#trainingformy40s

Everyday is a chance to train yourself for something. I’m #trainingformy40s, what are you training for?

Category: Parenting (page 1 of 14)

Mental Toughness

I’ve always thought running is a mind game. There’s a physical aspect to it to be sure. But, your body gets conditioned and once you start running adding miles is easier than you would think. At some point, you will be on a run and your mind will break down. Your body is capable of finishing, but your mind doesn’t want to. I’d like to confess those are the best runs. But they aren’t. They suck. They hurt. And they are terrible. Because the mental game is harder than the physical game.

I have learned a principle that is true across all areas of life. I have seen it most often in running and in Crossfit workouts.

The pain is temporary.

At some point, the run will be over. Your body and mind can rest. The WOD will end and you can lie on the floor praying to die.

This is true for experiences we have at work too. I work in child welfare. And there are seasons when the crap just piles up. You dread going to work because you have to wade through the difficult and hard. And sometimes we wade through the horro that can be the depravity or some parents.

But it will end. The tasks will hbe completed. Reports written. Children safe. Bosses made happy and checkboxes checked.

Knowing there is an end is sometimes the only way to push through. Having a strong mind that isn’t easily broken. Makes it possible to finish.

The same is true of being a parent. Kid’s make it hard sometimes. We make it hard sometimes. We fail. They fail. We all fall apart sometimes. In the end, we love our kids and they love us. In the end, their best interest is in the forefront of our minds. I have to remind myself of this when the boys are fighting constantly. When they argue and scream at each other. When they reuse to listen and give attitude in response to everything we say to them. When I lose my cool and flip out on them.

Fortunately, life isn’t about being perfect. It’s about learning. It’s about growing. It’s about becoming something better than when we started. Failing is a part of it. Being overwhelmed is a part of it. Having your mind break on occasion is a part of it.

Life isn’t measured by how many times we get knocked down. It’s measured by how we respond to string knocked down. Do we have the mental toughness to push throw and overcome?

Lessons I Wish I had been Taught

Changing a flat tire.

Chopping firewood.

Tying a tie.

Shaving.

How to ask a girl out on a date.

Writing a resume.

Life is full of lessons. Some we want, we need and others we wish we never learned. Just like you, I have learned many lesson in life. Most of them the hard way. As I reflect on those lessons, I am trying to teach my boys at least three I learned the hard way I hope they don’t have to.

  1. Good, solid work experience – When it comes to getting a job, nothing beats good experience and knowing how to do stuff. If you are like me, you are able to BS your way through a lot of experiences, but it’s not possible to BS your way through when you have no effing clue how to do it forever. Take the tasks no one wants. Volunteer for everything. Make the most of your internships. Read and learn what you are doing. Ask questions if you don’t know something. Become knowledgeable and skilled in the field you are working in. Get good experiences, find them, make them for yourself.
  2. Good work and school references in addition to personal ones – There is not much more demoralizing than filling out applications and getting to the reference section and realizing you have burned every bridge you have ever been on and there is no one from your past who has anything good to say about you. Building relationships and make connections. Network with other professionals inside and outside of your field. Have a quiver full of people who can and will say good things about you for you rely on in the future.
  3. Play the game – I hate politicians. They say one thing and then do another. However, there are times in life when you have to play the game. You have to cater to what others want. You have to do the work the way your boss wants. You have to take the tough assignments with a grin to get the good ones. You have to make friends and play nice with people you can’t stand to be around. Welcome to being an adult. We aren’t always able to throw sand in someone’s face. Play the game, get along with others and be the strongest member of the team. There’s a place for the lone wolf, but sometimes the lone wolf needs to be a part of the pack.

We will learn many lessons in life. Fun ones, easy ones, good ones, hard ones and ones we wouldn’t wish on our enemies. But these lessons aren’t hard to learn, they are in my mind critical to being making far in our work lives. Learn them now when you are young.

A Run-Of-The-Mill Soccer Weekend

It’s Monday morning. I am sitting at my desk, wishing I was at home in bed. So far, this Monday is winning the battle. It was a long weekend, but it was a very good weekend. Our two oldest boys played in a soccer tournament this weekend, the Alliance Cup. And by all standards, the tournament was a success. By far, the most successful tournament our boys have participated in.

In the past, tournaments have kind of been a necessary evil. A long weekend of soccer that leaves you exhausted and wishing you could go back in time and devise any excuse to have not gone to the tournament. This weekend is different. I am tired and I am sunburned, but I am satisfied with the outcome of the tournament.

More than that I am proud of how my boys played their hardest and showed how much they have grown and improved in soccer this fall. They are both playing with an intensity and commitment that brings great joy to my heart. But more importantly, they had fun and enjoyed the experience.

hayden-goalHayden’s team finished the tournament 1-2 and did not make the finals. However, in the game they won Hayden scored a goal. This was his first goal of the season. He was so excited and happy! He barely could contain his excitement throughout the day and weekend. This was definitely a highlight for him and us as parents. Our satisfaction with Hayden doesn’t change because he scored a goal. We love him the same no matter what. I am full of joy because of the happiness this goal has brought to him. Aside from the excitement of the goal in that game, Hayden played one of his best games he has ever played that game. He was put on the field as a forward and several runs on the goal with the ball and had it not been for the defenders stepping in, he would have been in a position to take shots on the goal (somehow, he managed to make runs without the support of his teammates). During the other games, he played goalkeeper and he has show great improvement overall but especially as a goalkeeper this year. I could not be happier with where Hayden is at this moment.

Noah’s team finished the tournament 3-1 and Champions of thenoahchampir division. They came out strong and played strong throughout the tournament. Noah played goalkeeper in every game and he only let 3 goals in for the whole weekend. He had two clean sheets during the weekend. He claims his team named him the Man of the Match for the final game. The final was a great game and he played a very good game. He was challenged by the opposing team and stood the test and emerged victorious.

This was a significant tournament for both of out boys because their previous tournament experiences left something to be desired. This season as a whole has been a great one. I credit their growth and development as young men to making this season a good for them in addition to a new coach (they both have the same coach) who is able to coach and speak to them in terms they can understand. He is a great coach and really enjoys coaching and enjoys these boys.

As a father, it is hard me to find greater joys than seeing my boys happy. And today, they are happy… therefore I am happy.

Undivided Attention – What Kids Need Part 2

In our digital, global, information overload world with rapidly changing images and stimuli, we have cultivated a culture where less is more and this has bled over into our relationships and most detrimentally to our relationships with our children. As parents, we often look for ways for us to not give our kids the Attention they are looking for.

It is the little things in life that make the most meaningful impact sometimes. It is the tying of the shoes. It is the folding of the clothes. It is the completing of the homework. It is sweeping or making of the bed together. It is the picking up of the toys. It is the time spent doing the tasks or things that have seemingly no importance at all that make the difference. It is the not-so-helpful hands preparing dinner. The snuggles on the couch before bed. It is xbox, board games, card games, kicking a soccer ball, playing war or the occasional lightsaber battle in the living room. All of these are times when children get the attention from their parents they crave desperately. Attention focused on them and no one else. Attention given to them, showing them their little lives matter to us as parents.

Sometimes it is hurtful yell or scream. Sometimes it is chastising glance and mean words given. Sometimes it is unending berating in the form of a lecture about how the smallest mistake means the child is stupid. Sometimes it is spanking, the slapping and the forcibly being put into the corner or on their bed for timeout. It is the undivided attention of a parent who can no longer ignore the actions of their child and now they have to intervene and give attention to the child because the child has so completely disrupted whatever activity the parent is engaged in.

Either way, the bottom line is attention. Children crave the attention of their parents. The old cliche is so very true, ‘negative attention is better than no attention at all.’

Many kids just want someone to pay attention to them. Someone to give them something. The challenge as parents is for us to not be irritated when our kids need attention from us. Often, if we stop what we are doing for just a few minutes we can give our kids the attention they desire and be able to get back to our tasks. It isn’t hard. It is about giving them the attention and time they need. It usually doesn’t require a lot of time. As parents it is our responsibility to be on the lookout for the attention our kids need from us and then give it to them. Offer them what they desire. Give them the love and attention they crave.

Are we looking for ways we can give our kids the attention the desire or are we viewing every interruption by them as a nuisance to be overcome? I challenge you today and the rest of the week to take the moments your kids ask for… and then some. Don’t be bothered. Don’t be agitated. Don’t get mad. Give your kids what they want from you… you. Your attention. Your time. You.

Are you willing to accept the challenge?

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Common Threads – What Kids Need Pt. 1

common-threads-reflections-614

I’m not an expert on anything… except maybe Jeeps and Star Wars. I would pit my knowledge of those two subjects against any other human on the planet and bet on myself every time. Hands down. Other than that, I’m not an expert in much of anything. But I pay attention to people, things and details. I watch. I listen. I take notes. I connect the dots. I read between the lines and see the picture beneath the surface. I cultivate an interest in behaviors and the motivation for the behaviors. I desperately want to understand the ‘why’ of what motivates each of us to act the ways we do. I make assessments and evaluations based on what I see, hear and observe.

As I look back on my professional career (which has involved a wide range of jobs/roles, but with one common thread throughout), it is clear working with youth and families has been the center of everything I have done for the last 20 years. I have worked with youth and families in a wide range of settings. Sometimes it has been fun. Sometimes it has been difficult. Sometimes it has been uncomfortable. Sometimes I have been an advocate. Sometimes I have been a fried. Sometimes I have been an adversary. Sometimes I have been a mentor, teacher or guide. And sometimes, I have been the ‘bad guy’.

Through it all, it has been highly rewarding for me personally. I have learned tons and grown much. I have jokingly called myself a ‘Jack of all Trades & Master of None’ due to wide variety of roles I have found myself in. The reality is, I have consistently worked with youth and families fro 20 years. It feels very good to be able to say I have been a field of work for that long. I have been told (finally) my resume is impressive. For someone who struggles with confidence (a shocker, I know) this is a much-desired boost.

In my current season, I am working as a therapist with an agency which allows me to offer therapeutic services to youth both at the homes and in their schools. On a side note, I really enjoy seeing a kid in their home and then seeing them at school and being able to see the difference of personalities that come out based on the setting. I spend a lot of time with kids these days. I spend a lot of time having fun, joking and laughing with kids. I spend a lot of time sitting in the homes of families. I lose a metric ton’s worth of card games in any given week. And sometimes it’s not on purpose. Haha. There’s more there for another time. I spend a lot of time one-on-one with kids trying to tear down the walls they have built to protect themselves. I get to take the time to just sit and talk to them. To play card games. To have conversations that don’t always have an agenda. I get to take a genuine interest in the menial things of life that matter most to kids.

As I have spent these hours with kids, I have started to notice some trends. I have begun to notice common threads running through the lives of each one. Abraham Maslow identified some basic needs each human being has and noted until we learn to meet each need as we develop in life, we can’t move on until we learn how to meet each need progressively. I find there is some truth to his assessments. I notice certain kids react or behave in specific ways towards me each time I see them. I have also come to realize, I can learn much about what is going on in the life of these kids based on how they respond to me. I can learn much about what affirmations they are getting… or not getting at home. I can learn about their insecurities and where they are confident.

I have noticed at least three common needs each of the kids I work with has. I think these three needs are common to the experience of every child. I believe every child looks to have these needs met by their parents and other family members, friends, teachers and other important figures in their lives. No doubt, there are many more than three needs each child needs to have met or affirmed, but these three seem to me to be common and are likely some of the easiest for us as parents to dismiss or to simply just miss on.

In our digital, global, information overload world with rapidly changing images and stimuli, we have cultivated a culture where less is more and this has bled over into our relationships and most detrimentally to our relationships with our children. As parents, we often look for ways for us to not give our kids the Attention they are looking for.

In a world where social media has become dominant and our relationships have become more and more surface with little actual substance or depth to them, we have created a culture where we have confused disconnection for connection. As parents, we have missed the critical aspect of Connecting with our kids and learning more about them than what kind of day they had at school.

In a world where we are strapped for time, being pulled a million different directions and our kids are bombarded with an ever-increasing amount of homework, sports, video games and Pokemon to catch, we have cultivated a culture where we are too busy watching mindless television and immersing ourselves in the ridiculous lives of unworthy role models we don’t take the time to actually play with our kids anymore. As parents, we relegate Playing with our kids to the iPad, Xbox, PS4 or whatever else we can so that we don’t have to be distracted from our Facebook feed.

In my work with youth and families, I have found these three needs do wonders for lives of the kids I work with. When I take a few minutes of the time I have with them each week, to invest in each of these needs I see a marked change in their attitudes and behaviors. I think these needs are critical and as parents we must work overtly to ensure we are reaching our kids in these three ways.

I’d like to take the next few weeks to discuss some of my observations on these needs and how I think we as parents can do better about meeting them. Will you join me in learning how we can meet the needs of our children?

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