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Stan

Consequences ARE Necessary

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Stan

Consequences

In my novel A Mother’s Shadow the main character did not stop a situation and someone was hurt. 

I believe as a parent one of the most difficult things we have to do is to punish our children when they do something wrong.

Why?

  • It’s hard
  • It takes effort
  • It’s a pain in the pa-tooty
  • It’s inconvenient
  • You have to follow through with it
  • You have to listen to the whining, weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth
  • It often seems there is no reward or profit from doing it
  • Each kid requires a different technique

 

The list could go on for miles of why it’s easier not give a reprimand when our children choose to do wrong, and turn a blind eye then to do something about it.

Even more difficult when it is our sibling, relative, friend or a parent who makes a unethical choice.  It’s still the same – it’s difficult to ‘deal with it’, much more so than to face it head on and challenge the situation in an appropriate manner,

To begin with, we teach our children when they are young to: say you’re sorry.  However, those are just simple words. 

There are steps that must be addressed in an apology so it actually can have meaning, to then transform the person to be better, instead of simply just parroting what they are told to do.

*Keep in mind, these phases are to be suited for the age and understanding of the child.  But do not excuse yourself with she’s just a teenager, when she, or he, is capable and expected (and rightly so) to be completely responsible for decisions made.

  1. When the offender apologizes to the one he hurt, he takes on the responsibility for his actions – NO excuses!
  2. It provides the channel for the offender to learn to communicate his feelings and why he did what he did; thus opening his own mind to his feelings, actions and decisions and motives.
  3. By explaining why you are sorry it provides the opportunity to describe why it was unacceptable behavior, and helps them to think through why they would not want to repeat it again.
  4. The person apologizing takes on the responsibility of what they did and becomes a more independent person – not an entitled child/teen/adult.
  5. The other person may or may not forgive, you can only control you and that is what you need to help your child understand as they work through their own humiliation and embarrassment.
  6. By apologizing it gives the offended one the opportunity to share his point of view and gain back some poise and dignity.
  7. It relieves the offended of any sense of burden that they were at fault or that you blame them.
  8. A sense of integrity, self respect and self confidence, is gained and that they are commendable in your view as parents, and with God, because they are trying to be better.  A path for all their life.

It is so important they realize that the other person may not forgive or accept any portion of their responsibility in the situation, however that does not matter, just their involvement does.  That is the critical life lesson.

Now that part is over, there may be a consequence to be handed out also, depending on the wrongdoing. 

Again, very age appropriate. When they are toddlers and young, distracting them from whatever they are doing that will harm them or others is best.  Be positive in your speech and actions.  Do not act shocked when they are learning words and behaviors, they are just mimicking what they see and hear.  Calmly explain how your family feels about certain things and teach them in a kind way.

 

How?

When my kids were growing up I had a list of chores that they could choose from if they wanted to earn some extra spending money.  However, if they misbehaved in a way that warranted  a punishment, I choose from the list, and no money was given.  The list had items such as:  scrubbing the baseboards, taking out everything from the game closet sorting and putting the correct game pieces back in the right box, etc, cleaning out kitchen drawers, things that needed doing but that I didn’t get to often, or not usually done until spring or fall deep cleaning. It could involve yard work, or whatever and the chore was adapted to the deed done and of course the age and ability.

Why?

  1. Their misbehavior caused me to leave my projects or helping with homework, or other family duties, to deal with their situation, so they now worked for me, for free.
  2. Kids and teens need to understand that their actions lead to consequences.  They always have a choice of what to do, but they do NOT have a choice of the consequence – that is life!
  3. If a person is allowed to get away with things that are not ethical, legal, or in their own best interest long term, the consequences down the road will be dire.  It is best to learn them at home while they are manageable and small.




CRITICAL

  • Whenever your child, loved one, spouse, or anyone makes a mistake, it is not for all social media to know about!  It may not even be for other family members to hear of, unless it is in their best interest (and not just to gossip).
  • It is difficult enough to swallow pride and make amends without the entire world watching, or seemingly so.  Be kind, be wise, be charitable.  When handling these matters, act as our Father does with us.  He definitely gives us consequences for our bad decisions and rightly so; that is how we grow closer to Him and more like Him.  Let’s be very careful to do as He wants us to, and remember to pray about this continually.  He is our Father remember.
  • Whenever we have to give ANY punishment at all,  help our child apologize, we have the obligation and duty to show a HUGE increase of LOVE to our child.
    • This does not mean:
      • to spoil them afterwards as this would send the wrong message that to do something bad brings really great presents or gifts
      • to say you’re sorry for punishing them – that’s making their problem yours, and that sets you up for a lifetime of heartbreak
    •  It does mean:
      • to completely forgive them for their wrong doing
      • to let it go and not bring it up
      • LOVE THEM COMPLETELY
      • Pray for them continually, particularly if their choices lead them into terrible paths
      • NEVER, EVER give up on them. People can change HOWEVER do not PUT yourself or others in harms way.  You can love from afar if necessary, and again ask God what is right in your situation.

 

Allowing our children, from toddler through adulthood, to grow, stretch and accept responsibility; without our meddling or protecting, will create a bond of respect and love that will flow like the river.  Just as the river brings the life giving water to the roots of the plants along its banks so they can flourish.  The plants then spread seeds for more flowers, trees and beautiful foliage to grow for miles and miles around. That is what you are setting the groundwork for, as you lay down the shadow of responsibility of consequences and love.

Copy­right Car­rie Grone­man,  A Mother’s Shadow, 2015

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today




Money freedom

Teaching the Value of Money, Part 4

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Money freedom

Money freedom

Do you know HOW to TEACH your older teen and adult children how to be fiscally responsible?

Do YOU know how to budget?            What OTHER factors play into being self-sufficient?

Total freedom, or making determined strides, away from debt and towards independence is the greatest liberating joy!    

I have some information that can help you and your family in this article to give everyone peace of mind and self-reliance!

Broken marriages and unhappy families are more often than not suffering from severe debt.  There are catastrophic circumstances, out of ones control, that do happen and cause financial strife.  However, most of the time, it is due to wanting something now, instead of later.  The pay-as-you-go theory is almost unheard of today and has been replaced with, “You deserve it now”. Example speaks louder than any words.  If you do not know how to handle money wisely, how can you effectively teach your children, of all ages, this most important life skill.

First Step:  Get your finances in order (help is coming if you need it, keep reading)

Second Step:   Demonstrate, enroll/provide the means for your older teens and adult children to master this aspect.  If your child is graduated from high school, or about that age, they must be expected to handle money responsibly and not live completely off mom and dad if mentally and physically able.  

Third Step:  Ensure your child understands how to keep a checking account/card account and to keep it balanced to avoid overage charges and credit problems.  This is a crucial skill to have!!!

Forth Step:  Have clear expectations that your children understand concerning the rules are for them after they graduate high school.  For us, it has been:  as long as they are working part-time to full-time and going to school full-time, paying their own insurance, schooling costs, books and other expenses, they can live at home, have meals, utilities paid for, etc..  They still must chip in to help with chores, pay for the gas in any of our vehicles they borrow and costs they incur.  If they had scholarships, all the better for them, as they are able to save more money by putting away what they earn at a job. If they were to go away for school we would help with food and expenses comparable.   The one thing we will not pay for are the classes.  The reason being, is if they fail, or do poorly in a class, they do not have the ownership or as much invested.  At 18 they are adults now, and can take full responsibility for how well they do in a class, or if poorly/failed, they can pay to retake it and it does not cause friction or discord in our home, as ‘that is their problem to deal with’.  Money talks when it hurts = they give more attention to studies to avoid extra expenses.


  • How to start or teach how to budget?  I agree whole-hardheartedly in what Dave Ramsey teaches as it is basic enough to understand, it is doable for all people, and is just plain commonsense smart.

He lists the following

Step 1:  Start an emergency plan of $1,000.  Why is this important?  It will cover an unexpected job change or layoff for a time to give you time to find another job.  A car repair comes up. Any real emergency that comes along; and this does not mean a trip to the mall for a shopping trip. Step 2: Snowball your debt and pay it off. 

Step 2: Dave recommends listing all your debts, with the smallest first, and paying them down by putting any extra you can manage into the smallest debt first.  When that is paid off, roll all that payment into the next smallest.  When that is paid off, roll the amount you were putting onto the first and second debts, now combining with the amount you were making payments toward the third to pay it off and so on.

Step 3: When the debts are paid down, or off, save up 6 months of living expenses to carry you through a job loss or unplanned monetary circumstances.

Steps 4 & 5: Invest money and save for children’s college fund.

Step 6: Pay off house early

Step 7: Build wealth and help others  For more in-depth information and a wealthy of resources, visit Dave Ramsey’s site at   http://www.daveramsey.com/home/  


A few items I would like to address –

  • Have sufficient  health insurance, renter or home insurance and life insurance for those who depend on you.
This includes health insurance, renter’s insurance, disability insurance, and even life insurance if you have people who depend on you. Don’t take this lightly, you are at a pivotal moment in your life and the decisions you make today will have a direct effect on you tomorrow. – See more at: http://madamenoire.com/108699/7-ways-to-become-a-financially-responsible-young-adult/3/#sthash.nofAxhEv.dpuf
  •  Build up a food storage. Why?
  1. You never know if, or when, there will be a natural catastrophe or disaster in your area and you may not be able to get to a store.
  2. If your employer has to cut back your hours, you will have food for your family/yourself
  3. If a job loss, or major bills such as medical happen, you will have food
  • What is food storage?
  1. Have a storage of water to last you several days (part of this can be your water heater) if there were a disruption in your water supply
  2. Start SMALL and build to a week of food that you normally eat on hand that is NOT part of your menu plans to use. 
  3. After you are able to have a weeks worth of menu items, such as cereal, meat, canned goods, and such, then work for 2 weeks.
  4. Eventually you will want to have 3 months worth of food on hand.
  5. Now start to get a few items such as boxed milk and things that can last without refrigeration
  6. Work on 6 months of storage now of food items
  7. A cooking source that can be used if the power was out.  Such as a mini-gas grill to cook on.
  8. Extra blankets if you live in a cold climate.

What if you happen to have an adult child, who is able bodied, but still ‘living off’ of you? 


Here are a few ideas:

1st – If you haven’t taught them, or given them the tools to be independent, NOW is the time.  Not tomorrow, but start TODAY.  Do not let them guilt you into taking care of them any longer; whether it be from a broken home, not teaching them, it’s too hard, you owe them, etc., etc., etc.,  None of that matters.  Helping them become responsible, independent and worth their ‘salt’ is your utmost concern and obligation at this point.

2nd – Give a time frame, of say 2 months, to move out and be independent.  Stick to IT!  Do NOT give in.  If you do, it is NOT doing them a favor, but enabling and creating an entitled and dependent person and generation.  That’s truly a disservice to your child, your family and society.

3rd – Enroll them in a Dave Ramsey program, or buy them the book so they can understand how to manage money.  Get someone else to walk them through the steps if you are not able to.

4th – Not employed?  There are almost always jobs available, though maybe not up to their expectation.  However, menial labor leads one to want to gain an education/training to expand their horizons, and that is not a bad thing.

5th – The comforts of home may not be available when they move out, but that is what will help provide the motivation to do more, be more and move forward in life.


6th – This WILL BE HARD!  I can guarantee it.   However, I can also promise you, that if you do not take the difficult stance, they will resent you.  Why?           

-a.  Because not forcing an adult child to stand on their own actually tells them that you do not trust them to be independent.

-b.  You do not care enough to force them to grow and mature. Think about it.  We learn from our trials and hardships.  Without learning and growing opportunities, how able to flourish and develop their ability to go beyond the substandard you are expecting.        

-c.  You feel the need to have them depend on you for whatever reason; such as control or the feeling that you are needed – when this really is the opposite motive.  You actually have a greater influence for good and will gain more respect and admiration from your child(ren) when you help/force them to stand on their own and to be independent. 

7th – Be STRONG.  Pray for strength and DO what is RIGHT for your adult child.  Do NOT give in when it is for their own good.  You CAN do this, I believe in YOU and your family!

All of these suggestions addressed, will allow a person who is free to accomplish all that they are here to do, have the ability to help others, and feel great joy in their independence and freedom from bondage. 

This includes health insurance, renter’s insurance, disability insurance, and even life insurance if you have people who depend on you. Don’t take this lightly, you are at a pivotal moment in your life and the decisions you make today will have a direct effect on you tomorrow. –

See more at: http://madamenoire.com/108699/7-ways-to-become-a-financially-responsible-young-adult/3/#sthash.nofAxhEv.dpuf

Part 1 Click HERE for Teaching the Value of Money

Part 2 Click HERE for Teaching the Value of Money

Part 3 Click HERE for Teaching the Value of Money,

Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2014

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today.




money in trap

Teaching the Value of Money, part 2

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money in trap

Teaching the Value of Money, part 2

It’s NOT FREE you keep telling them.

Is your fear that your child will be an adult and live with you always because he, or she, doesn’t know how to handle their money, or earn it?

Do you wonder how to teach your child or teen how to deal with money so they won’t live with you fffooorrr-eevvveeerrrr?

I have some ideas, helps and tips that will help you in my series, that teach children how to manage money so they can learn at an early age how to stick to a budget and be responsible. 

Click through and you’ll find some great resources and ways to make your life now, and later BETTER for you and your child.

Teaching the value of Money, Part 2

Let’s start with teaching kids about money.

Children learn to brush their teeth, to dress themselves, to put on their shoes, and money should be as natural and as necessary as these daily significant tasks.

Example speaks louder than any teaching, game or technique ever can. Demonstrate, do not simply explain, good money skills.

Here are a few ways you can help kids understand the value of and how money works:

  • When they go to the store with you, have them look at the cost of an item, then other same products to compare; such as grape jelly, a name brand versus a store brand.
  • If you coupon, have them help you cut out the coupons and talk a bit about how much it will save your budget to use them.
  • Show how to look for a sale versus a sale. When I was a newlywed I went grocery shopping and was so excited I found a ‘sale’ on ice cream and bought a few containers. When I showed my husband my ‘find’ he asked the price. I told him and he laughed, then explained that was the regular price, they had simply put up a ‘sale’ sign. I learned to be conscious of looking for the regular price versus a sale price after that.

Games involving money are effective to teach the concept of paying for items. I found a wonderful website, “Fun Brain Jr” and they have generously given permission to link to their game, “Money Changer”. I believe understanding the face value of each coin and knowing how to make change is becoming a lost skill unfortunately. I really like this on-line game because you can chose the level from easy to super brain as well as from five different countries currency. Click HERE to link to their site.  (A Special thank you to Family Education Network for permission to link to their Money Game)



Have a family meeting to discuss the family’s finances. Personally, I did not give exact amounts of how much we earned or other personal money matters. Keep in mind that kids repeat almost everything they hear; not realizing some things should stay private. However, we did go into generalities.

I had play money (just enough to cover budget items to make my point) and a list of our expenses such as: power bill, house payment (again, you can give a bogus number for a concept, depending on how many you want to know your exact house payment. Some people care and some do not, just do what is right for you), food, charitable donations, savings, etc. Then let the kids with the amount of play money you dole out, ‘pay the bills’. It helped a bit when trying to get them to take less time in the shower, to save on the laundry by putting clean clothing in their drawers instead of back in the hamper because they were too lazy to put them away, not to waste food and other ‘parent naggy’ concerns when you can remind them about the cost and where the money has to be divided.

Do NOT, I repeat, do NOT give in to nagging for a treat, or whatever they want, if it is not in your budget AND consequently will be expected every time you go to a store. It sets a terrible precedent of knowing they can get anything and everything they want if they holler, whine and beg enough.

            I have a funny story about not giving in no matter what. At the time, my oldest was almost six years old, and my second was almost four, the third was almost two and number four was very close to delivery. My mom called   and strongly urged me to teach the kids about ‘Stranger Danger’. Mom had heard that if a child is being taken, and he was just screaming, most people would ignore it. However, if a child yelled, “Help, this isn’t my mommy, or daddy,” they would be rescued. So we had the lesson and each of my kids practiced so I could report to my mom that my children would most likely be safe.


           As many of you know, taking three kids shopping is quite a chore. I asked the oldest to watch the two year old in the shopping cart. I picked up a block of cheese and handed it to one of the kids to put in the cart; which was promptly handed it to the two year old for safe keeping. A moment later I looked up just in time to see the two year old biting through the wrapper sinking her teeth deep into the cheese. Argh!

          Meanwhile, as my attention was focused on the cheese, my four year old had wandered off a short distance to the candy isle. He grabbed a piece of candy and said he wanted it. I patiently told him ‘no’ and instructed him to put the candy back, and that it was not in the budget to buy he, and his siblings a treat that day. He bit into the candy in defiance knowing that I would have to buy it. Frustrated, and a little angry, I snatched the two year old out of the shopping cart, and tersely told the six year old to hold the two year olds hand and to follow me.

        I warned the four year old he had better not get into any more candy and to hand it over. He proceeded however to pick up another piece and started to run. Luckily I was close enough I could catch him by his clothing.

       I hoisted my young son over my large protruding belly and told him he was in trouble. To this warning he started to holler as loudly as he could, “Help me, help me, this isn’t my mommy!”

       I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, or strangle my kid. Fortunately it was a small store close to home and many of the employees knew my kids and me. I started for the exit with the six year old dragging the two year old who was still working on the cheese, passing a store employee, I said, with a tense tone, but with a ‘I’m a good mom’ forced smile while wrestling my four year old, “Please take the candy and cheese, I will be back to pay for them.”
It was embarrassing, but it reinforced to my son that no is NO. The other kids learned also.

Idea:  When my sisters and I were young we would ask our mother for a treat or a splurge item. Mom would open her wallet and we could see that it was empty. Mom later told me that she had a secret compartment in her purse that held her money for groceries and other bills. This is still a great method to consider.


Allowance vs extra – how to have experience
There is a huge division usually in parents who want to pay allowance versus those who do not. It is a very individual consideration.

Our kids had daily chores such as taking out the garbage, helping with dishes, cleaning their bedroom, etc. The small allowance was not tied to their expected daily chores. (Assigning chores teach a responsibility as a member of the family)

We decided to pay allowance, but it was a very, very small amount. The reason why we chose to do this, is because we felt our children needed their own money, that was completely theirs to learn to manage.

Now, the money was not just a free-for-all, there were rules=thus the allowance was a teaching tool. Here are the categories the kids had to allocate money to:

  • Charitable donation – 10%
  • Savings – 10%
  • Gifts – 10% (I grew weary of siblings birthdays, Christmas, etc., and the kids needing money from me so they could give, but it was taking even more from my budget)
  • School/college – 10% (hoped to teach setting aside for later needs)
  • 60% was theirs to do as they wished: movie, treats, hobbies, fun, etc.

To give Extra Money or NOT
There was always a ‘crisis’ financially for my kids it seemed, so I set up a list. I listed extra chores that I wanted, or needed, done but did not fit into their daily chores and helped keep up the house between spring and fall deep cleanings.
Now this list served TWO purposes.


1- If a child/teen wanted extra money they could choose from the list which had a very small monetary value associated with the job. For example the list might include:

  • Clean out game closet
  • Clean baseboards
  • Clean toy side of garage, etc.

Again, the value was small. It is a huge disservice to pay a child/teen who lives in your home a large amount of money for menial labor. It sets them up to expect large pay for anything they do, which is not reality and leads to the expectation that little effort is rewarded with big money. Likewise, it’s important to be fair in compensating kids for the extra work they do.

2- A secondary purpose of the list served to give consequences for broken family rules. I would choose from the list what was to be done and no pay was given.

Side note:  When a child deserved punishment, instead of grounding them to their room, they had to work off the chores I chose, that were equal to the wrong doing committed by the child. 

  • The purpose in this was that when grounded to their room, the child could sit or wait out the time, but it did not benefit me or the family, though the offense put others out. 
  • We wanted to make sure our kids understood full well that their actions affected others and they should feel some discomfort for their choice.
  • Working it off does give a new meaning and pause of thought before doing it again.
  • It is vital children (of all ages) learn that they can make choices, but they cannot choose the consequences; that’s life and reality.




Birthday Parties

Birthdays are a perfect time to help kids/teens learn to manage and allocate money. Before the event I would sit down with the bday person give the modest budget they had to work with.  I would let them have free access to things I had on hand as long as they asked. Things such as cake mix, frosting, paper products, card stock, and things if they wanted to make decorations or invitation to save money, and so forth. The kids could decide what they wanted to do from there. For example if they wanted a swimming party, they had to figure out how many they could invite based on the entrance fee, party favors and a thank you for coming to the party. In my book a tiny thank you to show gratitude for the effort expended to attend the party is a must-do.

Sometimes the girls wanted to make crafts, decorate pillowcases or things of that sort; the budget would need to be taken into consideration to cover those items.

Planning birthday parties in this way help kids learn the following:
1- The sky is NOT the limit.

2- ALL things have a cost

3- How to manage and make adjustments for what they really wanted, such as which craft, which activity, and how many kids to invite.

4- The value of a budget

5- They have ownership in their decisions on carrying out the party (Parents help ONLY as needed)

6- Unless the police are called to the party (kidding- well sort of), just focus on the successes and the good parts of the party. The next year, if needed bring out any lesson learned, but only if the same scenario could happen again. Otherwise forget it. In the long run, remember you are building a confident, independent, responsible person.

TIP: Make this about the kid and his choices. It is not about the parent. This is a picture-perfect occasion to help the child learn about money, realize how much things cost and that they are  NOT always going to get everything they want. This lesson is a way to teach a critical life skill that is worth more than the grandest birthday bash.


School Clothing

When our kids reached sixth grade, we sat down with each and they were given a very modest budget to spend on clothing for the new school year.

We made a list together of needs, such as underclothing, socks, a decent pair of shoes, pants, shirts, etc.
Then we made a list of wants, such as extra jewelry and purses for the girls, things like that.

I did discuss with them how to look for quality made clothing versus cheaply made items and that it is better in the long run to buy quality.

With the list, we looked at the ads (internet makes it all so much easier to find bargains now) and the kids priced out what they wanted versus what they needed. Then off to the store to shop.

Now some of my kids wanted to be fashionable but they didn’t mind looking at garage sales and thrift stores for their clothes. This stretched their budget allowing them buy even more of the things they wanted. However, one of my boys, when he was in junior high, really wanted a pair of name brand jeans. They were so expensive that it would have taken almost his entire budget. We discussed this issue. He went ahead and bought the jeans and a couple of t-shirts and some socks. That was all he was able to get with his money. He did do extra work off the chore list, but his school wardrobe was very small, and, mind you, my kids did not have a lot of clothing anyway.

This was a difficult for me. I worried that the teachers would think my kid was homeless as he wore his new pants and one other pair that he had yet to outgrow, rotating to clean them. It was hard as a parent not to buy him pants just so I looked good. However, I kept asking myself; ‘what will he learn?’  I kept reminding myself that the teachers would not remember in a year, if they even cared.

By Christmas, I didn’t even give him a choice of gifts; he received clothes and one or two inexpensive things he asked for. We talked about his decision made months ago and how he now forfeited a more expensive item he wanted,  for lesser ones because he was getting clothes instead, which was the decision of the giver; also a prime teaching experience.



Responsibility

  • If your child breaks something on purpose, they should be expected to pay for it by working it off, or from their allowance. 
  • If a child breaks or destroys something on accident, it is still a teaching opportunity of responsibility.  For example:  your son is playing baseball in the yard, and accidentally hits a ball which breaks a neighbors window.  Compensation must still be made.  The child will have greater respect for you, and himself, if he is taught that amends must be made, even if it is not intended.
  • If you find your child has taken something that is not theirs (of course a 3 or 4 year old will not usually understand this concept) they must be expected to apologize to the person, store owner, etc. and to make arrangements to compensate for the item.  Keep it age appropriate.

I hope these ideas give you some food for thought. It is vital our children learn that their money choices impact all other areas of their life, and teaching them proper principles when they are young is the best way.

By being determined to do the right thing, the hard thing, in regards to teaching our children how to handle money, they will have the tools and resources to achieve their goals and dreams; as well as being productive, industrious, happy people who are willing and able to make a better life for themselves and others around them.

Click HERE for Teaching the Value of Money, Part 1

Click HERE for Teaching the Value of Money, Part 3

Click HERE for Teaching the Value of Money, Part 4

Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2014

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today.




To Help OR Hurt

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  I have a story of my son who loved to swing on the monkey bars and an analogy of our decisions to promote and encourage change for the better.


ARE WE HELPING OR HURTING? Years ago when all five of my children were under 9 years old, Stan was traveling heavily and only home a few days every couple of weeks. It was summer, hot and we had been cooped up too long. I packed up the kids and we headed for a local park they liked to play at. I held the baby and watched the kids play.

My son Devin’s favorite thing to do was to cross the monkey bars. He swung easily from bar to bar, almost flying as a 6 year old can. As he came to a bar towards the center, he grabbed hold, and apparently the weld had broken, permitting the bar to twist. Devin fell to the ground when the faulty bar gave way. Upon hitting the ground he bit clean through the skin between his lower lip and his jaw, as it was sandwiched between his upper and lower teeth leaving a wide, open gash. Providently the park was next to the school my mother-in-law Meredith worked at, so we all hurried there. She kept the baby and I took the other 4 kids to the hospital emergency room.

The receptionist checked us in, then a nurse escorted our little group to a small room to wait for the doctor. When the doctor came in and assessed the situation, he asked me to hold Devin on my lap while he numbed the area so he could stitch it up the gap. Like any parent, I dread those times when there is no way to help our children avoid inevitable pain. As the doctor numbed the area Devin would try to talk, to which the doctor would remind him to hold still so he could make nice stitches with as little scaring as possible. Devin mumbled, “My hands, my hands”. I looked at the doctor and him at me. Possibly Devin had a concussion? Repeatedly he continued to say, “My hands, my hands”. When the doctor was finished I asked Devin if he was ok and could I put him down off my lap.

The other 3 kids were getting restless; opening the drawers and getting into other things in the little room. He said yes, and as I put him down I realized I had been squeezing his little hands so tightly as I held him, that they were completely white! In my nervousness over the situation I had inadvertently forced all the blood from his hands! That is why he kept saying, “My hands, my hands”.  

Maybe we can learn a bit through this experience when difficult situations and decisions come along:

  • Am I stifling and squeezing too tight?
  • Am I allowing for change to happen, even if it will hurt?
  • Am I making the situation worse by getting involved/too concerned?
  • Am I overstepping my bounds?
  • Am I allowing consequences to happen that will be a benefit though difficult now?
  • Am I doing the ‘hard thing’ though it is the ‘right thing’?
  • Do I love enough to step aside and permit pain and discomfort, though it will allow monumental positive changes in the near, or far, future?

 As we deal with family and close friends, our actions, decisions and involvement can help – or hinder, growth, change and progress towards a healthy emotional life of joy and happiness. Sometimes it takes a bit of pain to repair, or alter, a legacy to make it one to emulate and follow.  However difficult,  we each have the power, and the responsibility to bring good to the lives of those around us.

Copyright Carrie Groneman,  A Mother’s Shadow, 2014

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today.




Is The Ballast Balanced?

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How centered is the ballast in your family?

 Did you know that boats of all kinds must have ballast?  The ballast can be anything from the weight of the crew, to a keel that is made of iron, lead or concrete which sits low in the water. Why is a ballast so necessary you may wonder?  Because a ballast provides the balance for the boat in the water and improves stability and control.  If there is not enough ballast, the boat will tip or even capsize in excessively high winds.  Another definition of ballast is (Merriam Webster.com):   something that gives stability (as in character or conduct) When I was a young mom, I admit I was periodically tossed about by the winds of others opinions and what they felt was the most important elements for my children.  I often wondered what was truly important of all the options and extra-circular activities available to help them have all the advantages and opportunities I could give them. Now, years later, may I share with you what I feel will give children a secure ballast to withstand the winds of life.

  • Religion – children must be taught values, morals, ethics and God’s commandments.  As a family practice your faith together.
  • Strong work ethic – children (of all ages) need to feel, notice the word ‘feel’ (experience if you’d prefer) the consequences and rewards for earning money and how to allocate it.
  • Children need to learn skills that will allow them to hold a job when they are an adult.  It starts with such simple tasks as taking out the garbage and making sure they follow through.  As a child gets older, the chores increase in difficulty and responsibility.
  • NO excuses for not earning their own money, particularly when they reach the teenage years.  They can mow lawns, babysit, clean, any number of odd tasks to teach the life skill of doing a job well and finishing a task.
  • Helping your child learn the benefits of work will give confidence and a self assurance into their adulthood, and through their life.
  • Responsibility –
  • Allow your child to take responsibility for them self with money and other choices.  It is much better to learn hard lessons when the stakes are not high as later when they have their own family.
  • Give them choices, within limits, according to their age.  An example for a child would be:  which of these two shirts would you like to wear.  As a teenager, the choice could be which place they will work at to provide for the extra’s they want.
  • Service – create opportunities as a family, and for each child/teen individually to serve without any expectation of reward or recognition.  And to learn to serve without ulterior motives, meaning they will not  ‘get something’  for doing something for another person.
  • Teach gratitude for what others have done.  Be involved in family and expect your children to as long as they are at home.  When on their own, encourage participation in family outings, traditions and events.
  • Culture
  • Music:  My parents married young which meant I grew up listening to their music.  My kids consequently grew up with Tom Jones, Dean Martin, the Beatles as well as music from my high school years.  We also listened to classical music and many wonderful composers.  Expose your family to good music of all genres.  It seems that our teen years are the most impressionable and music is a central focus for most between the ages of 10 and 17 or so.  Do your best to monitor vulgar, inappropriate lyrics and music.  It will, without question, influence your family and the atmosphere of your home, even if you are not listening to it as a parent.
  • Movies:  Old movies, musicals and great entertainment were the norm at our home.  Sunday evenings we watched good shows together with treats and now share many wonderful memories of those times together.  Some moaned at the time, but bring it up with fondness now.
  • Books:  Many nights we sat together and I would read aloud from all types of good books, depending on the age of the kids, from ‘The Box Car Children’ to ‘Little House on the Prairie’ , “Hatchet’, Aesop’s Fables, the list goes on with too many books to name.
  • Make the time, a place and provide a quiet atmosphere (as much as possible with a house of kids!) for school work to be completed.
  • Physical – get out and walk together, play ball, involve the kids in sports or physical activities using care that it does not usurp family time and important obligations.

Just as a boat must have a ballast to help it have stability in the water, our children must have a ballast to withstand the winds of trial and difficulties that come with life.  As a parent, one of the greatest gifts we can give is balance and ballast; ‘skill’s, that are lasting and will serve them well all through their life. Parenting is not easy, nor does it always work out the way we anticipate, but the rewards of raising resilient, confident, responsible and hard working men and women are worth all the effort. Keep up the great work, and know how much you are appreciated.  

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today!