Category Archives: Family Leadership

The Six Secrets of Good HEALTH

A90
Good health is necessary for peak performance in any endeavor.  If you are a CEO, parent, minister or Little League coach, you will accomplish more if you feel well.  I remember being in a meeting over thirty years ago and the speaker said, “You are not much use to God in helping his children if you are dead.”  That was a wake-up call!  I came home and started a jogging regimen the next morning and have not stopped.

Most would agree that maintaining good health is a worthy goal.  The problem is that health problems typically sneak up on us so slowly that we delay making healthy choices until we have a serious issue.  Be proactive and begin a healthier lifestyle today.

The following are some ideas to help motivate you to identify what you might change for better H.E.A.L.T.H:

Happiness

University of Illinois professor emeritus of psychology Ed Diener, a senior scientist for the Gallup Organization, of Princeton, N.J., led a team that analyzed more than 160 long-term studies of human subjects, experimental human and animal trials, and studies that evaluate the health status of people stressed by natural events.  He is quoted in the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being as saying, “The overwhelming majority of studies support the conclusion that happiness is associated with health and longevity.”

Their review found “clear and compelling evidence” that – all else being equal – happy people tend to live longer and experience better health than their unhappy peers.

Shawn Achor, author of New York Times bestseller, “The Happiness Advantage,” and former Harvard University professor writes that studies have shown the following daily activities improve our level of happiness

  • Recall three things you’re grateful for
  • Journal a positive thing each day
  • Exercise
  • Meditate
  • Perform a random act of kindness.

Illness eventually comes to almost all people.  It is a part of life and must be dealt with rationally and with as much faith and hope as possible.  It doesn’t help to complain.  In fact, it is harmful.  Living as normally and happily as possible is better for everyone.

Exercise

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states these facts:                                                                                                  “To lose weight, you must use up more calories than you take in.”          ”People who have lost weight and kept it off typically engage in 60—90 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity most days of the week.”

Of course, it is easier said than done.  However, it will not become a burden if you:

  • Find an activity you enjoy
  • Exercise with someone whose company you enjoy
  • Set aside a regular time to exercise

I began jogging three miles a day, three to four days a week in my twenties.  I have continued that regimen but as I got older I increased the number of days and decreased the speed to a brisk walk.  The net effect is the same, burning calories.

Ron Friedman, identified in his article “Regular Exercise Is Part of Your Job,” in the Harvard Business Review, October 3, 2014, the following side benefits:

  • Improved concentration
  • Sharper memory
  • Faster learning
  • Prolonged mental stamina
  • Enhanced creativity
  • Lower stress

Appetite Control

Even though there is a new fad diet each month that some doctor or movie star endorses, there is only one that works.  Eat less, exercise more.  If that were not true, Oprah Winfrey would be skinny.

The CDC states, “Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death.”  There is no reputable evidence that vegetarian or vegan diets are better for humans.  There is also no evidence that nutritional supplements are as healthy as proper food choices.

The CDC guidelines are as follows:

  • Enjoy your food, but eat less.
  • Avoid oversized portions.
  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
  • Compare sodium in foods and choose the foods with lower numbers.
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

My wife is the mother of nine children and she has always looked great.  This is her advice. “To lose weight and not make your body think you are starving – lose 5 to 8 pounds a season. That’s 20 to 30 pounds a year. You won’t have to buy so many new clothes and you go slow enough your body can get a new set point. You only need to tweak your diet or exercise program a little to lose 1 to 2 pounds a month.  To begin, I increased exercise by one day per week. Next, I ate an apple or had a drink of water when I started eating everything in sight.  Also, eat every four hours so your blood sugar doesn’t get so low you have to eat a lot.”

Loving Relationships

Our loving relationships with family and friends are more fulfilling than wealth, jobs, degrees, honors, fame, or anything else.  They are also essential to good health.

According to a Harvard Medical School publication, dated December 1, 2010, “Social connections like these not only give us pleasure, they also influence our long-term health in ways every bit as powerful as adequate sleep, a good diet, and not smoking. Dozens of studies have shown that people who have satisfying relationships with family, friends, and their community are happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer.”

The U.S. government’s National Institutes of Health states this, “For example, Berkman and Syme (1979) showed that the risk of death among men and women with the fewest social ties was more than twice as high as the risk for adults with the most social ties. Moreover, this finding held even when socioeconomic status, health behaviors, and other variables that might influence mortality, were taken into account. Social ties also reduce mortality risk among adults with documented medical conditions. For instance, Brummett and colleagues (2001) found that, among adults with coronary artery disease, the socially isolated had a risk of subsequent cardiac death 2.4 times greater than their more socially connected peers.”

The message is – if you are fighting with your brother or have a grudge against your neighbor, stop it!  For the sake of your good health, be a better friend, neighbor and relative.

Time for Rest

Sleep deprivation has long been used to debilitate a captured enemy.  Don’t debilitate yourself.  Your good health depends on getting sufficient sleep, typically 7 – 8 hours every day for adults.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends the following to improve your sleep hygiene:

  • Go to bed at the same time each night and rise at the same time each morning.
  • Make sure your bedroom is a quiet and dark.
  • Make sure your bedroom is neither too hot nor too cold.
  • Make sure your bed is comfortable.
  • Do not use your bed for reading, watching TV, listening to music, etc.
  • Remove all TVs, computers, and other “gadgets” from the bedroom.
  • Avoid large meals before bedtime.

Habit Change

Nothing is more important to good health than eliminating bad health habits.

The CDC states, “More than 10 times as many U.S. citizens have died prematurely from cigarette smoking than have died in all the wars fought by the United States during its history.”

“Abuse of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs is costly to our Nation, exacting more than $700 billion annually in costs related to crime, lost work productivity and health care,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

The personal costs of substance abuse, include the following:

  • Drunk driving deaths
  • Automobile accidents
  • Unwanted pregnancy
  • Life destroying alcoholism / cancer / disease
  • Divorce
  • Child and spousal abuse
  • Loss of a job
  • Loss of the trust of ones colleagues
  • Saying things that should never have been said
  • Wasted time, wasted money and wasted lives

Good H.E.A.L.T.H. is important to everyone so we can do the things we want to do, for our self-image and how others perceive us, for our longevity, our effectiveness at work and at home and for the enjoyment we get from every day of life.  Begin today to improve your own. 

If you want to help others, don’t continually badger them.  They know better than anyone that they have a problem.  They will ask for help when they want it if we let them know that we will help.  Until they ask, we should set a good example by exercising regularly, smiling, being kind, getting rid of unhealthy habits and eating healthy.  Most importantly, be good and do good.

Compassion

A42Compassion is one of the great virtues of all major religious of the world.  Even non-religious associations typically embrace compassion because compassion is basic to being a fully-developed human being.

Parents have a responsibility to teach compassion to their children, not only to perpetuate a civilized society, but also so their children will be able to enjoy the society of others and be happy.  Compassion is an active form of love that is expressed by being aware of the needs of others and doing what you can to meet those needs. 

The following are the critical concepts of compassion:

 1.  Acts of compassion make us feel good

“Happiness and peace will come to earth only as the light of love and human compassion enter the souls of men.” – David O. McKay

Shawn Achor, winner of over a dozen distinguished teaching awards at Harvard University and author of The Happiness Advantage states, “A long line of empirical research, including one study of over 2,000 people, has shown that acts of altruism—giving to friends and strangers alike—decrease stress and strongly contribute to enhanced mental health”

We really don’t need empirical research to know that doing good makes us feel good.  It is intuitive and everyone who does it knows it.

2.  Compassion helps us connect with other humans

“Compassion automatically invites you to relate with people because you no longer regard people as a drain on your energy.” – Chogyam Trungpa

We all know people who show kindness and compassion to those around them.  These people are universally liked and admired.  We are drawn to these people because of how they make us feel. 

3.  Compassion is the basis of civilized society

“I can do no other than be reverent before everything that is called life. I can do no other than to have compassion for all that is called life. That is the beginning and the foundation of all ethics.” – Albert Schweitzer

Wherever groups of people live together in a community, compassion must exist in order create an attitude of cooperation.  Since tragedy is a normal part of the human condition, demonstrations of compassion bond people in the society to one another.  Even the rich and powerful have need of compassion.

The more civilized the society, the more compassion is shown for the weak and those who are unlike the norm.  The most advanced societies are those that take care of their own and then reach out to all that need help.  Although not perfect, the United States of America has typically been one of those societies.

Compassion and tolerance, however, do not mean an acceptance of evil or anti-social behavior. We must teach our children to love all people, while abhorring evil, wherever it manifests itself.

4.  Compassion must be expressed

“Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn’t anyone who doesn’t appreciate kindness and compassion.” – Dalai Lama

We all appreciate an act of kindness, a supportive comment, or even just a kind smile.  It is impossible to be compassionate and ignore others.   Those who “Remember the little things” really understand compassion.

Often we will see someone having difficulty and say to ourselves, “I wish there was something I could do, but I don’t know that person very well”, or “Someone else is taking care of their needs” or, “I don’t want to bother them at this time because they are already so busy.”  So, we do nothing.   Consider Proverbs 3:27, “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.”

5.  Compassion requires sacrifice

“True compassion means not only feeling another’s pain but also being moved to help relieve it.” – Daniel Goleman

It isn’t easy to be compassionate because it requires effort on our part.  Passivity and compassion are not good companions.  My wife is a wonderful example of service.  Even while raising our nine children, she would consistently look for opportunities to help someone in need by delivering a home cooked meal, making a phone call or sending a note of appreciation and encouragement.

Parents can use these five concepts to help teach their children about compassion, thus bringing joy to their children, to their entire family and to the society where their family lives.  However, when parents also model compassionate behavior, their children are much more likely to learn this essential virtue.   

Attitude Determines Altitude

candycane8x

When we were raising our children, I would always tell them, “Attitude determines altitude.”  This idea is very similar to another I used in business, “Hire the smile and train the rest.”  A person does not need to be the most skilled at a certain task if they have the right attitude.  The right attitude means that they are willing to learn and pleasant to those with whom they work.

Often, improving an attitude is more difficult than improving a skill.  The following are ideas that can help:

  1. Look for the good – I heard a speaker say this couplet when I was 19 years old, “Life is a show for you and for me, and what you look for is what you see.”  That thought has had a profound impact on my life.  It reminds me that I can choose how I feel about the things that naturally happen to me and to everyone else in this world.  I can see life as a series of obstacles or a series of challenges that will make me a better person.
  2. Don’t play the victim – It is sad when people adopt victimhood as their way of being.  They become like missile-seeking targets.  They can never be happy because there is always someone or something making their lives miserable. 
  3. Stop saying, “I have to…” – Constantly saying, “I have to” do this or that is a sign of someone looking for sympathy. There are only two things you have to do – die and pay for your sins; everything else is optional. We choose to do those things that we don’t really want to do because we know the consequences of our choice, and there is nothing wrong with that.  Since we make that choice, it is much healthier to say, “I am going to” work or school or traffic court, rather than, “I have to go to…”
  4. Talk positively – Life is so much better if, when people ask, “How are you are doing,” to instinctively respond, “Fantastic!”  First of all, when compared to billions of other people, our lives are fantastic.  Secondly, when we say that we are “Fantastic,” it reminds us of how great our lives are and that we need to make sure that we speak that way.
  5. Acknowledge our blessings – I have a friend who is the Pastor of a local church.  Whenever I ask him, “How are you are doing,” he always responds, “Blessed!”  He has taken his view of life to another level.  Not only does he recognize how wonderful life is, even with its problems, he also recognizes God’s hand in making his life “blessed.”
  6. Stop complaining – No one has everything go their way.  But, as Grandma Allred used to say, “Bloom where you are planted.”  In other words, make the best of the situation.  Complaining is corrosive.  It only serves to create a negative attitude in ourselves and anyone else who listens, including the kids.   We choose to do what we want to do or what we feel is correct.  Whining about it will not help. 
  7. Recognize that we can’t control others – Parents must realize that there comes a day when they can’t force their children to behave any more than we can make others drive safely.  Children can do whatever they want unless they are physically restrained, and there aren’t enough teenager prisons to handle them all. 

      We like to believe that we should be in control of everyone else.            The only one in control is God.  We have to look to Him to execute        justice and make things “fair.”  What we can do is model a                    positive attitude and show our children the good things that come        to those who try to be good.

  1. Recognize that Murphy’s Law is nonsense – I think that the notion of Murphy’s Law, “If anything can go wrong, it will,” is just silly.  It would be a great idea to never utter those words, or, “That’s just my luck,” “I never win anything,” “Why does everything happen to me,” etc.
  2. Stop stressing over things you can’t change – We have had our share of financial, family and health problems.  Through it all, my wife would calmly do whatever she could to solve the problem without adding drama to the situation.  She says, “Don’t worry.  If you can do something about a problem, do it.  If you can’t do anything, worrying won’t help.”

If we want to be happy and help our children to see the best in life, we must have a positive attitude.  Life will truly be difficult from time to time, but if we work at it, life will get better.  Your positive attitude will positively affect your altitude.



Rescuing Our Loved Ones

A33I was recently in a class of 21 other older men, like me. 

The discussion leader asked, “How many of you have a child or grandchild that has chosen a lifestyle that will compromise their health, happiness or financial stability?  I am not talking about making a serious mistake or two, because we all do that.  I am talking about loved ones who consciously choose a lifestyle that will have significant negative consequences, which they can’t seem to see or do not want to see.”

Every hand went up.

Because this gut-wrenching reality is nearly universal, I would like to share some hope.  This is not my concept but it was taught by Jesus Christ, as recorded in the Bible.  Whether Christian or not, the lesson is applicable for all those who want to help others who have lost their way.  It is especially meaningful for those of us who have a family member or other loved one who is on the road to disaster.

In Luke, chapter 15, those who were critical of Jesus pointed out that he chose to associate with the lost souls of his time.  Jesus did not answer his critics directly but, instead, told three parables in succession. 

He told three stories about something being lost because each parable addresses a different reason that a bad choice was made.  Since bad choices lead to bad places, Jesus tells us how to rescue those who are lost.

  1. The lost sheep – The shepherd goes in search of a lost sheep, finds it, puts it on his shoulders and brings it back to the flock.

Christ’s teaching:

  • Go get them – The shepherd left the rest of the flock in order to find a sheep that had innocently wandered away. Many times our innocent loved ones are lured away by those who claim to be friends, or corrupting influences of a corrupting media, or just yielding to physical urges, without proper restraint. We need to actively and immediately go to these sheep and teach them the truth.
  • Carry them – Innocents have not yet learned how to see the consequences of their actions. They are easily misled and we must carry them with our strength, like the shepherd, until they can develop their own.
  • Do not be harsh – The shepherd did not beat the wandering sheep. When one is innocent, they are not choosing to rebel against what is right. They don’t fully understand what is right.  They do need to be corrected and taught and loved.  Harshness will not bring them back.
  • Rejoice – Everything that an innocent does to improve should be celebrated. Both the shepherd and the sheep will be better for it.
  1. The lost coin – A woman loses one of her ten gold coins, so she sweeps her house until she finds it.

Christ’s teaching:

  • Act with a sense of urgency – The woman did not wait until the light was just right to search for the lost coin (lost soul). She lit a candle and began to sweep immediately
  • Search – Since the coin did not lose itself, we must recover it because it will not come back on its own. The woman had not properly cared for the coin and, therefore, it was lost.  We must accept responsibility for losing the coin, and for finding the coin.  
  • Make it right – Many people feel guilty when a loved one goes astray. Usually that guilt is inappropriate and unproductive.  In the case of the lost coin, guilt is proper and it motivates us to apologize for our actions that caused the coin to be lost.  Then, we can retrieve the coin from its lost place.  
  • Rejoice – When the lost coin (lost soul) accepts our apology and returns, we rejoice. However, because the coin was lost as a result of our actions, we must be very careful not to repeat the same mistakes.
  1. The lost (prodigal) son – The son of a loving father takes his inheritance and wastes it in riotous living. He realizes his mistake and returns home to accept his father’s will.

Christ’s teaching:

  • Wait – The son in this story was not innocent (sheep) and was not the victim of the actions of another (coin). He knowingly chose to leave his loving family and the principles that he knew were correct in order to satisfy his ego and lusts.  He was prodigal, which means wasteful.  Jesus taught that we don’t wring our hands and worry about making amends for being human.  This son chose to turn his back on all that was good, so we wait until the son realizes that he was wrong and wants to do better.
  • Love – We must show unconditional love, like the father in this parable did, to even those who have wronged us and blamed us and taken advantage of us. We don’t justify their bad behavior but we love them in spite of their behavior.
  • Teaching can wait – The father welcomed his son home with unconditional love and acceptance. The son will have many lessons to learn and re-learn, but lessons can wait until the celebrations are over.  Preaching should be minimal and teaching should only be as often as the student is willing to learn.
  • Rejoice – It goes without saying that parents are happiest when all of their children are safe within the fold.

We always rejoice when someone who is precious to us is found.  Remember that none of these stories teaches using compulsion or trying to make another feel guilty.   Persuasiveness, patience, gentleness and love are the key elements in rescuing those who are lost.

Your Words Label You    

A105
Pygmalion was a sculptor in Greek mythology who fell in love with a statue of a woman he had carved.  The ivory statue was transformed into a human being by the goddess Athena to be Pygmalion’s wife.

The award winning Broadway play and film, My Fair Lady, was based on the play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw.  In My Fair Lady, a girl from the gutter is transformed into a princess by Henry Higgins, a professor of phonetics.  This transformation was not magic.  It was a transformation of how she saw herself and others saw her based on the way she spoke.  As professor Henry Higgins sings, “An Englishman’s way of speaking absolutely classifies him.”

Whether we like it or not, the same is true today.  When you begin to speak, you are classifying yourself, creating your own label.  Your speech is your personal advertisement of how you want others to see you.  It might not be totally accurate but it is the billboard of yourself that you have erected.

Even in our society where there seems to be nothing sacred and where moral boundaries are quickly eroding, crude and vulgar language is still a sign of who you are.  Regardless of your title, profanity damages your authority and reputation.

Most intuitively agree with this explanation, “Profanity is the effort of a feeble mind to express itself forcibly” – Spencer W. Kimball.  If it takes profanity to make your point, then you are unable to express yourself adequately.  If don’t have a feeble mind, then you are using profanity because you lack the cultural, legal or charismatic authority to persuade others.

The following are five ways that the use of crude or vulgar language by bosses, parents, coaches, foremen, etc. degrades your leadership.

  1. Crudeness is often associated the unlearned and uncultured. You might have many advanced degrees but when you use profanity, you are classified with those who speak as if the f-bomb is the only adjective they know. Some say that profanity is normal language for those in certain types of jobs.  If you aspire to be more that “just one of the boys,” speak like a man or woman of distinction.
  1. Using filthy language shows a lack of respect for oneself and all who are within earshot. It makes others uncomfortable to be subjected to such a display of boorishness.  People try to protect their children from profanity because they desire to protect their children’s innocence and virtue.  Virtue in adults is just as valuable and no one deserves to be assaulted with bad language.                                                                                                     
  2. Swearing is a sign of aggressiveness. Otherwise dignified people will launch into profanity when they are angry. In the workplace, this type of behavior could be cause for termination for an employee, or a lawsuit if it is a boss who is creating a hostile work environment.  Such aggressive behavior is not motivating at work, on the ball field or in the home.
  1. Profanity is not the sign of someone who is in control of him/her self. It is juvenile and it is what juveniles do to show that they do not have to follow rules.  One of my favorite shows is The Profit, with Marcus Lemonis.  Lemonis shows his remarkable talent helping businesses to succeed using his formula of “People, Process and Product.”  My only criticism of his method is that when he is in a confrontational situation, he reverts to the use of profanity to make his point.  This is not a good process to use with people to sell a product.  Self-control is always the best way to deal with others.
  1. It is obvious that Americans are not very concerned about offending God. Even though many believe in the Ten Commandments, they ignore the commandment that prohibits taking the name of the Lord in vain.  In today’s society, no one would use the N-word in polite society but using the name of God in vain is as commonplace as saying “lettuce.”  Let me be very clear, taking the name of God is vain is offensive to God and to those who worship Him.         

The way you speak classifies you.  By elevating your language and avoiding profanity, you transform yourself as a boss, a parent, a coach or a foreman.  You will have more respect for yourself and those you lead will have more respect for you.  You label yourself as a better person.

A Pebble of Kindness Always Creates a Ripple

A19pebbleThe American clergyman, Edward Everett Hale, said, “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”  The concept of just doing “something” to help others is inspiring. 

As humans, we often think of something we could do for someone else but rationalize not doing anything.  We might think, “Someone else will take care of it,” or “I don’t want to appear to be foolish, or presumptive, or self-righteous,” or “They brought this calamity on themselves,” or, or, or…

My wife, Sue, and I know how simple acts of kindness can profoundly impact one’s life.  The following are examples of what others have done for us that might serve as food for thought.

Guidance – In my early teens, I was making a smart aleck remark at a Boy Scout meeting.  Byron privately told me that I was “better than that,” and encouraged me to change my attitude.  I am a better man because of it.

Helping – When we were just starting out as a young married couple, we only had one car and three children.  Many kind friends helped us by taking the family to meetings when I was on assignment elsewhere.  That service strengthened our determination to help others whenever we can.

Random encouragement – Several times when we took our nine children out to eat, random people would complement us on the behavior of our kids.  Raising children to be good adults is made easier when others are supportive.

Simple gestures – Kris came to visit Sue on her birthday when we were new in the area and brought her a bouquet of flowers from Kris’ yard, placed in a Mason jar.  It brightened Sue’s day and created a lasting memory.

Advice – As we tried to find a cardiologist to care for my deteriorating heart condition, Bruce, a doctor, helped us find the best possible care.  It allowed me to feel better and have confidence in the future.

Listening – I was in the hospital being treated for heart failure symptoms and Sue was left at home to care for our children.  Alana was there to lend a listening ear.  It was just what Sue needed at that time.

Comfort – When I was waiting for a heart transplant, Katy would always check on Sue to make sure that she was OK and give her encouragement.  It helped her when I was not able to help.

Making life sweeter – When Sue was out of town, Randy and Becca made it a point to invite me over to their house for dinner.  Kind acts always create better friendships.

Job assistance – Dennis helped me find and get jobs, on two different occasions.  The income from those jobs was essential for our family.

Physical labor – When I lost my job, we had to move to a rental house.  Ron brought over a moving van and helped us move our large family.  The manual labor was much needed but the kindness was even sweeter.

Charity – Terry and Karen heard that I had lost a job and was having a difficult time finding another.  One night, they came to our house with several bags of food for our family.          They did the good that they felt they should.

Compliments – Both of my younger brothers have said, “You’re my hero.”  Kind words strengthen bonds of love.

Letters – When we moved from the home where we raised our children, Brian took the time to mail me a letter telling me how much he appreciated our friendship.  That letter is a wonderful keepsake and his friendship is priceless.

Neighborliness – Our neighbor, Fred, is well past retirement age but he insists on mowing our lawn because he is already mowing his.  He shows his Christianity in his actions.       

If we all did something meaningful for another every day, the impact would be like a tidal wave of goodness washing over a world of selfishness.  You never know how much good your simple act of kindness will do, but be assured; a pebble of kindness always creates a ripple.

Confidence

 

A65Self-confidence is one of the attributes that will help our kids to be successful in life.  That does not mean that we encourage our kids to be cocky, precocious, or conceited.   We want them to know that they are of great worth but not to be arrogant.

We can increase their confidence by allowing them to use their abilities whenever we can.  This includes dressing themselves, doing dishes, mowing the lawn, etc.  When our children became young adults both they and I noticed that I did not have all the answers anymore.  They were more knowledgeable than I was in many areas.  My sons are also more mechanical than I am.  My daughters are very sensitive to the needs of others and have wonderful leadership skills. 

All of my children are much more technologically savvy than I am.  I have learned to rely on them to help me in all my weak areas.  This helped me and built their confidence as they became successful adults.   

I know that there are some who feel worthless.  I really don’t know how to relate to that feeling since I felt loved and nurtured by my parents, extended family members and kind teachers and church members. Our children will be much more able to understand that their Heavenly Father loves them if they are certain that their earthly father does.

Every child needs a firm foundation of confidence upon which they build their life.  They must know that they are a child of God and have limitless potential.  Our responsibility as parents is to teach them about their potential and help them gain the confidence to pursue that potential. 



Drugs & Alcohol – Consider the Cost 

 

A107Parents should fear drugs as much as any evil in this world.  Kids can recover from many mistakes but addiction is one of the most destructive and most difficult to escape.  We all have seen what drugs have done to our friends.  Drug use is not a victimless crime.  We should never approve of the use of any recreational drug.  The cost to society and to the lives of our loved ones is just too great.

We live in a crazy world where otherwise intelligent people condone the use of recreational drugs for “medicinal purposes.”  In their attempt to be compassionate, they overlook the danger of the devastating, unintended consequences.  Some scoff at the notion of  a “gateway drug.”  Consider this – If it is OK to use one chemical to escape reality, how big of a step is it to move to another drug that is even better at escaping?

Liquor serves no purpose in the life of a minor.  It never benefited anyone other than to create a chemical “high” that reduces inhibitions and creates a separation from reality.   On the other hand, it has destroyed thousands – maybe even millions if you consider the ripple effect.  Yet, it seems to be the common element in almost all social gatherings.

The costs of alcohol, and now marijuana, include the following:

  1. Impaired driving deaths
  2. Automobile accidents
  3. Unwanted pregnancy
  4. Life destroying alcoholism
  5. Divorce
  6. Child and spousal abuse
  7. Loss of a job
  8. Loss of the trust of ones colleagues
  9. Saying things that should never have been said
  10. Wasted time, wasted money and wasted lives

At times, our high school kids were invited to parties where alcohol was being served.  The kids would say, “It is a party where my friends will be, but I don’t drink.”  Sometimes they would add, “Everyone wants me to be the designated driver, since I don’t drink.  You don’t want them driving drunk and getting killed, do you?”  I appreciate effective negotiating skills, but there is more at issue than having fun and protecting friends.

These should be self-evident facts:

  •  It is illegal for anyone under 21 to drink alcohol, even though that law is almost universally ignored.
  • Parents who buy liquor for their kids or allow it to be served to minors in their home should be legally prosecuted and chastised by their friends.  Some foolish parents say, “I would rather have my kids drink in my house where I can keep an eye on them, since they are going to do it anyway.”  Condoning illegal, immoral, or dangerous behavior is not responsible parenting.
  • No good can come from a kid attending a party where illegal, immoral, or dangerous behavior is occurring.
  • Being a designated driver?  Give me a break!  There will be drunk people driving from a party where alcohol is served.  An automobile can kill a designated driver just as easily as a drunk passenger.  I told my kids that I didn’t want them to be that dead designated driver.

Just because alcohol and marijuana are legal doesn’t mean that they should be used.  Consider the costs.  Above all, consider what you are teaching your children when you use drugs, including alcohol.



Gratitude            

a47Aesop taught, “Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.” As parents, we want our children to be noble souls.  In order to teach a virtue, we must first have a portion of that virtue.  Sophocles shared the secret to developing gratitude, “Gratitude to gratitude always gives birth.” 

Raising noble souls requires that we be grateful for the life we have, which will lead to being even more grateful.  A good first step is to decide to complain less.  Another suggestion is to recognize that “playing the victim” is not healthy.  Those who act like missile seeking targets have little time for gratitude.

Even though we have been richly blessed, some are still ungrateful.  The seriousness of the sin of ingratitude is perfectly illustrated by W. Eugene Hansen.  “It has been said that the sin of ingratitude is more serious than the sin of revenge.  With revenge, we return evil for evil, but with ingratitude, we return evil for good.”

Expressing gratitude is a great way to reinforce the gratitude we feel.  John F. Kennedy explained that words of appreciation are not enough, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”  His words remind me of a poem by Grace Noll Crowell entitled “Because of Thy Great Bounty.”  These stanzas have a wonderful message:

“Because I have been given much, I too must give.

Because of thy great bounty, Lord, each day I live.

Because I have been sheltered, fed by thy good care,

I cannot see another’s lack and I not share.

Because I have been blessed by thy great love, dear Lord,

I’ll share thy love again, according to thy word.”

The following is my Top Ten List of Things for Which I Am Grateful.

1)         Waking up each morning next to my wife, realizing that I have one more day with her.  I have been on the brink of death with a heart that was dying.  Receiving a heart transplant gave me more time with my wife and helped me to understand how much I cherish her.

2)         Knowing that my children walk in truth.  We are surrounded by the enemy of truth.  Too many intelligent people substitute their arrogance-driven opinions for true wisdom.  Having children that “choose the right” has been a wonderful blessing for us, as parents.

3)         Having a loving family and friends.  The support of my family and true friends has helped me with every problem I have experienced.  Nothing is more important to me than to love and be loved in return.

4)         Feeling the hope, peace and joy that come from the Lord, Jesus Christ.  Without God, life has no meaning and loving earthly relationships are fleeting.  He is the light of life.

5)         Working on meaningful projects with good people.  My life has been blessed by being involved in meaningful work, both as a professional and as a volunteer.  Humans need to work and to be engaged in meaningful activities to feel fulfillment.

6)         Living in a country that allows me life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  The United States of America is a nation established and blessed by God.  It is my obligation to protect this nation from destructive politics and those who ignore the Constitution and the purpose of our country.

7)         Seeing the beauties of nature.  We have travelled the world and found beauty everywhere we have gone. 

8)         Lifting and being lifted by others.  An anonymous family gave me the heart that now beats in my chest.  I show my gratitude by serving others and working to ensure that people understand how they can Donate Life.

9)         Learning new and interesting things.  We are privileged to live in a world where knowledge is ubiquitous.  It is a miracle that I have almost immediate answers to almost any question on my smart phone.

10)       Enjoying each new day and the promise it brings.  Every new day offers the possibility of a new experience, a new friend, a new understanding, a better me. 

I am grateful for a life that gives me the opportunity to be a more noble soul and share that gratitude with my posterity.



Good Parents Listen

A103Child rearing is relatively intuitive for those who want to be a good parent, once we get past our selfishness and ego.  This means that child rearing books are usually not necessary because generations of good parents have raised well-adjusted and good children without them.  I am a CPA by training so you will not find any psychological theory in this article, but you will find what has seemed to work for the nine children that my wife and I have raised.   

Every one of us is unique.  Methods that help one child might not help the next.  Therefore, the wise parent will listen to other’s ideas and decide what is best for each individual child.

The Greek philosopher Epictetus said, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”  This is truly wise counsel when raising children.  It’s not easy but it is essential.

These are five important reasons to listen to our kids:

  1. It shows them that they are loved.

Time invested in our children when they are in their early teens will yield dividends for their entire lives.  When you listen, it shows your children how much you value them and their opinions.  Take time to hold and kiss your children and tell them that you love them.  Love in words and in actions.  Even teenagers need to be hugged, whether they admit it or not.  This is particularly important when disciplining is necessary.

  1. At times, they just need to vent.

 There are plenty of causes of stress in children’s lives.  The home should be the shock-absorber, not the shock-creator in life.  Children must know that they are safe sharing problems with their parents.  As much as possible, control your temper, control your tone, control your preaching and allow them to blow off steam.  When they settle down, you can respond honestly and share facts and your feelings.

  1. Given enough time, they can usually solve their own problems.

The best way for children to grow up and take responsibility for their actions and for their own mental health is for them to evaluate and solve their own problems.  Good parents are good sounding boards.  Ask questions.  Never say, “You always…,” or “You never…,” because exaggerations undermine your credibility.  Give them enough time to come to their own solutions.

  1. Sometimes, they will reveal issues that are very important to know.

If you listen well, you will learn what is bothering your kids.  You want to know these things.  Allowing my kids to explain themselves fully, has saved me many times from saying the wrong thing and given me needed information.  Even if there is a serious problem, it is better to know the full extent of the problem before looking for solutions.  Think before responding and reinforce your love for them before you share the harsh realities of consequences.

  1. It is the best way to know what kind of people they are becoming.

You can only know what is going on in their head if they tell you.  You can assume that you know, but you don’t.  You want to develop a relationship with them that will last so, admit when you are wrong, show them how important they are, use humor to make the situation less tense and praise them every time you can, without artificial flattery.

My nine kids will assure you that I am a very imperfect parent, but I tried.  Even as badly as I behaved at times, our ninth child wrote this after she graduated from high school, “I knew I could tell Dad anything.  I knew that although Dad didn’t particularly care who was dating who in my choir class, he would always be there to listen. He may have rolled his eyes or laughed at my stories, but I knew he was listening and really cared what I had to say.”

Relationships that last into adulthood are built on having serious conversations with our children when they know we are listening, that we love them, and that we are considerate of their opinions.  Listen.