what you say. Are there any actions you want to take to help your family be safer, as far as it depends on you? Maybe there are conversations you could have with your children about what they say to others about your family (being careful of how you choose to frame the conversation, so it doesn’t come across in a frightening way), or certain people in your life with whom you might want to minimize contact. Think about what would feel empowering to you and take those steps.
The second thing I want to draw your attention to is that, for your family, right now, this awful thing you’re imagining is not happening. It may feel real because you see that it’s happening to some other families, and the fears you’ve created around it have created a certain internal reality for you, but it’s not real. What can you do to help yourself come back to the moment you’re in, right now? What can you do to separate these fears from what you actually see and experience around you? There is perhaps no greater source of unhappiness than trying to live outside of the moment we’re actually in. As I mentioned above, you can take actions and precautions, but also allow yourself to dig into the beauty and richness of where you are. Love and appreciate that healthy family you and your wife have created. Enjoy each other and work to keep growing closer. Don’t let fear cause you to miss out on what is right in front of you.
Wishing you all the best of safety, well-being, health, and love to your entire family!
With the mid-term elections coming up here in the States, I’m feeling some intense political heat within my own family. My brother-in-law and I couldn’t be more different when it comes to politics (and many other things) – I’m a conservative Christian, and he’s a completely secular liberal. He’s so into how the current administration has been running things the last few years, while I find it utterly cringe-worthy, to say the least. My brother-in-law and I can’t seem to have a conversation recently without it turning toward politics, and we can’t seem to do that without it turning tense and unpleasant.
I really value the idea of trying to live at peace with everyone, of loving my neighbor as myself no matter what…but I’m finding it really challenging in this situation. I just can’t understand the other side’s viewpoint; it seems like complete lunacy to me and leaves me feeling angry and baffled.
How can I love my brother-in-law more even though it feels like we’re from different planets?
This is a great question! It’s great because while it definitely applies to personal political differences, it also extends far beyond to all realms of life. The world is full of people who, to us, might seem like they’re from a different planet – spiritually, culturally, politically, physically. It’s kind of the big question, right? How do we love each other despite all those how-could-you-possibly-see-it-that-way things?
It seems to me that things get problematic when the issue on the table starts to take up more space in our field of vision than the people themselves. We can so easily lose sight of the fact that the person before us is a magnificent, unique being made in the image of God, and get completely caught up in how unbelievably infuriating and insane that thing they’re doing, saying, or believing is.
It’s not easy to keep a healthy, balanced, person-centered perspective when things get heated. But I believe it’s the key to loving people we don’t understand.
So, how do you deal with this on the ground, when you are standing open-mouthed in shock in front of your liberal brother-in-law as he pontificates on the greatness of the Democrats, “wokeness,” transgenderism, and so on? When perhaps all the issues get bigger than your family member himself?
First, take a deep breath.
Second, ask yourself, “What kind of response would I want from my brother-in-law about my beliefs? What kind of attitude would I want him to have in the conversation? What kind of questions would I want him to ask me? What would it look like for him to give more weight to who I am versus all the ways we are different from each other?”
Then, whatever it looks like, turn it around and give all of that to him. Listen deeply, and not just for material to debate him on - really listen. If you don’t understand something he shares, ask a curious question. Make your responses kind and respectful. Look for his value as a person. See if you can appreciate things not about what he says but how he says it – his passion and enthusiasm. Look for values within him that are honorable – his loyalty, engagement with current issues, desire for good things to happen in the world…whatever it may be.
The bottom line is: You don’t have to understand your brother-in-law in order to love him. The basic fact that he is a totally unique person made in the image of God is enough. Work the muscle of treating him the way you would want to be treated, and you will likely find yourself feeling more amiable toward him. Then, let go of the rest. Really seeing each other and treating each other well, with love and honor, has to come first. Everything else flows from there.
And who knows? You may just find that the more you take deliberate actions toward loving your brother-in-law, the more you may see his behavior change toward you too. Why not go ahead and be the one to take the first step?
I hope this is helpful to you. All the best!
I work with someone who has recently gone through a “gender transition” from man to “woman” (I can’t believe I’m even writing these words!). Now, we’re all supposed to treat him as a “her”, use the new name he’s taken on when referring to him, and totally respect and celebrate his choice.
Well, guess what? I don’t want to celebrate it. I think it’s wrong, ridiculous, and repulsive. The problem is that if I put up any resistance to it, I know I have the potential to be fired – I see that’s the way things go these days. What do I do? I don’t want to pretend that it’s all okay with me, but I need to keep my job…
Wow, this is difficult. It sounds like it’s feeling like a lose-lose situation to you. Either you compromise your values by playing along with your coworker’s decision, and if you don’t, it may mean serious consequences for your job. I hope I’ll be able to provide some insights that will help you navigate this tricky situation.
Let’s take a step back for a moment from the question of what to do, and first look at who you want to be in this situation. Do you want to be someone who stands by his beliefs, no matter the consequences? Do you want to be someone who is loyal to his job and who does what it takes to minimize anything that could detract from focusing on it? Or is there something else you want to be? What matters most to you in this situation?
What I want to help you realize is that even though it may feel like there are no good options in this uncomfortable situation at work, like you’re backed into a corner, you do have a choice. You have a choice about who you want to be in it, and how you approach it.
If you decide that acting in a way that’s consistent with your values is most important to you – that you’re not going to bow to your workplace’s rules about your coworker – be prepared; there will likely be some kind of consequence. But if you’ve made the conscious decision that doing what you think is right above all else is what matters most to you, you can fully own whatever happens.
If you decide that your job is your priority, then you can make a plan for yourself to support that. It might mean trying to minimize contact with that coworker as much as possible, finding a like-minded coworker to whom you can vent if need be, and so on. But you’ll know you’ve made your choice and you can then look for ways to help yourself around this particular issue.
If you try to walk the line between these two options, it may be tricky and possibly even more uncomfortable in the end, because you won’t have made a firm decision about where you stand. When we’re faced with difficult decisions in life, choosing to make a commitment to one of the options on the table often brings relief, even if it’s a hard road to walk. The relief comes from clarity – you know who you are, what you’re about, what you’ve chosen, and now you can put your energies into navigating the path you’re on, rather than being stuck in indecision and ambiguity.
I’m not going to tell you what to do; you are the only one who can make this decision. But I hope that this perspective I’ve shared with you here is helpful to you. Go for clarity, and the rest will come into place. Best wishes!
- ‘I want my son to have strong male role models’
- ‘Our son has secretly been in the process of gender transition’
- ‘I wonder if the sacrifices I and my fellow soldiers made were worth it’
- ‘I know Scripture approves of 2nd Amendment rights, but the idea leaves me uneasy’
- ‘I was an approval-seeking people-pleaser’
- 'God is a God of justice, right? Where’s my justice?'
- ‘I’ve tried my best to be faithful and live a holy life; now I don’t know what to believe’
- 'Kids gravitate toward honest answers, even when they’re tough answers'
- 'I used to be a pretty positive person, but the world is different now'
- 'Do I have an obligation to say something to my friend who is about to inject her one-year-old?'
- 'How do I respond to wild hatred?'
- ‘All my friends have abandoned me’
- ‘Who am I to build a better world?’
- 'The world does not have to understand or approve of your choices'
- 'I get tired and overwhelmed'
- 'I vacillate between feeling inspired and useless'
- ‘I pity the people creating the lies’
- ‘The anger and hurt feelings are costing you too much’
- ‘People who once treated each other with so much love and kindness are now at odds’
- ‘Struggling with my relationship with God since COVID’
- 'I have lost confidence in our healthcare system, including my own personal doctors'
- 'Can you forgive yourself for the years you couldn’t be there with your daughter?'
- 'My wife is willing to take the sacrifice for her sister and I'm sick to my stomach thinking about it'
- 'I deeply regret taking the vaccine'
- 'Married 39 years and I thought we were on the same page when it came to things that mattered most'
- ‘How do I repair this relationship or accept that I may never see my son again?’
- ‘How can I stop fear from controlling my every thought and ruining my dreams?’
- 'How can I pursue my dream to find the person to marry, when it's so hard to connect with new people because of COVID?'
- 'How can I feel safe these days?'
- Advice column premier: Back to Center
Sarah encourages you to reach out to her with requests for advice! Please send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Anonymous and secure.
Sarah Perron is a Certified Transformational Life Coach. Her passion is to help people create a powerful vision for their lives, identify and eliminate anything that holds them back, and step into their own unique greatness and mission in the world. She believes deeply in the power of coaching to bring fresh perspectives, ideas, and motivation to anyone who wants to thrive in life. Sarah works with clients one-on-one and in group coaching programs and presents exciting workshops on self-development topics. You can follow her on her YouTube channel Find Your Fire.
You are invited to book a complimentary coaching call with Sarah! Please visit https://calendly.com/sarahperroncoaching/45min to choose a time that's convenient for you. She looks forward to meeting you!