Monday, November 21, 2005

The Answers Of The Day

Last Thursday, we posed a question: "If you could give a parent near you a piece of child-rearing advice, what would it be?" Fifteen readers were kind enough to give us their ideas. Do you notice any patterns among the readers's suggestions? (I've included links to the commenters' websites, where possible.)

Start reading to your child as an infant everyday and continue it as long they will let you.

It will expand your child's world, instill a love of reading and learning, and give you both quite time together to build a strong relationship as parent and child.

P.S. That doesn't mean you can't also take some time to play "Power Rangers" once in a while.

Bob in Kentucky
Father of a 4-year old boy.

Homeschool! There is nothing else more rewarding than not only reading to your child but also teaching them how to read!

Homeschool Mom of 6
The first thought I had was for parents to spend more time with their children. Turn off the TV and play games together. Go for hikes together. Spend family vacations doing things together. See movies together.

For some reason I often remember the thought that no one lays on their death bed saying "I wish I had spent more time at the office."

In "Home Alone America" Mary Eberstadt lists dozens of benefits to parents spending time with children. Some of them are obvious. For example by spending time with children parents have greater insight into what their children are thinking and feeling. Children left along in the afternoon day after day are much more likely to have problems drinking, drugs, sex, and so on. I was a bit surprised to learn that obesity is also often a result of being unsupervised.

Henry Cate
What my mom told me:

Kids have good reasons for doing what they do. Their reasons may not make sense to us, but they have reasons that make sense to them. As adults, our job is to figure out what's going on wth our kids and help them to grow into the adult world.

Mrs. Och
Keep and eye on the kids, but let them go out and play in a park. Today everything is so organized and produced kids have no time to just play outside without a coach and all the other stuff. What happended to pick up games where the kids chose teams and played just for the fun of it? My brother and I just had to show up at a park with a football, soccer ball, bats and baseballs, and a hundred kids popped up our of the woodwork. That doesn't happen any more. It's a shame.

Greek Shadow
Reading to your child from an early age onwards (as mentioned in an earlier comment) has huge benefits.

I would add: count with your child. Count toys, count cars on the road, count fingers and toes. Count by ones , twos, fives and tens. Look for patterns, compare shapes. Do logic puzzles and riddles. Send the message that math is play.

Old Math
You can say "No," to your children. You've heard this word before, I'm sure-- they say it to you and get away with it forty times a day.

Work with me, here, people: purse your lips slightly, tongue against the roof of the mouth, air past the vocal chords. Then back it up.

You are not their peer, you are not their friend, you are something much more rare and precious: you are their parent. Friends will come and go, but parents are forever.

Ms Cornelius
Decide what is non-negotiable and make sure it stays non-negotiable.

And never, never let your kid forge your signature "with your permission"... *sigh*

There's other stuff that's more "big picture" but this is what I've been dealing with lately.

ms. frizzle
Don't enable your child. Let them make mistakes.

Listen to them. Take them places where you can do things, explore and learn together. Celebrate their successes and share in their setbacks. Always tell them you love them.

I don't recall who sang this, George Strait maybe? but its good:
"Daddy's don't just love their children, every now and then,
It's a love without end, Amen."

oooh, i LOVE this. tips for the mom-to-be here.

Treat your child with dignity.

When there is a problem with communication at school, and your son's teacher requests a meeting with you and him present, grant the request.

Sitting down together makes your son know that Mom and Teacher are not going to be played against each other.

Don't be afraid to have your child angry at you. If you are, then you can no longer parent effectively.

Remember to be a parent first, then a friend. Parents who get mix up the relationship roles end up with kids who are confused about the way the world really works.

Think about the excuse you are making for your kid. Would you use the same excuse at your job? Would it work?

Along the same line, think about what you tell the world about your kid. When you say things like, "The school isn't teaching him XYZ," what you are telling the world is that Johnny doesn't know XYZ. If Johnny doesn't know it, and the school isn't teaching it, and it is important enough for you to complain about, by golly, teach it yourself!

To expect the school system to teach Johnny A - Z in the little bit of time allotted is unrealistic. As an 8th grade science teacher, I can barely introduce a topic, but you expect me to thorougly cover every nuance needed without any help from you. If Johnny asks you any questions you blame the system for not teaching him.

Instead of blaming me for anything, thank me for getting him interested enough to keep asking questions! Show him how to Google, how to click on the links until he finds what he is looking for... Go to the bookstore or library... Open the phonebook and ask an expert...Open up the exciting world of learning more and more. If he's curios enough to ask, and goes back for more, perhaps he found his career, his passion.

Tell Johnny that K-12 school is there is introduce a myriad of topics. Do your best in all of them, give all the topics a fair trial. One day the right topic will be there and you will know that it is what you were meant to do with your life. As for the rest of the topics, if after a fair test, you don't like the topic, then get good enough at the one you DO like to pay someone else to do them for you.

In other words, raise your own kid into a healthy adjusted adult that knows to follow his passion!

Thanks to everyone for taking the time to give us your ideas; we like all of them.

All of the above suggestions sound like good, solid reasoning that, if acted upon by more parents, would prove to be highly beneficial for just about every single child in the country.

The one thread that most had in common was the need for parents to spend more time with their children.

So, as a society, what would be the best way of bringing that about?
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