Teaching Your Young Child to Withstand Peer Pressure

Peer PressureWho would think an 8 year old little girl would have peer pressure. But it’s there.  And it’s been there for awhile in my neighborhood.

At first my focus was on helping my daughter to learn how to share.  When we moved into our current house almost four years ago, my daughter was 4 and there were seven other girls in the cul-de-sac who ranged in age older or younger by one year.  I thought teaching a 4-year-old to share would be the toughest challenge, but really the challenge started out on how to deal with so many different personalities.  I’ve been blessed with a little girl who is naturally sweet, kind, and generous.  Okay, maybe I had something to do with a little of that, but she really has grown into a wonderfully even tempered girl.  But being so congenial could lead her into other troubles, like following what the crowd does, just to get along.

My first inclination was to try and find every possible scenario and discuss what “our” reaction would be.  After the first two scenarios, I was ready to pull my hair out.  There was no way I’d be able to cover everything in a short period of time, preparing my precious Maddie to walk out the door.  Of course the next option to wait for her to come to me with issues was out of the question as well.

Kids have so many rules to try and remember and my Maddie has short term memory issues (her birth mother used meth while pregnant.)  I decided that my best solution was the following:

  1. Set an example of behavior in the home.  This has given Maddie a good base for knowing what is acceptable behavior.  It’s sort of like how they train counterfeit inspectors.  They give the inspectors a real currency bill that they memorize from top to bottom.  Eventually when they come across a phony bill, they recognize that it’s not like the original.  Maddie is growing up with two parents and a sister who chase after a lifestyle pleasing to God.  When something in her life pops up that doesn’t fit with that, it becomes blatantly obvious that it’s not acceptable.
  2. Build a close relationship.  This closeness has cultivated a response in Maddie that inspires her want to make Mom and Dad happy.  She knows us well enough now, because we spend so much time talking and playing together, that she has it figured out who we are and what is important to us.  And she strives to fit into those guidelines.  I walked away from a parenting seminar years ago with a phrase that has stuck with me:  The absence of relationship breeds rebellion.
  3. Demonstrate that our actions & activities are pleasing to God.  Maddie participates and witnesses our family intentionally picking out television shows and movies that are pleasing to God.  We demonstrate that we choose not to watch R-rated shows, because we don’t like what it does to our hearts and minds.  We set standards for our guests in our home that we don’t tolerate profanity.  Don’t let it fool you that kids aren’t aware of what the adults are doing in the home.  We have a great number of guests in our house weekly, and she’s heard her father or myself to ask guests to guard their language.  I heard Maddie tell one of her friends, “I’m not allowed to watch scary movies.”  It’s true, she’s not allowed, but I’ve never said “you’re not allowed” or she’s never asked to watch one.  She has learned the importance of filling our minds with positive and happy shows, and scary doesn’t fit into that.

Our biggest challenge of late was the neighborhood craze for monster high dolls.  While they may be “fairly” harmless for the girls to play with, since they play with them exactly like they do the Barbies, it was a great tool to pick so we could practice saying no.  Maddie really wanted a monster high doll.  Matter of fact, she was the only girl in the neighborhood who didn’t have one.  I explained that dolls that are vampires or zombies (dead) were not pleasing to God and I was not buying any.  I told her why I didn’t like them.  I didn’t tell her she couldn’t play with her friend’s dolls at their house, but she’s taken it on herself to say she is not allowed to play with them.  One of the girls asked her why not…  Maddie:  They are not pleasing to God.  Friend:  What’s pleasing mean?  Maddie:  Making God happy.  If Maddie can get through this pressure, I feel pretty certain the rest will be a breeze.

THE TEST:  One of the neighborhood girls accidentally discovered pornographic movies on the internet while searching for a Disney show.  She then got another girl to come watch.  This went on for a week of repeatedly watching the show.  Finally they invited the rest of the girls to watch.  Out of six of the girls, Maddie was one of two that declined to go watch.

We can’t be with our little girls every minute of every day.  Even when they are in a trusted home, dangers abound.  Teaching your children to make the right choices is critical!

So maybe the exercise of Monster High Prohibition has been useful already!

Why Chasing Wears Us Out

get in shape_t_ntI think I was born chasing. Chasing contentment, chasing happiness, chasing feeling good, and running away from boredom. I chased energy. I chased personal contentment. What women doesn’t? I don’t think I’m alone.

Chasing all these things is what drove me, even from early childhood. As a little girl, is was all about me and what made me happy. From grabbing that baby bottle off the table because I wanted it now to demanding food when I was hungry as a teenager, it’s had always been about me and what made me happy. Chasing my happy ever after is what motivated me. From Barbie Dolls to playing house, to watching princess movies…they all had the same thing…a happy ever after goal.

Somewhere along the way I got distracted and discouraged. I started feeling that “happy ever after” wasn’t going to happen to me. That’s when my ever optimistic enthusiasm started to fade and depression set in. Choices were made that only created more tears and scars, and happiness and contentment looked out of reach.

It’s taken me over 40 years for the light bulb to finally turn on. I’m still chasing. I’m chasing happiness, but in a completely different way. My journey to contentment and joy is because I’m now chasing after God’s purpose for my life. I’m chasing after His vision, not mine. The resulting joy and happiness far exceeds anything I ever dreamed of. I’m on a journey to de-clutter my life and flee from the distractions that push me off course.

Let’s chase happiness and contentment together, shall we?

Easy Steps to Deal with Frustration and Disappointment

pursue peace_t_nvFifteen years ago I was the mother of three children, and married to a fairly passive pessimist. I lived a hit-or-miss lifestyle. (Meaning I lived without much intentionality. I acted on how I felt, when I felt it, without much regard to consequences.) Because of the constant conflict of an optimist living with a pessimist, I walked around from episode to episode of frustration. When frustration or disappointment would arise, here’s the steps I took to process the emotions:

  • Immediately express my feelings.
  • Continue to express my feelings until I felt relieved of frustration.
  • Chronically recall my frustration and remind those involved of my disappointment and feelings.
  • Forgive only when I couldn’t remember what frustrated me, or forgive only when some new frustration replaces the old.

So how’d that work out for me? I became divorced after 15 years of marriage. Was how I dealt with my frustrations the cause of my divorce? Well, no. But I can assure you it didn’t help either.

Living an Intentional Lifestyle instead of a Hit-or-Miss Lifestyle

 

frustrated-womanThis morning I had to have our daughter at her swim meet before 7 am. Yes…7 am on a Saturday morning in the middle of June. Not exactly easy, but somehow grace was abounding, because we were on time. Leaving this early left my husband (who is time challenged) to get to the meet on his own. Time challenged means he is notoriously late. He’s been that way as long as I’ve known him. I know it. I’ve lived with it for over 10 years. And yes, it’s a source of aggravation for me.

The meet started at 8:30 am. Maddie’s first event would be a little before 9:00 am. Since parking is awful at our pool, Randy need to ride his bike. I told him to leave by 8:30 so he wouldn’t miss her first event.

Well, as you can imagine, he missed her first event. And yes, I was extremely disappointed.

Here’s my natural reaction.

  • Be upset and ruin my morning.
  • As my husband arrives, show my frustration
  • Scold my husband in an attempt to relieve my frustration.

Yes, I was looking to not feel bad. Who wants to be angry? (Well some people thrive on it…I’m not one.) Some people choose to be angry, and that anger draws out past frustrations that didn’t get resolved–like my repeated frustration that my husband is chronically late.

Sometimes it’s hard not to get angry…especially when it involves my children. When it comes to my children, I am literally a Momma Bear, protecting her cubs.

So here’s how my hit-or-miss lifestyle would cope: My husband arrives, I greet him with a frown. Since it’s crowded, my scolding is public. His reaction is public. I don’t feel better. He’s obviously already aware that he’s late and feeling disappointed, but his reaction will be an immediate defensive response. Result: we both have a miserable time at the swim meet, the rest of the day will be strained. Our connection as a married couple has taken a huge hit.

So is it worth it? No!

Here’s how a loving and kind wife, who chases after peace could handle it.

  • Recognize my anger. Sometimes just acknowledging your frustration diffuses the emotion.
  • Determine the root of the anger. Is it really that awful, or is it a reaction to an underlying issue? If it is an underlying issue, a public swim meet is not the venue to discuss the problem. And discussing it in anger will not produce any positive results.
  • Determine if my anger is justified. If it is, then wait for a better time to discuss. “Walk away” and wait till you can discuss without emotions being intense.
  • Determine your outcome. What is it you want? An apology? Knowing he’s aware of his problem and promises to do better? An acknowledgement that he messed up? Once you know what outcome you want, rationally figure out the best way to get that outcome. A public and emotional confrontation is not an effective tool.
  • Ask yourself if your attitude will make your day better or worse?
  • Ask yourself if you are seeking peace?
  • Is it really worth losing my joy over this issue?
  • Anger and frustration is a choice. Sometime it sneaks up on you, but it’s still a choice to continue in a state of anger.

If you struggle with anger and feel unable to diffuse it, there are deeper issues going on. Are you trying to punish your mate with your anger? Let God take control of teaching your spouse. Pray for God to help him with his issues.

So what did I do? By delaying my reaction, I realized it wasn’t that big of a deal and I didn’t have to do anything. He was more than on time for her next meet. And my connection to my wonderful husband stayed intact.

From Hoarder to Minimalist: Finding Happiness in Between

hoarderI confess.  I hoard things.  Things that don’t make sense to hoard.  Like t-shirts with arm holes ripped or shorts I can’t stand to wear.  My desk several weeks ago was a pathetic mess. Deadlines and summer break was creating a time crunch in my life. Everything that didn’t have a “place” in the house was pretty much getting dumped on my desk. I wasn’t keeping up with the piles of mail. I just couldn’t throw away ANY catalogues and so I had two and a half topsy-turvy piles on the brink of dumping over onto the floor.
This pretty much symbolized my emotional state at the time. There’s a stack of unopened mail, a box of thank-you notes to be written for a birthday party from 2 months back, a wedding picture to be framed, receipts to be filed, a gift to be wrapped, a stack of books to be read, a dress to be repaired, a mother’s day gift to be mailed (picture taken in July) and stacks of cool little gadgets that I got on sale from the web.

No wonder I was feeling such anxiety. To sit and work with this mess looming behind me was like a ball and chain strapped to my back. My office really was a reflection of the inner turmoil I was feeling as I chased after “things” and hung on to (or hoarded) possessions instead of pursing the things in life of lasting value.

I hoarded catalogues. When I finally went through the stack, there were catalogues from last Christmas! Now why was I hanging on to them?

Another addiction that you don’t even see pictured here was my daily trek through the “daily deals” websites. I was spending my valuable time perusing through groupons and living social deals, plus the other dozen or so sites that promoted cheap little gadgets. Okay…some I have really used…like the adapters to convert vcr tapes to digital format. But I haven’t used the dvd disk cleaner or electrical pulse neck massager. I do wear the jewelry….
And what did all the little possessions do for me? It kept me longing for the next possession that might bring me happiness or joy. And they all piled up around me, threatening to suffocate the life out of me.

Then I was blessed with a book called Living With Less: An Unexpected Key to Happiness.

<IMG_0879Here’s what my desk looks like today:

Still needs some improvement, but what a difference! I still have a long ways to go, but I’ve made such huge strides. Now this book didn’t teach me how to organize my office, or how to clean.

After I finished reading the book, I threw away every catalogue. I unsubscribed from most of the online daily deal sites. The interesting thing about this transformation is that the author Josh Becker did not dictate that I should stop shopping. He doesn’t promote strict minimalism, where we need to get rid of everything and live with the bare essentials.

What Josh does encourage is the intentional promotion of the things we value most and the removal of anything that distracts us from it, which involves the unnecessary physical possessions from our lives that are preventing us from fulfilling our greatest purpose.

My closet was the same. I was holding on to t-shirts that were stained and hole-filled. Now why was I hanging on to some of these things?

I feel so much freer, like I’ve just lost 100 pounds! Where I’ve reduced the clutter, I’ve found it’s easier to find things. It’s much easier to clean. My time is not spent looking for that missing thing.

Living With LessThis book is a quick read, but packed full of life changing counsel. It’s geared to the high school/college age group, but is a must read for any adult seeking a more fulfilling life. Even though my parents who lived through the depression, stressed all these concepts to me my entire life, I wasn’t able to grasp the model and carry it on into my lifestyle. I wish I had read this book when I was in college.

I’m excited to go through my house to find things to give away so that I can stop hoarding treasures on earth and pursue something greater.

Before I was wasting so much time and energy plotting, planning, and longing for a bigger house, a better car, the latest style clothing, or the latest technology and thus becoming jealous when others had more… Not a pretty picture.

Today I’m pursuing “greater” rather than “more.” You can too… Don’t miss Joshua Becker’s Living With Less: An Unexpected Key to Happiness.

Define Your Vision: 6 steps to Ignite Your Life

IgniteGo ahead…close your eyes. Picture yourself 10 years from now. What do you look like? Are you smiling? What are you doing? Are you doing something you enjoy? Are you a success at what you are doing?

I went to a Christian Business Women’s Luncheon about three months ago. They gave us a similar exercise about dreaming big. They made us close our eyes and picture your dream, only go bigger. And then go bigger, and then go bigger…. They had us picture what we looked like, how we felt, and a few other things I can’t remember at the moment.

What was interesting is I didn’t picture myself overweight and out of shape. I didn’t picture myself sitting in front of the television with a bowl of popcorn-heavy-on-the-butter. I didn’t picture myself sitting at a bar downing margaritas. I didn’t picture myself laying in bed. And I wasn’t sad or depressed.

I pictured myself comfortable in my non-plus-sized clothes, I was happy, I was energetic, and my hair looked pretty. My house was clean, my office was tidy. My dishes were done and my bed was made.

And I then felt like I saw the vision God had for me. It was to help other women not get in the same trap of chasing the wrong things. I saw myself sharing my failures and misfires on a path riddled with slip-ups and blunders, but also sharing how God can and will use all the mess-ups in our lives to bring Glory to Him and a deeper more satisfying life….the result is an abundant life filled with joy.

After the luncheon, I went home and deleted most of my shows on the dvr. I know…strange first step! Sitting in front of the t.v. suddenly seemed like a waste of time. The next day I went to my first CrossFit workout at CrossFit 925. (Ready about my experience.) I started my blog. I started working on several speech topics in the hopes of future invitations. Again, I know that may be sort of a “build it and they will come” mentality. But it’s really closer to what Noah might have felt when God told him to build an ark in the middle of a desert.

Since that day three months ago, I’ve been exercising 5 days per week. I’ve read more books than I have in the last 5 years. I’ve connected with some awesome women. I’ve made my bed every morning. I’ve lost several pants sizes…. I’m trying to keep my kitchen clean and the laundry at bay. (Baby steps!)

So you are probably wondering why the clean house stuff is stuck in there. Well, when I picture myself speaking to large groups of women, I don’t see wrinkled or soured clothes. I don’t see a frazzled woman who left a pile of bills hidden under a pile of magazines. I don’t see a woman who has mismatched socks. I see a woman who could invite any person into her home and not feel like hiding the piles of laundry or mail. In another blog I’ll show you my before and after pictures of my office. My office looked like it could be featured on the television show Hoarders.

I really feel I’m headed in the direction of the vision that God gave me. says: If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.

All the steps I’ve taken to pursue my dream and set good habits have been so easy for me. Three months ago I was lazy, fat, and always tired. Today I’m full of energy and excited about tomorrow. Here are some steps to take to help you move into a new direction:

Think, act, talk, and conduct yourself like the person you want to become.
Every day is a preparation for your dream come true (aka God’s vision for your life.) You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.
Choose and display the right attitude daily. It is your responsibility and no one else’s. Make adjustments to your attitude early in the day. Start by being grateful to God and expressing it. Then express your gratefulness to your spouse and your children.
Determine and act on important priorities. See blog on priorities
Seek and experience improvements daily. Journal about it. Blog about it. You’ll be amazed how many people feel the way you do.
I’m currently reading an awesome book that is helping me in my quest. It’s called Make Today Count: The secret of Your Success is Determined by Your Daily Agenda by John C. Maxwell. The above points were inspired by his first chapter.

What else? I’d love to hear what helps you.