Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Traditions Build Strong Families



In the United States, the Fourth of July is the major summer holiday.  The nation celebrates with parades, picnics, fireworks and celebrations from small towns to big cities.  Our family has certain traditions established years ago that only seem to grow stronger as the years pass.  We have breakfast with friends, neighbors, and family members.  Then we walk down and all watch our hometown parade.  Later in the day, as a family, we drive to my sister's house for a fun, multi-generational neighborhood picnic and end the day huddled together on blankets enjoying the fireworks display.  It is a day filled with simple pleasures; donuts at breakfast, a hometown parade shared with friends and family, playing soccer or wiffle ball in Aunt Jodi's yard, a picnic dinner, fireworks on a blanket by the lake.  Simply the joy of spending time together.

This simple chain of events seems to have taken on more meaning as the years go by.  My husband and I look forward to spending precious family time together with our four grown children.  It doesn't happen very easily these days, and so when we are all together it is cause for celebration.  The funny thing is that my children often refer to this holiday as their favorite; out pacing even materialistic Christmas or (at their age) alcohol fueled New Year's Eve!

So why do they love this holiday so much?  I have a theory.  They love our family and our family traditions.  Even if one of them misses our Fourth of July, as they have over the years, they find comfort in the fact that it still goes on as always, and they will be able to experience it the next year if they are able.  They have been raised to appreciate our time together in the company of our family and friends, and not take it for granted.  And family traditions offer comfort and stability to them in our fast paced, ever so stimulating world.

What family traditions do you have?  If none come to mind, take the time to start some.  Pattern a celebration in a certain way each holiday and recognize what a gift you will be giving your children.  The gift of quality time, quality memories and simple family pleasures.  There are a lot of summer nights remaining.  Get busy planning some days and nights to remember!

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Let's be honest, Parenting means Sacrifice!



On a recent trip, I saw a young mother holding feeding her adorable little baby girl in the midst of a crowded airport waiting area.  The young mother was traveling alone, with her tiny baby in tow.  All of us know how much stuff a baby requires, so of course the mother had a baby bag bursting with baby paraphernalia.  After she fed the baby, she was rocking her and hoping for her to sleep.  But this baby girl had some incredible stamina.  She just would not give in, and drift off to sleep.  She wriggled and cooed and would seem to be closing her little eyes, but something would startle her and she would begin to fuss again.  The mother was tired.  You could see it in her eyes.  She just wanted the baby to sleep.  But it wasn't happening.

We were traveling on the same flight, and our flight experienced a number of delays.  In the hours that passed, I lost track of the young woman.  But when we boarded the plane, she ended up sitting in front of me.  I noticed that even though the plane was full, the seat next to her remained open until the very last person boarded and was forced to sit beside her.  I felt bad that I had not taken that seat.  This mother was young, and I think it bothered her that no one wanted to sit beside her.  I also was thinking of how she had not been able to put the baby in a stroller or carrier and use the bathroom or have a snack or drink herself.  She had no one to hold the baby and no where to put the baby for the entire time.  Her struggles brought back memories of when my own children were young. 

The bottom line is, being a parent is TOUGH!  It is hard work.  It means constant sacrifice and putting someone else's needs above your own.  It is not for weaklings.  A parent needs to be strong.  A parent needs to be courageous and willing to make hard decisions.  Don't become a parent if you are not willing to do the work, because your actions will impact your children.  Let's just be clear.  Babies are cute, but they are hard work.  And then, babies grow into toddlers, and they are physically exhausting.  And toddlers grow into kids who grow into Teenagers.  Teenagers are emotionally exhausting.  Parenting is not easy...but when done right, the rewards are great!
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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Blogiversary...It has been two years!





Today marks the official anniversary of my parenting blog.  I have been writing this blog for two years.  Coincidentally, I reached my 50,000 view this very week.  As far as blogging goes, I have to admit, I don't know much.  But if you read my blog, you understand that my passion lies with helping parents to create loving and supportive families, and raise children who are prepared to thrive in the modern day world.

My own children, who are my greatest experiment and achievement (along with my husband, who is part of the equation) are my inspiration.  They continue to surprise and delight me with their love of adventure, care and compassion for others, and diligent work ethic.  I also teach preschool, and am inspired by the creativity, enthusiasm and kindness of my little students.

The goal of my blog is to continue to inspire parents.  Thank you to all my readers for your heartfelt comments and support.  It is truly the motivation for me to continue.

Happy Parenting! 

--Dawn

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Big Picture Parenting will help your child develop"super" powers!

All children are born into the world with unlimited capacities or "superpowers".  It is a parent's job to recognize this and then follow the philosophy of Big Picture Parenting in order to help each child develop his or her talents and self esteem, which in turn allows him/her to create and achieve a meaningful and fulfilling life.  This is no small feat.  This is Big Picture Parenting.  Often times parents get so caught up in the mundane tasks of parenting that they forget the Big Picture.  The mundane hijacks the sublime.  I am urging all parents to consciously fight against this tendency and embrace Big Picture Parenting for the benefit of your children and their future.

How does a parent embrace the Big Picture Parenting Philosophy?  First and foremost, the parent must at all times strive for objectivity when it comes to evaluating your child and his/her development.  This is easy to say but difficult to do.  Take some time to look at where your child is succeeding and where he/she is experiencing difficulties.  Be mindful to view difficulties as opportunities for growth and success rather than viewing obstacles and insurmountable cause for depression or immediate parental intervention.  Help your child formulate a plan for dealing with issues and put the steps into action.  This is being a supportive, involved parent that embraces the Big Picture.  The tendency for most parents is to rush in and solve the issues for the child.  Being this type of reactionary parent is counterproductive.  When parents react and rush in, they are communicating to the child that he/she is not able or capable to deal with issues.

Self esteem cannot be served to your child on a platter of compliments.  Children who develop healthy self concepts are the ones who have learned that they can deal with the obstacles that life throws their way.  Children are resourceful and resilient.  Parents tend to forget this.

Two practical ways for parents to foster self esteem in their children are to expose them to a variety of environments and experiences, helping them to discover their interests; and allowing them to feel their actions can make an impact on the world.  Take your children to concerts, expose them to art and history, sports, and travel.  These experiences help a child to recognize the vast opportunities that exist for them in the world.  Also, encourage service and volunteer activities at every turn.  Children love to feel useful and that they are capable of making a difference somewhere.

The Big Picture Parenting Philosophy is based on allowing your child to become all that he/she can be by experiencing a wide variety successes based on simple problem solving and developing self esteem.   These are key ingredients in helping your child to embrace his/her superpowers through a strong and stable self identity and confidence to follow his/her passions and dreams. 
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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Cuteness Isn't Enough...




Babies are so cute.  Okay, not all newborns are...but within a few weeks of breathing oxygen and being fed, babies blossom into adorably, cuddly, darling, captivating little creatures.  And their cuteness factor multiplies with each of their new achievements.  Their ability to smile, giggle, begin to experiment with language or learn to walk are milestones that increase their cuteness and general likability.  And we, as their parents, bask in the adorableness of it all.

But sometimes, our parental basking gets in the way of reality.  Sometimes, we forget to reevaluate and discern that even though a toddler is charming and soooo cute, taking a swing at daddy or trying to pull mommy's hair should not be acceptable behavior.  And we excuse away the behavior in the interest of keeping the peace.  The problem is that when parents end up excusing away unacceptable behavior or turning a blind eye, the child has this annoying habit of growing up and parents have an annoying habit of remaining stuck in their parenting cycle of excusing and ignoring.  The result is a child who has not been taught self control and empathy.

Our society is more in need of these lessons than EVER before.  There is a reason that we are hearing about bullying and harassment at record levels.  Our culture seems to glorify rude and selfish behavior.  We are literally bombarded everyday with examples of individuals who behave like selfish, spoiled brats, and so are our children.  Children's games and shows are full of examples of disrespect and rude behavior.  And any messages of wholesome, happy, family centered values are deemed as boring or lame.

So what can we do?  Teach our children!  Teach them empathy and kindness.  Start with teaching simple manners.  Manners are a tool to remind us that we are a polite society.  Manners are a way of thinking of how our actions affect others.  Teach your children to hold the door for another person.  Teach them not to interrupt or to use "please" and "thank-you" as part of their everyday vocabulary.  Read books to them that reinforce the importance of core character traits, such as honesty, compassion, the importance of friendship, or caring about others.  Teach them to be good sports on the playing field and in the classroom.  Show them the power of words, and how a compliment can brighten some one's day, but a mean remark can truly hurt someone.

Our society desperately needs more nice and less mean.  So let's all do our part as parents, to have a positive impact on society by raising kids who understand the importance of kindness.
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