Dec 302009
Lily loves wrapping paper

Lily loves wrapping paper (Photo credit: shannylynne)


This is a tough time of year. And this has been a tough year.

Do you want to know a secret? Even in families where no homes or jobs were downsized this year, holidays can be difficult. Nobody wants to admit it, but the gaps between what we WANT and what we actually HAVE…. between what we TRY and what actually HAPPENS…. can hurt.

And that can be especially painful when we see it in our children.

Contrary to popular culture, pain is not the enemy. Pain is a warning. What you’re seeing — while completely “normal” — is not good for your kids.

While nobody wants to talk about it, almost every parent or grandparents has experienced it: that awful feeling in the pit of the stomach when you look around at how much time and money you spent on holiday gifts only to see them tossed aside as you realize that your little ones still want MORE.


MORE. It’s in our genes. To eat more food, get more ‘stuff,’ conquer more space…. it’s one of those survival ‘things’ that’s been with us for a long time.

It’s in our culture. To buy now and pay later…. play before you pay…. it’s one of those marketing things that’s been with us for almost as long.

But if the past year has shown us anything at all, it is that ‘business as usual’ is not working for a lot of us. We need to do better and we need to do it now. Especially where our children and our grandchildren are concerned.

We need to help them get back to REAL skills and values that will carry them through the hard times… to provide them with a foundation that will leave them on their feet no matter what life throws their way.

And “something for nothing” and “too much too soon” are not it…. but using every day activities to teach your kids winning habits for a lifetime just might be.

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Jun 232009

 Friendship can be tough – and sometimes even more difficult to navigate without the longer view that age provides.  As the parent of the smartest, nicest, coolest kid in the group — the one who should automatically be the most popular – it can be tempting to jump right in and ‘straighten things out,’ can’t it?    

Sometime during my son’s early baseball years, he apparently confided in his Grandpa.  One of the more popular players on the team was teasing him about not being as good a ball player.  (Evidently, this is not something that ‘guys’ tell their Moms!)  Gramp’s advice came straight from the pages of Dale Carnegie’s classic How to Win Friends and Influence People – not exactly at the top of everyone’s list of favorite parenting books! 

“I told him I knew of a magical solution —a solution that would turn the guy who was picking on him into his best friend.  I could tell that he wanted to hear but I refused to tell him until he promised me he would act upon my suggestion,” said Gramp.   

Apparently, after promising to take action, my son got his instructions.  At the next opportunity, he was to talk to the guy…. to tell him that he thought he was a really good baseball player and ask for help on how to improve a specific part of his game.   

According to Dad, my boy’s reaction was nothing short of ‘horrified.’  He tried to get out of doing it only to be quickly reminded of the promise he had just made.  

Dad stops short of taking credit for what happened next; he admits that he wasn’t present during the boys’ next conversation… but it was not long after that the two former rivals started spending more time together.  Eventually they became close friends.   

Speaking as someone who heard far too many Earl Nightingale motivational recordings before starting the fourth grade, I might not be the first to recommend this strategy to the average Little Leaguer.  On the other hand, I can’t argue with success.