From "The Wise Child" (Three Rivers Press). Used with permission.

My mother, the Sonia for whom I was named, was born in Romania, the second to the youngest of 10 children. Both her parents had very strong intuition. My grandmother, a religious woman, prayed openly for divine guidance and freely acknowledged a constant flow of intuitive direction. During World War II, at age 12, my mother was separated from her family during an air raid and was taken to a POW camp in Germany. Intuition became her lifeline to survival.

My mother gave us the message that no matter what we would face in life, no matter what challenges or obstacles, if we turned inward to our hearts, if we recognized and focused on our deep spiritual connection to the Universe, to God, then we would be guided and protected, because that is the natural plan. The Universe would unquestionably show us what to do, where to go, how to thrive, as it had for her. Our family's code word for this inner compass was "vibes," because that's what intuition felt like--a subtle, vibrating energy that centers in the heart and moves outward to the stomach, the gut, the chest, and throat. In my family, the inner voice was not the sixth sense. It was the first sense, the primary sense to focus on.

I constantly remind parents that creating an awareness of intuition is only part of the equation for living an intuitive life. The other part is having the willingness and flexibility to accept and respond to intuition fully when it does show up. Unless you can fully embrace the subtle guiding messages you and your children receive and act accordingly, its value and benefits will not be felt. Intuition is a gift, but it is up to you to accept the gift.

This means than you may at times have to change plans, give up old habits, break with tradition, rock the boat, challenge authority, or reverse your direction and beliefs in life.

Last winter, out of the blue, my daughter Sabrina started complaining about being scared to sleep in her own bed and begged me to let her sleep in our room. After a few nights of this, I told her that I would prefer she sleep in her room and that we needed to get to the bottom of her fears.

Tearfully, she got into her own bed and said, "I'm sorry, Mom. I don't know what the problem is! I just have bad vibes."

I sat on the bed and tried to help her sort out these feelings. I have had hundreds of bad-vibe attacks myself, and they do make me want to jump out of my skin, especially when the uneasy feeling is so vague that I don't have any idea what's causing it.

I decided to do an exercise with her that my mom used to do with me when I had bad feelings as a child. I focused my attention on her vibes and said, "Sabrina, close your eyes, listen to your heart, and ask yourself what your worry is about. Can you tell me who or what your feeling is about?"

"I don't know!" she cried, with her eyes closed. "I'm just worried that something could happen to one of us. Like Sonia or you."

"Well, Sabrina, if that's what your vibes tell you, then we'd better say prayers and visualize white light surrounding all of us for protection," I answered.

Sabrina thought this was a great suggestion, and together we did just that. Then I massaged her feet for a few minutes to calm her down and sat in her room until she went to sleep. This was the fourth night in a row of bad vibes, and I had to admit I wondered whether she was creating drama just to be the center of attention or if she really was getting a warning. Yet experience has taught me that it is always better to listen and respect a vibe, no matter whose it is.

When we woke up the next morning the ground was covered in a beautiful, fresh blanket of snow. On the spur of the moment, my husband Patrick and I decided to take the girls skiing at a ski area an hour away from our house. We all agreed that because of Sabrina's vibes, we needed to be extra careful that day.

Once there, we had a splendid time. After a while, as Sonia and I approached the chair lift, we noticed the lift seemed to be going faster than it should. Before we were ready the chairs flew up behind our legs and scooped us up. Sonia's skis got tangled, and she suddenly flipped off and fell a few feet to the ground. She popped her head up as soon as she landed.

"Get down!" I screamed at her, dangling from the chair, and instantly she dived back down, just in time for the oncoming chair to miss her head.

A bit bruised, we limped off to the lodge, shaken but relieved that we had avoided a terrible accident. Once inside, Sonia said to me, "Do you think this is what Sabrina was picking up on the last few nights?" I nodded. Even though her warnings did not prevent an accident from happening, I'm certain that having been alerted and on our toes that day kept us from having a serious accident.

Sabrina slept soundly that night without any fuss at all.

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