Monday, December 30, 2013

Five Simple Parenting Resolutions

Being a better parent is a goal that can improve your life immensely.  Having a warm and nurturing relationship with your children that is based on respect will create a harmonious home environment and better equip them to grow up and face the real world with success in the coming years.  So what are some concrete goals to improve your parenting?

1.  Yell less:  Yelling seems to be the "go to" method of communicating with your child when you are frustrated.  But a better method is learning to calm yourself down into a reasonable adult and deal with the situation in a mature manner.  I know it is easier said than done, but with practice it is attainable, and you then become rational rather than a maniac in the eyes of your child.  Not a bad thing, right?

2.  Listen more:  We are becoming a culture that is incapable of listening.  If you are constantly on your phone or at your computer as your child tries to talk to you, don't be surprised when he/she does the same to you.  Put the tech down and offer up some eye to eye contact with ears open and mouth closed.

3.  Set limits:  It has been shown in countless studies that self control is key to future success in children.  So how do your children learn self control?  Not from a parent who allows anything and everything.  If you ascribe to "lazy parenting" your children will never learn self control.  You need to be in control and limit screen time, enforce a bedtime, monitor sweets and junk food, so that your children learn to control their desires and themselves for future success.

4.  Educate yourself:  Don't be the parents who uses the excuse "I didn't know!" when it comes to issues with your children.  It is your job to know what they are up to and who they are hanging with at all times. 

5.  Communicate your love:  Not through buying things, or being a push over, but through your words and actions.  Your children need to know you love them and support them no matter what- always, everywhere, end of story.  Tell them everyday, and also tell them what you specifically love about them.  They need to know, it makes a difference to a child.  You may assume they know, but they don't.  So make sure you hug them and cuddle them and tell them everyday what they mean to you.  And you will never regret it!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Feeling Stressed and Anxious?

The holiday season is an overload of stress on parents.  Gift buying on an already tight budget, hiding gifts from prying eyes, flying around from event to event, meal planning and preparation, extended family gatherings and family expectations, and on and on and on!  It can feel like complete and utter madness.

Here is my prescription:

Breath again.
Repeat the simple mantra: "It will all get done, and if it doesn't-it wasn't meant to!"

Everything happens in its' own time according to plan.  Tomorrow will come.  Celebrate each moment and view the season as a gift, not a burden.

"It will all get done, and if it doesn't-it wasn't meant to!"

Hug your children.  Smile at passing shoppers.  Dance in the kitchen as you cook. And remember:

"It will all get done, and if it doesn't-it wasn't meant to!

Merry Christmas and God Bless Us, Everyone!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Five Gifts for my Daughters

It is not easy to be a young woman in our modern world.  Our culture glorifies images of females who have been strategically modified via computers to reflect "the ideal".  We all are assaulted constantly by images of women who have flawless skin, skinny arms, flat stomachs, shiny perfect hair and white, perfect smiles.  When we turn on the tv or scan the internet, we hear endlessly about women "sellebrites" as I like to call them.  They have sold their morals for fame and fortune.  Many have achieved stratospheric monetary success by appearing in porn videos, or living the public partying lifestyle that is spread all over the tabloids and internet.

Women of substance are rarely touted or talked about.  So I created this list of gifts that I hope to pass along to my three daughters.  They are gifts that will help them to live a fulfilling and passionate life.  They are truly what is important to me and hopefully to other women across the globe.  See if you agree with my gift list this year:

1.  Healthy Body Image:  I want my daughters to love their bodies as they are.  Contrary to popular media, there is beauty to be found in a woman who loves herself.  Beauty from within is where it is at.  There is beauty in all of us, and those who are kind and loving and genuinely interested in other people possess the most powerful beauty secret of all.  Beauty is not found in a zero size jean, or under the knife at a plastic surgeon's office.

2.  Global Awareness:  The world is an exciting and wonderful place.  I want my daughters to have a passion for the world we live in and the knowledge of places and people outside their own little world.  I want them to realize that being global citizens means not only traveling to other places, but caring about what is happening globally and educating themselves about what we all can do to preserve our planet and connect with our brothers and sisters in far away places who may need our attention.

3.  Passion for Learning:  Curiosity is a gift that keeps us young.  I want all three of my daughters to be life long learners.  Whether in a classroom or in the real world, my wish for them is that they never stop learning and experiencing new things.

4.  Strong Self Concept:  This gift will protect my daughters from being involved in relationships filled with abuse or emotional drama.  A woman who loves herself simply cannot be tied to an abusive lover.  She would never stand for it.  She recognizes that she is worth more and does not tie her value to a relationship that disrespects her.

5.  Faith:  I pray that my three daughters will have a fulfilling, spiritual life.  I feel that this gift allows them to navigate the ups and downs of their years with an anchor of faith.  Believing that there is more to life than our material world, and acknowledging with a grateful heart that our lives are precious gifts adds a depth to our existence that defies explanation.  Thinking about concepts such as grace and humility and lives of service, put our everyday activities into focus and hopefully make us better people during our time on earth.  We can believe that we are the center of our universe, but I hope that my daughters choose to believe that they are part of a universe created by a loving and just Creator, and acknowledge that although we don't have all the answers, a life of faith creates a depth of experience that is not found in the secular world.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Savor the Season with your Child

The holiday season has it's stresses for parents...hectic schedules and demands to buy the gifts and bake the cookies and attend the programs at school and send the cards and the list goes on and on.  But if you are completely stressed out and dragging yourself through this amazing season, YOU ARE MISSING THE POINT!

Take a breath and look at your schedule.  Cut out what is not imperative and refocus yourself on enjoying the specialness of this beautiful time of year.  Here are some simple ideas of ways to enjoy the holiday with your family, which is really all that matters anyway:

1.  Go for a walk or drive and look at holiday lights that are sparkling around so many neighborhoods at this time of year.

2.  Clip a recipe and bake cookies together.  Even if you just buy the cookies in a tube, and frosting in a tub...make an evening out of decorating them together.

3.  Help your child to create a gift for his/her grandparents.  Something simple and handmade like a painted birdhouse, a stitched welcome mat, woven potholder or decorated ornament.  The point is to spend time planning and executing a handmade special something.

4.  Build a fort out of a table and blankets.  Bring in a flashlight and read some holiday themed stories.

5.  Pop popcorn and watch an old holiday movie together.

Share the joy of the season with your child, by not allowing the hectic pace to suck all the joy out of you.  Time that you spend enjoying your children is time you will NEVER regret--don't let it pass you by.  Realize that your children grow up fast and so don't wait!  Spend some time and effort creating lasting memories of enjoyable family time spent together!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

"Please? Please? Please? Can we get a dog?"

Is a pet in your family's future?  Pets can be wonderful additions to your family.  My niece was here last week, and she was so animated and happy as she shared photos of her two cats.  My college age children were so eager to reconnect with our family dogs as they spent their college break back at our home.  But pets are a big commitment and adding one to your household should be a carefully thought out decision.  I did not grow up in a house with any pets, and now we share our home with two dogs.  So I have lived on both sides of the fence (as a non pet family and a pet lover).  Here are a few tips to consider before you hit the pet store or animal shelter.

1.  Pets require time and attention.  Families must agree that the work of having a pet is a shared responsibility.  And responsibilities help children to learn and grow.  It is not always fun to walk the dog, or feed the cat, but it must be done.  And in life, this is a VALUABLE lesson.  It is not fair to take on a pet and then ignore it or make it suffer from lack of attention.  So only get a family pet if you all are committed to taking on the responsibilities that properly caring for a pet requires.

2.  Pets can help your children cope with outside stress.  Studies have shown that petting an animal can lower a person's blood pressure.  I have seen this as I have watched my kids cuddle with their dogs after school, or on a bad day.  Therapy dogs have a purpose and a family pet can have a similar purpose within your home.

3.  Pets can bond you with your children.  My husband always takes our dogs to play frisbee on Saturday morning, and my youngest daughter gets up almost every weekend to go with him.  These mornings have become a special time for both of them enjoy, which is rare for a dad and teenage daughter.  I never dreamed that this wonderful benefit would grow out of having a dog.

4.  Pets help children understand the cycle of life.  Pets die and life goes on.  It is a painful process, but also a learning and growing experience.  "Tis better to have loved and lost than have never loved at all" is a profoundly insightful quote from Shakespeare that brings this one home!

5.  Pets are expensive.  Do not adopt a pet if you are not financially able to care for it.  It will require food, equipment, vet visits, and care if you travel.  So don't make the mistake of getting a pet you cannot afford.  It will be extremely difficult to give up a pet once you bring it home.

6.  Pets should not be impulse purchases.  Adults must consider all the circumstances within a household before committing to a pet.  Getting a pet and then returning it because it didn't work out is not fair to the pet, or your children.

7.  Adopting a pet can be very fulfilling.  Many pets are looking for good homes.  Do your research on the internet if you are thinking about a certain breed or type of pet.  Maybe you can give a home to a pet that needs you as much as you want him/her.  This is a powerful message for your children.

8.  Pets need training.  Teaching or training a pet can help build a child's confidence.  You may discover you have a "dog whisperer" in your household.  This can prove to be a very positive experience for your child.  But whether it is you or your children training your pet, you all need to be consistent and know that a well trained pet is a pleasure, a poorly trained pet...well not so much.

So give it some thoughtful consideration, and if you decide to add an animal member to your household, I wish you the very best of luck--and keep a camera handy!

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