Archive for the ‘fathers’ category

It takes a team to raise a child

June 15, 2012
Father's  Day is to honor fathers and the chores they do for us. the commitment they make for us. this is the father of my children, who is willing to be silly

The best father I know, Reliable Bob at the annual Country Fair selling trash and treasures.

Jane, the lead female character in “Lie Down with Lions,” a 1986 Ken Follet book,  is torn between two men. In a dramatic chase scene through the Afghan mountains with one of the men and her baby, Jane is contemplates who to choose: the good man or the evil spy. She has only two diapers for the baby for the arduous journey.

At the end of the day of the man she camped out with in the mountains washed out the diaper at the end of the day. This simple gesture, when she was mentally and physically exhausted, meant a lot to her.That scene illustrates the demands of parenthood, how one person can’t fulfill a child’s every need, and the value of partnership. I loved that scene because his willingness to wash out the diaper said something about his character and commitment.

It’s always easier to face a challenge together. I remember one night when Bob and I had one of our famous “in-house dates.” I fed the four kids early with one of their favorites — chicken nuggets, and put them in front of a movie while we shared a special dinner with candlelight and wine. Then we put the kids to bed and watched an adult movie. Voila, dinner and movie, without going out.

When we went upstairs at 11 pm to check on the kids, both boys had vomited in their beds. The only thing worse than one boy vomiting in their bed is two boys vomiting in their beds. It was disgusting. We cleaned up two beds and bathed two boys when all we wanted to do was to fall into bed. Teamwork made it tolerable, and a shared memory that strengthened our long-term bond.

Happy Fathers Day to all you guys out there. Plant the seeds of your love to grow as the tree commitment, to stay rooted when the hurricanes and tornadoes threaten to uproot a marriage.

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The most you can spend on anyone is time

May 9, 2011
Thinking about others is a big part of motherhood. Mother's Day is a critical day to think about MOM and do something special for her. When our children do not think of us, we mothers can feel hurt and not understand what we did wrong to nurture such a self-centered individual.

Celebrating Mother's Day with two of my four "children," now 28 and 30.

This is a phone call I had with a friend yesterday. The names have been changed.

Mike: What are you doing for Mother’s Day?

Me: Casey and Noah are coming over. We’re making pizza together, a family tradition. What are you doing?

Mike: Kate and I may end up going out to dinner alone, unless Junior wants to come with us.

Me: How old is Junior?

Mike: He’s 23 and still lives at home. Junior always complains that he doesn’t have any money. He probably won’t get Kate anything, or make her anything for Mother’s Day.

Me: I always like certificates — like for cleaning my car, building things, or artwork.

Mike: I’ve always told Junior that we like things that he makes.

Me: Huh. (Thinking how easy and low-cost it is to make a home-made Mother’s Day Card or pick a few flowers from the yard.) Where are you going out to dinner?

Mike: We’d like to go to an Indian restaurant. But if Junior comes, we’ll choose somewhere else. He is not an adventuresome eater.

Me: (speechless. Hard to respond tactfully. It’s Mother’s Day. He’s getting a free meal.)   There must be something on the menu of an Indian restaurant that he would or could eat.

Mike: No, no. His sister is more adventuresome. He’s not. We’ll go somewhere else. IF he comes with us.

Me: Okay. Enjoy. Bye.

Mike is puzzled that his son is so self-centered. I wonder if Junior has ever done a chore for the common good without getting paid for it. This is one of many ways to teach children teamwork and to get them outside of ME-ME-ME.

Children and most people are naturally about ME-ME-ME. Which is why parents’ job is so important. We socialize human beings for life in the world with others. Our teachings take a long time to install, and last a lifetime, even beyond–to the next generation.

Mike could have said to Junior, “It’s Mother’s Day and your mother wants Indian food. We would love it if you would join us. I’m sure
you can find something on the menu to eat. If you don’t want to come, your mother will be disappointed. I hope you come. We’re leaving at 5:30 pm.”

Fathers can model how to put Mom first. Junior likely gets to choose the restaurant he likes on his birthday, and I bet Mom goes along with whatever he wants. Junior can do the same on Mother’s Day. It’s a first step to teach him consideration, a hard lesson to learn, especially at age 23.

All play and no work make Jack a dull boy

November 14, 2010

I’ve heard some encouraging stories about the impact of family meetings.

The mother of two daughters, 15 and 11 years old, and her husband have been holding family meetings for a few months since taking the online course Raising Able Family Management System.

“The kids suggested we start doing our own cleaning to save money, and use that money for vacations,” said the mom. “I’m going to give notice to our cleaning service because that adds up to a tidy sum that we can use for our vacations.”

When you calculate the cost of paying taxes on that income, the savings increase. When we had 11 straight years of college tuition, we all pitched in to do our own cleaning and netted at least $2,000 a year towards UMass.

A divorced father of two, a son age 18 and a daughter age 15, said of his family meetings, “They really got into them. They couldn’t wait to volunteer for chores. ”

That’s success! When children pitch in around the house they feel connected, significant and part of the team.

A 15-year study on adolescent health [ADD Health] found a simple recipe to keep teenagers out of trouble. When teens feel connected to home and to school they greatly enhance their opportunities for success in life.

Family meetings, family chores and family dinner provide a critical connection between children/teens and families. The young people might not be as eager as the kids described above, but don’t worry. Young people don’t always want to be seen as too cooperative. Deep down, children of all ages are yearning for connection to their parents.

And secretly, they want to be challenged, to be able to demonstrate competency, and to learn.

In the 1930s, researchers offered misbehaving children this consequence: unlimited recess.

Children who behaved were given the opportunity to learn. The children figured out the system quickly and they wanted to do the schoolwork instead of playing all day. And they did learn, with record-breaking results.

Too bad schools today haven’t used this approach. Let the students with behavior problems run around outside until they’re exhausted and cry “uncle” and they beg for the opportunity to behave properly and  learn in a classroom. The exercise will do them good.

Many people say they don’t want to work, but the reality is that work is where most people find satisfaction, connection and achievement. Home chores set up kids for success at work and in their own lives.

Sugarless Halloween fun

October 25, 2010
"the lion the witch, and the wardrobe" dressed for Halloween. Family fun is dressing up, not necessarily all about the candy. Halloween can be fun without a plethora of candy. With the rate of diabetes skyrocketing in the USA, we must watch what we eat. Halloween is once a year. Let them pig out.

Here we are, the lion, the witch, and the wardrobe. How about that witch in the work boots? My daughter Casey made the lion's mane when she was in high school -- using strands from a new mop.

I used to wonder, “Why don’t kids come to our house on Halloween?”

My kids explained: “Because you gave out raisins and apples!”

This year I’m giving out spider rings, and pencils and styrofoam airplanes with Halloween themes.

IF any kids come.

This year, I’m going to dress as a witch, hide behind a small opening above the garage door, and call down, “Hey my little pretties, what are you doing down there?”

It will terrify the toddlers and thrill the older kids, even if they know it’s coming, year after year. Halloween is one night of the year you just don’t know what’s going to happen.

Then, there’s the conundrum of how to manage the candy.

My theory was to let them binge on Oct. 31, then thoroughly brush their teeth. I skimmed off some excess booty, hid it in the freezer for special occasions later, and let them manage the rest. They’d get sick of it and lose interest. That’s called moderation.

Some families don’t know about moderation and one-night binges.  Whole families waddle along, sipping sugared drinks, under threat of developing diabetes. The CDC predicts one-third of adults could have diabetes by 2050, and higher rates among minorities.

Halloween is a one-night blitz. What counts are their eating and exercise habits the rest of the year.

Obesity puts children at higher risk to develop Type 2  diabetes. New research shows a father’s diet can impact the risk of diabetes. By the way, more men than women are overweight. This is one thing we can’t blame on mothers!

I’m sticking with non-sugar treats on Halloween. I’ll camp out upstairs and have some non-chocolate fun. Maybe they’ll stop by, even for pencils.

Here’s to Dad.

June 19, 2010

Dad- thanks for everything. I still miss you, five years later.