The dictionary describes a family as:
- a group of people who are related to each other
- a person’s children
- a group of related people including people who lived in the past
This certainly is a limited description, yet sadly, it perfectly describes a lot of families today. We are often related to other people but this doesn’t mean that we live in the same house or even have good relationships. We are so busy trying to find personal happiness and become independent that we fail to see how important our family really is.
Here is my description of a family. A family should be:
- a group of people who love and protect each other
- a group of people who care for each other during good and bad times
- a group people who are there when you need them
- a group of people who set a positive example for each other
- a group of people who help us learn about our emotions and how to deal with them in a positive way
- a group of people who help us build good relationships
- a group of people who can trust each other
- a group of people who teach us the truth
- a group of people who set healthy, safe boundaries
- a group of people who communicate openly and honestly
- a group of people who work together to solve problems
In my opinion, a family does not have to be related to each other by blood. A family can be anyone who loves you and takes care of you. Who is in your family? Can you add anything to my description?
Parenting is a full time job that requires a lot of time and effort. Finding time in this busy world can be a real challenge but it is important if you want your children to become responsible, caring adults. You can’t be a part-time parent if you want a full-time child and a full-time family. Parents need to be actively involved in the lives of their children and show them how valuable they are. If you have too many things going on in your life, determine what is really important and cut out anything that you don’t really have to do. You DO NOT have to be a super-person like the world tells us. You just have to do the best you can and being a good parent is far more important that most other things.
Take the time to teach your children to:
- love themselves and love others
- be a positive role model
- have good manners
- be encouraging and supportive
- communication effectively
- spend valuable time with their family and friends
- set and work towards realistic goals
- accept failure and learn from their mistakes
- be a responsible, caring adult
- be thankful for what they have
- help others and show kindness
- never give up
Remember that everything has consequences. If you take the time to teach your children important things, the whole family will benefit. However if you don’t take the time to teach your children important things, the whole family will suffer and there will be a lot of problems to deal with. The choice is yours.
When you hear the word ‘Easter’ what comes to your mind? Chocolate eggs and candy, bunnies and chickens or something deeper and more meaningful?
Easter was instituted to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ and is also linked to the Jewish Passover. Easter customs vary across the Christian and non-Christian world including: church services, family get togethers, decorating Easter eggs, Easter parades and various events.
Here is what Easter means to me:
E- eating a meal with my family
A – attending church
S – spending time with my grandson
T – taking time to reflect
E – enjoying some quiet time
R – renewing my faith
What does Easter mean to you? Try making your own Easter acrostic.
We all try to live up to someone’s expectations and we all put expectations on other people. Whose expectations are you trying to live up to?
- your husband
- your wife
- your parents
- your children
- a teacher
- a boss
- a friend
- the world
Expectations can be positive or negative depending on the effect they have on a person. Positive expectations can encourage people to move ahead and reach their goals. Negative expectations can discourage people and stop them from reaching their goals.
Parents will often put the expectation on their children to follow a certain pathway, such as being a doctor, teacher, singer, etc. This can be a good thing if the child has an interest in that field and they are being encouraged to do well. However, if this is the parent’s dream and they push their child, who has no interest and doesn’t do very well, the child may feel like a failure.
People can also live up or live down to an expectation. If a child is continually told they always do well, that they are a winner and nobody is as good as they are, they will live up to that expectation but will eventually fail because they can’t keep being a winner. If a child is continually told that they can’t do something, they are a slow learner or they are worthless, they will live down to those poor expectations and probably not try to succeed in life.
Spouses often have unrealistic expectations of each other. They think the other person understands how they feel and what they are supposed to do. Then when they don’t fill each other’s expectations, they are disappointed and this leads to marriage breakdowns. Friends are the same. Their unrealistic expectations lead to relationship issues. Everyone is different, but we expect people to think and act like we do. We need to listen to each other and learn how to accept our differences without judgement and conflict. Good communication is the key to understanding each other.
We need to put realistic and fair expectations on a person by:
- acknowledging their unique abilities
- not expecting them to do the impossible
- helping them accept their mistakes
- showing them how to learn from their failures
- encouraging them to try harder
- never comparing them to others
What do you expect from your children? What do you expect from other people? Is it realistic and fair?
Have you ever participated in people watching? This can be a great way to observe how people act and learn something about their behaviour. People watching should be done inconspicuously in a crowded mall, park or other area when you can observe people acting naturally without knowing someone is watching them.
A few days ago, I was parent watching which is my version of checking out the way parents behave with their children. Since doing research and writing a book on parenting, I’ve become a super spy when it comes to parents and I am continually testing my theories and making personal conclusions.
This particular evening, I was sitting in the food court of a mall, drinking coffee and waiting for a colleague. A father brought his 2 children about ages 10 and 12? (I’m not really a great age guesser) to the next table and told them to sit down while he bought some food. The little girl put her feet up on the bench and her father told her to sit properly and behave. I thought, “Well, he seems to be pretty strict”. A few minutes later he brought food back to the table and sat down. They started eating and then the father laughed and said to his son, “That hamburger is pretty messy, isn’t it. You’re going to have to learn how to eat it properly. But you’re doing a great job. I’m proud of you.” Then they talked about when the dad was working over Christmas and what days they would be able to spend together. When they were finished eating, the father and his daughter got up to throw away their garbage. On their way back to the table, the dad put his arm around the girl and she put her arm around her dad. Then she said, “Daddy, I love you”. The father responded, “I love you too, sweetheart”. As the three walked away, I could feel the amazing love this family had for each other.
It shows when families know how to love and care for each other. They don’t fight and argue in public. They don’t complain or criticize each other. Their relationship is warm and loving and they don’t seem stressed or uncomfortable. It is important that we learn as parents how to provide a loving atmosphere so we can raise our children to feel accepted, validated and supported. Many of us haven’t been raised in a positive environment, so we need to make some positive changes and work hard to become a better parent. Check out some bookstores or visit your local library and pick up some books on parenting. It is well worth the effort and the results will be a happier, closer family. Here are some of the books I have read and would highly recommend:
When your children are talking to you, do you listen to what they are saying? Do you hear the emotion behind their words? Do you understand what they are saying? Do you even care?
Often we become so busy with life that we tend to ignore what our children are saying. Small children can be especially annoying when you are talking on the phone, doing some work or trying to read. They can start chattering away and interrupt your thoughts. Older children or teens might make a comment that seems unimportant or ridiculous and we dismiss them with a quick unfeeling reply.
When children are speaking, it is important that we acknowledge their feelings and try to understand what message they are conveying. If we don’t tune in to their feelings and let them know we are listening, we will lose their trust and they won’t share their problems with us. Children want to communicate with their parents and if they are unable to connect, they will find someone else to talk to. Parents need to listen to their words and try to understand their feelings without being judgmental. Parents may not always agree with what their children are saying or even totally understand, but they have to be willing to listen anyway. This will promote good communication between parent and child and pave the way for a closer relationship.
If your child is trying to communicate with you:
- STOP AND LISTEN!
- Pay attention to what they are saying.
- Read their body language.
- What emotions are they showing? Are they happy or upset, excited or worried, nervous or afraid?
- Look directly into their eyes and encourage them to talk.
- Ask questions and make sure you understand how they feel and try to determine what they need.
- Be supportive, try not to argue or force your opinion and don’t discount their feelings.
Remember back when you were a young child or teenager. Your ideas about life were totally different than they are now. You won’t always see eye to eye with your child but they need your love and support. If they think that you are listening to them with an open mind, they will feel that their thoughts and feelings are important. This will help them build good esteem and become a confident, responsible adult.
Do you listen to your children?
Today is Halloween in many countries. The word Halloween means ‘hallowed or holy evening’ and is believed to be of Christian origin, falling on the day before All Saints’ Day (Nov 1) and All Souls’ Day (Nov 2).
The custom of treat or treating goes back to the fifteenth century when groups of poor people, mostly children, would go door-to-door collecting soul cakes for the souls in purgatory. Candles were commonly lit in houses to guide lost souls back to their earthly homes. Various rituals and ceremonies were followed in Ireland, France, Spain, Italy and other countries.
Halloween has now become a huge celebration around the world. People of all ages don costumes to go trick or treating, attend parties, light bonfires, visit haunted attractions, watch horror movies and take part in other amusing and entertaining events.
I used to enjoy Halloween when I was a child, dressing up and going out with my friends to pick up a few treats. Then as a mother, I continued to dress up and go out with my children. It was fun seeing all the cute costumes and we had a good time. However, now I must confess that I’ve stopped celebrating Halloween because it just isn’t fun anymore. It has just become another commercial adventure that convinces us to spend too much money on costumes, decorations and candy.
- We dress our children in costumes that are too scary or too sexy which forms their ideas on how they should dress.
- We teach them to get as much candy as they can so they learn to become greedy.
- We allow our teens to go trick or treating and often they complain or act in an aggressive manner when they don’t get the kind of candy they like.
- Young children are being allowed to watch horror movies or go to haunted displays which can have a negative impact on them.
- Children being injured or killed (according to stats – twice as many children die in car-pedestrian accidents on Halloween than on any other day)
- Then there are a lot of evil rituals held on Halloween that I won’t even mention
So you might think I’m just a party pooper, but after giving some treats to my grandson tonight I will probably be out somewhere enjoying the evening air while a majority of the world celebrates Halloween.
Now here is something I like to see http://youtu.be/GkBDRUO8hAo
I can’t believe how rude people can be. It seems like everywhere you go, people are rushing to get somewhere and never take the time to show common courtesy. When you go in a store, people will step right in front of you to go in the door before you. When you are driving, cars cut you off. When you are crossing the street, you are taking your life in your hands because some drivers will almost run you down to turn the corner and fly down the street. Why does everyone have to be in such a hurry? What is so important that common courtesy is ignored and replaced by rudeness?
Tonight my husband and myself were almost run over by two different drivers who couldn’t wait while we crossed in a cross walk in front of a department store. They actually had to go into the other lane to pass by us and didn’t slow down or even glance our way as they drove past. Thank God we weren’t walking faster or we might have been injured!
Of course there are a lot of very nice people in this world that take the time to show kindness and respect for their fellow human beings. Unfortunately, it seems that more and more people all the time are losing their sense of common courtesy. I see this a lot in young people and it is because they are not taught how to love and respect people. It is so important that we teach our children common courtesy and also be a good example to everyone around us.
- if we model love to others, they will learn to love
- if we model respect to others, they will learn to respect
- if we model kindness to others, they will learn to be kind
What kind of role model are you?
When I was a child, most families had traditions, but today it seems that people just don’t have time to keep or build any traditions. Families used to eat together, play together, pray together. Now it seems that everyone is just too busy to be bothered about having any traditions. Family members have different schedules for work, school and other various activities, often passing each other going in or out of the house. Traditions are no longer important to most people simply because they don’t have time.
If you don’t have time for building traditions, you are missing out on something very meaningful. Traditions help family members connect and reassure them of how important they are. They help people feel special, that they are loved and that they belong. Traditions don’t have to take a long time, just a few minutes each day being together as a family is important. Take a look at your priorities and determine what is important in your life. Is it work, money, sports, watching TV? These things don’t really provide you with much lasting happiness in life. Good relationships with family and friends is much more important and fulfilling.
Take some time to build traditions and discover how rewarding it can be. Here are some ideas:
- special occasion family meals – birthdays, anniversaries, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas
- weekly pizza night
- annual camping trip
- back to school shopping trip
- daily walk
- weekly games night
- once-a-month family dance party or sing-a-long
- weekly cookie bake
- weekly BBQ
- nightly bedtime story (for young children)
- family trip to get a pumpkin or Christmas tree
- annual family fishing derby
- weekly church participation
- Popcorn and movie night
- Summer or winter vacation
There are lots of ideas for creating traditions with family and friends. Think of some that you would enjoy doing with your family, then get together and make it happen! Start building some traditions that will follow you throughout life. Great traditions make life special. Enjoy!!