Month: July 2019

What you water grows: Part 2

In my last post I shared a gardening/relationship 80/20 principle. In a marriage, this can be applied by following these steps for happiness:

  • A happy marriage is like committing to tending a garden.
  • Going out every day to tend it requires time and patience.
  • Every garden contains beauty but also weeds and pests. Marriage is the same.
  • Be proactive: pull out weeds when they’re small, fertilize, water, spray for pests.
  • Occasional neglect can usually be reversed, but it requires more effort than if it had been consistent.
  • Prolonged neglect will lead to the plant’s demise.
  • Hard work is extremely gratifying.
  • If tended, the results are beautiful and ongoing.
  • Look for the beauty and you’ll find it everywhere. Dig deeper and you’ll find pests.
  • Happy people do not succumb to little things. They step back and focus on the 80% of beauty to gain a better perspective rather than nit-picking at the thorns (20%).

It’s the same thing for parenting. You can easily find negativity and crassness about raising kids. I don’t want to water those weeds.

Today, I’d like to add another voice from a facebook post by Tiffani Harker. She shares 10 uplifting thoughts about the joys and positive perspectives of parenting. With her permission, here it is:

We have 6 kids (19, almost 18, almost 16, 9, 7, and 5) so we’re still in the thick of raising kids, but through the years, I’ve learned to relax, and not to sweat the small stuff. Our almost 16 year old was born with Spina Bifida, and I’ll tell you right now that boy has taught our family more about love and perseverance than I ever knew was possible. He made me a better mother, and the lessons I’ve learned along the way have shaped the woman that I am. To you mamas, I’d love to tell you:

1. It’s okay. It’s going to be okay! I know some days feel totally overwhelming and exhausting, and you often feel like you’re messing up. Mama, you’re doing so much better than you think you are. A bad day does not a bad mother make! You are the absolute world to your children, and I promise you they don’t see you in any other way than the best mom in the world. Take a time out for yourself when you need it, and tell that negative voice in your head to shut it. Those thoughts don’t come from above, so don’t you dwell on them. You’ve got this!

2. Your babies are going to be just fine. You will always worry about them, I don’t think that goes away. But you’re doing your best and you want what’s best for them, and because of that, your babies are in the very best hands.

3. Let them fall and fail occasionally so they can learn and grow. Be there to catch them when they fall or when they mess up. Don’t fix their mistakes for them, no matter how tempting. Love them and listen to them, support them and correct them when it needs to happen. Pray, and pray some more, and know that they’re going to get through it.

4. Set your expectations high, but keep them realistic. Kids will rise to the occasion and are so much more capable than they’re given credit for. They are smart and resilient, and their hearts are literally pure. Show them the way, and help them course correct when they need it.

5. Grades are important, but they aren’t everything! Encourage and require them to do their best, but more important than anything, teach them how to treat others well. All the A’s, scholarships, top notch college degrees, and high powered jobs don’t mean a dang thing if they don’t know how to love people. I would rather know my children are kind and caring human beings than them being millionaires.

6. Teenagers aren’t as scary as you think! I was terrified of having teens, but oh my word what a lovely surprise it has been! They’re so fun to talk to, have their own opinions, and holy cats they are funny! I think the secret to raising teens is to listen, listen, listen! Listen more than you speak. They just need you to be there. They will ask you their questions, as they know they can trust you, then you will have the opportunity to really share your thoughts with them. Don’t be afraid to be silly with them, and heck…take every opportunity to embarrass them a little. (Within reason, of course) Sing and dance in the living room with their friends, and open your home to all the loud and sometimes smelly teenage boys. Love those kiddos and be a safe landing place for them. You’ll never regret it!

7. Just love your babes. The dishes, laundry, and cleaning will always be there, but babies don’t keep.

8. You will mess up. It’s okay! Apologize to your children when you need to, and move forward. Do not beat yourself up! Find support, whether it’s another mom friend, your own mom, or a group like this. You’re not alone and you don’t have to go through this journey all on your own.

9. If you need to eat some chocolate to get through the day, eat the dang chocolate, girl!!!

10. Remember who those babies belong to, and go to Him for guidance. He will lead you if you let Him.

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What you water grows: Part 1

You can find plenty of parents out there on social media who gripe about being parents. Sure, being a mom or dad is hard. If you’re a stay-at-home parent who has these little critters 27/4, the messy days, lack of sleep, and wearing down of nerves is a real thing. I’ve been there. I get it.

However, as a social scientist and family studies expert, I also believe in the power of “what you water grows.” It’s a scientifically proven principal, and as a lover of gardening, it’s a law of nature I can count on as well. What this means is:

  • Every interaction or relationship has an 80/20 ratio.
  • About 80% of that person is what you love and, in the case of your spouse, the reason why you married them. Then there’s the 20% of what you don’t love so much, perhaps is even a bit annoying, and is a reminder that no none’s perfect (including the 20% in ourselves, mind you!).
  • What you focus on gets more of your attention. I can see the roses or the thorns…it’s my choice.
  • What gets more of your attention is reinforced in your mind, as well as in the other person or thing.
  • If I see the rose, I find beauty and am filled with gratitude, love, and appreciation.
  • If I look for and find the best in the other person, I will find it. If I look for and find the weaker parts, or thorns, in the other person, I will find that too.
  • If I continue to look for and reinforce the weaknesses in another person, the 20% in them inflates to eventually becoming the 80% and I feel completely justified in hating them, being dissatisfied, disgusted, or feeling justified in my removal of love (water) and acceptance of them.

Children and their parents have about an 80/20 relationship principle as well.  I can tell you from raising five babies to teenagers, that they stink, are moody, or contrary at least 20% of the time. But if you can look beyond the crazy hairstyles, acne, and sullenness, you’l find pretty remarkable, talented, loving, funny, smart, social, delightful human beings. I’ve enjoyed every stage of life with them. Each is my favorite.

Click on this image and say aloud what is the first thing you see.

Because of the darker images, usually our eyes are drawn to the bats or demons, as the artist Escher wanted. But look at it again, and stare for a while at the white spaces. Coming into focus, when we really concentrate, are angels.

In every person, there is both, good and bad, light and dark. It’s our choice to look past the things that are of no lasting consequence in our children and spouses and quiet down that voice that wants to criticize. Instead, sit still. Be calm. Focus on the light and the white spaces between. See what angels are brilliantly waiting to emerge and for us to embrace them.

And then water, water, water.