Parenting on Purpose

Parenting on Purpose

Is Your Family Technology Addicted?

posted by srballantine
Bigstock Photos

Bigstock Photos

One of the biggest complaints I hear from parents is how hard it is to get their families together. Even when they’re physically in the same room, each person is isolated from the rest of the family by texting, watching TV, or surfing the Internet. Sound familiar to you? Therefore, it’s important that parents set the example and the tone to establish some low-tech family time.

While technology is a great boon in so many ways, it can also serve as a way to insulate people from each other and from you from you own true self. The constant need to be ‘online’ can be just as addictive as drugs and alcohol. While a technology addiction may seem to be a lot less dangerous, it can still serve as a way to avoid your feelings and being in touch with your inner self.

Each generation is faced with new technological advances and the impact that they have on you as a parent, upon your children, and upon your family as a whole. Society has progressed so no one advocates child labor, your standard of living is higher, and overall life is easier for you, largely as a result of improvements in technology.

On the flip side, it’s less likely to see families gathered around the dinner table engaging with one another. It is far more common to see to families gathered around the television, listening to someone else. That’s even if you still have television time as a family. Society has gone from one television in the household to having one in each room, and with the advent of laptop computers, tablets, and smart phones, you’re literally taking your television with you wherever you go.

Without discounting the fact that your kids are actually learning skills that may help them with their careers in the future, it is still important for people to connect face to face and is so crucial for a close family connection. It’s precisely the lack of connection that leads people to seek solace in drugs, alcohol, and other risky behaviors.

Are you concerned that your kids are spending too much time texting on their smartphones? Is this a valid concern or just the contemporary version of your parents complaining about you spending too much time on the telephone when you were younger?

What about you? Are you checking your emails or Facebook accounts instead of interacting with your family?
The best way to evaluate this is to avoid Googling the answer. Check in with your Internal Guidance System (IGS.) How does it feel when you think about your family and the amount and quality of time you spend together? How does it feel to consider making some changes to your own behavior? Be open to receiving inspiration about what is best for your family. Rather than setting down ground rules, invite each family member to tap into their IGS and consider the question as well.

As a family, you can discuss your ideas for low-tech experiences you can enjoy together. Some families choose an entire day where they limit technology use outside of school or work. Others choose to limit the number of hours they use tech toys every day. Still others have a ‘technology fast’ one day a month. You may find that instead of focusing on restricting technology, your family chooses to encourage outdoor activity or a new hobby.

There is no one right answer. The options are as varied as people are. What turns out to be the right low-tech family time solution for your family may not be the same as the answer for someone else’s. You don’t have to go online for confirmation; put down the tech and go ‘inline’ for the answer.

Please feel free to comment.
© 2015. Sharon Ballantine. All Rights Reserved.

Parenting Lessons: The Problem With Seeking Perfection

posted by srballantine
Bigstock Photos

Bigstock Photos

Most people don’t claim to be perfect. You may admit to be good or even excellent at some tasks, and you may consider yourself to be a good person. By your very nature as a human being, you admit to not being perfect as human beings just aren’t designed to be. Yet you may find yourself striving for perfection and many people think that is a good thing.

As a parent, it’s natural for you to want to set good examples for your children. You also want your children to have a ‘better life’ than you did — even if you’ve had a pretty good one. In some ways, you might want your children to have perfect lives, even though your logical brain knows this isn’t likely.

The first thing to consider is what you mean by perfection. When you define perfection as being without flaws, then how can anyone think that perfection of the self is possible? Is perfection defined as being better than those around you at any given task or aspect of self? Yet society and the media hold up examples of bodily perfection as well as perfection in athletics, business, and politics, but people wind up disappointed over and over again when real humans are revealed behind the golden masks. It can be a difficult measure for children to compare themselves to.

One way to learn and grow as a human being is to explore and discover what you like and don’t like by way of trial and error. It isn’t called ‘trial and success’ for good reason. You have to fall down in order to learn to walk. It’s required for your muscles to get stronger, just as the butterfly must push against the walls of the chrysalis to strengthen its wings in order to free itself and fly away.

Failures are an important part of every aspect of your life. They help direct you towards a path suited for your skills and aptitudes. They help you learn how to modify your actions in order to achieve success. They not only make you stronger physically, but intellectually and emotionally as well.

By resisting any temptation to judge your kid’s failures as they’re growing up, you are fostering their future success. You are helping them learn that when they fall, it is not a failure but a invitation to get up and try again. This will apply their whole lives.

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. ~ Confucius

There are a lot of pressures on children these days to be excellent at what they do. Kids want to please their parents, their teachers, and their coaches. It is important to teach your kids to please themselves.

There is nothing wrong with striving to be better and improving one’s skills and behavior, but when you insist on not doing something unless you can do it perfectly, you’re not fostering perfection. Instead, you’re encouraging stagnation. Both science and sports recognize that the successes in their fields are fewer than the failures, but without the failures there would be no successes.

You can encourage your children to trust their Internal Guidance System (IGS) so that when they fall, it will help them get back up and try again or change course. Your IGS will help keep you aligned with your highest good.

Just as your children want to please you, you want to be strong for them. You want your children to view you as successful. Often that means you hide your failings from your children, in an effort to protect them.

Instead, you may give them the illusion that you’re omnipotent and that they should be, too. This is actually a disservice to your kids and could lead them to feel as though they can never measure up to themselves or others. Instead, you can demonstrate for your kids that while failure in itself is unimportant, how they react to that failure is everything.

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently ~Henry Ford

While your actions and your body might not be perfect, being in alignment with your true self makes you as perfect as you’re meant to be. You are perfectly imperfect, failing and succeeding with intelligence.

Please feel free to comment.
© 2015. Sharon Ballantine. All Rights Reserved.

Join Your Kids In Their Fitness

posted by srballantine
Bigstock Photos

Bigstock Photos

Do you ever wonder how you can fit more exercise into your schedule? You’re so busy making meals, working, organizing activities, and helping with homework, that you may find yourself falling into bed at night exhausted, not having had the kind of work-out you would like.

While all this activity keeps a person busy, it can’t be qualified as fitness. Before the Industrial Revolution, life was physically hard. People didn’t have to go to a gym to work out because their entire lives were filled with exercise.

Even as recently as the mid-20th Century, most American families only had one car. That meant they had to walk to the store, to school or at least to the bus stop. Today, kids are driven five blocks from their homes to the bus stop where they then take the bus to a school might be two miles away or more.

The good news is that you don’t have to give up your car or return to plowing fields by hand in order to get fit. You don’t even have to spend hours in the gym and you don’t have to work your fitness around your kids, losing precious sleep in order to make use of exercise equipment.

Childhood obesity and diabetes rates are rising in this country. It’s clear that many of our kids aren’t getting enough exercise. One of the best things you can do is incorporate your exercise routine into a family activity.

New studies show that you can get good cardio results in as little as 12 minutes. Rather than spending an hour on the exercise bike or walking at a steady pace, a great way to boost your cardio and your endurance is to mix up the intensity.

Instead of sending kids out to play all the time, why not join them in their play environment? Playing games with your kids in the backyard or at the neighborhood park make mixing up intensity easy. Simple games like tag involve stopping and starting, running, pivoting, and use lots of different muscle groups — including those great big smile-on-your-face muscles.

If you’re at the park and your children want to play with their friends, you can take the time to use the equipment there as a mini-gym. Remember that it’s also about having fun, so find something that makes you smile. Maybe it’s the swing or maybe it’s the merry-go-round. It doesn’t matter. Let yourself play and enjoy moving your body.

Try different activities with your kids. If they’re old enough, take turns deciding what game you’ll play that day. By changing up the types of exercises that could be anything from shooting hoops to splashing about in the pool, you’ll find your family fitness is increasing without someone getting bored or experiencing repetitive motion injuries.
Have the attitude that you are never too old or too busy to participate in silly or creative ways to get exercise with your kids.

Please feel free to comment.
© 2015. Sharon Ballantine. All Rights Reserved.

Food Fun: Go Ahead Play With Your Food.

posted by srballantine
Bigstock Photos

Bigstock Photos

Having fun is one of the most natural things for kids to do. Have you noticed how they can turn most any object or activity into fun? They make simple objects into playthings, creating entire worlds filled with excitement and adventure. As parents, we almost never have to guide our kids into ways to have fun.

One of the best things you can do for your kids is to encourage this sense of play. It stimulates creativity and learning all at the same time even if the game or activity seem simplistic. Not only can you encourage your kids to have this creative play, but you can participate in the fun and games as well.

Then, why is it that when it comes to food we get so serious?

‘Don’t play with your food, was the mantra at all my friends’ homes when I was growing up.

‘Think of all the starving children around the world’ my mother would say.

Not only was the food at times boring, but it sometimes didn’t look or smell wonderful either. Yet we were always being reminded that eating was serious business and no creating food art on your plate was allowed.

It’s hard for kids to feel appreciation for the food they eat when, we as parents are lecturing them over meals. Is it really any wonder that kids grow up to be picky eaters or at the very least, uninterested in experimenting with new foods that suddenly appear on their plates?

When your children were babies, you may have coaxed them to eat in any way possible. I remember making silly faces and buying spoons that look like airplanes so the food could come in for a ‘landing,’ which was hopefully in my kid’s open mouths.

When did that all change? Are we still hearing the recording in our head that says. “don’t play with your food?” And how can you change it back so your kids want to eat, are willing to try new things, and actually have a pleasant time at the dinner table while maintaining a healthy, well-balanced diet?
Can we transcend the old recordings in our heads?

Nothing is impossible when you decide you want something. Even though you can’t create in your kids’ Universes, you can lead by example and start to lighten up if they develop a “playful” attitude about food you’d rather stifle.

Be willing to try new things and to let your kids be involved in the creative process of the food. Rather than having cans be the chosen way to eat much of the time, show them how plants grow by planting a small garden. Even if you live in an apartment, you can plant a miniature garden in a pot. It’s all about showing your children a process of creation so they can better learn to appreciate the food they eat.

You can find a food with a funny shape that your kids have never seen before. It might be the perfect opportunity to literally play with it. Check out some of the many books that have fun pictures created using food. Even Sesame Street has a book titled Funny Food Faces with a cover featuring a couple favorite puppet characters constructed from a variety of fruits and veggies.

Encourage your kids to try new foods by playing eating games such as ‘Crunch-a-Color’ or the ’52 New Foods Challenge’ invented by Jennifer Tyler Lee and her kids. She learned that by making up eating games and letting her kids be invested in choosing and preparing foods, they were much more willing to broaden their horizons.

Making food fun, your children will gain better nutrition and you’ll have a good time together, bonding in a way that you might not otherwise. Just remember to keep your own mind open — you never know, you might just learn to like Brussel sprouts, especially if you play with them a bit.

Please feel free to comment.
© 2015. Sharon Ballantine. All Rights Reserved.

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