PLAYING THE LONG GAME IN A WORLD ADDICTED TO INSTANT
Posted by Jon Acuff
Do you know why it’s hard to teach your kids perseverance?
Because the rest of the world is built around instantly fulfilling their every need.
Do you remember Blockbuster Video? You had absolutely no guarantee they would have the movie you wanted to rent. It was very likely that some other punk in your town beat you to the one copy of Back to the Future Part II.
Upon finding the empty case, you would curse your bad luck and then wait a few days until the video came back to the store. You had to persevere.
That might seem like an incredibly minor form of perseverance. It hardly fits the way we define the word here at Parent Cue. Were you really refusing to give up when life gets hard? Maybe not, but you did have to wait. You did have to try again. You did get reminded that the world is not structured around fulfilling your every need.
Fast forward to today and things are a lot different. If my phone takes longer than .05 seconds to look something up, I am frustrated. If the show my kids want to watch isn’t on Netflix, they feel a little impatient. If someone doesn’t respond to my text immediately, I am bothered.
We live in an on-demand world, but great things usually take great time.
It’s our job as parents to teach our kids that the things that really matter require perseverance.
You don’t get great relationships unless you work on them over time.
You don’t get great at a sport unless you practice even when you don’t feel like it.
You don’t get into a great college unless you start planning long before the application is due.
Despite what Siri might tell us, life is not instant and it is not always easy.
We’ve got to play for the long game.
When our kids want to quit on a school project, we have to remind them why sticking with it matters more.
When they want to give up on a friendship because their feelings got hurt, we have to remind them real relationships go through bumpy moments.
When they want to let go of a passion because practice isn’t fun, we have to show them the value of hard work.
As the rest of the world becomes impatient, a little bit of perseverance will pay dividends for years to come.
About the Author:
When he’s not charging his phone, New York Times Bestselling author, Jon Acuff, teaches a goal-setting course called “The 30 Days of Hustle.” To find out more, visit 30DaysofHustle.com.
by Sarah Anderson
My kids have taken an interest lately in watching our wedding video. It has been a fun thing to indulge in with them. They get to see the faces of friends and family they know so well, and grapple with comprehending how they weren’t even alive yet. It’s also been bittersweet. We have been married long enough to see that the faces of those at the wedding are different from the faces we know now. People have aged. Some have passed away. Relationships are different.
Engaging in this activity with my kids compels me to be a storyteller with them. I can invite them into my rusty recollections. I can show them mental snapshots of an unfamiliar world and connect the dots in their little lives before they even know there are dots to connect.
Telling stories gets me—and my kids—outside of the now in a way nothing else can. We slow down. We pause. We abandon dishes, laundry, noise and motion, and we simply listen.
It does for them what stories did for me growing up.
My dad has always been a great storyteller, telling his best stories around the dinner table. He could get and keep our attention as kids—and now adults—like no one else, captivating us with mischievous, barely credibly tales of his life as the only child in blue collar northern Kentucky town. I remember sitting there as a kid, absolutely consumed. He had a history. Which meant I had a history. I heard stories of a hard life with difficulties and challenges I had no understanding of and no context for, and hearing them made me see my dad in a more complete and whole way. His identity was bigger than what I saw before me. He was more than the sum of his parts.
Which means stories may be more than just a way to pass the time and slow us down. It could be that stories have a deeper meaning, and matter more than we realize. In the book “The Secrets to Happy Families,” Bruce Feiler suggests that children who hear, and learn their family’s story and narrative, create not just emotionally healthy children, but stronger and more foundational families as a whole.
More than that, there is a kind of story that matters more than any other. Dr. Marshall Duke calls it the oscillating family narrative, and he describes it as a story told with ups and downs.
There is heartache and there is hope. There is success and there are failures. There are dreams and there are disappointments. But the gift of this kind of story is the sense of family that comes from experiencing everything on the spectrum. Dr. Duke says it creates a strong “intergenerational self” because “they [kids] know they belong to something bigger than themselves.”
Which brings me back to the wedding video, and how cathartic it is for me, and how consequential it is for my children. I know, it isn’t really about the video. It’s about the remembering. Taking the time to look back for my kids’ sake and my own is a gift. It isn’t just an indulgence on my part. It is history making and history forming on theirs. It gives them a glimpse into who I am—a great reminder for me— and, by association who they can be—a big dream for them. It gives them a perspective, a depth, a richness that would otherwise be lost, or missed, or under valued.
So this week, take some time to remember with your kids. Share stories. Tell them stories of themselves. Of you. Of their grandparents. Invite them into the world that existed long before them so they are more equipped to enrich the world long after them. And then dream with them about the future. Get their minds imagining what could be, after giving them sight into what was.
Bruce Feiler says this may be a secret to a happy family. I say it is a practice and a preserver of a strong family.
About the Author:
Sarah Anderson writes for the XP3 student curriculum at Orange. She is married to Rodney Anderson and is mom to two beautiful bouncy boys, Asher and Pace.
HOW TO MAKE GOOD MEMORIES WITHOUT GRUMPY SIDE EFFECTS
Posted by Sarah Anderson
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. We’re on the cusp of all things holiday and fun. The festivals. The fairs. The pumpkin patches. And the promise for more parties and holiday spectaculars just around the corner. It’s the kick off to a magical—if not insane—season, made all the more magical—and insane—with kids.
Not more than a few weeks ago, I was reminded of how magical/insane this time of year is.
Our family had planned and attended so many “fun” things that particular weekend we turned into tired, cranky, sugar-assaulted people of no use to each other or the world.
We wanted to be the fun parents. And to create memories. I wanted us to be able to look fondly back on weekends like this and hear my kids say things like, “Thank you!” “That was awesome!” I didn’t want us to be grumpy and short with each other. But with so much “fun” planned, we started running on less and less, our fuses getting shorter and shorter until it didn’t matter what we were doing. We were too exhausted to enjoy it.
And that’s when it hit me.
When it comes to making memories, my kids are taking note of the emotions that come along with them.
They see a stressed out mom.
A tired dad.
And they are living in sugar strung out bodies.
I’m learning if I want to create good memories that last a lifetime, then I have to do more than just plan for the fun. I have to be at a place to enjoy the fun. And they do too.
What that means for my family is something different than what it means for yours. For ours, it means for us to be at a place to engage fun in a positive and healthy way, sometimes we have to say “NO”. . .
To some birthday parties.
To some festivals.
To some fairs.
To some holiday shanningans.
Not because we are boring and straight-laced parents. But because we are learning ourselves. And we know to get the most out of an experience, we have to bring the most into it. Our best into it.
When my kids remember their childhood. I want them to remember fun experiences. But I also want them to remember happy parents in those experiences.
A mom who is at peace.
A dad who is present.
A family where stressed out wasn’t the norm.
Emotions make great memories. And to have the right kind of emotions, sometimes we have to say no to some things to make room for the emotions we want to last a lifetime.
I want my kids to remember…
Those only come when you give them space.
We are sowing “no’s” now so we can reap the kind of memories we want to have later.
We can’t do it all, which means not every memory can be made. But that’s okay. Because when we push ourselves too hard for too long for the sake of making memories, the only memories our kids make are of tired and grumpy parents who just need to sit down for a minute.
So figure out what matters to you. When we start to pare down our crowded calendar, we’ll start to get a clearer idea of what actually matters—and not just entertains us.
As we are on the brink of a season celebrating gratitude, peace, joy and connection with the people we love, we have the opportunity to dictate whether our calendars will rob us of those very things, or whether we will call the shots.
We can’t do it all. We don’t have to do it all. Don’t be afraid to say “no” this season so you can say “yes” to the sort of memory-making you want to go the distance in your kid’s lives—memories of a fun experience and happy parents.
Because when they get both, everyone wins. And mom and dad won’t need a nap.
About the Author:
Sarah Anderson is a writer and communicator who has been involved in ministry since 2003. She is a lead writer and content creator for Orange's XP3 High School curriculum. Sarah lives in Roswell, Georgia, and is a big fan of her husband, Rodney, her two boys, Asher and Pace, and, in her weaker moments, McDonald's French fries. Read more from Sarah on her blog, www.sarahbanderson.com.
IMAGINE THE END :: 5 CHOICES WE’RE GLAD WE MADE (PART 1)
Posted by Autumn Ward
IMAGINE THE END
If you were asked to share with a group of parents things you’re glad you did as you were raising your kids, what would you say? My husband and I were given this opportunity recently at our church. Over the next five posts, I want to share with you the five choices we’re glad we made.
If we had to go all the way back to the beginning – 20 years ago – and start over, here’s the first thing we would without a doubt choose to do again.
We would Imagine the End, again.
When I was pregnant with our first child, I can remember a parenting mentor giving me a book called A Mother’s Heart by Jean Fleming. I can still remember what impressed me most about this book because it changed everything for me. The author did a wonderful job helping me see beyond my present moment and develop a vision for where I wanted to go. Here at Orange we call this “Imagine the End.” It’s one of our 5 Parent Cue Principles. Basically, Imagine the End is what we see when we imagine our kids at their high school graduation. What does a “win” look like when we look that far down the road? What will be most important?
The truth is, everything can’t be the most important. There will be lots and lots of important things in your parenting journey but only a few can be most important. When we try to do it all then nothing becomes important. No, the title of most important is reserved for one goal, one vision, one end in mind. It will be what guides your choices, trumps the other important things when you have to choose, and serve as your anchor when you start to drift.
My husband and I decided that when we imagined our kids beginning their adult journey, the most important thing was for them to “Love God. Love people.” Sports would be important. Academics would be important. Family and friends would be important. But loving God and loving people – that would be the most important.
We did two things to remind us what was most important:
They are our counsel when decisions need to be made about how to respond to hurt, disappointment, social and cultural pressures, and competing priorities.
They still serve as encouragement every time we begin doubting our purpose as parents or when those negative feelings of, “what am I doing” or “I’m a failure” begin creeping up.
For example, when our son was in middle school, he tried out for the basketball team and had worked hard the weeks leading up to tryouts. He piled into the gym after school for the three-day tryout process along with all the other middle school hopefuls. He was a pretty good ball player. But tryouts came and went, and he did not make the team.
The disappointment was real.
His heart was crushed.
The temptation to try and change the situation and manipulate the outcome was there.
The choice of how to respond had to be decided.
Do we talk to the coach?
Do we get mad?
Do we defend our son?
Do we claim it wasn’t fair?
Because of what we had decided was most important years ago, we (son included) chose to do whatever would demonstrate love for God and love for people.
Our son decided to be the team manager.
He went to every practice and every game.
He made sure all the water bottles were full.
He cheered for the guys on the court.
He gave them towels and water as they came to the bench.
And he did it all with a great attitude.
We never talked to the coach.
Never asked why he didn’t make the team.
Never complained or said it wasn’t fair.
Instead, we encouraged our son to serve others.
Cheer for others.
Having the end in mind to love God and love people is what helped us see that through. And just as important, it’s what helped our son make a choice that left him feeling successful during what could have been a time of feeling like a failure.
Having an end in mind has also given us a clear, understandable way to explain to our kids our reasoning behind the decisions we make. Eventually, every kid begins asking, “why” when they don’t agree with us as parents. Our end in mind gives us an answer to their “why” and helps us stay consistent in how we make decisions – everything from obeying authority to how we spend money to dating. It all goes back to “Love God. Love people.”
Imagining where you want to go as a parent – where you want to end up – is so important. And the great news is, every parent, no matter where you are now or how your parents raised you, can do this.
The days, weeks and years in front of you are a clean slate.
An unwritten script.
A story that you have a huge part in writing.
When you fast forward to your child’s high school graduation, what do you want most for them? What reminder can you put in front of your family today to help you remember where you’re going?
About the Author:
Autumn Ward writes for the First Look preschool curriculum and is the Creative Director for Parent Cue Initiatives on GoWeekly at Orange. She is the author of The Christmas Story and The Easter Story rhyming board books, written just for toddlers and preschoolers. She and her husband Chad have been serving in family ministry since 1996. They live in Cumming, GA with their two teenage daughters, Sarah and Anna. Their son, Chad, is a student at the University of Georgia.