Monday, January 31, 2011

Parent's Top Ten List - #6 and #7

In counting down the 2011 Parent’s Top Ten List, which is available here, we are discussing numbers 6 and 7 on the list:

6. Repair mistakes and upsets in your relationships
7. Teach your children to repair mistakes and upsets in their relationships

We all make mistakes in our relationships. We all experience upsets. You may be angry with your spouse or irritated with your child or hurt by your own mom or dad. You may have blurted out something that you regret saying. You may have failed to follow through on an agreement. Upsets in relationships can be a debit from your emotional bank account with someone. They create distance and a disconnect. (For more on emotional bank accounts, see the post Share Your Love Language)

Repairing the relationship can restore your balance in your emotional bank account. Repairing a mistake can restore integrity. How do you repair a mistake or upset? Here are some guidelines:

• Talk about the issue when both of you are calm
• Ask permission to talk about it with the other person
• Be willing to admit a mistake
• Know how you would like to handle the issue differently if there is a next time
• Discover your part in the upset
• Talk about how you feel
• Ask the other person how he feels
• Ask the other person what you can do to make it up to them
• A make up can be a foot massage for your spouse, taking care of a young child for an hour or two so that she can have a break, fixing a favorite meal or dessert or watching a movie together on television.

One of the most valuable ways for children to learn how to repair disconnects in relationships is to see their parents repairing their own mistakes and upsets. As they watch you repair relationships, they will do it, too.

To hear this as a podcast, click here.

The Freedom To Be Course – happening in Pembroke Pines February 11-13 – will assist you in getting comfortable with your mistakes and learning from them. There is also a tool for diffusing conflict and creating empathy. Click here for more on Freedom to Be

Monday, January 24, 2011

Parent's Top Ten List - #8 - Share Your Mistakes

We are counting down the 2011 Parent’s Top Ten List, which is available here to print and post on your fridge. Over the next few weeks, we will get into more detail on each of the list’s high level suggestions for building family unity. So far we’ve covered Be Clear on Who Owns the Problem and Share Your Love Language. Today we are discussing Share Your Mistakes.

This suggestion may sound a little risky. You may be questioning if your child will respect you if you make mistakes or share your mistakes with him. You may fear that you will ‘loose control’ or ‘loose the upper hand’ if your child discovers any of your vulnerabilities. Instead of loss, you will actually experience gain.

Most people grew up with a fear of making mistakes. If you think about what happened when you made a mistake as child – your parents yelled at you or punished you – it is easy to see why a child would decide that mistakes are to be avoided at all costs. To avoid mistakes, you may lock yourself in indecision, shy away from new experiences, freeze up in job interviews, give up on things you desire, or hide any mistakes you think you have made so others don’t see them.

The truth is that mistakes are how we learn. A child learning to walk may stumble and fall before taking a series of steps. We encourage that child to keep going when he falls down. Making mistakes – those times we fall down – is how we improve. When we model being comfortable with both making mistakes and learning from our mistakes, our children will feel more comfortable, too. They will be better equipped to observe their own mistakes as learning experiences. They will make the connection between studying and success on a test. They will see the relationship between the amount they practice and their level of skill. They will raise their hand in class even if they are not 100% sure that they have the correct answer because they are eager to participate and learn. They will say “yes” to new things such as playing tennis or taking ballet or being in a performance. They will be willing to go for what they want instead of stifling their passions.

Practice sharing a mistake each week with your child. Make it age-appropriate. Talking about the mistake of divorcing his mother is probably a conversation to have when your son is an adult. Right now, there are a lot of places to get comfortable with mistakes, talk about them, learn from them and discover how you will do it differently the next time. For example:

• Not returning a phone call and the reaction of the friend who had originally called you
• Yelling at your child for not being ready for school on time or for making a bad grade or for forgetting to practice the piano
• Not listening to someone at work or someone in your family
• Not taking good care of yourself

I can talk about the mistake I made of walking in a parking lot while I was reading something on my phone. I didn’t see the car in front of me and was fortunate they saw me.

If you find yourself wanting to maintain the iconic status of “perfect parent” who never makes mistakes, use the line that Nero Wolfe, the genius fictional detective created by Rex Stout in 1934, often said, “Flummery!” Experience the connection and comfort as well as your child’s unique suggestions when you share your mistakes.

To hear this as a podcast, click here.

The Freedom To Be Course – happening in Pembroke Pines February 11-13 – will assist you in getting comfortable with your mistakes and learning from them. Click here for more on Freedom to Be.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Understanding Your Child's Emotional Awareness After Divorce

Rosalind Sedacca has written another terrific article to increase divorcing or divorced parents' understanding of their child's experience. Thanks, Rosalind!

By Rosalind Sedacca, CCT
Parenting is always complex. Parenting following a divorce can add many other layers of distraction and confusion to the mix. That makes it even more important for parents to be aware of how their children are responding to the divorce.

One common error parents make is misunderstanding the stage of development their children are at which can lead to unrealistic expectations. Too often parents will assume that their child possesses a better handle on their emotions and a deeper understanding of human nature than is really possible at their age. So when their child acts out or otherwise misbehaves, it’s easy to misconstrue their intentions.

Parents mistakenly see these small beings as little adults who bring adult reasoning and comprehension to daily circumstances. With that mindset, it’s easy to get disappointed when our child’s behavior doesn’t live up to our expectations.

When divorce enters the family dynamic we often forget that our children are processing their feelings with limited skills and emotional awareness. We all know the complexities of divorce can become an enormous challenge for adults. Imagine the ramifications on youngsters or even teens!

Give your kids a break. How unfair (and unrealistic) is it to expect your children to fully understand what Mom and Dad are going through and then respond with compassion? Emotional maturity doesn’t fully develop until well into our twenties. Yet divorced parents frequently put the burden on their children to be empathic, understanding and disciplined in their behavior when they themselves struggle to access those mature attributes themselves.

Parents can be especially misguided in their expectation about teens. By nature teenagers are very self-absorbed. They don’t yet have the full capacity to put others’ needs ahead of their own. In addition, most teens are not very future focused nor are they motivated by lectures about consequences. Part of the parenting process is to role model positive traits and to demonstrate the advantages of setting goals, planning ahead for the future, etc. Unrealistic parental expectations lead to needless conflicts with our teens which can easily result in a sense of confusion, insecurity, guilt or shame within their fragile psyches. Why get angry at your teen for not displaying adult maturity at a time when your own maturity may certainly be at question?

By understanding your children’s stages of emotional development as they grow, you are less likely to make the mistake of confiding information they can’t psychologically handle or asking them to play the role of mediator, therapist, or personal spy. You’ll be more likely to have reasonable expectations for them and refrain from feeling disappointed when your child behaves as the child they still are!

Rosalind Sedacca, CCT, is the author of the new ebook, How Do I Tell the Kids … about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook™ Guide to Preparing Your Children -- with Love! For more information, free articles on child-centered divorce and her free ezine, go to:

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Parent's Top Ten List - #9 - Share Your Love Language

Happy New Year! The 2011 Parent’s Top Ten List, available here to print and post on your fridge, provides high level concepts and suggestions for building family unity. Because this list is succinct – no explanations of the concepts – you may be curious about the “why” behind some of the suggestions. We began last month with #10, and in the next few posts, we will be bouncing back through the list, explaining each of the concepts. Today’s is #9 – Determine and share with one another the Love Language of everyone in your family.

In Steven Covey’s book The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, he introduces the concept of “Emotional Bank Accounts.” Covey explains, “An Emotional Bank Account is a metaphor that describes the amount of trust that’s been built up in a relationship. It is the feeling of safeness that you have with another human being.”

Just like a financial bank account, you can make deposits and withdrawals from an Emotional Bank Account. Covey says, “If I make deposits into an Emotional Bank Account with you through courtesy, kindness, honesty and keeping my commitments to you, I build up a reserve. Your trust toward me becomes higher, and I can call on that trust many times if I need to.”

One way to add high-powered deposits to your bank account with your family members is to speak their love language. Sometimes we may be saying “I love you” to a family member in our own primary love language rather than theirs. This is indeed a deposit to your Emotional Bank Account AND speaking your family member’s own primary love language is like making a contribution to your favorite PBS station during their fundraising drive when they have matching funds – it doubles or triples your deposit.

In The Five Love Languages of Children, authors Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell talk about the ways to discover and speak your child’s primary love language –gifts, physical touch, time, words of affirmation, or acts of service. By knowing the primary love language of everyone in your family, you can increase the trust in your relationships.

Begin to notice how your child expresses love to you and what he asks for the most from others. Does he hug you, sit in your lap or want you to scratch his back [physical touch]? Does he ask you to spend time doing something with him [time] or is he more thrilled if you fix his bike tire [acts of service]? Does she feel loved when you bring her a gift from your business trip [gifts] or more so when she receives a post card while you are away that tells her that you love and miss her[words of affirmation]? Does he complain that you don’t spend enough time with him [time]or that you never tell him you love him [words of affirmation]? These are your clues.

Discover your primary love language and share it with your children and spouse. Then spend time in a family meeting discovering and sharing everyone’s love language. Your bank accounts will be over-flowing!

Related Posts:
Speak the Most Powerful Love Language
To listen to this as a podcast, click here.