Do The Work!

Years back, Kathy and I visited my Grandfather when he was sick in the hospital and his health was failing.  During this visit, my Grandfather was of good energy and he shared a quick snapshot of his life and some of his best life lessons.  One thing that he shared was that he believed that you really only have until a child is eight years old to mold them and teach them to behave and be a good and successful citizen.  After they reach eight years old, he believed, you now have a small person who has essentially figured out the world and changing them is very difficult.  Kathy and I were young when this conversation took place and we were in the process of raising our kids.  I am thankful for the advice.  While we were young, we took child raising very seriously.  We disciplined when it was necessary and taught our children to behave, get along with others and excel in their work.  We were not perfect but worked hard at it.  It’s not easy and you can get lazy sometimes.  But with children, you have to do the work!

Morning 004

I have often said that it would be great if they gave you an Owner’s Manual when you leave the hospital.  But instead you are handed this amazing miracle of life all wrapped up in a blanket and off you go!  You may have some babysitting experience and you will certainly get lots of advice from your family on what you’re “supposed to do”.  And… you are likely equipped with the life baggage of knowing what not to do.  And you are way young and just trying to process everything and figure it all out.

You absolutely want the best for your kids.  That is a given.  So what does that look like in the inexperienced parent’s mind?

  1. Provide For Your Family:  I work really hard to give my children the things that they need.  I spend much of my time on my career and work really hard to give them financial security.  Is that what they need or do they need you to spend more time with them?  Is money the best thing you can give your child?
  2. Be Their Friend:  I want to spend every minute that I can with my child and I keep them connected at my side at all times.  Is this providing an environment where you are teaching, leading and parenting or are they really just filling a need that you have?  Have you noticed serious separation anxiety when you leave your child with someone else?
  3. Wrestling Buddy:  I want my boy to be a man and be good at sports so I love to wrestle with him.  Is this really something he needs or is it something you need?  Are you raising up a little bully by getting him “toughened up”?
  4. No Daycare For Me:  I don’t want my child to be watched by anyone else but me.  I don’t trust others- I have had bad experiences in the past.  Is this really a good thing?  Are there social skills that your child may be missing by isolating them from other kids?  Do they know how to interact with other kids?  Can they share toys and play with other kids?
  5. He’s A Good Kid:  My child is a good kid so it’s OK to give him what he want.  If he wants chicken nuggets every night of the week that’s OK as long as he is being quiet and not misbehaving.  So who is eventually going to tell them no?  Who is going to erect boundaries?  Who is the boss?  Too tired is not an excuse here.
  6. We Are Always On The Move:  My kids love visiting others and being up late.  They are used to eating on the run.  They love the adventure!  Really, kids like structure.  They need a schedule.  They want to know the rules and what is expected.  They need sleep.  They need to be able to process what’s going on.  They need calm and normal.
  7. I Never Spank My Child:  My kids don’t need punishment.  They are different than the other kids.  Are they learning that there are consequences for their actions?  Although you may be against spanking, are you teaching your children that bad behavior can lead to big trouble in later years?

Raising children is hard.  It is a full time job.  You must fight the urge to get lazy.  Children are like clay when they are young.  Yes, I believe they are born with unique characteristics, but kids need leadership, structure, direction and boundaries.  They do not do well in chaos.  They need to figure out what the world is all about and chaos does not provide the framework for growth and understanding.

Have you ever considered what a child learns in the first two years?  They are like little sponges.  So what are they learning?  Are they learning that there is order to the world?   Are they learning about authority?  Are they learning about consequences?  Are they learning how to interact with other kids?

I know this.  Good parenting does not come easy.  When done correctly, it will be the most fulfilling project you will ever undertake.  It’s a long and tiring process.  But just remember- you have to do the work!

So what do you think?  Do you have any good parenting advice?  Please press comments and tell us your story!  

Copyright © 2013. Leading by Serving- Leadership is for Everyone!. All rights reserved.

What your husband wants for Father’s Day!

Tis the season for new barbeque grills, golf balls and fishing poles!  So what do you have planned for Father’s Day?  Some men are kind of tough to buy for, but most guys are pretty open about what they like.  Although this celebration is really about the kids getting their Dad something special, what do you think husbands would like from their wives for Father’s Day?

They want their wife back!

Image

In the midst of all of the diapers, laundry, and motherly duties, husbands can be neglected and forgotten.  Now I am not making light the duties or the value of being a great Mom, however, the normal day to day activities can leave your man in the dust. 

Women tend to pour themselves completely into motherhood.  They want the very best for their children.  They will literally do anything to be the very best mother.  There is nothing wrong with this in concept.  Husbands would tend to agree- they want their wives to be committed to nurturing and raising the very best children possible.  Somewhere in all the good intentions things get warped out of place.  The current societal expectation of mothering places an extreme amount of pressure on Moms.  They try so hard to keep up.  But how can you?  You have to have your kid’s in multiple activities, buy them all the newest clothes and gadgets, take them to all the new movies and places, keep your house clean, cook customized dinners for each child, be a constant taxi cab driver, have all the answers to the tough questions, be a money tree, and be a cool parent all at the same time.  Is it possible?  Really?

Somewhere in this struggle is your husband.  Now you may be thinking- well, there is the problem– but really is he the problem?  Regardless of his participation in the family duties- you’re still exhausted.  He is probably getting the leftovers- whatever you have left after the kids.  Is that the way it should be?  Maybe it’s time to review things and slow down a bit.  Your kids will be OK if they are not in every activity.  It will be OK if the house is not perfect.  They will be OK staying home bored.  They will not explode.  Really.

Your husband wants you back.  The girl that he married.  I know you are thinking that things are different now- but they aren’t as different as you think.  He still loves you for who you are.  He still loves the things about you that are uniquely you!  Maybe tension and bickering has strained things a bit, however, it’s still there.  You just have to find it.  So what specifically does he want?  Here are some items.  Now this may vary wildly- this is just some common items- so don’t scream too loud if I get your situation entirely wrong:

  1. Have Fun!  Inside every man is a boy.  I’m sure that some of you are thinking right now that you would say that you are still looking for the man!  But truly- men like to have fun and this is often involves activities and getting out of the house.  Think back to your courtship. What did you used to do to have fun back when you were dating?  It may involve doing some outdoor activities that you really don’t like anymore.  Just remember your husband waiting outside the dressing room while you shop!  Get him outside or where you can have fun together.
  2. Initiate!  Don’t wait for him to come up with all the ideas to spend time together.  Surprise him with a weekend away or a night out on the town.  He may be a bit shocked and caught off guard the first time this happens but he won’t be the next time.  Listen to him for things that he wants to do and see.  Write them down and do your planning and make it happen.  Yes, he should be doing this too, however, don’t be afraid to take the lead sometimes.  You should both be seeking time alone together.
  3. Get Intimate!  OK- I know you are tired, but this is important.  By withholding yourself you are asking for trouble.  Men are different than women.  They value things differently.  Don’t withhold yourself as a prize for good behavior.  A healthy physical relationship will strengthen your overall relationship.  You are still very attractive to your husband.  Don’t make excuses.  It’s only a few minutes of your life.  You can do it.
  4. Encourage Him!  Tell him how much you appreciate what he does for you and your family.  Don’t do this once a year on Father’s Day.   Brag on him a bit to your friends.  He needs respect and approval.  He is not an idiot.  Don’t treat him like one of your children.  Yes- he is different- way different than you.  Celebrate what he is good at.  Be specific and tell him what you love about him.  He needs to hear it from you!      

 Another problem with trying to be Super Mom is that your entire identity gets wrapped up in being a Mom.  This is fine until your kids are grown and gone.  What do you do now?  Continue to hover?  If you lose your identity as a wife and woman, this transition back will be extremely difficult.  Your focus will naturally have to shift back to your husband, your activities, and possibly your career.  Will you be ready when your nest is empty?

I am sure that some of you are saying that I am truly full of it and that I don’t know your particular situation.  You are right.  I don’t know your situation but I think there is a nugget or two in here for everyone.      

I do know this.  You have to fight for your marriage.  You have to fight against the dysfunctional societal expectations.  You must fight to make your relationship with your husband a top priority or the two of you will likely fail. 

So, get in your way-back-machine and remember the things that you used to do as a couple that was really special.  Reconnect with the girl that is still in you.  Lighten up and have a little fun.  I guarantee your marriage will be strengthened and your kids will be fine.  Are you ready?  

Tell me what you think!  Don’t be a stealth reader!  Click on comments below!