LIFE IN BALANCE-Raising Disciplined Children

“Train up a child in the way e should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it”- The Bible

Here are a few tips on raising a well- behaved, disciplined child. Now, because my children are little and I am writing from experience, this will apply more to new parents and parents with pre-school children.

1. Take responsibility. Children are primarily taught by their parents especially in the first few years. No preschool is going to do this for you. You have to decide as a parent that there are only two choices: I will be responsible for my child’s discipline or I will be responsible for my child’s discipline.

2.Be realistic. Active disciplining of a child cannot really start before 9 months of age. Prior to that, however, routines should be created so that a child knows what to expect.

3.Be consistent. The Bible says, let your yes, be yes and your no, be no. This applies to child rearing. Something your child does cannot be right today and wrong tomorrow. Do not discipline a child depending on your mood. This creates a confused child. If she pulls the dog’s tail, don’t “time-out” her for it today and laugh about it tomorrow.

4. Be clear. If the consequence for hitting sister is a five minute time out, let your child know that. After a discipline, remind your child what he/she did and why such-and-such discipline was applied. Be concise. Children at that young age do not need a lecture on the original sin of man( 🙂 ).

5. Be disciplined.Be godly. Be disciplined yourself. Be law abiding. Be punctual. Keep your word. Keep your temper. Watch your mouth. Model the types of behavior you expect from your children. If you have a potty mouth, your child will too. If you are friendly your child will probably be too. In case you haven’t noticed, they pick up on your bad behavior more readily than the good behavior.

6. Be age appropriate in your expectations.There are certain behaviors expected from children of certain ages. Bring your child up to speed. A nine month old is expected to cry when sleepy, a five year old is not. A two year old is expected to throw tantrums a four year old is not. A one year old is expected to go “pee-pee” on himself a five year old is not. A three month old can be rocked to sleep, a nine month old should not. A three year old will get messy when they eat, that is not a discipline issue. One of my friends, Popee said to me, “We sometimes expect our children to know things that it took us twenty years to learn”. That gave me something to ponder.

7. Be verbal. Talk to your small children even when it is not an active “disciplining moment” and let them know what your expectations are. For instance while potty training my one year old, I used to tell her,”Big girls go pee-pee in the potty, not in the diaper”. Children usually understand more than we give them credit for. You have to tell them what to do! Do not assume that they know. If you want your child to sit down and not jump around screaming, please, by all means, tell them so. If you want them not to poke a hole in the frosting of the cake, tell them.

8. Be firm. You are the parent. Do not let your child wrest control from you. Do not think, they are too small, they don’t know what they are doing or- here s a favorite one of mine-if I do such-and-such, they will cry. Oh please!!! Get some backbone and do not be wishy-washy! No candy after six pm means no candy after six pm, no matter how much they cry. They will soon get the message.

9. Boundaries. Everyone has to learn at some point that there are things you can do, and there are things you cannot do. It is better for them to learn it now than learn it in a penitentiary. For example it does not matter how angry you are, you cannot hit mommy. I am astounded whenever I see two to three year old children in shopping carts hitting their mom because she said no to them picking up something. How ever did they get it into their heads that that was even an option to consider?! Once I heard a two year old boy say “shut up” to his mother. Guess what? Instead of dealing with the behavior she said, “oh he doesn’t know what he is doing”. I was shocked to my very core! If at the age of six he calls his mom the b-word should we be surprised?

10. Be loving. Do not treat your children with disdain,impatience or disrespect. Children have to know that you love them, no matter what the present situation is. It doesn’t matter if you have to give them ten time-outs in a day. Do not nag them or constantly go on and on about what they did or did not do. Relate with them on their level. Be nice and kind to them. Don’t just feed them, clothe them and send them on their way. Reach out to them, reward good behavior, treat them without partiality, be fair to them. Tell them you love them on a DAILY basis( even when they are grown). Manage your expectations.

Well, friends, hope this helps someone, have a great time with those little angels.

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MARRIAGE- The “give and take” fallacy 3

What I call the “give and take” fallacy is the thinking that your spouse has to “just know” what you need without you having to communicate. It is the feeling that your spouse will be always perfect and if they are not, you can withdraw your love. In the concluding part of the write-up I will be talking about not frustrating your spouse and not building things up in your mind. Read on.

1. Do not frustrate your spouse: Yes, we know you are a flawed, imperfect human being, but that does not mean you cannot change. If you are Mr. Slob and you married Miss Neat Freak(you probably would not have married her otherwise), you can make an effort to pick up after yourself, it will not hurt your pride if you pick your wet towel off the bed. If you leave the toilet seat up and your spouse does not like it, make a mental note to start putting it down. If you know your husband does not like beans but you love them, stop serving them to him. When you frustrate your spouse continually, he/she can start to distance him/herself from the frustrating behavior, eventually distancing themselves from you.As you can see, from here walls can start to come up in your marriage and down the line the marriage can break up!
Do not frustrate your spouse by not making an effort to change behaviors that they do not like.

Avoid building things up in your mind: Let me give an example from my own life. My husband came home from work one day, and dropped his keys on the air conditioning unit. No big deal, right ? Here is the backstory. I was a housewife at the time and pretty much all had to do the whole the whole day was clean, cook and try to decorate our home. On that day, I had just put some little curios on the air conditioning unit(because I felt it looked rather bare), to decorate it. When those keys hit the unit, I thought to myself: “Look at that! Not only did he not notice/verbalize the fact that I worked hard to make the house look nice, he threw his keys on my work. He doesn’t even notice anything I do around here. Does he think I am his slave? If he really cared about me he would appreciate what I do around here. If he really loved me and appreciated me, he wouldn’t just toss his keys anywhere, he’s so ungrateful, etc, etc”. Unfortunately or fortunately( 🙂 ) I did not mention this to him but I carried the “he doesn’t love me” phrase in my head and I was angry for days! All that the man did was to put his keys down! Do you see what I mean, friends? Your spouse is not your enemy. Not everything your spouse does or says has a deeper meaning behind it. Do not immediately jump to wrong conclusions over innocuous things.

Well, this concludes this three part series. Hope it helps someone’s marriage improve.
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Have a blessed one!

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PUTTING GOD FIRST

The following is an excerpt from my first book, His Delight. To get a copy, click the link below.
Enjoy!

(Exodus 20:3) You shall have no other gods before me.

What does this mean? It means regarding God more highly than you regard anyone or anything else: family, career, money, possessions, and friends. It means that if it came to deciding which path to follow, the answer would be to follow God every time. Anyone or anything that you place above God automatically takes on the “god” role in your life. You cannot truly worship God or glorify Him when you have an “idol” in your life taking God’s rightful place.
Ask yourself these questions: Would I rather follow God’s commandment not to steal or help myself to the company’s money? Would I rather consistently watch television than consistently fellowship with God? Would I take a job that would compromise my Godly principles? There are probably countless ques- tions such as these that we could ask ourselves.

Consistently putting God first is not easy, neither is it something that you can ever be done with. As long as we are on earth, there will always be the temptation to give God a backseat in our lives. However, as Christians, we have to constantly make the effort to put Him first in our day to day lives; not just on Sunday mornings. As we consciously do this, we will find it easier to get into deeper levels of worship.

DOXOLOGY
Jehovah God, jealous God who will share glory with no other,
I bow before you in reverence of your Holy Name.
Exalted One, you are number one,
no one and no possession can ever take your place in my life.
Who is like you Lord?
There is none before you, none after You,
You are the Alpha and Omega,
the Beginning and the End,
the First and the Last.
I fear you Lord,
I honor You,
I revere You,
Most High;
King above kings,
God above gods.
You are God.

Related link:

Shola Ezeokoli author page

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MARRIAGE- The “give and take” fallacy 2

In part one, I talked about loving your spouse wether you felt they deserved it or not. I also talked about communication( with a link to a previous article on communication). Today I will be writing about a couple of things which will serve as reality checks on this journey called marriage.
When we “fall in love”, our spouse can do no wrong and we are so attuned to each other, perfect for each other, finish each others’ sentences, blah, blah, blah, ad nauseum. After being married a few months to years we realize that our idol indeed has feet of clay! Our spouse falls from the pedestal of perfection that we once put them on, as we discover their faults, foibles and failings. Realize these two things:

1. Your spouse will irritate you: Yes, they will sometimes annoy you no end, irritate you like an itchy rash; and infuriate you beyond words. That sounds pessimistic! Well it is true. If you are married you would have had fights; you will know that two people, no matter how in-love they are, sometimes disagree. Sometimes people have habits that are annoying to the other person, for no other reason than the person is different. Do not take your spouse’s age old bad habits( throwing socks on the floor, squeezing toothpaste from the middle, leaving soap on the bathroom walls, not flushing the toilet, belching loudly, picking their nose, scratching, talking loudly, losing their keys, untidiness) as a personal attack or a sign that they do not love you. It is not. It is just them. They were like that before you married them, but your rose-colored spectacles were still on and now, you have taken them off! If you go into marriage thinking you will never have a fight, you are wrong. If you are married and your spouse has not annoyed you yet, you are probably still at your honeymoon. 😀
Bottom line is, your wife/husband will do things you don’t like and you can let them know(NICELY) what the issue is. This takes me to my next point.

2. “If you really loved me, I would not have to tell you…..” Hold it right there! So, some people( mostly ladies) think that if their husbands loved them, they(husband ) would automatically know the wife’s needs without having to be told. I used to think that way myself ( 🙂 ). For some reason I thought that if my husband loved me as much as he claimed to, that I would not have to ask him to help with the dishes, or pick up his socks, or take me out to dinner. “He should just know”, I thought. How erroneous! You still have to talk. You still have to be vocal about what your needs are. If someone does not even know what you want from them, how can they do it for you/ give it to you? Now the usual countering argument to this is that, “if I have to tell them, then want is the point? If I have to tell my husband to take me out to dinner, then it doesn’t feel like he wants to”. My answer to that is “Says who?” This may seem like a good argument on the face of it, but it is all Hollywood, friends. The counter argument would be that since both parties are working together for the common good of the marriage, it doesn’t matter who suggests date night, or who buys the flowers for who, or wether you ask your hubby to wash the dishes or put the children to bed. Remember, however that asking is meant to be as a request and NOT a demand.
Please do not assume that loving you ascribes omniscience to your spouse.

Watch out for the concluding segment of The Give and Take Fallacy

Related links:
What’s love go to do with it?
Marriage-The give and take fallacy

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HAIKU

I gave myself a Haiku challenge, which was to write a Haiku about winter without using the words winter, snow or cold.
Enjoy!

WINTER

Blank carpet of white
Frigid, arctic temperatures
Day turns into night.

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Marriage-The “give and take” fallacy

In marriages today, after the initial “honeymoon” excitement has worn off, people can start to get selfish. Where they once lived to please the other person, now it’s just a case of, “Well you aren’t meeting my needs”; or “I’ll do this when you do that”; or “I will submit to him when he loves me the way I want to be loved”. What I call The Give And Take Fallacy comes into play. This is where spouses decide that they will only give if they are getting in return.
The truth is, that attitude is a marriage killer. Marriage vows are not conditional upon the behavior of your spouse. Now, the scope of this piece does not cover extreme cases such as abuse( of any kind), mental health disorders, substance abuse, infidelity, and issues in which professional help needs to be sought. This is more about the day to day little things that if not taken care of can lead to frustration, resentment and a joyless marriage.

1. It does not matter if they deserve it: So your husband forgets your birthday and you withhold sex. Right? Wrong! Your wife burns your dinner and you give her the silent treatment. Fair? Not fair! Your husband doesn’t tell you he loves you three months in a row. What do you do? Keep being your ever loving self! What! What about my needs? Here is the answer: Keep being good to your spouse even at times when you feel like they don’t “deserve” it. Do it with a good attitude too. Why? Because that is the only way that things will turn around. Your spouse will respond better to your loving actions than your unloving ones. Your spouse will respond much better to being treated nicely than being treated with disdain. The bottom line is this: True love is a commitment not a feeling. When the initial passion wears off and loving actions do not come so easily, remember that it is not about wether they deserve it or not. It is about you keeping the commandment of God to love and seeing what you want come to pass in your marriage, not by nagging, criticizing, complaining, demanding or withholding love; but by being patient, kind, giving, and totally sold out to meeting the needs of your spouse.

2. Communication: I can sense the next question: What if they take me for granted? This brings me to this point. Communicate to your spouse, in a way that they will hear and respond, what you feel the issues are. Notice that I did not say: “Tell them how you feel” or “Get it all off your chest” or “Tell ’em like it is”. Communicate to YOUR spouse in a way that HE/SHE will hear and respond. How do I know how they will hear? That is for you to find out. Here are some general ideas. Don’t shout, nag, rant or inject a contemptuous tone into your voice. Avoid phrases like “you never” “you always”, “why don’t you just”. Don’t try to “talk” during the game. Don’t try to “talk” during her time-of-the-month. Don’t try to talk when someone is walking in through the door. If you know your spouse in crabby in the mornings don’t bother.
An example is as follows: “Remember how we used to go for a walk every week? It would be great if we could start doing that again. It makes me feel more connected to you”.
A BAD way of saying the same thing would be: “You are too busy for me. We don’t even go for walks like we used to. You’ve become boring. I wonder if you love me more than that job of yours”.

It is easy to see which of these would get a positive response.

Read my post on communication:
Saying It Right

Watch out for the next segment of this write-up.

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LIFE IN BALANCE-Mr Right or Mr Wrong

Ladies!
There is no doubt a greater societal pressure on women to hook up, get married, get hitched, or whatever you want to call it. Before you go shopping for that wedding dress that you have had your eyes on for the last x number of years; before you fall head over heels in love; before the voice common sense is drowned out by the flapping wings of the butterflies in your stomach, ask yourself this:

Is he Mr Right or Mr Wrong?
Signs of Mr Wrong-
1. Mistreats his mother: If he has no respect or regard for his mother, he is not the man for you. If he speaks badly about his mother, does not render her needed help, talks rudely to her, her does not respect women. Soon, you will be the object of disdain too. Of course, this is not to say that they do not have disagreements, but even while disagreeing with his mom, there should still be respect.

2. Is a mama’s boy: On the flip side, if everything you discuss is relayed back to Mama for her stamp of approval; if he cannot stand by his decisions until he has had his mother’s input, run. You are getting ready to have your marriage remote controlled by Mama. This is not to say that he cannot say anything to his mother, but a man has to be able to stand on his own two feet, in the areas of decision making and problem solving

3. Different religious beliefs: So, the Bible speaks against Christians marrying non-Christians. However, even from a common sense point of view, if you have religious beliefs that your partner does not share, that opens the door for conflict down the line if you try to follow the tenets of your religion that he does not believe in. No one should pull you away from God.

4. No steady job: No job, no plans to get a job; no business, no plans to start one; not in school, not planning to go to school;a “runs” guy( my Nigerian friends know what I mean); no source of income per se. Now, people fall on hard times and yes, a man might want to start a relationship with you, who has been laid off work. That does not mean you should not give him a chance. There is however a difference between someone who is looking for a means of income and someone who is not.

5. Controlling, jealous, bullying, suspicious: More loving is not the answer to a man who has problems with insecurity. If your Mr. Right has to know right down to the smallest detail, your every move, he may be Mr. Wrong. If you cannot so much as smile at another man without getting his dander up, watch out. If you are continually hearing: if you love me, you would do this; or if you really love me, you won’t talk to that person, take a step back from the subtle manipulation. If he claims to be “protective” but is really just suspicious of you, thinking you are up to no good, even in the most innocuous situations,run for the hills and don’t look back.

6. Beatings: You would think that no woman would get married to a guy who flies into a rage and “pounds her flesh in”. You would be wrong. People do it everyday. Why? There is no one answer. Whatever the reason, run for your life. Now, I am not talking about two people fighting, I am talking about a situation where a woman is beaten up by her man. Logically speaking, ladies, the chances that you will overpower a man are slim to none. The chances that you will win him over, are also slim to none.The chances that beatings will escalate once you marry the dude are pretty high. So do yourself a favor and run for your life!

7.Liar: He lies. It calls into question his integrity; it calls into question everything he has ever said and everything he will ever say. Watch yourself with him. “Where were you?” “At work”. Then you find he was at the club with the boys. “Who is she?” “My play sister”. The you find out she was an ex girlfriend. It makes you wonder, what next?

This list is by no means exhaustive, neither is it a substitute for relationship counseling and mentoring. In the “search” for Mr Right, it is prudent not to get carried away by feelings and appearances; but to sit back and take a good hard look at thing that could be signs of serious character flaws.

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