Finding The Middle Ground
When we help our kids and ourselves pay attention to the Middle Ground of life, we teach determination, perseverance, and integrity. Those are never bad things to pass on to our kids and reaffirm in ourselves. So often in life, we look towards the highs and the lows, for those are when we feel the most impact on our experience. Today I want to suggest that the Middle Ground is where life happens. If we stop and think about it, the highs and the lows don’t last that long.
They are fleeting. Here one moment and then gone so quickly. But the middle ground is where we either keep our momentum going or lose our momentum! That is when the day-to-day slogging and daily routine become the real struggle, and the image that we have for ourselves is either a positive one or becomes a negative one.
The middle ground is when we need to diligently continue our work, holding the image we have for ourselves. As we continue to keep our vision for ourselves, our goals, the wood chips of life begin to fall to the ground as we shape our future. Our kids struggle with the middle ground as well. They feel stuck, and like nothing, they do matter anymore.
I recently visited with a young neighbor girl and her parents as they walked her home from school. I asked her how her day went. She gave me this disappointed look and said, “Tests suck.” As I tried to pursue that attitude with her, she just completely shut down, as kids often do for us. I asked her my favorite two questions, 1) What do you love about today, and 2) What did you learn? She completely hid behind her dad without an answer. I wanted to find that middle ground. Long before the school year is over, kids start dragging, and to keep going is a struggle.
We all have moments like this when we want things to end, but that is precisely the middle ground that I am pointing out. That is when we need to hold our image, our goal, reaffirm what we’re trying to do, and give a big push to help ourselves finish strong when I was attending college to earn my Bachelors of Music degree from The University of Iowa. There were many times when the middle ground just seemed to close in on me. Not enough time, money, food, and challenging classes, along with way too many credit hours per semester.
I kept myself going by doing what I’m asking you to do with yourself and your kids, hold your image. I would review my goals, which was to teach music in a public school. I reaffirmed how enjoyable it would be to work with kids and perform music. I visualized myself in a small town teaching and beginning my career, which ended up being what I did. What was I doing? I was paying attention to the Middle Ground when things seem to get away from us when we lose our way.
At this moment, our image begins to fade and become tarnished with the defeats and difficulties of life. But that is when you want to pay attention. Seize that middle ground with determination, perseverance to accomplish what you set out to accomplish.
To learn more about how those difficult moments play out, I write about them here How Difficulties Play Out in Our Lives – Dr. Rich Patterson (pattersonphd.com)
As this applies to teenagers, my favorite topic, here are some ideas Overcoming Difficulties with Kids – Dr. Rich Patterson (pattersonphd.com)
The University of Minnesota has an influential article about The Middle Ground here The middle ground: supporting children’s brain development during the pandemic – CEED (umn.edu)
I hope that you enjoy these thoughts today,
Yours for a Better Life,