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Each week the Eyres post one tried and proven “Parenting Principle” (or sometimes a Marriage Principle) here on this page, and also on social media (Instagram @richardlindaeyre, Facebook @lindarichardeyre, and Twitter @richardeyre). Please follow, and invite your friends to do the same. Each week the brief, quotable parenting principle will appear with several links to articles, podcasts, videos, or radio and television appearances that give more ideas, instruction and inspiration on that principle.

March 18, 2019

Optimal Attitudes for Happiness (and for Parenting)

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Attitudes are remarkable things. They determine much of our success, our capacity, and our happiness. If we have attitudes that are negative or that cause us to prioritize the wrong things, or that are based on false premises, they undermine us and hold us back and make us unhappy. If we can switch to attitudes of truth, light, and spirituality, we can increase our ability to do well in the things that matter most and at the same time become much happier people.

When we wrote our newest book, The Happiness Paradox, we had one goal which was to replace three worldly, false and happiness-undermining attitudes with three spiritual, true and happiness-promoting attitudes. We wanted to get rid of the attitudes of Control, Ownership, and Independence and replace them with attitudes of Serendipity, Stewardship, and Synergicity.

The whole goal was to help people (including ourselves) be happier.

But there was an unexpected bonus: The three attitudes that lead to more happiness turn out to also be the three attitudes that make us better parents.
A Serendipity parent sees and listens to a child more carefully and helps in ways that a control parent can never do, a Stewardship parent respects a child and guides in inspired ways that an ownership parent can never know, and a Synergicity parent learns to work with others and find help in places that an independent parent can never imagine.

These attitude shifts can make all the difference. Learn more about how to adopt them and implement them by reviewing the tips for January 14, January 21, and January 28, and the following:

Video 1 Video 2 Video 3 Article Podcast Book

March 11, 2019

Giving Kids Grit

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Most parents worry a lot these days about the entitlement attitudes they are giving their kids–but maybe we don’t worry enough about the flip-side of that–about how to give our kids grit, which is the opposite of entitlement. Grit means self-reliance and determination and knowing how to work. It means tenacity and initiative, and it is perhaps the single greatest prerequisite to achievement and accomplishment and success in life.

There are two powerful things that parents can do to give their kids more grit:

First, set up a family economy in your home, complete with a family bank, household tasks or chores for each child, and a payday each Saturday where kids’ reward is directly proportional to how well they did on their jobs. Have the family bank pay interest, and make it so the kids can earn enough to buy their own “stuff” rather than begging you for it.

Second, create a family narrative of ancestor stories whereby your kids learn about their grandparents and great grandparents and about the successes they attained and the difficulties they went through. Help your kids realize that they are one fourth from each of their grandparents and one eighth from each of their great grandparents and that they have the same drive and resilience in their blood.

For more (much more) on replacing entitlement with grit:

Podcast Article Book

March 4, 2019

Setting Relationship Goals

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Most of us think of goals in relation to Achievements—goals for our careers, for our grades, for our finances. But there is another kind of goals that is even more important—Relationship Goals.

Achievement Goals are usually qualitative—they are set and can be measured in numbers or percentages…we want to make X amount of money, or lose X pounds, or get an X grade point average.

Relationship Goals are more qualitative—Instead of expressing them in numbers, we express them in words. They are a description of a relationship the way we want it to be at a certain point in the future—a year from now or five years from now.

The thing that Achievement Goals and Relationship goals have in common is that they are effective when they form a clear picture of something you want to have at a particular future time. And a descriptive Relationship Goal is just as effective and can bring just as strong a result as an Achievement Goal.

For some specifics on how to set and reach Relationship Goals:

Podcast Article 1 Article 2 Article 3

February 25, 2019

Keeping Romance Alive

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Last week we celebrated the 50th anniversary of our engagement, which happened atop the tower of a castle disguised as the Old Main Building of Utah State University, where we met and fell in love. On that distant day, we colluded with a romantic night watchman who surreptitiously opened the door to the winding staircase to the small balcony atop the tower. There, in a blinding snowstorm, I got on one knee, put a ring on Linda’s finger, and she said “yes.” It was the best day of my life!

It was also the most romantic day, at least until the anniversary last week when we again climbed the tower and reenacted the whole thing and added a couple of rings—the original ring representing the 50 year past, a golden sapphire that we bought in Sri Lanka representing the present of this golden anniversary, and a ruby we found in Thailand representing (as rubies officially do) eternity.

I was as giddy as I was 50 years ago, and as we drove home, we talked about the importance of romance and of keeping it alive in marriage and using it as a love-booster throughout all of the relationships within the family.

More on the whys and the hows of keeping romance alive:

Podcast Article 1 Article 2 Article 3

February 18, 2019

The Best Way to Protect Kids Is to Give Them Responsibility

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We all struggle as parents with the need to protect our children—from the influences of peers, social media, and “voices” of all kinds that work counter to the values and character we want them to develop. Yet at the same time, we want them to become, gradually, the kind of mature individuals that can protect themselves and find their own way.

Interestingly, the most lasting protection is to teach our children Responsibility, and having that as a conscious parenting goal is the key to so much! Even as very small children in our homes, kids can begin to learn to be responsible for their things, then for small tasks, then for decisions and choices and then for the needs of others. And as they progressively learn these forms of responsibility, the byproduct is that they become more able to protect themselves from attitudes and habits and practices that can harm them and undermine their development.

One way of saying it is that parents need to move from the defense of thinking about protecting their kids to the offense of thinking about how to teach them responsibility.

We have been thinking about that for quite a long time, ever since we wrote our landmark book “Teaching Children Responsibility” nearly four decades ago. We know this for sure: The more parents think about it, the better they will do at it. For more ideas on clearly and thoroughly teaching your kids responsibility:

Article 1 Article 2 Podcast 1 Podcast 2 Book

February 11, 2019

Keeping Our Attention on Our First Priority

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There are so many distractions! We all say that our family—our kids and our marriages—are our highest priority, but so many other things—responsibilities, social engagements, church callings, entertainment, friends—all crowd into our lives and soak up our time and attention.

The urgent takes over from the important.

Perhaps the biggest distraction of all—the thing that takes over our attention and almost holds us hostage—is technology. Our devices, our social media, our FOMO, our following of blogs, and all the rest of it just sucks away our focus and our concentration from the thing that needs us most and that is the most important to us—our families!

We’ve all seen it (we’ve all done it)…a child is asking a question or trying to get the attention of his mom who is brushing him off and saying “not now” or “just a minute” while she scrolls through the screen on her smartphone. Sometimes we need to (like a drill sergeant in the military) just scream “ATTENTION!” to ourselves and get our minds back on our marriage and our children.

There are really only two ways to stop our devices from distracting us. One is to get rid of them (pretty dramatic solution) and the other is to go more often to pro-family web pages or blogs or social media—sites that make us more rather than less aware of our families and their needs. We recommend this website (valuesparenting.com), blogs like 71toes.com or drippingwithpassion.blogspot.com, family information sites like ifstudies.org, and social media like Instagram @richardlindaeyre.

For more on making technology draw your attention to rather than away from your family:

Article 1 Article 2 Podcast

February 4, 2019

We All Need Help with Our Parenting

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The best parents we know have what might be called “A positive, ‘can’t do’ attitude.” What we mean by that is that they acknowledge that they can’t do it by themselves, that they need help in raising their children. Sometimes the difference between successful and unsuccessful parents is simply their willingness to ask for help, and to know when and who to ask!

Getting help with your marriage and your kids is not a sign of weakness—on the contrary, it is a sign of wisdom and strength. First of all, we all need some kind of support mechanism that backs us up on the values we are trying to teach our children. For many of us, that is a Church. Second, we need the help of other good parent friends who we can talk to and be of help to each other’s kids. Third, we need help from grandparents or uncles and aunts or others who know our children and who may have the ”social distance” to help them in ways that we can’t. Fourth, we may need professional counseling or therapy for tough times in our marriage. Fifth, and perhaps most important of all, we all need divine help. Nothing is more powerful than an earthly parent praying to a Heavenly Parent for help with their shared children.

We have discussed that need for help in some detail in the article and podcast below:

Article Podcast

January 28, 2019

Be a Synergicity Parent, Not an Independent Parent

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Synergicity is a hybrid word that we made up, combining “synergy” and “synchronicity,” to mean the acceptance of one’s interdependence with others and dependence on God. It suggests that when we work in tandem and in commitment with a spouse, we can be, together, more than the sum of our parts. It suggests the connection and inter-relatedness of all people and all things, and it acknowledges that there is a natural timing to things that we need to learn to recognize and accept rather than always trying to make things happen on our own schedule. In essence, Synergicity is the opposite of Independence, and instead of saying “I can do everything myself and don’t need anyone else,” it says “I need others; I am interdependent and dependent, and I trust forces bigger than myself.”

One key goal of marriage should be a synergy partnership, especially in terms of how we parent our children, and finding the right timing and being able to sync our hopes with who our children really are can spell the difference between family fulfillment and family frustration.

This new word is fully explained in Richard Eyre’s new book, The Happiness Paradox, and it is also further elaborated in the article and podcast:

Article Podcast Book

January 21, 2019

Be a Stewardship Parent, Not an Ownership Parent

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If we think of our children as our possessions, we respect them too little! If our paradigm is “I made them so I own them and can try to make them into what I want them to be,” we will fail as parents and will feel a lot of frustration while we are failing.

We don’t own our children! When we act as though we do, we make all kinds of parenting mistakes.

A much better attitude to have is that we have Stewardship over our children. This is a beautiful word because it implies that we love and take full responsibility for our kids, but recognize that they came from God as a sacred charge and that they are equal to us and we need to find out who they are—each unique one—and help them grow into all they can be.

This Stewardship paradigm causes us to respect our children, to view each of them as individuals, and to find joy as well as obligation in the privilege of raising them.

For more insight on Stewardship Parenting:

Podcast Article Book

January 14, 2019

Be a Serendipity Parent, Not a Controlling Parent

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Controlling parents try to manage all of their children’s actions, thoughts, ambitions, and behavior, to make their decisions for them, and to turn them into their version of what they should be. They often lose their kids or force them to rebel.

Serendipity parents observe and notice who their children really are and recognize and support their unique gifts and attributes; they see teaching moments and find opportunities to ask involving questions and to motivate kids to plan their own lives and make their own choices.

The definition of Serendipity is “A state of mind whereby a person, through awareness and sensitivity, frequently finds something better than that which he or she is seeking.”

Of course, good parents have goals for what they want to teach their children, and to some extent for what they want their children to become, but if we become too obsessed with our wants for our kids, we can become control freaks and do more harm than good.

Instead, if we can train ourselves to be sensitive and aware enough to notice our kids’ unique gifts and potential, we will find ways to help them grow into their own best selves, and we will enjoy this kind of parenting much more than the controlling kind.

For more insight and practical ideas on how to make this shift:

Podcast Book

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