Category Archives: communication

Returning His Balls: Like His Design (#5)

pink bedroomWomen complain men aren’t in touch with their feminine side. No. Men don’t want to sleep in a pink palace bedroom-design that screams girly-girl. Expecting men to want what women want can upset stomachs and turn a dreamy pink palace into a Pepto-Bismal nightmare.

I recently had a conversation with my stepdad about the state of marriage and a husband’s role. I have been on an endless pursuit to find out how to make marriages last a lifetime, instead of having a lifetime of a string of marriages. My stepdad is in his 70s and has seen marriages change over the decades. He basically said that the problem is: women don’t value how men are designed.

The “Returning His Balls” blog series is based on the teachings of Alison Armstrong’s seminar, “Celebrating Men, Satisfying Women.” This week we will be exploring why we aren’t getting the best out of our men. Armstrong says, “As a result of being emasculated ALL the time—in relationships and in our culture—men are responding the opposite of what we really want.

I’ve listened to a lot of complaints wives have about their husbands. Some of them include: “He doesn’t talk about what is really bothering him”, “He is so insensitive!”, “He doesn’t take initiative doing all the chores around the house that need to get done.” The list of complaints is long. Armstrong would call this the man’s plight of the “Misbehaving Hairy Woman.”  Modern men are expected to behave the way WOMEN are designed. His frequent failure is pointed out and analyzed at length. A decision is made to nag more or revoke sexual access as a punishment. This strategy gets us the opposite of what we really want. Men are emasculated when they are expected to deny how they are designed.

The Opposite of What I Really Want:  There was a time when I was the complaining woman who was appalled that a man didn’t want to sacrifice sleep to stay up late taking about our inner most feelings. I came to the unfortunate conclusion that I need to find someone who I can reprogram to be just like me so we can REALLY understand each other better. I have said things to men like, “I don’t need you. I could do it better myself. Step aside.” I became surprised that guys didn’t stick around for me to show them how strong I was by not needing him. My dating years were painfully barren.

After my Man-Lessons, I understood how I was shutting down the best of what men contribute and repelling them away. I became aware that my Alpha Female assertion did not get the results I wanted. My underlying message was, “You have no value in the game I’ve created around how I’m designed. You will never be able to win…why aren’t you trying hard enough? I guess I’m too strong of a woman for you to handle. Commitment-phobe!”

Men need clearly defined roles. They need to know how to maximize their strengths for the greatest contribution. Men need to know how to successfully win our hearts everyday.

A woman’s femininity can inspire a man to be his best. He just doesn’t want to sleep in a pink palace bedroom. Appreciating who a man really is helps him respond in the ways we really want.

What I learned is that when I “Like His Design”, my marriage gets the best of my husband. Identifying ways that I inadvertently emasculate the love of my life is another lesson in “Returning His Balls.”

Start reading Returning His Balls series from the beginning (here).

Reflect & Share: How do women expect men to be “Hairy Women”?

Resources:

Workshops: Celebrating Men (website), Free Local Workshops: (website), Start Small with Free Content (website)

“Emasculated Men”article from From In the Bedroom with Dr. Laura Berman

“Does Your Husband Feel Emasculated?” blog by YOURTANGO EXPERTS

“32 Facts That Show How Men Are Being Systematically Emasculated In America Today” article

“Do Breadwinning Women Have To Worry About Emasculated Men?” blog by Jessica Bennett at cosmopolitan.com

“Why Men Feel Emasculated – The 3 Big Reasons” blog by lovepanky.com

“The Incompetent Idiot Who Is The Modern Emasculated Man” blog by Aggie Catholics (video commercial examples)

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Returning His Balls: Put Down the Sword (#1)

sword woman

Cavewoman is REAL. She is a woman’s primal persona that takes over when we feel threatened. This week I had an experience interacting with a frustrated young man. He was filled with testosterone and frustrated at the lack of results he had achieved. As his instructor, I have role power over him. My cavewoman was monitoring his level of agitation and subconsciously looking for an exit strategy if he got out of control.  I was reminded of something Alison Armstrong said, “Women can’t think straight in the presence of an angry man.” An angry man triggers a primal response of fight or flight in order to survive.

This blog series, “Returning His Balls” is based on the teachings of Alison Armstrong’s seminar, “Celebrating Men, Satisfying Women.” I took Armstrong’s Man-Seminars in order to understand the other gender. With men being everywhere; I decided I wanted to learn how they operate.

balls_knife_3

When Cavewoman feels a threat, one option is to “fight” in order to neutralize what could potentially cause harm. The weapon of choice is a metaphorical sword to a man’s source of power, his metaphorical balls. Neutering a man means stripping him of the energy he has to potentially over-power me.  This makes him weak.  Based on men’s reactions, they don’t like being weakened.

“Men experience emasculation as an attack.” In the process of thinking I’m safe because I have weakened a man’s power over me, I simultaneously made him vulnerable. Being vulnerable is a threat to a man’s survival. This triggers his Caveman because now I am the threat to his survival.

My Cavewoman was monitoring the testosterone level of a frustrated young man. She would have wanted me to grab the sword and deflate his power. However, all my Man-training kicked in. I remained calm. I knew that he wasn’t ready to receive help until he chose to listen. Forcing him would trigger an aggressive response. I waited until the frustration drained his energy. His body slumped when he sat down with exhalation. I told him I can help turn around his bad results. I asked, “Are you ready for me to help?” I waited until he made the conscious choice to move forward.

What I learned about men is that they respond to how I treat them. If I take a metaphorical sword of emasculation to his most precious source of power, I am attacking him. Part of the Man-training is to put down our swords. I made a vow, a covenant in front of witnesses, to stop emasculating men. Sometimes I soothe my inner Cavewoman early so she does not perceive a threat. I remind her that men go through a process of experiencing frustration and I need to calmly wait it out. Just because he is experiencing anger right now doesn’t mean he is dangerous to my physical safety. Other times I miscalculate and realize the sword is in my hand too late. My strategy for post-emasculation is to immediately apologize and return his balls. I recommit myself to my vow to Put Down the Sword.

Reflect & Share: What do women do that strips a man of his power because she feels threatened? What do men do that makes your inner Cavewoman fight or flight?

Resources:

Workshops: Celebrating Men (website)

Free Local Workshops: (website)

Start Small with Free Content (website)

 

*Note: “Men” is implied to exempt the outliers of crazy, abusive, or psychotic, etc.

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Appreciation at Work: Challenges to Overcome

jugglingTrying to stay focused on co-workers’ different needs of appreciation can feel like a juggling act. Giving the right amount of focus to the right person in the right way at the right time can feel like there are too many balls in the air to try to catch.

In this blog we will be exploring the challenges of expressing appreciation. This series is based on Gary Chapman & Paul White’s book, “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.”

Expressing appreciation is not a one-size-fits-all strategy. It takes intention to express value to others effectively. The following are a list of barriers that may stop you from implementing appreciation. Action steps are provided to help nudge you forward.

A. “This Takes Too Much Mental Work”: One reason why a person may be resistant to implementing “Appreciation at Work” is that it can feel like there is a lot of analysis involved. There are three easy ways to take the guess work out of assessing what each co-worker needs to feel appreciated.

buttonAction #1: Post preferences. One idea is to buy a button that coworkers can wear or post a sign in the work space. This strategy reminds people about appreciation and directs them to what style has the most impact.

Action #2: Have your team take the MBA Inventory assessment. Compile the results into one, easy to read, document for the team. (download template)

Action #3: Take baby steps. Practice expressing appreciation in small ways first. Read “Top Ten Easiest Ways to Express Appreciation to Almost Anyone” (article). An actionable first step is to greet co-workers warmly with a smile everyday.

 

B. “We are Not that Close”: We can spend up to eight or more hours a day with our colleagues and still not feel connected. Some relationships are strained while others are tense. Building strong relationships takes effort.

Action #1: Don’t ignore tensions. Assess what is going on. One tip from the article “How to Prevent Praising Co-Workers from Backfiring on You” suggests checking-in with a trusted colleague to get a third person perspective of the relational dynamics (article).

Action #2: Start building trust. Read the article, “Cutting Through Cynicism with Authentic Appreciation” (article).

Action #3: Watch the video, “Why Some People Have a Hard Time Trusting” to learn about why there may be limited trust in the workplace (video).

 

C. “We Don’t Need This”: Some attitudes in organizations may say that all this “touchy-feely” stuff is not our thing. Feeling valued is a human need. Expressing appreciation effectively allows people to feel that what they do matters.

Action #1: Test the assumption by reading the article, “Picking Up Cues Indicating That Your Colleagues Need to Feel Appreciated” (article).

Action #2: You may not realize how toxic the communication climate is with your colleagues. Take the online assessment to find out if you are in a dysfunctional workplace (quiz).

juggling_one ballExpressing appreciation at work can be challenging at first.It can feel overwhelming analyzing what the right type of appreciation is for the right person at the right time. It is a juggling act that begins with one action step. One ball at a time until you can handle more.

Reflect & Share: What is stopping you from implementing appreciation in the workplace?

Resources:

1. Take the assessment to find out what specifically YOU need to feel appreciated. ($15 or free with purchased book). There are specialty assessments for schoolmedicalnon-profit/ministrymilitary, and long-distance.

2. Buy: The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace (book)

3. Learn more by watching videos

4. Appreciation Button (buy)

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Appreciation at Work: Recognition is Not the Same as Appreciation

award-3You are the only superstar!” Being recognized for quality work can be satisfying. Unfortunately, it seems that acknowledgement is limited to  quarterly meetings or at the annual company party. Employees need regular doses of appreciation.

In this blog we will be exploring Recognition vs. Appreciation. This series is based on Gary Chapman & Paul White’s book, “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.”   The book describes recognition as focusing on what the person DOES compared to appreciating who they ARE as a person.

All employees need appreciation. Most awards only give attention to the high-achiever. The people neglected are the team members and support staff that made the high performance possible. Nobody gets to the top alone. An award recipient may be the only one motivated by the public attention.

Many employee recognition programs don’t work. Recognition and rewards can be too narrow. Here are the top three limitations.

Limitation #1: Performance vs. Value of the Individual. High achievers may be ambitious or creative problem solvers. WHO they are helps them reach the desired results for the organization. There are also employees who are not ambitious. Their contribution could be in a more supportive role.Watching others get an award may not be motivating.

spotlightLimitation #2: Missing Half the Team. Recognition programs are usually restricted to Words of Affirmation or Tangible Gifts. The problem is that not everyone likes public attention. They may be embarrassed being in the spotlight. *Note to Managers: just because YOU may like public recognition does not mean your team members will.

awardLimitation #3 Top-Down Recognition. Generic recognition is not meaningful. It may feel fake to the recipient because it is required for each department. Individualized appreciation is received well in healthy working relationships.

Company recognition programs have limitations. Luckily, you and your colleagues can take the MBA assessment  to find out exactly what you need to feel appreciated and from who (subordinate, peer, supervisor). Expressing appreciation does not require a big budget.

Appropriately expressing appreciation can motivate each team member to reach his or her potential. When each employee feels valued, they are motivated to give the best of themselves. Two benefits that result from this are a positive emotional climate and increased productivity.

You don’t have to wait for the annual company picnic or a quarterly meeting to help a colleague feel valued. Regular doses of appreciation can make EVERYONE feel like a superstar.

Reflect & Share: (a) Why do you feel embarrassed by public recognition at work? –or – Why do you like public recognition? (b) What are some cost-effective ways to express appreciation other than Words of Affirmation or Tangible Gifts?

Review of 5 Languages of Appreciation: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Acts of Service, Tangible Gifts and Physical Touch

Resources:

1. Take the assessment to find out what specifically YOU need to feel appreciated. ($15 or free with purchased book). There are specialty assessments for schoolmedicalnon-profit/ministrymilitary, and long-distance.

2. Buy: The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace (book)

3. Learn more by watching videos

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Appreciation at Work: Physical Touch (Language #5)

hug_2Do you need a hug?” I’ve learned to ask this question first before lunging into an embrace of a distressed colleague. Apparently, not everyone likes hugs. A lesson experienced the awkward way.

In this blog we will be exploring Language #5: Physical Touch. This series is based on Gary Chapman & Paul White’s book, “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.”  The book defines “Physical Touch” as appropriate physical contact in an appropriate situation for someone who would receive physical touch appropriately.

The issue of physical contact is touchy in the workplace. Touch is part of human behavior that connects two people more intimately. Not everyone will be open to appropriate physical touches. Let’s explore two of the main concerns.

  1. Sexual Harassment. Perception and intent are variables in determining what constitutes inappropriateness. As someone who is a touchy-feely person that expresses concern or care through physical touch, sexual undertones would not be on my radar. Sometimes people are starving for affection. Any form of touch can be misinterpreted, then responded to it as a sexual advance. In the workplace, I am more cautious about being affectionate with anyone from the opposite gender.
  2. Abuse. Victims of abuse have a higher sensitivity to being touched. They may need to protect their personal space. What a teammate thinks is an innocent appropriate touch can create tension for the receiver.

hug_awkwardTips: Pay attention to how someone responds. Appropriate physical touch can be powerful or really awkward. Three variables to consider: the person, the type of work relationship, and the sub-culture. Ask permission or offer before engaging in physical contact. Give the potential receiver the space to say, “I’m not comfortable with that.” Respect their personal boundaries that create safety for them. Don’t immediately take it as a personal rejection.

When we work with the same people for 40+ hours a week, they can feel like family. Physical touch can encourage someone who is struggling, help with emotional healing, and express acceptance. There are some appropriate physical touches in the context of the workplace.

Appreciation Applied:

1.  Firm Handshake

handshake

 

 

 

 

2. High Five /Fist Bump

highfive

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Pat on the back

pat on back

 

 

 

 

4. Hand on shoulder with compliment

hand shake_2

 

 

 

 

5. Hug in time of crisis or excitement
hug_happy

When I was in graduate school, the head administrative person was Bessie. She always had a plate of cookies or a snack by her desk for others to take. Bessie had a maternal energy that drew people to her. She listened, she counseled, and most importantly, she gave hugs. Grad school was a stressful time in my educational journey and I wasn’t dating at the time, so I survived on Bessie’s hugs. I’d come into the office and say, “Bessie, I need a hug.” She would stop what she was doing and squeeze the stress right out of me. I always felt a sense of comfort after one of her hugs.

As a social toucher it can be hard to believe people don’t want appropriate physical contact. I find myself being drawn to the
people who reciprocate affection like Bessie. Not all my colleagues will want to be comforted when they are distressed in the same way as me. I can always post sign or get a button to let people know that I give free hugs.hug_button

Reflect & Share: What do you consider appropriate physical touch? How do the “touchers” in your workplace express connection (hint: they may want it reciprocated)?

Resources:

1. Take the assessment to find out what specifically YOU need to feel appreciated. ($15 or free with purchased book). There are specialty assessments for schoolmedicalnon-profit/ministrymilitary, and long-distance.

2. Buy: The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace (book)

3. Learn more by watching videos

 

Read: “I Wanted a Hug but Something Else Happened” Blog by Linda’s Bloughts

Watch: Free Hug video

 

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Appreciation at Work: Tangible Gifts (Language #4)

bagels

“Free Bagel Fridays” were the best. Every Friday bagels were delivered to the staff room for free breakfast (this was before gluten awareness). My first grown-up job after college was a position in a company that expressed appreciation through food.

In this blog we will be exploring Language #4: Tangible Gifts. This series is based on Gary Chapman & Paul White’s book, “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.” The book defines “Tangible Gifts” as rewards that can send a powerful message of thanks, appreciation, and encouragement (does not include bonuses or pay raises).

Tangible Gifts is my least valued Language of Appreciation. The book warns of the blind spot we can have for the Language that is lowest on our list. I don’t enjoy shopping for others or even myself. I am more of a minimalist so I don’t like trinkets to clutter up my work space. I only want to spend money on a gift if I know for sure the recipient will want and use it. I have to be careful of this blind spot at work because I could have colleagues that want to be appreciated through gifts.

Guidelines for Gift-Giving:

1. Give gifts to people who really appreciate them.

2. Give a gift that the person values.

3. The gift needs to communicate time and energy was spent on the selection process (i.e. not generic).

I’m not interested in sports. My boss giving me tickets to a baseball game would not energize me. I learned from the book that gift-giving can also include paid time off. This got my attention because I highly value my time. An afternoon of free-time would definitely be received as appreciation.

Applying Appreciation:

1. Certificate for Bed & Breakfast so I can spend a romantic weekend with my spouse.

2. Gift card to a cool restaurant and movie tickets so I can have date-night or girls night out.

3. Certificate to a spa so I can get a massage.

4. Gift card to a bookstore (or Amazon.com) because I am always reading new books.

5. Post-it notes that are colored, lined, and in a variety of sizes. (I love post-it notes!)

Choosing the right gift is crucial to communicate that I value my colleague.  The wrong gift can be offensive. A generic gift says, “you are not special and I didn’t put any thought into this present.”  I would save gift-giving for only special colleagues that I know well.  When I choose the right gift for the right person, I can help build friendships with my colleagues. My hope is  that I can help create a positive working environment where my colleagues feel valued and appreciated so they continue to give their best.

Years later, I still love the idea of “Free Bagel Fridays.” Food is the easiest way for companies and coworkers to do something special. Now that I have a better understanding of Tangible Gifts and how it is my blind spot, I can explore new ways to express appreciation to my colleagues.

Reflect & Share: (a) What Tangible Gift would you love to receive from your coworkers that would communicate “we appreciate you!”? (b) What gift can YOU give a colleague that would be received well?

Resources:

1. Take the assessment to find out what specifically YOU need to feel appreciated. ($15 or free with purchased book). There are specialty assessments for schoolmedicalnon-profit/ministrymilitary, and long-distance.

2. Buy: The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace (book)

3. Learn more by watching videos

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Appreciation at Work: Words of Affirmation (Language #1)

handwritten note“Good job everyone” can sound like praise. In reality, the global compliment can feel empty and is received as impersonal. What people really want is confirmation that you see who they are and the contribution they are making.

In this blog we will be exploring Language #1: Words of Affirmation. This series is based on Gary Chapman & Paul White’s book, “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.”  The book defines “Words of Affirmation” as using words to communicate a positive message to another person.

People who are Words of Affirmation can range on a spectrum of the over-achiever to someone who is insecure. What others think about them is important.  If they are not verbally affirmed, they are the ones who would most likely be looking for another job. “Words of Affirmation are most impactful in the context of a positive, healthy relationship.” If the tone is not sincere and the body language is inconsistent with the words, then it will be received as empty praise.

The Two Dialects:

A. Praise for Accomplishments. When a colleague meets or exceeds expectations on a quality job, give specific praise for their achievement.  Call attention to the specific task or behavior. For example, John, I really appreciate the thorough report you produced in such a short time. You helped the department hit our monthly goal. I want to use it as a sample for the training manual.

B.  Affirmation for Character.  Focus on the inner nature of the person.  This characteristic shows up regardless of if someone is observing them or not. For example, “Jessica, I really appreciate your kindness. I noticed that you gave one of your patients a little extra service because you saw he was having a rough day.”

Individual Styles of Receiving Words of Affirmation:

  1. Praise in Private Conversation. Some people value personal one-on-one praise because it feels more intimate and there isn’t an audience.
  2. Praise in front of Important People. Telling others about the good work of a colleague or employee can be most meaningful. The important person can be the team or a valued customer. Praise in a small group of significant people can be more valued than an award in front of a large group.
  3. Praise in Writing. An immediate response through text message or email can be received well because of the timeliness. A handwritten note can communicate more time was invested and gives a personal touch. The documentation allows someone to re-read it in the future.
  4. Praise in Public. Some people like the spotlight and attention. They want others to know of their accomplishments in front of a large audience (i.e. awards ceremony).

Applying Appreciation:

  1. Email: compliment a specific contribution to the company.
  2. Tell others about the good job I’m doing.
  3. In my review: write a specific list of the things you like about my work performance.
  4. Privately praise me.
  5. Give me encouragement after I’ve handled a difficult situation.

When I started my teaching career, I kept a “happy file” of emails and notes students wrote to me at the end of the semester. I needed these words of affirmation to remind myself that my investment in students has been impactful. The learning process can be messy and I fumbled my way through some growth spurts. The end result of constant experimentation wasn’t always pretty. In those low moments, I read the heartfelt messages of gratitude and appreciation for the passion I invested into each class. Reading one email of affirmation kept me motivated to keep challenging myself for another semester. It reminded me that even if I only touched one person’s life in the end, the daily struggle was worth it.

The next time I want to tell my class, “good job everyone,” I will stop myself from being generic. Instead, I will affirm the specific desired behavior and catch my students doing something right.

Appreciation in Action Challenge: Pick two deserving colleagues. Find a reason to praise them for their work or character in the next week. Observe the reaction.

Reflect & Share: How do you like to receive words of affirmation? (a) Dialect: achievement or character. (b) Style to Receive: private, written, small audience of important people, or large audience.

Other Blogs:

“Guess What” (blog by Never a Dull Moment)

Resources:

1. Take the assessment to find out what specifically YOU need to feel appreciated. ($15 or free with purchased book). There are specialty assessments for school, medical, non-profit/ministry, military, and long-distance.

2. Buy the book: The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace

 

 

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Drawing the Line: Boundaries Law #1 Sowing & Reaping (#13-a)

plant seed 2The New Year brings new opportunities. What we sow, we reap. The decisions we make today will show up in our results later in the year.  This blog series  is based on the book, Boundaries. There are 10 Laws of Boundaries addressed in one of the chapters. This week we will explore the first one. Boundaries Law #1: “Sowing & Reaping” illustrates the connection between cause and effect.

New Habit #1: I will stop rescuing irresponsible people from the natural consequences of their bad choices.

Sometimes people confuse enabling with love. Boundaries help others claim the negative outcomes of THEIR own decisions. I will no longer interrupt the process of cause and effect in someone else’s personal choices.

reap “Confronting an irresponsible person is not painful to him; only consequences are….They need to suffer consequences before they change their behavior.” Suffering allows an irresponsible person the opportunity to make better choices by changing their behavior. We are the only ones who can help stop our own suffering. We cannot save someone else from themselves. We have to choose not to “co-sign the note’ of life for the irresponsible person.”

When people beg for money on the street corner, I rarely give cash. I keep snacks in my car so I will sometimes give one away. The Boundaries Law of Reaping & Sowing has inspired me to give to organizations that help people transform their lives, like Father Joe’s village. If people are on the street because of substance abuse, giving them money or a snack does not support a life change. I am only perpetuating bad decisions that got them in their current situation. If I’m really concerned about people going hungry, then I will volunteer at the local soup kitchen, donate clothes at the consignment shop, or shop at their online retail store.

Once I get good at implementing Law #1 on perfect strangers, I will have the confidence to start applying this new habit on people I actually know.

New Year, New Habits!

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Drawing the Line: Boundaries with Money (#8)

imagesCALLST7S

Lending family members money can hurt the relationship.

Dave Ramsey advises against loaning money to family members. The relationship becomes awkward because the power dynamics change. When sitting down to eat with someone who owes you money or you owe them money, Thanksgiving dinner tastes different.

Dealing with family and money can be a dysfunctional process. A sibling who asks for a loan because they are in a desperate situation, then spends it on a vacation. Parents who give a loan to the newlywed couple for a down payment on a new home, then find out they missed a house payment after leasing new cars. Loaning money to your father, who assumes he doesn’t have to pay it back because, well, “we’re family.” When it comes to dysfunction with family and money, it usually is not a financial issue, it is a boundary problem.

This is the eighth blog in a series based on the book, Boundaries. This week, we will be looking at “Drawing the Line” with money. I first heard of the Boundaries book when listening to the Dave Ramsey podcast about personal finance. There was a theme that centered around fuzzy boundaries and family money drama.

Ramsey recommends a couple of boundary options when being asked for a loan by a family member:

Option #1: Gift the money. If it is a one-time transaction, consider “giving” the money as a gift. Dave Ramsey says, “Giving money to a friend or relative can be a nice thing to do if it helps them out, but when it turns into a loan, it turns into trouble.” The gift frees the borrower from being a slave to the lender. Giving avoids the awkward questions, “when are you going to pay me back?”

Option #2: Deal or No Deal. If the loaning process is continuous, then more drastic measures are needed.  “Help them change their life, not live in denial.” When your mother-in-law lives a life of luxury that is financed on credit and comes begging for “help” to pay her BMW car payments, you have a boundary problem. The asking will never end. The “helping her out this one time” turns into a monthly conversation.

Throwing money at bad habits doesn’t fix the problem. One of Dave Ramsey’s solutions for someone who is perpetually a financial victim of life is to make them a deal. First, there will be no more “loans” of help. Second, the borrower must agree to the plan-of-action to make the problem stop. The borrower will attend Financial Peace University to learn about how to live within their means and managing money effectively. Third, the giver can provide an incentive program for effective money management. Dave recommends a “matching” program. For every “X” amount of money that is saved, he matches it (up to a certain amount). Instead of fixing the short-term problem, Ramsey recommends family members help their loved ones to change their relationship with money forever by encouraging them to install positive habits of money management. “Drawing the Line” is placing boundaries around what you are willing to offer and to protect yourself from making decisions that will lead to resentment.  If the perpetual borrower doesn’t agree and follow through with the terms of your boundaries, then No Deal.

If you are thinking about asking a family member for a loan, consider the shackles that will be placed on your relationship. The dynamics change and the lender will be watching how you spend the borrowed money. You will be inviting someone else to be invested in your money management choices.

The next time a family member asks to borrow money AGAIN, say no. Start a discussion of what you are willing to do and how you can “help” them without providing a loan. Lending money to family members can hurt relationships. “Drawing the Line” with money will help protect the taste of Thanksgiving dinner.

Reflect & Share: Which option (gift the money or help change bad financial habits) are you most likely to follow?

Like. Subscribe. Share. Comment.

Other Blogs & Articles

Ramsey: “The Danger Zone: Why loaning money is anything but funny” (article)

“When financial problems are really boundary problems” (blog)

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Drawing the Line: Boundaries with Kids (#4)

crayonlineI’m not here to be your friend” was my parents’ mantra during childhood. They had a job to do. Their goal was to train us to be functioning members of society who know how to work and know how to give by 18 years old. Even after the divorce, there was no dividing and conquering one parent to play against the other. Co-parenting was their highest priority, married together or not.

This blog series is based on the book, Boundaries. We will be looking at how we can “Draw the Line” to create boundaries with kids.

Kids like to test limits to make sure they are firm and to find out if they are pliable. Overworked parents find it easier to make kids happy (and quiet), so the rules get broken more often. Parents teach children if “no” is a real answer or the beginning of a negotiation.

Develop boundaries early in young children. Teach responsibility,  limit-setting, and delay gratification to have a higher probability of YOU surviving THEIR adolescence.

Parents’ job is to prepare children for adulthood. There are real consequences to choices. When children have a safe place for trial and error, they can learn from their mistake to do better next time. When parents don’t practice good boundaries with their kids, society will put their adult-children in grown-up “time-out”, called jail. Using the family to simulate society, parents have the opportunity to help children see how their choices affect other people. It is better to learn tough lessons from gentle hands.

The book identifies two types of boundaries children can practice.imagesCARIJ6JT

1. Self-Protection – Give your child the freedom to say no, tell the truth, and maintain physical distance.  For example, if a dad is rough-housing with his son. The son can say, “Stop Dad.” The dad will respond without withdrawing love or teasing. By giving children permission to disagree without losing love, we teach them to stand up for themselves.

Rite of  Passage: During the teenage years, parents get to see what kind of character has actually been built into their children. We want our young people to say no to bad influences. We want our tweens to assert a comfortable physical distance from someone who is getting too friendly. We want our teens to tell us the truth, even if we don’t like the answer.

2. Taking Responsibility for One’s Needs – Helping children identify their feelings so they can communicate emotions will serve them well. When kids can self-monitor what they need, then they can take the initiative to get it. Boundaries help kids define what their needs are and how it differs from the needs of others. The freedom of verbal expression allows kids to ask for something that may go against the grain. When young people initiate caretaking of themselves, they learn the power of self-sufficiency. They will grow into adults who are empowered instead of placing the burden of their needs on someone else.

 “We must allow children to experience the painful consequences of their own irresponsibility and mistakes.”

Throughout my childhood, we were given clear expectations. We were expected to do our best in school. The C+ in math was my best, not my strength. We were allowed the space to experience natural consequences to our choices that my parents’ didn’t shelter us from (e.g. cutting my own bangs way too short). Some bad choices meant we paid fines out of our savings account because we broke a rule. Other bad choices meant we did work-detail in the backyard in absolute silence for an hour.

We were not sheltered from the car accidents of drunk drivers. We knew there were real dangers out in the world and that our parents were training us to make good decisions. My dad told us every child-abduction that made the news as a reminder of what could happen when we don’t protect our personal safety and trust strangers. We were allowed to express our thoughts as long as we were respectful. We learned to persuade our parents to consider extending our boundaries by making a strong argument and addressing their concerns for our health and safety.  

My mom and dad’s parenting theme was to help me survive without them at 18 years old. Good discipline sets limits and delays gratification to teach responsibility. My parents’ role shifted from active parenting into adviser-guide as I transitioned into the passage of real adulthood. Parenting is an important job. Training children to become functioning members of society is challenging and emotionally uncomfortable. I learned tough lessons from gentle hands. I’m thankful my parents weren’t my “friend” during childhood so we can be friends now.

Reflect & Share: What boundaries did your parents have for you that served you well? What boundaries do you use on your own kids that is effective?

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