Posts Tagged ‘parenting’


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The reality is…You Picked ‘Em!  I am not playing the blame game, but responsibility has to be taken by all parties.  Often times we forget that we had a choice in the matter when we are far removed from that initial choice.  Yeah that’s right, You Picked ‘Em!  Months, years, (sometimes only days) and 2 or 3 kids later, we agonize over the consequences and hurt that we are now experiencing, even pointed to him or her as the source of that pain, while not accepting the fact that we recognized, but ignored all of the signs.  In most cases they were not even signs, it was blatant, audible, visual billboards that told us to Stop! Don’t Pass Go, or give them that $200, cause you will regret it.

Why do we press on in spite of???  We tell ourselves or are pressured by our peers saying, “I’m just having fun” or “You only live once” or “I’m still young” “Live a little” or “He’s so cute” or “Look at her body” without us really considering the consequences or thinking about how a single decision today can forever change our tomorrow.

I have counseled and coached young men and women that I mentor as well as my friends on this “relationship cycle” that I feel is the culprit responsible for the demise of stable family structure.  When it comes to relationships, people (young and old) are making short term decisions that have long term affects on the family structure that they truly want and dream of having. They are sleeping with people who they do not even like and in their hearts have no chance or true desire of ever living happily ever after with.

I am not perfect. It is only because of God’s grace and mercy that I did not experience some of the long term consequences for choices that I made.  Therefore, I feel obligated and a sense of responsibility to share what I was delivered and spared from (now back to our scheduled program).

Below I have listed what I believe are the proper phases to having a long and prosperous marriage.  THERE ARE EXCEPTIONS! However, I believe those exceptions only happened because the people in those relationships were wise and discipline enough to do two of the phases simultaneously.

I strongly believe that if these phases are not followed in succession, it increases the chances of a dysfunctional relationship and parents who are not positioned to model the type of parental partnership that enables the child(ren) to reach their maximum potential. Perhaps unintentionally, they then plant seeds of discord in their children, which causes that cycle of dysfunctional to continue.  Again….there are always exceptions (I am one).

Phase #1: The Friend Zone

The “F” word is quite scary to some people, but I think that it is THE reason why marriages succeeds or fails.  In my experience, when people have gotten a divorce and you ask them if they still love the other person, I believe the majority of the time you would hear a resounding YES.  However, to coexist with someone, for your entire life, I believe you must be their friend.

Being a friend means that you like someone, you enjoy being around them. A true friend is honest, a good listener, is respectful, encourages you to be and do your best, is caring, is forgiving, is trustworthy, is loyal, is patient, is supportive, is fun…I can go on.

I know some of you believe in love at first sight and have actually experienced it (I think it is more like Lust at first sight)  However, if you progress to the next step without exploring and finding out if that person knows what a friend is and is capable of being one to you, it threatens the longevity of your relationship.  Remember, it takes time and situations to discover if a person truly has a quality.  You will not know simply by them saying it.

Homework:

  1. List the qualities that you deem most important for a friend to have.
  2. Highlight the qualities that are non-negotiable and do not compromise on those (you will have to compromise somewhere, but not on those).
  3. Set boundaries to ensure that the friend does not begin to get the benefits of phase 2 before you are sure

Phase #2: Boy/Girl Friend

“Friends with benefits” has become a very popular term.  Commitment is a scary thing for some, therefore, we walk the lines, lower expectations, and compromise who we are and what we want for the sake of getting along and fitting in.  Homework item #3 from phase #1 is soooo important.  One weak night can cause you to slip into this Boy/Girl Friend phase without you really intending to.

In reality, most of us expect the exact same qualities in this phase that we do from a friend.  However, when intimacy of any kind is introduced into a relationship EXPECTATIONS change.  PERIOD! Often times we begin to have expectations of someone without listing and coming to an agreement on those expectations.  In phase #1, if he/she did not answer the phone or call you back in a day or two, it was no big deal.  But let yo boy/girl friend not call you for a couple days…that will be an issue.  IJS!!!

PLEASE HEAR ME!!!  If you are not sure that this person is a good friend (Phase #1) and now you have violated homework item #3 of Phase #1…you have now slipped into Phase #2. If someone ask you who that person is to you, your response has become “It’s Complicated.” LOL  I know I may sound old fashion, but many of the “benefits” that we offer at this phase should be strictly reserved for Phase #3.  Why?  You INSTANTLY have expectations of that person and you know deep inside that they are not realistic or that they can never be the person that you truly want and desire.  Don’t be fooled into thinking you can change them.  Be patient.  If they will not wait….deuces!

Homework:

  1. List your expectations of a Boy/Girl Friend
  2. Ask “Friend” to list their expectations
  3. Trade list and discuss the expectations.  You can decide BEFORE making a decision to move into phase #2.
  4. Highlight the expectations that are non-negotiable and do not compromise on those (you will have to compromise somewhere, but not on those).

Phase #3: Marriage really is Bliss.

Marriage gets such a bad rap.  It is not easy, but it is not bad.  I believe 50% of marriages end in divorce because most do not follow this natural progression of a relationship.  When you mix benefits and expectations from the first two phases, it makes phase #3 that much harder and requires so much more work to be successful.

God knew what He was doing when He said wait until you are married to have sex.  Not sure if you were aware, but having sex is the cause of pregnancy (really…I read it on the internet).  Marriage is supposed to be forever.  If you have a baby with a person that you did not take the time to determine if you even liked them (a Friend) and did not establish and agree on the expectations for being in a relationship with them (boy/girl friend), how can you possibly think that you would be able to live in the same household and communicate in a way that would help develop and nurture a life long relationship (or nurture another life, if you have kids)?

I could go on about this phase, but I will not spend much time here.  If you are already at this phase and kinda skipped the first two, it is not too late.  You can still do the homework items above.  It will help open the lines of communication between you and your spouse.  Resetting expectations will be key for the two of you.  You can not meet expectations that you do not know exist.  In my opinion, most arguments originate here.  Do not assume that they know how you feel and what you expect from them.  Tell them!

Phase #4 – Parenting
Again…there are exceptions, but I believe when you procreate with someone who you are, first, their friends, then decide and grow into life long partners that love one another, you create an environment that is ripe for planting and growing a seed that is nurtured with love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, gentleness and self control. When a couple comes together who have no intentions on staying together long term and produce a child, it creates and environment for the child that could breed dysfunction. Without extra effort from the parents, the child becomes a product of the decisions that the parents made.

As time passes, the mother or father blames one another for the type of parent they are and the impact that it is having on the child(ren). Remember…you are partially to blame. YOU PICKED ‘EM!!!

If we can get the first two phases right, phase #3 and #4 will be easier to manage.  Unfortunately this phase has become commonly known as the meet my “Baby Mama or Baby Daddy” phases because the two parents can not stand to be in the same room for too long, so don’t even consider a life under one roof raising a child.  We now have men and women bashing one another for the others poor parenting skills and lack of care, covering, and support…each blaming one another.  Remember…”You Picked ‘Em.

You have the power and ability to chose and not compromise the qualities that you will bring you joy on the inside instead of short term feeling of happiness. You Picked ‘Em and set the expectations that will foster a relationship that proves that they love you, value you and will be loyal to you.  Just remember…You Picked ‘Em…as you stand tall and watch her walk down the aisle toward you or you catch his eyes as you are interlocked with the man I pray set the standard for how all men are suppose to love and respect you.

Morale of the Story

Don’t compromise! and don’t blame, because at the end of the day, you had (or still have) the power to chose.  Do Your Homework(see above)!  If you do not know what you like or expect, how do you expect to know “it” when you find it.  At least know what you “don’t” like so you know when to run in the other direction.  Again, when you do the “homework” listed above, do not compromise!  Be patient!  He or She is out there.

Girls…prepare yourself and wait for him to find you.  Check what you are using as bait, that could be the reason you are attracting those type of guys (that is a blog for another day).

Fellas…see is suppose to be your helpmate.  Make sure you have a vision and plan for your life that is worth her time and help.  Be the man you and leader that she is willing to submit to and you will never have to regret the fact that you picked her and she will never forget or have to wonder why she submitted to you.


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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!


Are you a “real” man? or are you a women trying to identify one?  Who really knows the true definition of a real man?  I have Googled it, asked friends (men and women), looked at social media post (bad idea) and I have gotten so man different answers.  “Real men cook!” “Real men take care of their kids!” “Real Men have a job!” “Real Men don’t hit ladies!”  All good points, but what if I’m not hungry or don’t have kids (yet) or looking for a job (in school), or she ran toward me with a knife (cause some are crazy…ok, still no excuse), am I not a Real Man?  I’m being funny, but most answers were a reflection of the voids of men in their past or present, but in my opinion too specific to disqualify him from who he was created to be.  

There is a difference between being a male and a man.  A “man” is a state of being that has a very broad classification and difficult to be disqualified by not having just one.  I believe that there are foundational traits of a “real” man that causes him to act and respond in a certain way no matter the environment or circumstance.  Real men have the responsibility to be the priest, providers, and protectors of their household and of all who are in it (even if it is only him).

Priest:  Not a priest in the literal since, but understanding that all things are not tangible.  Whether you are a spiritual person or not…or believer or not, know that it is real.  I do not mean to get too deep, but men must understanding that we wrestle with spiritual things and darkness in this world.  Real Men must pray against this, because it does not matter how many push-ups you do, that will never make you strong enough to protect your family against the ways of this threat.

Provider: Some men stop at providing the tangible, basic things for survival (shelter, food, clothing, money, etc), but men have a responsibility to ensure everyone in their household is provided with love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, support, comfort, (you add more), including to himself.  Many of the developmental side effects that kids have as adults is because fathers (and mothers) did not adequately provide the intangibles needed for growth.

Protector: Many men pride themselves on being prepared to protect their families (or themselves) from an ever present threat of danger lurking in nights and dark alleys.  However, they fail to be watchmen and gatekeepers of the other ones sneaking in through the friends that their kids (and wife’s) hang around, the T.V. shows they watch and the sites they search on the web.  Being a protector is about guarding against dangers seen and unseen.  Again, this includes guarding what enters his own body through his eyes and ears. 

Real men know who they were created to be, otherwise, life is only a guess.

This is only my opinion, but I read a blog from a friend that talked about the same topic.  Often times we redefine or mistreat a thing because we do not take the time to understand what the creator of that thing designed it to do or be.

FINALLY AN ANSWER…WHAT IS A REAL MAN?!?!?  Please take the time to read the below post. It provides great perspective on  

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What God Expects of Men (http://ellword.com)

The other night, my wife was watching The Wendy Williams Show and I overheard something that really caught my attention.  (Please note: I wasn’t watching the show, MY WIFE was watching!)   Iyanla Vanzant was a guest on the show and she was commenting on her show on the Oprah Network (which my wife watches sometimes while I’m in the room) called Fix My Life (or something like that).  Anyway, former NFL star Terrell Owens had been on Iyanla’s show and apparently she was trying to fix his life.  When Wendy asked what she thought was T.O.’s problem, Iyanla offered that, though T.O. had mastered the game of football, he had not mastered the art of “being a man.”  That last part reminded me that often women have opinions about the definition of a man or the question, what constitutes a real man?

This is a popular subject on social media and blogs and other platforms where people espouse their views on current issues. I’ve participated in a few of these verbal/written forums myself.  And more often than not, people speak from their own experiences and needs.  So I thought about it, and reasoned that the only way to come close to settling the question is to hear from an expert.  Of course it’s convenient to eliminate all women from this category – how can a woman be an expert on something she’s never been.  But finding a man who can really be considered an expert is tricky.  What exactly would make him an expert that can’t be said about many other men?  And how did he become an expert?  Well there’s only one way to settle this question – refer to the creator.  Because man was created by God, it only makes sense to consider God the expert on man.  He made us for a purpose – a purpose He expects us to fulfill.  So what are His expectations? 

Without being overly broad, or overly deep, I’d like you to consider 2 things that can be gleaned from the opening chapters of the Bible that implies what God expects from men.  First, God expects men to spread and cultivate His influence throughout the earth.  In Genesis 2, the Bible explains in detail God’s interaction with Adam.  Although in Genesis 1 it appears that God created plants and trees (Day 3) prior to the creation of man (Day 6), Genesis 2:5 says that the shrubs and trees had not “sprung up” yet because there was no man to cultivate the ground.  Then God makes Adam and places him in a garden “East, in Eden”.  So God placed him in a limited place on the earth and instructs him to make it grow (cultivate it) so that it  covers the earth.  My point is this.  We understand that God has placed man in the role of leaders (Gen 3:16, 1 Cor 11:3, etc.), but I think that often men miss that our position is less about leadership and more about stewardship.  We have been entrusted with the earth and all that is in it (including woman) for the purpose of making it all GROW.   As illustrated by the parable of the talents told by Jesus in Matthew 25:14-30, we have been entrusted with the responsibility of making everything around us grow and get better.  We are supposed to cultivate. 

The other thing we are supposed to do is communicate God’s will.  In Genesis 2 it is clear that God gave instructions to Adam before Eve was even formed.  So once she is presented to him, He becomes responsible for communicating to her and their expected offspring what God has already told him.  This is also apparent from Paul’s use of the relationship between Christ and the church to explain man’s responsibility to his wife in Ephesians chapter 5. He essentially says that Christ cleanses the church with the word so that he will present her to himself without blemishes.  So men are to use the Word to help his wife grow into a wife without blemish.  Man has the responsibility to communicate the Word from God.  Man has the responsibility of explaining what God expects from all of us, and how this world that God created works.  Remember, Adam named everything before Eve was formed.  So men have the responsibility to point out to those who’ve been entrusted to us what the other things are.  As our children navigate through the world, we must guide them, pointing out the dangers, and giving them insight into whats “out there”.  

Of course, men can only do this well when we stay connected to God, the creator, and hear His Word.  We can only be effective to the degree that we understand what God has said and how His world works.  And we can only do this if we stay connected to those who’ve been entrusted to us, so that we can communicate these truths to them.  This, I firmly believe, is what God expects from men.  And I sincerely believe that when we do this consistently, everything and everyone around us will grow and get better – including us.

The blog can be found at  http://ellword.com


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As tears form in my eyes again as I write this, I am thinking about last night when my wife and I were riding home and “Dance with my Father” a song by Luther Vandross came on. After the song was over, my wife heard sniffling and asked my son if he was ok? He burst into tears and we asked him again “Whats Wrong, What’s Wrong!?!”

He replied, “I am going to really miss you guys when I am a grown up!” (((((Silence))))))))

Initially…I was speechless and did not know what to say. Thank God for my wife, because I felt her shift into counselor mode. She asked, “What made you think about that?” He replied, “That song.” We paused again, processing what song just went off. It is a very emotional song where the writer is reflecting about the times that he and his mother had with his father. They are now very said that he is no longer around and he is asking God if he and his mother could “Dance with his Father” just one more time (see lyrics below).

My wife then asked, “How did that song make you feel.” He replied, “Sad!” She shot back, “What about that song that makes you sad?” He repeated, “I am going to really miss you guys when I am a grown up!” That is when it hit me….for the first time, he had just processed the fact that we may not always be here with him. ((((WHOA)))) That’s heavy for a grown up to process about their parents, so I can only imagine how it felt to an 8 year old.

To know my son, you know he wears his heart on his sleeve. We love his compassion and respect the fact that he appreciates us as his parents (that felt great!!).

My wife then reminded him that mommy and daddy were grown ups and that we still spend time with “granna, g-ma, papa, and grandad” who are our parents. We pray that he will have the same chance to spend with us when he is a grown up.

We then walked him through the timeline of life to help him process that at 8 years old, how he still has the rest of elementary school, middle school, high school and college, to spend with us before he made the official transition to being a grown up and we pray that we will have the pleasure of spending time with him and his wife and kids. That seemed to calm him down.

This was a Priceless and Touching Moment that we had the pleasure of experiencing with him.

Our goal as parents is to help him depend less and less on us and more and more on God, who will guide him in the way he should go. We do not want him to feel hopeless and misguided if it were in God’s will to “take us” from his life before he feels he is ready.

Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans that I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you, to give you a hope and a future.”

The reality is, we do not know the plans that his creator has for him, so we must do all that we can to ensure that Micah has a relationship with the only one who knows. He promises to prosper him and not harm him, which is what we desire. However, because we do not know where His path leads, it is to our advantage to ensure that my son is aware that there is even a path that has been laid out for him. Even if we are not around, he can know that there is still “hope” and that he has a future. I thank God for using us and we pray that He will continue to reveal Himself to us so that we can guide Micah in the way that he should go.

Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Lyrics to Dance with My Father
Back when I was a child, before life removed all the innocence
My father would lift me high and dance with my mother and me and then
Spin me around ‘til I fell asleep
Then up the stairs he would carry me
And I knew for sure I was loved
If I could get another chance, another walk, another dance with him
I’d play a song that would never, ever end
How I’d love, love, love
To dance with my father again
When I and my mother would disagree
To get my way, I would run from her to him
He’d make me laugh just to comfort me
Then finally make me do just what my mama said
Later that night when I was asleep
He left a dollar under my sheet
Never dreamed that he would be gone from me
If I could steal one final glance, one final step, one final dance with him
I’d play a song that would never, ever end
‘Cause I’d love, love, love
To dance with my father again
Sometimes I’d listen outside her door
And I’d hear how my mother cried for him
I pray for her even more than me
I pray for her even more than me
I know I’m praying for much too much
But could you send back the only man she loved
I know you don’t do it usually
But dear Lord she’s dying
To dance with my father again
Every night I fall asleep and this is all I ever dream


“Ok dad…you can go pull the car around.” I recall the nurse telling me over 8 years ago. As I carried the bags down the hall on the elevator and into the parking garage, I still did not realize that I had forgotten a very important step?? As I open the hatch on the truck and piled the bags in, I still had not realized that it was not installed. In the hustle and bustle of preparing for his arrival, I continued to say, I will do it later.

I pulled around and saw my wife being pushed to the curb by the nurse. I jumped out excited, ready to take my wife and new son home. It was a little brisk, so I around to the other side of the truck and pulled the door open and then realized that the seat was not installed. Oh No! Well, no worries….I am a man! How hard could it be…I actually did the research and “they” said that the seat is secure and tight…not moving more that an inch in any direction, GOT IT!

Well….so I thought. I strapped the seat in, but it wobbled like jello sitting on top of a dryer during the spin cycle (not sure why that analogy popped in my head…weird). Reading the instructions is now working against me. I can not put my new born son in a seat that is not safe. I struggled to secure and tighten the seat and nothing seemed to work! Remember I said it was brisk…now I am sweating. To top it off, Micah is now SCREAMING and my wife is getting cold. A crowd started to form “is everything ok? Can we help?” Clearly they are not, but there was no way I was going to “fail” as a father before I even left the hospital!

I am not sure how much time has passed, but it felt like an hour! A very calming voice urged, “Sir…it’s cold, let me help”. With o pen last act of desperation I placed my knee in the middle of the seat and pushed yanked the latch and “CLICK”!! That was the best sound I had every heard! I wiped the sweat from my forehead before coming out of the back seat….”What??? I got it.” I sat Micah’s car seat on top of the cradle and walked around to the other side with the swag of a seasoned parent, knowing that I was melting on the inside.

Moral of the Story, Dad…install the seat days in advance and avoid being silly and naive like me. Trust me…it is not a good look. Lol.

I have provide a link below that can provide some insight on how to install the car seat properly.

According to a article from Fox News.com, “The NHTSA also noted that of all the children who were killed in motor vehicle accidents, almost half were unrestrained. However, even when children were placed in restraint systems, it didn’t ensure their safety. That’s because, of the 3,500 child restraint systems used, 72 percent were used improperly, according to the NHTSA.” CLICK HERE to read full article.

How to PROPERLY Install a Car Seat
http://www.dmv.org/how-to-guides/install-child-seat.php

I thank God for that experience, because from that day forward, it caused me to ensure that my son, family, and friends are properly secured and safe.


This is the fundamental reason why I started writing this blog. Do we (Society) really understand the difference between a role model and a mentor. Webster.com defines a role model as “a person whose behavior in a particular role is imitated by others”. A mentor is described as “a trusted counselor or guide.” We should not confuse the two. They are distinct and very different, but could be one in the same.

In my opinion, celebrities / athletes can be viewed as role models, but as parents we should not blur the lines to confuse them with being a mentor to our children. I kinda spoke of this in a couple blogs in the past, but in the wake of the A Rod-on-every-channel-saga, I felt compelled to vent again.

I have heard people and news reporters say, “what about the children” and rightfully so. However, my hope is that the parent(s) would stand up and be the “mentor” who will counsel and guide their children to understand that if all that is alleged is true, that he may not be a person whose behavior in a particular role we should imitate (role model).”

I am not naive. I do understand that not all children can differentiate between roles and characteristics of a person…and as they study their role, negative seeds from their character has the potential to seep out and invade their hearts, minds, and spirits of the youth. I get it!

Growing up, Michael Jordan was my role model. I watched and studied how he played basketball, but I knew nothing about him as a person. Because I did not know him or trust him, he could not be considered my mentor, who would guide and counsel me. I remember my mother talking to me about how he appeared to be “arrogant” and that is not something that she liked about him. “Thanks for sharing,” but I did not care about who he was off the court. I was interested in how he turned and dunked on Patrick Ewing along the baseline. I did run around singing “Like Mike…if I could be like Mike” (wanna be…wanna be like Miiiikkkkeee…Sorry, got lost for a sec). However, for me, it was with a basketball in hand.

This further proves my point. Corporations blur the lines by using celebrities in “real life” situations to help sell their products. Endorsement deals take celebrities and athletes out of their “role” and humanize them. With the addition of social media, we have 24 / 7 access to the people that we historically called role models. Now we know where they are, what they think, what they eat, who they hang out with, where they shop, where they took their kids, need I go on. But, we still do not “know” them. In the same way we would not read a book about a person and feel like we know them enough to marry them, we can not allow our children to “follow” people who we can not confirm if they have the same morals, values, beliefs, and judgements that we do. They may have made a decision that appears to be in alignment with what we believe, but we do not understand the context or why they came to that conclusion, which matters.

Sorry, I ramble. I am not saying that the Lance Armstrong’s, Tiger Woods, and A-Rods (to name a few) of the world are right, but I am saying we (parents and media) unfairly crucify and condemn them because we place unrealistic expectations on them to be the mentors of our youth. News flash, we are not perfect, either. If a camera followed us around 24 / 7 what would be exposed about who we are and what we did? Again, I think that “they” must be held accountable, just not cast out because of a mistake they made and for being in a position that we placed them in. I know, i know! To who much is given, much is required. Grace.

Bottom line…the original “mentors” are the parents. Our role is to guide and counsel our children. It is great if we can also be their role model. If not, we should find a suitable role model for them and not allow them to default to who the world highlights as a poster child in a particular role. Once we find a person, explain (counsel) why we selected that person(s), and constantly monitor so if they ever exhibit behaviors contrary, we will know it is time to find another role model (guide).

I am theoriginalmentor and so are you. Declare It. “I am The Original Mentor!”


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Years ago, I was sitting on my back porch enjoying a summer day. I may have just finished cutting the backyard, which was a blessing and a curse. I loved the fact that it was large enough to run, jump, flip, and play with my son without going to a park. However, I had to cut every square inch of it, weekly. My backyard tapered into the 8th tee of a golf course (par 3 where you had to clear a pond and escape the 4 bunkers surrounding the green). The 8th hole cut across my view, then the fairway of the 9th hole (500 yard, par 5) was directly in front of me…as far as I could see.

It was a very picturesque view. We loved to sit, watch, and enjoy all of Gods splendor. This was one of those days. I recall the sky being clear, a slight breeze in the air, birds chirping, squirrels scurrying, geese swimming, nothing but what God had created.

As I sat taking it all in, I looked down to my left and noticed a couple ants busy at work. As I watched them carry items from one place to the other, they eventually started to walk out into the backyard toward the golf course. I wondered if they lived in my backyard. Did they consider this to be there home (I know I’m weird, just go with me for a sec). Again, as the ants started to disappear as they made their way toward the golf course, I wondered how long would it talk these little ole ants to get from here……all-the-way to the end of the 500 yard, par 5, 9th hole? What would he encounters as they traveled on their journey? Golfers swinging clubs, driving golf carts, spikes on shoes, rainy days, dark midnight skies…would he finish?

Then I wondered…perhaps this backyard is as far as he would ever go? It could be so large, in his eyes, that it could take him years to explore all of the possibilities right before him. He would never know that there are millions of other backyards and thousands of other golf courses that he will never even know existed. Then it hit me….

We look the same in Gods eyes. He sits high and looks low. He has given us the responsibility to manage everything in our “backyards.” As parents, I feel that it is our responsibility to take our children “beyond our backyard” to help them explore other possibilities. Our role is to guide them and help them navigate the swinging golf clubs (enemies), golf carts (fast pace), rainy days (frustration), dark nights (distractions) that we know the world will throw at them. Sometimes our natural inclination is to overprotect, which to some means to shelter them and prevent them from being exposed to all that the world has to offer (good and bad). The mistake in this overprotective approach is that they may develop a false sense of reality, believing that the world is just like the serene “backyard” where we spend the majority of our time. However, the day will come when we, as parents, are not there to help our children manage and navigate life.

Exposure helps them discover who they are to become, while allowing them to think through the options.

The discovery process can and should take place within the safety of our backyards, but we should not let our fears build an ant farm that prevents our children from even experiencing the wonders that are in your backyards and beyond.

Allow them to explore, and as they learn, expand their boundaries to what they can handle. Sure they will test the limits, you and I both did. It is apart of growing up. My prayer (our prayer) is that they will take what we taught and apply it when we are not around. The last thing that we want is for them to discover the golf cart (fast pace) and we never told them about the golf cart or that there is a thing called a seat belt (well not really on a golf cart).

My point…because we have been exposed, we can sit and pier out into the world (from our backyards) and prepare our sons and daughters for all that the world has in store. Teach them to take the proper precautions, but encourage them to explore and grow during the process.

Please, please ensure that you look “beyond your backyard” and not limited the potential of their tomorrow, because we never expose them to what is possible.

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“You defend the system that trains you.” is a quote from Pastor Smokie Norful. What is a system? A system is a series of events or processes that work together to get a desired result. Systems can be, but are not always positive. For example, an abusers sets up a system to isolate the victim (process #1), lower their self-esteem (process #2), give them a false sense of what true love is (process #3), until they get that person to believe that this is not only the best way of life, but the ONLY way. In many cases, the victim will choose to stay in that situation even though it is harmful to them. The victim may even begin to defend the abuser, because they have begun to believe that “He/She loves me!”

Just like a person who is in an abusive relationship will defend the abuser and say that they “love” me, a child that has grown up in “dysfunction” will defend the system and lifestyle that they were raised by, because that is all they know. To change their lifestyle (system) is to turn their back on or to disrespect the way of life that had gotten them to where they are. Wait? Are you striving to go further, achieve more, “be better?” “So you think you better than me now?” It is not that they think that they “are” better, it is simply that they desire more. I grew up in this environment as well. I was the first in my family to go and graduate from college and some of my family actually fought my mother, because they thought that I thought I was “better”. Not True! This mentality has caused many kids with amazing potential to never realize it because their life is filled with “haters” who do not want to see them do more and thrive instead of just surviving.

When I first heard the term “hater” I was so happy, because I thought, “This is progress!” It is the realization that if someone does not want you to accomplish more, then THEY are the one who is wrong, not the one who is trying to achieve. It is inspiring to see that some people would like to rise above their current state, that has become normal, and thrive beyond the limitations of the enviornments that they are currently exposed to. It is the desire and determination of those individual(s) to obtain more, that has become the seeds of hope for other family members, friends, and generations to come. If they can do it, so can I…Haters!!!

It takes a person who has broken the barriers of lack to realize that dysfunction had become their normal. Once you discover a new system, it is important to share it with those who may still be lost or blind to the fact that they can have more…not just stuff, but more peace, love, joy. They can take the responsibility of spending much time with others who suffer from that same false reality of “this is all we will ever have or be” to carefully fertilize, till, and replant seeds that will produce life and create a new normal that can harvest into a life filed with love, joy, peace, happiness, abundance, and so much more.

So…I ask, what type of seeds are you planting in your children? Guilt, regret, shame, hate, envy, hurt? What system(s) did you grow up in that you are now recreating or “planting” in your children because that is all that you know? Just because it was done to you, does not make it right…even if it worked! Just because you had the resiliency to bounce back does not mean that your child(ren) will have that same bounce back power!? We have to really explore the reasons why we value what we value, why we think the way we think, and why we do we what we do, before passing it along to our children. The systems that we build to raise our children, may need to be adjusted to fit who they are and who they are supposed to become.

Sometimes parenting has nothing to do with the child, but everything to do with you! It is amazing to me that we get trained and prepare for a vocation, but will not do the same introspection when it comes to being prepared to fulfill our purpose as parents. When God entrusted us with a miracle (baby) we now hold purpose in our hands. Our role is to create the right environment and plant seeds of Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control so that they can reach their full potential. It requires us to get out of their way and to not plant weeds that are limiting or that push them in a direction that we think is right. Is it the right way? Maybe? Are you sure? If so, good.

Again I ask, what type of seeds are you planting? You can not plant what you don’t have. Maybe it is time that we rethink our systems to ensure that the processes (lifestyle) is working together to get the desired positive result. If you don’t plant seed in the right soil (environment), water it (nurture), give it the proper sun (oversight), the seed will never grow to its greatest potential.

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Posted: July 9, 2013 in Resources
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