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Archive for the ‘family’ Category

Adolescence isn’t all fun and games.

When we adults see teenagers goofing off at the mall or jumping around in a car to the latest beat, we often think they don’t have anything to worry about. It’s one carefree, fun-filled adventure after another.

Once a woman told me about a prayer service that took place at St. Pius X High School. The theme of the service was a time of remembrance. At church the adolescents were invited to ask the Lord to remember a person dear to them who had died.

Here are some of the remembrances offered by teenagers.

Matt: My mother died when I was a freshman. I wish she was still alive.

Neil: My sister died when I was an infant. I wish I could have known her.

Chrissy: My brother would have celebrated his twelfth birthday. I would have enjoyed celebrating it with him.

Pete: My brother died when I was thirteen. I wish I would have had more time to get to know him better.

Regina: My father passed away five years ago. I wish he was here to share special moments in my life. I miss him very much.

Ellen: My grandma was a wonderful person. She has many who loved her and miss her.

Mark: Last spring my friend’s father died in a car accident. I had gotten to become good friends with him.

Alisyn: My grandmother died the day after my fourteenth birthday. I am told I am just like her at this age, but how do I know? I wish her well.

Jeff: My uncle died last year. I miss playing sports with him.

Libbi: My dad died when I was two. I should have been a Daddy’s girl. I miss him.

Jason: My brother died on May 12th two years ago. I am thankful for the time I spent with him. It was the most memorable six years of my life.

Tommy: A friend of mine, Allen, died last April. I miss him a lot and wish he was still here.

Erin: My grandmothers died six months apart during my sophomore year. I miss the good times with them.

Josh: My brother was killed when he was seven. I wish he was here so we could talk. I miss him.

Ann: My brother died 5 months ago. He was a good brother and a good person. I miss him.

Ana: A close friend, Sharna, died on December 28th from a drunk driver. Please pray for her and her family.

Andy: My grandfather died before I was born. I wish I could have met him just once. 

When you see teenagers messing around at the mall and yelling louder than they should, soften your gaze a little. And remember, their lives are not as carefree as you might think.

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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All my life I have been a dog person. My first recollection of having a dog was when I was a small child. The dog’s name was Bum. He came by that name honestly because he was always on the run. He would jump the fence and away he would go. The only other thing I remember about that dog was that my mom loved him dearly. So I did too. Following Bum, my family had a succession of dogs…Candy, Lady, Boots.

When I was 5 or 6 years old, a stray cat appeared at the door. It was winter, so my parents broke down and took him in. He managed to outstay his welcome in less that 48 hours. I still remember my mom saying, “I hate cats. They are everywhere. They get in your pots and pans. They get on the kitchen table. Out with the cat.” My mom hated cats. So I did too.

When I grew up and had my own family, we got a dog, Fluffy. Then we got Barker. Across town my parents also had two dogs and my sister had two dogs. You might say we were confirmed dog lovers.

Then something happened. Our daughter requested a cat. She was a mere three years old. “Now how could a little girl who is surrounded by dogs and dog lovers want a cat?” I thought. Every birthday and holiday thereafter she pressed for a cat. Every birthday and holiday I resisted until one day my love for my daughter overcame me and I said, “Oh alright. We’ll get a cat.”

That was some years ago. We then got two cats, Cornbread and Emily. When I walked in the door, Cornbread was there waiting. Then along would come Emily for some attention. I loved to watch them play. Cornbread swished his tail back and forth, back and forth, while Emily tried to catch it. They would also chase each other around the house at breakneck speed. As I watched them, I frequently would feel a smile on my face. You might say, I fell in love with cats.

Which leads me to a question I’m often asked. Can people really change?
The answer – YES.

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 following story is Zen. Of all stories, this one has helped me keep troubles and disappointments in my life in perspective. I hope the story will serve you as well.

A very wealthy man visited a prophet and commissioned him to write something special about riches and prosperity for his family. What the man was looking for was words of wisdom or insight that he could pass down from generation to generation.

After taking the man’s money the prophet pulled out a large piece of paper and wrote:

Father dies

Son dies

Grandson dies

He then handed the paper to the man.

“What is this?” asked the rich man. “Is this some sort of a joke? I asked you to write me something regarding prosperity and riches for my family to treasure and you write me this?”

The prophet then explained.

“If your son dies before you, you will be sad for the rest of your days.

“If your grandson should die before you, you and your son will be heartbroken.

“If your family dies, generation after generation, in the order I have written, your family is truly prosperous.”

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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Many arguments between parents and children could be avoided if parents were more conscious of the way they communicated with their children.

Here’s a communication tip you can start using today.

The Broken Record Routine
If Bobby asks you to drop him at the mall and you don’t want him to go, tell him, “No, I don’t want you at the mall.”

If he responds, “But Mom, all my friends are going,” don’t say, If everybody jumps off a cliff, are you going to jump off too?

Instead, go for solution and simply state, “I don’t want you at the mall.”

If Bobby tells you you’re the meanest person in the world, don’t respond. He’s simply venting his frustration. If he keeps nagging, keep your voice even and repeat, “I don’t want you at the mall.” Then walk away if possible.

At some point, Bobby will get the message and you’ll save yourself and family needless arguing.

Observations only
If your 12-year daughter has left her dirty dishes sitting in the family room, simply make an observation: “Your dirty dishes are in the family room.”

If her room is a mess, make an observation: “You have a lot of things lying around in your room.”
If you think she’s been on the phone too long, you might say, “You’ve been on the telephone for quite awhile now.”

Simply making an observation keeps you from being critical and invites your child to develop her own conscious.

Will stating the obvious get you the results you want? Not always, but sometimes.

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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Teenage Blues? Find out how this father re-connected with his teenage son.

Recently I spoke with one father who confessed to having difficulty liking his son. Clearly his son was rebellious and had some behaviors that most parents would find offensive. The son rarely did what he had promised. He blew off chores. He had trouble backing down and he thought he never made a mistake.

When I pushed the father to tell me something he liked about his son, he reluctantly admitted that the boy was a pretty good student, didn’t get in trouble at school, had a great sense of humor and a rather endearing smile. The trick for me was to get the father to focus on his son’s attributes at least some of the time. This would allow the father to feel good about his son as opposed to always feeling negative.

The first thing I did was to ask the father to bring me a list of fifty things he liked about his son even if he had to go back in history and remember some of the incidences from his son’s childhood. Although the father dutifully made his list he couldn’t wait to tell me how his son had messed up that week.

The father’s next assignment was to only comment on the positive things his son did. The idea was to get the father to change his focus from looking at the negative to looking at the positive. This assignment did not work either.

I then came up with the idea that every time the son messed up the father would say in his head, “At least he’s alive.” When I told the father this he said, “You do have a point.”

The following week when I saw this man he said that the assignment had worked. For the first time in almost three years he felt some genuine closeness toward his son. He no longer saw his son as an incompetent. What he saw was a boy struggling, sometimes inappropriately, for his own identity. As this father left my office that day, he grinned a little and said, “You know, I really do love that kid.”

If you’re having trouble loving your kid because of his hard-to-deal with behaviors, why not experiment with one on the previous homework assignments?

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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What do you think is the most important message of the book?  

The message I wanted to convey was that all kids are motivated. The task of a parent or teacher or counselor is tapping into what interests a seemingly unmotivated kid has, in order to get him moving in perhaps a more productive endeavor. The second message: You don’t have to be a great student to accomplish great things in life. 

Of the numerous adversities Alex faces, which do you think is the most trying?

I think Alex’s long recovery at home after the accident, as well as how his appearance had changed (he now had a dimple on his cheek), were the most trying.

Why crickets? Has the question of food shortage interested you for a while?

Years ago, I had read that you could eat crickets. So when I was working on the book, I started exploring what bugs people eat in other parts of the world. I got so interested that I visited a cricket farm in Florida. And what an education I got! I incorporated that experience and had Alex and his family and Mr. D visiting a cricket farm and then, of course, Alex’s entire class raising crickets as part of their class science project.

Regarding food shortage: Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been conscious of what a terrible thing it is not having enough food to eat. When my mother was growing up, she didn’t have enough food, and I think her talking about going to bed hungry stuck with me.

Are there plans to publish another book that continues Alex’s adventures?

Yes, I have the story line and this time not only Alex, but also several of his classmates will take center stage.

How important was your own counseling practice to the development of the very convincing character in the book, particularly Alex and Mr. D?

I’ve been a counselor for many years so I think the counseling process that took place between Mr. D and Alex was similar to what actually goes on when I see a kid in counseling. So I would say it was essential.

How is the style of the illustrations connected to the story?  

 I’ve known John Dyess, the illustrator, for many years and have admired his work. So I was delighted when he agreed to illustrate the book. When I look at John’s work, I feel a connection: whether an illustration of a beautiful trout about to take a hook for Field & Stream or a bunch of guys playing basketball. That’s what I wanted the kids to feel when looking at the various bugs – a connection. When I first saw the illustrations for the book, I was blown-away.

How much is Alex’s physical condition (and recovery) a metaphor for his emotional one? 

When Alex was young, his father died, but he had little recollection of the event. But talking with his mom about his father’s death during his recovery was twofold: To help Alex come to terms with not having a father and to come to terms with his own pain from the accident. Years ago I asked a seventh grade class to write some of the losses they had experienced, trying to get a sense of loss at their age. I was astonished and saddened that almost everyone in the class had experienced a loss, and often a major one: the death of a sibling, parent, grandparent, relative, or divorce within the family and all the losses that entails.

Was any of the story based on real life events?

Yes. As a graduate student, I was a counselor at a boy’s home, so it was a natural for Mr. D to have been raised for part of his life in one. The part where his father, whom he never knew, came into the store where he worked and never identified himself, that happened to a close friend of mine. Sadly, the incident with the dogs was also based on a real-life event. The planting of a bottle garden, I did that many years ago with my husband, and I also like to roam around in junk stores like Alex’s family.

Have you tried eating crickets?

Actually I have. I’ve also eaten worms. How could I talk to kids about a book that has the potential of feeding the world and not have tasted some crawly cuisine myself? You can buy edible crickets and worms on the Internet. Dare I say, you too should take the plunge and try a handful of crickets or some crunchy worms. Believe me, you’ll catch the attention and admiration of a lot of kids.

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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finalcover

The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World will grab the attention of any upper grade or middle school student. Whether interested in science projects, bugs, getting along with others, or motivation, readers are caught up in the story from the first page to the last. Teachers, parents, and counselors will find the book useful to stimulate conversation about difficult topics like bullying, doing well in school, and family illness. Students will love the practical approach to friendship and family. Would make for a great classroom book group discussion!

Dr. Catherine Von Hatten, Educational Consultant, Retired Public School Assistant Superintendent, Teacher, and Principal

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