Archive for the 'Parenting' Category

To Be or Not To Be

nature red forest leaves

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We teach our children that life is full of choices. Their choices have consequences.

As moms, we’re no different. I made a choice almost 4 years ago. A choice I made with my family’s support and knowledge. I went back to school. As long as I can remember I’ve wanted to earn my doctorate. This past May I walked across the stage in my funny cap and billowing robe. As I walked, I heard my sweet boys yell, “Yeah Mom!” It was the best moment ever!

I’ve had to learn a new “normal”. No more researching, writing, and reading in my spare time. I finally have TIME!

Now that my closets are cleaned out, drawers organized, and moving boxes unpacked (it only took a year!)…I’ve decided to embark on a new challenge.

I’m making a choice to focus my extra time on God’s Word and how it impacts the  unknown world I’m managing when it comes to raising teenagers. It is NOT easy. Not at all. I’m hoping some of you can relate, reply, and help me redirect my thoughts when things get to be too much.

I’m ready to get real – I hope you are ready too.

I’ve been away from blogging for a while now, it feels good to be back  instead of focusing only on my kids, I want to focus on my Savior and the promises found in Scripture.

I hope you’ll stick around and experiment with me as I approach this month in a new way. I’m choosing my focus. I’m choosing God’s calm over the world’s chaos.

Ready, Set, Go…

The ABCs of Grades

medalsThroughout my years of working with mothers, one topic continues to come up in conversations – when to pay and when not to pay children.

So here are my thoughts, take what works for you and trash the rest – but please know this is not a quick, nor is it an easy, answer.

Here’s the thing about money. It causes an item to have a defined value (or lack thereof). In 2008, Dan Ariely wrote the book, Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions.  It’s a fascinating look at why we do what we do and how we make decisions. He talks about two forms of currency or value. The first is a social norm, where money isn’t the issue. Instead, it’s about relationships and the value or benefit our decision brings to our fellow man. The second is a market norm. This norm focuses on money and the fiscal results of a decision.

Quick example: A plate of cookies are in the office break room. Sign says, “help yourself”. People only took one cookie and the cookies lasted for a while so everyone had an opportunity to enjoy one. Another time a plate of cookies was labeled, “.25 each”. Guess what happened? People put in a dollar and took 4 cookies. The cookies were gone in a short time period and people took more cookies than they did before.

According to Ariely, here’s what happened. A market norm was assigned to an object and therefore the social  norm went away. No one thought about others, they just did the math. I put in a dollar, I get 4 cookies.

It makes sense doesn’t it? But here’s the thing. Ariely (and a bunch of really smart psych people) figured out that once a market norm is assigned, the social norm not only goes away, it can never return. He has so many examples about a daycare charging for watching kids late, lawyers helping the elderly with legal advice, and on it goes. It’s a fascinating book and I think it bears some weight with kids, grades, chores, and a household.

Is it wrong to pay kids for responsibilities or positive marks? I don’t think so.

Is it necessary? I don’t think so.

Before you get upset – hear me out.

Each of my children are unique. Their learning styles and abilities are very different. My oldest can work for 4 hours on math and still only earn a B. My middle child can do the same assignment in 1 hour and earn an A.

Did my middle child work harder? Nope. Is my oldest not giving his best? Nope.

So why would I assign a market norm to their learning and their abilities?

What if my kid has a teacher that is just one of those royal, pain in the rear end, jerks who never gives an A on a test or paper? What if my kid has a learning disability or the unit they are studying in school just doesn’t make sense to them? There are so many variables involved in the learning process and school objectives.

Carol Dweck writes and speaks about how important the PROCESS is and not just the PRODUCT of learning. (CLICK HERE to watch her Ted Talk) She did an experiment with groups of children who were given projects and puzzles to complete. One group was told they were “smart” when they finished and the other group was praised with the words, “you worked so hard” at completion.

Each group was then offered a more difficult puzzle or one at the same level. Wanna guess which group went up a level and invited more challenge?

Yep – the group that was focused on the process. The ones who were told they were smart really were smart kids. In fact, they figured that if this level of doing things constitutes “smart”, why should I push myself?

I’m not suggesting we lose “smart” from our vocabulary, but the minute I add market norms to grades and the learning process, I take away the social norm of enjoying the process of thinking, struggling with answers, and in the end having a result that reflects my efforts – no matter the grading scale being used.

As mothers we are tasked with creating global citizens. People who aren’t afraid to work hard. People who immerse themselves in the process and create a product that is an authentic reflection of our children’s thoughts, dreams, feelings, and abilities.

We can tackle the topic of chores another time. For now, start thinking about what events or tasks need to remain focused on process and social norms instead of focusing so much on the market. The “market” of this world can sometimes limit our kids or misrepresent them.

I truly believe our children are looking to US to provide a market that values them beyond their grades or scores. But instead, values what they bring to our family and our society.

So here’s your mneumonic device for the day concerning grades and performance in children:

Accept each child as unique and wonderful.

Be focused on the process more than the product.

Continue to encourage children to try, even if a “prize” or “medal” doesn’t come in the end.

I value you.

Thank you for caring about the little things and the big things.

You stay up late, wash clothes, clean floors, wipe away tears, and YOU are making this world better. Don’t limit your actions according to the market norm. Your value FAR exceeds such measurements. You and I have a social norm that will come to light as our children grow and treat others as we have treated them – with respect.

Thank you for sharing, liking, and commenting – Spring is coming – hang in there!

Kasey

 

 

Momma Bears Part 2

polar bear and cubOne of the most precious things to watch is a momma bear with her cubs. Whether polar bears are rolling in the snow or brown bears are climbing trees they are just adorable! Of course, watching them on TV is the safest way to observe bears, but a few times I’ve seen a camera guy get too close. In that moment I watch a cute, carefree momma turn into a fierce, snarling protector. Her cubs are her first priority and she will do anything to protect them.

I’ll admit it, I was VERY protective of my son’s schedule, food, friends and even his toys. I think I found comfort in controlling all those outside elements because I knew I couldn’t control him. Here I am, 12 years later and I’m feeling the same way. I want to protect him from bullies and mean teachers at school. I want to keep …

None of us want to be “that” mom. You know, the one who freaks out if someone sneezes, coughs or something falls on the floor. However, there’s something to be said about watching out for our kids – we’re their mom after all and that’s our most important calling! So here’s the thing. I am turning into a momma bear when it comes to protecting my boys. I’m not interested in sheltering them and sometimes it’s difficult to know the difference.

Sheltering our kids means we withhold knowledge and limit opportunities.

Protecting our kids means we educate them and prepare them for their interactions with the world.

So I’m becoming “that” mom in the sense that I am becoming SUPER protective without sheltering my kids.

Some of the areas I’m currently focused on include (but aren’t totally limited to):

  • Technology – a wonderful, helpful and yet potentially destructive resource. It’s a voice that is constantly available and I have to be intentional about what that voice is saying to my kids. To pretend as though I can see every text, preview every website and keep up with all the online lingo and acronyms is silly. Instead I’ve decided to work hard to keep my voice as present as possible with my kids. I want my voice to remain important, valid and honest. So I’m okay saying I don’t know how to do something and I expect my kids to show me what they know. We have a few rules in our house when it comes to technology and these rules are NOT optional.
  1. Dad and I know your security code but your friends don’t.
  2. Even if it’s free you don’t purchase an app, song or video without checking with us first (this happens because at this point our kids share our itunes account and can’t purchase things without our password).
  3. I can pick up your device at any time and check your texts, web searches, Instagram, pictures, ANYTHING is up for grabs. Sometimes we read their texts, comments, and websites out loud. We don’t do it to embarrass them but to remind them that what happens on their device is REAL and matters to us.
  4. No technology is allowed at the table or during meal times.
  5. Technology is a privilege, not a right.  If you can’t take care of the “musts” in your life (school, chores, respect to others, etc) then you MIGHT lose your phone. Having a phone and any connection to the online world MIGHT happen if you take care of all the MUSTS we’ve agreed upon.
  6. When we are talking to each other we will have eye contact. DO NOT ever, ever, ever look down at your buzzing phone when I’m talking to you. We need eye contact and a verbal response so we know you heard us and you’re responsible for the information.
  • Friends – open communication, genuine interest and consistent interaction are some of the best ways to know who my kids are talking to and who is influencing their life. I will NEVER have the same kind of influence over my boys as their friends but that doesn’t mean I’m letting those outside push me out. I will make noise, keep asking questions and be a part of my boy’s life and that includes knowing their friends. I’m the first one to volunteer our house for a get together. I say hello to their friends at school and at church – those kids will know my face and know I’m a presence that isn’t going away. I’ll treat them respect and keep my distance – but I’m not going anywhere.
  • Balancing life –multiple classes, teachers, sports, church, family, homework, projects, friends…it’s a LOT for kids to manage. I’m going to protect my kids from being completely clueless and helpless. I will help them make a plan, anticipate their needs and I will (even when it’s painful) allow natural consequences to take their toll. When my son has a huge project for school I help him make a plan and ask what he needs from me. He’s in charge – I’m supporting him. If he doesn’t finish his project or chooses to do things in a sub-par manner he will get a bad grade and that will stink – but that’s life. My goal is to slowly pull my support away and leave him still standing – with confidence and the tools to succeed.

Sometimes it is really exhausting being a momma bear – especially when I’m protecting my cubs. But we’re going to have some adventures, explore our world and we’ll learn a lot about each other along the way. Most importantly I want my boys to know that I believe in them. They are older now. They no longer really “need” me to survive. But I would like to be a part of their life. This can only happen when they trust me and know my intentions. When the rest of the world comes against them or tries to push them down they can come to me – their momma bear – and I will do my best to protect them, even if I have to raise my hands and ROAR!!! I will try my best, at all times, to keep my little cubs safe.

Lord, I know I can’t protect my kids from everything and the world will continue to create temptations and issues for them, but I also believe you placed me in their life for this season and for a purpose. Lord, help me to protect without sheltering and please help me remember that You are the best shelter, shield and stronghold they will ever need. Help my children to see Your strength through me. Help them to sense my love for them through my actions. Finally Lord, please help me know when to let go and allow them to defend themselves. It’s going to be difficult to walk away but I trust You Lord – I trust them to YOU!

Your protective momma bear,

Kasey

Check out earlier posts in this series!

INTRO

PART 1

Stop Talking, Start Walking!

kid yelling at momPlease excuse me while I vent.

I don’t mean to offend…but folks, this is getting ridiculous.

I am tired of watching children yell at their mothers.

I don’t care if they are 2, 12 or 21.

When did we decide that our children’s feelings are more important than our dignity?

When did it become okay for children to yell, scream, hit and throw a complete tantrum while their mother sits in front of them asking 101 questions, enduring the abuse!?

We would never allow an adult, another child, or our spouse to treat us that way, so why is it okay for our children?!?!

 

One of the best, most empowering and invigorating things I can do when my kid is losing his mind is to keep mine clear and calm.

The best way to kill drama is with the a quiver full of quiet and calm arrows, ready to be released at just the right time in order to regain control.

 

There’s a difference between refusing to be insulted and refusing to join the chaos. I’m not saying it’s easy – but I think it’s easy to forget why the difference matters so much.

Drama only grows when it is successful in dominating the situation and our attention.

I’ve talked to so many moms who say they “talked” with their child for hours – they just couldn’t figure out what was wrong.

Maybe NOTHING was wrong – maybe that child is very intelligient and has figured out they can keep their parents devoted to their irrational and sometimes imaginary issues by inviting them to join the chaos.

If something really is wrong we should be patient and listen. But I hope we’d know the difference between a child in distress and a child in drama mode. My kids can feel any emotion they’d like but they don’t get to insult me with their actions in the process.

 

We live in a noisy world, but if our phone makes a slight ding – we give it our full attention.  Oh the power we give to technology.

I don’t believe yelling and screaming shows power.

That’s why we work hard to not yell at our children and I would hope we hold our children to the same standard.

What do our children have to do to get our attention? Do they make a slight “ding” or have they learned to yell, scream and throw a fit so we will pay attention?

 

Don’t let your children make you a slave to their emotional outbursts.

Teach them how to manage their emotions without draining your energy.

Model how to express emotions without dominating everyone’s attention.

Allow them to have emotions without allowing them to punish you with their feelings.

Hold them accountable. Even if it takes a while, REFUSE to become a slave to your children’s emotional outbursts and above all things…

REMAIN CALM!!!

 

You’ve got this. Stay strong and think about the future. Let’s walk away from the drama and teach our children how to manage their emotions NOW. If we don’t our kids could grow into young adults who lash out at a world that simply doesn’t care to listen to or respond to their drama. Take the following Bible verse to heart. It was meant to encourage the Jews during battle. I think it also works for moms who are battling the drama that tries to sneak into their home. Whether on the battle field or in our home, we are not alone. God will never forsake us or leave us – AMEN!

 

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6

Mommy Brain

calenderA while back I wrote a post titled “When Their Brains Turn Off”.  The post was about children and yet, as so often happens in my life, God humbled me with my own words.

{Read the post about kids if you haven’t already – it will help this story mean more!}

You see, I thrive on organization. Without it my world begins to crumble. Now, don’t misread the previous statement – I need to feel organized, but that doesn’t mean everything in my house is always clean. If you come to my house just don’t look in the cabinets under the butler’s pantry – it’s where stacks of papers are hidden when people come over. I apologize if any of you are disappointed with me – it’s just how we roll.

Last weekend we had a WONDERFUL surprise – Matt’s parents came up from Oklahoma to see the boys play their football and soccer games. It was a fantastic weekend. Any time they come to town we eat amazing food, watch lots of movies and literally hang out at the house the entire weekend.

We aren’t normally such “home bodies” so a weekend with my in-laws is a welcomed break. It’s also a shift from our normal routine.

I headed back to work on Monday and was proud of myself for being fairly productive.

{pause for back story}

My children have been raised on schedules – literally. Even before they could read they knew certain pictures/colors/timers dictated their day. I loved that my boys couldn’t argue with a schedule and honestly, it helped ME stay sane.

Many times I would find them standing in front of the calendar, preparing themselves for what was happening next in our busy days and lives. The little boys who pointed at the picture of our swing set, anticipating going outside to play are the same boys who now have their sports gear ready and by they door BEFORE we have to leave for practice. They are sending ME text messages to remind me of their lessons and activities. It’s a beautiful thing to empower our kids to take control of their environment in healthy and realistic ways.

{back to our story}

As I loaded up my grade book and planner I glanced at my phone and saw that I had missed 3 phone calls from our oldest son.

My mind raced as I realized it was 5:00. It was 5:00 on a Monday.

I called my son back and immediately began apologizing to him. He has drum lessons at 5:00 on Mondays! How could I forget!? We’ve had drum lessons on that same day and time for over 2 months now – I was so frustrated with myself!

He graciously replied that he really didn’t want to go to lessons anyway … which was nice of him … but all I could think about was the money we were losing – but what could I do? I had dropped the ball.

My son also reminded me that he had football at 5:45. He went on to let me know that he was dressed, had his water bottle and had eaten some protein….I had to smile.

{If you think things are working out…keep reading}

As we were talking football and drums my middle son beeped in. Why was he calling me?  I tried to click over but missed him.

I immediately called the drum teacher, apologized profusely and continued on my way home.

Then my husband called. It was now 5:10.

I answered, filled him in on my lack of prompt parenting and he was oddly quiet.

I asked if everything was okay. He simply asked, “Have you talked to Tyler? Do you know if he made it home?”

This is when I felt the tears forming.

Our middle son, Tyler, is part of a robotics club that meets after school (you guessed it) on Mondays from 3:30-5:00.

Apparently when he couldn’t get ahold of me he called Matt. They agreed that Tyler would begin walking home.

I immediately called Tyler, again apologizing for not being there to pick him up.

His response? “It’s okay mom – it’s really pretty out here and I don’t mind”

{Cue tears flowing down my face}

I arrived home at 5:25 to 3 little boys who ran to me and gave me hugs – just happy to see mom at home.

I went to the calendar and even though every activity was written down in the correct color, with the correct time, all the information had left my mind for some reason.

I continued apologizing to our older boys (who were now playing on their devices and had forgotten the whole thing) when our youngest came up to me and hugged me again – telling me that he loved me (three cheers for the babies of the family!!).

I thanked him for loving me even when I make mistakes to which he replied,

“Did your brain just turn off for a little bit?”

I laughed and agreed with his accusation.

Oh that I might have the capacity to forgive, accept and support my children as much as they do the same for me.

After our conversation I took a minute to write an update on our calendar (see picture at beginning of post)- because Mommies AND kids have rough days – I just hope I’m not the only one.

When was the last time your brain “turned off”? Were you able to bounce back?

Leave a comment and help us all feel a little bit better about our “off” days.

You are doing an amazing job…take it one day at a time and keep focusing on the essentials – family first!

Kasey

 

 


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