Hug Your Kids

Michael JacksonWhen your child reaches the teenage years it may seem like he or she doesn’t want the physical and emotional affection of mom or dad. But perhaps more than any time in their life, a teenager needs to experience the love of his or her parents.

An extraordinarily talented 5-year-old boy was rehearsing with his four brothers. The singing brothers were practicing for an upcoming TV special. Their father was guiding them through a number and the boys weren’t getting their parts just right. The little 5-year-old wanted a clarification so he addressed his father. “Daddy,” he began. But instantly his father interrupted him and sternly stated “I’m not your father now, I’m your manager and don’t you ever forget it.” And little Michael Jackson never did.

A few years before Michael’s death, he was speaking to some 800 students at Oxford University. He was promoting his newly-formed foundation, “Help the Children.” About fifteen minutes into his presentation he began to weep almost uncontrollably. After a few minutes he regained his composure and seemingly out of nowhere said, “I just wanted a dad. I wanted a father to show me love. But I never once heard my father say, ‘Michael, I love you.’”

More than fortune or fame; more than peer acceptance or anything else your kids could dream for, they want to know you are there for them with “unconditional love.” No, you don’t toss out the rules or lower the boundaries of protection. They need the boundaries to feel secure. But they need those rules and boundaries within the context of your loving relationship. The power of your love toward them will be the motivating factor to make the right moral choices.

When you finish reading these words, go to your child or teenager and surprise them with a hug. As you wrap your arms around them let them hear your words, “I love you.” And then commit to letting them see your love modeled before them every day. As you do, you will be convincing their emotions that you are there for them with an “unconditional love.” Your loving relationship can empower them to believe right, embrace the right values, and live right. That is the power of love.

The Effect of Legalizing Marijuana on Our Teens

UnknownOver the last several months I have had so many teachers, parents and students ask my thoughts on the affects marijuana will have on teens now that it is becoming legal.   Here are my thoughts.  Eight states have recently legalized recreational marijuana use for adults over age 21. Some might see this as a progressive step forward, but in truth, it’s a major setback for teenagers and the future of our Country.

The effects of both legal and illegal marijuana use are impacting youth in America in a major way. Substance abuse experts already see a correlation between the legalization of marijuana in these states and increased use among teens.  Studies have shown that even before these laws were in effect, teens were abusing this drug at a high rate: two-thirds of first-time marijuana users are under the age of 18, and one in six teens who tries marijuana becomes addicted to it.

Our culture glamorizes drug use in movies, in music and on television. Teens are bombarded with these messages, and the devastating consequences of marijuana use are almost never portrayed. Now, several other states are considering following this trend in legalizing marijuana.

While some might say that legalizing marijuana gets it out of the hands of unscrupulous dealers, and therefore protect teens, we should all know better. Creating a culture more tolerant of drug use makes drug use more “acceptable” in the minds of teens. In fact, Colorado is among the states with the highest teen marijuana abuse and usage is increasing while the perception of risk is falling.

We need to help our teens understand that marijuana use isn’t glamorous, and it isn’t safe. Not only are there risks to their health and brain development, but driving a vehicle under the influence of marijuana can be just as a dangerous as a driving drunk.

Besides, why would we want to send a message to a generation ripe with potential that getting hooked on a chemical is an okay thing? We are talking about the future leaders of our nation. All of the “Just say no!” messages fly out the window when we make laws that say, “Well, this particular drug is okay.”

Marijuana takes away motivation and passion for life and for work. When is the last time you heard of any great inventions coming out of Amsterdam, where pot has been legal for a generation?

Do we want an addicted generation? Or do we want a generation that values a sober mind and responsible behavior? The teenagers of our nation are yearning for more from life. They crave a meaningful life. Instead of pushing a message that tells them “life is hard, so ease it with a drug,” let us instead inspire them to take on the challenges of life with ingenuity, creativity and dedication.

 

Take Responsibility for Everything

imagesTake responsibility for everything. Yes, I do mean absolutely everything, whether something is your fault or not.

Taking responsibility for everything that life throws your way is a key character trait that distinguishes the most successful people from the rest. However, even if success isn’t a huge priority for you, you can still derive incredible value from taking responsibility.

Taking responsibility for your life and circumstances is incredibly empowering. It’s empowering because it’s a measure of your courage, of your selfconfidence, self-worth and of your mental strength, toughness and resilience.

To take responsibility is empowering because it provides you with a sense of control over your life. In essence it gives you greater self-assurance that you will eventually get the outcome you are after.

To take responsibility is empowering because it encourages solution-based thinking that can lead to a plethora of creative ideas to help you solve your problems more effectively. In other words, it empowers you to take an active role in solving your life’s problems, which earns you an incredible amount of respect in the eyes of others.

Now of course taking responsibility doesn’t mean you are weak or powerless and therefore you blame yourself for everything. This isn’t about blame. This is rather about responsibility. There is a big difference.

Blaming yourself comes from a position of weakness. It comes from a victimized mentality that doesn’t have any control over life or circumstances. To take responsibility means to take ownership of the situation. It means fully accepting how things are and committing yourself to making things right. That’s what taking responsibility is all about.

Adversity Exposed

Unknown-3It is often said that it’s not what happens to us but how we respond to what happens that makes all the difference in the end. When it comes to facing adversity, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

When facing adversity it’s important to acknowledge that we always have the freedom to choose how we respond to people, events and circumstances. We can respond in a very negative or limiting way, or we can choose to respond in a more optimal and productive way that can potentially open doors and windows of opportunity that we weren’t aware of before.

To dig even deeper; all of us have the freedom to choose our own beliefs, words, thoughts, and the attitude we bring into every situation. In fact, we also have freedom to choose the level of effort and determination we bring into every moment.

When you have a thought, this immediately triggers feelings. In fact, the internal dialogue you have with yourself manufactures your emotional experiences. Therefore if you think/talk negatively about a situation then this will typically cause you to feel stressed, fearful or overwhelmed. And this certainly has nothing to do with the situation, but rather everything to do with how you have interpreted the situation.

Given all this, it’s clear to see that how we handle adversity has nothing to do with what happens to us, but rather everything to do with the “kind of person” we bring into each situation. As such, it’s absolutely paramount that we accept full responsibility for the role we play in each moment. You are after all in the driver’s seat of your life, however it’s easy to forget the power you have when you respond emotionally to our circumstances.

With that in mind, it’s important to acknowledge that the only thing that matters is:

             How I see the obstacle I face…

             How I respond to this adversity…

             How I maintain my composure when facing adversity…

             The story I tell myself about what is going on…

It essentially always comes down to the story you tell yourself. In fact, it is the story that will either empower you or deflate you emotionally; it is the story that will either help you move forward or hold you back; it is the story that will either open the doors to opportunity or send you into the pits of despair. Adversity has absolutely everything to do with the story! The story you tell yourself is what effectively determines your next steps moving forward.