Affirm your children. Expressing praise may or may not come naturally to you, but it’s important. Affirmation from Dad plays a big role in shaping a child’s self-confidence and attitude. So here is a checklist which gives you 7 ways to affirm your child:
#1: Hug your kids every day: Hugs build bonds and foster a sense of security and comfort. (Research says there are health benefits to hugs too!) If you don’t live with your kids full-time, make sure they get hugs every time you see them.
#2: Say “I love you” every day: Sure, your kids know, hopefully, you love them. You demonstrate it every day by what you do for them. But hearing the words makes a difference. Say it when you praise them or after disciplining them; but say it! And say it often!
#3: Compliment your kids at least three times each week: Think of three things to compliment each child on. Maybe it’s their appearance, improvement in a certain area, their interaction with a sibling or praising a character trait they demonstrate.
#4: Ask your kids one way you can improve as a Dad: They’ll appreciate you valuing their opinion and you’ll set an example of humility. Then, if the suggestion is accurate, act on their feedback.
#5: Say “thanks” often: Even in the busyness of juggling the family’s schedule and daily needs, find things to say thanks to your kids. Thank them for doing their chores, sharing with their siblings, or just being awesome in general.
#6: Show excitement to see your kids when you come home: Make coming home a big deal. Intentionally greet your kids. Seeing them is the highlight of your day – show it!
#7: Surprise them – do something nice or give them a gift/treat: You don’t have to wait for birthdays or special occasions to surprise your kids. It doesn’t have to be pricey – pick up ice cream for dessert or leave a funny note on their bed.
How did you do? Please remember that affirmations from you, Dad, play a big role in shaping your child’s self-confidence and attitude toward themselves and the world. Listen to these 2-minute podcasts to review the 7 ways you can affirm your child. Part One and Part Two
This week takes us into the lives of those who have experienced what it means to have cancer. Each day one of them shares some words we can say or things we can do to give them encouragement and hope.
- How can we care for a person with cancer? Ask Important Questions! Ask, “How are you, today?” and also ask, “What’s going to be the hard part for you?” Be sincere and show them that what they are going through is important to you. Listen to a 2-minute podcast here.
- How can we care for a person with cancer? Tell them you’re coming over …. Then visit them. Be creative with special treats and conversations that will brighten their days. Even if they say they don’t need anything, that’s when they will most appreciate that you are there. Listen here for more about what you can do.
- How can we care for a person with cancer? Talk with them out of a compassionate heart. Do not say things like “You don’t look sick.” “Cancer is a gift.” “God has his purposes for giving you cancer.” Instead, you might say, “I can’t even begin to imagine what it is like for you?” “I know that you are hurting, and I really care about that. If you want to talk about it, I’ll listen.” This 2-minute podcast has more on this topic – “Do not say…”
- How can we care for a person with cancer? Be there! Don’t avoid your friend because they have a serious illness. Go visit them in person and stay awhile. While you’re there, be in the moment with them. Do you have 2 minutes? Listen to a podcast here.
- How can we care for a person with cancer? Say, “May I go with you?” Put aside your own schedule for the day. You will be doing the most important thing –the thing that Jesus would do ….caring for someone who is alone and struggling. Listen to a 2-minute podcast here.
I’ve often been asked that question. “How do I become a compassionate caregiver when my spouse was unexpectedly and suddenly diagnosed with cancer?” Or maybe it’s another serious illness and a loved one is thrust into the roll of caregiver overnight.
I recently received this email from someone who experienced that very thing right after becoming a new father. Let’s have him tell his story. There’s a link to a 3 minute video that further describes their plight.
I came across your blog and really identified with a lot of your writing. My name is Cameron and I was thrown into the role of caregiver when my wife, Heather, was diagnosed with a very rare and deadly cancer called mesothelioma, just three months after the birth of our only child. We were initially told that she could have less than 15 months to live, but she was able to defy the odds, and eventually beat the cancer.
During her treatment, I had to learn quickly to be an effective caregiver, and there were many times when I became overwhelmed and beaten down by the role, but we managed to fight through it together. We recently participated in a short video about my wife’s cancer experience, which we hope to use to raise awareness and support for people fighting illness and the caregivers who fight alongside them.
I was wondering if you would be interested in sharing this video on your blog? I’d love to share our message of hope with your readers
Here is the link to Cameron and Heather’s video.
Praying is having a conversation with God—just as if God was sitting across the counter from you. But sometimes my mind wanders. . .sometimes it seems that I just say the same things over and over. A prayer model which I really like is the ACTS prayer: The acronym stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. Here is the pattern:
Adoration: As we spend time in adoration, we acknowledge and praise God for who God is and what God does. So this morning I said, “Dear gracious God –you are my creator, my friend, my guide – you are faithful, forgiving, you are my rock.” So start by praising God with words from your heart that describe why you adore your God.
Confession: 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and will forgive us our sins.” This part of prayer is to name those things we have done which were harmful to our relationship with God, harmful to others or harmful to ourselves. So this morning, I said: “Please forgive me for I have neglected a friend who is alone, lonely and ill. I have not spent time reading your word. I have been eating too much junk food.”
If you cannot think of any sins which you have committed, just be quiet and listen and the Holy Spirit will reveal areas in your life that are not pleasing to God. Part of confessing the sin is to change –to repent- to turn in a new direction—an active move on your part to no longer indulge in that particular sin.
Thanksgiving: “In everything give thanks.” 1 Thess. 5:18 Thanksgiving allows us to thank God for what God has done for us, and through us, right now.
“Thank you for the beautiful day, that I have meaningful work to do, for my health, for my husband, my children and grandchildren.” Potentially, this part of the prayer could be very long. Also remember to include little wonderful touches which God adds to our lives like: clean water to drink, electricity supply we can depend on, a surplus of food in our refrigerator, hot showers, etc.
Supplication: Philippians 4:6: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” In this part of the prayer we ask God to meet the needs of ourselves and others.
Pray for others. “Please be with a grandchild who is in a challenging time and needs to make good choices.”
Pray for world issues. “I am concerned about the people of Haiti and the break-out of chorea. What should I do?” It is good to remember that prayer is a way of connecting with God; so that, God can empower us to take “action.”
Pray for your own needs. “Dear God, I continue to struggle with making good food choices. Help me O Lord.”
May this ACTS prayer be helpful to you as you connect with God in prayer.
Remember it is also important to be quiet and listen because God may have a definite response to your thoughts and words. For example: I prayed this morning, “Help me make better food choices.” A few minutes later the question came, “What will you do today about your bad food choices? What action? What will you do about the cholera outbreak in Haiti?
Remember that the purpose of prayer is to connect us with God so that we can be empowered by God. . .empowered to know what to do and then to do it.
Try the ACTS prayer. Amen
If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all. – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Providing hope to someone whose days are dark with worry or who is suffering with a serious illness is also giving them courage and the vitality to keep moving. What are some things we can do to bring that touch of hope?
- When you’re with the person, tell them when you will be returning so they can anticipate the next time you’ll be together.
- If you’re aware of an expected visitor, remind the person that someone special is planning to visit. You could even put it on their calendar.
- Promise to call them at a designated time each day or week (and be sure to do it).
- When visiting in person, leave 7 tiny surprise packages – with instructions to open one after dinner each night. Each evening ends with inspired hope.
- Give them a goal to work toward or invite them to attend an event.
- Mail cards with notes of encouragement and hope inside regularly.
- Write out and post messages of hope from the Bible around the person’s home
All of these are little ways to give people a bit of joy on a dark day. To give them something to look forward to – a touch of hope.
To hear more about providing hope to someone who is suffering and to hear examples of how I’ve used some of these suggestions in my own care giving, listen to my radio show on the same topic.
I know that it is important to write a note to a grieving person. I want to write a note, but I often procrastinate and don’t write it because I do not know what to say. Please give me some advice on writing a note to a grieving person.
I do not have an ironclad formula that must be followed when writing a note; however, I will share with you my “3 Rs of Writing a Condolence Note:
#1 – BE REAL
#2 – RECALL
#3 – REMIND
#1 BE REAL: As you reach out, admit your honest feelings. If the news stunned you, say so. If you are overwhelmed with pity and compassion, admit it. So recently in writing a note to Connie, I said, “When we heard of Hal’s death we felt so sad.” That’s how I felt, so that’s what I wrote.
#2 RECALL: Recall an important event or memory or fun bit of wisdom you learned from the deceased, and use the deceased’s name. For example, I said, “I remember years ago when you and Hal were in my Bethel Bible class. I can still see you sitting in the back right hand corner of the room. You were so faithful and I often thought, “What a dedicated couple – to the class, and to each other.”” So I was recalling a memory.
#3 REMIND: Remind the person you are writing to that they are still valued, and loved by you and by others and by God. So I said in conclusion to Connie, “Whenever I think of you I see a beautiful woman with a lovely smile which lights up a room or any other place where she is. May all your memories continue to bring a smile to your heart and to the world.”
My “3 –Rs:” BE REAL, RECALL, REMIND May these be helpful as you reach out to write a note. God bless.
As caregivers we are often tempted to rush in with a quick fix when someone is grieving. You can’t fix it. When a person has lost someone or something important, he or she grieves, and grief is a process which takes time—lots of time. Offering advice in the forms of clichés and quick fixes may make you feel more at ease, but that’s not the object
- “Everything will be just fine.”
- “I understand. . .”
- “Be strong.” Or “You are a strong person.”
- “Tomorrow will be a brighter day.”
- “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
- “Win some. Lose Some.”
- “You’ve got to pull yourself together.”
- “This too shall pass.”
- “You know what the Bible says . . . .”
- “What do you think that God is trying to teach you through this situation?”
- “All things work together for good to those who love God.”
- “When God closes one door, he opens another.”
- “You’re a strong Christian person.”
- “Try to look on the bright side.”
- “Count your blessings.”
- “My uncle had the same disease and . . .”
- “You look great.” (Implying that the person should also feel great.)
- “Well, here’s what I think you should do. . . .”
- “God doesn’t promise us a rose garden.”
- Depending on the situation, asking:“Was he wearing a helmet?” “Was she wearing a seat belt?” “Did he smoke?”
- “I know it hurts but…”
It is helpful to remember that as caregivers, we can’t fix another person’s suffering. So don’t try. However, we can be there and encourage the person to talk about his or her conflicts and struggles and feelings.
Please leave your thoughts and comments on this topic below. Do you have a caregiving question? Ask Karen!
What do you say in a funeral line? I am assuming you are thinking of the time of visitation at a funeral home. You are in this long line, and you are wondering what to say when your finally reach the individuals who are grieving the death of a loved one?
First, it is helpful to remember if you are in a line at a funeral home, you are already doing the most important gesture of caring. You may be uncomfortable, but you are there.
Ok but what do you say when you are face-to-face with the grieving person. I have found it helpful to follow these four basics. First, mention your name and your connection to the deceased person. We need to remember that the grieving persons are under a lot of stress and may not remember who you are: They may wonder where do I know this person from–is she from work or church or did I go on a mission trip with her to Chiapas? For example, to the son of the deceased woman, I would say, “Hi, (I might hold his hand) My name is Karen Mulder and your mother Margie and I were roommates in college.” Now I have done 3 things that may be helpful to the son;
(1) Introduced myself (2) Told my connection to his mother (3) I used the deceased person’s name
Then I could (4) express simply my sympathy by saying:”I am so sorry about the death of your mother.” or “I can’t even imagine how sad or lonely or devastated you must be.”
And then if it seems appropriate and natural I would; (5) include a incident, story or an admirable quality about the deceased person, So I might say, “Your mother was a very kind and considerate person. I remember one time when when I failed an important exam and I was devastated. Your mom dropped what she was doing and took me out for a huge hot fudge sundae. I know lots of other fun stories about your mom; so call me sometime and we will get together for coffee and I will tell you some great stories.”
If you do not know the deceased, look at the pictures of her or his life display. Then you could mention something you saw in the pictures or maybe you have a question. “I saw in the pictures Margie helping in a primitive looking hospital. Where was she and what was she doing?” That may generate some conversation and give the son a chance to tell about his mothers work in developing countries.
So in summary:
- Introduce yourself
- Tell your connection to the deceased
- Use the deceased person’s name
- Express your sympathy*
- Optional: Share a memory or story or special attribute about the person.
*For more suggestions on what to say in specific situations consider looking at these posts: Death of Spouse, Death by Miscarriage, Death of Child, Death of Parent, Relative or Friend, Death by Suicide.
Please send your questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
I asked a friend, Nancy, to respond to this question and also to describe some of her daily challenges:
The “uneventful everyday” is a mixed blessing when caring for a person with a chronic illness, in my case caring for a person with Parkinson ’s disease (PD). One person described living with PD was like trying to drive with the brakes on. Imagine that. A light went on for me as I thought about that. I know about tremor, slowness, stiffness, freezing. I’ve experienced these in helping my husband to dress and move. But, this little insight helped me to “put myself in his shoes”. Can you imagine the energy it takes to “motate” your body with the “brakes on”? So, it’s a good thing if there are no falls, no bathroom accidents, no spills while eating, no calls in the night for help in the bathroom or turning in bed, long periods of day-time sleep, or other such events.
On the other hand, life has become more limited. I don’t mean being without something to do because there is always something to be done in “life maintenance”. But, much of the spontaneity is lost, for caregiver and the person being cared for. No quick trips anywhere without thinking ahead and planning. That’s the kind of “uneventful” that can lead to decreased energy, dissatisfaction, and weariness; and often to burnout, abuse, and depression.
When folks ask me how I’m doing, which I usually appreciate, I often respond, “Weary but well”. This week I gained another insight into my “weariness”, as I read an article by Sr. Joan Chittister called Who are the People Who Were Waiting for Pope Francis? She wrote of how weary and hopeless people, waiting for the Church (Catholic hierarchy) to hear their concerns, were feeling. This quote struck me: “The problem is that weariness is far worse than anger….. Weariness comes from a soul whose hope has been disappointed one time too many. To be weary is not a condition of the body — that’s tiredness. No, weariness is a condition of the heart that has lost the energy to care anymore.” I certainly have not lost the energy to care, but I do experience “lost energy”.
So how does one cope with this long “waiting” and disappointment, knowing there is no “getting better”, knowing we both have limitations we never expected? Listening and looking for insights, such as I mentioned above, and incorporating them, helps my understanding of what I am experiencing. Grieving the losses and disappointments, naming them, celebrating what has been, and finding new avenues of discovery and challenge, help to shift the status quo. We may never take another trip overseas, but we can watch the travel channel and remember places we’ve been, or share with friends the adventures they experience(d).
While my spouse is in an exercise class for folks with PD, I try to exercise, which helps to restore some of my energy. This Winter I put out a couple of jigsaw puzzles. I work at it a little at a time between other daily work. It’s a bit of respite in the midst of the day. What fun to see the picture emerge and feel a sense of accomplishment. Early morning is “sacred space” for me. I like the solitude. With the clean dishes put away and the coffee perking, I read a brief devotional and pray, asking for patience and a positive attitude as I move into the day.
Everyone copes differently. For me it is the little “me” times I make time for during the day.
How do I know if my mom has Alzheimer’s disease? What are some of the early signs of this disease?
Good question, Betty. Many people, including myself, want to know what signs to look for. For wisdom on this subject I went to wonderful resource, Coach Broyles’ Playbook for Alzheimer’s Caregivers. Frank Broyles, is Athletic Director Emeritus for the University of Arkansas Razorbacks. His wife, Barbara, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Frank says, “I had many questions and spent a lot of time looking for answers. What I learned is contained in my book, Playbook for Alzheimer’s Caregivers.”
One of the first topics which Coach Broyles deals with in his book is what signs to look for.
Frank says, the first signs are that your loved one will:
* Misplace her keys or put her glasses in an unusual place.
* Look up a recipe, but not be able to follow it.
* Start something and forget to finish it.
* Have a hard time keeping up with tasks she has done every day of her adult life.
* Another clue may be if your loved one stops doing things she has always enjoyed, such as:
-Meeting friends to play cards or bingo
-Helping out at church
-Leaving the house by herself to shop or visit friends
Many people don’t know they should see a doctor when they see some of these
signs. This is tragic because there are drugs your doctor can prescribe that will
slow down how quickly Alzheimer’s disease causes damage in the brain.
The one thing that usually gets families to the doctor is when their loved one gets lost coming home from work or the store. This is very common. When this happens, your loved one may begin to worry about the other things she is having a hard time doing. She may:
*Begin to limit how much she is around other people
*Become sad or draw into herself
*Stop doing things she has loved to do all of her life
*Stop talking to you
This is a good time to see a doctor and find out what is going on.
Coach Broyles cautions that, “Some family doctors don’t have the extra training needed to find the cause of your loved one’s memory loss. They may say it is just “old age” and “you should not worry about it.” Please don’t stop there. It takes a doctor with special training to find the cause of memory loss. There may be doctors with this training in your area. Your local Alzheimer’s Association chapter can help you:”
Web site: http://caregiversunited.com/
24-hour helpline: 800-272-3900
As I mentioned, the above information is from a wonderful resource, Coach Broyles’ Playbook for Alzheimer’s Caregivers.
This Playbook is available nationwide, free of charge, to anyone wanting information on how to care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease.
Playbook on the Web: http://caregiversunited.com/playbook
Thank you Coach Broyles for sharing your wisdom with us.