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A Huge Parental Opportunity: Making Changes Within

Remarkably, you have the opportunity at any time, to set goals unlike those you’ve ever set before

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Maybe you’ll never be the type of parent who comes home at the end of the day with boundless energy, all smiles and hugs and ready to play with your children until their bedtime. However, some room exists for you to expand your range of behaviors.

Leave the negativity outside and switch on an upbeat attitude you before walking in the door. Your family deserves that. Before you enter, look up, smile, and ask yourself what do you love about your family? Why are you lucky? Create the energy before you walk in the door. Then, engage them with your time, attention and affection.

If your goal is to be more responsive to each member of your family, you can undertake a variety of activities that will help.

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Below are many suggestions among thousands of possibilities. Although all of the suggestions and ideas for goal-setting presented are in relation to children, with a twist and a turn, they each could be applied to your spouse as well:

Applaud Accomplishments

If your child comes home from school with an ‘A’ on her spelling test or a piece of artwork she’s particularly proud of, seize the moment. Pick up the item, look it over carefully, ask questions about it, and show interest.

It’s not difficult to show interest in something once daily that your son or daughter brings to you. Indeed, it’s a worthwhile goal for many reasons. It tells your child that you’re interested in him or her, that what he or she does is important, and, most importantly, tells your child that the next time they’re taking a test or drawing a picture, they’ll want to do their best because after all, daddy will see it.

Listen to Their Favorite Music

You might like classical music or classic rock ‘n roll. Your kids might like pop, rap, hip-hop, or who knows what. Is it too much to simply sit with them for a few minutes and listen to two of their favorite songs, even if you’re secretly thinking, “How can anybody buy that, let alone record it in the first place?”

Have you ever wondered why teenagers in those jazzed-up cars play their music above the hundred-decibel level? They want others to hear what they’re hearing. Music, and specifically lyrics, has the ability to reach deep into the human psyche.

Listening to music together, much like eating together, is a form of bonding. People seem to want others to hear what they hear and enjoy what they enjoy. Usually this happens in the car. Devise a plan to alternate who has control of the music and motor along happily.

Include Them in Your Discussions

Suppose you’re talking with your spouse and your children are nearby. Do you exclude them from the conversation as if they don’t have a worthwhile opinion?

Once a week, what if you were to say, “Mark, don’t you feel that we XYZ…?” or, “Caitlin, do you think if we were to…?”

After the initial shock wears off, you’ll find that your children are pleased to be called upon. In essence, what you’re doing is respecting them on the interpersonal level. You’re saying that they’re full-fledged human beings, even if they are smaller than you, and that they have opinions and observations that count.

Drop in on After School Activities

No matter how busy you are, how demanding your job is, or how unreasonable your boss is, you can find a way to see a few practices and attend a few games your kids would love to have you see.

When you catch your child kicking the ball over everyone’s head, participating in a sing-along, or simply having fun with other kids, you do yourself and your child a big favor. You indicate to your kid that he or she is special enough for you to break your routine now and then and see what’s happening at school or with the other kids.

Visiting your child unannounced minimizes your child’s need to have you around every minute you’re at home and enables him or her to be more understanding when you’re traveling.

After all, if daddy or mommy drops in on me unexpectedly every now and then, they certainly love and care about me. This is especially effective: dropping by for lunch when they are in grade school, but make sure you sign in first and follow school procedures.

Maybe you’ll be the only parent who does this, but so what? Why not set as a goal to visit your child once each calendar month at an after school activity.

Say Yes A Little More Often

Kids ask to do so many things that for many parents it almost becomes automatic to say no.

Can I stay up later? No.

Can I have some ice cream? No.

Can I go across the street with my friends? No.

What’s the real reason behind some of these refusals? Is it fear for their safety or well-being? Do you think they’ll be corrupted if some family rule is bent on one particular evening? Or, are you exercising authority the same way your parents did?

Often, we forget that although our rules are conceived with good intentions, some of which could be rather arbitrary. I don’t have hard evidence that each of the rules creates a desired outcome, i.e., a goal we previously established for our family and specifically for our children. Saying ‘yes’ a little more often than usual has its place.

Set a goal of saying yes one more time per week than normally. This is not so hard to monitor, since you’ll have to ponder the situation for at least a few seconds, and realize that you’re about to say yes when your instinctive reaction was to say no.

If it helps, keep a running log of the times that you surprised your child with a yes. At the least, you’ll have ammunition for later when your child says you never say yes.

Seek Their Help

Do you have business and financial problems for which you think your children cannot be of much assistance? Think again for out of the mouths of babes sometimes come great ideas.

In his book, A Whack On the Side of the Head, Dr. Roger von Oeck contends that the solution to problems often comes by looking at a situation with creativity – taking a different view than you did before. Who better to help you than someone small who doesn’t know all of the givens of the situation?

When it comes to using technology, your son or daughter might have insight that you’ve never considered. How often have you asked your children for some type of support? Could you ask this of them at least once a week? If you’re self-employed, you can lawfully hire them at a young age, pay them, and claim the labor expense.

Go Ahead and Ask

Regardless of whether or not you believe your children can help you with a particular issue, go ahead and ask them. You might be pleasantly surprised by what you discover.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



 
 
 

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Education

Putting North Carolina Public Education Back on Track  

With Michelle Morrow’s leadership, North Carolina public schools can be better equipped to educate and inspire today’s students.

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It’s no secret to conservatives that the nation’s children, every single one of them, are at risk. In the main, not for reasons malnutrition, growing up in a tough neighborhood, or having toxic parents. The risk that all kids face today is the potential to be indoctrinated in public schools by their own teachers, teacher’s aides, and administrators.

America’s Children Are under Siege

Some school districts in America, are populated by boards of education, principals, and school administrators who think it is their sacred duty to indoctrinate children, exposing them to all manner of adult and sex-related topics long before any child should be. As such, they usurp the rights of parents and guardians.

Nowhere is this more evident than in North Carolina where 23% of all kindergarten through 12th-grade students are enrolled in either a charter school or private school, or study at home, and the percentage increase in these three options is 84% over the last 11 years. Why? Parents want to determine the best educational options for their own children and they don’t believe that North Carolina public schools are doing an adequate job.

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Fortunately, one candidate running for NC superintendent of public instruction means to the state’s education programs back on track. Her name is Michelle Morrow, and she is a personal dynamo whose grasp on the issues is outstanding.

First and foremost, Morrow advocates having safe schools with a culture of academic achievement and civility. If it takes having a security guard in every single school throughout the state to ensure the safety of children attending class as well as teachers and school staff, Morrow is all for it.

She believes that schools should be the safest buildings in the state. Alas, they are not. In North Carolina, school crime and violence increased a whopping 84% in just the past five years. The top three crimes being reported include drug use, weapons possession, and assault – even assault of teachers.

An Advocate for What Counts

As the NC superintendent of public instruction, Morrow will support fair and effective policies that both deter crime and promote classroom civility. She’ll be a strong advocate for teachers’ rights to employ fair and reasonable measures to manage their classrooms as they see fit.

Morrow will insist on parent-friendly schools, recognizing that a child’s academic performance often hinges on the vital partnership between teachers and parents. In too many schools throughout the state, parents are kept completely in the dark about medical treatments and, surprisingly, even academic performance.

Some children are forced to take surveys requiring them to reveal details of their sexual habits and mental state, and schools employ such data to monitor, diagnose, and treat psychological issues. Parents alone, however, have the right to make medical decisions in relation to their children’s health and well-being. Government sponsored data collection needs to end. Morrow will enforce a Parents’ Bill of Rights to ensure that families are protected and that parents have dominion over their own children.

Back to the Basics

Academic achievement has suffered for years on end in North Carolina’s kindergarten through 12th grade classrooms. A staggering one-quarter of eighth graders cannot meet national math, science, or reading standards. Test scores throughout North Carolina reveal that more than 800 schools are under-performing.

As superintendent, Morrow will be focused on ensuring that all the money earmarked for education actually makes its way to the classroom. She will ensure that schools focus on teaching science, math, reading, and real history. She will advocate for small group tutoring when needed by students who are not performing well, and touting for those who are doing exceedingly well and can do even better.

Morrow recognizes that the government in Washington, D.C., has no business in the education of North Carolina students. Parents are not co-parenting with the federal government. The programs and policies that politicians and special interest groups attempt to impose on North Carolina schools must come to an end, and any interference in teaching core academics must cease immediately.

As such, Morrow will sever the ties with public interest groups while helping to strengthen local school districts’ ability to employ proven teaching methods, with the goal of enhancing core academic achievement.

The Big Picture

Morrow will seek to enhance national unity and patriotism. Too many students throughout North Carolina are subjected to one-sided history lessons that portray America as an oppressive, racist, unredeemable nation. Some schools go so far as to stereotype their students and inform them that, as a result of their ethnicity, sexuality, or religion, they are oppressors.

This one-sided, warped view of humanity and method of education must end. Instead of dividing students, Morrow will seek to foster unity and understanding. America is an exceptional country. While every country faces challenges, ours in particular has been fair, compassionate, and forward thinking in recent years.

With Morrow’s leadership, North Carolina schools can be better equipped to educate and inspire the next generation who will become the leaders of our great nation.

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Faith

A Nation of Unsung Heroes

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The movie, Unsung Hero, is not only a great movie. It’s a movie that captures the struggle and hard-earned survival and eventual success of millions of Americans who have had to overcome struggles to earn their own American Dream. For two centuries, Americans have been known for their resourcefulness and resilience, and we are not done yet!

We are again living in difficult and challenging times. Surveys suggest that nearly 60% of American families are living paycheck to paycheck. Their solutions to their plight won’t be coming from politicians in Washington. Their success, as always, depends on their will and resourcefulness in overcoming daily obstacles, their ability to survive on limited resources, their scrounging for work that allows them to survive another day, and help from those who care.

That common but heart-rending struggle is conveyed in an inspiring way in Unsung Hero. The film focuses on the early struggles of the Smallbone family in the early 90’s. We watch as David Smallbone’s once-thriving music business as a concert promoter in Australia falls apart. They lose their home, their car, and their life’s savings. With no opportunities in Australia, David moves the family halfway around the world to Nashville to secure the only job he could secure. After missed flights and a long and tiring journey to Tennessee, David learns that his promised job had been given to someone else.

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As their dreams fall apart, you watch as the steady faith and creativity of Helen Smallbone, played by Australian actress and mother Daisy Betts, pulls the family through one setback and challenge after another to find a way through. With six children and another on the way, every member of the family is challenged to do their part to keep them afloat. They do yard work, any work that would fill their jar of savings. They couldn’t let it be empty, and they didn’t. They kept finding a way.

They were Australians with no friends, no family, no car, sleeping on beds made out of clothes. To nurture their faith, they began attending a local church. Aware of their needs, church members found ways to help in any way they could. In a foreign country living in a city with over half-a million people, it took finding a loving faith community who cared enough to help. Watch the movie, to find out the rest of the story. Bring plenty of tissue and be ready for a few tears along the way.

America needs this movie right now. Why? Too many people are feeling hopeless in the face of growing inflation and lost jobs. They face frustrating obstacles and enormous challenges, and the answer is summed up by a quotation of Mother Teresa shared in the movie, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” Luke Smallbone, the producer of the film, acknowledged the importance of that truth, “That is really the heartbeat behind the film.” It is also the local solution that has always helped Americans find their way through-the power of family and the presence and support of their local “family of God.”

Washington may send you money, but they can’t provide the flexible and persistent support needed. It’s one’s local family, friends, and faith communities who can encourage resilience and help shape a needed recovery. Solutions come from a local community’s caring and support. It used to always be that way, and it needs to be that way again.

Our nation is full of unsung heroes who are helping their family and friends, and they are more needed than ever. If you don’t have anyone helping you, stop looking to Washinton for the help that will never come no matter who is elected President. Get involved again in your family and your community. Call your family and let them know you need help. Get back involved in your church or synagogue and let God work through them to help you get back on your feet. Investing in community is an adventure that allows you to help and be helped to the glory of God and country.

When you get involved, you most likely will not make any headlines. That is left for terrorists, violent demonstrators, and other disasters and threats out of your control. But America is strong because of millions of unsung heroes who make it all work and seldom get acknowledged. This column is dedicated to you. You deserve to be honored and applauded for all you have done and will do to keep America the country it has been and must remain. May it continue to be so in your adventure!

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