When You Fail Your Family

We love watching train wrecks. That’s why our eyeballs lock in on the haggard celebrity on the cover of the gossip magazine who is about to lose it all. The hashtag #fail is a common thing to look up on social media and the videos we watch people failing in life go viral daily.

But who likes failure in their own lives? I am guessing that no one does, and this is the part when I say, “don’t let your failures define you,” and I do believe that. On the other hand, failure is part of the mix when it comes to parenting. Even when you are trying your best to do right for your family, the disappointments are inevitable. You make judgment errors. You battle distractions constantly. There are those times you throw in the towel or at least feel like it. As parents, we miss the mark all the time. Does that make you a failure?

Does it make you a failure when your child is failing a class? Does it make you a failure because your child can’t seem to make friends?  Does it make you a failure when your child can’t play a sport to save his life? Does it make you failure when the school counselor tell you that your child has a learning disability? Does it make you feel like a failure when you realize that you don’t have the money to pay for your child to get to specialized education? Maybe you’ve done everything right to raise your child to be successful, but he’s not. Does that make your failure? The answer is no to all of those.

You are the one who determines whether you are going to be a failure or success. Going through a series of fails does not make you a failure. Quitting is failing. If you are alive and have your children or access to invest yourself into your children, you will always a chance to win.

Walk with your children through their troubles. You are their closest teacher when it comes to coping with life. Many times, they are going to copy your pattern.

Some of you are saying, “That’s the problem. I fail a lot more than most folks. What if I don’t know how to cope?” I don’t have a quick answer for that, but will start with put your faith in God. I will paraphrase my favorite Jewish Proverb to help you get started, “Trust in God and what He says with all your heart, and don’t base everything on your own understanding of life.” Let God be in the driver’s seat of your life and He will straighten out the twisted avenues of your life. Ask a relative or a trustworthy friend to help you find a reputable church that teaches the Bible without all of the religious mumbo-jumbo. I’ll bet you’ll find a supportive community waiting for you as well.

Get help. Get professional counseling. Find a licensed family therapist. Take a parenting class. If money is an issue, start with looking for resources online. Read a parenting book. Go the public library and borrow one. You don’t have time? Make time? Leading a family is something that takes a lifetime, yet we  spend more time preparing and studying for a career which may last just a small portion of our lives than we do shaping souls who bear our name.

There are no perfect parents, but spend time with those who want to be great ones. One way or another you’ll pick up some solid parenting skills. Everyone should have a mentor to help them grow; that’s young people and adults.

The greatest thing you can do for your children is to be there for them. Be present physically, emotionally, and mentally. They already know that you are far from perfect, and still love you anyway. If you are still there and haven’t thrown in the towel for good then you are on the road to success.

Don’t let the failures define you. Instead, use the failures to refine you. Stop making excuses. You have the power to decide and follow through to be a rock for your children to stand on. Just take ten minutes to browse through a news site or tv channel. This world is quickly changing that demands that you prepare your children. The best thing you can do for your children is to give them a clear voice in this noisy world. If you can do that you are already #winning.

What do you do when the kids fight?

Brothers and sisters fight. That’s what they do. You most likely fought your siblings… a lot! How do you cope when your children fight? Here are some thoughts the next time you are called on to be police officer, referee, or judge.

Don’t deal with the fighting based on your mood or energy level or lack of. If the moment doesn’t allow for a resolution, then call a truce but set a time and place for the resolution to happen. Follow through is important. If you don’t, your kids will see that you just didn’t want to deal with them. When that happens, you are now dealing with more than one issue.

Resist the temptation to bail them out with a quick judgement. Listen to what they are saying. The fight usually has roots that go deeper than “I had the remote control first.” Listen to what the kids are saying.

Teach your children how to fight fair. That’s a whole new blog post on it’s own. That’s a book. The main thing is to show your children how to talk about the situation without attacking each other’s character. It is your job to deal with the character issues though. We all want our children to grow. Fighting fair allows each child to talk about the matter and how he/she felt injured or violated. Make them talk with each other instead of using you as the mediator the entire time. That way you are showing your children how to resolve conflict. As a parent, are you modeling conflict resolution in a way that will help your children?

Stay away from favoritism. That is unless you want to create a real-life soap opera that will last your lifetime. Show your children how to respect each other without threats to each other and without threats from you.

Go beyond the truth and make wisdom your goal. Wisdom goes beyond an agreement to not argue. Wisdom goes beyond even the resolution itself. Here’s some Bible to meditate on, “But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.” ‭‭James‬ ‭3:17-18‬ ‭NLT‬‬.

Wouldn’t that be awesome if you could transform your family into a bunch of peacemakers? Looking forward to the results!

Recycle your childhood memories

“Innocence is the very essence of childhood and pure, unfiltered freedom is its reward. Joyful screams mixed with laughter are the evidence leaving us with snapshots of hope and promise.”

Recycle those fond memories from childhood with your children. It is tempting to just sit in the beach chair and Instagram away under the umbrella the whole time while the kids play, but the memory-making moment is in the interaction.

Are you pulling the seaweed onto the shore for the kids to play with it? Are you joining in the hunt for the rarest sea shell? Are you filling the buckets with ocean water to fill in the holes the kids are digging? Are you digging the holes with them?

The new memories your children make don’t have to be carbon copies of your own (who remembers carbon copies?) but you can facilitate the new ones because of your experience.

Just some thoughts for the weekend. Enjoy yours and make some memories.

Family Bonding Time

Most of the best memories from childhood we ones that we shared with family and friends. Don’t you agree? It is important to facilitate and share moments with your children.

Here’s some thoughts:

  • Don’t waste the time doing selfies of yourself sharing your moment. Get into the moment instead of telling all your FaceBook friends about the moment. You can post that stuff later.
  • If you are doing something that doesn’t work out, don’t lose heart. That picnic bbq lunch you burned or the gingerbread house that fell apart usually provides great memories and laughs afterwards.
  • Lots of great moments happen throughout the normal daily routine. You still need to plan activities.
  • Don’t let a small budget discourage you. I Google searched “free family activities” and found this article titled, “Free Family Fun” http://www.parents.com/fun/activities/free-family-fun/
  • Quantity leads to quality. Planning and facilitating times your family can do an activity together will lead to good times.
  • Photograph, video, or collect something from the activity. For example, if you’re at a park, pick up a leaf.

Go beyond documenting the event. Create a photo album. If not physically, at least digitally. Make a scrapbook. It has to be accessible for the family to look at. Give your family the opportunities to be able to reflect and connect to your family history. I keep a 12-old video camera under the tv. About once or twice a year we connect the camera to the tv to watch at least an hour of old footage. The kids couldn’t believe all the crazy noises they made as babies. My wife and I couldn’t believe how much younger we looked.

Spending time together takes not only some planning but commitment as well. Family activities have a lot of benefits as you already know. Those times also give your children the space to know you not only as a parent but as a person as well. Those times also give you to the space to know your child as a person too.

Got thoughts? Insight? Tips? Questions? Comment below.

Looking for my Invisible Child

Apparently, I have an invisible child who goes by the name of “Nahmee.”

Me: “Who’s turn to clean the litter box?”

My visible kids: “Nahmee.”

Me: “Who left the cereal box open?”

My visible kids: “Nahmee.”

I decided that my new quest in life was to find this invisible child of mine. I began doing homework online and searched for answers. Unfortunately, my Google searches for “Nahmee” did not come up with anything substantial I was looking for.

I eventually shared my story with some friends. To my surprise, I discovered a common theme between many of my friends who were parents. Here’s are some of my findings.

  1. The first friend told me that he is on a similar hunt to find his child, “Wununtme.” To this day, he has not physically seen nor heard this child.
  2. One mom said that she not only had one invisible kid. She had invisible twins, and their names were “Idonno” and “Ididndoit.” She also has not had a tangible encounter with this child.
  3. Another friend shared that her invisible kid has a Spanish name, “Yonofui.” Different language, same results. Nothing.
  4. Two older friends told me something strange and thought-provoking. They each had an invisible child who seemingly disappeared when their visible children grew up and out of the house. That could be a great news story if they end up having invisible grandchildren.

I am seeing a common thread that has been woven into each family. These mysterious children are invisible little beings who make messes in the house. Even though the parents have not made these invisible children responsible for any chores, their physically visible brothers and sisters says that they are. I think it’s terribly wrong for my visible children to blame all of the undone chores on the one child, who I haven’t even met. However, if my invisible child doesn’t speak up or show up, I won’t be able to address the messes he or she leaves he behind in the house.

So the quest continues. I can’t wait to finally meet my invisible kid. We have a lot of catching up to do. Until then- Nahmee has a lot of chores to work on.

If you have invisible child and have some insight or maybe have miraculously met your child please comment below.

Bonding Moments

Father showing his son
how to find the right one.

Thanks for taking the time to read my 2-line poem. This image reminds me of how it can be and should be between a father and his child. Does it have to be a physical task? Does it have to be a traditionally masculine activity? Is this form of mentoring exclusive to sons? No, not necessarily, but I believe fathers should make it their highest priority to invest their time into their children.

I remember the first time that I took my son fishing. He was about 6 and excited to catch fish as many 6-year old boys would be. We drove for about an hour to a lake that I was told was consistently stocked with fish. We were both eager, but I was totally unprepared on a hot Summer afternoon. When I mean totally unprepared I mean totally unprepared! I acted on a spontaneous urge to try fishing. I think I had been buried in work and school for weeks and knew that my son and I had to do something.

Why I chose to fish instead of another activity is a head-scratcher because we could have skated at the local skate park because that was something we were already doing together. We could have gone to the movies because I knew how to watch movies. I must have thought that being on a lake would have been refreshing. Plus, I wanted to teach my son something. Whatever my dad and uncles taught me about fishing when I was a kid was somewhere lost in my memory banks. Fishing skills were zero.

A friend was kind enough to let us borrow a couple of fishing poles. We went to the tackle shop next to the lake but bought the wrong bait on this muggy day. I you can imagine after baking on a lake for 3 hours, the only thing we caught were sunburns. We were fried, hungry, tired, and majorly disappointed.

Are you old enough to remember the Looney Tunes character, Sylvester the Cat? Sylvester was me, and Sylvester’s son was my son saying in major disappointment, “Ohhh Father….” Yet, I n that massive failure of a fishing day, bonding occurred between my son that day. I didn’t have a smartphone then to distract me. My attention was on my son and the potential catch. There were times of silently staring into the water together. In between the silent and mostly frustrating moments, we sat and talked about stuff. We sat and talked about stuff. A lot of layers get peeled off revealing the soul when you have time to just talk. It’s worthwhile for the parents. It’s rewarding for the children.

Your children may witness you failing at a lot of things, but they will win when you invest your time with them.

Do you have a major fail moment? Feel free to share. Your comments are appreciated.