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Stop thinking about making changes in your life, and start doing something about it.

Maybe your complaint is, “We rarely do anything as a family.” Pack up the children and head for the zoo. You can take four hours out to do something together. If one or two family members can’t go, take those who can.

If you say, “We never get together with friends,” call another family and meet them at the park with a bucket of fried chicken. It will take all of an hour to get everyone ready and pick up the chicken.

Need to move to a bigger or smaller house? Look at the real estate ads and go for a drive. Maybe stop at a few open houses. It’s a beginning.

Do you spend all your time working, cleaning, paying bills? Set a time — one o’clock, two o’clock, and at that hour no matter what, get out of the house. Go to a movie, go for a bike ride, go to a driving range.

If you’re having a family get-together and you think you do all the work, ask others to help out.

If you keep saying, “We need to visit Aunt Lucy,” get your calendar and set a date. Don’t put it off.

Dislike your messy garage each time you pull your car in? Take one hour today and start cleaning it. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish in an hour.

Drink too much on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays? Decide how many drinks you’ll allow yourself and stick to your limit.

If you have frequently thought, “Jim and I should be out there walking,” go for it. Throw on those walking shoes and get moving. If Jim says no, go anyway. Maybe your teenager or neighbor will join you on your walk.

How many times have you said, “I’ve got to get back on track with my exercise program.?” This is the day. Dust off that treadmill or stationary bike and start your program the minute you finish reading this blog.

Sometimes the most difficult part of change is getting the courage up to start the process.

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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Reminiscing about a day a few years back:

“Bye, Mom,” I heard my daughter yell as she went out the front door.

“Have a good day,” I sleepily heard myself reply.

A few minutes later I felt my husband sitting on the side of the bed. “It’s 7 o’clock. Time to get up. There’s coffee made.”

“Thanks,” I mumbled. As I lay in bed, I thought, “what will I write my column on today? Thanksgiving is coming. Maybe something on Thanksgiving. I remember one of my favorite columns – one I wrote at Thanksgiving time some years ago. I designed a test and invited the reader to figure out if he or she was a turkey.”

I put my feet on the floor and walked to the window. A lot of leaves were hanging tight on the oak trees, I thought. “I wonder if they will be able to hang on until January?”

It looked cold outside. I felt warm in my robe that I have had for a million years.

I went into the bathroom and got out a new tube of toothpaste. The water ran from the faucet as I swished and brushed.

I went downstairs and fixed the cat a piece of banana and poured myself a cup of coffee. I swung open the refrigerator and grabbed an orange.

As I ate my orange, I flipped through the newspaper. Outside I saw a squirrel jump from one big tree to another. I poured myself a second cup of coffee.

The telephone rang. It was my mother. Did I know what the boys wanted for Christmas? We chatted for a few minutes. She filled me in on what she and my dad had done the past weekend. I then went back to reading. The phone rang again. It was a friend calling. She kidded me about sleeping late. As we talked, I filled up the dishwasher and straightened the kitchen. I opened the freezer and pulled out a chicken for dinner. Chicken and dumplings tonight.

On days I write, I follow a little rule. I must be seated in front of the computer screen by 8:30 A.M. It was getting close to 8:30 and I still hadn’t figured out my Thanksgiving column.

I decided to throw a load of clothes in the washing machine. Then I made the bed. I started to put away a new pair of earrings that were laying on the dresser. On second thought, I put them on. I decided that they looked great with my pajamas.

I had to pass my daughter’s room to get to my office and the waiting computer. I found myself in her room, making her bed. She’ll be surprised, I thought. I smiled when I saw that she had put a light over her hermit crabs so they would stay warm.

I had an idea. I left her room and opened up the laptop.

I started… Things to be thankful for: hot coffee, toothpaste, animals, trees, the telephone, children, family, friends, food in the refrigerator, freedom.

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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When Mary walked into my office for her therapy appointment, she wasn’t a happy camper. When I asked her what was going on, she said she was furious at her daughter, Alice, who’s seven. In Mary’s evaluation, her daughter is extremely rebellious.

“How so?” I asked.

“If I try to hurry her up, she slows down.”

“If we tell her she can’t go outside to play, she runs out the door anyway. Or she’s supposed to stay in the backyard, but I find her at the neighbors down the street.

“This morning I had a baby sitter lined up. But Alice didn’t want to stay with the sitter. So I decided to let her come along to this appointment, with the stipulation that she would have to sit quietly in the waiting room.

“We were pulling out of the driveway when Alice realized she’d forgotten her book. I let her go back in the house but told her to hurry. Five minutes later I had to get out of the car and go get her. There she was in the kitchen fixing herself a glass of juice. I should have left her at home, but I didn’t.”

As Mary and I continued talking, we heard a little knock on my door and then it opened. There stood Alice. Mary looked at her daughter and said firmly, “You can’t come in here.” The daughter stepped back and it looked as though she was going to leave and close the door.

The mother then added, “I told you before we left the house that you’d have to wait for me in the waiting room.” With this comment, the little girl grinned ever so slightly and stepped into the room. It was evident to me that the power struggle was on.

As an observer, I suspect that if Mary hadn’t said anything more to her daughter after her first comment, but had immediately turned her attention back on the two of us talking, Alice would have closed the door and gone back into the waiting room. But when her mother gave her an additional warning, the little girl must have felt challenged and she reacted.

I saw a similar dynamic take place several days later when I was working with a mother and her adolescent daughter. They were seeing me because the mother was feeling more than annoyed at her daughter’s rebelliousness. The girl talks back, doesn’t come home on time, refuses to do her chores, and helps herself to her mother’s clothes whenever she wants.

During the session the daughter started twirling, lasso-style, a long chain she was wearing with a large polished stone attached to the end of it. The mother looked at her daughter and said, “Please stop that.” The daughter looked at her mother and continued to twirl the chain.

Again the mother said, “Stop,” but this time she said it with a little playful laugh.

At this point a noticeable grin came over the daughter’s face, she started swinging the necklace more vigorously, and the power struggle was on.

Children need to flex their rebellious muscle once in a while as a way to reach independence, and parents need to take on their children to teach them how to behave. Sometimes, however, we parents inadver­tently encourage our children to get into bigger power struggles than need be.

For example, it’s understandable why Mary told her daughter a second time not to come into my office. She already had to deal with several other issues that morning. Too, she was probably feeling anxious about how I perceived her as a parent, and she didn’t want her therapy time wasted.

But sometimes one firm no works better than two. If a parent says no and immediately turns her attention elsewhere, she closes off a power struggle by refusing to participate. One no doesn’t always work -rebellious children are tenacious – but sometimes it does.

In the second situation, the mother might have outsmarted her daughter and said nothing. I’m sure her daughter would have gotten tired of twirling. When children do something that is obviously designed to get them negative attention, sometimes it’s better not to give it to them.

Once the mother decided to confront her daughter, however, she needed to hang tough and stick with the confrontation. The Mother’s little laugh could certainly be interpreted as encouraging her daughter to be rebellious. Or it could signal her daughter that she wanted to stay friends with her. When you decide to take on a child’s rebelliousness, you must be willing to take the risk that a child is not going to like you.

If it seems that you’re struggling over every little issue with your child, it may help to keep the following in mind:

*One forceful no is sometimes better than two.

*Saying nothing, even when you don’t approve of what your child is doing, is sometimes the most effective response.

*When you find yourself in a power struggle, check to see if you’re doing anything to encourage it, like smiling or lecturing on and on.

Your child is not going to like you very much when you take her on. At the same time, her negativism toward you won’t last forever. And confronting bad behavior is a necessary part of child rearing.

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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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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