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?
Do you have any idea on how much information there is on the internet telling you ‘how to be a mom’?
I realized that I was going round and round and deeper and deeper into the realms of the internet while I was thinking about what to write. I began to be overloaded and confused. What seemed to be such a simple task became overwhelming with so much information.
Isn’t that what being a mom ends up being? A seemingly simple parenting task can become overwhelming because of information from so many places and sources.
So what do we do? Here’s what I did. Pushed my chair back from the computer. Picked up the picture of my girls on my desk. Smiled. Took a deep breath. Deleted my search engines. And went back to the place I knew research was solid and strong. www.extension.org And then I started again.
Sometimes as parents we have to remember that we need a strong foundation of one or two credible resources instead of a whole ‘favorites’ list of lots of opinions. I hope you enjoy searching the eXtension website as much as I did!
Several major holidays are just around the corner. Many people will attend family gatherings that usually include food. Or in the case of Thanksgiving – the holiday seems to revolve around the food. So are you a little nervous that your kids who eat way too many meals on the run may not know how to behave at the table? Is it time for a quick lesson on table manners?
A few gentle reminders at the breakfast table, in the car on the way to school, or as you’re fixing the evening meal, can do the trick. We aren’t trying to turn the kids into walking advertisements for Emily Post. But we are attempting to teach a few basics that will help relieve some of the stress for everyone when kids are placed in social settings.
Here’s the list I used with our girls.
- Ask someone to pass the mashed potatoes. Don’t reach across two people to get the bowl.
- Chew with your mouth closed. Save the gross “look at me” games for home.
- Eat and then talk. It’s hard for Aunt Tina to understand you with your mouth full of green beans.
- Try, try, try to sit up in your chair and keep your elbows off the table. We used to sing a song about this because everyone forgets.
- Compliment the cook on something you like (can’t get enough of the noodles) and keep quiet about Uncle Rob’s dressing you couldn’t make me eat.
- Say “please” and “thank you.” This will get you big points for being well mannered.
So what’s the point of all this? In the podcast Lori talked about how manners are a way for society to keep things pleasant. Observing basic table manners will make meals go more smoothly. When children, and adults, use their manners they are showing respect for the people gathered around the table.
What table manners do you teach your kids?
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.
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?
When you decide it is appropriate to allow your child to stay home alone, you will want to establish rules for your child. Examples of rules you may wish to set include:
- Internet/computer/telephone/television use
- Not answering the door
- Refraining from telling anyone he/she is home alone
- Use of appliances, such as stoves, microwaves, and grills
- Having guests or friends over when parents are not home
It is also important to make sure your child knows important safety tips, such as what to do in the case of an emergency. It is helpful to leave important information available for your child, such as:
- Telephone numbers for 911, family members, and neighbors.
- Your child’s full name, date of birth, and home address.
- Each parent’s full name, phone numbers, and employer information so parents can be reached immediately.
- Other family members’ full names, phone numbers, and employer information.
- What to say when someone calls.
- What to do if someone knocks on the door.
- The location of a flashlight and other emergency items such as band aids.
Before leaving your child home alone, practice the above rules and safety tips so you will feel at peace when you leave your child home alone and your child will feel more confident about how to handle this new role. Finally, you may wish to leave your child home alone in small increments, such as 15-30 minutes the first time, 30-45 minutes the second time, and so on. This will give everyone an opportunity to assess the situation.