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One Way to Curb Entitlement in Your Child Today

Looking at my kids, you wouldn’t know their name brand shirt and shorts were purchased second hand.

You wouldn’t know that the expensive shoes on their feet were actually bought for a fraction of the retail price.

The book they’re reading and the backpack they are carrying were most likely purchased at a discount too.

I take my kids to shop at Goodwill and second-hand stores on purpose.

A friend sent me this viral Facebook post asking my take on it.

To me, this is just a typical scenario that happens to all of us parents, at one time or another. We react to our child’s bad behavior or disappointing character because we’ve never proactively made a plan to do otherwise.

We get so fed up with our kid’s lack of gratitude and reactively make desperate decisions to counteract what we have created. I’ve most certainly been there.

If we don’t want to raise entitled children, then what can we do today to ensure that we instead raise humble, grateful sons and daughters?

Shop at Goodwill now.

We don’t want to wait until the negative attribute arises and then scramble to figure out how to squelch it. I highly doubt that making her son pick out and pay for his weekly wardrobe at Goodwill was a planned consequence of entitlement. It was simply a reaction to it.

What if we parent proactively today so that the entitlement we don’t want to see in our children, doesn’t come to fruition tomorrow?

What if we look at the values and traits that we don’t want our kids to embody as an adult and begin to purposefully parent toward heading those off now?

Shopping at second-hand stores has always been a proactive part of my parenting plan.

I want my children to become adults who don’t place a high value on material items so I, in turn, must devalue materialism in our home now. I also want to raise people who understand that reusing and recycling are not just good for our wallets, but for our planet overall.

Don’t use shopping at Goodwill as a punishment for your entitled child, but instead as a purposeful way to build positive values that may just last them a lifetime.

Do you shop at thrift, second hand and bargain shops on purpose?

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8 Ways Parents Can Combat the Stress of Growing Up in Today’s Competitive Culture

What do you mean you have a B?

What do you mean you got third place?

What do you mean you’re not taking that honors class or that SAT prep course?

What do you mean you don’t know where you want to go to college or what you want to study yet?

And our parental anxiety heightens as we question if our child is falling behind in this race toward college called childhood.

It’s no wonder youth suicide rates, depression and anxiety are at an all-time high. The pressure to keep up is intense as our children are constantly evaluated and expected to compete at a high level in every aspect of their life.

Teenagers are taking their own lives because they feel they can no longer keep up with the competitive culture they are living in. When are we going to wake up to the fact that just maybe the expectations we are putting on this generation of kids are too much?

What can we parents do to combat the crazed competitive culture that our children are growing up in? 

1. Make your Home a Haven

Let your home be a place where your child can relax, restore and be rejuvenated. We need to purposely provide a calm away from our kid’s daily storm by providing them a peaceful home away from the craze of the outside world.

This doesn’t mean that we never raise our voice (a.k.a. yell) and let our child continuously veg out on the sofa, scrolling a device, while we run around and serve them. It means that we, as a leader in our home, purposely create a low-stress environment, as often as we can. Gather around the family dinner table regularly so that authentic conversation and relationships may be strengthened.

2. Refrain from Promoting Parental Pride

It’s only natural to be proud of our son’s big win or our daughter’s accomplishment but it doesn’t mean we need to constantly post about their successes online. Our children are always watching us. When winning the games and earning the awards become what we regularly promote on our social media feeds, we subconsciously send the message to our children, and our friends, that this is what we deem most important.

If you don’t own the school or team you are promoting with the sticker on the back of your vehicle, maybe you should remove it. Because even if you don’t voice it, that logo slapped on your window or bumper tells your kids, and all of us trailing behind you, what you prioritize.

3. Say No to the Parent Portal

The parent portal apps where we can monitor our kids’ academic activity only add to the pressure and stress for all involved. How can our child own their own learning if we are constantly getting on them about missed assignments or low test scores?

If we are regularly checking the portal to see where our child is falling short than our son or daughter will never learn to feel the consequences of their mistakes or successes themselves. They will naturally come to rely on Mom or Dad to tell them what move to make next.

Set yourself up for success in this area by removing the portal off of your devices. Every now and then ask your child to pull it up on their device and show you how things are going.

4. Prioritize Play

What happened to the fun? We mustn’t take life so serious all of the time when raising kids today. Our families and homes need more laughter, play, and silliness. Don’t mistake sitting on the sidelines of your child’s life watching them perform and compete as playtime. Figure out where your family playgrounds are and head there more often. How Playful is Your Family?

5. Normalize Failure

Our children must feel the pain and discomfort of failure. They must face the consequences of not studying or forgetting to do their homework. Kids must gain experience failing and learn to recover from their mistakes in order to build resilience.

Talk regularly in your home about times when you mess up as an adult. Let them see you embrace failure. When we as parents expect straight A’s and winning sports seasons, we wrongly teach our kids that perfection is the goal.

6. Set Limits on Technology

Our children come home from school, fall on the coach and begin mindlessly scrolling and gaming in their downtime. As the parent, we must allow them the space to unwind while setting limits for technology use in our home. Kids need a break from the pressuring world around them, but always seeking reprieve in a screen is not healthy.

Children of all ages need space without digital devices to experience boredom and opportunity to build relationships with friends and family face-to-face.

7. Allow them to take a Mental Health Day

This is a recent shift in thinking for me. It wasn’t until I witnessed the negative effects of my high schoolers’ juggle of honors class homework, club sports, academic clubs and working a part-time job, that I began to allow my teens to turn off their alarms and take a day or morning off to regroup once in a great while.

How to Know If Your Child Needs a Mental Health Day

Managing normal stress is a healthy part of life, so know your child well enough to know when he or she is overstressed. If you see your son or daughter has time for playing video games, scrolling social media or watching television than they probably don’t need a mental health day off from school. They may need to learn to manage their time better. Know the difference between when your child actually needs a break and simply wants one.

8. Drop the College Conversations

There is so much pressure on kids, in middle school even, to begin thinking about where they will go to college and what they will major in. Friends and family discuss GPA’s, class schedules, scholarships and college essays on a regular basis.

Parents have their children join clubs and organizations hoping it will help their child appear well rounded and heighten their chances of getting into college. We as a society have begun to worry so much about building up our child on paper that we are forgetting to build up the real person.

Even if we parents aren’t pressuring, our child is still growing up today surrounded by stress and expectations. How are you purposely combatting the competitive culture that your child is growing up in?

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5 Gifts to Give Your Kid for Their 16th Birthday!

How does this…

triplet-sons-driving-16

Turn into this… in a few blinks of an eye.

I’m not sure how we’re already at this stage in our family, but I have to say these guys are way more fun now than they ever were 16 years ago!

The big question I’m asked is did we buy them three cars for their milestone birthday?

Not a chance.

If there was no car with a bow, no epic party or promised iPhone X, then what did we give our 16-year-olds besides a little cash?

Sometimes we can get so caught up in what material item to buy or what Pinterest worthy event to throw, that we forget what’s really important to give our kids- the gift of lifelong values.

gifts-for-16th-birthday

1. The Gift of Desire

All my sons desired for their birthday was to get their drivers’ licenses and hit the open road. They wanted the gift of freedom as they turned 16, and that’s what we gave them- a ride to the DMV.

There was no party, no promise of the latest electronic or a new car. We had simply instilled in our boys the desire to set up their own appointments online to take the driving test the minute they could on their birthday. I wasn’t even aware that you could do that. Good for them.

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7 Things Your Daughter Should Not Post on Instagram

223 likes.

527 followers.

We know that Instagram numbers matter to our daughters.

You are so perfect.

Love you so much.

The feedback our girls receive on their Instagram posts matters even more.

But does your daughter know what matters to you when it comes to her presence online?

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4 Technology Battles Parents Must Fight

Kids will battle boundaries placed on their technology. It’s their job to fight you on your dumb rules Mom and Dad.

It’s your job as a parent to stay in the ring and fight the good fight. The last thing you want to do is give your child an iPhone and then stick your head in the sand.

Parents, we must engage in the battles that come along with allowing our kids the privilege of today’s technology.

What battles are you willing to fight when it comes to your data draining screenager?

We’ve allowed our children to own smartphones and other technology, now it’s our job to teach them how to properly balance their digital temptations. If you’re the one paying for the devices, wifi or data plans, you’re the one in charge of setting the rules and sticking to them.

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5 Things Parents Must Tell Their Children

We parents today are fantastic at telling our babies how wonderful they are at everything they do.

We slap stickers of their sports team logos and the schools they attend on the backs of the cars that we shuttle them around in.

We happily tout their sports victories and weekend wins on social media for all to see.

We parents are proud of our kids.

Perhaps what our kids need from us more than constant pats on the back is a healthier dose of reality. Along with telling Johnny what a gift to the world he is, we need to also make sure he understands these things…

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How to Stop Reacting to your Child’s Pleading Texts!

Forgotten homework. Instrument. Water bottle. PE Uniform. Lunch. Cell phone. And the list goes on.

You name it and our kids will forget it. And then they’ll want us to deliver it.

How do we respond, instead of react, to their pleas for help?

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8 Things you Should Do for your Teen

My recent post about 8 things you should stop doing for your teens this school year went wild around the web. Parents are weighing in and while majority agree with integrating life skills into their kids lives, others have dubbed me uninvolved, lazy and say they feel sorry for my kids.

One reader said, so what do you do exactly, if you aren’t doing these things for your kids? So glad you asked….

1. Laugh and enjoy life with them

Don’t get caught up in the to do list of the day. Make connective time with your kids a priority because you can’t get one second of this back. The worst thing that can happen to us is that we have regret when our kids head out the door at 18 and we realize that we didn’t take enough time to enjoy their childhood. Seize the simple moments.

family-selfie

Taking crazy family selfies after dinner on our vacation in Hawaii last week.

Purposefully prioritize time to laugh and fit in carefree fun with the kids no matter how old and cool they get. Take breaks and vacations when and where you can to reconnect with your loved ones.  Memories of time well spent together will sustain us when everyone dismantles in a few years.

2. Date their Desires

When you have teenagers, you have to be strategic to score one on one time with them. Not so long ago, I could plan anything out of the ordinary and my kids would be game. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case. Most ideas I come up with are met with a blank stare and a “not happening, Mom.” I must be in tune with my kids passions if I want to have close relationship with them.

Phoenix-Suns-game-with-my-sons

Suns game with the sons!

My sons love anything sport so I take them to various college or pro baseball and basketball games each season. Or I take them to a new restaurant because food is always an easy way to a guy’s heart. With my other kids, I may choose hikes, movies, local concerts, plays or shopping excursions that feed their soul and in turn, fuel our relationship.

3.  Encourage them to advocate for themselves

Last year, a teacher forgot to input one of our son’s homework grades at the end of the quarter and it affected his final grade. The mistake had my son very upset. (He went from a high A to a low A, but to him it was close to the end of the world.) He talked with the teacher and she apologized, but said there was nothing that could be done because grades had already been finalized. My son continued to talk his frustration out at home, so I advised him to go to the principal if he felt so strongly about it. We then talked about forgiveness and letting this mistake go, which is what he ended up doing.

What I wasn’t going to do was get involved with the teacher, even though I believed he was right. It’s hard not to write that email when our child has been wronged, isn’t it? It takes major self control to step back sometimes.  But my son needs opportunities to learn to work things out in his world without Mom swooping in for the rescue.

4. Gather for family meals

Our family dining table is a sacred space in our home. A lot of beautiful, and usually loud, bonding goes on around that table. I wrote that I no longer make weekday breakfasts or pack school lunches, but I cherish our dinnertime together.

Sharing regular meals as a family has been proven to be one of the most important things we can do in our homes. Connections are made during conversations over food. Typically, teens are spending less time with family and more time with peers, so family mealtime is an important time to be together.

5. Support their passions 

One of the most exciting aspects of being a mother is watching my kids choose their own unique paths. It intrigues me to see what makes them tick. I found myself as a volunteer judge at the high school speech and debate tournament that one son was competing in last weekend. How in the world did I end up there in my life?

I love finding myself in environments that I would never experience without my children. I’m on the sidelines of many games every weekend as well, because that’s what my others love to do. I don’t yell out or provoke them after a game, because my role is to simply support them. Their passions are not my passions and their interests are not mine. My kids know that I’ll be there when I can but that I’m not wrapped up in their performance.

6. Be the person you want your child to be

Good-Values-Are-Easier-Caught-Than-Taught

Practice what you preach because your kids are watching you. How well are we living our own lives according to what we say is important to us? Model the values that you want to see in your kids because what they see you doing just may rub off.

I’m mindful that my children are watching me. They are seeing if what I say matters matches up with my actions and yours are doing the same!

7. Create opportunities to build empathy and compassion 

In this me, myself and I culture, it’s important that we create opportunities to serve others on a regular basis. Weave giving into your family culture so that serving others becomes who you are instead of what you do. If we want to raise kind and caring kids then we must put as much emphasis on caring for others as we do achieving good grades and winning games.

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Early Saturday morning serving with Kitchen on the Street with two of my kids!

8. Talk technology

Got kids with high tech devices that resemble a body part? Me too. We have to balance giving our teens the freedom to communicate with their peers while letting them know that we will check their phone anytime we feel it necessary. Follow your kids on whatever social media feeds they are using. Know their passwords so you can scroll through Instagram and see what their friends are posting on spam accounts. It is eye opening.  I always tell mine to remember that other parents are watching them as well. I agree with granting my child privacy, but never checking in is a mistake. We definitely grant our teens freedom and space, but they know that we care enough to check in as well.

What else should we be doing for our teens today?

 

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5 Books that Help Me when I Want to Overparent

My post on 8 things you should stop doing for your teen resonated with a lot of people.

The truth is, it is tough parenting resilient kids in today’s culture.

As a stay-at-home, work-from-home Mom, it’s easy to over parent my kids because I adore them and want them to wholeheartedly know and feel that.

I have to really work at not over functioning as a Mom.

Raising four not so-youngsters, I’m constantly fighting the urge to over parent. From the time my feet hit the floor each morning to the time I crawl into bed, I am trying to balance being there for my kids and showing up in my own life.

Why is parenting today so much more difficult than when we were growing up?

Or does it just seem that way because we are so heavily involved?

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Stop doing these 8 things for your Teen this School Year

Don’t judge me if you happen to see my kids eating packaged Ritz crackers for school lunch.

Don’t judge me if they’re on the sidelines of PE because they forgot their uniform.

Don’t judge me if they didn’t turn in their homework because it’s still sitting home on their desk.

What some may view as a lack of parenting, is what I deem parenting on purpose, as we work to build necessary life skills in our kids.

I stopped making daily breakfasts and packing school lunches long ago.

I don’t feel obligated to deliver forgotten items left behind at home.

School projects and homework are not any part of my existence.

How do we raise competent adults if we’re always doing everything for our kids?

Let's parent our kids to be capable adults! I love this Ann Landers quote!

Walk away from doing these 8 things for your teen this school year

1. Waking them up in the morning

If you are still waking little Johnny up in the mornings, it’s time to let an alarm clock do its job. My foursome has been expected to get themselves up on early school mornings since they started middle school. There are days one will come racing out with only a few minutes to spare before they have to be out the door. The snooze button no longer feels luxurious when it’s caused you to miss breakfast.

I heard a Mom actually voice out loud that her teen sons were just so cute still, that she loved going in and waking them up every morning. Please stop. I find my sons just as adorable as you do, but our goal is to raise well functioning adults here.

2. Making their breakfast and packing their lunch

My morning alarm is the sound of the kids clanging cereal bowls. My job is to make sure there is food in the house so that they can eat breakfast and pack a lunch.

One friend asked, yeah but how do you know what they’re bringing for school lunch? I don’t. I know what food I have in my pantry and it’s on them to pack up what they feel is a good lunch. It will only be a few short years and I will have no idea what they are eating for any of their meals away at college. Free yourself away from the PB and J station now.

3. Filling out their paperwork

Have kids fill out and sign all school paperwork and put on clipboard before you sign

I have a lot of kids, which equates to a lot of beginning of the school year paperwork. I used to dread this stack, until the kids became of age to fill all of it out themselves. Our teens are expected to fill out all of their own paperwork, to the best of their ability. They put the papers to be signed on a clipboard and leave it for me on the kitchen island. I sign them and put them back on their desks.

Hold your teens accountable. They will need to fill out job and college applications soon and they need to know how to do that without your intervention.

4. Delivering their forgotten items

Monday morning we pulled out of the driveway and screeched around the corner of the house when daughter dear realized she forgot her phone. “We have to go back, Mom!” Another exclaimed that he forgot his freshly washed PE uniform folded in the laundry room. I braked in hesitation as I contemplated turning around. Nope. Off we go, as the vision surfaced of both of them playing around on their phones before it was time to leave.

Parents don’t miss opportunities to provide natural consequences for your teens. Forget something? Feel the pain of that. Kids also get to see, that you can make it through the day without a mistake consuming you.

We also have a rule that Mom and Dad are not to get pleading texts from school asking for forgotten items. It still happens, but we have the right to just shoot back “that’s a bummer.”

text message

5. Making their failure to plan your emergency

School projects do not get assigned the night before they are due. Therefore, I do not run out and pick up materials at the last minute to get a project finished. I do always keep poster boards and general materials on hand for the procrastinating child. But, other needed items, you may have to wait for. Do not race to Michaels for your kid who hasn’t taken time to plan.

This is a good topic to talk about in weekly family meetings. Does anyone have projects coming up that they’re going to need supplies for so that I can pick them up at my convenience this week?

6. Doing all of their laundry

laundry time

“What? YOU didn’t get my shorts washed? This response always backfires on the kid who may lose their mind thinking that I’m the only one who can do laundry around here. Every once in awhile a child needs a healthy reminder that I do not work for them. The minute they assume that this is my main role in life, is the minute that I gladly hand over the laundry task to them.

Most days I do the washing and the kids fold and put their clothes away, but they are capable of tackling the entire process when need be.

7. Emailing and calling their teachers and coaches  

If our child has a problem with a teacher or coach, he is going to have to take it to the one in charge. There is no way that we, as parents, are going to question a coach or email a teacher about something that should be between the authority figure and our child.

Don’t be that over involved parent. Teach your child that if something is important enough to him, then he needs to learn how to handle the issue himself or at least ask you to help them.

8. Meddling in their academics

National Junior Honor Society middle school induction ceremony Cocopah Middle School

Put the pencil down parents. Most of the time, I honestly couldn’t tell you what my kids are doing for school work. We talk about projects and papers over dinner, but we’ve always had the expectation for our kids to own their work and grades. At times, they’ve earned Principals Lists, Honor Rolls and National Junior Honor Society honors on their own accord. At other times, they’ve missed the mark.

These apps and websites, where parents can go in and see every detail of children’s school grades and homework, are not helping our overparenting epidemic.

Every blue moon I will ask the kids to pull up their student account and show me their grades, because I want them to know I do care. I did notice our daughter slacking off at the end of last year and my acknowledgement helped her catch up, but I’m not taking it on as one of my regular responsibilities and you shouldn’t be either.

What is your parenting goal?

Is it to raise competent and capable adults?

If so, then lets work on backing off in areas where our teens can stand on their own two feet. I know they’re our babies and it feels good to hover over them once in awhile, but in all seriousness, it’s up to us to raise them to be capable people.

I want to feel confident when I launch my kids into the real world that they are going to be just fine because I stepped back and let them navigate failure and real life stuff on their own.

So please don’t judge me if my kids scramble around, shoving pre-packaged items into that brown paper lunch bag, before racing to catch the bus.

It’s all on purpose my friends.