My oldest boy is fifteen and was a real jerk about a month ago. He had gotten pretty full of himself and acted like he was too cool for the rest of the family. Pretty typical teenager behavior, but I didn’t like it. I had gotten to the end of my patience with him and laid into him about how lousy it felt to be treated that way. We ended up in a huge fight. He argued that he wasn’t acting any different than normal and that I was just choosing to see things negatively. So, I laid out numerous examples of his selfish “me me me” behaviors without stopping to take a second breath. He hates it when I go off like that, but once he was ready to really talk, I came down off of my soapbox. He was close to tears. Apparently, I’d hit a nerve. He confessed that his closest friends at school had been trying to tell him the same thing recently and he wasn’t hearing them. Now he suddenly knew what it was they had been trying to say. He felt awful and began to make immediate changes in his behaviors towards others. He really hated the idea that he was hurting anyone’s feelings by being cold and uncaring.
We talked a lot that night about how family sort of has to put up with each other. Family is always there for you. Family can embarrass you and you still have to acknowledge them in public. Family can and will scream at you until you finally get the point that you’re being a jerk. You really don’t have much choice over who your family is.
Friends, on the other hand, are a gift that you give yourself. Friends don’t have to put up with your attitudes if they don’t want to. Friends can leave you hanging if you’re not very nice towards them. Friends aren’t friends for very long if you’re embarrassing them in public. Friends usually won’t scream at you to get their point across. You handpick your friends to be something different and special. They aren’t quite the same as family.
In order to have friends, you have to be a friend. Do you listen to them? Do you care for them? Do you encourage them? You have to give a lot of yourself to be a good friend to someone. But in the end, you are the one who benefits the most. It’s not about becoming some kind of martyr without any personal needs or thoughts towards your own well-being. It’s more about nurturing a cherished relationship. That way, you have a dear friend to hang out with when your family is driving you bonkers. You have someone to laugh and play with. You have someone safe to share your hopes and dreams with. You have someone to talk to who isn’t going to blab to the rest of the family that you think your mom is an overbearing control freak or that your stepfather isn’t turning out to be your idea of what a dad could be.
Through our discussions that night, we were able to tap into what was it about my son that made him such a great guy to hang out with over the years. It was his ability to genuinely care about others and his intuitive compassion for everyone that made him more than just popular, but a real friend to all. He’s the kind of guy who always sticks up for the smaller kids and looks after the lost children. Once I reminded him of who he used to be, he realized how much of his focus had turned inwards towards himself instead of outwards towards those whom he cared about. He said that he’d gotten so wrapped up in his new cool friends and in his public image at school that he hadn’t even understood what his old friends were talking about when they said he was cold and uncaring now. Turning his attention inwards had caused him to alienate many of his closest friends and family. Now he suddenly felt very much alone in the world. Luckily, it hadn’t been happening for very long before I’d blown up at him and made him look at it. He was able to quickly readjust back into the caring person he used to be and was able to feel loved and supported by his friends and family again. He passionately dove back into his friendships.
He learned that you can treat your brother like garbage and he’s always your brother and you will have to see each other at family gatherings whether you ever learn to be close or not. Friends on the other hand, can and will walk out of your life if you are cold and uncaring towards them. Family will eventually just shrug their shoulders and excuse your self-absorbed behavior as just the way you are, friends won’t. I find it’s the friendships that we love and nurture like family that last forever as if they were family. And, it’s the family members that we love and nurture like friends that we form the strongest and closest bonds with.
They say that we learn our social skills from our siblings, but I’m not so sure about that anymore. My stepmother wasn’t a very nurturing type and when we were younger my sister and I were not very close. So through my girlfriends, I got that female connection that I just couldn’t get from my family. My girlfriends became my surrogate family and taught me a lot about how to really be there for someone else. My sister and I have only recently become friends in the last few years. We are forming a different kind of bond then what we had when we were children. It’s much better now. I would never treat my friends the way I used to treat my sister!
The ‘phone conversation had nothing at all to do with parenting – but it made me think . . .
‘Hello, Eastbank Football Club. Can I help you?’
‘Good morning, may I speak with the Assistant Coach, please?’
‘Oh, I’m sorry. He’s still on vacation.’
‘I see. Is anyone on the coaching staff there?’
‘No, they’re all away right now. The club’s closed for another week yet. I’m only the Groundsman.’
‘Well, thanks anyway. And hey, why say you’re only the Groundsman? If it wasn’t for you, there wouldn’t be a football club. They’d have nowhere to play!’
(Pause) ‘Yeah, I’d never really thought of it like that. (Laughter) Thanks a lot, pal, you’ve made my day!’
So often we do ourselves down, don’t we? We devalue our own contribution or service.
“I’m only a shop assistant!”
“I’m only a . . . ” (fill in the blank!)
Sometimes we even hear women say: “I’m just a housewife”!
Confidence and self-esteem are often in short supply these days. And nowhere more so than in PARENTING!
Even those who are superbly confident in their work or social situations, often teeter on the edge when it comes to their parenting skills.
Is it something to do with the breakdown in old-fashioned values and concepts of authority; the widening gulf between kids and their parents; the dangers we as parents are so acutely aware of, but which are casually dismissed by our kids?
Whatever the causes, there’s a lot you can do to improve things.
Dr Norman Vincent Peale, author of The Power Of Positive Thinking, used to advise people to sit down and write out a list of all their assets and abilities.
But Dr Peale’s next suggestion is crucial. Once the list of assets and abilities has been written, he tells us to raise the stakes.
Simply BELIEVE that you are at the very least 10% better than you think. It’s now widely acknowledged in modern psychology that you’ll still be way off the mark! So have faith. You’re a whole lot better than you think.
Secondly, do some study. You probably weren’t taught parenting skills at school or college, yet parenting is the most vital contribution to society. There are lots of books, courses, tapes, CDs and videos on parenting.
No excuses! Grab some and get busy. Knowledge and insight bring confidence. Whatever stage you’re at, you can improve yourself.
Thirdly, learn to temper your reaction in stressful parenting situations. Easier said than done! But you can make a conscious effort to stay calm and remind yourself of Dr Peale’s advice (You’re more capable than you think you are!), and you can put into practice what you’ve been studying about family dynamics.
A fourth way to boost your parenting skills is to develop yourself in some way. Yes, remember those piano lessons you once took, or that art class you attended? Interests like these are great stress relievers and they build self- confidence – which is vital for parenting.
If you feel you’re already confident in other matters, but it’s only in parenting you feel a lack, why not take up some activity with your kids? Learning together brings you together, and can be great fun!
Finally, resist any temptation to go it alone. Nature intended us to be social creatures. Seek advice from grandparents, relatives, friends. Overcome your pride. Discuss your parenting challenges with others and draw on the communal strength. And d’you know what? You’ll find you’re not alone. Let’s work on parenting together, as a community.
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One message we hear from the time we are children is that it is better to give than receive. It is best to be humble. It is best to not shine a light on ourselves.
True, and not so true. We also need to recognize that until we honor ourselves with love and compassion that we will not be able to give fully to another, or shine the light on another nor will we truly understand humility.
These simply steps will take you on a path to honoring your uniqueness every day. Use them as a way to see how you are doing. Celebrate what is working, and choose to make adjustments where there is adjustment necessary.
Take time for quiet daily. Yes, there is much that needs to get done. Once you maintain a habit of being quiet either to contemplate, pray, meditate you will be amazed how much more efficiently you will perform your tasks, duties and projects.
Treat yourself with as much care, if not more, than you treat others. Love and nurture yourself as you love and nurture those around you OR as you would LIKE to nurture those around you. Once you master caring for yourself, caring for others will become effortless and spring from the heart instead of from duty.
Accept compliments from others with grace. Never, ever disrespect the person you are complimenting by disregarding or negating their compliment. Instead, accept it as you would a treasure box or a long awaited gift. Be grateful they can see something extra special about you!
Spend time investing in and cultivating close friendships. Incorporate friend building activities into your daily routine. Exercise with a friend, share meals together, keep in touch with a brief email or 10 minute daily phone call (and time the call and KEEP the appointment.)
Surround yourself with beauty. Honor your home by decorating as a way to express who you are at your core. If you are bold, use bold colors and accessories. Light scented candles, listen to music you love, use soaps that are lathery and smell great. Go for the multi sensory approach.
Give joyfully and receive with open arms. Recognize that giving and receiving are on the same continuum and not separate at all! Learning to give completely translates into receiving more than you could ever plan or expect to receive. The results take care of themselves.
Become a part of a larger community. This may mean a mastermind group or it may be a circle of friends or a book discussion group. Connect yourself with people who share your interests, goals and vision for the world. Synergy will empower you incredibly when you join in a community where you can equally give and receive on a very regular basis.
Mentor someone simply for the pleasure of observing and becoming involved in their growth. Invite someone who does not have the same level as skills as you do along for the ride with you. Listen to their input and see what you can create together. Chances are you will learn a lot from them (and vice versa!) creating both a Win/Win situation as well as learning about your own strengths and weaknesses in the process.
Live a purposeful, vision, values, cause oriented life. Recognize and embrace that you are creating your life as a masterful artist each and every day. You can choose each day whether you want to simply let life happen each day or if you want to create it fully. Choose the latter.
Love yourself with all your heart, soul, and strength without attachment to what you are achieving in your life today. Be compassionate and understanding while also standing firm in the knowledge that you are both incredibly unique and incredibly capable. When you can master this balance, being attached to your outcomes is not an issue because you will be achieving outcomes beyond your own imagination. You will be so magnetic you will wonder where YOU have been all this time! The answer? You are RIGHT there, ready and waiting to follow these simple principles. Live with Passion. Today.
Gone is the constant chatter, whistles and meowing sounds as you jump from branch to branch safeguarding your territory against all trespassers.
Gone too is the uniformity gray body with the black cap and tail feathers, with just a smidgen of rust coloration under the tail coverts, that allows you to blend in with your natural habitat of dense undergrowth and thickets.
They call you a skulker, a bird hard to see in the dense underbrush. Usually heard but not seen.
Definitely NOT a backyard bird.
Except in my backyard.
Maybe it’s because my back yard is filled with trees and dense underbrush along the rear and side fences.
Or maybe it’s because there is a wooded area of trees and underbrush in the low-lying parcel of land across the street.
Or maybe it’s because of a reason I can’t fully understand.
I know you don’t stay because of my bird feeders, because you don’t have bird seed in your diet.
You prefer insects, spiders and fruit berries instead.
But whatever the reason, I’m grateful.
I’m grateful that you have chosen my rear yard as your place to breed and have baby chicks.
And not just this year. But last year too. Definitely unusual.
I’m delighted to watch you jump and fly from one low hanging branch to another, or from one small tree to another, constantly chattering or meowing your right of territory.
But I never did get to see your mate’s nest. You never led me there. So I don’t know how many chicks you fledged and whether they all survived.
But it’s late summer now. And it’s quiet again.
Are you already heading south on your long migration journey? To southern Florida. Or Texas? Or even to eastern Mexico?
I understand that for this trip, you’ve teamed up with some other catbirds, so that you are in a group of a dozen or so. For protection? For guidance?
Whatever the reason, I hope your migration south and your return next year is successful. I would really like it if you or one of your chicks return next year. I look forward to your whistles and meowing as you build your nest and defend your territory.
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An expert in time management was speaking to a group of business students when he decided to do an experiment. He pulled out a large mason jar, a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one by one, into the jar. When no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?” Everyone in the class said, “Yes.”
He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. The instructor then poured gravel in the jar, shook it and asked, “Is this jar full? ” By this time the class was on to him. They replied: “Probably not,”
Next, he reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in the jar until all the space between the rocks was filled. Once more, he asked the question. “Is this jar full?” “No” the class shouted.
Finally, he grabbed a pitcher of water and poured until the jar was filled to the brim. The speaker looked at the class and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?” The speaker listened to a number of very good responses and said: “The truth this illustration teaches us is this: If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”
What are the big rocks in your life? Are they your spouse, children and grandchildren? Are they your work, television or gambling? Are you wasting time with things that are unimportant? What is important in your life?
Being an effective teacher one’s child begins first with knowing how you child learns. Getting a grasp on your child’s learning characteristics is essential to homeschooling success. What is your child’s learning ability levels? Motivation is also an important aspect. What motivates your child to learn? Knowing the pieces of your child’s learning style come together to make up the learning environment. A child’s learning activity is as diverse as each one’s personality. As you can see, a one size fits all approach isn’t going to be conducive to a dynamic learning environment.
In the beginning the best way to learn about how your child learns is to observe everything they do in their daily activities. Take notes, written or mental on how the child learns and approaches new learning situations. For instance, do they appear to learn more by touching and feeling, do they seem to learn more by drawing or expression? ‘Do they learn by watching or doing? Today there are many child development tools, books, and software available on various types of learning styles to you to get you going in the right direction. Do some online searches’ regarding child learning, learning activities, child’s learning tools, child learning websites’. That type of criteria. You’ll find much information on all types of learning.
An often little thought of aspect to child’s learning is what time of day does the child learn best. When is their peak learning times? This is particularly more in play with younger children.
Again all of this discussion and now research that you have done is circling back to creating an optimal learning environment for you and your child. Knowing how they learn. What motivates children to learn? When do they learn best? All of these come under the heading of learning style. It’s important to know how to break the areas down into specific knowledge for yourself to insure that you create that highly effective learning environment so the learning experience for both you and your child is a wonderful road filled with much joy and discovery!