Tag Archive for patience

Gratitude Will Help Your Family Survive

I am not suggesting we ignore struggles or gloss over pain, BUT gratitude will help your family and my family survive hard times. Let me explain a couple of ways in which gratitude will help your family through the tough times.

  • A study published in 2007 involving 236 undergraduate students showed that students who report greater gratitude were more likely to take active steps to deal with problems when they arose. They were less likely to blame themselves for the problem and more likely to look for something positive in the problem, the “silver-lining” so to speak. In other words, gratitude helps us take an active role in problem-solving during tough times.
  • A study published in 2009 surveyed 201 college students and found that those who were more grateful were also more likely to use positive reframing to cope with stress. In other words, grateful people were more likely to look for something in the problem to help them learn and grow rather than wallow in the negative aspects of the problem. 
  • A 2019 study involving 71 college students found that students who spent time recording their gratitude twice a week for four weeks were better able to decrease negative reactions to negative emotions. In other words, they were better able to manage their negative emotions. Interestingly, those who wrote about gratitude used more words to describe their emotions, allowing them to better process and manage them.
  • Finally, a 2014 study involving 75 participants found that those participants instructed to remember a time of gratitude were more likely to wait for a long-term reward than those who recalled times of happiness or just a typical day. Gratitude helped them manage impatient urges for immediate reward. Gratitude supported patience.

What do you think? In these studies, grateful people were less likely to blame themselves and more likely to actively seek solutions and participate in the solution of a present problem. Grateful people were more likely to look for the “silver lining,” to look for what they can learn from a difficult situation. Grateful people were better able to manage their negative emotions. And, grateful people were more patient. Perhaps what we need right now is a little more gratitude. I’m going to promote that in my own life and the life of my family. Will you join me?

Read about these benefits and more in Four Ways Gratitude Helps You with Difficult Emotions from Greater Good.

A Powerful Sacred Pause

My friend stood at an ATM machine getting money when someone walked up behind her and began to “grope her.” She was furious. Being an independent strong woman, she turned around and hit him with her purse in one smooth movement. He fell to the ground. She prepared to tell him off when he held up his red and white cane saying, “Wait…I’m blind. I was trying to find the ATM machine.” Now, my friend, being a kind and compassionate woman, suddenly felt guilty for having decked a blind man. She apologized and helped him up. What changed? Her perspective of the situation changed. She went from thinking someone was trying to take advantage of her to thinking someone was in need due to physical challenges. How many times does this happen in marriage (perhaps to a lesser extent and with no physical attacks I mean)?

  • You walk into the house and say “hi” to your spouse. He ignores you. As your irritation swell up and you get ready to yell, you realize he is on the phone. He looks your direction and smiles as he mouths, “I love you.” In a moment, your realization meets his smile and your irritation turns to joy.
  • You and your spouse are having a discussion in the kitchen while you cook dinner. As you look at the pan stirring noodles, you hear your spouse say, “That was stupid.”   Thinking you were called “stupid,” you look up to complain. Your spouse is standing over a jar of spaghetti sauce with sauce dripping down her shirt. She smiles, “I forgot it was already opened.” Anger turns to laughter. 
  • You walk into the kitchen to find the sink full of dishes. Frustrated, you begin to rinse them and slam them into the dishwasher. When your spouse walks into the room you say sarcastically, “Thanks for cleaning the kitchen.” Your spouse apologizes and explains that the children have been sick and throwing up all day. You notice the stain of vomit on her shirt. Anger becomes compassion as you give her a hug.

In each situation the only thing that changed was the perspective of the situation. Sometimes we need to take a breath before reacting. We need to take a sacred pause, to slow down and practice a little patience before we explode. The sacred pause allows us look to our spouse and ask a few questions, find out more about the situation, and learn more about what’s happening from their point of view. That sacred pause, that moment of patience, can turn anger into compassion or frustration into joy. That sacred pause can save your marriage.

My Intelligence Went Adrift in the Sea of Her Eyes

A couple years ago, during my daughter’s sophomore year in college, we went to a high school football game together. She saw a young college age man wearing a sweatshirt from the college she attended. Excited to meet someone who attended the same college as her, she walked up to him and said, “Hey, I go to that college too!” The young man smiled, eyes wide.  She said, “What’s your major?” His arms began to move in motions indicative of speech and he opened his mouth as though to speak, but the words did not flow. After a very brief moment, sounds began to emanate from his moving lips as he stuttered, “Huh…well…I…huh…oh man,” his hand landed on the top of his head, “I can’t remember my major!” He looked hopelessly to his friend and then said, “I gotta go.”  I just smiled.  He did return later and had a more intelligible conversation with my daughter. He was a nice young man…very intelligent actually. He just “got lost in her eyes.” When she “ambushed him” that way his intelligence went adrift in her eyes.

Watching this brief interaction brought two things to my mind. One, I recalled the scene from Inside Out. You can check it out here. Two, it reminded me of a study completed in 2009 in which people interacted with attractive members of the opposite sex before completing cognitive tests (What Sexy People Do To Your Intelligence). Both males and females performed worse on the cognitive tests in the presence of an attractive member of the opposite sex. But males exhibited a stronger drop in ability than women. Why? The authors of the study believed that it had to do with “impression management.” It seems that trying to make a positive impression on another person sucks up enough brain power that our cognitive skills, our intelligence, is weakened. (That must be why I can’t speak intelligently when my wife walks into the room…oh, come one guys…give me a break. I’m trying to earn some brownie points here if my wife happens to read my blog!) My daughter knows about these studies since I talk about them (she would say I talk about them too much). She had compassion for the guy. She was patient and didn’t make a deal out of it.  In other words, she treated him with respect and honor. Teaching our children to respond to others with respect and honor is an important part of equipping them for the world…and making the world a better place. Let’s teach our children these values early.  Let’s give the values of honor and respect a central place in our families and in our training of children. We can still enjoy the intelligence that goes adrift in the sea of beautiful eyes, but we can also admire the compassion, patience, honor, and respect we witness in return.

Fruits of a Healthy Marriage

Healthy marriages flow from healthy individuals who continue to learn and grow. Sure, each person will make mistakes. But, in the long run, each spouse in a healthy marriage grows and reveals these healthy fruits in their lives. As a result, their marriages flourish. Here are some fruits that nurture a healthy marriage along with some practical ways to enjoy that fruit

  • Love. Love is an action. It seeks the best for one’s spouse. It maintains a long-term view of the marriage. So, plan a vacation, a 5-year anniversary, an extra big trip for next year. Spend this year planning a special romantic getaway

    for next year. Take time to prepare for it, save for it, and work for it together to make it happen. Love also thinks the best of one’s spouse. So, find a way to compliment your spouse every day. Show your spouse appreciation daily. Tell them how much you admire them for all they do. (If you want to apply this to your whole family, try the 30-Day Family Happiness Challenge!)

  • Joy. Healthy marriages share joy. Each spouse shares joyful experiences from their days. Joyful marriages are filled with play. So, play together, laugh together, and share adventures together. Enjoy a card game or a baseball game together. Celebrate an achievement, a milestone, or just the day for no other reason than you enjoy your spouse. Tell a joke. Share your joys.
  • Peace. In a healthy marriage each spouse pursues peace, not drama. Mole hills remain mole hills and mountains are excavated to become gentle slopes or terraced hillsides filled with lookouts over awesome vistas. Healthy couples learn to use conflict for grow and so promote peace. (Read The Secret to Family Peace and apply the principles to your marriage.)
  • Patience. Those who enjoy a healthy marriage practice patience. Each spouse puts his or her agenda aside and patiently listen to understand their spouse. They are patient with misunderstandings, disagreements, and mistakes. They listen intently and fully. Patience doesn’t mean letting everything slide. It does mean trusting your spouse’s love for you and patiently engaging them to create change.
  • Kindness. Who doesn’t want a kind spouse? A spouse who serves in kindness and speaks words of kindness nurtures a healthy marriage. So, serve your spouse. Speak words of kindness, respect, and gratitude to your spouse.
  • Sincerity. Healthy marriages put aside sarcasm and left-handed compliments. Instead, offer sincere compliments, honest encouragement, and beneficial words.
  • Faithfulness. Healthy marriages focus on truth. They do not hide things from one another. They do not lie to one another. Be truthful and honest. Keep your promises. If you promise to do something, do it as soon as you can. Faithful marriages have an eye on the long-term investment of their relationship. They know they will be together in the future and they work for that end.
  • Gentleness. People in healthy marriages tend to be humble. They do not take themselves too seriously. They are humble enough to serve one another. Rather than expect their spouse to bring them a drink, they offer to bring their spouse a drink. Rather than ask “What have you done for me lately?” they ask, “What can I do for you today?” (Check out Today’s Family Question is… for more.)
  • Self-control. Spouses who enjoy a healthy marriage practice self-control. They soothe themselves during arguments or disagreements. They are not easily angered and when they become angry they manage that anger. In addition, they practice self-control when they “only have eyes for” their spouse, no one else!

We could talk about each of these traits more, but I think you get the idea…and a few practical ideas on how to put these traits into practice. Now get out there and grow the fruits of a healthy marriage.

The T.A.P. Garden Could Save Your Marriage

A couple of friends recently went to Haiti with Team Tassy to “Run Across Haiti.” His wife sent beautiful pictures and wonderful descriptions of the work they did while in Haiti. One post in particular caught my attention. I wanted to share it with you. With her permission (thank you Kristen Mauclair), here it is…a gardening metaphor that could save your marriage!

No relationship is easy… including ours. Today, after taking a tour of SAKALA (an educational, community center and beautiful garden in Cite Soleil), I had the honor to teach a lesson of agriculture to Haitian students. Children so eager to learn what it means to make a garden grow.

It came to me that there are really 3 basic principles to cultivating plants ? or crops… fruits ? or vegetables ? … Time, Attention, and Patience.

  • TIME to see the results…
  • ATTENTION to detail: watering, nourishing, harvesting the good…
  • PATIENCE when planting fails; starting over is a must… and patience to wait until the effort shows!

This was something I hoped the kids would take with them after our lesson… because ultimately… these 3 principles apply to life in many ways… developing a garden, excelling in school, growing a business, maintaining relationships… and as I thought after our garden visit… TEN YEARS OF MARRIAGE!

And, as it is, marriage is not easy. It takes TIME, ATTENTION, and PATIENCE. Our ten years have not been easy, but we’ve learned it takes work. Days have come where I’ve worked more than him and days when he’s worked more than me. There have been times when we’re on the same page, and MANY where we aren’t even in the same library. ? And… lots of days were spent NOT working at all.

Marriage is incredibly difficult AND rewarding. It’s uncomfortable AND comforting. It’s the best days AND worst days, but if there is NO effort from both parties, the garden will die. Time… with one another. Attention… to who we are together and who we are as individuals.  Patience… in knowing we will FALL, but will not FAIL… because starting over IS an option.

I’ve learned…’I am sorry’… ‘I forgive you’… and ‘I love you’ … are the most powerful 3-word phrases when used wisely. 10 years of marriage… work. I’m proud of myself and proud of us. I’m proud of what we stand for and what we’ve been through.  No relationship is easy… including ours.

I (John from Honor Grace Celebrate) would only add …the marriage that grows from an investment of time, attention, and patience is a joyful garden filled with beautiful plants bearing amazing fruit.

7 Ways Gratitude Benefits Your Family According to Research

According to research, practicing gratitude can benefits your marriage and family in numerous ways. Let me share 7 of the benefits I think all families need to know.

  • Gratitude “vaccinates” against impulsiveness and poor self-control. Of course, this is not a one-time vaccine. We need to practice “gratitude boosters” on a daily basis to get the best results. In fact, research suggests that the more Writing thank you on a blackboard.regularly a person experiences gratitude, the more self-control they seem to have. Want your children and spouse to be less impulsive and exhibit better self-control, model and teach gratitude!
  • Teaching teens to be grateful decreases problem behavior. A four year study in New York found that grateful teens had a greater sense of meaning in their life, were more satisfied with their overall life, and were more hopeful about their lives. Grateful teens also showed less of a tendency to abuse drugs and alcohol. They were less likely to have behavior problems in school.
  • Gratitude increases patience, especially when it comes to financial decisions. A study from the Northeastern University’s College of Science assessed the impact of a number of positive emotions on patience when making financial decisions. Gratitude increased patience more than happiness or neutral emotions. In other words, grateful teens are less likely to make that impulsive purchase.
  • Gratitude increases happiness in life. Kent State University published a study in which college students wrote letters of gratitude to people who had positively impacted their lives. They wrote one letter every two weeks for a six week period. Each letter had to be “positively expressive, required some insight and reflection, were nontrivial and contained a high level of appreciation or gratitude.” After each letter, students completed a survey to assess their mood, satisfaction with life, and feelings of happiness. Not surprisingly, happiness increased with each letter! Why not write a letter of gratitude to someone who has impacted your life?
  • Gratitude strengthens marital relationships. Researchers from University of Georgia asked 468 married individuals about their financial well-being, communication styles, and expressions of spousal gratitude. Results of the survey indicated that expression of gratitude was the most consistent and significant predictor of marital quality. It protected couples from the negative effects of poor communication during conflict and was more important than financial status in producing happiness in the marriage. In other words, grateful spouse, happy spouse!
  • Gratitude strengthens romantic relationships. Sara Algoe, a professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, found that expressing gratitude in conversations led to stronger relationships, a greater adaptability to change, and a more positive relationship in general. A simple “thank you” can increase the romance in your marriage.
  • Gratitude helps us achieve and maintain satisfaction with our spouse. Sara Algoe, in another study, found that expressions of gratitude gave a boost to romantic relationships. In fact, the positive effects of gratitude on a marital relationship were still felt the day after it was expressed. Her research suggests that everyday gratitude serves an important function in maintaining happy, intimate relationships. In other words, if you want an ongoing happy marriage, practice gratitude every day.

Oh, the power of gratitude. A sincere “thank you” carries amazing power. Power you hold on the tip of your tongue! Start improving your family life today by wielding this power. Simply inject some gratitude into your everyday conversation. Keep it up and watch your family follow suit. In a month’s time you may have a new family to enjoy…thanks to the power of gratitude!

Dunkin’ Donuts & A Better Behaved Child

I stood in line at Dunkin’ Donuts when a mother and her young son entered the store. They line was moving very slow. As we waited for the opportunity to pick out our donuts, this boy’s excitement began to bubble over. Suddenly, the levee that contained his excitement Mother And Son Doing Laundrybroke. He burst out into loud sounds, large gestures, and a quick run in circles around his mother. His mother calmly picked him up and smiled. He smiled back as she said, “You are really excited for your donut aren’t you?”  His eyes grew so large with excitement and joy I thought they might pop out.  “But,” she continued, “Do you see all the people already eating their donuts?” The little boy looked around and nodded. “We will get our donut soon.” He hugged his mother at those words. She continued, “In the meantime, all the people eating donuts now don’t want to be disturbed by someone running and yelling. So…, (I don’t know if she paused for dramatic effect, but I leaned forward waiting for “the rest of the story”) will you stand patiently with me while we wait for our donut?” The young man smiled and shook his head yes. She set him down and together they stood, hand in hand, patiently waiting for their turn to order a donut. I stood in line and smiled. I had just witnessed a wonderful example of the effectiveness of inductive parenting.

 

Inductive parenting is considered the most effective parenting style for helping a child internalize social norms and family values. Three components make it so effective. First, inductive parenting communicates how actions affect other people. When this young mother told her son to “see all the people…,” she raises his awareness of others. She did not judge or lecture. She simply made him aware. In doing so, she taught him to have empathy, to think about other people, to see things from their perspective. She encouraged him to experience his behavior from another person’s point of view. Her son will learn to recognize how his behavior affects others in positive and negative ways as she continues to do this. In short, he will earn to be respectful of other people.

 

Second, inductive parenting teaches the benefits of “social cooperation.” When this young boy’s mother told him ‘the people eating don’t want to be disturbed by someone running and yelling,” she was teaching him social cooperation, to think about other people and be considerate of their rights and desires. He learned that respecting other people involves cooperating with their desires, not just thinking of his own desires.

 

Third, inductive parenting gives a positive behavioral alternative. The mother described above did this when she asked her son to “stand with me while we wait.” Not only did this young man learn to be aware of the impact of his behavior on others and to respect other people by cooperating with their desires, but he learned how to do this. In addition, his mother stood with him, hand in hand as they talked about their plans for the day. He learned and experienced the joy of interacting with his mother while waiting in line. Most likely, he saw the smiles of other patrons as they witnessed a mother and son having a positive, respectful interaction (after all, she made her son aware of them).

 

Using the three components of inductive parenting will help your child internalize your family values. One more tip to help the process along: do not lecture. Simply state the expectation or raise your child’s awareness and move on. Keep it brief and to the point. Even better, as your children learn the expectations ask them rather than tell them. “Is that how we act in public?” “How do you think your behavior is making other customers feel?” “Is that how a young man/lady behaves?” Asking questions encourages your child to process what they already know. Each time they process what they know and think it through, the more likely they will act on it in the future.

The Absolutely Essential Battle for Successful Parents

I’m sure you have heard someone say “You have to pick your battles” when it comes to parenting. It’s true. Sometimes it’s not worth the battle to make our children wear matching socks and tie their shoes when we have to wage battle to make them wear modest clothes. We do not want to force a victory in the small battles only to harm our parent-child relationship and lose the greater battle for maturity. Some battles just aren’t worth fighting. Of course, other battles are definitely worth the fight. Some battles must be won if we are to help our children become mature adults. Ironically, the most essential and difficult battle that successful parents wage has nothing to do with our children’s behavior.  No, the most difficult battle we encounter as parents involves a far more alarming enemy—ourselves. That’s right. military policeSuccessful parents battle with an internal enemy. We come face to face with the enemy of our own impatience. We battle to overcome our impatience while repeatedly addressing the same problem behaviors over and over again (wait a second, was that repetitive?). We battle our impatience early in our parenting career by watching the same shows and movies time after time after time during our children’s preschool years.  We continue to battle impatience by changing our expectations to match our child’s developmental abilities and accepting that part of our duty as parents is to continually repeat requests, household expectations, and simple routines.

 

We also wage war with our self-centered desires. Our self-centeredness raises its ugly head when we demand everyone watch “my TV show” or when we demand that our children enjoy the activities “we” enjoy. Perhaps the most dangerous attack of self-centeredness comes when we expect our children to promote our status as a “good parent” who has a “good kid,” a “sport’s star,” a “smart kid,” or an “excellent musician” and got into a “good college” with a “good scholarship” as a result.  In our self-centeredness, we might expect our children to promote our status by “never throwing a tantrum,” “never getting in trouble,” always being the “perfect child” with multiple talents and an excellent academic standing. But, our children do not have the role of making us look good. Their job is not to make us feel good. Thinking they have that role is the epitome of self-centeredness. We battle our self-centeredness by allowing our children to be children, misbehavior and all. We continue the battle by allowing our children to discover their own interests (even if they are different than our own) and accepting the joy of having wonderfully average children.

 

Successful parents also look directly into the monstrous eyes of worry and anxiety. We battle to not let our anxieties rule our parenting decisions. If worry informs our parenting and anxiety guides our decisions, we will create a legalistic prison of rules and demands for our children. The rules and demands we develop in response to fear will push grace out of our relationship. Our children will eventually rebel against our rules to assert their independence. So, successful parents look squarely into the eyes of worry and respond with confident grace. We battle against anxieties by nurturing interactive relationships filled with trust. We conquer fears by giving our children meaningful roles in the family and responsibilities to complete various duties independent of us…duties like chores around the house and “age appropriate self-management tasks” like waking up and getting dressed for school independently…from an early age.

 

Successful parents also battle against the strong pull of self-doubt. Nothing will raise self-doubt like becoming a parent. Every decision seems to raise doubts about our adequacy and wisdom. We battle those doubts by seeking the counsel of others who have already raised children successfully. We surround ourselves with wise counsel and loving support.

 

We will also find ourselves standing on the edge of awkward situations, thrown into moments of embarrassment while raising our children. You know the times I speak of—times when your child throws a tantrum at the mall or, worse yet, in front of your parents; times when your child stands up in the middle of a crowd and begins to do something inappropriate, even though they do so in innocence; times when your child blurts out an embarrassing comment. The list goes on. We battle that embarrassment with the realization that our children are their own person. Our worth does not rest upon our children’s childish moments…after all, they are children. We need not lose the battle to embarrassment; we simply use those moments of immature behavior as opportunities to calmly and patiently teach our children more appropriately behavior.

 

Yes, as parents we must pick our battles. And, the most important battle for us to pick is the battle with our selves—our impatience, our self-centeredness, our worry, our self-doubt, and our embarrassment. As our children witness our victory in these battles, they too will grow more mature.

Teach Your Child the Art of Waiting

I learned my lesson when I took a 6-year-old boy to his neurology appointment. I had no control. He was all over the place—climbing the walls (literally) and touching everything. The neurologist walked in to see my exasperation. Then he performed a miracle. He produced a small wind-up toy from his pocket, wound it up, set it on the bed, and walked out of the room. The toy took three small steps, banged small cymbals, and did a flip…over and over again. The 6-year-old stopped running around and watched the toy. When it stopped performing, he wound it up and started over. Throughout the process, he stayed calm. He began to learn the art of waiting. And I began to learn my role in helping children learn to wait. Since then, I have learned several lessons to help children wait. Here are five tips to help your child learn the art of waiting…and keep you from pulling your hair out at the same time.
     ·         Learn the art of engagement and distraction. Engage your child in some activity that will distract him from the waiting. You can play “I Spy,” a game of cards, or tic-tac-toe. Your child might enjoy telling stories or singing songs. You can ask questions about his day, a book he is reading, life at school, or his plans for the week. In the process, you learn about your child and distract him from waiting.

·         Plan ahead. Pack a small bag with toys, books, games, and even a small snack to engage your child while waiting. Let him bring his favorite book or project to an appointment where he may have to wait. Enjoy a small snack while waiting. Play a game of cards, build with Lego’s, or play with a handheld game. You can even plan something special immediately following the appointment that demands waiting, such as a trip to the ice cream store or a special meal at home.

·         Don’t rush ’em, let ’em finish. During your daily life, allow your child to focus on his activities without the stress of having to quit early. In doing so, you recognize how much your child values that activity. He feels understood and appreciated. And, with that understanding firmly in place, he will become more willing to wait when necessary. Sometimes you will not have the time to allow your child to finish his project before you have to move on to the “next thing.” When that is the case, give a warning. Let him know he only has 20 more minutes to finish what he can and clean up. Help him determine a good spot to stop for the day. Warn him again at 10 minutes and then at 5 minutes let him know it is time to clean up.

·         Show your child that you are reliable. When you say you will do something, do it. When you make a promise, keep it. A recent study 
showed that children who experience reliable interactions with an adult are better able to wait. The 3-to 5-year-olds in this study delayed gratification four times longer after experiencing a reliable adult who kept their promise. So, keep your promises. Show your child that you are reliable. When your child knows you as reliable, your word and your promise will help them practice the art of waiting.

·         Model the art of waiting for your children. Children learn from watching. They mimic their parents. They repeat the patterns of behavior they see in their parents. So, if you want your children to practice the art of waiting, let them see you waiting patiently as well.
 
Waiting is an art that we have to learn and practice. Begin teaching your children today…and begin by modeling the art of waiting yourself.

My Family is Killing Me

My family is killing me. I know that may sound a bit extreme, even over the top; but, it is true. Every time I turn around they want to end some part of my life. I believe it is all part of a conspiracy that goes all the way to the top. God Himself is in on it. They have all joined forces to conspire against me…to make me a better person, to force me to grow more mature in character, to become godly, even Christ-like. Yes, my family is killing me…and, well, it’s a good thing. I hate to admit it, but I tend to be impatient at times. If you do not believe me, take a ride in rush hour traffic with me. I don’t understand rush hour traffic. It makes no sense. I have no patience for it. I hate rush hour traffic. Anyway, I am impatient. Fortunately, my family is killing my impatience. They have located the tumor of impatience and, with surgical precision, they are cutting it out of my life. In traffic they make comments like, “Gee Dad, we’re behind a big, slow truck…your favorite thing.” We all smile. Well, they smile and I grit my teeth; but, it helps me stay calm…and patient. After all, I want to model patience for my children. They also help me remain patient when I feel the urge to shoot my computer or when I mumble a desire to avoid the long line for everyone’s favorite ride in the amusement park. Thanks to my family, impatience is dying a slow, sometimes agonizing death. While impatience dies, my family is painstakingly grafting in patience to fill the emptiness left behind. Patience…what a nice change.
 
My family is also killing my need for control. You may find this hard to believe, but controlling teenage daughters is like herding cats. They want their own lives. They have friends they want to hang out with and activities that seem to call their names. I cannot control their interests. I cannot control their thoughts. I cannot control what they do when they are out with friends. I can only trust them. As much as parents like to believe we have control over our family, we cannot make our maturing children do the right thing. We have little control over their behavior when they leave our presence to go out with friends. Don’t get me wrong…I believe in discipline. And, I do have wonderful daughters…I am truly blessed. But, truth be told, as children grow into teens and young adults, parents have less and less control over their lives. We can discuss behaviors, point out consequences of various choices, and encourage appropriate behaviors; but, we cannot control their thoughts and actions. We have to give up control—let it die. We have to learn to trust that they will remember what we have taught them through the elementary years. We have to trust their decision-making skills and their ability to learn from their experience. We have to trust them…and sometimes it is killing me. See what I mean? My family is killing me.
 
I don’t know about you, but I like to be right. No, I love to be right. In fact, I have argued over the dumbest things simple because I want to be right…and sometimes (only sometimes) I was. Sometimes I even continue to argue, trying to prove myself right, even after I realized I was wrong, very wrong. I know it doesn’t make sense; but really, come on, you know what I mean. We love to be right. However, my family is slowly killing off my need to be right. They are teaching me that some things just don’t matter. I’m also learning that they really do know things I do not know…like what color the living room is painted or how the Federal Reserve works or…oh, there are so many things they know that I do not know. So, I’m learning to listen carefully, completely, and with the intent to understand before I offer my “right answer.” Many times I don’t even have to offer “my right answer.” I just need to listen. I don’t have to be right every time. Other people can be right. In fact, other people are often right! And, I can be wrong…and it’s killing me.
 
One more thing. We can all be somewhat self-centered at times. I know I can. I want that last piece of pie. I like to sit in a particular chair in the living room. After all, it’s my house and my chair. Oops, sorry family…it is our house and our chair. We are a family…and, my family is killing my self-centered me. They are helping me learn to use words like “our” and “we” instead of “mine” and “me.” Interestingly, I find myself becoming happier as my self-centeredness dies. I have discovered that I experience greater joy when I help my family rather than help myself, when I compromise rather than demand my way, when I listen to their needs rather than push my agenda. Truly, I have never had more excitement and joy than when I watch a family member achieve a personal dream and excitedly talk about it. Yes, my family is killing my self-centeredness and replacing it with a good dose of unselfish benevolence.
 
So, my little secret is out. There is a conspiracy afoot. Yes, my family is killing me…and, well, I am glad! It is a good thing to let some character traits die and replace them with something better. So, go ahead family. Give it your best shot. Cut out my immature character traits and graft in some new improved traits like patience, trust, understanding, and unselfish benevolence. Aye, if I get enough new and improved traits grafted in, I will be like the six million dollar man….”We can rebuild him. We can make him better than he was before. Better…stronger…faster….” Oops, sorry about that. I got carried away. It’s all part of the conspiracy!
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