Make Time for Memories that will Never Fade

Make Time for Memories that will Never Fade

Contributed by
James Hommowun

 

 

This week, my college roommate was back in town visiting his family and made time to stop by our house for an evening.  After catching up with my wife and I and our very excited daughters for about twenty minutes, my oldest ran from the room to grab a tablet and raced back up to him to ask, “Wanna play chess?”  I was treated to half an hour of watching my old friend (who is every bit as bright as I am) nearly lose his first game of chess with my daughter – in his own words, he only got out of it because she showed him a mistake he was making and he was able to turn it around.

I should maybe mention that my old roommate moonlights as a game designer and knows more about the history and development of chess and its variants than I could ever hope to match.

Needless to say, I was incredibly proud of my daughter. And I hadn’t set her up to challenge him, nor would I have expected her to come that close to winning her first game with another skilled adult.  (I maybe should have since she finally beat me last week, but obviously I must have just not been paying close enough attention.)  But the whole reason I had this great experience is because I took the time last year to teach my daughter to play and spent the time playing with her. She took that, ran with it – she’s getting very good at defeating weak computer opponents on that tablet, and is excited to attend the library chess club this summer as one of the youngest players – and has exceeded by many times the little effort I put in in the beginning – “effort” to have funwith my child.

We get so busy with our day to day lives we can lose track of the time we spend (or don’t) with the people closest to us, the people we see every day – and this passive, unintentional neglect (we’re not tryingto not spend time with our kids, we’re just trying to keep up with all the other demands on our time) has the biggest impact on the smallest people.  Children thriveon parental interaction, they come to love what we love and they want so desperately to be like us we have but to give them the slightest encouragement and they burst into bloom right before our eyes.

If I hadn’t spent that time playing with my daughter, could I have answered a few more emails?  “Liked” a handful more Facebook posts?  Caught another episode of Stranger Things on Netflix?  Finished another chapter in my book?  Of course I could have.  In a year, will I remember any of those things?  Very likely not.  Will I remember the sparkle in my daughter’s eyes and the genuine joy my roommate took in playing with her – something that could only happen because I first played with her?  Absolutely. Maybe even for the rest of my life.

We know that finding time and balancing all the demands on us as parents is hard – it’s another Full Time job on top of any other work you do, and the hours are 24/7.  That’s why Family Bridges hosts a series of short podcasts to help young (and not so young) parents navigate the challenges we all share – we know “The Struggle is Real,” but no one has to face it alone.  We invite you to check out the podcasts, or join us on the Family Bridges App available in the Apple Store and Google Play to get some quick tips on how you can trim the timesinks that you’ll never remember and make time for the memories that will never fade.  Take the time to play with your kids – chess, baseball, chutes and ladders, dress up, the game doesn’t matter.  You may sometimes feel silly, harried, find it hard to focus – but the rewards are incredible, and they come when you least expect them, and they arethe moments worth living for.

For more resources on personal and professional development, you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

Letting them Fail, Helping them Win

THE STRUGGLE IS REAL

Podcast

Dig Deeper

About This Episode

Sometimes your role as a parent is to lift your child up when they’re struggling, and sometimes it’s to raise the bar a little higher and make them stretch. Tune in to learn how to strike a balance.

People On This Episode

James Hommowun

Dr. James Hommowun
Resident Expert

Omar Ramos

Omar Ramos
Host

Family Bridges

Veronica Avila
Host

Tim Papadic

Tim Popadic
Special Guest

More Resources

Family Bridges:

App

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The Struggle is Real:

Book

Learn how to turn the struggle into a success.

Guard Your Child’s Heart: Setting boundaries

THE STRUGGLE IS REAL

Podcast

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About This Episode

What types of fears prevent you from having difficult conversations with your children about values? What can you do to overcome those fears?

When you guard your child’s heart, you set up healthy boundaries in the home that prevent harmful societal “toxins” from entering their lives. Boundaries should also prevent the private parts of their lives from being broadcast before the world. In order to help your child internalize those boundaries and make them a part of his or her own value system, you need to engage your child in sincere, empathetic conversation and be emotionally present when they need you.

People On This Episode

Alicia La Hoz

Dr. Alicia La Hoz
Resident Expert

Omar Ramos

Omar Ramos
Host

Family Bridges

Veronica Avila
Host

Ana Morante

Ana Morante
Special Guest

This Week's Action

Regardless of how well you parent, your child will inevitably cross an established boundary. Reacting to this situation out of a place of empathy and understanding as opposed to fear or anger, can make all the difference in the world. This week, take a moment to recognize when you’re going into “fear mode” and take the necessary steps to calm yourself down before addressing the situation with your child.  Here are a few things you can try:

  • Take a deep breath; notice your surroundings, your breathing, and the sensations going on around you.
  • Write down what you’re feeling in a journal
  • Take time to pray
  • Go for a run or engage in some other kind of physical activity
  • Listen to relaxing music or an interesting podcast
  • Talk to a trusted friend or loved one
  • Take a warm bath
  • Read a book

More Resources

Family Bridges:

App

Get more resources and tools by downloading our app.

The Struggle is Real:

Book

Learn how to turn the struggle into a success.

Raising the Brainy Child

THE STRUGGLE IS REAL

Podcast

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About This Episode

Are you a competitive parent? You may be using your children’s results to boost your parental ego and it’s doing more harm than good. Tune in for insights on how to balance your ambition for your child to do well with their own desires and talents.

People On This Episode

Alicia La Hoz

Dr. Alicia La Hoz
Resident Expert

Omar Ramos

Omar Ramos
Host

Family Bridges

Veronica Avila
Host

Mike Oquendo
Special Guest

More Resources

Family Bridges:

App

Get more resources and tools by downloading our app.

The Struggle is Real:

Book

Learn how to turn the struggle into a success.

Prisoners in Plain Sight – Human Trafficking

THE STRUGGLE IS REAL

Podcast

Dig Deeper

About This Episode

How does being part of a healthy family help safeguard children from the threat of human trafficking?

According to the International Labor Organization, there are approximately 21 million victims of human trafficking worldwide. Predators frequently use social media to lure vulnerable minors into a life subjugation, often for use as sex slaves or forced laborers. The grooming process involves preying upon the child’s insecurities and familial dysfunction to lull him or her into a false sense of security. The predator affirms the child and will often pose as a boyfriend or girlfriend before taking steps to isolate the victim from his or her family and coerce them into forced servitude. Parents should be mindful of the risk factors that make children more susceptible to predation and take strides to address any concerns. Children are most vulnerable to victimization when they feel their emotional needs are not being met at home, during periods of transition, and after experiencing any kind of traumatic or extraordinarily stressful event. The best way to prevent your child from being victimized is to give your child the love and affection that they crave and to have earnest, age appropriate conversations with them about internet safety. Monitoring your child’s activities and keeping tabs on who they are spending time with is another great way to help keep your child safe.

People On This Episode

Alicia La Hoz

Dr. Alicia La Hoz
Resident Expert

Omar Ramos

Omar Ramos
Host

Family Bridges

Veronica Avila
Host

Kathleen Winn

Kathleen Winn
Special Guest

This Week's Action

This week, take some practical steps toward safeguarding your family against human trafficking.  Here are a few ideas:

  • If your child is old enough to understand “the facts of life,” make sure you’re the first voice they hear on this topic. Be proactive in instilling a strong sexual ethic in your children as well as an understanding of what healthy relationships look like.
  • Talk to your children about internet safety and monitor their behavior online. Make sure that they know that not everyone they meet online is safe to talk to and that they should never agree to meet up with someone they only know from the internet.
  • Invite your children’s friends over to your house. Not only is this loads of fun for them, it allows them to interact in a safe environment and gives you the opportunity to get to know who your child is spending time with.
  • Allow your children to interrupt you, even if it’s only for a few minutes. It seems small, but taking advantage of those little moments throughout the day to bond with your child communicates to them, perhaps more than words ever could, that they are valuable and loved. This is your first line of defense against potential predators because, remember, children seek love and affirmation wherever they can find it. Make sure they know; they’ve already found it in you.

More Resources

Family Bridges:

App

Get more resources and tools by downloading our app.

The Struggle is Real:

Book

Learn how to turn the struggle into a success.

Single Parenting

THE STRUGGLE IS REAL

Podcast

Dig Deeper

About This Episode

What is a single parent to do when it comes to pursuing romantic relationships? We would advise you to (1) invest in having your children’s father(s)/mother engaged in their lives and to make every effort to be involved in your children’s lives, (2) slow down romantic relationships and (3) learn more about what makes healthy relationships to avoid prematurely entering into toxic relationships that put your children at risk.

People On This Episode

Alicia La Hoz

Dr. Alicia La Hoz
Resident Expert

Omar Ramos

Omar Ramos
Host

Family Bridges

Veronica Avila
Host

Desmond Clark
Special Guest

This Week's Action

  • Sign up for a relationship workshop or pick up a book for helpful insights. Some recommendations include: (1) John Van Epp’s How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk/ette and (2) Townsend Boundaries

More Resources

Family Bridges:

App

Get more resources and tools by downloading our app.

The Struggle is Real:

Book

Learn how to turn the struggle into a success.

Choosing a Career

Choosing a Career

Contributed by
Eva Fleming

My nephew loves reading and by age 20 he had read a huge portion of the top recommended books in the U.S., having read a book a week for two years. So it came as no surprise when he announced that he was going to college to become an English professor.

This means that he will pursue a master’s degree once he completes his bachelor degree. His mother was so in tune with her son’s interests that she even said that she would not pay for a single college credit if he chose to pursue a career that did not align with his interests, like accounting.

My daughter, on the other hand, is an artist. She has always loved the arts, sculpture, painting and music, so when she announced she was going to the Art Institute to pursue technical training in Graphic Design, no one batted an eye.

My nieces and nephews have been fortunate because they know their strengths and with the support of their family they have been encouraged to pursue careers that are a good fit for them based on their strengths, values, personality and skills, not social status or social norms.

Choosing a career is one of the most important decisions an individual will make in his or her lifetime. We encourage parents to put aside their own ambition and encourage their children to pursue careers that fit their talents and passion.

The right kind of work provides us with an inner creative joy that no amount of leisure activities can replace. Dullness and boredom can turn work into a burden if we are not interested in what we do. Work can give us a sense of purpose and a channel for our passion.

This is why choosing a career requires some forethought. In order to choose well, you must first know yourself well. You need to get in touch with your strengths, values, personality and skills. Armed with that knowledge, you can then decide if a four-year college education or technical training will help you best embrace your life’s purpose.

Once you assess your likes and dislikes you can consider your options based on your interests. As you narrow down your choices, consider the impact your career choice will have on your life. Ask yourself, what is the financial impact of my career choice, what is the relational impact, and am I willing to live with those consequences?

Following a career path that suits you will enrich your spirit. The ancient proverb says, “the soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.” So be diligent, be purposeful, and choose wisely.

For more resources on personal and professional development,  you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

My Husband as a Father

My Husband as a Father

Contributed by
Eva Fleming

I don’t know about you but sometimes I observe and reflect about what kind of father my husband is to my children and a sly grin of satisfaction passes through my lips. He is not the fun, energetic dad that tosses his children up in the air or spends time with them in the basketball court. Yet, as I see my children growing and maturing, becoming independent and embracing life, I have to admit this reserved man has done something right. Why else are my children so adaptable, hardworking, responsible, respectful and focused? Is it perhaps, because they have the steady hand of a dad that takes them to karate practice every week, trusts them with big jobs, sets high expectations, and provides the resources for them to succeed? I believe it is.

My husband has been providing for our family physically and financially for almost three decades. But best of all he provides a stable home where love and trust can flourish. I have made the following observations about the type of fathering that goes on under my roof:

  1. My husband’s fatherhood is an expression of masculinity. True masculinity models healthy compassionate relationship behavior. This is good for my boys because they are learning to find their role and place in society by the power of modeling. And it is great for my daughter because the primary way she has learned how men should behave in a healthy relationship has been by watching her father. Most divorce and domestic violence happens to men and women who grew up without a father modeling compassionate relationship behavior (Steve Stosney, Ph.D)
  2. My husband’s role is integral to the wellbeing of our family. I know what the fatherhood research says about fatherhood and the list is long. Check out David Blankenhorn book Fatherless America. He says that, “fatherlessness is the most harmful demographic trend of this generation.” But our family has benefitted from emotionally stable children who exceed in school, don’t exhibit behavioral disorders, and don’t engage in aggressive behaviors all because, I’m sure, there is solid fatherhood happening in our home.
  3. Fatherhood has been good for my husband. The biochemistry and neural activity that kicked into his brain after he became a dad has literally kept him alive and focused. Loving a child and sacrificing personal comfort for their success and well-being has indeed turned my husband from a typical selfish bachelor to a complete selfless human. Perhaps he pushes it to the limit since he still drives a 15-year-old car to make financial sacrifices to benefit his children.

If you ask my kids about their dad, this is the first thing they will tell you: “When I ask dad about something, he goes more in depth than I thought possible. He looks at thing from all the angles, he is really thorough. Which lets me know that he really cares and wants me to make the best decision I can make. He truly has my success in mind.”

In my house my husband is honored for his character which, come to think of it, is the reason my sisters and I honored my own father. He was passionate, principled, forgiving, and compassionate. My husband is honest, responsible, trustworthy, and detailed. What about you or the special father in your house? What character trait are you passing down to your children? Whether you are an active, adventurous, affectionate dad or a reserved, steady, determined dad, society needs you, and so does your family.

While Hollywood’s portrayal of fathers in roles like those of Homer Simpson with his crude, short-tempered, neglectful, clumsy, lazy, heavy drinking, ignorant and idiotic personality may be comical, it’s definitely incomplete and thankfully does not represent the many awesome dads that I know are out there. These days’ fatherhood is on the rise and boy, am I thankful for that!

For more blogs, tips and ideas about life and relationships, follow us @familybridges.

Surprised by Love

Surprised by Love

Contributed by
Bill Ferrell

“I am dead.”

These were the first words that filled my head when I woke up.

Of course, I didn’t think that I was literally dead. I meant that I was in a lot of trouble.

I was a sophomore in high school and the night before I had gone to a movie with my best friend, Don. I drove my parent’s car to the movie. However, Don drove the car home because I couldn’t. I was drunk.

I would like to state for the public record that it was Don’s fault. I would like to say that Don made me get drunk. I would like to say that he threatened to hurt me if I did not match him beer for beer. I would like to say that, but of course that’s not true. I drank freely. That is not to say that the beer was free. In fact, I was the one who paid for it.

When I arrived home, my parents knew exactly what I had been doing. It was the first (and last) time I had consumed that amount of alcohol. Therefore, I was not good at hiding it. The fact that I had gotten sick on the way home, couldn’t stand up, and that someone else was driving their car probably made them suspicious.

In the morning I woke up and immediately felt sick to my stomach. Not from the alcohol, but from knowing that I was in trouble. I laid curled up under the covers, hoping that I had just dreamt the whole thing. But the voices coming from the kitchen brought me into reality. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but I could tell my father was upset. Very upset. I had never heard my father that way. Of course, he had never seen me drunk either. He generally was an even-tempered man. He seldom raised his voice. But that morning his volume was turned all the way up.

And for good reason. I had been irresponsible. I had violated their trust. I had lied to them. His anger was justified. And I felt horrible.

I decided not to delay the inevitable any longer. I slowly opened my bedroom door. Suddenly there was silence. I walked into the kitchen and sat down. I had avoided eye contact until that moment. I looked up, bracing myself to meet a burst of anger along with a speech about being a colossal disappointment. Instead, I was surprised.

With tears in his eyes, my father stood me up, hugged me, and said, “thank God you are safe.”

I realized in that moment his upset was not because I had disobeyed him or broken the law or had done something incredibly stupid. It was because he loved me.

I had been expecting punishment and yet I received grace. I was deserving wrath and yet I received kindness.  

I learned something that day. I learned that no matter what I did, my father would always love me. I learned that his love was not dependent on my obedience to rules, or compliance to his will, or even to common sense.

He loved me. Period.

I have learned over the years that I am deeply loved, as my father loved – and as our Father in Heaven loves.

When we experience that kind of love – we experience life.

P.S. I was grounded from driving the car for 4 weeks. True love also protects. Even if it’s from yourself.

For more blogs, tips and ideas about life and relationships, follow us @familybridges.

It’s not OK

It’s not OK

Contributed by
Sarah Pichardo

If you ever wonder what’s wrong with this world and this generation, just read a Cosmopolitan article, watch an MTV show, or take a look at Snapchat’s featured stories. I came across an article today titled, “I Love Dating My Married Boyfriend”. I kid you not. That’s the actual title…and that’s exactly what the article was about. Please, world, tell me that it’s not just me that sees something devastatingly wrong with that.

Here’s the thing. I know that there is a small percentage of people who think this is perfectly fine and that the rest of you do agree with me and do see something wrong with that.  And that we are just over here like, “For real though? What’s wrong with you?” That’s the bright side of this blog/rant. The not so bright side is that this is what media outlets are shoving down everyone’s throat – ALL THE TIME.

We’re becoming a desensitized people. Because the more you push the boundaries and limits, the more common and acceptable something becomes…the more you have to keep pushing boundaries until there’s nothing left to push.

Nothing is off limits. Everything is acceptable. There is no such thing as right or wrong.

When is enough, enough? I’m a bit saddened and concerned at where our culture will be in 20 years. A place with no moral objectivity.

There is no one who can influence your children more than you. Take advantage of it while you can. Talk to your kids about your beliefs and about what you expect from them. Teach them about right and wrong. Talk to them about relationships, sex, drugs, politics, religion, life. Don’t assume they will learn it on their own. If you don’t talk to them, they will learn things from their friends, from school and from what they read online and see on TV. And don’t just talk to them about it, but show it in your daily actions.

Not everything is OK. And it’s OK to say so.

For more blogs, tips and ideas about life and relationships, follow us @familybridges.