A young preschooler was trying to get his mother’s attention as she scrolled through social media sites on her phone. After trying repeatedly to get her attention, the young boy finally put his hands on either side of her face. Moving her face towards him, he said, “Mommy, I need you to listen to me with your whole face.”
This mother was participating in an experiment organized by ABC News. In May of 2019, the network spent six months traveling the country and talking to families, teachers, doctors and even tech insiders to put together a two-hour special about how screen time is affecting us and what we can do about it. The project was headed up and hosted by Diane Sawyer.
You can watch several short reports about what Ms. Sawyer discovered. I would like to first mention a shocking fact that I learned from this report by asking you a question? Do you know how many times a day you look at your phone? If you're like the average American, you unlock your phone around 80 times a day which adds up to about 49 days out of the year! If you think, “That can’t be right, that’s impossible,” at the end of this article you will find resources to help you monitor the screen time usage of yourself and your family.
During the six-month experiment, ABC News ran screen time experiments to see how young children reacted when their parent was distracted by his or her phone. Even though the parents were instructed to ignore the young child for only two minutes, most children got upset, cried or withdrew after less than 30 seconds. Watch a sample here. www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7_2K9E2m-w
In another video report, a brave family invited ABC News to come into their home and monitor their device usage for 30 weekend hours. The family was stunned to learn how much time they had spent on their phones and other devices. The good news is that they walked away from the experience with some steps to help make better choices as a family: 1) have a family meeting to discuss what they learned, 2) plan a family outdoor adventure and 3) embrace technology as a way to connect with each other through the day. www.youtube.com/watch?v=GqeOWatgN9w&list=PLQOa26lW-uI-pNs2w7ie09BET5LY_xDOF
If this issue is a challenge that your family faces or you want to be more aware for the future, there are tools available to help you monitor your own screen time as well as that of your family members. Remember, it is important as a parent that we lead by example. Check out these websites or find other options online. Getting buy in from your kids is key and might include some kind of family discussion or even a challenge to find out what your family’s devise usage really looks like!
11 apps that help you monitor/reduce your screen time:
Apps to help parents:
Today, our children need our attention and presence more than ever. Making time to connect is a challenge for most families in our rapidly changing world. Navigating phones and other media devises are just one of many issues parents face today.
It is important to remember that despite all the technological advances we have seen in the past 20 years, parents will always be the most important source of information and values for their growing children. Building relationships with our kids takes time, investment, patience and presence.
A young executive was running late for an important meeting as he drove down a neighborhood street near his office. He had a lot on his mind, and he was going a bit too fast in his new Jaguar. Remembering that it was summer vacation, he did keep an eye out for kids darting out between parked cars.
Thinking that he saw something up ahead, he slowed down, but no one appeared. Instead, a brick smashed into the Jag's side door. Slamming on the breaks, he backed up to the spot where the brick had been thrown.
Angrily, he jumped out of the car, grabbed the kid who was standing there and shouted, "What was that all about and who are you? Just what the heck are you doing? That's a new car and that brick you threw is going to cost a lot of money. Why did you do it?"
The young boy was apologetic. "Please, mister...please! I'm sorry but I didn't know what else to do. I threw the brick because no one else would stop!"
With tears running down his face, the youth pointed to a spot just around a parked car. "It's my brother," he said. "He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair and I can't lift him up."
Sobbing, the boy asked the stunned executive, "Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He's hurt and he's too heavy for me."
Moved beyond words, the man tried to swallow the rapidly rising lump in his throat. He lifted the handicapped boy back into the wheelchair, then took out a crisp linen handkerchief and dabbed at the fresh scrapes and cuts on the boy’s leg.
"Thank you and may God bless you," the grateful child told the stranger.
Too shaken up for words, the man simply watched the boy push his wheelchair-bound brother down the sidewalk toward their home. He walked slowly back to the Jaguar. The damage was very noticeable, but the driver never bothered to repair the dented side door. He kept the dent there to remind him of this message, "Don't go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to get your attention!"
Sometimes we need to be reminded to take notice of the precious moments with our children and others we love before they pass us by. Those we love need to be given our presence, not just presents. On this Valentine’s Day, think of how you can express your love with your presence.
In 2008, the New York Giants were not supposed to win the Super Bowl. The undefeated New England Patriots were considered the favorite. But the wild-card Giants took home the trophy.
What happened to tip the scales in their favor? Some analysts feel the Giants were able to synergize their determination and talents to beat the odds.
Given our current culture, some believe that the families face odds like the Giants. Instant access to media, alcohol and drugs, parents stretched by balancing work and home and other hurdles make raising children particularly difficult. How can parents lead their families to the same kind of success? Here are five practical ideas to help parents overcome the odds and develop a synergized family.
1. Increase family interaction
Communication is essential for family success because it enables family members to share thoughts and opinions, make decisions, solve problems and develop interpersonal relationships. And the best way to heighten communication is to increase family interaction. Cutting back on individual activities in favor of family time, eating meals together as a family, having a family night and scheduling regular family vacations are some of the best ways to increase interaction. the-power-of-weekly-family-time.html
2. Establish a common goal
Unity in any group is usually based on the desire for a shared purpose. Whether it is called a goal, objective, purpose or vision, parents can increase family synergy and unity by frequently discussing what it is they want their family to achieve in life. Making a family goal poster is a great way to get everyone involved. Get a stack of old magazines and begin cutting. Make more than one poster—fun things to do together as a family, ways to show we love each other, what we want to do on our next vacation, etc.
3. Recognize interdependence
Family members are affected and influenced by the actions of each other. A successful, cohesive family teaches every member to be responsible for doing his or her part. And that failure for doing one’s part can adversely impact the rest of the family.
One of the best ways to help family members recognize interdependence is to teach cooperation and teamwork by playing together. Jeff Spiers, a father of four from Englewood, Colo., expresses it this way: “My boys learn it on their baseball teams. When a throw is bad from short to first, the first baseman offers encouragement. In this way, the boys help coach each other and learn their reliance on each other.” family-synergy-being-in-tune.html
4. Work together
Physical and mental efforts required to work together to accomplish something can be one of the more rewarding ways to synergize a family. Our family was heavily into scouts—my husband was the scoutmaster and all three sons became eagle scouts. Our whole family participated in the annual canned food drives and support each son as he planned and carried out his eagle project. The sense of accomplishment we felt as a family through these service projects was incredibly rewarding.
5. Demonstrate love and compassion
Unity and synergy in the family rely heavily on individual members feeling as though they are understood and loved despite their personal flaws. Use kind words, caring tones and a gentle touch. Look for opportunities to praise one another, even when behavior is not exemplary. And, if children are whiny and complaining, take time to actively listen to them and restate back their reasons for feeling frustrated. Acting with love, patience and compassion toward each other builds the long-lasting positive atmosphere required for successful family life.
For more ideas on family synergy and how to create it, check out these blogs.
Love and Logic Parenting
By Jedd Hafer, www.loveandlogic.com
Ali’s kids helped her create a pawn shop and a charity. Her twin toddlers didn’t mean to help create these entities, but they did.
Eva and Eric left a mass of toys scattered all over the house. Ali used a Love and Logic phrase she learned in a class: “You get to keep the toys you pick up and I’ll keep the ones I pick up.”
Then came the hardest part — following through. She got a trash bag and filled it with the toys her children hadn’t picked up. At first, she worried because the twins didn’t seem particularly upset by their diminished toy supply (thanks to Grandma, it was quite impressive).
But Ali did notice there were fewer items spread out the next time. She also noticed the twins moved a bit faster and her daughter Eva checked out of the corner of her eye to see where Mom was while she picked up. Fewer toys went into the bag the second time.
By the third repetition, Mom barely had to pick up anything. And as she casually walked near one of Eric’s favorites, he scrambled to pick it up before she got there.
Ali’s new dilemma: what to do with these toys in the bag. She had heard that some parents decide to let their kids do extra chores (not their regular contributions to the family) to earn back some toys. She liked that idea, but she took it to another level. She picked out the best of the confiscated toys and placed them on a high shelf with actual price tags (Eva and Eric were learning about numbers and money). Some of the toys had twenty-five cents and a picture of a quarter on their tags.
Ali made a list of chores that were worth twenty-five cents when completed. By some strange coincidence, they were also tasks she wanted done. Ali’s pawn shop was born, and they all had quite a bit of fun exchanging chores, money, and toys.
Some toys didn’t make it to Ali’s pawn shelf. She tried to donate them to an organization but learned that particular charity would not accept “used toys.” Never one to give up easily, Ali called her local church daycare and asked if they could use some toys. They could! And they were even willing to come to pick them up. To make it worth the church’s while, Ali enlisted a neighbor friend who also needed to get rid of some excess toys. To top it off, she decided to donate some of her own clothes to the church’s program for people in need.
Eva and Eric were given the gift of watching some of their toys being handed to the church staff as well as seeing Mom donate, too.
While many parents would lecture the kids and hand the toys back quickly (or maybe not enforce the limit in the first place), this mom was able to turn the toy mess into two important lessons.
:Recently, I had several opportunities to speak to a group of parents of young children. As I was preparing my remarks, I looked over the articles that I have written for my blog over the past year and a half. Of all the knowledge that I have gleaned from the numerous parenting books that line my bookshelf and sit in stacks next to where I write can be distilled down to a few fundamental phrases.
Relationship is key.
The world has changed tremendously over the past thirty years. In the past, children and youth developed their ideas, values and worldview largely from their family and community. Today, growing up in a global community, social media impacts our children’s taste in clothing, food, music, social/political/religious beliefs, fears, anxieties and more.
Yet, family is still essential and relevant. Regardless of all technological advances, parents will always be the most important source of information and values for their growing children. But our relationship with our children is key. Parenting with empathy, love and modeling what we want our children to inherit are a big part of creating connection. Go to this blog for more on this: gifts-we-can-give-our-children-empathy.html
Love and respect of oneself and others are largely determined by how well a child’s basic needs are met in the first two years of life.
Every time an infant’s basic needs are met, a seed of trust and kindness is planted into that child’s mind and heart. Dr. Foster Cline coined the phrase “The Trust Cycle” in the 1970s. When a child expresses a need by crying/expressing discomfort and the parent responds, trust is achieved. The basic components of eye contact, smiles, hugs, holding, touch and relief from pain and discomfort all contribute to this trust. It is a known fact that an infant will die not only from lack of nourishment but also from not receiving physical touch, eye contact and smiles.
Our children never outgrown the need to know that they are loved. We all need touch, connection and to know that we matter!
Presence is love
In May of 2019, the ABC network aired a special called “Screen Time” hosted by Diane Sawyer which looked at how smartphones are affecting us. One preschooler conveyed the immense importance of presence when he was observed going to his mother who was talking on a cell phone, taking her face in his hands and saying, “Mommy, I need you to listen to me with your whole face.”
Children learn more from who we are when we are with them than what we try to teach them. We don’t need to be perfect but showing up and being present means noticing the little things, learning to put down our cell phones and really listening. Provide it when you’re meeting their needs; when you’re expressing your love to them; when you’re disciplining them; when you’re laughing together; even when you’re arguing with them.
Failure is part of growing up; it contributes to developing resilience and succeeding
Dr. E. P. Seligman, often called the father of Positive Psychology, discovered children need to fail in order to succeed. In fact, it can help them figure out how to succeed next time. He discovered that until the early 1960s, achievement was the most important goal that parents sought to instill in their children.
However, from the 1960s to the present, the goals of happiness and high self-esteem have replaced achievement and become the key focus. In four large scale studies by Dr. Seligman, the results of this new trend are that depression has skyrocketed and feelings of self-esteem have actually plummeted.
In his book. "12 Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid," Tim Elmore states, “Refusing to let kids fail brings two negative outcomes. First, it fosters the fear of failure later in life as adults…Second, it dilutes the will or motivation to excel.” Click here for his book tinyurl.com/qo3vvn4
As a parent, we need to learn to weigh learning experiences against rescuing them. Which choice will enhance our child’s self-concept? Often, learning to ask a guiding question can support our child’s decision without taking away their life lessons. Quiet support and empathy go a long way as our children, youth and young adults are figuring out their next steps.
Learn to Prepare the Child for the Path instead of the Path for the Child
Tim Elmore concludes that learning to prepare the child for the path instead of trying to change the path for the child is what is needed. There is much for us to be hopeful about as parents when we learn to be honest about our relationship with our children and see where we need to adapt.
I would like to invite you to check out my parent coaching services and sign up for my four-week webinar series “Mission Possible: Raising Resilient, Responsible, Respectful and Fun-to-be-with Kids.” It is on-demand, you can watch it from the comfort of your home and put the skills presented into practice each week. I am offering it at a special introductory price through March 2020. Webinars
Recently, I was needed to help my husband with the replacement of our kitchen oven. It turns out that an oven purchased from Home Depot is delivered to our home and for a fee, they will take the old one away. But the installation of the new oven into the gaping is not part of the deal.
Being a very capable engineer, my husband knew how to accomplish this task but raising the oven to the correct height in order to slide it into its location was the tricky part. With some 4 x 4 pieces of wood and a sturdy car jack, the task was accomplished. My role in this adventure was stabilizing the oven as it was lifted on the jack. Everything went smoothly without any incidents or injuries.
A few days later, I was reflecting on this task and was amazed at our teamwork. I also realized something about me.
I have a history of getting upset, even angry, with my husband when we have tried to accomplish things together. It usually involved me:
Upon my reflection, I realized that I have changed in how I hear my husband and respond him. And the biggest reason why is because I feel more loved. Probably he has learned how to express his love in ways that I am better able to receive. But the greatest difference is that I am learning how to fill up my own love tank and accept his suggestions and ideas as support instead of accusations.
In his book, “Real Love,” author Greg Baer states that we ‘act badly’ because we are drowning. Without enough Real Love—the single most important ingredient required for happiness—people feel like they’re drowning all the time. Then we use the Getting and Protecting Behaviors that allow us to temporarily keep our heads above water.
The reality is that my husband or my children are not the source of my unhappiness. I came to this family with baggage—feeling unworthy & lonely, full of anger and afraid that others would discover this. As I have learned to be honest with them about these emotions and to listen to how this has impacted our family dynamic, we are learning a new way of relating and loving.
If you are not familiar with Real Love, check out the website https://www.reallove.com/ and stay tuned for more on my experience.
For the past 4 ½ years, I have lived in Atlanta, Georgia, the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr. and his extended family. If you ever have the chance to visit Atlanta, I highly recommend that you make time to experience the King Center and the National Historical Park which includes the visitors center, the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, Freedom Hall and MLK Jr’s birth home.
I also challenge you to find a way to honor Dr. King’s legacy with your family on January 20, 2020. If your children do not have school, find a volunteer opportunity to do as a family by joining “Make It A Day On, Not A Day Off.” Use this website and put in MLK Day in the key word section: www.nationalservice.gov/serve/search Or find something that fits your family’s schedule. Search google for ideas or ask your kids to come up with something. Read the article and let your inspiration take the lead.
Adapted from a blog post by Sharon Egan, http://parentingforhappyfamilies.com/
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., an iconic pastor, human rights activist and leader in the American civil rights movement has, and will forever, impact the world not only as a whole but if we allow him to, on us as individuals.
When I think of Dr. King, the following three words immediately come to my mind:
Dr. King’s dream of having peace and equality for all was one in which he believed so deeply in that he persevered through the very worst of times, having hope and faith every step of the way.
What are your dreams?
as a parent?
for your family?
Your dreams can become your reality! But first, you must believe.
Do you believe in yourself? What we say to ourselves is a reflection of what we believe which then becomes our truth. If you tell yourself, “I’m a terrible parent” or “I have no more patience to give!” then guess what?
Do you believe in your children? Your children believe about themselves what they believe that you believe about them. Even if you say you believe in your kids, your words and your actions may be telling a different story. Have you ever told your child he is irresponsible? Are you always there with loving reminders for your child?
Persevering through the many challenges of raising children is not easy but so important to do if your dreams are to become a reality.
And if you are parenting alone, the challenge is magnified, greatly testing your ability or willingness to persevere!
Dr. King showed great strength and perseverance, but he had the help of many others right alongside him.
Let’s learn from Dr. King! Let’s band together as parents and support one another to reach the dreams we have for ourselves and for our families.
What will you do with your family and others to make MLK Day be a “Day On, Not A Day Off?”
The world that you are raising your children in has changed tremendously in the past 20-30 years.
The thing that hasn’t changed is that the most important component in raising your child is your connection to him or her. As parents, our connection and relationship with our children are the building blocks for their future relationships. Taking time to talk and listen, really listen, to our children is essential.
Connection is key, it is the heart of the matter! Children learn how to interact with others by watching and relating with us. Plus, strong family connection supports more cooperation and harmony in the home.
Dr. Brene Brown--professor, author, and speaker said after sixteen years of research, “I am sure of one thing: Connection is why we’re here; it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives…Connection is the energy that is created between people when they feel seen, heard and valued: when they can give and receive without judgement.”
Parenting is an inside job. Regardless of all the technological advances, parents will always be the most important source of information and values for their children. As you and your partner guide your children through your relationship with them, you support them in learning to make good choices, taking responsibility, and learning from their mistakes.
Through this connection and support, they develop a moral compass--an inner voice--that can guide them throughout their whole life. In fact, I believe that the parent-child connection is the core relationship that rules the world. If it is strong and solid, we have healthy men and women. If it is broken and fragmented, we have a wounded world.
To support you in strengthening your connection with your child/ren, I would like to invite you to check out my parent coaching services and sign up for my four week webinar series “Mission Possible: Raising Resilient, Responsible, Respectful and Fun-to-be-with Kids.” It is on-demand, you can watch it from the comfort of your home and put the skills presented into practice each week. I am offering it at a special introductory price through March 2020. Webinars
I’d be honored if you would allow me to support you in your parenting journey as you walk beside your children in guiding them towards their future.
As we approach the end of 2020, there are many articles, blogs and advertisements that encourage us to think of our New Year’s Resolutions. According to an article on Forbes.com from 12/31/18, less than 25% of people who make resolutions stay committed after 1 month and only 8% accomplish them. The article recommends having specific attainable goals instead, ones that have actionable steps that you can track each day/week.
As you think about goals that you would like to work on in the new year, I would like to suggest that you do some thinking about areas of your life in which you want to make different choices.
In college, I had a class assignment to write my own eulogy. We were asked to think what we wanted to be remember for at the end of our lives. I have forgotten what I wrote but looking at my life now, I want to be remembered as someone who was a good friend, who knew how to listen, who was authentic and enjoyed life immensely.
In her book, “Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing,” Bronnie Ware shares about the wisdom she learned from her patients while working in palliative care. bronnieware.com/blog/regrets-of-the-dying/#
Here is what she discovered:
1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
"This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it."
2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.
"This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence."
3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
"Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result."
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
"Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying."
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
"This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again."
After reading this, I want to make different choices about my relationships in the new year. Here are several of my goals:
What are some choices/goals that you want to make in 2020?
I am sharing a blog that I wrote last Christmas because I think it is important to remember that the memories we are creating will last much longer than the presents we give.
This year as I unpacked ornaments and decorations, I was flooded with many memories of Christmases past. The ones that stand out the most are not the presents I received but the experiences that we had together as a family.
As a child, I remember the annual outing to get a live tree from a family friend in Oregon. He planted and sold trees on his land and he generously offered our family the opportunity to cut our own tree for free from one of the second-growths that sprouted up from the stump.
One year, my three siblings and I accompanied my dad on a damp Saturday morning. As my dad tells the story, finding a suitable tree and sawing it down was not the biggest challenge. As we made our way back to the car along the muddy path, my brother Eric who was three, was having a difficult time keeping up. My dad, pulling the tree with one hand, grabbed my brother around the middle and lifted him up. Unfortunately, his boots remained stuck in the mud. For me, the highlight of the adventure was the retelling of the story to my mother back at home—how my dad had gotten all of us, the tree and even the boots safely back to the car.
Although we lived across the country from both sets of grandparents, we were able to spend some Christmases together with them. I remember the opportunities to spend time talking with them, the annual jigsaw puzzles, getting reacquainted with cousins, and eating the cookies and special Christmas treats.
One Christmas, we were in Plevna, Indiana with my paternal grandfather. My grandmother had been gone for several years and I am sure that it was a source of great happiness to have several of his children and their families spend the holidays together. On Christmas Eve, all of us cousins decided to bundle up and go caroling in the small town. I remember having a feeling of joy sharing carols with my grandfather’s neighbors who we had never met before. My dad reminded me that this was special because it was the last Christmas that my grandfather alive. I am glad that I helped to make it memorable.
The Christmas with my own children that stands out is the one we spent in Puerto Rico. The trip was to celebrate my parents’ sixty wedding anniversary which was in June. But December was when everyone was available. Renting a small villa with separate rooms for each family, we cooked meals in the outdoor kitchen and enjoyed the sounds of the tree frogs and tropical birds. We had our Christmas meal on a rooftop patio enjoying an incredible sunset. My Christmas wish that year was fulfilled as my children had the opportunity to spend time with and reconnect to their grandparents as young adults.
What memories will you be creating this holiday season?
For some more holiday ideas, go to these past posts: