Category Archives: Personal Development

8 Unhealthy Habits You May Be Teaching Your Son

Sad

As parents, there are times when we are so busy trying to raise a good kid we lose sight of the power of our daily interactions with our kids. We forget that they watch us and learn by our example.

1.Nagging– If you’re nagging someone, you know it. I know when I’m being a nag and I even annoy myself. Nagging doesn’t motivate, empower or encourage anyone to do what you want. It’s a waste of energy and it creates more conflict.

2. Pessimism-If you focus on the negative events in your life, you are not in the position to embrace what’s good in your life. Being a negative person damages relationships and is detrimental to your emotional and physical well-being.

3. Worrying-Of course you are, you’re a mom! However, worrying about every little detail, sniffle and scrape will make your son an anxious child. Constant worrying only leads to fear filled thoughts.

4. Anger-Do you blow up for any little minor infraction? Deal with your anger issues. Your son shouldn’t have to be on the receiving end of your anger.

5. Passive-Aggressiveness-You’re still an angry person, you just manage to pretend you’re not angry. Being passive-aggressive is a weak excuse for not addressing challenges or conflicts in your relationships. Giving your son the silent treatment doesn’t teach him how to properly deal with conflicts.

6. Being Over-Indulgent– Whether it’s overspending or overeating,anything in excess is not good for you. Kids need structure. Too much of a good thing can be bad. Set limits and enforce rules.

7. Distress-There is good and bad stress. Good stress intrinsically motivates us to persevere. Bad stress robs us of our health. Kids pick up on their parents stress levels. Do your best to find techniques to deal with the stress in your life.

8. Ignoring Depression-Depression is a debilitating disease. Unfortunately, too many moms don’t address or properly deal with depression. We choose to ignore or dismiss our depression as “the blues” or occasional sadness. Break the cycle of depression by getting the help you need.

Sometimes we allow the situations in our lives to control or dictate how we behave. Making a conscious decision to be aware of your actions and behavior will help you to be the example of social and emotional wellness for your son.

Image Courtesy of Flickr

The Seasons of Your Son’s Life

As we get ready for the summer season, I think about how we go through various seasons in life. We are reminded in Ecclesiastes 3:1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. As  we watch our kids finish the school year and prepare for the summer,  their physical transformation during  these brief months can leave us baffled by the brevity of childhood.  Just as the seasons change, our sons go through their seasons of emotional, mental, spiritual and physical change. Whether your son is in kindergarten, middle/high school or college, the season of his life will be filled with hope and challenges. While we wish we could easily prepare our sons for these transitions, we can’t predict with accuracy what will happen in each season of our son’s life.

Seasons of Your Son's Life

A few years ago, middle school felt like the coldest winter ever. Like a harsh winter season, my son’s school year was unpredictable and arduous. As a parent, sometimes all I could do was offer support and encouragement while feeling helpless and unproductive.  There were days the more I tried to help, the more he resisted. I learned to adapt to my son’s changes by being consistent with my presence without being overbearing. As my son grew older and learned how to manage his emotions, I also learned how to manage our mother-son relationship. I learned to be present when he was talking and when he needed me to guide, coach or direct him.

I learned to appreciate the seasons of my son’s life. Parenting doesn’t prepare you for unexpected power struggles, the moments of uncertainty, or the quiet emotional storms. Someone once told me, “Raising boys is deceptively simple”, and I agree that sometimes we make assumptions about the emotional lives of boys.

You may not notice the season of your son’s life until he reaches puberty. Then you may notice the varying degrees of emotions and behavior. Like rain on a sunny summer day or snow in the spring, be prepared  be caught off guard with unexpected changes. What’s most interesting about boys is that most of them are intricate, sensitive, and fragile, yet they mask this by being flippant, apathetic and indifferent.  Be patient with the passing storms and be grateful for the mild days. On days when you’re tempted to let the circumstances take over, remember like every season, this too shall pass.

 

7 Mini Pep Talks to Have With Your Son

Everyone needs a pep talk from time to time. It’s easy for kids to get discouraged when they can’t do something and want to give up. More than giving support and cheering our sons on, we need to help them overcome the challenge and stay on track.

Motivation

1. Change Your Approach

Step out of your point of view and look at things objectively.  It will help you gain a new perspective.
“Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek.”-Mario Andretti

2. Step Away From the Situation

Take a break from the challenge or obstacle that is blocking you. Don’t try to dominate or overpower it.
“Learn the art of patience. Apply discipline to your thoughts when they become anxious over the outcome of a goal. Impatience breeds anxiety, fear, discouragement and failure. Patience creates confidence, decisiveness and a rational outlook, which eventually leads to success.” -Brian Adams

3. Be Still

Quiet your mind so that you can get the answer that you need. Just take a few minutes to clear your mind.
“An inability to stay quiet is one of the conspicuous failings of mankind. -Walter Bagehot

4. Keep Your Enthusiasm

Don’t lose the energy and spirit that you need to keep you going. Start each day with a positive outlook.
Success is going from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm. -Winston Churchill

5. Use Your Imagination

See yourself accomplishing your goals.
“Live out of your imagination, not your history.” -Stephen Covey

6. Write Out Your Dreams/Goals

Write out exactly what you are striving for until it becomes real to you.
“Motivation is like food for the brain. You cannot get enough in one sitting. It needs continual and regular top up’s.” -Peter Davies

7. Have Faith

Faith is the greatest motivator of all times, without it you can get nowhere, with it you are a powerful force.
“Walking your talk is a great way to motivate yourself. No one likes to live a lie. Be honest with yourself, and you will find the motivation to do what you advise others to do.
-Vince Poscente

Lions Do Raise Lambs: Embracing Your Child’s Personality

Lions Do Raise Lambs

Years ago, I adopted a phrase that a friend’s mother used to say “Lions don’t raise lambs.” I thought it was a powerful statement to make and soon made it my parenting motto. That is until I decided to take a look at myself. Who was I kidding? The only lion I was like was the Cowardly Lion or Alex the Lion from the movie Madagascar. After all, I’m the one who had to sleep with the lights on after watching The Sixth Sense (it’s not even a horror film).
The more I thought about it, I realized that this statement reflected my relationship with my mother. My mom is one tough cookie who is sweet and loving at the same time. She’s the kind of lion that would hug you and warn you that you’re about to be mauled.
As a kid, my mom tried for years to mold me into, well.. her. I was a skinny tomboy who enjoyed doing everything she wished I wouldn’t do. I hated dresses, the color pink, dolls and anything remotely girly. I was also a quirky and wildly imaginative introvert. Yet, my mother prevailed. She was determined to make this square peg fit into a round hole. What she got instead was an octagon, the confused offspring of a circle.

I can understand how why mother felt the need to mold me into something else. It wasn’t that she didn’t appreciate my strengths and my interesting character, she feared that if she didn’t refine some of my rough edges, I would be a walking mess. Even though secretly she appreciated all my antics, she worried that I would be a wild card. As her only daughter, she wanted to ensure that she gave me the proper tools to become a woman of substance. She longed for me to be ladylike and proper. The one thing she didn’t consider is that I’m not like her. Although she wanted to create a clone of herself, my mom never made me feel that her love was conditional or that I was good enough. My moms loves fashion, makeup, gardening and baking. My mom is cardigan, skirt and heels and I’m Converse, jeans and a t-shirt. Funny thing is that my mom was never critical, she was just hopeful. For all her lioness efforts to not raise a lamb, she got an alpaca, which is much worse. Have you seen an alpaca?

It took years of power struggles for my mom to understand that I wasn’t going to change. While she admired my independence and self-reliance, she was annoyed by my non-compliance. Although some of her refining methods work, deep down I remained that quirky girl who rather hang out with the guys. I remember thinking as a young woman, “I hope I don’t have a daughter, because I would screw her up.” Pretty dramatic but it was how I felt.

Which leads me to why I abandoned the “lions don’t raise lambs” way of thinking. What would that have meant for my son? It wouldn’t have been fair to him to try to make him someone he is not. I’ll be honest that since I was raising a child of the opposite sex, it was easier to let it go. The truth is lions can raise lambs or whatever animal they choose to raise. The beauty of having a child who is different from you is that you can appreciate the world through his eyes. As parents, we are the strong force in the development of our children’s confidence and self-esteem. When we start to lean towards creating clones, we deprive our children of their self-discovery and self-awareness. Character building is about working with the child you have, not changing him to the child you want him to be. I knew that I wouldn’t want to do anything that would negatively influence my son’s perception of himself.

Whenever I was worried about whether I’m doing things in the best interest of my son, I would allow him to show me the way. Now that we have two sons, it’s interesting to see the difference in character and personalities. So this alpaca takes it all in stride and enjoys the journey of raising a badger and a eagle with her bear, which makes our home an interesting place.
If you’re ever in doubt if your parenting expectations are clouding your ability to see your child as whole and self-reliant, remember the words of Kahlil Gibran:
On Children

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

Repost from The Good Men Project

Should Women Mentor Boys?

women mentor boys

Recently, I was talking with a male friend who has a high profile position about mentoring and I was pleasantly surprised when he shared that his mentor is a woman. Our conversation led me to think about the numerous young men I have informally mentored throughout the years. I never considered myself a mentor simply because I did not attach a title to our interactions. They would simply reach out to me from time to time to brainstorm or share ideas. What they shared with me helped me to better understand their experiences as young men.When I look back on the mentors who have influenced me, I can count men and women who have shared insight and offered a balanced view of life. My interpersonal and leadership skills were shaped by men and women who mentored me. My mentoring relationships impacted how I viewed myself as a woman as well as how I interacted and engaged with men in my personal and professional life.

Which leads to my question, “Should women mentor boys?” I want to be clear that I am not asking “Can women mentor boys?” because I believe that is a different conversation. When we look at most formal mentoring relationships, they are developed to provide boys and young men an advisor, a teacher to offer support and provide guidance. I am not advocating for dismissing male mentors. I do however believe that cross-gender mentoring can add tremendous value to a boy’s life. This is not about assigning stereotypical roles to men and women but exploring gender specific experiences.

With 80% of single parent households headed by a single mom (According to 2013 US Census), having a male figure in a boy’s life demonstrates the need for male mentoring programs. A male role model in a boy’s life is crucial to his emotional, mental and social and professional development. Clearly, having someone of the same gender who understands some of the daily challenges you face is important, but they also need more. If we are preparing children a for a 21st century world, they need a village of mentors to help them become better leaders in our globalized society. Ideally, having mentoring relationships which are cross-cultural, cross-race and cross-gender expands a boy’s perspective and gives him a better understanding of the world.

Our 21st century kids need a village of men and women to guide them through their personal and professional development. A well-rounded global citizen can not be shaped without the supportive environment of diverse people. Mentoring cultivates a network where boys have accountability partners that cheer their successes as well as challenge their behaviors and actions when they are working against their personal and professional goals. If the goal of mentoring is to guide, support and encourage a mentee to be their best, wouldn’t he have more to gain if he had men and women mentors who can help him with his learning and growth.

Another reason why women should mentor boys is that boys gain insight into women’s roles in leadership. How do we raise men who will support women in the workplace, if they don’t have first hand understanding of the barriers women in leadership face? If we ask, “Can a woman teach a boy how to be a man, isn’t it fair to ask can a man teach boys about a woman’s personal and professional experiences.

We can not expect to raise men who will advocate for women (or vice versa) if we do not give them the opportunity to learn from women in leadership. Leadership development is not confined to gender. I believe that same gender mentoring relationships give boys a solid foundation for manhood, but having a woman as a mentor gives him insight into diverse issues.

Repost from The Good Men Project.com

5 Tips To Help Your Son Think Like a Champion

Champion 

“Champions aren’t made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them – a desire, a dream, a vision.”-Muhammad Ali

Growing up, I remember Wheaties cereal being a staple on our breakfast table. I’ll admit that I hated the cereal but loved the tagline: Breakfast of Champions. Yeah, they sold my parents on that concept and my parents were shortchanged (well not my brother, just me).  But seriously, we love the idea of being a champion yet some of us believe that it’s reserved for those high achievers in life.  What if we didn’t talk to our kids about being champions but instead gave them the tools to develop a champion mindset. You’re probably thinking: “What’s the difference?”

The problem is that our society has distorted the concept of championship. We focus on the outcome but not the hard work, sacrifice, and dedication it takes to be a champion. Most people who are champions are not slackers, or have a sense of entitlement. What they have is strong work ethics and a way of thinking that helps them to accomplish their goals.  If my sons have a champion attitude, imagine what they can do in life.

What do champions do differently?

  • They set priorities. 
  • They set realistic and attainable goals.
  • They have organized thought patterns.
  • They analyze their action plans. 
  • They trust their instincts.
  • They are intrinsically motivated.
  • They align their actions with their strengths and values.

Here are 5 tips that can help your son develop the mindset of a champion. Keep in mind your son’s temperament and level of motivation. Most champions are passionate about their work and dreams. You can use these tips to guide your son to doing his best for whatever he is most passionate about.

1. Pay Attention to the Details

Olympians do not wing it or make assumptions. They take into consideration their strengths and their weaknesses. They also do the same for their competitors. Besides the hours they spend practicing, they also review what they need to do to excel.  Help your son to pay attention to details by asking him open ended questions that utilize his critical thinking skills. For example, If your son failed his science test, ask him “What could you have done differently to pass this test?”   “What will you do to ensure you pass your next test?”

 

2. Avoid Negative Distractors

Our  kids have so many distractions, that it is easy to get sidetracked and lose focus. As adults, we know how social media or television can distract us, so imagine how much more challenging it is for kids. Keep your son focused by setting limits and helping him create a plan for work and for play. Get him tools that will help him to organize his time .

 

3. Envision Winning

This is pretty simple.  You don’t win by envisioning yourself losing. Help your son create a vision board for what he wants to achieve. Help him set short and long term goals. Olympians always have the end in mind.

 

4. Role Models and Mentors

Champions do not work alone. They have family, friends, coaches, and mentors that keep them motivated. In order for your son to excel, he needs to have a support system. Having a trusted mentor is one of the best resources for your son. A mentor can help him better understand his strengths and weaknesses.

 

5. Have Passion For What You’re Doing

One of the mistakes we make as parents is not paying attention to the difference between encouraging our sons to succeed and pushing our sons after they’ve lost passion for an activity or hobby.  When your child is no longer interested in something, forcing, bribing or threatening them to continue only creates a power struggle. It’s not about us, it’s about them. we have to help them identify if they have lost  their passion because they feel discouraged or they lost it because they develop new interests. Champions practice, study and work hard because they love what they do.

 

 

 

Teaching my Sons That Grief is Not Contagious

Quarantine

When a loved one dies, people react to you in one of three ways:

1. They offer their condolences and awkwardly try to have a discussion about the situation.

2. They offer you support and comfort.

3. They send you an impersonal message and avoid you as much as possible.

The funny thing is you never know how anyone will react to your grief.

When my dad passed away to years ago, I experienced an outpouring of love from people; online friends and friends I’ve known for years. I was unprepared for the reaction from people I assumed were friends. I understand that death is a delicate topic and even I’ve been uncomfortable with discussing it with others. However, as a parent, I know that I have to set an example for my sons that grief is a natural process.

My parents raised me to be emotionally resilient and my mom always reinforced the need for me to be “strong”.  There were times when I hid my sorrow from my sons because I didn’t want them to see me sad. I felt that I had to put on my own mask to cover my grief. I did my best to cry privately because I didn’t want to burden them with my pain.  Until one day, my teen son was feeling sad and needed comforting. I realized that I was being a hypocrite.

What was I teaching my sons about grief if I was not being open and honest about my feelings?  How will my sons deal with their own grief later on in life?

I don’t want to raise stoic and emotionally detached men. I want my sons to know that grieving is natural and talking about your grief  can be cathartic. I want my sons to know that a strong man can cry, be vulnerable and also be a comfort to others who are grieving.

I’ve met many people who are unable to deal with grief because they have not learned how to effectively deal with their own emotions. I’ve known men and women who appear cold and indifferent because they were shamed into believing that showing their emotions is a weakness. Unfortunately, when you bottle up your feelings, there are consequences such as depression and anxiety.  Allowing others to see you feel doesn’t make you seem weak. Letting other people love you in your time of need makes you stronger. I also want to remind you that when someone is grieving, reach out to them and let them know you care. Most importantly, remember that grief is not contagious.

“Grieving doesn’t make you imperfect. It makes you human.” -Sarah Dessen

Mom, You’re a Bully

 

As we sit in frustration and horror about the bullying epidemic, we continue to look around for someone to blame. We point fingers at everyone and refuse to acknowledge that we all play a part in the bullying situation.

Our generation has started a bullying trend that is now out of control. Let me make this clear, EVERY child is involved in the bullying the situation, including my child. Our children are either the bully, the victim or the spectator. Even if you are sighing with relief that at least your child is not the bully or the victim, the tides turn quickly. Today’s bully can be tomorrow’s victim.  While we search for solutions, it’s important that we take a look at how we present ourselves in person and online. It’s unfortunate that people who are hurting have to anonymously attack others because they do not have the tools or resources to deal with their pain. However, as adults, when we take a stand against bullying, are we being sincere when we unjustly criticize a celebrity for their appearance?

It seems that yesterday’s “mean girl” has become today’s “mean mom”. Instead of teaching our sons and daughters how to resolve conflicts, we’re getting involved in these conflicts and sometimes even instigating more drama. Mom, stop trying to be cool and just take responsibility for your actions and your child’s behavior. Unless you plan on raising your child to be a reality tv star, then it’s time for an intervention.

Speaking of reality tv, it seems that almost every fake housewife on these shows engage in some form of bullying. Yet, it seems the bigger the bully, the better the reward (More exposure, endorsements, etc).

When adults post mean and hurtful pictures and comments, they send mixed messages to children. This is why the cycle continues.  If we want teens and kids to stop bullying each other, we all have to be mindful of what we say and share online. If we  don’t practice what we preach, our kids see us as hypocrites. We just publicly do “what is right” but forget that our kids also see the wrong we do in private.

Despite all the campaigns and prevention methods, we still have a growing bullying issue in our country. It takes more than sharing tweets and posts about bullying. It takes  being a model of  upstanders instead of bystanders. It takes speaking up about injustice. It takes you teaching your child to not just be a spectator. It takes you being accountable for your behavior and your speech. It takes you raising a critical thinker. It takes you having enough self-esteem to not make other people feel bad, so that you can feel good. It takes you teaching your child to be inclusive, not exclusive. It takes you reminding yourself and your child, that you are either part of the problem or part of the solution.

 

Photo Courtesy of M. Pratter

 

5 Healthy Habits to Teach Your Son

Imagine it is 15 years from now, what do you see your son doing with his life? To answer that question, you need to think about what your son is learning about life now.

1) Be of Service to Others

What will be your son’s legacy? His life defines who he is and the choices he makes will impact his the lives of others. Teach him to understand the power of his words and actions. Remind him that he was uniquely created to make a contribution to the world. Surround him with people who are supportive, positive and encouraging. Staying small and thinking small will not get him where he needs to be in life. Starting today, show him how to have a new perspective on life. He has to believe in his abilities and discover what he has to offer the world.

2) Love Unconditionally

When was the last time you loved without hesitation or caution? Withholding love is a means of control that only leads to distrust and resentment. Loving unconditionally means loving without judgment. Teach the following by being an example:

  • Allow yourself to love and be loved
  • Do not expect your needs and wants to be fulfilled by someone else.
  • Allow those you love to express themselves without fear of rejection.
  • Do not punish yourself or loved ones for past mistakes.
  • Be responsible in how you show love.

3) Do the Impossible

Think it can’t happen; then it won’t. Tell your son the following:

  • Learn from failures and take responsibility for your life.
  • Listening to your inner critic can sabotage your dreams.
  • Dream big and be excited about your future.

4) Be Grateful for Opportunities

Everyday your son is given many opportunities. Some may go unnoticed. Help him to recognize the simple little blessings that come his way daily. Give him a strong foundation on which to build his faith. His life will be more rewarding when he is aware of how much he has to be grateful.

5) Take Healthy Risks

Don’t allow fear of failure to dictate your son’s life. Fear inhibits success. Everything in life involves a risk. Your son will limit himself if he doesn’t step out of what is safe, comfortable and familiar. It is important that he is curious about life. Help him to develop strategies to deal with rejection and disappointment..

By encouraging your son to develop healthy habits, you are giving him the tools he needs to have positive experiences in life.

 

 

Is Your Child Up to “Know Good”?

KnowGood

“There are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ people.  Some are a little better or a little worse, but all are activated more by misunderstanding than malice”-Tennessee Williams

Most of us like to compartmentalize our lives. We want to put different areas of our lives in neat little “boxes” that are free of conflict and adversity. When random unexplainable events disrupt our lives, we search aimlessly for answers that make sense to us.

Children are polarized thinkers. They see things as good or bad. This is why cartoons, movies and books always have  a good person and a villain. As they grow older and experience life, they start to notice the area of “gray areas of life” and start to question the concept of good vs. evil, right vs. wrong. 

Unfortunately, what is happening in our society is that adults are now becoming polarized thinkers. We are so quick to judge and react to situations and simplify them as good or bad.  We focus on the bad things that we tend to overlook the good in the world. Our energy is directed at the violence, hate and anger that is permeating our society. Some of us are pessimistic; eagerly waiting to share bad news on social media. Instead of enjoying the good times, we wait anxiously for  something bad to happen.

We’ve lost faith in ourselves and in future generations. We want to  be optimistic about the future, but once we hear about another random act of violence, it sends us driving down despondency road again.

What are we teaching our children through our words and actions? How can we tell them to think positive, to plan for the future, when we present such a bleak future? Why do we tell our kids that “It gets better” then we turn around and say “Things are getting worse”.

We shouldn’t be surprised that our kids are becoming desensitized to tragedy. If we don’t help our children to appreciate the good in life, we will raise a generation of jaded and cynical men and women.

We inundate ourselves with bad news and we partake in negativity by watching reality shows that glorify bullying, and thoughtlessness. Think about how much negativity and bad news we share through social media. Our kids are watching and paying attention and they’re beginning to accept this as normal. We can’t create a perfect world for our kids but we can change how they perceive life and tragedies.

We have to remind our kids that life has good and bad moments. They need reassurance that all is not lost and that there are good people in the world.  If we want to raise loving and empathetic adults, we need to exemplify love, empathy and  compassion. It starts with reminding ourselves that there is good left in the world, but it’s our job to notice it and show it to our kids.

Image Courtesy of Flickr