Lead Your Children In the Way They Should Go

I want to share something that has been on my heart for quite some time. I am speaking directly to divorced parents – or otherwise known as divorced if you have a child & were never married – as is the situation with me and my ex (Bobby).

Put your children first.

I cannot stress this enough. The lessons you will teach your children have no bounds. Bobby & I haven’t always agreed & it hasn’t always been easy; but, I can say we’ve always put Bryce first. So many times I have seen the rewards of that hard work. Like when I hear Bryce tell Ryan or April he loves them in front of me or Bobby. Like when he draws family pictures & includes all of us with a caption that reads “the two best families ever.” Like today, when Bobby & April sent home a birthday gift for Kade.

An original drawing by Bryce Wiley. <3

An original drawing by Bryce Wiley. ❤

God doesn’t share with us why He does the things He does. What He does tell us is to lead by example. Lead your children in the way they should go – and that is in the way of all that is right & good. In the way of love & respect.

I love that Bryce is comfortable telling the step parent he loves them in front of the parent. It shows he has no fear of hurting or angering the parent. It shows mutual love & respect. It reflects what a family should be. I love that Bobby & April (& Mrs. Rose) always try to include Kade as well, despite him not being “theirs.” I love that they not only put Bryce first, but Kade as well.

I am so thankful to have Ryan, who supports open communication between me & Bobby. Who is the best stepdad I could ever hope Bryce to have & an amazing father to Kade. I am thankful for all he has taught me about parenting & loving without boundaries.

THIS is what God calls us to do. Lead by example. Harsh words, anger & hatred do nothing for you or your children. Forgive, move forward & communicate. Teach love & respect. God will reward your children tenfold.

Special thank you to Bobby, April & Mrs. Rose from Kade (& us) for the birthday gifts.

Bullying is a Learned Behavior & We Have the Ability to Stop It.

As an adult, I stand a whopping 4 feet 10 inches tall. Growing up, I was teased constantly about my height and can recall countless occasions when I would come home crying over the latest nickname I was given – shorty, shrimp, midget. Despite my mother’s attempts to calm my frustrations, it wasn’t until I was a senior in high school when I finally began to stand up for myself.

As I was digging through my locker prior to lunch one day, I realized my lunch money had been stolen. The guy who had a locker next to mine wasn’t my favorite person – and known for doing drugs. Upon questioning him if he stole my money, he said, “What did you say bitch?” Astonished, I looked at him and calmly asked again, “Did you steal my lunch money?” He replied, “I didn’t take your money bitch,” and then proceeded to shove me. Trying not to lose my temper & hoping if I sounded harsh enough he would leave me alone, I responded, “Don’t f*#ing touch me.” At this point, he shoved me again – and I lost it. As the adrenaline overcame me, I grabbed him by the throat & shoved him with all of my might into the lockers and said again as I held him in place, “I SAID don’t f*#ing touch me.”

I will never forget the look of surprise on his face that little me – at least a foot shorter than him & a girl, no less – was able to shove him into the lockers and hold him there while I gave him a piece of my mind.

Needless-to-say, I was paid a visit by the school’s Vice Principal that day. After relaying my story, I was free to go back to class without punishment. It turns out, standing up for yourself when you’re being bullied is 100% acceptable – within reason.

At the time, I didn’t realize what an impact that fateful day would have on me. To be honest, it wasn’t until a few days ago that it even crossed my mind again. From that moment on, I began standing up for myself; but, it wasn’t until my own son was dealing with bullies himself, that I realized it had been a turning point for me.

Fast forward a few years and my now 9 year old son, Bryce, is dealing with bullying. Within the past couple of years, he’s had at least 5 separate encounters with children bullying him. On one such occasion he was on the ground in the fetal position as a little girl kicked him in the ribs, simply because Bryce didn’t want to play with her. That same girl’s little sister pushed my youngest son, Kade, into the swing set – giving him a black eye – because he had a toy she wanted to play with. Two days ago, those same little girls and their youngest sister held Bryce down as they jumped all over him. Coincidence that both of my boys were bullied by a family of bullies – on three separate occasions? I think not.

Bullying is a learned behavior and we have the ability to stop it.

Just as children learn manners from their parents, they can also learn to scream, tease and bully from their parents as well as those around them. This isn’t to say all kids who bully have parents who are bullies themselves. However, it is our responsibility to be mindful of our own actions and how they affect our children. Are we unintentionally teaching our children to bully when we tease them for things? Are we unintentionally making them a victim by telling them to not let what kids say bother them?

Bryce & Kade

As one of nine kids, I had my fair share of teasing from my siblings. And to some degree, it was completely warranted. I’m not the type of parent that raises my children to be the constant tattle tale or have no backbone. I firmly believe that kids must learn to ignore harsh words. But that’s where I draw the line – at words. When my child is being hit, kicked, pushed or having things thrown at them, that’s when I have a serious problem.

I realize that parents, teachers and all those in authoritative positions, have an issue with kids tattling. I realize it’s sometimes hard to distinguish the truth as well as the severity of the situation; however, I also believe that it is our responsibility to put a stop to bullying, whether it be with our own children or someone else’s.

As parents, what type of example are we setting if we aren’t willing to stand up and say something on behalf of our children? As teachers, what are they teaching our children by telling them to stop tattling? At what point does that “tattling” get recognized as reporting a problem?

By not demanding better of adults, how can we demand better of children?

It breaks my heart to see Bryce feel so defeated, despite how much I tell him what an amazing child he is. More so, I am outraged that my children are being hurt – emotionally and physically – because of bullying.

I don’t condone or encourage fighting; however, sometimes you have to learn to stand up for yourself. I’m proof of that. Rest assured if Bryce gets in trouble for fighting due to someone bullying him, I’m going to take him for ice cream.

In the meantime, maybe we can all start making a difference by opening our eyes and paying attention. There’s a line between kids teasing one another and bullying. We are meant to parent and protect our children. It’s our responsibility to teach them how to treat others and how to handle difficult situations. We can put a stop to bullying and it starts at home.

We Need to Be Careful with Our Words

We need to be careful with our words.

This is something my heart has been contemplating for quite some time now. Sometimes my kids get to me. (Surprise!) They really are the epitome of my children. Loud, argumentative and stubborn to their very souls. And oh how I love them for it, adorable little creatures that they are. Sometimes.

But some days, I am overwhelmed and simply don’t want to answer another question. I don’t want to explain why something is the way it is. And I find myself using that famous mom end-all-be-all statement, “Because I said so, that’s why.” Or better yet, “I don’t care if you don’t want to [insert desired action here], just do it NOW!

It’s always after the words have escaped my mouth when my brain registers what I’ve just said. I just told my child, “I don’t care.” I don’t care about your feelings. I don’t care about what you want or what you don’t want. I don’t care that you aren’t sleepy and don’t want to go to bed. I don’t care that you are now hungry at 9:30 at night because you were “too full” to eat all of your dinner. I. Don’t. Care.

They're so peaceful while sleeping.

But I do care.

I do care how these wonderful, amazing, loving little boys feel. I do care that they go to bed knowing they are loved and their needs met. I do care that they know I love them “the most times infinity” (that’s winning in their eyes).

What I don’t care for is my choice of words.

While I am absolutely not saying I should give into my children’s every whim (that would be ludicrous), I am saying that I should learn to be more careful with my words. I can be firm without jeopardizing my children’s feelings. I can still be every bit the authoritative mom I pride myself on being while also teaching my children a lesson in a positive way.

While actions still speak louder than words, words are and always will be extremely powerful. They can be methods of encouragement and empowerment or tools of despair and downfall. We should all learn to be a little more careful with them. With our children, our spouses and everyone around us.

Always a Parent, Forever a Child

As children, most of us couldn’t wait to grow up. It seemed as if we were always counting down to that next big birthday – 13, 18, 21. You know the drill.

Through it all, we just wanted to be treated as adults – or at least “a big kid.” We wanted our parents to stop babying us and see that we could do things on our own. We wanted them to stop embarrassing us (especially in public). And above all else, we wanted them to give us some freedom.

Now that I’m adult, I find myself still looking to my parents for guidance. There are a several things I’ve yet to figure out. What’s the best way to invest my money? How do I talk to my kids about that? Why is being an adult so hard? Do the kids ever shut up? (I can see my parents laughing at that last one.)

My oldest son, Bryce, collecting tickets an the annual Lions Club seniors luncheon.

Bryce collecting tickets an the annual Lions Club seniors luncheon.

Sometimes, the kids are receiving a lesson without either of our knowledge.

As parents, it’s our responsibility to raise our children to be good human beings. What do we want them to learn from us? If we’re screamers, chances are our kids will be too. If we’re not careful about when and where we have our adult conversations, rest assured those little ears are listening. We all need to be cognizant of this.

Do our words and deeds reflect those of Christians who strive to see the best in humanity? To serve others? Do we display love and forgiveness? These are the values we should be teaching our children. And not just on Sundays at church.

Bryce & Kade embracing their inner "nerd".

Bryce & Kade embracing their inner nerd.

As adults, we probably listen to our parents far more than we ever did as children.

Just because we’ve raised our children to know gossip is bad & bullying is wrong, doesn’t mean they won’t still need us to be a good example when they become adults themselves. After all, aren’t we as adults still learning everyday? Learning to be good citizens that go to work and pay our bills. Learning to balance work and kids and our relationships. Don’t we still struggle to do what’s right sometimes? And even fail occasionally?

We still need good role models.

As a parent, our job is never over. We never stop wondering if our children are okay. If they are happy, loved and satisfied with their lives – whether they are 3 or 30. We are still responsible for making sure our children always know their way home. Our home. God’s home.

We are always a parent, forever a child.