Happy Father’s Day!!!

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June is the month that we celebrate hopefully the first significant men in our lives…..Yep, our fathers. Sadly, in this day and age, many individuals biological dads are not the first significant men in their lives. Often kids are born when the parents are still very young and young men, okay boys at this age are not equipped to see the bigger picture. The child that is easily influenced. So some men, not all but some take the easy road and become “the sperm donor” in their children’s lives.  For the men out there who are struggling to make sure their kids are taken care of….kudos to you. I have often heard the saying any man can make a baby but it takes a real man to be a father. To all the real men out there….thank you for your time, money, guidance and most importantly love. Although, it make not always be visible…..you are loved beyond measure.  My daughter absolutely adores her dad and I am so glad, I married a man who holds family values in high regards. He may not always get it right but he is present and he makes an effort.  That is all any of us can do. For all the men doing their part…..keep up the amazing work. For the men out there who have fallen short…..it is never to late to start being the wonderful father I know you can be.

 

 

What Makes a Dad
God took the strength of a mountain,
The majesty of a tree,
The warmth of a summer sun,
The calm of a quiet sea,
The generous soul of nature,
The comforting arm of night,
The wisdom of the ages,
The power of the eagle’s flight,
The joy of a morning in spring,
The faith of a mustard seed,
The patience of eternity,
The depth of a family need,
Then God combined these qualities,
When there was nothing more to add,
He knew His masterpiece was complete,
And so, He called it … Dad
Author Unknown

 

Happy Father’s Day!!!

Listening Well

Listening Well

Listening well is a necessary skill as it impacts the quality of our relationships with others. How many of us have heard our children, friend, and/or partner say, “Are you listening to me?” or “You never listen to me.”  With the listening we do all day long, one would think that we all would be so much better at listening.  However, many times we are only hearing the other person because we are too busy performing several other tasks at the same time. Other times we are deep in thought about our own attitudes, thoughts, and feelings  about the subject. Then there are times we are just too sleepy to listen attentively. And of course, we are all guilty of selective listening.

Listening well isn’t just hearing what the other person is saying, but also paying attention to verbal and nonverbal messages as well.  So how can we listen by concentrating on how and what they are saying as well as what they are not saying?  It’s interesting how the lessons that we learn in childhood prove to serve us well in adulthood.  Below is a song that some learn in preschool.  Next time you really want to practice listening well, try implementing the words of this song.

The Listening Song

Eyes Are Watching

Ears Are Listening

Lips Are Closed

Hands Are Still

Feet Are Quiet

You Should Really Try It

Listening Well, Listening Well

 

Communication Can Make or Break Families

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It has been laid on my heart to move from blogging a third person academic blog to speaking of communication in families from first hand experience with the knowledge I have gained academically and spiritually.  Family is one of the most important support systems that a person can have.  A family member can also be the most important thing the family has.

The pillar of my family was my grandfather.  He was a self made man.  Back in his day, a person could still do that without having certificates from a university saying that they are worthy of opportunity.  I was raised by my grandparents who valued integrity above all else but led by the faith of our higher power in which I choose to call God.  My grandparents believed in hard work and nothing was free.  They also believed in family.  We all knew that they valued family.  This belief was not conveyed in words but actions of support.  I now know that I needed to hear the words of love and see actions of love, not just morals and values on how to treat others outside of the home.  Lack of communication is generational in my family.

Six years ago my grandfather, at the age of 62, passed with pancreatic cancer.  It was a sudden and quick demise to death.  I was angry at God for taking the greatest person I had ever known and the one person I knew loved me unconditionally.  I would have given any of his monetary means up to have him back.  The lack of communication in my family caused huge gaps in-between each family subsystem under our patriarch.  Without his unspoken leadership, we began deteriorating as a family unit.  Thought processes were assumed by other members that where not factual but no one called the other and spoke of it.  This was steady fueling something that would soon explode.  The lack of communication allowed negativity to split our family unknowingly at the time.

On Thursday my brother called.  I have not spoken to him in a year.  Not due to any fractures between us but the fractures in our family.  He had the same question for me that I have had for all of my family.  What happened here and why?  Assumptions are dangerous and very misleading but can be doctored at the root and killed off with communication.  There is power in admitting wrongs and misgivings.  It demonstrates being humble but most importantly, that you are not putting yourself above the fracture that has occurred and you are not blaming anyone.  Lack of communication is to blame.  We often let pride and life get in our way of reaching out to those we feel wronged by.  Communicating with others allows some of the wrongs to be seen in their perspective and that wrong may not feel as wrong anymore.  My brother and I both left the conversation with a peace we had not felt in a very long time.

As I finish my education through one of the top universities in this nation, one of the greatest learning lessons I have gotten was this morning in a service by Bishop TD Jakes.  This message was about you.  It was about me.  It was about individuals taking on the power to change their life and surrounding themselves with good people.  Believing in yourself gives you power to reach out and communicate.  In his ministry, he is honoring and recognizing how important mental health is.  Jakes has made this his mental health awareness month.  He also spoke of having a team of counselors on staff because they are given the power to help with situations in your life.  My supervisor at Family First Counseling, Ms Megan Lee, told me that she is a Christian that counsels. Professional counselors can help with communication.  It is not a weakness to seek out help for you and your family.  This allows for healing and understanding to start.  We are in this field because it brings joy to our hearts to see families prosper.  Communicate with others and if that feels to intimidating, seek help to learn how to communicate.

 

Christy Ragle

 

The Good Ole Days!!!

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Who remembers “the good ole days?” I admit that I am not old enough to have lived during the good ole days era. One of the current presidential candidates keeps referring to “the good ole days.” How he would like for things to be as they were during the good ole days. Who is the candidate? I am quite sure you all already know but for those of you not up to date on current events….it is none other the republican hopeful Donald Trump.  Now, there are several things that Trump says and does that give me pause and great concern but his rallying for the good ole days is over the top in my opinion. First, he accepts funding from a former red dragon of the white supremacists group the KKK, David Duke. And then he goes on the record supporting returning to the good ole days. Although, I am unsure if Trump thinks about things before he speaks….you have to wonder why would a presidential candidate go on record supporting racism? Is it for the extra publicity time or does he just not know any better? He is a P.R. person’s worst nightmare.   I do not think there is one minority that considers the good ole days….good! During the 1950’s and 1960’s (the good ole days era) minorities had little to no rights. Basically, the majority were satisfied because minorities “knew their place”……and if they forgot, there was a tree close enough for the hanging.  During this time African Americans had to fight for the right to vote, to sit in a restaurant with white people….. and let’s not forget education or drinking out of a public water fountain. None of things suggest good ole days to me and I most definitely do not wish to return to the way things were during this time. It was not just African Americans, that were negatively impacted by this era but the lgbt community as well.  By all means vote for who you think is the best candidate for president….not for the person in the limelight. I personally have no desire to vote for someone who has shown me they are a racist.

From Reacting to Responding

from reacting to responding

 

Being able to move from reacting to responding can be a challenging feat. Honestly, both seem pretty comparable because we often use the words interchangeably; but when using in practice, they are quite different.

Reacting is usually an impulsive, emotional action.  For example, your husband cheats on you. You are angry and hurt. You (react) retaliate by having an affair of your own. You are out on a date with the Mrs. Someone approaches her and is flirting. You are angry and feel disrespected. You (react) punch the dude in the face.

Responding involves simmering your emotional action with logical, critical thinking. Your husband cheats on you. You are angry and hurt. You (respond) take some time to yourself to figure out and explore what you need for resolution. Then you communicate this to your husband. You are out on a date with the Mrs.  Someone approaches her and is flirting. You are angry; you feel disrespected. You (respond) by letting him know she is with you.

Moving from reacting to responding is much easier said than done. But we are all accountable for what comes out of our mouth and how we treat others. The more you practice responding in little every day stressors, you are training your brain to be able to respond instead of react to greater stressors.

Some things that have been helpful to me:

1) Be aware of my body and thoughts.

Are your palms sweaty?  Are your teeth clenching?  Do you have balled up fists?  Are your thoughts racing? Or you can’t think at all? These are all precursors that whatever comes next is probably a reaction and not a response. Resist doing anything when you notice these signs. Take deep breaths.

2) Take a “time-out”

Walking away or ending a conversation is not weak or giving up control.  In fact, reacting often leads to being out of control and living with regrets. Taking a time-out allows for you to explore options and decide what is going to be best. Then you can respond accordingly.

3) Ask yourself, “what do I want the end goal to be?”

After reacting, we often reflect , have regrets and say “hindsight is 20/20.”  In the moment, if we take time to transport to the future, we can determine the best response.

 

What else may be helpful?

Who’s The Parent?

5 ways to provoke your children

Recent events have caused me to question who is the parent in certain situations. A week ago I encountered a mother and her son at the grocery store. The son could not have been more than 8 years old if that.  He wanted his mother to buy him something and I am assuming she said no. As I turned onto the isle, the little boy began to throw a fit. Yelling things like “I want it…..I want it!” The little boy was so frustrated he laid out in the floor on his side and screamed as he twirled his body around in a circle (sort of like something you would see on a sitcom). The mother tried reasoning with her son. The more she tried the louder he got. Clearly, embarrassed by the situation she tried to lift her son off the floor and he resisted with every attempt. So then the mother begins to slowly walk off. Her son quietly sits up and watches her. When she left the cart to go get something off a shelf, the little boy runs to the shopping cart and uses the shopping cart to charge his mother. Wham! He rams the shopping cart into his mother. The mother yells for him to stop. The son backs up and rams his mother with the shopping cart once again. The son gears up to ram his mother a third time but the mother grabs the cart. She goes back down the isle where her son’s tantrum began grabbed something off the shelf and yells “happy now!”  I on the other hand was having a WTH moment. I sooooo wanted to say something but instead I just watched the scene play out.  If you know me this was an extremely difficult task for me. In what alternate universe is it okay to ram your mother with a shopping cart, not once but twice? The even bigger question, what realm do you live in that you cave to the demands of an eight year old. At some point kids are going to be disappointed. We as parents are not able to cater to their every whim. Well, some of us may be able to. But monetary gifts do not make for a productive citizen. Reinforcing negative behavior reinforces negative behavior.