parenting

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Dream

Do you know where kids live in time? They live in the here and now. They want to have fun. They want to do what they want to do and they want to do it now. Not tomorrow. Not in 5 minutes. Now. (Unless of course we are asking them to do something they don’t want to do, then they will do it “later,” but that is another post.)

Our kids aren’t thinking about how persevering through a tough time in life now will benefit them when they hit a rough spot later.

They aren’t thinking about how developing responsibility now will be helpful to them in the home and workplace as adults.

And they aren’t thinking about how doing well in school now will affect what they choose to do with their life.

That means that as parents, one of our jobs has to be helping them see that now affects the future.

It also means that we have to start now to help them dream about what they want their future to look like.

Some kids may be born with a natural drive, but it still needs to be focused.

Some kids may be born with a natural talent, but it still needs to be nurtured.

Think back to when you were a kid. Did you have parents that helped you think about the future and what you would like to become?

Did you have parents who helped you focus your dreams and talents so you knew the direction you were headed?

Or not?

How did that affect you?

My parents consistently talked about going to college and talked with us about what we wanted to do.

I wanted to be a wife, mother, Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, singer, and lawyer.

They encouraged my musical talent. They encouraged me in school. I may not have ended up in law, but that was because God pointed me in a different direction (and who knows, law school may come at some point yet).

Kids don’t magically know what they want to be when they grow up. They have to be directed. They have to be focused. And as parents, we have to be the ones to dream with them and help them find that direction and focus.

Now, we have to be careful with this. We need to dream our children’s dreams with them, not our own dreams for what we want them to become. Too often, parents impose their own desires on their children. We see this in sports, and eventually in career choices. Children forced into their parents’ ideals are not happy children and they are not fulfilled adults.

So, before you start dreaming with your children, talk to them, watch them, let them show you what their strengths and dreams are. Then give your support, encouragement, and start showing them what it means to dream, plan, set goals, and look at how the present affects the future.

Let’s give our kids the gift of dreams.

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OPEN

In 2003, a few weeks before Ty was born, I was suffering from that all-too-familiar thing called “mommy guilt.” Here I had spent the previous two, almost three, years focusing all of my attention on sweet little Anne. She could climb up on my lap at any time. She got all of our snuggles and focus. And now, that was all going to change because of this new baby that was coming in to our home.

Did Anne have any concept of this? Absolutely not! But I did. I was afraid that she would feel neglected. After all, I knew what kind of attention a new baby took. I knew what it was like to nurse a new baby. I knew that my lap would be occupied much of the time with this new life coming into our home.

I remember sitting on the couch one evening, my pregnant belly taking away much of the room on my lap that Anne had enjoyed for the first part of her life, but she was doing her best to sit on that ever-dwindling lap. While she sat there, I remember telling her that there would always be room for her on my lap. Even if I was nursing the baby. Even if he got bigger and seemed to take up too much space. She could always climb up.

My kids are 11 and almost 14 now. It isn’t very often that they climb up on my lap anymore. But as they have grown, they have learned something even more important – mom’s lap isn’t the only thing that is always open. Have a bad dream or are feeling sick? Climb on in to mom’s bed. Have a bad day? Curl up in mom’s arms. Need to talk about something that is bothering you? Mom’s ears are ready to listen. And all of this is true, because mom’s heart is always open. It doesn’t matter if it is 2:00 a.m. or 2:00 p.m., mom is there, ready and available.

And here’s the thing, because they know that my heart is always open to them, they are learning to keep their heart open to me. When there are things we need to talk about – whether it be what is happening in the world, correction that I need to give them, or something else, they are ready and willing to hear from me. When there is something going on in my life that is making it hard for me to get through, guess who is there and ready to love on me? Yep, those same kids!

A huge part of parenting is being available to our children. When we get too busy, we are in essence, closing ourselves off from these children that need us more than anything. I heard one time that once children reach the age of 10, their parents are no longer the primary influence in their lives. Instead, the primary influence becomes their peers. This is a scary statistic to me, knowing what I know about our society. I do my best to fight this. This is why I make myself readily available to my children. This is why I spend time with them. This is why I make sure that they know I am always open to whatever they need from me.

Be sure you are hanging out the “OPEN” sign to your children. Be available to them. Be ready to listen. Be there for them. They need you.

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I am the oldest of three GIRLS. I like girly things. I have no trouble at all relating to my DAUGHTER. We can go shopping, watch a girly movie, do our nails, just hang out, whatever. It is no problem finding areas in which we can connect. It is natural to me because I am a girl who grew up with other girls.

Now, Ty, on the other hand is a BOY. And yes, I married a boy, but that doesn’t mean I know anything about how to raise one.

I mean, who knew that around fifth grade boys get emotional. This bursting into tears at the most random times I expected from my GIRL, not from my BOY!

All along I have tried to figure out how to find ways to connect with my son. I don’t really get into trucks, Legos, Star Wars, strange cartoons (Pokemon? The Last Airbender? The Clone Wars?), and all those other things that are “boy” for fun. But that isn’t an excuse to just not connect with my son.

I need to be able to have fun, create special memories, facilitate conversation, and get to know him for him, even though it is totally different from the way I can do it with Anne.

So, guess what? I have watched Star Wars (1-6) more than I ever dreamed possible, and spent just as many hours hearing the detail of every character involved as well as all about George Lucas (and now the sale to Disney and the upcoming movie). I have learned what Lego sets are acceptable and which ones are not. I have learned more than I ever cared to know about this thing called Minecraft. I have spent countless hours watching Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., even though it wouldn’t be my number one pick of television shows to watch. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

I am choosing to find (and make) common places for my son and I to interact. Yes, there are some more natural ones that we both enjoy like riding bikes, but these common places are less about what I like, and more about what I can to do show my son that I want to spend time with him doing what he enjoys. I am even planning to take him indoor rock-climbing this fall, because that is something that he has been wanting to try. And let’s be honest, I work out a lot, but I am scared that I am going to make a fool of myself trying to climb a rock wall. But I am willing to give it a try if it means a day with my son doing something that he will enjoy.

Finding these common places with the child(ren) you don’t relate to as easily is hard. It takes work. It takes selflessness. But it is necessary and needed.

What are some ways that you have worked to relate to your child(ren)?

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THINGS I LOVE

One thing I have learned about life is when things aren’t going my way or I am feeling down, I have to change my focus and start choosing joy and thankfulness.

The weather the last few days has been dark, rainy, and dreary and I don’t do well in those conditions.

I would rather stay in bed, not exercise, not cook, eat junk, and sink deeper and deeper into my couch and the depression that pulls on me.

So, today, I am choosing to change my focus to things I love about being a mom!

Why don’t you join me and add things you love about being a parent in the comments below!

  • I love snuggling up with my kids on the couch to watch a movie or one of the television shows we watch.
  • I love when Ty gets to giggling at himself.
  • I love when Anne tries to be annoyed with Ty and I as we sing “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift, but she can’t help but smile as she rolls her eyes.
  • I love tucking my children in to bed.
  • I love watching my children “get it” when it comes to the things of God, the things of life, and more.
  • I love taking them to school every day, dropping them off and telling them that I love them.
  • I love picking them up from school and hearing about their day.
  • I love seeing Ty’s mind at work.
  • I love watching Anne cheer.
  • I love playing games with my children.
  • I love sitting on the deck watching them play outside.
  • I love sitting on the trampoline and having fun with them.
  • I love doing new things with my kids.
  • I love doing the same old, same old with them.
  • I love just being with my kids.
  • I love the people who my children are growing up to be.
  • I love teaching my children.
  • I love the ways that my children teach me.
  • I love Anne’s creativity – drawing, rainbow loom bracelets, crocheting, and so much more.
  • I love Ty’s spontaneity.
  • I love that our family has its own language (lots of sarcasm), inside jokes (crapplesauce in the hillbilly briefcase, anyone?), and so much more!
  • I love that my children love their family – grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins – and want to spend time with them.
  • I love how my children love their friends.
  • I love that my kids can have conversations with adults.
  • I love that my kids love Jesus and His church.

I could go on and on. The point isn’t to number the list, but rather to make the list so that I can see all the good things I have in my life. And this is just about my children! When you make a list like this, you can’t help but smile and be joyful. In fact, now all I want to do is go hang out with my kids and have some fun!

On those days when the kids are acting up, I can come back to this list.

On those days when I am questioning my ability as a parent, I can come back to this list.

On those days that just downright are terrible, I can come back to this list.

Thank you, Lord, for my children, and for the joy that the bring into my life.

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Time

Time.

We never seem to have enough and we all want more of it.

But you know who needs our time the most? Our kids.

Not just sitting in the same room with them while we all do our own thing.

Not sitting in front of the television together.

Quality time. Time where we are interacting, talking, listening, having fun, being serious, sharing joys, hurts, accomplishments, and fears.

This is hard. We have jobs. We have appointments. We have houses to clean. We have friendships to maintain. We have books we want to read. We have Facebook, Twitter, and Angry Birds. The kids have a plethora of activities in which they are involved. There are a myriad things that vie for our attention.

Including our kids.

When Ty starts being super grumpy or super silly, that is an indicator that he needs our attention. Anne is a little easier to read, she comes and sits down next to one of us when she wants our attention.

Just this week, with Mike on 3-11 shift, he came home to eat with Ty and I at lunch break. After he left, Ty said to me, “That was nice. To have dinner with Dad.” It wasn’t anything earth-shattering, but three out of the four of us were sitting together at the table eating and talking. And Ty not only ate up his dinner, but also the time he got to spend with us.

I try hard to spend time with my kids. Quality time. Not just running around town dropping them here, there, and yonder time. When I do, I usually get such an earful! I can learn more in 10 minutes of quality time with one of my kids than I heard the entire last month of simply being in the same space. The older our kids get, the more they need to know that they are our priority and that we make time to spend with them. The older our kids get, the more we need to be hearing what is going on in their lives. The older our kids get, we need to make sure that we are still a primary influence on their lives, and that only happens when we spend quality time with them.

This is a choice we make; it doesn’t happen magically. We choose to make it happen.

And when we do choose to spend quality time with our children, it truly is the best gift we could possibly give them.

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Epic Fails

Ok, so after a week of talking about parenting and how it should look, it is time to recognize that it doesn’t always look that way.

I fall short.

In fact, sometimes I suck at this parenting thing.

Here are the highlights:

  • One time, I forgot to pick Anne up from tumbling – for over an hour! They didn’t even call me because they had started the next class and didn’t realize she was still there. She sat and colored until I showed up.
  • Multiple times, I have gotten busy at work and 3:00 school dismissal came and went and I wasn’t there. Usually I realized it within 5-10 minutes, but I have been called by the school secretary. More than once.
  • I lose it sometimes. And I go off on my children. I have been known to say things that I immediately regret. Usually about their level of slovenliness. And their lack of care and respect for me and their home.
  • I want to check my kids’ homework every day. But I don’t always get there. Some days it is just amazing that I have the presence of mind to remind them to do it at all.
  • I don’t buy snacks to send to school on my kids’ birthdays.
  • I don’t do play dates nearly as often as my kids would like, mostly because I really don’t like having extra kids with whom to deal.
  • My kids have seen episodes of Friends (and other shows) that I probably should have turned off because of the content, but I wanted to see it so I left it on.
  • I have great plans at the beginning of the summer and the school year for time management, chores, school work, and more, and it usually lasts less than a month before things go haywire again.
  • I have wrongly accused my kids of doing things they didn’t do.
  • Sometimes I let my kids eat cake and cookies for breakfast. (Because who doesn’t love a “Bill Cosby Breakfast!“)
  • When I don’t feel like cooking dinner, they sometimes make their own. Which means pbj, or boxed mac & cheese, or popcorn. And no veggies.
  • And even though I have tried to teach them, I apparently have failed to impress upon them the importance of brushing their teeth and flushing the toilet. 🙂

There’s more. This list could go on for days.

The thing is, after I fail, I may beat myself up for a bit, but I have to pick myself up, dust myself off, and jump right back in there and attempt to do better.

After you forget to pick up your kids a couple of times, you learn to set an alarm on your phone as a reminder.

After you realize that you said something you regret, you go apologize to your kids and love on them.

After your kids are exposed to something new (and possibly questionable), you talk with them about it.

After you fall off the schedule wagon, you do your best to get back on it.

We own our mistakes. We show our kids that we own our mistakes. And we work to do better.

These things have a way of teaching us and our children about failure and the ability to try again.

Are my failures as a parent over? I am confident they are not. I will fail again. And again. And I will keep working on getting it right.

Want to share some of your most memorable failures? Tell me about them in the comments!

 

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This is a post that was originally published on this blog back in 2012. I was getting ready to write today’s post when I remembered this post and thought that it said what I wanted to say, so thought I would re-vamp it a little and re-post it for today.

Be respectful. Be responsible. Teach respect. Teach Responsibility.

I have high expectations, both for myself and for everyone else, in many areas of life. Often I am bombarded with just how high my expectations are when it comes to respect and responsibility.

It may come as no surprise to those of you who know me that harmony (I want everyone to just get along!) and responsibility (someone has to take care of everyone else, right?) are two of my top strengths. And since I am almost constantly wanting to keep everyone happy and cared for, I am doing my best to make sure I respect others, particularly those in authority, and making sure that I do my part and follow through with my commitments.

But what has happened to me often is that I am not getting the respect that I am giving and/or other people just don’t do what they say they are going to do (or, let’s be honest, what I think they should be responsible to do). And when that happens, I feel hurt, angry, frustrated, sad, defeated, walked all over, and, well, you get the picture. And then I begin trying to analyze why people are the way they are. I have some theories. Here are the printable ones. 🙂

  • At some point our society as a whole stopped teaching our children the value of respect and obedience. Instead of requiring obedience first, we started explaining every little thing to our children about why they needed to obey before we require them to do so. For example, my dad taught me that my children needed to understand the word “stop” and obey immediately upon hearing that word. When I tell them to stop, they don’t need to know why at that very moment, they just need to stop. If they are running toward the road and a car is coming, they have to stop as soon as I tell them to or risk getting hit by a car. If I have to explain why they need to stop every time I tell them to, there will be a time when it will be too late and they will already have been hit by a car. That doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be any explanation, but it does mean that their first response to a command or request from a person in authority should be immediate obedience. (The exception to this is obviously if they are being asked to do something illegal, harmful, or dangerous.) While it is good to ask questions and understand why we do things, there is an appropriate and respectful way to do so.
  • We are also failing our children in teaching them responsibility. So many parents do EVERYTHING for their kids. They aren’t made to clean their rooms, do their laundry, help with the household chores, keep track of their own homework, etc. The thing is, when we expect our kids to be responsible, they step up and learn responsibility. But when we do everything for them and never let them fail, they learn that someone else will always be taking responsibility for them, so they don’t have to be responsible.
  • Then there’s the entitlement issue. The problem with raising children to be individuals instead of part of a community is everyone is looking out for number one, which means they are only going to be responsible for what they want for themselves and are going to demand respect for themselves without giving it to anyone else. When you live life looking out for your own best interest, and feeling like you are entitled to whatever it is you want, respect and responsibility for others never enters the picture.

I think that these issues play into all areas of our lives: our parenting, our relationships, our friendships, our work, our churches, our politics, and so much more.

When I am leading a group of kids and they won’t stop talking, it’s some lack of respect and some kids being kids. But when I am leading adults and they won’t stop talking (texting, checking their phones, Facebook, etc.), it is lack of respect. Period. And where do kids learn what they learn? From adults.

When kids forget to turn something in or show up to something they said they were going to show up to, it’s some irresponsibility and some kids being kids. When adults don’t do what they have committed to, it is lack of respect AND irresponsibility. Period. And where do kids learn what they learn? From adults.

Yes, there are extenuating circumstances sometimes. But communication about those circumstances shows respect and responsibility. Just not following through doesn’t show either.

At one point I made this post on Facebook, after another incident showing lack of respect and responsibility:

“Two words no parent should ever let their child use: I quit. If you make a commitment, you stick to it and see it through to the end. And kids need to be taught that. And I’m afraid some parents do, too. My dad always taught me to be true to my word, which means finishing even if I don’t want to, if it is hard, or if it is inconvenient. And it means that I can be counted on to be truthful in what I say and do. If you are a parent, please teach this to your children! And whether or not you have children, make this true for yourself as well!”

I had quite a few people “like” this status. And that is great. But my challenge for you today is to do more than “like” this post. It is all well and good to agree. It is better if you make sure that you are treating others with respect and taking responsibility where you need to be. And that starts with our kids. And our relationships. And our friendships. And our work. And our churches. And our politics.

Be respectful. Be responsible.

Teach respect. Teach responsibility.

I think our world will be a better place when we all do this.

What do you think?

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Good Parents

Somewhere along the way, it has become commonplace for parents to want to be a friend to their children, rather than a parent. They want their kids to like them, so they let the children do whatever they want, whenever they want. Parents buy their children anything they want, regardless of price or level of appropriateness.

This is not the way it should be.

Parents have been given the very important job of raising their children to be the people who God created them to be. And God didn’t create any of us to be selfish, entitled, spoiled brats.

One of the most important words I have learned as a parent is no. My kids do not need every little thing their hearts desire. They do not need to be doing activities that are not age-appropriate just because their friends are. They do not need me to coddle them so that I can be liked by them. What they do need is my wisdom and guidance to help them navigate this thing called life and sometimes that means I have to say no.

No, you can’t go see that movie that is rated PG-13 and all your friends are going to see because I have read that book and know that there are some things you don’t need to be exposed to.

No, I will not go home and let you wander around the square after dark with your friends, even if there is a public event happening there.

No, you can’t play outside with your friend today because you haven’t finished the job that you were given to do.

Saying no is a good thing when it comes to teaching and training our children.

But we have to make sure that we have a good reason to say no. I have tried to be very intentional about when I say no. Sometimes it is easier to say no than yes just because we don’t want to deal with the yes and all the implications that go along with it, not because there is something inherently wrong with what the kids are asking to do.

Sometimes, being a parent means being seen as the bad guy in the eyes of your children. But the reality is, you are really the good guy as you are taking an active role in teaching and training them. You may not always be liked, but you will be loved and appreciated, especially when they become adults and parents, and when they see that you are always working toward their best interest.

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Today’s post is brought to you by my very own mother! She has some insight for us about parenting our children when they become adults. Thanks, mom, for your willingness to share your thoughts with us!

Parenting Your Adult Children

Parenting. That word holds a lot of responsibility not just for young adults having children, but for everyone who has ever had children. As a senior citizen, I still have a responsibility to parent my adult children and be an example for my grandchildren.

My husband and I did our very best to raise our three daughters to become independent and productive in society as adults. We endeavored to provide a Godly environment and spiritual foundation, but they all knew they had to make their own decision to serve the Lord. There were a few bumps in the road as they were spreading their wings, but I am so grateful and thankful they all made the decision to serve the Lord and are very involved in the things of God.

Here are some suggestions for making the transition from parenting children to parenting adult children:

  1. Love your adult children unconditionally.
  2. Build an ADULT relationship with them. Treat them as you would any other adult you were interacting with.
  3. MYOB. Mind your own business. They don’t need to hear you tell them the way YOU would do something.
  4. IF they ASK–offer your best counsel, but don’t be offended if they choose not to take it.
  5. Don’t HOVER–Let them live their own lives.
  6. ENJOY any times you get to be together. You never know if it will be the last.
  7. And, finally, Pray, Pray, Pray. EVERY DAY!!!

I have learned some of these thing by the way my parents parented me as an adult. My mother was the hovering kind….3-4 calls daily…being told I needed to lose weight… not sharing our joy when we found out we were expecting for the third time in 4 years…wanting to follow us to a new town when we moved 30 miles away for my husband’s employment…etc. I was a very frustrated adult being parented by my mother. I vowed I would not be that kind of parent to my children when they grew up. I have endeavored to follow the 7 steps I presented. I hope I have done my very best for them. I loved my mother, but was often frustrated, but that too changed the day she died in a tragic fall. That was 30 years ago and I still miss her.

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Celebrate

Today my son, my baby, my second and last-born, my unexpected blessing from the Lord, turns 11. For 11 years now, our lives have been in a constant state of learning what it means to live with this boy! There have been lots of laughs. There have been tears. There have been stitches, bumps, bruises, knee infections and so much more. There have been hugs and kisses and snuggles galore.

We don’t do friend birthday parties every year. I am not that mom that has a plethora of ideas and energy to have half-a-dozen boys running amok in my house every year. And the blessing is, my children know this and are fine with it. This year, Ty wanted to have one friend over for a few hours. That was the PERFECT solution for me as this week has been insane. We met my parents for dinner out and then came back home for cake and ice cream.

It is easy to celebrate our children on their birthdays. We tend to make a big deal of them as we sing to them, make or buy them a special meal, and feed them cake and ice cream to their heart’s content.

But what about the other 364 days of the year? Are we celebrating the little things in their lives, too?

When was the last time you celebrated when your child actually got their room clean – almost to mommy standards?

Or how about when they brought that C up to a B+ in the subject they struggle in?

Have you ever celebrated with your child when they did the right thing and befriended the new kid in school that was feeling left out?

Or jumped for joy with them when they overcame a major fear and rode that roller coaster?

There are little accomplishments our children make every day, and while we don’t need to go overboard and make a big deal about every little thing, it is important that our children know that we are paying attention to their lives and want to encourage and celebrate with them when they accomplish something that is important to them, to us, and to God. It doesn’t take much. A high-five. A woo-hoo. A trip to Dairy Queen. A special privilege.

Keep your eyes open, and make reasons to celebrate your children daily!

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