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.

Hi Ian’s Mom

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAThis morning one of Ian’s friends said, “Hi Ian’s Mom” to me in the hallway before school.  He had to speak up since I didn’t see him at first.  I said hello in return and smiled.  We then  each went our separate ways.

This friend was in the same 1st grade class as Ian, but this year is in a different class.  They are in Cub Scouts together so we still see him. That is nice for Ian and for me since I like this young man.

Ian’s Mom is who I am known as at Ian’s school and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Kids call me that as well as some of the parents.  His friends in his Cub Scout den also call me that.  Other parents, and the teachers and staff know me as Patti and the PTO secretary.

I love being his mom and love him so very much.  I love that he has made friends and continues to do so.  I love that he enjoys going to school.  He is such a sweet boy and so much fun to know and listen to.  Kirk and I are truly blessed to be his parents.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn two days, we will celebrate Ian’s birthday.  He will be 8 years old.  Wow, our sweet baby is really growing up.

The changes that have occurred in his lifetime are just amazing.  He went from crawling, to walking, to running.  From no speech to early words to talking endlessly some days.  He went from thinking he would never learn to read, to reading toddler books, to recently finishing “James and The Giant Peach.”

He now wakes himself up, makes his breakfast, and gets himself ready for school.  He has an alarm set to help him wake up.  So far so good with that.  Next week though is fall break and I told him we won’t be using the alarm clock.  He reluctantly said okay.

Our boy is a young man now.  He is getting very tall and outgrowing clothing and shoes. In the mornings, I often ask him if he has had his growing machine on at night.  He laughs and says, “No Mom.  I am just growing.”

n539281610_366595_2660Before that day 8 years ago, I never knew how much love I had to give.  I didn’t know that I could put someone else’s needs before my own with middle of the night feedings and lack of sleep.  I didn’t realize that someone would be listening and carefully watching all that I do in order to learn for himself.  I didn’t realize that my heart would live outside my body in such a small yet amazing package.

The job of parents is daunting and very hard at times.  After all, our job is to love them, teach them how to behave, to be kind to others, and provide them with discipline.  Then when they are grown, to prepare them for the outside world and eventually say goodbye and leave our home.

It is also the most fulfilling and precious time of my life, of my life with Kirk as co-parents on this journey.  We want the best for our son and do all we can to provide that.  Not only with money and material things, but in special moments and times together, and creating memories.  We listen to him when he talks to us and live in the moment with him.

I teach Ian many things but he continues to teach me each and every day.  From him, I have learned to live in the moment.  I have learned to be truly thankful for each day.  I have learned what love truly is all about.  Ian, I thank you for that and am so proud that you call me Mom.  Your Dad and I love so so very much!

Dr. B’s Words of Wisdom

SRP.28_Patti.Dick.and.Artha.1986As my regular readers know, my blog is inspired by the stories of my wonderful grandfather, Dr. J.R.B.  He was an amazing storyteller and had quite an imagination.  He also wrote a column for his city’s paper for 20 years about his children, pets, his wife, family, and friends.

In 1985, he and my grandmother gave all of us in the family an amazing book of his columns and some family photos.  It is one of my favorite and most special treasures.  I love that my writing is often similar to his.  Today, I was looking at this book and came across a great column.  When I read it, I thought of Ian who has just had a birthday and my nephew Isaac who will turn 17 years old tomorrow.

This photo was taken of me with my amazing grandparents in 1986 – one year after receiving this precious gift.  I have enjoyed reading it on occasion ever since and draw inspiration from his columns and his stories that he used to tell.  I still miss both of them very much and wish they could have met my husband and son.

Here are my grandpa’s words on Parent’s Hardest Job, which was published in November 1950:

____”I’ve been watching our small son wrestle with Brownie, our family pooch.  It’s man-style wrestling now.  All at once I knew our boy is a baby no longer. The little baby has gone forever.

“Know how I feel? Like boo-hooing. I think a parent’s hardest job is watching the little ones grow up. Do you feel that way too? They grow up so doggone fast.

“Probably our regret is selfish.  One reason we love our children so much when they are little is that they make us feel very important. Their helplessness feeds our big-shot appetites. Compared with them we’re competent, successful, brilliant.

“We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t enjoy these superior feelings.

“Then they grow up. They become more and more independent. They compete with us. We become small potatoes. And we don’t like it.

“What should I do with my son, and you with yours? I should be more generous. I should get my thrill out of his new accomplishments. I should encourage his growth in all ways.

“So, little boy, go ahead and wrestle man-style. Nice to see your progress.

“The trouble is that your father is a soft-hearted old lump-in-the throat guy who just can’t seem to practice what he preaches. Oh me!”____

Aren’t these words amazing? I teared up when I read them today.  I thought about Ian and Isaac and the rest of my nieces and nephews and how quickly they are all growing up.  Time moves so quickly and there is so much change in our children.

I am honored to be able to have a front-row seat at my son’s growing up years and so many other amazing young people.  I feel blessed and humbled about that.  I wish them all the best!

I wonder if I could put this feeling into words as well as Grandpa did?  I am just glad to have his words to read and learn from.