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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.

May 27, 2019

Should You Be Getting Your Kids out of Their Comfort Zone?

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As summer begins, some parents contemplate not some cushy, luxuriating “entitlement” vacation for their kids, but rather how to get them out of their “comfort zone” and into some kind of very different environment where they see things differently, realize how others live, learn to work, or give service. Some families go to great lengths to give their children this kind of perspective-changing experience.

We have worked pretty hard at it ourselves. We found that summer humanitarian expeditions to third world locations to build a school or dig a well actually didn’t cost any more than a vacation at Disney World, and our kids came home with a new appreciation of their blessed circumstances and the beginning of an understanding that they have the power to help those who have less.

Another summer we lived as a family deep in the woods of eastern Oregon and built a log cabin together. We started out in a teepee and cut logs and worked together to build a small cabin the same size as the one that our great great grandfather raised 9 children in. In a similar effort with similar goals in mind, our daughter Saydi and her husband Jeff took their children to live on an isolated working farm for 6 months where they grew crops and raised livestock and were home-schooled.

Another summer, we staged the production of the musical “Annie” in a small rural Idaho town, with our kids and the town kids (and their parents) doing all the acting, costuming, directing, publicizing, and music, and used the proceeds from its three-night run to build a new parking lot for the church.

There are certainly less dramatic ways to get kids out of their comfort zone, including a “real” summer job, or helping out at a homeless shelter, or providing some kind of service in an inner city. Each parent needs to think about the awareness and perspective needs and limits of his own children and look for ways to meet those needs and lift those limits.

To think further about this notion:

Podcast Article

May 20, 2019

Myth 3 from The 8 Myths of Marriaging

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3. The Independence Myth (and other myths about freedom):

It is best for each spouse to maintain his or her own independence and form a self-reliant two-way partnership.

Truth: Independence is overrated and lonely; and it gets more so the longer we live. Interdependence is the acknowledgment of this simple, vulnerable truth and it is a joy to willingly, enthusiastically trade your independence for interdependence. Ultimately, a three-way partnership that recognizes dependence on God is the strongest of all.

  1. Sub-myth: The key to a good marriage is for both partners to go 50 percent and meet in the middle.
    Truth: You may sometimes have to go 90 percent to meet your spouse’s 10 percent, and your partner may have to go 90 percent to meet you at other times.
  2. Sub-myth: Freedom and responsibility are opposites.
    Truth: Responsibility and sacrifice for those you love leads to a higher freedom from the “dungeon of self.”
  3. Sub-myth: Needing marriage therapy is a weakness.
    Truth: Getting professional help when you need it is always a strength.

We live in a world where independence is the perceived goal of almost everything. We are conditioned to want financial independence as well as mental and emotional independence. We see any type of dependence on someone else as a weakness, and we find it much easier to say “I love you” than “I need you.”

Many also think the alternative to independence is codependence, which Google defines as “excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically requiring support due to an illness or addiction.” And who would want that?

But interdependence is not codependence. It is something much different and much more beautiful. It is a mutual dependence that is chosen in love, and it makes those who choose it more, not less, free.

With many, independence is almost an obsession. Young people today want to avoid being dependent on anyone. But not needing anyone and always relying solely on yourself can become the ultimate recipe for loneliness.

Interdependence is so much better. It is the conscious choice of commitment, the deliberate decision to intertwine your life with the person you love most. It is the sacrifice of something good for something better.

More information on this myth:

Podcast 1 Podcast 2 Article

May 13, 2019

Series on the 8 Myths of Marriage

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In the last two posts (the last two weeks) we have presented the first two of the 8 Myths of marriage, and the response has been so great that we have decided to do a whole series and cover each of the other 6 “Myths of Marriaging” over the next 6 weeks.

We call it “marriaging” because it is a dynamic, happening word; while “marriage” is a static, happened word. Marriaging, like parenting, is a skill—or an art or a science—that can be continually and actively worked on, developed, and improved.

As we strive to build and grow our marriaging ability, there are some misconceptions that can get in our way—some misplaced beliefs or false paradigms that point us in the wrong directions and suck the joy out of our relationships. They do this through unrealistic expectations and false goals that cause dissatisfaction, discouragement, and frustration.

We call these misconceptions the Myths of Marriaging because they all sound good—many of them are even disguised as wise advice or packaged as sage insights. Indeed we may have heard some of them so many times that we assume they must be true.

But they are not.

Some of these myths raise our hopes and expectations unreasonably; others oversimplify; and still others exaggerate a good direction so much that it turns back and harms our relationship instead.

The good news is that wherever there is a myth there is a countering truth. There is another side of the coin—the true side.

Sometimes knowing both sides, and considering them together, can clarify and illuminate. Sometimes we need first to know what not to do or think or believe in order to avoid the common pitfalls that often overtake a marriage.

Then, by contrast, we need to know what to do or think or believe in order to maximize our marriages.

In this series, we will first try to dispel the myths, then to capture the truths.

For a verbal overview of the 8 Myths (and as a preview of this series) listen to the following podcast:
 

Podcast
May 6, 2019

Myth 2 from The 8 Myths of Marriaging

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We continue with a preview of our forthcoming book The 8 Myths of Marriaging.

2. The Achievement Myth:

Achievements are harder and take more work than relationships do.

Truth: Relationships are, both in the short term and the long term, always more important than achievements are—and usually harder.

  1. Sub-myth: The home supports the career.
    Truth: The career supports the home.
  2. Sub-myth: Achievements can be pursued, while relationships just happen.
    Truth: Relationships, particularly the marriage relationship, deserve the most “pursuing” of all; and relationship goals can be as effective as achievement goals.
  3. Sub-myth: Parenting is more work than marriaging, and good parents are almost always good marriage partners.
    Truth: Good marriages take constant effort and almost always make for better parenting—but this doesn’t necessarily work the other way around.
  4. Sub-myth: Marriage is about two individuals, and it works best if the families stay out of it.
    Truth: Your marriage, like it or not, is the joining of two families, so you might as well embrace it. Our in-laws can become our in-loves; the more positive and proactive we are about extended family relationships, the more we will get and the more we will give.

If this myth interests you, or if you think it may be affecting your marriage, take a look or a listen to the advice contained on this subject in the following:

Article Podcast

April 29, 2019

The 8 Myths of Marriage

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Our new book on Marriage will be published in July, but we wanted to give you a brief preview.

Despite having written more than two dozen family and parenting books, we didn’t want to tackle the subject of marriage until we had a lot of it under our belts, we waited 50 years, and The 8 Myths of Marriage will be released on our 50th Anniversary this July.

We decided to approach the subject from the standpoint of some of the “common wisdom” about relationships and marriages that is actually not wisdom at all—in fact it is myths. Getting past these myths enough that we can find the corresponding truth is no small task.

But it always starts with exposing the myth. Here are the first of the myths that the book discusses, and more to come next week:

1. The Clone Myth

A good measure of the quality of your relationship or marriage is how alike you are, and how infrequently you disagree or argue.

Truth: The best and most exciting marriages are between two strong individuals who relish rather than resent their differences; who each have their own unique opinions and can disagree and debate and learn from each other. “How you resolve” is a better measure than “how often you need to.”

If this myth interests you, or if you think it may be affecting your marriage, take a look or a listen to the advice contained on this subject in the following:

Video Article Podcast

April 22, 2019

“Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There”

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Sometimes what we need most as parents is just the opposite of the old advice your mother used to shout at you, “Don’t just sit there, do something!”

In our busy, frantic, crazy world within our families, we need to turn the old cliche around and tell ourselves “don’t just do something, sit there!” We need a moment to sit and think, to remind ourselves of what is important, to remember what matters most. We need to just sit there for a minute (even if we have to lock ourselves in the bathroom to do so) and collect ourselves.

We need to learn to separate the important from the urgent. We need to remember that calmness is contagious and can spread to our kids if we can find it within ourselves.

Please take a minute and listen to the podcast below, and see if you can find a way to put thinking above doing for a minute–and learn to stop just doing something–in favor of “sitting there.”

Good luck!
 

Podcast
April 15, 2019

Side-Effects of Parenthood

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Hey, we don’t want to always make these parenting tips too serious and heavy! So for the next few weeks, they will have some humor to them, or at least some amusement as we think about the sometimes chaos-filled, up-and-down life phase that we call everyday parenting. Today, think about the pharmaceutical and drug ads you see and hear dozens of times each day and all the “side-effects” that they are legally required to warn us about:

Headaches, trouble sleeping, back pain, heartburn, anxiety, confusion and indigestion all come to mind….and additional side effects like “quick to overreact emotionally,” “voice changes,” “irritability,” and, best of all, “euphoria.”

Now instead of reading those as side-effects of drugs, read them as side-effects of parenting. They all apply, right? These things go with the territory of parenting–they are unavoidable, at least occasionally as we do our best to keep up with our kids.

The interesting part of the comparison is that we take the drugs we need in spite of the side-effects that may occur, because the net effect, and hopefully the cure, is better than the side-effects. We have kids and do our best to raise them despite the same side effects because the joy, the euphoria that comes to us as parents, even if it is just in little, occasional moments, outweighs all the side effects and create a net effect where the plusses totally supersede the minuses and we intentionally fill our lives with the messy chaos of kids, sometimes many kids who demand our attention, soak up our energy, and visit us with all kinds of unexpected “adventures” or consequences.

Side effects and all, “married with children” or even single with children is the best and most joyful way to live!

Let’s keep reminding ourselves of that, despite the ups and downs. For more on this:

Article Podcast Video

April 8, 2019

Helping Kids Set Goals

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Are your kids working to meet your goals, or have you taught them how to set their own?

That is a big question, because the answer can determine the whole chemistry of your relationship with your children. If it is you setting the goals for them, then your encouragement will always sound to them like nagging and manipulation. But if your children have learned to set their own goals, your offers to help will be welcome and appreciated.

And that is a big difference.

Goal setting is often thought of as a complicated, difficult “adult thing,” but actually a goal is nothing more than a clear picture of something as you want it to be in the future, and kids, with their good imaginations, are often better at setting goals than adults are. But they need some basic training on how to do it (and on how to do it—because it can be fun).

Kids as young as five or six can set little, simple goals for school, for their sports or music, and for their character. Older elementary kids and adolescents can set quite sophisticated goals in these same three categories, but with more specificity and with short term (weekly and monthly) goals that lead up to longer range (yearly) goals.

For specifics on how to help your kids learn to set goals:

Podcast 1 Podcast 2 Article 1 Article 2

April 1, 2019

An Executive Management Meeting in Your Family

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All efficient and lasting institutions have top management, and all of those management teams have regular meetings where policy is set and goals are pursued.

Who is the top management of your family? For most of the two parent families we know, Mom is the CEO and Dad might be the vice president or the CFO. But however it stacks up, the parents should be the managing partners, and to play that role effectively, just like every effective organization, they need a regular top management meeting. We have found that it needs to happen weekly, and the best time to have this meeting–a private planning and prioritizing session with just two attendees–is on Sunday. We call it an “Executive Session” or a “Sunday Session.”

It is a time to synchronize schedules, to discuss needs and priorities, and to talk about your relationship with each other; and even to clear the air in terms of any disagreements or bad feelings that were not resolved during the week.

Also, if you have both older and younger kids (say those over 8 and under 8) you might consider having a brief second meeting each Sunday called a “Middle Management Meeting, with the older ones–promote them to being part of the solution rather than part of the problem, and give them some responsibilities for tutoring and watching out for the younger ones.

For specifics on how to set up these two critical family meetings:

Article Podcast 1 Podcast 2

March 25, 2019

Don’t Let Schooling Interfere with Your Education

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Are “school” and “education” synonymous? Or is education a much broader and much more important concept than school? Is it possible that sometimes the routine and concentric learning of schools actually get in the way of real education—as in the case of the parents who were traveling to Israel for a week and wanted to take their two middle school children but were told by the school that they couldn’t take the children out of school for that long.

Who is responsible for your kid’s education: The government? The schools? The church? The coaches and teachers and lesson givers? No. We need and accept help from these and other sources, but it is crucially important to realize that it is us, the parents, who are responsible for our children’s education.

This means two primary things: 1. We need to supplement the education that schools give our children in things like the “three Rs” of reading, writing, and arithmetic with what we call “the other three Rs” of relationship-forming, responsibility, and right-brain learning. 2. When the timing works, it’s okay to take our kids out of school for brief periods when traveling or other educational opportunities arise that can’t be learned in school.

To explore this priority further:

Article 1 Article 2 Podcast 1 Podcast 2 Podcast 3

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