Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Parenting Tip - Parenting Teenagers

 You may have already seen or heard about Josh Shipp.  I just listened to one of his videos that was posted on Facebook--the place I see all the upcoming news and info.  I liked what I heard. He is being called the "teen whisperer".   He speaks common sense and comes from a background of being a troubled youth himself.

As my husband and I parented our children through their teen years, I always remembered what my mother said when she had 4 teenagers growing up in our home at the same time-- myself, my sister and two brothers.  She said,  "I loved having you all as teenagers.  You were the best kids, and it was so fun to be around you." 

Now that's NOT what the majority of parents would say.  And I don't think my siblings and I were perfect or abnormal.  But my parents had taught us to be respectful, honest, have faith in God and know that we were children of God and that He had a plan for our lives.  We did experience ups and downs and normal teenage disagreements with our parents, but we respected each other, listened to advice from our parents and more importantly, they listened to us.  We cooperated together, we supported each other and we loved each other and had fun together.

When I had my teenagers, I experienced the same thing.  They were good kids.  They were funny, respectful, hardworking, compassionate, and good students.  They knew God loved them and had a purpose for their lives.  We were blessed with children that would listen to us and honor our decisions. 

We were firm and a lot more strict than other parents.  I know, because they told me--often.  But all seven children have also told me later as adults, that they were glad we were so strict.  They were glad they had boundaries and limitations.

Teenagers have a lot of peer pressure to deal with.  But so do YOU as parents.  Don't cave into your peer pressure, Moms and Dads.  Don't go with the flow and let your children go and do what others are doing, just because it is easier and your adult friends are letting their children do things you feel uncomfortable with.  Have rules in your home.  Let your family set those rules and help everyone to understand why the rule is as it is.

If your teen is having mental health problems, medical problems or acting different, get help--don't let it slide until the problem is worse.

But most importantly, ENJOY your teenagers! 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Mom Puts Zip Ties On Her Baby’s Stroller, The Reason? Genius!

 I love it when someone problem solves issues and makes it easier for others.  View this video for wonderfully easy things to enhance your stroller use.

Mom Puts Zip Ties On Her Baby’s Stroller, The Reason? Genius!:

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Parenting Tip - Dealing with Anxiety, OCD and Depression

I have recently heard of so many people, of all ages, dealing with anxiety, OCD and depression.  This is such a hopeful and uplifting article.  Please read.

Thanks,
Cathy

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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Parenting Tip - Will They Remember?

For the past 3 months I have been teaching home schooled children how to play the ukulele.  They have been coming to my home once a week to learn songs, and now for the past month we have been performing them at retirement centers.

Yesterday I took my ukulele group to a private home to sing and play for the residents living there.  The husband and wife of this home care for 6 elderly women plus the wife's mother.  You immediately felt love and peace upon walking into their home.

The husband introduced all the women and told us their names and a little about their backgrounds.  All were wonderful women who had accomplished much in their lives.  One had taught school for 40 years, a couple of the women were musicians, one had something to do with the opera, and one had served with her husband when he was a mission president for the LDS Church and when he was temple president of the Snowflake LDS Temple.  Then the man said, "but they won't remember anything after you leave, so don't worry about making any mistakes!  In fact you could come back tomorrow and they wouldn't remember you."

We had a wonderful time playing for them, and I am always energized after these performances and visits with the elderly.  They are so sweet and appreciative of everything you do and they LOVE the children.  We were invited to come back often.  But as I drove home I kept thinking, "So what's the use.  Why did I spend time going there and why should I go back again if they won't even remember that we have been there."

I know deep inside that we should show kindnesses to everyone, but what if they forget our kindnesses?????  Then I thought  if my mother or father were suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's, I certainly would want people coming and visiting them to bring them joy and happiness, even if it only lasted a half hour.

I was thinking about all these things while driving, and was almost home and sitting at a green light, waiting to turn left, when I saw a little tiny dog running on the street between two oncoming cars.  It suddenly veered into one of the cars and was hit and immediately killed.  I thought about how important one moment was to him--life and death.  Then I thought about how important moments are to those who won't remember with their physical minds, but will remember with their spiritual minds.

I thought about babies who won't remember the love and singing and hugs and kisses we lavish on them as infants.  I thought about the toddlers and preschoolers who won't remember the picnics and toys and games we played with them for countless hours. 

But though they may not remember the exact moments we shared, they will remember the feeling of love they received from us and the special ties they have as they continue growing and begin to remember fun times. 

It's those drops of water, adding one at a time that makes an ocean.  It's the love and strength of that love that ties them to us forever.  And when they are parents, and hugging and kissing their babies, they'll know. In the eternities they will remember.  It is so worth it to make the memories now!

Thanks for reading,

Cathy

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Music Tip - Clocks,simplified

Here's a great song preteens and teens like to learn.  Teach your students how to analyze and see patterns in music.  It makes it so much easier to learn songs that way.  Notice that in the first measure, it is a 1st inversion of a D chord that is played as a broken chord, but backwards.  You play it 3 times in a row (except on the 3rd repeat you don't play the last note)

The 2nd and 3rd measures are identical, and again, they are just broken chords played backwards (A minor 2nd inversion).  The 4th measure is an E minor chord (in root position) played backwards too.  Then you repeat all four measures.  A piece of cake!

Teach the next section by playing the melody.  Notice that the melody is played 3 times, but the rhythm is a little different each time because of the words.

I love to help children analyze and quickly learn a song that could have been hard to learn without noticing the patterns first. 

Enjoy!

Thanks for reading,
Cathy

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Music Tip - Don't Stop Believing

Here's another 4 chord song to teach your student or child.

I teach the right hand chords on the first line and help them identify the kind of chords they are, ie. G 2nd inversion, D root position, e minor 2nd position, C root position.  Have them play the chords several times, then you play the left hand with them.

Next, have them play the left hand. On the second measure they will need to move their 3rd finger to the E.
Duet the first line with student playing left hand and teacher/adult playing the right hand.  This makes it so much easier to play before they put hands together, which is the next step.

Teach lines 2 and 3 with learning the left hand chords first. Then follow the same procedure of dueting it, they play right hand, duet, they play both hands.

The last two lines can be taught, notating that on measure 3 the right hand needs to move the 2nd finger to the B.

Enjoy!

Music Tip - Popular 4 chord Songs

I've been teaching my piano students chord inversions to prepare them for playing the 4 chord songs I've been giving them.  My pre-teen and teen piano students are loving them--the songs, not the chord inversions!

For some students, I give them just the chords for hands alone until they are comfortable playing them--usually one week--then I give them the whole song.  For other students, I give them the whole song, but first have them play the chords, hands alone, so they can understand the chord progression.  I also reinforce the correct fingering and point out that it is always the 2nd inversion (for the left hand) that changes and uses the 2nd finger instead of the 3rd finger.

The whole point to these songs is to show a simple 4 chord progression that is repeated throughout the song, thus making the song EASY to learn and FUN to play.  It "hooks" my reluctant learners. 

"Piano Man" is a popular song that I give my students first.  I teach the left hand chords, then I play the melody while they play the chords.  This gets them interested in learning both hands, plus, if they're not familiar already with the melody, it helps them learn what it sounds like. The first week all they practice are the left hand chord progressions, which sound pretty cool and they all come back playing them really well.

The second week I play the melody while they play the left hand again, just to reinforce the song/melody.  Then I have them play just the melody line by themselves.  Next I play the left hand chords while they play the melody.  Dueting a song is SO IMPORTANT because it helps the student hear how the left and right hand coordinate the sounds together. Finally, I have them play both hands together.  This whole process takes about 5-8 minutes of their lesson time. They go home and practice both hands together and whola, when they come back the next week, it always sounds pretty darn good!  I can tell they have practiced--which is my aim!

By the way, did I mention I have been using my smart phone during piano lessons a lot?  I use it to introduce a popular song I want my student to learn to play.  I play the song on you tube (finding appropriate views, first) so they can get interested in the song.  Sometimes they've heard it before and sometimes they haven't, but hey, getting to watch a you tube cover song during piano lessons is a real grabber and motivator for my students!

Here is my arrangement of "Piano Man".  Enjoy!!

Thanks for reading, offer any suggestions you might have on the music.
Cathy

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Thursday, March 3, 2016

Parenting Tip - Angels to Help Us

There is a great article on LDS Living that reprints some of Sister Wendy Nelson's writings in her newest book, "Covenant Keepers: Unlocking the Miracles God Wants for You".
She tells the poignant story of a woman deep in despair, ready to take her own life, when she happens to walk by a bookshelf that has a picture of herself as a young mother with her children.  The picture has been lost for years, but now there it is exactly at the moment she needs to see it.  She realizes that those young children, though now grown with children of their own, still look to her with trust and need her continued guidance.  She realizes that she could never leave her children and "was amazed at the precise timing when the Lord sent His angels to find the framed, formerly lost photograph and place it exactly where she would see it. Exactly when she needed to see it."

I want to read the book!  It tells us how we can ask for angels to help us, how God wants to help us through His angels and who those angels are.

I experienced angels helping me after my husband passed away and I was left to live alone with my mother-in-law who was living in my home. I don't like to cook and feel very inadequate and so my husband had been the cook for lots of our meals all of our married life. Now I was the cook, and had to prepare meals for my aging mother-in-law. For a week or more after the funeral, every time I thought with a sinking feeling in my stomach, "Oh no, what shall I fix for dinner?" immediately a meal would come to mind that I felt qualified to fix.  This happened so often and so quickly after my thought, that I knew I was receiving help from the other side.  I think my maternal grandmother, who was a professional cook, was helping me.  I know she was.  What a tender mercy from a loving Father in Heaven who could have looked at my need and viewed it as something trivial, but instead loved me enough to help me in my needs.

Sister Nelson quotes Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s April 2010 general conference address where he counsels us to, “Ask for angels to help you.”

As we enter into covenants with the Lord and try our best to uphold those covenants, we are entitled to received the blessings of ministering angels.  I feel I need to ask more often for help and then I need to thank Heavenly Father as He gives me the help I ask for.

How about you?

Thanks for reading,
Cathy

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Parenting Tip - How to Help an Anxious Child

I'm a worry-wart.  At least I use to be.  I inherited my worrying from my mother.  I also learned how to stop worrying from my mother, and it has saved me a ton of stress and anxiety.

Children can also be worriers.  This article gives some great advice to parents on how to help their children cope with worry and anxiety.

This article has helpful phrases you can say to your child such as, "How big is your worry?", or "Can you draw your worry?"  Acknowledge your child’s fear without making it even more frightening by using the word “AND.” After the word “and” you can add phrases like, “You are safe.” or “You’ve conquered this fear before.” or “You have a plan.”

 Sometimes words won't help an anxious child.  But there are still things you can do to calm your child, such as whispering about something unrelated, or singing, or hugging.  Read this article to find more suggestions that might work with your child.  Not every child will respond and be comforted by the same things.

And as a last resort, my mother and I always comforted ourselves when worrying, by remembering that everything we worried about, never actually took place.  So we had our own "worry insurance" and it worked!

Thanks for reading,
Cathy
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Monday, February 8, 2016

Parenting Tip - The Little Acts of Love

Edward Kinghorn is a licensed Neuropsychologist and is currently the Psychology Department Chair at BYU Hawaii. He gave a talk telling about his experiences working as a counselor with the Red Cross after the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York in the Fall of 2001. 

Professor Kinghorn describes working with a Dr. Frances Menlove, who was a seasoned and experienced clinician.  She later was asked to give a guest sermon to the Lincoln City Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, on March 10, 2002.  These are her words describing what she saw inside the St. Paul's Chapel which is near Ground Zero.  St. Paul’s had been set aside as a sanctuary for workers who were still toiling around the clock to clear the debris of the Twin Towers and to search for human remains. "The entire chapel was covered with banners, hand-lettered posters, small and large pictures by school children expressing thanks and appreciation.  There were notes taped to the sides of very pew, up and down the aisle.  Several Banners hung from the balconies.

One four-by twelve-foot pennant had a multitude of hand-drawn green mittens, each signed by a child, with a headline that said “Warm your hearts with our mittens.”  Another huge streamer lined up dozens of red children’s hand prints to form the stripes of an American flag.  There were notes in the pews.  The one tucked in by me said: “Dear Hero, thank you for making us safe.  I like soccer.  I don’t like baseball.  Do you like soccer?  Your new friend, Craig.”

The altar was the only place unadorned by posters, notes and banners.  Several votive candles were burning.  In front of the altar, a flute player from the New York Symphony played lilting melodies.  There was a lot of quiet activity.  Along the back wall of the chapel sandwiches and soup were being served.  Along the left side of the chapel, tables held first-aid supplies, candies, lip balm, socks, aspirin—anything someone might want coming in from the cold after a shift of spirit-wrenching labor.  There was a bowl of power bars, each with a homemade valentine wrapped around it and held tight with a rubber band.  All were free for the taking.  In front of me, one man was lying down on the pew, apparently asleep.  Others were sitting in the pews eating, or just resting.  I didn’t know then that these workers had found four more bodies that morning.

A small enclosed area about eight feet square caught my attention on the right side of the chapel.  A large bronze plaque announced that this was George Washington’s pew, the place he worshiped on the day of his inauguration, April 30, 1789.  Right next to this official plaque was a large, carefully printed sign “Foot Care.”  The workers were having trouble with their feet, so it was decided to devote George Washington’s pew to “Foot Care.”  Each day a podiatrist volunteered.  One worker had his shoes off and another one was waiting to be examined as I sat scrunched in my own pew.

I remembered the Gospel of John:  Jesus got up from the table and tied a towel around himself.  Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.  After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “I have set you an example that you also should do as I have done to you” (v. 15)."

I was so impressed with this talk and thought about all the school teachers who were aching to do something,-- anything, to express their love and support to the survivors, to the families who were devastated and to the workers still addressing the horror of Sept 11.  I pictured the teachers talking to their students and deciding on what small act of service they could do.  I pictured the children coloring pictures, writing notes, and making valentines to cover a power bar and wrapping a rubber band around it, never knowing the impact their service would make.  Never knowing that a whole church would be covered with small acts of service.  Never knowing that I would read of their acts years later and still be profoundly touched by them.

Sometimes we never know how our actions make a difference in someone else's life. I had the privilege of  hearing how one small act of mine affected a friend. I had taken my teenage neighbors to the hospital to play our instruments and sing for my friend's husband.  He was in quarentine and we had to dress in special robes to enter his room.  He passed away several months later.  My friend wept as she told how, what I viewed as a small act of service, had brought so much love and comfort to her and her husband.

Valentine's Day is coming.  What can you and I do to brighten someone's day with a genuine message of love?
The first Valentine's Day after my husband passed away, my next door neighbor brought me flowers.  She said that was what my husband had done for her the first Valentine's Day after her husband had passed away. I never knew that he had done that.


Love.  Little Acts of Love. By small and simple things are great things brought to pass.

Thanks for reading,

Cathy
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Sunday, February 7, 2016

Parenting Tip - Chords for Your Family Song

I wrote a Music Tip blog post a few months ago about chord progressions and how popular music is so full of them.  Lots of rock songs use a 4 chord progression that is repeated over and over again. The chord progressions use root chords as well as 1st and 2nd inversions.  You don't really need to know what those kind of chords are to get the idea of this blog post, but I'll explain briefly.

A root chord is built on the 1st note of the scale (let's say C) then skips a note and uses the next note (E), then skips a note and uses the next note (G).  So C,E,G are the notes played in the root chord.  BUT, you can move their positions around.  If you "invert" the C and put it on top, you have a 1st inversion: EGC.  If you again invert the bottom note to the top, you have a 2nd inversion: GCE.  And if you do it once more, you're back to the root position CEG.  So you can tweak the chord and make it sound a little different, but you're still using the 3 basic notes.

Interesting, huh?

As I have been analyzing music, I have found the root chord plus the inversions EVERYWHERE!  In popular songs, in classical songs, in hymns, in folk songs.......and the reason is because those chords are the building blocks, the basics, the foundation which the music is built on.

I've been trying to get my students to internalize and understand and identify these chords inversions.  Why?  Because they can learn their songs so much easier.  They already know the chords, they know the notes, they know the fingering, and they can get right on to learning the right hand notes.  It makes learning to play the piano so much more enjoyable and easier when you already know the basics.

There are 73 different songs that all use the same chord progression.  The melodies are completely different, but the basic chord structure is exactly the same ( I would give you the you tube link to a funny group who demonstrates and sings these songs, but there's a lot of raunchy stuff there too, so I won't).

Which brings me to what I was thinking about this morning.  Those basic chords are like the basic things we are told to do in Church. Have family scripture reading.  Say family prayers.  Have Family Home Evening. Each family is different, so we sing a different melody according to our individual and family's needs, but we are still playing the same chords in the same progression.

Families with small children will read the scriptures in a different way than families with teenagers will. Empty nesters will read their scriptures different from the way a person living alone will.  But we will ALL read our scriptures.  The same holds true for how we hold Family Home Evening.  Get your family together, learn together, enjoy time together, but do it how it works best for your family, right now in your present circumstances. Raising a family is so much more enjoyable and easier when you know what foundation you should base it on. Your children will learn to sing their song so much easier when the basic "chords" are embedded in their routine. 

What does your family song sound like? Is it bouncy and lively?  Is it loud, or has it begun to slow down and get softer with age?  You are creating your own beautiful melody that is perfect for the chords in your song. Sing your song with the particular singers you have in your family right now, and if you sing it with the correct chord progression, you'll have a hit song on your hands.
Sing your song strong, and well and often.

                                      
Thanks for reading,

Cathy

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Thursday, January 21, 2016

Parenting Tip - STOP Comparing yourself to others

Will I ever stop comparing myself to others? Good grief, I'm 65 years old! When will I accept myself as I am!

This is a great article.

Thanks,
Cathy
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Friday, January 8, 2016

Parenting Tip - How to Search for Answers

My children tease me about the advice I use to always give them--"put neosporin and a band aid on it" or "take some allergy medicine".  That seemed to cure just about anything in their young lives that would ail them. In the past few years my advice has changed to--"google it".  In my mind, all my answers can be found on the internet from someone who has had the same problem as I have.   But I feel that advice is kind of worldly and shallow when I think back to my own mother's advice to me as a young mother--"have you prayed about it?"

Lately, I've changed my advice to my children to incorporate both my solution and my mom's solution to problems. (I try not to give unsolicited advice to my children-- but boy, is it hard not to!)

My advice to my children now, when they ask me, is: search google for answers to your problems BUT also pray about your problems and get a Priesthood blessing.  To me these seem to go perfectly hand in hand, and I have a scripture to back it up!

Remember when Oliver Cowdery tried to help Joseph Smith with the translating of the Book of Mormon? He was chastised of the Lord.
Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me. But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. (Doctrine and Covenants section 9:7,8)
The Lord expects us to search out the answers to our problems, and the internet is one of the blessings the Lord has given to help us.

I recently heard the story of a young missionary who was in charge of several other missionaries.  He received a phone call saying two elders were having a serious disagreement with each other and he was  needed to come diffuse the situation.  As he went to their apartment and began talking with them, another elder showed up saying his companion had just become unconscious and he couldn't revive him.  The young missionary left the two fighting elders to help the sick elder.  They had to call the paramedics and the now conscious elder was taken to the hospital.  The young missionary then called his mission president to tell him what had happened with both sets of missionaries and asked him for his advice.  The mission president, much to his disappointment said, "I don't know what you should do Elder.  That's why I put you there.  You figure it out." Now years later, the man telling the story said he had come to learn that the Lord will help us find the answers, but we must first study and search for ourselves.

I realize that searching the internet is kind of a secular way to search for answers.  But it is one of the fastest ways to find experts on all kind of situations from parenting issues, to physical and emotional ailments and of course, household and repair problems.  The problem is--you don't know which solution is the best answer for your particular problem.

There is another way of searching out and finding the answers to life's problems, and that is listening to the "still, small voice". The Holy Ghost  will tell us the truth and the answer for our particular situation.
I have found an interesting way of listening to the Holy Ghost.  On my morning walks, I listen to podcasts about knitting, or crafting or sewing.  But I've found on the mornings I listen to a BYU devotional talk, a thought will come to my mind that will help me with a situation or problem I'm having.  Sometimes the thought is totally unrelated to what the speaker is saying, but I always feel the truth of the thought and it becomes planted in my soul.  It is another way that I am showing Heavenly Father that I am trying to "study it out" in my mind.

I feel when we ask for a Priesthood blessing, that also shows we are again trying to study out our problem and realize the great need we have for heavenly help in our searching.

One last thought.  Many times our problems won't be solved immediately.  The thoughts and answers we have found may take time to resolve our issues.  Don't mistakenly think you didn't get the correct answers after all, but allow time to help you in solving them.  And feel the peace that someone who loves you from above, is indeed helping you.

Thanks for reading,
Cathy

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Monday, December 28, 2015

Parenting Tip - What is a Narcissist Child and How Not to Raise One

I just read this article on the New York Post, which I LOVE:

"This week, a study came out confirming that narcissists are largely bred, not born. The study, conducted by the University of Amsterdam and Ohio State University, found that “narcissism in children is cultivated by parental overvaluation: parents believing their child to be more special and more entitled than others.” (That’s scientific-speak for Special Snowflake Syndrome, and the researchers are talking about the other parents at your youth league soccer practice.)
This is great news, because it means there are steps we can take to prevent unleashing more little egotists on the world.
And this is bad news, because these steps are actually pretty common-sense; the study cited parental warmth, not praise, as a counterbalance to the trend. It’s also kind of depressing that we’ve even come to a point where narcissism — the increase of which contributes to societal problems such as aggression and violence, according to the research — has become so widespread that an entire study was conducted in the first place. (Then again, selfie sticks are now sold in drugstores for $24.95, so the mystery ends there.)
Anyone who’s spent time with a toddler recently does not need to be told that narcissism is the status quo in children. Remember how Martin Luther King Jr. once said that the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice? In kids, it bends toward narcissism.
After all, we are talking about a segment of the population that sees nothing wrong in waking their parents up at 4 a.m. to demand pancakes and episodes of “Dinosaur Train.”
And that’s why parents exist. It’s partly to keep their kids clothed and fed and safe and loved, and partly to prevent them from becoming Caligula.
The way to raise a narcissist is pretty evident: Tell your child they are wonderful, the very best, the most special of the specials on the sports field and the classroom and in the country and possibly on the planet — and keep telling them that. Or, just be a narcissist yourself. Done. Cool, we’ve settled that.
                                 
Children need to accept that they’ll hear “no” in life — and it’s best for them to learn this early.Photo: Shutterstock.com
But what if you’d like to raise someone who’s confident, kind and aware of others?
Here are nine ways to make sure your child doesn’t become a narcissist.
Say no. A recent school of thought seems to treat “no” as a kind of ultimate buzzkill, a tamping down on childish creativity and artistic self-expression. This is nuts. It’s fine to tell your children no, especially when they’re trying to set something on fire. In fact, a lot of life is being told no and then trying to come up with alternative plans. They might as well learn this young, so it doesn’t come as a shock five minutes into their first job.
Teach them basic manners. A lack of manners is the ultimate form of narcissism. Whether it’s someone who is rude to waiters, has bad table manners or can’t be bothered to dress for the occasion, lack of manners is signaling to the world that you have no need to conform to any silly “social codes” or “basic ideas of decency,” and that all that counts is your own comfort. But wait, you say. There are plenty of well-mannered narcissists! Yes, but they’re a lot more pleasant than the ones who sneeze into their dinner napkins or take food off your plate without asking.
Teach them how to manage frustration. Much has been written about good old-fashioned grit, a person’s ability to confront failure and learn from it. Studies have found it to be one of the best indicators of later happiness in adults. Teach a kid how to overcome adversity, and you’re also teaching him or her about disappointment, another invaluable life lesson that’s cut off when parents attempt to cocoon their children from anything unpleasant.
Pull a Louie. There was a fantastic episode of “Louie” a few seasons back where his daughter is enraged because her sister got something that she didn’t.

“Listen,” he says. “You’re never gonna get the same things as other people. It’s never gonna be equal. It’s not gonna happen ever in your life, so you must learn that now, OK? The only time you should look in your neighbor’s bowl is to make sure that they have enough. You don’t look in your neighbor’s bowl to see if you have . . . as much as them.” Pretty much everything Louis C.K. has to say about parenting is dead on, so if you’re looking for more pointers and great life lessons, just cue up your Netflix account.
Be kind. To other people, not just your child. This one might seem painfully obvious, but it’s worth remembering that your kids don’t just notice how you treat them — they notice how you interact with the world. You know how some of the most successful people are the ones who are unfailingly lovely to everyone, from shoe shiners to CEOs? People like that lead by example, creating wonderful environments to be emulated. Parents who are rude to everyone but their children are sending a message that there are people who matter (their kids!) and people who don’t (everyone else!).
                             
Traveling with your kids will reinforce that it is not acceptable to simply exist in a bubble of people who reflect their own worldview.Photo: Shutterstock.com
Travel with them. Take trips with your kids, whether it’s to another country, another state or even a town nearby that’s completely different from the one you live in. It doesn’t have to be expensive. A change of scenery will be enough to reinforce to your kids that not everyone lives the way they do: that life goes on differently in other places, that people come from different races and nationalities and economic situations, and that it is not acceptable to simply exist in a bubble of people who reflect their own worldview.
Love and approval are different. Loving your kids unconditionally is one thing, but that love doesn’t need to translate into constant, unconditional, 24/7 approval and praise of everything they do. You can love someone while redirecting their behavior or being disappointed by their actions. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.
A recent study found that reading fiction helps people improve their empathy.Photo: Shutterstock.com
Read to them. A recent study found that reading fiction helps people improve their empathy, because it encourages them to place themselves in others’ lives and understand their actions. In that way, reading is like traveling — with your mind.
Run errands with them. Not all of life can be fascinating, interesting and wonderful, and no lesson reinforces that better than bringing your kids along on some errands. While the recent parenting emphasis on “quality time” is fine, boredom is its own powerful life lesson. So is the message that you have to spend a portion of each day doing things that are necessary, though not magical, and that not every activity revolves around kids. It’s also a great time to bond with your kids in a casual, low-pressure setting."

Great ideas to think about for this coming new year.

Thanks for reading,

Cathy
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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Parenting Tip - Fear Not!

My daughter-in-law, Heather, was asked to give a talk in Church.  I loved her talk so much, and think it applies to so many of us, that I asked her if I could publish it on my blog.  Here it is:



The Birth and Ministry of Christ
With this assignment to speak, I’ve been reflecting as deeply as I could on the time of Christ’s birth. Those were days of great turmoil, fear, and political unrest. The laws and punishments were brutal and the nation of Israel was fractured by oppressive Romans. 
Lloyd Newell, the host of Music and the Spoken Word brought to my attention that in the account of the Savior’s birth, there are four separate occasions where an angel appeared with the message “Fear not.”
When the angel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias with news that his wife would bear a son, the forerunner of the Messiah, he said, “Fear not, . . . for thy prayer is heard.”
Later the same angel visited “beautiful and fair” Mary to tell her that she would be the mother of the Son of God, assuring her with similar words: “Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.”
Shortly thereafter an angel appeared to Joseph the carpenter in a dream and said, “Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife.”
And then, on that holy night, as all eternity watched in reverent silence, the angel came upon humble shepherds keeping watch over their flock. The shepherds, who “were sore afraid,” heard the angel proclaim, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”
So much of what happened during those pivotal moments in the nativity narrative depended upon the courage of people like Zacharias, Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds. God had a monumental task for each of them; their lives were about to change forever. Imagine if they had let fear overcome them. What if they had pulled back, doubted, and failed to do what God needed them to do?
Like Zacharias, who feared that he would never have children, you may have fears about your family. Or maybe your fear isn’t that you won’t have children but that you will have children, whom you will have to raise in a toxic world increasingly hostile to families. Like Mary, you may have an assignment or responsibility that seems far beyond your abilities. Like Joseph, you may fear getting married—or that you will never get married. Like the shepherds, you may be “sore afraid” when your peaceful and simple life is disrupted because God has plans for you that are bigger than what you have for yourself.
It wasn’t too long ago when I had a strong desire to increase my faith. It felt like I had a personal mountain to move and I knew if I just had enough faith, it would move. As I knelt in prayer, the moment I began to pour out my heart for greater faith, I was tempted with fear. I feared that if I prayed for faith, surely, Heavenly Father would put into my path a tragedy or some great trial in order for me to stretch myself and gain greater faith.   When I thought this, my desire to pray for faith diminished and I shrunk at the idea of praying for such a thing. I didn’t want to bring trials or tragedies into my life.
Then I was taught by the spirit. I saw this fear for what it was…a lie, a weak spot in my faith as long as I heal onto this belief. From that point on, I’ve been able to discern more clearly where my own doubts and fears. As I pray for these fears to disperse, my faith has become strengthened.
The truth is, God doesn’t give us stones when we ask for bread. I know this, yet, the moment I give into fear or doubt, is the very moment my faith is weak or completely absent.
Life presents endless opportunities to fear.
We may fear we can never truly overcome an addictive behavior or perhaps we fear for a loved one who has strayed. We may fear we aren’t good enough. We may fear God is ashamed of us…which is, in my opinion, the most darkest of lies.
For those of us who fear, ask yourself, do I pray with the spirit of fear or do I pray in faith that the Lord will provide a way and cling to the hope that you are never so low, but that Christ has gone lower or never so lost but that He will seek you out.          
I don’t think the message “Fear Not” was only intended for one difficult task or experience, I believe this message was meant to be taken into our hearts and continually be applied throughout our lives.
Mary had to not only “Fear not”, while carrying a child, but also when there wasn’t room in the inn to bare her child, and fleeing into Egypt to spare the life of her child, and in feeling the weight of raising the Son of God, and most of all, Mary had to “Fear Not” when her beloved son, her perfect son was to be lifted upon the cross and take upon him the sins of the world.
The Lord’s message to you today is the same message He sent through His angels so long ago: “Fear not.” He can say that because He knows more than we do. He sees what we cannot see. He knows what is coming, and, in the eternal scheme of things, it is not as bad as we may think. He knows that we can handle it with His help because He knows how to strengthen and succor us.
Most of all, He tells us not to fear because He knows that fear will paralyze us. It will keep us from knowing and doing His will; accepting His blessings, His love, and His light; and fulfilling His purposes.
Satan wants us to give in to fear. God wants us to hold on to hope.
I find the message of FEAR NOT profound because I too have fears. I live in a world of great turmoil, fear, and political unrest.  Sometimes I feel that my fears create blocks in my lines of inspiration and connection to God. 
President Howard W. Hunter said:  Fear . . . is a principal weapon in the arsenal that Satan uses to make mankind unhappy. He who fears loses strength for the combat of life in the fight against evil. Therefore, the power of the evil one always tries to generate fear in human hearts. . . .. . . A timid, fearing people cannot do their work well, and they cannot do God’s work at all. Latter-day Saints have a divinely assigned mission to fulfill… that simply must not be dissipated in fear and anxiety. 

When the Christ child was born into the world, I can only imagine the utmost feeling of joy, of relief, feelings of being rescued.  And why? Why these feelings?  Because God is perfect. And he bought us for a profound price, even with His blood. We are his sheep.  We need not fear. A shepherd tends to the needs of his flock. He gently guides them. He feeds them. He guards them. 

I’m forever grateful for my Shepherd. And as I continually learn to be his sheep, I need not want for anything.  I can Fear Not.


There’s a hymn, not found in our hymnbook, but sung at the funeral of President Hinckley called:  My Shepherd, you supply my need
My Shepherd will supply my need: Jehovah is His Name; In pastures fresh He makes me feed,
Beside the living stream. He brings my wandering spirit back When I forsake His ways,
And leads me, for His mercy's sake, In paths of truth and grace. When I walk through the shades of death, Thy presence is my stay; A word of Thy supporting breath Drives all my fears away.
Thy hand, in sight of all my foes, Doth still my table spread; My cup with blessings overflows,
Thine oil anoints my head. The sure provisions of my God Attend me all my days; O may Thy house be my abode, And all my work be praise! There would I find a settled rest, While others go and come; No more a stranger, nor a guest, But like a child at home.
God’s greatest gift to all mankind is His son.
If we earnestly appeal to God, He takes us as we are—and makes us more than we ever imagined.  Then, if we stay in the fold, and be his sheep, we will be brought back to our Father in Heaven to partake of all that the Father has.   
It may not always easy to have faith and “Fear Not” amidst the storms of life. During His ministry, Christ
often professed the strength or weakness in faith of those around him. I noticed that when he found doubt or fear, faith was either weak or absent.  An example of this is found in Mark 4:37-40 as Christ and his apostles were crossing the sea. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?
When I read this I can help but wonder…what would faith have looked like here? Their boat was filled and the storm was raging.

Is it really possible to have faith and internal peace in the midst of a storm? The answer is yes, an absolute yes.

Quoting Elder Bednar:
Truly, one of the great blessings of devoted discipleship is “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).
The peace Christ gives allows us to view mortality through the precious perspective of eternity and supplies a spiritual settledness (see Colossians 1:23) that helps us maintain a consistent focus on our heavenly destination. Thus, we can be blessed to hush our fears because His doctrine provides purpose and direction in all aspects of our lives. His ordinances and covenants fortify and comfort in times both good and bad. And His priesthood authority gives assurance that the things that matter most can endure both in time and in eternity.

Heavenly Father’s gift to us was the way home to him again through His son Jesus Christ. To show love to my savior, I will strive to repent of my fears and choose to have faith in my Lord, Savior Jesus Christ and partake of the Peace of God which passeth all understanding.

We sing the song “O Come All Ye Faithful,” but I wonder if we might not be able to expand it.  O Come, all ye faithful. O Come All ye doubtful. Come, all ye sorrowful and shameful and prideful and sinful. Come lay our burdens at His feet. Come take part of the condescension of Christ. You are never so low, but that He has gone lower. You are never so lost but that He will seek you out.           
This Christmas we worship the Christ child who wipes away our fears.
 I Know that God lives and that Christ was born into the world for us. He is the way. I testify that I know Christ lives today and that we need not fear…we are His Sheep.  In the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

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