Posts Tagged ‘mommy’


You Are More Than What They See

OK…I will get straight to the point.  Parenting is only a “role”, NOT who YOU are.  Do not lose yourself trying to help someone else discover who they are, even if they are your children.  This is easier said than done.  We are only 3 sentences in and you have already quoted or remembered advise that someone told you before your first one was born.  “Make time for yourself!”  But in reality, with all of the demands (task) that others place on our schedule, we feel an overwhelming burden to make sure that everyone else’s needs are taken care of that we forget that we have needs, wants, and desires of our own.

Parenting is only a Role

The above image (courtesy of www.rebirthofreason.com) is a great depiction of our lives.  It is easy to become consumed with the many tasks associated with the various roles that we lose who we are. Parenting is no different.

Before becoming a husband or wife, a mother or father, a professional or tradesman, I was (Insert your name here).  You never ceased being (Insert your name here) when you took on these roles.  These roles simply meant that you have new responsibilities and tasks associated with who you are, but they should not redefine who you are.

The Danger in the Chaos

You can not delegate the responsibilities of being (Insert your name here) to anyone else.  Therefore, if you do not make the time to remember, discover, and cultivate (Insert your name here), you may wake up tomorrow, or even worse…years from now, wondering where all of the time has gone.  You may even resent the roles, task, responsibilities and the people associated with each because you now realize that it was all for them and not you.

The Battle Within

Selfish, huh? NOPE!  Maybe from their perspective, but not when you have neglected other God-given assignments, passions, dreams that have been lying dormant inside of you because of your focus on all of the other “stuff!”

When kids move out, some parents realize they have lost their sense of self and for others their marriages fall apart because a disproportionate amount of time, talent, and treasure was spent on one role (name your role/task here) than on others (husband/wife or name your role/task here).

Parenting is a role that lasts a lifetime, but should be redefined as your children reach various milestones.  I believe some parents enable their kids, self consciously or purposely, so that they do not leave the home at 18.  This allows them to continue being a parent and not face the reality of it only being a role.

Digging for Treasure (Discover & Cultivate You)

There is a treasure, a passion, a calling that was hidden inside of you at conception (2 Corinthians 4:6-7 KJV).  When we were kids, our self conscience allowed us to live in that place for hours at a time, imagining (visioning) what life would be like when we were older. To cultivate something is to prepare and develop it for a greater use.  We must put down all of the tasks, even the ones that we feel are most important and even define who we are, to discover and cultivate our true sense of self.

When you know who you are, I would venture to say that you will preform your tasks at an even higher level of excellence, because they will be wrapped in the true essence of who you are.

So…Tell Me About (Insert your name here)

I just love that interview question, “Tell me about yourself.” Even when meeting someone for the first time, we define ourselves by the “role(s)” we value most. “Hi…I’m a Doctor, a Lawyer, Stay-at-home Mom/Dad.”

Why don’t we say “Hi, I’m a Christian, an optimistic, adventurous, generous, caring creative, resilient, hard worker, etc. These descriptions actually give a glimpse into who you are and how you handle the various roles, task, and responsibilities assigned to you.

Start TODAY!!!

Below are a few steps that you can take TODAY to discover and cultivate the true YOU!

  1. Find Quiet Time. Find at least 30mins a day, when you do nothing but sit in silence.  I know..30mins seems too good to be true.  Start with 5 mins, then work your way up.  I hear you, I need more time! MAKE THE TIME!  Delegate some of those other tasks and responsibilities. This is important to your mental and physical health and well-being. Remember, quiet time.  Not reading a book or browsing social media.  Complete silence.
  2. Find Your Frequency: Drown out the noise, so that you can hear what is going on inside of you.  Your brain will be used to being overstimulated, thinking about what you should be and could be doing.  Relax!  Give it time.  This is kinda like a finding the frequency to your favorite radio station.  It is always on air, but it is up to you to “tune in” to the proper frequency to hear what is being said.  Give it time.
  3. Write YOUR Vision: But Not Yet!  You must take the time to retrain your mind on how to drown out the noise so that you can hear clearly.  After a couple weeks, your true self will continue to speak.  Do not worry about forgetting what you thought about.  If it is really who you are and not just another good idea for someone else’s benefit, it will come to your again.  Listen for patterns and themes of thought.
  4. Cultivate: After you have written down who you are, begin to take the steps required to prepare and develop YOU!  This is a journey, not a destination.  When you are tuned in, you will continuously discover ways to become the YOU you were born to be.

TheOriginalMentor

 


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I did a Facebook poll a couple weeks ago where I asked my “Friends”, “Mom vs. Dad: Who has the hardest role?”  Instantly, they began to answer Mom…Mom, MOM (no question), Mom!  I even challenged them to really think about it before answering, but it did not appear that anyone had to ponder long.  After a couple post, a few people responded Dad, then the answer that I was looking for sprinkled into the conversation. BOTH!

I was raised in a single parent home, by my mom.  I did not meet my father until I was about 4 years old (he was in prison).  I watched first hand the struggles my mother endured to ensure that all of my needs and wants were met.  Without thinking, I could easily determine that a mothers role is much more difficult than fathers, but then I became one.

I understand that perspective has everything to do with how a person answers this question, which is why I wanted to challenge everyone to reconsider who has the more difficult task of raising a child.  The gravity of the responsibility, I believe, is one of the reasons why some fathers run instead of embracing it.  If more men embraced their role, we would not experience the many societal ills that plague our communities.

According to the Father’s Manifesto, statistics show that:

  • 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes
  • 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes
  • 80% of rapists motivated with displaced anger come from fatherless homes
  • 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes
  • 85% of youth in prisons grew up in fatherless homes
  • 75% of all adolescent patients in drug treatment centers come from fatherless homes

Children from fatherless homes are:

  • 5 Times more likely to commit suicide
  • 32 times more likely to run away
  • 20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders
  • 14 times more likely to commit rape
  • 9 times more likely to drop out of school
  • 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substance
  • 9 times more likely to end up in a state-operated institution
  • 20 times more likely to end up in prison

My goal is not to paint a doom and gloom picture.  Scores of single moms do an amazing job raising their children.  My mom did.  I am fortunate to say that I am not ANY of the statistics above.  However, considering the statistics should give you some indication of how important the role of a father is, because, without it, the wheels seem to fall off.

To know the purpose of a thing you have to go back to when it was originally created.  We can not judge who’s role is hardest based on our perception of that role.  Societies subjective view of fathers has caused us to demonize, forget and even minimize the relevance that fathers have.

And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction. – Malachi 4:6

A father’s role is to Guide, Guard, and Govern the family:

Guide

When you are lost, a compass can be instrumental in helping you navigate to your destination.  A GPS is helpful, but only when you know where you are going.  A father’s role is to, first, help their children determine where they are so that they can have an understanding of which direction they are trying to go.  Not just physically, but instilling a moral compass provides a foundation which helps the child(ren) make good decisions when their parents are not around.  (Read Deuteronomy 6:4-9)

Guard

Generally speaking, God made men physically larger and stronger than women.  Instinctively, men embrace the role to protect and guard their family.  However, threats come from many directions. Men buy guns and home security systems to protect their homes, but many of the things that we should guard against were walked in by our kids.  Whatever influences our children’s thoughts determines who they become, which impacts their behavior.  Men, we must be gatekeepers and watchmen of our homes to prevent anything from invading the minds of anyone within our household.  The music they listen to, the TV shows they watch, the websites and social media sites they surf, the video games they play, should not have a greater influence than our words and the behaviors we model. Being on guard against the unseen may be more important than guarding against who is trying to sneak up behind you…at least you can see and hear them coming.  (Read Ephesians 6:12)

Govern

Learning to respect authority begins at home.  Although, as of late, I do not agree with the actions of law enforcement, I will continue to teach my son to adhere to the laws and even demands of a police officer.  Properly disciplining him and reinforcing what his mother says teaches him to love, honor, and respect women, not only his mother.  Without these lessons at home, children develop a trigger that causes them to challenge authority, not because the authority is wrong, but because it is not what they want to do at that moment.  Fathers should not abuse the authority given to them, instead of governing their household in a way that everyone develops a healthy respect for all authority.  (Read Ephesians 6:4)

I invite you to think and evaluate parenting outside of our circumstances and consider the true role of a mother and father.  When each role is fulfilled as intended, I think that it is difficult or even impossible to say that one is harder than the other.  Both are needed and required to help children maximize their potential and fully develop into who God intended them to be.

“Mothers teach children HOW to love, but Fathers teach them WHO to love.” – Pastor Smokie Norful

When the mother or the father is absent,  the child will either know how to love, but never find the right person or know who to love, but never realize the benefits, because they do not know how.

For The Single Mothers: Some of you may take exception to this blog.  In no way is this intended to minimize the exceptional role you have played as a single mom.  As I stated above, I am a product of one.  If you have been forced to parent alone, my heart goes out to you.  However, I would like you to objectively imagine how different your life would be if you had someone, a true partner like I described above. It is possible! Perhaps not with the one you chose to be the father of your children, but it is possible.  Click Here and read another blog that I wrote about that very topic.  My prayer is that it will liberate you and empower you to keep going.


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Remember when you first found out and you felt the weight of the world on your shoulders? Most of us, (well I will speak for me) I was not responsible enough in my on right, now, I am responsible for the existence and well being of someone else. A precious, gentle, little angel, a miracle, a bundle of joy (until you found out it was a boy, then he became a rugged, rough and tumble little boy). Sorry, I did not intend to sound sexist. I am dad…ok now I’m generalizing. Sorry…I will just move on. 🙂

I remember the feeling, the mountain of responsibility that I do not think anyone is really ready to take on. We may want it, but are we ever ready? There are plenty of classes and books like “What to Expect When Expecting” (which was a HUGE help to me), but none prepare you for “your child”, their personality, the subtle differences that make them and your household unique from any other. My wife and I have Child Development degrees from Michigan State, but all of that seems to go out of the window when you have a lil boy who is 14 months and still not walking. Even though we knew that all kids developed and matured at their own pace, we still wondered, “is something wrong with his legs, did we do something, how can I help him?”

Where am I going with this…ever second of their lives, from an infant to toddler, through adolescents and even tween years, we are inspecting, guiding, caring, in their ear, trying to teach them everything they need to know. Then one day in the hustle of life and through them plugging into other “influences” (iPods, TV, video games, friends, internet, etc.) we fall silent.

It is not always intentional. You start a new career, your own business or even a blog. You get your first iPad…I’m just saying things happen! :-). In years past, we were like stalkers (yes I said it, think about it) hovering over them with constant reminders of what they needed to do to stay safe from, “don’t touch that, hot!, don’t run with that in your hand, get down from there, your going to poke your eye out!, get that out of your mouth (or nose, ear, other).” The reality is this…the things that will hurt them in these later years can be far more dangerous, just less obvious.

We fall silent for days at a time thinking that we have time to tell them later. We had one or two conversations with them last week and now we feel like we have done our part, but those can not undo the influences piped into them hours, days, and months prior. We only talked to them because we see signs or real evidence of something we did not like.

My point…Silence Kills! The more they do not hear the words and voice of TRUTH, the weaker your influence becomes. Parents! You can not afford to be silent in your own house, because you will loose influence over your entire family. If you do not give your kids TRUTH, what will they use to guide them when you are not around. TRUTH provides a moral compass that guides them and helps them to make decisions when mommy and daddy are not there. TRUTH protects them from peer preassure. TRUTH gives them hope. TRUTH gives them healing. TRUTH empowers them to move forward in spite of the obstacles they face.

The question is…WHAT IS YOUR TRUTH?

If you do not formalize what is your TRUTH, society will do it for you. There are many realities, but only one TRUTH. Just because the world makes a thing legal, thus a reality, it does not make it TRUTH in my household.

Reality…you can stop at the corner store and buy cigarettes. TRUTH, they cause cancer and can kill you. We have had family members die from lung cancer. My son asked, “Daddy, why does G-Ma smoke if it can make her die?” My response, “Son, in our household, we do not smoke cigarettes. We will pray to God that she will stop.” #Truth

Reality…alcohol is a social outlet that is ok in moderation. TRUTH…many in my family have become addicted to alcohol, which caused them to injure others (physically and emotionally), damage property and not realize their full potential. My response, “Son, in our household, we do not drink alcohol (especially under the age of 21).” #Truth

Reality….in many states, it is legal for same sex couples to get married. TRUTH…I believe that marriage should be between a man and a women. Not something that we had ever talk about until last week. He was walking past the TV and saw/heard on the news that two men were getting married. “Dad, I thought only man and a women could get married. That’s nasty!” I rebuked him for calling the men nasty and talk to him about loving everyone, even if they are doing something that we do not believe. My repsponse, “Son, in our house, we believe marriage is between a man and a women.” #Truth

Do we hate any of the above for what they do? No! We love them for who they were made to be. Do we treat them badly for what they believe? No! We just pray for them. In the same way they want us to accept that what they do and believe is ok…in that same way they must accept what I believe is ok too.

I could go on and on about the many things that society has made acceptable, but if we do not establish what is TRUTH for us we are leaving our children to face a world of conflicting views and various complicated opinions that has the potential to hinder their destiny. I am not telling you to make them a robot, who is not able to think through and understand why they believe what they believe. I am saying that we must not be silent and leave their beliefs to chance while the world legislates and drip untruths into their minds. After a while, they will no longer want to even consider your TRUTH. Silence Kills. #period

As for me and my house, we will serve The Lord (Jesus Christ). The Bible is our TRUTH. The Bible is the TRUTH that I empower my son with to handle the things of this world. I help him understand the rules of the game. We are in this world, but not of it. We have to learn to function, but we do not have to conform. We have to love everyone, but we do not have to like what they do.

Therefore thus says the Lord : “If you return, I will restore you, and you shall stand before me. If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall be as my mouth. They shall turn to you, but you shall not turn to them. And I will make you to this people a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail over you, for I am with you to save you and deliver you, declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 15:19, 20 ESV)

Reality…your kids will get angry at you for what say and make them do. TRUTH…if you train up a child in the way that they should go, when they older, they will not depart from it. That does not mean that they will not have consequences for their actions. It does not mean that they will always do the right thing. It does not mean that while they are “getting old” that they will not explore other options. It means that in their mind and in their heart that will know the TRUTH.

Reality….society (maybe even you) will not like everything that I say in this blog. TRUTH…I must speak it.

SILENCE KILLS!


My son is 8. His grandparents (and other family members) have asked if he can spend the SUMMER with them? “ARE YOU CRAZY!?!?” At least that is what I thought, well I kinda say it too. There is no way I can go an entire summer without my LiL Homie (that’s what I can call him). I guess we should think of it as a complement, that someone would want to spend an entire summer with our son…and they asked us.

I asked someone the other day, at what age does a parent switch from dreading their child being gone for so long to asking “wanna take em for the summer?”

Well, we gave in, a little, and allowed him to go with Grandparents for 2 and a half weeks. He is in North Carolina spending much needed time with aunts, uncles, and cousins. But, we are only half way through and it feels like an eternity.

What is it that causes us, as parents, to press the “panic button” when our children are away for long periods of time? Fear that something might happen? Yep…but I have gotten passed that phase (with much prayer). But let’s fast forward about 10 years, to a time when it’s a bit longer than a summer vacation with family. A friend of mine said something the other day that made my stomach drop. He said, “You realize you only have another 10 years with him? After that, he will be moving on to college. Value and cherish the time now.” As I reflected, what made my stomach drop was the feeling of “not being needed” by him any more. Huuuhhhhh!!! (you know the sound you make when someone punches you in the gut?)

As a parent our goal should be to work ourselves out of a job. Parents have instincts to nurture, teach, and develop, but we still want to hold on forever. The Discovery Channel displays how animals and other species help their young discover their “kill or be killed” instinct…fly or fall to your death reality. There comes a time when a momma eagle will push her baby out of the nest and they better flap their wings before they hit the ground (or else).

There will come a time when we will have to trust what we have placed inside of them. A time when they can make decisions for themselves.

As parents, we can not hold on so tight (at 8 years old) and expect them, at 18, to be ready to make decisions and live apart from us if we never provide them with the opportunity to practice their decision making (while they are still within our reach to guide them when they made a mistake

They will make mistakes, that’s apart of the growth process. For some, success starts to feel like failure when their child begins to stand on their own two feet, realizing their independence, not needing us for every decision. We may mask it or not realize it, but empty nest syndrome is very real! We have to trust what we put inside them or start today preparing them for a life apart from us. The reality is, we will not be by their side all the time, but we should want them to use what we taught as a reference as they stand at the crossroads of life…having the moral compass to know right from wrong, good from bad, success from negative consequence, their decision not ours.

My wife and I now see it more as passing the torch. We want our son to be exposed to more than who we are so that he can discover who God has made him to be. It’s a big world out there and we can not possibly teach him all that he needs to know. We are imparting God’s word in him, so he will seek Gods voice as a guide instead of ours who could possible steer him wrong. We want him to realize who we were depending on to guide him in the first place. If you want to know the purpose of a thing, you must ask the one who created it. He is the only one that “knows the plans that He has for us, to prosper us and not to harm us, to give us a hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

When we take the focus off ourselves and focus on preparing them, our feeling of failure transforms into a feeling of joy as we realize that what we see them doing is flapping their wings right before they hit the ground. Now…we just have to let them fly.


Hardwork

As a mentor, it requires you to interact with the parents of the young people whose life you have been given charge to lead and direct. I would spend time talking to their parents to gain perspective and insight on the lessons and angles to take to be relevant, which is one of the only ways to make a connection. By default, a relationship formed between myself and some of the parents. They are entrusting me with their most precious gift, a life that God has blessed them to raise. Some days, I could see the defeat in their eyes. They hope that I would have “the” answer to why their teen was acting that way. “I give them everything! Why are they talking to me like that?” The pain was too much for some of them to take. Tears would often streamed down their faces and drip on the paper as they unfolded the report card so that I could take a look.

The vulnerability and feeling of inadequacy that can come when raising a child, especially a teen, can become unbearable. Even though I did not know many of them personally, in one conversation, exactly who they are and who they wanted their children to become would be crystal clear. They would articulate their optimisms and passion for their children to do much better than they had, but did not understand why the life of their child was starting to mirror their years as a teen. #disappointment

They would share some intimate details about who they were as a parent (or who they were not); things that they have tried, demands that was outlined, discipline that was laid down. The level of intimacy from the parent was not always intentional. I had another perspective that came from building a relationship with their child. Hearing the other side, I could sometimes put two and two together (but it did not always equal 4). Go figure.

Then…I had a LIGHT BULB MOMENT. It is amazing the things that you can find out when you hear the same story told from 2 people who do not realize that you will gain another point of view. Time and time again, parent after parent, mentee after mentee, year after year, I realized something that greatly impacts how I parent and even live life today. You may think that this is elementary and even a given, but what I figured out is that just like every other principle, it only works when applied.

I was watching a movie called Love & Basketball (great movie I might add) and there was a scene of the movie where the son was upset with his father for cheating on his mom. The son asks the father a question that pierced the depths of my soul, ”Why couldn’t you be the man that you have always try to make me?” (((Whoa!))) As I sat in silence…thinking that is a statement that I NEVER want to hear from my son or daughter. There is nothing that father could say to that? Really…how are you supposed to respond? I had to watch the movie again to see what happened after that, because I think I blacked out thinking about how powerful that statement was. I guess thinking back I realize just how early I have had a passion for parenting.

One day, years later…it happened again. I was talking to a group of youth and one of them asked me a question that solidified it for me. After one of my “talks” (I have been accused on blending in a life lesson into everything I do and say), a youth looked me straight into my eyes, almost with tears and asked, “you are holding me accountable for the things say and do, but who is holding my parents accountable? What I am supposed to do if you are telling me not to do something but my parents are doing it? I’m trying, but what am I supposed to do?” ((((Double Whoa!!!)))

I mean…WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THAT!!!!!!!! This is a moment when you just wish you could shrink as small as possible or just run. I can’t tell them not to listen to their parents, but wrong is wrong…Right?

Ok, here it is, parents! I warned you, it may seem like a given, but I realized that as parents:

The Greatest Lessons Are Not Always Taught, But Lived. The lessons that parents are trying to teach their child(ren) are not always the lesson that is being lived. Therefore, we must realize that kids are watching us far more than they are listening.

I love my mother and I think that she did a great job in raising me and helping me to become the person, man, parent that I am today. However, I thought she coined a phrase that I later found out was a statement that was a parents excuse to do whatever they wanted. “Do what a say, not as I do.” Hello!!! That does not work…well it might when I am standing in front of you, but me seeing you do it makes your words sound like the adults from Charlie Brown…Whomp, WhomP, wHoMP, wwwhoommmpp.

So, now I felt it burning inside, so I decided to do a little experiment. I asked my mother, what was the greatest lesson that you tried to teach me going up? Because I asked her out of the blue, I saw her contemplate it for a second, look up left then right. I saw that she wanted to ask me why I was asking the question, but figured there was not right or wrong way to answer the question. She then replied, “To never tell a lie.” That’s great. Every parent wants their child to be honest!

Well to her surprise, that was NOT the greatest lesson that I had actually learned from my mother. The greatest lesson that I had learned was the value and importance of an education. My mother became pregnant at 16. Therefore, she dropped out of high school to raise me. Years later, when I was almost in middle school, we were sitting at the dinner table and she said, “Baby, I am going back to finish school. How will I be able to tell you to graduate high school if I never did?” She then started taking night classes, in which I attended many of them with her. I was in “day care” as she attended class, but I remember eating the Kraft Mac N Cheese and Goldfish crackers while waiting (what seemed like forever) for her to come back to get me. I still recall taking a picture with my grandfather, with my mother in her cap and gown…she did it!

Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a match ladies and gentleman. Her words and deed aligned. She was “intentional” about teaching me a lesson. Being a parent is about communicating the lessons, but also living the lifestyle as well. I recall the day I walked in the door after school and she had an envelope in her hand from Michigan State University. She wanted me to open it. When I read, “Congratulations, we are pleased to announce that you have been accepted…” she hugged me so tightly. She was so proud and happy for me (tears are coming down my eyes right now). I remember thinking that it was no big deal. She had already taught me the value and importance of an education. It was something that was a given in my eyes. After high school comes college.

Later as I reflected, I cannot recall my mother EVER talking to me about college. However, I do recall talking to my guidance counselor about where I may go and she giving me the application to Michigan State and ensuring that I attended the early admissions seminar (I can see her face, but cannot recall her name…thank you). I said all of this to say, Parents, when you are intentional about the lessons and teach your child what they should know, 9 times out of 10, they will respond without you having to take any effort at all.

I continued to test my theory by asking my friends and some of my friend’s parent’s the same questions (separate from one another) and to date, no one has had an answer that has matched. As parents, the lessons that we think we are teaching our kids are not always the lessons that they are picking up on. Actually, some lessons may be ones that you do not want them to learn at all. Remember…the greatest lessons are not taught, but lived. “Do what I say, not as I do” is not an acceptable way of parenting in this day and age. We must be intentional and live the lifestyle that we want to model for our kids.