It has been said that the family is the only institution created by God. Ideally, we are meant to learn how to relate to and love each other from the relationships within our family. Love is a gift we give our spouses, children, parents, grandparents and ourselves. Yet, when we look at the world around us, families are facing an overload of challenges—media that makes communicating around the world instantly, wars, terrorism, divorce rates, single parents, homelessness--all impact the nuclear family and how our children view life. It is obvious that many families need help and support in practicing love.
It is important for us as parents to remember that parenting isn't just learning the right techniques, a collection of wise words or the best bag of tricks. We raise responsible and happy children by finding Real Love for ourselves, so we can give our children what they need most. As our children's first teachers, our relationship with our children is key. Regardless of all technological advances, parents will always be the most important source of information and values for their growing children.
The most important role for families is to provide a place where children can feel unconditionally loved and learn how to love others. If our children don’t feel loved, it doesn’t matter what kind of clothes he wears, how well she does academically or what he does on the soccer or swim team.
In order to be happy, a child (actually all of us) must feel loved and learn to love others. Relationships in the family give a wonderful chance to learn how to be loving. Disagreements and quarrels among siblings provide the opportunity for us to guide them in working out differences with respect and love.
I believe that God created us to be an extension of Himself. He intended to dwell among us, to resonate with our minds and hearts and experience all the joys and challenges of physical life and the universe through us. In the relationships in our families, we can partner with God so that He can experience life within and among us.
To gain support and help in creating more Real Love in your family, sign up for the next webinar series starting on Monday, November 5th at 9 pm EST here: Webinars
By Dr. Charles Fay, Love and Logic Parenting, www.loveandlogic.com
Children who’ve spent their first few years of life being entertained by television, exciting toys with batteries, and well-meaning adults lack critical skills for success in school. That’s the bottom line. Children who have spent years playing in the sandbox, coloring with crayons, chasing butterflies, and stomping around in mud puddles have been given a great gift. The skills they develop through these simple yet important activities foster success from preschool through graduate school. That’s the good news.
Unfortunately, too many loving, intelligent, and well-meaning parents have fallen into the trap of believing that “good parents” keep their children entertained and stimulated each and every moment of the day. When they see their children getting “bored,” they quickly intervene with a fun activity or gadget. As a result, their youngsters spend way too much time pushing the buttons on exciting electronic toys, staring at the television, and riding in the car from one activity to another. Sadly, little or no time is left over for running, playing, and being creative.
Children who’ve been constantly entertained grow into adults who are constantly bored.
Love and Logic parents give their kids an advantage in life by understanding that children need plenty of opportunities to find themselves in a rather dull or “boring” situation. Why? Because these situations encourage youngsters to develop and practice creative ways of entertaining themselves… and exploring the vast and exciting frontiers of imagination and creative problem solving.
Where would we be today if Ben Franklin, Albert Einstein or Thomas Edison had grown up believing that it was another’s responsibility to be creative and keep them entertained?
Because they know the importance of creative play and exploration, Love and Logic parents have plenty of “Boredom Training Sessions.” As I wrote our book, Love and Logic Magic: When Kids Leave You Speechless, the “Boredom Training Session” follows these steps:
Step 1: Plan for providing dull periods in your home.
Step 2: Provide plenty of materials and toys that foster creativity.
Step 3: Pray that your child will come to you and say "I'm bored."
Step 4: Place primary responsibility for solving this "boredom problem" on your child.
Step 5: “Notice and describe” when your child is playing independently.
“You built that by yourself?”
“That book looks really interesting.”
“You turned Teddy into a monster.”
“I noticed that you made three pictures.”
You’ll be amazed at how brightly your child’s eyes will shine when you apply this step!
Several thoughts that kept going through my mind as I listened and read the testimonies surrounding the Supreme Court hearings: “Where were the parents in the midst of all these parties?” “How sad that this is the reality for so many teenagers and young adults!”
Neuroscientists tell us that the rational part of the brain isn’t fully developed until 25 years old. Wise parents begin from a young age to offer choices and share control to give opportunities to practice making decisions and living with the consequences. We support our children in gaining a healthy self-concept when we guide them in developing self-efficacy—the belief that my own actions lead to the desired outcomes. To develop their own sense of self-efficacy, they need to do the thinking, planning, hoping, trial-and-error, dreaming and experiencing themselves.
Another key is our response when our child (no matter what age) messes up and makes mistakes. Keeping the connect with our child is the most important thing--loving them mistakes and all. If we respond calmly to problems and mistakes, we keep that connection and allow our child to learn from the natural consequence of fixing the problem. If we respond with anger, the anger becomes the focus instead of the mistake that was made.
Substance abuse doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It is directly related to the parent-child bond of love and good communication. Children, youth and adults use drugs and alcohol to get relief from emptiness and fear. The best insurance against drug and alcohol abuse is a loving and open relationship between parent and child. Our words, our non-verbal cues and our actions need to communicate to our children: You are worthy, you are lovely, you are enough and you have what it takes!
It was a warm summer day and I was getting ready to drive kids to a week-long summer camp. Before loading up the van, we were doing some cleaning—sweeping and mopping the kitchen, loading the dishwasher and vacuuming the living room. After driving the windy road through the Santa Cruz mountains and back, I arrived back home.
Walking through the house to the back deck, my heart sank and I felt sick to my stomach. There was the guinea pig cage which I had moved outside while mopping the floor and had forgotten to move back! In the summer heat, the guinea pigs ran out of water and perished. In disbelief, I cried, yelled and wanted to deny that this was my fault. How could I have been so careless? I wanted to hide my mistake or go back and redo this but of course, this was impossible.
I was reminded about this incident while preparing for one of my webinars on “Real Love in Parenting” by Greg Baer. Mr. Baer says that being inadequately prepared for the job of parenting, we unavoidably make many mistakes. Most of us do not do anything as drastic as my guinea pig example but we often respond in unloving ways. We get angry at other people—including our kids—not because of what they do in any given moment but because of a lack of Real Love we have received and experienced for our whole lives. As parents, we can learn how to give and receive unconditional love and improve the quality of our relationships.
• are in the beginning stages of family life with young children and feeling overwhelmed
• have a relatively happy family and want to find ways to improve what you are doing
• are in the middle of painful challenges with a son or daughter
• want to support your adult children raise your grandchildren
you can find principles and tools to help you raise responsible, loving and happy children as well as find more Real Love for yourself. Check out my next webinar Webinars or the parent coaching tab on my website Parent Coaching.