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Young People … Our Greatest Resource

Life Lessons Learned in a Texas Oil Field (Dr. James Sutton)

Thoughts of Fathers Day (2017) still bring back memories of how my dad once helped me manage a frightening and emotionally extreme situation. Although he was not a professional educator, my father still stands as one of the best teachers I ever had. –JDS

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Life Lessons Learned in a Texas Oilfield, Dr. James SuttonMy first driving lesson came close to killing me and my father.

In late junior high and early high school, I had a summer job of working with my father in the oilfields south of San Antonio. On a slow day, we piled into Dad’s company vehicle (a Dodge) for my very first driving lesson.

Collision Course

I lost control of the clutch, and we lurched into a collision course with a battery of oil storage tanks. As I panicked, my right leg stiffened; my foot jammed the accelerator to the floor.

It was all over; there wasn’t a shred of doubt in my mind about it.

But Dad didn’t panic. He quickly cut the ignition and turned the wheel just enough to avoid hitting the tanks. We plowed safely into the soft, sandy bank of a water pit.

He was not upset; I WAS. I vowed I would never, never, ever again occupy the driver’s seat. I was done … finished!

Life Lessons Learned in a South Texas Oil Field“Jimmy, what’s this car doing right at this moment?’ he asked patiently, certainly sensing my panic.

“Well, uh, well … nothing, Dad. The car’s not doing anything right now.”

“That’s right. And it’s NOT going to do anything. Unless you make something happen, this car simply will sit here until it’s a pile of rust.”

Lessons Learned

We continued the lesson. I learned to drive that day, but I also learned two things that would follow me for life. I learned that Fred Sutton, although not a professional educator, was an excellent teacher. I also learned that knowledge, confidence in one’s skills, and meaningful relationships (certainly including spiritual relationships) are powerful antidotes for whatever the world might throw at any of us.

I’ve often thought how easy it would be for a parent to scream out or yell at a son or daughter caught up in such a situation, especially when that parent is also frightened. Who could blame them; most of us have “been there.” It would be a pretty natural response.

I believe Dad intuitively knew that lecturing me about my driving mistakes would have served no real purpose. True to that thought, he never said another word about it to me. If he figured I had learned that lesson well enough with no need for additional reminders, he was correct.

Over the years, I have tried to follow his example, but not perfectly, by any means. Put another way, here’s what I believe it means:

It’s easy to be part of the problem, but it’s so much better to be part of the solution.

Dad passed away in 1998 after a gallant struggle with cancer. Since then, there have been many times when I wished I could climb back into that old Dodge for just one more lesson from a great teacher.

 

A nationally recognized (and now mostly retired) child and adolescent psychologist, author and speaker, Dr. James Sutton is the founder and host of The Changing Behavior Network.

 

June 26, 2017 Posted by | Affirmation and Recognition, Anxiety and Depression, Compassion, courage, Educators, family, Healthy living, Human Interest, Inspirational, Parents, Self-esteem, Stress | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Giving Children Too Much Power (Christy Monson)

Giving Children Too Much Power, Christy MonsonJonathan, age three, had a sore throat and a hacking cough. He woke up about midnight, coughing and crying. He couldn’t breathe.

Dad held and rocked him for a little while and then gave Jonathan to Mom to cuddle while Dad ran to the store to get medicine.

Power Problems

After Jonathan took the medicine about 2 a.m., he wanted to watch a movie. Dad said it was time for bed, but Jonathan cried. Dad turned on the movie. Mom shook her head in disbelief and went back to bed. At 4 a.m. when the movie was over, Jonathan wanted to play. Dad and Jonathan built a tower of blocks until about 4:30 when Jonathan fell asleep. Dad carried him to the bedroom and then went to bed himself.

Solution: Structured Choices

In a situation like this, Jonathan, at age three, isn’t old enough to have good judgment. Dad and Mom need to be responsible for making these middle-of-the-night decisions. Giving some choices is a good diversionary tactic, especially at 2 a.m. when Jonathan is crying.

Dad can take him to bed, but Jonathan can decide:

Will the bedroom door be open or shut?
Do I want the hall light left on?
Will I snuggle my favorite teddy under the covers or keep him on my pillow?

Family Talk, Christy MonsonChildren need the opportunity to make selections. Learning this skill will be a great benefit to Jonathan as he gets older. A parent can give him the gift of democracy by establishing limited freedom with choices.

Start a Family Council

Family councils are a great place for youngsters like Jonathan to become proficient at decision-making as they up. Councils are a great venue for parents to teach children to brainstorm ideas, single out several choices, and pick the best one. Parents can plan together, work out their parenting styles, and teach their children how to be proactive. ###

Christy Monson has an M.S. in Counseling Psychology and Marriage & Family Therapy from University of Nevada at Las Vegas, and established a successful counseling practice in Las Vegas, Nevada. Check out her informative website [link].

January 17, 2017 Posted by | Counselors, Difficult Child, Discipline, Healthy living, Parents, Stress | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment