Saturday, March 10, 2012

Teach them to fly

I have noticed recently that people tend to be quick to offer an unsolicited critique of other people’s parenting. It is with more than a bit of shame I have to count myself among the numbers.  I do try to keep my opinions to myself in most cases unless it directly effects me or my family.  As a mother of three I have been given any amount of “helpful” advice.  The best advice I have ever been given I read. 
A mother is not a person to lean on, but a person to make leaning unnecessary.
Dorothy Canfield Fisher
That one line has done more to shape how I parent than every parenting book I have ever read.  I guess it also has a lot to do with how I was brought up.  My mom was a strong supporter of self sufficiency and I can remember on my 16th birthday she told me:

“I have taught you right from wrong, now it is up to you.”  
That one lesson stuck with me all these years.
I have endured all kinds of criticism about making my kids do chores without an allowance. Chores, to me, are what a family does to keep a house going.  It is not a job you are paid for.  Now, if you are asked to do something above and beyond then you might get offered payment but, no, I do not pay the kids for contributing to the running of our home.  My children have been taught that money is earned-not given; they have had to learn to find ways to earn money for things they want.  
Also, it is my firmly held belief that I should not bribe my children to like me.  I am not here to be their friend.  I am a parent who loves them enough to know when to dish out a little discipline now to save them a lot of heartache later.
Of course, it shouldn’t go without saying that I have made my share of mistakes as a parent.  Contrary to what I tell my kids, they did not come with a how-to manual. I make an attempt to own up to my mistakes and to set them right.  Being human, I do fall short of the perfection I strive to obtain.  
In the end, each family has to do what is best for their children.  I believe what is best for mine is to be taught how to be on their own so when they get out in the world they are as ready as I can make them.  It is my hope that I will have given my children the skills and knowledge to make sound moral and financial choices, as well as knowing how to take care of themselves.  We are not that different from birds in that we all need to teach our children to fly on their own.  

More than one day of “I love you”

Now that I am older, and perhaps a bit wiser, I have learned that I don't need a box of candy or a bouquet of flowers to know my husband loves me. In fact a houseplant would be a better show of his love. Heck, doing the dishes or a load of laundry would be better than a box of candy. Taking a walk with me at sunset around the lake would do more to win adoration.

Flowers wither and die, candy is gone and forgotten, but making sure our son gets to bed on time when I am not feeling well is just down right sexy. Letting me sleep in while he gets up and deals with the cats and kids: that is romance.

My husband and I have a date night just about every week. Sometimes it's a fancy dinner out, but more often than not it's a late night dinner at home with candles and music. It's time for us to just be a couple. This is not something we do once a year, it is a commitment we made to each other to spend time as a couple.

So go ahead and spend the money and get a card; the thought is nice and who does not like to be told they are loved. But take a moment and make sure that this is not the ONLY day you add a little extra romance in your life.  

When a day just get's worse

I started the day out of spoons. The day before was hard on me and I was very tried. I kissed my mom and my son goodbye and sent them on their way. Of course this is not before I helped her with a piece of furniture that did not want to fit in her car. In the end I had to take it apart.

After she left I wanted to go to sleep. That was not going to happen I had to take a shower. I needed to do some laundry and iron my husbands clothes for work. There were dishes to be done. Now I am in debt to tomorrows spoons and I have not even gotten near my ten-thousand steps for the day.

Of course my day could not have stopped there. It just would not be me unless more drama happened. My teenager called and she wants me to talk to a teacher she is having issues with. Of course this can't wait until tomorrow. Then she needed to get her car jumped and as tired as I was I was looking forward to a nice quiet afternoon.

I had asked my daughter to run to the store to get me some eggs so that I could make some banana bread, as baking seems to calm me. However when she got home she had to help the friend who jumped her car, change his tire. This of course meant extra teenagers in my house and me out in the rain trying to help them.

So it did not get better as I made dinner and melted the funnel with hot oil, I am lucky I did not burn myself. I ended the day by heading to bed only to realize that I had to go back downstairs to start the dishwasher so I could empty it in the morning.

As I sit hear listening to the not so quiet hum of the dishwasher I had to finish this blog and give a silent shout out to the universe hoping that tomorrow will be a better day. @H

When did success become evil

We have Soccer games with no scores so no one has to be the loser, and classrooms that are more interested in teaching tolerance than math and science. Our schools have put more importance on a simple nose piercing than a child's education. In our publicly funded schools our children are being taught not to question authority, taught to not stand out or be exceptional. We are teaching the individuality right out of our children, yet we all just put up with the horrible schools and make excuses for the broken system. Our teachers are being forced to teach under ridiculous rules and regulations to the point of taking the lessons down to the lowest common denominator.

In a country where one in five people are dependent on government assistance (not including government workers)1, it seems an entitlement culture is being created and charged to our kids. With the national debt over 15 trillion dollars2and climbing, it seems that all our leaders want to do is enact more laws and programs costing us more money we have to borrow. The current government plan to pay off this debt is to take more from the top one percent of producers. This seems to me to be a punishment for doing well.

The smart kids are made fun of and bullied. If you do well at your job, people assume you are kissing up, or sleeping your way to the top, or even that you stepped on people on your way up the ladder. It can't be that your better at your job, or that you work harder; any success has to be luck or manipulation.

We used to put people who succeeded on a pedestal; we used to want to learn from them. It was an honor to work at a successful company, because you were going to learn from the best. Government jobs were for the mediocre, to be the best was to be hired by a private company/firm.

The American dream seems to be changing and not for the better. Our children are being brought up to believe that the “state” will take care of them. They are taught that being exceptional is cause for ridicule, that we have to toe the line and not upset the apple cart. The bright future that we wish for our children is being ripped from them and no one seems to notice.

Why I Care and You Should Too

As moms we get busy.  We have kids, a husband and work.  We homeschool or run a business.  We get very wrapped up in our own lives.  We don't pay much attention to the news or politics.  We may have a cause but really we just want to go about our way and live our lives with as little drama as we can.  
Now I know this is not true for everyone but for a long time it was me.  I woke up the day I started reading the book “Atlas Shrugged.”  No longer can I stick my head in the sand and pretend that this is not happening.  I can't put off the problems for my children to deal with.  I know things have to be done.  
What can one woman do?  This is a question I ask myself often. It does not matter what side of the political spectrum you are on, you can be informed, you can write a letter, or you can make a call.  We all fill our days with things to help our kids; for example, we might add to their college fund or teach them to be self sufficient, but we don't think any farther than this week or next.   What will happen when our debt, as a nation, comes due?  What happens when the protesters succeed and bring down our government?  Will our children see the zombie apocalypse?
All of this sounds scary and it is a bit of a wake up call.  This isnot my usual daily parenting dilemma that I  blog about, but the future of our country scares me, and the more I look around, the more I have to wonder, are we ready? What are we doing daily to make things easier for our kids and our country?  
So far all I seem to have is a lot of questions and very few answers.  It's a lot like the Matrix, once your eyes are open you can't close them again.

Helpless parents

One of the worst feelings, I think, we have as parents is helplessness.  The degree to which we feel this emotion changes through the years. From the first days when you couldn’t seem to figure out why the baby is crying, to watching her fall as she learns to walk, this helpless emotion goes on and on through the scraped knees from learning to skate, or tears when they fight with a friend.  The older the child gets, the worse that helpless feeling of ours becomes! We stand by while she suffers her first broken heart all the way through to the mistakes they will make as they choose their direction in life.  
We can guide our children to make sound decisions; we can relay our own bad decisions, and hope they learn from our mistakes. But in the end, you can't make their life choices.  You are helpless to do anything more than guide them as they make their way in life. 

In a world of instant gratification like ours, it is difficult to teach them that there are things worth the wait.  How does one teach a child that, in life, waiting can double the joy. That going slow and steady in fact does win the race. 

Young love seems to have an extra strong hold when they are at the edge of adulthood.  Any attempt to temper the raging hormones is met with suspicion and disdain. You, the parent, of course, are trying to ruin their lives and don't understand the depth of their feelings because you were never a teen in love.  Their love story will be the exception, and you're just trying to ruin their lives.  

It seems an impossible task to make your child see that all you wish is to save them heartache, pain and regret. That you want their lives to be better and richer than your own.  A parent’s dream is to see their child happy and to reach, every goal they set for themselves.

As parents, we all do what we think is best for our kids. We listen, guide and love. We can and will raise productive children who have lives better than we could dream for them, if we just keep working at it.

You are not invincible: A note to teenagers

As I read yet another story about a teen who drove drunk, distracted or just too fast, it breaks my heart and strikes a fear into me that goes deeper than you can imagine.  As I prepare to go with my daughter to get her drivers license, I fight with wanting to keep her safe and knowing she has to have some independence.  I hope that I have instilled a healthy respect for the privilege of driving. I have reminded her not to fiddle with the radio or respond to a text.  Repeatedly I have admonished her to watch her speed, to be careful at night, and to make sure she slows down in the rain.  When it comes time for her to get that little paper that makes her a driver, I hope that I have given her the tools to be safe.

I am careful who I let her drive with; I make sure I know the teenager.  Most of her friends are good kids, but a mom can never be too careful.  I am starting to sound as overprotective as she thinks I am.  This I justify as my job.  As they grow up this job gets harder.  You can only do so much to get them ready for the time when you give them more independence.

Now she is a senior in high school. With each passing month I need to let go a little more, and it breaks my heart that one day soon she will think she does not need me anymore. 

Until that time, I show her the newspaper articles about the kids who drove too fast or had a few drinks and thought they were ok.  She has been touched by this twice just this year and we are only half way done.  All I can hope is that all of this has the effect of allowing her to know that she is not invincible and that there are people who love her and want to see her live a long happy life.