Being a busy parent can feel like a juggling act–balancing work, children’s activities, and a myriad of daily responsibilities. While the demands can be overwhelming, staying organized can significantly ease your stress and make your life more manageable. In this article from Parent-Child-Connect, we’ll share tips on how to live an organized family life to make room for what truly matters.
Begin the Day with a Checklist
The first step in managing your time is knowing where it should go. Start each day with a checklist outlining your tasks and priorities. This will act as your roadmap, guiding you through the day and ensuring nothing vital is forgotten. Place this list in a highly visible location, such as on the fridge or saved on your phone, and cross off items as you complete them. The satisfaction of checking off tasks will also give you a small but significant morale boost.
Go Digital with Your Documents
Once you’ve sorted out your daily tasks, it’s crucial to focus on long-term organization to manage important family documents like medical records and school forms, which can quickly turn into clutter. A practical solution is to digitize these essential papers, converting them into PDFs using secure, free-to-use online tools. These digital storage solutions not only streamline your organizational system but also make it convenient to share your files through online formats. Retrieving critical information becomes significantly easier when everything is neatly organized in your digital storage.
Get Smart About Your Receipts
After making your daily life more manageable and digitizing important family documents, it’s time to tackle the financial paperwork that inevitably piles up. Good news: the IRS accepts scanned or digital receipts for tax purposes, allowing you to streamline your record-keeping. Utilize electronic storage systems like cloud services or specialized receipt-tracking apps to keep all your financial documents in one secure, easily accessible place. This digital approach doesn’t just declutter your physical space; it also simplifies your financial life.
With your daily tasks and important documents sorted, you can further enhance your efficiency by embracing proven time management strategies. Techniques like the Pomodoro Method involve working in short, focused intervals followed by brief breaks, optimizing your productivity. Allocate time blocks for specific tasks, which prevents time from slipping away and leaves you with time for your family.
Combine Your Errands
Efficiency doesn’t just apply to tasks at home; it’s also crucial when you’re out and about. Instead of making separate trips for groceries, the post office, or other errands, consolidate them into one outing. This saves both time and fuel, reducing your stress and your carbon footprint. Consider involving your children in these tasks, turning errands into educational opportunities.
Make a Cleaning Routine for the Whole Family
A tidy home is more than just pleasing to the eye; it also promotes mental well-being. Establish a cleaning schedule, dividing tasks among family members or allocating specific chores to specific days. This planned approach avoids the last-minute rush to clean when unexpected guests arrive, or the feeling of being overwhelmed by an untidy living environment.
Meal Prep and Batch Cooking
Lastly, but certainly not least, is the ever-important task of feeding your family. Plan meals ahead to make grocery shopping more efficient and to avoid the “What’s for dinner?” dilemma. Batch cooking on weekends can also provide ready-made meals for the week, freeing up time for family activities.
Parenthood doesn’t have to be synonymous with perpetual chaos and clutter. By adopting these smart, budget-friendly strategies, you’re not just organizing your life—you’re investing in your own well-being and that of your family. Taking control of your time and space brings a sense of calm, allows for more meaningful family interactions, and most importantly, empowers you to live more and manage less. Don’t wait for “someday” to get organized; start reclaiming your life today and experience the transformative benefits for you and your family.
Who is Kris Louis?
Kris Louis is mom to two rambunctious boys. Her oldest is 10 and her youngest is 7. A former advertising copywriter, she recently created parentingwithkris.com, where she puts her skills to work writing about the trials and tribulations of parenting. Kris, her husband, and two boys live in Durham, NC.
In Part 1 of this two-part series, we discussed how “punishment” and “redemption” relates to discipline. Now we will dive into the six principles of discipline.
Principle #1. Use connection, not separation, to bring a child into line.
I know there are plenty of times when I just want to say, “Get out of my face” when my children do something wrong. Whether it’s my frustration with the incident or a feeling that sending them away will teach them a lesson, I should consider the potential unintended negative effects of this action. In essence, we are teaching our children that their connection to us is conditions-based. Thus, they should expect separation if they violate the conditions of this unspoken “agreement.”
Aside from the psychological reasons, children, like all other mammals, learn through imitation. By banishing them, we teach them to disregard other people when they disapprove of them. In reality, our focus should be on separating the human from the deficiency with the belief that humans, including our children, are generally well-meaning beings. Separating the human from the deficiency does not mean we shouldn’t hold our children accountable for their actions; it means we should never identify our children by their deficiencies.
With that said, I’m not saying we cannot take a moment of separation to gather ourselves when we’re frustrated–we’re still humans. I’m suggesting we should eliminate reactions that isolate the child from the adults responsible for grooming and guiding them. Remember, it’s your responsibility to maintain a connection with your child.
Establishing the connection requires us to apply some basic fundamentals. Remember, every child is different, so they require a unique approach.
Communication: Effective communication is key. Listen actively and express yourself clearly. Be aware of non-verbal cues like body language and tone, and adjust accordingly.
Contact: Be in the moment. Eye contact and physical touch make a huge difference. Practice embracing your child everyday so this contact will feel natural when it is time to correct the child.
Find common and relatable interests: Find shared interests or hobbies to bond over. It helps create a sense of belonging. Nobody likes a long, irrelevant lecture.
Respect: Respect your child’s time, intellect, and intelligence. Do not be rude or condescending. Respect their beliefs and opinions, and gently guide them as required.
Openness: Be open to their ideas, feelings, and experiences. Being judgmental will cause them to shut down. Encourage open dialogue while teaching them the proper tone and time to provide an alternative opinion.
Vulnerability: Be transparent, and share your thoughts and feelings– even if they make you feel uncomfortable. Transparency and embracing each other’s vulnerabilities can deepen the relationship.
Trust your instinct: We are naturally wired to nurture, care for, and protect our children. We know what’s best for them and will do everything to protect them. Trust that both of you share an innate desire for love, connection, and closeness.
Patience: Building a connection will take time. Be patient and allow your relationship to develop naturally.
Principle #2. When problems occur, work the relationship, not the incident.
This point cannot be overlooked or understated; however, it’s easier said than done. We should teach our children that condemning (giving strong disapproval of) their actions is not condemning them. The challenge is we are simultaneously teaching them to accept responsibility for their actions–a critical component of self-discipline. Therefore, we should teach them how and why what they did was wrong, show them the right way, and recognize them when they do the right thing. The goal is to break the repeated wrongful act before it becomes a habit and the habit becomes their identity. I wrote more about habit creation here: Establishing Winning Habits.
Here’s my advice (with an example):
Don’t make excuses: “You lied about that because…”
Don’t attack the person: “You’re a liar because…”
Highlight the wrong without connecting the wrong to their identity: “The lie you told was wrong, but it is not indicative of who you are as a person.”
Principle #3. Emotions, ego, and embarrassment.
I challenge you to check what I call “the three E’s” when you’re preparing to interact with your child.
How does your child’s action make you feel? Be in tune with your current emotional state and address that before addressing your child.
Why do you feel that emotion? Did the child’s action impact your perception of yourself (ego)? This is where identifying, understanding, and embracing our vulnerabilities helps us to avoid lashing out at our children or attempting to shame them into submission.
Are you responding because they publicly embarrassed you? This is a parenting reality. Our children, especially toddlers, aren’t selective of when and where they demonstrate poor behavior. The infamous meltdown in the grocery store is a perfect example of this. If we’re not careful, we quickly react out of embarrassment instead of love. Our intuitive reaction to embarrassment is to build a formidable defense against the one causing the embarrassment. We do this to regain status in whatever environment we are in at that time. The problem is that the psychological (and sometimes physical) defense we build severs the connection with our child which isolates them and worsens the situation. I’ll talk about this a little more later.
Principle #4. Solicit good intentions instead of demanding good behavior.
We’ve all been there–we’ve excused our own behavior based upon intentions while demanding perfection from others. This is not only counterproductive, but it creates a toxic, no-win environment for our children. Start by recognizing and encouraging your child’s desire to do the right thing. This is extremely hard to do in the heat of the moment, so it’s best to practice this daily before your child does something wrong. Again, this is not an attempt to excuse poor behavior; rather, it is a method to impact the root of self-discipline–a will to do the right thing regardless of circumstances.
Principle #5. Impulsivity and self-control.
There’s a positive correlation between impulsivity and our emotional state. This is something that we intuitively know. The more disarranged our emotional state becomes, the more impulsive we are. Like us, our children sometimes express their emotions with rash speech or behavior with little to no forethought or acknowledgement of how their words and actions impact those around them (including you). Though you should immediately address the behavior, the long-term goal is to teach your child emotional control. Teach them to acknowledge and validate their feelings, take a deep breath to calm down, and develop/execute a plan to solve the problem causing the emotion.
I’ve already highlighted that we should check the three E’s (emotions, ego, and embarrassment) before interacting with our children. I’ve also described how our children are susceptible to the three E’s. There’s a fourth “E” that can either tranquilize or inflame an unstable situation–environment.
Many believe it’s best to make on-the-spot corrections. These kind of corrections are sometimes necessary and even useful. There are other times when these kind of corrections make the situation worse simply because you negatively impacted the child’s other three E’s. My advice is that, unless you need immediate conformity (e.g. there’s a dangerous situation), it’s best to isolate your child to have the discussion. This allows you to connect with them and talk tothem instead of talking atthem.
My embarrassing example.
I’ll share an embarrassing example. My son had a break-away run while playing flag football last season. The nearest person was more than ten yards away with no chance of stopping him before he scored the touchdown. Noticing this, he began to high-step while placing his l-shaped hand on his forehead and looking over his shoulder at the nearest defender. The referee threw the flag and called back the touchdown for “taunting.” I was floored! I couldn’t believe that my son, who I previously told he’d get his team penalized for taunting, was now getting his team penalized for taunting.
I moved closer to the field as I turned off my camera. Another mom said, “Get him, Dad” as I moved closer to the field–further hyping my planned on-the-spot correction. “Jacob!” I yelled. “Cut that crap out, and play ball! You know better than that!” There I was, pointing and yelling at my son from the sidelines like a deranged lunatic. It seemed effective in the moment, but I cringe as I reminisce about that moment because it was ineffective and embarrassing to me, Jacob, and my entire family. The worst part is I publicly created a rift between myself and my child. Oops! Needless to say, I apologized after the game and began restoring the connection.
Mistakes will happen, but keep trying!
Ironically, I’m sharing this embarrassing story as encouragement. None of us are perfect, and we shouldn’t entertain a delusional belief that we will do everything right and lead our children to perfection. Do your best! Discipline takes time, but through your consistent connection and strong desire to lead your children with love, you will help them achieve self-discipline and grow into well-rounded adults.
“How do I discipline my child?” This is one of the most frequently asked questions that I’ve received since publishing, “Discipline: A U.S. Marine’s take on what it is and why we need it.” It’s a wise question because on one hand, discipline done right can influence positive behavior, solidify your relationship, and increase your child’s chances of succeeding in their life’s endeavors. On the other hand, discipline done wrong can have traumatic long-term effects, reduce confidence, and create a rift in your relationship that is incredibly difficult to mend. Here’s a brief overview of what I previously wrote so you’ll have context for my recommendations today. I encourage you to read (or listen to) the entire article!
Recap of “Discipline: A U.S. Marine’s take on what it is and why we need it.”
Discipline is training and preparing, not chastising and punishing.
If I were to break my idea of discipline down into its simplest form, I’d submit that discipline is a cyclical process where you learn from someone you trust, reenact what you learned (self-discipline), and teachwhat you’ve learned. The word discipline was tainted over time to incorporate “chastisement” or “punishment”; however, “discipline” originated from a word that describes a teacher presenting information that a pupil accepts.
Effective discipline leads to self-discipline.
We emphasize discipline because we want our children to apply what they learn in our absence. That’s self-discipline. You lead others to become self-disciplined by applying the following fundamentals:
Set the example!
Remember, it’s a team effort.
Create a structure for repetitive actions.
Be consistent and persistent.
Reward and hold accountable.
Prioritize education and explain the “why.”
Building upon this foundation.
I’ve read several books since I wrote my original article about discipline that have caused me to reflect on my own relationships at home and work. There are two specific books that I highly recommend to any parent, teacher, mentor, or caregiver. The first book is Daring Greatly by Brené Brown that talks about embracing our vulnerabilities. I honed in on her philosophy on how ineffective and harmful it is to “shame” others into compliance. The second book is Hold on to Your Kids by Dr. Gordon Neufeld and Dr. Garbor Maté. Their thoughts on viewing every interaction with our children through the lens of connection or “attachment” resonated with me.
I’m going to intertwine some of the concepts from these two books, and use some of Dr. Neufeld and Dr. Maté’s principles of natural discipline (chapter 16) in Part 2; but first, I want to establish a baseline understanding. We must relinquish control of the outcome.
Relinquish control of the outcome.
Yes, this seems counterintuitive and potentially contradictory to what I have previously recommended. I admit that this can even seem like advice from a defeated father. Contrarily, I couldn’t be more inspired and motivated to deepen my relationship with my children as I lead them to become self-disciplined! I still believe that we should begin with the end in mind like Dr. Steven Covey recommends in his books; however, I believe we’ve become unhealthily obsessed with how our children will turn out. A combination of this obsession and failing to embrace our own vulnerabilities associated with what appears to be our children rejecting us can taint our relationships and diminish our influence.
Children are living beings… not robots. That means that no matter how much you attempt to control the environment or manipulate external factors, only the child can determine the person he or she will become in the future. I highlighted the words “manipulate” and “determine” because these two contrasting concepts underpin my entire philosophy. Another word for manipulate is “coerce,” which is to persuade someone to do something by using force or threats. This kind of leadership may actually be effective in getting your child to do what you perceive to be the right thing–garnering praise from the untrained eye.
I counter by explaining that this type of leadership usually restricts creativity, damages the relationship, and often develops individuals who are unable to solve complex problems–especially in the absence of direct supervision and guidance. The negative impact on the relationship is arguably the most crucial aspect because it creates a vulnerability for the child that is filled by immature people with no vested interest in the child’s success in today’s peer-oriented society.
The bottom line:
There’s no code you can enter that will develop your child into what you assess to be the perfect being. Attempting to do so will only cause emotional distress for you and your child.
Relinquishing control of the outcome isn’t an excuse to become disconnected or give up leading your children; it’s a freeing mindset and daily commitment to doing your best to mentor and guide your children without attempting to control their actions. Many metaphorically describe this phenomenon as “teaching a man to fish” or “leading a horse to water.” In both scenarios, you lead the individual towards what’s best for them, but you cannot attempt to force them to take a certain action. They must determine their own fate.
This highlights that the crime-punishment methodology becomes cyclical, and it has the potential to condition one’s mind to persist in this dangerous cycle. For example, when my oldest daughter was three, her daycare implemented what was called “the red chair.” The teacher could send a child to the red chair for 1 minute of time-out for every year of the child’s age if he or she committed an offense. Well, there was this young man who loved to hit others. So much so, that he would hit someone and immediately begin walking to the red chair to serve his sentence…without being told. My wife and I still chuckle about this, but it is one of many examples of how punishments only lead to immediate compliance, not the change in behavior we seek.
A different approach.
Leading our children to become self-disciplined requires a different approach. This approach should help them recognize what they did wrong, understand why it is wrong, and determine they will not do it again. That’s why I encourage parents, teachers, mentors, and caregivers to remove the word “punishment” from their vernacular. Instead, teach your children that there are positive and negative consequences for our actions.
I also encourage leaders to implement rules and restrictions that keep the child focused on their daily priorities and maintaining a connection with those who share common values with the adult. As I’ve said before, there are a lot of people and things grasping for our children’s attention to influence their behavior. Either we can combat those influences or collaborate with them. Either way, we must be intentional about how we lead and guide our children.
My dad has always given me wise advice even if I pretended I wasn’t listening. One piece of advice he gave me was, “always give your children an opportunity to redeem themselves.” We cannot overlook this important note. To “redeem” is to regain possession of something. So what is lost when our children do something wrong? Nothing! No matter how frustrating their behavior may have been, you still love your child unconditionally. The problem is your child may perceive that they are disconnected from you, and their perception becomes their reality.
I’m not suggesting that we pamper each of our children’s fleeing emotions. This would be an exhausting and fruitless endeavor. However, we must be keenly aware of the moments our children feel disconnected from us. Strengthening the connection to our children should always be the focal point of any interaction with them. This leads us to our first principle of discipline in Part 2 of this series: Use connection, not separation, to bring a child into line.
Brea and I have always encouraged our children to read a variety of books. On one hand, Brea was a huge reader growing up–choosing to spend time in the book mobile from the time it arrived until it departed. On the other hand, I enjoyed reading until I decided I wanted to rebel against my parents’ “reading time.” Although we had an entire library of interesting books to choose from in my home, I transformed my perspective on reading from “fun” to “forced.” That was just one of the many weird things I decided to rebel against during my preteen and early teen years. Thankfully, I matured (a little) and regained my love for reading by junior year of high school.
Our reading strategy.
As parents, we decided that reading would be one of our main priorities. Even so, we do our best not to order our children to read; instead, we create opportunities for them to enjoy quiet recreational time before bed. They usually write, color, read, or play with their toys quietly in their separate rooms during this “wind down” time. We found that each of them are more inclined to enjoy reading when they didn’t feel forced to read. With that in mind, we always try to strategically purchase books that align their interests with the values we teach in our home. Recently, I slightly deviated from this plan after I found and began reading the book, “Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations” by Alex Harris and Brett Harris.
Honestly, I found this book on accident while looking for another book with a similar title. However, I knew this book was a great read for both me and my oldest daughter (recently turned 13) after I read the first four chapters! The irony is not lost on me that I–the prior rebellious teen–have handed my daughter a book about becoming a “rebellious teen.” Of course as the title reveals, the kind of rebellion I’m encouraging is against low expectations and harmful stereotypes. I encouraged my daughter to reflect on what she’s learning and how she can apply what she reads.
The elephant analogy.
Alex and Brett lead in with an “elephant” analogy I have heard and read several times. Similar to the “grasshopper in a jar” analogy, Alex and Brett explain that trained elephants are often restrained using only a small rope. As with every other time I’ve heard this analogy, I interpreted that I should not allow artificial or superficial constraints to limit my potential. I handed my daughter the book thinking that was the same message she’d receive. To my surprise, here’s what she wrote.:
Some people are like elephants; they are strong, smart, and hold potential, but sometimes they have to be held down by a rope. Elephants can escape from a small rope, but they have to be trusted to do what’s right.
Constraints vs Tethers.
My brand new teen daughter taught me a valuable lesson on perspective. Some of us view the proverbial rope as a constraint. This rope can and will stop us from achieving greatness. It makes us think less of ourselves and keeps us from achieving our true potential. Others, like my thirteen year-old daughter, view the rope as a tether.
I use the specific word “tether,” because it has multiple definitions. One definition in Merriam-Webster states, “a line (as of rope or chain) by which an animal is fastened so as to restrict its range of movement.” People like Brilee use the second definition: “a line to which someone or something is attached (as for security).” The easily recognizable difference between the two definitions is the connection’s purpose. One is used to restrict while the other is used to secure. To “secure” is to, “fix or attach (something) firmly so that it cannot be moved or lost.”
Bringing it all together
I’m so proud that I was able to learn a valuable lesson from my teen’s perspective of a well-known analogy! Many of us view the proverbial rope as a limitation. Even so, Brilee reminded us that it can be a firm connection to our values. Life presents so many obstacles that at times, we choose to take the easiest path. Unfortunately, the easiest path isn’t always the one that aligns with our values.
Brilee’s perspective is a gentle reminder that we must identify and commit to the principles that drive our daily decisions. We have to remember our purpose and allow our moral compass to direct our judgement. This is what will inform our decisions when we have the opportunity to cut corners or cheat.
Brilee, thank you for encouraging me to remain committed to my guiding principles regardless of how hard it may be!
Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful holiday weekend!
Ten quotes came to mind when I decided to share inspirational quotes from my parents that inspired me in Part 1 of this series. My siblings responded by sending me some of their favorite quotes from our parents, and some of you were shocked that I was able to draw inspiration or anything profound from a couple of the “meaningless” quotes. With that in mind, I will begin with something I wrote at the very end of Part 1. No matter if you’re leading children in a classroom, troops on the battlefield, a small project team, or any other person or group of people, you never know how what you say or do will impact those you lead.
You never know how what you say or do will impact those you lead.
Use that to your advantage! I challenge you to be intentional in your daily interactions. Also, remember that when you mess up, your response, intentions, and commitment to leading with love will make the difference in how those you lead perceive your mistakes.
With that, let’s dive into Part 2 of “How to inspire your child for life.: Inspirational quotes from my parents.”
Inspirational Quote #6:
This is obviously one of the more recent quotes in this list. I was a brand new officer in the Marine Corps who had learned a new type of leadership from the sergeant instructors at Officer Candidates School. Yeah of course I loved my family, but I wanted to train them to be timely, organized, and prepared for the real world. I was determined to be empathetic and understanding, but firm, consistent, and I’d hold them accountable.
My dad patiently listened to me as I explained all the great things I had learned as a new marine officer and how I’d use those lessons to lead my family. He interjected every once in a while as I laid out examples of how I would implement my new leadership philosophy. Of course I had a response for each interjection, because I had it all figured out. When I finally finished, he responded with the above quote.
This was another quote that I did not immediately receive, but it began to make more sense as time progressed. My dad explained that though I had great intentions, my militant tone, disposition, and philosophy was bordering autocracy. He intentionally used the word “drive” to emphasize his point. “Drive” has several definitions, but the first three are to “operate and control the direction [of],”propel or carry along by force,” and “urge or force (animals or people) to move in a specified direction.” He taught me one of the most valuable lessons about leadership that afternoon.: If you attempt to control those you lead by force (coercion, manipulation, etc.), you will force (push) them in the opposite direction.
Instead, he encouraged me to lead them. That means I must empathetically understand and meet each of their unique needs to make them better contributors to the team’s (or in this case, family’s) overall goals. Each person becomes better because of my example, words, and actions. That is the ultimate goal!
Inspirational Quote #7:
I, like most people, always just wanted to quickly finish whatever task list I had so I can do my own thing. Whether it was cleaning my room, folding and ironing my clothes, washing dishes, or anything else, I would rush through so I could do whatever recreational activity I had planned that day. I would inform my mom when I finished, and she would inspect. Without fail, she would find that my clothes were in a ball and stuffed in the drawer. She would find my khakis were somehow triple or quadruple creased. My mom would even find entire pieces of food still stuck to the dishes I “washed.”
Somehow, I was always shocked that she’d make me do it again. Didn’t she know she was stopping me from getting to my recreation time?! To make matters worse, it would usually be a school night, so my recreational time was already limited! Regardless, she would always leave me with the above quote.
My mom was teaching me to create and maintain priorities. I initially thought she just wanted to keep me from having fun. Contrarily, she was teaching me to allocate the appropriate amount of time, resources, and effort to each priority so I can have time to do the things I want! This lesson has not only helped me in my professional life, but it has helped me to ensure I make time to build and maintain my personal spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental strength.
Inspirational Quote #8:
Have you ever heard someone just ramble? You know, the person who just says a lot of meaningless words, spews empty rhetoric, and makes hollow promises. It’s even worse when those people are in a leadership position. That’s when this character flaw is costly. Well, my dad recognized how costly this would be and sought to teach us the “think first” philosophy at an early age. I’ve heard people in the Marine Corps say, “‘PTT stands for ‘push to talk,’ not ‘push to think!'” (It’s radio jargon.)
My dad was teaching us one of life’s most valuable lessons that quite honestly many leaders and politicians need to learn. I learned a few things from this.:
Be a man of your word. Don’t promise something you cannot or will not deliver.
Don’t be reactionary. Sometimes, saying the first thing that comes to your mind can be costly, because you cannot take it back. Think… then respond.
Never pass up a good opportunity to shut up and listen. You learn more about people and understand their needs when you listen to understand instead of listening to respond. This ties in well with the other lesson about empathetic listening.
Inspirational Quote #9:
I remember my mom would come home from a long weekend day of running errands to find us just lounging around. None of our chores were complete. Our teeth may or may not have been brushed. We hadn’t showered or changed clothes. And when she asked what we had been doing, the frustrating but accurate answer she would receive is, “I don’t know.” We couldn’t even say that we rested, because we were still tired! The obvious truth was that we hadn’t accomplished anything that day. That’s when my mom would say the above quote.
Feeding upon the previous lessons on establishing and maintaining priorities, my mom was teaching us how to establish and achieve daily goals. These daily achievements are cumulative and they create what Dave Ramsey calls the “snowball” effect in finance and what Jim Collins refers to as the “flywheel” effect in businesses that went from “good to great.” Those small personal and professional daily achievements build upon each other over time and create momentum. That momentum builds you into a successful leader, team, family, or organization.
My siblings and I have a great relationship; we literally talk and enjoy each other’s company every day. If one of us is unaccounted for, you can expect to receive an individual text or call! We weren’t always like that though. Because we were ultra-competitive, there were times people would call our parents thinking we were going to kill each other. Soon after, our parents would find us laughing and playing as if nothing ever happened. Even so, that childlike short-term memory began to wane over time. My parents could tell that there were some issues that would linger from day to day, and if they didn’t intervene, envy, animosity, and hatred would soon reveal itself.
Joining the Marine Corps was a very natural move for me, because the lessons that my parents taught us transitioned perfectly. They taught us that no matter what happens in life, you will always have each other. There is always someone you can turn to even if you feel like the world was against you. Therefore, I must love and cherish my family. I should treat them with honor, dignity, and respect while ensuring I prioritize their needs above my own. I should be their biggest fan, supporter, and reliable accountability partner, and I should give my time and efforts freely without expecting anything in return. And when the time comes, I should be prepared to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them to physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually fight!
If I somehow managed to forget every other lesson I have ever learned, this is the lesson I will not forget. So I will end with this encouragement for you. Fight WITH (not against) and for your love ones! Never give up on fighting for healthy relationships and fighting to keep everyone engaged on your team. You have everything you need within you to inspire the next generation, so keep fighting and lead well!
Honorable mention Inspirational Quotes
As I said before, my siblings bombarded me with quotes from my parents. However, I had to narrow them down to keep this series from extending through the new year. So here are just four more “honorable mention” inspirational quotes not in any particular order.
Honorable Mention Inspirational Quote #1.
There’s a right time for everything.
This is pretty self-explanatory; read the room and know when it’s time for certain actions and words.
Honorable Mention Inspirational Quote #2
If everyone else was jumping off of a cliff, would you?
A lot of parents used to say this one, but the message isn’t missed.: Educate yourself and have a purpose for everything you do. Never just blindly follow the masses.
Honorable Mention Quote #3
Sell your shares!
I didn’t even know what this meant when my dad would walk around turning off all the lights and stopping us from running water while brushing our teeth. Lol. He was jokingly telling us to “sell our shares” of the electric and water companies we were allegedly making rich. In reality, he was teaching us to be mindful of how we use our limited resources.
Honorable Mention Quote #4
Learn something new every day.
My parents taught us to be continual learners, and to never be content with your current knowledge. Whether it be reading, listening to podcasts, watching documentaries, attending formal education/training in our professional careers, or obtaining advance degrees, they always wanted us to maintain a sharp mind. Come to think of it, I don’t think there has been a period of time where one of the six of us has not been attending some form of formal educational program beyond high school since 1994. These lessons work!
That’s all I have for today. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful week!
Whether you are a parent, teacher, mentor, or in any other leadership position, there is one thing that we all need: discipline! We need self-discipline and must demand discipline from those we lead (that includes our children).
The first image that pops in my head when I think of the word “discipline” is the iconic U.S. Marine Corps drill instructor. That’s partly because every drill instructor probably says the word a million times. In fact, one of the first things the senior drill instructor tells his or her recruits at Marine Corps Recruit Depot (aka “boot camp”) is, “Discipline and spirit are the hallmarks of a Marine. Each one of you can become a Marine if you develop discipline and spirit.” Although it would be the absolute worst time to ask, a recruit may be wondering, “Sir, what is discipline?” So that’s where I will begin.
My thoughts on discipline.
As a guy who grew up in the south, I have always heard, “spare the rod, spoil the child” or as Ms. Trunchbull said in Matilda, “My school is a model of discipline! Use the rod, beat the child, that’s my motto.” Both of these are a spin off of the biblical verse in Proverbs 13:24 that says, “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.”
I recognize that I probably just split my audience in two. One group’s pants just dropped as they ripped their belt from their waist and said, “that’s what I’m talking about!” The other is ready to just stop reading and give me a thumbs down. Either way, I am here to neither condemn nor endorse a particular disciplinary method. My goal is to simply provide my take on discipline. After you finish reading, I encourage you to research and develop disciplinary methods that will work for the people you are leading.
What is “discipline”:
My thoughts on discipline are a result of several things. First, my upbringing and life experiences as a U.S. Marine officer, parent, and mentor. Next, the books I’ve read like “Quiet Strength” by Tony Dungy , “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie, “It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership” by Colin Powell, and many others. Most recently, I discussed discipline in my home Bible study group with other U.S. Marines (who happen to be special operators and fathers themselves).
Discipline is both a noun and a verb that is defined in numerous sources as “the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience.” In verb form, there is an even more direct definition that says, “punish or rebuke (someone) formally for an offense.”
Seems pretty clear that discipline is all about training by applying painful consequences!
Before we commit to that logic, let’s take a look at the root of the word.
The word “discipline” is from the Latin word “discipulus,” meaning “pupil, learner.” “Discipulus” is also the source of a familiar English word “disciple” which means “one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another.” As you continue to follow the word “discipulus,” you will find it also produced the Latin word, “disciplīna” which means “teaching, instruction, branch of study, orderly conduct based on moral training.” Here’s where it gets interesting, “disciplīna” produced the Middle English word “discipline” which we have already defined. The interesting part is now the word “chastisement” or “punishment” was introduced in 13th century religious practices. To me, that means the word lost its purity over time as various teaching methods were introduced.
My counter cultural belief.
Aside from quotes like Ms. Trunchbull’s in the early 1990s, you will hear quotes like “pain retains” when discussing discipline today. Even so, I submit that if we truly want to achieve the ultimate goal, which is for our followers to develop self-discipline, we must return to the root of the word. With that in mind, my belief can be summarized by the quote below.
I believe the above authors would agree that punishmentcreates immediate conformity, but again, the goal should be self-discipline, which is a long-term objective. I define self-discipline as the continued application of lessons learned regardless of the circumstance or level of supervision.
My personal example
Sometimes, immediate conformity is necessary. For example, my 3 year old was innocently wandering towards the street. I rushed over, physically stopped her, and sternly commanded, “do not go into the street!” After doing this three to four times, one would assume that discipline by physical means or punishment was achieved. To that, I’d agree. My daughter (the pupil) has learned that I am willing to use physical force to immediately stop her from walking into the street. Many leaders would stop there–assuming the child has received the appropriate instruction and has adequate discipline. The immediate question I would ask is, “what happens when Dad is not around?”
In this case, I needed instant conformity to stop my daughter from wandering into a dangerous situation to prevent a potentially fatal outcome. However, as the instructor who is looking to help the pupil develop discipline, my work does not stop there. I must help her accept my teachings by making it relevant to her. Then, and only then, has she achieved self-discipline. In this example, I showed her how fast the car is going and explained how dangerous it is to walk into the road. When we passed vehicle accidents, I showed her how people could get injured and how vehicles were ruined. Now, she corrects me if she doesn’t see me check both ways before crossing the road. Self-discipline has been achieved.
Effective discipline leads to self-discipline.
If discipline is training your followers to accept what you or your organization believe to be right, then (as I said before) self-discipline is the consistent application of these lessons regardless of the circumstance. For example, I wasn’t the best free throw shooter in high school. In fact, I shot around 65-70% accuracy. I remember the coach telling us, “free throws are FREE!” In other words, the free throw is the only uncontested shot in basketball.
Of course like many other teams, we ran for missed free throws. Though it helped me get in better shape, running had very little impact on my free throw shooting accuracy. What forced me to change was my realization that my poor free throw shooting could be the difference between a win and a loss. That realization encouraged me to practice. Many great free throw shooters will tell you that the secret to shooting more accurately is to do the same thing every time. That means from the way you wipe your sweat to the way you bend your legs to the way you breathe to the way you release the basketball. These factors (and more) contribute to your accuracy. My free throw shooting percentage significantly improved when I learned to consistently apply my coach’s shooting instructions. This is what developing discipline is all about–consistently applying instructions regardless of circumstances for your benefit and the benefit of the entire family or organization.
How to lead others to develop discipline.
I wouldn’t dare claim this is an all-encompassing list, but here are my thoughts on how you can lead others to develop discipline.
1. Set the example!
One of my favorite phrases is, “more is caught than taught.” In other words, people want to see their leaders practicing what they are teaching. Leaders must have self-discipline before they can discipline others.
2. It’s a team effort.
In case you haven’t realized it yet, you have an integral role in helping others develop self-discipline. I know Hollywood would have us believe that we can climb Mount Fuji shirtless to find ourselves and develop discipline, but that’s not reality. For example, U.S. Marine Corps drill instructors don’t allow recruits to just wander around for thirteen weeks until they find this mythical thing called “discipline.” The drill instructors lead the recruits on a physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional journey and allow them to graduate once they demonstrate self-discipline.
3. Repetition is key.
I elaborate on this in a previous blog post entitled “Establishing Winning Habits.” Therein, I said, “You are what you repeat.” Which means we have to teach our followers to practice applying the instructions we provide. That is the only way to influence habitual behavior.
4. Be consistent and persistent.
I have had the opportunity to peak behind the curtains at Marine Corps boot camp. From that experience, I can tell you that some recruits require longer than thirteen weeks to develop self-discipline. That means that some recruits graduate with a different company than they started with. However, as long as the recruit (pupil) refuses to give up, the team at the Marine Corps Recruit Depots will continue to lead that recruit. This same logic applies to any pupil. Everyone is different, so that means you may have to train them longer (or shorter) than you expected. Remain consistent and persistent in your teachings.
5. Reward and hold accountable.
There are numerous studies that conclude that living beings respond positively to being rewarded for doing well. But, we cannot ignore the other half of the equation–accountability. Celebrate successes and quickly correct deficiencies. That is the best way to ensure someone accepts your instructions.
6. Prioritize education and explain the “why.”
This is one of the most important factors to encourage others to accept your instructions. As a leader, telling your followers what to do is easy, but great leaders understand that educating followers by explaining the “why” is what allows the followers to consistently apply the teachings regardless of the circumstance. Help your followers understand why your instructions are relevant to the family or organization as a whole, and help your followers understand why your instructions are relevant to them individually.
There are a few key points that I want you to take with you today. Self-discipline is the ultimate goal. That requires leaders to lead their followers on a journey towards developing self-discipline. Along this journey, it’s imperative that leaders research and develop disciplinary methods that will adequately contribute to the overall goal. In the end, discipline is what will ensure your family’s or organization’s success. It is up to you to instill that discipline.
My mom really sparked a love for story time within me. In fact, whenever I read books with my own children, I imagine her inflections, facial expressions, smiles, widening eyes, and excitement. She is exactly who I got my animated personality from while engaging with children.
So when I created my parent-child-connect (P2C) book series, my goal was to develop resources for parents, teachers, and mentors to similarly create teachable and memorable moments of their own! I never imagined that I would have opportunities to share my stories in front of thousands of children around the world. The support has been amazing!
Several educators, librarians, and administrators have given me the opportunity to read and engage with their students. Of course I collected a few notes during these engagements that help me better serve the schools. Ultimately, each engagement has turned into a teachable and memorable moment using some basic fundamentals that I’ll share with you today.
How to use books to create teachable and memorable moments.
1. Voice tone and inflections.
Ever wonder why YouTube channels like “Blippi – Educational Videos for Kids” have been so successful? It’s because the creators have learned to entertain and engage children with their tone and inflection! Your tone and inflection draw the children in and brings the story to life for them. Through contextualization, they are learning to comprehend the words you are reading. If there are pictures, the children’s imagination are transforming the pictures from 2-dimensional to 3-dimensional. I call this the Pee-wee Herman vs Clear Eyes guy dynamic. You can reel the children in with an excited voice, or you can bore them with a monotone voice. Your choice!
2. Body language and expressions.
Body language and expressions go hand-in-hand with tone and inflections. With the younger groups (toddler through about 8 years old), I always try to keep my eyes wide, smile broad, chest out, and my arms and hands open. This is a welcoming posture–almost like I’m inviting them to join you in an exciting world! For the older groups (9+), I usually begin by mirroring their body language and expressions then gradually transitioning to a brighter and excitable demeanor. You have to read the room. Why?
Because the younger group is usually more open to new things and excited to engage with you just because you seem “fun.” The older group usually isn’t as eager to join you. They want to get to know you a little more before they warm up to you. They no longer identify as a “child” anymore; they prefer the title “preteen.” With that comes a perceived transition into adulthood and a disinterest in “kiddie things.” That’s ok; we’ll bring the childlike excitement out of them! This body and expression mirroring technique may seem miniscule, but it has worked for me in every setting–from the classroom to the library to the church. Numerous parents and teachers have asked, “How did you get them to open up like that?” My answer was simple: I met them where they were!
3. Awareness of current trends.
Recently, I was sitting in a presentation that one of my peers gave to a group of marines. The presenter made numerous references and used several memes to drive his point home. If used correctly, this can be an invaluable technique for a presenter! The keywords there are, “if used correctly.”
During this presentation, the presenter referenced movies like The Lincoln Lawyer (2011), Red Dawn (1984), and A Christmas Story (1983). These are all great movies and references! The only issue was the majority of the people in the room were between the ages of 18-22 (born between 2000 and 2004)… So they had never seen those movies! He found himself standing in a room full of blank stares. He couldn’t flip through those slides quick enough!
*Side note:I had a similar circumstance when I found out my marines didn’t believe The Lion King (1994) was the greatest Disney movie of all time. Some had never even seen it! Really?! I digress.*
Integrating relevant topics and themes is a great tool, but it’s important to understand your audience and their current interests. This, once again, allows you to meet the children where they are and connect with them on their level.
4. Passion and energy.
This one is simple. If you don’t believe in what you’re saying, the children you’re engaging with won’t believe in what you’re saying. If you are dry, dull, and boring, the children will [accurately] believe you are dry, dull, and boring. They will become disengaged, and the entire session will be pointless. Your passion and energy is the driving force behind my first three suggestions, and it is how you connect your audience with the book you’re reading to create a teachable and memorable moment.
5. Be yourself.
It’s easy to read my first few suggestions and assume I’m encouraging you to be someone you’re not. Well, I’m not. In fact, children will quickly realize any fake characteristics. As such, creating teachable and memorable moments is both a science and an art. In other words, simply systematically studying your target audience and attempting to apply your observations isn’t enough. You have to add in creativity and imagination. Then, just like with fine art, the children will appreciate and connect with your intangible characteristics more than they appreciate your technique.
6. Engage with whomever engages you, but don’t forget to engage the quiet one.
It is super easy to connect with the talkative children. Some people would consider it a success if even five out of eighteen students are engaged. It makes the reader feel accomplished! Quite honestly, I absolutely love an engaged audience. The only issue is when in a group setting (even a small class), it’s easy to overlook the quiet one. That is the one I look for. There are a litany of reasons a child would be quiet and/or withdrawn, but I love giving them the opportunity to speak and feel heard. It builds their confidence and gives you an opportunity to receive immediate feedback from a person who may have otherwise been disengaged. Reel them in; they’ll never forget it!
7. Slow down.
I wanted to be a rapper when I was younger! (I know that’s a weird way to start this section, but let’s just roll with it.) I’m not talking about just any rapper; I wanted to rap like Twista or Busta Rhymes! You know, the kind of rap where the artist says about 280 words per minute. So, it’s no wonder I read and talk fast after practicing that for a few years.
Here’s my advice for you: slow down! You’re not a rapper, so you’re not going to entertain children by reading the book fast. Of course I say that jokingly, because like me, you’re talking fast because of nervousness not because you think it’s entertaining. The way to avoid reading too fast is to schedule natural pauses during your practice runs. Obviously, the implied advice is that you practice and do dry runs before reading with children (even at home). Some of you are thinking like Allen Iverson in the early 2000s, “Practice?! We talkin’ bout practice!” Yes, I’m suggesting you practice before “game time” so you’re ready to engage the children with energy and passion with the right speed, tone, and inflection. You see how this is all coming together? Let’s keep going.
8. The fight for attention.
Let’s park here for a couple of minutes, because this one is critical to creating teachable and memorable moments. I’ve done engagements with parents, clients, teens, toddlers, teachers… basically all age ranges. One thing that each group has in common is a limited attention span. Many scholars, like Barbara Gross Davis in Tools for Teaching and Phillip C. Wankat in The Effective, Efficient Professor: Teaching, Scholarship, and Service, assert that attention begins to wane after about 10 to 15 minutes. There is even an often cited Microsoft report that says our attention span is only 8 seconds… apparently, that’s less than a goldfish! Uh oh. That can be a bit problematic when you’re booked for 30 to 60 minutes. So how do you deal with this conundrum? Is it hopeless to try to engage for longer than 10 to 15 minutes?!
Limit distractions as much as possible. Kevin Hart’s team’s latest stand-up is about two hours long. During this time, spectators secure their phones in individual Yondr pouches. This is obviously to keep people from recording or broadcasting the show; however, the unintended affect is this initiative forces spectators to pay attention to the show without the consistent distraction. Typically, an individual’s attention span is broken when they attempt to multitask or split their focus. So if possible, pick a quiet room or location without immediate access to mobile devices, toys, TVs, etc. Although we cannot accurately predict the infinite number of ways the brain can become distracted, we can temporarily restrict access to common distractions to increase focus and attention.
The focus cycle. As stated above, there are an infinite number of ways the mind can become distracted. For example, have you ever noticed the little lint and dust floating freely through the air while you’re in a meeting? That’s just one of many fairly insignificant things that can steal our children’s focus. With that in mind, we have to constantly work through the focus cycle. This is where the human brain focuses then (sometimes involuntarily) loses focus. An easily-recognizable outward sign of waning focus is drifting eyes. Your job is to identify these cues and use inflection, expressions, tone, body language, and visual aides to refocus your audience on the book you’re reading.
Humans have limited capacity for visual information. Use your visual aides sparingly…even with picture books. Now this sounds pretty weird. I just told you to use visual aides, and now I’m telling you to limit your visual aides even with a picture book. Let me explain before you call me crazy. Although picture books are full of illustrations, the illustrations should complement the theme. So really, you are directing your child’s attention to how two or three pictures relate to the theme. I’ll use my book, Crow From the Shadow, as an example.
I usually begin by pointing out the two contrasting images of Crow on the front cover. “A” is Crow after he learned how to defeat the Shadow. “B” is Crow before he learned how to defeat the Shadow. I use these contrasting images to highlight the book’s theme. Then, I constantly highlight how Crow is slowly transitioning throughout the story. Thereby, the children can enjoy the story while comprehending the topic without having to memorize each picture.
By the way, here’s a really good read-aloud of “Crow From the Shadow” if you haven’t read it already. 😊
9. Respect the teacher and/or librarian and offer to be a resource.
This should be obvious, but you’d be surprised. The teacher and librarian will be the authoritative figure before and after you leave. They are the people who will begin and sustain what you are trying to do. In other words, you are collaborating with the teacher and/or librarian to create teachable and memorable moments for the children. Both teachers and librarians have been extremely helpful in helping maintain order, reinforcing themes, asking questions that can help the children later, and organizing continuing conversations. So give the teacher and librarian a shout out! Not only does that show that you appreciate them, but it gives them a bit of “street cred” with the children. Trust me, it means a lot to them!
10. What about teenagers?
Some of you are thinking, “yea this is cute for younger children, but it would never work for my teenager.” The beauty of this advice is it will work for teens…with some modifications.
You probably won’t be reading picture books with your teen, but nothing stops you from reading one of the books they are interested in, then discussing it in a relaxed setting. If they chose the book, they are interested in the topic. So by reading their books, not only are you gaining a better understanding of their perspective, you are establishing a common ground between the two of you.
What if you don’t have time to read their books?
No problem. Just ask them about it. Start the conversation by saying something like, “I saw you were reading _____. That seems interesting! Tell me about it!” Don’t try to squeeze in a lecture or dominate these conversations. Allow the conversation to naturally progress. Believe it or not, these discussions will create some of the most heartfelt teachable and memorable moments!
11. Have fun!
I couldn’t end this blog without telling you to have fun! Reading is very exciting and you are doing what it takes to increase literacy as you mentor, lead, and guide children. I am proud of you and the work you’re doing! Let’s continue to build teachable and memorable moments together!
Mental health is a tough topic of discussion in most homes and oftentimes met with negative comments. Those who deal with mental health are often shunned and ostracized. I thought “finance” was a sensitive topic, but discussing mental health is like walking on thin ice. It is often seen as an untouchable, unspoken topic. My mental health journey started at an early age, and I have personally learned from my own journey. I felt as though I would be viewed as crazy or looney, require a lifetime medication prescription, and/or be locked in an asylum for the rest of my life. I was always afraid to face my mental health head on and be open with my parents about how I was feeling. Growing up in the church, we were always taught that negative thoughts were the devil and we should just attempt to pray them away and hope for the best. As I got older, I often felt my mind drift to darker places than the last time. I finally learned that prayer alone just wasn’t going to cut it.
What I’ve learned.
What I have learned along this journey is to be open and honest with my family and –most importantly– my children. With our world crumbling right before their eyes, who knows what could be going through those little minds? I dealt with my mental health in adolescence alone because I was too afraid to open up to my parents and older siblings, thinking they would think something was “wrong with me.”
I do not want that for my children. When they deal with their mental health, I want them to understand that IT’S OK and PERFECTLY NORMAL. I want them to understand that their biggest hero and cheerleader, Daddy, has and continues to go through those feelings while on his own mental health journey. Those little boys will know that I am here to guide them through their journey and make sure that they are able to grow along the way.
I have learned to replace words like “struggling” and “coping” with words like “learning, growing, and progressing” when discussing my mental health journey. We all have our own journey, but it is imperative that we teach our children to navigate through this tough topic. How do we teach them? Let’s walk through this guide together!
Day Two: Time to break the mold!
“Shut up crybaby!” “Suck it up!” “Stop acting like a girl!” “You must be a wimp!” “Stop crying… real men don’t cry or show emotion!” “Toughen up!” “If you want sympathy, look in the dictionary between…” You know the rest. These sound familiar? In an attempt to teach our young people how to overcome adversity, these are some of the things we say. We should be developing what I like to call the three pillars of fortitude: physical toughness, spiritual toughness, and mental toughness; however, by constantly barraging our children with anything like the aforementioned clichés, we are inadvertently teaching our children to suppress pain/feelings while emotionally disconnecting from themselves and others.
Society’s perception of masculinity and toughness has built crumbling mental toughness pillars.
🎥Watch this🎬: The Mask You Live In is a film worth watching that, “follows boys and young men as they struggle to stay true to themselves while negotiating America’s narrow definition of masculinity… [This film] ultimately illustrates how we, as a society, can raise a healthier generation of boys and young men.” –therepresentationproject.org
Did you catch the Major Payne quote above?? That is definitely one of my favorite movies! For those that have not seen it (spoilers loading…), Major Payne is a comedy film from the ninety’s that stars Daymon Wayans acting as Major Benson Winifred Payne–a nail eating, combat tested, United States Marine (Oorah!) that was honorably discharged after being passed [twice] for promotion. He later finds a job as a JROTC instructor and faces the tall task of turning a “…gaggle of maggots into a well-disciplined cadet unit” (his words, not mine). Fast forward to the end, the newly-cohesive unit wins the Virginia Military Games!
Now before you go purchase hand grenades to “train” your children, please understand that I am not endorsing Major Payne’s [hilarious] leadership model. He had A LOT to learn about raising/mentoring young people. The good news is after reading “The ABC’s Of Being A Positive Male Role Model,” Major Payne began to comprehend the importance of teaching young people to reconnect with their emotions. He understood that he had to “be sensitive to [their] needs” to reach their hearts.
Tomorrow, we will discuss how we can make the same tweaks in our leadership abilities as the infamous Major Payne! Stay tuned.
Day Three: The Major Payne Leadership Model
Boot camp 101: “Fall in” is a command that means, “take your place in a military formation.” In the Marine Corps, we “fall in” at the position of “attention.” Meaning you are attentive and ready to hear what’s next.
Since I have not located the book that triggered Major Payne’s transition from trained killer to effective mentor, I created the below ABCs Of Being a Positive Father and Role Model! Don’t worry… I’ll stop at “D.”
Always seek to inspire: this tip is a science and an art.
The science (the what) is to be firm, be fair, teach your children how to be responsible, set the example with your own actions, and hold your children accountable.
The art (the how) is to encourage, use positive reinforcement when they do well, and fill their minds with positive thoughts when they make a mistake or disappoint you. Lather your children in positive affirmations!
Note: the definition of “patient” is, “able to accept or tolerate delays, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious.” That will definitely take some practice, but you can do it!
This is a tough one, because, like Mrs. Trunchbull from the movie Matilda said, “They’re all mistakes, children. Filthy, nasty things. Glad I never was one.” Right? WRONG! Ok so let’s start there; have a little grace. Although we were all angels growing up, children are going to be children–they are just young human beings. They will make mistakes. They will sometimes disappoint you. They will sometimes get it wrong again, and again, and again. But it is ok! Take a deep breath, and extend a little grace.
**Check this out: My youngest daughter literally jumped (fully clothed) into a kiddie pool as I was typing this section! So, I had an immediate opportunity to practice being patient. 🙃 I grabbed her hand, calmly told her, “you’re all wet; let’s go dry off,” and walked her inside. Po-si-tive *Major Payne voice **
Care and Compassion
Care is probably the simplest of the two C’s. To care is to provide the basic necessities of life (i.e. food, shelter, water, and electricity). This is where us fathers typically thrive, and sometimes, we are too quick to let everyone know (don’t brag; it’s your job 😉). Be physically present, and provide for your children.
Compassion requires you to validate and value your children’s thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Do not fall into the trap of saying, “it’s really not that big a deal.” Instead, allow your children to share their feelings with you, so you become empathetic enough to have a strong desire to help. Don’t try to be “Mr. Fix It,” but at least express the desire to help! For example, someone once stole a very rare unicorn from my oldest daughter in an online game that she enjoyed playing. It seemed silly at first, but I realized this really hurt her feelings. So first, I had to verbally validate her feelings and emotions. Then, I shared the moment with her until she felt better. Simple but effective!
**BONUS “C”: Celebrate!! My youngest was potty training when I wrote this. So I took a quick break to celebrate with a silly jingle and dance I made up, “Eni went poopy in the poooottty!” *Clap *Clap (repeat). Positive reinforcement goes a long way!**
Do not be afraid to cry openly!
I heard my wife tell my son, “don’t be afraid to cry if something really hurts.” My initial cringe at that statement shows that I am NOT perfect by any stretch of the imagination. Now, I am not saying lie on the floor and project a deep wail (although I think that would be hilarious) next time you stub your toe, or Hulk Smash through a wall to show that “Daddy angry!” I am simply encouraging you to show emotion. Look your children in the eyes and say, “I love you.” Rejoice with them, and allow them to see your happiness. Let them see you be angry, yet tempered and respectful. And when the opportunity presents itself, embrace them and cry with them.
That’s it! Just like that, you now have all the tools you need to be successful. Now throw on your best Major Payne voice and go lead your home to a stronger mental health.
Note for my readers: If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).