I am the proud grandmother of seven young adults. They range in age from 14 – 24. Obviously they are well beyond the days of cuddling on my lap or arriving at the door with little suitcase in hand ready for a sleepover. As grandchildren grow up, it becomes a challenge as to how to keep connected.
Fascinating information from a new AARP survey reveals that more than 80% of grandparents speak to their grandchildren on the phone at least once a month. More than 1/3 do their communication via new technology – think Skype, Facebook, texting. So I started asking myself if I fit these results. I use Facebook for keeping up day-to-day. I text when I want a quick check-in. Phone calls follow if we need a longer conversation.
And what do we talk about? Again I’m right in tune with the survey results. The AARP survey says 50% talk about morals and values; religion and spirituality; peer pressure or bullying; illegal drugs; and drinking and alcohol use. Dating or sex are topics for 37% of the grandparents. I have to laugh as I often start conversations with some of the grandkids with this question, “And are you making good choices?”
The data about frequency of communication, as well as topics, fits well with grandparents serving a role as mentor and teacher. We have a wonderful chance to help grandchildren by sharing our experiences and knowledge, all wrapped up in a big dose of love. A personal aside – I always end my texts with Love, Gma.
How often do you communicate with your grandkids and what do you talk about?
family time, grandparenting
Fathers are different from mothers, but offer love, guidance and support in their own unique way. During June, we’ll talk about the role of fathers and what research has to say about this important role.
National studies show that an overwhelming majority of Americans agree that fathers play an important and irreplaceable role in the lives of children. Seven out of 10 people in one study agreed that the physical absence of fathers from the home is the most significant social problem facing America.
Join us in June as we talk celebrate ‘All About Fathers’.
Podcast: Play in new window
family time, fathers, parenting, play, podcast, positive parenting
Research shows that children who get everything they want grow up to be greedy, materialistic, self-centered adults. However, parents can raise their children to focus instead on internal life goals, such as learning, developing relationships and helping others.
In December, join us as we offer tips for parents on how to avoid overindulging children and learning when ‘enough is enough. Overindulgence
Podcast: Play in new window
education, family time, friendship, podcast, positive parenting, raising teens, social-emotional
A wild ‘Dust-nado’ that sent the town/schools scrambling a few weeks ago and the topic of Divorce made me think about how we cope with ‘storms’ of life.
In a sense we begin coping with all storms the same way. We open our toolbox of what we ‘know’ and begin to apply the skills to the storm. If the storm is small we may have all the tools we need to cope effectively. But as the storm grows we need to be open to allowing others (personal and professional) to help us fill that toolbox with the right tools. You really don’t want to use a hammer when you NEED a screwdriver (well in most cases- HA!).
In the midst of storms it can be difficult for us to determine the right tool to use for the storm we are in because we are in the middle of if surrounded by the yuck and muck. It can be hard to allow others to help us use the right tools – I’ll be the first one to admit I like to solve problems on my own! So I challenge you as I challenge myself – can you let others help you choose the right tool for your storm?
What tools have you found effective for life’s storms? Both big and small?
Here’s a great E-xtension Article
Coping with Stress
divorce, education, money, positive parenting, raising teens, social-emotional
I grew up as a Missouri farm kid. There wasn’t much money but lots of chores – both inside and outside the home – and certainly no allowance. I had a piggy bank for small savings. And yes, my dad gave me a dollar for each “A” on a report card.
Did my parents teach me the right things about money? As an adult do I have a healthy relationship with money? Did I teach my daughters what they needed to know about money?
These are pretty weighty questions and ones that can cause a little guilt. So I was excited to hear the experts share the research results and their interpretations. The bad news is that the research isn’t conclusive and the good news is that the research isn’t conclusive. I also heard the experts share differing opinions. Whew – don’t need to feel guilty.
What I did learn is that parents don’t have to try to do everything a particular way. Many everyday mundane tasks involve money. Children learn from how they see their parents handle the family funds. We are back to that role model concept that keeps coming up on most any topic.
So let me give you some questions to ponder.
- What are you teaching when you pay for items with a credit card?
- What are you teaching when you balance a check book or reconcile a bank account online?
- What are you teaching when you give to your church or a local community project?
- What are you teaching when you save for a new computer or flat screen TV?
- What are you teaching when you complain about paying bills?
The list could go on and on. I just wanted to get you thinking about how what you do is always teaching. Anyone want to share a good story about a time when you taught your child a lesson about money by your behavior?
I have 3 girls and 30,000 pieces of laundry to wash. (Ok maybe I’m exaggerating). In the last 3 days (yes true) I have asked the girls to each go to the laundry room, get their own clean laundry and put it away. Each of them has gone to the laundry room 3 times. Why? Because after the first 2 trips they had still missed some of their own items, which meant there was still a clean laundry pile.
How do I get them to find their items on the first trip? I’d even settle for the second? Do they not recognize their own articles of clothing? (They certainly do when one of their sisters is wearing it?)
After a few moments of pondering the dilemma I remembered the following technique I learned from a Strengthening Families Program for Parents and Youth 10-14 last month.
Adding a Small Chore: Here’s how it works.
Because they didn’t accomplish the first chore – getting their own clean laundry-mind you after 3 separate requests. – they will now have a small additional chore. When I asked them to get their clothes initially, I also asked them to fold/match 6 pieces of ‘family’ laundry (towels, wash clothes, linens, match socks etc.) They will now have to each fold 3 times the number of towels/washcloths that I asked them to the first time. So they will each have 18 family items to fold/match. Trust me there are plenty! (sock come in pairs remember!)
By giving them a small ‘additional’ chore they will learn to check and make sure their first chore was done to completion. A small chore is not meant to be a punishment or an overwhelming task (like cleaning the garage or the complete disaster of a bedroom). The goal is to make it an inconvenience so they stop and think – or at the very least DO!
What are some other ‘small’ chores that could be assigned for those minor infractions? You might be surprised how the minor infractions decrease with the addition of a few small chores here and there.
Find out about Strengthening Families 10-14 and other ISU Extension and Outreach programs here – http://www.extension.iastate.edu/sfp
education, positive parenting, raising teens, social-emotional
It took a long time but winter finally arrived. Snow and cold are a combination that makes many of us want to hibernate. And it seems like the perfect excuse for kids of all ages (and parents too) to spend even more time using all the technology. But even that can get boring.
What can “pull” a tween away from his iPad or get a teenager to quit texting? Perhaps it is an invitation to join you in the kitchen as you make homemade pizza. As you make and bake in the cozy kitchen, an hour may turn into an evening laced with laughter and talking.
Or maybe you ask for their help in scanning old family pictures to put into an electronic photo album. Each photo is a chance to share family stories. Everyone has fun reminiscing and you get to pass along a bit of family history. Some of the old photos could end up as electronic screensavers or wallpaper.
Let the kids plan a party for their friends. Pick out a holiday or maybe it’s just a “mid-winter” celebration. Join them in coming up with inexpensive and creative ideas for invitations, food, and entertainment. Even better – make it a family party and invite both adults and kids.
With the next snowfall, dare the kids to follow you outside for a walk (with camera or smartphone in hand). See who can take the most interesting photo of Mother Nature’s winter handiwork. And if a good-natured snowball fight happens, all the better.
Actually, the list is endless of what we can do as families during winter weather. Have the whole family brainstorm a list of indoor activities and outdoors activities that they like to do. Be daring and add a few new ideas to the list. The biggest challenge is to not let it be a time of inactivity and boredom just waiting for spring.
What does your family like to do during the winter months? Is there something new you’d like to pursue?
Listening to the podcast and reading the blog I wanted to make sure that we had more opportunity to really think about the thoughts and ideas presented so I am bringing back Donna’s 3 points. Again – you may not necessarily like these suggestions but I want to dive in a little deeper…
- Really pay attention to what you and your child watch on TV. Reality shows are popular but research points to the fact relational aggression on these shows far too common. Being mean is shown in a glamorous way for someone to “win” or become popular.
- Next take a look at yourself. How do you interact with other adults in your home? What does your child hear and see? Does she hear you talking “mean” to each other? Does he hear you gossiping or making snide remarks about people? Children model what they see in the home.
- Tune in to your child’s group of friends. Is it a group of kids that practice relational aggression? Are they children with low self-esteem or do they think they are “hot stuff”? Either way, help your child learn how to stand up to the mean behavior.
When you look at these suggestions and watch the children around you (yours or others) what are examples that you may have seen (in your children or others’ children) that show these points to be true?
How have you seen acts of relational aggression handled in a way that positively impacted the situation?
We may decide to blog about this topic all month if you would like…
bullying, education, positive parenting, raising teens, social-emotional
Lori’s daughter was scared of costumed characters. I’m not fond of heights or water. Halloween costumes, TV characters, new experiences, the unknown. Any or all of these can scare a child. Being scared or having fears does not magically disappear as children grow into their teen years. And as adults we still have our share of fears.
However, children think differently from adults. Preschoolers and younger little ones can’t separate fantasy from the real world. School-agers can distinguish between fantasy and reality but may have trouble interpreting more subtle messages. Adults “get” the difference but that doesn’t always help.
So what to do – how do we help our children (and maybe each other) handle fears. Well to begin with, our fears depend on past experiences, imagination, and our general level of anxiety.
Don’t make fun of your child’s fears and try not to give lectures. Telling me there’s no reason to be scared of heights doesn’t make me feel any better. I still don’t like them. Accept fears as valid. Be supportive of your child with a matter-of-fact attitude and reassuring words. As a child gets older she will have a better understanding of cause and effect, reality and fantasy. And she is likely to have more experience with whatever is causing the fear. For example I’ve had many years of coming across heights and don’t get nearly as anxious.
Help your child learn some coping skills. In my case, I know to take deep breaths when I get into situations involving heights. Sometimes I can avoid the issue altogether. That’s an ok way to cope. So is picturing myself confidently crossing a tall bridge. Forcing your child into whatever scares him is probably not a good idea. That may just make things worse.
Comfort and common sense are two tools to put to use when dealing with fears – for children of all ages and adults too!
positive parenting, social-emotional
Parents need to know what their kids are watching on television and steer them toward the “good stuff.” Learn how to determine what the good stuff is — listen to this month’s Science of Parenting podcast.
ISU Extension materials
From the Science of Parenting Blog
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media and kids, podcast
Recent trends indicate that teens are more likely to think it’s OK to get drunk or use marijuana and other drugs. Prevention advocates are issuing a wake-up call to parents in this month’s Science of Parenting radio program podcast.
ISU Extension resources
ISU Extension publications
Podcast: Play in new window
podcast, raising teens
Parents: You can help prevent your child from using alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.
Research consistently demonstrates that parents are extremely important in preventing youth alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drug use. For instance, parents who talk to their child about substance use and about everyday events can protect their child from using substances. According the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), children are less likely to use substances when they remember their parents talking to them about their disapproval of using alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Youth who also believe their parents are involved in their activities are less likely to use drugs. Key research findings demonstrate that it is the youth’s perception of whether or not their parents are talking to them about daily activities or expressing disapproval of drug use that prevents them from using substances, as opposed to parents’ perceptions of these discussions. Often times, parents do not reiterate these conversations with their children, which can cause children to disregard, or not remember, the important messages.
Evidence shows that parents can also reduce their child’s substance use by:
- Working together to communicate rules, boundaries, and values to their child
- Knowing their child’s friends and friends’ parents
- Being a good role model
- Keeping apprised of their child’s whereabouts and activities
- Eating family meals together
- Spending time together as a family
- Understanding their child’s developmental stages to effectively parent
In summary, a parent is an extremely important influence in his or her child’s life. Parents should talk to their children daily, know who their children’s peers are, know where their children are going, and discuss disapproval of alcohol and other drug use somewhat frequently.
positive parenting, safety