Posts Tagged 'parenting'

What Race Are You Running?

tortoise wallpapers hd (3).jpgThe headlines seem to be littered with people and groups pointing fingers at each other for telling a truth, telling a lie, or not telling enough. So I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon and air my own grievances with the phrase,

“Slow and steady wins the race”

We all know the story of the tortoise and the hare. It’s a story I tell my children and my students in order to model the character traits of persistence, humility, and yes – hard work .

We’ve all known our share of “hares”. Those people at the office or play group that seem to effortlessly live life and are so “quick” with their wit, money, looks, or talents that they make everyone else feel like they’re poking along, struggling to make it.

We’ve also known our share of folks who act like a tortoise. They take their time and think before they speak. They see the big picture and are okay waiting for their reward.

Which one are you?

Both have fantastic traits and they have their downfalls.

So here’s my problem with this “tail” (haha, see what I did there? Homophones anyone!? No? Just me – the English nerd? Okay, moving on)…

The truth is – the hares of this world usually win the races. At least the short ones. They win because they are sometimes loud, pushy, and confident. But do they win every race?

No.

I’ve learned to appreciate the tortoise in my life – my husband. Do NOT for a single minute think that he is weak, slow, or clueless. He is my rock, my guide, and I am in awe of who he is as a man and father.

If you haven’t guessed already, I tend to be more like the Hare in this story. And I have to be very careful not to dismiss or overlook the tortoises in my life because they have figured something out that I am still pondering.

They know what race they are running.

I tend to run, all the time, with everything I do. I go all the way. If I’m not careful I won’t stop, look back, or even consider who I might be blowing past and leaving behind. As age as set in my “speed” has slowed and I am so very thankful.

I still love to be challenged, I love feeling the wind from the energy of a team working on a project or the way my intellectual muscles are stretched when I learn a new skill – I LOVE the race of “new”. But here’s the problem – It’s tough for me to feel like I’ve crossed the finish line.

I finish one race and I’m on to the next. I remember it had been a week since my second book had been published and we were driving in the car. I started talking about an idea I had for a center that would serve immigrant families and students while working with local school districts and Universities. He literally pulled the car over, put it in park and with love in his eyes but exhaustion in his voice he said, “I love you, but sometimes it is exhausting being married to you! When will enough be enough?”

He wasn’t scolding me. He was really asking…because he is a tortoise. He sees what really matters and what I’ve accomplished and he appreciates every minute of it. He supports me 100% but he is my compass and my guide when it comes to knowing what I should and shouldn’t put my energy toward.

You see, in my opinion, the “hares” in our society typically DO win the race (and that’s the real rub with this story line). They get the attention and influence decisions, but sometimes I wonder if they are running the RIGHT race.

I guess I’m just coming to a place where I not only appreciate, but I have started to look for the Tortoise on my team, the Tortoise of the group that will help everyone be steady – and MAYBE slow. But sometimes slow is okay.

Do we need to appreciate and think more like the Tortoise in this story, instead of always rewarding the Hares of this world? Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE a kid who wants to just jump in and pour their energy into every idea that comes into their mind. That kind of energy keeps the Tortoise from falling asleep and being left behind.

So can we agree that this story is great, but there might be a bigger lesson waiting for us within it’s plot line?

No matter how we run the race – fast or slow, consistent or scattered – we need to first ask, are we running the right race?

If we are – it becomes a little less important to emphasize who wins. It’s more about how we help each other finish.

So if you’re a hare and your child is a tortoise – slow down and soak in their wisdom and perspective – it’s quite refreshing.

If you’re a tortoise and you’re being driven to the edge of your sanity by a hare in your life – I would challenge you to let them energize you. They have a drive and imagination that will cause you to find color in even the most grey days.

We need each other. This race can be EXHAUSTING! Instead of comparing how the other is running the race, maybe we should just shout a word of encouragement or sit and listen to each other’s journey.

To the tortoises out there: Be patient with the hare in your life. They mean well and they need your still, constant presence to bring them back to earth when their heads are in the clouds. You need their energy and they need your calm.

To the hares out there: Take time to recognize and appreciate the tortoise in your world. They are not trying to hold you back or slow you down. You need their perspective and they need your energy.

Now let’s get out there and run the race the best way we know how. Keep your head up and keep going because if you’re raising the next generation, you’re already in the most important race of all – you’re shaping the future. I’m here for you and I appreciate you. Slow and steady might not win all the races, but maybe we can all start to ensure we are running the RIGHT race.

On your mark, get 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

 

 

Meet the Momma Bears

momma bearMomma Bear’s Unite!

I very clearly remember leaving the hospital with our first-born son and wanting to block out the world, the germs and the injuries that were SURE to reach him in his innocence and perfection. That desire lessened a bit as more children joined our family. I acknowledged the presence of these “unknowns” but I had a bit more confidence in myself and in my children to handle the inescapable truth – I can’t protect my children from everything and that’s okay.

One of my favorite lines from the Disney movie, Finding Nemo, is when Nemo’s dad says he will never let ANYTHING happen to Nemo. Dory questions this kind of thinking. To never allow ANYTHING to happen to a child means we keep them from experiencing the good things in the world AND the good that can sometimes come from bad things happening.

So here I am, the mother of a teenager, a preteen and a 3rd grader. Let’s just say the momma bear in me is starting to rare its head in a new and fierce way and this time I’m not dismissing the urgency I feel in my spirit.

Please don’t misread my motivation…I’m not afraid.

The protective bend I’m experiencing is fueled by my keen awareness at how my opinion and my level of influence is constantly being challenged. My ability to remain relevant and connected to them is being threated daily and I am working overtime to stay connected.

I need this connection if I’m going to help them learn how to avoid the sometimes deadly grip the world will try to have on  their lives. I don’t want to be a helicopter parent – I just want to be a mom who is an AWARE parent.

We talk about it all the time: the world is changing.

Technology, education, the job market – my children’s future will look very different from mine but who they are on the inside, the kind of citizen they are to the world, and their impact on others doesn’t have to be limited and it doesn’t have to change.

No matter what kind of technological wonders are strapped to our wrists or held in our hands I believe I have a fairly straightforward, focused role to play in my children’s lives. Sometimes that means turning into a Momma Bear and not apologizing for it.

Will you join me?

You will fight for your kids and your home?

Will you raise up a generation of men and women that show strength without sarcasm, give love without judgment and serve without expectations.

It’s not going to be easy. We’ll be tempted to give in and give up – but we will not! We’ll claim victory, even when it seems we’re losing the battle.

Over the next few weeks we’re going to focus on the big picture while remaining faithful to each other, to our families and to our convictions.

Momma Bears Unite!

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

When Their Brains Turn Off

onoff2It happens more than I’d like to admit.

First my boys will do something truly stupid or completely against how we raised them (like licking the table, shooting each other with rubber bands, etc…).

Next, I will look at them and say, “I think your brain turned off for a minute – let’s think about this for a minute.”

I only use this line because if I didn’t I would say something like, “Quit that!”, “What were you thinking!?” or “Stop it now!”

{side note: asking a boy WHY he did something is like asking a dog why it peed on the rug – they don’ t know, they really don’t}

Tonight was one of those nights.

Matt took the older two boys to football and I dragged our youngest through his older brother’s Open House. It’s our first year with a middle-schooler and I was anxious to hear from all his teachers and make sure I was in the know.

I stopped by the counselor’s office and as we were talking I noticed the counselor’s eyes kept drifting past mine to look behind me. When I finally turned around I saw my 2nd grader jumping up and down on the chair sitting in her office.

I was mortified.

We don’t jump on furniture! I don’t even let them jump on their beds! What. Was. Happening!?!?!

I apologized, he got down and we went to the next class.

I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was embarrassed and amazed all at the same time. Where did he get the idea that jumping on the furniture of a workplace was okay?

As the science teacher walked us through his power point I started to think about why I was so bothered.

Then I figured it out…His brain turned off and even though I had stopped the behavior I wasn’t certain it wouldn’t happen again.

As we left science he asked what room we now needed (his job was to locate room numbers throughout the night).

I pulled him aside and said we were going to skip the next class. Here’s our conversation:

M: Buddy, do you remember a little while ago when you were jumping on the chair in that lady’s office?

J: Yeah (as he picks his nose and tries to wipe it on the wall behind him)

M: Do you think that was a good or bad choice?

J: (lengthy pause) Bad.

M: I’m wondering if your brain just kind of turned off for a little bit.

J: Yeah, maybe.

M: Do we jump on furniture? Especially other people’s furniture!?

J: No.

M: So, how are we gonna remind your brain not to that again?

J: I don’t know.

M: We’re gonna need to go back into her office and apologize for jumping on her furniture.

{his face reflects the sentiment, “things just got real”}

J: I really don’t want to do that.

M: I know, but when we make choices that go against what we KNOW is right, we have to apologize – it’s not easy.

J: I REALLY don’t want to do that. {tears are beginning to form}

M: Well, we’re going to do it and I’ll be with you. Let’s not make a big deal about it. Just walk in and say, “I’m sorry for jumping on your furniture” and I know she’ll say it’s okay.

As we walk to the office his fists are clenched and he’s moving from sadness to pure anger.

M: Hi Mrs. Smith, it’s just again. James had a quick thing he wanted to say to you.

J: I’m sorry I jumped on your furniture.

She was very forgiving and it was over in 30 seconds. But as we left her office the tears truly began to flow. At the end of the night I told him I was SO PROUD of him. He owned his choice and he made it right.

I asked him if he thought he’d ever jump on furniture again.

His response?

“No way mom! My brain isn’t gonna turn off about this again!”

I am fairly certain I’ll have to pull him off another piece of furniture very soon – but I’m hoping the act of apologizing will influence his desire to keep his brain turned ON, not OFF.

What are some of your kids’ “off” moments?

How do you help their brains turn back on?

Leave a comment – we want to hear from you!

Kasey

Permission Granted: 8 Truths New Moms Need To Hear

permission slip 2Congratulations! You’re a Mommy!

You’ve given birth.

You’ve experienced what it means to sacrifice everything to bring another human into the world.

You’ve probably also discovered how quickly you lose any sense of modesty and/or control of your physical body.

But when you hold that beautiful child in your arms all the pain and fear just wash away…

 

And then you are home, alone, with your baby…

 

Feedings every 2 hours, Mastitis, Colic, uterine contractions, stitches, constant bottle washing, staples, extra weight, hormones, spit up, constant laundry, pumping, the list could go – on but we’ll stop here…

Even if someone TRIES to prepare us for what is to come we don’t understand until we live it.

So here’s my point… no, my PLEA to any new mom out there…

I beg you to ignore the celebrity moms who grace magazine covers and the voice in your head whispering doubt into your spirit.

Instead, please accept the following as a gift from me and other members of our Smarter Moms community – you are not alone and you’re doing great!

Dear new Mom,

You have permission to grieve. During your pregnancy you probably made a plan and had expectations. I hope all your expectations were met and plans came to be – but in case things turned out differently it’s okay to take time to grieve the loss of your expectation. Welcome to parenthood – where expectations are sometimes crushed by reality. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just part of the gig.

You have permission to have a messy house. The laundry, dishes, vacuuming and windows don’t have feelings. They don’t care if you ignore them and PLEASE HEAR THIS – real friends won’t care either!!! Don’t be afraid to have people over – sometimes you need conversation more than cleanliness.

You have permission to cry. You’ll cry at nothing and everything and all that emotion means one thing – you’re normal and you have a soul. The tears won’t flow forever so don’t see them as a weakness, see them as a release.

You have permission to ask for help. Enjoy the fact that people want to help you. Let them bring meals, do laundry and run errands for you – you aren’t superwoman so stop acting like nothing happened and you can do everything like you used to. GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK!!!!

You have permission to hate your body. It’s amazing to see parts of our body grow, change and flop in ways it NEVER has before. Some of us bounce back quickly – if that’s you, I’m very happy for you. For the rest of us it’s sometimes a year before we can wear regular jeans again. You can hate the way your body looks, but you gotta love what it’s capable of doing. You created a human being and that matters more than the size of your jeans. Soon you’ll have the energy and drive to reclaim your physique. For now, stay away from the chocolate and Twinkies and get some rest!

You have permission to tell your mother, mother-in-law and other well-meaning family members to go away. Their intentions are good but their follow through can sometimes be lacking. Sometimes they have more suggestions than solutions and their desire to support us begins to feel like they are suffocating us. Be kind, but be firm. They will understand – even if it takes a little time. Do what is best for you and your baby – trust yourself.

You have permission to call “cold cereal” dinner. When it comes to feeding others and yourself you want to keep things healthy and routine, but there are days when the exhaustion, sleep deprivation and physical strain are too much. On those days you don’t have to justify the pizza, cereal or frozen lasagna on the table (I’m not a new mommy and this STILL happens in our house – just keeping it real)

You have permission to mess up. While trying to trim my newborn’s nails I actually cut the skin on the tip of his finger. I felt awful! How could I hurt my baby!? Once I laid my newborn on the sofa and I didn’t place him far enough back – and he fell onto the floor! I don’t think I’ve ever admitted that to anyone, not even my husband – but ya know what? He’s fine. He’s a healthy, handsome sixth grader. Make mistakes, laugh at yourself, learn from them and MOVE ON! Don’t live with guilt or fear, they drain you emotionally, physically, spiritually and mentally. Guilt and fear don’t deserve to have the best parts of you – save those for your baby.

Having a baby doesn’t mean you will have the answers.

It does mean you have the chance to learn from your yesterdays, enjoy your today and look forward to your tomorrow.

And if anyone questions you or tries to make you feel guilty – just show them your permission slip – or as I like to call it, your baby.

Children are more important than our reputations or other people’s expectations…take care of yourself and you’ll be able to care for others.

One day, one hour, one task at a time. It’s better that way.

You are loved!

Kasey

 

Blog Tour Update

Here we are – the middle of the blog tour and I have to say, it’s been quite an experience.

I wasn’t sure how blog tours really worked and when my publisher suggested we do this to help promote Mom Essentials I thought it sounded like a great idea!

Then I found out some of the bloggers would be reading the book and posting their honest review of it – YIKES!

After working on this study for over 3 years I have become incredibly connected with the content and the vision God placed on my heart to have this study reach mothers of all ages across the United States. To think someone might not like what is written in the pages is a reality I constantly surrender to God – knowing I was obedient in what was asked of me and I can’t fret over how it’s used or who likes it.

However, thanks to this blog tour I’ve been able to read some honest feedback that reminds me – this is GOD’S PROJECT – not mine and He is moving and working through this project – praise the Lord!!!

Anyone who has participated in the tour, ordered the book, written a review on Amazon or Goodreads, given the study a rating, decided to use it as your curriculum for your mom’s group or just helped spread the word…

YOU ARE AMAZING!!!

You encourage my heart.

You bring me joy.

You are VITAL to God’s plan for our families and our communities.

In case you missed any of the great stories, reviews or connections from our tour – the links are below. These are some great moms with awesome perspectives. The tour continues tomorrow!

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook to stay connected – love you all!

Kasey

Kathi Lipp   (Podcast with Kathi too!)

AlexandraKuykendall

Channel Mom

Jessie Jo

Momsie Blog


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