Tag Archive | parenting advice

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

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 #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

 

Short Sheeted at Face Value

One of my favorite places to shop is the local thrift store. I find great bargains and my purchases help support those in need. One day in the boutique section of the store where they sell higher end items, I found a brand new, brightly colored sheet and pillowcase. The striped fabric was dyed in vibrant shades of fuchsia, gold, orange and purple. The set was very pretty but I didn’t really need it nor did it match anything in my house. However, the price tag caught my eye. They had marked it as $12 but the original purchase price said MSR 499.00. What a deal! Even though I didn’t need it, how could I pass up such a valuable purchase?

When I got the linen home, I looked at the tag again. I saw the letters “Rs.” in front of the amount. I hadn’t noticed those letters in the store because my eyes were stuck on 499.00. I looked up “Rs.” on the internet and found that it stood for Indian Rupees. The US equivalent: eight dollars! I had paid more for the sheet set than it cost when it was new.

I bought the linen because I thought it had great value based upon the price tag. It had face value. As a mom in search of parenting wisdom, I have also been enticed by parenting philosophies because they were popular or were espoused by someone who had a row of initials behind their name.  They had face value. Sometimes this “wisdom” comes in packages whose contents we don’t really need and aren’t as valuable as they appeared on the surface.

Perhaps you too are looking for wisdom to be the best mom you can be. While wisdom can come from many sources, true and unchanging wisdom comes from God through His word.  And it doesn’t cost anything but time and a teachable spirit.

What is some of the most useful parenting advice you’ve been given, whether it was from the Bible, your mother or anyone else?

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

What’s Your Handle?

Photo courtesy Microsoft Images

 

Eric Blair, who wrote under the pen name, George Orwell, tells the story of his childhood in an English boarding school. In his short story, Such, Such Were the Joys, he recounts the cruelty he endured at the hand of his Head Master at Crossgates, a preparatory school. When he arrived at Crossgates—“an expensive and snobbish school”— at eight years old, he began wetting the bed as children sometimes do when they experience trauma or significant change. Considered an intentional and rebellious act in the early 1900s, bedwetting sometimes resulted in physical punishment. Hence, his Head Master would beat him with a riding crop. On one occasion, the bone handle of the crop broke off during the beating and even for this, the Head Master blamed the young boy. And the young boy believed the lie.

“. . . .I accepted the broken riding crop as my own crime. I can still recall my feeling as I saw the handle lying on the carpet—the feeling of having done an ill-bred and clumsy thing, and ruined an expensive object. I had broken it: so Sim told me, and so I believed. This acceptance of guilt lay unnoticed in my memory for twenty or thirty years.”

My beloved sister: What guilt are you carrying from the past? Are there things you still hold on to that were not your fault? This question is important because guilt can be a vile and clutching monster that latches onto to the human soul, holding us from being the best that we can be, including mothering in freedom.

Whether you feel guilt for something that wasn’t (or was) your fault, take it to God in prayer. Go confidently with full expectation of God’s permanent forgiveness. Go boldly, knowing that He has already ripped the putrid monster of guilt from your back. And if you begin to feel eerie remembrances of guilt’s disgusting presence, remember that these are feelings, not reality.

Scripture: He (Satan) was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44

Scripture: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

Scripture: The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29

I Don’t Know

When I became a mother, I felt like I had to have the answer to all of my child’s questions. What if she thinks less of me when I don’t know the answer? If I don’t give her an answer, maybe someone else will and it’ll be the wrong one. What I have discovered since those panicky first years (and beyond) is that I don’t have to have all the answers. It’s okay to say, “I don’t know”. As a matter of fact, if we always have the answer, we give our children an unrealistic perspective about knowledge. Knowledge isn’t just knowing the answers to stuff, it’s knowing where to find the answers.

So now I may say, “I don’t know but I’ll find out”. Or even better: “I don’t know but let’s find out together.” And as our children grow older and more capable, the best thing we can sometimes say is “I don’t know, why don’t you look that up and let me know what you find”.

Do I always give these wise answers? No. I’m a creature of habit and I still find myself shooting off an answer in haste. But on the days when I’m thinking fast on my feet, I try to involve my child in finding the answers.

Many questions await our children in the world beyond our front doors. Let us use the opportunity now to teach them how and where to find the answers they will need.

James 1:5

Photo courtesy Microsoft free images