F i v e s o m e

F i v e s o m e

Thursday, May 19, 2016

4th Grade is Over - Don't Panic, Make the Best of This Time!

Our fifth child, our youngest, is reaching the end of  the most beautiful school year: 4th grade -  where everything is magic, where they see their teachers and parents as super powerful and super heroes, where they feel the absolute security that everything around them is under control, that there is no need to be afraid, no need for money, no secrets kept, pure and absolute innocence and truthfulness. 

Fifth grade will be full of physical and hormonal changes, full of challenges, transitions. Girls will begin to be mean to each other, they will start with their little clicks, their friends will start hiding things, testing their power, feelings will be hurt, they will start to show inclination to like some kids more than others. 

To all our friends and readers with kids finishing 4th grade these days:

Enjoy time together, enjoy playing together, enjoy this last summer of pure innocence and joy,  of being a kid at its full potential and welcome the next stage in their lives.

Keep feeding them the healthiest foods and instilling the best habits, big ideas, hope, positive thoughts and an optimistic way of seeing life.  Keep guiding them on what is right and what is wrong,  let them help you when you cook or do chores, let them participate in all you do, make sure you know they know they are very important members in your family. 

 Good luck!

Monday, February 29, 2016

Helping Our Children Find Mr. or Ms. Right - Part 3: Warning Signs!

Recently, I went to a fantastic talk about dating and marriage, given by my friend Pilar L.
She made a great case about educating our children on the warning signs that they have to be on the lookout for when they are dating. These warning signs are caused by underlying issues that our sons or daughters are not equipped or be able to fix or resolve;  issues that will most likely require professional assistance.

These are some of the warning signs that they (and us!) have to be on the lookout for and what we should tell our kids in each case:

- Addictions. Any type of addiction like gambling, drinking, drugs, pornography; they are illnesses and require professional help.  A 17 or 21 or 26 year old  simply cannot not pull out another 17, 21 or 26 year old from an addiction. It is not his or her job to do it!
"The best that you can do is to end the relationship right away, no matter how painful it is. It is a fact that your boyfriend's or girlfriend's addiction will always come first, before them, their interest, and is not because that person doesn't love them, it is because he or she can't help it. Life is to short! Move on!"
- Disrespectful behavior. Bad language, bad words, bad behavior, propensity to get into fights, shows a pattern of disrespectful conduct that will most likely turn into worse behavior as life goes on. "You deserve a person that respects everybody and you in particular. If they don't respect others, they will most likely disrespect you."
- Lack of commitment and indecision.  A girl or guy that starts with low self esteem that is evident in their lack of commitment, can't choose, can't take responsibilities for their actions. "You need a committed, decisive person by your side, that will help you and help you steer of your life and that of your children, you have to have a clear common North, guiding your own life on the right path to achieving your goals."
- The problematic person. There are people that always seem to have problems around them. Problems at school, problems at home, problems at work. That person needs to find a center in his/her own life to be able to form a partnership with another person. It is his/her time to seek professional help, fix his or her problem and move on. It is not your son or daughter's responsibility to fix something that she/him lacks the knowledge and time to do. "Life is to short to be dealing with their problems and trying to build a relationship... move on!"
- The controlling type. You know, the one that limits your freedom up to the point that you can't breath. "They are very dangerous, because they start with little things and, little by little, get to the point where he/she has to tell you what to wear, where to go, who your friends are, everything. He/she pulls you away from your family and friends, because his or her insecurities. Run away from these people. You cannot live in fear, there is no need or time for that."

...more soon!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Helping Our Children Find Mr. or Ms. Right - Part 2

[This is the second installment in a series of posts (you can see Part 1 here) based on great ideas, thoughts and inspirations we have read and collected on dating and that we have been trying to transmit to our teenagers and young adults since their pre-teen years]

Another couple of short speeches to be dosed out and repeated with prudence, but insistently and age appropriately:

"God has chosen who will be the perfect match for you since the beginning of time. He or she already exists, there is a mom and a dad preparing him or her for you. You will start dating soon and you should aim to find the one,  that only one, the one chosen for you."

"There are a lot of great people that you have met and that you will meet: fun, smart, gentle and kind; everybody has something that maybe catches your attention. In all cases you should always ask: Is this one the right one for me?  There is only one that will be the best fit for you, that matches your style, your upbringing, your values, that makes you laugh, that gives you joy, that brings you peace. Pay attention and aim as high as you can. You deserve the best of the best, so don't settle!"

More later...

Friday, January 29, 2016

Helping Our Children Find Mr. or Ms. Right - Part 1

Some of our children have gone through high school and are now in college, and for a few years now we have been hearing: "Mom, I have a boyfriend" or "Dad,  I have a girlfriend." 

The first time we heard these words, our world stopped. We started asking ourselves if our kids knew what they were getting into; how important this step was in their process to becoming great adults, parents, husbands and wives. Did we teach them well to choose the right partner in life; the one with whom they will have a great, fun adventure, for the rest of their lives?

This is the first in a series of posts of our short speeches, based on great ideas, thoughts and inspirations we have read and collected on dating, that we have been trying to transmit to our teenagers and young adults, since they were in their pre-teen years.

We hope they are useful for you too.

-  "Dating is the most important (long or short term) job interview of your life. It is a process that if done correctly,  will lead you to choosing the person with whom you will want to spend the rest of your life; a person that will be the perfect mother or father for your children."

- "Since dating will lead you to make the most important decision of your life, it cannot involve only your hormones. You really need to use your head, your heart, your instincts, and pay a lot of attention to the warning signs that will tell you  "this one might not be the Mr. or Ms. Right for me."

More on the next post... 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Social Emotional Learning = Character Building

It was my turn to give a small talk yesterday to a group of moms about teaching virtues to our children. To prepare, I went back to my notes on a talk on virtues that I heard at our kids' school a couple of years ago, where a non Christian speaker who gave the talk, mentioned how much easier it was to teach Social and Emotional Learning in Christian schools than in any other school, because these schools made an emphasis on teaching virtues.  

"Social and Emotional Learning", she said,"... is the process through which children and adults acquire the knowledge, attitudes and skills they need to recognize and manage their emotions, demonstrate caring and concern for others, establish positive relationships, make responsible decisions, and handle challenging situations constructively"

I call that: character building.

The virtues needed to build character are: friendship, teamwork, honesty, responsibility, problem solving, respect, kindness, fairness, self-control and compassion. 

The speaker at our school went on to mention that teaching and reenforcing these virtues to school children have had the following positive effects in the short term:
  • Improved class attendance
  • Positive attitude towards learning
  • Less children expelled from school
  • Up to 14 percentile point improvement on standardized tests
  • 11% higher GPAs
  • Improved team work and participation
  • Better concentration, among many others.
All these empirical and anecdotical results make perfect sense; they show that if you practice raising kids focusing your teaching objectives towards improving good habits and virtues, our children will have a solid foundation to live cheerful, successful lives and help others while doing it.

This is a daily effort and a life-long undertaking. Let's keep on doing it! Good luck!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Living the Virtue of Poverty

We just finished packing and sending 130 backpacks that we have collected as donations for poor school children in Venezuela. They are part of an ongoing project (Instagram: #donatubultoytulonchera) to provide young poor children with school supplies. It is great to see the many generous people in South Florida that have helped.

Living the virtue of Poverty has nothing to do with living in poverty. It means using everything we own with care, not throwing away things that are no longer trendy or are just old. It means sewing buttons on shirts, repairing shoes, instead of throwing them in the trash.

Coming from South America, where many things tend to be scarce, perhaps practicing this virtue is easier than in the US:  the land of abundance, where it is so easy to buy new stuff that we may or may not need.  It is no wonder that the US is the most generous country in the world in absolute terms when it comes to donations, but we can do much better. We can teach our children (and remind them constantly) to take care and repair what they own, making sure that they don't throw away what they can donate to the most needy.