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IT’S ALL ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE – PART 2

In Child Development, Education, Families, Family Planning, father, Grandparents, motherhood, Parenting, Religion, The Family, Values on March 25, 2015 at 1:05 pm

????????????????????Chuck Malone

Time is Limited!

As co-parents of 5 active children, my wife and I determined early on that we would only have a limited time to create lasting and hopefully character building experiences as a family. We watched older children of other family’s, age and leave the nest to form their own family; the opportunity to create personal and family experiences had passed for the parents. Their role would change from leader to supporter; in many cases from parent to grandparent. The season of creating meaningful family experiences diminished…

UNLESS … they built within their family a legacy of enjoying time together and experiencing life together, even as they raised their own family and developed their own legacy of family experiences.

Have a Plan…

The first step in having experiences with family begins with a plan. The parent(s) must decide what they want to achieve with their children. What lessons of life do they want to teach? Which character attributes do they want to instill?

As one of our boys grew to adolescence, we noticed that when he greeted an adult he looked down at the floor when being introduced. We recognized a deficiency that needed experience, so we planned family activities around being introduced to others. This included attending weddings, funerals, business events, and church gatherings. Before long this deficiency was no longer prevalent in this particular child, or our family in general, as his siblings also benefited from these experiences.

It’s all about the experience!

One of our character goals was to develop leadership skills in our children. Now this can be quite a challenge since not all children, ours included, naturally possess the leadership temperament. But it is our belief that if it is a skill, it can be learned.

So, along the way we provided opportunities for our children to plan, schedule, and assign responsibilities to other family members during family events and activities. We were careful not to impose negative reaction to failed attempts at developing leadership, but it didn’t take long for the more creative children to use that effort in their defense when they made wrong choices, which ended them in the time-out corner.

The cry of “But mom, I was only practicing my leadership skills,” took me back to my own leadership development as early as kindergarten.

An experience in Leadership?

It was a cold, frosty morning in my home town of Holbrook, AZ, and as my schoolmates and I waited anxiously for the school doors to be unlocked and warmth again to once again thaw our frozen bodies, I remembered the ring of keys I so proudly wore on my belt loop. My father was manager of the local Ford Motor Company and he had given me these spare keys to play with.

Feeling desperate to get inside, I crept down the steps of the building which led to a door. I had no idea where the door led, but I knew on the other side offered warmth. I tried a few keys without success as my fellow classmates hung over the steel railing about 8 feet above me, cries of encouragement replaced with groans with each failed attempt.

Then success! The key inserted… and turned! I froze with excitement as I processed what had happened, only to be jarred back to reality by the cheering of my schoolmates. I had successfully become their leader.

With the door ajar, I moved to open it widely and felt the warm air immediately rush out to greet me. And the cold stare of Custodian Reynolds leaning on a mop handle. I had successfully entered the girl’s bathroom!

Leadership training often comes at a price, and being hauled to the principal’s office so early in the morning, sitting on a hard, wooden chair for what seemed like hours for my father to come, gave me time to think… and worry!

Allow wiggle room…and growth

Back in the day, strict adherence to rules and common courtesies were enforced with an iron hand, or whatever tool might be readily available to “teach a lesson.” But parents who hold a child to strict adherence to rules without allowing occasional “crossing the white lines” may find that the child, as an adult refuses to take normal risks in life which are necessary to social and economic success.

It’s all about the experience.

My parents, although known for imposing a non-tolerance for certain social behavior (breaking out their car headlights with a hammer at the age of 5 years old, or shooting out the postmaster’s rear window of his 1949 Ford coupe, with a power BB gun as he headed home from work) were wise enough to choose their battles without breaking my spirit for adventure and curiosity. Yet they burned into my psyche a fear and respect for authority and laws. Did that keep me from being summoned before Judge Shelley’s court, for drag racing? Not really. But I learned from my experiences as I grew that there would be consequences resulting from ALL choices.

Without being clinical about it, my wife and I developed parenting skills from a combination of our own upbringing, as well as outside sources. We read parenting books, attended parenting classes at church, and formed lasting relationships with other parents who were going through similar experiences. We thought about who our children would become, and tried to plan personal and family experiences that would give each child a chance to develop skills that we saw in them.

The PBS link to “The Whole Child” recommends activities such as “field trips, celebrating holidays and activities with other ethnic groups, and encouraging children to bring visitors to school,” to enhance the creative process in our children. (http://www.pbs.org/wholechild/providers/play.html)

As I look back on it, there were at least 5 character traits/skills we hoped our children would individually possess, not necessarily in order of importance:

1) Leadership -capable of making independent decisions

2) Faith in a Supreme Being

3) Socially functional

4) A work ethic

5) A love of music

This list is in no way complete, but is shared with the intent to provide an “example” of a visual plan of what is important to the parent(s) to instill in their children before the world has its way.

As you look over the areas of emphasis you choose to instill into your children, you can begin to see how this is a “first step” in planning activities that provide experiences to enhance and strengthen.

What about those “unplanned” experiences?

Although being on the hot seat for breaking into the Elementary School Girls Restroom brought the wrath of a concerned parent, it also opened the way for lessons to be taught and learned.

Isn’t that a purpose of family, to provide a safe environment for our children to learn and grow, as they become exposed to life’s experiences?

Thinking back to the time when our children were experiencing life’s challenges as they grew, I remember such outcries as: “you don’t trust me.” Or “You don’t think I’m capable.” Years later it would dawn upon us that we were often negligent in turning lemons (poor choices and actions of our children, often creating unplanned experiences) into lemonade. We were not using these infractions against rules as teaching moments. We were just “reacting” rather than teaching.

We can’t always be prepared to teach when life’s unplanned events occur, but we can develop a mindset to become more aware of those opportunities.

Planning experiences which serve to enhance and support the development of character traits takes thought and getting to know your child’s interests and temperament (more on this in future posts) on a deeper level than most parents feel they have time to give. But those of us who feel overwhelmed with the responsibilities of parenthood, let alone learning to understand and create a plan for each child’s character development will soon find that advance planning of experiences will become a key to unlocking time we didn’t know we had… as well as the opportunity to create character traits and relationships with our children that will last a lifetime – and beyond.

It’s all about the experience…

For twenty strategies (and proven activities) to help your children develop good character traits, visit Character Ed.net at http://charactered.net/parent/parenttwenty.asp

(If you happened to miss part 1 of Chuck’s blog post entitled “It’s All About The Experience,” read it in the Archives section dated Feb 9, 2015)

Is It the Economy Again?

In Abstinence, Birth Rate, Cohabitation, Divorce, Families, father, Marriage, The Family, Values on March 20, 2015 at 7:16 am

empty ring boxGary Boyd

Seth Freed Wessler, writing for nbcnews.com, charges the economy with the low percentages of married young people and the rapidly diminishing institution of the American middle-class family. As industrial and professional jobs for men that paid a living wage 50 years ago have dried up, Wessler asserts that those of traditionally marriageable age no longer give marriage a high priority, since marriage no longer secures financial stability.

In his article, Mr. Wessler uses the real-life and current example of a young couple with a child who have not married, in order to show that the economic pressures brought to bear on them have caused them to make other choices than marriage and the traditional family.   He quotes the couple and recounts their experience.

Michael Bridges and Laura McCann had a longstanding relationship. McCann came up pregnant, and delivered their baby a few months after McCann finished college. Today, they are still not married. In fact, they separated two years after the baby was born.

Statistics cited by Mr. Wessler are undoubtedly true. Marriage rates are down, when compared to 1960. Births of children to unwed parents are up. Most young couples are choosing to bypass marriage and jump directly into having kids, or avoiding both marriage and procreation. The question, however, is whether the economy can be blamed, or must we look to the erosion of morals and values.

While couples having babies today are often not staying together, would it still not behoove them to do so economically? The Earned Income Credit is not enough on which to live for a year, and even though the mother may no longer stay home full-time, are two incomes still not more than one? Does it not cost less to house two adults in one apartment than in two apartments?

The answer, regrettably, is an erosion of our values. After the baby was born, and the responsibility to its care established, McCann was quoted as saying: “We weren’t going to stay together just because we were together, if it wasn’t the right thing”.

Again, the article does not give the causes of the couple’s choice to separate. The undertones suggest possible disenchantment with each other or a desire to move in different directions. However, in the absence of abuse or infidelity, how could staying together not be the right thing? The question is one of perspective and priority.

Until the real issues are addressed, society will continue its march towards the increased barbarism and unravelling of civilization that loom inevitably before us, and away from chewed-up-and-spit-out traditional family in the trail behind us.

Stop the Overwhelm: How to Find a Parenting Program that Works

In Child Development, Education, Families, father, Media, motherhood, Parenting, Research, The Family, Values on March 17, 2015 at 1:36 pm

woman with booksNathalie Bowman

The concerns:

“Leave me Alone!” your 7 year old shouts at you as he runs to his bedroom and slams the door, angry that you’re not giving him what he wants even though he knows he has to do his chores first.

You turn around and there is your 12 year old not doing homework, sprawled in front of a video game. You remind him to do his homework and he won’t.

You are worried about your teenage daughter who is being heavily influenced by friends to do things you know will lead her down a path of pain. Sigh.

Some days it just feels so overwhelming, and you feel you have no influence over your children. How can you inspire and love them so they will be confident in themselves, learn to work, study, and have good relationships with you and others? How can you help them become well-functioning, happy adults when they won’t even listen to you?

In search of answers, you go to the library or to Amazon.com and look at parenting books. The choices are overwhelming. Online reviews contradict each other. How can you know what book or program will be the most helpful? I’ve read many parenting books, and some of them backfired as I began to use their advice. In my 21 years of being a parent, I’ve learned a lot, and want to share with you some ideas of what to look for in a successful parenting book or program.

 

Five things to look for in a parenting program:

Positive Discipline

1.  Find a program that encourages you to treat your child as a person not an object. A child is a little person with a heart, with feelings, desires, wants, and needs. Sometimes parents overlook that and see their children as little (or big) objects who get in their way, make their lives difficult, or annoy them. A parent with this attitude will have whiny children constantly trying to get their attention because they don’t feel loved or secure. They can feel that their parent sees them as annoying and a problem, so they become more of a problem by trying to make their parents acknowledge and love them. My favorite book/program that helped me solve this problem is “Positive discipline” by Jane Nelson (www.positivediscipline.com). Positive Discipline teaches parents how to ask good questions of their children, to listen and encourage responses, to have the consequences and rewards all explained and set out so the child knows what to expect and can make decisions accordingly, it uses “time out” as a tool to help children calm down so they can resolve the issue rather than a disciplinary tactic that gets the child out of the way. Positive Discipline is the best, most well rounded parenting program I have encountered, and there is much more than I can describe in a few sentences. Every concept and instruction reminds you that your child is a wonderful little person, who needs boundaries and rules to guide them, and encouragement, challenge, and a listening ear to motivate and inspire them.

Emotional reactions

2.  One that teaches you not only how important it is to acknowledge your child’s emotions, but also helps you teach your children to manage and work through their emotions. Children need to know that it’s ok for them to experience emotional reactions, and here’s how to recognize, solve, and move through those feelings. Some parenting methods suggest ways to communicate and enforce discipline that completely undermines the child’s emotions in favor of the parent’s emotions. But picture for a moment, a child who is aware of being frustrated and angry and knows how to appropriately respond to those feelings that are welling up inside. Imagine how successful that child will be as an adult when they understand their emotions and know how to work through them and resolve the problems they’re feeling. Most adults I know would benefit from knowing how to control and resolve their emotional frustrations, as well!. You are giving your kids a great gift and power when you teach them to recognize and move through their emotions. I recommend the book “Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child” by Dr. John Gottman.

Recognize, enjoy, and celebrate each child’s differences

3.  A program that helps you understand that each child is different, and different is good! Sometimes we want our children to be just like us. If the parent is more of a silent type of person, and their child is constantly moving, talking, and being loud, the child is told over and over to sit down and be quiet. Stop jumping around! Just be calm! This may lead to the child wanting to shut down their gift of vibrant life in order to please their parents. Or, the opposite can happen. If a parent is naturally social, vivacious and talkative and they have a silent, observant child, the parent could get impatient at the child’s unwillingness to participate socially and be talkative. Either way, it’s damaging to the child. There are many different personality profiles in our world. I recommend one specifically for parenting. It’s a book called “The Child Whisperer” by Carol Tuttle. This book defines 4 different types of children, points out their strengths and challenges at different ages, and gives very specific ideas of what a child of each “type” needs from a parent. The author even gives specific verbiage for each type of child that will fill their love bucket, motivate them, and give them confidence in the gift of who they are. This concept has been a game changer for our family.

Food as a reward or punishment? 

4.  Do not listen if the program uses food as a manipulation tool. There is a very popular parenting book and program by an author in my area who is known in various countries around the world, and many families use her program successfully. However, I haven’t used it much because of its one glaring flaw: it uses food as a consequence and reward by taking away snack privileges. Much of the epidemic of overweight issues is caused by false beliefs about and emotional responses to food. If you use food as a manipulation tool (consequence or reward), it can cause serious problems for children as they get older. They may want to sneak more food, emotionally eat, and overeat at mealtimes. Find a program that leaves food out of the discipline equation.

Show Love no matter what!

5.  Find a program that teaches love for your children, even if they are misbehaving or make a mistake. One particular father was anticipating an upcoming dinner date with his daughter. However, the weekend before the date, his daughter seriously broke some family rules and did some things that were not good for her. Conventional thought says that the best thing to do here is to take away the dinner date so this daughter knows how wrong her choices were. But that’s not what this dad did. He enforced discipline that had already been discussed for a situation like this, and kept his dinner date with his daughter. You see, that date was for both of them-it was to nourish their relationship and let his daughter know that no matter what she DOES, he still loves her. And I’ll bet that was more of a motivation for this girl to make better choices than any inflicted discipline could have been. Sometimes it’s our nature as parents to withdraw love from our children by getting angry with them, putting them in time out, “grounding” them, or rejecting them when they make a mistake. This results in the child feeling rejected and not good enough, as well as breaks down the parent-child relationship. Think of it this way: how would it feel if we as adults were yelled at or rejected by our boss, our spouse, or even a sibling every time we made a mistake? That would not feel good or motivate us to do better. The same applies to our children. The message that is sent when we withdraw our love and attention from our children is conditional: “I will love you when you behave. When you do as you’re told, you deserve my love. When I like what you DO, I love you.” Showing love to your children even through their growing pains and weaknesses is vital to their emerging as healthy adults. Read this short article about “Living Love” for more understanding about this, then read “Unconditional Parenting” by parenting guru Alfie Kohn. You will see parenting in a whole different light.


If all this feels a little overwhelming because there are so many options and you don’t know where to begin, don’t despair. Go back and skim this list quickly. Slow down when you feel that prick letting you know that you need help in that particular area. Then check out the recommended book from your library (or if you’re like me, go buy your own copy and read it with a pen in hand so you can take notes in the book), and begin reading and implementing. Any one of these programs has the potential to bring more love and joy to your family.

What You Say Matters

In Child Development, Families, father, Marriage, Media, motherhood, Parenting, The Family, Values on March 15, 2015 at 8:34 pm

self esteem talkKelsi Shipley

Recently I had a conversation with an adorable five-year-old boy. At one point he confided in me that he thinks his mom is a negative person. Knowing this boys mother, I was surprised by the accusation, and assured him she wasn’t. We talked about a few other things, and then as we parted ways he exclaimed, “Wait! I don’t know what negative means!” In the best five-year-old terms I could think of, I explained that when you are negative, you are not very happy about what happens around you. He then got a puzzled look on his face and said, “Oh. My mom is always happy.”

This experience made me wonder where he had heard that his mom was a negative person. Had family members said it? Had dad said it? Had mom said it about herself? How we talk about ourselves affects our children’s opinions of us, and their opinion of themselves.

Throughout the day we are constantly thinking to ourselves through our inner voice. We use this voice to make critical decisions, and to analyze situations. To describe this inner voice, psychologists use the term self-talk. Our self-talk can be positive or negative. Self-talk often becomes our outer voice and unfortunately, our negative thoughts about ourselves are often expressed before our positive ones.

“I can’t do that work project. Carol would do a much better job.” “If Joe really knew me, he wouldn’t say such nice things about me.” Not only have you probably had these thoughts, you’ve probably expressed them out loud.

Children often mimic their parent’s habits, reactions, and expressions about themselves. Children with lower self-esteems often make negative remarks about themselves, don’t want to try new things, or give up easily. “I’m dumb. I’ll never get this assignment” “I can’t do this.” “What’s the point?” Some feelings of self-doubt are normal, but when these feelings affect everything we do, it can be debilitating.

A child’s self-esteem, as well as an adult’s, is a valuable tool in helping them to succeed. If we want children with healthy self-esteems, we must have a healthy self-esteem ourselves. The following are suggestions of ways to increase your self-esteem which then, by example and teaching, may increase your child’s self esteem.

  1. Feel your thoughts: You don’t have to like the negative thoughts that you are feeling. You also don’t need to believe them. However, it is important to truly feel these thoughts. Author Karol K. Truman has said that, “Feelings buried alive, never die.” Find out where these thoughts are coming from. Use the phrase “I feel______about________because________. This will help you identify how you truly feel, and why you feel that way.
  2. Adjust your thinking: Use “I can” statements to change your understanding. “I can do this work project.” “It does matter, and I can do it.” Encourage yourself to keep progressing. Write down the positive things you are doing, and look back on these notes when you need them. Also, ask yourself what you can do to make a situation less stressful.
  3. Forgive yourself. Life is hard. We all make mistakes. Daily. Learn how to forgive yourself. Work hard to make the changes you need to make, but don’t be so hard on yourself that you forget who you are, or your capacity for greatness.

Youtube sensation Kid President made a video for babies on the day they are born. He said, “You’re gonna need a pep talk sometimes, and that’s OK. For now, remember this: You’re awake. You’re awesome. Live like it.” Each of us will not always feel great about ourselves. We will make mistakes. However, each of us has the capacity to be great, and to help others feel better about themselves.

Just like the five-year-old boy I talked to is watching and listening to his parents self-talk, your child is watching and listening to yours. What you say truly does matter. Your self-esteem, and your example will have a greater impact on your child’s self-esteem than you can ever imagine. Take Kid President’s advice, “You’re awake. You’re awesome. Live like it.”

 

 

Appreciating Your Siblings

In Birth Rate, Child Development, Divorce, Families, Family Planning, father, Grandparents, Health Care, Marriage, The Family, Values on March 10, 2015 at 8:29 am

siblingsTashica Jacobson

My Nutrition and Foods teacher, in high school, was a fun talkative lady. She cared about each of her students and had unique way of getting us to look at the world. One day she told us that both of her parents were only children…which at first doesn’t appear too unusual. It’s not unheard of to be an only child. But then she told us to think about what this meant and how that would influence her life. “It means,” she told us, “that my parents have no siblings, but that I also have no uncles, aunts, or cousins. So you can imagine how much fun family reunions are.”

Her statement made me take a moment to look at my siblings and gain an even greater appreciation for having them. Not only will I have an amazing support system throughout all of my life because of them, but I have so many adventures and good memories already because of each one of them. Ask anyone that knows me well and they’ll be able to tell you that my siblings are an enormous part of my life. I could write a whole book on how amazing each of them is, but for this paper I’ll look at the benefits that siblings have on each other throughout all of life.

Our siblings  affect how we relate to other people, how we see ourselves, and provide the support system that we will have in later years. These relationships accomplish all of this because “it’s a bond unlike any other that we have in our lives.” This is why parents are encouraged to promote affection and closeness between their children.

Health

Studies have shown that having siblings can lead us to be more active and healthy. That a blessing to have a constant playmate. Activities that require physical activity like sports, tag, water fights, or hiking, are activities that more often require someone to do them with. Even eating habits improve because of siblings. When children have someone close in age to base food intake on, they eat smaller portions, and healthier foods.

Social skills

Positive social skills are more easily developed because of interaction with siblings. Brothers and sisters provide an opportunity to interact with peers on a daily basis. It provides a chance for children to do good deeds for one another and allows for positive interactions. Even fighting provides an opportunity for siblings to learn. Children are able to learn social rules regarding conflict. They learn how to control their emotions and work through their frustrations with other people, along with developing forgiveness, compromise, and sympathy. Mastering these traits helps us in all of our relationships throughout life; having good relationships with siblings, has even been shown to decrease the likelihood of divorce.

Mental Health

Mental health is also improved when siblings have good relationships with one another. They lend support to each other, provided a listening ear, and give children someone “who’s got their back.” A child’s likelihood of depression is decreased when they have  siblings that are dealing with the same family crisis and stresses as they are. This support system extends into later life as siblings often become each other’s closest friends in adulthood. From them we also have an extended support system in aunts, uncles, cousins, and nieces and nephews. This support system encourages individuals to take on challenges, and stay positive during difficult situations. Mental health benefits are also seen specifically when we have sisters. A combination of studies found that “having a sister protects adolescents from feeling lonely, unloved, guilty, self-conscious, and fearful.”

Every situation with siblings is unique. Age differences, gender, and overall experiences will vary but I can speak from personal experience that having siblings is fun. And more than that it provides opportunities for growth and learning. The friendships and support that we develop with them will continue throughout childhood and be a factor even in later life. Healthy sibling relationships should be promoted and cherished.

Do we Really Need Dads?

In Child Development, Education, Families, father, Gender, Marriage, motherhood, Parenting, Schools, The Family, Values on March 6, 2015 at 9:28 am

father wrestling with sonErika Walker

In the realm of family studies the role of mothers is often researched and discussed. After all, between the two parents mothers typically spend the most time with their children, and are therefore responsible for the majority of the teaching, comforting, disciplining, and nurturing.

So what do dads do? Do they serve a purpose in the lives of their children besides providing for their physical needs? Do children even need a father in their lives? Many women and men share this skeptical mentality toward fatherhood. It seems that the role of fatherhood has lost significance or has been undermined in importance in recent years.

Unbeknownst to many, fathers serve a very important role in the healthy development of children socially, intellectually and psychologically. “Dr. David Popenoe, one of the pioneers of the relatively young field of research into fatherhood stated ‘Fathers are far more than just ‘second adults’ in the home… Involved fathers bring positive benefits to their children that no other person is as likely to bring’” (Rosenberg).

Loving relationship with child’s mother

One of the most significant ways that a father influences his child’s life is through his relationship with the child’s mother. If the mother and father share a loving relationship both parent’s parenting behavior is likely to improve. For instance, “a father who has a good relationship with the mother of their children is more likely to be involved and to spend time with their children and to have children who are psychologically and emotionally healthier.

Similarly, a mother who feels affirmed by her children’s father and who enjoys the benefits of a happy relationship is more likely to be a better mother” (Rosenberg). But the benefits don’t stop there.

Research has shown that wives perceptions of the father-child relationship and father involvement with the children was one of the strongest predictors of wives’ marital quality (Galovan). Though each of these will positively affect the child, the greatest advantage that is gained by a child from the healthy relationship between parents is the behavior it models for children. Both boys and girls benefit from this behavioral modeling.

From observing the healthy relationship between father and mother, boys learn how they are to treat women and to resolve conflict without acting aggressively toward them. “Girls with involved, respectful fathers see how they should expect men to treat them and are less likely to become involved in violent or unhealthy relationships” (Rosenberg). This is a significant contribution in children’s lives because in many cases it could eradicate relationship violence, postpone premarital sex, and prevent teenage pregnancies.

Cognitive ability and Academic success

Father involvement also directly affects a child’s cognitive ability and academic success. There have been numerous studies conducted showing that fathers influence their child’s cognitive capacities throughout their life starting from infancy. The U.S. Children’s Bureau says that “fathers who are involved, nurturing, and playful with their infants have children with higher IQs, as well as better linguistic and cognitive capacities” (Rosenberg). “The influence of a father’s involvement on academic achievement extends into adolescence and young adulthood” (Rosenberg). Adolescents with involved fathers are more likely to stay in school, are 43 percent more likely to make mostly A’s, and “are 33 percent less likely to repeat a grade”(Rosenberg). This is important because children who take their education seriously are more likely to gain a college education, pursue a career, and be able to support themselves.

 

Socially and Psychologically

Children also benefit from father involvement socially and psychologically. “Even from birth, children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their surroundings, and, as they grow older, have better social connections with peers… and more likely to exhibit pro-social behavior ” (Rosenberg).

How does a father provide all that? Well, infants who receive high levels of affection from their fathers are more securely attached and are therefore much more willing to explore their environment. In addition, fathers generally spend more of their one-on-one time with their infants and toddlers “in stimulating, playful activity than do mothers. From these interactions, children learn how to regulate their feelings and behavior” (Rosenberg). This is actually much more significant than it might seem. These types of skills keep children from getting into trouble at home, at school, and in the neighborhood. Involved fathers’ children are much less likely to get into fights or participate in delinquent behavior.

Don’t discount the role that a father plays in a child’s life. Children need fathers, as role models, as playmates, as caregivers. Their presence in a child’s life or lack thereof will have lasting effects for generations to come. The key to being a positive influence is being involved.

References:

Galovan, Adam M., Erin Kramer Holmes, David G. Schramm, and Thomas R. Lee. “Father Involvement, Father–Child Relationship Quality, and Satisfaction With Family Work: Actor and Partner Influences on Marital Quality.” Journal of Family Issues 35.13 (2013): 1846-867. SAGE. Web. 5 Jan. 2015. <jfi.sagepub.com>.

Rosenberg, Jeffrey, and W. Bradford Wilcox. “Fathers and Their Impact on Children’s Well-Being.” Child Welfare Information Gateway. U.S. Children’s Bureau , n.d. Web. 30 June 2012. <http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/usermanuals/fatherhood/chaptertwo.cfm&gt;.

 

Bullying? Seriously?

In Child Development, Families, father, Parenting, The Family on March 5, 2015 at 7:16 am

fists young and oldGary Boyd

As a blogger for UFI, I scan the news each week for stimulating news to write about and comment on. Sometimes, I struggle, taking a while to find anything that I can say anything meaningful about. This week, however, I went almost immediately to a story on sibling bullying that made me boil.

The article, Sibling Bullying More Common Than Schoolyard Torment, Study Shows, equates sibling rivalry to bullying, and states that more bullying occurs on the top bunk than at school. Tracy Connor, the author, goes on to say that those finding themselves  on the victim side of sibling bullying tend to normalize it. The author also makes brief mention of parent-child bullying.

This asinine article on sibling bullying proves that we have made way too much of bullying as a society. I grew up in a family of six boys. Being the oldest, I concede that I rarely treated my brothers with kindness, or they each other, or me. I regret some of the persecution I put my brothers through, when all I stood to gain from it was the satisfaction of hearing their cries of fear and frustration. At the same time, though, at school and in other social settings, being fairly small for my age and quite uncoordinated, I took my share of abuse from others. We lived according to a societal pecking order. When I walked out of the door, I was pretty close to the bottom. At home, however, I reigned supreme, after my folks, of course.

In retrospect, however, I am grateful for my trials, though difficult they seemed to me at the time. My brothers have all, except for the youngest, who was constantly shielded from bullying by my parents, turned out to be tough, both mentally and physically. I hasten to add that I do not approve of the mistreatment of others, but the natural occurrence of some maltreatment certainly serves a purpose, and might be better left unfettered. Furthermore, discipline by parents of children serves an even greater purpose, and at times, depending on the child and nature of the offense, the discipline may need to be meted with some severity. A great man, James E. Faust, once said: “If we do not discipline our children, society may do it in a way that is not to our liking or our children’s”.

Is it not better for a youth to gain experience through hard experience that may be managed within the home, rather than on the street, where his offended fellows and law enforcement officers will exercise far less restraint than siblings or parents in the home? Let us address the real problem: It is not a lack of ability that children have to deal with bullying, whether by siblings or otherwise. I do not doubt Connor’s statement that those exposed to sibling bullying are more likely to suffer emotionally later in life. But, is it really from the bullying?

If I persist in working out each day, but fail to eat properly, my body will eventually break down. Will children not do the same emotionally when bullied, in the absence of adequate love and support from parents and siblings, but especially parents? The bullying can certainly do damage, but it may be that it does damage as the workout might do damage. Not because the bullying is inherently dangerous, but that our homes and families and the proper relationships we should find within have been dismantled to such a degree that they no longer carry out their functions. Thus, the only way to remedy the problem is shielding children from adversity that in many instances may be both healthy and necessary.

Furthermore, what kind of a society are we, adults, grooming the next generation to be? Do you think that the World War II generation would have had the toughness to win the war had none of them ever been mixed up in regular fist fights, or received harsh discipline at times from parents? Do not those who have made great names for themselves in all kinds of endeavors often attribute their success to opposition they faced early on? James Polk and Harry Truman might have something to say along these lines.

There is much more I could say on this topic, but I will close with a poem by Douglas Malloch that summarizes the whole issue of adversity, which we seem anxious to eliminate at every turn:

The Tree that never had to fight

For sun and sky and air and light,

But stood out in the open plain

And always got its share of rain,

Never became a forest king

But lived and died a scrubby thing.

 

The man who never had to toil

To gain and farm his patch of soil,

Who never had to win his share

Of sun and sky and light and air,

Never became a manly man

But lived and died as he began.

 

Good timber does not grow with ease:

The stronger wind, the stronger trees;

The further sky, the greater length;

The more the storm, the more the strength.

By sun and cold, by rain and snow,

In trees and men good timbers grow.

 

Where thickest lies the forest growth,

We find the patriarchs of both.

And they hold counsel with the stars

Whose broken branches show the scars

Of many winds and much of strife.

This is the common law of life.

Is This Not Tyranny?

In adoption, Constitution, Courts, Defense of Marriage Act, Democracy, Diane Robertson, DOMA, Families, father, Free Speech, Gender, Government, Homosexuality, Human Rights, Marriage, Non-Discrimination, Parental Rights, Proposition 8, Religious Freedom, Same-Sex Marriage, Sexual Freedom, Sexual Orientation, Values on March 4, 2015 at 9:35 am

tyranny alertDiane Robertson

Tyranny is defined as cruel and oppressive government or rule, or cruel, unreasonable, or arbitrary use of power or control. Countries that embrace religious freedom are typically free from tyranny, while those nations who insist on certain beliefs lean toward tyranny.

Nations with a state enforced religion such as Saudi Arabia or communist nations where established religions are banned like China, offer little to no religious freedom.

In the most tyrannical countries in the world, the one thing the government can never enforce or stifle is thought and belief. Unless a person declares or publicizes their thoughts and beliefs, laws can have no hold over them. Everyone in the entire world can believe or think what they will.

With the exception of violent acts, for a nation to be free of tyranny, that nation must allow the people to speak their mind and act on their beliefs without punishment. Man is only free when he can live according to his conscience.

Religious freedom has been the norm in the western world for more than two centuries. However, things are changing. Due to mass embracing of secularism and “sexual rights” in these nations, those freedoms are rapidly eroding.

Laws have been made and enforced that disallow people to speak or act on certain beliefs.

In my state, the legislature is working on forming a law that will allow the LGBT community protections for housing while still allowing people to live according to their beliefs. I like this sort of compromise. But as I started reading comments from a local online newspaper, I realized that many people do not want a compromise. Many comments were along these lines:

“Offering exemptions for discrimination on religious grounds is immoral.”

“If their ‘line of work’ is the wedding industry perhaps they should choose a line of work more suited to their belief system.”

“Religious leaders already have religious protections, its called the 1st Amendment… if you give people the right to discriminate outside of an religious organizations, you’ll open a can of worms that will be headed for court, wasting tax payer dollars in the mean time on a court case that won’t win.”

“Really? Have your “marriage beliefs” been outlawed? Not in the least; you can still believe anything you want, you just can’t use your beliefs against your customers. It is not the business of a business to make value judgements about their customers.”

 

There are hundreds such comments from people who feel like freedom to think or believe something should be enough, unless it is what they think or believe– they want the right to act on their beliefs. In fact, they want the government to enforce people to act only according to an approved set of actions– theirs. Well give the government something to regulate and enough people telling them to do so and the government will.

Today many people who dare to disclose their beliefs or act on them are in trouble. They are being fired from their jobs, fined absurd amounts of money, and forced to undergo change of belief training, politely called “sensitivity” training.

A judicial magistrate in England has been suspended for privately stating his belief that children need a mother and a father. According to the Daily Mail:

“Richard Page told colleagues behind closed doors during an adoption case that he thought it would be better for a child to be brought up in a traditional family rather than by a gay couple.

He was shocked a week later when he found he had been reported to the judges’ watchdog for alleged prejudice, and was suspended from sitting on family court cases.

He has also been ordered to go on an equality course before he is allowed back in the courtroom.”

We have all heard about Baronelle Stutzman, the Christian florist being sued by her State Attorney General for referring a gay couple to another florist for the couple’s wedding. And then there’s the photographer in New Mexico, and the bakers in Colorado and Oregon.

There’s also the CEO of Firefox fired for donating to his state’s marriage amendment campaign.

A couple in New York had to pay a fine and undergo sensitivity training for refusing to use the home they lived in for gay wedding ceremonies, and a police officer in Utah was fired for asking to direct traffic instead of performing motorcycle stunts in the Gay Pride Parade.

Is this not cruel and oppressive rule or unreasonable, and arbitrary use of power or control? Is this not the definition of tyranny?

It certainly knows no bounds. Those enforcing this new sexual secularism in our nations will say, “if your religion does not allow you to do what I say, then just change your line of work.” But as time goes, it becomes clearer and clearer that no line of work is exempted. Judges, lawyers, doctors, school teachers, business owners of all sorts, and even computer programmers have not been exempted. No one is exempt. It’s clear that if these sexual secularists could find a way for the government to regulate thought and belief, they would. In the meantime, they are doing what they can to intimidate all who do not believe as they do, and to do only what they approve.

 

 

Progress Not Perfection

In Families, father, Grandparents, Marriage, motherhood, Parenting, The Family, Values on March 3, 2015 at 8:02 am

hiking togetherNathalie Bowman

The Quest for Perfection is all consuming. Many women have an ideal of the perfect life, and beat themselves up for not being able to attain it, or they put on a mask and pretend they’re perfect even though they know they’re not. Neither way brings happiness. What, really, is “perfect”?

There are as many definitions of perfect as there are people trying to attain it. Think about how you would define your perfect self. Does the thought bring you joy? Or does it feel heavy? The never ending pursuit of perfection can get old fast, but somehow, we still manage to want it, thinking it will do us some good.

Instead of perfection, how about having joy in the journey and recognizing progress?  It reminds me of the time I hiked the Grand Canyon from the North Rim to the South Rim in one day; it was over 23 miles. We started early in the morning, and hiked in darkness with only a flashlight to guide our way for the first several hours on the trail. I wanted to be “perfect” and make a good impression, because this was my first official date with my boyfriend (who later became my husband). As we went on, the sunrise was beautiful and the day began to get warm. By the time we got to the bottom of the canyon, I was a bit worn, but we still had the most difficult part of the hike ahead of us-going up the South Rim. I was getting worried about my strength to make it all the way up.

I knew my boyfriend enjoyed the great outdoors as much as I did, and I wanted it to be the perfect day as I made a grand impression on him. As we went up the steep switchback trail, he was holding my hand to keep me going up the trail at his pace, which was faster than mine.

I felt like I was going to throw up. My body did not want to take one more step, but I kept going. I was so grateful for the resting points along the way. Finally we made it up to the top, and it was beautiful. In spite of my desire to impress and be “perfect,” the journey wasn’t perfect–I made my boyfriend wait for me to rest when he may have preferred to go on; we had to wait for mule trains to pass us; we were tired and sore and thirsty. But we made it, one step after another. The beauty was in the progress along the way, even though our experience didn’t fill my “perfect” expectations. In spite of it all, we look back at that experience with wonder and awe because of the progress we made together.

It’s about progress, not perfection. Life can be like my experience hiking the canyon–at first I wanted it all perfect.  Then as we pushed on through the journey, I realized that the perfection was in the progress, not in the unattainable ideal.

Progress is putting one foot in front of the other and not giving up.

It’s getting up in the morning to care for our families or go to work when we’d really rather stay in bed.

It’s doing the little things that add up and that help us along the way.

Progress is forgiving ourselves when we make mistakes, letting go, and moving past the frustration.

Taking steps and acknowledging our progress creates peace and confidence, even through the hard days.

Next time you start getting uptight because you’re not “perfect,” take a deep breath and find evidence of the good things–even if it’s little steps-and banish those thoughts of “perfection!” It’s always good to improve yourself, to set goals and move forward, and the easiest way to do that is to let go of the myth of “perfection,” love yourself as you are, and enjoy your progress.  

 

 

No, Mama, Money Can’t Buy My Love

In Child Development, Drug Use, Families, father, Grandparents, Marriage, Media, motherhood, Parenting, The Family, Values, working mothers on February 26, 2015 at 9:19 am

dad and son playing chessElise Ellsworth

Christian preacher and theologian Peter Marshall once counseled a couple whose family was being ripped apart by excessive materialism – “What good is a beautiful house,” he asked, “filled with expensive furniture, if there isn’t any love between those who live inside the house? What good are expensive clothes and beautiful adornment if there aren’t love, contentment, and happiness in the hearts of the people wearing the clothes?” (A Man Called Peter, 143). These are questions worthy of our consideration in today’s increasingly materialistic world.

The modern quest for more and better stuff has taken a toll on the family. Studies show that materialism is harmful to happiness, to marriages and to children. Of course, a certain amount of material things are necessary to our physical and spiritual wellbeing. And there are some very good parents – my own included – who have been blessed materially. However, the addictive covetousness of “keeping up with the Joneses” has caused many adults to work longer hours and to spend more time in consumption activities. In the process, they have neglected their families. Name brand clothing, fancy cars, restaurant food, expensive furnishings and electronic gadgets are poor substitutes for eating, talking, listening, recreating, learning, laughing and playing with our children.

One example of a place where this destructive cycle of consumption has taken its toll is the country of Great Britain. In 2007, a UNICEF survey of child welfare ranked Great Britain at the bottom of industrialized countries.

The study found that British children were two times more likely to have been drunk by the age of fifteen and significantly less likely to be in two parent families than children elsewhere. They were also more likely to have tried drugs and had one of the worst diets in the developed world.

A follow up survey in 2011 found that British parents were failing in large part because of obsessive materialism. They spent long hours away from home in the quest to provide more material goods for their family. Meanwhile, their children were being raised by poor parental substitutes – including television and digital media.

The author of the 2011 study, Agnes Nairn, discovered that: “While children would prefer time with their parents to heaps of consumer goods, [their] parents seem to find themselves under tremendous pressure to purchase a surfeit of material goods for their children.” This pressure left parents “too tired” for time together with their families.

The British are not the only ones trapped by compulsive materialism. Many of us in today’s world have fallen prey to the false notion that buying more things will increase our happiness. Have all these things that we are seeking bought us anything but a hollow empty place in our souls? We cannot buy true friendship. We cannot buy love.

What are some nonmaterial things that we can give our children and families? Here are some ideas from a list compiled by veteran teacher Erin Kurt, who asked students in classrooms across the world what they appreciated about their parents: “Tuck your children in at bedtime. Sing them a song. Hug and kiss them. Tell them that you love them. Talk with them privately. Discipline your children. Leave special messages on their pillows or in their lunch bag.” Your time will mean far more to them than anything you can buy. And it won’t cost you a dollar.

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