Thank You, Grandma!

Recently I was having a conversation with a retired school teacher about her career experiences.  She acknowledged that one of the most difficult parts of educating children can be keeping order in the classroom.  Teachers don’t have many options for disciplining unruly students, but this woman came up with an ingenious idea.  On the first day of school, she wrote down the name and phone number for each student’s grandmother(s).  A call to Grandma was extremely effective in quickly improving a child’s behavior.

When I was growing up as an Air Force child (no, not an “Air Force brat”:), we lived in several foreign countries.  The attitude toward senior citizens in many other countries is radically different than in the United States.  Often they live with the family even when they’re ill.  Nursing homes are used only for parents that need extreme medical care.  Grandparents remain an integral part of the family and their life experience and wisdom are valued. 

There is no denying there is a breakdown of our nation’s moral fiber including an understanding of right and wrong.  In previous generations, there were more choices made for what was right and less made for what was easy.  If we’re fortunate enough to have our children’s grandparents still living, it might be a worthwhile use of time to have some heart to heart talks.  Parenting styles don’t have to be exactly the same from generation to generation, but some things never change – or, at least, they shouldn’t! 

1500 Chickens!

During a conversation with the manager of a grocery store, I was told they sell 1500 cooked rotisserie chickens per week in just his store!  When asked to explain the large number, he said people don’t know how to roast a chicken.  I’ve met several people who don’t, so he could be right.  What does this have to do with raising children?  If our goal is to produce happy, healthy, well adjusted adults, it has a lot to do with it!  The vast majority of us have heard about the importance of wise diet choices, but do we choose well?  Considering the epidemic of weight issues and illness in our country, even in children, the answer is obvious.

There are some great cooking shows on television or we can ask a friend to teach us.  Those of us who do know how to cook often believe we don’t have the time.  Actually, this could be a deception!  Waiting in a restaurant drive through line or for seating and service inside a restaurant can be very time consuming.  We have to go to the grocery store anyway so why not use this time more wisely?  Planning a week’s menu and using a list help avoid multiple trips.  We can also cut down preparation time by cooking a few ingredients that can be used in several recipes.  We spend time doing what is important to us.  Encouraging our children to eat well will have more impact when they see us making it a priority.

If we’re teaching our children survival skills, cooking should probably be at the top of the list. Not only is it healthier to limit trips to fast food restaurants and consumption of convenience foods, it’s also much more economical.  The ability to cook nutritious meals will be an advantage in any situation.  If your adult child gets his own apartment, stretching the budget and avoiding some doctor bills will be helpful.  Your future son or daughter-in-law will thank you for giving their spouse cooking lessons!  Knowing how to cook produces only positive results and it’s a fun activity your entire family will enjoy!       


Children Aren't Adults!

     Babies are just SO cute!  We’ve had nine months of picking out tiny outfits and decorating the nursery in joyful anticipation.  The rocking chair stands ready to gently lull our softly cooing child peacefully to sleep. The reality can be quite different!  For us, it involved reassuring each other that everyone has to sleep at some point.  The issue seemed to be that our child and her parents had totally different ideas of when that should be.  In fact, it didn’t seem like we were in sync with our little cutie on much of anything.  Of course, that was true and why shouldn’t it be?

      Newborns have no frame of reference for hunger and wet bottoms, nor for the countless other experiences in the world they’ve just entered. So, in our efforts to help our new babies feel secure and loved, we give them exactly what they want, exactly when they want it.  One essential ingredient of good parenting is timing and it’s important that this practice doesn’t continue when they’re no longer babies.  Even though a child may be demanding his own way, it doesn’t necessarily mean he really wants it.  Parental guidelines and boundaries add to a child’s sense of security.

     There are cultural influences that can affect the way we raise our children.  One thing that is almost “in fashion” right now is to let even small children make inappropriate decisions. For instance, we know a young boy whose mother has allowed him to eat only hot dogs and macaroni & cheese. Does a child have the ability to really understand the health ramifications of such a diet?  Of course not!  Yes, children should be encouraged to mature into making wise choices.  Contrast the hot dog story with the parent who says, “We have green beans, carrots and peas; which one would you like to have today?’



Filter the Noise!

Have you ever noticed how much chatter we're surrounded with in everyday life? I define chatter as verbiage I don't really need to hear such as other peoples' cell phone calls or the grocery store PA system. Could I function well if I were actually listening to all of this "stuff"? No, I could not. We once lived close to some railroad tracks.  At first, the noise was extremely distracting but soon we barely noticed the sound of the trains.  The railroad clatter had become “background noise”.   

What does this have to do with raising our children?  We need to limit what we say so that they are not overwhelmed by information and instruction. We’ve all had the experience of repeatedly asking a child to do something only to be ignored.  Maybe we weren’t being ignored; it could be we were talking so much that we were no longer being heard.   

Perhaps it would be good to examine our priorities. What needs definite correction, what needs redirection, what is just a child’s personality and what is so unimportant we can ignore it completely?   If we don't want our voices to become "background noise", it might be a good idea for us to learn to choose our words more carefully.


Are You An Accidental Liar?

      It would seem as if lying is always intentional, but it can be accidental.  As an example, a child is told he must clean his room before playing outside. His parents then allow him to play even though the room hasn’t been cleaned. This is an accidental lie. The parents’ original idea may have been to teach responsibility and that there are consequences for chosen behaviors. Instead, something quite different nay have been learned from this lack of parental follow through.   

     We often teach our children far more by what we do than by what we say.  What may have been communicated in the above example is that telling the truth is unimportant.  Another unintended lesson might have been that it’s not necessary to listen to the person in authority.  Let's also include as a possibility the popular concept that I can do what I feel like doing and ignore my responsibilities.  As parents, we don’t plan to teach our children such things; it’s accidental. 

     If something is accidental, it’s not on purpose.  Shouldn’t what we do in parenting be on purpose?  Absolutely!  Raising our children is too important a job to be done thoughtlessly or haphazardly. We need to think before we speak and follow through on what we say.   Being a liar, even an accidental liar, is not a trait we want to teach our children.  Anything worthwhile, especially raising our children, requires planning and attention to detail.  As Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”

My First Blog

This is my very first blog! When the idea of writing one was presented to me, my reaction was to question, "What is a blog?" From the various blogs I've now read, it seems to be a person who has something to say just saying it. My blogs will be short because you may not have a lot of time to read. And, I usually write as I talk, concise and to the point.

I'm going to be writing about childhood and parenting. No, I don't have a master's degree in child psychology, nor do I have any credentials. What I do have are three grown daughters who I not only love but also like. Even if they weren't mine, I would enjoy being around them.

How do we raise positive, joyful, well-adjusted children in such a negative world? It's not easy, and I highly commend those parents who are committed to the job. I'm not going to be sharing intellectual, dry ideas you can find in many books by people who are probably much more qualified. Rather, there will be little nuggets you can chew on throughout your day: basic principles, suggestions, different ways of looking at common problems and, yes, personal stories. My husband and I weren't perfect parents, but I'm certain other people can learn as much from our mistakes as from our successes.