Saturday, July 19, 2014

#5 Grandma Ranks Love, Diverse Experiences and Freedom as Key to Parenting

Grandma lives by the sea. She is full of energy, always smiling and loves to be with children, especially her grandchildren. She has has two daughters, four granddaughters and two grandsons. She also taught middle school for many years. As a result her advice stems from a blend of raising children and teaching them.  One of her key insights was that she changed and adapted over the years. As a very young teacher, she was much more rigid and subscribed to a "this is the way it is done" philosophy; during her career she moved more toward "whatever works for each individual child."   Below are her pearls of wisdom:

The core of everything, the very most important thing, is that your children feel loved.  They need to feel that you enjoy being with them.  When they are loved, and know it, they feel valued and can grow from that place of acceptance.  Some of the ways to show this love are to make sure that home is a safe place - a place where they can be silly, mad, emotional. Where they can be free to be themselves and know they will be loved as a whole person.

Diverse Experiences:
It is important to expose children to as many experiences as possible. To various cultures, music, etc. To expand their view of the world and give them the freedom to explore different things. To inspire creativity and acceptance of others.

Within reason, it's important to let kids make decisions for themselves and live with the consequences, both positive and negative, and hopefully be able to share their feelings at home.

Grandma encourages parents to take a step back. To really think about what's most important - to think using the tool of "in 10 years from now, will this matter."  For example will doing the dishes or getting out on the swing set for a few minutes matter in the end. She realizes, yes the dishes need to get done, but they will eventually... spending time with your kids, doing things together, reading, and playing is critical.

The hardest thing in parenting for Grandma was when her children were hurt - physically hurt, left out or broken hearted.  She felt like she just wanted to change places with them, so she could take away the hurt.  Since that's not always possible, she suggests being as supportive as you can.  Always letting your kids know you love them and you are there for them.  Having an open and honest relationship goes a long way in building the trust you will need to rely on when children are hurt.

Best Memories:
Grandma had so many great memories - at the top would be the family vacations with their entourage of hilarious moments, odd places and just being together. She really would encourage you to enjoy every moment.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Interview #4 Grandma L

Grandma L has three kids, seven grandkids and two great grandkids. She is French and moved to the US when she was just twelve with her mother.  Here advice was:

You don't want to be too strict. Her husband was very strict and she was the counterbalance to that in her family.  She also has one son who spoils the kids. They get whatever they ant.  You have to keep a balance between being strict enough but also not spoiling your kids.

Spend time with them:
She also advocates spending good quality time with your children.  Too often life gets in the way, but time with the kids is what they really crave and what will serve you and them well.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Interview #3: Grandpa

Grandpa has two sons, two step-daughters, and six grandkids.  While he doesn't usually like to give "advice," unless it's about wielding a hammer, saw or a gardening tool, he was kind enough to weigh in on parenting today.  Here are his nuggets of wisdom:

Learn from your parents
Grandpa watched how his father was around the home and he made a decision to be different with his own kids. If he caught himself being too rough with his kids, he stopped.

Grandpa notes that some parents today read more to their kids. Looking back he would have read more to his kids and used TV less as a babysitter. He see parents today reading books from the library and it's great for the kids.

Best Memories - Find the Humor
The best memories - and therefore the things for us parents to look out for - were small moments that were magical or humorous.  One example was his son playing left field in little league, but really just being engrossed in the clover patch at his feet.  

Another of Grandpa's best memories was of his older son qualifying for a running race at age six. The win required driving from New Jersey all the way out to the tip of Long Island to compete in a race against other kids from the tri-state area.  When his son lined up at the start line, he reached out and hugged the other contestants.  When the gun went off, he ran fast, but then about half way through the race got captivated by the scenery and slowed to a walking pace.  You just have to smile at moments like that.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Interview #2: Grandy

Grandy has four children and seven grandchildren.  He grew up with two sisters and offers some bits of wisdom below:

Maintain Balance
Grandy feels it's important to balance the discipline and love you have for your children. They need both. It's also important to know your kids friends and reassure your children that you are there for them.

Respect Possessions
He would advise parents of today to teach their children to respect what they have. Show them how to take care of their things, like not leaving toys out on the grass overnight.  When they are old enough, perhaps taking them to a soup kitchen could reinforce a gratitude for the gifts, both material and otherwise, that the children have.  It's important to teach kids the value of money and how to care for it. Perhaps giving a small allowance for key chores.

Limit Technology
Don't let kids spend too much time on devices. When he was little Grandy spent so much more time outside than kids of today. This reminds me of the book "Last Child in the Woods," which expounds on this idea.

Best Memory
Grandy's best memories are of the kids accomplishments; their little league championships and running races.

Grandy also encourages parents of today to keep saying their prayers.  You never know what's to come and you need strength and faith to get through the ups and downs.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Interview #1: Nanny

Nanny has four children and seven grandchildren.  She is a fun-loving grandma and used to teach pre-school, so she has lots of sage wisdom to share.  Here's her best advice:

Always keep the lines of communication open. Always ask questions like, "Is there anything on your mind?"  Tell them, "You can always talk to Mom and Dad. We love you, we want to help you and we will always listen and give you the best advice we can."  At some time your kids will be hurt.  The best thing you can do is be there for them and let them know that.

Always give your kids a ton of attention, love, hugs, kisses and listen to them. Take the time away from the dishes and things that feel like they need to get done, they will still be there.  Sit and talk with your kids, face to face.

Show Restraint
Kids today have a lot. When Nanny was a little girl, all she had was a doll, a tricycle and a pair of roller skates.  She really appreciated each gift and toy.  It's challenging today, but try to limit what the kids get for when they have too much they can take it for granted.

Learn From Your Parents
Nanny's mom was strict and regimented. She didn't want to be exactly like her mom in terms of being overly critical, but still it's important to set limits and guide your children about what is acceptable behavior.