Bouncing Back From Adversity

One of my biggest challenges growing up was learning to own the life I’d been given. That may sound like a no-brainer to those of you that have heard my story. After all, I had no choice in all the experiences of those early years. But the truth is that everybody experiences things they didn’t choose.

Many people spend the rest of their lives protesting and rebelling against the injustices of their past. They fill their minds with a long list of excuses for not chasing their dreams.

Others choose to own their lives and rise above their circumstances regardless of what happened.

One of the keys to bouncing back from adversity is accepting responsibility for your future, in thick and thin. That doesn’t mean you remain where you are. And it doesn’t mean you downplay negative circumstances or act like you enjoyed every moment you’ve been alive. What it does mean is that you reach a point where you admit, “Nobody but me can make something of my life.” It’s ultimately an admission that you have no excuses for not giving your all to be successful.

I know because I’ve been there. There were so many days that I had every excuse to strive for nothing but survival. I could make a compelling argument that life was out to get me. Yet, instead of finding excuses for not succeeding I realized that I had to find a way around them and do whatever it took to be successful.

We all have reasons – some of them very legitimate reasons – to stop pursuing our dreams. I must have had a couple thousand before I reached middle school. You might too. But you can’t let your reasons for quitting dictate what you do. Instead of spending time wallowing in your past, you have to spend your time finding a way to a brighter future.

In the end, excuses are the nails used to build a house of failure. It’s OK to acknowledge they are there, but to be successful and achieve your dreams you have to learn to not pick them up. People who succeed do what they say they’re going to do. People who fail make excuses for falling short.

Excuses are a sign of weakness, and they pave the road to failure. Excellence is a sign of strength, and it paves the road to success.

Drop the excuses and embrace excellence at every turn.

 

The Importance of Discipline

UnknownI realize that some parents don’t want to discipline. But they need to step up and realize that their child needs rules and boundaries and consequences to correct and strengthen their character. It’s not because the child needs justice for doing something wrong, but because they need patterns molded into their life that will determine how they will engage with people in the future. It can literally determine if they’ll be successful in life or not.

The focus of teen discipline should be aimed at critical character values like honesty, obedience, and respect. Honesty is a character issue that will help them in their relationships in the future. Obedience will help them gain direction and insight into life. Respect is the bedrock of all friendships and interpersonal relationships. You correct their lapses in these areas so that they will have the type of relationships that they really want…and to keep them from destroying or impeding relationships with their foolishness.

Remember this…discipline isn’t about you and it isn’t about getting back at your kid for messing up your day. It’s about helping them. Your child will continue in their selfish, immature behavior patterns until the pain they receive is greater than the pleasure they receive from it. They’ll continue in those negative things until someone holds them accountable. We are the ones, as parents, who must do that. It cannot be left to anyone else. We are the ones who need to say to our children, “You cannot do this.” We need to set the boundaries and establish the consequences. We need to make it clear that we’ll walk along side our teen in life, but we’ll move to stand in front of them when they start down the wrong path. Why? Because we know that if they go that direction, it will lead to their unhappiness.

Here are some things to remember about discipline.

  1. Rules without relationship cause rebellion. If one thinks that discipline is nothing more than a list of rules posted on the refrigerator that line out how everyone is supposed to act, they are greatly mistaken. It is important that time be spent with your child building a relationship, or the discipline will have no effect.
  2. Look to their interest, not your own. Don’t hand out a consequence just because your teen made you mad. Hand it out because, if they continue in the inappropriate behavior, the result will be something that is harmful to them, and will take them somewhere they really don’t want to go.
  3. Discipline means confrontation, even if you don’t like it. Confrontation is never easy, and is never really that enjoyable. To avoid confrontation is only postponing the inevitable to a time when things will be worse.
  4. Don’t be afraid of seeing your child go through the pain of consequences. Parents are, at times, too quick to rescue a child from their discomfort, thus keeping them from learning from their mistakes or choices. Your rescuing just might allow them to continue in their plight. There are many words for this: denial, enabling, equipping. Rescuing is usually done with the wrong motive, and invariably the wrong results.
  5. You can’t be consistent with everything, so pick your battles wisely. If I were determined to correct every issue that a child presents, I would spend all my time correcting, and very little time building any relationship at all. Your child is not going to be perfect this side of heaven, and there’s plenty of time to correct things along the way, so focus on ten things versus one hundred, and be consistent with just those ten. Remember, even God had just ten commandments.
  6. Discipline is training. Discipline is helping your child to get where they want to be and to keep them from a place they don’t want to end up. Practice discipline in your own parenting even as you discipline your child, and you’ll get them there.
  7. Teach What You Know to Be True. In your discipline, stick with what you know to be true and you know to be right. Think back to the basic principles your parents or grandparents taught you, and pass those forward. They are tried and true. Focus on rules and boundaries that build character. They’ll create a foundation for your child to base every decision they make in their life.

Periodically review the rules in your family. If you determine that some are simply unnecessary or too confining, don’t just stop enforcing it. Make it clear to your teen that you have both thought it through and the rule no longer applies, or they will think you are being inconsistent. And be sure to accentuate the positive — when your teen gets it right, congratulate and reward them.

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.

 

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.