Have you ever had a revelation in one area only to have it blow some things open for you in other areas? I kind of had this happen a few weeks ago (which is why I have been so delinquent in posting) and I thought I’d share.
As a small business owner and my own boss I’ve been made painfully aware of my own faults. When I worked for others, whether it was the Army or other companies, I worked as part of a team and everyone had their own responsibilities. Now when something doesn’t get done or go as planned, there is no one else to blame but myself. This has really caused me to delve into self-improvement to make sure that I am running my business the way it should be.
As I’ve been evaluating my own weaknesses lately I’ve been made aware of how those weaknesses have affected other areas of my life, especially my parenting. Not that I thought I was doing anything wrong or that my kids were bad, I just wanted to figure out how to get better in all aspects of my life. My kids have different personalities, strengths, interests, and motivations and I want to make sure that I’m making the most of them.
My quest to figure out how I can raise my kids to make the most of both their strengths and their weaknesses lead me to Dani Johnson’s “Grooming the Next Generation for Success.” She is one of my favorite motivational speakers so I thought I would give her program a try. I also found the concept of grooming very interesting. Many societies groom their kids, but not ours. She talks about making sure our kids are raised by design and not by default and using the idea of protection and not control. A protective parent makes sure that kids understand the rules and know the rules are meant for their good and to groom them for success as adults while a controlling parent will just make up rules for no reason and say, “No means no!” causing the kid to want to rebel as soon as they get the chance.
One of the things that really struck me was the way she talked about work. Most of us consider work to be a necessary evil in order to be able to pay the bills and have a little fun in the hours we aren’t working. We do something that we think we can bear to do for 30-40 years, but few of us actually get to truly enjoy our jobs. Our attitude towards work is passed down to our kids. She is a Christian, so am I so this point really struck me, and she talked about work from a biblical standpoint. I understand that all of you might not be Christians so please don’t hold that against me. The concept is the same no matter what your religious beliefs are. God made us to work, that’s how we glorify Him. We don’t have to have the best job, but we do have to do it to the best of our ability. We might as well have a good attitude toward work too. I have to admit, even though I knew these things, I had let work really get me down. But for the last few weeks I have really tried to have a great attitude about all the work that I do, even cleaning the house, so that my kids inherit the idea that work is necessary and good. If they see the value of work, they’ll likely be better workers, whether they are employees or employers, in the future.
At the beginning of the program, she talks about marketers have been using the concept of “Expose, Involve, and Upgrade” to advance their businesses for years. Due to concepts in brand loyalty that starts very young, the marketing has been more and more (aggressively I might add) targeted at children.
Even the pornography industry uses “Expose, Involve, and Upgrade” to get young boys hooked so that by the time they have money to spend, they will spend it all on porn. It starts with the soft porn in lingerie ads or a little extra cleavage in a so called family show (exposure). Some adults just kind of grin and say, “Boys will be boys,” when they catch their sons flipping through the bra and panty section of the catalog. However, this reinforces to the boys that this is acceptable (involvement) and makes them want to continue looking and progressively more graphic pictures (upgrade). This is not the case with everyone, but many men who have lost all their money and even their families due to pornography addiction can point back to the lingerie catalogs as their start.
Credit card companies have found that adults are the most loyal (most likely to accrue the most debt) to their first credit card and so as soon as a teenager turns 18 they are inundated with credit card applications and encouraged to spend as freely as they want. Talk about setting a young person up for failure in the future.
The food industry is also getting very, very good at this. Here is an article that talks about how food companies are advancing their agenda using new and improved methods.
Feds to Parents: Big Food Still Exploiting Your Children; Good Luck With That
Ever since I started competing, I have made an effort to make sure that my kids are following my example. But making my daughter aware of the fact that there are “healthy” foods and “junk” foods has also made her more and more aware of the ads on TV. Here is a sample conversation that we have had.
D: “Mommy, did you hear that? They said that Lucky Charms are healthy, can we buy them?”
Me: “No, sweetheart. I’m sorry, Lucky Charms are not healthy. Highly processed whole grains are no longer whole grains and putting added vitamins in sugar does not make it healthy either.”
D (flabbergasted): “So they’re lying?!”
Me: “Well, yes.”
D: “How are they allowed to do that? They shouldn’t lie.”
Me: “Yeah, you’re right. But it’s not the government’s job to protect you from false advertisements. It’s mommy and daddy’s job to know what’s good for you and to make sure that you aren’t getting junk.”
D: “Oh, well, okay…But they still shouldn’t lie.”
See, even a seven-year old understands the concept that not telling the whole truth is a lie and lying is wrong. This is true not just in food marketing. So many marketing techniques are grooming our kids to be excessive consumers, selfish, focused on instant gratification and apathetic toward the benefits of hard work.
Even the kids’ shows today are pointing our kids toward mediocrity. If you really think about it, which I have been recently, the most popular and desirable kids are the ones that are lazy and get everyone else to do their work. The kids who do well in school and keep their noses clean are made fun of. Don’t even get me started about the lack of respect for parents and authority figures that these kids show.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of capitalism and businesses making money. I’m not a conspiracy theorist claiming that we’ve all been duped. Businesses make money by giving consumers exactly what they want. We wanted fast and easy food that tasted good, forget about nutrition, and that’s what we got. We wanted trinkets and gadgets of various size and uses that make our lives a little easier, 401K and savings be damned, and that’s what we got. A marketer’s job is to make consumers aware of products that might fill their current needs or needs they didn’t even know they had. It’s a consumer’s job to discern what is actually necessary and what is waste.
Over the last few weeks I’ve had several different opportunities to put into practice the concepts of grooming and protection vs. control. I’ll start with my daughter. She’s a very agreeable and soft-hearted kid, also very emotional. She cries at the thought of even getting in trouble. She’s also very whiny, especially when she’s asked to do something that she doesn’t want to do, like clean her room, which I have to admit has driven me batty at times. I shared with her the importance of work and that doing the work I give her now with a good attitude will groom her to do the work that she has to do in the future, not just because she’ll have her own house that she’ll have to keep nice, but because she’ll have a job and a family that will require lots of hard work and dedication.
I’ve also started a “verse of the week” program. Last week’s was Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” This week’s is Philippians 2:14, “Do all things without complaining or disputing.” When she tells me that she can’t or doesn’t want to do something, she gets reminded of these verses. I actually think she’s been whining quite a bit less.
Even though she’s mostly agreeable to eating healthy, that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been quite a bit of whining in that area too. I let her pick one day a month that she gets to go to Sonic for her after school snack, other than that we don’t eat fast food, but she still tries, unsuccessfully, to weasel in an extra day or two.
Then, at the start of January when school started back up, we made a deal with her in order to teach her the value of money. We figured if she buys her lunch at school every day, it’d cost us $50 per month, so we told her that we would give her $25 per month for lunch. If she made her lunch every day, then she gets to keep the $25 and she can use any food that we have at the house to make her lunch. Most days she brings a sandwich made of natural peanut butter and fruit preserves on whole wheat bread along with some grapes, cucumbers, and water to drink. She does occasionally argue for sugary snacks in her lunch. Even though the Christmas temptations are gone, they have been replaced in the store by all the Valentine’s Day chocolates and other goodies. The argument goes something like this:
D: “Mommy, some of the kids that bring their lunch have these little hearts made of cake in them. Can I have some of those?”
Me: “No sweetheart, you don’t need sugar at school, it’s not healthy and it won’t help you focus.”
D: “But lots of other kids eat the cakes and they don’t get fat.”
Me: “It’s not about being skinny or fat, it’s about being healthy. A lot of kids can eat junk food and not get fat, but what does happen is that they get dependent on it. Then when they get older they have a hard time cutting back on it and it does affect their health and their body. I want to make sure that you are set up for a successful and healthy future. Do you trust that I’m trying to do this for your good and that I’m not just being mean.”
D: (reluctantly) “Yes.”
I know that wouldn’t work for a lot of kids, they’re all different and have different motivations, but it has really seemed to help with Devin. As far as Wyatt is concerned, he’s a little more hard headed, but he loves to play games, needs lots of attention, and loves to get praise. In order to get him to clean his room, I turned it into a game. I became the announcer, “Look at that Wyatt go…he’s a machine…he’s putting his cars in the drawer…oh look, there go all those blocks…man, he is so fast…” During the first few seconds of being the announcer, I kind of got a few funny looks from him, but then he started laughing and running across the room to put his toys away. The room was clean in a matter of minutes and when he was done I gave him a high-five and treated him like he was the hero of the team. He loved it and has not been so reluctant to clean his room ever since.
He was potty-trained about 6 months ago, but he still needs help with his snaps on his pants. I have been doing this for him all day every day for several months until I realized that this was not helping him learn how to do it and it was causing him to remain to be dependent on me. I decided that I would be better off spending a few extra minutes trying to teach him how to do it himself now. I showed him how to line up the two sides and squeeze them together. He got such a kick out of doing it himself. Now every time he goes to the bathroom he’ll come find me and either have me watch him do the button or tell me he did it himself and I’ll give him a big high five and cheer for him. A big smile lights up his face and he grows about three inches.
Of course, not all of it has been a success. If there’s one thing Wyatt loves to do, it’s pester his sister. He’s behind in speech and is in speech therapy. This is helping, but sometimes his lack of ability to communicate really frustrates him and he takes his frustrations out on Devin. He’s got to be in the middle of everything she’s doing, unless Charley’s home and Wyatt can be outside “helping” him in the garage. I haven’t really gotten through to him yet about not pestering, but he responds to me more than he used to. Before he only really listened to Charley and would just not want to listen to me at all. Words like “respect” your sister, “listen” to mommy, and do not “disobey” really resonate with him. I will discipline him with a quick swat or send him to his room and that gets his attention, but what really gets him is when I kneel down to his level, make him look me in the eyes, and talk to him about why what he did was wrong. It breaks his heart to have to apologize to me for not obeying or to his sister for not respecting her.
Whether it’s health and fitness, their attitudes toward money and work, their self-image, the way they treat other people, their goals and dreams, or their faith, there’s always some external source of “grooming.” If we don’t stand up for our kids, someone else will be willing to take them by the hand and lead them down the wrong path, more than likely toward mediocrity and even failure. That thought really terrifies me so I want to make sure that I’m doing everything I can to ensure that I lead them toward success.
I know I’ve gone on and on about this, probably a little too long, but as a mom I go through rough times where I wonder if I’m getting through, if what I’m doing is right, and if I could be doing anything better. I want to make sure that my kids are set up for success in their future no matter what career path they take. I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels like I’m in over my head sometimes so I thought I’d share something that has helped me kind of get through a slump and hopefully it might help you too.
I know sharing my successes and failures has helped me, I hope this info and viewpoint has helped you or at least giving you something to think about. Questions? Comments? Please let me know.