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Kind and considered response to grown up experiences [column]


By J’net AyAy Qwa Yak Sheelth Cavanagh, Windspeaker Columnist








Dear Auntie:
My 15-year-old daughter just told me that she is expecting. I want to be happy that a new life will be brought into the world, but I have to admit I’m very disappointed that my baby is having a baby. I always encouraged all my kids (five) to do well in school and have a career. I thought she was on the right track, but now not only will she be leaving school, I will have another mouth to feed in my house. What can I do to support her as a new, but young and inexperienced mother, while still showing my other kids that this is not what I want for them in life?
Signed Future Grandma

Dear Future Grandma:
The bittersweet news of new life–babies having babies! There was a time in many of our Indigenous cultures when having a baby at 15 was not uncommon. The entire community supports in traditional times were also wired for helping each other. I remember one of my grannies thinking I was an old maid at 17 because I did not have children. Your daughter has a great start with your seasoned experience of raising five children. Start with a hug and talk with one another and you both can be honest with your feelings, fears, uncertainties and joy of new life. Be sure to have some tissues for tears that can be burned after your talk and sent out on the winds into creation along with the fears and doubts.

Come from a place of softness and kindness, and model real-time grown up responses to grown up moments. Disappointment and anger is about you, and not about what your daughter and what this baby will need. Get informed and let your daughter take the lead in thinking about the additional support she can pull into her life that will weave a stronger safety net for her and the baby.

Start with a blank piece of paper and give her the pen to write who else she can work with for support. The Internet could even be helpful. As a Future Grandma you can also try to think of peers to talk to who may have teens with children in order to prepare yourself.

Luckily, school is not going anywhere. It is here to stay and your daughter can make this part of her plan. The father of the baby can be involved and this may take another cup of tea and two pieces of bannock to sort out. The focus is the health and safety of the mother and we can hope the father is a loving part of this growing family.

In our fast-paced world we sometimes forget to check in with our younger children during these stressful times. With a brave face we inform them what’s happening and then that’s often the end of discussion. Once you and your daughter have checked in, shared feelings and developed a stronger understanding of how grown up an experience this will be for both of you, find out what the younger ones are thinking and feeling. Motherhood is a stepping-stone to becoming a grandmother… I wish you early congratulations.
Lovingly Auntie

Dear Auntie:
I thought I had good friends, but recently on facebook there have been a few people talking about me and spreading bad rumours. I don’t want my friends and family to believe what these people are saying about me, but if I answer the rumours on facebook the comments and lies about me just get worse. I feel like things are getting out of control and I am powerless to stop it. What should I do? I’m very upset about this.
Signed Virtually Bullied

Dear Virtually Bullied:

I am sad to hear you feel the bitterness of rumours online. It’s terrible to have facebook show which of your peers participates in being virtually rude and disrespectful. Whether you are in a small village or living in the urban rez there is a wounded part of our community that are the crabs in the bucket that pull at other people trying to get out or live in wellness.

Being different, new or returning to the community, single or educated can be among the many reasons to be a target for being belittled and teased. Insecurity and a need to feel in control is what drives the person spreading the rumour because perhaps you have something someone else doesn’t. You’re a threat, unexpected competition and many other fear-filled reasons someone wants to put you in your place.

It is a pecking order attitude learned in residential school. Generations of children were raised military-style with training based on who has power and authority. An old school way of thinking that haunts our communities and holds people back from remembering the old ways of living well together.

Rumours are not cultural.  Rumours have the bitter taste of jealousy, envy and reveal a whole lot of insecurity about the messenger. The messenger is puffed up with virtual courage and really showing off their small-mindedness online.

Stay out of harm’s way and surround yourself with family and friends that show you unconditional love and respect. Perhaps ask for support from people or service providers to organize workshops on how to handle cyber bullying.

My toothless dad gave me comfort once when he declared “it does not matter what people think because they are going to think it anyways.” Stand in your truth and take care not to become part of the problem or defensive and reactionary. This will just suck you into giving your power away to the virtual bully.

You have privacy options on facebook you can work with to delete these people. However, you will still see their discussions if you happen to keep any mutual friends, so the next level of privacy is to block these people. Those are anti-stress options to stop torturing yourself from reading the rumours and giving yourself distance from others yanking your chain.

If you felt you had self-control to not read what is being written you could ignore comments from certain friends and visit online without giving the person any energy.
Lovingly Auntie

Editor’s Note: The Ask Auntie column is published for readers’ entertainment and consideration only. The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Windspeaker or the Aboriginal Multi-Media Society.