There is NO Easy Button in Parenting


“All things are difficult before they are easy.”                                 – Dr. Thomas Fuller (1654-1734)

Jenny’s Take: So many people write to us, telling us how they aren’t sure they can change. They were brought up by screamers and as much as they want to stop, they just find it too hard. Our answer to them is this: Trying to change familiar patterns is never an easy task, but it is a noble one.

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How Important is Your Role at Home?


“If our American way of life fails the child, it fails us all.”   -Pearl S. Buck

Hals Take: Children are the future. It’s a sentiment that we’ve all heard so many times that we don’t even really hear it anymore. But take just a moment to think about it in a different way. YOUR children are the future. It’s easy to shake our heads like generations before us and lament the state of “these kids today”, but that doesn’t do anyone any good.

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How Boundary Setting Can Positively Affect Children


How Boundary Setting Can Positively Affect Children

By: Tamara Wilhelm, MA, LMHC

How a parent approaches boundaries in child rearing has an enormous impact on their child’s self-esteem, how they develop morals, and how well they do academically, socially, and in relationships. In Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend’s book, Boundaries, they outline 5 needs that positive boundary setting addresses for children.

#1: Self-Protection

The whole point behind having boundaries is to keep things that are harmful to us away, and keep things that are healthy for us close. It’s important for children to learn how to say no when something feels threatening, to learn how to tell the truth, and to learn the appropriate physical distance to keep from strangers.

As a parent, self-protection can be taught by allowing the child to say no when they feel smothered or harmed. This will allow the child to feel safe, and know it’s OK to say no if they are scared or in discomfort. What will this do for your child? It gives them the practice of saying “no”, so when the time comes when they are put under peer pressure, it will be second-nature for them to say “no” to them as well – all because they’ve had 10-12 years of practice under their belt of saying no to harmful things.

#2: Taking Responsibility for One’s Needs

One of the most important things a parent can do is encourage the expression of feelings in a child, even if it doesn’t match how the parent or rest of family feels. Realize that you as a parent must feel comfortable talking about feelings in order to be able to help your child take responsibility for their own feelings.

When you see your children struggling with a situation, or when something traumatic happens in your family, ask your children how they feel. Allow them to talk about the negative emotions they are experiencing. Most importantly, allow them to talk about these negative feelings without trying to make them feel better. If kids perceive their parents trying to cheer them up, they may begin to think that feeling sad or upset is “wrong” and not something that is natural to feel. This is why it is important to allow your child to express negative and uncomfortable emotions. Lastly, if your children ask you questions that seem hard, don’t assume you have to have all the right answers!

#3: Having a Sense of Control and Choice

Whether it’s letting your child choose what they want for breakfast, or what colleges they want to (or not to) apply to, children like to have choices in their lives so they don’t feel helpless and dependent upon adults. A lot of parents have great intentions in trying to prevent their children from making painful decisions. However, if you intervene too often, you do more harm than good. Interfering in a child’s decision making process stunts their ability to think for themselves and develop self-esteem and character. It also impedes their ability to see two options in front of them, and be able to use discernment in their decision making ability.

A great way to teach discernment in parenting is to give options when disciplining. If your child is refusing to act appropriately, give them options. For example, if they’re refusing to clean their room, you can say, “You’re right, you can choose not to do this, but remember, if you choose not to do this, you’re also choosing not to go to the party/etc tomorrow night”.

#4: Delaying Gratification of Goals

Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend point out that delaying gratification for a child can begin as early as age two. What does this look like? It means teaching children the value of saving, the value of patience, and waiting their turn. This being taught at a very early age is what keeps children from turning into impulsive adults with the “I want it now” attitude. This helps children become goal oriented and teaches them to value what they buy.

#5: Respecting the Limits of Others

Kids by nature are ego-centric. They think the world revolves around them. Boundaries help them realize the world DOES NOT revolve around them. Why is this important? It helps them to be able to entertain themselves and not be dependent on others. It also teaches them to hear the word “no” and listen to it. At the same time, it teaches children to become empathetic and learn how to love another person. They learn how to think of how other people feel, and not always think of how they feel.

Tamara Wilhelm, MA, LMHCAs you can see, boundaries can be very beneficial for children in their overall emotional development. One of the best way to teach boundaries to your children is to assess each of these areas and ask, “Do I do these things myself?”. You’ll have a much easier time teaching your children boundaries in these areas if you are practicing what you preach.

Tamara Wilhelm, MA, LMHC is part of the Imagine Hope Counseling Group.

Adding the ‘Also Principle’ at Home


Today I move on to the second principle in Devi Titus’ book, “The Home Experience”, the Also Principle.

The basic idea for the Also Principle is to understand how the Lord’s rewards are received and passed on in your life through the application of this biblical attitude.  That is exactly what it pertains to – your attitude, our willingness to serve others even when it is inconvenient. This principle is demonstrated throughout scripture and always relates to character, obedience and inheritance.

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What Are You Shouting To Your Kids?


One of my favorite quotes of all time:

“Our children are watching us live, and what we are shouts louder than anything we can say”

Wilfred A. Peterson

It goes right alongside all the times you are told that you need to model behavior that you want your kids to develop.  Seems logical,  makes perfect sense……but how deep do you take this?  I try to shut down my reactive behavior in front of my kids so they don’t learn that as an acceptable way of communicating in a relationship, so that is a work in progress……PRACTICE….is what I call it.  I try to be kind to people, not judge others, offer kind words, smile and clean up after myself – you know all the normal kinds of behavior you would like your children to develop by the time they leave home.

But something happened to me about three weeks ago, that really gave me a sickening feeling in my stomach and now gives me the perfect opportunity to share how I was NOT living in a way that I would want my children to live.  You see, I got sucked into watching “The Bachelor” two seasons ago.  I watched the season when the guy from Seattle, Jason was on. I gave myself a reason to watch, I mean  he was a hometown guy!  Then I totally got caught up in the drama, the way he picked the wrong person and dumped her on national TV.  I felt her pain.  I told myself I wouldn’t be watching again, I mean is this really how I think people should find their God given partner?  But as it was, I  got sucked into the next season because it was cute Jillian that was “The Bachelorette”.  I watched that season too, saying this was my last – for sure!  I was sneaking to watch the show-how ridiculous, a closet “Bachellorette show watcher!” not wanting my kids to know I was watching this show that went against everything that I believed in….I was ashamed, but still would watch.

So here comes this season, big hunky pilot Jake who is “The Bachelor”.  I felt myself getting sucked in again, I mean he was the underdog of last season, he was a pilot (I used to be a flight attendant – old cliché I know!) and I wanted to see who he picked.  My husband declared he would not be watching the show any longer; he was just tired of all the nonsense and was done.  If I chose to watch, I was on my own.  So I decided I would watch it on my own, I mean it was just a show, what could it matter-who could it hurt?

It only took watching the first episode for the reality of the show and how ridiculous it was to hit the pit of my stomach.  My kids had found out, were teasing me about watching it and I was feeling rather embarrassed.  It  was those feelings inside and then watching the previews at the end of the show, portraying what was to come in future episodes and I knew that I could not tune in any longer.  The drama and unbecoming behavior that I was given just a “glimpse” of disgusted me.

So I stopped, haven’t tuned in again and hopefully won’t ever again.  I know that this show is made for viewers, and it is not what I want my kids to see or even think that I agree with the way the show lays out a way for the participant to find their mate.  It really was a smack to the side of my head to realize what I was DOING was shouting louder than anything I could say or tell my kids about dating and finding their future partner.  Watching this show seems like such a small thing, and I guess in the big picture it is a small thing, but you know……all those small things we think don’t make a difference really do end up making a difference.  If you add up all those little things and put them together I am sure it wouldn’t take long to figure out why your child thought it was okay to do something that you would have never displayed or shown him….intentionally.  That is the key…..what are you displaying that may be slipping by your radar?

I challenge you to take a look at your day and evaluate if all the things you do fall into your desire to raise kids who have the values that you are trying so hard to instill.  I am certainly not perfect, and even though I shared one of these “bad habits” I am sure I can use the time to evaluate my day as well.  I would love to hear your thoughts or comments.  Moms, you can make a difference –  a huge difference – use that to your advantage today and everyday.

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