Posts tagged ‘parents’

February 16, 2014

Hold on to Love

Contributed by Eva Fleming

EVERLASTINGLOVEChildren are full of hope. Every day I hear mine talk about how great their future houses, families, and careers will be. In turn, I kindle their hope by telling them that they have the power to make it so. I encourage them because I know that hope is a life sustaining force. It is like oxygen; essential to a good life. Unbeknownst to them, I cherish a big hope for them too: I hope they have everlasting love.

As a child, you were probably like my kids believing that tomorrow held a great promise. We start out with such great hopes but life hits us hard so we begin to write off love and lose hope in marriage and relationships altogether. If you’ve had a relationship that ended in a break up, or you saw how your parents ended up getting a divorce after 20 years of marriage, you may have become a skeptic. It isn’t hard to lose hope in love, when in addition to your own past failures, all you hear are your friends constantly talking about their unhappy relationships. You start piling up the reasons why it could never be and end up envisioning a society without love; children who survive without the support of their parents; life without people that bring you support. If this is how you have been feeling lately, I ask you to go back to the hopes of your youth and imagine a world where family units continue to keep the fiber of society strong; a society where children can count on their parents, and where husbands and wives love and respect each other. Imagine a society where your talents and virtues are appreciated and wanted and envision what would happen if all your friends got infused with that much hope!

 “Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane,” Said Red from the movie The Shawshank Redemption. Red was right, hope is dangerous, but it is also wonderful. It is better to be insane than to be bitter and full of regret because we refuse to pursue love. When I talk about hope and the power of love, I’m not talking about wishing upon a star or the exercise of positive thinking. I’m talking about the kind of hope that fuels our daily living so we can change the course of our lives.  Since my children’s minds go so easily to the future, I use that as fuel to encourage them to study hard, never miss school, practice their instruments, and exercise.  I tell them that hope has legs and getting through all these small, menial and daily tasks is how their wonderful future will begin to unfold. What about you? What small, menial, daily tasks can you incorporate in your daily routine to nourish hope? Is it physical exercise and healthy eating for a healthier you? Is it having a studying and reading time for a well-educated you? Is it service time for a more generous you? Do what you must but don’t give up on love, friendship, and family only because you don’t want to be driven insane by the winds of hope.

Love and hope are not tied up to a romantic relationship. You can be single and still cherish life, love and family. It is possible to be single without being alone. Hopeful singles don’t poison their emotional well being with crushed hopes and dashed dreams.  Hopeful singles are not stuck in the failures of their past. Hopeful and happy singles have taken charge of their reality and given up all envy to pursue optimism while still holding on to love. They have learned to be good stewards and refuse to live selfishly to fulfill only their own desires. They foster meaningful friendships and become part of a community. And when they are ready for a relationship, they engage in it with hope.

So whether you are a single person with many past hurts or a married person that has lost hope in their relationship, learn to rise above the failures of your past. Stop dwelling. Dwelling is the absolute opposite of hoping. Hope is rooted in your relationship with the future; dwelling focuses your thoughts in the past. Thinking about past things that could have been good or bad, rarely, if ever, compel one to act. Instead, continue to develop strategies that will help you move forward, learn to plan for difficulties, setbacks, and disappointments and give love, friendship and family another try. You can become part of the group of dreamers that work to rebuild a society that still holds on to hope. Hope has renewed my relationship with my husband during the last 22 years over and over again and hope is what I give to my children so they too can pursue everlasting love.

November 18, 2013

Why You Should Not Teach Your Kids to Be Thankful

Contributed by Dr. Alicia La Hoz, PsyD  

530_X_DSC04772_thankfulCriticism, being judgmental and fault finding are all too often what prevails in the snippets of communication that occurs in many homes. Parents are often preoccupied with what should happen, what should have been said or on how much better things could have been done. This type of every day nagging tends to be awfully sour and demanding. It is human nature, after all, to find the speck in another’s eye, than to see what is on our own eye. We are consumed by the never ending demands of life, the ever-growing to-do-lists, the unfulfilled obligations waiting our attention – that there seems to be no room for being grateful for the responsibilities that are being fulfilled, for relationships that are thriving and for things that are generally going well. In a home, where parents are too busy with self-righteousness and where conversations have a critical and nagging tone, is it any wonder that children also assume an attitude of ingratitude? Could it be that children adopt an attitude that merely mirrors what they see day in and day out? If 365 days a year, parents are critical towards one another, forgetting to be thankful for even the small graces, should it really be surprising that our children often come across as entitled, that their words are often sprinkled with an air of self-righteousness?

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday which makes all of us to stop in our consumerism-driven journey to evaluate what we do have and simply express our gratitude. Part of the tradition is for us to pass on the holiday-inspired gratefulness to our children. How do we teach our children to be thankful, to count all of their blessings and to trade in the otherwise attitude of entitlement or self-righteousness tends to hover over them? Of course, we can list several ideas to teach children gratitude. For example, we can encourage them to name one thing they are thankful a day from now till thanksgiving before they go to bed. That simple gesture would certainly help in steering them away from self to helping them focus on others and how richly blessed they are.

Instead of teaching your kids to be thankful this Thanksgiving season, I encourage you to take the gratitude challenge. The gratitude challenge is more than a one-time action, but an attitude shift. Show grace to your spouse and to your child. Be less critical and judgmental of them and of others. Be less demanding and more accepting of them. Verbally recognize the little things they do for you. Praise and appreciate who they are and what they mean to you. By adopting an attitude of grace and thanksgiving in your own life, you will be modeling what thanksgiving really means. And in so doing, you can transform your life and that of your children so that you can have a lifestyle of thanksgiving that is beyond the one-day holiday.

May 16, 2011

Raising Confident Children

Contributed by Brittany Mershon, MA

One of the questions I am frequently asked as a therapist is, “How can I help my child to be more confident?”  Confidence is a multifaceted concept to address. First, confidence is not a feeling, it’s a commitment. Confidence is not the absence of fear, but rather a commitment to seeing a decision through in spite of fear. Raising confident children can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible. Here is a list of tips to help you through the process:

  1. Model Confidence. Children mimic behavior they observe from those around them, especially their parents. Parents who show confidence, even in the face of fear, will help their children learn to do the same.
  2. Embrace Failures. It sounds counter-intuitive, but children who fear failure are more likely to fail. Children and adults alike who are successful learn to overcome failure early in life. They learn that fearing failure causes one to act more cautiously and fear taking risks that might cause unsuccessful results. Celebrating their best effort and modeling mistakes can be learning experiences that will help confidence to grow.
  3. Embrace Success. Fear of success is a common fear that can cause children to focus on the negative aspects of doing well. Success could mean more responsibility or increased expectations. It is important to share with children the benefits of success.
  4. Embrace Change. Many children are creatures of habit. Much like many adults, the threat of change can be intimidating. Even if the ‘change’ is positive, children often fear the unknown. Seek to understand what it is that is ultimately holding your child back from embracing change, and then work to help them overcome or work around it.

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