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I am Thankful and Grateful

By Step Jones, August 22, 2005 Recent Articles

I am grateful for what I have and I am thankful for what I am about ready to receive.

I am grateful that my five-year-old son is in good health, smiles and loves life. This morning at 5 am, he crawled into my bed and said, “Daddy I love you” as he snuggled closer and fell back to sleep.

I am grateful for my wife Marina, and the love that we have for each other.

I am grateful for the values that I have come to embrace in my life.

My son Chance and I went to the library last night and got his library card, and we then spent some time walking around and looking at all of the books. He was super-excited over the prospect that he was being a big boy and got to have the responsibility of borrowing books that he could take home. He picked out three books and we checked them out, and then went to dinner. He was so excited about the books that he couldn’t wait and started to read them in the car. After dinner we went home and read some more.

I had been talking about the library and how when he got old enough to have the responsibility that he could get his own card. He was as excited about this trip to the library he was for our trips to Legoland, Disneyland, and Magic Mountain (He loves the roller coasters, and he had me on The Ninja four times before I cried uncle, although I love the roller coasters too).

Chance is excited about going to Kindergarten in the fall, leaving his little school and going to the big school.

Chance is adopted, and we love him just as if he were born to us. While of course we would, some people just don’t understand. Some of our Russian friends don’t understand adoption- I guess it is seen as a bad thing in some cultures to people. I am not singling out Russians, it’s just that I have some experience with these particular cultural thoughts.

I have talked to him about being adopted. While he doesn’t understand the whole concept, Chance understands that he has a birth mother and he is different from other children, but is very special to us. Chance is our special responsibility in life and we love him.

We are bringing him up to have values, and are looking forward to the future. As a matter of fact, we had to go through tough prescreening to become adoptive parents. We had been planning for Chance for a long time . We are doing our best to see that he grows up healthy, happy, educated, and willing to explore and find what he will be good at in life. We want him to have a great adventure in his life.

Being parents is the most important thing that Marina and I do. It is the most important thing that we all do. I am thankful for having this future with Chance, which by the way was no chance at all.

How do we bring up children? And what is the right way? So many people I know are both grateful and thankful for how their children turned out, and how they perform in our society. It is one of the most important things in our individual lives and we all do it differently.

My wife is from the USSR, and over there whether you were able to move forward and have an apartment, enough to eat and enough to clothe yourself depended on how smart you were in school. Could you be a doctor or an engineer? Did you get top grades in school so you could continue in school and avoid working in the factories or the fields? Parents were laser-focused on school performance so that their children could have a better life than they had. At least the parents that cared had this kind of focus, and I think this is universal: some parents care about how their children are bought up, and some don’t care. Even more important is how they think and what they are thinking about themselves.

What is the best way to bring up a child in today’s society, and what will we be thankful and grateful for as our children grow up?

Marina found a school that is taught by Russians in the Russian way, and Chance has been going there since he was about 2 years old. Chance has had homework since he started. He also has structure and peer groups to deal with already in his young life. Some people would say that this is too much for a young child, and that children should stay attached to their parents for as long as possible. Of course, some parents don’t care because they are trying to make a living themselves, and they see their children as a burden instead of a gift and a joy. This is a sad state of affairs when your child is burden. Perhaps this is one of the benefits of adoption: children can go to where they can be cared for in society.

I don’t think it is a disgrace to give a child up for adoption, to someone who really cares for the future and well being of their child. Perhaps more people should consider adoption for their children.

Of course, going to school at a young age creates both problems and solutions for children moving ahead in life. One of the problems is that they find peer groups, even at that age, to be very powerful. I have spanked Chance twice in his life. Now, before you get out the pitchforks and torches to hunt me down, let me explain- I don’t think I would want to have my children have corporal punishment done by anyone other than me, and I am not sure I would want to spank Chance again. Although the threat is there of two possible crimes that he could commit.

Let me start off by saying that growing up in Indiana in the 50’s and 60’s, I was spanked by everyone who passed by. Teachers, other parents, and of course my father who used his fraternity paddle on me. Perhaps that is one of the reasons I didn’t pledge in college, and why my ass is so small today- as much as I loved my father, and I still do today, he did not spare the rod. My father would say this was good for me, and maybe it was.

But Chance has taken it on the bottom for two violations. One was for dissing his mother. When he was about 3 years old he came home one day from school and was being a wiseass. The kids at school had taught him how to spit on people, so he demonstrated this talent to my wife by saying something stupid and disrespectful and then showing off his new talent: he spit on her.

Perhaps it should have been a “time out,” but I calmed myself and instead told Chance I was going to spank him. Still all full of himself, he told me that I would never spank him, he was the Teflon baby and I loved him too much for me to ever think of spanking him (this is at 3 years old). I turned him over my knee and did the deed. He was shocked more than hurt, and tears ran down his little cheeks. I then gave him a “time out” in his room. He got hit with the double penalty. And I am sure he felt worse than I did.

He shows his mother respect now, and if he goes off track he gets back on it with very little corrective action on my part.

The other time Chance and I had a moment with corporal punishment was when he came home from school about six months later. He had gotten into trouble at school- he did some silly things, and the teacher called Marina and complained about his behavior. Marina was upset (there is a waiting line at this school, and the prospect of Chance being thrown out at 3 was putting her in a bit of a spat) and she called me. I went home, split them apart and asked what had happened. Of course, I had been fully briefed several times by my wife as to what was going on (he was leading the bad behavior- I told my wife this was good news, since he was showing leadership qualities, but she was not amused). So I sat Chance down and asked him what had happened.

Chance flat out lied to me. What a surprise. I told him I knew the truth, and would he like to try again? He came up with another lie. What a surprise. I told him he would get a “time out” for bad behavior in school if he told me the truth, but that if he lied to me he would get a spanking. He lied, I spanked, and he got a “time out” also. He got the old double penalty again.

That was the last time I have used corporal punishment on Chance. Now he is very careful to tell me the truth, and says things like, “Honest Daddy, that is the truth” as I question him. I have discovered he continues to tell me the truth and he doesn’t get punished. He gets wisdom from me and of course he doesn’t get the more severe penalty of spanking.

So now it is out of the box- I have told the truth about spanking my son twice in his life and why I did it. There are people who will say I didn’t have to do that, that he might be scarred for life, that it is the wrong way to bring up a child, and perhaps I should be horse-whipped. Too late, I already have been. I would not want corporal punishment wished on any child, but perhaps there is a time in child development. I don’t know; I am not a doctor- just a parent trying to do his best.

I am grateful and thankful that I have this chance to bring up a child in this crazy society. I can make a difference in the life of my child Chance.

My way is not the only way to raise a child; there are many theories in this world on how to raise a child. I am not an expert in child-raising. I do not have a degree in psychology; I am but a humble philosopher, hopefully one of reason. And while I know that reason doesn’t always sell, that is what we are selling here.

It sells with my son; he came up to me last week and asked me if I could teach him philosophy so that when a teacher asked him about philosophy in the big school he would know the answer. His wish, my command: philosophy for a five year old is now open.

We spend most of our time on Success Philosophy, and very little on Plato’s cave or Aristotle’s dialectic, but we are moving forward and it is never too late.

We talk about values, and how one chooses a value. We talk about self-talk and self-image, and how when you do something good it improves who you are. We talk about being positive and about what choices we have in life, and how we have the opportunity to be better in life.

We talk about what I think are very important things. One of the things Chance said to me last night as I put him in bed was, “Daddy life is good.” Yes Chance, it is.

We talk about things that he does that are in the bad behavior mode, and how we can correct this behavior and be able to let it go, to start new. This is perhaps one of the the most important things that we talk about; I don’t want him to harbor bad feelings about himself. Some children will harbor bad feelings about themselves over things that are done and in the past unless someone is willing to talk to them and share with them that the past is the past, and that we now can forgive ourselves and move forward doing the right thing. Just because you were something some time ago doesn’t mean that you have be that same thing now. You can give up the past, learn from your mistakes and your failures, and move on in the adventure of life. It is critical to be able to leave the past behind and move forward. Otherwise, you continue to have negative self-talk that creates a negative self-image. And that is truly unhealthy for young children and adults alike.

In the book “Suicide and Attempted Suicide Among Children and Adolescents”, author Keith Hawton notes that children will commit suicide because of external factors. Adults, on the other hand, will commit suicide because of internal factors such as hopelessness and despair in life.

What are these external factors that would cause children to take their lives? We don’t know everything and we can’t say there is one reason or another, but we do have clues. Certainly there are children that need professional help that don’t or can’t get it. There is still a stigma about going to get help from a professional, and there are not enough places that parents can get help at a price that they can afford. Although at least now there are certainly many more places where people can get help than there used to be. Many clinics that are supported by the community have risen since the 70’s and continue to grow.

What is going on in their relationships at home, or in school

Keith Hawton goes on to say that there are four features that are common among children who make suicide attempts: broken homes, family psychiatric disorder, family suicidal behavior, and childhood maltreatment.

This could affect you, and of course it could affect me- which is why I talk to Chance about what is going on in his mind and try to support him with a philosophy that can ground him in his life.

At Life Motivations we have created a complete success program that can be used by both children and adults to talk about the things that are going on in life and how they affect us. It shows us how we can mount these challenges by understanding the philosophy of personal achievement and development. Philosophy of Life is the beginning of how and why we live our lives and is as important as getting professional help when it is needed. According to a United Kingdom study of a Doctor Shaffer, Antisocial symptoms such as bullying, stealing, or truancy had a high risk factor of almost 50% of the suicides that the doctor studied. Grounding children in the philosophy of success is critical- helping them to understand the choices and changes that go on in life, with attitudes, self-image, the pictures of our world in our own heads (mental models) as well as understand that failure is temporary. Life changes, and both adults and children need to understandthat change and choice, the adventure in life, is ongoing. That bad behavior, things that we feel guilty about, do not need to be harbored by us forever. You can and must forgive yourself.

It is estimated that at some time in their lives, over 50% of adults will need professional help to get through a crisis. What about our children? Why would we be embarrassed to seek professional help for our children and ourselves? Are we too close to the situation to see it for what it is? How many of our children at one time or another will need professional help to get them through a time of need, when a philosophy of life will not be enough? But we need this philosophy in our families, in our schools and in our community as we grow as an advanced society, where sometimes our technology and relationships change so fast and so dramatically.

The philosophy of why and how we should live our lives is an important part of life.

What values do we impart in the children of today? And what values should we teach? How about we start with what is important in life and how we can accomplish things that would be good for ourselves, our families and our society. In my book “Ordinary to Extraordinary” I talk about how we can create values for ourselves so that we can live a life that we plan. This is essential for success. These values are for us now, in today’s world, and are important for us to live better, more fulfilled, and happier lives.

I am both grateful and thankful for my family and how we put the pieces of life together. Am I the perfect father? No. The perfect husband? No. But I care enough to try my best understanding of the philosophy of life that I care so much about.

I have structure and values as to where I am going in life. I carry over these characteristics and goals to my business. Success is the accomplishment of something important to you in life, so what is important to you?

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