Monday, September 22, 2008

Kids Should Make Sacrifices Too

This has been called the age of the self-sacrificing parent. Supposedly we have given up everything for our children and we now plan our lives around them entirely. Gone are the days of sending the kids out the door to play, only to see them again at dinnertime.

It's true that today's kids are busier than ever before. After school activities abound, coupled with the inevitable doctor's appointments and music, dance and or karate lessons. Add in a sport or two and you are busy every single day of the year.

When we do so much for our kids, we can fall into the trap of doing everything for them; before you kow it, the kids rule the roost. They decide what program gets watched, what music gets played and where dinner is eaten. It's easier to give in than to fight over every little thing, but what does that teach the kids - that whining wins the day?

It's good for children to make sacrifices too. Let them listen to your music for a change. You decide what program to watch and invite them to join you. (Here's where having only one TV in our house was a real gift. It taught the kids how to share and how to respect each other's rights and ours too.) Ask them to work on the crossword with you, instead of playing their video games. It's a two-way street. Learning to compromise and learning that they will not always get their way will serve them much better in life than always getting what they want.

Off to College

We dropped our son off at college yesterday. It wasn't as heartwrenching this time as it was when my daughter left for school two years ago, in part, because we had been through it before and also because he is only 30 miles away. We already plan to see him in two weeks when my mom celebrates her birthday.

It's an interesting experience, seeing your child off to college. As you help him move into his dorm, you want to help him make his bed and get unpacked, setting everything up for his success. You make sure he has everything he could possibly need, and then you say goodbye. If he is far away from home, it may be quite a while before you see him again. Even if he is close to home, something is different now. Your relationship has changed, and when he does come home to visit, it will be as an adult.

It's a time of adjustment, a time of shifting roles, and it has only just begun. Luckily, it is also a time of celebration, knowing that you have done your job in preparing your child for the bigger world out there. He will face challenges; he will have many successes and also some failures. That is inevitable, but you have equipped him with the necessary tools he will need to meet life head on.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Fitness and Fun Times

When our children are young, it takes every bit of energy we have to keep up with them. Once they learn to walk, the race is on as we try to match our activity level to theirs.

However, as our children grow, they become less dependent on their parents as playmates and prefer the company of their friends. That's only healthy and natural, and it gives us parents a much needed break from constantly looking for ways to entertain the kids. Besides, as their strength and athletic abilities grow, we may not be able to keep up.

That is when it becomes so important to find some sort of exercise routine that we enjoy and will stick with over time. We don't want our own health to fail just as our kids are growing up and moving out. After all, we want to be in good shape for the day those grandchildren start arriving.

Visit my blog at for several articles on staying in shape whild still having fun.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Back-to-School Night

Wednesday is Back-to-School Night at my son's high school. With three kids, this will be my 16th Back-to-School Night, so I consider myself something of an expert. Even though I've done this numerous times before, I'm still curious to meet my child's teachers, to find out from him where he sits, so I can see his view of the classroom, step into his shoes for a few minutes.

Of course, things have changed over the years.

When they were in elementary school, the rooms were packed. Both parents attended whenever possible, so it was standing room only. Middle school parent nights were also well attended, making it a real challenge to navigate between classrooms during the three minute passing period - the same amount of time the kids have.

High school Back-to-School Nights have been a little different. This will be our seventh year at the high school, and my husband and I have experienced both sides of the coin - classrooms that were full of anxious parents, wondering what will be expected of their child, and nearly empty rooms where maybe three other parents showed up.

Granted, sometimes a parent can't get away from work, or they have more than one child and can't be in two places at once. But this is the one time it really pays for both parents to show up. It's one evening where you get to find out what is expected of your child, what the homework policy is, whether or not extra credit will be awarded. How much are the tests worth? How much time should they be studying at home? What big project is due next week?

Try to fit Back-to-School Night into your busy schedule. It will be worth the time; and, who knows, you might even learn something!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

First Impressions

First impressions are very important - especially when it comes to a new school year. When your student finds himself in a new class with a new teacher, urge him to strive to make a good impression. Teachers have to get to know your child quickly; after all, Back-to-School Night and parent-teacher conferences are just around the corner. If your child gets off to a bad start, it can effect his performance for the entire school year.

If your child is on time, in his seat and ready to begin when the bell rings, he will make a good impression. If he is attentive in class and gets his homework in on time, that's another feather in his cap. If a teacher sees a child giving his best effort, she will be more than happy to give him a little extra assistance if he is struggling with a particular concept.

By the way, developing good study and work habits and showing respect for his teacher and classmates will also help him throughout his life - to be a better student, a better employee, a better person.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Back-to-School: Goal Setting Time

For those of you with younger children, your back-to-school experience will no doubt include a parent-teacher conference and a chance to set some goals for your child this year. However, many middle and high schools forego this process. After all, the kids rotate from classroom to classroom and work with several different teachers. You can't have a conference with each one.

In lieu of the parent-teacher conference, you should sit down with your student and come up with your own set of goals. These should include expectations regarding study time, recreation time, and after-school activities. What kind of grades should he strive for, what social and behavioral goals should he have? Make the goals realistic and agree upon rewards for achieving those goals. Write up a contract with your child and check it throughout the year to see how he's doing.

This is a great tool for keeping your child on track and helping him to succeed in school.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

New Beginnings

This month promises to be a very exciting one.

My daughter has completed her first week of her junior year in college and likes all her classes.

My older son begins college in a couple of weeks, where he will try out for the baseball team. His goal is to combine the intense five-year architecture program with baseball, so it will be quite a challenge. In some ways though, he does his best work when he is pressed for time - not unlike his mother.

My youngest is at a high school orientation for freshmen today, led by a "link crew" of experienced seniors who have volunteered their time to help the new kids adjust to life in H.S. They will keep in touch with the kids throughout their freshman year, helping them make the adjustment to their new school.

My husband is switching to a new group at work and will have new responsibilities there.

I will be writing full time come next week, and I can't wait. So here's to new challenges and new beginnings!