Monday, October 31, 2011

Dear Diary

I recently read an article published by The Deseret News about a woman named Cleia Schow Barrett, who is now 86 years old, who has kept a daily journal EVERY DAY SINCE JANUARY 1, 1939!  For almost 73 years, she has faithfully written in her journal about her life EVERY DAY.   There is a lovely picture of her together with ALL the journals she's kept over the years---it is remarkable.

Writing a short bit about your day isn't that remarkable.  It doesn't take much time or make much of a difference at all.  If she'd only written on one day, she probably wouldn't even still have the entry.   If she'd only written for a year or two, the book would probably be tucked away in an attic somewhere, but not the  subject of a newspaper article.

What IS remarkable is her daily diligence.  She wrote EVERY DAY for almost 73 years---and counting.  I am so impressed with her consistent performance.  So here is an AMAZING lesson I have learned from Cleia Barrett---I can do something very simple every day and it will become something spectacular and valuable over time.  Can you imagine if Cleia had started out her journal writing thinking about how much she would have to do over the next 73 years?  How intimidating and overwhelming would that be?  It might have scared her out of even beginning. 

I am guilty of trying to eat the whole elephant at one time.  My day is usually composed of simple things.  I need to do the simple things and LET THEM BE SIMPLE.  They're not hard and I don't need to intimidate myself by worrying about how many times I'm going to have to do them for the rest of my life---just today. 

And so are your programs.  Parents With Purpose programs are not NASA Laboratory experiences.  There is nothing remarkable about doing one day's worth of program.  However, over time, it becomes very powerful.  The remarkable things become the results you from doing small things EVERY DAY (5 days a week).  Just do what you need to do today, and keep going.

Like Mrs. Barrett, when we get further into the journey, we will look back and see we've learned and grown so much.  She said, "I think that I cared enough about my own life that I was in charge of my own life."  WOW!  She cared enough about her own life to decide what she wanted and how she was going to attain it.  Interesting perspective---caring about your own life.

Mrs. Barrett's daughter, Collette Judd, has also learned from her mother's journal-keeping habit. 
"Time passes and there are good things to remember about it."  Yes, time passes, programs can be hard, but there are GOOD THINGS to remember about it---a good thing to remember.
"There are times when you have to work really hard to hold on."  Yes there are.  But you DO have to hold on in order to achieve your goal.
"It doesn't seem like you are progressing day to day, but when you look back you really have."  I see this in almost every re-evaluation.  It is so easy to remain focused on how much work we have left to do, that we fail to see how much we have already accomplished.  I frequently remind parents where their child was when they began the program and their response is, "Oh my gosh.  I'd forgotten just how bad it was."  Laying out the exact progress is one of my favorite things about re-evaluations for that very reason---we often fail to see the progress.

Thank you, Mrs. Barrett, for your excellent example.  I'm uplifted and reminded that I CAN and NEED to do things consistently.  It is NOT impossible.  But it IS powerful!

If you would like to read the original article about Mrs. Barrett, you can do so here:

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Best Thing Fathers Can Do for Their Children

The #1 best thing fathers can do for their children is to love their mother.  This indicates a solid family structure and both traditional values and statistics tell us it is the best indicator of successful children.  That's a great things for fathers to know and work toward. 

But what does "love their mother" entail?  It involves a LOT of things, such as:
1.     A kiss in the morning and a kiss goodnight
2.     Opening her door
3.     Thanking her for all her hard work
4.     NEVER allowing the children to speak disrespectfully TO her or ABOUT her
5.     Remembering special occasions---birthdays, anniversaries, Mothers Day (big one!), etc.
6.     Continuing to date her
7.     Offering unsolicited help with the dishes or the laundry or other household chores
8.     Noticing if she changes her makeup or hairdo or gets a new outfit
9.     Giving her some time to herself
10.   Telling her you love her

Oh, I could go on and on with ideas.  They are numerous.  I'm sure you have your own suggestions also.  But I would like to talk about one particular idea that is extremely important----respecting her understanding of the children.

I have, unfortunately, witnessed many fathers discount the mother's opinion when she says she knows something is not quite right for their child.  Mothers have pleaded for someone to listen to their concerns and help them find ways to help their child---and the dad says, "I disagree and I veto any further action on this subject."  Well, this is where steam starts coming out of my ears.  Because while that father was putting his foot down, I see the look on the face of the mother.  She is almost broken in half now.  She knows, and she knows deep in her gut with that sense that was given to mothers by God.  There is no argument in her mind---only wanting to know what to do next.  And now there is a roadblock.  And it's the very person who should be her partner.

So "what to do next" means her focus is shifted away from helping her child and back to dealing with someone who won't believe and trust her.  The very person who should be supporting her and praising her dedication won't trust her about her very own child.  He trusted her to be the one to nourish the baby in utero, to give birth, to get up in the night to feed, to change the diapers, etc.----but doesn't believe her when she says, "I know something needs extra attention here.  I know something should be going differently than it is." 

So here is my advice on the best thing fathers can do for their children----trust their mother to nurture and care for them, even if you don't see it the same way.  (Of course, there are some basic ideas to agree upon---hopefully you cleared those up BEFORE a child came along.)  But if your wife has concerns, then support her and help her.  99% of the children who are struggling are FIRST diagnosed by their mother.  She knew long before other family members and certainly before the professionals.  She is not lying or imagining things---quite the opposite.  She knows what "well" looks and feels like, and  she knows that something is awry.  She is not borrowing trouble just for fun---those struggles do not increase her "fun" quotient.

My own husband wasn't really quite sure what to think when I told him I knew something was wrong with our youngest child.  But he believed me.  When that something meant we needed to take action, I wanted to fly to Philadelphia and start working with our son myself.  In his words, he was on "quackwatch", but he never said a negative syllable to me.  He already knew I was our child's best advocate.  Six months into it, he saw the progress and knew we were on the right track.  He understood and believed what I had known earlier---but in that time when he was "quack-watching", he let me do what I instinctively knew was right for our son. 

My husband understood the special gift given to mothers---sometimes called "mothers' intuition" and how powerful it could be.  He knew this gift began with Mother Eve and has continued through the annals of time.  He knew that when I became a mother for the first time at 5 am on a June morning in 1984, that gift was bestowed upon me.  He also knew this gift was never used for my benefit, but always for the betterment of our children.  He knew that God trusted me with this gift, and he did, too.

And that level of respect and trust is #1 on the list of "loving their mother".  Thank you, Bart, for loving me so well for almost three decades.  I am a better person because of you!  Young fathers---love your child's mother, it's the best thing you can do for your children.  Ever.

Never Give Up

David O. McKay wisely stated, "No success can compensate for failure in the home."  I love how eloquently he teaches us that family is more important than the rest of the world.  That our efforts with our children and spouse are long-term investments.  That all the glory and money the world could heap upon me would pale in comparison to having a righteous, happy family. 

However, I recently heard a story about a reporter further questioning the author by asking for his definition of "failure."  His answer was that failure is giving up.  This is really food for thought. 

How many parents do I know whose children are struggling, and they have given up?  They are just going to love their child and send them to whatever program the public school offers and be satisfied with whatever comes.  How many parents are just praying their child will "outgrow" their struggles and somehow magically be able to pay attention and sit still after puberty hits?  How many parents think it's okay if reading is hard for their child because it must be genetic---the parents and grandparents struggled, too.  How many parents just turn their head when their child attempts to participate in sports or playground activities because their child "runs funny"?  To my way of thinking, these strategies are all "giving up".

The reason I say these strategies are "giving up" is because  a) they seldom bring success and  b) there is no action being taken by the parents.  It's not enough to hunker down and survive---we, as parents, need to be learning and taking action for our children EVERY STEP OF THE WAY, even if those steps are unpleasant, tiring, demanding and take every ounce of our strength.  We cannot let others be in charge of our child's progress.  We can certainly get help, but we are ultimately responsible and should keep ourselves in the drivers' seat.

I, sadly, watched the Detroit Lions play the Dallas Cowboys today.  Detroit was losing 20-0 in the third quarter.  But they still never gave up.  They fought and fought and came back to win 34-30.  They didn't give up.  They looked completely defeated, but they never quit.  They played football for the entire 60 minutes and because they took every possible chance they were given, they WON. 

And, as parents, we should, too.  Don't give in to a negative prognosis from a professional.  Don't let anyone tell you that parents aren't qualified to make decisions about your child.  Don't give up because it seems progress is coming too slowly or not at all.

Learn, learn, learn, learn.  Inform yourself.  Get a VARIETY of opinions and don't discount your instinct regarding your own child.  If you have professionals working with your child, know every detail and be in the ring on your child's side.  Make your time at home with your child productive.  Stay focused and dream at night about your child's success.  Work like it all depends on you and pray like it all depends on God.  And never never never give up!