Tag Archives: Parents Are People Too

Family Meetings Fizzling? Here’s Help

Well run Family Meetings improve communication, let every voice be heard, save time, ease decision making, and are far too rare.

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Every time I talked about family meetings at workshops or with parents seeking help, three responses predominated. Some parents said:

“Tried that. Didn’t work. No way I’m trying again.”
“Go to too many meetings at my job; all a waste of time.”
The third response would be a facial expression screaming “No, no.”

If I was lucky enough to get a family to talk about why their family meetings failed, the answers were pretty much the same:

“Too much complaining, too much whining, too much venting.”
“Took too long to get everyone to agree.”
“The kids sat silently and later complained we were first class dictators.”

I don’t blame the parents for failing; I blame the parent advice experts. Some of the advice mirrors my own: set an agenda, use go-round discussions, build fun into the process, have opening and closing rituals. Good advice.

However, is a sample of advice that made me screech like someone stepped on a sore toe; it is from an article in Parenting Magazine:

The best approach to planning family meetings is probably to set up the expectation that the whole family will meet to try to make decisions and solve problems together.

Hog wash, humbug and a set up for dissent and difficulty. Mostly a plea for democracy. However, democracy works when there are strong, caring leaders who know what needs to happen, who know what is possible, and who don’t let the kids vote until they are at least eighteen and in many places, twenty-one.

Contrary to popular opinion as reflected in most of the parenting advice floating around, a family run as a democracy does not work. Let me repeat that: A family run as a democracy does not work.

Families work best when parents take on the role of benign dictators. Be very clear, I am talking about benign dictatorships not the ones invested in getting the trains to run on time and the masses bowing or saluting un-elected and cruel leaders.

Here are my tips for becoming a benign family meeting leader and having half a chance of running a successful family meetings:

1. Repeat and believe the following mantra. For two parent families: “Us, our house, our wallet, our rules.” For a single parent home: “Me, my house, my wallet, my rules.

2. Do not work to keep everyone happy, allow everyone to vent, or allow full participation in the problem solving process. Your job as a parent is to  pay the bills, assure children kept safe and properly cared for, not to assure happiness.

3. Make the rules and punishments are clear,  fair, just,  realistic, and work for the betterment of all, are

4. Allows a few decisions to be reached by consensus or vote, but do so carefully, and if dissent arises,  exercise the benign dictator’s right to rule.

5. Do not allow pop-corning. Pop-corning lets participants speak at random. Instead use the go-round facilitation style. The facilitator asks the questions or poses a comment for discussion at the start of each go-round; the others respond one by one. As each person responds, the facilitator merely nods or say “Thank you.”

If during a go-round someone speaks rudely, speaks about another person’s view instead of their own, the facilitator says “Please stay on topic, and repeats the question or item for discussion.

A Reality Check: If you have been following the “Siblings Without Rivalry,” soft love ideas that parents are responsible for their child’s feelings and happiness becoming a benign dictator model will not be easy.

Moreover, the kids will protest. Wouldn’t you if someone instead of focusing exclusively on your happiness, started to tell you a variation of “Suck it up, Buttercup”.

What to do? Announce the change in parenting styles. Reframe it as the next step to adulthood. Say something like this:

“You are at the age, when you need to learn what it means to be an adult and that means attending and participating in meetings like a grown up. We are going to have Family Meeting and I am going to run them like a hard-nosed boss.

Second reality check: If your parenting style has been that of Marine Commander ala The Great Santini, meaning you either don’t have family meetings or use them to issue edicts to your sullen or frightened subjects. You will need to reverse tactics and follow the more usual advice of letting your subjects make more decisions, and giving them more rewards. Your mantra needs to be “Their life, their needs.”

Final reality check: Expect stress whether this is your first attempt to hold a family meeting or a renewed attempt. If switching parent styles is part of the process that will add more stress. Here’s an introduction to EFT’s Self-soothing skills. So a tip or two about dealing with that stress.

Tip one: Keep your expectations realistic. Hold six meetings and then figure out if they are working. If working, take everyone out for ice cream or to the movies as a reward. If not working, think about having a parent coach come and help get things on track be possible?

Tip two: Work to improve your self-soothing skills. Practice my Daily Twelve Emotional Fitness Exercises. Here’s an introductory link. For more on self-soothing, consider buying my eBook, Self-soothing To Create Peace In Your LIfe. It costs less than a latte and lasts longer.

Tip three: If all family times are mad or sad times, consider seeking a competent professional consultation.

Thank you for all you do

Practice kindness. Remember to share all you find of value on the internet.  All who post crave recognition. A like says “Thank You.” Comments say you have read and thought about the post. Sharing is a gift to three people: the blogger, the people you share with, and you for your kindness blesses you.

Stay strong, it takes some effort for life can be a painful struggle.

Katherine

Post Inspiration: This post was not inspired  by the WordPress Daily  Prompt:  Clean.

Go here to learn more about the Daily Prompts.

Links of Interest

These links are for those not familiar with Emotional Intelligence or the idea of Emotional Fitness.

Disclaimer two: Take all advice even mine, carefully.  Don’t just listen to your heart, but also think; don’t just think, listen to your heart.  Heart and head working together increase the odds you will find useful advice amid all the promises and hopes pushed at you be others.  As others have noted, take what seems useful, leave the rest.

Disclaimer two: Forgive my grammatical errors

If  you need perfect posts, you will not find them  here;  I will understand if you don’t follow, like or share what  like me.  Not only am I dealing with an aging brain, but all of my life I have been plagued by dysgraphia–a learning disability,  Some of my posts might be peppered with bad spelling, poor punctuation, and worse words that make no sense.  If  you want to hang in with me, thank you; you are kind. If a post doesn’t make sense or bugs you too much, stop reading, I will understand.

 

 

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Don’t Let Your Kids Grow Up to be Entitled – Parenting Tips.

Age and stage fact: Kids until a certain age think what is is what should be, so giving kids too much too soon breeds entitlement. Not healthy for anyone.

Quotes and cartoon about entitlement

Parents want their children to be happy. Normal, but not healthy. Research shows acceptance and gratitude work better. Moreover, children do better when allowed to learn on their own and that often means letting them struggle and sometimes fail.

PARENTING TIPS

Tip one:  Get you own expectations in order.  Here’s what the writers of the Declaration of Independence said about rights (entitlements), “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Life at its most basic means water, food, shelter, warmth, and adequate health care.  Liberty  meant not being a slave and having choices so you can pursue happiness which was not  guaranteed.

(For a little perspective recall that at first only free men who owned property were thought entitled to these rights.  Moreover, although progress has been made, more needs doing. Also recall that most of our fore fathers were slave owners.  Throughout history, in all cultures slavery of some was justified by seeing some as entitled and others as not so blessed.)

Tip two: Do a happiness inventory. What makes you happy and for how long? Most studies show that two things contribute to happiness once basic rights have been met: a sense of being good and sense of being competentMoreover, there is a greater sense of competency when one works hard and stuggles to achieve something.

Tip three: Know and emphasize the rules that matter. Those rules: safety for all; respect for all living beings, respect for property, and respect for reasonable laws.

Start your teaching good manners as soon as your child starts talking. The first ones to teach:”Please “and “Thank You,”  helping others, cleaning up after yourself.

Part of rule setting is helping your child gain a sense of mission and the healthiest mission is following the “Golden Rule” as preached across the ages.

What-matters

Tip four: Set and use SMART goals then teach your children to do the same as enter their pre-teens and teens.  My eBook “Know your Mission So You Can Reach Your Goals detao;s jpw tp set SMART Goals, but here is a quick peek at the smart goal process.

smart goals

My eBook Know Your Mission So You Can Reach Your Goals give you more details. Buy it now, it costs less than a latte.

 PRACTICE KINDNESS

Sharing is caring; so is liking, or commenting.

Thank you for all you do., Work at staying strong until next time,. I work hard to do the same as life is often difficult and parenting a struggle.

Katherine

This post was not inspired by this WordPress Daily Prompt:  

Exhale.Tell us about a time when everything seemed to be going wrong — and then, suddenly, you knew it would be alright.

Many times, many ways. But it all turend out okay given time enough.

LINKS OF INTEREST

 Emotional Intelligence  (en.wikipedia.org)
The EFTI Store (eftistore.com)

 

 

Two Phrases that Disarm Negativity – Parenting Advice

The joy of parenthood seriously diminishes the joy of marriage. Surprised? Then you probably do not have children.

Crying baby and upset parents.

Babies add stress and lots of work, so no surprise that 68% of marriages deteriorate when baby comes home. The crying, the lack of sleep, the jangled nerves are real, but for many unexpected. This rude awakening  starts when baby’s cries cannot be soothed.

Did you know that nature designed a baby’s crying to torture adults.  Studies show that adults react to crying babies with raised stress levels that can reach painful levels.

Why? Because the adults so tortured are motivated to  stop the crying. Most do so by tending to the baby. Most also experience great relief when baby can be comforted. When the crying cannot be comforted the parental stress keeps growing.

Here is an interested fact: how the adults think about (interpret) the baby’s crying is a reason in baby beatings. A crying baby that cannot be comforted makes all parents feel out of control. Stress grows is you need to feel in control. Most such baby beatings are done by men and by men who think the baby is crying on purpose and just to “get” the man in one other way.

The correct interpretation, of course, is baby is in pain. If hunger satisfies the pain, all is good, if it doesn’t, then the adults need to be able to tolerate the on going crying without blaming themselves. They need to do what they can to comfort the baby and then accept children are not controlled by parents.

To reduce their stress, parents need to put baby down in his or her crib, shut the door and leaving the sound of the crying.  The experts suggest checking the baby every ten or fifteen minutes.

That bit of advice, did not work for my youngest son. He needed to cry for thirty or forty minutes in order to fall asleep. checking only added to crying time.

The frustrations of parenthood do not end when baby outgrows crying and starts to walk and talk. Very soon comes the terrible twos which can extend into the terrible threes, fours, and eventually the terrible teens.  What to do? Read on.

PARENTING Thoughts and tips

Parents reduce negativity  as their child moves toward adulthood by the constant use of two phrases: “Please” and “Thank you.”

Properly invoked those words reduce parental stress in two ways. “Please” recognizes the limitations of the ability to control and for many is the heart of prayer – a plea to God, the Force, or the Universe to help. For the child, it provides carries the message  that s/he does have a choice when it comes to behavior.

“Thank you” essentially does the same.

The CARE plan sets out the proper use of these words, but particularly the use of “Thank You.”

The CARE Plan

Making amends after losing control.

As noted in the Poster Coach, the “Please ” can be said angrily. Angry words are a warning signal and much better than pretending you are cool, calm, and collected when you are seething.

Think back to your childhood for a minute. When did you know you had to toe the line. Your parents probably had a standard signal. It might be a raised voice, a lowered voice, a raised hand, or a pointing to the closet were the  switch were kept.

Until the kids know you really mean what you are saying, it is all a game to see how long they can keep doing what they want to do.

A bit of anger as an “I’ve had it” signal is not evil. Tom Phelon’s One, Two, Three Magic works better however.

But as I note in my book Parents Are People Too, parents are not always calm, cool, and collected.  So when you start seething, see that as a signal you might need to take a time out and if that is not possible to start praying to the God of your understanding until the child gets the message and does what is asked.

Then comes the  “Thank you.”   That, however, needs to be said without anger. It needs to be a generous recognition of the child’s better behavior. Mostly it can be part of ending on a positive note, but  it can also be said as the child begins to behave.

How does this reduce negatively in children?

John Gottman, the guru of relationships and a recognized researcher, is most famous for his five to one rule.  Lasting relationships have five pleasant exchanges for every negative one.

Negative interactions include: criticism, defensiveness, contempt, stonewalling, detachment, withdrawal of affection, and punishments.

Positive interactions include laughing, playing, and creating things together along with  rewards, forgiveness,  and making amends.

The balance is what matters and because children have to be kept safe and civilized and prepared for life in the real world, the balance can be toward the negative. The younger your child, the more you say “Please” and “Thank you,” the more you empower and make amends and correct the balance.

There is a bonus. Kids model you and your words become their words, your behaviors, their behavior.

PRACTICE KINDNESS

Sharing is caring; so is liking, or commenting.

Thank you for all you do., Work at staying strong until next time,. I work hard to do the same as life is often difficult and parenting a struggle.

Katherine

This post was not inspired by this WordPress Daily Prompt:    Third Rate Romance: Tell us your funniest relationship disaster story.

It does relate however as for many new parents the betrayal of the joy of marriage by parenthood is ironic and in truth not so funny. But with humor snd effort, it can be overcome. Stay strong.

Links of Interest

CRITICAL THINKING MATTERS – PARENTING TIPS

When did you stop believing in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy or the like? When that happened , you were thinking critically and more realistically.

critical thinking quotes

Being able to think realistically improves the odds you will have a safer,  and more content journey through life. All parents want that for their kids.

George V. Coelho, developmental theorist lists three things as necessary for successfully coping with life’s ups and downs:

  1. Coding reality – see what is, not what you want to see.
  2. Comforting yourself when reality is not to your liking.
  3. Feeling you have choice.

Those three attributes are also part of what is called Emotional Intelligence (EI) EI is defined as  a set of abilities related to the understanding, use and management of emotion as it relates to one’s self and others.

Parents play an important role in fostering a child’s EI including the ability to code reality.

Reality check:  Young children do have poetic moments, but thinking that makes great thinkers could get them killed.  Why we make our small children hold our hands crossing the street or in parking lots and discourage playing with matches.

All humans start their lives caught in tunnel vision. As we age hopefully we see wider vistas. However, Thomas Phenlon, a parenting guru I admire, notes that one of the biggest ways parents harm children is by treating them like miniature adults. That means thinking children are critical thinkers.  Not true, critical thinking, what some call intelligent thinking develops as children age.

Here is some good news for all. Intelligence is limited by our genes.  Not a politically correct notion, but wishing won’t change that we are not all equally endowed with intelligence.  Part of intelligence is Emotional Intelligence meaning thinking about what your feelings are suggesting and knowing when to act on those suggestions and when not to.

The good news? Emotional Intelligence is learned, not gifted and can always be improved.

More good news: Studies show that Emotional Intelligence is more important in living the good life than intelligence in general and is more important than money, education or social class in getting ahead.

PARENTING TIPS

Tip one: . You need to keep age and stage in mind.

  1. Pre-school aged children cannot think beyond  the feeling of the moment.
  2. School aged child cannot think beyond what can be seen, heard, or touched.
  3. Starting with the preteens children  become more and more able to think about abstract things like possibilities and  varying points of view. This shift in thought explains why teens are often so critical of parents
  4. As the child moves into adulthood, life experiences  improve judgement, something teens often lack.

Warning: The guidelines are general and some never become critical thinkers; others do it earlier than the above parameters.

Tip two: Do not worry  about a pre-schooler’s fantasies; at the same time, point out the make-believe stuff. Label play and make-believe as pretending or imaging. Do so in a calm matter of fact way.

Tip three:  Keep the fun in fantasy.  Saying “It is fun to believe in make-believe” when hanging up the Christmas stockings will not in any way diminish the child’s pleasure, but does pave the way for when s/he begins to understand what is real and what is not.

Tip four: Allow as much choice as possible, but label choices  “You have two choices” works well when  you can let the child pick one or the other.  Then label the child’s choices; “A wise choice.”  or ”Not the best choice.”  Also hold to safety and other major rules as “Not a choice.”

Tip five: Once the child stops believing in the Santa Claus or similar myths, start asking as you watch movies or media together “What’s real about that?” or “What’s fantasy about that?” Also be quicker to point out twisted thinking.   The following are  fairly easy to spot when you hone your critical thinking skills.

12 Examples of twisted thinking aka #fallaciousarguments

Tip six:  As the preteen or teens are entered upon continue the discussions suggested above, but go deeper.  The easiest  way to encourage deeper thought is to say “And” when the child or teen seems to have reached a limit in thinking critically.

See this post on sneaky hypnotism for other ideas.

Tip seven: As always your child models you. So you need to hone your critical thinking skills.   Parenting tips five and six, done with your child strengthens your EI as well as your child’s.

 There are other ways. Any activity that involves you in debates about differing view points  works.

Playing games of logic and doing puzzles.  My six-year-old grandson has just discovered UNO which combines luck and logic. It is also a game that can be fun for children and adults. And there is always chess. Many of our foster children liked to play chess with David.

 I do lots of puzzles.  I enjoy them and do them as one of my Daily Emotional Fitness Exercise “Laugh, Play, and Create.

But having fun is not enough to keep critical thinking abilities  improving.  The experts say, such puzzles only improve you thinking skills if they are challenging, so push yourself. I always do those that are above my level and “cheat” by getting help from the answers, only I do not call it cheating, but learning.

Now is also time to talk a bit about computers, TV and social media. I advocate the use of all three, but with an eye to moderation and safety.

My grandchildren love videos. Early on they have been exposed to  a number of the Baby Einstein series and  Signing Time  which teaches sign language being their favorite. They watch them during quiet time, so I can sneak in a quick power nap.

I know some parents ban all such things, but that only adds to their glamour. One of our neighbors why back when my kids were growing up. Banned TV. All three of their sons now work in Hollywood, producing movies and televisiou shows. Moderation is always a better choice than fanaticism.

PRACTICE KINDNESS

Sharing is caring; so is liking, or commenting.

Thank you for all you do., Work at staying strong until next time,. I work hard to do the same as life is often difficult and parenting a struggle.

Katherine

This post was not inspired by this WordPress Daily Prompt:  Pick Your GadgetYour local electronics store has just started selling time machines, anywhere doors, and invisibility helmets. You can only afford one. Which of these do you buy, and why?

However, it does have some relatedness. Right now my gadget of choice would be an electronic keyboard. Why? My grandkids love making music and are ready for an upgrade.  Surfing Goodwill. Wish me luck.