How many times have you heard, “I don’t care what my child does in his life, I just want him to be happy”? Do you want your kids to have happiness for the short term, or for the long term? Here are some questions that will help you discover if you are preparing your kids for a lifetime of happiness or a lifetime of frustration:
If you answered yes to the even-numbered questions, you have a good chance of raising children who are better prepared for a happier adult life.
If you answered yes to the uneven-numbered questions, the odds are very high that you are raising a child who believes that it is the parent’s job to treat them like royalty.
These are children who are positive in the beliefs that their parents can, and should, solve the problems that the child creates. Their birthright entitles them to have what they want, when they want it, without having to work for it. A lifetime of chronic unhappiness awaits these children. It is very difficult for these kids to look to their own behaviors, decisions, or lack of effort as the source of their problems. Once they see themselves as a victim, chronic unhappiness sets in. These feelings can continue for life, because their expectations of how others should treat them or provide for them are seldom met. They have been given a prescription for unhappiness. In their eyes, everything that goes wrong is someone else’s fault or just the result of bad luck.
For guidance and support in raising your children to be happy, healthy and responsible, sign up for the next webinar series, “Real Love in Parenting” starting Monday, September 10th here Webinars
Last week, I arrived at my Tuesday yoga class only to discover that it wasn’t the regular instructor, Carla. As we settled into the practice, I felt myself getting stressed and annoyed thinking, “This isn’t how Carla does it…the instructor is moving too quickly from position to position…and so on.” I caught myself and did some extra cleansing breaths to calm down. After the class, I was thinking about my reaction and realized that the situation wasn’t what I expected. As I contemplated why it bothered me, I realized the bigger picture of wanting to control things that I cannot at times and the need to be flexible.
In parenting, being flexible and sharing the control are valuable tools. Control is a basic human need for all of us and we can learn to give away some of it to empower our children. Control is like love—the more we give away, the more we get back. Love and Logic Parenting uses the concept of sharing the control through choices.
The parent gives lots of choices. Every choice you give becomes a “deposit” into your child’s sense of healthy control. Even when the choices seem small/a bit silly, they can be very powerful. The more choices parents give, the more chance of having cooperative kids. And when necessary, the parent can say, “Didn’t I give you a lot of choices today? This time, it’s my turn to decide. Thanks for understanding.”
Below are the guidelines for sharing the control through choices. Think of it as an experiment and try it out with your children this week. To learn more about raising happy, responsible kids, sign up to attend the Real Love in Parenting free intro on Tuesday, August 28 here Webinars
Love and Logic Rules for Choices
• Never give a choice on an issue that might cause a problem for you or for anyone else.
• For each choice, give only two options, each of which will be OK with you.
• If the child doesn’t decide in ten seconds, decide for him or her.
• Only give choices that fit with your value system.
Some Love and Logic Examples of Little Choices
• Would you like to wear your coat or carry it?
• Are you going to clean the garage or mow the lawn this week?
• Will you have these chores done tomorrow? Or do you need an extra day to get them finished?
• Are you having peas or carrots as your vegetable tonight?
• Are you going to bed now? Or would you like to wait 15 minutes?
• Can you stay with us and stop that, or do you need to leave for a while and come back when you are sweet?
• Are you going to put your pajamas on first or brush your teeth first?
• Will you be home at 10:00? Or do you need an extra half hour with your friends?
• Are you guys going to stop bickering? Or would you rather pay me for having to hear it?
For centuries, sailors suffered from scurvy. The affected sailors behaved as though they had been physically injured, but there was no history of identifiable trauma. So the physicians of the day were baffled. They used all their skills to treat the symptoms and signs of the problem—they cleaned and bandaged the wounds, cleaned the gums and teeth, and prescribed rest and increased food rations—but nothing they did was effective. They even named the disorder scurvy—also known as the “great sea plague”—but choosing a name brought them no closer to an understanding of the cause nor to an effective treatment.
As early as 1601 at least one ship captain learned that eating citrus fruits eliminated scurvy, although it wasn’t until 1795 that the British Admiralty ordered lemon juice to be carried on their ships. During that period alone, nearly one million sailors died of an easily preventable disease. Finally, in 1933 Vitamin C was isolated, and the lack of it was identified as the cause of scurvy.
For hundreds of years people died all around the world because it was not recognized that the lack of a single molecule was causing significant trauma to the body at the molecular and cellular levels, which in turned caused wounds that could be seen with the eye. Without Vitamin C, people were starving to death, even though their bellies were filled with bread and beef.
Greg Baer, author of many books on Real Love, applies this example to our lives as individuals and as parents by asking, “What is this missing Vitamin C of the soul? What is it that we all need in to be happy?” His answer is, of course, we need Real Love, Unconditional Love. Intuitively, we already sense what we need to feel emotionally fulfilled, or happy. We see evidences of it in the unifying theme of most of our literature, movies, magazines, and even our commercial advertisements. More than anything else, what we all need is love.
When we unconditionally care about our children’s happiness, they feel a powerful connection to us. They feel included in our lives and they feel whole, safe and not alone. Each moment of unconditional acceptance creates a living thread between us and our children, and these threads weave a powerful bond that fills them with a genuine and lasting happiness.
But it isn’t easy to do this. It is easy to love them when they are good and cooperative. But it is difficult, when they fight, get bad grades, or make messes. In “Real Love in Parenting,” Greg Baer says that we condition our children, just like we were conditioned, to learn that I am loved when I am good and convenient, but I am a disappointment and loved less when I cause problems. Although it is not intentional on our part, with our disappointment and irritation, we have clearly and powerfully taught our child this message: “When you’re good, I love you but when you’re not, I don’t.”
Whatever the age of your child, it is never too late to learn how love more unconditionally. For support in this, join the “Real Love in Parenting” webinar series starting on Monday, September 10th here Webinars. To learn more about Real Love, sign up to attend the free webinar on Tuesday, August 28 at the same link. Learning to love unconditionally works with spouses, co-workers, friends, and parents as well as our own children.
Recently, I saw the movie “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” and I was deeply struck by Mr. Fred Rogers’ message that being nice is not a weakness; that speaking with care is a thing we do simply because we believe the person we’re talking to is a human being with worth and dignity. He said, “Love is at the root of everything; all learning, all parenting, all relationships-love or the lack of it…The greatest thing that we can do is to let somebody know that they are loved and capable of loving.”
Most children growing up in the late 1960s through 2001 watched Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Since my family didn’t own a television until I was in middle school, I didn’t pay much attention to his show until I had children of my own. Together, my boys and l learned many aspects about the world through watching the show—from learning from mistakes and dealing with fears to how crayons, pretzels and brooms were made. Using simple sets and puppets, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood addressed a wide range of topics including relationships and differences as controversial topics as death, divorcee, race and more.
On one episode in 1969, Rogers quietly made a civil-rights statement on his show, by companionably sharing a wading pool on a hot day with Officer Clemmons, who is black — at a time of segregated pools in much of the country. In the documentary, Director Morgan Neville intercuts this scene with footage of white lifeguards pouring bleach into a pool where black kids were swimming.
Mister Rogers reminded us, in gentle song, that we were special and that he liked us as we were. I want to wield kindness every moment of every day as Fred Rogers did in his life, on his television show, and out in the world. The world is a much scarier place now. Kindness feels like a revolutionary act! I find it challenging as a daily practice, especially when someone honked at me and flipped me off as I was looking for the correct exit on my way to the movie theater. Kindness requires me to work hard at having empathy, patience, understanding and a willingness to listen. But I believe that this message is one that we greatly need--to see each other as neighbors and interact with empathy and kindness.
“Deep down, we know that what matters in this life is more than winning for ourselves. What really matters is helping others win too, even if it means slowing down and changing our course now and then.” Mr. Fred Rogers Dartmouth Commencement Speech 2002
Last week, I spent four days working at my former school to help the teachers get ready for their new school year. (Yes, schools in Georgia start the beginning of August!?!?) One of my students Mandy (not her real name) and her mom arrived on Monday to find out that she had been switched to the Orange Group of the last week of summer camp. Mandy doesn’t do well with new situations and was a little anxious about the change. However, she knew me and had several friends in the Orange Group, so I was sure that she would do fine. However, the challenge for Mandy was compounded because her mother got upset and took Mandy with her to speak with one of the administrators. In front of Mandy, the mom escalated the whole thing by overacting, demanding a refund for the week. Clearly, the daughter wasn’t the only one getting emotional.
As parents, how many times have we done this? We step in to speak for our children, fight their battles, go to bat when a teacher or a friend is treating them unfairly. We have the best of intentions and we act out of love. But what kind of message are we sending to our children? Some experts call this being a “helicopter parent.” The parent hovers over children and rescues them from the hostile world in which they live. To protect them, we take on the responsibilities of our child and we give them the message that he or she cannot handle them. Children need to hear the message from us: “I love you and you can do this. I believe in you, and I am here if you need help.” By asking guiding questions and offering our support, we give them the gift of problem solving. In the next webinar series, Raising Resilient, Happy, Successful Individuals starting August 6th, we will explore this and other important topics. To join us, click here Webinars
If we are honest with ourselves, many times the challenges that our children face trigger feelings in ourselves: fear, anxiety, low self-worth, inadequacy, and memories of being bullied/misunderstood and more. Raising children is an opportunity to heal and reparent ourselves. In order to love our children unconditionally, we need to continue to love and heal ourselves from the wounds that life has brought us. Learning to forgive and love ourselves and others is a key part of the healing process.
As a Parent Coach, I help people identify their goals and the obstacles they are facing. As a certified relationship coach, I believe that you have the answers within to work toward solving any issues that you have. I would guide you to discover what is blocking you, what needs healing and work to empower you to move forward. For more information, click here Parent Coaching