12/29/2015

Focusing on Christmas

As Christmas 2015 passed by, it caused me to reflect this year more than ever on the value of celebrating this season.  What matters most during this season? Is it truly about the giving of gifts, the receiving of special presents from friends and loved ones or is it about simply the celebration of the birth of Christ? 

The answer seems to be as individual as we are people. It also varies with our age and where we are with our life. However there is a universal commonality that we all agree on, those of us that believe Jesus is the Son of God. That is, that the greatest gift is son of God born on Christmas Day. With Him we gained an immeasurable wealth of knowledge and heard of his suffering in human flesh.  We know, through his work, deeds and words, we will have eternal salvation by living in His word and believing in Him.

The many traditions of Christmas have redeeming value and are embraced by so many of us. Gift giving is delightful. It feeds our economy, it is a great means of expression and for children, it is the highlight of the season.  Santa and getting presents pleases children of all ages to no end!



For many families, Christmas is the only time of the year they will make every effort to be together. Christmas is a beautiful time when generations can come together as reunions have become something more of the past. It gives today’s families the opportunity to put aside their differences, their family feuds and such and show how, in spite of all their differences, they can be united as one in the name of their family for this one special time of year.

Many of us have family memories of Christmases past. Today’s families are replicating some of these to keep them alive and also creating new
Christmas traditions.  These moments of memories can be bittersweet because some of us have lost family members. Being triggered with the reminder there will be no more Christmases with them can be sad but God’s word is we will see them again, one day. Still others are isolated from their families, left only with memories of the past.  Those of us will and do find new ways, new families of choice to celebrate the joy of the season as God would wish each of us to do.

Christmas is a time of love. This is a time to remember how deeply each of us are loved by God, so much so He gave us only son to us. There is 
not one of us that is loved more or loved less by God. Embracing others is what we are called to do at Christmas time. Living the spirit of Christ is living his word all year long, not just this time of year.  It is his message that should be leading your steps down the path of life not just towards a Christmas tree or a manger scene.

As I have aged, I have found the walk towards God and His word easier to take. Following his path does lead you to greener pastures. You may lose some people you love along the way but God never promised making the right choices in life would be an easier path.  But he does promise never to desert you when others may.

Those that gravitate away will either find their way back to you, or not. It is a matter of free will, their choice, not yours.   You can only control your own faith journey and it should not deter your own growth.  Find and give forgiveness for others regardless of whether others are willing to give this to you. Love others enough to let them go if that love is harmful to you and not leading to growth.  Your life is limited; use your time sensibly and preciously.

Take the message of Jesus as the best Christmas gift you received this year.  Remember, it is the gift that truly keeps on giving long after the Christmas season is gone.  Hold it gingerly, and keep reopening it each day.  Share that gift with those willing to take it, hold it and incorporate it into their lives.  Use it to build yourself into a better person, someone more loving, more compassionate and more devout in faith.  You never know when the day will come when God will call you home. The gift is intangible God gave you but the rewards will multiply and your life will feel like Christmas every day.  




12/28/2015

Double Damage - Stepchildren Can Feel It

I have no real idea what it is like to be a step-parent. When I married my husband now, he had a son from a previous marriage but he was already an adult, so it seems that is different. Being a child when you get a step-parent can feel odd. You instantaneously are looking up at a new adult figure after losing the two key parents you have had from day one.   And this new one you never picked out is an authority figure in, not only your outside life but your home. 

Part of the challenge is trying to assimilate how the pieces fit together in the family dynamics.  First and foremost, the fact a divorce happened in the first place to put this scenario in place makes it apparent to a child, it could happen again. Hence, this adult could be fleeting also. Does the child let down their guard and form a bond when, if the marriage doesn’t work, this new adult will not be a permanent fixture in their life? Reality bites and early on these kids from divorced homes have learned marriages don’t always work.  They are often skeptical of new spouses in the home. They also tend to associate the new stepparent with the reason their parents got divorced, no matter how much time has passed by. Every child dreams their parents will remarry each other.

It is always immediately apparent to the kids they are labeled stepchildren. The chain of command is their natural parent is in charge.  To be careful the new adult doesn’t overstep things, it is drilled into the kids heads but in the meantime, it can have an opposite effect, implying this new person doesn’t really want you but is forced to live with you and take on the role. Often time’s kids feel the spouse is playing the game, trying to win over the parental person so they can win the hand in marriage.  Thus, anything the new adult does is regarded with suspicion.

Resentment is normal and a natural emotion for step-children.  Kids are wise and know that initially actions are not taken out of love.  The adults are often motivated by love of their spouse,  that is reality.  Experts say, no one falls in love with a child immediately. Bonding and learning to love a child takes time. The children are part of the package and usually not the best part of the package! Thus, when discipline and nurturing starts out by a step-parent, it is conceived as more of interference by the children unless it is more of a very gradual process. This makes it hard on both sides, for the child and the adult.

Anytime words are said in heated moments that are reminding children they are not the step-parents child it is going to create a major rift.   This makes the children feel as if they are unwanted baggage.  This happens far too often when children act up, things said such as “You are just like your mother.”  Children are well aware their parents have faults and this also causes them to feel there is something wrong with them as well, if someone is constantly pointing out defects of character in regards to not only them but their missing parent. 

A few statistics below gathered from Smart Step Families Websites:
Second marriages have a higher failure rate than first marriages.  This seems to be particularly true when there are children from a first marriage involved. 13% of adults are step-parents, approximately 29-30 million! 42 Million Americans are remarried.  100 Million Americans have a step relationship. One-third of all the marriages taking place today are forming step-families. So this issue is quite real, pertinent and facing our society daily.

Disciplining is the single hardest issue that faces step-parents. Children must be dealt with and held to basic rules but there is a fine line between holding down the fort, keeping children safe and crossing over boundary lines too soon. When children are pushed quickly to new rules and regulations that have not been issues before by a step-parent, this is not going to fair well for anyone.  The spouse may back the step-parent, as they should,but the children are going to feel resentful as if their live is being turned upside down even more so. 

Assimilation must occur over time, on all fronts.  Also, harboring unreal expectations of children and creating a laundry list of everything children do wrong to garnish punishments out by the natural parent is not healthy to foster a bond with stepchildren.  Taking time to befriend children, at first, helps foster care, concern and real respect so that, over time, punishment is met with understanding.

Anything done to create mistrust with children and causing even more resentment early on may build a bridge inside a child that will be impossible to knock down.  It can also further complicate the bond that they have with their natural parent, which will infringe on their development in years to come.  This is really an unfair price for the child to pay since they were not responsible for the divorce but simply a fall out casualty. 

 Too often, children react impulsively with step-parents.  Many issues can be resolved if handled with compassion. Dealing with them with severe punishment, harsh name-calling and such will do nothing but create hard feelings. 

Many believe it is not necessary for a loving relationship to even develop in step-parenting relationships but instead it is imperative one develop a kind of mutual respect and care. Whatever gets developed takes time and patience.  The marriage of the newly formed couple must be fostered but it should not be at the cost of a child’s normal development either.   

It is interesting to see, down the road, the next generation may not see the significance of these blended family dynamics, how they played out. When this occurs, it has a far reaching effect. It leaves children and adults in the family lines wondering why so and so was left out of the family. It also creates misunderstandings when behavior that was deemed inappropriate or feelings were severed as to what went wrong and why wasn’t it rectified. 

These situations in blended families gets very complicated when things go wrong and not everyone in the inner circle knows why. Many times no one wants to discuss it either.  So the issues are thrown under the rug. It is easier to just cut out the people that bring up the past, anything unpleasant rather than try to fit the missing pieces together.  Inevitably pieces are missing, future generations are hurt and lives go on being affected deeply by a divorce that happened years ago.   The unhealthy patterns of the family will continue too and play out unless the chain is broken in many of these families.  Seeing it broken and fixed is imperative as in today’s world, as the statistics showed, is full of blended families. We all pay for step-parenting gone a muck. 


The best answer seems to be to know, going in, when you marry someone with children, treat the children as you would your nieces and nephews. If you sense issues, seek help outside of the family.  Allow the children to be kids, to make mistakes and to be angry with someone new in the family dynamics. Know that they are uncomfortable and don’t put them down for not reaching your expectations initially.  You are probably not meeting theirs either.  With time, respect and care, you may develop a relationship that can withstand the test of time and build up a family instead of continuing to break it apart.  

12/22/2015

Guest Commentary: Adel de Meyer: Social Media Personal Attacks - Is this Productive?




Adel de Meyer

I came to know Adel de Meyer through social media over a year ago via Twitter.  To say I was immediately impressed is an understatement. She has an enigmatic persona that comes across quite rapidly. My background, dual major in Psychology and Communications, and then moving into a career in sales, marketing and social media, Adel’s natural ability was obvious to me!



As our relationship grew, I began to learn about her background. You can read in depth about Adel on her website. My purpose is simply to give you a short platform to preface her comments below. She recently wrote a brief commentary that is much needed in these days of self-branding and promoting good-will to each other and positive messaging. No matter how we deliver our message, there are always those that will misconstrue it. Perception is many folks reality; however, objectivity is needed also to truly understand messaging.  I believe Adel has mastered the art of understanding both her clients and her audience quite well in conveying both, who they are and what they have to say.  Likewise, when it comes to herself, she also is awesome at projecting both. 



Adel now calls Brisbane, Australia home, having been born in South Africa.
Her short title, believe it or not, is: Social Media Marketing Specialist, Speaker and Trainer and Hootsuite Solution Partner, but so much more! A beautiful blonde with a vibrant spirit who challenges all of us to dig deep, tap into our passion, bring it forth and make our mark!



So for the woman born on Christmas day, in her own words,

changes are called for: 

Making a few changes - Starting the new year off fresh - I am who I am - I look the way I look - I talk the way I talk - Those who don't like me for who and what I am won't be missed. Those that are negative and always judge others or me, gossip and are nasty will be removed from my profiles - Nothing personal, I just don't need your negative energy dragging me down.


I like to take selfies, I like silly jokes, I have a weird sense of humor and yes sorry that I have long blonde hair and full lips and you might not -
I'm not going to go through my life feeling guilty or hating myself because it might offend someone else that doesn't have it or can't make a beautiful photo. You might have other features or abilities that I don't have and would love to. I have many other things that I hate about myself, like my bad skin and being overweight o and my big nose but I don't go around putting girls that look much better and prettier than me down and get jealous if they post a sexy selfie - I say Good for You Girl, Rock it!

   

Today I want to say, stop judging and being nasty to others - you never know how they might feel about themselves or their lives. Let others express themselves anyway they please, and if you don't like their silly selfies or jokes or breakfast photos - you know what hide or remove them and move on. You really gain nothing by putting others down - Words cut deeper than knives. A knife can be pulled out, words are embedded into our souls!!!



Too many people are 'Keyboard Warriors' behind this powerful tool called 'Social Media'

I did request her permission to share these comments as I think it is something we should all contemplate before judging.  Here are a few additional remarks she made to those in her inner circle that responded to her post:


There are some that are pretty, some that are clever, some that are rich and some that have it all. Everyone should just allow everyone their little piece of sunshine in this world and stop being jealous. Yes, jealousy in moderation is a good thing but keep it to yourself. Don't go and put others down or always spit out your comments online and criticize everything others do. 


I wish for many things that others have that I see online but I don't go and gossip or put up status updates 'talking indirectly' to those and say how terrible their photos,selfies,tweets,lives or families are. 



Social media can sometimes be a nasty dirty place.  I've seen it more and more this year.




I find it fascinating this is written by someone so young, so gorgeous and yet so insightful and not in a context of a defensive posture. This is also a well-versed woman with a background in modeling, PR, media spotlight, and knowledge about the use of social media and its positive and negative impacts. 


Her words should and do have impact.  Many look and come to her for advice and guidance, personally and professionally, which is why I felt this blog was important to post.  I am proud of her as a woman, friend and proven professional.




Please take the time to review and share her comments.  When you buy a product, you buy it based on many factors. Selfies reflect more than just a look, just like a cover of a book, it is a cover, a reflection but not the entire piece of work.




You can reach Adel at:




Twitter: @adeldmeyer

Instagram: @adeldemeyer

Facebook: www.facebook.com/adeldmeyer