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Is Your Kid Entitled to the Exit Row?

What’s the worst word someone could use to describe your child?

There are a slew of cringe worthy adjectives to choose from, but Entitled would be it for me. Spoiled brat 2016 style. I’m on a mission to parent against this ugly trait running rampant in this me, myself and I generation that we are raising.

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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.

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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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Just say NO to the Homecoming Proposal Production!

Star light. Star bright. First star I see tonight. I wish you may. I wish you might. Be my date on Homecoming Night.

As if Teenage guys don’t have enough on their plate, they must now come up with a cheesy proposal presentation to ask a girl to Homecoming. He’d better not think of asking her to the dance without at least a decorated poster board in hand.

Why are our sons expected to put on a proposal production to ask someone to Homecoming 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.

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Snapshots of a Significant Summer

How was your summer?

It’s THE question we adults ask one another as the kids head back to school.

Sure the last day of summer is officially September 22, but for us parents of school aged kids, vacation is over.

How was your summer? 

“Good,” I say, unsure how to honestly answer the question. I find myself responding like my children do, when I ask the blanket question of ‘How was school today?’

Good.

Good means you didn’t ask the right question.

Let’s try again.

There was no cruise around exotic Islands or an RV trip around the USA to fuel exciting stories this summer. No rented Tuscan villa or an annual Mission trip to Mexico either. Therefore, summer feels just ‘good,’ until you rephrase the question.

Did you have a significant summer?

Yes. Why yes we did. Thank you for asking.

Sometimes we mistake visiting faraway places and traveling to exciting destinations as being significant. And sometimes amazing vacations can absolutely be significant while other times they are simply a pretty diversion to normal life, but taken without real purpose.

 16 Snapshots of Our Significant Summer

Indy family pic

So what? It’s a photo of my side of the family all together on a pretty summer day back home again in Indiana. Except for the fact, that our family struggled relationally for a long time, so having us all together is rare. Our trip to Indy was an investment in further rebuilding relationship with my sister. The smiles and love here are beginning to feel genuine. Praise God, as we started off our summer significantly

Life grandfather, like grandson

This sweet moment speaks for itself. Grandfather and grandson sharing the same passion.

Camp Car

Mid-June means time to get the kids from Phoenix to Kanakuk in Branson, Missouri. This is the second summer we let our kids go to camp and here are visual reminders why we give up precious time with them in order for them to grow and thrive without us.

Morgan and friends
Everyone is better surrounded by a tribe, especially when there’s no technology involved. Genuine smiles with new friends is priceless.

Cole repellingSeeing our kids grow spiritually, mentally and physically while at camp is awesome!

Prayer at Kanakuk

Our kids aren’t even in this picture, but this photo embodies exactly why we let our kids go off to this camp. I want my sons surrounded by other men who aren’t afraid to love the Lord and one another.

Kade and Aidan K2Simple fun in the sun is exactly how some summer camp days should be spent.

Morgan Camp

Yes. Please wonderful college camp counselors. Pour into my daughter and teach her to be strong in her faith and in her relationships.

Foster-Care-Move-In-DayAfter camp, we welcomed Nix into our family. My sons help their new little brother move his things in from his foster home into ours.

Kade comforting

Our family trip to California meant taking Nix to the ocean for his first time. I loved watching my family make sure he was taken care of.

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Aidan and Nix

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Sara and IRelationships are a priority in a significant summer. Lucky to spend quality time with my friend, Sara as she planned a day at Terranea for us to celebrate our birthdays!

Us at LaPosadaTime away from kids and the daily grind is a necessity once in awhile. Keith and I found a gem while overnighting at the LaPosada in Winslow, AZ.

Amy at Chimaya

I took five days this summer for myself at an amazing writing retreat in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I never wanted to leave this sacred spot at Chimaya.

What was significant about your summer? Look back through your photos for those little moments that really make you smile, because that is what life is about. Maybe summer was way better than ‘good’ after all.

Happy September everyone!

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Curbing Entitlement With a Roll of Charmin

How do you feel when you walk into a bathroom, sit down, look over and see an empty cardboard tube where a fluffy white roll should reside?

Desperation sets in as you scan the area for something you may be able to pass off as wipe worthy. No such luck, so you start calling out hoping that someone can hear your plea.

Anyone? Can you PLLEAASSSEEE bring me some toilet paper?

I’m trying to teach my kids to fill needs before someone has to ask or call for their help.

This empty toilet paper roll symbolizes how some people choose to live their lives.

Entitlement is walking out of a bathroom knowing you are leaving the next person high and dry. Aware that there is a need and that you’re not willing to put forth the effort to fill it.

I know it sucks when you are the person who gets to the end of the roll and you question why this always happens to you. Just change the roll. Do unto others as you’d want done for yourself.

How you do anything is how you do everything.

This is one of our family mottos. If you’re being lazy in simple tasks, most likely you’re doing it in big arenas as well.

I was in a life coaching class and a grown woman was talking about how her husband was frustrated because she didn’t change out the toilet paper rolls in their house and that she was going to start trying to do it.

Yes, that empty toilet paper roll staring at him screams that you matter more than he does.

With teen sons, this is what I see most often in their bathroom. I’ll take it. It’s a step in the right direction.

toilet paper roll

Acknowledge a need and do your best for the person who comes behind you. Don’t wait for someone to have to scream HELP before you come to their rescue.

Let’s do a better job of replacing the empty toilet paper rolls in life for one another!

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We must lead with Love and Respect, not fear

I want to write about why our kids are away at summer camp and why we reopened our foster care license, but I’m consumed by reality. I can’t focus on topics that feel mundane without addressing what’s going on in the world. No one is immune to the devastation and tension surrounding us lately. Out of fear we Americans are slowly backing into our various corners looking to attack based on our race, religion or sexual orientation. We need to turn off our televisions, put down the newspapers and figure out individually how to walk toward togetherness.

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Significant summer 2016
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5 Ways to Set Up A Summer of Significance

Summertime is here and the living is easy, right? As a parent, summer takes on a whole new identity than the one we’re used to throughout the school year. How do we take advantage of this slower pace while planning for a summer of significance?

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What you do this week matters!

As another school year winds down, we feel proof of how quickly time passes. Many of my friends are graduating a high school senior and contemplating how it all went so fast.

Do you know how many weeks you have from the day a child is born until he or she graduates from high school?

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