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Archive for July, 2015

Now brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. Mark 13:12 (NKJV)

Amy McCready, writing for TODAY Parents[i], lists five of the most common entitlement-prone parenting styles, as well as a few proven fixes.  Yesterday we considered the first one:  The “Keep Em Happy at All Costs” Parent.  Today we look at the second style:

  1. The Enabler. This may be your parenting style if you still prepare the bag lunch every morning for your 16-year-old, because that’s what she expects you to do it, or your 7-year-old somehow always gets you to pick up his toys.

Of course we want to help our children and doing some things for them is our way of showing them that we love them.  Loving our kids is one thing, but enabling starts small and can get out of control when you continue to pick the clothes off the floor for your teenager because it’s easier than dealing with the complaining, arguing, or negotiating.  The question is, when is it enough?  McCready writes, “If you feel annoyed or put out when your kids expect you to go out of your way for them, or if they seem to feel entitled to a free ride, that’s a big clue you need a change.”

One possible approach is for you to talk to your child and say something like, “You’re really growing up, and you’re old enough now to remember to put your dirty clothes in the laundry room.”  At the same time, work together to establish certain boundaries and expectations and the consequences for not abiding by them.  If those boundaries and expectations are violated then you must follow through with the consequences.  One of those consequences may be that their clothes are dirty, smelly, or wrinkled.  You may be worried or embarrassed of what your friends may think about you.  You need not worry about it and allow your child to experience the consequences of their own decisions and actions.  After they wear a smelly uniform once or twice, or when their own friends make fun of how their clothes look or smell, your teen will soon be staking personal responsibility.

Father God, I want to help my child, but I don’t want to inadvertently help them become dependent on me for everything.

[i] http://www.today.com/parents/entitled-kids-these-parenting-tips-can-change-behavior-t32201?cid=eml_tes_20150720

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If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Luke 11:11 (NKJV)

Very few parents are selfish and don’t want what’s best for their children.  Once a child is born there is something planted inside each of our hearts that wants to do and to give the best we can to our children.  There are also some parents that give their children so much that they create in them a feeling of entitlement.  Amy McCready, writing for TODAY Parents[i], lists five of the most common entitlement-prone parenting styles, as well as a few proven fixes:

  1. The “Keep Em Happy at All Costs” Parent. This may describe you if you’d rather let your kids dominate your phone during errands or pull strings with teachers and coaches than face a tantrum. If you drop everything to help your kids avoid unhappiness or disappointment, you teach them that their happiness is a top priority, and they may develop the entitled “What’s in it for me?” attitude whenever they’re asked to behave or show kindness. One of the problems is that when they face life’s setbacks, like not making the team, they’re unable to cope. McCready suggest you tell your kids something like, “You’re really growing up, and I’m confident you can make it through the grocery store without my phone.”  You should also teach and help your children develop some strategies they can use to overcome difficulties and challenges.  T

Remember, as a parent you must give your kids what they need most and what they are entitled to — your unconditional love.  You can also give them the attention they need every day.  Plan to spend at least 10 minutes a day individually with each child, on their terms, doing whatever they want to do during that time. Make it a daily practice.  Remember these words:  “Positive attention is better than negative attention, but negative attention is better than no attention at all.”  Your kids will stop trying to get your attention in negative ways (like tantrums and negotiating) when they know they’ll get it in positive ways.

Father God, help me to remember that I need to give me children love always, but I can’t make them happy always.

[i] http://www.today.com/parents/entitled-kids-these-parenting-tips-can-change-behavior-t32201?cid=eml_tes_20150720

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I will also meditate on all Your work, And talk of Your deeds. Psalm 77:12 (NKJV)

Gina Vivinetto, of  TODAY,[i] shares two more warning signs that three relationship experts agree should never be ignored if we want our relationship to survive.

  1. Not talking about the elephant in the room. In other words, there’s poor communication. Often when couples sense their relationship has hit a tough patch, they often avoid talking about it instead of dealing with it.  As one of the experts told Vivinetto, “Avoiding the conversation, whether it’s about sex or something else, can lead to one or both partners feeling a range of negative emotions even if on a sub-conscious level.  And if they are in La La Land and putting up a front that all is OK at home, playing this game in and of itself can be exhausting and take its toll.”  The solution is to have a good conversation with each other, no matter how awkward.  Express how uncomfortable you both are. Then, share what you most want to change and what you ideally want for your relationship. In some cases, you may need an expert to help you as you work through the issues.  A neutral third party that you trust can be a game-changer.
  2. Cheating. This may be a sign of a neglected partner. According to some studies, only one-third of relationships break up because of cheating.  The fact is that people don’t cheat if they’re happy.  As one of the experts explained to Vivinetto, “It’s another case of one or more partners not nurturing the relationship and leaving the other feeling neglected.”  In order to prevent, or solve, this situation, is to devote to their spouse, and their relationship, the time and attention they need to nourish it and keep it healthy and strong.   As Vivinetto writes, “A couple can come back after cheating if they get to the core of their problem and talk about it. The partner who’s feeling neglected needs to say so, and the other partner needs to step up.”

None of us would choose to ignore warning signs from our car, our house, our job, or our health.  Let’s not ignore the warning signs telling us our marriage may be in danger of coming to an end.

Father God, help me to take the necessary steps to strengthen our relationship and not ignore any warning signs.

[i] http://www.today.com/health/5-relationship-warning-signs-couples-should-never-ignore-t33981?cid=eml_tes_20150723

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Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. 1 Timothy 4:14 (NKJV)

Relationship experts would agree that breakups rarely happen overnight.  Often there are clues and warning signs when there’s trouble in paradise. If we choose to wait too long to deal with the underlying issues, they may develop into bigger issues and the eventual end of the relationship.  Gina Vivinetto, of  TODAY,[i] shares five warning signs that three relationship experts agree should never be ignored.

  1. Excessively busy lives that keep couples apart. This could be a sign of a neglected relationship. When people get involved in their own career, get busy with their own life, and stop making a point to spend time with one another one-on-one, their relationship starts to go sour.  They forget how to be a couple.  The solution is simple:  Be intentional about making time for one another.  Use that time to talk to each other, do activities together, get reconnected.  You may also be proactive and decline jobs and other obligations that keep you and your spouse apart for too long.
  2. Chronic nitpicking and criticism. This may be a sign of underlying disdain. Sometimes people allow negative feelings to take over and they begin to see each other through disdainful lenses.  In order to solve this before it damages your relationship, take time to recall what brought you together, what attracted you and what you appreciate about your spouse.  As one of the experts says, “The question is, are you able to dig out and resurrect what you liked that outweighed what you didn’t like? When you see your partner, do you see the positives outweighing the negatives?
  3. Not offering support when it matters. This may indicate a loss of trust. A loss of trust isn’t always the result of a dramatic betrayal. Often, it’s a matter of little things adding up.  If that is the case, couples need to recognize what’s happening and learn how to talk about it.  You should seek help from a therapist; unfortunately, couples often come to her too late.

Father God, help me to not ignore any warning signs ever.

[i] http://www.today.com/health/5-relationship-warning-signs-couples-should-never-ignore-t33981?cid=eml_tes_20150723

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I was cast upon You from birth. From My mother’s womb You have been My God. Psalm 22:10 (NKJV)

Having shared tips on how to succeed at work and at romance, Shelby Marra,[i] writing for TODAY, shares Dr. Suzanne Gelb’s top tips on how people, particularly women, can succeed at parenting:

  1. Be fully present. It is important to show your children, especially when they are young, that they are deserving of your undivided attention. That means that you leave the emails and phone calls at work, or wait to check on them until after you have put your child to bed.  Give them the positive attention they need will also enable you to have a quality experience with your child while making them feel loved and nurtured.
  2. Listen, ask questions and share wisdom. Listen to your children and talk to them as much as possible. As Marra writes, “Interacting with your children while they are young and challenging their mind through conversation allows you to build a strong relationship with them that will carry on in later years. If you show your child they can trust you at a young age, they will feel more comfortable communicating with you in their teen and adult years.”
  3. Be the person you would want your child to be. Remember that as a parent you are always teaching your children. In fact, most of what children learn comes from watching their parent. Marra writes, “If you exude high achievement, happiness and love, then your child will grow up to be the same.”

Gelb concludes that for many women (and people in general), becoming a high achiever in both their professional and personal lives is within reach.  You may have to make changes in your outlook, your attitude, your behavior, and even your personal beliefs.  But the result can be not only success in life, but a more rewarding life.

Perhaps the following words can serve to encourage you:  “From the first to the last of the Christian life, not one successful step can be taken without Christ. He has sent his Spirit to be with us constantly, and by confiding in Christ to the uttermost, surrendering our will to him, we may follow him whithersoever he goeth.”[ii]

Father God, Help me to succeed in life, but especially in parenting.

[i] http://www.today.com/health/how-become-high-achieving-woman-work-your-relationship-parent-t33071?cid=eml_tes_20150718

[ii] White, E.G., Review & Herald,  June 26, 1894

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Come, let us take our fill of love until morning; Let us delight ourselves with love. Proverbs 7:18 (NKJV)

 

Shelby Marra,[i] writing for TODAY, shares Dr. Suzanne Gelb’s top tips on how people, particularly women, can become and remain high achievers, particularly in three aspects of their life.  Today: Romance:

  1. Define what a healthy relationship is and recognize if you are ready to be in one. Gelb says that a healthy relationship begins with “two individuals who are whole within themselves rather than filled with emotional holes.” What this means is that many people get in trouble when they need another person to fill emotional voids within them.  However, this isn’t the relationship’s responsibility.  What you need to do is to take care of yourself, love yourself, instead of looking to your partner to fill a need for love that you need to give to yourself.
  2. In order to respect your partner, you must first respect yourself. This means having high standard for what you’re willing to accept or not in terms of a relationship. It also means respecting our differences so that we can tolerate and complement each other.
  3. Take care of your mind, body and soul. When you take care of yourself in all facets of life you allow yourself to bring your best self to the relationship. Daily exercise, good nutrition, breathing techniques, appropriate rest, etc., are important as well as your personal devotional and prayer life. At the same time, don’t neglect your emotional health by monitoring your emotions and being comfortable letting out your frustrations with yourself rather than with your partner.
  4. Make humor a daily part of your relationship. Marra reminds you, “Don’t take yourself too seriously, learn to laugh at yourself and try to find the humor in all situations. Laughing with your partner allows you to let go for a little and enjoy each other’s company. Crack a joke and relish in the moment with the one you love!”

Father God, help me to enjoy a good romantic relationship by being healthy in every aspect of my life.  And help me to laugh more, at myself, and at all the fun things in life.

[i] http://www.today.com/health/how-become-high-achieving-woman-work-your-relationship-parent-t33071?cid=eml_tes_20150718

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Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going. Ecclesiastes 9:10 (NKJV)

Shelby Marra,[i] writing for TODAY, asks, “How do you move into the lofty world of high achievers? The first step is to believe in yourself and know that you deserve success.”  She refers to research of Dr. Suzanne Gelb, a clinical psychologist and life coach of 28 years based in Hawaii, who writes that “although many women have a hard time overcoming social stigmas –such as the outdated belief that women cannot be competent employees and mothers at the same time– once a woman realizes her full potential and rids her mind of toxic thoughts, she can take over the world, Beyoncé style.”  Gelb gives her top tips on how people, particularly women, can become and remain high achievers, particularly in three aspects of their life. Today: Work.

  1. Find a mentor. Surround yourself with like-minded professionals provides you with the inspiration to be your own personal best in the workplace, while at the same time providing you with a network of support and guidance.
  2. Enjoy the process and keep an open mind. It is easy, particularly for women, to become frustrated and impatient when developments at work or in their careers take too long or don’t happen exactly as they imagined. It’s important for you to remain diligent and passionate while also being open to pursuing all opportunities presented to you, even if it’s not what you originally had in mind for yourself.  When God closes one door, He opens another one.
  3. Go for it! As Marra writes, “Allow yourself to explore new business ventures or speak up in a work meeting about something you feel strongly about. Apply for that job opening, even if you are underqualified. Ask your boss about negotiating a raise. Do not underestimate yourself, and simply go for it!”

You don’t have to settle for what you have or for what you’re doing as if that were your only choice.  Keep trying until you are satisfied with the options you have.

Father God, help me to not be satisfied with less than I can do but to be and succeed at doing what you have planned for me.

[i] http://www.today.com/health/how-become-high-achieving-woman-work-your-relationship-parent-t33071?cid=eml_tes_20150718

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A song of Ascents. Of David. Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity! Psalm 133:1 (NKJV)

Lauren Knight writes in The Washington Post[i] that it is more important to teach our children cooperation rather than competition with their siblings.  She offers two more suggestions for creating a more collaborative, harmonious environment among siblings:

  1. Play cooperative games as a family. Our children learn a lot more from what we do than just from what we say. Knight says that “we can set good examples of cooperation while having fun and spending time with our children by playing cooperative games such as Ball in a Blanket (each member of the family takes a corner or side of a blanket with a ball placed in the middle, then tries to toss the ball up into the air and catch it again in the blanket), Stand Up (sit back to back with a partner and link elbows, then try to stand up. Then try with a group of three, or four, or however many people there are in your family). Another great game includes working together to complete an obstacle course relay race (family members stand at different spots throughout a playground and wait for the previous member to tag their hand before completing their portion of the course — try timing each course completion and then trying to beat the family’s best time). The board game Cariboo requires cooperation amongst players to open a treasure chest.”
  2. Make playing together a privilege. As Knight suggests, “if siblings are constantly at each other’s throats, separate them, preferably in different rooms. Explain that it is a privilege to have a brother or sister with whom to play. With enough time, boredom will set in. Reunite with caution, repeat when necessary.”

In speaking about King David, Ellen White writes: “In the cave of Adullam the family were united in sympathy and affection. The son of Jesse could make melody with voice and harp as he sang, ‘Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!’ (Psalm 133:1). He had tasted the bitterness of distrust on the part of his own brothers; and the harmony that had taken the place of discord brought joy to the exile’s heart.”[ii]

Father, help my children enjoy the blessings of harmony.

[i] http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2015/07/19/5-ways-to-increase-cooperation-decrease-competition-among-siblings/

[ii] White, E.G., Conflict and Courage, p. 166

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But the children struggled together within her; and she said, “If all is well, why am I like this?” So she went to inquire of the LORD. Genesis 25:22 (NKJV)

Sibling rivalry, or at the very least competition, is as old as the first children born to our first parents, Adam and Eve.  Lauren Knight writes in The Washington Post[i] that while “some degree of competition between siblings is natural, families tend to do better when sibling rivalry is addressed and dealt with early on, as it affects their health and well-being later in life.”  She then some suggestions for creating a more collaborative, harmonious environment among siblings:

  1. Refrain from comparing and labeling siblings. Avoid language like, “Your sister is sitting still, so why can’t you?” or “You are the fastest/best/strongest/smartest.” Keep in mind that your children are different people with different abilities, especially if they are different ages, and comparing them to each other only creates an atmosphere of competition and jealousy, not collaboration and cooperation.
  2. Praise cooperative behavior and explain what cooperation means. Instead of catching your children doing something bad, catch them when they’re playing nicely and praise them immediately.
  3. Remind siblings that they are on the same team. Don’t tolerate tattling. If that happens, gently remind your child that he/she is on the same team as his/her sibling, that they will have each other for a lifetime and that it is important to support and help his/her family.  On a positive light, praise and encourage your children when they stick up for each other.  Model cooperation with your spouse by, for instance, backing them up on a decision he/she made regarding the family, or the discipline of your children.

May the following words serve as a warning to all parents as we help our children as they relate to their siblings: “It is a sad fact that Satan controls the affections of the young to a great extent. And some parents feel that the affections should not be guided or restrained.”

Father God, help me to not ignore my children’s misbehavior or unnecessarily competitive actions toward their siblings.

[i] http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2015/07/19/5-ways-to-increase-cooperation-decrease-competition-among-siblings/

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So then he who gives her in marriage does well, but he who does not give her in marriage does better. 1 Corinthians 7:38 (NKJV)

 

The last two questions that philosopher and author of ‘Existentialism and Romantic Love’, Skye Cleary,[i] suggests German philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm would have you consider before you get marry are:

  1. What are your expectations of the marriage? Unrealistic expectations become burdens. “Supposing she loves me, how burdensome she would become to me in the long run! And supposing she does not love me, how really burdensome she would become to me in the long run! – It is only a question of two different kinds of burdensomeness – therefore let us get married!” Daybreak

Here’s a very important thought for serious consideration: “I know that to the mind of a man infatuated with love and thoughts of marriage these questions will be brushed away as though they were of no consequence. But these things should be duly considered, for they have a bearing upon your future life.”[ii]

  1. If you decide to divorce, will you be mature about it?

While God does not like divorce, and it is not best for your children, if you decide to separate be sure to act kindly, lovingly, and maturely.  “And better vow breaking than vow bending and vow pretending! A woman once said to me: ‘Sure, I broke my wedding vows, but first my wedding vows broke – me!’” – Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Among many comments, Ellen White wrote the following:  “Time and labor and prayer and patience and faith and a godly life might work a reform. To live with one who has broken the marriage vows and is covered all over with the disgrace and shame of guilty love, and realizes it not, is an eating canker to the soul; and yet a divorce is a lifelong, heartfelt sore. God pity the innocent party! Marriage should be considered well before contracted.”[iii]

As Cleary concludes, “Nietzsche loved love and thought highly of marriage. Yet, he worried about love’s intoxicating and delusional nature and encourages lovers to balance passion with reason by ensuring that marriage is a strong and meaningful choice.”

Father God, may I consider these questions seriously and carefully.

[i] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/skye-cleary/10-essential-questions-to_b_7699300.html

[ii] Ibid., p. 46

[iii] Ibid., p. 346

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