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!

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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.

Time Bandits

One of the most common recommendations of financial planners is a yearly review and rebalancing of your portfolio.  This rebalancing is very important to maintain a diversified investment mix.  What typically occurs is that some investments will grow faster than others and this will result in having too much of your resources in one area.  This skewing is often difficult to notice unless you are disciplined and review your portfolio on a regular basis.  The insidious aspect of this skewing is that your best performing investments may actually put you out of balance and you may be tempted to increase your allocations in this area.  However, this can be dangerous or even reckless as it will actually defeat the benefits of diversification.

We should also do a yearly review of where we put our time and resources in our life plans.   A review and rebalancing of your life allocations can reap big rewards.  Here are five strategies for your annual rebalance:

  • Find a Quiet Place– Seek out a place where you can think and reflect on your current allocations.  This may require that you go off by yourself and spend a day away from your family.  You must remove the distractions in order for you to do an objective life review.
  • Make a Time Line– Write out your typical schedule each week.  List each day and then list what you typically do each day.  Calculate the percentage of time for each item and make a list of the items in the order of percentage value.  You may want to actually write this out “real time” during an actual week to get an objective view of what is really consuming your time.
  • Write down Your Goals– Make a list of your goals.  Divide your goals into long, medium and short terms.  Color code and group your goals- personal goals, family goals, marriage goals, faith goals, career goals, etc.
  • Analyze Your Data– What is the data telling you?  Are you controlling your life or is your life controlling you?  Are you making progress on your goals?  Are there “time bandits” in your day?  Often we are putting too much time in areas that are really not important to us.  We are out of balance!
  • Make Changes– Strategize on areas of change and look for synergies.  For example:  Although you may be compelled to be at work for a large portion of your day, you may be able to include one of your other goals during the same time period.  You can exercise at lunch if you need more time in this area.  You can network and seek opportunities for long term, professional goals.  You can seek personal development training at your present employer to improve your skills.

Although you may feel that you are obligated to your schedule and responsibilities you can make changes.  Consider any components of time that you can exploit – early morning, late evening, drive time, etc.  Develop a plan to include components of each of your goals and track your progress.  Turn off the noise on a regular basis.  Dedicate a portion of your week to reviewing progress by turning off your phone and computer and completely unplugging to allow time for you to recharge and reflect.

Rebalancing is essential in examining how we are allocating ourselves to align with our goals.  When we get busy and obligated, our plans and goals can end up on the back burner.  It may be time to make some tough choices on your time allocation.  Can you rid yourself of some of your “time bandits” and make some real progress on your goals?

Do you have any suggestions or strategies that you have used to rebalance your life?  Please respond below!