Do you have a child, or do you RAISE one?

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childpicParenting has two parts. The two parts are two different things. There’s the first part of parenting; the act of ‘becoming’ a parent, where you actually created a child, the child was born, and now you are either a Mother or Father in name only. The second part of parenting, the more committed part, is where parenting isn’t about the simpleness of claiming the title of such a privilege, but the act of loving and caring for the child day in and day out. Even a parent who doesn’t live with their child should know and understand that an emotionally connected parent is the one engaged in their child’s life enough to promote the child earning respect for them. An absent parent = absent respect. A child learns more about their parent’s values by being around the parent.  A parent who is actively engaged in their child’s life, learns about their child’s intentions, and is in a position to guide, support, and mentor the child with the end goal being raising and developing a responsible, kind, confident, and stable adult that strives to succeed in life to their fullest potential. The responsibility for this development shouldn’t be left to only one parent; but all too often, it unfortunately is. Some divorced parents use the excuse that their child never calls them, or reaches out to them. It is not the responsibility of a child (a young, sensitive, undeveloped mind, with an undeveloped level of people skills and maturity) to reach out to a parent; quite the contrary. It is the responsibility of each parent, regardless of a living situation, to reach out to their child, on a regular basis to create and build a strong relationship. It is not the child’s responsibility to be the only initiator for staying in contact or to plan to spend time together.

According to Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2009, a report released by the U.S. Census Bureau every two years (and most recently in December 2011), there are approximately 13.7 million single parents in the United States today, and those parents are responsible for raising 22 million children.

Single parenting doesn’t always mean that only one parent is raising a child. Many cases of divorced or unmarried parents are co-parenting together, meaning that they both share in the responsibility of teaching, mentoring, disciplining, supporting, encouraging, and paying for the child’s needs. Some of the co-parenting arrangements still involve one parent paying support to the primary custodial parent, while some parents choose to have no child support, but split the child’s costs. There are some children who actually live in two homes; they split their time between both parent’s houses. There are judges in the US that are beginning to award the child support be directly deposited into a child’s bank account, versus being paid directly to the primary custodial parents account when a child is a certain age, and the parent’s income is substantial for this scenario to be beneficial for the child (usually a teenager). But, while money is necessary for raising a child, emotional connections from BOTH parents are more important. If a child grows up feeling loved and supported by both parents, it creates strong trust in their own relationships. A child may not remember the tennis shoes a parent bought them on their 9th birthday, but they will definitely remember if one parent didn’t come to their party to celebrate. A child may not be affected by who pays for their car insurance while they are in high school or college; but you can be rest assured, they will remember if their parent supported them by spending time with them teaching them how to drive. A child may not recall how parents split the cost or didn’t share in paying for braces, but they will surely remember who dives them to their monthly appointments and takes them to the drug store for the supplies, and talks with them about dental care, and idea’s to implement for relieving pain. In all of these common scenarios, it is ‘time’, ‘attention’, and ‘helpfulness’ to a child that instills a strong relationship between a parent and a child.

There is a saying that has been posted about parenting that hits a home run in my opinion, on conveying the difficult task of preparing a child for their future. This quote sums up almost all of what a parents job really is, beyond making a child feel loved, of course.

theroad~Our job as parents is to prepare our children for the road…

not prepare the road for our children.~

It is a difficult task to be in the constant care of a child which involves maintaining organization, scheduling, food preparation, medical attention, discipline, schooling issues, social intervention, teaching, mentoring, hygiene, extracurricular activities, and spiritual guidance. If only one parent is handling these tasks, it means that a child is only getting influenced by that one parent’s perspectives. Even if two people are no longer living together as parents, the child still deserves to know and be encouraged about all of their life’s many twists and turns from both parents.

In many cases, a parent who is ‘not’ the primary custodial parent (the parent the child lives with full-time) feels that sending a child support check, and calling occasionally, is being a parent. News Flash!! Money isn’t what a child needs emotionally. Money is not where a child learns kindness, or patience, or how to talk to an adult with respect. Money doesn’t instill confidence, nor does it reinforce certain values and principles that often get pushed aside because parents are too busy. Values, like loving your neighbor as you love yourself; or the golden rule, treating others the way you would want to be treated are reinforced when a child has both parents guiding them on a regular basis. And if only one parent is trying desperately to persuade a child towards loving and honoring God, but another parent doesn’t engage in the child’s life enough to demonstrate their spiritual walk, how will a child learn the importance of the most important relationship in all of life, connecting to their heavenly Father? And here’s an amazing point: How will a child learn- that maybe, the primary parents perspective may be a little ‘off’ if they don’t have a differing perspective from their own blood-line to compare it to?

Too many non-custodial parents are viewing their young child’s life as they would a friend; they believe the relationship is a 50/50 exchange. If the 50/50 exchange was what marriage counted on; everyone would be divorced. If the 50/50 belief (you give this relationship 50%, and I’ll give this relationship 50%) were what all friendships counted on, there would be far fewer friendships in this world! The truth is, young children didn’t ask to be part of split families. They did not ‘choose’ to have both parents living in two different places. They are not thinking of their family relationships as something they have to invest in. Children and teens are naturally focused on themselves. All children are consumed with playing, school, friendships, and extracurricular (sports, gaming, clubs, social media, etc) It isn’t psychologically in a child’s mind to think like an adult with a thought that might be like this: “Oh yeah, haven’t made plans with Grandma & Grandpa in a while, I should call them and get on their calendar.”…..

The most important thing a parent can ever do for their child, (regardless of ANY living arrangement, regardless of geographical locations, regardless of income, regardless of the support payments or non-payments, regardless of any issue between the non-married parental figures) is to show love, show up, show support, show encouragement, show that you are engaged in their life, show that you’re interested in their life by being there with them. Show them you will be there IN PERSON to guide them along their journey as they develop their own values, their own passions.

~Our children are learning how to be the future parents by our actions; which will be developing our grandchildren.~

In the case of Parental Alienation…

Wikipedia: Parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is a term coined by child psychiatrist Richard Gardner, and introduced in his 1985 paper,[1] to describe a suite of distinctive behaviors he argued were shown by children who have been psychologically manipulated into showing unwarranted fear, disrespect or hostility towards a parent and/or other family members – typically, by the other parent and during child custody disputes.[1][2]

…it is VITAL divorcing parents research the after-effects of this tragedy) the targeted, alienated parent must continue to pray, reach out with love, and be patient, allowing God to embrace the children with truth and the courage around the child to reunite with the lost parent. In no way, should a parent lose hope, or be angry; children can not be held responsible for estranging themselves, when they were led (either passively or deliberately) to shun a parent in their life; especially when no abuse, neglect, nor abandonment was present.

Parents shouldn’t just be a distant figure the child hears from every now and then; a real parent shows up LIVE, and IN PERSON, next to their child on a regular basis, talking to them, looking them in the eye, spending quality TIME with them, demonstrating their perspectives about life.  An engaged parent is the one a child can depend on in happy times of celebration and in sad times of defeat. Our children need both parents. Children don’t deserve to be deprived of the two people in their life that are the sole responsible parties for their development, the support, the encouragement, the love, and the installation of life’s important lessons. The most important life lesson being…..learning how YOU connect to God and how you live out YOUR life in Faith and not fear. Children learn what they see, not what they hear. 

For more relationship or parenting advice, follow this blog! Visit annalisaotoole.com for more info on Life Coaching. For ordering audio downloads, or to learn about an upcoming debuting PODCAST, The Ask Annalisa Show, available beginning June 1st: visit: www.askannalisa.com. 

 

 

 

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Why do “I” …need Personal Growth?

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“I am who I am”, Heard yourself say that? Or, “I’m just me. No one can expect me to change.” Some of us feel we are fine. We are emotionally healthy. There are hints that life can throw us to know we are kidding ourselves!! Here’s the reality, while setting our personal boundaries is vital to good relationships and creating balance and peace, there are definite times in our lives we need to stop, look within, evaluate our choices and actions to possibly consider tweaking some things. Clues to needing to exit on a new path of personal growth are easy to detect- if your conscious. Here are a few clues:

–People stop listening to you and often become distracted.
–You can not get into or have trouble staying in a committed relationship.
–You do not have a passion, hobby, or strong creative interest in your life outside friends, family and/or a lover(s).
–There is constant drama around you.
Ok…so if any of the criteria above holds true in your life, here are 10 ways to come into massive personal growth –so you can begin to enjoy life! Experience peace. Create balance and harmonious relationships.
1. Read or listen to the audio versions of a personal self help book. I recommend Joel Osteen’s “YOUR BEST LIFE NOW” to start. Or, “THE MAJIC OF THINKING BIG”
2. Surround yourself with people who are where you most want to be in life, emotionally, career wise, spiritually and intellectually.
3. Evaluate who you talk to most. What goes in (your brain) comes out. Make sure people you are close to are not negative, whiney, energy draining, and crisis oriented. Choose positive people who speak life, givers who do for others, people who support your goals, and love their life.
4. If someone walks away from you- Let it be. Let go. Move forward. They may come back in a different season, but for now, you just work on you -to be your very best.
5. Love and forgive yourself. The past is over. Your future is so bright, you’re going to need shades!! Read Jer.29:11
6. You are designing your life. Your thoughts are creating your mood. Your mood inhibits or prohibits your actions. Your actions are developing your life’s journey! So, adjust your thoughts to what you desire with a positive expectation; so deeply believing that all resources and opportunities are aligning to make this a reality even as you read this!! Remember this too: Anxiety happens when our minds are affixed on past or future things. Be mindful of this present moment, be grateful and count your blessings…you will feel anxiousness subside the more you begin to dwell in the “now”.
7. Live and let live. Don’t be needy or clingy to other people. Find your niche’. Discover your calling. This makes you an interesting person. People want to be around people who have fun. People are drawn to those who have enthusiasm! Don’t have unnecessary expectations of others. Let the little stuff roll. Life is too short to get bent over things that won’t matter in 5 years.
8. Understand this: IT IS A HUGE MISTAKE TO MAKE ANOTHER PERSON YOUR WORLD. No one is responsible for your happiness, except you. You should be creating a life that is fulfilling, fun, enriched with activities and opportunities that don’t always involve the love of your life.
9. Trust your inner compass. Go with that gut feeling! This is God within you saying YES or No! If it just doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Know the difference between feeling fear or feeling hesitant.
10. Work on self discovery. Just because you have a physical attraction to someone doesn’t mean you are meant to be and will live happily ever after. Your values must match. People need similar priorities and goals or there will be constant resistance.
Decide your career path. Choose your retirement location. Develop your dream. Work on a project that serves someone or something that helps them in some way! Make a list of your “must haves” in a relationship so you have clarity on what you want, and most importantly, your personal red flags!

In careers, love relationships, family relationships and friendships…we should NEVER let our need for affirmation, affection or attention be so strong that we stay involved, but sacrificing our deeper beliefs and values.
Make 2015 your beginning of a massive personal growth journey! Remember, it’s up to YOU…to make ALL your days great!

For more Self-empowerment, dating or marriage coaching, contact LifeCoach, Relationship specialist, Inspiring Speaker, Annalisa O’Toole
678-431-6528
@coachannalisa /twitter
lifecoachannalisa@gmail /email

Annalisa O’Toole, Life Coach, Relationship Specialist, Inspirational Speaker http://www.annalisaotoole.com

Happy Valentines Day…but…I want to break up…

IMG_20140725_073621Here’s the hardest reality for some people on Valentines Day: Pretending to celebrate a Love, that in their heart of hearts, has evaporated.  Yet, due to the hurt it may cause their love, they do not want to express their true feelings, before Valentines, during Valentines, or shortly afterwards. The pain of having to conform to a day where lovers exchange gifts, and words of gratitude and passion can be excruciating. Many people love their partner but don’t feel IN LOVE.  It leads to thoughts like, “what is ‘IN LOVE” mean, really? “Can true love even exist?”- “Is finding a soul mate even possible?” Sometimes the hurt of breaking up can be devastating, even if you are the one wanting to call it off. Many times, the other person didn’t do anything wrong, but you aren’t feelin’ it anymore.  When this happens, it is such an ordeal when you know you are going to break someones heart. You dread dealing with the crying, the text messages, the constant questions. You’re to the point of visualizing an interrogation of disastrous proportions!! Maybe though, You’re not wanting the break up, but someone has or is trying to…break up with you.

Here’s an amazingly positive thought. What if breaking up could be perceived as a LOVING gesture? Breaking up could actually be a GIFT!  Let’s examine how this can be true, even for the broken hearted receiver from the ‘breaker-upper’.

First of all, here are some of the feelings breaker-uppers usually have. They feel like they need space. They feel they need to disconnect, not necessarily for actions they dislike about their partner, but rather, actions they want to experience without being in an exclusive relationship. Some people want to break the constant communication, checking in, the assumed ‘together time’ on the weekends, and it’s not always about being interested in someone else. Breaker-uppers sometimes want out of feeling trapped. Or maybe, they haven’t felt independent in so long, they need more time to discover more about themselves.  Some breaker-upper’s have a gut feeling, an intuition that is leading them toward being solo –for no apparent reason, just feels right to transition there. And for some, the red flags of the relationship or the other person are just too much to continue. There are different value systems and priorities that become apparent after being with someone for a while, (after the infatuation stage wears off, which can be a year up to 7 years!) and the person didn’t do anything wrong like cheat, or defy their loyalty or respect, but one person just realizes the differences are too vast to remain compatible.  There is the case where the breaker-upper ‘changes’ in their values or priorities, and the relationship isn’t flowing like it once did when choices and decisions were made around different activities and perspectives. Also, there are people who are shy about speaking up in a new relationship to honor their deeper preferences, and then when they become stronger in expressing what they really want, this becomes foreign to their partner, and causes conflict.

Whatever the situation is, breaking up is always a hard thing to do. However, if you look at yourself, look deep within yourself, it really doesn’t matter if you are being broken up with, or you’re the one breaking up — IT IS STILL A GIFT and let me tell you why.  If the other person is ‘doubtful’ of their feelings, or needs more time to evaluate their individuality — PRAISE GOD for this!!! Would you want someone to stay with you otherwise? If you did, you are selfish. The best relationships are the ones where two individually healthy people team up, speak up, live it up, and love up life – together.  If your partner is breaking up, they are giving you the gift of freedom. Freedom to evaluate ‘your own life’ – (while they evaluate theirs!) and freedom of time to explore your passions, experience life without being on a team for a while. It can be WONDERFUL!  And think of this, they are actually giving you the most UNSELFISH gift. The gift of TRUTH. They are being honest with their feelings.  it would be dishonest to hide those feelings on Valentine’s, offering you rose pedals, bouquets, chocolate, and sex, but their heart is wanting out.

I’ve never understood the ‘anger’ people have when someone breaks up. I don’t want to be with anyone who doesn’t want me. The ‘wanting me’ is a major part of why I want them!!  I value myself. I love myself. I love my life. I like my personality. I like my career. I love my friends and family. If someone else doesn’t value me, ALL the qualities about me, even my short comings, then WHY would I beg, cry, ask a million questions, and even spend any time worrying over their decision of leaving me? I wouldn’t. No one gets that kind of  power over me. Sadness? Yes, it’s OK to be sad. But only for a moment. Some need longer moments than others.  But if you look at a break-up as a gift, a gift the other person gave YOU, and gave their self, you can take this punch a little stronger.

Also, Breaking up is an act of service and kindness. Why? Because it speaks volumes for the breaker-upper’s deeper character. They are being true to self. They are able to express a feeling; they are not afraid to risk a future friendship, or love, because they are honoring their inner sense of knowing. They are trusting a gut feeling, or their inner compass. They could be following God’s will, and/or, their inner sense of caution. While to most, a break-up is horrible, and viewed as depressing, and unkind; to healthy people, it is an act of real love for self, and for their soon to be -former lover.

“IF YOU LOVE SOMETHING, LET IT GO, IF IT’S MEANT TO BE IT WILL COME BACK TO YOU”

Another positive approach to a breakup, is to look at it as a way to know, evaluate, or gauge if the relationship is TRULY meant to be, truly intimate, and truly what you want for the rest of your life. How could you determine this if there has never been a time you could venture into thinking for yourself, deciding individually for yourself, or freedom to develop your own ideas, your own goals. If you have ALWAYS been a team, and you feel shorted by not having independance with life’s ups and downs, it is HEALTHY to break up to go through a discovery process. This type of break up sends a positive message- that you aren’t rejecting your lover, but rather, you are in need of space from being exclusive, and all that exclusivity has involved during your relationship.There is a big difference!

So, if you are contemplating a break-up, or someone is breaking up with you, look at this as a positive transitional time in your life of God’s favor. It is a blessing of time. It is a gift in kindness. It is a chance to personally grow. It is a breather. It is a freedom opportunity to discover more about yourself. It is a healthy time for you to develop personally. It is a break from dual-choices, into the liberating feeling of independent thinking. It can provide time and space for personal reflection, contemplation, and setting values or goals into motion.

BREAKING UP is…(not hard to do)…but rather, a non-selfish, act of honest, loving kindness. Accept or give the gift without worry of hurt, but with compassion for a positive future for both people. Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is not boastful. Love is not jealous or self serving. Love does not keep a record of wrongs. Love does not anger, but comforts. Love serves. Love never fails. 1 Cor. 14:4-8, and some additions- by your’s truly. : )

Happy Breaking up this Valentines day. I sincerely wish you have found hope and faith in what the world views as a hardship; as a renewal time, an amazing gift, and one of the most sincerest acts of kindness within all that Love embraces.

~Life Coach, Relationship Specialist, Inspirational Speaker,

Annalisa O’Toole

For more relationship advice, dating, marriage, or divorce coaching or support, or counsel…

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