Don’t be a drone in your child’s life – don’t hover.

January 29, 2015

“Don’t prepare the path for the child; prepare the child for the path.”  (Anon) That little saying was from a post on my favorite source of inspirations – the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Of course, Jack had some thoughts about the saying, so click on the link to read what he wrote.

I had an immediate reaction to this saying and it related to the ads that have been running lately for a new reality show on TV called “Bad Coaches” or something like that. The ad shows the kind of stupidity that goes on in peewee league football around the country, when out of control parents are in charge of “coaching” their grade school age children in organized sports. I guess it makes for good TV, at least if you’re into seeing 7-9 year old kids get concussions playing football and being told to “shake it off and get back in the game.” There are shows just as ridiculous about dance moms and child beauty contest moms pushing their young daughters beyond their capabilities and either injuring them in the process or setting them up for future injuries. I’m not a big fan of either, I’ll admit.

Back to the original thought behind today’s little saying; the intent is to focus more on teaching and using experiences as learning vehicles, rather than running so much interference in your child’s life that they never have the experience of failure or pain or loss.  The term for that I believe is the “helicopter parents”; always hovering around their child in protection/prevention mode. What they end up preventing is the growth of the child first bicycle rideboth emotionally and intellectually. Eventually, of course, the child must venture off into the world by him/herself, whether it is in a school environment or some other setting. It is in those first frightening moments when mom or dad has let go of the back seat of their bicycle (sans training wheels for the first time) and they are on their own that may determine how they will do later in life. It is also determined by the parents’ ability to let go and see their child wobbling forward into independence.

There are many things in life that, like the first bicycle ride, cannot be explained completely in words or advice; they must be experienced. And, if the child falls down; it is the encouragement from parents to get back up and try again that is more important that rushing to see if there is a scrape or bruise. Mommy and daddy likely won’t be there thefell down first time that the child receives a snub from someone at school or whose friendship is rejected or when they experience their first brush with prejudices or unfounded fears. However, the lessons that have been taught at home about love and forgiveness, understanding and politeness will all serve to lessen the bruise from that experience, as will the level of self-confidence that has been instilled by loving parents with the ability to let go.

So, if you have children of your own; reflect upon your preparations concerning them. Do you hover or do you try to teach and help them learn?  Do you try to shelter them from life’s disappointments and mishaps or help them learn how to deal with them as they inevitably come along? Are you helping your child navigate the road to adulthood or trying to keep your baby with you for as long as possible? I’m reminded of more than one cartoon that I’ve seen about the differences in parenting (and hovering) that occur between baby number one and number three or four; perhaps you’ve seen them, too. Babies 3 and 4 actually get a better childhood experience out of the “benign neglect” that sets in with most parents. Somewhat like some houseplants, it’s all too easy to overwater and kill the plant and usually better to forget watering for a while, even if the plant suffers in the short term.

So, don’t hover, don’t over-water your children; let them fall down (and encourage them to get back up); let them encounter unpleasant social situations (but prepare them on how to react and recover); let them experience failures (but encourage them to learn from them and try again). Don’t act as if you are the Secret Service and your child is to be protected from every threat; act instead in the role of teacher and eventually as mentor to provide advice and encouragement on your child’s journey through life.  You cannot be there like a co-pilot every step of the way; instead prepare them on how to read the instruments and teach the basics of flying and them let them fly away. At some point, they’ll be back to thank you.


Be the best you that you can be…

January 28, 2015

No, this isn’t a commercial for the Army. For whatever reason I recently started thinking about what Dr. Seuss might have said about trying to be the best that you can be in life. Perhaps it would have sounded like this – “I’m trying hard to do good things you see, ‘cause I want to be the very best me.  I’m no longer trying to be like you and I’m through acting like others, too. Giving that up, now I am free, to work real hard on being the very best me.”

Well it turns out that I’ve written about this topic before and used an actual Dr. Seuss quote – see https://normsmilfordblog.com/2014/07/14/be-the-best-you/ . That’s OK, I’ve got more to say on the topic.

you aint meWe all have the tendency to spend way too much time trying to be something we’re not in the belief that it will help us “fit in”; instead of focusing on being the best at who we really are. Much of that behavior is caused by a lack of self- confidence or, put another way, because we just don’t like ourselves. I’ve written here a few times about topics like being yourself and learning to like yourself enough to enjoy moments alone. It is important that you get comfortable with who you are and what you bring to things in life. As you try to do that, through self-reflection; you might conclude that there are some things that you need to work on and that’s OK, too. Devise a plan to work on them and set out to make yourself even better and more likable (at least to you). It usually works out that when you like what you see in yourself others will like it to.

One of the side benefits of getting to that comfort zone with yourself is that your confidence in who you are will come out in your everyday interactions with others. Being self-confident, without becoming self-centered or a narcissist, provides you with an aura that believeothers will sense and find reassuring. Leaders are not those who exhibit lots of self-doubt and second guessing of themselves; but you don’t have to be a leader to exude self-confidence, you just have to accept and like yourself for who your are and go from there. Sometimes that starts by stopping something else – beating yourself up over things that go wrong.  Don’t kick yourself when you’re down; instead pick yourself up, try to learn from whatever just happened and move on in a positive way.

So off you go to be the best you that you can be, confident in your assessment that there’s no one else exactly like me. And, that a good thing and undoubtedly true, as Dr. Seuss mewould say, “there’s no one you’er than you.”  Now you know, that, the truth be told, being timid isn’t nearly as much fun as it is be bold; get out there and jump in and help the world to see that the thing they were missing was “someone like me.” Let the world know that you can sing, you can dance, you can draw, you can write and you’ll no longer be held back by doubts or by fright. It’s time to come out from behind the curtain made up of your fears and doubts of that I am certain. So, you be you and I’ll be me and let’s try to both be the best that we can be.

Have a great week ahead and I hope that we meet, because knowing someone like you would really be sweet.


Three little words – Let yourself out!

January 27, 2015

Awaken the Greatness – Phrase seen on a Purina ProPlan dog food bag . Anthony Robbins puts it a slightly different way – Awaken the Giant Within. There are all sorts of little inspirational sayings that use similar phrasing, with words like “free your…” or “unchain your…” or “unleash your…” What all of these little tidbits of advice share in common is the recognition that what’s holding you back is you. We create our own cages or chain ourselves to old habits; we limit our own abilities and refrain from taking chances or risks to explore new idea or experiences. We are incarcerating the giant within and restraining our own greatness. It’s time to change that. Let yourself out!

cagedThere are lots of complex and intertwined reasons that we hold ourselves back and most of them boil down to FUD – Fear Uncertainty and Doubt. We do not let ourselves succeed many times because we don’t ore won’t try what is necessary for success – we are fearful of the unknown, uncertain of the risks and doubtful of our own abilities. We talk ourselves out of it and feel satisfied that we have avoided probable failure by not even trying. We had no chance to win, because we wouldn’t even play. Let yourself out!

Our creativity is stifled many times because we fear criticism of our work. We think it’s just not good enough. Imagine the criticism that Picasso might have gotten from an artpicasso teacher at school for one of his abstract drawings or paintings – eyes pointed this way and nose going that way and those colors. You can imagine the teacher saying, “Give it up Pablo, you just don’t have it to be an artist.” Or how about the first time Bob Dillon performed using the technique that he developed to get the words out? Imagine the critics who panned him for his delivery, rather than listening to the message that he was trying to get across. Don’t let the world stifle what you are trying to say through your art or your writing or your songs. Let yourself out!

Our social lives are often hampered by shyness and self-doubt. After all, who would want to hear what you’ve got to say? You’re not one of the “in” people, the cute ones, the jocks or the popular kids; you’re just an ordinary person with an ordinary life. Yet there is something that you have that no one else has and that is your perspective on the kids at schoolworld, how you see things is definitely different from how others see them. The things that you like and the knowledge that you’ve accumulated provide you with opinions that are different from others – not better or worse, just different. Differences of opinion make for more interesting conversations and relationships. Express those differences and you become a more interesting person; perhaps even the “go to” person when others realize that you are your own person and not just going along with the crowd to get along. You may not please everyone when you learn to express yourself, but you certainly won’t be labeled dull and uninteresting. Let yourself out!

For some discovering the greatness within may take an artistic form – art or music or even acting. For some the route to letting the real you come out maybe through athletics. For many it turns out that the key to letting themselves out is through service to others, through volunteering and helping others through charitable causes and helping handsprograms. Every community has those who truly find themselves and let others see who they are through their tireless work to feed or cloth or house the less fortunate. The tiny voice inside your head that says “let me help” can grow into the strong voice that others hear as they follow your lead or work alongside you on the projects that you take on in the community. Suddenly, you find that you have that greatness that you didn’t know was there and it’s all because you – Let yourself out!

So, don’t let yourself be caged by the opinions of others and don’t build your own cage of fear, uncertainly and doubt. Stand up, clear your throat, and say out loud – “I want to help.” Before you know it, a different you will out there, working, helping and joining with others to make a difference in the lives of others and in the community. Fear, smiling girluncertainty and doubt will be replaced by satisfaction, a sense of accomplishment and confidence. It may not end up that there was a giant within you; but for sure there was always more than the dwarf that you had let yourself become in a cage of your own making. You won’t know how much you can grow until you get out there and get started. But, before you can put yourself out there, you have to – Let yourself out!

Have a great week. Find your voice and express your opinions. Find a cause. Find a need that you can fill. But most of all – Let yourself out!


Lighten up already…

January 24, 2015

I’ve been so focused upon the voting that has been taking place for a grant that is important to a volunteer group that I support that it has totally consumed this blog. Oh well, passion will out.

But now it’s time for something more along the normal lines that I write about; and for that, I turn to my most dependable source of inspiration – the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Recently, Jack featured this little saying – “Don’t let yourself forget what it’s like to be sixteen.”  (Tyler Ward).

Tyler’s quote is full of meaning and nuances, not the least of which I have written about more than once – the ability to recapture the wonder and innocence and energy of yourchild fishin gin puddlechildhood. But there is more to it than just that; there are things that we all went through at that age that should have taught us lessons for life, or at least given us the experiences that those lessons are based upon, even if we didn’t  understand them back then.  Sixteen is an inflection point time in life for most. It represents the time when one achieves the freedom of being able to drive yourself to the dance (instead of in the back seat with dad or mom or both in the car). It is also a point in life when raging hormones take over for a while and unfortunately the logical part of the brain is shunted aside all too often. But, all-in-all it’s a great time. It is exciting and scary, full of great hopes and great disappointments. In this country, it is the start of the final transition chapter from childhood into adult life – high school.

I’ve written here before about the need to let the inner child in all of us out to play once in a while – see https://normsmilfordblog.com/2014/01/03/let-the-child-out-to-play-again/ and https://normsmilfordblog.com/2014/05/09/can-i-come-out-and-play/.

But I didn’t mention reaching back to one’s tween and teen years so much; maybe that’s because those years were as full of fears and doubts and perhaps pain, that they are not friends at schoolas much fun to conjure up as the years of earlier childhood. But those were also the years when boys stopped being stinky, booger-brains and girls climbed down out of the trees and put on make-up and dresses. Things changed forever during those years. The Barbie and Ken dolls were traded in for the real things. Music became more than background noise and suddenly you cared about what you looked like in the mirror. The loss of the innocence of childhood was not immediately replaced by the wisdom of the adults and therein was the source of a lot of stupid decisions. But, somehow, most of us make it through those years and come out on the other side a bit scared and a bit wiser.

My wife and I often use a little phrase to get us through something a bit rough – “Someday we’ll look back on this and laugh.” Most of us could look on their tween and teen years and laugh, if we allow ourselves to laugh at ourselves. If you’ve ever seen those newspaper and magazine stories on what today’s big starts looked like in their teens, you’ll know what I mean. Who was that dork that everybody laughed at in Middle School? Oh yeah, he’s the world’s richest man now. What ever happened to that shy girl we used to make fun of in high school? That’s right she’s the highest paid movie star around, now. I wonder if they ever think back to those days?

So, why take the advice of today’s saying and never forget what it was like back then? Because it will always remind you that you survived what you were sure was going toButterflies kill you back then and help you see how far you’ve come. The teen years for most are the years in which major decisions are made that will greatly impact the rest of your life – whether to go to college or not; and if you do go, what to major in is just one example. For some it is the time of major bad decisions that land them in prison or on a road to ruin or death, but for most it’s just an awkward, vexing, but thoroughly exciting time.  What do you think of when you remember your tween and teen years? Don’t cry; have a good laugh about it; it’s all behind you now.


Final push day for voting…

January 23, 2015

I promise that this will be the last post about voting for the Huron Valley Historyvote graphic Initiative grant. You can go to the Clarke Library web site and Tweet from there or just Tweet or re-Tweet something from my earlier posts or from your own account.The Tweets need to have the hashtag #DigMilford in them to count as a vote. We are doing OK onthe Tweet voting, but Alpena has been right on our heals all along, so keep voting.

You can also vote by sending in a Michigan-themed postcard to – Clarke Library, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, MI  48859. Remember that each postcard counts as 100 votes, so they are really helpful. Postcards need to sent so that they arrive before Jan. 30; so, they probably need to be mailed by Wednesday the 28th. The postcards also need to have the hashtag #DigMilford on them somewhere, to identify the grants finalist that you are voting for. The cards can pictures of anything to do with Michigan or just a map of the state. Some children have made homemade maps buy drawing mitten shapes around their left hands with crayons and labeling it “Michigan.”

You Tweets and cards will help us win a grant from Clark Library to digitize the back issues of the Milford Times that we currently have on microfilm, the earliest gong back to 1871. We plan to index and make the resulting database available on-line for research. Help us make that happen through your support. Thanks.

Tweet, re-Tweet and Tweet again; then, have a great weekend!

 


Day two of voting – keep on Tweeting

January 20, 2015

It is day two of the week-long voting for the finalists in the running for a grant from the Clark History Library of Central Michigan University.  Clarke Library has established a site where people can go to vote – Clarke Library Voting Site. The site has all five grant finalist shown, so remember to vote for the Milford project – hashtag #DigMilford. You can also just Tweet using that hashtag (#DigMilford) within your Tweet or re-Tweet a Tweet that contains the hashtag #DigMilford.

Your Tweets, using the hashtag #DigMilford, can help the Huron Valley History Initiative win a grant from the Clarke History Library at Central Michigan University. That grant will allow the groups that have united behind an effort to share the history of the Huron Valley. A key part of that effort is a project to digitize the back issue of The Milford Times that currently exist only on microfilm.

The Milford Times is a local, weekly newspaper that began publishing in 1871. The Milford Times has chronicled important events ever since in the Huron Valley area, which is made up of the Townships of Milford, Highland, Commerce and White Lake and the Village of Milford. Every issue that has been published since the beginning in 1871 is available on microfilm and the Milford Historical Museum and the Milford Library. The proposed project will digitize the entire microfilm library, index it and make it available on-line at all of the participating libraries and historical societies of the four Townships.

A key to making this digitization project  happen is a grant from the Clarke History Library, which is associated with Central Michigan University. Each year Clarke solicits grant applications for worthy projects concerning history. The Clarke staff narrows things down to five finalists and those five projects compete for the grant by proving that they support for their project from the local communities and elsewhere. That vote graphicproof comes on the form of post cards and Tweets. I want to focus upon the Tweets here, because I believe that there is great power in the Tweet, once unleashed. So, keep on Tweeting!

And if you can’t or just don’t Tweet or want to go to the Clarke Library web site to vote, remember that you can send a Michigan-themed postcard (a postcard with a picture of something or someplace  in Michigan or a map of Michigan on it)  to Clark Library, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, MI  48859 and those postcards will each count as 100 votes.  The post card should have the hashtag #DigMilford written on it somewhere to be counted.

 


The polls are open – Tweet, re-Tweet and Tweet again…

January 19, 2015

We have all witnessed the power of a 144-character Tweet to change the course of vote graphichistory in recent events in the Middle East and in Eastern Europe. Now a Tweet has the power, not to change, but, to preserve history. Your Tweets, using the hashtag #DigMilford, can help the Huron Valley History Initiative win a grant from the Clarke History Library at Central Michigan University. That grant will allow the groups that have united behind this project to begin a project to digitize the back issue of The Milford Times that currently exist only on microfilm.

The Milford Times is a local, weekly newspaper that began publishing in 1871. The Milford Times has chronicled important events ever since in the Huron Valley area, which is made up of the Townships of Milford, Highland, Commerce and White Lake and the Village of Milford. Every issue that has been published since the beginning in 1871 is available on microfilm and the Milford Historical Museum and the Milford Library. That’s great, but the microfilm technology is very long in the tooth and does not allow sharing of the information, unless one is sitting in front of the microfilm reader. microfilm readerThe proposed project will digitize the entire microfilm library, index it and make it available on-line at all of the participating libraries and historical societies of the four Townships. Eventually it will be widely available on-line, along with other materials houses in each of the museums runs by the four Township historical societies.

A key to making this happen is a grant from the Clarke History Library, which is associated with Central Michigan University. Each year Clarke solicits grant applications for worthy projects concerning history. The Clarke staff narrows things down to five finalists and those five projects compete for the grant by proving that they support for their project from the local communities and elsewhere. That proof comes on the form of post cards and Tweets. I want to focus upon the Tweets here, because I believe that there is great power in the Tweet, once unleashed.

The voting will take place from Jan 19 until Jan 25. Clarke Library has established a site where people can go to vote – Clarke Library Voting Site. The site has all five grant finalist shown, so remember to vote for the Milford project – hashtag #DigMilford. You can also just Tweet using that hashtag (#DigMilford) within your Tweet or re-Tweet a Tweet that contains the hashtag #DigMilford. Did I mention that our hashtag is #DigMilford? I’ll be sending out a Tweet on Monday, Jan 19 with that hashtag in it, so that you can re-Tweet it, if you’d like.

Is this as important as a revolution playing out in Tahrir Square during the Arab Spring or the loyalist forces who are using Tweets to communicate about Russian troop movements in the Ukraine? Of course not; but it can demonstrate again the power of the Internet and of Twitter to influence history. We will be able to track the number of Tweet votes that come in for each of the finalists. Using the simple power of my Twitter followers list and then asking them to pass this on to their followers’ lists, I believe that we can get 10,000 or more Tweets during that week for our project. Together, let’s demonstrate the power of the Tweet. You can Tweet as many times as you wish during the voting period, just remember to use the hashtag #DigMilford. Let’s rock the world this week! I Dig Milford, do you?

postcardAnd if you can’t or just don’t Tweet or want to go to the Clarke Library web site to vote, remember that you can send a Michigan-themed postcard (a postcard with a picture of something or someplace  in Michigan or a map of Michigan on it)  to Clark Library, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, MI  48859 and those postcards will each count as 100 votes.  The post card should have the hashtag #DigMilford written on it somewhere to be counted.