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Friday, April 28, 2017

Week 17: Talking about your Journey

Welcome to Week 17





Last week I asked you to consider the journey you have made over the last 15 weeks. One of your exercises was to think of four people you would like to sit down with and discuss your journey. This is a continyuation of examining your path to Authenticity. Being able to talk about the changes in clear terms so someone else can get where you are coming from is an important prt of the process. 

I listen a lot to talk show host Denis Praeger. He often says agreement is not necessary however clarity is essential. I agree. What you are really shooting for here is not for the folks to agree with the changes you have made instead you want them to be clear on the changes and why you decided to make them.
We live in a deeply divided country at the moment. This is as much a political as it is an ideological divide. Someone I love dearly and I are on opposite sides of the divide and quite stringently disagree. However,k we each understand the others point of view and on some level are willing to agree to disagree. You may find yourself in a similar situation as you begin to discuss these changes with others. Though, I hope you have been sharing your steps along the way; which will make the process much easier.

Before you meet with anyone decide on the one change which is most important to you. This is the challenge I am giving to you. Discuss this change with four people in your life and journal about the conversations. I am going to give you two weeks of silence to accomplish this task. I want you to take this time to continue reflecting on how far  you have come. Take into account any constructive criticism you have been given and examine it to see if and how you can incorporate it. If you get nonconstructive criticism, and you may. Once the anger dies down, look over what was said and take the things which will benefit you from the conversation and ditch the rest. 

You are not responsible for someone else's journey this is about being true to yourself!

Once you have done this exercise I want you to begin think about how you can pass this experience on to your children. When we resume our journey in two weeks I will be incorporating more exercises about how to start your children on this journey of authenticity. Good Luck and if you need me I am only an email away!

Believe in Parenting

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Week 9 Parenting Teens: The Shift

Welcome to Week 9



A few short years ago you brought this helpless, squirming, squalling infant into the world. Now, just a few years later they have minds, dreams, and goals all their own. It would be easy to simply tell them it is my way period. On of the favorite parental sayings is; "As long as you live under my roof...". However, I ask you is this the best way to get them ready for the adult world they will be entering in a few short years? The answer is NO!

What is a parent to do?

The opening quote I used as we started this journey applies now.

Parents raise children and influence teens. Pastor John Moore, 2002

It was 2011 as I sat in the Fulton County Juvenile Court Building in a First-time offenders tribunal where I and several other community leaders were working to help keep teens get back on track. We were speaking to a 17-year-old, asking him questions about his thoughts and behavior of the night in question. His mother answered the questions before he could. When he tried to tell us where she was mistaken she would give him a cold look and he would be quiet. As this happened over and over I began to see a little of the issue happening here. This Mom had not made the adjustment her parenting needed and both her and her son were suffering from this issue. Stepping back and making room for your teen to become a rational, thinking person, with their own thoughts, feelings, desires, and dreams begins as they enter puberty. Parenting shifts from instruction to mentoring.

Instructing versus Mentoring

The basic difference between a teacher and a mentor is all about the relationship. A teacher is often the person who trains you, helps you figure out the right answer, and grades you along the way. There can be some personal interaction and it is there often. However, the interconnection between teacher and student is often less personal, than the relationship between a mentor and a mentee. Though the mentor does train, the advisory and counseling role are often much more prevalent in the relationship.

The main goal of a mentor is not to train in what to do or how to do it. Rather the goal of a mentor is to help the mentee figure those things out on their own. The goal is to ensure once they move along the mentee has grown to a point where they no longer need the mentor's continual guidance. They may often turn to the mentor for advice, when they are feeling less confident or need to bounce of an idea.

This shift is not easy. In fact it is often very difficult because along with making the shift is the realization your helpless infant is well on their way to becoming an adult. One of my favorite commercial series comes from Subaru. It starts out with an adult talking with a little child. As the commercial progresses you realize the child is actually an older teen and the parent is seeing them as they were 10 years before. I know this is how you see your teen, however at the end of the commercial the child now a grown up gets into the car and drives away. Your teen is headed in this direction. You want them to be driving away from you ready to take on the world and conquer!

By choosing to pivot now, what you are choosing is to shift the kind of relationship you have with your child and to begin building a new richer relationship based on mutual respect and understanding.

Exercises:

  1. Ask your teen what their dreams are, what they would do if anything was possible and money was no object. Really listen and ask questions about it.
  2. After the conversation, step back and see if ther is anyway you can support them inthe achieving of this dream. Use your journal to jot down ideas.
  3. No matter how unrealistic the dream seems to you. Encourage your teen to dream and work with them to see if they can achieve some measure of their dream.
Journal
  1. Use your journal to revisit some of your own teenage dreams. What would it have meant to you if your parents had supported your dream?
  2. Is there a way for you to now accomplish some measure of the dream? Or have you developed different dreams? How can you accomplish some measure of the new one?
  3. Write down how it feels for you to be supportive of your child's dreams? What do you feel in thinking about working towards satisfying your own?
Making this shift in your parenting is going to be a challenge. Your #1 instinct is to protect your child from everything, which could hurt them. However, as a mentoring parent you are now teaching them in a large measure how to protect themselves. If you create a relationship where your teen can come to you for advice and counsel; you will likely give them permission to come to you with all their decisions which will help you to create a more safe environment. 

Believe in Parenting



Saturday, April 22, 2017

#1 Cause of Child Abuse And What you can Do About IT!

Does anyone Else Want To Know the #1 Cause of Child Abuse?



April is the month of the child. This month is set aside to look at all of the issues surrounding children. Nonprofits and Child Advocacy Groups work to bring awareness to all issues which effect children. As a parent educator, coach, and advocate on behalf of children and families. I have a few things I would like to contribute.

My Story

I had just graduated from college and I applied for a job at a summer camp. This was a Kiwanis Camp in Missouri and I loved it. As the Art and Crafts Instructor, I got to plan how children used thier experiences outdoors and turn them into art pieces they could keep forever. By far the saddest part of my job was entering data which showed about 20% of the children at camp were considered the sole member of their family. Why? These were children from local Children's Home for one reason or another could not live safely with their birth families.

Little did I know at the time, this camp set in motion me finding the life's work I am most passionate about.  I have been a parent educator, coach, and parent/child advocate. I started my journey trying ro figure out what children really wanted and I found 97% of these children want to be able to go home to their birth families and be safe and happy. Then I started to look at the root of the issue for why these children could not or should not return home. The answer may surprise you.

The NUMBER ONE issue is parental stress and poor or non-existent skills in stress relief .


 In fact research shows the number of child abuse cases  and the number of families needing Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) are directly related. This shows just as financial stress causes marital problems; it can also lead to poor parenting choices. One thing to realize is Child Abuse/Neglect effects people from all races, creeds, religions, and social economic levels. We often can see stress better when families need TANF. Nevertheless, stress is not an issue reserved for the poor.

While I support greatly those of my fellow advocates asking for stiffer sentences and greater consequences for the perpetrators of child abuse. It is my personal mission to see it eradicated! The only way to eliminate child abuse is to teach parents  positive parenting and the self-care skills they need to handle stress and stress related causes.

It is my belief most people who suspect parents are hurting their child do not say anything; because they do not want the parent to get into trouble. Here is something to consider. The parent is already in trouble. The old adage hurt people hurt people applies here. The number one instinct of most adults is to protect a child especially their child at all cost from hurt, harm, and danger.

So, if a parent is the cause of the hut, harm and danger there is a serious disconnect. Being willing to step up may be the only thing between they and their child being safe and that child becoming one of the 10 children each day in America who die at the hand of their parent.

Here are some things you can do:

  1. Give them the Crisis Text Hotline Number--741741
  2. Talk with them about your concerns and offer to keep the child when they are feeling stressed.
  3. Get them to go to a Parents Anomalous Meeting with you.
  4. Get a group of friends together to support each other with parenting issues.
  5. Give them a gift certificate for Parent Support Classes, Call 2-1-1 in your area for local parenting services.
  6. Anomalously refer them to their child's school social worker or parent liaison for help.
  7. Call the Child Help Hotline to anomalously report abuse 1-800-4-A-Child 
  8. Contact me and I will walk you through what ever you need! 770-256-3281/Barbara@ptanda.org
The worst thing you can do if you suspect child abuse is nothing. Abused children especially those under five brains are irrevocably affected by the trauma abuse places on them. Parents are generally trapped in a cycle which leads them in a trap of relieving stress by causing the trauma which will permanently scar their children and teach poor parenting skills to the next generation. The very least you can do is to report the abuse to your state's child abuse hotline. It may not be as bad as you think. However, let the professionals decide. I am just asking you to love those around you enough to say something; if you see someone in trouble.

Believe in Parenting

Friday, April 21, 2017

Week 16: Authenticity Examining the Journey

Welcome to Week 16




Over the last four months we have been embarking on a journey to become more true to ourselves based on what he belief, think, say, and do. Our journey has been to align these four areas into one cohesive whole. It is time to stop and take a real look at the changes the last four months has made in our lives. 

My Journey

These four months have seen me making changes in my life I have lost weight and become more fit. I still have a long way to go. However, I am not of the mindset I need a fit and healthy body which is a lifelong journey I am not feeling overwhelmed or like a loser because I have not hit a certain weight loss at a certain time. Instead, my life is being lived in a way which supports my overall goal. I have also been working on retooling my business. I realized I am too technical in some aspects. I am learning to take my in person personal and bring it to my online engagements. I must say writing this series of blogs has helped me with this.

Change takes time and commitment tp get to where we want to go. This week and next there are no exercises. Instead I want you to review the last 4 months and come to some conclusions on what this alignment means to you and how you have and how you want to continue to change. 

  • Go back over the last 14 weeks of information. I say 14 because week 8 was another reflection time.
  •  Use your journal to write down any thoughts or ideas which come to you about the changes. 
  • Think about where you started and where you are now. 
  • Reflect on how these changes have effected your life and your relationships. First the relationship with yourself then your relationship with other adults and finally your relationship with your children.
Next week I am going to ask you to have some conversations about the changes you have made and how others are reflecting on them. Think about four people you wold like to talk to about these changes and see if you can make plans to sit down and talk with them next week. In next weeks post I will give you some guidelines for your conversations.

Believe in Parenting

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Week 8 Teaching Teens Intimacy versus Sexuality

Welcome to Week 15





We in the western world think of sexuality and intimacy as the same thing. But, the truth is intimacy is a deeper and richer form of life than mere sexuality can ever be. When we teach our teens about the mechanics of sexuality. We teach them about the physicality of sexual intercourse. If this is all we teach them we fail to explain how the mind, heart, mutual respect, and emotions are also involved. We then trap them into a world where sexuality is just a pleasurable act with not real satisfaction beyond the physical. Yet sexuality when coupled with a commitment of heart mind and soul causes a deep, lasting and heart felt connection nothing else can match.

Whether we like it or not our society especially in America is based on sex. It is how we sell products, show our success, and share our lives. Whether we are talking about selling toothpaste, what it means to be a successful man, or what we read in newspapers or magazines we are talking about being attractive and drawing the attention of the opposite sex. I watched a special on ABC News several years ago where a three-year-old said she wanted to be Jasmine and not Belle for Halloween because Jasmine was sexy. I am pointing this out because we need to recognize our culture pushes the physicality of sexuality to our children whether we like it or not.  It is our job as parents to ensure they get the whole picture and not the part they are learning about everywhere else.

This is especially important because as our teens enter into adulthood they will face a phase called intimacy vs. isolation. If they mistake to concept of intimacy for sexuality. This could lead them to a very sad and isolative state. Which may have them separating from others and lacking the skills to create intimate relationships which are not based on sexuality.

Teaching Intimacy

Believe it or not teaching intimacy actually starts with cuddling as a child. I define being intimate as having a mutually respectful relationship with another person based on a mental, emotional and physical closeness that lies beyond the traps of sexuality. This kind of relationships is built by sharing your intimate thoughts and feelings with another person. Here are some things to think about:


  1. Intimate relationships are first built on mutual respect. Where each person loves, supports, and encourages the humanity of the other.
  2. Intimate relationships vary depending on the link between people. The intimacy you have with your best friend will look very different from the intimacy you have with your siblings. Which is very different from the kind of intimacy you have with your spouse. Yet, they are all intimate kinds of relationships.
  3. Though sharing thoughts, feelings, and physical closeness most intimate relationships do not include sexuality. I think this may be where many kids get confused between being homosexual and being close. Just because two males or two females are close does not mean they are sexual. I can be emotionally and intellectually on the same page with a person of the same or opposite gender and not be involved in a sexual way whatsoever.
  4. Sexuality when combined with intimacy create the best form of a relationship which includes the physicality of sexual intercourse.
The challenge of teaching intimacy and sexuality is found in the danger of thinking what physically feels good is more important than what is best for our mind will and emotions. This is an immature attitude which is only combated by helping children understand the value of the feelings of being mentally and emotionally close to another human being beyond the pleasure of sexual relations. This can only be developed by talking about it and teaching your teens the difference between the two.

Exercises

  1. Use your journal to write about your own feelings of sexuality versus intimacy. We can not teach what we do not understand for ourselves. Get a good grasp on what you feel. If you need to talk to someone else about this I have two great counselors, I can refer you to one from each gender.
  2. Once you have a true handle on your own thoughts and feelings. Have a talk with your teen about intimacy. I guarantee they will think you mean sex. Surprise them. Talk to them about the intimacy you feel is there or missing in the relationship between the two of you.
Journal

Use your journal to log how you feel about this whole topic. Keep your thoughts about the intimate relationships you have, your teen has and how you want those all to look and feel. When you are feeling more comfortable you can then move into talking to your teen about how sexuality and intimacy fit together in a whole and happy adult relationship. Journal extensively about what that looks like to you and when you are sure you can communicate it clearly then have that talk with your teen.

Believe in Parenting

Friday, April 14, 2017

Week 14: Authenticity Putting Your Beliefs in Action

Welcome to Week 14



When we first started on this journey to authenticity, I gave the definition of it being when your belief, thoughts, words, and actions are aligned. One of the best ways to put our beliefs in action is through volunteering. As a child I had it in my head I wanted to be a nurse. When I was born I was a preemie. Born in at 2 pounds and 5 ounces came into the world breech and not breathing. I am here because in this particular Army hospital they had lost four babies before me that week. The nurse who helped bring me into the world was determined not to loose me. She gave me mouth to mouth for 2 1/2 hours before I started breathing on my own. I thought for sure nursing was my calling. As it turned out not so much. However as a teen I volunteered as a candy stripper for five years. There is very little I do not know about the general workings of a hospital. My belief was I was to be a nurse. I put that into action by working as a volunteer in a hospital for years.

What is it you believe? What kind of volunteering can you do to bring this belief into action? I will venture to say there are volunteer opportunities for every interest under the sun. One of the greatest resources for volunteering is a site called Volunteer Match. This site matches up volunteers with non-profit organizations who need help. They have a variety of volunteer areas and an almost exhaustive number of organizations. Volunteering can help you to begin to put your beliefs into action. It is a simple way to begin to express your authenticity in a concrete manner.

Exercises
  1. Pick two areas you think you might want to express you authenticity through volunteering. Then go to Volunteer Match and find two agencies which fit your ideas.
  2. Get the information about the agencies from the site and then look up their sites.
  3. Decide which you want to work with, if you can not make up your mind plan a visit to both.
  4. Check out what kinds of training they have for their volunteers and plan to attend a traiing.
Journal

Take some time to write about putting your beliefs into action. What could that look like for you? How can you make this an active reality in your everyday world. What can you do to bring your children along with you? How can you teach them to make the choice to put actions to their beliefs?

Believe in Parenting

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Week 7: Understanding Moral Development

 Welcome to Week Seven




Charater/Moral Development is a two edged kind of learning. Childen can learn to be kind or to be cruel. The final stage of this development goes far beyond the early stages of moral character such as empathy. True moral maturity is seen in the ability to recognize the suffering of others and then to go a   step further and intervene and put a stop to it.

There are many factors which affect the development of morals. The first is the example set by family members. Research shows that the foundation of moral development is set by age four. Children learn the values of caring,k support, helpfulness, and volunteering by watching their parents. They can also learn the negative aspects of anger, fear, vindictiveness, and bullying depending upon the kind of relationships they observe in their first five years.

However, there are other things which play into this character development. Things like group think, social media, and how well children learn to interact with others and make friends.

When I was 13, I was unfortunate enough to be tje only girl with boobs. I am not talking about training bra boos. I was a 36C. Needless to say I was popular with the boys and hated by the girls. I have an obbious crush on the star football player, his girl friend head cheerleader did not like that not one bit I was surrounfed by a group of girls and taunted for several minutes before the teacher came in and rescued me. It still haunts me a little bit. Group think in many ways can encourage bullying and poor moral development.

However, group think can also be positive take the case of Marlee who received great support from her classmates. This young lady who was suffering from a battle returned to school to see 80 of her fellow students who had shaved their heads in order to support her!

So, what makes the difference in positive and negative group think. It turns out it is daydreaming. Which is something teens are doing less and less of these days. Why? You guessed it social media. This YouTube video shows how the constant use of social media and the ever growing value of fame is affecting the moral development of teens. It turns out the constant intake of social media effects brain development and can impair the development of moral character. A side effect few of us could realize, but need to recognize before it curbs the moral development of this coming generation.

Interestingly enough the antidote of too much social media is actual human interaction. Tens who have a rich and varied group of friends they spend time interacting with helps to not only develop the skills of morality and social development. It helps to put the ills of social media in check. It turns out the human interaction and being with other people seeing facial expressions, body language and hearing voice inflections go a long way in developing maturity. 

The truth is many adults do not expres moral maturity. We see other adults mercilessly ridiculing someone in the office and say nothing. We often hear of someone being hurt or killed in front of witness with no one stepping in. So, it is not surprising we see so little of it in today's teens it has not been modeled for them. Your exercises this week are going to be about this fact and what you want to do about it.

Exercised
  1. Re-read the Marlee article and watch the video. Then journal about them, and consider if your teen fits into either of these two categories. 
  2. Look back on your own life and how well you have modeled the trait of moral maturity. Then journal about how this makes you feel.
Journal

Take this week to think about moral maturity and how it looks both in your life and the life of your teen. Decide if you are happy with the results. If you are move on if not perhaps you and your teen can read some books on the subject Inc Magazine has a list of books on the topic to read before you are 30. This would be a great way for you and your teen to grow together inthis area!

Believe In Parenting



Thursday, April 6, 2017

Week 13: Authenticity Accountability Groups

Welcome to week 13!



The first time I ever heard of an accountability group I was sitting at dinner with a group of single folks from my church. My friend Tim looked at our group leader and asked. "What day are we meeting for accountability?" Me being the extremely curious person I am asked what he meant by accountability. Tim explained to me that it was a concept they learned in a Promise Keepers meeting. It is where a group of two or three friends get together to talk about things going on in their lives and make a plan for how they want to move forward. The others in the group support and encourage each other to meet their goals or challenge them to explain why they are choosing to let one go.

I liked this concept so much I asked my friend Cynthia to be my accountability partner. Over the course of the next year we challenged each other to live a fuller richer life. We started by praying for one another and then moved onto talking about our hopes and dreams. In the end I lost my friend to her large Italian family living on the east coast. She came to realize she needed to be with them. To this day I miss her. Cynthia helped me to face some of my greatest fears and made me laugh so much I can not remember a time when seeing her did not make me smile.

Accountability is not an easy endeavor. It means making yourself vulnerable and submissive to others. It also means trusting another person with your deepest fears, dreams, and secrets. These are all very scary propositions and can leave a person feeling intimidated. However, the relationship you can develop will be one you cherish forever.

I suggest if you are married your spouse be an accountability partner. However, every person needs an accountability person of the same sex as well. I am about to make a seemingly controversial statement here: look out! Men and women are different. However, physically, biologically, emotionally, and brain patters are all different within the sexes. Men and women see the world from very different perspectives. If you think about it something as everyday as going to the restroom is different. Men stand women sit. That is just one thing which allows our everyday worlds to be very diverse.
One of my favorite sayings is: "your man can be your best friend, but he will never be your best girlfriend."

Now, you can have an accountability partner as I did with Cynthia. But, I like and accountability group even better. This is where you and three other friends become accountable to one anther. Rog and Tim were two of the four men who were planning to meet. The group process is a little different in that there are you and three others. I like this because four heads are usually better than two. There is a Jewish proverb which says: There is wisdom in a multitude of counselors. I have seen people of accountability groups become life long friends long after they no longer met as a group. They still had one another's back. I often imagine Groups of Navy Seals to be this way. Once you  have been to hell and back together there is no way you lose each other later on in life.

So, this week's exercises are about beginning to think about the people you know and tryst. Is there one person or perhaps three others you think you can trust to include into your journey to authenticity. Perhaps your spouse would be a good person to start.

Exercises

  1. Get in touch with at least one person and share with them your authenticity journey.  
  2. Ask them if they would like to help you by becoming an authenticity partner or group. 
  3. Share this blog with them so they get the concept. 
  4. Plan to have your first session.
Journal

I know this process is scary and intimidating. Write about how you feel about sharing authenticity with anther person or group of people. Journal about your worst fears and then think about the worst thing that could happen. Are you willing to risk that thing to get to be your most authentic self? Then write about the conversation with the person you chose to talk to how did it go? Finally, look back at your fears and see if what you feared was as bad as what happened. Get it all on paper so you can be objective. 

As you are doing this think about how you can share this with your kids. How can they develop a group of friends who help them to be more true to themselves. Help them do it!

Believe in Parenting


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Week 6: Brain Development in Teens

Welcome to Week 6


When we look at the average 13-15 year old today it is often hard to remember they are not as old as they look. When I was 13, I looked like a grow woman if you looked at me from the neck  down. I have always been admired by older men. However, just because teens look so mature their brains are far from it.

Looking back I can see how I thought I was so mature, but I was always getting in trouble for spouting off at the mouth. I wish my Mom had known about brain development I may have not been grounded near as much. She might have cut me some slack had she known, I was not yet capable of thinking about what I was thinking.

It turns out the teen brain is vastly different from the adult brain. In fact we do not even think from the same part of the brain as a teen. Adults think primarily from the part of the brain called the frontal cortex. Teens ten to use more of the central area of the brain called the pre-frontal cortex. This is the part of the brain which is reckless, laid back, and full of angst.  Describe anyone you know.

The teen brain is also different in that it has literally thousands of connections called neuro-connectors. As a matter of fact it is these connectors which prevent the teen brain from being able to use the frontal lobe. As we spoke about last week the pituitary plays a large part in physical development. Part of what this gland does is to cue the brain to start changing a child's brain into a more mature brain. Thus, the brain begins to develop these neuro-connectors in order to begin the restructuring process. So, much of what is going on in puberty. It turns out the process is a lot more complicated than most of us thought. This week your exercise is to read two articles about the brain development of teens.

  1. This article from the Wall Street Journal breaks things down by age. Remember every child is different. Depending on the skills they acquired in childhood some things may be different with your child. However, children will at one point or another hit all the staged described.
  2. This article in Science News for Students this article is an easier read. I suggest you read it with your teen and discuss the article. Knowledge is power. Reading and having this discussion will not only give you something to share. It will give you both greater knowledge in what is going on beneath the surface.


Journal

This week has a lot of science and details. Write about the things you remember reading. Check in through observation and some discussion with your teen about their mental and emotional healthy. Writ about your discussions and think them through. Those discussions will tell you about how your teen is really doing.

If you find your teen is struggling this article from the National Institute of Mental Health may provide some support. Understanding brain development is a huge part of helping you child navigate the teen years. Taking the time to both read and think about it will serve you well.Take the time to do this. It will bo better for you both.

Believe in Parenting

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Authenticity: Is it making a difference?

Hello, I have a question.



I have been putting these posts out for 12 weeks now. I need to know if anyone is getting what I am putting out. I love creating these posts. However, I do need some feedback. Please message me if you are getting something out of this and would like me to continue. It is my intention to keep posting, but feedback will help me to tailor things a bit more towards what others may have questions about in the process. Please add comments to this feed. I will write two more weeks if I have no feedback I will move on to something else.