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Posts Tagged ‘parenting’


I love YouTube videos… Recently I found one that showed a prank played by several college students on the public-at-large.  They had super-glued a quarter to the ground, and then set up a camera “blind” in a local mall. The results were hilarious.  People would walk by, most of them looking down.  Some would notice the quarter. Some would walk by it, oblivious.  Those who did notice the coin, stopped.  Almost all bent down to pick it up, after looking around to see who was watching. When it became difficult to lift the quarter from the ground, responses varied.  A few even got down on their hands and knees and tried to leverage the coin from the ground. 

Watching the video started me thinking…

Like most glues, Superglue is called a “bonding agent.”  Anything it touches will become bonded together; like my thumb and forefinger; or the china cup I’m just not willing to get rid of yet…. And it only takes a couple of drops too…. The results are almost instantanious; becoming permanent…  (unless I have a chisel handy…)

Don’t you wish it was the same with relationships?  Don’t you wish there was some fantastic agent that could be applied to a relationship, or even applied in drops to our inner understanding, deepening and sealing those relationships we sometimes fear might be slipping away?  Such an element could take us back to the formative years, when our self-concept was being formed; when we were experiencing imprinting; when our morals were developing; when we were being instructed in our values…. 

It would change our perceptions, and help us to see the world … well, properly…

Studies have shown that healthy emotional bonding in a child’s life is crucial in building a solid sense of personal belonging and confidence later in life.  Interestingly enough, the same studies have shown a link between uninterrupted, positive bonding during childhood years (ages 0-12), and the development of the adult moral conscience.  It seems that we each are born with the desire to receive approval; to be understood as having “meant well” in our lives.  Additionally, we are born with a temporary, and fleeting innocence that predisposes us to believe the best, to learn, and to live motivated lives. 

I’ll throw in an illustration here: As salt and baking soda is to a cake’s batter, so healthy bonding causes our lives “to rise.”

That doesn’t mean that we are born without a sin nature… Instictively, we all possess the ability to choose ourselves first — that goes without saying…. There are things that we must be taught; like sharing; like listening; like empathsizing with others’ pain, like taking the smaller piece of pie because the apple pie on the table is our brother’s favorite…  No, we are each inherrantly selfish, with our personal orbits rotating in loyalty around our own comforts and sense of safety.  But early years are the best season to shape unselfishness. 

Early years are the time when, as Anne Ortlund stated so eloquently years ago, “children are wet cement.”

Two studies come to mind, both of which I re-read recently, involve the mindsets of sociopathic killers over the past 200 years or so.  The studies included the lives of murderers such as Ted Bundy, Jack the Ripper, Hilter, Josef Mengele, as well as more modern mass murderers, such as those who have perpetrated school shootings; like Colombine, like Paducah, Cleveland, and New Orleans.  There have been more than 60 in our country to date.  And lest we believe that the problems exist only in our own sphere of influence, we must remember that school shootings have taken place in other countries as well:  Finland, the Netherlands, Germany to name a few.  These studies show that whenever a person becomes sociopathic, it is a result of emotional numbness, of ambient depression, of isolation — in short, an un-bonded-ness in the life.

But….

Yes. I hear you. Not everyone with a bonding issue becomes a socio-path.  However, we were created to bond — at Creation, God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.”    When we are not well bonded, and are designed to bond with someone — who do we bond with?  We bond to ourselves. We feel alone.  We become our own sense of “rightness.” Even within a family, we feel  “outside” somehow.  We don’t sense much emotion, unless it is negative; like anger, depression, fear.  We try to meet our own needs — even when we don’t know what they really are — and we are tempted to overindulge.

Can you fix the cake as it comes out of the oven?  Can you add salt and baking soda then — when the layer hasn’t risen, and it “tastes unappealing.” No, for the cake to rise properly, those things must be added in at “batter stage.”

Sadly, the majority of people I see in my counseling office represent our culture pretty well. Most are trying to work through bonding issues — gaps in emotional development.  They are people who thought life was “just breezing along,” until a crisis presented itself; something they were emotionally untooled for; something that released a torrent of deeper pain from early life. Typically, men cover these gaps with anger; women with fear and depression.  And bonding gaps in children — become love needs that drive us in adults.

So,

How does a parent, or authority figure,  impart bonding to their child?  Consider: can they give away something they never received?

How does a mother guide without nagging or complaining?  Consider: can she follow a pattern she has never seen modeled?

How does a father become involved and empathetic towards his family?  Consider: where would he learn those examples?

Does our busy-ness and driven-ness as a culture explain away a child’s inherrent need for bonding? Why do we seek to be “normal,” rather than “healthy?”  

Answer: We can only do what we have seen done, and repeat what we have experienced…

Unless….  The solution is not an easy one.

Our culture is in need of healthy fathers, healthy mothers, …… and healthy churches. 

Currently, I am one of those who serve in a congregation of believers.  My counseling practice includes some from my own congregation, as well as many from outside our church walls.  Too many times, I hear the words, “I don’t go to church anymore, because I didn’t feel I was good enough; I couldn’t keep all the rules. I didn’t know how.”  Too many times, sadly, people in bars have proven to be kinder than people inside a church structure.   And worse, the only people who are offended when I repeat these statements, usually are those who feel they already know Jesus Christ.  Those who don’t know Him yet agree…. or even enlarge the statements.

How do we learn to bond?  My simple answer, humbly offered is this:  We must allow our hearts to receive the love of God.  It is not something we can earn, or prove to be worthy of.  But it is the only substance that can take us each back to “batter stage.”  Jesus said, in Matthew 18, “Unless you be converted (changed) and become as a little child, you will not see the Kingdom of Heaven.” 

Stop and think about that for a moment… reread the last paragraph… I don’t know about you, but I really want to see the Kingdom come — on earth, as it is in heaven… don’t you?  What would it take for you to let your heart go back to “batter stage?”  Can you believe that God deeply and thoroughly loves you — really loves you — just because He made you? What bonding needs were not addressed in your “batter stage?”

The only one who can help us become who we are designed to become, is the One who made us… Jesus Christ…. He is the bonding agent.

The salt and baking soda part of the proposition includes finding real disciples of Jesus who will allow you to learn as you grow; and will love you as well, without judgment, or give you a list of rules that must be “kept.”  I say that, because it is important that we realize that when we allow Jesus to really love us, we will begin to hear and feel His Spirit speak to us.   On the inside of us. And when the Holy Spirit speaks, He teaches us; encourages us; and helps us to make changes from the inside out.  It’s always better to work with Him, because He is our Creator; He alone knows who we are destined to become.  

When the Holy Spirit leads us, He never leaves us alone. He always leads us into a safe community.  In the Bible, that community is called “The Body of Christ,” or “The Family of God.” 

If you would like further study about this, please email me at awakenedtogrow@yahoo.com…. or find me on facebook.

Blessings!

“…. there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother…” (Proverbs 18:24)

“…. (Jesus said,) I will never leave you or forsake you….” (Hebrews 13:5)

(c)2010. atg/dg  Duplication for profit requires permission.

  

 

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You read it right, friends.  Believe it or not, it is the name of magazine: “Garden and Gun; Soul of the New South.”  As I sat waiting at a friend’s house this week, I picked it up to read. Fascinating.  I wasn’t born in the south, but I wish I was.  I’ve been eating grits, rice and gravy, okra, catfish and ribs for as long as I can remember.  Our family has gone through a gallon of sweet tea a day since Bill and I married back in the 70’s…. Am I telling my age?  Oh well.

The article that tickled my fancy in this particular issue, was called “Fetch Daddy a Drink,” by P.J. O’Rourke (I find myself wondering whether that is a man’s real name — but whatever — this is the south)….. It was the sub-title that caught my attention — “How to apply gun-dog training methods to your children.”  I was hooked.  Was Mr. O’Rourke calling my children animals? (Not that I hadn’t thought it quietly to myself once or twice when they were smaller — but to put such a thing in print?  Really now…)

In a nutshell, Mr. O’Rourke had taken the instructions of famous dog-trainer, Richard Wolters, in the book “Gun Dog” and translated them into parenting lingo.  While the hilarious outcome of his discussion was entertaining, I found several things I agree with, that I can’t resist sharing with you; logging them away here in cyberspace.

Three Rules To Train A Good Dog

1. Start ’em young — Don’t wait to train a pup until he is a year old.  Begin early.  Make solid imprintings that leave a legacy of behavior patterns. (I stopped to think; manners, habits, making the bed, even prayer….. okay.) O’Rourke says puppies who begin training at one year see a success rate of 20%, while puppies who begin such training at  5 weeks see a rate of 90%.  (In people years, that would mean waiting until my child was 7 to expect him/her to make their bed….. and looking back… potty training definitely had to happen earlier than seven…. Continue O’Rourke… I’m listening.)

2. Repetition, repetition, repetition. Keep repeating the lesson until the pup learns it, Mr O’Rourke says. (My years as a children’s pastor tell me this is true as well — I always had to remember the One Minute Window Rule.  That’s the rule that says I get one minute of undivided attention from a child for every year of their emotional development….. Hmm…. are we on to something?)

3.  Keep things concise.  “Don’t clutter a pup’s brain with useless nonsense,” quotes the author.  “Keep your commands short.” (I agreed with him up til now, so I read on…. ) The basic commands are SIT, STAY, COME, and WHOA. According to O’Rourke, his son will need to learn those rules if he wants to experience a happy marriage….

I put the magazine down.  I found myself smiling — and at the same time wondering whether the author didn’t have a good point in the midst of his bizarre approach to child rearing. 

In the 1920’s, algebra and geometry were college courses, as were foreign languages, and the lab sciences.  Back then, long division was introduced in the freshman year of high school. Music, the arts, and hands-on classes were part of the learning experience; education utilized all of the learning styles.  Now, in the twenty-first century, our schools are aimed for the 7% of the population who are visual learners. We are harried, hassled, and time compressed.  And now? Five times the amount of information the children of the 20’s and 50’s were expected to absorb, is now on the plates of our children who attend school.  We have become obsessed as a nation with seeking to make sure our children know more, do more, make more and become more than any generation before them…..

Additionally, our children’s health conditions show the results of that approach to preparing them for adult life.  They struggle with ADHD, ADD, childhood depression, behavioral disorders, OCD, obesity, anxiety, sleep disorders, to name a few.  Just last week, I read a news article about a middle schooler who had tried to end his life.  Presently, in my own counseling practice, I regularly see at least five children under the age of 12, with big-people sized problems.

What’s gone wrong with our plan?

Which brings me back to Mr. O’Rourke. There are two major elements underlying the author’s entire “gun-dog” approach to parenting; elements we all really should adhere to if we desire success in raising our children — or our grandchildren — or our employees, even, for that matter.  They are elements applying on any level of leading — whether coaching, counseling,  mentoring, teaching or parenting. 

That missing element is Relationship; personal contact and consistent communication.  To put it in “gun-dog” lingo: When an owner trains a pup, he is personally involved, on every level, for each stage.  He learns to anticipate what the pup will do. He spends time observing; learning how his dog thinks.  It’s how obedience happens.  It’s how loyalty is nurtured.

With personal time.

As parents, we teach our children not only by what we say, but by what they see us doing; day in and day out.  Our actions and attitudes do more to teach than any lecture.  Thank you Mr. O’Rourke for your insight, and your humor….

I know I needed your advice. And the laughs.

But I don’t think I will ever be able to look at one of my children with a palm raised like a stop sign and utter, “Sit and stay.”  (I’d like to raise their personal value level a little higher than that, I think.)

(C)2010 DG– awakenedtogrow.com

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She’s only five.  Just. She has short blond hair, and dancing eyes that look right through me, especially when we are drawing pictures together; especially when she plays with the knights and ladies and horses… but most of all when she is standing next to my desk, asking for yet another heart-shaped lollipop. 

Yesterday, she came in with her mother. 

Yesterday.  It was snowing in our city — in the month of March– much too late for icy weather in the south.  Drive slowly on black ice, folks.  You don’t see it coming. Yesterday. The child couldn’t stay inside during our session.  So, she and her mother created a ten inch snowman ornament for the hood of my little car.  Wish I had taken a picture — he was formidable. He endured the drive home, and was still frozen to my car’s hood, pointing forward, this morning at 6am. She makes me giggle.

Yesterday.

It wasn’t long ago this little one first came in to see me.  We had to get to know each other, you see. She was having trouble letting go in the morning. No one knew why. She wouldn’t talk —  In my own humble opinion, the child holds too gracious of a spirit to burden the adults around her.

So we played together — drawing pictures, punching play-doh, jousting knights and ladies, with puppets, …and with the dollhouse.  When the focus of her fear finally surfaced, she crawled into a fetal position; she substituted grunts for words; she quietly pulled away and wept; she tried to climb into the five-inch opening between my desk and wall cabinet.  It was her attempt to find a safe place to hide; a cave; a womb.   It was time for a rescue.

Did you know that a child will show their trust by speaking to you? Such a feat requires time and safety….

Her abuser denies any wrongdoing. 

We are slowly working through her perceptions about herself, and about men in general. Much too soon she will be confronted with the much larger outside world.  Can we help her steady her feet before it appears?  Dear Jesus, I pray so. 

How does this happen to a five year old? I have seen many such children over the years, and yet it still confounds me —

The pervasiveness of evil in the world around us? On a small level, perhaps — but in reality that entity is nothing, but a loud bully on the playground.  What confounds my heart and mind is this — The infiniteness of the love of Father God; deeper than any evil, any fear, any abandonment, any pain; wider than any blockage, any accusation, any broken place.  He reaches into our humanity, and restores identity; greater than any loss, any abuse, any difficulty — and it is eternal. Eternally mine, because I belong to Him

Do you belong to Him?  Then, it is yours as well. And He will move heaven and earth to redeem, to rebuild, to restore, to repair and to re-create what the false gods and philosophies of this world have stolen from you. 

He  is God.  No substitutions, no additives. Just God.

It’s been several months now, since my dollhouse tow-head came to visit for the first time.  Her mother can’t pay, so my cheeks receive my fee in sticky kisses (lollipop derived); as her mother is trying to rebuild her life.  We came up with a business name and made flyers and business cards last week — we can’t wait to see what Jesus will do for her.

I have long said — “People who need help and counsel can’t afford it; when people have money for help and counsel they don’t want it. They become distracted with all the things they think will heal their pain.”

My husband suggested that I invite those who are taking this newest adventure of blogging with me, into my own journey. He said you should know what it is I do these days…..

Many of my clients are just like these two precious souls — like butterflies emerging from a long and hard winter; getting ready to unfold their wings and become.

Pray for us.  Pray for me.  And, if it occurs to you, and you would like to support our ministry at Awakened to Grow, you can do so through my website; awakenedtogrow.com. And I promise, any gift you give will be used to provide care for those who cannot afford to pay for themselves.

(C) 2010 DG — awakenedtogrow.com

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