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Archive for April, 2014

Having happy children may take some extra work, but the rewards are immeasurable.
Are your children happy?

Even though happiness is genetically linked, only about 50 percent of happiness is driven by genes. The other 50 percent is driven by what happens to a child on a daily basis.

One of the most important contributors to a child’s happiness is doing things as a family. Nothing feels so good as when a family goes biking or hiking or spends part of the day at the zoo.

I know one family who has designated Wednesday nights as family night. This is the night nothing interferes. They have dinner and then play board games. Even the 17-year old participates. “Once you set a night and stick to it month after month, year after year, it becomes the expectation,” says the mother, “and our children look forward to it.”

Another happiness ingredient is working together. Spending four hours cleaning the backyard, the basement, and the house each Saturday morning, encourages a feeling of camaraderie and a sense of being part of the team. We’re a family. We’re in this together. “One for all and all for one.”

Research shows that children tend to be happier when parents set expectations and rules. Children do better when they have a set bedtime and when they are expected to do certain chores each week, pick up after themselves, control their language, and show respect for other family members. When parents have expectations, it conveys to a child that he has worth. And meeting these expectations helps a child feel more in control of his own destiny.

Feeling happy and content is also a by-product of feeling loved. Pats on the back from parents and “I love yous” sprinkled throughout the week are essential. And applause for a job well done recognizes a child’s accomplishments.

Happiness involves living in the present. Everyday should be a time to build family relationships. This means: “Let’s talk as we do dishes.” “Let’s put on a CD and dance.” “Let’s watch a movie and enjoy each other’s company.” Too often parents put happiness till later, saying, “Next weekend when go to your cousins…” or when we go on vacation….”

Children feel happier if they have God in their life. God is someone to talk to when they feel anxious and stressed. Or when no matter how good they try to be, they can’t change something in their lives.

Children are happier if family members get along and are respectful of each other. This means no screaming matches, no name-calling, no constant criticisms. Nor should a parent use a child as a confidante, telling him the other parent is not okay. It also means an older or younger sibling is not allowed to tyrannize the family.

If you want to raise a happy child, ask yourself if you are following these guidelines. And if you’re lacking in some areas, now’s the time to make changes. Most parents want to raise and live with a happy child. Following these guidelines, spells success.

 

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Doing what we say we are going to do, or taking responsibility for our actions is not alway easy but many times is needed. Saying I’m Sorry can also certainly clear the air and make for a sunnier future.

Who have you closed off in your life? Is there anyone you’ve taken advantage of recently or treated unfairly in the distant past? Have you promised to do someone a favor and then not followed through?  Make amends with someone before the year’s end.

Molly confessed she needed to make amends with her mother. From the time she was little, Molly knew she was adopted. Four years ago she decided to track down her birth mother. She was so happy to find her birth mother, she started doing things with her and neglected the mother who raised her.

When her mother complained that she was ignoring her, Molly told her mom she was imagining things. “I even threw it in her face that she was jealous of my birth mother. Of course, this was true because I made it that way.”

Molly will make amends by going to her mother and apologizing. If her mother gives her a lecture, she’ll take it. She won’t fight. She’ll make a list of 100 special memories she’s had with her. She’ll treat her mother to a nice lunch and read the list. And she’ll be careful in the future not to push her mother aside.

Gene has been critical of his wife for working part-time instead of full-time. Recently Gene has realized how much his wife does in addition to her part-time job. Gene will make amends by apologizing, and in the future he’ll support his wife’s decision to work part-time.

Bob has been bulldozing family members for years. If anyone disagrees with him, he becomes enraged. Or he pouts and won’t talk. To make amends, he is to get his anger under control and to learn to be respectful when others see things differently.

Carol has owed her dentist $400 for over nine months. Although she can’t pay the entire bill, she’s decided to pay him $50 a month. “It’s time I grow up and pay what I owe,” she says.

“I have a bracelet of my sister’s,” Renee said. “She left it at my house last spring.” Her sister has asked for the bracelet several times, but Renee keeps putting her off because she likes wearing the bracelet. “I promise to return her bracelet and to buy her some earrings to go with it by the end of the year.”

Have you borrowed something — a book, money, a dish, clothing — and not returned it? Now’s a good time to give the item back to its true owner.

Have you made a promise to see a doctor, clean the carport, make a will, have a neighbor for dinner and not kept it? Set the date today for when you’ll get the job done.

Are you neglecting a duty that is yours, such as taking financial responsibility for a child or caring for an aging parent? Refusing to put your shoulder to the wheel or to pull your weight financially forces others to do your share.

Have you been mean because of a slight or injustice? Are you sure you want to take such a stance?

Each day we make our destiny. Do you really respect the destiny you’re choosing?

 

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Here are some solutions to problems that may arise when stepchildren are staying for any long period of time.

His children, ages 5, 7 and 10, are coming for six weeks this summer. His present wife works outside the home. He works outside the home. Whose job is it to take care of the children?

He says his 10-year old is very responsible. She can babysit.

The wife says, “No, she’s too young. I will not put that responsibility on her.”

He says, “If you don’t like my plan, you figure it out.”

She says, “They’re your children.”

He says, “You knew I had children before I married you. It was a package deal.”

The wife got quiet and then suggested she find a baby sitter.

Fourteen telephone calls and two weeks later the wife found a sitter and a day camp for the children to attend part-time. Neither husband nor wife is happy with the additional expected financial outlay. But both have agreed not to fight about how much money they are spending on the children. Other issues they still had to deal with:

Whose job will it be to cook, keep the house picked up, and do the extra laundry? Who will take responsibility to tell the children what chores they must do, when to shower, when to go to bed, when to stop jumping on the sofa?

Slowly we worked out a plan whereby she would take responsibility for directing the children regarding showers and eating and helping clean up after dinner. Additionally, she would arrange some family activities, including a week’s vacation at the lake.

He would take charge of everything else — making carpool arrangements, doing laundry, writing up a list of chores for the children with his wife’s input, and then monitoring who was doing what. He further agreed that if his wife wanted him to deal with a particular issue with one of the children, he would handle it as she wished. He would acquiese.

She agreed to shrug a lot, say “whatever,” understand that the house would frequently be messy, and get away by herself two evenings a week. The two of them would get a sitter so they could be alone on Saturday nights. Over the course of the summer, she would write a list of 100 things she liked about the children and give it to me.

He agreed to give his wife 100 compliments for helping care for the children. He would give me a list of his compliments. He further agreed to do more than his usual share of housework while the children were in town.

I would act as the moderator, with a few phone consults if things got sticky.

I then gave this couple my standard speel: “The children are not responsible for the divorce or for having a stepmother. It’s something they must adjust to through no fault of their own.”

• Stepchildren are a lot of work and are often ungrateful. In this regard, however, they are no different than children generally.

• It is the responsibility of the parent, not the stepparent, to do the lion’s share of the work involved in caring for the children.

• When a stepparent takes too hard a line with his/her stepchildren, the marital relationship suffers because the natural parent will not look kindly on such behavior and his feelings will be adversely affected.

• Lead with your brains, not your emotions. Accept that you will sometimes have to give in or take responsibility when you don’t really believe you should have to. Be generous with forgiveness and be determined that you’ll respect each other and the children.

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Women frequently complain to their husbands and children about how much they do around the house vs. how much everyone else does. In turn, husbands and children defend by pointing out that they vacuum, do dishes, grocery shop, pay bills, and even scrub the floor.

So why does Mom keep complaining?

The reason so many women complain about all they do is that every home has numerous hidden chores that never make it onto someone’s chore list.
But still, they must be done.

Here is a list of hidden chores.
Next to each one write the initial of the person or people who most often do the task.

  1. Sorts through the mail and throws away all the junk mail.
  2. Periodically straightens the linen closet.
  3. Makes rags out of old clothing, cutting buttons off and tearing the clothes into
    rag size.
  4. Disposes of bad food, moldy cheese and rotten fruit from the refrigerator.
  5. Keeps the ice trays filled.
  6. Refills the toilet-paper holder.
  7. Picks up trash in the yard.
  8. Stops to pull a few big weeds that have sprung up among the shrubs.
  9. Replaces the light bulbs.
  10. Writes “light bulbs” and “dish detergent” on a shopping list.
  11. Stops by the grocery store for milk or bread.
  12. Bags up unused clothing and sees that it is passed on to the appropriate relative or organization.
  13. Collects and gives away old hangers that have accumulated.
  14. Sorts through old magazines and sees that they are disposed of properly.
  15. Organizes the family games and puzzles and DVDs.
  16. Puts the snapshots in albums or boxes.
  17. Runs to the post office for stamps.
  18. Goes to the pet shop for fish filters, a dog chain or cat food.
  19. Waters and repots the house plants.
  20. Makes a run to the recycling center.
  21. Takes the family pet to the veterinarian and groomer.
  22. Picks up the dry cleaning.
  23. Sharpens the pencils around the house.
  24. Replaces empty tissue boxes in various rooms.
  25. Periodically sorts through the paper and plastic bags and telephone books and disposes of extras.
  26. Sorts and stores out-of-season clothes.
  27. Wipes smudges and heel marks off the doors.
  28. Sets up appointments with repair people and various contractors.
  29. Plants spring flowers and fall bulbs.
  30. Washes out the wastepaper baskets and trash cans.

If one of you has initialed more than your fair share, pass some of these chores on.
When everyone shares household duties, family members appreciate each other more.

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How many of you might write a letter similar to the one below?

Dear Bob,

I know you are mad at me because I have been refusing to have sex with you lately. And I also have not approached you for sex, even though you have hinted that I should do so. The problem is, I’m very annoyed with you at the moment. Maybe after reading this letter you will understand my feelings and change your behavior. Then maybe we can have sex again.

I guess the final straw camewhen I was working at the fish fry at church and cut my finger. When I called to tell you I thought I needed to go to the hospital, the first thing you asked was whether the church had workers’ compensation. You said if they didn’t, I shouldn’t go to the hospital because it would be too expensive. What I needed at that moment was for you to ask me about my finger.

When I found out that the church had insurance, I called you back to take me to the hospital. You said you couldn’t get away. You had too much work to do. So a friend took me to the emergency room.

When I got back, I called to let you know how I was doing. Your secretary said that you were out to lunch.

Bob, why would I want to have sex with you when you act as though I don’t count?

And now that I am on a roll with this letter, here are some other reasons that I justify turning you down.

You drive too fast and when I ask you to slow down, you drive even faster.

We never go out alone as a couple.

If you don’t get your way, you let everyone know by pouting and refusing to talk.

You are not affectionate outside the bedroom.

You tell me I’m spoiled because I work only part-time.

You put me down in front of other people.

You chew with your mouth open, you are overweight, and you drink too much.

You do not help me with the children or help around the house.

You call me names, even right after we have had sex.

You expect a big meal every night no matter how tired I am.

You refuse to go to the children’s school functions.

You do not pick up your clothes, bath towel, or dishes, or clean out the tub when you have finished using it.

You are friendly and outgoing, and nice to everyone but me and your children.

I have always liked sex. It’s a way for me to feel close to you. But lately I don’t feel very close. Please change your behaviors so we can get our sex life back on track.

Your Wife, Jan

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