Mom? Dad? Do You Have the Courage to Just Say No?


Think Safety First
Think Safety First

It was early in the morning and still dark outside.  A colossally foolish jogger, donned completely in black, decided to cross the street in front of my SUV which was travelling at 40 miles per hour.  Thanks to my attentiveness I slammed my brakes, swerved, and skidded to a halt.  The jogger ran off into the darkness and I breathed a sigh of relief while simultaneously screaming an expletive.  As I began to drive away,I felt grateful about the decision I’ve made to never, ever use my cell phone while driving.  If I didn’t have both hands on the wheel, I wouldn’t have been able to swerve. If I was peering at my keypad or an “important” text, I doubt I would have seen the jogger in time to stop.My decision not to use a cell phone while driving came when my son was 10 years old.  Somehow, I had a fleeting realization that in six short years, he would obtain his driver’s license.  If he observed me operating heavy machinery while talking or texting, he would argue fervently to do the same.  Did I really want to engage in this double standard dispute?  Wasn’t it really in everyone’s best interest if mom drove as safely as possible?

Sure, like any parent, I could justify using a cell phone while driving.  It is convenient, time efficient multitasking, and even entertaining when there is an interesting conversation taking place.  I could say that my years of driving experience made it safer for me, but I know that statistics negate that.  No matter how I could justify it, I knew I’d be setting a bad example, and creating potential peril for myself, my passengers, and other drivers around me.  My decision was simple.

Fast forward.  My son is now 17 years old and he knows that if mom can drive without texting or talking, he can too.  Mission accomplished!  So far, so good.

Did you know that in 2010 more people were killed due to distracted driving than we lost on 9/11?  We are quick to point fingers at teens but parents (as well as non parents) are equally to blame.

I know you’ve seen them too. Moms and dads all around us use cell phones while driving. Shockingly, some of them are toting their children, or even an entire carpool of children in the back seat!  These are the same parents who in many other ways practice exemplary parenting to raise healthy kids in the safest possible settings.  They buy healthy organic foods, petition for school buses to have seat belts, and lug car seats onto airplanes to provide a safer ride for their precious progeny.  They talk out loud with their peers about the “idiot” who was texting and driving and almost caused an accident.  They even lecture their kids about driving safely.

Why then do parents fail to practice what they preach?   

The idea that it will take an accident, injury, or death to convince anyone to drive safely is ridiculous if not pitiable.  The answer is simple.  Just say “no.”  It’s what we guide our kids to do so let’s practice what we preach and be a shining example of discipline.

Here are 9 excellent reasons to break the distracted driving habit:

  1. You are setting an outstanding example for your passengers particularly your children and their friends.
  2. You will avoid the double standard dispute that is sure to arise when your kids get their driver’s license.
  3. You are a respectable example for your family, friends, and colleagues when you tell them that you will not answer a call (unless you are using Bluetooth) or text while driving.  They will likely admire your courage and feel inspired, giving themselves permission to do the same.
  4. You are less likely to annoy the drivers around you.
  5. You are lessening the risk of a car accident and potential peril to yourself, your passengers, and others who are driving in your proximity.
  6. You are avoiding a traffic citation (in those states where driving with a cell phone is against the law), a lawsuit, time in court, and possibly time in jail.
  7. By heeding #’s 4 and 5, you are keeping yourself in this beautiful world where your joyful presence will bring happiness to all those who love you and cherish you, including your kids who desperately want and need their mommy or daddy.
  8. Your kids will admire you if not thank you for a being a great role model.
  9. You’ve got G.U.T.S.  Go out and Use This Stuff!

Please add to this list by leaving us a comment.  It does take a village!

What Christmas Values Will You Choose?

With Christmas this month, I fondly remember my favorite inspiration from Jesus.  “Forgive them for they know not what they do.”  Imagine the nobility of those words.  Think deeply for a moment, could you or anyone you know do this at a time when you are being persecuted? I chuckle as the first thing I think about are dogs.  They are experts at forgiving us with their perpetually wagging tails, and we in turn forgive them.  I have a beautiful black lab, and no matter what she does to misbehave, I forgive her and continue to adore her because I know that she doesn’t know any better.  It is simply her nature.  Isn’t this often the case with humans, the ones that make up our family, friends, community, and work colleagues?  Sure… I know you are thinking that they DO know better!  Maybe they do, but innate tendencies take over and they slip up without realizing it.  The point here is that Jesus did not complain about others knowing better, or what they SHOULD have, or COULD have done differently.  He very simply took responsibility on how He would manage the situation He was placed in.  He chose to think and act with nobility and forgiveness and subsequently gave us that profound guidance “Forgive them for they know not what they do”.

As the holidays are upon us, I read many articles both online and in print on how to manage the holiday stress of difficult people whom we interact with… particularly visiting relatives.  How do you feel about incorporating Jesus’ words in to your toolbox of stress management?  How can you forgive your sister in law for her curt remarks or your colleague for his insensitive gift?  Think about what irks you, who irks you, and why.  Perhaps you want to write this down in a private journal that you can reflect upon.  Then think… how will you forgive them and not take their actions personally? What three specific steps can you apply this Holiday season to truly live by Jesus’ words?  Perhaps you would like to write these down too.  You might want to use them again!

Since I am a parent coach, we have to incorporate some parenting here, so remember that your children are closely observing you and learning from you.  Do you want them to grow up constantly frustrated with other people’s insensitive behaviors or do you want them to have a toolbox of effective self-soothing and noble behaviors (by the way… this is a part of emotional intelligence which you can read more about on my website http://www.ontheballparent.com/ )?  If you can overcome your frustrations and apply tools like Jesus, you will have created the ultimate win-win situation for yourself, your watchful children, and of course those whom you interact with. Wouldn’t that be a tremendous achievement that you can carry in to the New Year!

Any examples you choose to share in our community forum would be greatly appreciated by all.

Lessons from The Great One and His Parents

So often, we parents have an agenda for our children.  What would happen if we...

  • put our agenda aside...
  • worked diligently to simply expose our children to different sports or hobbies... allowing them choose which one...
  • supported them unconditionally...
  • and then allowed their own passion to take over? 

Take a very short break to watch this video and find out how the Great One became so great!   When you're done watching, please leave a comment telling us how you've been inspired... or share your own success story.

Defending Dads!

I love to laugh, especially at imaginative and funny TV commercials. However lately, I’ve seen a disturbing trend in the ones that poke fun at men and fathers as if they were congenital dunces!  In fact, this actually worries me! Okay… I get it!  Women, as statistical facts indicate, are the major decision makers in most households so these TV ads are aimed at women not necessarily to denigrate men, but to play on women’s emotions in hopes that they’ll slice the family savings account for products and services.  One has to wonder though, when the subliminal types of messages with their disparaging facial expressions, belittling body language or overt condescending language toward men become part of our everyday thinking.  Are women and girls being beguiled to disvalue boys and men?  I certainly hope not; because eventually these girls and boys will marry, and they must know how to respect and honor each other for their nuptials to have a chance, and to set a high-quality example for their own kids.

Over the last few decades, women’s roles have grown exponentially outside of the home yet they have also maintained their domestic role and maternal inclinations of child rearing.  For this they deserve immense respect.  In fairness to men, their growth also deserves respect.  I am pleased to see many movements where men embrace their vital role as parent, express detachment from their traditional role of “breadwinner” and share domestic responsibilities.  So why, when so many men are trying so hard, is there a culture that mocks them?  Why do the TV media, extreme feminists, and Hollywood starlets purposely choosing single parenthood, perpetuating trends that advocate the “I don’t need a man mentality?  I’m all for the independence of any given individual but when it comes to rearing children, both a mother and a father are ideal.

Research supports my belief that men, generally speaking, deserve to be respected (even if a woman can do their job) and fathers deserve to be heartily defended for their roles, which frankly, women cannot replicate!

Psychologist John Gottman outlines research stating that even though mothers generally spent more time with kids than fathers, that the quality of interaction provided by fathers was a more powerful predictor of the child’s later success or failure with school and friends.   It was believed that fathers have this extreme influence on their children because their particular type of bonding evoked powerful emotions in kids.   It is important to note, however, that a physically present dad didn’t create this research finding, but that the emotionally present dad did!  So kudos to dads who choose to be present in this manner!

This is further supported by the following research based facts listed at the National Fatherhood Initiative.

  • The National Center for Educational Statistics reported that when fathers are involved in their children's education, the kids were more likely to get A’s, enjoy school, and participate in extracurricular activities.
  • Kids with engaged fathers demonstrate "a greater ability to take initiative and evidence self-control."
  • When these boys grew up, they were more likely to be good dads themselves.

But when fathers are devalued, here's the result:

  • Their children have a higher rate of asthma, headaches, anxiety, depression, and behavioral problems.
  • Teenagers are at greater risk of alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drug use, and suicide
  • Adolescent girls are 3 times more likely to engage in sexual relations by the time they turn 15 and 5 times more likely to become a teen mother.

Here’s more:  In 1996, Duncan, et. al. found that “For predicting a child’s self esteem, it is sustained contact with the father that matters for sons, but physical affection from fathers that matters for daughters.”

The list proving a father’s worth goes on and on so I felt it was important enough to write about.  And the timing seems right since Father’s Day is fast approaching.

In fairness to the moms (remember that I’m one too) you bet you matter by leaps and bounds!  But we have to realize it isn’t a race about who’s a better person or parent.  Each of us has a vital role to play in the lives of children and sometimes, circumstances create it so that a dad just can’t be present.  If your child’s dad is missing in action because of necessary travel, divorce, death, or simply detachment, then you are my hero for doing the job solo.  However, when Dad is around and doing his job, try not to let those derogatory TV commercials subtly get to you.   Value your children’s Dad and remember to thank him.  And know that your kids are watching your every move.  If you treat men respectfully, they will learn to do the same.

Please don’t treat Dad like the babysitter with a list of instructional do’s and don’ts.  Allow his personality to shine in his own unique way.  You might just find that the man will surprise you when he’s allowed to think and act for himself.  After all, what’s more important?  A father feeling good about spending time with kids, or worrying about “mom” reaming him out because little tikes ears weren’t cleaned well enough?  Mom needs to be Dad’s partner, not his gatekeeper.

So on this upcoming Father’s Day, I’d like to thank not only my husband who is a fantastic Dad, but all the men, who give of themselves not just physically, but emotionally, to nurture their kids into happy, successful citizens of our world.  Good job Dads!  Keep up the great work!  Our future generations depend on it!

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