Adulting, life skills, mother love, parenting, parenting young adults, wedding

3…2…1…LAUNCHED!!!

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It’s been almost a year since the engagement.  I had plenty of time to mentally prepare, but no amount of time can prepare you for the moment you first walk into the church and see family and friends joined together for this very special occasion.   It was only the rehearsal, but it was time for the tears to begin.

I sat at the front of the cathedral near her dad.  When I asked how he felt, he said something about losing his little girl.  With a false sense of bravery, I reminded him that she was just borrowed, that she was not ours to keep.   I choked on my words as I told him that kids are given to us to help us grow up.  After all, we’ve been at this parenting thing for 25 years now.  We’ve earned battle scars, arguments, respect and maybe even a little wisdom along the way.  We’ve traded sleep for sitting in a steamy bathroom to calm a croupy child.  We’ve given middle of the night sponge baths to bring down high fevers.  We’ve cleaned up things that are unimaginable and unmentionable.  Things we probably hadn’t given much thought to before we decided to become parents.  We’ve been their biggest cheerleaders and also the worst people on the planet from our daughters’ perspectives.   Perhaps they were given to us to help us polish up the jewels we were meant to be.  For those who don’t have kids, don’t misunderstand.  There are plenty of opportunities for growth.  It’s just that when you have them, you have no CHOICE but to change, For better or for worse, a parent will never be the same as his or her former self.

The whole day was absolutely magical (well, except for maybe the 90+ degree temperature)!  I got a lot of compliments which I had to deflect to the deserving parties.  You see, while I did render some assistance, it was not with the planning.  I learned early on that the best thing I could do was to stay out of her way and let her do her thing.   After all, I had done my best to create an independent young adult.  This wedding was HER dream, not mine, and who was I to stand in her way! I will not be there to execute the rest of her dreams for her, so I was not going to jump in the middle of this one either.  I offered to read any contracts (After I enjoyed my $250 cake pop, I realized that they had not all been presented to me…).  I made myself available as a worker bee AND I was always there to say annoying things like “what is your rain contingency plan?” and “do both of you have valid passports?”  I tried to limit my intervention to the “big things”.   They handled every last detail from special thank you letters to the wedding party and parents to tissues at the end of the church pews.  If she ever decides to become an event planner, she has at least one successful event for her resume’!

It might seem pretty cold to some that I am happy to send my daughter into the world, but my job is done.  Her formal education has been completed and if she stayed with me, I would thwart her real education.    She has been loved and nurtured.  I was the first one to be entrusted with her care before she was born. I was privileged, along with her dad and sister, to be one of her first teachers.  I wish I could say that we did everything perfectly, but I can’t.  But if I could, then we would have denied her immeasurable opportunities for learning.  She still has lots to learn, but she has to find new educators.  Her newest teacher just gave his heart to her in marriage and it was a beautiful event to witness.

Now they move forward together on their own glorious adventure.  They leave behind parents who look nostalgically at the empty corner of the nest and wonder what happened to their babies.  But they didn’t really lose anything.  You see, her parents have gained a bonus son, and his, a bonus daughter.  As they set out to feather their own nest, we smile with satisfaction and look forward to watching them soar on their own.

Adulting, financial responsiblity-teens and young adults, life skills, parenting, Parenting teens and young adults, parenting young adults, Uncategorized

The Devil: An Unlikely Teacher

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I just finished reading the book “Outwitting The Devil” which was originally written in 1938 by Napoleon Hill. Because of the controversial material that was presented, the manuscript was withheld from publication until long after Napoleon’s death.  The book was finally released by the Napoleon Hill Foundation in 2011 and it was annotated by Sharon Lechter.   I found the book fascinating and filled with information that is just as thought provoking today as it was 80 years ago when it was written!   I will focus on passages that I found most relevant to our children. The Devil’s claim is that the religious systems as well as the educational systems work together to cause our children to drift and to discourage them from thinking for themselves.

The book is primarily a question and answer series in which Napoleon queries the Devil on a wide range of topics that are relevant to living a successful life.  It does not matter whether Napoleon is speaking to THE Devil, or whether he has cleverly arranged his collection of personal wisdom into an attention grabbing two-way dialogue; you will find much food for thought. Though some of the information is duplicated in Hill’s more famous book, “Think and Grow Rich”, it is important enough to endure the redundancy.

I do not write to undermine the efforts and expertise of excellent teachers in either the academic or religious arenas.  I am sure that most would acknowledge that they do not like the constraints that they must adhere to while influencing America’s youth.  As a parent looking to the past, I see how I could’ve helped my children focus more on some of the core truths of life.  I can’t change what I did or didn’t do,

Following are direct quotes from either Mr. Hill or his Devil. My commentary is found in the bullet points.

“…Parents owe their children everything they can give them in the way of knowledge.  Beyond that, parents often spoil their offspring by a false sense of duty which prompts them to indulge their children instead of forcing them to seek and gain knowledge at first hand.”**

  • Today, I am reflecting on the “launching” of my second and final daughter. My feelings vacillate between guilt and exhilaration. Her imminent relocation causes me a mixture of sadness, excitement and victory.  The prevailing emotions are the excitement that her future will bring and the victory that this phase of my parenting has been completed successfully.  While I do feel a bit of guilt for my part in thrusting her into the great unknown, I know that she will learn far more outside of my care than she would ever learn from her safe place at home.  I pledge to always share the knowledge of my experience with her even while she is learning to navigate life without me.

“…Unearned gifts of every nature may become a curse instead of a blessing*

  • This point makes me think of this week’s news story about the 30-year-old man who is being evicted from his parents’ home. I’m sure that his parents never imagined that the “unearned gift” of physically sheltering their grown son would turn into a contentious and public legal battle.

 “Why aren’t children taught definiteness of purpose in the public schools?”*

  • According to the Devil, school is a place to memorize facts and earn credits. I appreciate the opportunities for the education I was given.  However, many of the facts that I memorized and subsequently forgot have not helped me in my daily pursuit of living.  (Note to math haters: I do still use algebra).  It has taken me many years past my formal education to hone in on my definite purpose.  Definiteness of purpose can be found though reading and participating in a variety of activities.  We can help our children find theirs by looking for their natural gifts and guiding them towards pursuits that harmonize with those gifts.

Ideas are the beginning of all human achievement.  Teach all students how to recognize practical ideas that may be of benefit in helping them acquire whatever they demand of life”.  **

  • Never stop yourself or your child from imagining. Every conceivable invention that is used to make our lives easier began as an idea in the mind of someone.  Google Maps, FaceTime, cell phones, personal computers, and televisions are used by most of us each day.  What if the parents of the inventors of these items had squelched their ideas?  Try to nurture fresh new ideas with “how can you” rather than “you cannot”.

“Teach the student the basic motives by which all people are influenced and show how to use these motives in acquiring the necessities and the luxuries of life.”**

  • Everyone needs to learn how to sell. Even though every person is not a professionally trained salesperson, we all have something to sell each day.  As an employment candidate, we need to use a resume’ to sell ourselves as the best candidate for a job. As a person looking to choose a mate, what do we have to offer that another potential suitor might not?  As a parent, we may try to sell the idea that choosing broccoli over chips is good for the body.  If your child doesn’t know what to study in school, encourage him to study salesmanship.

 “Teach children the difference between temporary defeat and failure, and show them how to search for the seed of an equivalent advantage which comes with every defeat.”**

  • I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. It is not always easy to tell what the reason may be, but I always try to learn the lesson.  Every mistake I have made has planted inside me an inexorable seed of wisdom.  The value of this wisdom is far greater than if I had simply done everything I was told just because I was told to do so.
  • I would also want my children to understand that failure comes in more than one form.  The failure to try is far worse than trying something new and not succeeding.  Risk aversion can cheat us out of living our best life by not allowing us to take the next step forward.

“Teach children to reach decisions promptly and to change them, if at all, slowly and with reluctance, and never without a definite reason.”**

  • This one is still difficult for me personally. I am a proponent of the “Love and Logic” philosophy of parenting. https://www.loveandlogic.com    The premise is that a child should be given lots of opportunities to make decisions from the time they are young and then allow the consequences to be the teacher when the stakes are minimal.  This habit of making every day small decisions will provide confidence to make the big decisions when also armed with pertinent information, thought and sometimes collaborative discussion.

 “Teach children the true nature of the Golden Rule, and above all show them that through the operation of this principle, everything they do to and for another they do also to and for themselves.”**

  • This quote reminds me of a complementary quote from the late Zig Ziglar. “You can have everything you want in life if you just help enough other people get what they want.” The other thing that comes up for me is that when I went back to college as an adult about 10 years ago, I took multiple classes on religion and philosophy.  I can’t tell you all of the theories and distinctions between each philosopher.  My take away was that regardless of the philosophical or religious message, it all boiled down to the Golden Rule to treat others the way we wish to be treated.

“Teach children the danger of believing anything merely because their parents, religious instructor, or someone else said it is so.”**

  • My personal motto is “trust but verify”. I, like many people, always believed what my parents and those in authority taught me was absolute truth.  What I have since realized is that what I was taught was their truth as they believed at the time.

“Teach children that their only real limitations are those which they set up or permit others to establish in their own minds.”**

  • I can relate to this one. I have gone through life with self-imposed limits up until this point.  These limits are firmly entrenched over a lifetime.  Sometimes I look at others and wonder how they got to be where they are and have what they have.  Did they have more advantages and more connections than me?   That is quite possibly the truth. But it is not the complete truth.  What I may have lacked in personal advantage I have made up for in stubborn persistence.  Every day, I work to free myself from my prison of perception.  My daughter, recently armed with her business degree, will be moving very soon to a town that doesn’t have an abundant variety of jobs. I encourage her to refuse to be limited by the help wanted ads to find her livelihood. I implore her to speak her truth and immerse herself in her passion. Though the non-profit she is interested in is not local, I do not want her to assume that she cannot find a way to contribute to the cause that is so important to her.

“Teach children that all schoolhouses and all textbooks are elementary implements which may be helpful in the development of their minds, but that the only school of real value is the great University of Life wherein one has the privilege of learning from experience,”**

  • I went back to college in my forties to complete my formal education. What I realized as an adult student was that no matter how much I learned, it was merely the tip of the iceberg.  When I finally finished my formal education, I just knew I was done learning. Following a few years of stagnation, I discovered the folly of my thinking.  My more mature and wiser self realizes that learning is truly a lifelong pursuit. My classroom learning days may be over, but I choose to learn until the end of my time.   Thinking is a gift which, when done consistently, can propel one towards their definite major purpose. Provide situations to imbed this worthy gift into your children.

The points I have chosen were few compared to what I found in the book.  I didn’t intend to regurgitate as much as I did directly from the book, but it was so hard to choose since there were so many relevant points!  While our current educational system may not have the flexibility to incorporate the suggested changes, parents have the power to introduce them into daily life. Consider private schooling or home schooling.  Ultimately, we all have the primary control to shape the minds of our own children.

*Direct quote from Napoleon Hill

**Direct quote from Napoleon Hill’s Devil

 

Adulting, Financial literacy, financial responsiblity-teens and young adults, Parenting teens and young adults

Disposable Income is the Devil

moneyIs disposable income really the devil?  Well, it depends on perspective. As an adult with grown up responsibilities such as paying for a mortgage and taking care of a family, disposable income is a wonderful thing which allows us to enjoy discretionary experiences and things.   How, then, could disposable income ever be a bad thing you ask?   Well, let me tell you!  When a teenager or young adult first begins to earn their own money, unless it is offset by some personal responsibility, they have a plethora of disposable income.   During this time of abundance, it is very easy to allow poor spending habits to take root.  These habits, if allowed to continue, can make them feel persecuted and victimized when real life responsibilities hit and they can no longer have a daily treat from Starbucks, eat fast food, go to concerts and movies or buy video games frequently. Following are some ideas to help them learn to manage their income while learning incremental financial responsibility:

  • Have them pay for items that benefit only themselves
    • College savings
    • Car
    • Car expenses (gas, maintenance, insurance)
    • Smart phones (including data plan and insurance)
    • Clothing
    • Personal items not required for basic care (ex. makeup, perfume)
    • Personal entertainment outside of family events (movies, dining)

If I had a teen or young adult who was fully engaged in school and study time, I would expect far less in terms of financial participation than if I had one who spent lots of time in non-productive pursuits such as watching TV or playing video games.

Now is a good time to work on budgeting together.  Obviously, it is a good thing if any working person has a surplus to spend on things that are enjoyable.  However, having too much cash can give a minimum wage worker a false sense of prosperity if the income earned is not balanced by a corresponding measure of financial responsibility.

While they might not be particularly thankful now, your young adult will thank you later when they find that they have been groomed to be more capable than most and when they are prepared to strike out on their own much sooner than their peers.  Then you can smile and take great satisfaction in knowing that you have done your job well!