Dare to say NO to your children

Is it harder for you to say No to your children than it is to say Yes?  It can be extremely difficult to know when to say which.  The best answer is sometimes what is best for the parent, but usually it is what is best for the child.  Sadly, many parents’ lives revolve around their children and “making them happy”.   Have you seen households where the child’s schedule controls the parent or where the child’s activities control the finances?

IMG_3988Happiness is not achieved by having all our wishes fulfilled.  Do you know any CEO’s, professional sports people or entertainers who have stopped receiving a salary because they have enough or too much?  Are they the happiest people on the planet?   Have you ever met a thoroughly spoiled person who was happy and content?

The following are a few times to say NO:

Say NO to unlimited snacks between meals (https://dianesergeant.wordpress.com/2015/05/08/snacking/)

Say NO to unrestricted media

Say NO to Disrespect

Say NO to Disobedience

Say NO to begging, chanting, whining and fits.   Parents when you say no, hold firm to your no.  Do not cave in to begging, whining, chanting, or fits.  When bad behavior is rewarded with giving the child what they demand, then that bad behavior is reinforced.  If the bad behavior is ineffective and even brings about negative consequences, it will cease. However, if a child presents a reasonable and calm argument, then the topic can be reconsidered.

Say NO to bending the dating rules.  Our eldest son tried to convince us to drop the rules at age 17.5 which would be dropped when he turned 18.  He asked why not.  I answered because he would be 6 months older and wiser then.  It was the right decision.

Say NO to immodest clothing

Say NO to buying everything requested

Say NO to spending money you don’t have is outside the budget, and you can’t afford

Say NO to computers in bedroomsmoney can't buy

Parents or grandparents who overly indulge may be creating ungrateful monsters.  We are all more thankful and appreciative of items for which we have had to wait or for which we have had to work.  Children who receive everything as soon as they ask for it will become demanding.   Sometimes over indulgence is compensation or guilt driven.   Address the true issues, don’t spoil.

Our children need to be told no.  They need to learn to accept that they will not always have their own way.  Remember the long-term goal is character development.   A diva may be cute to watch on the silver screen, but she s miserable to live with.  Narcissists are not happy people.

Balance your use of NO with frequent the use of YES.   See https://dianesergeant.wordpress.com/2015/01/03/say-yes/

Always keep in mind the well-being, needs, abilities, character, protection and nurture of each child when making YES and NO decisions.   Maintain room for the compromise when possible.  Do not put wants and desires as the first priority in decision making.

butterfly on blue flower

Adjusting to Seasons of Life

I received a letter in the mail. In our online, internet world actual letters are few and far between.   I thought it strange that my daughter’s new mother-in-law should write to me or send me any mail.  She is a delightful woman and I am confident she will be a grand mother-in-law to my daughter.  But why write to me?  I opened the envelope and out fell a short note not from my daughter’s mother-in-law but from my daughter.   Every time I see her first name with her new last name I have momentary confusion.  I guess I am still adjusting.

centerpiecesIt has been a month since the wedding.  The rehearsal, ceremony and reception were all wonderful.  It flowed smoothly minus difficulties.  I loved each part of it.  Tasks were well delegated and everyone’s assistance was greatly appreciated.  My daughter was not a bridezilla.  My tears flowed as I watched my husband practice walking our daughter up the aisle during the rehearsal.   During the ceremony the bride and groom each had their moment of tears, too.

The day after the wedding there were still some non-wedding family celebrations to enjoy.  But then it felt like December 26th.   All the planning and excitement had come to fruition, but it was over and done.  I was a little sad that it was all over.   The season of wedding preparation had ended.

D and D

my daughter and I 

Even clean-up was quick and easy.   Within a week everything borrowed had been returned and a few items returned for refunds.   All the bills were paid and a couple of deposits were returned to us.

Life is filled with seasons and new norms.  We adjust or we don’t.  Not adjusting is emotionally unhealthy.  So let us adjust.  Changes happen all the time.  Long ago I adjusted to being a married person.  It was an easy adjustment.  Then the children came and one by one we adjusted.  Of course there was a time when I wondered if I would ever stop changing diapers.  That season lasted for 9 years and then after an 8 year hiatus it returned briefly when our bonus child arrived.  I clearly recall times when it seemed sickness was in the house for months at a time.  One child would get a virus and it would be shared with all the family.  Sometimes it went around twice.  But even that was a season.

We endured and loved the season of having teenagers.  It was fun and exciting and always changing.  It was also excessively busy.  Then each following the other they prepared to go away to college, and away they went.   They went on to their own adult adventures and lives.   We adjusted.

 

When one has little children and may feel they are drowning or barely surviving the demands of parenting the season may seem interminably long.   Just as a crawler becomes a walker and then quickly a runner and climber so the seasons quickly pass.   Our children grow and change and mature and that is what we desire and needs to happen.  So we too must change and adjust.   My secret to adjusting is the following:

  1. Always be thankful for the present and don’t wish it way hoping for an easier or better future.
  2. Be thankful for the past. Allow yourself to reflect on it.  Record it in a baby book, journal or a scrapbook.   If the past includes sad emotions, allow yourself to be sad for a while, but don’t’ stay there. We can’t change the past but often time does change our perspective or understanding of it.
  3. Be thankful for the future and new adventures.
  4. Don’t begrudge changes but acknowledge that when changes happen they may include a loss of something or someone previously important.

scrap

I have hundreds of photos from two showers, the rehearsal, wedding and reception waiting for me to put them in a scrapbook.  I don’t have to release all the wedding joy just yet.

Fat Momma Syndrome

Fat Momma Syndrome, or FMS.   You will not find this syndrome on any medical list.  You will not find its traits or characteristics described anywhere but here.  This label is my creation based on years of observations as a youth pastor.   Caveat;  I am not attempting to criticize any woman’s size. That would be the pot calling the kettle black.   I am labeling a parenting temptation.

I believe the syndrome begins long before the teen years, but that is when I saw it reach its peak.  I am referring to the teen years of the daughter, not the mother.   As she enters her teen years, her mom is entering her mid-late thirties or maybe her early forties. Momma no longer has the youthful figure that she had at 15 or 20 years of age, but she remembers. perfect-parent

 

Her daughter is beautiful and shapely.   Momma is proud of her.  Rather than helping her daughter to learn to dress tastefully and modestly, she allows or even encourages her to dress in ways that attract attention to her body.   I have many times been shocked at the alluring outfits that mom helped select for her daughter.

I think psychologists might use words such as transference or projection.  Others might say mom is living vicariously through her daughter.  However it is described, it is sad.   It is sad that mom is putting so much emphasis on outward beauty, which she knows changes and does not last.   It is sad that mom is passing along to her daughter her own inner struggles with self-image.

My own daughter was more sensible than I in this area.  I am proud that she dressed more modestly as a teen than did I as a teen.   As an adult, she has my permission to speak to me about my clothing if I wear something unflattering or too aged or too youthful or immodest.

 

Moms, no matter your size or shape, help your daughters to sail into womanhood with grace and style.  Perhaps together you could learn about fashion, styles, body shapes and discovering what looks best on each of you.  Teach your daughters to be discriminating and individuals not controlled by fads.    Hygiene, personal grooming, make up, and hair care are other areas that need to be taught.   Learning to do these well will instill personal confidence, which is very attractive.

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Still Letting Go

I surprised myself.  I thought I was ready.  I had prayed for years and years for this very thing.  And then when it happened, I wasn’t ready.  My emotions were conflicted.  I do not enjoy being emotional.

I thought I had “let her go” long ago.  She went far away to college for three years and then she returned.  She moved out of our house and then we moved away.  She is a fully independent adult.  Yet, I realized there was one more way in which I had to “let her go”.

little-dOur only daughter has found a wonderful man who cherishes her and they are planning to marry.   Why was I feeling sad?  He is a fine man.  They love each other.  I struggled with these feelings for several weeks, even as we went bridal dress shopping and began talking about wedding plans.  These are exciting plans and I am thrilled to be involved.  Yet, the sadness persists.

She is not our only child.  No, we also have four sons.  Three of them have been married for more than ten years.   They have given us three amazing daughters-in-law and twelve wonderful grandchildren.   I have been through weddings, young marriages, and in-laws before.  This is not a new experience.

BUT, I have never experienced this with my daughter. Until now.  I realized there would be more changes. Changes we make ourselves are easier to handle than changes made by others, which affect us. I realized my sadness is selfish.  I have to share her.  She will have less time for me and for us, her parents.  I am not just sharing her with her future husband but am also sharing her with his family.  Holidays and birthdays will be divided between two families.D and D

I am whining and being a bit ridiculous.  But the feelings are still my feelings.

I also know that I will adjust and be okay. Talking (and writing) about this is helping me. I have told countless parents that they will be okay when their adult child makes a life transition and so will the child.  This is still true. So I am trying to apply my own advice.  I can adjust to changes.

I am thankful for the close relationship I have with my daughter.  We have had some wonderful adventures together. New adventures await us.  Onward we go with the wedding plans.

P.S. Yes, she will read this because she is my writing editor.

at lunch

Editor’s Note: From my perspective, you have been nothing but excited and supportive. Thank you. Thank you for feeling the saddness, and yet choosing to making room for new. Thank you for loving my fiancé. Thank you for graciously coming along side without taking over as plans come together for the wedding. However, no matter what you do, never let me go! Not really.  I’m 31 years old and I need you and Dad in my life. Circumstances change, and priorities shift, but our relationship will always be important to me. I love you, Ma!

Open Door

Is your front door open?  It might cost you and it might be messy. An open door may let in pain but it may also let in some wonderful relationships.  We have experienced both. Like many parents we …

Source: Open Door

Running to Share

I watched him run. He was ready. He had joy on his face. Every lap counted. He was running for charity and he is only a pre-schooler. Other, older and bigger kids ran further and longer, but he was giving it his best. He had a great attitude. He was making a difference greater than he probably understood.  Crosby was helping.  Twice as I was watching, he stopped briefly and talked to me. I felt honored. Though we see each other regularly at church, this was the most conversation we ever had.kids-running

Crosby taught me an important lesson.  Even young children can give to others. Sometimes as parents we get in the way.  We may think they can’t do much or they are too young. True he could not address the letters that were mailed requesting support, but he did the running.

Helping our children develop giving hearts can be challenging. Like many other worthwhile endeavors it takes time, energy, and a little creativity.  Children often have plenty of all of these.  They may have some wild and crazy ideas and some of those may be perfect.

Why not challenge yourself and your children to discover ways to give to others.  Perhaps start with one project per season of the year.  It could be as simple as raking the neighbor’s leaves or taking them some homemade pumpkin muffins.  Try sharing some of those surplus tomatoes from your garden.pumpkin-muffins

Giving to others makes us better people.  It helps us to focus on others’ needs and less on ourselves. As we share our stuff with others, our stuff becomes a little less important to us and the people become more important.

Recently one of our local high school sewing classes made colorful pillowcases for a hospital pediatric ward.  I applaud these students and their teacher for using their abilities to serve others. I am continually amazed at the generosity of my city.img_3518

What has your family done to serve someone else?  How have you managed to involve your children? Please share your ideas.

Out of the mouths of babes

Do your kids crack you up? How many times have you chuckled at the amusing things they have said?

When my children were little, especially ages 3- 8 they said funny things every day.  They were often comical because they arrived at conclusions based on their observations and their very limited knowledge.  They were trying to make sense of their world.   The world is very complicated with words which have multiple meanings.   Sometimes this results in uproarious declarations.IMG_3410

Parents of young children have very busy lives.  Even as a twenty-something I knew if I did not write it down, no matter how amazing or endearing it was, I would forget it.   I frequently wrote notes or information on slips of paper and threw them in the drawer containing their baby books.  Later, sometimes much later, that bit of information would actually be entered into the baby book, but without the notes, their books would have been rather empty.

I had the same problem with “funny things”.  I knew I wanted a record of them.  I kept a small journal easily reachable in the drawer in the kitchen.  My bedroom nightstand would have been a safer location, but it would have gotten lost under a stack of old greeting cards and random stuff.   The one and only unstuffed kitchen drawer worked well.

I would write in the journal as soon as possible.  Repeating the saying to spouse or grandparents also helped me retain the information and they enjoyed hearing about it, but I would still forget unless I wrote it down.   As my children aged they enjoyed and laughed at the things they said when they were younger.

The following are a few of my favorite entries:

4 kidsJan. 14, 88 – Momma told Tommy (age 4 1/2) he was good looking and someday the girls would be after him.  He said, “I’ll go out with them and then dump them with a dump truck.”    (Tom married his first girlfriend after dating for 5 years and they are presently expecting their 6th child)

July 21, 88 – David, age 5, said to momma at bedtime, “Men know more than women.”  “What do you mean?  I asked.  “Men know more about women than women know about men.”  (David married at age 21 and has two daughters)

1/8/89 – Debra, age 4, looking out the window at the big pine trees said, “Look, Ma, hotdogs in the trees.  We can climb up there and eat them. “    (Debra is still willing to climb a tree or eat hotdogs.)

1/4/87 – Danny, age 8, said, “Tonight was the best church service  I was ever in.” “Why?” asked Mom.  “Because I could read all the words in the hymnal.”      (Dan is a pastor in a church without hymnals.)

Mar. 2001 – Seth, age 5, said, “I know when I want to get married – June 1st when I am in college.” Why, asked mom.  “It’s close to Christmas.”  ( Seth is 21, in college and single.)

I wish I had written down more of the great things my children said.  Perhaps you would like to record more than just the witty announcements.  Outlandish statements, anecdotal examples of their character, or maybe declarations of future careers could be included.  You probably are already taking lots of photos with your phone, write some notes too.

There are numerous online sources through which one could inexpensively and simply print quotes and add adorable pics in a bound book format.   It could be a sentimental keepsake, golden or teen birthday or high school graduation gift

The format is inconsequential, just write it down somewhere.  You will always be glad you did.

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My battle against guns

Are you pro-gun or anti-gun?  What about for your children?  My father was a hunter and I had many uncles and cousins who were hunters.  I even had one uncle who was a trapper, he was called Trapper John.  Yet, because of a horrific gun incident in the family just a few weeks after our wedding, I was against having guns in our home. Our compromise was a locked gun cabinet.

Our first child, a son, was born two years later.  We decided guns would not be a part of his playthings. As a pre-schooler he turned every elongated object into a gun. Every stick was a gun.  Every straw was a gun.  A baseball bat could serve as a gun.  Even a piece of toast could be bitten at until it was the shape of a gun.  I had lost the battle against guns.

It was either the water guns or the small wooden rifle which broke the barrier.  We used the wooden rifle to talk about gun safety and to hunt imaginary rabbits in the living room.  I am not opposed to lawfully hunting game for food. I greatly appreciate anyone sharing their venison with me.  I have less arthritis pain when I eat wild caught, free- range meat.

air soft

siblings playing with air soft

Water guns became larger and larger holding greater and greater amounts of water.  Undoubtedly someone would eventually grab the hose and the water play escalated into a battle.

For the cooler months Nerf dart guns were harmless and lots of fun.  Googles were required when our sons delved into rubberband guns.  The entire family room would be transformed for these battles.  All three boys and their sister would play outside with the lazer guns.  These games would spread across the yards of several neighbors.   Lazer guns could be played a night, which was an added bonus for our aging children.

As teenagers and young adults they loved playing with air soft guns and paint ball guns.  They still do.   There is an element of competition and excitement involved in this play.  On the plus, side this play also includes running, exercise and fresh air.

Our youngest son, who is 10 years behind his next closest sibling, did not play with guns quite as much as his older siblings.  But he did have every one of the types of guns previously listed.  He also designed, built and sold some pvc guns for shooting marshmallows or Nerf darts.

I do sometimes wonder if we had had 4 girls and 1 son, rather than the reverse of that, if gun play would have been less of an issue.  I don’t know the answer.  Testosterone did reign in our home.

There is a huge difference in a play gun and a real gun.  A real gun is a weapon and a tool. It must be treated with respect and caution. Always assume a real gun is loaded.  Safety lessons should be repeated in any home for all the occupants where there are guns, even those locked in cabinets.

I am not sorry I lost the gun battle.  All my children have a very healthy respect for guns. We all appreciate our U.S. Constitutional Second Amendment rights to bear arms. It is the criminals who are not lawful or respectful of human life.

Do with Dad

What do you do with your daddy? What did he do with you? (I am singing this to my own tune in my head.)  Fishing, camping, hunting, boating, hiking, kickball, badminton, watching TV and homework are things I remember doing as a kid with my dad.

Reflecting upon those camping and fishing trips, I wonder where the joy was for my dad. It seemed like he spent most of our fishing time untangling lines, fixing reels, or taking our fish off the hooks.  However, he kept taking us back to the water.

Once, while we were water skiing on the Mississippi River he decided he really wanted to ski even though he had not planned on getting in the water.  That did not stop him.  He removed his clothing and skied in his underwear.

If, at suppertime, we failed to give Dad a tall glass of ice tea, with ice which bumped your nose as you drank, he claimed we put him in dessert training.  If we cleared away the dishes too quickly after a meal he would accuse us of giving him “the bum’s rush”.  It was his way of teasing us.  But it was my dad who taught my sister and me how to do the dishes.  My mom worked full time on the third shift at M & M Mars candy factory. She always cooked a big meal for supper (a main dish, a potato or noodles, a vegetable or two and a salad) and then went to bed for a few more hours of sleep before going to work.  This is why Dad taught us how to do the dishes and clean up the kitchen.  Eventually he stepped away and we did it all.

I am thankful my dad and mom are still living and I am privileged to spend time with them.  Just watching TV with them is enjoyable, especially if, perchance, the Chicago Bears are playing.

The solitary thing for which I am most thankful regarding my dad and mom is their faith in Jesus Christ.  Their example of faith, love, and integrity are an amazing legacy.  Their faith points many to our Heavenly Father.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads, especially mine, my husband and my sons.

(singing again) What do you do with your daddy? What did he do with you?

wedding dad

My dad and I. May 29, 1976.