Posted in Family, Parenting, raising kids, Teen

The Time I met A Sociopath

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week. I’ve changed the beginning of my latest WIP and now I suspect I’m going to have to rewrite the story.  Oy!  But it’ll be worth it in the long run because the story will be better, grittier. That’s my hope anyway.

But enough about that. Today I’d like to talk about a new friend who has entered the group my son hangs out with. He’s a smart little guy who we’ll call Damien (not his real name). Right from the beginning hubby and I thought there was something off about Damien. He’d call and ask my son if he could come over and spend the night. My oldest would ask us and we’d say, “Sure. Why not. Have his parents drop him off after four.”

My oldest would inevitably return and say, “His parents prefer that you pick him up.”

Well. We thought maybe there was something going on in the family where they weren’t able to drop him off, so the first time we obliged and picked him up.  However, this started to become a pattern, and we noticed other things too. Damien could tell real whoppers. I’ve never heard a kid lie with such ease. Hubby and I started discussing how something wasn’t quite right about this kid.

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We were perplexed, but we didn’t want to tell our oldest about our misgivings until we had more evidence than just a weird vibe.  A few weeks later, I happened to chat with one of the parents of another friend. We’ll call him Mitchell. Mitchell’s dad had seven hundred dollars’ worth of X-box games charged to his credit card. It wasn’t done all at once, but at times when Mitchell was with him (Mitchell’s parents are divorced), and he believes Damien must have somehow gotten his credit card number because Mitchel would ask before he’d charge anything to his dad’s card. Mitchell’s dad also went on to say that Mitchell had thirty five dollars in his piggy bank and the money had mysteriously disappeared.  Later that day,  Damien pulls a wad of bills out of his pocket states, “I want to buy Mitch a game.”

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Damien flaunted his cash in front of Mitch’s dad. Now, the dad’s totally suspicious but he has no proof so he doesn’t say anything to the kid. After I heard this story, alarm bells went off in my head. I shared this info with my boss who shook his head and said, “That’s sociopathic tendencies right there.”

Click here to see what Sociopathic tendencies are: Sociopathic Tendencies

I totally freaked because my mind immediately goes to serial killer.

 

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When I got home from work that night I shared this info with my hubby and after doing a little research, we sat down with our oldest and explained why we wanted him to distance himself from Damien. I listed the characteristics of the sociopathic personality and my son listened and he agreed with quite a few of them, especially the one about lying.

My son has distanced himself from Damien, he’s still in the group of boys he eats lunch with, but that’s the only interaction they have together. He doesn’t come over to spend the night anymore. Phew! Crisis averted!

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I can see this kid when he’s older getting caught doing something illegal. Maybe he goes to a store and steals something. I can see him blaming it on his companion without feeling any guilt.  Sociopaths have no moral compass and that’s bad news for anyone who ends up being friends with them.

It’s fodder for a story, because as you know real life is stranger than fiction, but it’s also another example of why parents need to be involved in their kids’ lives. If we hadn’t been, this situation could’ve escalated into something irreversible.

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Sociopaths are among us. Most of them haven’t suffered child abuse or been neglected so there’s no way to tell who they are until you get to know them. Your child doesn’t have the life experience to understand the consequences of hanging out with someone like this, and the sociopath is manipulative. He can easily gain control in the relationship.

I’m still shocked I’ve seen one in action at such a young age. Sorry. I’m not a psychologist, but I totally feel this kid is one. To what degree, I can’t say, but I know he’s heading down the wrong road. Luckily,  my son won’t be travelling with him.

How about you? How do you handle it when one of your kids brings home someone who’s headed down the wrong road? Does your child listen or does he defend the kid? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

 

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Posted in Family, raising kids

The Opportunity Costs of Life Decisions

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. As I watched the Olympics the other day, I started thinking about all the sacrifices these athletes make to compete in the games, and that started me thinking about opportunity costs and life decisions. What is opportunity cost?

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The definition is:

The loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen.

Opportunity cost is why some people become paralyzed when making a decision.  They’ve got so many options available to them they can’t decide which one is the best.  So, how do we make these choices and hopefully not regret the choice we’ve made?

Well, first of all, you have to decide how to measure the value of each alternative. This is where it gets sticky. Because how do we measure the value? Is it by how much money we’re going to make with a choice? Is it by how we’ll be remembered by family and friends? Is it by the instant gratification the choice will give us?

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The answers to these questions are deeply personal and can only be answered by each individual. There is no blanket answer for any of us, but here’s how I make most of my major decisions and maybe it’ll help you with yours.

I look at how I want to be remembered. Yes. I know it’s kind of morbid, but I think about what people might say at my funeral. Do I want them to talk about how I worked so hard I never saw my family? Or do I want them to say, how I was an inspiration to my kids, and how I helped provide for both their emotional and physical needs? Do I want to be remembered as someone who created a showpiece of a home, or someone who wasn’t too hung up on what people thought if my house was messy?

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When I ask myself these questions. It puts things into perspective. I don’t want my kids growing up thinking that what other people think is more important that their own opinion, so I have to live that way myself. I want my kids to have good memories of their childhood and not live in an environment where they can’t build forts or make brownies because I’m hung up on what a mess it’ll be. Because of this, I have to deal with people occasionally seeing a messy house.

I can deal with that. The joy on my kids’ faces when they build a huge fort is worth the cost of people thinking I’m a bad housekeeper. I am bad. There’s no mistake about it. I don’t enjoy cleaning. I’d rather be writing. So we’ve got clutter.

But I digress. By looking at how I want to be remembered, I was able to make that decision to stay home with my kids and feel good about it. There are times when I’ve had doubts because staying home meant I’d have to make sacrifices.  I’ve sacrificed all the income I would’ve brought into the home if I worked instead. This was a huge opportunity cost of my decision, and made the choice hard because security for me and my family is also important to me.

So loss of income was a huge cost of my decision, but what about the gains? The gains are important because they offset the costs. This is where deciding what we value comes into play. What I’ve gained from staying home is a great relationship with my kids. I don’t know about you, but the value of that is priceless. I can’t put a number on it.

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I’ve also got well-adjusted kids (knocks on wood). They don’t have behavioral issues because I was able to focus on teaching them how to handle their emotions like frustration and anger. I get compliments from their teachers all the time. They tell me they wished they had a whole classroom full of my boys. I’ve even gotten these compliments from teachers who haven’t had my kids. They’ve just witnessed my boys being kind and considerate to their classmates. Now, my goal wasn’t to receive pats on the back from my kids’ teachers (although it is a great feeling when they say things like this). It was to raise healthy well-adjusted humans. So, when their teachers make these comments I know I’m on the right track and again that gain is priceless.

 

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Please understand I’m not saying a working mom can’t raise well-adjusted kids. All I’m saying is that staying home worked for me and it was worth the opportunity costs. 🙂

So there you have it. That’s how I make the major decisions in my life. How about you? What are your opportunity costs? How do you make your decisions? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Family, Parenting, raising kids

Teaching Children They Deserve Respect

 

Write. Share. Give.

 

Hello everyone! I hope all is well with you. I’m back with another Slice of Life Post and today I want to touch on something that all kids need to learn. They need to learn they deserve respect.

 

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This is one of the things I worry about while I’m in the process of raising two boys. We’re very good at telling them they need to respect adults, their friends, and family members, but I think as parents we forget our kids are also entitled to receive respect.

 

This is one of the reasons I believe bullying is such a problem.

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 Teaching our children they have value even if they don’t have a lot of life experience,  is one of the keys to building self-esteem. How do we do this? That is a very good question and I’m so glad you asked.

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We do this by asking their opinions. By asking them to help make family decisions. Recently, my husband and I were car shopping, and we brought the boys along. When we test drove a car, we asked them how they felt about it. We really listened to their input. This is one of the key ways to teach them how to not only articulate their opinions, but also how to negotiate for what they want. Important life skills, don’t you agree?

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Another way we can teach our kids they deserve respect is for us, parents, to respect them when they reach out to us. Don’t brush off their concerns or worries because we’ve got bigger problems to contend with. We have to be patient and realize whatever our child is dealing with, it’s probably a brand new experience and he needs help on how to handle it.

All kids grow at their own pace, we as parents need to respect that pace. Whether it’s fast enough for us or not. Because at this point, it is all about them, isn’t it?

We need to teach our kids to recognize disrespect for what it is and not react to it, to not let it damage their self-esteem. A fast recovery from these slights is important for our kids to have a more fulfilling life, wouldn’t you agree?

So how do you teach your child to handle disrespect? I struggled with this one because I have a hard time with this myself. I always think of a great come back five hours later. I shouldn’t even be thinking about the incident five hours later! But I digress.

It depends on the situation, but I’ve found that the best way to deal with this is to use “I” messages.

“I feel disrespected when you talk to me in that tone of voice.”

No one disrepects a lion, right?

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The reason I think “I” messages are important is because it doesn’t put the bully on the defensive. Your child isn’t saying anything about him. He’s communicating his feelings. Whereas if his response were:

“You’re being mean to me.”

Then the bully will argue. You’re child and the antagonizer will get into a debate on whether or not he is being mean, and then there won’t be a satisfactory conclusion to the confrontation.

In the first scenario, it opens up an opportunity for your child and the bully to come to an understanding and maybe even become closer. That’s what we’re trying to do, isn’t it? Become closer? To have a better understanding of our peers and have mutual respect for each other?

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. If you have any ideas, I’d love to read them. Leave a comment! I love hearing from you!

 

Thanks to the Two Writing Teachers for creating The Slice of Life! If you’d like to read other Slice of Life Posts click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Family, Health, raising kids

What Cancer has Taught Me

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you! It has been a while since I’ve posted on my blog. Sorry about that, but I’ve been busy with surgery, vacations, and the kidlets! I’ve also had trouble finding a topic. It seems that I’ve written either a guest post or a post for my own blog on just about everything. 🙂 (I know that’s not true, but it feels that way.)

Then it hit me. I could write about what cancer has taught me. I know. Another post about cancer, but it’s a good one. I promise. (Insert sincere smile here.) When I was younger and working in the competitive environment of insurance sales and something or someone would bother me. I used to ask myself this question. “If I found out I had cancer, would this particular incident upset me?” Surprisingly, the answer was always. “No.” In that instance, I would put the episode behind me and focus on what I needed to accomplish for that day. I tried hard not to wallow in negative emotions. Although, sometimes I did. 🙂 I am a work in progress, after all.

It’s quite ironic I was diagnosed twenty years later with cancer. Does that make me psychic? 😉

Anyway, it’s funny what cancer teaches you. That’s right. There’s a positive side to having cancer. It wakes you up. It gives you clarity. For example, I struggled with being a stay at home mom. Working has always given me a sense of accomplishment and self-worth. For moms who work hard for those teachable moments with their kids while battling the mountain of laundry that seems to come with them, there’s no crowd cheering you on. There’s no award at the end of the day. There’s no real recognition from your peers, which means the sense of accomplishment gets a bit muddled sometimes. Especially when you’re trying to teach your child patience and they choose to scream their little heads off instead of learning it. 🙂  Cancer has taught me that I don’t need any special recognition from my peers. I just need and appreciate the bond I have with my kids.

Cancer has opened my eyes to the little things in everyday life that I may not have appreciated fully or may have even take for granted. Things I would have missed if I had been working full time. For example, those little conversations I have with my boys at odd hours of the day. Are transformers fiction or non-fiction? Is Texas bigger than Michigan? Is a Tyrannosaurus Rex bigger than our house?

Tyrannosaurus Rex Drawing - Tyrannosaurus Rex Fine Art Print

Another example is a hug. Something as simple as a hug can have a huge impact on someone’s day. When I drop my boys off to school, I hug them and tell them I love them. In fact, I do this every time I leave the house and they don’t come with me. I’ve practiced this ever since they were babies. I know this sounds weird or even a little fatalistic, but I always thought, “What if I get in a car accident on the way home?” I want my boys’ last memory of me to be a hug and my last words to be “I love you.” Surviving cancer has taught me that I’m on the right track. Now, I hug more often and tell my boys I’m proud of them and that I’m glad they’re in my life. I believe kids need to hear that sometimes.

Believe it or not, conventional business theory states that there are ...

I always tried to live my life as if each day was my last, so it would be a worthwhile day. I practiced this as much as I could, but now after cancer I’m even better at it. Now, I don’t oscillate between the two pillars of I should be working and I should be home with the kids. I know where I’m supposed to be.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today. Please leave a comment or ask a question! I’d love to hear from you!