Can You Give This Gift To Your Kids?

When we do things for our children that they can do for themselves, we rob them of an opportunity to build self-esteem.  Conversely, as we ask kids to help around the house and make reasonable contributions to the family, they gain confidence; those confidence-building experiences then help to prepare them for success in adulthood.

Seems simple enough, but what about situations where our kids face negative consequences – especially because of their own choices?  Allowing our kids to experience the natural, negative consequences can be hard for parents.  In particular, many mothers find it hard not to rush in and rescue their kids.

When the situation involves our own expectations, the key is to communicate very clearly the behavior or results that are expected and are considered “acceptable.”  Important, also, is to clearly communicate the consequences if those behaviors or results are not achieved.

Next comes the most challenging part for many parents: allow the child to suffer the natural consequences of their choices/behaviors.

Instead of talking incessantly to them about what they’ve done or rescuing them and giving them an “out,” allow them to suffer the natural consequences.  Don’t skip over that very important word “suffer.”  Yes, it’s hard to see our kids hurting sometimes, but it’s in the middle of those struggles that they gain tremendous growth – growth that is needed for adulthood.

If you enable them or rescue them, you rob them of valuable opportunities to gain skills they’ll need later in life.  Never forget that enabling is more often about the enabler (you) than it is the one who is enabled (your kids).  However, it’s damaging to both parties.

When, for example, your children miss their curfew and then realize they’ll have to stay in that weekend and miss out on a big social event, the most effective response I’ve found is this: “Bummer!” 

“Bummer” allows them to feel the weight of their consequences and communicates clearly and efficiently that you will not rescue them; instead, you’ll give them the “gift” of learning from their poor choices or mistakes.  And that is a very valuable gift – one for which they’ll thank you some day in the future.

  • Alicia Economos, founder & director of “Wholehearted Living Ministries”

 

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Is It Time For A Cut? (Not your hair, and not your budget)

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Imagine that you find yourself with a shortage of funds, not sure how you’re going to meet all your expenses. Your first thought might be, “How can I bring in more money?” In this scenario however, there’s another equally helpful option. Ask yourself this question: “How can I reduce my expenses?”

That seems so logical when we’re talking about finances, but what about your schedule? Do you typically over-schedule yourself? Is your daily mantra, “There’s never enough time in the day?” If so, why not ask yourself a similar question: “How can I reduce my commitments?”

The facts are simple: Everyone has 24 hours a day; there’s nothing any of us can do to get more time. However, the choice is yours as to how you use the time. You can waste time or use it wisely. If you find yourself not having enough time, maybe it’s time to cut some commitments from your calendar.

Keep in mind that this will involve saying no, which can be challenging for many women. When you say yes to one thing you’re inevitably saying no to something else; maybe something ultimately more important to you – like your health and happiness. As you review your schedule, you may see that your tendency to keep peace with others has produced a lack of peace with yourself.  Unfortunately, if you make that a habit it’ll cause resistance to living wholeheartedly.

If you’re truly overscheduled, the remedy is literally on the tip of your tongue: Just say no. Cut out some commitments so you find time for yourself.

Knowing what’s important to you and aligning your commitments with these priorities, results in a deep peace, confidence and joy. Who wouldn’t want that?

-Here’s to happy cutting!

Which One Are You?

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When life gives you lemons how do you handle them? Do you often feel blindsided and react to the “bad cards you’ve been dealt?” Do you complain that what you really wanted was oranges? Do you spend months focusing on the “bad news” or do you find a way to make lemonade?

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not suggesting that you should be happy when life deals you lemons. In fact, it’s critical to validate your feelings before doing anything else. However, after you’ve processed your feelings, what then? How quickly do you look for options in the midst of the challenges?

For example, imagine you’ve just been told that your job has been eliminated. How much time do you spend feeling angry and upset, complaining about how unfair it is? How long do you remain in that “victim” mindset? Although the news surprised or upset you, can you look for the hidden opportunity within the situation?

As you process this, where does prayer enter the picture? Do you try to figure things out on your own, or do you pray and ask God to direct your next steps – for Him to show you the doors waiting to be opened?

Over the past fifteen years I’ve heard a lot of women’s stories. Many are filled with tragedy. They talk about unhealthy marriages or job situations, loss of a spouse or a child and toxic relationships with food, their body, alcohol or other substances. However, I’ve seen two very different approaches to handling those situations. One road is that of a “victim.” These women react as if thy were still a child – one without resources or power to turn things around. The second approach is the road of a” victor.” These women fully embrace their reality and then look for options that can help them move forward. They take steps to move from where they are to where they believe God wants them to be.

My question is this: Which one are you? Take a look at your most recent setbacks or trials, and see how you handled them. My prayer is that you’ve discovered those trials were actually trails that led you to something better. If so, you’re well on your way to a victorious life – or what I call “living wholeheartedly.”  – Alicia

Have You Crossed The Line?

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This post may especially hit home with those who are moms of adult children, like me.  As a mother, your tendency is to nurture your children (no matter how old they may be).  You want to do things to help them, to make life better and easier.  And that’s a great thing, to a point.

However, there’s a fine line between helping and that dreaded word… enabling.  Do you think that doesn’t apply to you?  Keep reading, as it just might.  Let me explain…

Recently, upon graduating from college, our 22-year-old son moved back home.  He started his job, is actively looking for a place to live, and will move out within the next 2 to 3 months.  In the meantime (while he’s under our roof) I have a lot of opportunities to do things for him.  For example, cook, clean and do laundry for him.  I love him and enjoy having him home, and I’m doing those things anyway, so why not just add him into the mix –right?

In my 26 years of being a mother (to our daughter and then our son), I’ve made plenty of mistakes (as every parent does).  However, I’ve also gained some wisdom.  In particular, I’ve learned that doing too much for our kids, can quickly become damaging –it can enable unhealthy and immature behavior, which promotes a failure to launch.  If you’ve seen the movie, “Failure to Launch,” you know what I’m talking about.

So I made a decision: As a general rule, I will not do my son’s laundry –as to do so would rob him of the confidence he gains from doing it himself; I will not clean his bedroom or pick up after him –because being responsible for the cleanliness of your own living space is part of being an adult; and I will not hover over him; try to control his decisions about what to wear, what to eat and what to do everyday –for that would stunt his growth and ability to launch.

As parents, I believe one of our greatest jobs is to prepare our children to become responsible, productive and kind adults; to train them and empower them to stand on their own two feet.  The Bible (Proverbs 22:6) says it this way, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

So if by some chance your children are having trouble standing on their own, maybe it’s time to look in the mirror -to see if you’ve crossed the line from loving to enabling.  If that’s the case don’t panic, just start RE-training them (and yourself).

By all means, validate their feelings, encourage them, and pray for them, but stop there. The bottom line is that living wholeheartedly means loving yourself, God and others with all your heart.  Just remember that “with all your heart,” doesn’t mean enabling.

Post note:  Before you come to the conclusion that this sounds harsh, please know that this very morning, I made a double batch of scrambled eggs so that our son could have some with me.  It’s just that I don’t make this a daily habit.   After all, he needs to know how to make eggs for himself, which I am proud to say, he does.  🙂  Wishing a successful launch for your children!