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Archive for the ‘father’ Category

Adult children Need Support Too!!!

In Child Development, Families, father, Grandparents, Marriage, Parenting, The Family, Values on April 14, 2015 at 7:32 am

father comforting adult daughterRachel Allison

It has been over nine years since my father passed away. Over the past couple of days I have been thinking of him a lot.

My Dad was a man of few words, but life’s lessons had given him a wisdom that enriched each of our lives. When he spoke, “we listened.”

My youngest sister tells of an endearing experience she had with Dad. She had been having some very discouraging setbacks in life. One morning she received a phone call from him. The first thing she heard after she picked up the receiver was dad singing, “I just called to say I love you. I just called to say how much I care,” (“I Just Called to Say I Love you” by Stevie Wonder.) My sister started to cry, but the ensuing conversation comforted and gave her hope and courage to tackle the future.

I have been surprised in recent years to hear friends admit that now that their adult children are out of the house, “they’re on their own.” In other words, these mothers and fathers with years of wisdom have chosen to let their children make mistakes without a word of advise. I am so much better because my parents stayed involved. Granted, they lived six hundred miles away, so it’s not as if they were at my door every day, but they were always just a phone call away and they always took the time to offer advise when I needed it.

The advice I specifically remember came at a time when I was a newlywed.   Looking back I see a very immature (dare I admit even spoiled?) young woman who called her parents often to express her frustrations with her new husband. My parents would always listen, but our conversations always ended with my mom and dad telling me how much they loved and appreciated my husband. They NEVER EVER badmouthed him. As the months and years passed, my tirades subsided, but when I did need to vent, my parent’s positive expressions were always a reminder of just why I married my husband.

Now that I have three adult married children I am determined to be as good a listener and advisor. I try to NEVER EVER badmouth my son-in-law or daughters-in-law. The few times my children have called with relationship issues I listen and I give them advice as to how THEY could make the situation better. We learn from an accumulation of generations of wisdom. And when the wisdom is shared each generation tends to get better and better.

 

What’s My Role? – The Grandparent Dilemma… or Opportunity?

In Child Development, Divorce, Education, Families, father, Grandparents, Health Care, Media, Parental Rights, Parenting, Sanctity of Life, Technology, The Family, Values on April 13, 2015 at 6:30 am

Grandpa and grandsonby Chuck Malone

Indeed one of the most fascinating, albeit frustrating, challenges facing any family unit is trying to understand and adjust to changing roles. The constant challenge to the definition of family in today’s changing environment makes that challenge even more difficult.

In a nutshell, let me set the stage for the object of this blog – “the grandparent.” What do we do with them? What does it mean to be without them? Who loses if they are not in our children’s lives?

My children had grandparents during their childhood years, but my parents struggled with that role. They were so careful not to interfere, that they became almost ghost-like; appearing and then almost as fast… disappearing, leaving evidence of their visit in the form of gifts, food, and/or a little chat about “what’s new with the kids?” Or “you are pregnant… again?”

My wife’s mother on the other hand was made to be a grandmother. She loved her grandchildren as much, or more, than her own children… and treated them as such.

So now my wife and I are “the grandparents.” Interesting, isn’t it, how fast time flies? I got to thinking about what makes someone a good grandparent “now that I are one,” with the goal of discovering some qualities that I don’t now possess, and work toward getting better at understanding my role, because I have to admit… I am lost here!

Because I had never been a grandparent before, and even now after 17 years of practice I still consider myself lost when it comes to understanding my role… so I looked into the fountain of all wisdom – the “Internet.”

What I found was like reading a daytime soap opera. Grandparent
estrangement? Narcissism? Increasing divorce rate among grandparents? Grandchildren

being raised by grandparents because the adult parent-child is not responsible enough to care for his/her own children? On and on…

What?

As disturbing as it was, however, to read about this drama enveloping the family unit, it was even more disturbing to learn that the majority of those polled agreed that having grandparents in their children’s lives had benefit, but they didn’t know how to extract it.

So when both sides of the conflict are confused, no wonder we have, as one writer put it, “erosion within the family unit.”

Ok, I’m going to get personal here on the bet that at least a few readers of this UFI blog will relate. I’ve had my hands slapped several times because I overstepped the boundary of my YouAreNotTheParentofMyChildren status. I didn’t even know I had status to begin with, and now what little I had was taken away when my children became parents?

I soon learned that although it is not written in the grandparent’s handbook I received (wait! I didn’t get my copy) there “are” boundaries now. My past role as the leader of the pack, the solution to every problem, the get it done guy… all gone! Instead, I am “bra-man.”

I am here to “support.” Not to lead. No voice! No authority! Actually, that’s ok. I just needed to know that, because it was a change. These new parents… our adult children, are now responsible. So I need to let them be, and accept my new role… to support and to love unconditionally!

So now that we know there are boundaries… let’s set some for the adult children too. We grandparents have a life. Just because it may look like we have nothing to do when you drop in unexpectedly with high hopes for grandma and I to watch the little darling(s) while you go out for a while, it “may” be that we do (or did) but are hesitant to expose that for fear we might never see little precious again. So parents, please heed the wall plaque in our home for all to see: “Grandchildren Welcome Anytime; Parents by Appointment!

Ok, on to the next grandparent boundary… Keep your mouth shut! As Anne Rolphe, shares, as one of the 27 writers in the NYT bestselling Eye of My Heart… “Ah, my poor tongue is sore from being bitten.”

When an adult child decides to move his/her family across the ocean in pursuit of their own dreams, and takes our grandchildren with them, it is very hard not to cry and stamp our feet while yelling, “unfair – unfair!” As hard as it may be to accept, our children deserve to make their own road in life… even if the road they choose isn’t the road “we”

would have taken and it gets bumpy at times. And even if we might have saved them from making a big mistake, had they listened… no one will leave earth life without getting bruised a few times. And they will become all the better for it. So wish them the best and learn how to skype.

“I am Ari’s Grammie. I live in Dallas and he lives in New York. We don’t get to visit in person that much, so we video-chat most days. Thanks to 21st century technology, we are virtual grandparents. We have eaten dinner together, played with toys, and sung. We’ve watched him reach many milestones like walking, thanks to technology. We stay updated, though we wish we lived closer. We cherish the times we actually get to spend with him and hope there will be many more to come.” –Michele Kesner (As quoted in HuffingtonPost.com)

Now let’s talk about a word society seems to have forgotten – Influence. A grandparent is in a wonderful position as support to grandchildren. Without skin in the game, we can observe from the bleachers and cheer and yell encouragement, and then head home before the locker room rant starts.

Yet, the wise adult child will recognize the benefit of having grandparents as an ally and not just as a guest or spectator. But parent and grandparent need to work together… and that is where the rub comes in for most. Grandparents still think they should parent and the adult child wants to show he/she is in charge, and in walks the conflict.

So grandparents, back off and remember your role, bite your tongue, and listen to what your adult children need from you in the way of “influence” over their children.

“I was extremely close to my grandparents and their presence in my life greatly formed my perceptions of food, gardening, my Swedish heritage and the essence of family love generation after generation. I couldn’t be more delighted to see my parents evolve the teachings of their parents as they interact with my 1-yr old daughter, who couldn’t love her “gamma and gampapa” more. The more love the better, and without grandparents, we’d be missing one of the most important relationships in life.” -Jamie Smith (As quoted in HuffingtonPost.com)

My wife loves to “sit and knit,” to the point she has become very proficient in the art. One of our adult children had some concerns over the recent behavior of her soon to be teenage daughter and mentioned it to her grandmother. It so happened that our granddaughter loved “sitting and knitting” with grandmother. They would talk together during these times, and soon grandmother was able to provide some insight into the mother’s concern over the welfare of her daughter. Now that’s working together.

It helps if the adult children speak kindly and generously about the grandparent(s) in front of the children. It is amazing how much they pick up when appearing to not be listening to a word you are saying.

There is certainly more to say on the topic, for both sides to learn. But if you are fortunate enough to have grandchildren to love… and if you, parents, have someone in your life who loves your children as only a grandparent can, please remember this, as quoted in Grandparents.com: “Family – we may not have it all together, but together we have it all.”

Resources:

Parent’s lack of Backbone may lead to Children’s Entitlement Demands

In Child Development, Families, father, Media, motherhood, Parenting, The Family, Values on April 2, 2015 at 3:49 pm

spoiled girlRachel Allison

A sense of entitlement, which is the polar opposite of a sense of responsibility, is endemic among many of the 1st World’s children today.

It is fostered by our demanding, narcissistic society wherein wants are confused with needs and everyone seems focused on the notion that he deserves what everyone else has. Gone are the days when kids expected to have to work for something.

Too many youth grow up in a reality-show world, thinking of themselves as the central character on the stage. They have their own Facebook page, twitter account, and insta-gram followers. They’re “famous”, and in their own minds,  there is neither room nor need for emotional empathy, self examination, or personal responsibility. There isn’t much incentive or motivation to learn to work. They have all the accolades without genuine effort, and over-indulging parents provide everything else.

This learned behavior entitles them to think they should have no limits, boundaries or discipline.

By not saying “no” and by giving them what they demand, parents become the ultimate enablers.

In their book “Living in the Age of Entitlement, the Narcissism Epidemic,” Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell explain it this way:

“It is increasingly common to see parents relinquishing authority to young children, showering them with unearned praise, protecting them from their teacher’s criticisms, giving them expensive automobiles and allowing them to have freedom but not the responsibility that goes with it. Not that long ago, kids knew who the boss was—and it wasn’t them. It was Mom and Dad. Mom and Dad weren’t your “friends.” They were your parents.”

Then, Twenge and Campbell hit on the true causes of entitlement:

“The  change in parenting is driven by the core cultural value of self-admiration and positive feelings. Parents want their kids’ approval, a reversal of the past ideal of children striving for their parents’ approval.”

As our lives get busier and busier, as both parents work, and as the disconnect grows greater between what we say our priorities are, and where we actually spend our thought and energy, we parents tend to give our children things instead of time, spoiling them as we add fuel to the entitlement flame.

Dan Kindlon, in his book “Too Much of a Good thing,” puts it simply:

“We give our kids too much and demand too little of them.”

Kindlon goes on to argue that when kids are overindulged, it leads to outcomes resembling the seven deadly sins: pride, wrath, envy, sloth, gluttony, lust and greed.

How widespread is this sense of entitlement among kids? Widespread enough that every parent seems to have a close-to-home example of it.

Best-selling authors Linda and Richard Eyre have written over a dozen books on parenting. When they asked for examples of child entitlement, their inbox was flooded. Personal “testimonials” poured in for days. The stories ranged from kids’ funny ideas about “what’s what” and “who does what” to “demands so extreme they were almost humorous.” Here are just four out of the hundreds they received:

 

1.  “I’m a 40-something professional from the Midwest. Recently, I had been gone from my family for a week and was greeted by my 10-year-old son with a big hug. That night at dinner after a catch-up session about things that had happened while I was gone he quietly brought up something he had obviously planned quite carefully. “Mom, you’ve been gone a long time and you missed my band concert. How about buying me the new Wii game to make up for it?””

 

2.   “My 9-year-old came up to me the other day and said, “I have to have a credit card…or a cellphone. At least one of them.”

 

3.  “Our 8 year-old son was aghast when we suggested he might have to work to earn some money to replace the neighbor’s window that he had broken while throwing rocks. “You’re my mom; that’s the kind of thing you are supposed to take care of.”

 

4. “A few weeks ago, I was shopping with my 4-year old who saw something he ‘really wanted.’ He got upset when I said “no” and angrily asked me why I wouldn’t buy it for him. My response was, ‘because I don’t want to spend the money on that.’ He frowned, growled at me and said, ‘Fine, then you just give me the money and I’ll pay for it.”

Parents, when “We give our children too much and demand too little of them,” they may grow up to be entitled spoiled-rotten adults…then, if we don’t deal with them,  society will have to.

 

 

 

 

Family-together Time…It’s worth the effort!

In Child Development, Families, Family Planning, father, Grandparents, Parenting, Research, The Family, Values on March 30, 2015 at 7:06 am

family funCaitlin Woolbert

Families are becoming busier and busier in their schedules and are involved in more activities outside of the home. Researchers have studied children of all ages and looked at whether age influences the amount of time a child is willing to spend participating in family activities. One study concluded that

“We ordinarily think of family-shared recreation as age-graded. That is, as children grow older they gradually become emancipated from the family and establish their own circle of friends and activities. The responses of the Pacific County High School students, however, show that older students are just as likely as younger students to desire more recreational activities with their families” (Stone, 1963, p. 85).

There are many benefits of spending time together as a family in recreational activities.

“In general, it [family recreation] is believed to improve parent-child understanding of the interests, problems, and points of view of each by the other” (Stone, 1963, p. 85). Leisure time helps to foster those feelings of mutual understanding and creates a bonding opportunity in which all members of the family can be actively involved in getting to know each other and come closer together.

Family leisure or family time is important to me and my family. Life can be crazy and hectic, but we make it a priority to spend time together. It is easier to spend time with your immediate family. Connecting with extended family is also important. One thing my family has started is getting together once a month for family dinner. It is a great way to catch up and bond together. Looking back through the years, some of my greatest memories come from spending time with my extended family. It is fun to reconnect and reminisce about the good old days.

One of my favorite quotes reads, “Family, like branches on a tree, we all grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one.” Families are constantly growing and changing, but we need to remember that we all come from the same roots. Making family leisure or family time a priority is important to strengthen your growing family tree.

Resources:

Stone, C. L. (1963). Family recreation-a parental dilemma. The family life coordinator, vol. 12, pp. 85-87. Retrieved from: http://www.jstor.org.byui.idm.oclc.org/stable/10.2307/581462?Search=yes&resultItemClick=true&searchText=Family&searchText=Recreation-A&searchText=Parental&searchText=Dilemma&searchUri=%2Faction%2FdoBasicSearch%3FQuery%3DFamily%2BRecreation-A%2BParental%2BDilemma%26amp%3Bacc%3Don%26amp%3Bwc%3Don%26amp%3Bfc%3Doff

 

 

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;.

 

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