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“All of us have a sense of wanting to ‘do something meaningful’ with our lives. We call this universal and powerful longing a Big Dream. And, like the genetic code that describes one’s unique passions and abilities, your child’s Big Dream has been woven into his or her being from before birth--therefore it never is quite like someone else’s Dream. In fact, your child’s unique makeup points toward his or her Dream. And as a parent, it is your privilege to help your child discover and shape his or her Dream.”
--Dream Giver for Parents by Bruce & Darlene Marie Wilkinson.
Tomatoes from My Garden
I have four children and every day I ask God to show me what He has placed inside them so that I can encourage their growth and curiosity. With my girls, I can see so much fruit but I’m still waiting to see what’s inside my boys.
Waiting doesn’t cause me to worry because as a novice gardener, I know that every plant bears fruit at different times, even if planted at the same time.
So in the meantime, I keep praying, watching, listening, observing, watering, and providing sunlight--waiting to see if I can get a glimpse of what’s to come.
Good Families Don’t Just Happen is the name of a book I picked up from the Goodwill store a few years ago. I loved the title, and it drew me in because growing up I was able to observe healthy and unhealthy families and I wanted to learn how to be intentional about building a good one.
In this book Cathy and Joe Prat shared their parenting/family tips learned from raising their ten sons! This book was full of great advice and here are five things I learned from them:
1. Successful Parents Do What Unsuccessful Parents Are Unwilling to Do. In order to have a strong family, the Prats say you have to make your marriage relationship first and foremost. It’s really easy to get distracted with life, kids, career and as a result put your marriage relationship on the back-burner.
“Strengthening and maintaining a marital relationship is an active process. Passivity and complacency will not allow a marriage to nurture and grow. It takes continuous effort, but we reap what we sow.” A strong marriage gives the children a strong sense of security and can lay a healthy emotional foundation.
2. Shared Parenting and Family Management is a Must! There are many women who feel like their husbands do not actively participate in the daily raising of the children. This mentality is the fastest way for burnout and can plant a lot of resentment in the relationship.
I totally agree with Joe when he stated “I feel strongly that family must be a shared responsibility. I’m often amazed at husbands who expect their wives to do it all, and then wonder why their wives are frustrated, tired, angry, and unaffectionate.” Joe--it amazes me too!
I am really blessed to have a husband that is extremely helpful around the house and with the kids. So Cathy’s perspective was surprising and refreshingly challenging to me when she wrote, “If your Dad’s willing to fold clothes or fix dinner, then I should be willing to mow the lawn or wash a car.”
I honestly had never thought about doing some of my husband's "chores." However, this past winter when we ordered wood for the fireplace---we were all out there stacking and loading together as a family! It felt really good working together as a team. Even if you are a single parent---make sure you gather a good support network--don’t try to do everything by yourself--build your network and involve your friends in “village parenting.”
3. Treat Each Person in Your Family as an Unique Individual without pressuring them to be like someone else. There are no favorites in a good family. As a parent you might be tempted to favor one child over the next because they have similar interests or personality.
“We do not pressure them to be a doctor, play a certain sport, or march to a certain drummer. They each have God-given talents and must find their own path to follow.” I think this is one of the best ways to ensure jealousy, comparison, and insecurity don’t sneak their way into your family culture. When each child is valued--each one will be a supportive team member.
4. Discipline Should be a Positive Learning Experience. Some parents do not discipline their children and let them get away with any type of behavior. The Prats discourage this kind of parenting strategy and wrote, “One of our responsibilities as parents is to assist our children in all areas of their development. When one of the boys acts or speaks in appropriately, we don’t say, ‘It’s just a phase,” or ‘That's’ the way boys are,’ or blame someone else. We deal with the situation up front and right away. If the boys have been unkind or acted out of line, we let them know how disappointed we are and what we think needs to be done.”
The authors went on to explain that all discipline should be done in a manner that will never give your kids the impression that they are unloved.
Recently, my boy’s were running through a museum (yes my kids act up!) and the security guard came and let me know that he spoke with them, but they ignored him. I brought the boys to the security guard and had them apologize and then handed out consequences once we got in the car. Before we left the museum, the security guard pulled me aside and thanked me. He said, sometimes he’ll tell parents their kids are acting up and the parents don’t do anything. He reassured me that although my boys were running through the museum (so embarrassing) I was doing a good job by dealing with the behavior.
Well, I definitely thought my boys needed some more home training, but it was really good to hear that the simple act of redirecting them and having them apologize was a good thing. Sometimes it's really easy just to ignore my kids when they are misbehaving. Sometimes, it takes so much effort to get them in line, so it was really encouraging to have that man let me know I was on the right track.
Now one of the last things I learned from the Prat family was to:
5. Teach by Example. In other words, be real. Don’t be fake--live out the life and character you want your kids to have. If you are materialistic, dishonest, hard to please, selfish but you put on the opposite face in public, don’t be surprised when your children mimic the same behavior.
In practicing the art of parenthood an ounce of example is worth a ton of preachment.”
The Prats emphasized that “Your children will do as you do! If you want our children to be respectful, we must treat them and our spouse with respect. If we want our children to be responsible, we must accept and fulfill our responsibilities. If we want our children to be kind and compassionate, we must be sensitive and caring in our words and actions. If we want our children to be happy, optimistic, and hopeful, we must show them the way.”
I was reminded of how true this is when one day, my eldest was going around shouting commands at everyone with a terrible tone of voice. It was then that I realized she was totally mirroring my own bad attitude--and let me tell you it was ugly! My kids see me mess up all the time. I’m not perfect and I don’t claim to be because I want my kids to see that we all have weaknesses but can grow and improve each day.
I agree with Joe when he said “To be a good parent means constantly trying to become a better individual.”
Parenting is hard work and building a healthy family is even harder. I hope some of these insights encourage you to keep making your family a priority. Remember good families don't just happen!
If you want to learn more from Cathy and Joe, you can visit: http://www.garcia-prats.com/garcia-prats.com/Joe_and_Cathy.html
I never knew that this green ribbon stood for Kidney Disease Awareness. Now I know because my dad is experiencing kidney failure. Kidney disease has fought its way to the forefront of my life as for months my dad has suffered and battled it in silence.
First of all, my father, Henry Luvert is not known for being the “silent” type. Usually loud, boisterous, loud, fun-loving, passionate, loud—okay you get the point—loud! You see as a social justice and civil rights advocate, he has stood up for the voiceless for decades!
As a child, I remember him talking on the phone for hours at a time helping and assisting victims of racism and discrimination. Why did they call him? Because he didn’t just talk. You know there were some in our community who only talked about injustice but never put the time to help fight against it. My father, was a man of action. Those who encountered trouble and wanted something done or wanted someone to stand with them—well they called him.
This March, my dad is blessed to have his youngest sister, Jennifer Luvert donate a kidney. She was the perfect match and on March 15, 2016 the kidney transplant will occur. I will literally owe my Auntie Jennifer so much for giving a gift of life to my father.
One way I want to show my gratitude is by making sure all of her costs are raised for the surgery. I don’t want her to have to pay one cent—she is already giving so much! Please help me by raising $3,000 to cover all of her expenses like transportation, food, living, medical expenses.
All I need is for 30 people to give $100. Would you be that person? If so, please go to this link to make your contribution:
Thank you in advance for your kindness and generosity! To follow the campaign please LIKE our Facebook Page "Help Henry Get His Kidney": http://on.fb.me/1TTHA0v
I have to admit that I really am the nerd in our family. In fact, I usually have to plan fun into our family routine or it would never happen. That is why I am so happy that I married a “fun” guy. My husband constantly fills our home with laughter while playing jokes on the family or telling his ridiculous stories of childhood.
He is big on creating memories in our home and was the one to convince me to go camping. Yes, live outside in a tent for a few days. Initially I was totally against the idea but like the crock-pot that I am, I slowly warmed up to it. I’m so glad I stepped outside of my box because now it is a Murray favorite!
Murray Camping Trip 2014
Meet the Murrays
My husband Bryan works for a pharmaceutical company while I work from home writing and educating our children. I usually refer to myself as a “home manager and homeschool educator” because that is exactly what I do! We have four children: Jayda, Anaya, and my identical twin boys Shaun and Jared.
We’ve moved around so much that many people have assumed we were a military family. But just due to life circumstances our journey has taken us from Oregon, Washington, California, North Carolina, Florida, and now New York.
The really good thing about living in so many different places is that we have been able to experience a variety of American culture. From the hippie northwest to the conservative South and now the competitive northeast. Although I don't like moving, we have met some amazing people along the way and I wouldn’t change that for anything.
I've been married to my best friend Bryan Murray since the year 2000. Now we have four incredible children and a super full life with extended family and friends.