The ‘Neighbor’ Everyone Felt Good Around

Dear Parents,
“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?,” a documentary about the beloved children’s TV personality Fred Rogers, contains some of the most solid parenting advice ever given. Every parent would benefit from seeing it, now in theaters.
Rogers, an ordained Presbyterian minister, felt children deserved more from TV than the cartoons that modeled disrespectful and crass behavior. He was drawn to educational TV as a tool to model trust and respect for young children. Continue reading “The ‘Neighbor’ Everyone Felt Good Around”

Halloween’s Horrors are Insensitive to Younger Children

Dear Parent Coach,
In the past week my children (ages 5 and 7) have had trouble getting to sleep at bedtime. We haven’t had any obvious changes in family life, and they can’t exactly verbalize what they’re bothered by, so I’m starting to think it might be caused by Halloween images they may have seen recently. Could they have this effect?
Signed, Mom   Continue reading “Halloween’s Horrors are Insensitive to Younger Children”

Father’s Day Reminds Us of an Important Bond

Dear Parents (especially dads),
Father’s Day is approaching in a couple of weeks, and hopefully the dads in your family will be properly pampered and honored for their very important role in family life.
The crucial bonding that takes place between a dad and his children during the simplest times they spend together, lays a solid foundation for lifelong learning and security.
The wording on a billboard once seen around town declared boldly, “Take Time to Be a Dad.” A tousle-headed little boy was pictured standing on his dad’s bare feet and holding onto dad, as he takes his son for a “sure-footed” ride.
This brought back pleasant memories for me as I remembered at a young age, waiting for my own dad to walk in the door at the end of the day and begging for this familiar transport, resulting in a giggly ride around the house, just Dad and me and our feet. So simple, so memorable.
Dads are busy. They’re the hunters and foragers. For many families, they provide the main financial stability for those they love.
They plot and plan, investigate and invest, search for the best deals, envision a future, grow a nest egg, transfer funds from here to there, worry about paying for camps and cars, colleges and years abroad, super-duper family vacations and eventually, destination weddings. Dads are busy providing. Admittedly, this takes time.
However, a dad’s work world is pretty much a mystery to most children. They have a vague idea of what type of work Dad does, but don’t have a clue as to the concerns that go into adequately providing for a family.
Unfortunately, children lack the ability to fully appreciate what a dad provides and will not have many memories of his days at work.
But children are sure about one thing. They always want to spend more time with their dad.
Observed recently: A local young father is taking his 2-year old son to day care. He is not in a hurry. He stops by a fence to let his son observe the nearby construction site with big noisy trucks and workmen with bright yellow hard hats. The little boy sits on his dad’s shoulders and they watch together. They do this several days a week. This dad gives a gift of time to his young son. So simple, but memorable.
Another dad takes his preteen daughter shopping for a birthday present for her mom. His chatty tweener talks nonstop. She is comparing, deciding, changing her mind, finding more ideas, frustrated at not finding the right thing. Dad lets her talk and talk, encourages her ideas, laughs at her indecision, admires her reasoning ability, patiently waits for the final purchase, then smiles. This dad gives his daughter a gift of time. So simple, but so fun to share a secret.
Another dad worked a long, four-day week and devoted Fridays to his family. On Friday mornings, before the children were old enough for school, the family went out to breakfast together. As the children grew, he took them for Saturday breakfasts. This was the intentional gift of time this dad (my husband) chose to give his family. Simple, memorable mornings.
Yet another dad took his son and daughter hiking in local mountains, taught them to swim in the bay, rode bikes with them, spent sunny Sunday afternoons looking for treasures in the seaside tide pools, took them miniature golfing, instructed them in archery, helped with science projects, taught them how to drive, and was patient with homework help. These are memories that I hold dear, as these were gifts of time my own dad gave to me and my brother.
The time my dad invested in me when I was a child created a lasting bond of love, which provided a solid foundation for life: He shared his sense of humor, he showed me how to face problems, how to enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors, how to be adventuresome and creative. During these times he shared with me, he passed on his life values and his faith.
Like all dads, my dad was busy as well, running his own business. He was a hunter and forager who provided well for his family. But in the midst of doing life, my dad made a conscious decision to “take time to be a dad.” His decision greatly affected my life.
My dad passed away a few years ago at age 101. Until the day he died, my dad was one of my best friends and a lifelong supporter. He gave me the most important thing a dad can give — himself. In doing so, he formed a lasting bond of love and security with his children.
There will always be work to do, it’s never-ending. But childhood is fleeting. Often times, children learn the most important lessons of life by simply spending time with their dads. It doesn’t matter very much what they’re actually doing together. What really matters most is that dad is giving his honest and pure self to his children — and that he’s taking time to be a dad during the fleeting days of childhood.

College Kids Home for Summer Can Shoulder Responsibilities

Dear Parent Coach,
My daughter is just finishing her freshman year at college and is coming home for the summer. Of course we’re excited to have her back, but it feels a bit awkward not knowing how to deal with a few issues. I’m wondering if I should allow her to have a messy “dorm room,” and are the days of having household chores over? Do we set curfews, or will she keep college hours — after all, we haven’t known how late she’s been coming in while at college. I’d appreciate ideas on how to handle some of these questions.
Thanks, Mom Continue reading “College Kids Home for Summer Can Shoulder Responsibilities”