Family and Humanity

March 31, 2010

We’ve been experiencing quite the rain fall in our part of America. I’m normally not used to traveling through flooded streets of water, as we get 4-6 inches of rain over the course of 72 hours. It’s been a rough daily stretch around the house. We have a child who right now is making life very difficult for the rest of us.

She doesn’t want to face reality. She wants to place the blame on everyone else around her. She’s now reaching the point where she doesn’t care who sees certain aspects of this behavior. We had a long conversation with her therapist and I realized that I have to separate the fact that she’s struggling within her own body, and that my interaction has to be more from a human perspective rather than a daughter perspective.

We have gone back to basics again. We inform her of what we expect moment to moment. If she isn’t willing to comply, the onus is on her. She’s not going to make us feel like we are at fault for her current life situation. That’s the easy way to handle things- push people aside and place the blame on everything else around you.

I need to remember what will make me happy. I can’t take out my frustration on my family. I need to distract myself to get things better. I can’t let someone’s bitterness about life pull me down. When they are ready to see that they have the biggest part in how their life is turning out, maybe they will settle down, settle in and focus on enjoying life. But I can’t make that happen- it has to occur within the heart and mind of the other person.

When people have baggage, it’s easy for them to claim that if they lived somewhere else, in another time, with another family, their life would be better. Realize that your problems or issues go with you wherever you go. If you haven’t had good relationships in the past, the only way to make things better is to look at yourself and see what part you play in the development of the relationship.

On another note, I’ve been reading a great book regarding giving of yourself and charity called The Power of Half. It’s one thing to give contributions to society, but it’s another to really make a conscious effort to cut back and place the money into the hands of people who can really make a change within their world. I’m thankful that I have great friends and family who’ve been willing to give me their time and support as I go through all of the events and turmoil in our lives.

I keep looking for the huge life lesson in all of this. I know we may not get the answer to how we are doing as parents until they have moved away and start their own families. I know my wife and I are putting in the full commitment to get her everything she needs, it’s now a question of when she’ll finally take that life line and grab it for all it’s worth.


You Can’t Make Me

March 30, 2010

Ah yes, another fun 24 hours in my house. Ever get the feeling that when one person really checks out of the family dynamic, it makes life difficult to sail on safe seas? A favorite phrase we’ve been hearing from our youngest daughter is the fact that we can’t make her do anything she doesn’t want to do.

While the will is strong, we can as parents limit her choice making abilities depending on her maturity and compliance level within the home. Ultimately I want her to spend healthy, productive time around the family. However, if she is having trouble getting her clothes together in the morning and off to school without lashing out verbally and physically at the family- and the same dynamic returns after school and before bed time- we need to put these measures in place. For her safety. For her security.

I love when I’m in the car with my youngest daughter and all I hear is how everything that’s going wrong in her life is my fault. The fact that she’s behind in her homework, the fact that she can’t keep her anger under control, the fact that she doesn’t have enough time to get ready for school in the morning- every aspect she wants to place the blame on others. So while the tirade went on as I drove her to her new after school program, I decided it’s not worth it to react. I’m working on keeping myself happy in all of this- letting her know she is still wanted and loved- but that I’m not willing to accept abusive behavior either verbally or physically.

The future doesn’t look promising based on these past 4 plus years with us. She doesn’t like hearing that, but I know she’s smart enough to take in information and use it. When she wants to buy into the process. She’s not buying into anything at this point. As long as her basic needs are met, I doubt she’ll want to change anything about her current situation. Every time she learns new skills at different treatment facilities, she knows what to say or do to reunite with the family. In crisis when asked to use these skills, she dismisses them as not working for her, and reverts back to the comfort of crying, yelling, screaming, stomping, kicking and punching.

Can you tell I’m at my wits end? How can you help someone that is unwilling to get out of their own way? There are numbers of people who’ve had horrible pasts that make a decision that acceptance and moving forward is better than to continually drown in victim-filled drama. As children get older, adults are less willing to give second chances especially if the child doesn’t feel sorrow or remorse for their negative action. Her destiny is in her hands, she can have a safe, successful life with a loving family, great relationships and the world at her fingertips.

Who knows what the next few days will bring. At this point if we had 24 hours of peace I think I would pass out from excitement. I have to remember that I am strong, that we can succeed together even if it takes her many more years to believe in us. As Billy Joel wrote about in one of his songs, it’s all just a matter of trust.

Short and Sweet

March 29, 2010

I tend to forget that short and sweet works best for my children. They want to run out of room after I hit the 5 word mark. They don’t mind telling me everything about their lives and want me to hang on their every word- but when it comes to my voice, they tune out very quickly.

I grew up in an environment where we talked a lot around the kitchen table, on car rides, in the morning when we woke up and often before we went to bed. My mother and father gave my brother and I ample opportunity to keep them informed about our hobbies, our interests, our friends and our education. When I needed to learn a lesson, I was aware of one fact: I knew it wasn’t going to be a one minute conversation. I would have to think about what happened. I would have to hear my parents side. I needed to learn right from wrong.

With so many different sources of information coming at all sides, the younger generation tunes out so quickly that I know I have to be clear, concise and accurate. I have to ask my children what they heard me say, and clarify if they’ve misinterpreted the words. Often they may not know the precise meaning of a word- they would rather yes or okay you to death than to really take the time to make sure they know what you are talking about. I should value the days when they are willing to handle longer conversations- but for the most part I have to accept where they are at.

A lot of times after a 6 hour day of school, where they spent more time listening than talking, the last thing they want to face at home is more of the same. They want to relax, let loose a little bit and take the stress away from their lives. I need to change up my perspective, and realize that I can be an awesome dad and also have fun with them.

It’s not easy. I’ll need reminders. Compact, precise sentences work wonders. It’s almost as if I’ll be speaking in commands- while watching the tone and non-verbal mannerisms I convey with the words. My wife is very accurate in knowing that if I expect my girls to listen to me- I need to come from a position of strength rather than a feeling of weakness. I can’t be afraid to say no- or stand my ground when I really believe in something.

I’m aware of the push and pull nature as pre-teens and teenagers rise up to adulthood. They want what they want, and they want it now. They don’t understand that for many things in life, you have to wait. You may not be mature enough. You may not have the finances. You may not have the skill set. As parents we will have to not only set limits, but enter conversations as to why people make certain decisions that they have to make.

It’s why I believe parenting is the toughest job humans endure in their lifetime. You are shaping and molding future generations- so don’t take this responsibility lightly. Your impact is astounding.

Weekend Fun

March 28, 2010

We are all back together as a family. The four of us approach life with a mix of excitement and apprehension- only because we struggle with developing the right balance of attention and space. We did a psycho-drama exercise with our in house therapist a couple of days ago that really brought to light a couple of things that I need to work on.

One: I can be within the same room of the house and not fully engage with my children. They would rather have a 1/2 hour of my undivided attention in a preferred activity of their choosing than to be here for 3 hours in the room while I read, surf the web or watch television. I need to really work on that for the days that I’m here in the afternoon and evening time. Even if they choose not to take me up on the offer, I need to make myself available as I think they really feel centered, loved and important when I place the full focus on each of them.

Two: That basically I want to keep my brain going, and there are times I just need to let loose, relax and have fun. I can’t take on the world’s problems. I can’t save my children from their past. I can only hope to work where they are at, process at the speed they are capable of handling and make sure that we have the structure in place for them to thrive. They need to see me laugh- not take myself so seriously- and understand that it’s fine to fall, dust yourself off and pick yourself back up to do something better.

Three: I’m struggling to maintain my sanity as a father of two daughters. I was warned that as my daughters got older and they came to terms with their past, a flood of emotions would come to the forefront and we would have to be there to help them. Some days are better than others. As a male I want to help them so much. I’m hurt when they want to talk to their mother more than me. I also know that because men didn’t stick around in their lives, I’m at a serious disadvantage because they fully expect me to be just like the other male authorities figures who’ve come and gone.

This is our weekend fun to process and deal with. How did I cope today? I took the time to go with my friend and her son to the mall, so the four of us could take in some open air and some shopping. I write in my journal when I can just to have the thoughts pour out of my head onto the page. I’ll put headphones on my laptop from time to time and just listen to some aggressive music.

I realize the energy has to go somewhere. I can’t take it out on my family members. I’m glad that I have bowling also to look forward to, and I think I need to get back into consistent deep breathing and relaxation/ visualization techniques to lessen my stress level. I will survive another day. I know I’m a good person and my daughters want to lead a good life. I will not give up in making them successful, loving and kind people.

Awake Time and Passion

March 27, 2010

I’m reading an awesome time management book called The Other 8 Hours by Robert Pagliarini. The main premise of the book revolves around the idea that if you want to create new wealth and purpose, it’s not going to happen during your 8 hours of sleep time or your 8 hours at your main job. You’ll have to work on this passion during the 8 other hours of the day.

I love the section about LifeLeeches- 24 time and life suckers that you need to work upon to reclaim your life and get you on the path that you desire. I’m not going to go into all of them specifically- but I’m sure it would astonish you to know that many people spend 25-35% of their free time passively engrossed in the television- over the course of a lifetime. Realistically we live into our 70’s and 80’s, but the amount of time we have to pursue our own passion and create a life of purpose is roughly half of that- approximately 42 years.

We have a finite amount of time on this earth. We can make our own choices about what we want to do, who we want to become, where we want to live, what we want to see and the steps that we need to take to get there. It’s perfectly acceptable to find the right people, read the right books, and seek out the right courses to achieve and accomplish all that we imagine we want out of life.

Jim Rohn discusses this concept in one of his seminars- how people look into the future and think in terms of years versus actual number of times. If you get the chance to go on vacation once a year over the next 20 years- you only have 20 more vacations left in your lifetime, not 20 years. Grab the moment while you can and do everything that you can to achieve your dreams. Capture your ideas in any manner possible- with paper and pen, with voice recorders, through your cell phone, on your laptop- and explore these options when you have the time to brainstorm.

So if you need to get your finances in order, it’s fine to make sacrifices and seek out a second part-time job until you feel like you have everything under control. I also enjoy Robert’s concept of frictionless reciprocation. If there is a way to help family or friends when you are already doing an activity out- they can also help you out in return to maximize your time in other areas of your life.

I’m 120 pages in and think I will be returning to this book time and again for direct application to my life. I agree that you can’t spend the 8 hours away from work and sleep just letting the time pass idly by. Pull together your own mastermind or accountability group if you have to- just let the imagination fly, think about your passions and how you can move into accomplishing all of your dreams while living the full life you’ve always desired.

Where do I see my passion these days? Writing, reading, bowling, and the music business are all areas of big interest- along with adoption, therapy and mental health. I need to sit down and really evaluate my skill set to see where I want to take these interests over the next 3-5 years. I’m thankful for all the wonderful comments and how I’ve been able to help many through their day to day lives.

Until next time, keep reaching for the stars.

Uncomfortable Stretch

March 26, 2010

We all need to stretch a little bit every day. Physically that’s obvious for flexibility, but I also think we need to stretch our minds so that we can learn and grow from every experience. I remember hearing about an exercise through a Jack Canfield workshop about how we end up folding our hands together and attempting to put the opposite hand over the other in order to stretch ourselves in terms of comfort.

Are there times in your life where you will seek out a different path, just to see where it takes you emotionally, physically, spiritually- as well as how you handle the ensuing situations with your mind and body?

I think I’ve become better as a person due to these stretches. I know that my bowling career took a huge upswing about 5 years ago when I was willing to seek out a coach, seek out better bowlers for advice and also starting bowling with experienced, seasoned competitors. During practice sessions I will often purposely make mistakes to see how I handle things, what types of changes I will make to my game and file these sessions into my memory banks. You never know when you will have to apply these situations in real life application- and I think the only way you know you’ll handle it is through the practice you’ve put yourself through- visually and physically.

We can’t expect to be and act and do the same thing in our 20’s as we can into our 50’s, 60’s and beyond. You’ll have relationships evolve and change- you may make moves in terms of where you live, your career, how close or how far you may be with your family. Really think about some of the people that you miss in your lives, and if things have gone astray- what would it take to just put things on the right course? A simple email? A quick phone call? A casual one on one lunch?

I challenge you to spend at least one day a week stretching yourself in an area you’ve yet to consider over the next 30 days. Maybe you need to work on your health but don’t quite know how to take the first course of action. Think about someone in your family or network of friends that leads an ideal, healthy lifestyle that you want to subscribe to- and see if they would be willing to mentor you. Ask for a few minutes of their time to pick their brains for advice. Maybe you have a new career you would like to seek out, but are unsure how to go about it. Play reporter and offer to interview an expert in the field to see what it takes to get to the same place as they currently are.

We have only one life to live. Stretch, surprise yourself as the human mind and body can do things beyond anything that you could ever imagine. I realize in some aspects of my family I have to meet people where they are at. This doesn’t mean though that I’m willing to settle for less than second best. My children need leadership as Joyce Meyer’s talks about- they need to see me being courageous. I’m not going to let how my children started in life steal their destiny.

Have an awesome weekend everyone- be kind to people that come into your life, offer them your smile, your energy and your loving presence.

Another Return Home

March 25, 2010

We have our youngest daughter’s return home coming in less than 48 hours. We spent today having a brief therapy session regarding her communication style, social anxiety issues and what we hope will work when she returns.

Cognitively the therapist believes she processes verbal information at about a 4 year old pace. We want to do some neuro-psychological testing to see cognitively where she’s at- the trouble is, our youngest believes this testing is on a pass or fail basis. We just want to see if there is something in her thinking process that causes her to stay stuck and resort to aggressive behavior because she doesn’t believe anything else can keep her safe.

We may have to be more visual in terms of our reminders if we sense that she’s getting agitated. We may have to take her out of situations very quickly when she doesn’t feel safe- even if it means that we remove everyone in our family from the outing. We have to make her life stable and have everyone gain a sense of comfort before I think she’ll be able to gain trust in everyone again.

It’s tough to think in different terms when we’ve been facing such chaos and turmoil for a long period of time. But we need to work on making everyone understand that if we can’t use our words, we need to figure out an effective form of communication without resorting to negative action. I think what happens to my youngest is very simple: a small feeling magnifies itself when she thinks about how she’s handled life based on past experience. She views our cues as parents, panics and then explodes.

So slowly but surely she’ll come to understand the ways to communicate effectively. We may have to reintroduce a form of sticker charts to work on a few behaviors we want to improve along with rewards that entice her to stick to her coping skills. The in house therapy will continue, and we may be able to get additional support for services through my main medical insurance.

The main point is, we never will give up. Our oldest is worried about her level of attention and care. She’s enjoyed being the center of attention, and I can’t blame her. We need to savor the days when everyone is in good space, and also recognize that each of them are individuals with their own individual wants and needs.

But I can’t focus on what I don’t have. I need to take the steps to show my family I can provide the guidance and support to thrive, and allow them to still make mistakes and realize that they will survive. It’s so easy to whine and complain and much harder to just go at things from a different perspective. There’s always help available, and if it’s not the right help, seek out others who are experts in the field. I take in what works and give praise to even the little changes in life.

I can only imagine how my youngest wants to be leading a better life. I think she puts a lot of pressure on herself to lead a perfect life or to an ideal my wife and I have set up for her in her mind. We’ve tried to let her know, we don’t want a clone of us- or of anyone else. We just want her to settle in, accept love and enjoy being in a family. From there we can grow together. Stay tuned for more as the events of our lives unfold.