Life

Pressure on Our Kids: Too Much or Not Enough?

Let’s talk about pressure.

Not physical pressure.

Not work pressure.

Parental pressure.

How much pressure should we put on our children? Or, how much pressure should we NOT put on our children?

This is a topic that has haunted me (literally, I’ve had nightmares about it) for years.

Years.

For those of you that don’t know, I’m a controlling personality. Wait. I don’t feel like you’re getting the intensity of that statement.

I HAVE A CONTROLLING PERSONALITY.

I have to be in control. Period. There is no compromise. There are no questions. I’m in charge. I will listen. I will judge fairly. But in the end, the outcome is what I’VE decided.

Some people have called me strong willed. Some people have called me stubborn. Some people have called me the “B” word.

And they’re all right.

However, I like to call a spade and spade and the bottom line?

I HAVE A CONTROLLING PERSONALITY.

Sorry. I don’t mean to get all up in your face or anything, but I really can’t stress this (character flaw?) enough.

I am not proud of this fact. I’m not. And though it has served me well in a lot of situations, it has also caused me a lot of heart ache along the way, too.

Like now, for example.

I denied this for a very long time, but I was a helicopter parent.

*waves*

I was always hovering over my boys. I never really ALLOWED them to be boys, to make their own mistakes, to experiment and just BE kids. I yelled way too much. I made mountains over the stupidest mole hills. I was uptight, cranky and really not a fun person to be around.

I sat down and made sure they did their homework every night. I checked it over. I made them do problems over again. I remember sitting with them for hours and going over spelling words. And I mean to the point of exhausting them, me, and making us both cry. (I have to say though that they’re both really good spellers, so I suppose all of that grinding did some good).

I have no idea WHY I felt so compelled to push things, but push them I did.

As a result? My boys couldn’t make a decision on their own. They were too used to ME doing their thinking FOR them. You can’t blame them, the blame lies entirely with me. I was the controlling factor in their timidity – quite literally.

It really didn’t hit me that I needed to back OFF until they reached middle school. Dude started middle school and just sort of expected me to do his homework for him. It wasn’t until that point did I start thinking about long term. Were they going to be THIS dependent when they got into high school? Wasn’t I hurting them by not allowing them to make their own mistakes?

So, I started backing off. Bit by bit, I pushed them out of my shadow. It was a hard break, for both me and the boys. But it was necessary.

There have been a lot of tears, a lot of frustration (from all three of us), and a lot of hard lessons to learn, but in the end, here we are – high school.

I think because I went SO overboard on the pressure thing when they were little, I’ve been even more conscious to ease off the pressure now. I still give them advice, but now they are free to take it or leave it. Before, they didn’t have the luxury of saying no, they were just expected to do whatever it was that I expected from them.

And even though life is A LOT more relaxed than it was a few years ago, I still worry. I agonize over their futures. I want them to be happy, but I also want them to be successful and comfortable.

Please do not assume, for even ONE second, that I have this parenting thing figured out. I grapple, on a daily basis, on whether or not I’m doing, or saying the right thing. I want them to do their best, but I want them to be realistic, too.

For example – not every kid is capable of making A’s. Again, I’ve learned this the hard way. Dude is not the best at math. He never has been. I’ve finally accepted the fact that math is a real struggle for him. And the grades he earns? Are not A’s. This does not mean he’s a failure at life. This only means that he struggles with this one area of his life.

BUT, even though we have had lengthy talks about this, and I KNOW he’s tried and he truly wants to please me and Kevin, I always wonder if he’s trying enough. If we’re being too lenient on him. Could he do better?

Again. It’s not just about the grades. I want him to learn that anything worth having is worth working for. I want him to experience that bitter/sweet victory of conquering something he was ready to give up on. And though I realize that I can’t give that gift to him, that he’ll have to earn it, it doesn’t help ME as far as how far and how hard to push him to get there.

I’ve been on one end of the pressure spectrum. It was not fun. I do not want to go back there. I want to be somewhere in the middle. My problem is? I have NO CLUE where the middle of the spectrum is.

Precisely how far is too far to pressure your kids? I realize that it differs with each child, but here I am, a 43-year old woman with a 17-year old and a 15-year old and I STILL haven’t figured it out yet. And I should be fair, it changes as they get older.

But the not knowing – it both confuses and exasperates me.

I expect them to do well in school. I firmly believe that teaching them to try their best, to push themselves, will benefit them in life. But at the same time, I don’t want to put so much pressure on them that they simply give up.

I don’t want to break their spirits. And to be perfectly honest, I think I have gotten very, very close to doing that in the past. Which is all the more reason I’m determined to chill out and simply concentrate on supporting them. They know my expectations by now. There is no need for me to remind them every day. I think my role now, is to simply encourage them. To do their best. To pick the classes they want to take. To pursue the interests they are interested in. To keep my mouth shut if they choose something outside the realm of my expectations.

My sole mission now is to allow them to simply be who they were meant to be.

I need to let them go.

I HAVE let them go.

Flash Fiction

Flash Fiction: Stop the Nagging

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Fiction under 250 words.

_________________________________

“Mom. Seriously. I know. Leave me alone, already.”

“I’m just sayin’, Shawna, the test is in two weeks. Have you studied at all?”

“I’ll be fine. Don’t worry about it.”

“I just want you to be prepared. I know you can do well, it’s just … I haven’t seen you study. And this test cost money. I mean, you can take it again, but … it costs money.”

Shawna sighed and resisted the urge to roll her eyes. That would only induce yet another lecture and she wasn’t in the mood to soothe her mother’s insecurities. She turned to pour herself a cup of coffee.

“How much coffee have you had today? You know they say that too much caffeine will stunt your growth. Do you always want to be one of the shortest girls in your class?”

Shawna bit back a nasty retort. Her mother was only 5’1. Apparently, shortness ran in their family. She tipped the sugar container over her coffee and absently watched the granules slide into the muddy depths. Her mother meant well, but the nagging was going to make her mental. Without another word, she went into her room, and closed the door behind her with a decisive click. She put the mug down and flopped onto her bed with relief.

“Study!” her mom yelled through the door. “Two weeks is not a lot of time, you know. Test day will …”

Shawna pulled the pillow over her head. Her mother’s voice mercifully faded away.

Tuesday Stuff

Random Tuesday: Disoriented

randomtuesday

1 Kevin is home full time now. I’m both thrilled and … not. Not because he’s getting on my nerves or bugs me every five minutes, oh contrare, the man has actually been pretty busy. He’s still answering calls, submitting reports, having meetings with his boss and dealing with last minute moving.

No. I’m weirded out with him being home because I’m quite used to having the house completely to myself. I’ve had it for seven (I can’t believe I’ve been home for SEVEN years now) long years and I’m having a problem sharing my quiet space with my best friend.

And I’m finding it really difficult to write with him around. But that’s really nothing new, I’ve always had to have it completely silent whenever I wrote anything.

Like now. Kevin went to meet with an investment guy and now that I have the house to myself? I can suddenly concentrate and write something.

What can I say? I’m easily distracted.

Financially, we’re okay. Kevin got paid up front and we don’t have a lot of bills, so we’re good. I think the weirdest part of this whole liquidating the company thing has been the fact that he doesn’t receive checks anymore but is still expected to put in so much time. (He puts in more, but we won’t split hairs).

I have no idea what’s going to happen with our job situation. I’m MORE than ready to go back to work and will, probably some time this summer. Kevin and I talked about it and we thought it would be best to put off seriously looking for something until we get back from our trip in July.

Unless something comes along. We’re keeping our options open. So for now, I’m looking at this time that Kevin and I have with each other as a trial period for when the boys move out and it’ll just be him and me once again.

I see a lot of adjustments in my future.

1 The boys’ schedules are whacked. Dude ended up having American Civil War again instead of P.E., so we had to contact his counselor, who was off on spring break, so Dude went to school yesterday really not knowing where he was supposed to go. Luckily, his counselor was on top of it and had a new schedule for him to pick up in his first period class.

He has Team Sports.

……………. pause ……………

HAHAHAHA!

Dude LOATHES sports. Just ABHORS them. When his counselor emailed me yesterday and told me that that was the only class available, I felt sure Dude would have a coronary. I thought he would want out of that class like *snap* that. But I was determined not to give him my opinion, I was curious to see what Dude would say. After all, I personally don’t care what the boy takes, as long as he gets his last P.E. credit in before he graduates. (Isn’t P.E. so stupid?? I don’t know why it’s required to begin with).

When Dude got into the car yesterday afternoon, I cautiously asked him how it went.

“Fine.”

“Did you know where to go for second period?”

“Yeah. Mrs. Miller had a new schedule ready for me.”

“What did you end up with?” (I’m the master at playing dumb).

“Team Sports.”

“Oh.” I couldn’t tell by his face how he felt about that, so, I asked him.

He shrugged. “Okay, I guess.”

Well alrighty then. I guess he’s going to go ahead and go through with it. It’ll be interesting to see how he handles the competition. I’m not overly worried about his coordination, but I am a little worried about how he’ll take it when his team loses. He’s a sore loser. As in MAJORLY sore loser.

I’m hoping this class will be good for him.

Dude had scheduled to take an Economics class next year, but unbeknown to us, it was an honors class. He could have taken it, and in fact, I encouraged him, but he ultimately decided that it was too much work (he’d have to read a book over the summer and prepare a Power Point presentation) so he changed it to Psychology. Now I’m not a big Psychology sort of person, but it IS interesting (I had it in college) so I thought Dude would find it interesting, but alas, the class is full so we’re stuck at square one trying to find another class he can take that he’s halfway interested in. I’m not making any recommendations – this choice is completely up to Dude. But I AM curious to find out what he picks.

Oh, and he has Computer Programming this quarter. He’s going to learn some Java and when we asked him questions about it last night, he looked sort of excited. I think he’s going to enjoy this class. (He has Jazz’s Math teacher – which is neither here nor there, but I thought it was cute listening to the boys exchange opinions on the teacher).

Jazz and I talked about his schedule last night. Since he has Jazz Band, it sort of eats away a couple of elective classes that he would have taken instead, so we’re looking at some summer classes. His counselor suggested he NOT take a core class, those are really reserved for the students who didn’t pass during the regular school year, and suggested he take P.E. instead. We thought this was an excellent idea because he could get his P.E. course out of the way and not have homework to deal with during the summer months.

So, he is planning on taking one P.E. class this summer, and his last P.E. class next summer. That will free up one quarter that he can use toward a practical elective class that will be way more fun than P.E. would have been. Not to mention, summer classes are one month as opposed to three so …

1 I’ve now sold 46 books from my Amazon book store.

I am DIGGING this book store gig. Are you kidding me?? Working with books AND getting paid?

Heaven.

I will be adding more books from my book shelf as well as some books the boys don’t want anymore, if you’re interested. In addition, the library book sale is coming up at the end of April, which I’ll be haunting for more books to sell. I paid a membership fee so I’ll have first dibs on the selection. I can’t wait to hit that book sale!!

1 Kevin and I found some tile that we liked for our back splash. We were hoping to have it up before this weekend, but no such luck. The guy is scheduled to come out April 5th. I can’t wait to get that done because then we can choose our paint AND THEN we’ll nearly be done with this project.

Kevin and I look a little like Laurel and Hardy in the kitchen – we’re both scared to cook on our new stove top because we don’t want to mess it up. HA! We’re getting used to everything though …

Oh. I ran the dishwasher for the first time the other night. It took THREE HOURS to run it’s course. I was stunned.

Three hours for one load of dishes?!?! I thought this thing was supposed to be energy efficient. How in the world is running this thing for three hours more efficient?

I have to say, though, we probably had some of the cleanest dishes in the city that night.

Apparently, the more options you choose, the longer the cycle. So the next time I run the dishwasher? I’m choosing like one option which will reduce the cycle time to thirty minutes. Which is more like it.

Three hours. I nearly died. Pfft.

1 Dude is scheduled to take the ACT test April 10th. We went to Barnes and Noble and bought him a book that goes over some math and science questions.

He has yet to open it.

I’ve also suggested he check out the ACT website, there is all sorts of helpful information there and practice questions that will help him prepare.

He has yet to do that, too.

I’m not pushing him. If he blows this test, he’ll have no one to blame but himself. He’ll take the test again next April (his counselor suggested this was the best course of action, then the school he applies to can take his best score) so maybe he’ll prepare a little more for it.

But for now, I’m simply sitting back to see what happens.

1 We’re having Easter at our house this year. My nephews will be staying the night Friday night and it’s just easier to have my parents come over on Saturday since the guys will be over here anyway.

I’d like to have an Easter egg hunt, but the boys blush whenever I suggest it. They’re all teenagers, I guess that MIGHT be a little weird. Still though, I’d like to do something special.

I’ll think of something.

Tuesday Stuff

Caught Reading

Spontaneous Reading

My boys are not readers.

This kills me. Because if I could get paid to read? I’d be in HEAVEN.

In other words, I AM a reader. I love to get lost in an imaginary world. I love to shed real life for a few hours and become someone else.

But my boys? Meh. Not interested.

So when I opened Jazz’s door the other day to see what he was up to, I was SHOCKED to see him reading. On his own. Without any encouraging from me.

He has an English class this semester and part of their weekly assignment is to read a book and then write a journal entry about what they read for the week. Jazz had a book on his book shelf that he took and when he finished, he asked if we could buy the next two books in the series.

I’ve always told my boys they NEVER have to ask if we can buy books. Ever. They want to read? I’m all over it.

So, we went to Borders, found the next two books and bought them. But Jazz couldn’t wait to find out what happened in the next book, so he dug right in.

It really, REALLY warms my heart to see him reading. This is definitely a moment I want to remember because it’s just so RARE.

(Here’s the series, in case you were interested. Maybe I’ll add these books to my book store – when Jazz is finished with them, of course).

Emily at Chatting at the Sky hosts a weekly “noticing” party – giving us a chance to unwrap and share the little gifts that God gives to us on a daily basis.

random stuff

It’s Like I Can’t Shut Up

Do you talk too much in your blog?

This result shocks me. I can’t write a short blog post to save my life. Which is really weird, because I’m not all that long-winded in real life (though I’m betting some people dispute that! HA!), but when it comes to my writing, I just don’t shut up.

And there are so many times I’m writing a blog entry and I think to myself, “I should really shut up now, and I will, right after this next point,” and of course, I don’t because something else occurs to me and I feel compelled to write it out. So, I AM aware that my blog posts are often times too long, I just can’t help it. Once these fingers get going, there’s no stopping them.

Like THIS entry for example, instead of writing all of this I could have simple said, “I disagree with this result.”

See? Short and sweet.

Apparently, I don’t DO short and sweet. 😀

What about you? Do you feel like you talk too much on your blog AND/OR in real life?

Abundant Life

Teaching: Four Kinds of Love

Every Sunday I provide videos and valuable links to the Truth or Tradition teachings. We’ve been following the Truth or Tradition teachings for many years now and they have truly blessed our family. We have found peace and happiness through our beliefs and we walk confidently for God. My hope, by passing on this information to you, is that what you find here, or on the Truth or Tradition website, will guide you to a better, more blessed and abundant life.

If you would like to read my views on religion and how we got started with the ministry, you can read this.

Let’s get started:

There are four Greek words for love that are important for Christians to understand. They are agape, phileo, storge, and eros. Three of them appear in the Bible. [1] If we are going to understand the Bible and the biblical world, it is important that we understand what these words mean and how they differ.

The Greek word for sexual love or passionate love is eros, and we get English words such as “erotic.” When eros was used as a proper noun, it referred to the Greek god of love. The Greek word eros does not appear in the biblical text, so we will not spend time on it in this article, but it has had such an impact on English and our view of sexual love that it is important to mention.

The Greek word that refers to the love of God, one of the kinds of love we are to have for people, is agape. Agape is the very nature of God, for God is love (1 John 4:7-12, 16b). The big key to understanding agape is to realize that it can be known from the action it prompts. In fact, we sometimes speak of the “action model” of agape love. People today are accustomed to thinking of love as a feeling, but that is not necessarily the case with agape love. Agape is love because of what it does, not because of how it feels.

God so “loved” (agape) that He gave His Son. It did not feel good to God to do that, but it was the loving thing to do. Christ so loved (agape) that he gave his life. He did not want to die, but he loved, so he did what God required. A mother who loves a sick baby will stay up all night long caring for it, which is not something she wants to do, but is a true act of agape love.

The point is that agape love is not simply an impulse generated from feelings. Rather, agape love is an exercise of the will, a deliberate choice. This is why God can command us to love our enemies (Matt. 5:44; Exod. 23:1-5). He is not commanding us to “have a good feeling” for our enemies, but to act in a loving way toward them. Agape love is related to obedience and commitment, and not necessarily feeling and emotion. “Loving” someone is to obey God on another’s behalf, seeking his or her long-term blessing and profit.

The way to know that we love (agape) God is that we keep His commandments. Jesus said, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me…” (John 14:21a). There are Christians who say they love God, but their lifestyle is contrary to the will of God. These people mistake their feeling of affection for God for true agape love. Jesus made this clear: “He who does not love me will not obey my teaching…” (John 14:24a).

Love is the distinctive character of the Christian life in relation to other Christians and to all humanity. The “loving” thing to do may not always be easy, and true love is not “mushy sentimentalism.” There is often a cost to genuine love. For example, punishing criminals to keep society safe is loving but not easy or pleasant, and asking someone to leave your Christian fellowship because he persists in flagrant sin is loving, but never easy (1 Cor. 5:1-5). That is not to say the agape love cannot have feelings attached to it, and the ideal situation occurs when the loving thing to do also is what we want to do. Christians are to be known for their love to one another (John 13:35).

The third word for “love” we need to examine is phileo, which means “to have a special interest in someone or something, frequently with focus on close association; have affection for, like, consider someone a friend.” [2] It would probably be helpful if phileo were never translated “love” in the New Testament, because it refers to a strong liking or a strong friendship. Of course, we see how phileo gets translated “love,” because in modern culture we say we “love” things that we strongly like: “I love ice cream,” “I love my car,” “I love the way your hair looks,” etc. The word phileo implies a strong emotional connection, and thus is used of the “love,” or deep friendship, between friends. You can agape your enemies, but you cannot phileo them.

The difference between agape and phileo becomes very clear in John 21:15ff, but unfortunately it is obscured in almost all English translations. After being raised from the dead, Jesus met Peter. Here is the short version of what they said to each other.

Jesus: Simon…do you love (agape) me more than these [fish?].
Peter: Yes, Lord; you know that I love (phileo) you.
Jesus: Simon…do you…love (agape) me?
Peter: Yes, Lord, you know that I love (phileo) you.
Jesus: Simon…do you love (phileo) me?
Peter: [Grieved] “Lord…you know that I love (phileo) you.”

Why the difference in words for “love” in this conversation? Why did Jesus use agape and Peter use phileo? Jesus was asking Peter if he loved him with the love of God, a love that may require sacrifice. After all, Jesus had just gone through horrendous torture for Peter’s sake (and ours), something he did not want to do but did anyway because of his agape love. In contrast, Peter avoided possible torture by denying Jesus.

Jesus twice asked Peter, “Do you agape me? [That is, are you willing to do things for my sake that you do not want to do?]” Peter, on the other hand, still felt the sting of having denied Jesus, and was hopeful that their friendship was intact. Did Jesus hold Peter’s denial against him? Would he still treat Peter as a close associate and companion? Peter was not sure where he stood with Jesus, so he was trying to let Jesus know that he was still a true friend, and had phileo love for Jesus.

The third time Jesus spoke to Peter, he came to Peter’s level and asked if Peter were indeed a true friend (phileo), which grieved Peter. Nevertheless, it was important, because Jesus knew what Peter did not know—that Jesus would ascend into heaven, and Peter and the others would be left to carry out his work on earth, which would require that they all be his good friends and do his will even when it meant hardship. [For further study on Peter’s life, click here.]

The fourth Greek word we need to understand is storge, which is the love and affection that naturally occurs between parents and children, can exist between siblings, and exists between husbands and wives in a good marriage. It occurs in Romans 12:10 in the word, philostorgos, which is a compound word made up of philos (the noun form of phileo) and storge. Romans 12:10 is a very important verse, directing us to be very loving and kind to each other.

Romans 12:10 (Author’s expanded translation)
As to your brotherly love, let there be deep friendship and family-affection toward one another.

If one is going to have a wonderful Christian life, obedient to the voice of God and have rich fellowship with other Christians, he or she will need to exercise all three kinds of love. We need agape love because some of the things that God requires of us are not fun or easy, but need to be done. We need to have phileo love because we need true friends to stand with us, people who are emotionally connected to us and with whom we can share our deepest thoughts and feelings. Lastly, we Christians need to have storge love between us, a deep family affection that comforts us and helps us feel connected to all our spiritual family.

You can read the original article here.

If you have any questions, or would like to learn more about God’s wonderful message, please visit the Truth or Tradition website. You can also keep track of the ministry through their Facebook page, their YouTube Channel, or follow them on Twitter.

Thanks for reading.

(Comments have been turned off. The information is here to inform and bless you. God granted you the gift of free will – take it or leave it).

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Friday Fun

Aloha Friday: Global Concerns

Aloha! Kailani is the brain-child behind this fun Friday meme. If you feel inclined to answer my question, please post your answer in the comment section. Sound fun? Of course it does! Want to answer more questions? Hop over to An Island Life and play along!

(Please feel free to answer the question below, even if you’re not playing Aloha Friday!)

My question:

What global problem do you care about most?

My answer:

I’d have to say anything to do with children – hunger, abuse, education. They’re so innocent. It upsets me that so many children are in such dire straits. They deserve a good, stable life.

You?

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