Archive for children

Connecting with Your Children: Strategies That Build Relationships

We are not born knowing how to build relationships with others – whether that’s friends or family. If you were lucky, you were blessed with parents who helped along the way by modeling behavior that engaged others and developed friendships.

Feb29FriendsCIIf you weren’t so lucky then you made your way through high school and the years afterward, feeling your way along, trying to understand the intricacies of human behavior without the benefit of good role models or a strong functional education on the topic.

And then . . . along came children.

They used to be small, helpless and thoroughly dependent on you. Your relationship with them was easy . . . food, shelter, warmth and comfort was all they needed or wanted for many months.

But, at some point along the way those little balls of joy and wonder turned into middle school and high school people with different needs, wants, desires and obvious emotional torment.

If you’re fortunate you remember your own teen years and have some understanding.

If you aren’t so blessed, then you are quite sure your home is inhabited by spirits who have since taken over your sweet child and created this angst-ridden, volatile, emotional time-bomb who blows up at least 3 times weekly, and more likely, on a daily basis.

Yes, their behavior is driven by emotional immaturity, brain development and hormonal floods. But, you still have a chance to cultivate a relationship with them that will outlast the hormonal onslaught and be a determining factor in the relationship you enjoy as they leave the nest and create their own family.

Sometimes, in the middle of what feels like Armageddon, you might not really care about future relationships or how your child might feel tomorrow. You’re just interested in getting them out of your face and under control.

Two years ago I was right there. Right in the middle of the battlefield with my son.

There were days when his anger was so explosive it appeared to control his body. He would jump in the air, waving his fists, red-faced and seemingly out-of-control.

But, like most other anger outbursts, he really was in control – he just chose to “express” his anger in the way that made him feel good – for the moment. It was when his phone rang and he could answer in a calm and controlled voice that I knew he didn’t have a mental health issue, he had an adolescent issue.

There were times I wanted to walk away, and other times I wanted to yell back. We visited one counselor who Feb29FistCIinsisted he and my son meet privately and proceeded to tell my son that it was mom’s problem, that my son was an incredibly wonderful and talented young man who didn’t have any problems.

Who doesn’t have any problems!!???

So if my son didn’t have the problems, why was I paying for hour long sessions? Why wasn’t he just discharged . . . . or better, why didn’t the counselor meet with both of us?

Sigh . . .

I believe in the power of talking to people; learning and discovering what is significant in my life and how that has impacted my behavior.

But there are also good and bad therapists. Just like there are talented and poor doctors, lawyers, accountants, housekeepers, cooks, business owners and any other occupation you care to name.

You may be familiar with some or all of these strategies . . . the idea isn’t to be familiar but to put them into action and reap the rewards of that action.

  1. Respect

This is where I fell short – and in a really, really BIG way. At one of the last hours we spent with a very talented counselor, he pointed out to me that I had pretty much turned the tables on the relationship between my son and myself. It was five years after the divorce and 3 years after having gone through another traumatic emotional experience. Instead of being the parent when my son blew his top . . . I just felt the pain and hurt of rejection.

I felt as if his behavior was a reflection of my parenting and I had failed. In effect, I was abdicating my role as mother and pretty much allowing him to continue to act as if he ruled the roost.  And he was ruling the roost!

It wasn’t that I wasn’t respecting him – I wasn’t respecting myself.

Time to buck up and be the single mom.

The rules changed and my son soon discovered that if he acted like that at home, I couldn’t trust that he wouldn’t act like that in public and he was no longer allowed to go anywhere with friends until he could show me that he could control his actions.

It’s been two years, many more battles later but he has matured into a wonderful young man of whom I am very proud.

Learn how to respect yourself and your child in your relationship with them. They don’t usually listen to what you say, but they sure do watch what you do! If you respect yourself, they’ll follow suit as time progresses.


  1. Listen

God gave us two ears and one mouth so we should listen twice as much as we talk. This is especially true with your children. Your children bond and learn more from you when they can share their hurts, pain and disappointment and you listen.

Listen without judgement, without criticism, without offering advice or explanation.

Listen to what they say and what’s behind what they say. The more your children talk, the more you’ll learn about what’s going on in their lives and the more they’ll believe that you really care about THEM.

God has gifted some of us with the ability to discern what’s behind the conversation, others with the gift of advice and the ability to pinpoint a path that will lead to success and still others with the ability to just listen.

You might not have the natural talent to listen  – I certainly don’t! – but it’s a strategy to help you develop strong bonds with your children that last a lifetime.


  1. Communicate

My children love to start talking at 10 or 11pm. I love to go to bed at 10 or 11pm. I want to be up at 7am, but I haven’t seen that time on my clock in several years.

It’s important that you are there when THEY want to talk. Don’t expect to sit around the dinner table and ask, “So, how was your day?” and get an answer that is much beyond, “Fine.”

You have to be available to talk when they want to talk. They won’t open up on cue, so you’d probably better make the time when you can. These years pass quickly and are truly a unique opportunity to forge a relationship you won’t ever get a chance to do again.


  1. Reliability

You want your children to be reliable, trustworthy and honest. Remember they are watching what you DO and not what you say. You’d better have the same traits you expect from them.

Enough said!


  1. Appreciation

Everyone wants to feel loved and appreciated. We all speak different love languages but it’s our responsibility as parents to learn what language our children speak, and to be sure that they feel loved, appreciated and respected.

You wouldn’t love someone who didn’t love you back. You wouldn’t pursue a relationship with someone who didn’t respond to your initiative. They won’t either.


  1. Feedback

Accepting feedback is the most difficult thing I’ve learned in the past years. Learning to accept what my children say about my behavior has sometimes put me over the edge. I grew up in a time when children were “seen and not heard.”

I didn’t think my children should be seen and not heard – but I also thought that as the mother and parent, I should be RIGHT.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered I wasn’t right!

Accept the fact that you won’t be right all the time and that your children will be right sometimes. Discover what they say about your behavior and learn to listen, accept their feedback, respect their opinion, communicate with them about change and appreciate that your children are invested enough in your relationship that they WANT to talk to you about how they feel.


7 Benefits Children Experience When They Have Their Own Business

Zachary and Megan were 8 years old when they first said they wanted to earn money. Nicholas was 10. Gabrielle is 12 and has absolutely no interest in working anywhere, for anyone.

Children are different from the day they’re born. It doesn’t matter if they’re twins raised in the same home, or siblings born 15 years apart. Each child has a different attitude and different perspective based on their unique personality and experiences. My children are not different. Zachary and Megan (twins) begged long and hard enough that they got a paper route at the age of 9.

Every Wednesday they wrapped the community paper, delivered it to homes in a neighborhood 10 minutes from ours and collected the fee once a month. It took them only a couple of months to realize that they could get through the collections faster if they split up and got more tips when they brought their cute little brother along. Cherub-cheeked Nicholas tagged along from home to home, holding his siblings’ hand and smiling sweetly at everyone who answered their doors.

I followed closely behind in the car as they trekked down the street. In the winter they came in the car to warm up between houses and in the summer they ran from house to house. Never once did they think about quitting. Each month they were paid about $20.00 a piece for their effort and they started saving. They learned about savings accounts, how to manage their money and how much effort it took to make a couple dollars.


At the age of 10, Nicholas wanted to find other types of work, so he and I researched, brainstormed and talked with relatives about what he could do. From that effort came the book you’ll find in “Check It Out!” below.

What’s the Benefit?

During those years when they were working and watching their mother run her own business, they learned several very good lessons. These were lessons they couldn’t have learned in school, by someone else telling them or through reading a book. They were lessons that they will keep for the rest of their lives, that they can generalize to other situations and for which they have been grateful.

After the newspaper route which Nicholas took over when he was 11, sprang a lawn mowing business for my son, Zachary, and teaching piano lessons for my daughter, Megan. Nicholas branched out and began collecting aluminum cans from the neighbors and turning them in, earning another $20.00 a month. My now-24-year-old daughter continues to tutor children in math and Spanish, and my boys have always had a job and paid their own expenses.

Here are the seven benefits my children have experienced from starting and maintaining their own businesses.

1.They learned to do things outside their comfort zone. If it feels uncomfortable to us, as adults, it most certainly is uncomfortable for children. However, in order to grow and mature we have to step outside our comfort zone and do things, whether we’re comfortable doing them or not.

And, truth be told, the more we stay in a zone that is not comfortable, the faster we grow personally. Because your children are learning this at a young age, they have a greater potential for growth and personal success as they grow. Megan and Zachary learned how to ask for the sale, approach new people and became comfortable talking about what they did and why.

2. They learned new skills. Building any kind of business means that you’ll need to learn a bit of marketing, selling, and producing whatever it is that you’re selling. I have a good friend who makes beautiful jewelry and crocheted hats and scarves.  She’s very successful selling them on Etsy and her own website. Although retired, she earns enough to cover most of the utility bills on her home. She’s doing something she loves and is proud to show to others. She learned this skill AFTER she retired!

Your children can learn to think outside the box to find new customers, how to connect with other businesses and develop partnerships to increase their sales and the sales of their partners. They may learn how to create new products, how to market using social media or sell their services face to face. It won’t matter WHAT they learn, only that they are learning new skills which they can use for the rest of their lives.

3. They became comfortable talking with strangers, talking over the phone and making connections. Although I mentioned these skills in #2 above, these are some of the more important skills that they can take with them as they go to college and enter the workplace. Strong businesses are built on making connections with others – and those connections are made in person, over the phone and by connecting over social media. Although most kids are a whiz at social media, they lack the skills needed for in-person communication because they don’t practice them. Most of our children live on their digital devices and they prefer it that way.

When we were growing up, if you wanted to play with someone you called or dropped by their home. Today, kids meet on games online, chat for a few minutes over Skype or text each other. The interaction you get through in-person communication is lost, but essential to being successful after graduation.

4. They learned the value of money. Before starting their first job, the twins would ask for a toy, gift or money to buy something without consideration of how long it might have taken to make that amount of money. But, after getting their first paychecks, they had a new found appreciation for the value of the dollar.

Granted, they would love mom to buy things for them instead of spending their own money; but even when spending mine, the twins are very aware of how much was being spent and whether or not they could get something similar at a better price.

5. They learned how to set goals. Nicholas is a great one for setting goals. He learned how to set a goal for how many people he could collect from each month. Knowing how to set goals, and developing a plan to achieve them has helped him finish all his college applications early, while studying for the ACT, maintaining straight A’s in school, playing on a very competitive basketball team and learning how to mix sound for a band.

Goal setting, developing a plan and execution is something we all need to experience any kind of success.

6. They experienced a self-confidence boost. The benefit of setting goals, developing plans and achieving success is that my children experienced a huge boost to their self-confidence. That translated into my son graduating from college, my daughter moving to another state by herself and successfully balancing work and full-time college and my younger son balancing a schedule that I wouldn’t want to attempt.

This is a boost they can’t get from a book, from someone patting them on the back or from any other means – EXCEPT by achieving the goals they set out for themselves.

7. They experienced how to learn from their mistakes. Experience is the best teacher and mistakes are the best way to learn. In recent research, scientists found that when people made mistakes but were able to learn from them they perceived the mistake as positive and they were able to grow faster and go further. When your children discover how to learn from their mistakes at an early age, they don’t experience the obstacle of getting derailed by those mistakes as they grow older.


There is one sure way to achieve success in life – you fail and you fail fast. You learn from the mistakes, get up and try it again, differently.  If you’ve learned HOW to learn from your mistakes early in life, you are leaps and bounds ahead of where you might have been.


Even Kids Can Make Money

Do you struggle to teach your child the value of work and money?

One of the best ways to inspire growth, creativity and independence in your children is to encourage them to earn their own money.

Before age 16 it is next to impossible for a young person to earn their own money. However, using this guide with over 35 different unique ways of making money, even children as young as 10 can earn an income and grow a business.

The book outlines a description of a product or service a young person can provide, the start up costs, resources and/or equipment needed, market research and a marketing plan to get and keep customers.

Success at a young age increases the chances of success as you grow older. This indispensable resource will give your child ideas, resources and an outline of how to start their own business.