While waiting for my sandwich at a restaurant I watched the 20-year old behind the counter. Not once did he make eye contact. He was completely lost in a simple human-to-human contact situation. Looking around I saw tables filled with teens and twenty-somethings staring at their phones – the restaurant was eerily quiet for the number of people present.
We are living with a disconnected generation of easily offended, short-attention-span youngsters who think the world owes them a living, who believe someone else is responsible for their pain and joy, and who can’t negotiate personal relationships that aren’t online.
There’s a lot of handwringing and online chat about the troubled youngsters making headlines. Parents who take a hands-on approach early in their children’s lives are more successful at intervening before their child goes off the rails.
We can teach our kids respect. We can give them boundaries so they don’t wander too far into trouble. These boundaries need to be gently and firmly administered with love from the time the child is a toddler.
We can teach our kids respect. We can give them boundaries
I was married to a policeman for many years. His motto was, “If you don’t get enough time-outs as a child, you get them as a grownup.” And he was right. (The current group of Hollywood child-star-trainwrecks come to mind!)
We need to be intentional in our childrearing, and we need to know which battles are important. We need to help our kids operate in a world where humans interact with each other without machines. Parents often don’t take the long view in childrearing — “How will this impact my kids down the road? What’s important for the long haul?”
Children crave boundaries. They are, after all, just puppies. A child of 10 has only been on the planet for 3,650 days. We can’t expect them to know everything. Setting reasonable boundaries within which they can discover themselves and their limitations is the loving thing to do.
Consequences and Time Outs are valuable tools that teach great lessons about the real world. Parents who set boundaries on everything from video gaming to cell phone use to TV raise more successful and happy kids.
“I love you too much to let you grow up spoiled.”
Parenting is far less frustrating when you set expectations: “I expect you to get your homework done and the dishes put away before you go on Facebook (Texting, Twitter, whatever…) If you have not completed your work and I find you on any social media, you will lose your phone (or tablet) for one week.” That’s a very clear boundary and it works – if you keep your word.
I have raised a lot of resilient children. The one line I employed the most was, “I love you too much to let you grow up spoiled. You WILL follow the house rules because I want you to be an amazing person when you grow up.” As parenting hero John Rosemond says, “Parenting is not a popularity contest.”
These little bundles of joy will not always love us. But if we love them enough to do the right thing, they will sooner or later get over it and finally love us back.
“Aunty” Beth Terry
(For a free copy of my house rules, comment here and I’ll send it to you! Or you can go to my store and find them in both Walking in a Crowd of Angels and in the downloadable book 101 Ways to Make Your Life Easier)
© Beth Terry, CSP • All Rights Reserved
Humans are ornery creatures, and we are a curious species. We take all information available to us, then we fill in the blanks. Therein lies the problem in human relations. Filling in the blanks is not always a conscious exercise, and we are not always right. 1 + 1 + _______ = 3 is an easy equation. We know for certain (we think) the empty space should contain a 1. It could, however, be .5 + .5.
Real life isn’t that simple. I learned this early in my Management career. I worked for a real estate group with a billion dollars in assets that were spread all over the US. We were always negotiating, selling and buying properties, so we had to guard information.
Elevator Rules Protect Information
We had an “elevator rule.” Our boss declared if he ever caught any of us talking in the elevator we would be fired. He called it the puzzle theory. Bosses have staff. Each department holds different pieces to a large puzzle. They may not appreciate the delicacy of their information because their piece is small. Put two or three of these people in an elevator complaining about the day’s work. Then put your competitor’s assistant way back in the corner of the same elevator. An innocent conversation between coworkers could give just enough information to the competition to squirrel the deal.
The natural secrecy in a competitive environment leads to a mess of half-baked theories. As National Admin Manager I stayed on top of the grapevine and squashed ridiculous notions.
Once we purchased an office building to remodel and turn
quickly. Previous owners left furniture in the building, so I advertised in a trade paper to sell the furniture. Logical move, yes? It didn’t occur to me to tell the staff. It was a routine exercise that required a five minute phone call.
Here’s how it escalated:
- Husband of a clerk worked for the trade paper. Sees the ad.
- He goes home and tells his wife we are selling furniture.
- Clerk and friends discuss this disturbing news at lunch.
- Their department has been a little slow lately.
- Friends tell their husbands at home that our company is selling off our inventory.
- Husbands go to work and mention around the water cooler that our company has fallen on hard times and is forced to sell some of our furniture and inventory.
- Conclusion is that we are closing some of our operation and people will be laid off.
- Clients begin calling the office to find out who will be managing their properties when we close.
- I get a panicked call from my HR manager asking if she needs to start thinking about any outplacement options for our staff.
This escalation took three days.
It took me all day to find out the source of the rumor. It took another week to calm our clients and get us back to normal.
The next day I held a “Come to Aunty Beth” meeting with the entire staff. We went over the “elevator rule” again and explained the puzzle theory. We instituted another rule: DON’T MAKE IT UP! ASK! I made signs and put them up around the lunch rooms and employee gathering places.
At the office, at home, in your love and friendship encounters – tell people what they need to know. Fill in the blanks so they don’t.
If you don’t tell people what’s going on, they will make stuff up. And it’s never in your favor.
Communicate with someone today! They need to know. They just need to know!
Happy rest of the week,
© 2013 Beth Terry, CSP • All Rights Reserved • May be shared with attribution
Hawaii, with its Asian influence, has afforded many deep insights into finding peace and happiness within. A concept I heard decades ago has crossed my path half a dozen times this year: Wabi Sabi. A friend just sent me Arielle Ford’s book Wabi Sabi Love for my birthday and I was reminded to share this.
Wabi Sabi is a Japanese concept of celebrating imperfection. It’s the imperfections in ourselves and our objects that tell our stories. There’s no real excitement or intrigue in a perfectly straight line or an unlined face. Ultimately, imperfections make a person or thing far more interesting than perfection does. In our Plastic-surgery-botox culture, we forget that we earned those expression lines.
Wabi sabi embraces the impermanence of life and of material things. Humans are fragile creatures on a very short trip to earth; we constantly change and grow… And no one gets out alive. To look through a Wabi Sabi lens is to see beauty in asymmetry. When I took a class in Ikebana (Japanese flower arranging) the first thing we learned was to strive for an odd number of flowers.
Embracing our imperfection is the only way to grow. We begin to understand and know ourselves through our relationships with others. If we are unrelenting in our search for perfection, we push some of our very best teachers away, as no one can be perfect. My secretary Kate used to call these people our “sandpaper people” — the ones who force us to face our frailties and whittle down the rough edges.
Let’s face it, we humans are scarred creatures. The very act of living can be a wounding experience.
And yet it’s our scars that tell our stories. The wrinkles on our face and body show the paths of our journeys and give us places to connect in intimate ways with those we care about. When we are open and accepting of imperfections in our self and in each other, we open doors to magnificent and deep love. Our scars let our beloved into our world so they can understand us better and love us for who we are and who we are not.
Those who have lived their lives striving for perfection and who have taken no risks in life or love have few scars. They stayed on the surface of the water and usually are not very deep. These folks go through life pretending instead that everything is always sunshine and happiness, all the while struggling with an undercurrent of despair because it just isn’t. Life is not an even road.
Life is not an even road.
An unscarred “perfect person” may be shallow and unforgiving of others’ frailties. Those who have been tossed about by life have learned lessons and can consciously choose to be more forgiving, more tolerant of imperfection, and indeed, celebrate those imperfections.
“I don’t love you because you are perfect. I love you because your imperfections are beautiful to me in the stories they tell me about your character, your life, your struggles, your journey, and your triumphs.”
Go out into the world and be your beautiful, wonderful, imperfect self!
© 2013 Beth Terry, CSP All Rights Reserved
He sat on the sidelines watching bemused as we whirled and twirled to the live country music. Wizened and slight, he had to be in his mid-90’s. His eyes twinkled as he studied our steps. When the band stopped and canned music played a slower two-step, he pulled to his feet and took my hand. I was surprised how spry and strong he was. I had a fleeting thought, “It’s awfully close to St. Paddy’s day. You don’t suppose he’s a leprechaun?” (The older I am the more I realize I don’t have a firm grasp on the mysteries of life.)
While dancing he would falter and I’d hear him mutter to himself. Listening closer I heard, “Best you can… best you can.” Walking with him back to his perch I asked him to explain. He said, “When I was a pup, my dad said the only way you learn anything is to accept that you’re doin’ the best you can. Then work on gettin’ bester.”
Gettin’ bester. I love it.
If you’re struggling with something new, or frustrated with your current situation, just do the best you can and work on getting “bester.” It really doesn’t do us any good to beat ourselves up. Just notice what doesn’t work and fix it. Or decide sometimes “good enough” is just good enough.
I’m thinking of printing a little reminder and posting it somewhere:
Best You Can…
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
© 2013 Beth Terry, CSP • All Rights Reserved