Affording Kids: Sometimes It’s tough.

Money, money, money: Kids and money. Lord, that can be a minefield!


You can have three kids, like me, and they’re so different you’d swear they all had a different father, but they don’t. One is a saver, one is a spender, and the other can go either way depending on the day.

We’ve always given our kids an allowance. We never attached it to anything—grades or work or chores. It was just a set amount that they could count on.


In the early years, we had the kids take a percentage out of their allowance for saving and another small percentage out for giving. Honestly, it didn’t work that well because they didn’t get that much for allowance, and when they took out the portion for savings and giving, it only left them with a few dollars.

So that system kind of went by the wayside.

We did give them other opportunities to earn money, and we also attached a cash incentive to maintaining good grades.

Now, I wouldn’t always recommend this with grades. Or if you do, know your kids’ capacity and don’t be unrealistic. If you know they totally struggle with math, and doing their best will only get them a C, don’t tack an incentive on to getting an A.

We never used to be budgeting people, but I took a course on it and we have started implementing monthly budgeting. This is something I would like to incorporate into our training of the kids, now that they are older.

Boundaries Those Things that Keep us Safe in Life

That Important Thing Called Boundaries

Boundaries. It’s a concept we hear thrown around in conversation, or in movies, or by talk-show hosts and self-help gurus.

  • She just totally crossed a boundary with that move!
  • I have to set my boundaries with them or they’ll suck me dry!
  • You have to set that boundary to keep yourself sane!

I’ve thought a lot about boundaries over the years, as they relate to me, and to my kids. And lately I’ve been realizing how important it is to teach my kids what boundaries are and how and why to set them.  I remember when my kids were little having a conversation about my kids with my pediatrician (she is great by the way). If you want to see her site, click here. Any ways, I probably didn’t do as good a job as I should have but let me impart with you a little about what I learned.

What are boundaries?

They are invisible lines that we draw around ourselves to show where we begin and end. They define who we are. They articulate our values and our opinions. They demonstrate integrity and confidence and healthy self-esteem.


I know, that all sounds kind of ethereal and vague. Here are some examples of boundaries.

  • Saying No, thanks, I don’t care for rutabagas.
  • Saying I don’t accept work phone calls past 7 p.m.
  • Saying It makes me feel small when you talk to me that way, so if you continue, I’m leaving the conversation.
  • Saying Knowing what’s happening with our money is important to me, and I need to have a monthly budget meeting so I know we’re on the same page.

Setting boundaries like the above means you don’t get taken advantage of and you don’t get treated inappropriately in an on-going way.
It means you acknowledge what’s important to you—saying what you want or need—and communicating that you will stand up for those things.

How does this relate to our kids?

We need to help our kids learn that they are unique individuals, and that who they are is different from other people, and the difference is good. We need to help them see how to establish that difference in a healthy way.
We can make learning moments out of the stories they bring home from school, or out of sibling situations that we observe in our homes. We can remind our kids that it’s ok to have a different opinion about something, and it’s ok to speak up for that opinion.
Any opportunities that we see to help them speak their minds and own their opinions, we need to grab.  Then they’ll learn, over time, what it looks like to be true to themselves.
If our kids can start learning about boundaries when they are young, it’ll help them in the teen years when peer pressure becomes so strong. And it’ll help them as they move into adulthood and deal with the rest of the world.

Forever Strong: How to Raise Kids in an “All About Me” World

I recently saw a movie called “Forever Strong” on Netflix. A good friend had recommended the movie and said it was a great movie. It was based on true events about a high school rugby team and that always catches my attention, especially if they were about ghost stuff…this one was definitely not a horror movie and it had a happy ending. There were many different life lessons I picked up. The importance of respect, discipline, friendship/family, and cooperation were definitely some of the highlights. I believe God answers our questions; it might not always be the answer we want or how we wanted them to come.

Sometimes the answers come as the everyday experiences or through other people or maybe even divine intervention. Others come in a one and a half hour of scripted actions that you find in, say, Netflix entitled “Forever Strong.” You can rent it on Netflix.  Or see some other parenting tips here.

Although the movie was a little cheesy and very predictable (and you say “but I like cheese and predictability!”), nevertheless it delivered powerful messages that I feel people, especially our younger generation, can definitely learn.

Respect. It seems now our youth are more spoiled, brattier, and disrespectful than their parents. But of course we probably were just as bad to them in comparison when we were younger. Although I fought with my parents, I could remember the time when we had responsibilities and chores that we didn’t get paid for. Trust me my life wasn’t a theme park filled with roller coasters, but consider what we will rent to make our kids happy these days. It’s gotten pretty ridiculous. It was part of our contribution for being part of the family. I am not saying that all are disrespectful, but what I do see more and more of are kids mistreating their parents as if they are the ones paying the bills. Don’t believe me? Go on YouTube, type in “daughter sues mom ” or “birthday girl cries because dad got a brand new red car and she wanted blue.” Ludicrous? Ugh! Ungrateful little brats! It makes me want to get those kids shipped to a third world country and leave them there for a good month.

Okay, to be fair, it isn’t all of the children’s faults of course. They learned how they behave from watching and what was taught to them. If they were never shown any compassion, do not expect them to be the most compassionate kids on the block. It probably will not happen. If you screamed at your kids the whole time they were growing up, you would be some lucky person if all they turned out to be were kids who yelled back and not some sociopaths. So, a little advice, if you see a little two year old cursing an adult, please AVOID, I repeat, AVOID laughing and giggling and telling them how cute they are because it might be funny now, but 13 years later, that would not be the case. Don’t believe me? YouTube might be more convincing.


Which leads me to the next thing.

Discipline. The word itself means a variety of different things. It means punishment or correction, behavior in accordance with rules of conduct, and it also means training to improve a skill or whatever it is that one can be trying to improve on. In this movie, you see how the best rugby team is disciplined with their regimen, like running forever and a day to get their cardio up, not drinking or mingling with girls so that they were not distracted. Discipline to be their best was necessary to win their games. There was also discipline from coaches when their player failed to do required tasks.

We need discipline otherwise there would be chaos. Without discipline, rules will just be words without meaning. And I would be eating a spoonful of Nutella every ten minutes until I end up with diabetes and causing my kidneys to shut down and my limbs to fall off. I’ve disciplined myself to only have one spoonful, on toast, once a week.

Then there was the protagonist really struggling with family and friends, even more so with his dad.

When we were young, what mattered to us the most were our friends and what our family, especially our parents, thought of us.

Let me just speak for myself, and maybe you can relate. I cared when my parents showed up or not to any of my award ceremonies. I cared when my parents showed up for me, period. Looking back, my parents were too busy trying to make ends meet and I had a younger brother and sister that needed them more and so I never had anyone be present for me. Although I am an adult now, has been at least 15 years and I can understand what my parents had to give up so that my siblings and I could eat, there’s still a hole in my heart for the “young me” who never had a parent show up for anything.
Except when I was in trouble and the principal was involved, my mom didn’t have a choice. And boy, did my ears hurt from my mom’s form of discipline.

I wished they showed up at times where they could be proud me, instead of embarrassed. Heck, I was student of the year one time and received a trophy (seriously it happened) and when I realized that my mom or dad were not there, my enthusiasm and happiness dissipated as quickly as when the one hit wonders invaded the billboard charts and then never heard of again.

Ahhh, if only body fat could do the same…

If you have a child or 10, show up for at least one thing. Trust me, unless your child has a boyfriend or girlfriend, they really just want you to be proud of them no matter how silly or uncoordinated they look while they danced.

The last thing I thought was an important value this movie showed was the importance of cooperation. One of the most influential authors that I’ve been reading lately was Napoleon Hill. He said in one of his books that “nothing is impossible to the person who knows what he wants and makes up his mind to acquire it” and lists 15 attributes of a successful person. One of them is cooperation.
We need other people and other people need us. According to Hill, it is pretty impossible to do everything ourselves. This movie emphasized the meaning of team and the power of cooperation. When they lost their first game after being undefeated for a crazy amount of years, it was because one of the team members decided to play the game how he always played and refused to cooperate. If you want your team to lose, simply be difficult and avoid cooperation. You will increase your chance of losing significantly.

 

If any of these resonated with you and you wanted to give a hint to someone about something that they could work on, watch this movie and be open for a discussion.

I would recommend watching this movie to anyone, simply because they teach valuable lessons and could serve as reminders.

Be open as well to your own personal growth. You might find that the movie is telling you something about what you can work on yourself, and not just others.

How to Channel Your Anger for Something Good

The Art of Channeling Anger

When anger becomes a motivating factor, channeling it to do something productive is the best defense before we self-destruct.

Take it from me or the TV Show. Some people are easily angered, others are not so. Most people on planet earth are completely oblivious to how another human being is feeling. We are too busy being us that we really have no concept on what it is like to be someone else. We have no clue what it is like to be another person. We are swimming in our own beliefs, experiences, thoughts that it just seems impossible to know what it is like to be the other person.

It is easy to get angry. All you have to do is be in a state of “I’m right and you’re wrong” or be in a place where someone tells you you’re wrong all the way and you’ll teleport to Angryville before The Flash can run from the kitchen to the dining chair. Or perhaps you have emotional wounds that you don’t really know are there and someone happened to poke it, not knowing as well that it was there.

Anger can manifest in different ways. How I express anger depends on what is causing me to be angry. Sometimes I stay quiet…that passive aggressive shi* works for me, at least I lie to myself and think that it does at the moment. Other times I’m vocal. If someone is accusing me of something that I know for myself not to be true, you can bet your pretty little ass I would make sure you know you are wrong and way off. Most people would probably have a similar reaction. You see we are always swimming in the idea that other people are wrong and we are right. Easiest way to say, you’re wrong and I’m right…right? Right. And we will defend our righteousness until we killed off the other person’s or we give up because we know that the other person will never admit that they were wrong until the day they die. They never have and never will; that is the assumption anyway.

Sometime growing up, we learned that to admit being wrong is just plain…wrong. Or that it is not ok to be angry so we stuff our emotions.

Now you can tell me I’m wrong and you can stop right there because I have proven my point.

Now let us get back to being angry. You’re wrong…you know.

The problem with anger is that when you think it helps you, it really is causing more harm than you think because not only does it affect you emotionally, physiologically and spiritually it is also causing havoc.


Here’s what happens when you are angry. It also varies from person to person.

The muscles in your body start tensing up as you become angry. You might notice your hands have balled up into fists. Catecholamines, a neurotransmitter chemical inside your brain are released causing you to experience a burst of energy lasting up to several minutes. This energy is behind every desire to take immediate action while angry, like throwing something sharp at someone. Your heart rate accelerates, your blood pressure rises, and your rate of breathing increases. Your face and neck may turn red as increased blood flow enters your limbs and extremities in preparation for physical action. You’re almost ready to fight. Your attention narrows and becomes locked onto your opponent and eventually you can pay attention to nothing else but your target. See red? As if that is not enough additional brain neurotransmitters and hormones (among them adrenaline and noradrenaline) are released which trigger a lasting state of agitation. Game on mothaf**ker!!! Stay in this phase constantly and you are on your way to a higher risk of a heart attack, as research suggests. Don’t try to prove them wrong; you might give yourself a heart attack.

The problem does not stop there. Anger causes you physical harm and anger slowly eats away your relationship with your family, your friends…you’re slowly killing off your connectedness with humanity. Unresolved anger is like drug addiction; other people are to blame and we feel good in the moment.

We blame others why we are angry, not realizing that we too have a part in it. And it feels good to blame others. We take ourselves out of the responsibility that we’re also responsible for and dish it to others.

The truth is, we are humans and part of that is we feel emotions and unfortunately, anger is one of those nasty feelings we get, some more than others. I am not saying it is not ok to be angry; what I’m saying is just don’t stay there.

Find out what is the root cause? What underlying issues need to be addressed? I can tell you, it is not because you’re spouse said something and you took it as an offense. It may be that the pay off for being right is just delicious. It may be that you have an emotional wound or several wounds that have festered for many years from neglect that slowly but surely it is necrotizing viable life force called “your life.”

It might be time to give yourself a little bit of TLC when you notice that little things make you angry more often. Find out what is really bothering you. Ask for help and seek guidance. Ask yourself, why do you get angry and what gets you to that place.

When all of the guidance you sought and research you read to help you and all of the answers you received did not quench and satisfy your anger thirst, what’s left to do is the “f” word.

Forgiveness.

Yep. I said the “f” word.

When there is nothing left, and you are still angry try on forgiveness. Forgive yourself and forgive your offender. Truly forgive. It is really forgiveness that one can really be set free from the anchor that anger drags. It is not a cliché. And while you’re in the place of forgiving others, ask for forgiveness too. Too many times we think that we haven’t caused harm to our loved ones. Not us, right?

If you are still angry, after doing all that…you might just need to eat.

Have a Snickers. It may just be what you need