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Archive for the ‘Behaviors’ Category

When my son rented a house in Philadelphia with several other students during his college days, he found himself the keeper of a mangy 13-year-old dog, Blackthorn.

The problem for Blackthorn was that one of the other students who was renting also had a dog. This dog’s name was Kaya. Kaya was young, energetic and certainly more attractive than Blackthorn. So he got almost all the attention.

To make matters worse for Blackthorn, he had a large patch of hair missing on his back. This, of course, discouraged people from petting him.

Come winter, Kaya and his owner moved out. How fortuitous for Blackthorn. Now he was the only dog in the house.

One day, my son bathed him. Another day, he took him for a walk in the woods. When the students had a barbecue, Blackthorn was invited to play Frisbee.

Suddenly, Blackthorn was receiving a lot of attention. He became more energetic and less docile. He wagged his tail more often. His hair grew back. It was almost as if he had returned to an earlier time in his life.

One time, I was sitting in a booth in a restaurant when several men in their 70’s passed by. The one man said to the other, “You know, Sam, I think that woman over there was flirting with you.” Sam half-laughed and said, “You think?” At which point Sam threw back his head, put his chest out, stood a little straighter and quickened his stride across the room.

Which brings me to my mother-in-law. Several years ago I took her to Harry, her eye doctor, for a minor operation. After the surgery Harry asked her if she would like a cup of coffee. Mother, then in her 80’s, said that sounded just wonderful. Harry himself went to get the coffee.

For three days Mother was more perky and more girlish and told everyone about Harry getting her a cup of coffee.

Woman, man or beast – we all need to be recognized.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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She is absolutely unforgiving of her husband. She keeps a ledger in her head of all slights and perceived infractions of the last 22 years. She’s still angry at him for not sending her flowers when their first baby came. It doesn’t count that he gave her a necklace to welcome the birth of their child. No amount of “I’m sorrys” seems to soften her or make a difference. She lets nothing go. With every argument she brings up the same old issues.

Some years ago he made a five thousand dollar investment that turned sour. She never lets him forget. No matter that he’s since made a number of good investments.

She can’t stand his family and constantly puts down his relatives. She talks against them whenever an opportunity presents itself.

As they are leaving a party, she criticizes the other guests. If someone is doing well financially she says it’s because they probably inherited the money. If she hears about a child’s success, she quickly follows up with a negative comment about the family.

She has little tolerance for her children’s bad behavior. Every infraction is major and calls for a lecture and a punishment.

Perhaps her body language is most hurtful. When her husband talks, she rolls her eyes and tilts her head to indicate he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. She often has a look of displeasure on her face when he’s talking. He can’t remember the last time she smiled when he walked in the room or laughed at something he said.

Even though he’s fifty pounds heavier and eight inches taller than his wife, he’s a little afraid of her. She’s never come after him physically, but he’s afraid of what she’s going to say, the lectures that follow his behavior, the looks of disdain.

She’s nice to other people. She runs errands for an elderly woman who lives next door. She’s pleasant to anyone who calls on the telephone. She chats with the clerk at the grocery store. She’s responsible at work. She volunteers at her children’s schools. What he keeps looking for are signs that she loves him.

In the past few years he’s been making more of a life away from her. He’s gotten interested in tennis. He’s been running. He’s been seeing a therapist. He’s been working on changing some of his behaviors. He has made an effort to spend more time with her going to the movies and taking short vacations. He has consciously given her more strokes. He has been trying to gently point out when he thinks her negativism or anger at their children is too much. He’s done more around the house. He’s not interested in another woman. He’s been faithful. He believes in marriage. They have children and history. They are financially tied together.

But soon he’ll leave her.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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Why DO people hold grudges?

I was talking with a woman the other day and she said that her uncle had just died, an uncle she remembered only vague­ly.

It seems that when this woman was small, she was at a family party, and her three-year-old sister kicked the uncle in the shins. The uncle impulsively picked up the little girl, turned her over his knee, and spanked her. An argument ensued between the girl’s father and the uncle. For the next 35 years the two families remained estranged.

The woman’s father attempted to get the families back together a time or two, calling at Christmas to offer good cheer. But the uncle chose to remain angry-righteous, holding tightly to his grudge. Consequently, the families never saw each other again.

Not only did this woman lose contact with her only aunt and uncle, but she lost the relationship with her three cousins whom she loved dearly.

She, of course, wasn’t the only one who suffered from the grudge. Her sister and her mother also missed these relatives. Her father never saw his sister, his nephews, or his brother-in-law again. Family parties and get-togethers ended. “And my poor grandmother never was able to have all of her children and their families together,” said the woman.

As she told her story, I thought: This is a true human tragedy because all it would have taken to mend things between the two families was forgiveness.

If someone is holding a grudge because of your behavior, rush to make a phone call now and ask for forgiveness. If you are the one holding the grudge, let go of your bad feelings and re-establish contact today.

If you have second thoughts about mending a fence, think of all the other people whom you are inadvertently hurting because of your position. Think of the woman who lost her aunt and uncle and her cousins because of one family argument that was never resolved.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

 

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Vacation time is here … and vacations provide some people with even more things to fight about than usual.

Here are a few possibilities that guarantee an argument.

Don’t make plans, so when vacation time comes, you can hang around the house, feel miserable, and blame everyone for not doing anything on vacation.

Go along with your partner’s suggestion to fly to your destination, and then complain the entire time about the cost of the airline tickets.

Plan a 2000-mile trip when you have only a week’s vacation. Drive like a madman to get to your destination and back home again.

Assume that you don’t need direc­tions to get to Aunt Lucy’s house, where you just visited seven years ago. When you get lost, don’t ask for directions. Also, yell at everyone else in the car because you’re lost.

Complain about money. For example, use these tried-and-true questions, “Why does everything cost so much money?” “Didn’t you realize how expensive this place was before you booked it?” “What do you kids think we’re made out of, money?”

Don’t forget to blame. For example, “I thought you had the plane tickets. I thought you packed the camera. Why didn’t you remember to bring the suitcases?”

Stick to your guns and accept no changes in plans. If it rains and you had planned to go to the beach, mope around and pout. Refuse to be consoled or get involved in any other activity. In other words, if you feel bummed out, make it a point to ruin everyone else’s day.

If your children become sick or cranky because they’re off schedule and overtired, get mad at them.

Insist that because this is a family vacation, everyone is going to do everything together.

Or you could decide that no matter where you go on vacation, you’ll accept the fact that you’ll probably run into some problems. You won’t criticize or blame or be moody or get too annoyed. You’ll prepare as much as possible. If you forget something, or you can’t do something, you’ll make the best of it. You’ll shrug, you’ll laugh, and you’ll enjoy experiencing life in a different way.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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I gathered ideas from a number of people who have felt that their host needed a little schooling in the art of making people feel welcome.

Here are their tips:

  • Find out when your guests will arrive. Try to be home to greet them or let them know if you’ll be late. People sort of wonder if their hosts want them to visit if they have to sit and wait on the doorstoop until their hosts arrive.
  • If your visitors are flying in, pick them up at the airport if possible, and try to meet them in the terminal. If they come by car, keep a lookout, and when they arrive, go out to greet them.
  • When you meet, shake their hands. Give them a big hug. Ask how the trip went. Tell
    them they look great; you like their new hair-do, their shirt, their purse. Help them with their luggage.
  • When they come in your house, offer them something to eat and drink. Ask if they want to go to their room or sit and visit for a few minutes first.
  • When you show your visitors to their room, a small bouquet of flowers on the dresser goes a long way in making them feel welcome. Also make sure the room is tidy and has clean sheets, tissues, an alarm clock, and a night light. Show guests how the windows work. Have a section of the closet and several drawers ready for them to use.
  • Put clean towels in the bathroom and fresh soap. Some guests bring their own
    toothpaste and hair dryers, but many don’t. So it’s a good idea to have these items available.
  • Explain about house noises and your animals’ habits. “Sometimes our cat jumps up on the bed. Just push her off.”
  • If you have a chiming clock, stop it. You may not hear it chiming every fifteen minutes, but they will.
  • Offer some ideas for fun things to do throughout the week. Give visitors some ideas
    and ask them to make some choices. “I thought one day we’d rent bikes in town and go biking. Another morning we could play golf, eat lunch in the village, and then take the gondola up the mountain.” Also, ask them what they would like to do.
  • Before your friends arrive, ask what foods they like. Do they eat breakfast? What do they like for lunch?
  • Have the refrigerator stocked, and tell them to help themselves. Have fruit and juices and a fresh coffee cake or brownies ready to snack on. If you’re a tea drinker but you know they like coffee, have a coffee pot and coffee ready. Invite guests to feel free to make their own coffee in the morning.
  • If your friends are staying more than a few days, suggest some places they might like to go by themselves while you attend to your business. This gives everyone time off to regroup.
  • If your guests have children, tell the youngsters your rules. “Please don’t mess with
    the fish tank. Don’t turn on the stereo without asking. Stay away from the dog next door.”

Also remember, even with the most compatible visitors, there will inevitably be a few tense moments. Expect them to occur and do some shrugging.

If you follow this list, your guests will feel welcome throughout their visit.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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The house guests are coming. Most people look with anticipation to the arrival of their guests. Within three or four days of that arrival, most people start looking to their departure. This rapid change from “I can’t wait till they get here” to “I can’t wait till they leave,” is prompted by several factors.

Most people are creatures of habit and need a certain structure in their lives. House guests change the familiar schedule. And as the days pass, the desire to get back to normal increases.

Most people also need privacy. When you add two, three, or four additional people to most houses, privacy is difficult. You can’t walk around the house as you’re used to; you can’t spontaneously discuss personal business.

Usually however, guests wear out their welcome with their own inappropriate behavior.

Here are a few hints I’ve collected from some disgruntled hosts. You might title their list

“How To Be a Good House Guest.”:

  • Make sure you’re invited. You may feel an overwhelming need to visit us, but do we want to see you?
  • When you arrive, check out the lay of the land. Don’t immediately start distributing presents.
  • Don’t expect us to always wait on and entertain you. If this is the kind of vacation you desire, go to a resort. These are my vacation days, too.
  • Leave your pets at home. And leave my pets alone. It aggravates me to no end when you tease my dog.
  • Although your stories are interesting and I love the fact that you’re well read, don’t fill every minute with talking. I like to be together without having to talk sometimes.
  • Please don’t ask me if you can smoke in my house. You know we don’t smoke. Your asking automatically sets the tone for a bad visit. If I say no, you feel annoyed. If I say yes, I feel annoyed. And please don’t throw your butts in my yard for me to pick up later. The last time you came, I picked up 217 butts.
  • Don’t ask me how much things cost. It’s none of your business.
  • Plan a day trip with your family alone. This will give us all some space.
  • Don’t keep the washer and dryer tied up all the time. I need to use them too.
  • Clean up after yourself. Put your dishes in the sink or dishwasher. Make your bed. Clean up after your children. Strip the beds when you leave.
  • Don’t tell me I need to re-pot my flowers, or cook my roast with a lid on it, or keep my doors locked. Don’t try to run my show.
  • Buy half the groceries, leave money for your half. Remember, we also live on a budget.
  • Pay for your own tickets when we go out in a group.
  • Rent a car. If you do borrow ours, refill it with gas.
  • Respect our bedtime. If you choose to stay up later, that’s fine, just keep it quiet.
  • Please don’t let your children turn on the television or stereo without asking, jump on the beds, chase our pets, put their feet on the furniture, eat in the living room, interrupt our conversations, mess with the blinds, help themselves to food in the refrigerator, or monopolize the telephone.
  • Don’t fight with your husband in front of us. Save the fights for when you’re in your own house.
  • Be grateful. Complimentary. Praise our house. On your return home, send a thank-you note and a gift of appreciation. And as one former host mused, “Don’t take the towels.”

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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Raising children is the perfect opportunity for improving yourself. As a parent you have many chances to learn humility, self-control, tolerance, fortitude, and patience.

For example, you may hear your children talking to each other in a way that is not attractive. Your reprimand must set an example for them. You must make your comment in a pleasant way.

When you confront them on the way they are talking to each other, they will turn their meanness on you. Your job will be to stay calm, stay polite, and stay on the issue.

Sometimes a child will come to you with a particularly tough complaint. What should he do about some boys who are pushing and shoving him when he goes to his locker?

If you offer to call the principal, he will tell you with a mean tone that your idea is dumb. Everyone will think he’s a baby.

If you tell him to try to avoid these bullies and not go to his locker during the day, he’ll say that’s a stupid idea. And then he’ll ask sarcastically how he could carry all his books and not go to his locker.

If you suggest that he take some of his friends along for protection when he goes to his locker, he’ll say you don’t understand.

You are trying to offer him help. Help he asked for. But somewhere along the way he has decided that you are the enemy.

This discussion will take every ounce of diplomacy and self-control on your part not to tell him to just go ahead and get beat up.

Daughters frequently come with hair problems. They hate their hair. It’s too curly or too straight, too fine or too thick. They also hate the cut and perm they insisted on getting. Because you paid for it, their hair is your fault. It takes courage and strength to let someone rant and rave at you and not defend or attack back.

Sometimes, out of concern for how your daughter feels about herself, you offer to help with her hair. But always the french braid you nimbly fix doesn’t look right to her. Or she thinks the way you comb her hair is old-fashioned.

If you are able to walk out of her room without saying anything in defense of yourself or leveling an attack against her, you have grown in understanding, tolerance, and charity.

One mother, as she was driving her daughter, who had complained of a headache, to school, asked, “Are you feeling better?” Her daughter’s hostile response, “No I’m sick.”

The mother then asked if her daughter had taken an aspirin. Again with hostility the daughter answered, “Yes, I have taken an aspirin. Stop asking me.”

A third time the woman tried to take care of her daughter by suggesting that maybe it would be better if she took a day off school. The daughter snapped, “I’m going.”

When the mother pulled her car into the school lot, she wanted to say, “Get out of the car, you brat.” What she said was, “Have a nice day.” This mother showed restraint and caring.

If you want to become a better person, your children will provide you with many opportunities to practice.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

 

 

 

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