Tag Archive for dreams

3 Things Grace-Filled Parents Give Up

Grace–the unmerited and generous giving of ourselves to another with no expectation of repayment. In many ways, effective parenting flows out of grace. We give things up so our children might have more. We give of our time, our resources and our energy knowing that, if we do this successfully, our children will leave us and live a life independent of us. Sometimes, however, our own tightly held desires and expectations interfere with grace as we burden our children with our unfulfilled dreams. Our personal fears eclipse our ability to help our children identify their personal strengths and build a unique life based on those personal strengths. We desperately hold on to expectations and personal dreams, molding our children in the image of our desire rather than helping them discover their best self, created in the image of God. To really parent with grace, we have to give up the self-focused dreams and expectations we might hold. For instance, as grace-filled parents, we…
     1.      Give up our self-focused dreams and expectations and encourage our children to build dreams based on their own desires and abilities. At times, parents attempt to live out their own dreams through their children. Or, parents might act out of an expectation that their children show talent in all areas. They demand that their children achieve success academically, athletically, artistically, emotionally, and socially. Such expectations and demands make it the teens duty to “bring glory and reassurance to the family” by accomplishing “success.” Grace-filled parents give up these extreme expectations and dreams. They help their children define success based on their unique talents, strengths, and desires… even if that means their child pursues a career different than their own.
     2.      Give up our fear of rejection. Children grow older and become teens. Teens mature and become young adults. The process of “growing up” and maturing involves separating from parents, differentiating from parents, finding “my individuality,” become “my own person.” This involves making independent decisions and establishing an independent life, distancing from parents. Sometimes, this feels like rejection to a parent. “They’re more interested in their friends than family.” “They just want to do their own thing.” At times, a teen may turn away from their parent, insult their parent, or even demean their parent in their effort to define themselves as an independent person. If parents, in response to a fear of rejection, attempt to hold on tighter through demands and rules, their child will rebel more. Instead, give up your fear of rejection. Allow your child to separate from you and develop an independent life. Put faith in your child and what you taught them during their childhood. Lean into your loving relationship with them and love them. Allow them to explore and talk with you about their exploration. Accept them, even when you feel rejected.
     3.      Give up worries about our children’s future. Our society operates on the lie of “diminishing resources.” It tells us that our children “mortgage their future” with imperfect transcripts or test scores, less than constant immersion in scheduled activities, and only basic achievements on their college resume. Our children are so harried and rushed that they have little time for trial and error, unstructured activities, or periods of “bad attitudes.” They feel the constant pressure of achievement, success, and accomplishment. Unfortunately, we, as parents, can add to these feelings, or…we can give up our fear about our children’s future and focus on giving them our loving acceptance. We can put more effort into teaching our children how to enjoy and balance life than in building a college resume. Most importantly, we can focus more on enjoying a relationship with our children than we focus on coaching them to meet cultural expectations of success.
These are not simple tasks in today’s culture of adrenaline rush, performance orientation, and addiction to achievement. However, truly grace-filled parents will work to give up selfish expectations, inflated fears of personal rejection, and personal worries about their children’s future. What we give up, we replace with loving acceptance and guidance, a listening ear and empathetic response, and, ultimately, an encouraging but gentle push toward independence.

Grow Your Children’s Dream

Our children have amazing potential. They have special abilities and talents that make them unique. As they grow, those strengths, abilities, and talents begin to take shape and grow into hopes and dreams. As parents, our work is to nurture those dreams. How can we nurture our children’s hopes and dreams? How can we help our children reach their full potential? In many ways, nurturing our children’s dreams is like nurturing a garden.
First, we have to work the soil. We want to make sure the soil of our children’s dream is fertile and filled with nutrients. We work to develop and establish an environment that will support and nourish the seeds of our children’s dreams. To do so, we have to honor their dream, matching it with the soil of their God-given abilities and talents. We avoid forcing them to live out our expectations and dreams which would be like trying to grow a good seed (their dream) in the wrong soil (our dreams). We, as parents, become students of our children to discover their God-given ability and nurture those abilities, encouraging them to meet the potential God has given them. Let me say again, we must honor their dream, the dream that matches their God-given strengths, talents, and potential…not ours. We work the soil of their lives to nurture their God-given talents to grow their dreams…not ours. In the process of preparing the soil, we utilize generous portions of acceptance, a potent fertilizer of dreams. Assure that your children know that you accept and appreciate their unique abilities and preferences. This is an important step in nurturing your children’s dreams. 
Dreams also grow best in a warm climate that provides safety and security. Parents nurture dreams by maintaining a home that instills a sense of safety and security for their children. A climate of safety and security flows out of parental availability, attentiveness, and emotional connection. In addition, a regular sprinkling of encouragement and sincere appreciation keeps the soil moist and waters the seeds of our children’s dreams.
Second, we have to nurture the sprouts that begin to grow. Dreams do not produce fruit overnight. They sprout and grow through the seasons of childhood and adolescence. Initially, dreams are fragile. We must be careful not to drown them with an overabundance of activity or by pushing them to grow beyond their developmental ability. We have to protect our children’s dreams from predators and negative influences. For instance, other people may downplay or discourage our children’s dreams. Peers may ridicule or belittle those dreams. We need to counteract those naysayers with a generous supply of encouragement, support, and love.
As those dreams begin to grow, we can help our children refine their dream, thinning out those distractions that do not match their unique skills and abilities. This is a gentle and delicate process. We move carefully and gently to encourage our children to find their niche while being careful to not disrupt the roots of healthy hopes and dreams that grow beneath the surface. This demands careful and loving pruning of offshoots as our children continue to grow. Loving discipline will help train the branches of our children’s dreams to grow tall and strong, able to bear the fruit of their labors.
Keeps these steps in mind and your children’s dreams will blossom, bringing great joy to you and your child.

Protect Your Child From Depression, Part 3

Children receive a series of immunizations to protect them from various diseases. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could immunize our children against depression? After all, a growing number of people struggle with depression…and, at a younger age. I realize there is no magic shot to prevent depression. Still, wouldn’t it be great to protect your child from depression? To find a way that even if they did experience depression, it would be less severe and shorter-lived?
Well, there may be a way to do just that! No, the answer is not a shot—it’s more of a lifestyle…skills you can teach your child to help protect them from depression. So far, we have explored how teaching our children 1) that their actions make a difference, 2) to help other people, and 3) to show gratitude can help protect them from depression. A fourth way to protect your child from depression is to…
Teach your children to have hope for tomorrow. When people experience depression, they become hopeless about the future. By teaching your child to have hope for tomorrow, you help create a mindset that can limit the severity and duration of depression.
What thought patterns create hope for tomorrow? Thought patterns that promote hope consider negative events to be 1) temporary, 2) caused by factors outside of the person’s character and ability, and are 3) confined to a specific situation. On the other hand, thought patterns that consider negative events to be permanent, caused by traits internal to the person, and permeating all of life promote feelings of despair.
How can a parent help a child develop this type of mindset? First, model a mindset of hope for your children. Listen to how you explain events.
    ·         Do you explain negative events as temporary or do you say things like, “This always happens to me?” “I’ll never get this right?” Train yourself to recognize that most events are temporary, not permanent
     ·         Do you explain difficult circumstances as a result of your personal inadequacy and faulty character or do you look for those factors over which you have some control? Do you actively seek a solution you can work for or just assume “nothing I can do about that? It’s just the way I am.” Teach yourself to find those factors over which you have control and take action rather than dwelling on those aspects over which you have no control.
     ·         Do you view negative situations as affecting your whole life (“You ruined my life;” “You just ruined my whole day.”) or do you realize an incident is an incident (“That statement hurt my feelings;” “That driver cut me off.”). Practice letting a mole hill be a mole hill rather than escalating it into a mountain.
Also, be careful how you speak to your child when he experiences a setback or when he misbehaves. Your child is listening to every word you say…even if they look like they are ignoring you. And, he will develop thought patterns of hope or despair based on your discipline, criticism, and passing suggestions.
     ·         If your child hears that his misbehavior or setback is permanent rather than temporary, he may despair and become more susceptible to depression. After all, “I’m no good; I’ll never amount to anything.”
     ·         If your child hears that his misbehavior is due to his character fault, what hope is there to change? After all, “I can’t control my temper, I’m just like so-and-so. I have an anger problem.” 
     ·         And, if your child hears that his failure is all-inclusive rather than specific, he may believe he is helpless. After all, “Everything I do is a disaster.” 
Discipline lovingly and carefully. Honor your child even in the midst of discipline by letting him know that “he can learn from his mistakes and do better” (internal control). Let him know that you “recognize his successes in other areas” (specific). Teach him that he can change his behavior and make a better choice next time (temporary). This will promote a mindset that looks at setbacks, mistakes, and even misbehavior as temporary, specific, and confined to a specific situation—a mindset of hope.
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