Outwitting The Difficult Child

Originally published in Flourishing January 2012

The worst thing that can befall any parent is to outlive one of their children. In that regard, Linda and I have been very lucky, and a day does not pass, but that we give thanks.

I believe that it’s equally sad when a parent or grandparent has given up on their child or grandchild. This is perhaps a more common tragedy. Thankfully, we have not had that experience, either; but at times, we have had serious communication gaps.

I’m neither a psychologist nor family therapist, but here is what I think I’ve learned:

When you feel your child is shutting you out, or just talking past you; that child may be telling you something important about your own communication habits. Please know that I’m telling you this as a friend, and as a serial offender: That child may be, in effect, your family’s Jiminy Cricket.

From more than twenty years of working closely with hundreds of families, I’ve concluded that a key to the success of flourishing families is their ability to extend unconditional love, and to convey an unconditional commitment to listen non-judgmentally.

So, if you’re considering giving up on your child or grandchild, you might want, instead, to step back and ask yourself, “What message am I missing—and what opportunity is our family forfeiting—because I’m not willing to listen and learn?”  mh 

HT:  John A. Warnick, http://johnawarnick.typepad.com/seedlings

10th Annual Legacy Thanksgiving Banquet

Originally published in Flourishing December 2010.

Legacy: a Regional Community Foundation is a public charity established in 1996 by local people to meet a wide variety of charitable needs.  Shortly after its founding, I was invited by the founders to suggest ways to help the foundation grow. You know I’m a slow study, so it took a while.

But, during a staff meeting in the early months of 2001, it occurred to me that we could help the foundation by sponsoring a public event. I met with Legacy’s Executive Director, Pam Moore, and we decided to have a Thanksgiving celebration.  Our objective was raise $300,000 by the end of that year to qualify for a matching grant from the Kansas Health Foundation.  We invited KAKE News Anchor and Winfield native, Larry Hatteberg, to keynote that inaugural event. Larry was magnificent!

That first Legacy Thanksgiving Banquet was so successful, we decided to make it an annual event.  On November 18 of this year we were proud to sponsor the 10th Annual Legacy Thanksgiving Banquet. During the past ten years, Legacy has increased its endowed and operational funds by a factor of more than ten.  The credit for that, of course, is not ours, but we are immensely proud to be a contributor to Legacy’s growth, and we’re looking forward to at least another ten years.

In addition to Larry Hatteberg, our keynote speakers in past years have included Kansas native and A&E producer, Bill Kurtis, Inc. Magazine “Entrepreneur of the Year-2004”, Jack Schultz, and highly acclaimed Kansas historian, Craig Miner.  This year, we were very pleased to have David Rebein, a well-known victims’ advocate from Dodge City, who spoke about living a passionate life.

David is one of seven farm-family brothers.  He credits the famous television show, Perry Mason, for igniting his passion for the practice of law.  David shared several instances of courtroom drama that were illustrative of his conversion from defending corporate clients to his passion for seeing that right be done.  David didn’t just talk about his passion, it was on display.

We were also quite proud this year to feature the very talented Sarah Stevens, who performed a medley of Aaron Copeland’s most popular works.  Sarah was accompanied on the piano by Southwestern College student, Joanna Woon.

Pam Moore, and Legacy’s current board president, Marcia Stultz, also spoke to the group, and displayed a regional map showing the names and locations of the foundation’s 2010 grant recipients. mh

Your Personality is Important, Pass It On

Originally published in Flourishing December 2010.

You have things in your home that are important to you, not just for their tangible value, but for their intangible or symbolic value, for the memories attached to them, the stories, too, perhaps.

In my case, I have pictures and letters dating back to the mid-19th century and a dictionary owned by my mother’s grandfather. They have no monetary value, but I have in my mind the stories that my mother shared with me. I know those people. I understand who they were and, more importantly, they’ve provided me with insights into the person I am.

I have evidence of our children’s and grandchildren’s childhood creativity and achievements, their school pictures, and much more. Someday, I think and hope, they’ll appreciate the love that Linda has put into preserving the spirit of their youth. They, too, may gain insight into the development of their own personalities and interests.

I have a ring that belonged to my father’s mother. Violet Nestelrode Harvey died in 1924, when my father was just six years old. I have pictures of her, too. I cherish these things, because I can see that she was a loving and caring mother, profoundly missed by my father and his two younger brothers, Forrest and George. I can now understand the effect her premature death had on their lives and their personalities, and they on mine.

As I approach my dotage, all these things are more treasured than ever, and someday, I believe, they’ll be treasured by others who share my lineage. All have a story attached to them. My siblings and I have taken it as our responsibility to preserve those stories, as well as the artifacts, for the people we must someday leave behind. We’re working on that right now.

Let me ask you: What are those treasured things in your life, and what meaning or story is associated with them? What is the most significant object or heirloom that was given to you by a child, a parent, your spouse, or an ancestor? Did the person who gave you this object or heirloom tell you a story about that item? Can you—will you—share a story of remembrance or gratitude with those who will inherit these things from you?

Can you—will you—share your personality with those members of your family who will otherwise never know you? Do it for them. It will, I promise, bring new joy and understanding into your own life. mh

7 Lessons for My Grandchildren

Originally published in Flourishing October 2010.

My grandchildren are back in school. Their preparations have moved me to consider what they should learn. Here are seven lessons that come to mind:

First, everyone should study the lives of George Washington and Mohandas Gandhi. Both were men of self-made character, and each won the unfailing loyalty of his followers by his willingness to accept responsibility for being a grown-up. Each was willing to speak truth to power. Each was willing to act in accordance with his most deeply held beliefs. Each led the way to free minds and free markets.

Second, learn to use a dictionary, and develop the habit of defining your terms. Demand that others define theirs. “What do I (you) mean when I (you) say______?” The answers may surprise you, and, at a minimum, give you the advantage of knowing what you’re talking about (hearing).

Respect boundaries, including your own. That’s lesson number three. Everything belongs to somebody. Everyone’s life, time, and property are his own – families, friends, gangs, and governments, notwithstanding. Sharing and trading, certainly – but always by mutual consent; never initiate the use of force.

Actions have consequences. That’s lesson four, and its corollary is: There is a reason for everything.

Lesson five: You never have “nothing to do”. Wasted time is premature death. Think back to your best day, and strive to live at that level or higher every day from now on.

Lesson six: Help the deserving – and be deserving of help.

Lesson seven: Have a mighty purpose and set meaningful goals. If someone tells you he has no purpose, no goals, no struggles, and no worries – check his pulse. He’s a dead man walking. Tell him, “Here’s a goal for you: Earn my respect! Or better yet, earn your own respect!”

These lessons are not all-inclusive. They are a start and possibly a life’s work for those who want to reach their fullest potential. Oh! I just thought of another lesson, and I’d better get to it: Don’t tell, show! mh

Sharing Abundance

Originally published in Flourishing October 2007.

In the summer of 2001, Legacy, A Regional Community Foundation was in its earliest stages of growth.  The organization needed to raise $300,000 to win a grant from the Kansas Health Foundation to permanently fund its operating budget.  Executive Director, Pam Moore, and the foundation’s board of directors had a vision.  These were people who believed they could make a difference, and I was energized by the opportunity to be involved in this ground-floor opportunity.

So, in November 2001, Family Wealth Management sponsored the first annual ‘Legacy Thanksgiving Banquet’.  We invited KAKE 10 News Director, Larry Hatteberg, to be our keynote speaker.  Larry graciously accepted our invitation—donating both his knowledge and time.  We invited everyone we knew to share in our enthusiasm.  Knowing Winfield, I was not surprised by the response:  The Baden Square Community Room was filled beyond capacity.  With the help of the Winfield Courier and radio station KSOK, Legacy’s message reverberated throughout the community.  Within forty-five days of that first banquet, Legacy had a permanent operating fund of more than $600,000. 

Now, six years later, Legacy is faithfully living out the vision of its founders.  Continuing to forge cooperative relationships with deep-pocketed outside interests, Legacy has brought in more than one million dollars from those interests in only six years.  The Kansas Health Foundation has provided $500,000 for community donor support programs and for funding of local projects, and furnished $200,000 for local leadership development programs.  The Kaufman Foundation bestowed $100,000 for creating and maintaining a youth philanthropy board—Kids Impact Cowley County.  The Kellogg Foundation granted $80,000 to explore rural economic development opportunities.  The United Methodist Health Ministries Fund conferred $95,000 for the ‘Tiny Teeth’ oral health program.  Clearly, Pam and her board are doing something right.

Here at home, Legacy Regional Community Foundation is an essential, proactive partner with other local non-profit organizations.  Legacy is working with Leadership Cowley County, Vision 20/20, Tiny Teeth Oral Health Initiative, Non-Profit Chamber Council, Cowley First Economic Development, Arkansas City Public Education Fund, the Kansas Community Development Initiative, and with Chamber of Commerce offices in Burden, Arkansas City, and Winfield.

Today, local donors and volunteers are using Legacy’s charitable planning expertise to support organizations and programs that enrich our communities.  Indeed, as of September 27, 2007, Legacy is managing thirty-nine endowed (permanent) funds, each with its own purpose, totaling $2,200,126.  Since that first banquet six years ago, Legacy has distributed $809,711 in grants, benefiting the citizens of Cowley, Chautauqua, and Sumner counties.  One of those endowed funds, Promises to Keep, is funded in its entirety by ticket sales for the annual ‘Legacy Thanksgiving Banquet’, benefiting local seniors.

As citizens, donors, and volunteers, we know that the future of our communities depends upon what we do today.  Our communities’ needs are great and our opportunities are grand.  So, it seems almost providential that Legacy is making it possible for each of us to bring out knowledge of community needs and our distinctive visions of the future together in one place—locally managed and controlled—where we can put our time and money to work in ways that no profit-making enterprise or government entity can match.

Please note that this year’s (2007) ‘Legacy Thanksgiving Banquet’ will be held on November 15, again in the Baden Square Community Room.  Our keynote speaker will be Denise Unruh of the South Central Community Foundation in Pratt.  Denise will share her experiences of the Greensburg tornado, its aftermath, and recovery.  We know that Greensburg’s tragedy carries important lessons for all of us.  We will also be sharing video presentations of some of the work that Legacy Regional Community Foundation is advancing in our area.  Watch for your invitation, or call us for more information.  mh