Who Are These People Anyway? I Thought They Were On Our Side . . .

Even Jean-Luc and Will (Star Trek Guys) are having difficulty trying to figure out what in the world the so called ‘brain trust’ is thinking about over in the provincial education department these days. We trust them to do right by us in terms of making decisions that are in our best interests. Unfortunately, I can’t trust in that anymore. There can be little doubt that much of the decision making coming out of Queen’s Park these days has to do with generating money to help replenish the gross amount of money that this outfit has squandered during their term in office. An election can’t be far off.

However, re-election should not come at the expense of our kid’s education. I believe there are three things that should remain universal and untouchable: education, health-care (including the cost of prescription drugs) and freedom.  We are told to do more with less but the time of doing more with less is coming to an end. The fat is gone and service seems to be next. Perhaps the MPP’s would set the example of doing more with less by taking a 20% pay cut and a hefty reduction from a bloated retirement package. Oh, not possible they say–I ask why not?

There seems to be an old pattern at play and that is to act without considering the whole picture before deciding a particular issue. In this case, it is continuing to close schools at quite a clip to save money. I don’t doubt there are some school buildings that need to be closed because they are too costly to try to save. However, there are many that are being closed because of inefficient use. Are enrollments down? Yes, they are. Have they considered ways to increase enrollments? Have they thought about how to re-engage with students who have dropped out of school? Have they considered converting some schools into multi-use facilities or is it easier to just shut them down and move on?

Have these decision-makers considered the overall importance and symbolism of having a school in a small rural community? Have they considered that without a school the likelihood of EVER generating any new interest or growth in a rural town is just about impossible? Having a local school is about demonstrating leadership, social stability and providing hope and opportunity for all even if the group is small. Kids depend on their school for a central sense of identity and connectedness. Boards don’t seem to care much about that.  How many parents want to have their kids bused an hour or two one way to attend a school with which they have no connection or history? How many opportunities would the parents have to be any part of their child’s education and what kind of relationship would they have with the teachers entrusted with educating their kids? What they, the bureaucrats, don’t seem to understand is that education is far more than books and learning. It’s about developing community spirit, creativity, and collaboration. These are the very skills lacking in many of the programs in larger centers. If a government can’t find a way to do that then they should move out and move on.

Some of the smaller schools could be refurbished especially with the new technology that is available. Utilizing solar energy and heat pumps instead of burning expensive fuel oil. Great ecological example for the next generation. Other countries are building homes and buildings out of cardboard. They are reputed to be as efficient and durable as bricks and mortar but a great deal less costly. Consider the multi-use option that many small communities have adopted.

Multi-use possibilities: Size school buildings to accommodate the number of students who will attend.

  1. Part school and part community center with a public gym.
  2. Create regular school classrooms and special education classrooms for challenged learners in the same building
  3. Treatment facilities and out patient clinics (re-habs)
  4. Medical clinics
  5. Day care/child care facilities
  6. Social service centers
  7. Rental space for small private sector businesses like dental offices or optometrist offices

We are inviting more immigrants with young families to come to Canada. These kids will need to go to school. What a wonderful opportunity to practice our goals of providing a diverse setting for all who come to join us. There are a growing number of professionals who like the idea of practicing in a rural or small town to get away from the ‘big city experience.’ They will want to know there are good schools where they are considering working.

Closing schools, especially at the current rate, is not only short-sighted but borders on negligence. Strong word. I am aware of what it means. Educators know that the communities without schools are likely to die and yet they continue to plan on closing many schools that don’t need to be closed at least before trying other means of sharing the costs of keeping them open. That is negligence to me. Perhaps it’s time to create a new funding strategy instead of using the old one that doesn’t represent the taxpayers very well. It is the obligation of our governments big and small to assume the responsibility to provide adequate education not limit its availability.

Parents need to fight for what they deserve or they are likely to get what they deserve. Don’t leave it to the government to save the day. Education is too important to leave it to the educators. 

Anyways, that’s how I see it. Thanks for stopping by. All the best, Jim

Comments will find me at jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

Disclaimer: The use of this image is being used for education, research and criticism purposes. I do not derive any financial gain from the use of this photo provided by vladville.com

The Week That Came And Went . . .

Commentary:

It seems as though there are some differences among some folks about what I meant by titling my last book as I did. Let me explain. From a male perspective, I believe that a man’s work is truly never done. I have not said so to belittle women or to downplay the enormous contribution they make to our world. On the contrary, women work as hard if not harder across the board than men in my humble point of view. They work at a job, they look after us and they raise families, often alone even if a man is about. So it’s not that.What I recognize is the role that men play in the big picture. The research continues to prove that men play a particular part in the family structure and in society that women don’t or can’t. Visit the CCRC website to gauge the true value of fathers. Men teach their sons how to be male and what that means in terms of responsibility. Young men look to their fathers for guidance around managing their emotions appropriately and how to be respectful of women. We are seen as role models for our sons and daughters but more so for our sons. We have information to provide them and they listen when we express ourselves with passion but also with care in our hearts for others. They pay attention to how we manage our anger and how we manage our relationships both in the home and in public. What does a father teach his son at a hockey game when he is yelling at the refs and gets into a punch up in the stands with another kids father?  NOT  MUCH. Our sons look to us as guides who set boundaries when they get a bit older. But the biggest thing is that we encourage our sons to pass along the knowledge they have received and the discoveries they have made for themselves to their sons and they encourage their sons to do the same. That’s how it’s done. SO–a man’s work is never done it keeps going on forever.

I hope this clears that up some.

All the best, Jim

Truth Talkin’ Thursday:

Check Jane and I as we discuss the mistakes that people make when trying to make decisions for themselves. Many folks struggle with this-we’ll suggest a couple of things that might make it a better experience. Look for T.T.T. on U-tube or in your web email box.

A Forward Thinking Program:

Just putting the finishing touches on it and then we will begin the process of getting folks to comment on it. If you are interested in having us come to a meeting or a club function to discuss this vitally important as speakers and presenters we’d be pleased to make that happen. It’s all new and coming to a school near you. Contact information at the end of this newsletter–with thanks.

My Music Choice For The Week:

There is no end to this man’s skill and talent. He writes beautiful love songs and proves that they are not gone and forgotten (to play just double click on the rose)–Enjoy

Comments and questions will find me at jimcloughley.com   OR   jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

Please pass this along to family and friends, all the best, and thanks for stopping by.

 

Do We REALLY Know Just How Important This Point Is?

Commentary:

Margaret Court, one of the best tennis players of her time and arguably of all time, spoke her mind today regarding her thoughts and feelings about the state and identity of Women’s Tennis. Martina Navratilova responded by calling Ms. Court a racist and a homophobe. It seems that it is OK for Martina to call Margaret all sorts of things but not OK for Margaret to speak her mind about the number of lesbians in Tennis these days. Perhaps what has to change here is that what is fair for one needs to be fair for all and let the good graces of people be the true judge and jury of what has been said and how it was said. Grow some thicker skin folks. If you don’t like what she said then exercise YOUR right to say so by emailing Margaret and telling her how you feel about what she said.

Wah-wah-wah. The words spoken from both sides may have been hurtful or may have been ill-advised. Get over it. My wah-wah-wah is that once again political correctness rules the day. I say let the two work it out in private as it should be. Perhaps we need to change the way we see each other. Let’s try seeing each other as human beings first and let’s try treating each other as equals instead of he is this or she is that stuff. Let’s try treating each other with the respect that we ALL deserve not just one side of the equation.

Change is not always a bad thing. Sometimes it’s a good thing. Why do people get so upset with the idea of change? Why do we, as people, resist change? Fear of the unknown? Change is the only constant in our lives. The change from superstition to science was a good thing for medicine and for us. The change from traveling by car or train to flying on a jet was a good thing for us. Who would have believed that a 747, which weighs about 450 tons, would be able to get off the ground let alone fly at close to 50,000 feet at around 600miles per hour, fully loaded, and could carry approximately 400 people at a time.  Change will continue to happen and we need to get our heads around the fact that this is not nor does it have to be a bad thing for us.

The one area of change that will happen and it desparately needs to happen has to do with how and what we are teaching our children. We need to be demanding wholesale changes to the education system before we find ourselves so out of touch that our children can’t find good paying jobs to support their families. International businesses are telling us that. Other governments are telling us this. Some schools are telling us that as well. Our system is NOT preparing our college and university graduates with the skills that are requisite for future career choices. Take the example of Finland, who has developed one of the most progressive and successful educational systems in the world to see what needs to come.  (Click on the highlighted link for more information that is truly necessary for parents to read and know more about)

There are three solid reasons that indicate what we need to change about how we go about educating our children. These reasons are part of why many of our children are struggling at school.

  1. We are using a system that had been created during the Industrial age back from the early 1900’s. Technology has changed, forced really, the focus of what our children need to be learning-now-so they can be competitive in the global marketplace when they graduate.
  2. Children are struggling with disinterest and boredom in classrooms because of the older curriculum still being offered. Kid’s are much more savvy concerning the use of technology to gather information. They don’t need ‘books’ anymore. The internet has all the information they require to learn the basic skills. We need to be teaching them how to think and not what to remember.
  3. Children should be telling the system what they want to study not the system telling the kids what they will study. The kids need to pick a course of study because they are the only ones who know what their true interests are.

There are so many more compelling reasons why education and how it is delivered is so vitally important and the change is coming in style and content whether we like it or not. We need to get out in front of this while there is time to change the programs so that our kids will have a chance to succeed.

A Forward Thinking Program: A New Look Educating And Preparing Our Children For The 21st Century:

More on this program in the weeks to come. Our’s is a program that we begn putting together 2 years ago. The research was done and some great solutions provided. My colleague and I have finished the 3rd draft of our proposal so we will be able to present it publicly shortly. We feel confident that our program would deal with reducing the drop-out rates among our kids, will help to restore interest and excitement, will help our kids clarify their career choices when university arrives, it will help to reduce costs and reduce levels of gang membership, trouble with the legal system, deal with substance abuse issues and more. The change will help all of this to happen but as a community of concerned parents and caregivers we have to embrace change and not fear it or be concerned about it.

Truth Talkin’ Thursday:

Jane and I talked about the three types of people neither of us can stand being around and why we feel that way. Just go to U-Tube and type in Truth Talkin’ Thursday: Episode 34 to get the rest of the story. See if some of your choices are the same as ours.

That’s how I see things anyways, All the best, Jim

Please send this along to family and friends-comments will find me at: jim.lifechoice@gamil.com  OR  jimcloughley.com

Thanks for stopping by.

Disclaimer: Photo resources used for Education, Research and /or Criticism purposes only. I derive no financial benefit from using this resource in this writing. This particular photo and verse by Margaret Mead produced by Pinterest.

Be Who You Are But Who Is That? . . .

If this is your child, how do you communicate with him? It’s certainly possible and he is reaching out to be understood so how so you do that?

I may have mentioned this topic previously and if I did-read it again for the first time. It is great information and can really add to the quality of your life.

Have you ever wondered why your kids don’t always listen to you and you have to resort to raising your voice or threatening in some way? Have you ever wondered why you and a friend or a spouse have difficulty making yourselves heard by the other? Have you wondered why you have difficulty getting along with or communicating with co-workers or a boss or superintendent?

One of the reasons why this happens to us is because we are communicating in a way that makes sense to the other person involved. We have different personalities and so we process information differently.

It is a well researched fact that we, as human beings, possess  characteristics and traits that help to make up our personalities. We have preferences we respond to and certain ways of dealing with crisis or stressful situations. We don’t ALL respond to these situations in the same manner.

Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers worked extensively on the whole topic of determining personality back in the early 1940’s.  This idea of distinct personality types goes back to Pythagoras in ancient times so the topic has been investigated for quite some time.

A teacher by the name of Don Lowry, in 1978, created a way of determining personality types which actually represented basic learning styles. He called his program ‘True Colors’.  In order to keep the learning styles separate and understood he assigned a color to each of the four identified types that described what each style demonstrated or indicated according to a person’s particular behaviour. Apparently he chose these particular colors because he didn’t want any possibility of connecting a color with a particular race or religion of any kind. Generally most people show a behavioural preference to one of the colors but can be influenced by the second most dominant color.

Gold characteristics-very stable and security minded; ‘on time’ people; good ‘soldiers’ meaning they followed instruction and direction well; are very much in tune with the ‘organization’ and are great planners and detail oriented. They tend to be very loyal.

Green characteristics-thinkers and researchers who need to answer the compelling questions of the day. Things like ‘ which came first the chicken or the egg’–they need to understand the reasons need to make sense.

Blue characteristics-very ‘people-oriented’. Blue folks are often more likely to be influenced by their emotions and more interested in how others are doing. They tend to be drawn to the arts and activities that demonstrate expression and feelings.

Orange characteristics-tend to be very good at multi-tasking and very spontaneous. Take on challenges often as a second thought. They generally are good with their hands and adapt reasonably well to physical challenges.

Personality types, of course, can be altered or changed depending on the environment and circumstances someone finds themselves in but for the most part the primary and secondary responses tend to be more likely.

Given this very brief description of the The Colors model, we can begin to see how understanding this important distinction could be very helpful when parenting more than one child in the family. The challenges begin when the parents try to parent the kids all with the same approach. It doesn’t work very well and the outcome tends to be struggle, conflict and disobedience. To be more successful parenting multiple kids first try to determine the kid’s personality type and then ‘talk’ to him/her or relate to him/her using language and behaviour that matches. It is highly unlikely that all the kids are of the same personality.

The True Color Model has a variety of applications. This is a wonderful tool to use in relationships and when delivered appropriately produces more positive outcomes and much less bickering and feeling misunderstood by each other. It can be used to communicate with co-workers and supervisors by observing their behaviour and listening to how they respond to particular questions you can figure out if they are Orange, Blue, Gold or Green. When you do, learn how to speak or treat them using their particular color characteristics to make yourself more clearly understood.

This is a model that NASA has used in the past. Corporations like General Electric have used this and still do in some areas. It works and it is simple to understand.

Go to the True Color website and locate workshops that are being offered in your area. I used to train the trainers so I am well versed with the model. It is well worth the money you will spend and the quality of your family’s life experience is likely to change noticeably.

Anyways, that’s how I see it.

All the best and thanks for stopping by, Jim

Please forward this article to family and friends. Comments are always welcomed. Please send them to: jimcloughley.com  OR  jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

 

I have used this photo resource for the purposes providing education, referring to some research or criticism. I do not or have not received any monetary benefit from using this photo in any of my articles.

All About This Week . . . Things To Say To Your Kids When They Mess Up

Commentary:

I have said many times that, as parents, we have no greater teachers than our kids. When I think of all the things that my kids have taught me about being human, compassionate, and accepting I am amazed how I ever taught THEM anything.

Ann Landers once wrote: “It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings”. Pretty smart stuff from Ann I think.

Instead of blowing up at them for making a mistake, one of the greatest lessons we could teach our children is to not only accept the mistakes they make but to be sure to learn something from them. It’s bad enough that they will suffer whatever consequences there may be for making a mistake or exhibiting poor judgement but let’s not compound that by missing a great opportunity to present them with an important life lesson. This does not mean that we don’t take their poor judgement or their mistakes seriously. But we compound  it all by being angry with them or by punishing them somehow. If this is your style please stop it. It is actually harming them in many ways.

The following are some ideas and questions you might want to share with your son or daughter the next time they mess up  in order to help your kids to learn something of value.

If we really want to make a difference in the lives of our children we need to remember a couple of things:

  • We all learn from the mistakes we make and not from our successes.
  • No one learns by being screamed at.
  • Tell your kids that you don’t expect them to be perfect but you do expect that they will learn from the mistakes they make.
  • Ask them what they would do differently faced with the same challenge again?
  • Remind them that your love for them is unconditional and isn’t lost from them by mistakes they might make.
  • Because you may be their parent isn’t reason enough for you to take responsibility for their choices or decisions. At the same time demonstrate your willingness to help seek viable solutions.
  • Be sure to acknowledge their efforts to make things right and for accepting the responsibility for what may come.

Making mistakes is part of growing up. Helping our children find solutions and teaching them new skills that would provide a different kind of outcome the next time a similar problem arises is a parents job.

Anyways, that’s how I see things.

All the best and thanks for stopping by, Jim

Comment to me at jimcloughley.com  OR  jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

Please send this ahead to family or friends.

 

Photo by parentingmojo.com has been used for used for education, criticism or research purposes only. I derive no financial benefit from the use of this resource.

Truth Talkin’ Thursday:

Jane and I actually disagreed-well sorta–about my comment regarding parenting. I said that if parents didn’t want to make their kids their #1 priority then they should not have brought them into this world. She said . . .  well you can find out what she said by going to U-Tube and going to Truth Talkin’ Thursday Episode #32

Forward Thinking Program:

It’s finished–the third draft of our new paradigm outlining a new concept and program regarding educating our children differently in order to prepare them for the 21st Century market place. There is no homework, no standard testing, learner centered curriculum and why all of it is vital to our children’s education if they are thrive and prosper in the years to come. I will begin to put more on this site in the coming weeks and would like to receive your thoughts pro/con. Please let me know what you think–Jim            Comment to me at: jimcloughley.com OR jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

 

 

Do Dads Matter? Darn Right We Do. Get Used To It . . .

Now that the ‘Mother’s Day’ celebration is gone for another year it didn’t take some folks long to get back to the topic of Do dads matter? I would like to say, emphatically, that yes, we certainly do. Why wouldn’t we matter? To me this is such a dumb question to put out there. Those who are saying ‘no’ need to get over themselves, drop the ‘sainthood’ role, and pull their heads out of wherever they have been for the past while. There also seems to be a great deal of assumption flying around that ‘dads’ are the bad guys–that we are the ones who shouldn’t be single parents looking after our kids without someone watching us to make sure we don’t mess up.

Before I continue I want to be clear. I don’t see all co-parents as horrible parents. There are many great parents who are doing a terrific job as responsible parents. There are many that aren’t doing such a good job. There are many great single parents-both male and female who are doing a great job of raising their kids with values, morals and helping to instill a great attitude about where they fit into the world. There are many who aren’t doing such a great job. This is for all of those parents who aren’t doing it as well as they could and there are, unfortunately, many who fit into this category.

Just to make the point that there seems to be a great deal of research available suggesting that Mom’s are just about as likely to abuse their kids as males are and in some cases (considering particular types of abuse) perhaps more so. I don’t place a great deal of stock in ‘research’ since good ‘researchers’ can make the numbers say just about anything they want them to say and they often don’t point out the variables that were considered or not considered when correlating the information. Sad to say, according to this ‘definitive information’ that we haven’t come as far in the struggle to find equality and common strengths among the sexes as we thought or hoped. The one finding that is clear and hasn’t changed much is that our children are much better off when they are involved in a family that has two parents contributing to the upbringing of their kids. Isn’t that the mark we should be striving for? How do we make that happen instead of doing all this ‘dumb ass’ ‘research about how worse off our children might be. Isn’t it enough to know that our kids don’t do as well in single-parented homes no matter who is the single parent. Might we be better off and might our kids  be better off as well if the prospective parents got a grip on themselves and actually thought through why they were getting married prior to ‘tying the knot’? How about asking “Is this partner that I have chosen really my best choice”? “Am I really ready to get married or am I looking to escape into another world that seems better than the one I am currently occupying”? “Is this partner really ready for family life or are we just hoping that when we mature or settle down some things will change and we’ll be great parents”?

Parents are the ones who need to shoulder the responsibility for how their kids turn out. Let’s stop blaming all the ‘nasty’ things that are going on in the world as being the culprits. Perhaps they are just really poor parents who really don’t care all that much. Perhaps they are so selfish that they can’t see what they are or are not doing to their kids. My advice to young parents today: grow a pair and perhaps for the first time, ever, place your kids ahead of yourselves and provide them with the leadership, awareness, the life lessons, and the love and care they deserve. I am not talking about buying their attention with ‘stuff’ but rather demonstrating, on a consistent basis, that they, the kids, are the most important thing in the lives of their parents each and every day.

Grandparents get asked to ‘watch’ the little ones. Nannies are hired, 10 year old brothers and sisters are asked to look after their younger brothers and sisters until one of the parents gets home from work. It is deplorable that a little kid gets to be responsible for the life and well being of another human being who is 3 or 4 years old. That 10 year old needs to be out playing sand lot baseball or riding his/her bike around the neighbourhood having FUN and not ‘babysitting’.

If you are parents and reading this rant, and it is my rant, and you can honestly say that you are among those I have described who are doing a great job as a parent–good for you. If you are not able to say with any degree of honesty that this is who you are-shame on you. Why have kids in the first place if you are not going to commit to making them the most important factor in your life-your #1 priority.

I’m done now.

Anyway, that’s how I see things.

All the best, and thanks for stopping by–Jim

Please pass this along to family and friends. If you have a comment to make send it to me at either jimcloughley.com   OR  jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

 

Disclaimer: photo resource used in this article used for education, research, or criticism purpose only. Photo credit to madamenoire.com. I derive no financial gain from the use of this photo.

The 2 Absolutes Necessary To Be The Best Parent You Can be . . .

What is it that our kids need from us the most? What is the prime factor in any parent-child connection? What paves the way for learning? I used to think that it was respect, patience, knowledge understanding, and your time. I have written in this space about those things and I still believe in their importance. But I have come to understand that these are building blocks for a much more important and complex reality. Parents need to be consistent when providing these , that is true, but they are not primary in and of themselves. They need to be present as component parts but they combine to create one reality. As the title suggests I believe there are only two things that parents need to be aware of if they are striving to be the absolute best parents they can be.

The first one is creating the best relationship they can between themselves and their children. This is first and foremost.  As many of us know this is not as easy to do as it sounds because so many things can get in the way. For instance our own past history and the relationships we had with our own parents. This can be especially problematic if the parent(s) still haven’t worked through their issues before having kids of their own. That ends up like building a house on a sand foundation. Perhaps we were forced to adhere to messages that were not appropriate or healthy. We may have been encouraged or taught how to hate someone for their differences. Our belief systems are easily manipulated when we are young because we desperately want to believe that our parents would never hurt us or lie to us or tell us stuff that isn’t true-would they? Then there are our experiences at the hands of others. That could involve abuse of some kind or what we were told over and over again by people we didn’t know or who didn’t like us. We can make our kids our best friends or worse we can become their best friends. The difference?? Best friends rely on each other for support. We listen to them and they listen to us and then we problem solve together. Our kids should never be asked to solve their parents’ problems. It is not healthy to ask for or expect our kids to provide our emotional support. Friends comfort each other-that’s why their friends. Parents are not supposed to be comforted by their children and supported through a traumatic time. Our kids are not equipped for that and boundaries can become a serious issue. That’s why we have to pay absolute attention to our kids every day and not just check in with them when they are hurting or in trouble of some kind.

They need to know from us, on a daily basis, that they are loved, valued, taken seriously when they are serious, and that we will listen to them without judgement or criticism. Ask them about their day-how did it go?-what did you learn that you didn’t know before? Show that you are interested in their lives and that you care. We need to encourage them and teach them how to think for themselves. Now this is not new news but the point is we cannot teach our children anything of value without them knowing in their hearts that they are in and are a part of a strong relationship with us. It does not matter the lessons we have to teach them or the importance of them sharing our experiences. It does not matter what we feel, as parents, or what we need to show them or demonstrate to them about life itself. As parents we need to understand what a healthy relationship looks like and what it can provide our children.

The primary desired outcome is that there is a genuine trust  that has been established and as long as that trust lasts your kids will want to learn all you have to teach them. They will watch you and learn about healthy relationships. They will learn about how to manage emotions and how to accept success. According to Parent Magazine children who are involved with healthy co-parented families are more likely to experience less mental health issues, less involvement with legal systems, have better and more healthy relationship with partners, and do better in affairs. Whether a parent physically lives at home or not that parent still needs to be involved in their children’s lives. He /she can still make a difference. It’s being involved and showing that you care that is most important.

The point here is that parents need to work much harder at establishing a healthy relationship with their kids first and worry about ‘life’s lessons after that’. It doesn’t work well if you are trying to do it the other way around. Parents need to LIVE the lessons they want their kids to learn. They believe what they see so if there is No trust there will be No learning.

Anyways, that’s how I see it.

All the best, Jim and thanks for stopping by.

Please sent this along to friends and family-with thanks.

Disclaimer: I have used this resource for education, criticism and research purposes. Thanks to monitor.co.ug. I derive no monetary benefit from the use of this photo.

3 Suggestions About How To Give Step Family Relationships A Fighting Chance . . .

First I need to provide some more recent information about blended families and about step families because they are NOT the same thing.

According to Wikipedia: A stepfamily is a family where at least one parent has children that are not genetically related to the other spouse or partner. Either one parent may have children from a previous relationship. Children in a stepfamily may live with one biological parent, or they may live with each biological parent for a period of time.[1] In addition, visitation rights mean that children in stepfamilies often have contact with both biological parents, even if they permanently live with only one.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes a blendedfamily this way:                                                       ‘A family that includes children of a previous marriage of one spouse or both.’

Still a bit confused?–me too. But it really is the step family that I wanted to talk about anyway. We have come a ways in naming and renaming our family structures and relationships. As we progress down the lane of ‘what’s next’ we find that we have gone from ‘Ozzie and Harriet’ and The ‘Cleavers’ to ‘The Brady Bunch’ and more recently into the world of single parenthood. From there we have gone into gay parented families, lesbian parented families, LGBT parented families arriving at blended families and step families. We are drifting away from the traditional mom-dad-children living arrangements. This trend of coming up with alternative family life styles will continue until the ‘regular’ or ‘ordinary’ family set up will become representative of the minority.

When society points it’s finger at kids and asks what’s wrong with those people–why are they so messed up I believe the answer to that may very well be US–we parents. We are who is messed up. Parents are expecting the kids to adapt to the life style that is presented to them when, in truth, it’s the parents who need to provide a less selfish, more considerate, more stable and predictable, environment that the kids can identify with.  I have no comment to make about the right and the wrong of any particular life style that someone wants to indulge in. Just don’t mess up the kids along the way under the banner of they need to accept what is described as diversity in the world. This is NOT diversity as it is attended. We can be encouraged to understand it but we don’t have to live it to prove it.

It would be difficult to keep morals, values, life lessons, expectations, consequences for decisions made, both good and not so good, the same for everyone. What about when it comes time for Mom to discipline Dads kids and the other way around? How does that work? How does one kid get to do something that some of the other kids can’t? It’s natural for each parent to have some kind of bias toward his own kids and that each parent would have a set of standards that he/she would impose on ALL the kids. How well would that work? Speak about conflicting and mixed messages I would think it would be very difficult for a child to keep anything straight.

I have included 3 basics that stepfamilies might consider embracing if their goal is for things to somehow work out:

  1. Make sure that everyone in the family has some respect for the members of the other family. Create several opportunities, not just a weekend at Disney World, together doing ‘family ‘ things to observe the dynamics of the group.Things like age differences will be important, personality types, general interests and how do the kids from one group get along with the soon-to-be new mom or dad.
  2. How will decisions be made and who will deliver those outcomes–who gets to be the ‘bad’ guy? and how will that go down with the other parents kids? This needs to be decided ahead of time so that a united front can be presented. The parents need to be able to agree on why there is a problem (the issue in question may be contentious for one parent but not the other) and what the consequences will be as a result of one of the kids or several of the kids ‘messing’ up?
  3. Remember that new routines will have to be created for ALL the family members and ALL the kids must be mindful and respectful of each members rights to their routine.

One of the biggest mistakes is assuming the kids will be OK–eventually. There is absolutely nothing that guarantees this will EVER happen. Kids need to discuss and state their feelings about what they think is coming. Disagreements/concerns need to be sorted out before any moves are made. Kids are resilient-true. Can they adapt-yes they can. Will the kids in this group want to adapt is more the question. Then there is the issue of one of the kids or some of the kids wanting to spend time with the ‘other’ parent–the one which is not involved in the ‘new’ family. How does that work. Can the ‘new’ couple tolerate the ‘old’ ex hanging around? Will the kids rebel hoping to break up the new family so that they can go back to the old family?

And we wonder what is wrong with our kids today-WOW

Anyways that’s how I see it, all the best,  Jim

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What’s Been Happening . . .

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Commentary:

There has to be another way of helping our kids get their needs met beside allowing and, in some cases, condoning aggressive, rude, or manipulative behaviour. But many parents are at a loss as to what those methods or ways are. Many more are feeling as though they have tried everything they could with no satisfying results in return. The children are now running their own ‘show’. When opportunities for parents to learn a new skill come along we often hear  parents say “those methods might work with other families but not mine.” Consequently many parents get pulled into power struggles with their kids and many just give up hoping that it is a phase that their kids are going through.

We live in times where everyone has rights but no one has responsibilities and this is more true for our kids than anyone else right now. This is the age of ‘entitlement’. I agree that we need to ensure that our rights and the rights of our children are respected and not violated. However, this cannot happen at the expense of someone else’s rights. What parents are missing, unfortunately, is the opportunity to convert the teachable moments that are so vitally important to our childrens’ social development. Helping our children learn important strategies concerning speaking their truth without being obnoxious or finding the courage to speak out sometimes to say “I don’t like that” or “I’m not going to do that” is part of our responsibility as parents. Our children depend on us to teach them how to be safe and respectful of others rights. How can we, as parents, expect our children to be responsible if we are not willing to demonstrate that same responsibility so they know what it looks or sounds like. We parents are supposed to be their teachers. It is the role we are to play in the big scheme of things. They expect us to help them grow into insightful human beings and when we don’t have time for them or make the effort to be a teacher we disappoint them-deeply.

On May 24th, 2016 I published an article titled: “Many Kids Think Their Parents Are Obsolete.” In it I speak about the things that parents need to start doing differently if they want to relate differently to their kids. Right now many kids are feeling as though they are second best at best.

I was asked to re-post the following article by a group named:   Xooloo, Your Child’s Digital Life. Apparently Xooloo and I we see this situation with our kids in a similar fashion.

I highly recommend this article especially for parents who are struggling with how to connect or re-connect with their kids. The article suggest some very valuable strategies and insights that can assist parents who are feeling discouraged, lost, angry, and at their wits end. It is a great read and it is short. This could be the best 5 minutes you have spent trying to figure out how to establish an appropriate parent-child relationship. Nothing to lose here and everything to gain. Enjoy the read–Jim

Effects of Helicopter Parenting, Embrace Negotiation Parenting

Anyways, that’s how I see things.

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Thanks for stopping by, all the best, Jim

 

 

Why We Do What We Do . . . How Do We Change That?

A while back I heard a celebrity of sorts promise the people of the United States that he, and only he, had the ability to get the country out of trouble and only he had the solutions to the problems. Anytime someone says that he/she has ALL the answers and that we should trust them–RUN.

Trumps’ attempt at stewardship has become an indefensible situation that jeopardizes, not only the stability of the present government in the US, but the resilience of global peace. What particular strengths does Trump possess that he calls on to help make his decisions? It can’t be knowledge and it can’t be intelligence and it can’t be because he has visionary skills. I will say, whether or not you agree with what decisions he has made to date, he has made them decisively. He believes that he is right and that’s that. What he does seem to understand is how to motivate a great number of people.

Donny is a great example of someone who knows how to fan the flames of hate, discontent and injustice by tearing the scabs off of old wounds that people continue to carry with them. These are folks who were moved by believing their best interests could be met and ‘fairness’ could be restored if Donny was in the cat bird seat. When you consider where the greatest source of his strength comes from it is not hard to see why he got elected–numerically at least. He appealed to the old political right.

In truth, people are more apt to manage their behaviour based on a particular belief system and belief systems are often ingrained from birth long before a person has developed morals, values, ethics or wisdom. Donny is able to recognize an opportunity to create a different belief system and with very little resistance. He knows what his audience wants to hear and tells them what they want to hear. He is like a chameleon who is able to assume which ever role a particular situation requires. He can be the tough guy or the compassionate one or the hard-nosed no nonsense guy who won’t take no for an answer. He can be a stand up guy. Most of his followers have been taught since childhood that they deserve better than what they have and now it’s their time to have it. Trump is the guy to get it for them. This is their new belief.

Shame, guilt and fear are the results of experience and so they have a bearing on future behaviour and responses to stress or adversity. Even so, they are still outcomes of previous situations or solutions but are not the genesis of the actual thinking processes. If we consider the messages that we receive as little people-perhaps as early as one or two years old we can see that thoughts and ideas that were demonstrated to us in some way laid the ground work for much of what we did from there on. For example. If we were told over and over again that people who looked different from us were dangerous and not to be trusted that is exactly what most of us would believe and therefore we would see ‘those’ people in a very different light. Besides, why would our Mom and Dad lie to us about something like that if it weren’t true? IF you were told that homeless people are really just too lazy to find jobs and don’t want to work we will always see them as folks who don’t care but just want an easy life on the backs of those who are willing to work hard for what they want.

The point to all of this is this: as teachers and parents, as care givers and educators we need to be particularly careful of the words and messages we are sending to our young folks. We need to be sure that we are not, with the best of intentions, unduly influencing are children’s belief systems–helping them to see things from our perspective because we know better. Where else will they learn these worldly lessons.

The message we need to be sending our children is that, MOST importantly, we are encouraging our children to become independent thinkers creating their own belief systems based on their own experiences and what they know to be true for them.

If you are struggling with some of your thoughts and actions involving everyday people and events begin to challenge your beliefs–those thoughts that seem ingrained-the ones that have been there forever. Ask: “where is the evidence that supports this idea you are struggling with. For instance: “Where is the proof? Where has it been written that folks who look different are not to be trusted.”

Anyways, that’s how I see things. All the best, Jim

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