Art Miramontes blog

Archive for December 2010

If you haven’t noticed my now, I love my kids dearly as many of you love yours.  People continuously ask me how I have developed such an incredible relationship with my (3) sons, and how well I connect with them.  Well…there is no “silver bullet” for this just hard work.  Every relationship requires lots of work, whether it’s with your son, daughter, spouse or your neighbor!

My secret is actually very simple, but complex at the same time.  I TALK to my kids…A LOT – about everything.  We have developed such a comfort level that is pretty amazing.  It sounds so simple but requires absolute trust.  Sounds weird since they are your kids, but you would be amazed at those parents that do not feel comfortable speaking with their children – let alone trusting them. 

My journey started long ago.  The conversations I had with my kids were  both – good and tough, mostly tough at first.   The tough conversations were very challenging, but the good ones were life changing.   Those were the ones I focused on the most.  So, when it came time to “praise” them during the good conversations, I made a big deal out of it.  So, guess what they wanted the next time…and the next?  After a while, the conversations became very pleasant, and the pendulum swung from tough to good.  Every time I had a good positive conversation, I made my kids feel like a million bucks.  Never underestimate the power of “praising someone sincerely in public”.   The trick here – Do it so it’s meaningful, but don’t do it so frequently where it gets “watered down” and loses the effect.  This has been my strategy and has worked for me.  But, like anything else…it takes time to develop and evolve, so let it.

For me, this has been a beautiful journey and a great experience to have this type of relationship with my boys.  The beauty of all this is that I know they will follow and do the same with their children.  At the end of the day, we as parents can just guide them and provide great examples for them to follow.  The rest is up to them…

Try this strategy, and let me know how you progress… 

May the New Year bring you incredible bonds with everyone you touch and inspire!

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Once upon a time there were three bears (OK…maybe not bears, but my kids) – Arturo, Alejandro and Andres.  My kids have just completed their last week of school and have been ready for their winter break weeks ago.  I could see the stress taking a toll on them.  So, I did what any parent would do…I asked them, “What is the source of your stress son, but more importantly how do you plan on reducing or eliminating it?  …Because it’s driving dad crazy!!”  I took notes (which I thought would make a good blog topic so here we are) and interviewed my kids because the best source of information and “subject matter material” is from the source themselves – our kids.  They may not have the technical or scientific background to officially give us advice, but they are the best to tell us what is wrong.

 The oldest bear Arturo, 20, was coming home for the holidays from San Jose State University, and just finished his most stressful week of finals in a long time.  As an honors student all his life, he has always felt the pressure to perform, but somehow has always managed to do it.  As I interviewed my son, Arturo – he explained that one key tip that has allowed him to remain sane is – The support he receives from his friends, and his family.   Arturo turns to the people around him to help him get through those stressful times – whether it is finals or the upcoming holidays.  The best medicine, in his case is to have a good friend(s) to laugh with, get goofy with, be spontaneous with, or just share his time in a non-productive teenager kind of way.

My second bear is Alejandro.  He handles stress much differently than my older bear.   He loves music and dives right into his passion when things are not going his way.  Alejandro, 15, stated, “When I want to forget about things because they are stressing me out…I do something to get it off my mind.  I go and play my guitar and lose it!”  In his case it is music, but for others it could be exercise, reading a book, or making cookies.  The idea is to do something that makes you feel good, puts you in a relaxed state of mind, and allows you to forget why you were stressing out.  (At 15, there really isn’t much!) 

Andres, the third and youngest little bear loves to use his imagination for relieving stress.   He loves to play pretend, and has actually put a short film together with his older brothers, called “Crankie Carols (Scrooge)”, and pretends to be one of the characters of the story (Soon to come out on YouTube!).   Andres keeps his imagination and creativity firing on all cylinders all day, every day.   At 9 years old, he doesn’t really experience much stress, but his creativity and imagination doesn’t allow him to either.   We help Andres and continuously encourage him to remain positive and say positive things.  This helps when my kids start stressing each other out!

At the end of the day, we the parents, provide the environment to allow them to recognize their stress and allow them to find creative ways to handle it – with some support.  So, three tips from the Miramontes kids:

  1.  From Arturo – Rely on friends and family to get you through those stressful times by enjoying their company and doing something entertaining with them.  Sometimes it’s not about the activity but the company you have that helps you out.
  2. From Alejandro – Do activities like music, reading, cooking (with parental supervision) or something that makes you feel relaxed, and puts you in a positive state of mind.
  3. From Andres – Encourage positive conversations and dialogue, and be creative with your time.

What tips do your children have for reducing stress?

Respecting your children is another key to satisfying their basic needs.  One thing I have noticed as my kids continue to grow and mature is how they start to emulate their parents.  At first, I did not believe this myth.  I remember my family members saying, “Your kids are going to be just like you someday….” (I think we have all heard that I’m sure).  Wow, they couldn’t be any more correct!  And now, I’m proud of it.

As a parent, one thing I am still working on is to respect my kids even more so.  So, what am I doing differently?  For starters – listening more.  I am becoming more patient and listening to them because they have a lot to say.  It is amazing to hear them when you stop to LISTEN to them.  Not hear them, but LISTEN.   I marvel at my son Andres who is 9 years old, and how his vocabulary has expanded, and how imaginative he has become.   We, as parents, need to listen more and talk less; we need to be less directive and more suggestive; and, continue to emphasis those courteous phrases that will carry them through adulthood, like “thank you”, “please” and “I’m sorry”.   We need to cultivate those basic family values that will lead our kids to become role models and develop those respectful behaviors that will eventually be passed onto their children.  

So, the next time your child wants to talk…stop, respect and LISTEN.  The time you spend with them is an investment in developing them to learn the value of being respected, and being respectful.    Comments?

In the last two months, my son Arturo and I have been promoting our new children’s book, There’s An Elephant In My Bathtub.  Part of our promotional efforts is to visit Elementary schools to share our story, but more importantly to inspire and motivate the kids to be the best they can be.  One of the most gratifying things so far has been the attention that we have received from the students, teachers and educators.    I did not realize the impact my son and I have been making with the kids until I saw one student today.  He was so excited to meet us in person again, as I saw his eyes light up.   My son and I immediately re-enforced that excitement by making him feel even more special than the first time.

One of our objectives when we present to the kids is to satisfy one of their basic needs – “the need to make them feel important”.  We focus on delivering the message that the presentations are not about what we have done, but how great they can be.   We have presented to over 10,000 students, teachers, community groups/leaders, and others in the last (2) months, and have done one thing consistently that has made a significant impact – make them feel like the most important person on this earth.  It is amazing to see how making someone feel like “a rock star” can go a long way.  It doesn’t take a lot of effort, but it does take being genuine.

Make someone feel like a rock star this week….and write back to me.  How did it feel for you?  More importantly, how do you think it felt for them?

I would love to hear from you….

Being a parent is probably one of the greatest joys someone can experience in life, yet be one of the most difficult and challenging responsibilities one will ever have.  Once you become a parent, you are one forever and it doesn’t get any easier.  Kids today are growing up quicker, faster and yes…smarter, but are growing up in an age of constant change, major anxiety and extreme uncertainty.  The concept of understanding their (5) critical needs to achieve balanced emotional health is vital to the support of the child.   Our children will change over time, but these critical needs will not.  Children need to feel – respected, important, accepted, included, and secure.

When we can incorporate their needs, recognize their importance and become knowledgeable on how to satisfy them, we will be able to develop a strategy that is effective and consistent to the parenting process.  In understanding these needs, we also have to become more proactive vs. reactive, protective but not overly controlling, remain positive vs. negative, consistent instead of unpredictable, and relaxed rather than tense.

In my book, “There’s An Elephant In My Bathtub”, the story satisfies these critical needs and promotes a healthy environment for a child to develop.  In this case, the young child, Andres was able to use his imagination without the fear of rejection and ridicule.  His way of being was respected and accepted.  Throughout the story, it is also evident that the environment he lives in is very secure.

Creating and executing a strategy with consistency will increase the likelihood of becoming that supportive parent kids will learn to appreciate now and in years to come.

So, what is your strategy to becoming a supportive parent?

Letting kids be creative is of vital importance to their growth and development.   Imagination fosters a child’s creativity.   This type of creativity allows children to reach out and explore the unbelievable.   In my book, ‘There’s An Elephant In My Bathtub”, the main character, Andres prepares for his bath to discover a big surprise!   “I enter the bathroom imagining the worst….there’s an elephant in my bathtub…! I yell with a burst.”

As the story continues, Andres finds himself more creative with his imagination.   This use of his imagination allows Andres to cope with his fears, and turn an ordinary daily event into an extraordinary journey.   In real life, my son Andres’ wonderfully active and colorful imagination is on full display everyday as with most kids.  As observers and parents, we should really attempt to view the world through their eyes and try to understand the wonders our kids see in common everyday occurrences.   Allowing them to do this is one step forward in their growth and development…as well as ours.