Tag Archives: parenting

Sunday Morning

We ended up staying home today because one of the girls was sick last night with a fever and tummy ache.  I blew up the air mattress so she could sleep in our room incase she woke up and needed us. My wife Jill took her to a local ER place this morning and found out she had strep — not fun.  But she has some meds now and the fever subsided at least temporarily.

Our schedule was empty for the rest of the day so it has been relaxing.  It’s sunny outside but up until now the girls have been playing inside.  My wife Jill is getting some things organized in the house which makes her life better.  I’m doing some reading and writing in the study.  So far, our four girls have come to me a least two dozen times and it is still the afternoon.  Let’s see:  an argument about a sister wearing something of the other without asking, having to do a chore together but one sister is not doing her part, one yelling at the other and other being sassy back, “Can we stay in our pajamas all day?”, and more.  Now, they’re playing from upstairs and down through the rest of the house.  Shrieks of laughter, ribbing each other, running, slamming doors, sneaking around with some crying in there too.  I usually have mixed success on how well I respond to these returns to me.

A child returning to their parent is an important attachment experience that repeats itself every day even into early adulthood.  The parent is the secure base from which the child ventures out in their world to experience and then return to help them regulate — that is, get in order their emotions, thoughts, physical reactions, and develop a healthy identity and world view.  How the parent responds influences several developmental factors for a child.

Isn’t it funny that our kids barge in when we’re naked?  I’m getting ready this  morning and it is “Dad…,”  “Dad…,” “Dad…,”.  And it is right there where kids learn about issues such as fairness and “are you going to take care of my needs when my sister has on my shirt without asking me?”  It didn’t matter I was in my birthday suit, what matters is:  do you care dad?  That shirt is mine which is code for me.  “Yes, Dad, as you’re naked please make this right and let me know life will be fair and I will always be treated with dignity.”  Geez, and I was just focused on relieving razor burn with some aftershave lotion.

You know, life is like this.  Children are like this.  And the demand to respond often leaves me feeling pretty naked and vulnerable because I don’t have all the answers and I wish I could but I can’t make your sister treat you nice.  But I can let you know I’m sorry that is happening and ask what you think the solution could be.  Ok, now where is my aftershave lotion?

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Feeling Alone as a Parent? Here’s What to Do

Parenting is not easy and as we answer the demands, cries, and needs of our children we can be unaware that we are suddenly feeling alone in our parenting role.  This can be more difficult when we feel disconnected from our partner or even ourselves and significant friends.  When left unchecked, isolation in parenting can lead to burn-out, exhaustion, and difficulty regulating our own emotions.  Parents can become aware of isolating feelings by recognizing these important warning signs. Continue Reading

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Understanding a Child’s World

Sandcastle Gulf Shores, AL, Dean Wisdom 2014

I love children’s sandcastles.  I took this picture on a sunset stroll with two of my daughters on a family vacation in Gulf Shores, AL.  We spent several days just hanging out on the beach and doing fun stuff.  A beach draws a lot of families because parents can get some sun while kids play right in front of them.  Kids get lost in building sand castles, finding shells, and swimming.  This sand castle drew our attention.

Children don’t have the cognitive development like adults yet to talk about what’s going on for them so instead they play out their many thoughts and feelings.  This can be frustrating for us parents because our kids act and react sometimes in ways that we don’t understand.  This causes us to react in ways that later we regret or just feel like we missed the mark. Continue Reading

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“Daddy, how fat is the Bible?”

I knew we were in trouble when I heard her question.  It was dinner, we were all together at home eating the assortment of baked chicken, spaghetti, raw carrots and ranch sauce, pizza, sweet potato, ketchup, and asparagus my wife and I put together.  The question is no reflection on her, I wouldn’t use a blog post like that.  I just thought, “Oh no.  That is the most boring question I’ve ever heard about God.  What am I teaching my kids about God anyway?”

Back up a few minutes.  We’re “plating” – ha!  I like that, like we’re on Chopped or something.  Anyway, Jill and I are plating the food.  And I think, “Talk to them about doing this diaper drive thing.  Read something from Luke and tie it in.”  Plating, plating.  Somewhere between the ranch and the pizza I decided, “Naw, I haven’t studied that passage good enough, I need to be sure before I say anything.  Need to do it right.”  I had been reading Luke some mornings and loved the fire under Luke for writing his letter to just one person. Continue Reading

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Custody Issues – Kids in the Middle

Handling custody issues with an ex-partner is one of the toughest things parents face.  There’s a lot at stake including time with your child, their overall well-being, and your sanity.  Today I’ll be addressing one area – when kids get caught in the middle and three things parents can do to help.

Sadly, a child can become almost symbolic of the original fight between former spouses.  That tension gets pushed down, usually unintentionally, onto the child.

First, be aware if you see your ex-spouse in your child.  This can be challenging when a child looks like their other parent or has the same temperament.  Parents find themselves over-reacting to behavior problems in their child because it triggers a stress memory from their previous marriage.  Kids can only view our actions as directly related to themselves and don’t have the personal resources to understand a parent’s triggers. Continue Reading

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Something New at The Daddy Daughter Dance

Had a really great time with my four daughters at the Frisco Daddy Daughter dance tonight.  My wife Jill put a lot of work and thought into selecting their dresses and shoes as any Mom would know how much time it takes to find an affordable and pretty dress for a dance as well as shoes that fit and feel right on their feet.  Such an individual choice of course.  And it was no small task getting them ready with the hair and a few accessories.  She also arranged for us to have dinner afterward with some friends whose girls are in my daughter’s grade at school.  Every dance is special, this was our third.  Tonight, something new happened. Continue Reading

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Building Self-Esteem in Children

Here’s the main deal:  Because life is a series of small, incremental steps, attempts, and tries – self-esteem is built up or torn down the same way.  As parents we sometimes make the mistake of thinking that it’s the big events that can get our children ahead in the esteem curve.  Or, if our kids could just learn the big lessons in life, then that would help them too.  While the big events in life are important, as well as the lessons, children are better acquainted with normal and daily experiences – and it is our response to them that seems to matter. Continue Reading

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Family Vacations – Balloon Glow at Steamboat Springs, CO

(c) 2014, Dean Wisdom
(c) 2014, Dean Wisdom

I just returned from a 5-day ski trip with my wife and children and extended family to Steamboat Springs, CO .  I snapped this picture on the last night – catching the Balloon Glow at the base in Mountain Village.  Watching the balloons fire up with rock music going was great and several runs on the mountain were lit up for night skiing.  The weather was perfect this past weekend – sunny clear skies and lots of powder.  This is one of our favorite annual vacation spots.  I thought I would include this trip in my post today to zero in on the importance of vacations. Continue Reading

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Developing Empathy in Your Child

About this time last year I noticed two of my daughters (ages 6 and 4) getting into arguments with each other more than usual.  It disturbed me to see the accusations, hurt feelings, and fighting for personal turf over everything from toys to places to sit at the table.  My attempts at correcting did not seem to help.  It was like there was no empathy left in their relationship and this caused me to think about what I could do to help their friendship.

Empathy only occurs when perception about the other person has changed.  When you change perception you change behavior.  If a child perceives another child to be a nuisance or threat then the natural result is to treat her that way.  The challenge parents face, however, is that we have a tendency to verbally instruct our children (e.g., “You shouldn’t treat your sister that way, it’s not nice”).  Younger children need to be shown what we mean through our actions because they register the information through their feelings. Continue Reading

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Kids Don’t Come with Instructions… Because That’s Our Role as Parents

Experienced parents often quote the phrase that “kids don’t come with instructions.”  And for most of us parents we feel tired and stretched with the burden and responsibility that comes with parenting.   From changing diapers to teaching our children how to replace toilet paper in the roll without ripping the fixture off the wall we parents have a lot of work to do.   I have to admit that in my own parenting experience with my beloved daughters that I sometimes (uh, often?) get overwhelmed with needing to instruct them on things to help them become responsible and learn how to do things for themselves.  How many parents does it take to instruct a young child to change the toilet paper?  Heck, at least 5 – one to do the talking, one to point to which bathroom, another to rub the frustration from your face, and at least two to hold you back from uttering an expletive!   And something inside me says, “relax dude, she’s like 6, it’s just toilet paper.”   But I like the 5-approach, makes me feel like I’m on a football team.  Someday, this particular daughter will learn to read well and grow up to realize that I blogged about her in the bathroom, then I’ll probably get it.  But for now, maybe I can post this and then it will get archived before she finds out.

So, my sweet daughter (and truly, she is) comes out of the bathroom with four rolls of toilet paper – you know, the extra capacity rolls for those of us with a lot of wiping to do at home.  I mean, it’s like she is juggling for the circus or something.  And I’m trying, really really trying to just tell her to CHANGE THE ROLL OF TOILET PAPER ON THE ROLLER THING IN THERE using one of my other imaginary team-mates to point to the bathroom.  It’s not working.  “Okay, I have these rolls – where do I put them now?”.  Because you see, in our household we came up with these ideas that if they have chores and stuff to do around the house that it might help them contribute to our family and make them feel like they belong.  I got freaking sick and tired of re-supplying all the toilet paper throughout the house for all of us and so I was so proud of myself with appending “storage duty” randomly to whoever I wanted to on the chore chart (which we had to move up on the frig because the girls kept wiping off their chores when it was at their eye-level, the little buggers).

So here is where I went into one of those parental instruction seizure warps:  “NO!  Put tha… they go in tha… Take those and… CHANGE THA ROLL!”  By now I’m looking like a coach on the sidelines when the ref throws the yellow flag.  My imaginary team-mates were no longer a help.  And it was right there when she looked me in the eyes and through me understanding I had lost my patience in something so simple.

I like what Dr. Garry Landreth, Regents Professor in the Department of Counseling, Development and Higher Education at the University of North Texas, tells parents, “It may not be what you do but what you do after what you have done that is important.”   Taking a deep breath relieved the tension I had felt that had been building up earlier when all my girls were running through the house playing chase and yelling in glee right before bedtime.  Acknowledging to myself that any normal parent would feel tension from that helped me forgive myself.  I then knew I could not let her go to bed with a negative tone and attitude from me so I leaned forward and touched her arms as I apologized for being impatient which seemed to help her smile and say, “I forgive you Dad, we all make mistakes.”

I think now that I made contact with the “storage duty” responsibility even though the play was not run exactly as I planned.  However, I am banking on the experience that we made eye contact tonight.  And that as I felt her look right through me I didn’t close the door but kept it open hoping she would know I care about how she feels and that she belongs to me and belongs in our family and that she matters.

 

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