Category Archives: Connecting with Family

Acknowledging Mom by Gregory Bland

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Acknowledging MOM’s value should take place each and every day. However,  Mother’s Day is a wonderful time to highlight the Mom’s in our lives.

Finding ways to show respect, appreciation, and express love for Mom not only impacts her positively, but helps our children and teens develop an attitude of gratitude for their Mom that can last a lifetime.

Communicating love and respect daily, or on Mother’s Day, isn’t simply a matter taking mom out to an expensive restaurant.  That may be nice, but more often than not, that isn’t really what she’s looking for.

Taking time to be mindful of what would be most meaningful for Mom will make the most powerful impact upon her.

As you think about Mother’s Day and honouring the Mom in your life consider what would make ‘her’ day memorable.

Some things to consider . . .
What are her hobbies and interests?
Time carved out to include an activity that involves her interests or hobbies communicates your love while providing an opportunity to disconnect from other activities / or devices and intentionally connect with her.

What is Mom’s personality?  How does her unique personality impact the way you will show appreciation?  Should you encourage a large crowd or would she prefer a more intimate smaller gathering?  Will she enjoy something loud and boisterous or more quiet and reflective?  Let Mom’s personality help you in shaping how you will communicate your love to her.

What’s Mom’s  “love language” and how can you tie your gifts to it?
(If you’re familiar with 5 Love Languages it may be more natural to think in these terms.  If you’re not familiar, the 5 Love Languages  are, words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, physical touch)

Practical Ideas for Expressing Love to Mom:
Words of Affirmation: In our family we have taken time to write notes/letters to mom which have proven to be very meaningful for her.  Our letters and notes will revolve around these three topics . . .
a. What do I most appreciate about Mom?
b. What character strengths do I recognize and affirm?
c. This is why I love you . . .

Acts of Service:
Taking the opportunity to give mom a break and take on specific chores or work that Mom normally cares for is a wonderful gift idea.  See Coupon Book idea at end of article for more information.

Receiving Gifts:
If Mom’s love language is receiving gifts, by all means buy a gift, but ensure it is something meaningful for her.

Quality Time:
Quality time cannot be fabricated, however, there are some key ingredients to ensure you have quality time.

  • Quality time often happens within the context of quantity time.  In light of this, I’d encourage scheduling regular times together, without distraction, as a normal part of your week.  You will soon discover that your time together becomes more meaningful and the quality, depth of conversation, and connection improves.
  • Set aside personal desires and preferences in honour of Mom.  It’s does your relationship well to set aside personal desires and honour one another by ‘doing’ something that Mom enjoys.  You will discover over time that this is often reciprocated. In short, resist the temptation to only do what you want to do.
  • Add variety. Sitting in the living room and having a deep conversation is great, once in a while. But don’t expect that every-time.  Add variety and keep the relationship alive and fresh.

Physical Touch:
In our age of electronics and disconnection physical touch is increasingly powerful and seemingly rare.  Encourage your children to give hugs (it’s good for them too), back massages, and if they are brave foot rubs are ok too.

Giving to Mom.
To foster this kind of giving to Mom you could encourage your children to create a coupon book that focuses on the love languages specific to her.

Creating a “coupon” book of things that children and teens can give back to mom has been a great Mother’s Day gift for a reason. It is a creative way kids can ‘give back’ to mom with no expectation of anything in return. Also this gift keeps giving long after Mother’s Day has ended.

They could offer a . . .

“Free Hug. Just Because.”
“Massage. After a long day on your feet.”
“Back rub on a particularly stressful day.”
“Grocery Shop.”
“Various chores.”
“Drive a younger sibling to baseball practice.”
“Clean out and detail Mom’s vehicle.”
“An evening together doing whatever “YOU” desire”
etc . . .

Mom does so much. Let’s show her how much we care, not only today, but each and every day.

Remember. If you don’t live with Mom any more and distance makes it impossible to be present as much as you’d like.  A phone call, or video conversation still goes a long way to keep the relationship alive and thriving.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom!

 

 

Until Next time let’s treat Mom well
Your friend and Pro-Active Parent Coach
Gregory Bland
Pro-Active Parent Coaching
The Legacy Centre

A Simple Question: Understanding of What our Child Needs from Us in the Moment. By Gregory Bland

checkers-gregory-blandThe heavy footsteps, sigh, and loud thump as my son sat upon the stairs by my desk clearly indicated something was up. I looked up to see a disappointed look upon my sons face. He stared into my eyes and said,
“Dad, the girls are being mean to me again!”
“What’s going on?”
“Well, they won’t let me in their room, they keep pushing on the door and holding it shut so I can’t get in.”
“Did they give any explanation to you?”
“Yeah! No boys allowed!! What should I do now?”
“Josh, this is an interesting situation. There are several possibilities here. What do you think you should do?”

Looking away from me, he sat silent for a few moments thinking. Placing his elbows on his knees and leaning forward until his chin nestled into his hands, he scrunched his little face up and replied.

“Dad, you have to remember, I’m littler than my sisters, and I don’t know as much as they do. Sometimes you just need to tell me what to do.”

In that moment, as I looked into my son’s eyes, my mind was quickly carried back to a conversation I had with another parent not too long ago.

“Our role in parenting will naturally shift according to our children’s need in the moment.  In some cases we will teach, imparting knowledge, at other times we will mentor, allowing them to glean from our experience, and often we will coach, guiding our children to discovery. The key is discerning what they need in the moment.”

My natural desire to turn this into a learning experience and coach in the moment I took that posture. I was hoping to stimulate thought about how he could engage his sisters, what he needed was something different.

In my desire to help him in this way, I had forgotten to ask one simple question, which would have helped me better understand the role he needed me to play at this particular moment.

“What do you need most from me right now?”

Looking up the stairs my heart was gripped by how sad he looked. I invited him to come closer and sit upon my lap. He stood and somberly sauntered down the remaining stairs, rounded my desk and crawled into my lap.

As he nestled in tightly to my chest, I firmly placed my arms around him and apologized for being ‘insensitive’ and asked, “What do you need most from Daddy right now?”

Quietly he lifted his head and once again looking into my eyes he said softly, “I just want someone to play with. Could we play a game of checkers together?”

What a revealing response to that simple question! He didn’t want to be mentored, taught or coached, rather what he needed the most was simply someone to spend time with.

The truth is we can easily focus upon what we believe is best for our child in the moment and easily miss what they need the most from us. Instead of pushing my own agenda, and tuning into his needs it opened the door to a great time of relational connection.

Have there been times in your parenting where asking a simple question like this may have catalyzed a different outcome with your child? As we conclude, take a moment and think of two variations of the question, “What do you need most from me right now?” that you could ask your child. In this way you will be prepared to ask what your child needs most from you and make the most of that opportunity when it presents itself.

To get you started I’ll offer one more.

a. How can I best help you?
b.
c.

Until next time, continue enjoying the rich relationship parent coaching can add to your family relationships but remember: be flexible.

Your friend and pro-active parent coach.
Greg

Want to Connect with your Child/Teen? Pt. 2 by Gregory Bland

Each-Teen-Unique-gregory-bland-the-legacy-centreIt’s not simply a matter of spending time together on a consistent basis; it’s how we spend time together that makes the difference. Connecting with our children and teens always requires energy. If you want to connect with them but are hoping you can do so without being intentional, forget about it.

Anyone who has more than one child will appreciate and understand this fact; each child is unique. I continue to be amazed as I look at our three children, although there are similarities, there are very distinct differences.

One is very tidy, organized, and plans well in advance. Another believes organization cramps her style. One is dramatic in communication, the other is quiet and unassuming, the third, is a blend of both, dramatic when comfortable and very quiet with unfamiliar people.

Beyond easily identified characteristics reside more subtle nuances. Different interests, passions, gifts, abilities, skills, and distinct calling to make a mark in this world characterize each.

To truly connect with our children requires an awareness of the uniqueness of each child. This knowledge allows us to naturally connect with each one in a meaningful way. When I engage each of my children from the perspective of their uniqueness I am communicating, “I value you and affirm your uniqueness amongst our family.” This helps me to connect with them at their greatest point of interest, emotionally, intellectually, physically, and spiritually.

For instance, if my daughter doesn’t enjoy sports, it is unlikely we will connect well through a game of catch. However, if she loves baseball that same game of catch can become a very significant moment of connection for us.   God seems to be actively drawing one of our teens toward music/worship, while He appears to be drawing the other toward practical hands on work with teens.  I cannot expect to engage with them both in the same manner as they discern what God is currently doing within them.

What do you know and understand about your children? Take some time and consider the following in relation to each of your children.

What temperament/personality has God given my child and how does this affect . . .

  1. how they interact with others?
  2. their learning styles?
  3. how they interact within the family?
  4. their friendships?
  5. their schooling?
  6. their social interactions?

What is my child passionate about? (Remember out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.)

  1. What is it that they talk about the most?
  2. What keeps surfacing in conversation?
  3. What is it that pre-occupies their mind?

What strengths and abilities does my child have?
1.  What natural abilities and strengths can you identify?
2.  In what ways could these be encouraged to benefit others? 

What do I recognize God actively doing within their lives?
a. What does He seem to be working on/developing within them as individuals?

  1. What recurring themes or areas do I see God at work within their life?
  2. How can I practically encourage growth and maturity in these areas?

What are they struggling or wrestling with right now?

  1. What are their concerns, fears, or points of stress?
  2. If I don’t know, how could I find out?
  3. What does my child/teen need most from me right now during this struggle?  (This is a good opportunity to ask them what they need most from you, because it may be very different than you expect/think.)

I trust that as you consider the above questions (and maybe others that will come to your mind) you will gain a greater appreciation for the wonderful complexity and uniqueness of your child(ren). But further, you will begin to recognize ways you can connect with each of your children in a way that resonates with who they are.  Who knows, maybe in the process you may discover that you have captured their hearts and they are letting you in just a little bit more.

Until next time,
Enjoy discovering and celebrating the unique characteristics of your child(ren)/teen(s).

Your friend and Pro-Active Parent Coach
Gregory Bland
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Pro-Active Parent Coaching &
The Legacy Centre

 

 

The Purpose of Conversation with Teens

 

purpose-of-conversation-gregory-blandConversation with our teens can be an incredibly rich and rewarding experience as a parent. Listening as they begin to ‘put into words’ their passions, hopes, dreams, and even their fears warms the heart.  These are the moments we long for as parents and want to hold them with tenderness and grace.

There are other times when our conversations take a turn and feel anything but rich and rewarding.  In these moments it is important to pause for a moment, regain our composure, breathe, and build perspective.  If possible, before it goes from bad to worse.

In these moments, when conversation becomes heated, the words of Solomon ring very true and clear, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)

gentle-answer-gregory-blandThis gives me hope.  Although I know that I cannot control how my teen will respond to me, I also know that I have an incredible influence how they might respond.  I need to take responsibility for myself, my actions, and reactions.

In light of this, the first place to look when a conversation begins ‘going south’ is within ourselves.

For me, I take a moment and ask myself, “What am I doing right now that is contributing to the negative direction of this conversation?”

Consider for a moment  . . .

  • What am I communicating to my child/teen right now with my words, tone of voice, and body language?
  • Have I stopped authentically listening to their story and slipped into ‘telling mode?’
  • Might they perceive that I am passing judgement upon them and/or  trying to ‘fix them?’

If we recognize that we have slipped in any of these areas and are communicating negatively with our teen, it’s time to take action and respond in a mature manner.  Apologize and ask to begin again.

Apologize to my teen?  If necessary, absolutely! Humbling ourselves in moments when we are clearly at fault communicates maturity, responsibility, incredible value and respect to our teens.

  • We model humility and maturity in conversation.  When we are wrong, admit it, and ask for forgiveness.  This provides a living model for them to emulate within their relationships.
  • We value our relationship together and are willing to take responsibility for how we communicate with them.
  • We are giving them the ‘benefit of the doubt’ and desire to truly understand what they are thinking, feeling, desiring.
  • We are building self awareness by engaging our own thoughts/feelings and understanding how we are impacting other’s around us.

The next time you begin to experience a conversation ‘going south’ with your teen, take a moment to pause and reflect, and reengage in that conversation in a healthy manner.  I’d be interested in hearing what happens as a result both with yourself and your teen.

Until next time, let’s use conversation to build a deeper connection with our kids not show them how wise we are and in what ways they need to change.  Remember, you can have a rich rewarding conversation with your teen.

Your friend and Pro-Active Parent Coach
Gregory Bland
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Teenagers are God’s Punishment for Enjoying Sex by Gregory Bland

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“Teenagers are God’s punishment for enjoying sex.” “Oh. You have teenagers. I’m sorry to hear that.” “You just wait. You will understand shortly why my stress levels are out the roof, when your teen does what mine does.” “All teens are alike; trouble!”

It’s no wonder with the general attitude toward teenagers that so many people fear teens and tend toward a belief that all teens are alike. Trouble.

In a very tangible way we are being conditioned to believe something that simply is not true of all teenagers. I have met, experienced, and know many capable, responsible, caring, and generous teens who genuinely think of others and want to make a difference with their lives.

Unfortunately, these great teens are often overlooked, overshadowed and unrecognized for the value they bring to society because of a stereotypical lens many adults view them through. These teens live with this reality day by day; many adults don’t give them the credit or respect they are due.

For those reading who are parents of younger children, please resist letting other’s negative view of teens dictate how you will engage your child as they approach the teen years. Admittedly, raising teens today is not for the faint of heart, but the rewards of a rich healthy relationship are possible despite what many will say.

Remember, resist letting other people’s negative experiences or worst-case scenarios instill fear within your heart and colour your approach to your child/teen. Their story is not your story, and their teen is not your teen.

Today you can begin experiencing something different and enjoy a rich rewarding relationship with your child/teen.

Until next time,

Remember, not all teens are the same, keep an eye for the good in yours.

Your friend and Pro-Active Parent Coach
Gregory Bland

The Legacy Centre &
Pro-Active Parent Coaching

Building a Legacy of Relational Health for Generations to Follow

 

* Photo credit:Dollarphotoclub # 74667703

Play is for Children. Or is it? by Gregory Bland

how-many-times-gregory-bland“I’d rather play outside with you. Will you come out and play, even if it’s just for a little while?”

I’ve worked a long day. My mind and body is tired. No, more accurately, it’s been a long week and my mind and body are exhausted. Right now I am finally feeling like I can unwind and let go. The flames are dancing in the fireplace and the warm glow radiates pleasantness in the room. I’ve just settled into the armchair, breathe deeply, and prepare to unwind.

The front door opens and the wind howls in as Josh steps through the door and bangs his snow covered boots on the mat. Looking up into the family room where I am sitting he calls out, “I’d rather play outside with you. Will you come out and play, even if it is just for a little while?

Have you ever been there? Exhausted from a long day or week, aching for rest, and you’re rest is interrupted by your child who ‘just wants to play?’

When will they grow up? You don’t dare say it, but you may think it. Don’t they understand I’m too tired, too old, or too _____________________ to go outside and play? It’s snowing like crazy out there. I’d rather sit here and watch you through the window.

What do you do?

I’ve often wondered,

“How many times can you say no before they simply stop asking?”

These ‘intrusions’ in our lives (please sense the sarcasm) come as a simple heart felt request to connect with us. Our children value our time, and time spent in play communicates value to them.

This invitation goes beyond the play, they are inviting us into their world of excitement, wonder, and imagination. It’s time and space to connect, laugh, run, and collapse heaped together in the snow. I’ve been astounded at the depth of conversation that often occurs during these moments together. There is a realization that this is a wonderful opportunity to connect at a deeper heart level and build relational bonds that can last a lifetime.

Though exhausted, and sometimes feeling like more work, saying YES and participating has more often than not left me refreshed; emotionally, physically, and relationally.

There is also a keen awareness that my response in these moments is setting the tone for our future interactions together. When I am invited into my children/teens lives, I desire they have the assurance that the invitation will be met with a resounding YES.

I wonder, when was the last time you said YES to your child/teens request to play?

Together creating a Legacy of Relational Health for Generations to Follow
Your friend and proactive parent coach
Gregory Bland

The Grass is Always Greener Where You Water It by Gregory Bland

grass-is-greener-gregory-bland

“Greg.  Don’t look for greener grass!” I’ve been told time and time again. “Because it’s always greener just over the septic bed.”  This was said as a warning, a wake up call, so to speak, and I understood it’s intent.  For years these words have echoed in the corridors of my mind.

Today though I have a different conviction and view that was catalyzed by the words of a pastor recently that solidified within my mind an experience I had this past summer.

Spring and Summer 2014 will stand out as a very formative season within my heart, mind, and spirit. One reason is what I share today.

Early this past spring we had a load of soil dumped on our property with the dream of planting and growing a healthy lawn for our family to enjoy. I spread it with care.  Wheelbarrow load, after wheelbarrow load.  I painstakingly levelled, seeded, and fertilized in hopes of gaining a play area for our family. The basic principles of watering, warmth of the sunshine, and the natural growth to occur provided a warm sense of hope within me as I imagined it’s fulfillment.

Evening after evening I’d take hose in hand, sprayer set to mist, and carefully water the seeded area.  I took great care and concern for the growth of this new lawn.   Secretly, this was my time, time to reflect, time to pray, and time to dream. I relished these moments alone, seed, water, and me.

In anticipation I’d kneel down and inspect the soil closely. Could I see evidence of a single sprout breaking forth from the ground?  One by one they appeared and I still remember the evening I misted the ground, and caught the sight of a green hue cascading across the brown soil backdrop.  Satisfaction, accomplishment, and hope filled my heart.  I didn’t stop watering there though.  No I continued not wanting the tender grass to wilt under the heat of the summer sun.

One evening I noticed an interesting yet stunning contrast. Where I consistently provided water and care was growing thicker and greener. Day by day the grass was becoming lush, vibrant, and healthy. Yet, the other portion of our lawn that once looked green and healthy somehow paled in comparison.  It looked anemic next to the lush green new growth.  It was not as vibrant, rich with color, or soft to the touch. Why?  It’s interesting how obvious the answer really is.  I wasn’t providing the same water and nourishment to it.  Simply put, it was neglected.

It stimulated an interesting thought for me. Life is much like this practical watering illustration that was fleshed out before me.  What we water grows, what we neglect withers, which often tempts us to look elsewhere at what we perceive to be ‘greener grass.’

The pastors statement this past weekend was simply this, “The grass is always greener where we water it.” A very simple statement that reflects a simple yet profound truth.  What we provide nourishment to, grows.

I look at my own life there are so many areas to consider. What do I see when I look at my relationship with God; my family, Lynn & the children; my business; faith community; and neighborhood?

Are these areas green and growing? Is there evidence of watering, nourishment, and growth? If not, what have I been watering? It will be easy to spot because it will be the grass that appears greener.

As I continue to consider my life could I ask you to do the same? Ask, what can I begin watering that will create a legacy of relational health for others to follow?

Blessings today and may your grass grow greener.

Your friend and Pro-Active Parent Coach
Gregory Bland
Pro-Active Parent Coaching &
The Legacy Centre

 

 

The Significance of 112

Children-mature-Gregory-BlandTomorrow. Saturday.  Family Day. Tomorrow marks the first Saturday following the beginning of a new school year. The number 112 has been rolling over and over through my mind as the day has unfolded. Katelyn left home this morning with great enthusiasm. Excitement was written on her face as she looked forward to seeing friends, sharing summer stories, and meeting at a friends house afterward.

112. Who knew 112 would become such a significant number in my mind? After tomorrow, Saturday, that number will change.  Next week it will be 111.

112. What’s the significance of 112? Well, as of this very moment, right now, that is how many Saturday’s remain before Katelyn moves beyond our home into the vast world of travel, study abroad, and continuing to make her mark on HIStory.

Somehow today, as I sit and type, 112 doesn’t seem like a large number. No in fact 112 is quite a small number especially when I know what is signifies.  With each passing Saturday that number will decrease as a sense of sorrow intermingled with excitement will no doubtedly increase.

In my minds eye I see each Saturday coming and going rather quickly.  Maybe even too quickly.  I’d like to pause and relish the moment, but I know all to well that time continues to march along.  Burying my head in the sand and pretending there is a LOT of time remaining will only leave me waking up to the brutal reality time has gone.

No, I’d rather be proactive.  Recognizing the reality of our remaining Saturday’s and doing what we can as a family to make the most of them.  Today as I sit and consider the best investment of these remaining 112 Saturday’s I recognize I already lost 10.  Somehow in my hasty addition I miscalculated and there are really only 102.  Man time flies.  With that in mind I ponder  . . .

What will we do to continue fostering the healthy relationship we enjoy?

What experiences will we offer and allow that will build within Katelyn (yes and our other two children) a reservoir of experience from which to draw wisdom when she (they) is out on her own in a mere 112 Saturday’s?

What is the best use and investment of our remaining time?

Have you considered how much time remains with your children under the roof and what you can do to invest relationally and practically in their lives and future?  It’s worth considering because our children will not remain children forever.

Together, let’s be proactive and create a legacy of relational health for generations to follow.

Until next time consider how you will spend your remaining Saturday’s.

Your friend and Pro-Active Parent Coach
Gregory Bland
Pro-Active Parent Coaching &
The Legacy Centre

 

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub 69491744