Tag Archive | acoa parenting

Your Work Will Pay Off

I’m on a birding kick. I’ve hung feeders and nesting boxes in my backyard hoping to attract beautiful winged creatures that I can marvel at from my office window.I’ve been waiting for weeks and feeling impatient that flocks of birds haven’t descended. Waiting is hard!

When I look at all the beauty we’ve been provided in nature, I am reminded that good things come slow and with some effort. Seeds take time to germinate before they become beautiful flowers. Birds take weeks to build intricate and wind-defying nests. Vegetable gardens require water, nutrients and cultivation in order to bear a bountiful harvest. So it is with us.

Whether you’re a writer trying to get published, a social media strategist waiting for followers, or a parent wondering if your efforts make a difference; the seeds you plant take time to germinate. There are no shortcuts. But with perseverance and patience, your hard work will eventually pay off.

Check out this article by Michael Hyatt, at Intentional Leadership: The Myth of Fun, Fast, and Easy (and Why It Keeps You from Getting the Results You Want). He shares some great reminders about working hard and being patient for the results.

Note: Just before I clicked “publish”, four bright yellow American Goldfinch began eating from one of the feeders!

Free Yourself From The Fear of Making a Mistake

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Freedom From the Fear of Making a Mistake

When I became a mom, I was so afraid of making mistakes: Mismeasuring the cough medicine, using the wrong discipline technique, saying or doing something that would harm or cause permanent damage. These things made mothering a nerve-wracking job until I got tired of my anxiety and learned to chill. I want to share some of my conclusions. Hopefully, you’ll find a nugget here that will help you be more relaxed too.

 

 

  1. You’ve made it so far. Before you became a mom, chances are you didn’t make mistakes that caused yourself permanent damage or harm. You fed and clothed yourself. You were in tune with your needs and did what you needed to do to live life. When you didn’t have what you needed, you sought out helpful resources.  You will use the same characteristics —such as resourcefulness, common sense, and asking for help — when raising your own kids.
  2. Most of the mishaps we worry about never happen. You’ve probably heard about the studies that show that 90% of what we worry about never happens. And the remaining 10% are things we can’t control anyway. So loosen up. Most of the mistakes we think we might make never happen.
  3. Accept that you’re human. Okay, so let’s face it, we all have and will make mistakes. Even those moms who seem to have it all together make mistakes. And if they’re honest, they’ll tell you so themselves. Look, being a mother means on the job training. Sure, you can read books and many are helpful. But the truth is that the real learning happens between 6:00 p.m. colic and trying to find your place on the shifting sands of the teen years.
  4. You’re not alone. For real time: we’re all afraid of something. There’s power against fear when we ban together. So make sure you’re hanging out with other moms at least once a week. When you bounce things off of other moms, and they do the same, it builds camaraderie and confidence.
  5. You are not perfect. Breaking news: You will make mistakes because you are only human! Every mother, every person makes mistakes. But you learn from them. You do your best. And don’t condemn yourself or wallow in guilt. Instead, remember that you are a beautiful work in progress. You will continue to grow, learn, and be the mother your children need.

Have you ever been fearful of making mistakes as a mother? What other things can moms do to combat the fear of making mistakes with their children?

Here are a few encouraging resources you might find helpful:

A Confident Heart Devotional: 60 Days to Stop Doubting Yourself by Renee Swope

Treasures for Women Who Hope by Alice Gray

Photo credit: Thinkstock

Single Mom Gives Hard Times The Boot (and the Shoe and A Lot of Jewelry)

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It all started with a pair of shoes.

     Newly divorced, Renee Winot decided she wasn’t going to put her kids through any more grief. With her divorce money, she bought a user friendly computer and a digital camera and began a business that allows her to make ends meet while being available for her children.

     “I put these shoes on ebay and they sold. And I had a couple (pairs) of them and I sold them.” But, Renee didn’t stop there. “I had just been looking around and I’d found these big lots of jewelry and I had this money in my account from these shoes and I turned around and used it and bought these lots of jewelry.” In fast motion, Renee found herself an ebay entrepreneur with her own account and an ebay store.

     The days of securing a job just because you have experience and a good track record are gone. Too many lookers, too few jobs.  But opportunities are available, even in hard times. Sometimes you just have to think out of the shoe box. 

     Those close to Renee wouldn’t think this overnight entrepreneurialism such a strange thing. Her independent spirit winds through her work history. “Well I’ve never been a conventional person as far as jobs go. I don’t think that I ever had a job that I would really consider typical.” Renee worked for an insurance company soliciting business. She liked it because she got to set her own hours. “I was getting paid for what I sold.’” But her favorite job was selling cars. “I was actually pretty good at it. I got to make the money I was worth because I worked on commission.”  Selling cars was also how she met her ex-husband.

     Loss of a husband can be a scary thing for women, especially those who have stayed out of the job market to raise a family. All of a sudden you’re back in the hunt, competing against people half your age with more recent experience.

     Instead of giving in, Renee said a prayer which for her resulted in clarity and direction. “And so I just kept saying ‘ok God, you’re just going to have to show me what to do. And you’re going to have to make it really clear because I’m a hard case God. I’m one of those kind of people you have to throw a brick at. So God slammed all the other doors shut and opened the door wide that (He wanted) me to go through.’”

     Renee says her safety net was and is her faith. “I have a real trust in God because I am also a recovering alcoholic and addict and I’ve been sober– this Sunday, it will be for 15 years. And that is all by God’s grace because I never could have done that on my own. To me if God can take me out of that, then God can do anything.”

     Renee also thinks it important for single women to look ahead and not live in yesterday. “Yesterday? So what. Tomorrow isn’t even here yet. All I know is I’m sitting here right now talking to you and that’s it. I’m missing out on all that if I’m worried about all those other things.”

     Even if Renee were prone to worrying, she wouldn’t have time for it with tracking down merchandise and shipping items for her ebay store. Her kids have even gotten into the act. “The girls go in there and cut the labels out and Luke runs everything into Cardsmart.  He’s figured out the customs forms. He   knows what they are and goes in and pays the lady at the desk and they know him.”

     Renee not only goes to work in her pajamas, but she’s teaching her kids at the same time. “And so here my children have been home with me and they’re helping and they’re learning that they can do this too. They just think they’re being a part of the family. They’re so excited about my job. And it all   came from a simple prayer and a belief that God was not going to drop us on our butt.”

     Renee’s advice to women who suddenly find themselves single is to make time for your self. “And that’s what lifeguards are taught too. If you go in to save a drowning person and the person tries to drag you under, you’re not going to be good for that person. So you’re supposed to step out and wait until they’re totally under.  So you’ve go to make sure you take care of yourself or you can’t take care of anybody else.”

     And so Renee takes care of herself and her children by thinking differently and keeping a hopeful attitude. “If I look at something long enough I can find something bad about everything . You can find the perfect flower and if you look long enough you will find something bad about it. And if you look long enough you can find something positive in everything single thing. So which way do you choose to look at it? I have a choice when I wake up in the morning. Do I want to look at life as good or do I want to look at it bad?”

Alicea Jones

www.aliceajoneswriter.com

Photo: Thinkstock

Blog Post #5 in a Series: Dr. Kevin Leman Interview: The Benefits of Vitamin N

184805039This excerpt is from the article

“The Child Is Father of the Man”: Dr. Kevin Leman on Childhood Memories

by Alicea Jones from an interview with Christian psychologist, author and humorist, Dr. Kevin Leman on how our pasts affect how we parent.

Q- What advice do you have for parents who may not have had healthy role models?

A – Parenting is not a popularity contest. Every kid needs vitamin “N,” which is “No,” and vitamin “E,” which is encouragement. Kids don’t need praise. Praise is actually destructive. Praise should be reserved for God. It’s the false praise that gets me. I mean, the kid strikes out at little league, and the parents are screaming “Great at bat!” I’ve got news for you. It wasn’t great at bat. “Everybody wins, everybody gets a trophy.” That’s the mentality today. It’s crazy. Failure is important. Talk to anyone who has done it in life. Ben Carson: His mother was illiterate but made him write a book report every week. I love that. She was a domestic, cleaning people’s houses. Ben Carson is the top neurosurgeon at John Hopkins Hospital. Those kinds of stories inspire me.

It’s sometimes hard for me to watch my child fail. But I know that’s how they learn and mature. How about you? Were you allowed to fail as a child? How do you handle failure with your own children?

Photo: Thinkstock

Blog Post #4 in a Series: Dr. Kevin Leman Interview

78616973This excerpt is from the article

“The Child Is Father of the Man”: Dr. Kevin Leman on Childhood Memories

by Alicea Jones from an interview with Christian psychologist, author and humorist, Dr. Kevin Leman on how our pasts affect how we parent.

Q – You’ve talked about parents who overcompensate in their parenting because they feel bad about their own upbringing. What impact does overcompensation have on parenting?

 A – Number one, guilt is the propellant for most of the lousy decisions you’ll make in life. There are certainly more guilt gatherers who are females than males. Men generally don’t run on guilt. Lots of women do. Because they feel bad about the circumstances they bring to their family with their children, they overcompensate. “I’m just going to love Little Buford, love him, love him, love him.” Which ends up creating a little monster because she doesn’t have the guidelines she needs to have. She doesn’t have the firmness she needs to have. So that combination of guilt with no model to really follow in her family—she survived and she’s coping, and now she’s got kids and she doesn’t know what to do.

Okay, so how many of us haven’t made parenting decisions because we felt guilty? I certainly have, more than once. If I were starting all over again, I would ask myself before deciding to buy that new toy or whatever article of appeasement: “What is my purpose for doing this and what message am I sending to my child?” If my answer is that I feel guilty, then I’d try to give myself some time to think about what I was doing before acting. At least that’s what I hope I’d do. How about you?

Photo: Thinkstock

Blog Post #3 in a Series: Dr. Kevin Leman Interview

122440385This excerpt is from the article

“The Child Is Father of the Man”: Dr. Kevin Leman on Childhood Memories

by Alicea Jones from an interview with Christian psychologist, author and humorist, Dr. Kevin Leman on how our pasts affect how we parent.

Q – Some people who have unpleasant childhood memories have grown into adults with a strong need to control their surroundings. How do you explain that?

A- A defensive controller is one who controls not because he or she enjoys controlling, but they do it for defensive purposes. Why? Because they’ve been hurt . . . hurt by people. So they’re really guarded. Very few people get close to them. You become a defensive controller to protect yourself from getting hurt. It’s a coping mechanism; it helps you get through the day. It helps you get through the year. It helps you get through life. Men are specialists at that because men thrive at arm’s length in relationships, where women want to hug everything that moves.

Aaah, convicted! I did try to control many things when my child was younger and often felt exasperated because there are many things you just can’t predict or orchestrate. I also learned that if you try to control everything, you stifle the sense of wonder and exploration in yourself and in your children. Vulnerability is a beautiful quality but one that doesn’t come easy  to most of us. I just finished a  study on the subject vulnerability with a group of other women.
We used the book, Daring Greatly by author and popular TED Talk speaker, Brenee Brown. I found it very motivating.

How about you? What experiences have you had with control and parenting? Any tips for the rest of us?

Photo: Thinkstock

Blog Post #2 in a Series: Dr. Kevin Leman Interview

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This excerpt is from the article

“The Child Is Father of the Man”: Dr. Kevin Leman on Childhood Memories

by Alicea Jones from an interview with Christian psychologist, author and humorist, Dr. Kevin Leman on how our pasts affect how we parent.

Q – How do you explain why some people who grew up in challenging home environments defeat the odds by making good of their lives?

A – How did I deal with a dad who was an alcoholic and drank too many brewskies most of his life? I never drank a beer. You see in families that lots of times an alcoholic father produces the alcoholic son; the alcoholic daughter. So you either fight them or join them. Part of that is the resiliency that’s in their personality. It becomes their thing to do things well, to pursue excellence, to be different from whatever [they] had to grow up with. Some people will turn their back on that [dysfunction] and live a life that is exemplary. Others won’t. I don’t have a magic answer to that. Some fall by the wayside. Some suck it up and go a different direction.

I, like many, was one of those who sucked it up and went a different direction. Propelled by a mother who hung in there even though she had to raise six children on her own, I wanted to make her proud of me.  I was also influenced by an aunt who told me stories about achieving impossible dreams. Those stories, a desire to live differently and wanting to bring happiness to my mother were my driving forces. But I wonder about those who don’t make it–those who fall by the wayside. Maybe the big difference is having positive role models. Perhaps if I hadn’t, I would have gone the wrong way. What do you think? What factors make the difference in influencing a young person’s life?

Photo: Thinkstock

Post #1 Breaking the Chains of Your Past

78815965I had the pleasure of interviewing Christian psychologist, author and humorist, Dr. Kevin Leman.  Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting his insightful thoughts about how our past affects how we view life and how we mother. Don’t miss his answers to some pressing questions.

Excerpt from article by Alicea Jones

All the eight-year-old boy had to do was run out on the basketball court and perform the five-second Williamsville Billies’ cheer: “Basket, basket! Score, score, score! Williamsville Central, we want more!” Somehow, young Kevin Leman, the eight-year-old mascot, wearing his sweatshirt that displayed a billy goat, forgot his lines. At first he froze, mortified. Then a surprising thing happened: When everyone started laughing, Kevin realized that he loved the attention and the ability to make people laugh. It’s that childhood memory, the heady thrill of willing people to laugh, that helps define Dr. Kevin Leman today.

Here’s what Dr. Leman had to say about his own family background:

Q – Some of your childhood memories include growing up in a home with an alcoholic father. How did that situation affect you?

A – When you don’t have a relationship you should have had with the dad, you pay for it in the long run. It’s sort of like making a cake and leaving one main ingredient out. Now what happens to the cake? It falls flat. So you end up with ways of coping with that missing piece. So you become a survivor; you’re in survivor mode. You go “I’ll show ’em.” That happens to a lot of people.

I’ve had a similar experience growing up in a home with a drug addicted dad and all the resulting fallout. And I can say that I’ve spent a large part of my life trying to prove that I am not defined by my childhood. But the older I get, the more I realize that it’s not about proving anything to anyone. It’s about knowing my purpose in life and working toward fulfilling it. How about you? How does your upbringing affect your life views, whether you are a mother or not? Has your view changed over time?

Photo: Thinkstock

 

The Best Thing We Can Do

86495715As a new mother, I wanted to know how to raise a happy, healthy child. I read that spending quality time with your children was important. The latest books on child rearing also said that words of affirmation build a good sense of self-esteem. Teaching children to be polite, thankful and compassionate also helped to build character, the books said. I tried to do all of these things as I followed the wisdom of the day.

But now that my child is an adult and I have an opportunity to look back, I see that one of the greatest things a mom can do is to walk humbly with God, follow his ways and do right in his eyes. But how does that help our children?

As I read 1 and 2 Kings in the Bible, I learn about David and how God considered him faithful and a man after God’s own heart. Although David was flawed and committed sin, he trusted God for all of his needs above anyone or anything else. As a result, God promised David that one of his heirs would always sit on the throne as long as they walked in the ways of the Lord.

When our children see us trusting God for all of our needs, placing nothing or no one above Him, and walking in his ways, we bless them by laying out an example for their lives. More important, we bless God and God blesses us, our children and their children—long after we’re gone.

Yes, spending time quality time with and affirming our children are good measures. However, I’m convinced the best, most enduring gift we can give to our children is our relationship with God, placing him above anything else and walking in his ways as we trust him with our and our children’s lives.

What does it look like for a mom to walk in the ways of the Lord? Chime in as you’re led!

Check out Exodus 20:6

Pleasing Wanted

A young woman named Pleasing gave birth to a child she named Wanted. Pleasing’s goal in life was to make sure Wanted was always happy. Pleasing’s childhood was fraught with sadness and she wanted a different life for her child.

She fed Wanted only the foods that made him happy. She let him pull the dog’s tail and bite the neighbor kid because it brought Wanted joy. As Wanted grew older, Pleasing made sure to attend to his every need so that he would remain happy. She did all the household chores and protested when his teachers admonished him for not turning in his homework. Schoolwork made Wanted feel stifled and kept him from what really made him happy: sleeping in late and playing video games. When Wanted became an adult, Pleasing made sure he had the money he needed for dates and gasoline for his car. She continued to clean his room, cooked his meals and did his laundry. These things made Wanted happy.

In middle age, Pleasing had gone bankrupt and was weary after all the years of making Wanted happy. She couldn’t figure out why other mothers in the neighborhood had the energy to do fun things and why their children seemed self-sufficient. They had all started careers and families of their own. Wanted, on the other hand, was still living at home, had become overweight, unhealthy, dependant on others and had no friends. Pleasing couldn’t figure out why Wanted felt so empty and depressed.

Hadn’t she done everything to make him happy? Pleasing wondered.

My sweet mother, this is a fictional story of course.  Nevertheless, through it, I pause to think about my role as parent. Perhaps you can relate on some level with Pleasing. She wanted to save her child from the unhappiness she innocently experienced as a child. Perhaps you too want your children to experience a happiness you never knew. While there is nothing wrong with being happy, can I persuade you to think about wholeness over happiness? What you needed as a child and what your children need is a wholeness that comes with proper perspective. What makes a child whole are love and nurture, but also teaching and discipline. That means our children will not always be happy. They will not like us sometimes. But that’s just fine because what we want them to have is something better: the joy and confidence that comes with a personal character that is in alignment with God’s design.

Scriptures: The father of a righteous man has great joy; he who has a wise son delights in him. May your father and mother be glad; may she who gave you birth rejoice. Proverbs 23: 24-25

The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother. Proverbs 29:15

Prayer: Lord, please help me to raise my children in the way you have lovingly directed. Please help me to teach and discipline them and not grow weary. Help me to see the big picture of their lives and not give in to their unhealthy wants today.

Photo compliments of Wikipedia