Category: Parenting Skills

You Deserve a Reward!

You have probably heard the saying ‘begin with the end in mind’. In other words, visualize how you want something to turn out. However, if we want more enjoyment when we do things as a family then we should begin with the WHY in mind.

I love this comment by the motivational speaker Dan Clark: “Begin with the why in mind rather than the end in mind. This allows us to reward effort rather than results.” I love his comment because when adults adopt this attitude we and our kids have more fun and satisfaction in just about everything we do together.

Remember why you’re going for a family drive, why you’re letting the kids help you paint, why you’re making cookies, why you’re folding socks together or why you’re preparing dinner. The purpose of just about everything we do in a family is to build relationships.

Stop worrying about how the cookies taste, how the painting looks, if all the socks got matched, if dinner tasted great, whether there’s a mess, or how long the project takes. Keep your mind focused on relationship building.

As adults, we have motives that can prevent us from rewarding our family’s efforts to work and play together, regardless of the outcome. These motives can make it more difficult to give ourselves a reward just for being together, for enjoying each other, for working on our relationships.

MOTIVE 1—We want the experience and the outcome to match our expectations

When we plan any activity, vacation, chore, etc. with our family it’s almost impossible not to have an outcome in mind. However, if the family event doesn’t match that outcome then it’s easy to feel dissatisfied, even angry. It’s important to watch our expectations.

Keep expectations from getting in the way of enjoying your family. Avoid the trap of giving up because, well, what’s the use, what can they possibly be getting out of this? Keep the perfect from becoming the enemy of the good. The point is not what you teach, or how well it looks, but being together. There’s great value in linking your satisfaction to being with your family even when it falls short of your expectations.

MOTIVE 2—We want a reward

In our world, we get rewards for getting stuff done. If the job’s done right, we get bigger rewards. Rewards are what we’re used to.

In our families, the reward isn’t a paycheck but a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of happiness. Frequently, we withhold this reward from ourselves and other family members if what we’re doing doesn’t turn out right, in other words, if it didn’t meet our expectations. We don’t give ourselves the reward for simply engaging with our family and solidifying relationships.

It’s OK to reward ourselves with a sense of satisfaction and happiness even if we fall short of our expectations.

MOTIVE 3—We want others to think well of us

We want to look like the family we have in our mind – kids with clean hands and faces, no bickering, clean plates at dinner, clean rooms, happy conversation in the car…

That family doesn’t even exist but for some reason, we think it does and that if ours isn’t like that we have somehow failed. We want this imaginary family because sometimes our motive when being with our family is to look good to others – to look like that imaginary family. When we have this motive in mind it can suck the joy right out of any family activity with a REAL family

Success in any family endeavor can be measured by how people feel during and after an activity together. Is the family energized? Did you have fun? Did you feel happy being with one another? Was there a sense of satisfaction or accomplishment? Was individual esteem strengthened? Are relationships better? Is the family feeling still strong?

If we can answer yes to even one of those questions then we can reward ourselves because we will have succeeded in WHY we are together as a family – relationships!

When we remember why we do things as a family it’s easier to jettison these common motives and have greater enjoyment as we work and play together.

REAL LIFE EXAMPLE –

Your family gathers at the table for dinner. You notice that one of your children’s hands are filthy and send them to wash. Another child complains that now you all have to wait to say grace because of so and so’s messy hands. The child with the messy hands comes back and gives their sibling a raspberry with their tongue. You intervene, remind them it’s time for grace and pick someone to pray.

During the prayer, the smallest child tips their milk. They should have had hands folded for prayer but they were reaching for a slice of bread. While the family finishes grace you head to the kitchen for a towel.

Both you and your spouse feel a bit frustrated but as you wipe up the milk your husband says, “Guess what I saw today?” One of the children responds with, “What?” “Well, I saw a sign for the circus, it’s coming to town.” There is a round of happy comments and someone says “Can we go?” “Well, we can talk about that at our family meeting. But do you know what my favorite thing was when I went to the circus as a kid, the Kaliope.” Someone responds with “The whatopee. I never heard of that.” And so the conversation goes for the next few minutes. Then your oldest child asks to be excused which starts an avalanche of request to be done.

Quickly you and your husband find yourselves sitting alone at the table. You realize that you are going to have to call those assigned to clean the table back and that you are going to have to argue with the ones assigned to wash and dry. But for now, in this brief moment, you and your husband look at each other and one of you says – “Well that was nice.”

And it was nice. You all sat down together. You ate together. You kept your cool and managed your responses. You had a full five minutes of conversation as a family. No one went away feeling less than. It was a success! Reward yourself with a sense of satisfaction and a happy feeling that you are managing just fine.

Of Hens and Families

                                                   A Very Bright Chicken!

We have chickens, free-range chickens. That means they are never locked in the coop. That has its advantages and disadvantages!

•It feels like country even in the city
•They poop on your patio and steps
•Breakfast can always include eggs
•It takes a hunt to get those breakfast eggs
•There are fewer bugs everywhere
•Ripe garden tomatoes might not make it into the house!

You see the last thing on the list- Ripe garden tomatoes might not make it into the house! That has been happening to me all summer. In fact, I have been picking my tomatoes when they are still slightly orange with a bit of green. It’s annoying because the reason to plant tomatoes is that you want ripe from the vine tomatoes.

I’ve been watching for the culprit who’s getting into the garden. Today I found her out! She is the mangiest chicken in the flock. She’s missing feathers on her neck and on her behind. She’s skinny and scraggly. You wouldn’t think much of her. However, you would be wrong! She is smarter than the average chicken despite her looks.

This morning I discovered her in my garden and I shooed her out. Then, because I can’t figure out how she gets in I watched her. Within minutes I saw her scoot under the fence at the corner where it connects to our neighbor’s fence. I shooed her back out. Then I placed a large rock in front of the low spot.

These low spots are actually created by the chickens themselves. They love taking dirt baths. Over time they can create quite an indention.

That’s what has happened around the perimeter of my garden. When I discovered this I placed cinder blocks in every indention I knew about. That’s why I couldn’t figure out how Scraggy Hen got in this morning.

After I blocked her newest entrance I watched her pace from one end of the garden to the other looking for a way in. I could feel her frustration as she paced back and forth trying this and that.

Although I felt for her plight what I felt, even more, was the desire for a ripe red tomato out of my own garden so I turned my gaze away and I went back to my cleaning. The next time I looked her way she was in the garden! How did she do that!!

I shooed her out and then I watched some more. For just a few minutes she went back to pacing the fence line, then she veered to the left towards the pasture fence. The fence at the back of the garden is also the fence to the back pasture. It’s made of far different wire than our chicken wire garden fence.

This fencing is meant to keep out cows and sheep, not chickens. Scraggy Hen looked along that piece of fence line until she found a place where the wires were just a bit more open and through them she went. Now she was in the pasture and she headed for the section that is at the back of the garden, where she searched until she found a larger opening. Voila, in the garden again!

What Do Chickens Have To Do With Families?

Now, this post isn’t about hens and gardens or even ripe tomatoes. It’s about the challenge we have to work out a solution when something that used to work stops working for our family or family relationships.

Scraggy Hen had been getting into my garden the same way all summer, under the fence. She had a routine going. Get in, eat all the tomato you can and get out before Mean Lady shoos you out. Then today it stopped working. Scraggy Hen paced up and down along the fence line for a long time. She would finally wander away and then eventually come back and pace some more. It was frustrating to watch and if chickens feel then Scraggy Hen was frustrated. She just kept checking the same old spots but they were blocked and she couldn’t get through anymore.

That can happen in family relationships and family systems; what used to work stops working and then we mentally pace. We keep trying to do it the old way. We feel frustrated, angry, annoyed, sad, victimized and any number of other human responses.

Back to Scraggy Hen. She got tired of pacing that fence line. She wanted ripe, red tomatoes for breakfast. She had had them before and wanted them again. So she checked out a new fence line and got through. Back into ripe, red tomato heaven!

For Better Solutions Get Out of The Box

What Scraggy Hen did was get out of the box. She stopped thinking in the same old familiar pattern and tried something different. She stopped being frustrated and feeling victimized. She took control of her response and began to think outside of the box. When nothing was going right she went left, literally.

Scraggy Hen was used to getting into the garden a specific way. When that way stopped working she had to find a new way. She had to leave the comfort zone of what she knew and try something else.

There are books written about how to become an out of the box thinker, to find better solutions. But here are some simple steps to begin practicing now.
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•Stop accepting victimhood and begin taking control of your responses.

When things aren’t going well it’s easy to feel like a victim of other people, even our kids. However, we are always in control of our response and when we believe and live as if that is true, it goes a long way in helping us manage even unmanageable situations and come up with better or new solutions

Repeat to yourself every time you feel that someone is doing something to you – I am not a victim!

•Leave your comfort zone

We all have ways that we have always done things or think that they should be done. It’s easier to follow the status quo but families who thrive keep changing whatever needs to be changed. They aren’t afraid to try doing something in a new way. In every family, everything is an experiment. Some work and some don’t and it’s OK. Try another experiment!

•Challenge your assumptions (stories)

Often when things stop working or go awry we assume it’s the other person’s fault. However, as we remain in control of our response to what doesn’t feel right we can also begin looking at our own motives, desires, and stories. What is fueling our feelings and our actions?

•Ask yourself searching questions

For example – instead of blaming your kids for not doing their chores ask yourself questions about how you are when you’re attempting to get them to do their chores. Are you present? Are your boundaries good? How do you feel about chores and what energy are you bringing? How is your consistency? Are you allowing yourself to feel like a victim? Why? When we ask ourselves searching questions about what is happening or not happening we can often make slight changes in our own behavior that can right a sinking ship or help us find a new ship altogether.

• Step out of your shoes and step into that of your spouse and children

It’s easy to get stuck in our own heads and in our own feelings. But when we step out of our shoes and into someone else’s we get a better idea of what’s driving another person’s behavior. For example, I had a friend who’s 13-year-old would not talk to her. It made her feel like a bad mom, that her daughter was mad at her or that she didn’t love her. She kept trying to get her daughter to talk to her. It only widened the gap.

Finally, this mom stepped out of her shoes and into those of her daughter. She decided that being 13 was probably a tough place to be and that what her daughter might need was a consistent connection, not words. She spent 3-5 minutes sitting on the edge of her daughter’s bed each night in the dark, in silence. She gently laid her hand on the bed next to her daughter’s arm. After a few weeks, her daughter began opening up. This mom stepped out of the box in her thinking.

•Don’t Take The Need for New Solutions Personally

Life is full of ups and downs. We can ride these waves of change better when we’re open to exploring different options and trying new experiments. Don’t take the need to change personally. Don’t make it about how you are doing as a parent. Just try a new experiment.

Your shares are the best compliment. : ) 

A Tip To Improve Parent-Child Relationships

Here’s a true story.

A father was painting the outside of his home. His five-year-old son wanted to help. So this good father gave his son an old shirt with the sleeves rolled up several times. They both went to work on the door, dad painting the top and son painting the bottom. It just happened to be the main entrance.

Now because of his age and size, the young boy wasn’t able to spread the paint evenly and consequently, the paint was beading up. That certainly wasn’t how the father envisioned his front door. So each time the five-year-old bent down to get more paint the father would hastily smooth out the paint on the bottom panel. It couldn’t do any harm, the boy didn’t know what was happening and the door sure would look better.

Well, father and son painted in silence for a time, the boy doing his best and the father smoothing it out. As the father thought about the situation and his redoing of his son’s work he decided that working with his son trumped a first-class paint job. He realized that his son was doing a mighty fine job for a five-year-old. The relationship that was being forged over the painting of a door was more significant to the father than the appearance of the door. He stopped smoothing out his son’s work.

Ever after that when the father approached the front door and saw its distinctive style of decoration he was reminded of what is really important.

The father of this five-year-old boy spoke about his own experiences with his father. His father had a workshop in which he made wonderful things. The son said, “I would wander into this workshop and watch him. Just to be in his presence was a thrill for me. He invited me to help him by passing a hammer, a screwdriver, or some other tool. I was convinced that my help was necessary and that without me he would not be able to complete his task.

As I look back and reflect upon those wonderful memories, I realize that my contribution was not necessary for my father to complete the work he was engaged in. I was the beneficiary, as through these experiences I came to know him and to love him. I came to know about a Fathers Role In Parenting .” We All Have a Father in Whom We Can Trust”, Ensign, May 1994, 30

Relationship vs Outcome

Sometimes parents care too much about the outcome and too little about the relationship. When we take time to be present with our children we give them the opportunity to know and love us. We give them a gift. And they return that gift by loving us back. It’s the best use of our time because the relationship that develops is the thing of greatest significance.

When you are older and they have gone from home, you will be glad that you spent the bulk of your time on forging relationships rather than on the outcome of the myriad projects parents need to do.

You Can Manage The Best Job In The World Better

Marie and four of the seven cousins-Parker, Lizzy, Ashley, and Aubrey

In 2011 one of my daughter’s, with four children, remarried. Another daughter and I went to her home to care for her kids while she was gone on her honeymoon. We took three children with us. That makes 7 children, right? But not to worry, after all, we had two moms to handle the job of caring for seven children, ages 1 to 11. How hard could it be?

Well, I cooked….and cooked….and cooked…..does it ever stop? Only when it’s bedtime, that is, if no one wakes up in the night and needs a bottle, a drink of water or a small snack!

I washed and folded….washed and folded….washed and folded mountains of clothes, bedding….really mountains! We started with one very ill child and by the end of a week’s time, we were up to four. That’s a lot of throw up!

My daughter, Jodie, picked up….and picked up….and picked up….does it ever end. Only if it’s warm outside and everyone wants to go out. But it was winter, cold, and cloudy. Everyone was indoors dressing up, gluing, cutting, taping, and playing games with a million pieces, not to mention the puzzles.

Jodie played referee…and played referee…and played referee….stop already! But there were three girls

Three of the seven cousins-Maggie, Mary and Jack

who all need the hairbrush at the same time and who wanted to wear the same princess dress. There were two three-year-old boys just learning to share, you get the picture.

Of course in all this cooking, washing and folding, picking up and refereeing we had to live our regular life of doing important stuff, right? We cleaned the house top to bottom, over and over again. We kept hoping it would stay clean for the bride’s homecoming.

We painted the brides living room and dining room; our wedding present for their open house later that week. Try doing that with one, one year old, two three-year-olds and one 4-year-old with cerebral palsy. We were either extraordinarily courageous or abysmally foolish. We felt we were both by the time we were done.

On the last day, after three of the girls had gone to school, one three-year-old had gone to relatives and we were left with just three children, we gazed tiredly at the strewn living room floor, the chaotic playroom and envisioned the six-hour drive home. Jodie looked at me and said, “Gee, mom, there are two of us and we couldn’t keep up.” I couldn’t help laughing tiredly because it was so true.

I’m sharing this experience with you because I want to make two very important points.

What feels like failure is the process…

First, if two moms struggled, what happens to one mom who does this kind of thing 24/7, 365 days a year? Well, she gets tired and discouraged. It comes with the territory; motherhood is the hardest job in the world. The best we can hope for are glimmers of occasional peace, a few quiet moments of self-care, sloppy kisses and an occasional “you’re the best mom.”

The house will be orderly and clean sometimes but not most of the time. Children will be gracious and kind to one another occasionally but sometimes they’ll forget. A meal will never satisfy until the next meal. Laundry is perpetual and so is folding. Nothing is perfect except for the fact that we have the best job in the world.

Nothing is perfect except the fact that we have the best job in the world.

Yes, motherhood is the hardest, but the best job in the world. We’re raising people who will make a difference in the lives of others, just as soon as they grow up a bit more.

So take heart. What feels like failure is really just the process of raising a number of children in one house until they’re grown enough to start their own house and repeat the process.

Give yourself a break. Be kind to yourself. Speak gently to yourself. And then remember, two moms with lots of experience couldn’t make it perfect even for a week!

Practice being Present

Second, I was reminded of how much effort it takes to be Present. This one thing, which can change a family dramatically, is not always easy.

I’m thinking of the night that I tiredly put all seven children to bed. This was after about 30 minutes of trying to read Understood Betsy to the four oldest girls. The two three-year-olds were everywhere, buzzing their trucks, jumping on the bed, jumping off the bed. We had to stop reading repeatedly to remind them of the rules for quiet time reading, something that was new to them.

As a matter of fact, I had to keep reminding the four older girls also. Finally, I just shut the book and said, “lights out”. I couldn’t wait to hear quiet!

After another twenty minutes of child wrangling, I managed to have everyone in bed. It was quiet, at least for the moment. I stood in the hall with a slightly dissatisfied feeling. I had gone through the grandma motions of reading and tucking but I was focused on getting them all quiet. After all, it had been a loooong day!

As I stood there I remembered that being Present, even for short amounts of time, heals hearts, soothes feeling, opens gates to communication, deepens love and satisfies tired adults and children. So I tiptoed back into every room and kissed and hugged and spoke quietly to each child. It took under 20 minutes but it made all the difference in an otherwise very chaotic and busy day.

Being present is a gift you give to your children and yourself. It takes practice, practice, practice. But this one thing will secure you dividends in your family that you cannot imagine, even if you are only present for a moment at a time.

Would you like to have help practicing the skill of being Present in your everyday activities, not adding anything new, time-consuming or costly, just utilizing what already happens in your every day? You can get the chapter on Touchpoints FREE. It will walk you through how to make your daily points of contention into points of connection.

Please share your experiences of being present with your children and how it makes you and them feel. Use the comment section. I want to hear from you!

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Flying By The Seat of Your Pants Is Uncomfortable!

Being a mother of seven busy children was a BIG job. One of the difficulties I ran into was managing all the mess and work that comes with a family. Believe me, you don’t have to have seven kids to figure out that a family takes work.

I do a lot of mentoring with mom’s and dads who feel a bit over the top with managing all that they have on their plates and still finding time to enjoy being in their homes with their families. One thing that we always take a good look at, as we analyze feelings of frustration or anger, are family systems.

I had a mom tell me that one thing that really got her down was that after dinner everyone scattered and she was faced with cleaning up the mess by herself. She felt she was in this bad place because she didn’t have a system.

Here was the real problem – she had a system that didn’t work well for her. The system that she and her family were using was that after dinner everyone scattered and mom was left to clean up. Yup, that was their system. It was a system by default but a system none the less. Flying by the seat of your pants is uncomfortable!

When looking at family systems I have a parent make a list of the top three things that happen in a day that cause them to feel like leaving home, you know, those times when they feel most frustrated or angry at their children or family. Then we take a look at what system is being used. We take an honest look! Once we know what has been happening over and over we can design an experiment to determine what might feel and work better.

I LOVE experiments! When a scientist wants to see if they can get a certain outcome they design an experiment. If they don’t get the outcome they want then they try something else. The scientist doesn’t berate him or herself at the end of a failed experiment. They just try another experiment. But moms and dads can be pretty hard on themselves if something doesn’t work out well the first time. Maybe that’s why we fly by the seat of our pants so often and have systems by default. We don’t want to fail. But as I said, you can’t fail with an experiment because, that what it is, an experiment. So, begin taking a hard look at your family systems.

As I help someone design an experiment we take into account their desires, energy level, family personalities, etc and come up with something that has a chance to work in their family. Over the years I have seen many successes.

I devised some very successful systems over the years to manage my own life and family. They worked for me but they may not work for your family. But I want to get you thinking about your own systems.

THREE SYSTEM EXAMPLES

A. Laundry
With seven kids clothes and towels can become a chaotic mess. I was doing piles and piles of laundry every week. I couldn’t keep up and realized that I need to upgrade whatever system it was that we were using. My experiment had three prongs to it and although parts were certainly not what most people would choose, it worked for our family.

1. One of the items of clothing that became problematic was pajamas. We had a really terrible system. You wore them, took them off, dropped them wherever, and then the next night you got clean ones. Yup, that was our laundry clogging system.

So I put hooks on the kids’ walls. I didn’t feel that we needed clean pajamas every day. So in the morning they hung them up and put the same ones on at night. If they ended up on the floor then you had to wear them anyway. PJ’s were good for at least 3 days. It really helped cut down on laundry.

2. Towels were another issue. Often towels ended up on the floor, and remember I had seven children. By morning, especially in the summer, the towel was sour and headed for the laundry. Uggggggh I hated that because 4-7 towels a day was excruciating.

So I added another hook for their towel. I gave each child a towel and it was the only one they got for a week. If hung up it was good for a week because it was used to dry a clean body. I didn’t give in to cries of, “But my towel stinks.” If your towel was on the floor and got stinky you had to earn another towel. It wasn’t a very popular system but it worked and the kids soon learned to hang up their towels.

3. Here was the third prong to the new system – when you were 12 you did your own laundry. I took the time over a number of weeks to help a new twelve-year-old learn how to do their laundry. Then they were on their own. I didn’t monitor their laundry. There were a few times that someone had to borrow underwear from a sibling or wear a dirty uniform to gym class but it was a great learning experience and everyone got better at it.

B. Cleaning rooms

I had different systems for getting kids to clean their rooms over the years. As their ages changed so did our systems. At one time I had five kids over 12 and under 18. Their rooms were horrible and we didn’t have a system at that time that was working and I was weary of talking and cajoling to get older children to manage the mess.

So I told my older children that I wasn’t going to remind them to clean their rooms anymore. But we did have some rules:

•Your mess cannot spill out into the hallway.
•If you choose a mess you have to keep your door closed.
•If it smells you will have to take an evening or afternoon off and clean your room. No activities until the smell is gone.
•Every bedroom has to be put in order once a month. You can do it or I can do it. If I do it then I get to decide what stays and what goes.

I know lots of moms are gasping right now but I love cleaning and I loved getting my hands on those kid’s rooms. : ) This was very workable for me.

I had two sons who couldn’t care less about their stuff so, often as not, I picked up their rooms once a month and I chucked a lot of junk. It felt fabulous.

I had a third son who cared about all of his stuff and I rarely had to go into his room. Two of my daughters fell into this over 12 under 18 category and for the most part, managed their own rooms because they didn’t want me messing with their stuff.

Sometimes, as I began a room a horrified teen would come running in and say, “I got this mom.” You may think this was a terrible system but it worked for us.

THAT IS THE POINT!

And that is the point, do you have systems that are working for you and your family? If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed and angry at your family or children then take a look at your systems.

DESIGN AN EXPERIMENT, CREATE A NEW SYSTEM

•Write down the top three things that make you most upset with your family or children.
•Stick with three items because what you want is movement, not overwhelm.
Narrow your list to the one that you want to change most.
•Honestly look at your current system. Acknowledge those that are systems by default.
•Design and experiment with a new system based on your desires, energy, family personality, etc.
•If it works great, and if not, go back to the drawing board. Design another experiment.
•Remember, whatever you can get your family to ‘buy into’ they will take more ownership of and it will work better and longer.
•Be clear that very few systems work forever and be open to new experiments every now and then.

When we take responsibility for how we feel and stop blaming our family or kids, then we can come up with solutions that help us feel better. We will be able to look at our current systems honestly and design something that works.

Touchpoints For Summer PRESENCE

Maggie doing her chores.

As much as we love summer and our kids both can challenge our patience and our energy. My new book – Becoming a Present Parent: Connecting with your children in five minutes or less teaches you how to use touchpoints to connect with your kids. What is a touchpoint – the point at which one person feels seen and heard by another person; when they know they matter. Most touchpoints, there are eight of them,  happen daily and many require five minutes or less. Let me share one touchpoint that will really sweeten the summer pie!

TOUCHPOINT 4 – Chores and Family Work

Thinking about the word WORK can make a parent groan inside because work is often a point of contention in a family. But work can be a place where we create a touchpoint rather than a point of contention if building relationships are our ultimate goal.

CHORES

Often we get so involved in the management portion of family life that it’s difficult to address the relationship portion. But when we’re Present things work out better.

Everyone wants support when facing a tough job. No one wants to be isolated in a mess. We sometimes forget our kids feel the same way we do.

Moms have had the experience of walking into a disaster of a kitchen after a long day. Your family’s watching TV, and here you are, in this messy kitchen. Where do you start?
How does it feel when your husband abandons his show, comes in and begins helping you pick up? And how does it feel when he also asks you how your day went? It’s amazing!

This happens to dads in garages and backyards. How does it feel when your seventeen-year-old volunteers to help get the backyard in order? How about when your thirteen-year-old offers to spend time helping you organize the garage? It feels better, doesn’t it?

When a child is faced with what seems like a daunting task, check on them. Put your hand on their back or rub a shoulder and say, “Let me give you a hand.” Help them for 2-3 minutes while having a mini-conversation. Then head off to the next child or to your own work. It makes all the difference in how chores feel and in how well they get done. It solidifies relationships. It allows you to be Present with your child for a few minutes.

Chores can be a touchpoint!

You can get more details on how to make chores a touchpoint rather than a point of contention in your home in Chapter four of the book and you can read it for FREE.

FAMILY WORK

Family work is another time when you can create a touchpoint rather than a point of contention. When working as a family we need to keep in mind the objective isn’t just to get another item off the to-do list – we’re creating relationships and bonding our family.
I love gardening alone. I love the quiet and feeling the dirt in my fingers. But I understand it’s an opportunity for me to teach and connect with my grandchildren. Gardening can be transformed into an enduring memory for us all when I remember the garden isn’t what’s important, the relationship is.

Add fun to any work you do as a family – sing, dance as you clean, play great music, tell jokes, laugh, have mini-conversations and lots of random touches.

Things aren’t going to work out all of the time. You’ll have family work that turns into chaos or contention. We’re all imperfect, we get tired, and we have grouchy moments. It’s inevitable. But what if you could make family work more pleasant even one-quarter of the time?

If you can be Present as you work together even one-quarter of the time, your family members will feel supported and relationships will be built. You’ll experience GREAT results in the happiness level of your family.

Learn about the other seven family touchpoints. Read chapter four, Touchpoints, FREE

Happy Summer,
Mary Ann

Happy Father’s Day – PART III – The Glen Morshower Interview Articles

The TEAM KISS

This is part III of an interview that I had with Glen Morshower in 2011. Missed Part 1 or Part II?

This final Morshower article deals with the third question I asked Glenn –

What is the most powerful experience you have had with your children?

 

Glen – The years that my children were teens were really powerful, helping them with first loves and breakups. My children felt at ease with their parents and we would take cheerful walks and talk.

In our family we had a motto of sorts – you can share everything that you are comfortable sharing (which is to say, that you don’t have to share anything you don’t want to). The door was wide open no matter what it was they felt, said or did.

We created a safe place to fall. We were a safety net for our children and they used that net lots of times. Our children knew “You are gonna be loved here!”

Mary Ann – After Glen shared this with me he said, “I am going to tell you something I have never told anyone else. I have never said this in an interview before. This is about my greatest pain and the Team Kiss”. What he shared was so beautiful and I feel privileged to share it with you.

Glen – I felt that this idea was a whisper from God, the Team Kiss. My children are grown and we still do the Team Kiss. Let me tell you the history of how it came to be.

My mom and dad divorced when I was three. My mother remarried when I was six and my stepfather wanted to control everything, including my relationships. He was determined to break me through physical abuse. That was hard but not my greatest pain.

I felt even more pain in knowing that I had never seen my birth parents together being kind to each other. I only saw them together in the same room three times in my life after age 3, at the funeral of a grandparent, my wedding, and my brother’s wedding. Then they would stand 30 feet apart. I could be with one but not both, even in the same room. It was painful.

But even that wasn’t my greatest pain. My stepfather was determined that I would never be allowed to see my father. I had absolutely no access to my dad. I knew he loved me and I loved him but I was forbidden to see him until after I turned eighteen and that was enforced by physical means.

Early on I had a wonderful fantasy that when my stepfather died I would have the experience, for the first time, of sitting at a simple dinner with both of my parents and my brother, the original nucleus, telling the three of them that I loved them. I had no delusions about them ever getting back together. I knew that wasn’t going to happen. I just wanted the two people who created me to be kind to each other.

In later years my mother and father began to be civil to each other, they began to heal. However, my stepfather was a wedge in healing that relationship. My stepfather died in May of 2005 but just a short time before that my real dad died. I never got to have my fantasy fulfilled.

However, it was this fantasy and that whisper from God that created the Team Kiss.

Here’s how it works. Both parents kiss a cheek of their child at the same time. It’s a double kiss. To this day it is my children’s favorite kiss.

The Team Kiss is a reassurance. The two people who love you and made you have their lips on your cheeks at the same time. A child can breathe in both parents simultaneously. No matter what is happening out there in the world they are reassured that these two people love them.
Mary Ann – I hope you have enjoyed Glen’s words and wisdom as much as I have. I loved talking to him.

Let’s remember the most important things Glenn has shared.

• Everyone who crosses your path is there to help you
• Give your children unconditional and powerful love and affection
• Be gentle
• Listen to your children
• Give children the freedom to learn and love them through the process
• Don’t try to control the outcome
• This is a choice/consequence world
• And most importantly “Do unto others as you would have the world do unto you!”

Thank you Glenn Morshower for your honest and heartfelt words of wisdom!

Missed Part 1 or Part 2?

Glenn Morshower is regarded as one of the busiest character actors in Hollywood. Best known for his role as Aaron Pierce on the FOX hit series 24, Glenn has a hugely successful acting career spanning 35 years. He and his high school sweetheart Carolyn married in 1978 and have two grown children.
“The Extra Mile” is a series of performances which are written and performed by Glenn Morshower. The program is a combination of motivational speaking, storytelling, dramatic and comedic performance, acting instruction, and life coaching. Thousands, including a good number of celebrities, have attended these events across the US. You can learn more about it here.

Share Glen’s thoughts and experiences with those you love by clicking the links below.

In Honor of Fathers – PART II – The Glen Morshower Interview Articles

 

 

I hope you took the opportunity of reading Part One of the Glenn Morshower Interview articles. If you missed it you can view it HERE.

Today’s article deals with the second question I asked Glenn –

What is the best thing that you did for your children as a parent?

 

Glenn – Things occur for a reason, even bad things. I am not saying that what I am going to tell you is the TOP reason bad things occur but I surely think it falls in the top 3 – clarification.

When bad things happen we are forced to go where we don’t want to go and in being there we know we don’t belong. We have clarification!

This knowledge helps us make more healthy choices because we know we don’t belong in this difficult place. We want to change it. So we begin to make changes; not at microwave speed but in small increments.

The changes I made were:

• To give my children unconditional and powerful love and affection. We openly displayed affection in our home. We did a lot of hugging and kissing.
• I listened to them all the time.
• I gave them the freedom to learn and loved them through the process.
• I was gentle.
• I taught them to make consequence based choices.
• Most of all I gave them TONS of fun. Now that they are grown-ups I still give them tons of fun. I still play with them. They think their dad is a nut.

I think God has encouraged me to make a change in the Golden Rule. I say this with all reverence. The whisper said, “You know there is something in you that knows the Golden Rule can be improved.”

Because of this knowingness, I have reframed that rule from “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” to “Do unto others as you would have life do unto you.”

Can you see the difference? In the first rule, you don’t have to be kind to the waitress in Nome, Alaska that you will never see again. In another scenario, you may be kind and the other person isn’t kind in return. They may even be hurtful.

But in this new way of stating the rule you do what is right because you understand that life will give back to you what you give out. You are kind to the waitress and the unkind stranger because life will give kindness, consideration, and gentleness back to you. If you treat everyone with love and respect life will give you love and respect. If you give your resources freely life will give resources freely back to you.

The BEST thing I gave to my children was to treat them as I wanted life to treat me!

 

Don’t miss part III next week. Glen shares something with me he said he had never shared in an interview before. It is powerful and you won’t want to miss it!

Glenn and Carolyn Morshower – Married 40 years

Glenn Morshower is regarded as one of the busiest character actors in Hollywood. Best known for his role as Aaron Pierce on the FOX hit series 24, Glenn has a hugely successful acting career spanning 35 years. Frequently seen in roles of authority, he has appeared in over 160 film and television projects including:
The Men Who Stare at Goats, Good Night and Good Luck, Black Hawk Down, Air Force One, Hostage, Under Siege, All the King’s Men, Pearl Harbor, Transformers, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Transformers 3, with running roles on CSI, The West Wing, and Friday Night Lights.

The Extra Mile” is a series of performances which are written and performed by Glenn Morshower. The program is a combination of motivational speaking, storytelling, dramatic and comedic performance, acting instruction, and life coaching. Thousands, including a good number of celebrities, have attended these events across the US.

In Honor of Fathers – The Glen Morshower Interview Articles

In 2011 I had the extraordinary opportunity to interview Glen Morshower – Agent Aaron Pierce, from the Fox hit “24.    I had attended an event he spoke at and I was riveted by his humor, wisdom and pure joy in living. So I plucked up my courage and asked him for an interview that I could share with the mothers and fathers I work with. He said he would be glad to and gave me his phone number. I never called.

I thought about calling often. I would look at his card, smile in remembrance of his exuberance and then put the card down.

Finally, one day as I thought about tossing the card in the trash, I plucked up my courage again and called. I left a message on his machine reminding him who I was and what I wanted. I didn’t expect a call back. He’s famous after all and a busy man.

The phone rang a short time later. Imagine my surprise to hear “Hi Mary, its Glenn.” It took me a moment to figure out Glenn who. “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe you called me back.” And that was how the following delightful hour began.

Glenn is an amazing individual. He has a zest for life that’s infectious. He was fun to talk with and I had to write fast and furiously. (I do not know shorthand) I made every effort to gather as much as I could to share with you. Over the next few weeks I will be sharing what I learned. I know you will enjoy it as much as I did.

Mary Ann – Is there anything from your parenting which you regret?

Glenn – “I can honestly say that I loved it all! It has been the best role I have ever played. Now that my children are grown I miss holding them and tucking them in.

Here’s why I have no regrets in my parenting.

I grew up in a painful situation. My parents divorced when I was three and my step father was physically abusive. I learned early on that there is a purpose to the gifts we are given in life, even those experiences that are painful and are rarely viewed as gifts. My experiences were a gift and taught me character and gave me something to transcend.

I developed an awareness about life that I consider heaven’s gift to me. I became wide awake. I learned compassion and gained understanding and those are the things that I brought to my parenting.

I frequently tell audiences that moaning about a painful past is not helpful and in fact counterproductive. You need to re-frame that past. That can be done by realizing that everyone who crosses your path is there to help you even when it is obvious that it’s not what they intend.

There are two things that those who cross our path can give to us.

• There are those give us a clear road map of how to live our life. They model excellent behavior and we should embrace the experience.
• There are those who will clearly model how not to live life, how not to be. They give us an equally powerful road map of what not to do to others.

My stepfather fell into the second category. Because of his powerful example:

• I never raised a hand to my children.
• I didn’t try to control the outcome.
• I concentrated on teaching them that this is a choice/consequence driven world. What are the consequences you want to inherit? Instead of choosing what you want, choose instead the consequences you want. Make consequence based choices. This leads to a healthier, happier life.

As adults we need to be careful not to use “victim speak”. Making excuses for our bad behavior or blaming another person for our bad behavior is a weak way to pardon that behavior. Take the responsibility of making a course correction in your family tree.”

The first thing I learned from Glenn –

Glenn understood a form a pain that he deliberately chose not to dish out to his children. He chose love and tenderness which he found effortlessly flowed to his children because he decided to give them what he had always wanted but never had. He made a decision.

The most poignant portion of his answer to the question I had asked was this: In giving what he had desperately wanted he found personal healing.

And isn’t that what we all really know is true – that what we give we get back in abundance. Glenn gave love instead of hurt.

Next week Glen shares what he felt was the best thing he did for his children. Be sure and join me because it is tremendous.

Glenn Morshower is regarded as one of the busiest character actors in Hollywood. Best known for his role as Aaron Pierce on the FOX hit series 24, Glenn has a hugely successful acting career spanning 35 years. He and his high school sweetheart Carolyn married in 1978 and have two grown children.

“The Extra Mile” is a series of performances which are written and performed by Glenn Morshower. The program is a combination of motivational speaking, story telling, dramatic and comedic performance, acting instruction, and life coaching. Thousands, including a good number of celebrities, have attended these events across the US. You can learn more about it here.

Why not share Glenn Morshower and his joy in life by clicking on the buttons below.

Balancing family and work time for fathers

The Hendrikson’s – Oaklan, Salem, Darrell

In 2011 I asked a number of fathers to speak on different aspects of fathers and family.  I am reprinting them one at a time for Father’s Day 2018. Enjoy!

My wife and I own an older home that we have been remodeling one room at a time.  A few years ago, in early spring, we decided that it was time to remodel the long-neglected front porch.  Knowing that I would only be able to work on it during the warm months, I planned to work on it every Saturday from sun up to sun down, trying to beat the deadline of autumn weather.  As a father of three, I have always tried to be conscious of, and involved with spending quality time with my children.  To this end, I determined that in order to complete the porch by autumn I would need to devote each Saturday in its entirety to remodeling work, which would allow me to dedicate weekday evenings to my children.

As the weeks passed and the project dragged on I became increasingly concerned that I wasn’t going to get the job done before the summer ended.  If the porch wasn’t painted in time, the wet and cold winter was going to cause extensive damage to the newly installed wood porch.  Notwithstanding my supposed balance between home remodeler and devoted father, I found myself more and more answering my sons’ requests for my attention with, “Not now, son, I’m really busy”, or “I will as soon as I’m finished nailing these planks”.

I remember going to bed very late one Saturday night, having once again missed our nightly family ritual of brushing teeth, reading a bedtime book, reading scriptures, singing and praying together, and tucking the children into bed with kisses and hugs.  This nightly ritual had long since become a cornerstone in our family traditions, and I felt awful that I had missed it again.  In my mind’s eye, I saw them with a sad expression on their face asking my wife, “Where’s Dad”?  This, coupled with my increased frequency of choosing work over my sons, had me downright depressed.

I felt like an absent father, and the last thing I wanted was for my children to have even a hint of a feeling that they wished I was with them more.  They are the most important thing in my life- I knew it, but I didn’t know that if they knew it.

I could have said “I’m doing this work for you” all I wanted, but if they didn’t feel like I was available for them, all my work would’ve been meaningless.  What good is a fancy remodeled house if all it’s good for is a place for a disconnected family to eat and sleep?  A house is a house no matter how old the carpet or the color of a paint.  What I wanted was a home- the kind that comes from absolute family unity and love.  As ‘head of the home’, I knew it had to start with me.

That very minute I committed that my new rule was to never be “too busy”.  Whenever my children come and ask me to read them a book or push them on the swing, or whatever– I say, “Yes”!  When I put down what I’m doing right then and there, I immediately let them know by my actions that they can approach me.  When we’re finished I invite them to now come help me.  Regardless of age or capacity, there are four distinct fruits of this conscious effort to be more present in my children’s lives;

1)                  My children know that they are paramount in my life

2)                  I now have a direct opportunity to teach my children how to play and work

3)                  My children and I, and therefore the entire family, are closer to each other

4)                  Spending time with my children is FUN!!

When I ask my children to help me with a work project, they react as though I told them we were going to Disneyland.  They are so excited to spend time with me- they love just being around me.  But rather than simply being in close physical proximity to each other, parents must take advantage of this opportunity by consciously engaging with their children.  We need to ask them about things happening in their lives that are important to them.  We need to take the time to teach them about the world around them- these are the moments that combine to form a child’s character.  The word parent is a noun, but too often we fail to seize the opportunity to use it as a verb- actively rearing them by loving, guiding, teaching, and showing them the way.

The Hendriksen Family – 2018

I don’t believe my children had really regarded me as ‘too busy’, but I had- and that was enough to cause a problem.  This feeling has long since dissolved, and I now revel in the opportunity to genuinely rear them, not just provide a place for them to live. Initially, I feared that my remodeling progress would slow, but it hasn’t.  In fact, it has increased because my children are a bit older now and are confidently learning these skills for themselves.

It is so important that we consciously schedule time with our children, just as we would any other appointment or meeting.  If we want our children to know we love them, we must show them by giving them our time and affection.  We must also tell them we love them.  Life is full of things to do, but our children deserve more than to be regarded as a task or burden.  Since our children are our most important responsibility, let them be at the heart of our lives. Let us regard everything we need to do in life as an opportunity and a venue for accomplishing this, the most important position in our lives- that of a parent.  If you want to know what they’re thinking-ask them.  If you want them to become something- teach them. Do not assume they know you love them- tell them.  Show them.

Darrell Hendriksen lives in Salt Lake City with his wife Heather, their three boys and two daughters.  He enjoys running, hiking, camping, gardening, making music, and doing handyman work- none of which would mean much without his wonderful family by his side.