Teach Our Children Well

P7040080On Monday, I wrote a blog about trying to demonstrate kindness. In it I mentioned some things that I didn’t want children to learn.  Today I wanted to talk more about that and what children should be taught.  The headline of this blog is based on the Crosby, Stills, and Nash song, “Teach Your Children Well.”

There are many ways to raise children and many schools of thought on what to do.  I am no expert but can speak from my own experience as a mother, and learning from those who had children before me, my siblings, friends, parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents.  So here are some of my thoughts of what children need and what we can teach them.

Mainly, they want our time, attention, and love.  This was clearly demonstrated in a commercial that was shown in December. Children were asked what they wanted Santa to bring to them for Christmas.  They gave lists of toys and games and books they wanted.  They were then asked if they’d rather have the gift or time with their parents.

You know what every child said?  Not another fancy toy, not the top-of-the line new gadget, they all wanted time with their parents.  That gave me pause and I hope it does you as well.  Let’s be sure to give them our time and undivided attention.  When they have a question, let’s listen and give an answer; instead of rushing them away with “I’m busy, I don’t have time.”

I try to do my best to listen to all of Ian’s comments, answer his questions, and comfort his fears. I am by no means perfect and do get impatient at times, but I do my best to pay attention each and every time.  When I do stop and focus on him, I learn many things from him.  He has an amazing mind and insightful and loving things to say.

I read a quote earlier this week: “Students who are loved at home come to school to learn, and students who aren’t, come to school to be loved.”  This too made me stop and think.  My prayer is that all children are loved at home, but the sad fact is, many aren’t.  For whatever reason, this happens and that breaks my heart.

I hope and pray that all children can learn at school and pay attention.  I hope that we as parents, teachers, aunts, uncles, friends, etc., can let the children in our lives know that they are loved, that they are special, that they have value, and that they are uniquely and wonderfully made.  I hope that we can teach them love, kindness, forgiveness, patience, self-control, among many other things.  I also hope that we can be good examples for them.

I hope that we also teach them to not bully other children, to care for those in their lives – both people and animals, and that as part of a family we work together and help each other.  I also hope that we teach them that chores are important, hard work is important, to always do their best, and that making mistakes is a part of life.  Losing gracefully is also something that I hope we can teach them.  I hope that we can teach our children that their actions right or wrong do have consequences.

I also hope our children learn to appreciate what they have and don’t take things for granted, that they know some parts of the world don’t have running water or a toilet that flushes, that many children don’t get three meals a day seven days a week, and that they are not entitled to everything that they want.  I hope we can tell our children no when we as parents deem necessary, that they can learn teamwork and to lose gracefully and kindly.  I also hope that we as parents don’t take the games too seriously and make scenes that both embarrass and penalize our children.

The recent story of the affluenza teen shocked me.  From the reports I heard this is what happened.  A young man drove with several friends, he was drunk while driving and several of them were killed.  His defense was that he was so spoiled that he didn’t know right from wrong.  What?  Seriously, a kid wasn’t taught right from wrong?  How could that possibly happen?  What is the thinking behind this? What possible good is it to never discipline your child?

By discipline, I mean taking things away from them, talking about when they disobey, time-outs, having them realize that their actions do have consequences, and the occasional spank (lightly).  I don’t mean violence or terrifying them into submission.  I think we can discipline our children with love and not anger.  We sometimes just have to stop and count to ten before we do.

Regarding this parent who doesn’t discipline, I just don’t get it.  I waited until my 40s to become a parent.  I had plenty of time to see what I wanted for our child and had many discussions with my husband on what we would do and how we would raise our child.  I feel fortunate to have had that.  I am glad that we have set boundaries for our son and have disciplined him with love.

It was a hard few years to get there.  Many days when he was little, I got nothing done but talking to him about how to behave and what was okay and what wasn’t.  It did pay off since we could take him out to eat without total chaos ensuing.  That was a major blessing and one that my grandmother complimented me on.  I will never forget her telling me, “You are really good parents Patti.”  Wow, thanks Grandma.  That meant the world to me.

There are still many things to work on.  Now our battles are with helping around the house, keeping his room clean, ensuring all of his homework is finished each night, and eating vegetables.  At his school, they work on life skills and being kind to each other.  I just love that.

Being a parent is in my opinion the most important job that one will ever have.  Sadly there is so much that we often don’t know when we start.  It truly is on the job training.  I just hope and pray that we can help each other as we go through the parenting adventure.

May we be there for each other.  May we equip our children to be adults who can live on their own with jobs, values, and interests. And may we always remember to love, no matter what.

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Try a Little Kindness

Playground.4When I was growing up, I was taught to be kind to others and to be loving and respectful.  I was taught that differences are okay and that all people have value. My husband and I are now teaching that to our son.  It truly concerns me how far away from that we now are.  Nowadays, so many people seem to think it’s okay to be mean to others and treat them badly.

We have a person running for president of our country who in my opinion is a bully.  He has insulted people of a different race, religion, sex, and views than his own.  Rather than building up others, he tears them down every chance he gets.  He treats others with disdain or worse, outright insults and hateful rhetoric.  The scary thing is that he has quite a few followers who seem to be going along with him.

Is that really what we have become — a nation of hate, skepticism, doubt, racism, sexism, and intolerance?  I sure hope not.  And, I pray not with every fiber of my being. I know we have always had all of these things and probably always will.  But with many civil rights movements over the years, it seemed things had been changing.

I hope we aren’t going backwards.  And, I hope and pray that we have learned from mistakes and travesties that have happened.  There is always more work to be done and I hope that we will continue to do this work.  After all, we do have much in common, despite the differences.

America is an amazing melting pot and my prayer is that it will continue to be just that.

Here are some things I want us to remember:

  • May we continue to teach others how to love.
  • May we forgive and learn from others.
  • May we try a little kindness.
  • May we be helpful to others.
  • May we remember to build one another up, rather than tearing each other down.
  • May we not have a leader who will teach our children that it is okay to be rude and belittle those who you don’t agree with.
  • May we not let hate take over.
  • May we remember that we are more alike than we are different.
  • May we never repeat certain things in our history and truly learn from those who have gone before us.
  • May we have hearts of love and forgiveness.
  • May we have healthy and civil debates.
  • May we stand up for what we believe without insult and harm to others.
  • May we think before we speak.
  • May we teach our children love and kindness, not hate and rudeness.

May we also remember the words from the Love Chapter from the Bible (1st Corinthians 13:4-8).  This is how we should love:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

I wonder if we as a people can love like this?  My prayer is that we can and will.

I Have A Dream

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.’..

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Today we celebrate the amazing man who gave this stirring speech more than 50 years ago — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  He was peaceful in his mission to have all people treated the same.  I admire so much about him and realize that so much must still be done.

Dr. King was an amazing speaker, pastor, activist, and humanitarian.  He did so much to help bridge the gap between people.   He was for love, not hate, he was for civil disobedience, not violence, and he was for kindness not judgement of others.  May we all live this way.

He is one of my favorite speakers ever and there are so many quotes that he said that are wonderful.  His words are moving and a call to action.  I am sharing some of them at the end of this blog.

I grew up being taught to love others and treat all people with respect.  I am thankful for that.  Kirk and I are teaching Ian to live the same way.  I love that he doesn’t see a person’s color or a particular religion, but instead sees a friend — a boy or girl he can talk with and play with.  Children are amazing like that.  I hope that we can learn from them.

In today’s world, some people have trouble with someone else’s skin color and others with someone else’s religion.  This continues to baffle me and trouble me.  How can we still be so hateful to others who are different than ourselves?  How can we make snap judgements just because someone has different hair or skin color or worships differently?  Just because they are different, does that make them bad or wrong?  I don’t think so.

In all races and religions there are good people and there are bad people.  My prayer is that the good will outweigh the bad and that we can spread kindness.  I pray that we can remember to love one another as Christ has loved us, or as the Golden Rule has taught us.  May we drive out hate and distrust with kindness and compassion.  May we support and love each other.

Here are a few of Dr. King’s quotes:

  • “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
  • I have decided to stick with love.  Hate is too great a burden to bear.
  • Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.
  • Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
  • If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you to go on in spite of all.  And so today I still have a dream.   
  • The time is always right to do what is right.
  • Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.
  • Life’s most persistent and urgent question is “What are you doing for others?”
  • We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.
  • Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
  • We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.
  • A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”

May we love as Dr. King loved, may we speak up as he did, and may we remember to always be kind to each other.

January 7 – Reading

POD_January.7_ReadingHi and Happy Thursday.  Today’s Photo of the Day Challenge is Reading.  Here is a photo from October 2015.  It is of Ian reading the instructions on how to put up his tent that he received as a birthday gift.

He read these instructions with authority as we tried to assemble the tent for a camp out.  What a fun evening that was.  Kirk, Ian, and I slept in the tent one night in the fall.  Very early in the morning, it started raining so we went back inside.  After the rain stopped, we dried the tent before putting it away.

I don’t know about you but I love reading and especially I love seeing Ian read.  He is a great reader and now reads books of his own, books from the school library, and books we check out from the city library.

A few of his recent favorites are The Jedi Academy series and books by Mo Willems.  He now has all three of the Jedi Academy series – two he bought and the other he received as a Christmas gift.  For his birthday, he was given several Elephant and Piggy books.  We both love them.

I too love to read books.  My favorite books are fiction and often about women.  I also like mysteries.  A few favorite authors are Jane Green, Danielle Steel, Carol Higgins Clark, and Kristen Higgins.  I have many others as well but cannot remember all of the names.  I love checking out books from the library or buying them at discount bookstores.

I also enjoy some nonfiction stories and items about favorite shows or cities.  My interests are varied.  I sometimes like to read biographies or autobiographies about Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, Elton John, James Garner, Ricky Martin, Dean Martin, and many others.  I also like  cookbooks, books about traveling, and how others live.  I would be lost without the ability to read.

Reading is so very important in one’s ability to become educated and have a good job.  My prayer is that all children and adults will learn to read and love to read as well.  Many people in my family and a few in Kirk’s family have helped both children and adults learn to read.  It has been exciting to see and hear about too!  May the reading continue.

One of the items on my bucket list is to write a book or two.  I want to write a children’s book with Ian’s help and a historical fiction novel with a strong female character.  I have ideas in my head but I want to find time to actually start working on the ideas, the plots, the characters, and starting doing research.  I will keep you posted on my progress!

A few quotes about reading:

  • “A capacity and taste for reading gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others.” — Abraham Lincoln
  • “The ability to read awoke inside me some long dormant craving to be mentally alive.” — Malcolm X
  • “He that loves a book will never want a faithful friend, a wholesome counselor, a cheerful companion, an effectual comforter. By study, by reading, by thinking, one may innocently divert and pleasantly entertain himself, as in all weathers, as in all fortunes.” — Barrow
  • “We read to know we are not alone.” — C.S. Lewis
  • “The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” — Dr. Seuss
  • “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” — Emilie Buchwald
  • “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” — Frederick Douglas

Aren’t these quotes great?  I found them online and like each one for different reasons.  We do learn more and can think about things more deeply when we are reading regularly.  We can learn about ideas and concepts that are different than our own, and can learn how much variety and differences there truly are.

May we have many adventures as we read.  May we remember what a gift it is to be a reader.  May we help others learn to read.

Happy New Year!

cropped-champagne-glasses.jpg10.9.8.7.6.5.4.3.2.1… Happy New Year!  It is now 2016 and we are already into the 2nd day of the new year.

Wow, last year sure went by quickly.  It seemed like we just started 2015 and now it’s a whole new year – 2016.  Time seems to move more quickly the older I get.  Some days seem long and tough but the months seem to fly by.

For the first time this year, our son stayed up until midnight.  He was determined to do so and was happy that he did.  On January 1st, however, he was quite tired.  Doing something for the first time is fun but does have consequences sometimes.

On New Year’s Day we enjoyed watching the Tournament of Roses Parade.  I love watching this parade each year.  The colors of the floats are lovely and the marching bands are quite talented.  Then there are so many horses who cantor and prance along the route.

We know someone this year who helped on one of the floats.  It was fun to see her handiwork.  Then we have a family friend who was in the parade.  We looked for him but didn’t see him.  Still knowing people directly involved made it even more special.

That morning we happened upon a New Years’s parade from London, England.  It was quite different but just as fun.  Many people gathered for that one just as they do in Pasadena, California.

A few quotes about the New Year:

  • A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other. ~ Author Unknown
  • Youth is when you are allowed to stay up late on New Year’s Eve. Middle age is when you are forced to. ~ Bill Vaughn
  • Approach the New Year with resolve to find the opportunities hidden in each new day. ~ Michael Josephson
  • We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day. ~ Edith Lovejoy Pierce
  • Each New Year’s Day is like starting a treasure hunt again from scratch, with a slightly altered map. ~ Terri Guillemets
  • May all your troubles last as long as your New Year’s resolutions. ~ Joey Adams
  • Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right. ~ Oprah Winfrey
  • Tomorrow (January 1st) is the first blank page of a 365 page book.  Make it a good one. ~Brad Paisley

May we indeed make the most of each day!  May we be kind to one another.  May we live life to the fullest.  May we love and forgive.  Hope you have a wonderful, safe, healthy, and prosperous new year!  Happy New Year!!!