Divorce Doesn’t Include a Teen’s Graduation

With the large number of divorces, brings a lot of new situations in life especially if you have children. Hopefully, when you and your spouse divorced it was done in a civil manner and the children were not put in the middle of the divorce. This is the ideal situation, however, we do not always get the ideal situation. Very often divorces are high conflict and the two of you argue over everything and anything. Usually in these high conflict divorces, the children are put in the middle and used as weapons. The children feel they have to choose between their mother and their father. This is a very sad situation.
This conflict usually interferes with visitations and holidays. Parents argue about pick up and drop off times, how long they have the children for holidays and there is often arguments about can a child bring toys or clothes from Dad’s house to Mom’s house. In short, parents argue about everything and the children become sick and tired of the arguing.
The other factor that adds to this is grandparents saying negative things about the ex wife or ex-husband. This only increases the pressure and stress the children are dealing with after a divorce.

The final stressor is when one or both parents remarry or have a long term boyfriend or girlfriend. Then the arguments about she is not my child’s mother or he is not my child’s father and I don’t want them involved in my child’s life. Also a new girlfriend or boyfriend can cause teens to argue with their parents because they want their parents back together.

In short in a high conflict divorce, children live in a war zone. They become use to arguing about everything and often feel they must choose sides. At times some children do choose sides hoping to end the fighting or because they are so confused.
This type of divorce creates a great deal of issues for children and I cannot cover all the issues in this blog. I would need a book to cover all the issues.
Most the time, teens become sick and tired of the fighting and wish that their parents would stop fighting so they could at least not have to worry about what will cause the next argument.
Graduation is one of those issues. Parents will often start arguing about issues such as, “I paid for everything you needed for high school and now he wants to come.” Or “if your mother shows up, after everything she has done, I won’t be in the same room as her.” And of course there is always the issue of “he better not bring her to my child’s graduation.” What is a teen to do?
They have spent the last four years working very hard in high school and graduation is a day for them to celebrate their accomplishment. They also usually want the people who they love and care about to be there with them to celebrate their accomplishment. However, how does this happen when Mom and Dad and grandparents are stating their terms about how graduation will be because of the divorce.

Your teenager did not get divorced. You and your spouse divorced and even though you are no longer married, you are both still parents for your teenager and you need to act like parents. This means putting aside all your feeling and issues so your teenager can truly celebrate their day, their graduation. Most parents have told their teens to stop being selfish and to think about someone else. Well isn’t it time that you followed your own advice. Stop thinking about yourselves and your divorce and think about your teenager and how you can make your teen’s graduation a happy day for them.

What you need to do is you and your ex spouse sit down together or email each other and discuss how the two of you can put your issues on hold one day so your teen can have a happy graduation. The two of you need to talk with grandparents and other extended family and inform them what will be allowed and what will not. This doesn’t mean you have to act like best friends. You simply need to be civil. If you don’t think you can sit next to each other at the graduation, then one of you sits on the left and one sits on the right. You don’t have to have a joint party either. You can decide to have separate parties. The key is communicating with each other before the graduation and decide how you can do it civilly. This will be the best graduation present that you can give your teenager. If you can allow them to have their graduation day to celebrate their accomplishment without having to worry about what fight will there be. You are also teaching them a lesson about love, being parents and relationships.
The most important thing to do is remember this is a celebration. So let your teen celebrate and allow yourselves to celebrate with your teenager as their mother and father. Remember the divorce ended your marriage not your relationship together as parents

How Children React to Divorce

Parents say all the time that they are waiting for their children to graduate high school before they divorce. The belief is that divorce hurts children for life. This is not true. Of course every child has difficulties adjusting to a divorce, but it does not ruin their lives. What ruins a child’s life is how their parents act prior to or after the divorce.
I have had many children say to me, “I wish my mom and dad would get a divorce.” Often children are exposed to domestic violence, the issue of a parent having an alcohol or drug problem or emotional abuse between the parents. The children have to listen night after night to their parents fight. This is not good for a child. Most children never tell anyone outside the house because they are embarrassed or afraid that their parents will get mad.

This type of environment will have negative affects on the child as they grow up and when they are adults. The child learns not to trust so forming relationships is difficult and they also tend to associate relationships with emotional pain so they tend to avoid them.

Another common issue that creates problems for children is if their parents decide to divorce. The divorce is not the problem. The problem is how the parents decide to divorce. Some parents decide to make their divorce a war and their primary weapon are the children. The parents make the child feel like they have to choose between mom and dad. This is an impossible choice for a child. Some parents tell their children everything that is happening in Court. A child is not emotionally or cognitively ready to handle this information. As a result many children act out. It is usually the only option the child sees. They are afraid to say anything because dad or mom might get mad. The child is often too embarrassed to say anything because they know their parents are acting immaturely so they say nothing. Again this situation causes children to act out and to be afraid of relationships when they are older or not sure how to have a healthy relationship .
If a marriage or a relationship is not working and if the parents can decide to end the marriage in a healthy adult manner, there should be no long term effects on the children. A healthy adult manner means being civil to each other and not using the children as weapons. Remember you can always decide to divorce each other, but that doesn’t mean you stop being parents together. Because the two of you have children together, you have to deal with each other for the rest of your lives. You don’t stop being a parent when a child turns 18. There will be weddings, grandchildren and holidays. So if you don’t want a divorce to have a negative impact on your child, then the two of you need to act like mature adults. This means being civil to each other during the divorce and after. You cannot stop being parents together – remember that fact.

Are 6th Graders Ready for Sex?

Would you give a boy in the 6th grade a condom? San Francisco Unified School District is now going to provide 6th graders with condoms. Students need to talk to a school counselor first, but the fact is the District is giving condoms to kids in middle school.

Why are they considering this move? They are considering this move because research is showing that teens are becoming sexually active at younger and younger ages. It is not uncommon for kids in the 6th grade to be sexually active. Research studies show 5% of 6th graders are already having sexual intercourse. This is not taking into account oral sex. When I work with middle school and high school students these days I need to ask are you sexually active? I also need to ask are you having oral sex? I often hear yes to oral sex and I am told but that is not sex. When I ask what it is I am told we are just messing around. Many middle school kids equate oral sex with kissing. This is not reality.

I understand that the San Francisco Schools are trying to protect their students, but I don’t think this is the best way to do it. From my experience working with teens, they usually start thinking about birth control after they are all ready sexually active. Also how much information can be provided in one 30 minute talk. The kids would be told how to use a condom but no one would be discussing the emotional issues involved with sex. Also no one would be asking the child are they ready for this step and are they prepared if the girl gets pregnant.

If we want to keep our children safe then we need to stop making sex such a forbidden subject. The kids need classes in 4th and 5th grade which explain in detail what different sexual acts are and the risk they are taking even if they use a condom. For 6th graders to think oral sex is the same as kissing is crazy. It is also crazy why we are saying don’t have sex society is telling boys if you want to be a man you can’t be a virgin and girls are told if you want a boyfriend you have to give him sex.

Also we need parents not to be so shy about talking to their kids about sex. You cannot wait until they start High School anymore. By then it’s too late. Sex should be something you discuss with them from preschool on. Of course not going into details talking at an age appropriate manner. Start educating them about their bodies. If a child sees you are not embarrassed or ashamed they will be more likely to ask you questions before they do something. If parents act like sex is something to be ashamed about they won’t ask their parents questions.

Also parents you must start the conversation. Many parents tell me they will discuss it with their child when he asks questions until then they will wait. I have teens telling me they won’t ask their parents because it’s too odd talking to their parents about sex. If they don’t ask an adult they are going to learn by trail and error. I have become very good at discussing the subject because many parents tell their teen to ask me. Yes they are getting the information, but they really prefer talking to their parents. I often encourage teens to try talking to their parents explaining that their parents feel just as awkward as they do, but the embarrassment will pass.

The main problems I see with the school handing a 6th grader a condom there is no one really discussing with the child are they really ready to be sexually active. There is responsibility that goes along with it. You can still catch an STD using a condom so the 6th grader needs to tell their primary care doctor they are sexually active. A girl can still get pregnant using a condom. Are the boy and girl prepared for this situation if it occurs. This is a huge decision to make and I don’t think a 6th grader is mature enough to make it. Also 6th graders are not always paying attention so they may not know how to use a condom appropriately.

Yes it is shocking that 6th graders are having sex. I think a better way to handle the issue is to look at what we are teaching them in the movies, television shows and video games they are watching and playing. Sex is not a game and we are treating it like a game. This doesn’t help kids in 6th grade. We need real sex education in school and at home.

In therapy often boys will tell me they think they are ready for sex. I ask them are you sure this is the girl you want to have your first time with? I also remind them they only have one first time. I also ask are they ready for the emotions that go along with sex? The biggest one I ask is are you prepared to handle if she gets pregnant? Condoms are not a 100% guarantee. The question that always gets me is when they ask how they can get a condom? I tell them you can buy them at any drug store. I often hear I would be too embarrassed to go buy condoms. My response is if you are too embarrassed to by them then in my opinion you are not emotionally ready for sex. In my opinion handing 6th graders condoms will result in more teens being sexually active who are not emotionally ready to be sexually active. We need to think about that point.

Parents you also need to let your child know they can discuss sex with you. May be you may not agree with them about their opinions, but they can talk with you and don’t have to be afraid of getting into trouble. The main reason I hear from teens about why they don’t talk to their parents is they are afraid their parents will get mad, they will get a lecture and get into trouble.

I don’t think anyone feels a 6th grader is ready for sex, but it happening every day. If we are going to do what is best for kids we need to help them feel safe to discuss sex with us. If we don’t the consequences can be severe for everyone involved.

Dr. Michael Rubino has over 18 years experience working with teens in middle and high school and is considered an expert in this area. For more information about Dr. Rubino and his work visit his website at http://www.rcs-ca.com or visit his Facebook page at facebook.com/drrubino3 or on Twitter @RubinoTherapy.

Ending Teenage Violence

Alive & Free is a very good program from teens. The goal is to eliminate violence from their lives and teach them to respect themselves and others. I have been working with Alive & Free for 17 years and find it very powerful with teens. I am also on the National Board of Alive & Free and Dr. Joseph Marshall is the founder. Below is how Dr. Marshall explains the program.

Alive & Free believes that every young person has the potential to succeed. Bright futures are possible for all of our youth, but it’s easy to get off-track. Sadly, violence – which spreads like a disease in our communities – locks up that potential and leaves young people incarcerated or worse–dead.

At the heart of the Alive & Free Prescription is the notion that violence is a social disease with an explicit treatment process. Like a disease, it is transmitted by the germs of bad information, bad instruction, bad advice, and bad examples that to young people appear to be good. Youth are exposed to these “germs” via their families, peers and neighborhoods; through music, television, video games and movies. The disease appears as techniques for survival known as “game” or “street smarts” when in fact the opposite is true. Infected youth believe they are getting information to live by when in fact they are getting information to die by.

The “Alive & Free Prescription” works to change beliefs, attitudes, values and actions that promote violence. Alive & Free identifies and addresses the symptomatic thinking that puts young people at risk (Commandments of Violence), the actions that put young people at risk for violence (Risk Factors), the feelings and emotions that contribute to violent behavior (Emotional Residue of Anger, Fear, and Pain), and the Rules for Living that promote positive lifestyle choices. Young people who learn the Alive & Free prescription also have a new set of life skills to make choices that help them go to college, succeed in life, and give back to their communities.

The Prescription to End Violence Step 1

The Prescription Step 1: Deprogram Thinking
We have identified a specific set of rules or ‘commandments’ that lead to violence. These Commandments of Violence are:

Thou shalt not snitch
Thou shalt handle thy business
Thou shalt do why thy gotta do
Thou shalt get girls / a man
Thou shalt not be no punk
Thou shalt get thy respect
Thou shalt get thy money on
Thou shalt put in work
Thou shalt carry a gun for protection
Thou shalt recruit
Thou shalt be down for thy set/hood/crew
Thou shalt be down for thy homies right or wrong
The Prescription to End Violence Step 2

The Prescription Step 2: Eliminate Risk Factors
There are 9 Risk Factors which we have identified as being associated with violent behavior. Like the risk factors associated with heart disease, there is one risk factor over which the individual may have no control (unhealthy family and/or environment). We call this one a “given.” Although this risk factor is listed, we do not dwell on it. Instead, we choose to work on the risk factors over which we have control. By eliminating the ones within our control, we indirectly impact the one that is outside of our control. Risk factors for becoming infected the disease of violence are: the use of destructive language, use of guns, drugs and/or alcohol, negative view of women, an “I don’t care” attitude, fear-based relationships (fearships), and material values over people.

The Prescription to End Violence Step 3

The Prescription Step 3: Deal with Emotional Residue
Dealing with Emotional Residue (ANGER-FEAR-PAIN) is, perhaps, the most delicate step in the process for it touches on individual sensitivities. It is, however, an essential step in the process since one’s behavior manifests his/her method of dealing with these sensitive emotions.

Techniques/Process of Dealing with Anger-Fear-Pain

Show them the mirror
Provide examples through the use of media, film, and literature
Facilitate active discussion and listening to one another
Personal testimony
Discussion / Ask questions, such as:
What makes you angry?
What goes on inside of you when you get angry?
What do you do when you get angry?
Written expression
Journal entries for self-reflection
The Prescription to End Violence Step 4

The Prescription Step 4: Introduce New Mindset
Rule #1 is that there is nothing more valuable than an individual’s life. This rule establishes an agreement that all human lives are of utmost value, and we all want to stay alive and free. The next rule states that a friend will never lead you to danger. True friends look out for our best interests, and it is best to let go of unhealthy friendships in order to look out for your own well-being. Third, change begins with the individual. If you want things to change, you have to start with yourself first. You have a personal responsibility to change your own circumstances. Lastly, respect comes from within. If you respect yourself, no one can disrespect you…. And if no one can disrespect you, then you retain your power over yourself. Take the Prescription and become immune to the disease of violence.

– See more at: http://stayaliveandfree.org/about/the-prescription-to-end-violence-and-change-lives/?utm_content=bufferd74b7&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer#sthash.LNrfhP6N.dpuf

Dr. Michael Rubino has been working with teens to help improve their lives and futures for over 18 years. For more information about Dr. Rubino’s work visit http://www.rcs-ca.com

Why Teens Need Love Not Juvenille Hall

It seems that many adults do not really understand what children want from adults. It also seems from what I have seen and heard that many adults do not understand that children are not bad. Children are not born bad, we make them bad by how we treat them. Yes you do have children with loving parents and families who make very poor choices in their lives. As a result, they end up in jail or hurting people. However, these are the rare cases.

The most important relationships in a child’s life is his/her relationship with his/her parents. A child wants love and to feel wanted by their parents. Parents are a child’s safety net. As long as Mom and Dad are okay then they are okay. If their parents are not okay, then a child’s safety and life is in danger. Children cannot tolerate this fear. Therefore, if their parents have a problem instead of seeing their parents with problems a child changes the situation so their parents are great and the child is bad.

I have seen this many times with foster children. Their parents are usually great people and Social Services are being mean to their parents. They can be living is the best foster home in the world and if you ask them if they want to return to their natural parents, they say yes. They are desperate for that validation from their parents.

The problem is many parents do not know how to express love to their children because they never experienced it themselves as children. Therefore, they do the best they can do and feel they are good parents because they are better than their parents. However, when they hear their children asking for more they get mad at their children. They want their children to validate them for being good parents. They do not understand that a child doesn’t have the cognitive abilities to do so.

Therefore, a child tends to feel unloved, unwanted and form a belief they are useless. They tend to hang around people who reinforce this belief. They are afraid of people who might love them. They are afraid these people will discover the truth about them and leave them. They feel safer with the people who tell them they are worthless.

Walking around with this feeling can hurt a great deal. As a result, kids start to do drugs, alcohol and hang out with gangs. The drugs and alcohol help to numb out the pain of feeling worthless while at the same time it reinforces the belief that they are worthless.

Most often these kids act out at school and tend to get arrested for stealing or drugs. Some people try to help but the child pushes people away. It is better to leave someone than to be left. Most people get tired and say there is nothing else they can go and give up. Once again, reinforcing the child’s belief.

These are the children and teenagers who really need our help. The harder they push us away, the harder we have to say we won’t go. There have been many times that I have hint to Juvenile Hall to do sessions. The teen is shocked! I tell them that I told them they can push as hard as they want, but I won’t believe they are bad or walk out. At times this is difficult because they often test me over and over to see if I am for real. If they see I am for real, I am only one person they need other people to stay.

What I have seen in working with teens who act out for over 18 years, is they are looking for someone to say I care and you are important. They prefer that it comes from their biological parents, but once they accept their biological parents cannot provide this, they look to other adults.

Those of us who work with acting out teenagers as therapists, teachers or foster parents need to understand how severely these children have been hurt by their biological parents and the hard work it takes helping them over come that wound.

Extended family such as aunts and uncles, you too need to understand how deep the wound is for these kids. If you are not dealing with your own wounds, they need you to be in it for the long run.

This may seem like I am asking for a great deal, but look at how many teens are dying from suicide, drug overdose, shootings etc. When you see the number of young lives being lost you can see that it is worth the effort.

Yes it takes a great deal of effort but when you communicate to a teen that yes you are worth something, you are love able and I care about you. Watch how they go out into the world and help others and share love with others. So the price is worth seeing a teen full of life and going out and sharing it with the world. Watch some of Challenge Day’s videos on YouTube to see the love teens can spread if we give them love.

Dr. Michael Rubino has over 18 years experience working with high risk teenagers & foster children and is an expert in this area. For more information on Dr Rubino visit his website at http://www.rcs-ca.com or follow him on Twitter @RubinoTherapy.

Why have we failed to stop school shootings

17 year after Columbine and the mother does an interview with ABC about the warning signs she missed. If it was only that easy, but it is not. A great deal was missed by many and there is plenty of blame to go around.

First in our society, there is a huge negative stigma regarding mental illness and psychotherapy. I see many teens who would benefit from psychotherapy, but the teenager resists because only “crazy” people go to therapy and they are not crazy. The parents often don’t force the teen to go to therapy because, “he is too big for me to force him to come”, or “if he is going to go I want him to want to go. I think forcing him may cause more damage.” So parents are allowing teens to make the decision about psychotherapy because people believe it is not that important unless you are crazy. If their son’s pedestrian said their son needed surgery, the parents would not allow their son to decide about having or not having surgery.

Another issue facing parents is that belief that only crazy people go to therapy. They don’t want their child or family to be seen as the “crazy one or the weird one.” In these situations, I often hear well we will think about it and try changing things at home and if we feel we really need help we will call. Typically, I receive the call when their son is in juvenile hall for a number of crimes. They are calling too late.

The other problem is the school systems. I work with parents who are reporting symptoms of depression and their son feeling overwhelmed by school or being bullied at school. They ask the school for help, but the school acts like the parents are over protective. When I become involved and let the school know the student needs help and will need an IEP (Individualized Educational Plan), the school down plays the behavior or blames the parents. They don’t want to do an IEP because it will cost the school money. I have seen schools tell parents all kind of lies to avoid giving a student an IEP and what the school is forgetting is the help the student desperately needs.

Finally, our health care system is to blame also. One Thanksgiving Day, I was paged by a parent I never met. She had been given my number by the County Hospital. She brought her son there because he was suicidal. The hospital told her they had no more beds for suicidal teens and could not help. She had my service page me begging for help. Her son definitely need to be hospitalized. There was nothing I could do on an out-patient basis. I gave her several numbers to hospitals in the areas and told her if all else fails go to an ER room because they cannot refuse to treat.

I have seen this with other teenagers that I have treated. Parents are begging and pleading for help. Their insurance company won’t pay for in-patient treatment or only pay for two weeks when it is a 60 day program. The cost for the treatment programs is often $10,000 a month. A price most families cannot afford. At times when they do receive the insurance authorization, they cannot find an in-patient program with an opening because there are not many of these programs. These parents are doing everything they should but because of society’s view point that mental illness is not real, they find it very difficult to get their children the help they need.

A good example is the shooting at UC Santa Barbara. The parents knew their son had emotional issues and had been trying to get him help. When he went to school in Santa Barbara and his mother found a file on his computer, they knew people were in danger. They called everyone they could think of but were dismissed as over reacting.

An act such as Columbine doesn’t happen because one parent ignored symptoms. An act such as that occurs because parents, friends, family, teachers, school and our mental health system missed warning signs and failed to make the teenager get help. Mental health does deal with life and death situations not just someone crying. It is as serious at what occurs any Friday night in ER rooms in hospitals all over the country.

ABC asked the mother to look at herself, I am asking you to look at yourself and our approach to mental health. Columbine happened 17 years ago and every year since we have had more school shootings and more deaths. I believe so far in 2016 we have had more deaths by school shooting in the preceding 17 years. This is a very, very sad statistic. We need to look at ourselves and ask, what are we going to do to help prevent these senseless killings, not the mother of the Columbine shooter. We as a society must change. The life you save may be your own or your own child’s life.

Dr. Michael Rubino specializes in treating high risk teenagers and their families. For more information on his work or private practice visit his website at http://www.rcs-ca.com or on Twitter @RubinoTherapy.

Gifts A Child Needs

Some thought by Joshua Becker

I have countless holiday memories. Most of them center around faith, family, and traditions.

Very few childhood memories actually include the gifts I received. I distinctly remember the year that I got a blue dirt bike, the evening my brother and I received a Nintendo, and opening socks every year from my grandparents. But other than that, my gift-receiving memories are pretty sparse. Which got me thinking… what type of gifts can we give to our children that they will never forget? What gifts will truly impact their lives and change them forever?

To that end, here is an alphabetical list.

35 Gifts Your Children Will Never Forget:

1. Affirmation. Sometimes one simple word of affirmation can change an entire life. So make sure your children know how much you appreciate them. And then, remind them every chance you get.

2. Art. With the advent of the Internet, everyone who wants to create… can. The world just needs more people who want to…

3. Challenge. Encourage your child to dream big dreams. In turn, they will accomplish more than they thought possible… and probably even more than you thought possible.

4. Compassion/Justice. Life isn’t fair. It never will be – there are just too many variables. But when a wrong has been committed or a playing field can be leveled, I want my child to be active in helping to level it.

5. Contentment. The need for more is contagious. Therefore, one of the greatest gifts you can give your children is an appreciation for being content with what they have… but not with who they are.

6. Curiosity. Teach your children to ask questions about who, what, where, how, why, and why not. “Stop asking so many questions” are words that should never leave a parents’ mouth.

7. Determination. One of the greatest determining factors in one’s success is the size of their will. How can you help grow your child’s today?

8. Discipline. Children need to learn everything from the ground-up including appropriate behaviors, how to get along with others, how to get results, and how to achieve their dreams. Discipline should not be avoided or withheld. Instead, it should be consistent and positive.

9. Encouragement. Words are powerful. They can create or they can destroy. The simple words that you choose to speak today can offer encouragement and positive thoughts to another child. Or your words can send them further into despair. So choose them carefully.

10. Faithfulness to your Spouse. Faithfulness in marriage includes more than just our bodies. It also includes our eyes, mind, heart, and soul. Guard your sexuality daily and devote it entirely to your spouse. Your children will absolutely take notice.

11. Finding Beauty. Help your children find beauty in everything they see… and in everyone they meet.

12. Generosity. Teach your children to be generous with your stuff so that they will become generous with theirs.

13. Honesty/Integrity. Children who learn the value and importance of honesty at a young age have a far greater opportunity to become honest adults. And honest adults who deal truthfully with others tend to feel better about themselves, enjoy their lives more, and sleep better at night.

14. Hope. Hope is knowing and believing that things will get better and improve. It creates strength, endurance, and resolve. And in the desperately difficult times of life, it calls us to press onward.

15. Hugs and Kisses. I once heard the story of a man who told his 7-year old son that he had grown too old for kisses. I tear up every time I think of it. Know that your children are never too old to receive physical affirmation of your love for them.

16. Imagination. If we’ve learned anything over the past 20 years, it’s that life is changing faster and faster with every passing day. The world tomorrow looks nothing like the world today. And the people with imagination are the ones not just living it, they are creating it.

17. Intentionality. I believe strongly in intentional living and intentional parenting. Slow down, consider who you are, where you are going, and how to get there. And do the same for each of your children.

18. Your Lap. It’s the best place in the entire world for a book, story, or conversation. And it’s been right in front of you the whole time.

19. Lifelong Learning. A passion for learning is different from just studying to earn a grade or please teachers. It begins in the home. So read, ask questions, analyze, and expose. In other words, learn to love learning yourself.

20. Love. …but the greatest of these is love.

21. Meals Together. Meals provide unparalleled opportunity for relationship, the likes of which can not be found anywhere else. So much so, that a family that does not eat together does not grow together.

22. Nature. Children who learn to appreciate the world around them take care of the world around them. As a parent, I am frequently asking my kids to keep their rooms inside the house neat, clean, and orderly. Shouldn’t we also be teaching them to keep their world outside neat, clean, and orderly?

23. Opportunity. Kids need opportunities to experience new things so they can find out what they enjoy and what they are good at. And contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t have to require much money.

24. Optimism. Pessimists don’t change the world. Optimists do.

25. Peace. On a worldwide scale, you may think this is out of our hands. But in relation to the people around you, this is completely within your hands… and that’s a darn good place to start.

26. Pride. Celebrate the little things in life. After all, it is the little accomplishments in life that become the big accomplishments.

27. Room to Make mistakes. Kids are kids. That’s what makes them so much fun… and so desperately in need of your patience. Give them room to experiment, explore, and make mistakes.

28. Self-Esteem. People who learn to value themselves are more likely to have self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth. As a result, they are more likely to become adults who respect their values and stick to them… even when no one else is.

29. Sense of Humor. Laugh with your children everyday… for your sake and theirs.

30. Spirituality. Faith elevates our view of the universe, our world, and our lives. We would be wise to instill into our kids that they are more than just flesh and blood taking up space. They are also made of mind, heart, soul, and will. And decisions in their life should be based on more than just what everyone else with flesh and blood is doing.

31. Stability. A stable home becomes the foundation on which children build the rest of their lives. They need to know their place in the family, who they can trust, and who is going to be there for them. Don’t keep changing those things.

32. Time. The gift of time is the one gift you can never get back or take back. So think carefully about who (or what) is getting yours.

33. Undivided Attention. Maybe this imagery will be helpful: Disconnect to Connect.

34. Uniqueness. What makes us different is what makes us special. Uniqueness should not be hidden. It should be proudly displayed for all the world to see, appreciate, and enjoy.

35. A Welcoming Home. To know that you can always come home is among the sweetest and most life-giving assurances in all the world. Is your home breathing life into your child?

Of course, none of these gifts are on sale at your local department store. But, I think that’s the point.