Archive for the ‘parenting’ Category

Lashing Out

Geez is anyone still interested in this blog? It’s not like I have been. Facebook is easier. But for some things, I need more space.

I just related on Facebook that my oldest daughter Maddie, made 2 Christmas lists tonight. One “For Maddie” the other “For Poor People”, as they were titled. She thought we could tell the community what poor people want so people could help. I received comments saying we’re doing such a great job parenting and what a great girl we have. Yet 10 minutes after that experience, I was once again yelling at her for defying me. Ignoring me as I’m talking to her. Not responding to questions. Just a blank stare. Yes it is true that out of the same mouth come blessing and cursing. (James 3:10)

That just weighed on my mind. I do have great kids but sometimes they take advantage of my inconsistency. While I’m in the midst of justifying our rules, considering compromise and becoming more frustrated, a thought(or a voice) blazes through my mind. “Why are you letting them do this to you?! You’re the parent. Get this situation under control!” At which point all the anger from those 3 phrases comes blasting out of my mouth. Its like touching a bruise. Or a memory. I’m sure I’ve felt this way before.

I hung on to this feeling for awhile to track it down. I wanted to find where it was coming from. An exercise I learned in psychotherapy a few years ago came to mind. When I would get these deeply painful emotions, my therapist would have me stop and think about the last time I felt the same emotion, and the time before that and so on until I couldn’t think of anymore. So, I tried the technique tonight. I journaled through incidents of my life where I’d been taken advantage of–a victim. There have been several. Some horrible, some not. The more I wrote, the more I felt. What did I believe about myself then? Powerless. Alone. Confused. Defenseless. And the more I felt, the more I wrote the truth of each incident. I stopped making excuses. Yes, I was the victim. Yes, I was wronged. No, I was not protected. No, there was no justice. No, there was no advocate. Boy was I getting pissed. And it felt great.

Here is the last portion of my journal:

So often the victim. Trained into it. Didn’t know I didn’t have to be. If I continue to live in the fear of fighting for myself or coming face to face with anger, opinion, contention, simple disagreement, then I run the risk of inviting my children into victim hell. They must stand up for themselves. Express themselves. Express their opinion even if it is solitary and misunderstood. They must speak out. They have a voice. They must be heard. They must not be afraid to sound silly or stupid or wrong. And may God Almighty be their amplifier and their guard.

The result of this exercise for me is that the memories don’t sting as much. Some I chalk up to learning a lesson. Others are mysteries and I will have to accept that for now I suppose. Hopefully, the next time the kids are playing me, I can respond as their parent, not their peer.

Morning by morning new mercies I see

Bedtime prayers can be a fun time or a nervous time for our family–depending on our family’s behavior that day. I think the kids think its some sort of time of reckoning where we have to confess how horrible we’ve all been that day then feel awful and try to get to sleep. Well, part of that is right.

Tonight, obedience and kindness were optional in the minds of the children which resulted in stressful bedtime prep. On these kinds of nights, if I’m leading the prayers I really try not to make the prayer a sermon. “Dear God, forgive us for the awful way we treated each other. We know you want us to love each other and obey our parents…” And then I think how much I suck because I disobey God just like they disobey me. Drat. So its one massive confession for everyone. However on these bad days, I also like to throw in a bit about getting to start over tomorrow and thank God that every morning we start fresh. From the book of Lamentations, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” – Lam 3:22-23. I can almost feel a little relief and attitude adjustment come over the kids(and me too). Their hearts seem lighter on the way to bed than when they came to prayer time, and we get a chance to slow down and restore some broken relationships.

A principle I want to sear into their hearts is that they are not to carry their shame. Sin done. Sin confessed. Sin forgiven. Move on. This is one of the things I get right as a mom. Lots of mess ups elsewhere but I never want them to wallow in their sin. Feel it? Yes. Mourn over it? Yes. But to wallow when Jesus suffered so much for our freedom is just insulting. It only took me about 39 years to get that figured out. I’d like them to use their time more wisely than I did.

The whole truth or just enough?

JD has developed a passion for battles between good guys and bad guys. This includes light sabers, blasters, nerf guns and hand guns made out of legos. The other night he came out of his room (night 2 in his very own room) and told me he was scared of the noise he just heard. It happened to be a neighbor’s car doors and the car starting. He asked me if people were going to come into our house and start shooting everybody. I told him no. We live in a safe neighborhood, our family isn’t involved in anything that would make someone break in and shoot everyone. Above all, God was watching over us. What I didn’t share with my 6 year old son at 10 pm was that every now and then you can hear gun shots from the neighborhood literally across the tracks behind our neighborhood. That crazy people could need drug money and decide to break in and that sometimes God doesn’t stop bad things from happening.

We spent the next 30 minutes talking about guns, what to do if he sees one at a friend’s house or just laying around somewhere, how not to point even a toy gun at anyone. I also told him that someday we would take him to learn how to handle a real gun safely. 

He asked how we know who has guns, are they good guys or bad guys? Do good guys shoot people? Do they shoot bad people? We talked a little about self defense. He asked if policemen shoot a lot of bad guys. I said they do everything they can not to have to use their guns. He decided that good guys can shoot bad guys if they are trying to protect themselves because evil never wins. I swear he said that. Evil never wins.

He mentioned soldiers briefly but we didn’t discuss war at all. And we talked about hunting and target shooting. When he ran out of questions, I took him back to bed. He then told me he was a little scared from all the talking about guns. Can’t win. I prayed over him and let him go to sleep.

It took me by surprise all these questions. I hope I gave him good enough answers and information. I did have to take away a lego built gun because he was pretending to shoot up the grocery store. I told him it might scare the other shoppers. In his world it is a pretend game to save the universe from whatever monsters lurk behind the frozen food section. He has no knowledge that lunatics in the last 10-15 years have been shooting up public places.

How much to tell a 6 year old?

Certain Leaders…2

I determined yesterday’s Certain Leaders post was a little wordy so I cut it in two. Here’s the second half of my application of the message…

Now, about Creativity. Creativity is not all about making crafts or coming up with fun things to do. Its about thinking differently. I need to constantly look for new ideas on how to parent. How do my kids best learn both as a group and as individuals? How do they receive influence? I must teach my kids to be innovators. To not always stick to status quo but to become thinkers. Maria Shriver, in an April, 2005 interview with Oprah Winfrey, stated that at family dinners growing up, her parents did not fawn over looks or new clothes, but challenged the children to come up with ideas.

Maria says her parents have always been excited about ideas, and anyone eating dinner with the Shrivers was subject to answering Sargent’s favorite question: “What are you going to do to make a difference?” 

I’d love to have that kind of culture in my home. Click on the above quote to read the rest of the interview with Maria and her mother Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Interesting parenting thoughts.

And of course, Change. What worked yesterday(or on the oldest kid) may not be effective today (or on the youngest kid). Now the scary thing. You can’t change your organization family without being changed yourself. Ugh. Fail. Can I be credible to my kids if I don’t follow what I require of them? Tone of voice. Health philosophy. Moral choices. Financial wisdom. Even at toddler ages, they get this stuff. I grew up with parents that smoked cigarettes. They told us they regretted it  and we were never to start. I hated the smoke. Still, I figured when I’m old enough, I’ll smoke too. It was just what you did in our family(and many others at the time). And so I did smoke at 14 yrs old until I was 29. Not a good choice for a vocalist. My point being, the family culture I grew up in was what I thought to be right. My parents actions were more influential than their words.

Families and people are not perfect but as we grow, we as parents need to observe and re-evaluate the family culture and determine where there needs to be change, a narrowing of focus, to pursue the mission and vision we set for our family.

Here are some questions Scott gave us to mull over:

  • Is my organization(or family) stuck because of a change I need to make?
  • What am I doing now that I shouldn’t be doing?
  • What do I need to start doing?
  • How am I being stretched as a leader?

Now that last question intrigues me as a parent because I don’t think we see parenting as a profession that requires constant training and continuing education. More on that in a future post.

For a podcast of Scott’s original message about leading during times of uncertainty, go to the Orchard and click on Podcast. “Uncertainty: Certain Leaders” 1.17.09

Certain Leaders Embrace…

I’ve been meaning to write this all last week but knew it would take thought and time, neither of which I have had. But now that kids are sick and watching tv all day, perhaps I can spare a moment.

Scott Hodge gave an amazing talk two weekends ago (Jan 17) during our (The Orchard) Uncertainty series titled “Certain Leaders” and posited three areas that certain leaders embrace: Clarity, Creativity, and Change. Here’s how it unfolded for me…

Scott opened the talk defining leadership in this context as influence. We all have influence over at least one person and therefore we lead. For application, I focused on my primary area of influence–parenting. I lead my children.

The point that stuck out most was the first–Clarity. Having a mission, a vision, knowing where you are going, and clearly communicating that vision. Staying on point. I have been floundering as a parent lately. I’m not planning ahead, I’m not thinking through before I reveal direction to my kids so when circumstances come up, the kids are confused and chaotic. So I discipline them for not following instructions that aren’t necessarily followable in the first place. Not good. Something Scott pointed out scared me, “whoever is the clearest will become the leader”. I’ve been reading a book about influencing our children’s character, and the authors make that very point. When parents fail to communicate or instill into their children, another voice will always fill the void–peers, media, culture. Yikes.

So how can I be clear to my family about who we are? How can I communicate and promote our family identity–how should we be characterized(aside from being loud)? What does God have in mind for our family? Not what makes others pleased with us but what has God asked us to do? If we can know these things, it will help us make wise choices as we grow. We will have a standard through which to filter our decisions. Have you ever said, “we don’t do that in our family” or something similar? That’s what I’m talking about here. We as parents or as a single parent need to discern these answers. What’s important to you? Now narrow your focus toward these things.

To keep your head from nodding into your chest in bleary-eyed slumber, I’m finishing this post tomorrow. Part 2…Creativity and Change.

The Power of 6

Maddie(7) and JDs(6) school is having a Doughnuts with Dad breakfast next week 6:30-8 am. I told Maddie that Dad has to be at work by 7:30 so he probably wouldn’t be able to come. She understood. I told JD but he didn’t understand. He approached Doug and it went like this:

JD: Dad, you have to come to breakfast at school with me.

Dad: Honey I’m sorry but I have to leave for work at 6:30. I wouldn’t be able to make it.

JD: That’s ok. I’ll just go with somebody else’s Dad.

Ugh. 

The next morning, I receive this text from Doug:

“RSVP me for breakfast at the school”

The power of a 6 yr old to completely rearrange the band schedule at 5 elementary schools.

My new favorite innovators

The Imagination Movers!! If you and your kids spend any time watching Playhouse Disney on the Disney Channel, you’ll have heard of the new show about solving problems creatively with four guys called the Imagination Movers. Prior to having their own show, Playhouse Disney would air a video or two from this musical group in between shows. They are very talented and my kids’ favorites. My kids pretend to be the Movers by having their own band and trying new ideas to solve their “idea emergencies”. Check out a show. Here is an excerpt from their website.

The Movers – Rich, Scott, Dave and Smitty — began in New Orleans in 2003 and now are fast-rising stars on the national kids music scene thanks to their combination of radio-friendly songs, kid-friendly themes and dynamic live shows. In concert, the Movers teach high-energy dances, play games with the audience and make music on their one-of-a-kind trashcan drumset. Kids and parents help perform new kids classics like “Shakable You,” “The Medicine Song,” “What’s in the Fridge?” and “I Want My Mommy (Time for Bed).”

In September 2008, Disney Channel debuted a new television series featuring Rich, Scott, Dave and Smitty as blue-collar brainstormers working hard to solve “idea emergencies” in their Idea Warehouse, a clearinghouse of infinite inspirations. Through songs, stories and skits, Imagination Movers moves kids to exercise their bodies and brains.

Movers audio and video encourages kids to “reach high, think big, work hard and have fun!” The Movers themselves are leading by example as they captivate new fans daily with their winning sound and style.

Finally, CityBusiness has announced its 2008 Innovator of the Year honorees, recognizing 50 companies and individuals who continue to keep the New Orleans area a center for creativity. And guess who’s one on the Innovators of the Year?

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