Parenting on Purpose

Parenting on Purpose

Raising Kids To Have A Fun Loving Attitude

posted by srballantine

 

FUN250One of the challenges parents have in raising kids is finding the balance in life. Often, with the pressures that are placed on us at work and on our children at school, it’s easy to forget that life is supposed to be fun. Rather than only focusing on responsibilities, you can also teach your kids about the process of creating and that life is meant to be fun.

When you are creating something in your life, you are involved in your “process.” Typically, you think of the process as the means to the end — the process is the actions that you take to achieve the result you are looking for.

Going to school, studying, and taking tests could then be viewed as the process by which you get your education. Your education is the process by which you get your first job. Your various jobs are the process by which you achieve your career, and so on.

This is all quite mechanical sounding, isn’t it? It doesn’t take into account how you feel about the process, and your feelings are quite important. It is how you feel about the process that actually determines your end result, and it’s important for our kids to learn this.

The process will unfold, whether you are enjoying it or not. If you let it unfold more easily, then you will have more fun during the process and you will enjoy the manifested result as well.

Of course, there will be important deadlines and expectations at school and in your job that you must meet, but are you placing other pressures on yourself, or are your children placing expectations upon themselves that impact the enjoyment of the process?

Even when faced with a deadline that you can’t control, you can choose to have fun and feel good about the process. When you do, this allows everything to flow in a much easier way.

By being willing to let go of attachment to a specific result, you are open to the possibilities that are ahead of you. This openness will allow for more fun in your life and help guide you on the path that is best suited for your nature.

You can actively teach your kids to be open to a positive, fun process, and you can also demonstrate it so they can model your behavior.

 

When ideas are not flowing or life feels like a struggle, it is a good time to take a deep breath and reevaluate your current process. Are you attached to a certain outcome? Relax and listen to your internal guidance on how to appreciate and even adjust your process.

 

By being open to what feels good to you, you allow your unique spirit and skills to shine. This is where the fun in life happens. Inspiration and ideas begin to flow. Young children instinctively know this, and we can foster and encourage our kids to carry this way of being their whole lives.

 

Please feel free to comment!

© 2014.  Sharon Ballantine.  All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

Are We Asking Our Kids The Right Questions?

posted by srballantine

Back to school: roadsign with warning for crossing schoolkids isI think most parents’ value when their kids will share information with them, such as what they find important and what they desire. I know I do. But there was a period of time when my children weren’t interested in sharing themselves with me, or even talking about the time of day. For the most part, this was when they were in middle school and high school.

Many parents I’ve spoken with share my experience of eagerly awaiting picking up our child from school or having them walk through the door and share with us what they experienced that day. After all, we have missed them and haven’t seen them for hours. Much of the time the first thing that comes out of our mouths is “ What did you do today?” or “How was your day?” The first question is met with the response “nothing” and the second one with “fine.” These one-word responses can feel like a dead-end as they aren’t usually said with much enthusiasm. There were times I took these responses personally and most days I kept asking the same questions that I should have known wouldn’t get me the responses I was hoping for.

I finally decided to be more creative in how I approached our after school connection.  I could see that my kids were tired after their long day, and my first step was to allow them the time and space to unwind. Kids of all ages need this. I did ask them about their day so they would know I was interested, but held no expectation of a certain response. Then the pressure was off them and me.

When the timing felt more relaxed I asked them questions that didn’t just require a simple yes or no answer. If I knew they had a test or project due, I asked in a way that would hopefully be conversation worthy. For example: “What was the hardest part of your math test today?” Sometimes to get them into sharing mode I asked a non-school related question such as “What are you looking forward to this week-end?” In later years, my kids shared with me that after being in school all day, the last thing they wanted to talk about was school. Wish I had known sooner.

We are child focused in our relationships and conversations with our kids. When my kids were younger, it didn’t occur to me that they might want to hear about my day or what I was up to. My intent was to focus on them.

One day when my son was in a complaining state of mind and felt the need to vent, he seemed to have a revelation that didn’t seem to please him. He informed me that he didn’t understand why I never shared what I was going through or had recently experienced. I was taken aback, as I never would have guessed he had noticed. I told him that I hadn’t realized that it was important to him that I share.

Those few minutes of conversation between us helped me realize that it’s important for our children to know who we are and what we care about outside of them. It’s our job to share ourselves, in part so they learn to share themselves as well. From that day forward I did just that. I didn’t overburden them with too many details and deeply personal information that didn’t concern them, but I did tell them about my interests, activities and what I was learning in my everyday experiences with life.

As my children matured and felt safe sharing their stories because I shared mine, they eventually started asking me about my day or how I felt about a given subject.

In summary what I did was this, in fostering sharing with my kids!

1)   Encouraged them to de-stress after school, have alone time if needed.

2)   Asked about their day, not being attached to any particular response.

3)   At a more relaxed time, asked school and non-school related questions.

4)   I listened and heard at my heart level what my children were telling me.

5)   I made a decision to share myself, and experiences with my children.

We inspire our kids by how we relate to them and the world. It’s possible to create any relationship we want to have with them by being whom we want to inspire them to be.

What experiences have you had with talking to your kids after school?

© 2014.  Sharon Ballantine.  All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can We Be Friends With Our Children?

posted by srballantine

parent_holding_handIs it possible to be a friend to your children? While you will always be a parent to your children, at some point in their lives, you hopefully will also be a friend. Sometimes you will be both. If you envision friendship and parenthood as a teeter-totter, sometimes the balance will tip towards friendship and other times, being a parent will far outweigh being a friend.

The goal is to know how to strike the right balance, switching from parent to friend and back as needed.

Once they enter school or go into a situation where another person is providing care for them, you’ll begin to lose some of the control and influence that you had over them when they were young.

Letting your children go and allowing them to grow as an independent being is one of the primary goals of parenthood. Recognizing that early allows you to set them up for success by teaching them about their Internal Guidance System (IGS) in age-appropriate ways.

Even so, there will be times where you find it is important to give more parental “weight” in the relationship balance.  It is fine to offer parental guidance, especially in new and difficult situations. As a parent, it is crucial that you distinguish between wanting to control the situation (or your children’s lives) and guiding them to make decisions for themselves.

Sometimes the biggest lesson you can teach our children is to make their own choices and their own mistakes. We all need to learn to hear our IGS and to listen to its guidance. No one can do that without trying new things and making mistakes so we experience what not following our IGS feels like.

As a parent, you will always be there to support your kids and help guide them, even when they make mistakes, but they must learn to make decisions and trust in their own internal guidance. By teaching your children about their IGS at an early age, you give them the opportunity to listen and stretch while the consequences are smaller.

The best way for a parent to be a friend to a child is to demonstrate the qualities of what a good friend is. Show them compassion, understanding, acceptance. Listen to your children and let them express their feelings and opinions.

By modeling this behavior for your children, they will tend to gravitate towards others who are also good friends. Allow them to experience what it is like to be “friends” with someone who does not exhibit those characteristics. You can help guide them to discern that these are not really friends, and by allowing them to make this discovery rather than forbidding interactions, your children have developed a skill that will serve them for their entire lives.

Your children may not recognize what you are doing until they are adults, or even parents themselves. By allowing the teeter-totter to swing, but never fall out of balance, you will have been the best friend and parent that your children could ever have.

Your comments are welcome!

© 2014.  Sharon Ballantine.  All Rights Reserved.

 

 

Teaching Our Kids How To Balance Family And Friends

posted by srballantine

a young family is playing board-games in their bedMost parents find that as their children grow into middle school and teenage years, they want to spend less time with them and more time with their friends.

While you want your kids to be independent and have an active, fun-filled life, it can feel like you are being abandoned.

You could also feel you are left to be the cook, maid, and chauffeur without getting any of the “quality time” that you want.

So how do you go about coaching and mentoring your children to be individuals but have them still want to spend time with their families?

Keeping in mind that relationships are always two-sided, it is important to recognize that in order to accomplish this goal, you must work on both sides: the kids and the parents.

When working on any relationship or communication issue, it is always helpful to start with yourself. The only person you can really change is you, so by starting there, you set the stage for greater cooperation and you set a great example for your children to model their actions after.

Do you allow quality time for your kids, or are you only available to them on your schedule? After work? After you spend time with your own friends? Are the majority of your conversations with your children about getting their homework or chores done?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then check in with your Internal Guidance System to determine what actions you can take to change the dynamic in your relationship.

If you are supportive of your children spending time with their friends, but feel that there needs to be more balance between friends and family time, then there are certain things you can do to achieve your objective of having more family time.

First, all parents must let go of needing to know how this will happen. The “how” is not your job. If you are clear about our intention and willing to check in with your Internal Guidance System, you will be able to receive clues and take inspired action that will create this new balance.

As with all relationships, another key is clear communication. Just because you raised them, you cannot expect your children to be able to read your mind. Let them know that you want them to spend time with their friends, but you also want family time. Open the discussion so they have the opportunity to let you know how they think this could happen.

You can practice this technique with kids of any age, knowing that as they grow and their interests change, their responses will also undoubtedly change. Perhaps your daughter liked to go to shopping with you when she was younger, but that is something she would rather do with friends when she is a teen. Your son may have wanted you at every sporting event when he was younger, but once he got his driver’s license, he felt more independent going on his own.

Instead of insisting on continuing in family time that worked in the past, this can be an opportunity to learn more about your children as the people they are becoming. In the beginning, it can be helpful to have some suggestions for activities, but be open to going “off-script” and trying something different.

Perhaps they would enjoy helping cook a special meal together or even take a cooking class with you. You might enjoy going on a hike as a family or going to the neighborhood park, pool, or to the shore. Sometimes you and one of your children might want to schedule one-on-one time away from the other kids.

As your kids are developing this skill, it will be up to you to open up the discussion and schedule the time you want as a family. After a while, they will learn how to create the balance themselves and you will find that they are asking to set aside time together.

Let the time together be somewhat flexible, allowing all of you to check in with your IGS to see what feels right.  As a parent, you may set down specific rules that the entire family must adhere to, such as “we are all home for dinner,” but other times and activities can be more loosely structured.

By keeping the dialogue open about what “family time” means, and how each side of the relationship can feel supported and respected, you will grow closer as parent-child and as a family.

Your kids will learn to check in with their Internal Guidance System to know how they are feeling about all of their relationships. This will lead them to take the inspired action that will foster the most positive ones — including their relationship with you. This is a skill that they will be able to carry forward into their adult relationships and someday teach their own children.

© 2014.  Sharon Ballantine.  All Rights Reserved.

 

 

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