I recently saw a friend’s post in which he suggested giving up Facebook for Lent. He was frustrated with the constant bickering, criticism, accusation, and harshness on Facebook. I don’t blame him. What we focus on becomes what we see. Focus on things that frustrate, anger, and divide… and you will see more things that frustrate, anger, and divide. And Facebook seems to have a real knack at bringing the negative into greater focus and seduce us into dwelling in the downward cycle of negativity. So, maybe my friend has a good idea. Give up Facebook. In fact, at least one study found that heavy Facebook users reported greater life satisfaction and positive emotions after only a week-long “vacation” from Facebook.
I wonder, though, if we might find
an even better solution. Rather than give up Facebook, maybe we can begin #redeemingFacebook for a better end.
Why not redeem Facebook to focus on kindness, goodness, and peace? That would
change the focus of Facebook invite us to create an upward spiral in which to
dwell. How would we redeem Facebook? Let me suggest a few ways.
We could begin #redeemingFacebook for
kindness. Rather than posting items that showcase actions and words that
frustrate or anger us, post items that showcase kindness and compassion. See someone do a kind deed…post it. Have an
especially attentive waitress…post it. Engage in a “random act of
kindness”…post your experience. Post items that tell of people sharing,
helping, loving, and encouraging.
We could start #redeemingFacebook for the
acknowledgement of good in the world. For instance, post stories that focus
on the “helpers” in times of crisis rather than the perpetrators.
Post stories acknowledging the efforts of those striving to serve others in
kindness. Post pictures of beautiful
places. Post descriptions of beautiful actions. Post a positive statement about
your community or school. Post items praising efforts at improving difficult
Begin #redeemingFacebook for the
pursuit of peace. Rather than making posts about controversial, divisive
topics, create posts that showcase people coming together in service. Acknowledge
those who reach across lines that divide us and intentionally come together in
serving one another.
Start #redeemingFacebook for civil,
respectful discussions about things over which disagree. We will always
find plenty to disagree about. However, we could begin #redeemingFacebook by keeping our posts civil. No name-calling. No
accusations. No demeaning one group. Instead, make posts that communicate a desire to understand
a different opinion. Use posts to find and acknowledge the good in one another,
even those with whom you disagree. Work hard to discover the positive intent in
those who think differently than you.
Robin S. Sharma is credited with saying: “What you focus on grows, what you think about expands, and what you dwell upon determines your destiny.” What do we want to determine our destiny and the destiny of our children: divisiveness, anger, and hate or kindness, goodness, and peace? Imagine if the most common posts on Facebook were about kindness, peace, and goodness and the negative posts were the exception, drowned out among all the positive posts of kindness, goodness, and peace. I don’t know if it can happen, but we can begin by #redeemingFacebook. I’m going to do my part. Let’s start a #redeemingFacebook campaign. Will you join me in #redeemingFacebook?
I read an article that began by stating “A new paper in the journal Pediatrics summarizes the evidence for letting kids let loose.” I thought, “Interesting.” The authors of this article went on to encourage pediatricians to write a “prescription for play” for their youngest patients. Why would they write a “prescription for play”? Because play, intrinsically motivated and unstructured fun, is disappearing from the lives of our children…and with it the benefits of play are disappearing from their lives. What are the benefits of play? Here are five benefits discussed in the article.
Play promotes brain development. Specifically, play promotes the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is important for learning and growing healthy connections between neurons in the brain. In other words, play primes the brain for learning.
Play reduces obesity and diseases associated with obesity. Running, jumping, and climbing helps children build confidence in their physical ability. It helps them learn the limits of their body as well. Knowing the limits helps them remain safe (Let Them Take a Risk). The physical activity of play helps them develop into physically active and healthy adults. In fact, children who got the most outdoor time were 42% less likely to be overweight.
Play contributes to improved behavior and reduced stress. Children resolve traumatic events through play, working through the troubling aspects of the trauma so they can learn to “put it behind them” rather than let it intrude into their present lives. Obviously, this will reduce stress in the child’s life. Moreover, a study in which teachers engaged children in one-on-one play led to improved behavior in the children who engaged in play compared to a control group. (Investing Time & Attention in Your Children)
Play helps families to bond. Play brings people together. It helps us learn to listen and it teaches us to compromise. Play helps us attune to our children emotionally, mentally, and physically. This attunement allows us to help our children learn to manage their emotions in an effective manner. (Make Your Child a Head Taller Than Himself)
Play contributes to academic success. Play encourages language development, the exploration of ideas, the ability to delay gratification, and spatial relationships. Each of these skills contribute to academic success. Blocks encourage increased knowledge in putting words, ideas, or architectural materials together. Playing store promotes social skills, math, and negotiation skills. Imaginative play promotes storytelling and self-regulation. Physics, social skills, language development, storytelling, arithmetic, geometry, emotional regulation…it can all be found in play. And children learn it faster and better while playing. (Learn more in Have Fun AND Reduce Childhood Aggression.)
We could expand on this list of the benefits of play, but you get the idea. Let the children play. I’m not a pediatrician, but I am a “doctor” of psychology. So, if you need a prescription, here it is: “Your child is to engage in imaginative, unstructured play for at least one hour per day.”
Follow that prescription and your children will flourish…and you could find yourself rejoicing in their growth and maturity!
Remember when you first met your
spouse? The excitement of new love? The longing to see them as often as you could?
The endless conversations as you got to know one another? Remember the nervousness when you decided to disclose
some new personal information to them? And the excitement of experiencing
acceptance anyway? How about the laughter and the thrill of trying something new
just because your spouse-to-be enjoyed it? These all represent moments of
self-expansion, growth, and learning.
They drew you and your spouse together. These moments were the building
blocks of intimacy and love.
Jump forward several years, perhaps
even to today. Are things getting routine? Feeling kind of bored? Feel like
your marriage is in a rut? Maybe you even feel a little dissatisfied and wonder
how to “liven things up” a bit. Do you miss the “spark,”
the burning ember of love that seems to have slowly cooled and
grown…comfortable? Then I have good
Research reported (in 2000) in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology offers a great solution. Turn back to your spouse and do the things you did when you first fell in love. Literally, grab your spouse and do something you both enjoyed but haven’t done since you first met. Or, better yet, do something completely new, something you’ve never done before, not even when you were dating. Play a new game, cook a new meal, try a new activity, take a trip to a new place. (If you can’t think of anything else, try the activity used in the study. Tie yourself to your spouse on one side by the wrist and ankle before crossing a gymnasium floor that includes at least one obstacle. It doesn’t sound exciting…so maybe try taking a hike or flying a kite together.) Whatever activity you choose, make sure it is a novel activity, a new activity for you as a couple.
When you engage in these novel activities, you and your spouse will learn new things. You will grow and experience an expanding sense of who you are as a couple. Even better, research suggests that when you engage in these novel, fun, and exciting activities together, you will feel better about your relationship. You will grow more supportive and accepting of one another. In other words, your marriage will grow stronger and more intimate. Now isn’t that worth a little bit of fun along the way?
Two people bump into one another on
a narrow street while going in opposite directions. After some interaction, one
bows down and moves aside to let the other go on his way. Which one does a
toddler like best: the one who bows and steps aside or the one who got his way?
In another instance, two people bump
into one another on a narrow street while going in opposite directions. After
some interaction, one pushes the other one down and goes on his way. Which one
does the toddler like best: the one who uses violence to get his way or the one
who was pushed?
In a final scenario, a person is
trying to accomplish a goal. One person steps in to help him achieve his goal.
A different person steps in to impede him from reaching his goal. Which one
does the toddler like best: the one who helps or the one who impedes?
Researchers have used puppets to explore all three of these scenarios with toddlers. In the first scenario the toddlers liked the one who got his way rather than the one who bowed and moved aside. However, in the second scenario they did not like the one who got his way through violence and force (read Toddlers prefer winners, but avoid those who win by force for more). In the final scenario, they liked the one who helped the other achieve his goal (Check out Can Babies Tell Right From Wrong on YouTube for more).
Isn’t that interesting? Even
toddlers show a preference for certain types of people. Specifically, they like
those who win in conflict due to social status without the use of force or violence. And, they like those who help
others. They do not like those who are mean or violent. Seems obvious, but
think about what this means for parents and families? I think it encourages us
to do at least three things for the benefit of our children.
Model kindness in your own life. Be kind to one another within the family and be kind to
those outside the family. Not only will this model good values, it will nurture
your children’s admiration of, and respect for, you as a parent as well. This,
in turn, will increase their willingness to listen, live by family values, and
cooperate when family disagreements arise.
Accept respect and kindness from others. Let your children see you graciously accept positions of
status or prestige while remaining humble. Knowing that you hold a position of
some respect can nurture your children’s sense of security…but this is only
true if you accept that respect graciously. And, we all hold a position of
prestige and respect as a parent. Accept that honor and respect from your
children with grace and humility.
Do not respond violently toward others. This not only includes physical violence but verbal and
relational violence as well. We can become violent in our words, our tone of
voice, or our volume just as much as we can through physical stature and
actions. We can also show violence in our attitude toward others, by demeaning another person’s character or
undermining another person’s authority in a given situation. Each of these
represents violence. Seeing this violence in their parents can reduce children’s
respect for, and trust in, them.
Children do not like to be around people who can become mean and violent.
It’s scary, frightening. Do not become violent toward your spouse (in how you
disagree, talk about them, or talk to them), toward your children (in your
discipline, in your words to them, or your descriptions of them), or toward anyone
outside the family. Instead, show kindness.
Model kindness. Graciously and humbly accept respect and kindness from others. Do not be mean; do not respond to others with violence of any kind. As you engage in these three practices, you will nurture your relationship with your children and encourage them to grow in kindness and grace. Who could ask for more?
If you’re looking for a guidance along the path to greater intimacy in your marriage, Scott Means of Heaven Made Marriage has written you a gift. In his book, The Path of Intimacy, Scott guides the reader away from the path of separation and onto the path of intimacy with wisdom and foresight. Isn’t that what we all want in our marriages, to be intimate with one another, fully known and completely loved? To stand before one another completely naked—emotionally, mentally, and spiritually open—yet completely unafraid and completely secure in the love we share with one another? If that’s what you’re looking for (and we all are), this book will serve as your guide on the path of intimacy. Now if you have ever gotten lost, you know how important it is to follow the right signs and not get distracted by the alternatives. With that in mind, The Path of Intimacy exposes the lies that threaten to distract us from the path of intimacy. The Path of Intimacy teaches us to discern the on-ramps that lead to the path of separation from the trail markers that keep us on the path of intimacy. And, The Path of Intimacy prepares us to recognize the markers informing us that we are still on the right path, the path of intimacy. With the insights shared in The Path of Intimacy, Scott Means has offered us the tools we need to remain watchful and intentional in growing a “grace-full,” intimate marriage. (Available on Amazon)
Well, not all thinking can ruin your marriage but….
You know poor communication or contemptuous communication can destroy your marriage. You’ve probably heard that a lack of connection with your spouse or turning away from your spouse’s attempts to connect can ruin your marriage as well. Perhaps you’ve read about the negative impact of contempt on marriage…or the destructive power of lying on your marriage. But, do you realize a thinking style based on the fear of rejection can destroy your marriage? (Read The Thinking Style that Damages Relationship for an overview of the study showing how fear of rejection impacts relationships.) It’s true! When a person enters a marriage fearing rejection, the marriage is at risk. Fear of rejection causes a person to think about their partner abandoning them. Fear of rejection also leads to the fearful person constantly seeking reassurance and asking about the security of their relationship. They may even try to force their partner to remain in the relationship through verbally eliciting guilt. Or, on the other hand, the person with a fear of rejection may comply with everything their partner says or does…which only serves to weaken the relationship (Shut Up & Put Up to Ruin Your Marriage explains more). Unfortunately, these behaviors, engaged in out of a fear of rejection, only serve to create a self-fulfilling prophecy. They push the partner away and may ultimately lead to destroying their marriage.
Don’t worry though. I have three
ideas to help you overcome the fear of rejection and so change your behaviors,
strengthen your marriage, and nurture a sense of security in your marriage!
Many times, fear of rejection flows
from an insecure parent-child attachment. So, if you’re a parent, you can help
your children avoid a fear of rejection by developing a secure, loving relationship with them. By doing so you help protect
their future marriage from the fear of rejection. If, however, you are an adult
with a fear of rejection, learn to nurture
yourself. Think about the relationship you had with your parent. What was
missing? What led you to feel insecure? What caused disconnection between you
and your parent? Then, parent yourself. Provide yourself with those things you
missed from your parent. Nurture yourself with encouragement and love. When you
make a mistake, show yourself compassion and then consider how you can avoid
that same mistake in the future. Trust yourself to grow and learn from
mistakes. Give yourself a hug. Acknowledge your successes each day. Compliment
your own effort. These actions will contribute to the next suggestion for overcoming
the “fear of rejection.”
Develop your identity
and a secure sense of self. You can do this by acknowledge and capitalizing on your
strengths while acknowledging and working to improve in areas of weakness. Participate
in your own growth. Develop hobbies that support your interests. Try new
things. In this way you will develop a greater sense of independence and
competence…and that will not only reduce your “fear of rejection” but
strengthen your ability to grow in intimate relationship as well!
Befriend people who will honor you. Develop relationships with people who show compassion and
understanding, kindness and encouragement. Make sure your partner is a person
who will engage in mutual respect, a person who will value you for you and who enjoys
seeing you grow as an individual as well as in relationship to them. That may
sound like a tall order, but a partner like that is well worth the wait!
Fear of rejection can ruin a
marriage, but you don’t have to let it. Nurture yourself. Develop a strong
sense of identity. Befriend people who be mutually supportive in relationship
with you. When you do, you may feel the “fear of rejection” slipping
away…and good riddance!
What are your expectations in marriage? If your expectations are unrealistic, you’re probably going to be disappointed. The “lived happily ever after” expectation just doesn’t really work out that well. We all have our down times. Nor does the “you complete me” mentality make for a happy marriage. In the long run, we need to become complete as individuals before we can find true happiness with a marriage partner. (Read “You Complete Me” Kills a Marriage for more.)
On the other hand, having low
expectations will also lead to a less satisfying marriage. After all, if a
person has low expectations for their marriage, how hard will they work to make
their marriage better? A long-term satisfying marriage requires investment. Healthy
expectations for your marriage will lead to a greater investment in your
marriage. Think of it in terms of money. If I thought hard work would profit me
five dollars, I’d only work hard enough for five dollars. However, if believe hard
work would lead to a thousand dollars, I’d put in a little more time and
effort. Low expectations lead to less investment which leads to a less satisfying
marriage. So, what are healthy
expectations for a marriage? Here are a few. After you read them over, consider
what you would want to add to the list.
One of the most important (and at
times challenging) aspects of parenting a teen involves maintaining a strong
connection with them. They have activities and friends that suck up their time.
They work to solidify their identity by developing their own lives. But research
continues to show teens want a relationship with their parents. They still
desire input and guidance from their parents. That desire is strongest when
they have the positive connection with their parent that they desire. So, how
can you keep a strong connection with your teen? Here are 6 ideas.
Eat with your teen. I’ve always heard it said that “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” Well, it’s true for teens as well. If you want a strong connection with your teen, eat with them. Have meals together as often as you can (A Special Ingredient for Happy Families). Keep snacks in the house so you can offer to share a snack while you talk. Sharing food seems to open the heart. So, enjoy a meal, share a snack, and converse with your teen.
Have fun with your teen. You don’t have to have serious conversations and interactions every time. In fact, enjoy as many fun interactions as possible with your teen. Go out just for fun. Enjoy a game. Go to a movie. Go for a bike ride. Let your teen pick an activity to enjoy with you. That might mean engaging in an activity you don’t currently enjoy; but, go ahead and give it a try. It will deepen the connection between you and your teen. (For more read Turn Up the Tunes and A Solid Hint from Icelandic Teens)
Pick your battles. Some battles just aren’t worth the struggle and the potential disconnection they create. Hair always grows back. Clothes styles change (within modest reason). Makeup washes off. Save your energy for those issues that represent danger to your teen’s health or reputation…issues that genuinely impact your teen’s well-being.
Talk with your teen. Along with choosing your battles, take time to talk with your teen. Talk about topics they find interesting. Use those opportunities to learn how they think. Ask them about their day. Talk about their favorite past-times. Don’t be afraid to talk about the serious issues like drugs or sex. Our teens want to learn about our views on such topics. So keep them talking with you (Are You Teaching Your Teen Not to Talk with You?) They need the opportunity to debate and think through their values in discussion with someone more knowledgeable and mature. Give them that chance with you. Stay calm during the discussion and, while talking, be sure to take a lot of time to listen…which brings us to the next point of connection.
Listen to your teen. Hear your teen out. Listen intently to understand. When they have a different opinion than you, listen for the valid points in their opinion. After all, they don’t have to agree with us on everything. If they get in trouble at school, hear their explanation before taking sides. When you listen intently to your teen, you maintain a stronger connection and increase the chance they will listen more intently to you. (Learn the Gracious Art of Listening.)
Recognize and acknowledge positive aspects in your teen. Teens crave acceptance and respect. Let them experience your acceptance and respect by acknowledging their effort. Thank them for helping around the house. Celebrate milestones. Acknowledge their interests and unique talents. Doing so communicates acceptance of their efforts and respect for their interests.
Teens want to connect with their parents. When
you practice these 6 tips, they will more likely connect with you. They’ll be
glad to have a parent who connects with them. And you’ll be thrilled to have a
teen who connects with you!