You remember them don’t you – the old tan rough looking sacks. Stuffed in the corner of the shed, barn, or garage, these sacks were used for storage. So what do gunny sacks have to do with conflict between spouses or partners?
We recognize that conflict happens and does not predict couple or family problems. But research does tell us that dangerous patterns of thinking and behaviors can lead to serious problems. One of these communication patterns is gunny-sacking. Very simply, this is keeping things in and then dumping them all at once. Picture all the unkind words, slights, perceived wrongs, and accusations stuffed into the gunny sack. Then one day when you go to stuff one more thought into the bag, it is full. So you turn the gunny sack upside down on the floor and all the hurt, pain, and anger spill out – right onto your spouse or partner. The next picture isn’t going to be a pretty one.
Managing Conflict: Escalating and De-Escalating is just one of the lessons in a series, Together We Can: Creating a Healthy Future for our Family. This program is for single parents or couples who are in conflicted or unstable relationships and have young children. Go to http://www.extension.iastate.edu/humansciences/content/together-we-can for more information.
Conflict between human beings happens. It happens between adults, between children and even between adults and children. So how do we learn to fight fair?
An article I found from the University of Texas at Austin gives some great ideas on how to have conflict in a ‘fair’ way.
Here are some of their suggestions:
- Deal with only one issue at a time: Stay focused on only one topic. Focus on that one issue until you have resolved it agree to disagree. Then move to the next issue.
- Avoid accusations: Like Donna talked about last week, use the ‘I messages’ and talk about how it makes you feel. Refrain from using the word ‘you’ as much as possible.
- Avoid clamming up: Get the issue out. When you stop communicating about what the issue is it can’t possibly be resolved. Shutting down or becoming silent doesn’t make the issue go away. Keep talking. If you need to take a break, do so but commit to coming back and finishing the conversation.
For more suggestions read the whole article from the University of Texas at Austin.
Share your ‘fighting fair’ techniques with us here!
parenting, positive parenting, temperament
Teens love to hang out together – in large groups, small groups, and couples. As parents, we’re happy they have friends. But then we start to worry when the friends turn into boyfriends and girlfriends. Our immediate reaction may indeed be, “no dating until you’re 30!”
Realistically we know that’s not likely to happen, so how can we approach the dating decisions? Let’s return to one of the five basics of parenting adolescents. Monitor and observe means that you let your teen know you are aware of their activities and relationships.
In the beginning, there may be direct supervision. Perhaps you volunteer to chaperone the school dance or let some dates happen in your home. You might give the teens a ride to the movie, mall, or game. As the teens get older and have more experiences, your monitoring becomes less supervision and more communication. Ask where your teen is going, who is the date, and what the couple plans to do. When this is done in a conversational way, rather than an inquisition, you are more likely to get an honest answer.
Another important strategy is to build a network with other parents and adults in the community. Be willing to let each other know of the good things happening as well as any troubling trends or events. Watch for signs of troubled relationships or abuse.
Dating is a natural evolution in relationships. While this issue may always strike angst in the heart of parents, dating is another step on the road to adulthood. Supervision, communication, observation, and networking with other adults are the keys to successfully traveling that road.
What family rules do you have for dating?
I want you to know that not everyone is going to like you. I want you to know that you can fail and I will still love you. I want you to know that I am not perfect. I want you to know…
I find myself thinking and saying this phrase a lot. I have two teens and one nine year old that thinks she is a teen. There is so much I want them to know but so much that I don’t always say out loud. Yes, I want them to know, but I also know that sometimes they will ‘hear’ it louder from someone else. What resources can I share with them so they will find the answers I want them to know?
Below are some of the resources I have share with my teens so far. And yes, it was via text, email, Twitter or Facebook. I’ll use any means I can to share the information I want them to know.
I Am In Control
What have you shared with your teen? I would love to know!
family time, friendship, parenting, raising teens, social-emotional
Yes, parents still matter in the lives of their teens. Teens do care about you even though at times you may wonder. And – you’re not done modeling. In the podcast we shared the five basics of parenting adolescents with one being model and consult.
So you might be thinking – give me some specific strategies. The obvious one is to set a good example with your habits – eating, drinking, physical activity, risk taking. That old escape line of “Do what I say, not what I do” really doesn’t cut it with teens. And certainly you can model adult relationships - with employers, friends, partners, and spouses. Your teens will learn from how you interact and treat other people.
Here’s another strategy – answer teens’ questions. It’s ok to express your personal opinions on issues. Your teens may not agree but you are modeling different viewpoints and how to talk with people who take different positions. In our house we had the rule that we could talk about anything as long as people were respectful. Worked pretty well for us and it’s a strategy I continue today now that the kids are adults with teens of their own.
Have you considered that establishing or maintaining traditions is a form of modeling? During the holiday season families observe lots of traditions – some silly, some serious, some sacred. Traditions are often a tangible expression of values. For example, going to the grandparents’ home for a holiday meal and celebration models the importance we place on family. Attending a religious service on Sunday morning demonstrates spiritual values. Buying toys for an Empty Stocking program says we care about those less fortunate than us.
Now you get the picture. Teens still need their parents to provide information, teach by example or modeling, and carry on conversations about relevant issues. That’s a tall order but you are raising teens and these final years under your care are setting them on the path to adulthood.
parenting, raising teens
This week I really began to pay attention to the different ways my family doesn‘t conserve energy. I noticed lights left on, tv’s and electronics playing randomly to themselves, and most noticeably doors left wide open to the outdoors when the furnace was on. One day I even turned the furnace off to see if anyone would notice – and I put on an extra layer of clothing. My teenager responded late in the day with “Why is it so cold in here”. She checked the thermostat and expressed her displeasure. This gave me a perfect opportunity to share the idea from Donna’s blog last week as well as talk with the girls about how we could do a better job of conserving. Luckily I didn’t try this in the middle of winter! HA! But it helped to make a point about all the little things we take for granted.
I was looking for different resources on energy saving ideas to share with kiddos I came upon a couple things that piqued my interest. I have shared them below.
What are some ways that you have shared conserving energy and natural resources with your children?
From “The Wheels on the Bus” to “Goodnight Moon” and countless stories in between, a wide variety of children’s books are available to parents. The research shows that reading with your children promotes language and literacy development and improves their chances for success in school.
Books can expose children to a world beyond their everyday experiences. Perhaps your time together with books will promote a love for reading that will last a lifetime.
During September, we’ll talk about the importance of reading to children. Won’t you join us and share your own personal experiences with books?
Let’s Read Together
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Ok, I confess. On more than one occasion I decided it was just easier to do a job myself than deal with a kid who didn’t want to run the vacuum or empty the dishwasher. She was busy or tired or just not interested. Never mind that I was also busy or tired or not interested. I think this is one of the biggest obstacles for including children in household chores. They resist and we end up doing the task ourselves because it’s easier. Then we end up feeling like everyone’s personal maid and being resentful.
So how can we get out of this trap? An important piece is to remember that we are teaching life skills. By having realistic expectations and providing guidance, we can get there. One really good rule of thumb is “don’t do things for children they can do for themselves.” Let me give you an example. When a child is young we dress him and tie his shoes. As soon as he is capable we teach him how to dress himself and applaud his efforts to tie his own shoes. The same thinking applies to household tasks. We make the bed for babies and toddlers. But once she can climb in and out of her own bed, she can begin to put the pillow in place and pull up the covers. If we teach children how to do something and continue to offer support, we are on the way to raising responsible kids who can take care of themselves.
Check out Inspire Children to Help with Chores for more practical tips.
chores, miscellaneous, parenting
GREAT QUESTION! How about right now?!
If you look up Children and Chores at www.extension.org you will find several different articles on children helping with household chores. And guess what? They can start right now helping with all kinds of things. Even toddlers LOVE helping to put socks in the basket or towels in the drawer.
Allowing children to help around the house gives them hands on experiences for learning as well as a feeling of independence and responsibility.
It is important to share with the child how you want the task done, let the child do it and then DON’T re-do when they are done. Did you catch that? It’s OK that there is a wrinkle in the blanket or the fork is upside down. Let them know how proud you are of the work they did and keep modeling the way you would like it done eventually. Remember, you probably had a wrinkle in your bed at that age as well.
What are some chores that you have your children helping with? Share with us!
brothers, chores, discipline, family time, fathers, mother, overindulgence, parenting, positive parenting, siblings, sisters
When asking children to take out the garbage or to help with the dishes, we may sometimes feel like we are talking to ourselves. Families are busy, but there’s a minimum amount of work that has to be done at home to keep things going, so do we just give up and have the adults do all the work, or do we involve the kids in helping with daily chores?
During August, join us as we talk about the benefits and obstacles to children and youth doing chores.
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I grew up with an older sister. That meant I followed her through school, church, and 4-H activities. We even went to the same university and the same college within the university. And I still remember the day I walked into a college class and the instructor said, “Your sister would never wear that to class.” I didn’t say much but inside I was thinking, “I am NOT my sister and I will wear what I want!” You can about guess I wore interesting clothing choices for the rest of that class.
I share this story to make an important point about siblings – don’t compare your children. Don’t compare them to each other. And if you have an only child don’t compare your child to cousins or friends. Of course it is natural for you to notice that your son is more athletic and your daughter gets along better with her friends. Each will have his or her own special personality, talents, and skills. No two kids are alike and should be treated as individuals.
We might think that by comparing kids they will want to act better or work harder at perfecting a skill. That usually backfires (like it did with me). Instead kids are more apt to get jealous or think you are being unfair. Remember the Smothers brothers and their famous line, “Mom always did like you best.” Focus on finding ways to let your children know their unique qualities have nothing to do with anyone else.
And just for the record, I still don’t dress like my sister.
You’re smiling. I know it. So am I. We’ve all heard, seen or done it oburselves.
Sibling rivalry. It is what it is. The love hate like despise relationship with those closest to us.
I wanted to see what research had to say about our siblings. I entered the following in my search engine: Sibling Rivalry : edu
Wow what a list! We must really have lots of questions about those amazing siblings!
What kinds of experiences have you had with sibling rivalry?
brothers, family time, siblings, sisters, social-emotional
Brothers and sisters can seem to be arch enemies one moment and best friends the next. Or maybe you’ve described it as “can’t live with them, can’t live without them”.
The good news is that while siblings fight a lot, they also learn to resolve the conflicts, this is a valuable social skill that translates well into relationships in school. Fast forward into the adult world with personal and work relationships, and you can readily see how living with siblings is a rehearsal for later life.
During July, we will talk about the benefits and challenges of siblings, stereotypes, and how siblings shape each other’s lives.
Podcast: Play in new window
brothers, family time, parenting, podcast, positive parenting, siblings, sisters, social-emotional
Everything we’ve shared in the podcast and blogs this month can be summarized in this one statement. Research tells us that kids with involved dads receive benefits that kids without involved dads don’t get. Each family situation is unique as is each dad/child relationship. Sometimes circumstances can make it challenging for dads to create and maintain a positive relationship with their kids.
Three particular instances are: divorced dads, incarcerated dads, and dads who work away from home. Military dads are another category. If you are one of these dads, check out ideas for strengthening relationships between dads and children.
DADS AT A DISTANCE – DIVORCED
DADS AT A DISTANCE – WORKING
DADS AT A DISTANCE – INCARCERATED
Do you have any tips or ideas to share on staying involved in your child’s life when you are not there on a daily basis? Remember, how you handle the separation (no matter the reason) will make an impact on your child.
Got your attention didn’t I? Now moms, don’t be mad at me because we can be WAY fun, and trust me I am a really fun mom, it’s just that sometimes I feel like fathers are more fun!
So I was curious. Was I just ‘feeling’ less fun? Or is there was a difference in how mothers and fathers have ‘fun’. Here is what I found.
A summary of Fathers Involvement in Their Children’s Schools shared the following (http://nces.ed.gov/pubs98/fathers/):
- Researchers are in agreement that mothers and fathers interact differently with their children (Parke, 1995).
- Fathers spend proportionately more time playing with their children, while mothers spend a greater proportion of their total time with their children in caretaking activities (Lamb, 1986).
- Because mothers spend a greater amount of time overall with their children, they may actually spend more time playing with them than do fathers, yet caretaking is still what best characterizes their time, while play best characterizes the fathers’ overall time with their children. Fathers and mothers also play differently with their children, with fathers much more likely to be rough and tumble (Parke, 1995; Hetherington and Parke, 1993).
Whew!! I’m not less fun! I just play different than fathers do! I would love to hear how you play and have fun. Whether you are a mother or a father, spending time having fun and playing is so important. Share ideas here!
divorce, education, family time, fathers, grandparenting, mother, play, positive parenting, raising teens, social-emotional