As a child, Mondays were special days because it meant pancakes for breakfast made by my dad. Working as hospital chaplain and the pastor of a Mennonite congregation kept my father quite busy. Mondays were his days off and he developed a whole wheat flour recipe that he mixed up for us the first school day of each week.
Served with butter and warmed syrup, we enjoyed this weekly treat and it became part of our family tradition. And if there were some left over, we might have them that evening with some vanilla ice cream sandwiched inside. As adults, my siblings and I would often request pancakes for breakfast when we visited.
As we are approaching Father’s Day, I have been reflecting on the influence of my father on my life. Every summer, my dad helped my mom pack us in the car for a day trip to the Oregon coast or a camping trip to Honeyman State Park where we collected sticks and sea shells, built sandcastles and rode the dune buggy on the Oregon Dunes. My dad helped me appreciate the wonders of nature.
Later when we moved to Kansas, we spent several summers in the Ozarks. I remember once, we were expecting to hear some local musicians perform on the courthouse steps. However, when we arrived at the empty town square, it became clear that we had outdated information.
My dad asked around and eventually found some local musicians gathering nearby to play for their own entertainment. Being an awkward teenager, I am pretty sure I was lobbying for going straight back to our campsite. But soon we found ourselves seated in some battered folding chairs enjoying the music from a dulcimer, some fiddles, a banjo, a few guitars, a hammered dulcimer and even a couple of cloggers (a type of folk dance.),
On one of our visits to the Arkansas Ozarks, my dad inquired about how to make a dulcimer and before we headed home, he had purchased plans to build one. I am the proud owner of one of his ‘limited editions.’ From my dad, I learned the importance of curiosity and not letting shyness get in the way of experiencing life.
From the very beginning of my life, I was influenced by the lifestyle choices of both my father and mother. I was born in Mathis, a small Texas town near Corpus Christi in a maternity hospital built by volunteers from the Mennonite Church. As the directors of the program, my parents provided leadership, support and meals eaten around a ping pong table.
Through the Mennonite Voluntary Service unit, the local community benefited from having access to the maternity hospital, a kindergarten to help children learn English before starting elementary school, cooking & basketball after school clubs, adult education and more. MVS, started in 1944 as a practical peaceful alternative to serving in the military, continues until today as a way for volunteers make a 1-2 year commitment to make a difference.
I find the words of American writer Clarence Budington Kelland sum up well what I learned from watching my dad, Millard E. Osborne. “My father didn’t tell me how to live life; he lived, and let me watch him do it.”
Thanks, Dad and Happy Father’s Day.
According to the most recent market research to sharpen your brain, we should be taking fish oil supplements, use turmeric, do exercise and puzzle books and invest in a language course. But SURPRISE—the easiest, cheapest and most time-tested method is…READING!
It’s summer and any teacher will tell you that summer reading is critical for students to retain knowledge and skills learned in the previous school year. Students who don't read are at risk of falling behind their classmates. Parents and teachers can avoid this by making sure kids take time to read. Suggestions on how to help this to happen in your home to follow.
The very nature of reading encourages the brain to work harder and better. “Typically, when you read, you have more time to think,” says Maryanne Wolf, EDD, director of the UCLA Center for Dyslexia, Diverse Learners, and Social Justice. “Reading gives you a unique pause button for comprehension and insight. By and large, with oral language— when you watch a film or listen to a tape—you don’t press pause.”
What if you are (or someone you know is) a poor, or even a dyslexic, reader who feels as if you’ll never be able to read enough to reap these benefits? A book can fix that problem too! Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University studied children ages eight to ten who were below-average readers. One hundred hours of remedial reading classes significantly improved the quality of their brains’ white matter—the tissue that carries signals between areas of gray matter, where information is processed. The researchers’ conclusion: The brains of these children had begun to rewire themselves in ways that could benefit the entire brain, not only the reading-centric temporal cortex. (Reader’s Digest, March 2019)
So, what can you do as a parent to encourage reading in your home?
“Reading fiction not only develops our imagination and creativity, it gives us the skills
to be alone. It gives us the ability to feel empathy for people we've never met, living
lives we couldn't possibly experience for ourselves, because the book puts us inside
the character's skin.” Ann Patchett
Connection is Key: Kids are wired to be attached to their caregivers. They want to be noticed, listened to, understood, and supported. When this connection is strong, kids are more likely to listen and comply with less resistance. Look for opportunities to connect with each child daily — playing, reading, running around the yard, or take time to listen, observe, and be quiet together. Relationship is the heart of the matter.
Kids are Immature: They are going to be forgetful, impulsive, messy, and silly. The ability to make a good choice over a not-so-good choice takes time. There’s nothing you can do to rush this process. In the meantime, focus on guiding them as they learn how to handle tricky situations, giving them grace when they mess up, and letting them try again. Mistakes = learning opportunities!
Don’t Fear the Meltdown: Big emotions cause parents to shift into panic mode, which usually leads to yelling, giving consequences that don’t make sense, or giving up entirely. Meltdowns are a normal part of life with kids, unfortunately. Focus on being the calm, confident, supportive parent your child needs. If you find yourself having a meltdown of your own, stop, take a deep breath (or a break), and get your own emotions in check. As a parent, strive to model the kind of behavior that you want your child to inherit!
Trust Your Gut: Social media, parents at the bus stop, and even family members can give you a long list of things your child “should” be doing. Remember, you are the expert on your child. If you think your child needs additional support to thrive, seek help. Otherwise, embrace your child’s unique personality, needs, strengths, and growth areas as they develop at their own pace. Mom, Dad—you’ve got this!
Your Own Stuff Matters: There’s a reason you’re getting upset, giving in, or over-reacting. Learning about your triggers and understanding why some things bother you more than others is an important part of parenting. Sometimes you can work through these challenges on your own, but sometimes you need the support of a friend, coach, or mental health professional…and that’s ok. Parenting and grandparenting is the opportunity to re-parent yourself!
As a parent coach, it would be my honor to support you on your journey of parenting. A parent coach is a trained and certified professional who helps you achieve your goals in creating a fulfilling family life and cultivating a better relationship with your children. Addressing issues such as problems with routines and transitions (morning and night, for example), power struggles, parental anger, discipline, homework challenges, chores, and “disrespectful” behavior, I give customized support, tools and advice based on your family's needs.
Whether on the phone, in-person, or over Zoom, I work with you to clarify what you want to accomplish, set specific goals, make an effective action plan and help hold you accountable for making progress toward meeting your goals. To find out more, visit my website and make an appointment for a complimentary Clarity Coaching Session Parent Coaching.
Just imagine that an alien suddenly dropped into our world to find out what our society thinks about sex. He’d observe how sex is presented in the TV shows we watch, the movies we go to see, the magazines and books we read, and what we look at on our computer screens and smartphones. Maybe he’d go to a high school and sit in on a sex education class to learn what kids are taught about sex. It’s not hard to figure out what his conclusions would be. He’d assume that everyone’s ‘doing it,’ that there aren’t any consequences (or none that anyone worries about ahead of time), that it’s apparently enjoyable but not meaningful, that marriage has nothing to do with it (if he’d even come across the concept of marriage), that there’s no moral component (if he’d come across the concept of morality), and that there’s no connection between sex and planning a family. Marcia Segelstein
In her new book, “Don’t Let the Culture Raise Your Kids,” Marcia Segelstein shows us how today’s parents need a different parenting plan than in the past. Written with the journalistic thoroughness she honed for many years covering family issues as a columnist and producer for CBS, Ms. Segelstein sheds light on the issues and trends that justifiably cause parents to be concerned for the health, safety and spiritual well-being of their kids.
She does an incredible job of demonstrating, from studies and various anecdotes, that the influence of parents over their children tends to be limited in our current society. As the influence of parents decreases, the influence of the culture increases. Through the book, Segelstein highlights five major cultural influences (school, media, sex, pornography, and consumerism), shows the impact these influences have on our children, and highlights ways that parents can take back the role as influencers in a positive way.
The first chapter, "The Critical Role of Parents" is an amazing reframing of what it means to be a parent, a welcome shift from the modern approach. Ms Segelstein states, "If we want our children to follow us, instead of the culture, we need to gain their respect. We need our children to listen to us and to trust us so that ours are the values they embrace and ours are the voices they heed
She further asserts that our first task is to become confident, authoritative parents. This does not mean stern and rigid but rather parents who provide love and limits. Quoting Dr. Jane Anderson, a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California San Francisco, Ms. Segelstein says that, “These are parents who provide rules and standards…for their children…they’re nurturing, responsive and loving. I call them the nurturing, loving, rule-setting parents.”
The chapter on the media is a hugely important wake up call for our media dependent culture--especially when connected to the later chapter on pornography, an issue which I believe parents need to be extremely aware. The use of cell phones, computers and other forms of media has become the leading activity for children and teens other than sleeping. “Don’t Let the Culture Raise Your Kids” gives parents support in making some family rules and managing this huge influence on our children.
Written from the Christian perspective, Ms. Segelstein draws on her experience as a Catholic, her years of writing for the National Catholic Register, the “Family Time” segments that she produced for CBS This Morning as well as her own experience as a mother. Parents of all backgrounds can find valuable resources and information in this book. Each chapter includes a section of Solutions, Tips & Tools with many resources and suggestions. I especially resonate with the ones presented in the first chapter as they are foundational components of creating a happy family that I recommend in my weekly blogs and webinars. These include having rules about manners and respect, establishing rituals, family dinners, chores (which are contributions to the family), creating a family mission statement, and weekly family meetings.
I highly recommend this book for parents and grandparents of children birth through high school. It is eye-opening, at times confronting and scary but also provides a wealth of information and tools. Thomas Lickona, author, psychologist and education professor said it best, "This book is a godsend for families of faith, but it’s also for everyone who cares about kids and wants to learn more about how to deal with the very real threats to their hearts, minds, and souls from the world they now how to grow up in. Consider it for a book study in your church, school, or community—and offer a copy to your pastor." To order on Amazon, click here: tinyurl.com/yy8oxues
Edna Ruth Byler was someone who lived her life to make a difference. Although I never knew her, she was raised as a Mennonite in the town where I went to college. For those of you who might not know about the Mennonites, they are a faith group that began in the 16th century during the Protestant Reformation. They are known for peace, justice and non-resistance and my father is a retired Mennonite minister.
Mrs. Byler grew up surrounding by role models who made a difference through their life. However, in the 1930-1950’s, the role of a woman in the Mennonite Church was largely to raise the family, support her husband and serve her local church community. On a trip to Puerto Rico with her husband whose job included overseeing relief work internationally, Edna Ruth Byler discovered a way that she could make a difference.
Impressed with the intricate needlework of women in the villages, Mrs. Byler agreed to find a way to market their handiwork, thus, helping these women to support their families. Starting from the trunk of her car, she added crafts from other countries and opened a gift shop.
Now known as Ten Thousand Villages https://www.tenthousandvillages.com/, the efforts of Mrs. Byler have grown into the largest fair trade organization in the world. This organization empowers women/artisans in thirty-eight countries to be self-sufficient and to take pride in their talents as well as pay for food, education, healthcare and housing for themselves and their families.
Ambassador Ellen Sauerbrey, former US Representative to the UN Commission on the Status of Women, spoke at the 2nd Global Women’s Peace Network Assembly in 2013. She called on women to lead in their families saying, “There is no more important mission for women than to provide leadership in reconstructing the family. That means women must be selfless, put their children ahead of their own desires and work hard to make their families strong and healthy…women have the opportunity to raise moral, spiritual and contributing citizens…this is among the most extraordinary and satisfying life she can lead and the most honorable gifts she can give.” I agree with the Ambassador that the role of women leadership begins in the home within her own family.
We all want our children and grandchildren to have good role models. But how do we make this happen? There are many in media, music, sports, and more—who strive to gain the following and the pocket books of our children. But most often, they do not embody the characteristics that we want our children to aspire to.
As parents, as mothers, we have the opportunity and responsibility to guide and influence our children towards goodness. In this rapidly changing culture, Maria Segelstein is a voice of support and reason for parents in her new book, “Don’t Let the Culture Raise Your Kids.” Keep tuned for more on this next week.
Last week, I wrote about how the tradition of Mother’s Day was inspired by the actions of Anna Jarvis who wanted to unite families who were divided by the Civil War. This week, I would like to highlight a few mothers who also exemplified their love through their deeds.
My mother, Joyce Nyce Osborne, was a pastor’s wife. She not only cared for our family but also cared for the members of our church and larger community. When I was a child, my mother signed our family up with an international student organization and we hosted students who were too far from home to be able to go there for holidays. I remember dying Easter Eggs with Mr. Ogbein from Nairobi and sharing Christmas dinner with Mr. Ogot from Kenya. Through this simple act of inviting someone of a different race and cultural background into our home, my mom expanded my worldview.
When my brother died of cancer at the age of 29, my mother was able to heal some of her sadness and pain by volunteering at local hospice-something that she continues to do today. Although I didn’t always understand or appreciate the time that she invested in others, today I am proud of how she lives her faith and know that I have been greatly influenced by her example.
Dr. Ben Carson, the retired director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Maryland and currently the Secretary of HUD, gave a powerful speech at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast. He credits his success to his mother. As a boy, Ben Carson watched his father walk out on his family, closing the door on a life the 8-year-old would never know again.
Through periods of heartbreak, fear and financial struggle, his mother, Sonya Carson, provided for Ben and his brother without relying on government assistance. A determined woman with only a limited education, she insisted her sons see their potential and that they never let circumstances get them down. She taught them that education would change their lives.
Determined to turn her sons around, Sonya limited their TV time to just a few select programs and refused to let them go outside to play until they'd finished their homework. She was criticized for this by her friends who said her boys would grow up to hate her. But she was determined that her sons would have greater opportunities than she did. She required them to read two library books a week and give her written reports, even though with her poor education she could barely read them. She would take the papers and review them, scanning over the words and turning pages. Then she would place a checkmark at the top of the page showing her approval.
At first, Ben resented the strict regimen. While his friends were playing outside, he was stuck in the house, forced to read a book or do his homework. But after several weeks of his mother's unrelenting position, he began to find enjoyment in reading.
Being poor, there wasn't much opportunity to go anywhere. But between the covers of a book he could go anyplace, be anybody and do anything. He began to see himself differently, different than other kids in his neighborhood who only wanted to get some nice clothes and a car. Taking on his mother’s challenge, Dr. Carson devoted himself to a life of learning and achievement and he never forgot his mother’s early lessons or her sacrifices for him.
Through what actions has your mother loved and taught you? Did you tell her what you appreciate about her love for you? Need some inspiration? Watch how these kids move the hearts of their mothers.
Although you might think that Mother’s Day was initiated by Hallmark, it was not motivated by commercialism but from women’s peace groups. In 1868, Ann Jarvis– mother of Anna Jarvis – created a committee to establish a "Mother's Friendship Day.” The purpose was to reunite families that had been divided during the Civil War. When the Civil War broke out, Ann Jarvis called together women to pledge that friendship and good will would not be a casualty of the war.
In a remarkable display of courage and compassion, the women nursed soldiers from both sides and saved many lives from both sides. Jarvis – who had previously organized "Mother's Day Work Clubs" to improve sanitation and health for both Union and Confederate encampments undergoing a typhoid outbreak – wanted to expand this into an annual memorial for mothers, but she died in 1905 before the celebration became popular.
Her daughter continued her mother's efforts and what began as a celebration in a church in West Virginia spread over a few years to many states and eventually became a national and international holiday. Carnations were Ann Jarvis’ favorite flowers, so it became a tradition to give out carnations on Mother’s Day. “The carnation does not drop its petals, but hugs them to its heart as it dies, and so, too, mothers hug their children to their hearts, their mother’s love never dying," Jarvis explained in a 1927 interview.
Designated as the second Sunday in May by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914, aspects of Mother’s Day have since spread overseas, sometimes mingling with local traditions. Jarvis took great pains to acquire and defend her role as “Mother of Mother's Day,” and to focus the day on children celebrating their mothers.
Ann Jarvis did not like the commercialism that become associated with Mother’s Day—buying flowers, cards and candy to one’s mother. In this spirit, I challenge you to find a unique way to celebrate your mother this year.
How about an experience that you can share together? A picnic and a hike in the woods? A visit to a local botanical gardens or park? Breakfast in bed? (Make sure you clean up the kitchen afterwards.) A drive on a scenic road? A photo album with a cover that the kids help decorate?
I am sure that you will figure out something that it special and wonderful. You have just over a week. Be sure to check in the next couple weeks as I highlight some amazing mothers. And if you need some help to connect to all that your mom means to you, let this video inspire you.
When you're a bucket filler, you make the world a better place! Using a simple metaphor of a bucket and a dipper, author Carol McCloud illustrates in her book “Have You Filled A Bucket Today?” that when we choose to be kind, we not only fill the buckets of those around us, but also fill our own bucket!
Sometimes we forget this in our family relationships, at work and in the hectic pace of life. Living within a snow globe of swirling responsibilities, demands, checklists and choices is stressful. We need to stop and remember that life is a journey--not a race, a destination or a competition-but a beautiful journey to be walked, danced and enjoyed with those we care most about.
Our days are not something to survive, endure or merely get through but we are meant to enjoy and revel in our meaningful relationships. The world is changed by our example, not our opinion or words but how we live our lives!
So, this week, I challenge you to take time to let the snow globe settle. Make time to ask your daughter to tell you about her best friends at school and be present to her while she talks. Take your son to the hardware store and ask him to help with a project around the house. Cook dinner together. Go for a walk as a family. Use a meal time to talk about favorite family vacations. Call your son or daughter that is away at college. Make a lunch date for the next time they will be home. Write a text or mail a card to your adult children just to say you are thinking of them.
Read “Have You Filled A Bucket Today?” tinyurl.com/y6zes5vb and talk about ways your family can practice kindness in your neighborhood. Watch the YouTube video “Grateful: A Love Song to the World” together. www.youtube.com/watch?v=sO2o98Zpzg8 Challenge your kids to find other inspirational videos and Ted Talks to share with the family.
Buckminster Fuller, 20th century architect, inventor and visionary dedicated his life to making the world work for all of humanity. He said, "In order to change an existing paradigm you do not struggle to try and change the problematic model. You create a new model and make the old one obsolete. That, in essence, is the higher service to which we are all being called."
We all have the opportunity to create amazing experiences, connections and memories in our families and in the process, we heal ourselves and influence those around us.
I learned an important lesson about fast food, focus, and the finality of many decisions we make. Rushing to my car, I placed the takeout package on the roof, unlocked the car, and pulled into traffic. Perceiving the honking of other drivers as pure road rage, I proceeded upon my way. It was amazing how long that meal clung to the top of my car before it flew under the tires of the F-150 behind me.
Our lives are full of decisions… and their consequences. They aren’t punishments. Nobody took my lunch, attempting to make me pay for my lack of focus. It was just a simple result of my lapse.
A few years ago, a tragic event occurred near our homes in Colorado. Some teens thought it would be fun to race around our mountain roads, taking turns “surfing” on the roof of their car. Is it possible these kids didn’t learn enough about the finality of consequences when they were younger?
Some who see themselves as more enlightened in the arenas of caring and compassion experience semi-aneurisms when they hear someone say, “allow kids to experience the consequences of their actions.” These are often people who care very much about kids who have experienced trauma and equate consequences with punishment. They also believe kids with trauma are capable… but not capable enough to learn from their actions. We’re confused. Do we want kids who’ve been hurt to remain victims, or do we want to empower them toward victory and self-esteem?
We agree that punishment, sarcasm, guilt, anger, and other negative practices do not work. We disagree that consequences (or “results”) aren’t appropriate for kids who’ve had trauma. Their effectiveness just depends on how closely attached they feel toward the adult.
Positive relationships form the foundation of all effective discipline. The safety and security this provides allows all children to begin seeing the connections between their choices, actions, and resulting consequences. Kids who’ve experienced trauma need to experience the results of their actions… even when it doesn’t appear they are making the connection. As they experience the calmness and trust of loving attachment relationships, this cause-and-effect learning will begin to happen.
When delivered with love and empathy, logical consequences help provide accountability. In many cases, an element of restitution can give a child the chance to feel like he or she “made it right.” Loving accountability can help kids feel the following:
I can solve problems.
All kids thrive when they embrace these beliefs.
So, we’ll charge ahead, continuing to upset those who view themselves as superior to most folks in the areas of compassion and intellect. We’ll keep holding kids accountable with plenty of empathy and grace, and we will treat them as if they are capable of learning from life’s results. We’ll just keep helping more families raise kids who feel good about themselves and their ability to thrive in this challenging world.
As I stated last week, the purpose of a weekly family gathering time is to have one evening each week where the family is the focus and priority. As simple as that sounds, it will not happen unless we reserve the time. Put it on your schedule just like you do with all other appointments. It can include a special meal as well: Taco Tuesday or Crockpot Chili Friday.
Family meetings can make a big difference. They can become the keystone to a happy, harmonious family life. Families who meet weekly find that siblings fight less, children argue less with their parents and there is less yelling and nagging! That is definitely an hour a week well spent. If you missed the WHY, read last week’s blog. www.coachmyrna.org/coachmyrna-blog/the-power-of-weekly-family-time
The purpose is two-fold: logistics and connections. Logistics are the nuts and bolts of running a family: what’s coming up next week, what is needed for school (special projects, requests for cookies, sports practice, music lessons, etc.) Connection is what life is all about. It is the love, the hugs, the emotional support, the delight and pride in each other. The connection with people who love us--that is what makes life worth living.
Joyful Parenting Coach Elisabeth Stitt suggests that there are four essential elements that make a great family meeting. First is a short sharing time. Each family member shares 1-2 sentences on a given topic: the best thing about my day/week, what I am grateful for, my most embarrassing moment, my favorite family vacation (5 minutes.) Second is a calendar check in about family logistics—what is coming up and who needs to do what (10 minutes.)
Third is a time of reading or discussion on a pertinent topic. It could be a short spiritual reading, a few pages from an inspiring biography/autobiography, The Book of Virtues or a favorite chapter book followed by a discussion. This is an opportunity to talk about/share stories of family history and values (15 minutes) Lastly, it is essential to do something fun. This could be anything from a quick board game to a pillow fight to hide-and-seek to charades. If you are just getting started with Family Meetings, use the first time to brainstorm ideas for future meetings (15-30 minutes.)
Using these four elements, you can be flexible and creative with family meetings. If your children are young, it may be about establishing a weekly routine without worry about the various parts. With older children, include them in the planning process for the weekly fun activities and reading/discussion topic. Creating new family traditions could be exciting. For ideas, check this blog entry: www.coachmyrna.org/coachmyrna-blog/july-12th-2018
Occasionally, the discussion time could be dedicated to resolving challenges between family members. Come up with your family’s own unique name for the weekly gathering if you like. Planning a family trip or summer vacation would be an excellent opportunity to discuss in order to get everyone’s input.
Things that we schedule are more likely to happen and having a regular time both for logistics and for connection as a family will make parenting less stressful and more joyful. What will your next family meeting look like?