Flickr Images

Monday, August 31, 2015

Thinking About Our Legacy

One day, I was stuck in a hotel room channel surfing when the show Who Do You Think You Are? caught my eye. You see we don't have cable at home and we barely watch television so I have never heard of this show before.

I told Ruy about it because it combines things we both love. I am a psychologist and I love stories of families while Ruy is a nut for history. So we started watching this show and Ruy ended up loving it even more than I did.  One night he saw an episode featuring J.K. Rowling. Now my daughter is a huge fan of J.K. Rowling and  so they sat together and watched the episode. One part of the episode saw JK Rowling talking to people who were explaining the accomplishments of J.K. Rowling's great great grandfather. I then asked my daughter "In the future when we're all in heaven and your great grandchildren are learning about you, what would you want them to find out about you?"

To be honest that question was experimental. I wasn't sure if my daughter at the age of 8 can grasp the gravity and importance of that question. I was basically asking her what she would like her legacy to be! She warmed my heart when she said "I want them to know that I worked hard". That's a nice legacy.

Wasn't it Stephen Covey who said that we have to begin with the end in mind? I know this in theory but I often forget that I'm thankful for shows like this that remind me of this. I often fixate on my life now that I don't worry about my earthly and my spiritual legacy. With that I decided to be more mindful in my actions. Are my actions going to bring me closer to my desired legacy or not?

Looking at our Husbands Through Another's Eyes.

There is something that happens when we are exposed to something constantly, we are in a way desensitized to their presence. It's like when you first put on a perfume. You smell it, you appreciate it. Then as hours pass your brain stops recognizing the scent.

This blindness we experience translates very much to our spouse. When Ruy and I first became a couple I recognized every positive trait I saw in him. For example I appreciated how tall he was and how he made me safe even when we find ourselves in sketchy places. I appreciated how he would always try to do things to please me. I appreciated how he would drive 80km to help me fix a flat tire. I noticed and appreciated him. I saw him.

As time went by I grew more and more accustomed to him and the things he did. I guess I can say that I took them for granted. I see this in so many couples. How we forget the things that once drew us to our partners. It's bad enough to forget but at times we even go the other extreme...we focus on the things we dislike about out partners.

One of the best blessings I have experienced as a wife is seeing my husband through the eyes of other people. I heard how his staff spoke about him. I heard how clients praised him. I hear how others talk about him.  This is why I was extremely blessed this morning when my friend sent me this message:

I can't tell you how helpful this text message was. It was like my blinders were lifted and I can see Ruy again. Yeah, he's a pretty awesome guy for me. Yes there are things he does that annoy me but then again I'm sure there are even more things I do that annoy him too. It took another person appreciating my husband to remind me that I do have a pretty great guy and that I need to appreciate him too.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Love is Patient, Love is Kind - Teaching our Kids About Love

An article was going around the web a few months back with a great tip for teaching our kids how to choose their partner. In the article it mentioned reading the verse from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 with our children. Then you tell your child to replace the word love with the name of their prospective partner and see if the statements would still be true. 

I loved this idea! I think the Bible holds the secrets to a happy and peaceful life and any time we can teach our kids how to practically apply the Bible into their lives I would totally recommend it. 

Yesterday gave me the perfect opportunity to apply this to my daughter. We were watching an episode of Duck Dynasty. One of the sons got married at quite a young age by today's standards and my daughter asked if that's okay and also how the young people knew it was time to get married. It called for a long discussion but one of the things we discussed was the tip from that article.

We went over the verse and we talked about what each part meant in real life (or practically). I told her that when she grows up and she needs to choose a boyfriend or a partner she needs to pull out this verse and replace the word love with her suitor's name. We decided to try it with her dad so we read this together:

Ruy is patient, Ruy is kind.Ruy does not envy, Ruy does not boast,Ruy is not proud.Ruy is not rude, Ruy is not self-seeking, Ruy is not easily angered, Ruy keeps no record of wrongs.
Ruy does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.Ruy always protects, always trusts,always hopes, always perseveres.

She was excited to see that her dad fits the description! She was really excited with this trick but then I knew that while this tip was wonderful it was incomplete. I then told her "Honey, while you need to make sure that your boyfriend will be all of these things it is even more important that YOU fit these descriptions."  

I realized that with a lot of my counseling clients they often demand their partners to be a certain thing while not holding themselves to the same measuring stick. The goal in our life shouldn't just be to find a good partner in life but to BE that good partner to someone else. 

So we replaced the word love again but this time replaced it with her name. 

Andrea is patient, Andrea is kind.
Andrea does not envy, Andrea does not boast,
Andrea is not proud.
Andrea is not rude, Andrea is not self-seeking,
Andrea is not easily angered,
Andrea keeps no record of wrongs.
Andrea does not delight in evil
but rejoices with the truth.
Andrea always protects, always trusts,
always hopes, always perseveres.

I asked her to look over all the statements and see which one is easiest for her. She said that she finds it easy to be kind to people. I said that's wonderful and then I proceeded to ask her which statement is the most challenging for her. Her answer was so interesting, she said "Mom I have no problem with feeling envious but it really drives me nuts when I know that the other person is saying things just to boast and make me feel bad.". We talked about how she can address that in the future and she was pleased. 

Andrea loved the lesson so much that a few hours after she told me "Mom I think I am going to tell my children and my grandchildren about that lesson you told me cause that's so important! But only after I tell them the top-secret family recipe for Hot Chocolate."

Monday, August 17, 2015

Raising the Standards of Our Kids

Do you ever feel so frustrated at your kids output? During one of Andrea's standardized tests her output scored around 30 points below her potential or her IQ. I was dumbfounded and extremely upset. I have tried so many things yet they don't address the heart of the issue. They don't teach Andrea how to be mindful of her work and how to critical of good work versus mediocre work.

Let me share with you 2 things I've tried one that did not really work as well as I would have wanted and one that has transformed our homeschooling tremendously.


Andrea has some fine-motor difficulties so writing is always somewhat of a pain point for us. Initially I would give her 5 pages of writing exercises a day. I saw though that she just basically rushed through the exercises just to finish them but still not learning the lesson that I had wanted her to learn. I then told her that we will only do one page a day...but it has to be perfect. If she submitted something that was poorly done then I will make her do another page. This sort of worked because she started giving me really great output...the problem was it didn't translate to excellent output in other things. I decided to try something else.


I decided to introduce the concept of effort. I told her that what matters most to me is that she exerts the best effort possible. I told her that effort is the only thing that will guarantee competence. I then showed her this effort meter I found online:

I printed this out and showed it to her. We discussed each level. I then pulled out a writing book she had completed. We went through every page and rated it based on the amount of effort she exerted. I pulled out her artworks and she rated those as well. When it was clear that we were on the same page when it comes to rating I sat down with her and asked her: "Honey, what level of effort do you think is acceptable for your homeschool?". We decided that right now, we will be happy with GOOD EFFORT. We will make that a habit then after 6 months we will try to go one level higher.

Since we have done this exercise Andrea has been going the extra mile in her work. For a few weeks before she would show me her work I would ask her "What effort did you put in this work?" and then she would run and make adjustments. But I haven't had to do that recently by God's grace.


Discipline Time - Gadget Edition

In our family we have two main rules: 1. Obey (immediately, going the extra mile and with a good attitude), 2. Don't Lie. Those two are the main rules.

We do also have some minor rules when it comes to gadget use. These rules were thoroughly discussed with Andrea. She understands them and understands the repercussion for not adhering to them.

1. She is allowed 1 hour of total gadget use a day.
2. She can only use gadgets after homeschooling and after her chores. (Needs first, then wants)
3. She can earn more time by reading news articles and discussing it with an adult (plus 10 minutes for each article).

These rules have been followed properly for a month...until yesterday. She got excited over an app and forgot to time herself. I know it was a mistake of the mind and not of the heart for several reasons. Number 1, she was telling me the entire time what she doing on the computer. She wasn't sneaking around. Number 2, when I asked her if she went beyond the agreed time she immediately said "Oh no. I forgot to check the time." She was honest about this and I know it came from her excitement with the new app.

So I told her we're going to have to have a talk about gadget use. I told her maybe making her keep track of the time by herself without my supervision was too much at the moment. I told her from this point she will only play beside me for a month because I will use that month to teach her how to be mindful.

She resisted. She was polite and kind but she wanted to understand why the consequences were so dire. Why do I need to do this beside you mom, why don't you just track the time? Why does it have to last a month?

It was hard for me to stay calm. But I tried my hardest. I told her "Honey, you don't have to do these things. You are free not to use the tablet. It is a want. Not a need. It is a privilege not a right". She then explained to me that it's easier for her to follow when she understands. So I explained to her the following:

1. She is free to make mistakes but not to choose the consequences of the mistakes. I am very consistent. If I tell her that so and so will happen if she doesn't follow our agreement with gadgets...then that's what will happen. No negotiations after the agreement (she can negotiate before the agreement)
2. The month long period is not arbitrary. The first week will be with me sitting beside her and watching her play. The second week will be me teaching her different ways to keep track of time while she's playing. The 3rd and 4th week will be me observing if she's ready for the responsibility and privilege of freedom on her tablet.
3. Another consequence is that she is now going to be unable to use the tablet when I'm not home. She is sad about that but that's part of the consequence of not being mindful of the time.

She cried during this discussion. She said she was embarrassed of her mistake. I told her I was also responsible. I apologized for not teaching her how to manage and keep track of her time before giving her this huge responsibility.

(Note: I am very strict. Rules are agreed upon and implemented. Consequences are meted out with no bargaining. I do however differentiate between mistakes of the heart and mind. In this case the mistake was of the mind so I am taking steps to strengthen her knowledge by giving her tools to help track her gadget time. If it were a mistake of the heart however like sneaking around to play with the gadgets when she knows it's already past the agreed period then the consequence would be no gadget use for 2 weeks)