Stress Management for Kids
From the bogeyman for small children to the bogies of SATs and final exams for the college-bound, stress affects kids of all ages. The first thing a parent can do to help their child manage stress is to build a strong family unit. Include your children in family discussions and be on the lookout for stress in your kids.
Recognizing Stress in Children
Especially small children with under-developed communication skills may display stress very differently than an adult does. Often kids’ stress is internalized and most noticeable in physical symptoms such as frequent flu-like symptoms including headache, stomachache, and even nausea.
Children under stress may regress to behaviors like bedwetting, clinginess, and frequent crying. Behavioral symptoms may be extreme at both ends of a behavior spectrum. A normally active child becomes either listless or hyperactive, a usually docile child has fits of anger or a child that “acts out” becomes docile and introspective.
Some signs of stress in kids are easily confused with children’s mental disorders. For instance, if schoolwork slides or your child’s circle of friends undergoes a drastic change, it isn’t a sure sign that your child is on drugs. Situations like these may simply indicate a child’s inability to handle a stressful situation.
Helping Kids Reduce Stress
Children primarily learn by example. The best way to teach your child how to manage stress is by using the tools and articles at Stress Management Tips to learn to effectively manage your stressors. In addition, you can develop skills and child-oriented stress management techniques to help your kids recognize and manage their stressors.
Text courtesy of Motivated magazine. Photo by Lotus Carroll via Flickr.
Imperfect, Successful Parenting
There is no magic formula for parenting, no secret recipe for success. Just as I am an imperfect parent, I will raise imperfect children. I must lean hard into Jesus and walk by faith, following Him as I parent. My goal needs to be faithfulness. Faith and faithfulness.--Erika Dawson
Successful parents enjoy being parents. They enjoy parenting not because it's easy or instantly rewarding, but because of the sheer joy and privilege of cooperating with God in shaping another unique and precious life. Any parent of grown children will tell you that “they grow up so quickly.” Successful parents remind themselves of that and try to savor every day with their children. They immerse themselves in their children as much as possible and just enjoy them—even the days of dirty diapers, illness, and disappointments. They don't just love their children, they like them and look forward to spending time with them.
Successful parents don’t expect perfection, either from themselves or their children. Parenting is an art, not a science. Successful parents understand that, like themselves, their children aren't perfect either. This frees them to love their children unreservedly.
Successful parents don’t fear occasional failures. They understand that mistakes are a normal, even healthy, part of parenting. They make the best decisions they can, and when they're wrong, they learn from their mistakes and try to do better the next time.
Successful parents don’t expect to have smooth sailing. Children have their own opinions, personalities, and preferences. Inevitably, they cause us to say, “Where did that come from?” or “What were you thinking?” Our responsibility to provide them with limits and guidance will sometimes clash with their growing desire for independence. Successful parents aren't surprised by [difficulties and conflicts]; they expect them. But successful parents understand that their responsibility to their children is not to always please them or make them happy—it's to make the hard decisions that will be for their best in the long run.
Successful parents don’t go it alone.No one has the experience or answers to every parenting challenge. Successful parents aren't reluctant to seek out the wisdom of others. They know that, at the end of the day, the decision is theirs, but before they get there, there is plenty of wisdom along the way waiting to help them.--Richard Patterson, Jr.
One day a group of mothers was solemnly discussing the value of spending “quality” time with their preschoolers. The consensus seemed to be that, as bored as they were by pushing trucks along the floor, playing Candyland, or building Lego spacecraft, these activities were somehow sacred—deemed essential for purposes of bonding with their children. Suddenly, one mother’s voice rose above the others, “I’m sorry … I’m very clear about this with my older daughter. I just tell her, ‘I don’t play Barbies.’”
The nonapologetic nature of her remark stopped everyone in their tracks. … We began to talk about what “quality time” really meant. [We discussed how] quality time by definition can be so stressfully full of “shoulds” and “oughts” that you lose the feeling of doing something mutually enjoyable.
Sometimes the best time with kids is when there’s not that element of obligation or sacrifice. Spontaneous moments of pleasure feel more meaningful than hours devoted to Barbies and baseball cards. As someone once said, “Joy can be better caught than taught.”--Nancy Samalin with Catherine King
The surest way to teach your children something is through your own sample—not what you preach at them, not what you tell them they should do, but what you yourself believe and act upon.--Jesus, speaking in prophecy
When parents are brave enough to [apologize for] their flaws and lacks to their children, they serve as beautiful models of what it means to depend on God. When you are open and transparent before God and your children, you are saying that, “Even though I am many years older, I, too, depend on [Jesus], just as I want you to depend on Him.”
Another benefit of being open before God and your children is that it will motivate them to seek you out and talk about their real feelings. They are more likely to share their problems and weaknesses with you if they know that you have been down that same road yourself. They will reason, Mommy won't be mad about this because she had it happen, too. …
Show your child that you are depending on the all-encompassing love and strength of God in your life. Model submission to the Lord before your child and he will learn how to submit his own life to God.--Kevin Leman
Have you ever watched a mother duck with her little ducklings? Mother duck seems so cool, calm, and collected as she swims with her little ones on the pond, but all the while she’s watching out for them.
That’s an example of the calmness of spirit that helps your little ones feel secure. You will always have more things to do than you have time to do, and it’s so easy to get in a rushed, nervous spirit. When that happens, you can make a conscious effort to remain calm and to convey that to your children. When pressures begin to mount, stop for a moment, close your eyes, and ask Me to fill you with the perfect peace that comes from trusting in Me.--Jesus, speaking in prophecy
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.--Psalm 121:1–2
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.--Isaiah 40:29–31
Text courtesy of www.anchor.tfionline.com. Photo copyright: alexandralexey / 123RF Stock Photo
The Clean Platypus
By Chalsey Dooley
Some days seem magical—things go well, I try some new ideas, I have something to show for the hours I’ve spent at various tasks. Then there are other times when I get to the end of the day struggling to find something of note that I accomplished. Sure, the kids were fed and dressed, they did their home-learning activities, they played in the park … but I still feel I want more. I want to be able to check off several things from my long to-do list. I want to be able to say I made leaps of progress. But rather than that, I feel like I’m falling further behind in so many areas of life.
At the end of a long day a few months back, I was trying to push off the weight of despondency from having so much to take care of, with problems piling up faster than I could keep up with. Then I walked into the bathroom and found Patrick (two years old) had taken his soft, fuzzy, stuffed platypus, filled up the sink, given it a good wash, and now had poured baking soda (which I use for cleaning the sink) all over it.
I didn’t need more messes to clean up. But it did look kinda cute, so I chuckled to myself, thinking,Even though I can’t seem to get around to any of my other goals, at least the platypus is clean!
Later, as I looked at the children, happy, cozy in bed, waiting for their bedtime story, I decided to change my criteria for “accomplishment” and a “good day.”
Now I go down a new list and see how many “checks” I can put.
§ Did I help my children smile today?
§ Was I patient when things didn’t go smoothly?
§ Did I show each son that I loved him personally?
§ Was I available to help, listen, and encourage, even at the cost of not “getting something done”?
§ Did I pray for someone today?
§ Did I laugh and choose to take things in stride when I felt like I was being pushed over the edge?
Tomorrow’s another day. Eventually the to-do list will work out. Plod. Breathe. Smile. Plod. Breathe. Smile. We’ll get there, eventually, wherever “there” is actually meant to be.
Chalsey Dooley is a writer of inspirational material for children and caregivers and is a full-time edu-mom living in Australia. Check out her website atwww.nurture-inspire-teach.com.
Article originally published in Activated magazine. Used with permission. Photo by Kate Henderson via Flickr
As a parent, temper tantrums are one of the most stressful and frustrating things you'll have to deal with, especially once your child hits the terrible twos. However, according to child psychologists, most children don't throw a tantrum just to be naughty or manipulative -- rather, the screaming is a symptom of the child's anger and frustration when they don't have the vocabulary to explain what's really wrong with them. Therefore, staying calm and learning to identify what's really bothering your child will help you to handle the situation quickly and effectively. Start with Step 1 below for more detailed information on handling your child's temper tantrum.
Courtesy of Wikihow. Photo by Mindaugas Danys via Flickr.
By Anna Theresa Koltes
It was a perfect spring day. A gentle wind, warm and coaxing, announced the arrival of the season. Everyone around me was in a good mood. But it’s often on days like these, when we least see it coming, that God tends to surprise us with a little learning.
That morning, I received an unexpected letter from a friend. It contained a substantial smudge of bad news—enough to sink my happy boat and pull a few more down with it. I was devastated. Suddenly everyone else’s cheeriness was aggravating. I wished they would all just go away and take the sunshine with them.
All kinds of dark and inconvenient thoughts were wading through my mind when my neighbor called.
“The doctor’s office rescheduled my appointment to earlier this afternoon, but I have a problem. There won’t be anyone home to watch Valerie. Do you think you could hang out with her till I get back?”
My boat let out its last sputter before sinking. Babysit? Me? The last thing I wanted was to pollute a child’s youthful innocence with my wretched mood.
I tried to get out of it but finally accepted. Poor child!
In a bit, I found myself standing in their flat, feeling stressed and grumpy.
Valerie bounded in. “I’ve got new crayons!” she exclaimed.
She was smiling, and I forced myself to do the same. “You mean … coloring?”
She nodded, before disappearing and returning a wink later with a red suitcase bursting with drawing materials.
Honestly, I didn’t much feel like coloring, but I kicked myself and helped Valerie dump everything onto the table. We put on a Tchaikovsky CD and got to work coloring a picture of a wild woman with multicolored flowing hair. Surprisingly enough, time flew by, as I was carried away into a utopia of classical music and art.
Well, I don’t know if you would call that “art,” so let’s settle for “therapy.”
By the time three hours had passed, we’d created more than a few abstract masterpieces, listened to a whole lot of Swan Lake, and I’d found peace. With a clear mind, I realized that even when there are great disappointments or catastrophes in our lives, there is always a solution.
Mine was simple. Unexpected. Refreshing.
And highly recommended.
Text and image courtesy of Activated! magazine. Used with permission.
Best Bets for After School
Toby Leah Bochan
Why extra-curriculars matter
After-school activities benefit your child in ways that might surprise you. According to a recent study by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, children who participate in after-school programs are more engaged in and have a better attitude about learning, perform better academically, and enjoy an increased sense of accomplishment, competence, and self-esteem. Participation also lowers children’s risk of becoming depressed, using drugs and alcohol, and experiencing other behavioral problems.
Extra-curriculars let your child enjoy himself in a fun, stress-free environment, get some exercise, and make friends outside of school. If he shows a special talent, it’s great to nurture that ability through lessons or classes. But don’t think that an early start in anything will lead to a career—remember that most children do not grow up to be professional musicians or athletes. Pushing your child into tons of tennis lessons or dance classes in order to give him a “head start” will most likely lead to him resenting both you and the activity. Give him other options and encourage other interests, so he doesn’t feel an overwhelming pressure to succeed at just one thing.
How to Find
Start your search at your child’s school. Ask his teacher or the principal what options are available there. It’s also important to talk to other parents about what their children are involved in and get recommendations for kid-tested classes and activities.
Also check out community resources such as:
You might also find listings in your phone book under “Child Care.”
How to Choose
After you have an idea of the possibilities, talk with your child about what he’s interested in. Give him some options that complement his interests—an artistic child might enjoy a ceramics class, while a boisterous one can work off energy dancing or playing a vigorous sport. But don’t overlook what might seem like unlikely matches. Shy children often enjoy expressing themselves on stage in a drama class; fidgeters can find a way to focus through martial arts. You can also target specific skills through different activities: music lessons enhance math aptitude, and team sports boost social skills. If your child will attend a daily after-school program, try to select one that offers a variety of activities, including ones that get him on his feet, as well as a quiet area to relax and do schoolwork.
Also consider your family’s schedule when planning extra-curriculars. Will adding an activity adversely affect family time? Will you, a caregiver, or another family member be available to chauffeur your child to and from classes and lessons? If not, consider activities that can be done at home, such as music lessons and crafts, or those that are held at school.
Review the “Grade-by-grade at a glance” (below) for guidelines on how often your child might spend time in an after-school program. But there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, and it’s important to watch your child for signs of over-scheduling. In younger children, this most often takes the form of irritability, avoiding eye contact, and tantrums. In older children, look out for mood swings, recurrent sickness such as stomachaches, and complaints about the activities themselves. At any age, if schoolwork begins to suffer, it is time to cut back.
Once you’ve narrowed down the options, visit them while they are in session so you can get a real idea about the environment, the staff, and the program.
When you visit, look for:
Grade-by-grade at a glance
Wondering how many days a week your 2nd grader should be practicing the guitar? Searching for good ideas for after-school programs for your 10 year old? Use the following guidelines to steer your decisions—but remember that you know your child’s maturity and temperament best.
Keep your kindergartener’s after-school life simple and free—one or two after-school activities a week are more than enough. Wait until he’s adjusted to the daily school routine. Then find an extra-curricular that involves his creative and/or physical side, such as an art, dance, or music program.
Balance your 1st grader’s schedule with play dates, playground visits, and one or two days of an after-school activity per week. Best bets are non-competitive sports and other physical activities since this is around the age when your child is starting to get a grip on the abilities of her own body. Plus, after being in school all day, she needs an outlet to play and run. Avoid sports with strict rules. At this age, she needs free reign to make mistakes and not worry about winning and losing.
Get your child involved in choosing extra-curriculars. He’ll probably tell you what he’d like to do anyway! Steer him towards activities that he likes and doesn’t get to do at school, whether it’s sports such as swimming or skating, computers, or art or music lessons. Many kids start learning piano or violin around this age. Make sure your child has at least one or two days free a week for alone time, which he is starting to need to unwind. If after-school activities are starting to interfere with schoolwork or if your child seems stressed, you need to drop an activity or two.
After sitting all day in a classroom, your 3rd grader needs to move and socialize after school. Team sports are a great choice—now she’s old enough to remember and follow rules and can handle losing (though she’s still not ready for anything ultra-competitive). Other good choices are activities that use and develop fine motor skills, such as painting, sewing, or learning to play an instrument. Let her explore different interests but make sure to set aside still-needed family time among the team practices and play dates.
Try to get your 4th grader involved in one or two extra-curricular activities that he is good at and loves doing. It will build confidence and help him manage stress, which is key at this age when cliques and social pressure in school are beginning to build.
Another thing that’s growing is his pile of homework, so make sure he has adequate time to complete his work without having to stay up late. Set limits on seeing friends and activities if he is often crabby and irritable, if his grades drop, if he has trouble sleeping or complains of mysterious illnesses, or if he shows other signs of stress like overeating.
Don’t put too much pressure on him to excel at what should be fun activities. Otherwise he will end up resenting the time he spends doing them instead of playing and exploring. Last, don’t forget family together time is still essential. It may need to be scheduled in so your child understands that it’s important.
Over-scheduling is a problem you and your child will probably face this year. Your 5th grader is full of energy for everything and wants to spend all her time participating in activities and hanging out with friends. To ensure she’s completing her schoolwork and not becoming burnt out, you should make sure she has two free afternoons a week. While you’re at it, block out a once-a-week family time that you and your child stick to so she remembers that family is a priority. She should be guiding her own activity choices, but now is a great time to suggest community service activities like helping senior citizens or young children.
Try to steer your middle-schooler toward activities that reinforce learning and get him away from the TV. On average, middle-schoolers spend an equal amount of time every week watching TV and socializing with friends—about 20-25 hours apiece.
To improve academic performance, encourage your preteen to spend time volunteering, to join school clubs like band, chess, or foreign language clubs, or to sign up for extra-curriculars with a leadership element, such as the school newspaper or student council. It will help him feel more connected to the school community while forging friendships based in common interests and experiences. As always, keep an eye out for signs that he is over-extending himself with after-school commitments. As a general rule, he should be spending fewer than 20 hours a week participating in after-school activities.
I can’t forget a particularly dreary, rainy Saturday several years ago. The kids had not been able to go outside all day, and they were definitely starting to get on each other’s nerves. I had sidetracked them, separated them, and even secluded them in attempts to maintain some modicum of peace and tranquility. By the time dinner rolled around, everyone was in a lousy mood. The griping and complaining didn’t stop when they came to the table. I turned the radio on and tuned it to an oldies station, trying to liven the mood a little, but even that didn’t seem to help.
Then one of the kids had the audacity to make a very disparaging comment about my cooking abilities. The gist of it had to do with the fact that if they had to go to school to learn to read and write, perhaps I should have to go to school to learn to cook. I don’t recall who said it, but I do remember that things grew very tense as everyone waited for my response.
For the first few seconds, I was hurt. Then … I started to laugh.
“Well, you’re right. I might not be able to cook, but I sure can dance,” I exclaimed, and started jiving to the rock-and-roll song that had just come on the radio. (I am a notoriously lousy dancer!) Soon four little boys were twisting all over the kitchen floor and up on their chairs. Everyone cracked up and we boogied together until the song was over. I promised everyone ice cream if they ate all their broccoli—and my husband promised to do the dishes if I stopped dancing. Somehow the complaints vanished, and we finished our meal. Every last morsel.
Joy is something we can learn. It is a decision we can make deep inside our souls—a decision to look at the positive side. The bright side. The crazy side of a situation rather than dwell on the darkness. …
I want my children’s memories to verify without a shadow of a doubt that I had a fun time raising them. … I want them to recall with joy all the times I made them smile and all the traditions, games, and memories that we shared together.--Gwendolyn Mitchell Diaz
My good intentions to have tea time alone with my [older] daughters were thwarted [on] the first day. Apparently one of the little children had gotten wind of the plans for a tea party. Of course, they were sure they would be invited for tea. Our tea for three ended up being tea for the whole tribe. It wasn’t quite what I had in mind, but the tea party turned out to be one of those special moments for all of us. Briana showed us how mannerly she could be when she said in her sweetest voice ever, “This tea is delightful. May I please have some more?”
Even the boys got in on the act. (They never want to be left out of anything.) There they sat, six little children around the table drinking tea with their pinkies extended.
Memories are different than traditions. Although both can be intertwined, traditions are carried on, but memories are carried within. Someday when my children are watching their own children have tea time, I wonder if they will get a far-off look in their eyes as they drift back to memories of pinkies and raspberry leaf tea? Will smiles creep across their faces, as if they have a special secret? That is really what memories are … special secrets.
Will they remember the Christmas Mom spent hundreds of dollars on gifts? Or will they only remember the day after Christmas when she made snow angels with them?
Will they remember a kitchen full of dirty dishes? Or will they think of all those meals with homemade whole wheat bread every time they smell fresh bread?
Will they remember that they had ground beef every Tuesday? Or will they remember the day every meal was blue? I still remember when my mom made green mashed potatoes, and I must have only been two or three.--Terri Camp
There’s a special relationship between a dad and a daughter, something God designed on purpose, I think. It’s not lost on me that of all of the names God could have asked us to call Him, we most often refer to Him as “Father.” I think that’s because He has the same kind of relationship in mind for us that I had in mind for my kids. I think a father’s job, when it’s done best, is to get down on both knees, lean over his children’s lives, and whisper, “Where do you want to go?”
Every day God invites us on the same kind of adventure. It’s not a trip where He sends us a rigid itinerary, He simply invites us. God asks what it is He’s made us to love, what it is that captures our attention, what feeds that deep indescribable need of our souls to experience the richness of the world He made. And then, leaning over us, He whispers, “Let’s go do that together.”--Bob Goff
Success as a parent comes through doing your best, giving your all, pouring into your children, and trusting Me for the outcome.
The wisdom you have imparted never goes to waste. It doesn’t go down the drain. It doesn’t disappear. It doesn’t ever come to naught.
Some things in life are never wasted—things like love, My Word, spiritual input, spiritual training, time spent reaching out to others, and especially time spent pouring into children.
By pouring into your children, you’re giving your children things that will never grow old, things that will never fade away—living gifts that will always be a part of their lives, even if they lie dormant for a time. The gifts you give of love, time, training, and truth are permanent parts of your children’s lives that they will never lose.--Jesus, speaking in prophecy
There are going to be times in the day-to-day routine of parenting when you feel overwhelmed by situations and circumstances. The baby’s crying, your eight-year-old won’t do her homework, your teenager’s stereo is shaking the house, your toddler didn’t make it to the potty in time—and your dinner guests will be here any minute! You feel pushed to the brink.
Every parent faces days like this. You’re not alone. And you’re not alone in a greater sense: Jesus is right there with you. He understands, and He waits with encouragement and solutions. If you have the opportunity, talking with someone else—maybe your spouse or a friend—can help you see things differently, calm your spirit, and give you a chance to pray together for the Lord’s help. You can even ask your children to pray with you. Their faith and simple prayers, even of your youngest, can be a wonderful encouragement.
Whatever you do, don’t give up! Don’t give in to feelings of frustration and discouragement. Shoot up a prayer and ask Jesus to give you power for the hour and grace for the space—and He will. Ask Him to help you see your children as He sees them, to see what they are going to become. He will help you view the situation optimistically and with hope. The outlook may be bleak, but the “uplook” (looking up to Jesus) is always bright.
Because children are a reflection of their parents, it’s very easy to get discouraged and feel that you have failed when one or more of your children isn’t doing well in some area. But remember they’re also God’s children, and they are a work in progress—just like you are. “It is God who works in you, both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”
All He expects is that you try your best, give them your love, and leave the rest up to Him. Now that doesn’t mean you should just throw up your hands in despair, let “God take care of it,” and quit when the going gets rough. He probably intends for you to be part of His solution. You need to find out from Him what He wants you to do—and do it; then put the rest in His hands and let Him do what you can’t do.--Derek and Michelle Brookes
Compilation courtesy of Anchor.
I'm Only Human
By a father of three exceptional children
I have been a special needs parent for over a decade and something that I learned along the way is that despite my very best efforts, at the end of the day, I’m only human. I get frustrated, overwhelmed, and on occasion say and do the wrong thing.
One of the things that happens quite often to special needs parents is that the demand on us simply exceeds the resources we have available, be it emotional, physical, or financial. This demand is constant in many cases, and the strain over time becomes more and more difficult to carry. The stress can really take its toll.
I feel that as special needs parents, we often don’t give ourselves enough credit or cut ourselves enough slack. Speaking for myself only, I have a tendency to be overly critical of myself, especially when I feel I’m failing at something, which is honestly, quite often. However, in reality, I’m failing to remember that I’m doing or trying to do things every day that most people simply couldn’t handle. We tend to become so accustomed to everything that we often focus more on our perceived losses or defeats than we do on our successes and victories.
One of the things that I have always encouraged people to do is share their feelings. Venting, or expressing what we are going through, is something that is extremely important in special needs parenting. Again, speaking only for myself, I’m under constant and unforgiving pressure. These pressures can range from health or behavioral issues to simply trying to make ends meet. Some of this pressure I put on myself, but most of it is inherent to special needs parenting in general.
There are times that my kids drive me crazy and I swear that my head is going to explode. For a long time this was like a double-edged sword. I would be so incredibly stressed out, overwhelmed, and frustrated. On top of that, I would feel an extreme sense of guilt for being stressed out, overwhelmed, and frustrated. The kids had no control over most of their behaviors, but I had this idea that, as their father, I was supposed to have this never-ending supply of patience. Instead I was always “a day late and a dollar short.”
There were times that I was so far gone that I would go through a drive-thru to pick up dinner and when asked, “Can I take your order?”, I would answer, “I’ll take some sanity with a side order of patience and some peace and quiet for desert…oh…and…supersize that.” Apparently, this kind of stuff is not on the menu…anywhere! Trust me, I’ve tried everywhere. You can ask my wife. She was always mortified when I would place my order.
Then one day, it hit me. I’m not sure how or why this happened, but I realized that I didn’t have to feel guilty for being frustrated, overwhelmed, and stressed out by my kids or their behavior. I guess I had felt like if I admitted that I was frustrated or overwhelmed by the challenges associated with raising three boys with special needs, that it somehow reflected poorly on them, or that I loved them less. I didn’t want anyone to think that about my kids because, while challenging, they are totally awesome, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world.
Admitting frustration with those challenges, or even with any or all of my kids, doesn’t mean they are bad and it certainly doesn’t mean that I somehow love them any less. What admitting this did mean however, was that I was human. I learned that not only was it normal to feel these things, but it was also healthy. This was such a powerful realization for me, and it changed my perspective considerably. I discovered that acknowledging these feelings, and even embracing them, provided a much-needed sense of relief. The relief really kicked in when I became comfortable enough with these feelings to not only admit them to myself, but share them publicly as well. While that may not appeal to everyone, and understandably so, it helped me to keep myself centered.
I think that this is something particularly difficult for fathers. Society tells us that we are supposed to be almost emotionless and not feel these things and if as a man, you actually do have these feelings, God forbid you ever admit it.
Look, we are human beings living in very difficult situations. These situations very often require sacrifice to the nth degree. Feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, or even resentful is completely normal, at least in my opinion. I also think that admitting these things is not a sign of weakness or even bad parenting. In fact, I would argue that it shows great courage and a deep unconditional love for our kids. Honestly, no one likes admitting things like this, but in doing so we get a better understanding of our limitations and ourselves.
As far as I’m concerned, this helps to make me a better parent, and speaking for myself, I need all the help I can get.
Article courtesy of Motivated magazine. Used with permission. Photo by David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
Finding the Beautiful
My husband’s grandma, Nana Mae, was someone who never lost sight of the beauty around her. There wasn’t a time you were with her that she didn’t compliment you, or tell you how pretty something was.
I’ll never forget the time Mike and I drove her to Los Angeles for Christmas. We were at a gas station along our drive on I-5 when Nana suddenly pointed her finger out the window and said, “Beautiful.”
I looked to see what she was talking about…
All I saw was a green garbage truck pulled over near the gas station.
That’s a beautiful green,” she said, shaking her head. She was looking right at the truck.
She was talking about a garbage truck, but still, she saw beauty in it.
As moms, we can choose whether or not we see the beauty, too. We can look for the beautiful right in the middle of what sometimes feels like the garbage of our days—the messes all over the house, the kids’ arguing, the crazy running around.
And we play a huge role in whether or not we set a “beautiful” tone for our families.
Are you carrying the beauty? Or are you seeing the garbage truck (like I did) instead of its rich, green color?
Are you catching the memories that are being made right in front of you, or are you losing your patience and longing for just-one-minute-alone?
Are you savoring today, or do you just want time to speed up so your kids grow into the next phase when, hopefully, things will be easier?
Are you stopping to love and soak in these moments of being a [parent] to a newborn, a six-month-old, a two-year-old, or even a teen?
It’s sometimes hard to do (believe me, I know), but that is where the real beauty is—in those intentional moments of soaking it in, in those choices to appreciate and marvel at all that comes with being a [parent].
When we do, we find it.
We find the beautiful.
Wishing you many beautiful moments today!--Adapted from Genny Heikka
Adapted from http://www.mamapedia.com/voices/finding-the-beautiful. Photo by D Sharon Pruitt via Flickr.com.
By Natalia Nazarova
When my husband went on an extended business trip for nearly three months, I found out what challenges single parents face. It was a big adjustment to have to keep up with the house and care for the children on my own, in addition to my job. Other circumstances also took a toll on my emotions, and I found it increasingly difficult to cope. Each day’s outlook seemed bleaker than the last. The struggle exhausted me physically and mentally. Then came the last straw.
Dinner was almost ready, and it would be ten minutes before the children finished their homework and came to eat. I had been using my laptop to listen to music while I cooked, and decided to use those ten minutes to check my email. I scooped the laptop from the kitchen counter and headed for the living room, but in my frazzled state I forgot to unplug the power cord. When I had gone only a few steps, sudden resistance tore the laptop from my grip. I can still see the scene unfolding, as though in slow motion—my computer falling, flipping, bouncing, the screen going blank.
I was in shock the rest of the evening, and couldn’t fall asleep that night. When my mind finally stopped racing, I began to consider how stressed I had been and consequently how unhappy I was. I believed that God wanted to help me get out of the mess I was in, and He did.
In my desperate, “shattered” state, He was able to get through to me about areas where I had been falling short—my relationships with my older children and my attitude toward some of my coworkers, for example. In that time of quiet reflection, I sought and found God’s forgiveness, and faith and hope were restored.
Then I remembered my shattered laptop. But instead of the despair I had felt all evening, I had the distinct feeling that all was not lost. If God could put me back together, I reasoned, surely there was hope for my laptop.
The next morning I switched on the laptop, and it rebooted. Only a small portion of the screen lit up, but the computer was still functioning. Only the screen had been damaged, and that was relatively inexpensive to replace.
Now each time I open my laptop and the screen lights up, I am reminded of God’s unfailing love and forgiveness, the peace He has to offer, and the inner change He brings when we take our problems to Him.
Article courtesy of Activated magazine. Used with permission. Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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