Archive for December, 2014

Lots of tools for raising a healthy, happy child. Family time is important.
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, 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. 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 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. If you follow these guidelines, you can succeed.

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Stand Your Gound on Some and Be Flexible on Others .
Christmas brings problems that rarely come the rest of the year. It is important even when standing your gound or being flexible to do it in a gracious and kind way.
Here are some sticky wickets that are bound to come up in the next few weeks.

What do you do if someone gives you a gift, and you don’t have a gift for that person?

How do you handle it when your unmarried son brings his live-in girlfriend to your house and you don’t want them staying in the same bedroom? And she’s already not so happy with you.

How about the guest who comes on Christmas Day and proceeds to drink too much?

What about the cousin who’s supposed to bring the twice-baked potatoes for Christmas dinner and “forgets”?

What if you don’t like the robe your husband gives you, and you know if you take it back, he’ll be hurt because he thinks it’s wonderful?

How about a diamond necklace from your husband that you don’t like and the two of you can’t afford?

Regarding the person who brings you an unexpected gift — simply say, “Thank you. How lovely.” Don’t be apologetic. You haven’t done anything wrong. Also, if you keep apologizing, the person will then feel called on to take care of you further, reassuring you that you didn’t need to get her a gift.

Later in the year you can treat your friend to lunch, or give her tickets to an event, or send a book that struck you as something she might enjoy.

Tell your son who’s bringing his live-in girlfriend to town that you care about both of them, but you must be respectful of yourself. Lay out the sleeping arrangements you have made before they come. The girlfriend can share your daughter’s room and he can sleep on the living room sofa. If he balks, say you just can’t handle them sleeping together at your home. Your tone of voice and sticking to the issue will have a lot to do with whether he accepts your position or you start World War Three.

The friend who drinks too much at your home on Christmas Day? If possible, put the booze away or tell him, “No more unless you are willing to spend the night, let me drive you home, or call a cab.” If he persists in continuing to drink, invite him to spend the night, drive him home, or call a cab. Don’t let your friend leave your home with too much to drink. Protect your friend, protect other people on the road, and protect yourself. Remember, if your friend leaves and has an accident, you are also liable.

If your cousin says she “forgot” the twice baked potatoes, decide to accept her excuse. Instead of thinking, “She never follows through and she always takes advantage,” think instead of something she has done for you in the past. Then think about whether the dinner needs baked potatoes. If so, send your cousin or someone to the market to buy potatoes or something you can use as a substitute. Make a decision to be gracious and creative.

If you don’t like the robe your husband gave you, and you know he’ll feel hurt, keep it and wear it anyway. I suspect that you already have many clothes in your closet that you don’t wear on a regular basis. What’s one more item?

Regarding the diamond necklace that you don’t like and can’t afford, thank your husband profusely throughout the day. Later on in the week ask if he would go with you to exchange it for something you could wear more regularly. At the time you make your purchase, you can buy a less expensive item. Do keep thanking your husband, however, for his caring, thoughtful gift.

All these problems have several solutions. Use your brains, a soft tone of voice, and stick with the issue at hand.

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Being critical with your mate may not be the wisest course of action for your relationship. Sometimes Silence Is Golden.

She and he are drying dishes. She clangs the dishes together and he says nothing. He clangs the dishes and she says, “Can’t you be a little noisier?”

She spills some milk on the counter and immediately takes a dishrag and wipes it up. He spills milk on the counter and she says, “Having a little trouble today?”

She sits and reads the newspaper by a dim overhead light. Later as he reads by the same light, she clicks on the lamp and asks, “Are you trying to ruin your eyes?”

She takes a second helping of potatoes and he says nothing. He takes a second helping and she pipes up with, “I thought you were watching your weight.”

She jams the milk carton into the refrigerator and he says nothing. He jams the carton into the refrigerator and she says, “Here, let me do it.”

She turns the radio on in the car and they ride along listening to the basketball game. He turns the basketball game on in the car and she says, “Are you trying to avoid talking to me?”

The sun is shining, the weather is beautiful, and she sits down to watch television. Two days later, the sun is shining, the weather is beautiful, and he sits down to watch television. She asks, “You’re not going to take advantage of this beautiful weather?”

She runs out of money and says, “I have to stop at the ATM.” He says nothing. When he says, “I have to stop at the ATM,” she says, “When are you going to start planning ahead?”

Incidentally, in these examples, “he” could be “she” and “she” could be “he.”

However, in my clinical experience, more women than men are critical and judgmental. Perhaps it’s because they have been primarily responsible for corrallingĀ the children into shape, so it comes naturally. Perhaps it’s because males have more behaviors that demand correcting, and soon the woman is correcting everything.

Perhaps it’s because more women are outer-focused, focusing their attention outward on others rather than inward on themselves. When their mate does something annoying, they immediately feel a need to address the issue. But if they do the same thing, they are not as focused on it.

Regardless of the whys and becauses, sometimes — in fact most of the time — it’s better to be quiet than critical.

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