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3 Things to Do When Your Kid Isn’t Invited

All Pro Dad | July 07, 2020

My youngest daughter graduated high school with high honors, but we couldn’t celebrate the 13 years of hard work because of COVID-19. Shelter-in-place orders meant all kids missed out on time with friends, senior trips, proms, graduation ceremonies, and other wonderful, irreplaceable moments. It’s unfortunate that a pandemic caused our kids to miss out on a lot. But what about those times when kids are left out when there isn’t a pandemic?

There are times when your kid isn’t invited to a party, has no one to sit with at lunch (including my daughter one year in middle school), or isn’t chosen to participate in teams. This hurts the hearts of both the children and their parents. When your kid isn’t invited or left out, here are 3 things dads need to do.

Affirm your child’s identity.

Remind your children that their worth isn’t defined by what other people say about them or do to them.

When our kids are hurting, it’s a natural instinct to react to the source of their pain in anger. However, retaliation just makes a bad situation even worse. So I teach my girls what I was taught: The best response is living well. Show your kids how to grow from the experience, process the pain, use it to gain empathy and compassion for others, and ultimately, become a more well-rounded person. Remind your children that their worth isn’t defined by what other people say about them or do to them.

Be available.

They need to get it out. Allow your children to vent freely without a lecture. What they need is love and care. They need you to witness and validate their pain. Don’t look for a quick solution—there isn’t one. This is about whether you have the strength to sit with your children and witness their pain. If you’re seeing signs they need to talk, like aggressive sarcasm, lashing out in anger, and frequent moodiness, be sure to carve out time to be fully present for them. It’s always important to be a good listener as a parent.

Develop their social skills.

People are drawn to others who have confidence, passion, and skill sets that are interesting. Help your children develop the social skills necessary to fit in easier. There are a few ways to do this.

  1. Roleplay with them. Have your child pretend to be the person they don’t get along with while you play the role of your child. Model ways to communicate more effectively and use proper body language.
  2. Teach them how to ask questions. The best way to get to know someone is by getting them to talk about themselves. Help your child find common interests with others.
  3. Develop their passions. When a child, or anyone, is passionate about a topic or skill and has developed it to a point where they are confident, that’s a social asset. It will draw others of like mind. Teach your child the difference between arrogance (which pushes people away) and confidence (which draws people in).

Earn some points: Are you married? If so, share this iMOM article with your wife: 4 Important Things You Can Do When Your Child is Being Left Out.

Sound off: How have you responded when your child has been excluded?

 

The post 3 Things to Do When Your Kid Isn’t Invited appeared first on All Pro Dad.

5 Negative Things You Want Your Kids to Say

Timothy Diehl | July 06, 2020

Would you buy a parenting book promising to help you raise unhappy kids? Of course not! As a parent, you certainly want your kids to be happy. In fact, much of our time, effort, and money in parenting goes to making our kids happy.

But what if happiness is overrated? What if sometimes, what you really want is unhappy kids? I would argue that occasionally-unhappy kids mean you are parenting your kids well—that you are doing something right. Here are 5 negative things you should want your kids to say that prove they are unhappy.

1. “I’m bored.”

It is not your job to keep your kids busy. In fact, it’s your job to fight against the pull toward busy-ness.

Parents often feel like it’s their job to entertain their kids by keeping them happy and occupied. However, study after study has shown that some degree of boredom is actually healthy for kids and stimulates creative thinking and inventiveness. As philosopher Bertrand Russell noted, “A generation that cannot endure boredom will be a generation of little men, of men unduly divorced from the slow processes of nature, of men in whom every vital impulse slowly withers, as though they were cut flowers in a vase.”

It is not your job to keep your kids busy. In fact, it’s your job to fight against the pull toward busy-ness.

2. “That’s not fair!”

No doubt you’ve heard this from your child. But our kids need to learn that life does not deal in equity. Some people have to struggle greatly while others struggle very little. Life is not fair and we can’t wait for it to be fair to find some meaning. We don’t want to intentionally frustrate our children, but we also don’t cater to them. “That’s not fair” can just as easily mean “that’s not what I want.” So we should do what we believe is good for our children and, along the way, help them deal with the reality that life is not always fair. In spite of that, they can still live full and meaningful lives.

3. “I’m so mad!”

Why would we want our children to get mad? Well, there are things in this world that should make us angry. We want our children to understand that some things are just and some are not—and that anger is an appropriate response to injustice. We also need to help our kids deal constructively with anger. They’re human; they’re going to get angry. As a parent, it’s important that you take those opportunities to help them learn how to deal well with their emotions.

4. “It’s so embarrassing!”

My kids most often feel embarrassed when they don’t fit in or meet some societal expectation. Of course, we don’t want our kids to be social rejects and deal with public humiliation. However, moments of embarrassment create opportunities to discuss how much they value the opinions of others (and how much they should). It’s a chance to help them discover a true sense of self.

5. “It makes me really sad.”

This statement, perhaps more than any other, is one we desire to avoid with our kids. We don’t want them to be sad. No one likes feeling sad. And yet, as a human, it is unavoidable. Our kids will get sad. What’s tragic is when they feel like they can’t be. When our kids are sad, we want them to be able to acknowledge and express it. We need to affirm that being sad is OK. We must help them process grief and move through it.

Sound off: What other ‘negative’ things do you want your kids to say?

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6 A’s of Good Parenting

Mark Merrill | July 03, 2020

Parenting is all about relating. The better our relationships with our children, the better are our chances at effective parenting.

Youth expert Josh McDowell believes there are 6 factors that play into good parenting. He calls them the 6 A’s.

1. Affirmation

When we affirm a child’s feelings, it gives them a sense of validation.

When we affirm a child’s feelings, it gives them a sense of validation. Have you ever heard the old saying, “Laugh with those who are happy and cry with those who are sad?” When our children are sharing their feelings or opinions, they want us to listen to them, identify with them, and affirm them. It would go something like this: Your son comes home and says, “Man! My math teacher made me so mad today; he said I wasn’t trying.”

Your instinct might be to downplay the situation. “He probably didn’t mean anything by it. Let it go.” Or, before you even address his feelings, you might be tempted to ask, “Were you trying? Maybe he had a point.” Or, “You’re a big boy now; you can’t get so upset about things.” Those are all attempts to control or fix the situation. Instead, try, “Son, I am so sorry that happened. How do you feel about it now?” Then, listen, let him know you understand how he’s feeling, and thank him for sharing his feelings. Even when we don’t agree with our children, we can still affirm their feelings and them as individuals.

2. Acceptance

When you give unconditional acceptance, you give a child a sense of security. This basically comes down to one principle that must be conveyed to our children: “I don’t love you because of what you do or achieve; I love you because you’re my child.” Our love and affection should not be based on grades, behavior, or achievements.

3. Appreciation

When we express appreciation, it gives a child a sense of significance. Appreciation is one of the most powerful motivations for right behavior. So, the more we “catch” our children doing things right, and the more we express our appreciation, the more motivated they will be to behave better. You can express that appreciation by saying something like, “Thanks for telling me the truth about what happened. I know it wasn’t easy, but I really appreciate the way you are owning and taking responsibility for your actions.” Appreciation can also be expressed by writing a short note of encouragement to your child.

4. Availability

When we are available to our children, it gives them a sense of importance. We can say all we want about how important our children are to us. But if we’re not available to them, our words will ring hollow. Sometimes, our automatic response to our kids when they approach us is, “Not right now, I’m busy.” But our children should come before our TV-watching, our hobbies, and our work. So when our kids come to us, our response should be to stop, drop, and listen. Stop what we’re doing, drop to our knees, and listen to them, hug them, play with them.

5. Affection

When we show our children affection, it gives them a sense of lovability. All children want to feel like they are lovable. If they don’t get love from you they will get it somewhere else. How can you show affection? Wink at your daughter across the dinner table. Give big hugs to your son. Develop a bedtime tuck-in routine for your children. Hold your daughter’s hand. Have a special nickname for each of your kids. Wrestle with them on the floor. Give them piggyback rides.

6. Accountability

When we hold children accountable, it gives them a sense of responsibility and self-control. Our children need the disciplines of responsibility and self-control to function successfully in life. As parents, we must create rules and boundaries for them. Once those guidelines are set, we must be consistent in enforcing them.

Earn some points: Are you married? If so, share this iMOM article with your wife: The 4 C’s of Good Parenting.

Sound off: What are some ways you can demonstrate these six A’s to your children on a daily basis?

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5 Reasons Your Kids Should Learn from Your Mistakes

Mark Merrill | June 26, 2020

Most parents have moments of uncertainty, even fear, about sharing their mistakes with their children. Those are the moments you second-guess your ability, even your right, to take a stand with your kids when you ask them to do something differently than how you did it. For me, it happened when I talked to my teens about drinking. Due to alcohol issues in my family history and my own overindulgent days in college, it was uncomfortable to take a stand with them on the subject. But I realized that because I wanted better for them, I had to share my poor choices and the consequences I suffered.

It’s tempting to soften our expectations for our kids when we’ve made our own bad choices. But we shouldn’t let our bad choices and the fear of looking like a hypocrite stall or stop us as parents. So, dads, fear not. Have courage. At the appropriate age, place, and time, you should share with your children so they can learn from your mistakes. Here are 5 reasons why you should not be afraid to share your mistakes with your children.

1. History is a good teacher.

Our bad choices in the past do not disqualify us from disagreeing with and opposing those choices now. The mistakes we made in the past are history and history is a good teacher. While it can be uncomfortable, being transparent about the past actually can strengthen our arguments in the present. We’ve hopefully gained wisdom from our experiences and that wisdom needs to be passed on to our children.

2. Opposing your past doesn’t mean condemning yourself in the present.

Opposing your past doesn’t mean condemning yourself in the present.

Sometimes, the fear of feeling judged or judging ourselves in the present for the past can be an obstacle. We need to overcome that. If we’re a child of God and have confessed it to Him, it’s been forgiven, and there is no more condemnation. So we should now feel the freedom to guide and train our kids in the way they should go in the present. Loving our kids well means speaking the truth into their lives.

3. Who better to say, “Don’t do this!” than someone who has lived with the consequences?

Our mistakes and bad judgment actually give us a lot to offer our kids because of our lessons learned. The natural rebuttal from our kids may be, “Well, just because you struggled with this doesn’t mean I will.” We can respond by sharing that they may be right. But also let them know that all of us are capable of making bad choices, including them. None of us are immune, and it’s dangerous to think we are. Encourage them to always be on guard.

4. Vulnerability and humility will enable our children to better identify with us.

Sharing our stories in a humble way with our children will make it easier for them to identify with us. And, when we connect with our kids, it’s much more likely that they’ll really listen to us. In being vulnerable, one concern a parent may have is that by sharing how we messed up, our kids may think they have a license or an excuse for doing the same dumb thing. That’s not a reason for silence. The stakes are sometimes too high. We must let our children know we are sharing our mistakes, and the resulting consequences and pain (maybe pain that we still carry), because we love our children so much and do not want them to go through the same thing. We want something so much better for our kids.

5. Use your mistakes to provide for a better future for your children.

We shouldn’t assume that our kids have to learn the hard way by making their own mistakes. Will they make mistakes? Yes. Do we want them to learn from mistakes? Yes. But avoiding them in the first place is even better. And so, we should not be shy about making our case to them. We must be bold.

Let’s not give in to fear. We want better for our kids. We want them to make better choices, live better lives, and honor God with their choices.

Sound off: What doubts or fears do you have about sharing your mistakes with your children?

The post 5 Reasons Your Kids Should Learn from Your Mistakes appeared first on All Pro Dad.

3 Ways to Raise a Narcissist

Timothy Diehl | June 22, 2020

Have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone who just couldn’t stop talking about himself? It doesn’t matter what subjects the conversation covers. He always brings it back—to him. If so, he just might be a narcissist. Of course, words matter, and I want to be careful not to throw around a clinical term in a way that is misleading.

There is a narcissistic personality disorder that can only be diagnosed by a trained professional. That is not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the tendency for certain people to lack empathy and self-awareness, to have an inflated sense of self-importance, and to feel entitled to things they are unwilling to work for. Do you ever wonder how those people became that guy? And do you know how to avoid raising a narcissistic child? It’s simple. Just don’t make these 3 parenting mistakes.

1. Mistake what they do for who they are.

Parents rightly want their children to see themselves as innately valuable and lovable. But we need to separate what they do from who they are. This is true in both criticism and praise. So when our kids make mistakes, we need to be able to say, “that’s wrong” and help our kids realize that’s quite different than saying “you’re wrong.” And when our kids do something great, we want to say “that’s awesome,” not “you’re awesome.”

You certainly should tell your children you love them and think they are special. However, if we don’t do it carefully, we risk raising a narcissist. We need to separate our children’s actions from their value. Our kids are loved whether they are laudable or lousy, but if they’re lousy, we love them too much to leave them there.

2. Mistake happiness for goodness.

We all want our kids to be happy. However, being happy is not the same as being good. In fact, when we focus exclusively on our child’s happiness, we inadvertently teach them that “being good” is secondary to their personal happiness. Suddenly, our kids can justify deception and selfishness if, in the end, “they make me happier.” Raising a narcissist can be the sad result of wanting your kids to be happy beyond all else.

Goodness is a willingness to choose what is right, loving, and true, even when it is difficult.

Goodness, on the other hand, is a willingness to choose what is right, loving, and true, even when it is difficult. We instill this when we help our kids learn how to forgive people who hurt them, rather than hate; to be generous with their money rather than buying whatever they want; and to spend time doing acts of service, rather than focusing all their attention on fun. This often leads us to happiness precisely because happiness is not the end in itself.

3. Mistake wants for needs.

Your daughter may want to play three sports in one season. Your son may want a smartphone at age 8. But what your child wants is not the same as what he or she needs. As a parent, it is incumbent on you to learn to say no. None of us likes to say no. As Big Tom Calahan would say in Tommy Boy, “Why say no when it feels so good to say yes?”

But just because something feels good doesn’t mean it is good. Some of the most important things you’ve learned about yourself and about how to live well in the world have come when you’ve not gotten what you’ve wanted. In trying to give our children everything they want, we actually withhold from them what they need: opportunities to gain resilience and learn valuable life lessons. Absolutely give your child things he or she wants—sometimes. But don’t be afraid to say no. It may be the most loving thing you can do.

Sound off: What are other ways might we accidentally contribute to our children’s self-centeredness?

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7 Promises All Dads Should Make to Their Kids

Andrew Linder | June 09, 2020

Kids love promises. From the time they are young, they learn the power of words—especially when a promise is made. Sometimes it’s when a friend makes a pinky promise. Other times it’s a more weighty promise of security and stability from a parent. They also learn the power of a person’s words when promises are not kept.

By making promises and keeping them, we have the opportunity to prove that our children can trust and can count on their dad, no matter what. So what promises to kids should we make? Here are 7 promises to kids that all dads should make.

1. No question is off limits.

In our home, we’ve implemented an open-door policy so our kids can feel comfortable coming to us with any questions or thoughts at any time. And we have made it known that we want them to come to us for answers about ANYTHING. Nothing is off limits. (Of course, parents always reserve the right to discern if and when their children are ready for certain answers.)

2. I am available anytime, day or night.

Multiple times, one of our children has woken us in the middle of the night to talk about something spiritual or personal on his or her heart. One time in particular, my son shook me on the shoulder. He said, “Dad, sorry to wake you up, but do you remember when you said I could talk to you anytime about anything? I need to talk…”

3. I will never discipline you out of anger.

There’s a big difference between discipline and punishment. Discipline should be motivated by love, but punishment is often motivated by revenge. As dads, we must never “get even” with our kids for their misbehavior. Promising your children that you will only discipline them out of love makes a powerful statement. It reassures them of your right motives and also holds you accountable to both them and God.

4. I will respect your differences.

Your child is not you. God has created them uniquely with their own personalities and preferences. Especially as they get older, having the discretion to know which differences are wrong and which ones are OK is a tough parenting tight rope to walk. As dads, we must choose wisely which battles are and aren’t worth fighting. We must choose to respect their differences.

5. I will never stop loving your mother.

If you are married, the promise you made to your wife on your wedding day is the same promise your kids need to believe in now—that you and their mom will stay together forever. If you aren’t married anymore, your kids still love their mother and need to see you treating her in a loving way. For those who’ve never been married, the way you treat your children’s mom and all women matters. And if you are married to someone who isn’t your children’s mom, love her the way you want them to love their future spouses. No matter your current family situation, loving your kids’ mother is a promise you need to make and one of the greatest gifts you can ever give to your children.

6. I will never stop loving you.

Your child needs to believe in your unconditional love. They need to know that there truly is nowhere they can go and nothing they can ever do that will cause you to stop loving them. And not only do they need to know this, but they also need to hear you say it regularly.

7. I will keep my promises to the best of my ability.

This is a hard promise to make, but one of the most important because it shows your kids that you are only human. You will mess up at times and fail to keep these promises. But you will acknowledge when you’re wrong, and to the best of your ability with God’s help, you will be the dad they need and deserve. You will be a man of your word.

Earn some points: Are you married? If so, share this iMOM article with your wife about keeping promises: 5 Reasons for Keeping Promises to Your Children.

Sound off: Are there other promises that should be added to this list?

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