What are the major influences on American youngsters? The home, school, and church would have been correct answers years ago. But now the influence of television and the internet must be added high on the list, in many cases second only to the parents. Indeed, many young parents today, who are themselves products of the TV and internet generation, are permitting their children to become TV and internet addicts. [Read more…] about Lessening TV’s destructive influence on children
Breakfast in bed, a snooze in the hammock, and picnics in the park are some of the amenities dads will enjoy this Father’s Day, that yearly occasion for excusing dad from yard work and household chores to relax with his family, is also a time to give him some special recognition.
What makes a father worthy of those trophies which read, “To the World’s Greatest Dad”? Is it the new bike, or shoes, or toys he bought? Is it the trips he took with the family? Is it the music, swimming, or dancing lessons he pays for?
These things can be highly important to young children and they’re often a primary expression of a father’s love for them. But don’t “the world’s greatest dads” give of themselves – not just give things? Aren’t they the fathers who consistently work at their relationship with their children and refuse to let themselves become too busy? [Read more…] about Father’s Day is more than snoozing in a hammock
Today society is becoming increasingly aware of the importance of communicating – in marriages, at work, in government, and between countries. Another area where adults have important needs to communicate is with children.
On the surface this sounds easy enough to do, yet how often do we observe that the adult-child contact consists of baby talk, talking down to children, over-spending on toys, or allowing permissive behavior? On the other hand, there are those adults who seem to have a natural rapport with children, featured by lively two-way conversations. They invite and readily receive verbal feedback from children rather than limiting themselves to a one-sided conversation by phrases like, “My how you’ve grown!”
What makes the difference between the good and poor communicator?
Certain skills are necessary for good communication and must be developed by adults. One way to identify these skills is to review those cases where good adult-child communication is evident. In thinking over the best examples of communication between our children and other adults, one aspect consistently stands out. It is the love and motivation of the adult in getting down to the child’s level and communicating in a way he or she can understand and respond to.
Our children are enjoying a high level of communication with their grandmother. The basic way grandma meets the children on their level is to learn their interests and then plan to explore and share the topic with them. It might involve something new to her such as dinosaurs or it could be one of her favorite hobbies such as coin collecting. Whatever the subject, she shows her interest by asking the children a few questions and carefully listening to their explanations. [Read more…] about Talking with children
“No more pets and that’s final,” my husband and I kept telling our children and ourselves.
Five goldfish, a dog, and one rabbit seemed enough for our busy family. Another pet in the house would definitely mean more responsibility, cost and cleanup. And remember who usually ends up caring for a pet? Parents!
But there was something beyond the physical care of animals we had forgotten. It became apparent when the second-grade teacher asked us to provide room and board for the classroom guinea pig one summer. Reluctantly, I approved this temporary guest, as long as our son promised to look after Minoo’s needs.
In a few weeks, the short-eared, short-tailed rodent had brought something important to our home. The children cooperated with its caring and feeding and showered the chubby pet with love. They insisted on having Minoo’s cage nearby when they played. They devised a sunshield for the cage during hot days and constantly checked his water supply.
The guinea pig responded to all this affection with squeals of delight whenever the children appeared. Soon, even I was talking to the little guest.
Just as Minoo returned to school in September, a friend offered the children an eight-week-old kitten. This time we thought twice about saying “No.” We had seen the guinea pig be more than another chore around the house. He provided a laboratory for love – a chance to express kind and tender actions. Minoo was a companion who was much smaller than the children, giving them a glimpse at being in charge in a world where most everything else is bigger than they are.
So the request for a kitten was answered with a warm “yes.” Pussywillow brought out all the fatherly and motherly qualities from the children. More training in pet care was needed, which called for patience, but everyone welcomed the addition. Pussywillow’s antics provided comic humor, and the children’s ingenuity brought forth homemade toys for him.
Sharing is another joy of having a pet. A nearby family with three children, but no animals, was happy to have a resident kitten on the weekends we were away. And the kids loved sharing experiences of their rabbit and kitten during “show and tell” at school and at the local library Pet Show.
The children have proved that they can handle the increased responsibility and rules that accompany a new pet. Each one in the family shared in the work as well as in the pleasure. Although a child’s toy shelf may be filled with stuffed animals, which seem very real to them, toys don’t replace the lessons and enjoyment of owning a special pet.
Mothers have been celebrated in verse, prose, and song for thousands of years. Yet deep feelings for a dear mother are often hard to speak or write about.
Thanks to Anna Jarvis of West Virginia, people in countries around the world have this day in May to wrap up tributes, however simple, and deliver them to that special mother. In a desire to fulfill her own mother’s hope that “sometime, somewhere, someone will found a Mother’s Day,” Mrs. Jarvis quit her job, wrote letters, and campaigned for such a celebration.
Ever since May 9, 1914, when President Woodrow Wilson signed the proclamation, families have gathered on the second Sunday in May. From Belgium and Denmark to America and Australia, homemade cards and meals, spring bouquets, or special treasures honor mothers.
As we prepare for this Mother’s Day, here are some tributes to mothers from some famous sources to consider:
“All that I am or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” – Attributed to Abraham Lincoln
“Men are what their mothers made them.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Of my mother I cannot speak as I would, for memory recalls qualities to which the pen can never do justice.” – Mary Baker Eddy
“According to my method of thinking, and that of many others, not woman but the mother is the most precious possession of the nation, so precious that society advances its highest well-being when it protects the functions of the mother.” – Ellen Key
“…what DO girls do who haven’t any mothers to help them through their troubles?” – Louisa May Alcott
“…mothers of the human race, the most important actors in the grand drama of human progress …” -Elizabeth Cady Stanton [Read more…] about “Her children arise up and call her blessed . .”
A streak of color flashed by me, composed of blond hair, red play clothes, navy Snoopy sneakers, and a shiny blue bike. But my attention quickly focused on the beaming 7-year old’s face. It seemed to say, “Learning to ride a two-wheeler opens a new world of movement and fun.” I might not have noted our daughter’s triumphant moment, except it was such a contrast to her expression and attitude a few years earlier when she tried cross-country skiing. Then, with her lower lip protruding, her eyes filled with tears, she stiffly planted herself on a New Hampshire hillside. Beautiful snowy day and all the encouragement in the world would not coax her into trying this new sport. She finally retreated to the lodge’s fireplace for the remainder of the day.
What is the best way to introduce a new sport to a child? Why do some sports come so naturally while others never seem to click? Does success hinge on talent or timing?
We asked ourselves this after Julie’s miserable morning on skis. Since my husband and I are fond of summer and winter sports, we naturally looked forward to many family swims, tennis doubles, bike hikes, and skiing touring. If these goals would be fulfilled, then we had to evaluate how we introduced each new sport or we didn’t ever get to first base. And in a broader sense, good skills and attitudes acquired from the home could enhance the athletic activities at school, camp, and play. Some basic principles have evolved as we continue to share new sports and improve familiar ones. Proper equipment and clothing, especially the initial preparation, should be investigated carefully. Whether you buy, borrow, or rent equipment, make sure it fits properly and is in good condition. What child or adult enjoys periodic adjustments or repairs on their equipment? It spells discouragement from the outset. We have found a local sports shop with expert advice as well as excellent equipment that we can depend upon. Also, it doesn’t seem overly expensive to buy quality equipment for children. When they do outgrow it, many stores offer trade-ins, it may be sold at school or garage sales, or become a “hand-me-down” to another child.
Clothing children properly is not difficult if you consider layers. Winter and wind proof clothing in winter and sweatshirts and hats in summer allow for comfort during temperature changes. Today, children’s fashions include items like down-filled vests and jogging suits which supply warmth but not bulkiness and can be easily removed as exercise warms them.
With each new sport, we decide who “coaches” – Dad takes baseball, Mom takes tennis – because it’s easier for children if just one parent gives directions. The other family members still participate, but in a backup role, retrieving balls, praising accomplishments, etc. After instruction comes practice with the amount needed varying with each child. You can demonstrate the back float a hundred times, but until children make it their own by thinking and practicing, hold off further swimming instructions. They know when mastery comes, making them ready to move forward. Patience, not pushing, motivates a child to keep trying.
Attitude could well be the most important factor in tackling a new sport. And it doesn’t matter how encouraging a parent’s attitude is, if they expect too much, too soon. Let’s invite children to help decide the goals – how long to practice, how far to hike. Let them set the pace by being the leader, instead of always the follower. It’s everyone’s attitude that counts in family sports and some rules help set a standard. For instance, a friend suggests: “Let’s never complain when we’re on the cross-country trail.” Sticking to this rule helped us ski home through a cold rain once without wails of discomfort, Julie included. She’ll be starting her third winter of skiing, and although it’s not her favorite sport, her attitude and skill has steadily improved. Perhaps she has learned a greater lesson: “Don’t give up!”