Unexpected Parent Cue December 2015

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THINK ABOUT THIS
By Autumn Ward

One night last December, I found myself sitting at the kitchen table making Christmas cookies – by myself.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just that was not the plan. That was not our tradition.

Now that my kids are teenagers with busy schedules of their own, no one else was home but me.  So there I sat, clinging to my tradition, making cookies alone – and feeling pretty sad about the whole thing. (I’m sure I let everyone know how sad I was when they got home.)

One thing parenting has taught me about traditions is that they are easy to start and hard to let go.

So what happens when the kids get older and you find yourself experiencing more transition than tradition?

The first thing I had to do was accept that transition is a part of life. It’s evidence that my kids are growing up and growing up is a good thing. It’s ok that they don’t want to watch Frosty the Snowman or make ornaments out of felt anymore. Now that they’re college and high school age their interests have changed – they are transitioning. Knowing that, if we want to stay connected with our kids, tweaking a tradition or even starting a new one needs to happen.

Second, their dad and I had to decide which traditions were worth clinging to and which ones we needed to let go. We did this by simply asking the kids which traditions meant the most to them. This helped so much! I was surprised by some of the things they said, like getting a peppermint milkshake in our PJs while driving around looking at Christmas lights had to stay. That one still gets two thumbs up! Making the gingerbread house on the other hand…it could go. (And while we’re at it, the Christmas cartoons could go too!) Who knew? They knew! Deciding on traditions with the kids gave us permission to let go of some things – guilt free – and stop trying to force moments to happen that they had outgrown.

Finally, I had to remind myself the purpose of traditions in the first place. Traditions are meant to keep us connected to the ones we love and give us a sense of belonging to something bigger than ourselves – not make us feel exhausted, frustrated and disappointed (maybe even a little depressed). As long as I have a relationship with my kids, things are good. We don’t have to make Christmas cookies to stay connected or to have a relationship or even to have a wonderful Christmas. We just need time with each other.

Now that I have one kid away at college and two teens at home, being together in the same place at the same time is difficult, which makes keeping up with our traditions difficult. I’m learning to make the most of the time I have with my family rather than pout over the time I don’t have.
If we have some minutes in the car, we turn up the Christmas music and sing together. So what if we’re not gathered around the fireplace like we did when they were younger.
Since watching the holiday Hallmark movies is one of my kids’ favorite things to do, I make sure and record them so when we find ourselves together I can pop the popcorn and have a spontaneous movie night.

I allow my kids’ friends to join the fun because my kids really like being with their friends. Rather than look at it like their friends are invading our traditions, I’m thankful my kids and their friends are letting me hangout with them. It’s all in your perspective.

The point is we’re together, staying connected with the ones we love during the holidays.  After all, when you really think about it, it’s the relationship with your kids you should be fighting for, not the tradition. So keep a loose grip on those traditions but hold tightly to the hearts of your kids.

TRY THIS

As parents, it can be tempting to assume which holiday traditions are most important for our family members and which ones aren’t. This Christmas, try asking your son or daughter…

•Which Christmas traditions do you hope we keep going for a long time?
•Which ones would you be okay with ending?
•What is one new tradition you’d like to start this year?

By starting the conversation, you may be surprised at what you find. Sometimes traditions that seem silly to us are the most meaningful and memorable to our kids. Remember, fight for the relationship with your kid, not the tradition.

Fusion June Sunday Series: Making of a King

Instagram_1_MOAK_XP3MSEvery good story has a hero. Think about it. Superman. Luke Skywalker. Katniss Everdeen. They aren’t just random characters. They’re larger than life. Maybe they’re not perfect, but they’re exciting and they’re brave. And that’s what keeps us interested. That’s why we cheer for them.

Believe it or not, the Bible is full of heroes like that. They don’t have capes and light sabers, but they are heroes who fought giants, built arks, became spies, defeated armies, and saved the day over and over. One of the most famous ones is named David—or maybe you know him as King David. Like many others, David’s life was exciting, epic even. And at first glance it can feel like we have zero common with him. Even on our most exciting days our lives don’t exactly feel heroic. But as we take a closer look at the journey of this shepherd boy turned king, we see it wasn’t always a royal fairytale. In fact, as we discover the twists and turns of his road to the throne, his life begins to look more like ours than we ever imagined.

 

Middle School Changes – Orange Parent Cue

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by | Sep 25, 2014 | Blog, Students

I can’t say I feel old enough, but it’s true: we have a child in middle school.
A new school. A new chapter. A whole new world.

And as much as we sometimes feel like a deer in the headlights, thankfully, we’re not on our own during this transition to middle school. We have experts—parents, teachers, friends—around us who are already giving us insight into the middle school mind. They are people who’ve been there, know what we’re going through, and can help us along the way. Here’s some of what we’ve been learning.

The Middle School Changes

There are four major areas where middle school kids are changing.

Physical Changes: 

In general boys and girls develop at different rates. Most of the girls seem like giants compared to many of the boys who still look like they could be in fourth grade. This will change over the course of middle school. Kids will grow up. Yet as they grow, the body doesn’t grow at a standard ratio. The upper body may grow faster than their legs, or their feet might grow faster than the rest of their body, or kids might even start looking like bobble-heads again. They don’t call these the “Awkward Years” for nothing.

Intellectual Maturity: 

Our middle schoolers are more “worldly” than any previous middle school generation. They have access to the world at an unprecedented level, finding all sorts of information within seconds from a device that sits in the palm of their hands. Our kids are digital natives and know how to discover anything they want whenever they want. Yet, developmentally, so much of what they find is beyond what they can understand. They are still quite shallow in their thinking and act more like children than adults.

Emotional State:

Have you ever wanted to ask your kids, “Who are you and what did you do with our son?” Sometimes it seems like our kids are three different people trapped in the same body. Sometimes they can help this, but most times they can’t. They are hormonal, moody, and often irritable at a moment’s notice. On top of the hormones, they have a fragile self-concept. Because it’s still all about them, they take everything personally, while wondering if they’re good enough.

Social Development: 

Middle schoolers are experiencing a growing dependence on peers to find self-worth. They want to make friends and hang out with them without parents around. They will start to detach from family and begin to develop their independence.

Yet because these kids are unsure of who they are and who they really want hang around with, their friend groups will change. Kids who were best friends in elementary school might become casual acquaintances. Don’t be alarmed if your kids shuffle through different friend groups throughout the year. It’s just part of the process of growing up.

Throughout all of those changes, it’s important to remember this: Parents are still the most important people in a child life.

We can help our kids through this process.

We were promised won’t be easy. So, stay tuned next week for some practical tips to help you, as parents, survive the middle school years.

Do you have a kid starting out middle school? What changes have you noticed already?

 

Dan Scott works at Orange in New Product Development and is the Art Director and Large Group Director for 252 Basics. Dan and his wife Jenna have four amazing kids: Liam, Ellison, Addison, and Taye. You can read more from Dan on his blog, DanScottBlog.com, or on Twitter, @DanScott77.