24/07/2015

Sins of the ‘Filter’

Posted in Family, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , at 11:56 am by The Water Bearer

filter

It is easy to take credit for all the talents we pass onto our children, however it is often much harder to admit that we pass on our curses also. This valuable piece of understanding has been the main motivator for me to accept my faults, identify my curses, and work towards change within myself and my life. For the sake of my children, my two precious girls, I wanted more for them than the dysfunction I have lived with.

The main breakthrough at the beginning of my self-journey was discovering that my filter was broken.

You may be asking what on earth is your Filter?

The filter, as my psychologist titled it, is the part of our brain that tells us what to let out and what to keep back, what to let in and what to block out. For one example, it is the part of our mind that determines what is important, what is worth getting upset about and alternatively what is not worth getting upset about. I am not simply talking about the experience of internal emotions, I am also talking about the external voicing of our emotions, the times we show our anger, the times we lose our cool, the times we raise our voice, or force another to hear our unpleasant thoughts and feelings. I am talking about our considered self-talk, the conversations we have with ourselves that analyses our reactions and our paradigm.

This filter also helps us read others accurately. It determines when a situation calls for hostile opinions to be voiced or when discretion is required. It helps us determine if someone has actually wronged us and to what degree of intent, or if we have assumed the worst due to our insecurities or previous experiences. Our filter helps us decide whether being aggressively assertive is required, or if a more subdued form of confrontation would have more beneficial results, or if deflecting the situation and letting it go is best. It helps us discern if someone’s feedback is valid and worth application, or considering if it is merely an outburst without the use of their own filter.

There are numerous causes for a broken filter, only individual, psychological investigation can help determine the cause, and along with an honest relationship with God, it is also the only way to fix a damaged filter. There are countless issues that reverberate throughout the life of one with a damaged filter. It will effect all relationships, possibly career opportunities, and disrupt our sense of inner peace. And of course, sadly, it can cause these issues to transfer into the lives of our children, especially if we have not address it and passed the damage down the line.

I understand how difficult it can be to step back and take inventory of our reactions and responses, it can be daunting to re-evaluate yourself, your life and why you do what you do. Inner enemies encourage us to stay broken, they empower our resistance, preventing us from accepting our broken filter, which can impede us from pursuing the healing we require. A healthy filter prevents so much of the drama that seems to flood our lives, it helps us keep a safe healthy barrier from those who create problems and helps us understand how to best navigate the waters of relationships to bring more contentment and fulfillment.

If after reading this post you too wonder if your filter is broken, I thoroughly recommend praying for God to help you find the right therapist to address it. Be prepared to get very honest with yourself and after some tough work, look forward to the benefits of a healthier mindset. When we realize that our filter is broken, it can be tempting to use its damage as an excuse to deflect responsibility for our outbursts, bad reactions and the chaos that is usually partnered with this issue, rather than something we must take accountability for. But if we think it may be broken then we may be effecting others negatively, and it is unfair to all parties to leave it untreated. We must take ownership and accept the filter is part of us, we need to sincerely apologize to others whenever it misfires and make steps towards healing.

I have seen the fall out of this issue so often in myself and many around me, and I pray with my whole heart that the Lord reaches in and encourages our Inner Angels to fight against the enemy and the curse that is a broken filter. Not only for our sake, but the sake of those we love and the next generation.

steps

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18/07/2013

Through Child’s Eyes*

Posted in Encouragement, Family, Finding Faith, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , at 10:23 am by The Water Bearer

What stands out most to you as you recall being a child, looking up at adult relationships?

Did you have two parents or grandparents who worked together through tough times?
How about your neighbours, family friends or your friend’s parents, were any a really good team?
Were you from a single parent family, where independence and struggle filled the years?
Did step parents join your family for a while and then leave without further contact?
Was compassion and grace obvious? Or was there bitterness and disappointment?
Was there respect, or insult?
Was there silent tolerance and unhappiness, or joy and companionship?
Rejection rather than acceptance?
Were there unresolved arguments?
Did family members gather around for support during the difficult trials of life?

Children absorb everything! Our own childhood effects so much of who we become and what behaviours we choose to adopt as we grow to form our own relationships. The behaviour modeled by the adults in a child’s life are powerful to say the least.

What will our children take away from their childhood? What understandings will they form from the behaviours modeled by us, and those we are in relationship with?

Will they come to believe Fathers are replaceable?

Will they believe the man should be the head of the household and given the respect to be so?

Will they think demanding and holding grudges is the way to make things change?

Will they be able to recognise a sincere apology and appreciate the value of such a thing?

Will they accept abuse as normality?

Will they view alcohol or drug use as a reward for surviving another tough week or even a tough day?

Will they understand and respect money, without letting it ruin them?

Will they cherish hard work and education?

Will they have the belief that they are valuable?

Will they have faith and hope that all will work out in the end?

These are tough questions…

They will grow into whom they determine themselves to be. Our mistakes may make them shudder at the thought and they may refuse to repeat them. On the other hand, they may follow closely in our footsteps.

They may make choices that take them so far from anything we came close to in our own lives, however the influences they received from their childhood will stay with them, deep in their hearts and memory.

Isn’t that worth thinking about? Isn’t that worth praying about?

None of us can claim to be perfect parents or to have perfect relationships, and that is why I believe it is so important for our children to have a concept of faith in the only perfect parent, our Heavenly Father.

I am not suggesting an upbringing with religiosity, with laws and punishment beaten into every conversation. Nor with judgement and focus on sin, which I feel is more damaging than encouraging. Those things they can learn and understand as they grow and begin to question for themselves.

However the precious unconditional Love from God is vital to our sense of self-worth. The concept deep within us that someone accepts us, forgives us, helps us, is watching out for us. Knowing we will never be rejected or forsaken, so long as we keep Him in our hearts. Having healthy, righteous behaviour modeled for us, that we can aspire to emulate in our own lives, is extremely beneficial. Plus the accountability that our actions effect the greater good of the world we have been invited to be part of.

Don’t our children deserve to have these elements of faith in their lives? If we are unable to always show up in the ways that are best for them, I am comforted and so grateful that God will never fail them. Open His word, learn about His Love, share it with your children and invite Him to fill all spaces where our humanity makes us fall short. May Gods Blessings be upon all the children!

Jesus & CHILD

28/06/2013

Decisions Decisions! ARGH!*

Posted in Encouragement, Family, General, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 10:01 am by The Water Bearer

woman-thinking-really-hard-150x150

As a parent there are a lot of tough jobs. They come in waves, ganging up on us, after a while a different range of jobs becomes the focus…… or the torment! 😉

Lately the wave of ‘decision making’ has tumbled me over and over, and then pummeled me into the hard sand below.

I only work part-time, so I am there to pick my girls up from school everyday and share as much of their time as I can. I am with them a lot, so of course they ask me the most questions. I am sure most Mum’s can relate.

Young Girl : Can I have Tuckshop today Please??? I haven’t had it for weeks….

Young Girl: Can my friend sleepover? We promise not to be noisy……

Old Girl: Can I go to this party?

Young Girl : Can I ride my bike on the road? I promise to watch out for cars, My sister used to be allowed….

Young Girl : Can I play on the Wii before bed?? I will sleep straight after, I promise……

Old Girl: Can I go for a drive with my friends?

Young Girl : Can I watch this movie?….It’s only got some mild course language. I will not listen to it or think its funny….

Old Girl: Can I stay out past curfew just this once?

Young Girl : Can I save the rest of my dinner for lunch tomorrow? I am not that hungry and it will be so nice for lunch…..

Young and Old Girl : Can you straighten my hair before school?

Young Girl: Can I have $2 for an ice block?

Old Girl: Can you drive me to the shops?

Young Girl: Can I come in to pay for the fuel? (And ask for half the store while I’m in there)

Old Girl: Can I have $50 for a new skirt and shoes?

And on and on it goes…..

OH.. GOD HELP ME!!!

Coming up with reasonable answers when put on the spot is hard enough, but when those answers are challenged with convincing and logical replies, aimed to change my decision, it can, at times, become unbearable.

I think I am a pretty tough Mum, I stick to my guns more often than not. I give my explanations so they understand why I made that decision.

Now I am wondering if those explanations are the flaw in my plan…

As my children are growing, their voice of reasoning and negotiations skills are developing, and I think perhaps I have taught them too well. They know exactly what to say to make me question if my decision is fair, or right, or reasonable. They know how important I take my role as their Mum, and that I want to make as many right decisions as possible.

With my current condition and medication aggravating my mood disorder, over these past few months I have experienced a few old familiar “episodes”, these are my inner enemies. Some episodes are manic, some depressed and anxious, some irritable and reactive. When the enemy of anxiety rises up, making decisions is almost impossible to do with any certainty. Second guessing yourself is a constant companion. Then again, so is third guessing and fourth guessing and so on….

Unfortunately, the questions don’t stop just because I am mid-episode. Young girl doesn’t read the warning signs and demands more from me when I am fragile, and old girl (who was always the most compliant child) has found her challenging teenage voice. After 3 months on the medication that stirs up inner enemies, I was at breaking point!

Family meeting time!

After taking the time to explain my condition in more detail to my family, I asked for some extra grace through this trying time, and for them to ask themselves if their questions are really that important or urgent. I also explained that when you share a house with anyone, whether it is family, friends, strangers, borders etc, a major part of making it a healthy household is being considerate of each other. If you can tell that someone is having a hard time, a bad day or asking for some space, then the polite and respectful thing to do, is do your best to accommodate them. That way they might return the same grace to you when you need it.

I ended our family meeting with a gentle warning:

If you poke and rabid dog with a stick, no matter how much it loves you, it will eventually turn and bite. And if you ask an anxious Mum too many questions at the wrong time, the answer you get may be unfair, unreasonable and wrong. Yet that is the chance you take when you ignore the signs of your poor worn out Mum, who loves you more than words can say, but won’t like you very much if you wake her from her self-prescribed recovery nap to ask if you can finish the rest of the jelly!

sleep

12/06/2013

A Bleak Future for Intimacy*

Posted in Family, General, Musings, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 9:37 am by The Water Bearer

Keyboard

It is common to hear diatribes of drama and dysfunction from people sharing about their relationships and social interactions. Yes, relationships are tricky, however as experience is gained, overtime, social guidelines help us avoid so much of the non-sense drama of our youth.  In this past week alone, I have listened to too many examples of social immaturity and hypocrisy. We are not in high school anymore, so why does it often sound like we are?

Judgment without Grace,

Offense without Accountability,

Deception without Discernment,

Walls without Boundaries,

Conflict without Resolution,

Anger without Acceptance,

Passion without Humility,

Condemnation without Self-Reflection,

Battle without Courage.

Our ability to relate and connect is a fundamental element of being human, and yet our ability to achieve maturity in this area seems to becoming less and less apparent.

I am extremely concerned for the social development of our generation and the next, now that relationships and connections are being severely affected by the new ways to connect with family, friends, acquaintances and even strangers. Social Networking claims to make connecting better, easier, and more convenient. But is this “easier” way helping us to develop strategies to interact genuinely, intimately and develop social maturity? I’m not so sure.

For those who fail to stretch and grow through the discomfort of tricky relational issues, it is too easy to sit behind a computer screen and imitate genuine human connection. Are they thinking to themselves
 “The real world is too painful, people are difficult, online I can block them, ignore them, hide from them or berate them. I can find someone to agree with and fuel my opinion, by giving only my side of any situation.” ??

Is this the type of social development we want for our children?

With all the technological ways we have these days, to gain our craved ‘hit’ of connection, why would anyone choose the harder path of learning to understand and accept human nature. Let’s give our children the opportunity to develop social skills first. Then, once they leave High School or even University, and have some sturdy social guidelines in place, social networking can become a fantastic tool. Saying “No” when your teenager asks you if they can create a Facebook account may seem unfair, especially when “All my friends are on there”. Yet, when your ‘No’ is deeply grounded in your concern for their social safety and development, it becomes reasonable and responsible.

I pray our children gain the skills to handle conflict resolution face-to-face, that they learn to pick their battles, and to create a filter so they know who to trust with their personal story, and whose story to believe. To experience the complexities of true relationships that grow and twist with time, changing them into deeper more compassionate and well-rounded human beings.

HUgs

29/01/2013

Beginning to Undo the Damage*

Posted in Encouragement, Family, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:29 pm by The Water Bearer

beach

The theme of my concerns over recent weeks/months/years, has circled my role as a Mum. I have this tremendous fear that my insecure reactions may have already damaged my children’s sense of self worth. How it is especially hard trying to raise them to be healthy, happy and secure, while I am still trying to get myself there. I get angry at myself for falling short, giving them less than they deserve. Tears well up as I confess this, it is extremely difficult to share, so please bear with me. I will try to allow my vulnerability and shame to create something worthwhile here…

I lean heavily into my faith, repeating the mantra, “Don’t Stress, Do your Best, God will take care of the Rest and You’ll be Blessed”. I trust in this, yet I admit my trust wavers, especially when it comes to me doing my best, am I really? While He develops my faith, I pursue healing… I must for their sake and my own.

My children are older now (9 & 16), they are dealing with emotional issues, more than behavioural ones. They are extremely well behaved, and try their best to be so. Recently I watched my reactions as a parent to my children even more closely; I saw how often my desire to teach them sounded as if they were ‘less than’. How my attempts to help them understand happiness made them confused and sad. How my reaction to their unhappiness made them self-conscious and withdrawn.

I broke down…

“How is this still happening?” I thought to myself. After over 6 years of therapy and 13 years of developing faith, I still have not figured out how to stop the cycle of damage and self-loathing which has infected its way throughout my family tree.

I wrote and wrote, I poured out my confessions on every scrap of paper I could lay my hand to. I let the tears fall as I held myself accountable for their growing hearts, which need to be nurtured by a Mum that loves in healing ways, not toxic ones. Yet I had no idea why my love was so poisoned.

Then as usual I withdrew again…. into distractions and a couple of glasses of red.

I had a 2.5 hour session with my therapist the other week, and we spent time figuring out the core of my parenting crisis. It was supposed to be the usual hour, but he knew I needed more time and gave it willingly, bless him.

After many tears shed and much rambling, probably mostly incoherent, we came to a few realisations. Firstly, that I have a list of responsibilities in the forefront of my mind. Fighting for the top spot of that list is my desire to make my children happy, along with being an obedient, self aware, child of God, and a supportive, capable and loving wife etc.

We narrowed in on my role as a Mum, to find out what causes me to react in unhealthy ways rather than healthy ones (besides the general thesis that my reactions spring from a platform of shame and insecurity). We needed to discover the more specific catalyst.

Eventually this catalyst revealed itself to be a connection between being happy and being right. I grew up believing being ‘right’ was the be all and end all. I spent so many early years unhappy for being so very far from ‘right’, believing many lies were truth, that somewhere along the way of realising this I have attached unhappiness with being wrong.

As we dug a little deeper we found that whenever I see a need to correct my children’s behaviour or teach them how to deal with something new, my fear of their unhappiness attaches itself to them being human (not perfect) and my panic causes an emotional reaction. This emotional reaction is more powerful than my words aimed to teach, more powerful than my good intentions. My way of defending against the fear is what shows on my face as I react. My anger at myself for believing those early lies is what shines out, and all they must see is an angry, scared Mum. No wonder it doesn’t work out well. 😩

We also figured out that I seem to be missing a piece of the puzzle, the place of stability that helps gauge which situations are worth getting upset about and which ones can be met with a neutral, unemotional  response. In my desperate mission to stop my girls ending up like me, I have been allowing my fear to unconsciously correct their emotions and even their opinions. I cant express in words how ashamed I am. Forgive me Father, Forgive me Girls!

And so now that I have become aware of this in more detail, I must learn to give supportive freedom for them to experience their own emotions and opinions in each situation and not link them to being right or wrong, happy or sad, damaged or healed. Just to simply accept them, for all that they are. The Lord will teach them in life what I cannot, I need to change my focus to be less about teaching them how to not be like I was/am, and more on helping them be who they are. Using Affection, Approval and Acceptance to help them believe they are good enough, that they belong and are loved.

My psych has given me some tips to practice, in order to attempt to undo some of these patterns.

  • Sitting face-to-face with them wordlessly, non-judgmentally, soothing the internal dialogue inside me, which drives me to teach them to control and avoid imagined catastrophes.
  • Sit and listen without responding so much. (Oh my, that is hard for me at anytime)
  • Try not to challenge any opinion they have unless 99% sure that it is incorrect.
  • Try not to challenge any emotions they have, merely SHARE the experience with them.
  • Try not to let their emotions change my emotions reactively. Wait until I can think neutrally before making decisions. This will teach what my words could not, that emotional manipulation is unfair and unhealthy.
  • Before I respond to anything, ask myself this question, “Do I feel good enough or defensive?”, and wait until I feel good enough before I respond.
  • Use soft eyes and a low pitch when correcting and teaching.
  • Be aware of my fearful reactions during meditation, run through these tips from a calm relaxed place and allow the fear to pass by without being the catalyst for reaction.

This list is not going to be easy for me to apply, but I have been trying and had a few successes. I hope that someone else out there can gain something useful from this post. So that other children don’t have to stay in unhealthy cycles. I ask for your prayers, pray that this is finally the breakthrough I have been waiting years for and that God will reach down His hand and help me walk these new strategies out in my life. That His love will flow through to fulfill my girls when my love is tainted with fear. That my inner enemies will not win out, but will end up in the pit far away from my me and my family. In Yeshua’s Mighty Name I pray. Amen!

prayer hands

25/01/2013

Healing the Insecurity

Posted in Encouragement, Family, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , at 8:53 am by The Water Bearer

I read this excellent post “Rejecting Rejection” recently and it was exactly what I needed to read. I have been working on my insecurities for well over a decade, from when I first began to let God have a hand in my life. It is not an easy thing to overcome, as the linked post explains, there are many facets to insecurity, such as shame, self-loathing, fear, anxiety, control issues; the list goes on. Even after many years of therapy I am still becoming aware of ways that my insecurities either hold me back from fulfilling my potential, or cause reactions that are not positive or healthy.

Lately I have become addicted to the website TED: Ideas worth spreading, and am intent on developing my ability to create, despite my insecurities. The talks shared on this site are one way to help me tackle this issue. Brené Brown has become somewhat of a mentor for me, as her research is some of the most incredibly accurate and insightful collection of perspectives I have ever come across. Due to the some 8 million hits her talks on TED have received, I know I am not the only one who can relate to her specific discoveries about connection, shame, vulnerability, and all the aspects of these things. Especially, how vulnerability is the birth place of creativity and innovation.

The post I have linked to at the beginning, mentions that “Rejected people, reject people” I can testify to the fact that rejected people become defensive people, as a direct result of their insecurities. We become so used to fighting for our right to exist and to be loved & accepted, that we form habits of guarded defensiveness. We are so used to shooting down those who we perceive are attacking us, that those close to us often get shot with friendly fire. I know that this is at the forefront of my issues with my own children and family members, not in obvious conscious or shocking ways, but in subtle, hard to recognise ways. I am getting better with each day that I stay aware, that I repair, that I pursue growth and change.

However, My biggest concern is that the damage may already be done.

What if, through my own defensive reactions of rejection, I have caused my children to also feel rejected? And if so, are they now destined to follow in my footsteps of insecurity and a life filled with shame, fear, anxiety and defensiveness? There has to be a way to break this cycle.

I must accept that this is possible, and if so, God has to be where I send them, I admit to them that I fall short, and so God needs to be their source of security, not me. I am flawed, I am damaged, I can not be all that they need me to be. I have promised them that I will always try to be there for them, even if I am broken. That, even when my reactions make them doubt it, I love them more than they could know. I apologise sincerely, each time I become aware of another possible rejection. I stay in therapy and stay honest, I pursue healing at every opportunity. I pray …a LOT!

The quote above goes on to say “Rejected people, reject people. Healed people, heal people.” So while I can accept that I am not quite there, I am not completely healed yet, I can not hit pause as a mother and hit play again when I am healed. I must keep working on myself and be a parent at the same time, and that is a scary thought for me. I often feel as if I am doing more damage than good. I imagine that thought would be enough to break even the strongest of people, let alone someone battling fear, anxiety and shame.

And then I remember Him…..

I realise that my Heavenly Father has my children in His loving arms, that I can only do my best and His might will cover the rest. That His design has brought me to this place, to who I am right now, and that His design put me in the role of their Mum. Perhaps as a driving force for me to desperately pursue His healing love.

I had a breakthrough in therapy this week, as usual it followed another recent breakdown. I will explain more about that in a future post, but for now, I like the concept of rejecting rejection… Another step on the journey towards healing…. And that is it, isn’t it! One step after the other. The pursuit of healing and destiny.

in-gods-arms-440x2001

25/10/2012

Discipline + Trust = Love*

Posted in Family, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , at 11:23 am by The Water Bearer

The follow up to my previous post. Sometimes the earlier stuff needs revisiting. 🙂

Inner Angels & Enemies

In my previous blog Discipline + Trust = Love I took you through the story of my emotionally manipulative behaviour and how perhaps a lack of discipline and trust contributed to it. I hope it helps others recognise similar behaviour in themselves, and to learn how to access powerful angels to combat this all too common inner enemy. Please read the previous one first, as it sets the foundation for this post.

If you would like to hear more about the emotional trials I faced in my relationships and the success that came from my new perspective have a read of Less Tantrums, More Love. I’d like to keep the focus here to explain more about what God has been trying to help me understand, about how disciplining our children with love helps to build trust and a healthy perspective of how to feel love and be grateful of Godly discipline.

Discipline


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18/10/2012

What Do Wives Expect?

Posted in Family, General, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 5:18 pm by The Water Bearer

As I drove to work yesterday I was listening to breakfast radio, and the female announcer brought up a complaint made by a wife who she had been in discussion with.

The wife was a stay at home mum and her husband worked 10 hours a day to provide for them. Her complaint was that he should help out more at home and not gripe when she gives him jobs. She was adamant that her husband should do more, such as cleaning the shower and toilet, help with cooking and take some responsibility for bathing, dressing and attending to the children etc when he was home.

The male announcer explained the husbands response, which was basically “I have just worked 10 hours and walk in the front door to hear these words or similar come from her mouth. “”Good you’re home, now you can help me with these kids. Can you run them a bath and take the baby for a while?”” I just walked in the door from a long hard day, I want to sit down for 5 minutes and relax with a beer. I don’t think that is too much to ask!”

The female announcer replied “She is obviously unhappy, if he can do more to help her be happier in their relationship, shouldn’t he just do it!”

I saw red! This is one of the most infuriating stances that many women let their inner enemies convince them to take. They may as well be saying “I am going to keep complaining about how unhappy I am until I make the whole house unhappy, so you will have no choice but to bow to my every request’.

Now let me clarify, this wife didn’t work, and her children were in childcare 3 days per week, and she claimed that she never stops, that she never gets a break. Even if they were at home all day every day, pouncing on her husband the second he walks in the door is selfish, ungrateful and unloving. I know because I used to be like this. I was all these things and worse.

One thing I learned some years ago is that miserable complaining only breeds more misery. I know plenty of husbands who have done their best to meet every ridiculous, demanding request of their wives, only to discover they could never reach the light at the end of the list, nor help her find peace and happiness.

“It is better to live in a corner of a roof, than in a house shared with a contentious woman.” Prov 21:9 (ASV)

These relationships fell apart leaving a trail of bitter destruction, and setting the worst kind of example for their children’s future relationships.

I grew up in a home with a single Mum who had to work 45-50 hour weeks to provide for us. She had the responsibility of raising three children, with no family close enough to help her. My younger sibling was only 18months old when Mum became single. Through sheer will and determination she did it all. I watched her struggle to cope, I heard constantly how stressful her life was. As a child I can remember the countless times she would pour tears over her finances, often sharing that burden with us children. She missed out on doing the school run and hearing about our day or our thoughts as we drove to and fro. She was unable to keep watch over us after school to make sure we stayed on track. She had no time to learn new recipes or practice creativity in the kitchen, she just fed us. She had no opportunity to load some of the weight onto someone else just because she was tired. She had no one to share some of the burden at the end of a long day. She just did it, all, on her own.

As a wife and mother I am so very, extremely grateful that I have a man who is willing to work long days to provide for us. I do my utmost to put aside my days complaints and greet him after work with a cold beer, a warm smile and a kiss. As a result he is more likely to: a) Come home! b) Help me, and c) Rush to my aid like the knight in shining armour I always dreamed of.

If we give compliments and praise in recognition of all the things, small or large, that they do for us, they will be more willing to help out when we are unwell or warn thin from a tough day, or if we come across a challenge we need their help with. We need to build them up, not tear them down! We need to recognise that our contentious attitude is causing more problems, and make attempts to change it. We need to call on our inner angels to help us see all the things we are grateful for, and refuse to let disappointment from unmet expectations breed bitterness and misery.

On a final note, (this is an area that I am currently trying to make more changes to myself), we take so much responsibility away from our men due to our controlling, often insecure natures. Even if they do try to help, often we are there pointing out how they ‘should’ be doing it, or criticising them afterward because it wasn’t done the way we do it. When we ask their opinion regarding a decision, we reply with our reasons to disagree. We say we want them to take some of our load, but when they try we yank it back out of their hands.

I wonder how many women would tolerate being told that everything we try to do is not done properly, or if every decision we made was overturned and debated?

Trusting our husbands to be capable, and giving their decisions a chance to succeed before we catastrophise them into oblivion, will help boost their self worth, and their sense of masculinity. That way they will have the opportunity to dazzle us with their skills and leadership, and we in turn can relax in grateful appreciation of how lucky we are to have them.

19/09/2012

Strength Behind Raising Children

Posted in Encouragement, Family, General tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 6:28 am by The Water Bearer

Daughter 8yrs – “Mum, can I have a chocolate milk?”

Me – “Nope”

Silent pause…

Daughter – “Mum can I please have a chocolate milk, please?”

Me- “Well that was a much better way to ask for something, but I’m sticking to my first answer.”

Daughter – “I’m sorry I didn’t use my manners the first time Mummy, but could I please have a chocolate milk because I didn’t get one at Nana’s this morning, she was out of Milo”

Me – “That’s a shame, but the answer is still no. Enough now!”

Daughter – “I promise I will eat all my dinner.”

Me – “Yes you will eat all your dinner because you won’t be filling up on chocolate milk half an hour before I start cooking it. Have a drink of water if your thirsty, and stop expecting me to give you my reason, I have said no, and no means no!”  …. (Oh Lord, I’m throwing in overused cliche’s again)

Daughter – “Oh but that’s ages away”

Me – “There are children who have to wait for days to have a good meal, you will be fine. Enough now, I am loosing my patience with you!”

Daughter – “Sorry Mum, what’s for dinner?”

Me – “Food, aren’t you lucky?”

Daughter – “But what food?!”

Me – “Why?”

Daughter – “Because, I just want to know. ”

Me – “Well I am still deciding”

Silent pause….

Daughter – “I could have a chocolate milk and that would give you more time to decide.”

Ah, kids are so persistent!

One thing I realised early on about being a Mum, was that if I wanted my children to know who is in control between them and me, it all boiled down to tenacity. Who could hold their ground the longest and not cave in to the other. Many oarents understand that a few swift acts of discipline early on is vital, yet there is some treacherous ground to cross between the initial decision, and the success of it being the final outcome. Will we loose control? Will we get angry? Even yell? Will we reach the point of no return, hollering negative diatribes as we drag them off to bed slamming the door in defeat, accepting that the fight was too hard? Convincing ourselves that our excuses are valid?

Early on in my stint of motherhood I wilted in strength more than I succeeded, I regularly battled against a willful child who dragged out eating dinner every night. There were countless harrowing occasions when she would fiddle in her chair as one pea at a time made the slow journey on her fork to her mouth. Often I resorted to pining her on my knee and shoveling the food down in record time so I could put her to bed at a reasonable hour, or attempting the common negotiations of “Just two more mouthfuls”. Then there were the times when I caved in, got angry and sent her to bed, realising I had not won that round.

The hardest days were when minutes felt like eons, traffic chaos causes involuntary bouts of turrets, the work day spent feeling as useless as high heels on running shoes. On days like this, I had little ability to navigate the kitchen, using vacant focus to try and recall how you turn the green stuff in the bottom of the fridge into something edible. Lets just say I was rarely likely to prepare a masterpiece for dinner. I often felt extreme guilt for giving my child less than my best, forcing her to swallow something less than I expected to be able to give. I let that guilt undermine me, feeling like a better mother for avoiding her tears on top of everything else.

I feel it is safe to say that, even if we understand what the job requires, without God’s strength to perform it, it is simply impossible.

Most of us have a fair idea of right and wrong, and we recognise that it is our role to lovingly help our children understand this. Yet we can become our own worst enemy when we use our weakness as reasons to let them move our boundary lines. Of course we all have our toughest days, when life hits hard with genuine trauma, and those are the times when, if we have faith, we lean on God to help us merely get through the day. However the day-to-day struggles are where our children gain their understanding of who is in charge. If we give in and allow them to have their way, we are not being the nice, considerate parents we think we are, we are relying on our own strength to stand our ground, and end up falling in a heap under the pressure. We are showing our children that the line to break us exists if they push hard and long enough.

Challenging behaviour is common on any given day, children have a built in instinct for testing the strength of the boundaries we have set. Of course children always have much more energy than us, they haven’t wasted it on late nights and unavoidable errands. The responsibilities of daily life and tripping over red tape hasn’t worn them as thin as spilled milk. Their supply of patience hasn’t been given away like pamphlets at an election booth.

Instead they are inspired by tales of fighting against resistance, maneuvering through meteors and the onslaught of intergalactic enemy ships. Soaking up heroes emerging from kindergarten to stand up to the school bully, and the beautiful maiden who was brave enough to take on the evil oppressive guardian figure. Often the parents in these stories are portrayed as ill-informed about the crucial nature of the heroes quest, they aren’t portrayed as allies but rather another obstacle to be dodged and overcome.

The battle ground is set, the will of inner angels and enemies are empowered and ready to go head to head each time a testing situation arises. Who will come out on top? Will you? Will I?

I find it unacceptable to allow our children to become confused about who is in authority, I am accountable to God and they are accountable to me. Yet I can not simply rely on my own strength and tenacity to stand against defiant behaviour, or I simply fail too many times. Many of us seem to block out the ‘condemning’ voice of reason and lean heavily on excuses, because the right way is usually the hardest way. I give all credit to God for the times I have kept to my word and prevented my children overturning my decisions.

We have to remember to depend on His strength behind us, to pray for His wisdom when making decisions, when deciding appropriate consequences for unacceptable behaviour, and ask for His love to shine through us and out onto our children.

28/08/2012

Lessons in Friendship

Posted in Encouragement, Family, General, Musings, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:08 am by The Water Bearer

Something I find particularly heartbreaking is when either one of my daughters comes home from school distressed after an incident involving someone they thought was a friend.

It is just awful to view the sorrow in their gorgeous big brown eyes, and the damp eyelashes as evidence of tears shed. I want so desperately to protect my girls from repeating my mistakes, and having to learn the ‘hard way’ about the truths of friendship, yet I realise they still need to learn for themselves in order for these lessons to stick with them throughout life.

I may be slightly biased here but I have tried to teach my girls to treat others with respect and how they would like to be treated in return. Their faithful spirit is evident in they way they treat most people, they want to be forgiving and to believe a ‘problem friend’ is capable of changing into a ‘decent friend’. So they keep putting themselves back in the firing line, realising a little more each time that some friends just continue to mistreat them.

I wonder how long it will take them to firmly value healthy friendships and avoid toxic ones? I was bitten over a thousand times before I realised I had to stop putting myself in the path of destructive, unhealthy relationships.

We parents can aim to keep balanced influence over who our children befriend to some extent, by deciding who we encourage them to spend time with for play dates and sleep overs etc.

Mostly I feel it is so important to be invested in discussions about the experiences they have had with others, and share your own experiences with them.

I try not to be too judgmental, but this can be hard when your perspective has been somewhat tainted by painful memories, and there are many variables to consider when teaching my girls the reasoning I try to apply to my own friendships. I find my self saying things like…

  • Give everyone a chance; Remember that everyone has inner angels and inner enemies.
  • Be yourself and respectfully resist things you would prefer avoiding. (i.e. Don’t be a doormat)
  • Be truthful and loyal and keep Godly principles in mind.
  • Learn to enjoy your own company so you don’t rely too heavily on friendships.
  • Avoid those who throw emotional tantrums when you set up your own boundaries, this is manipulation, stand firm if someone tries it on you.
  • A true friend will respect your boundaries and you need to respect theirs.
  • Try to be aware and keep control of your own possible emotionally manipulative behaviour.
  • Observe how others handle tough situations and whether you admire them or not and why. Consider this when listening to their advice.
  • Ask yourself if they are honest with you and not just tell you what you want to hear.
  • Consider if they encourage you to reach your full potential, that they don’t hold you back with avoidance, distractions and unmotivated tendencies.
  • If they load you up with their problems but refuse to handle them well, take a big step back and don’t get emotionally involved in their issues.
  • If you view them mistreating anyone, you can be sure they will mistreat you as well at some point in time, whether you find out about it or not.
  • If they purposely hurt you, tell them respectfully that you are hurt by their actions.
  • If they can admit how hurtful they were and sincerely apologise, then give them another chance.
  • If they don’t sincerely apologise, then be polite and continue to treat them with respect but keep your distance and your heart protected.
  • If someone is out-rightly cruel and betrays your heart in a serious way, even after an apology, offer forgiveness yet keep your heart guarded, and choose carefully your future encounters with them.

I make a point of mentioning sincere apologies, as I find it impossible to accept a false apology these days; ‘Sorry’ is a word meant to express the ‘sorrow’ of regrettable events, yet it is not a sincere apology unless it is accompanied by, a few other elements, such as:

1. Acceptance of their accountability and the role they played, without placing blame elsewhere.

2. Acknowledgment of your suffering.

3. Agreeing to stop the action or behaviour they are apologising for.

4. Understanding of your guarded heart toward them afterwards.

I have encouraged my girls to share their stories of friendship and betrayal in their prayer journals, so they may look back and reflect to gain a better perspective. I also encourage them to ask God to bring them a trustworthy friend, who will value the time they share as much as each other.

A friend can be such a strong influence as to who we grow up to be, which road we take to get there, and how successful a journey it is. Some will encourage a hard and faulty road, while others will encourage goodness of character, loyalty and healthy companionship. These are the qualities I suggest my girls consider when deciding who to share this journey of life with. I pray fervently for God to keep His hand on them and I trust Him to guide and protect them. I understand the pains of life are the building blocks of a solid foundation of learning and self-awareness and I ask Him to help me be the best example of a Godly parent as I can be when sharing friendship advice with them.

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