Yesterday, as I was flying home from Seattle, I started thinking about my life and about being a parent for more than 50 years, a grandfather for nearly 30 years, and a great grandfather for 6+ years. Somewhere while sitting in the wild blue yonder, I thought to myself, “Wow! With all this experience I should write a post and share my knowledge about raising children with the world. After all, I am someone who should know.”
As a result of this thought popping into my mind I decided to write this post chuck full of advice for my grandchildren as they will shortly have the honor and privilege of raising children (some of them have already started).
My advice is unique but very, very practical, and I advise all my grandchildren to follow it. I also invite those who are reading this post and are not my grandchildren to seriously think about sharing and implementing each of the ideas with your children and grandchildren.
- Give them whatever they want. No questions asked. Just make sure they understand that they may not like the consequences of their choices. This is an effective way to teach them about responsibility and learning to live with their choices.
- Make sure that you have a handful of candy to give them just before bedtime. This is important so you can teach them the value of brushing their teeth. If by chance they forget this simple bedtime ritual, let them sleep until 2:00 in the morning then you get up (this is the downside of this piece of advice) and wake them and have them brush their teeth. Of course, the good news is that all the candy you give them will keep them awake until 2:00 a.m. anyway so you will not be the bad guy having to wake them up. This simple technique will save you lots of frustration.
- Another piece of precious advice is I suggest you teach them is not to pick their nose in church because it makes them and others lose focus on whatever is going on. I watched a little boy in church last Sunday (sitting on the front row of the stand waiting for his turn to speak) nonchalantly digging at his nose for treasure.
- A priceless piece of advice to teach your children is that they should not burp at the dinner table or anywhere else where others are around. Teach them that this bad habit learned while they are young may come back to bite them later in life like when they are in high school on a date at a fancy restaurant and they let loose a belch that is heard in every corner of the restaurant. Our children need to understand that this is not a good way to make a positive impression.
- I believe that we should encourage our children to take a nap every afternoon in their most boring class. Teachers will understand, after all they were students once, and they understand sleep deprivation due to the rapid growth of brain cells every high school student experience and so naps are needed. Taking a nap in school is a great idea and extremely helpful to parents. Look at it this way, when school gets out and the children rush home to eat their snack, they are full of extra energy which means they can apply this energy to the dreadful task of sitting down and working on their homework and finishing it before dinner. This approach solves the problem of nagging parents’ homework blowups.
- This next one will surprise some of you. There are some good lessons parents can share by teaching their children to fold their socks. One thing this exercise does is teach them the value of work and that mom doesn’t do all the work around the house. Another valuable skill they can master as they fold their socks is to learn their colors as they match them. I mean, after a while they learn the difference between red socks and blue socks, and this is such an important skill in helping them develop their artistic talents. This little trick will guarantee an A in their art class. Finally, learning to fold socks helps them define their small muscles and makes learning to play the piano or violin much easier.
- Make sure you stress the importance of treating their grandparents and great-grandparents with love and respect. Help them understand that ticking off such high-ranking members of the family usually results in some kind of retribution like not getting any birthday or Christmas presents.
- The final piece of advice is so simple that it scares me to even mention it. Do not believe anything I’ve written. Make your own mistakes and learn from them. Remember that you know your children better than anyone else and you are the expert in discipling, loving, and teaching them the values you hold important. Be yourself and your children will respond positively, but it might do you some good knowing that as perfect as you are you will not get everything right (I’m certain that you are surprised by me telling you this, but the fact is that humility makes parents better).
There you have my eight suggestions for raising children. Flying at 30,000 feet in thin air does wonders for a person’s creativity and critical thinking skills. I feel sorry for all those passengers around me not taking advantage of this opportunity because they were watching a movie or idly chatting or taking a nap. Just remember that the next time you go flying you might want to take advantage of the positive effect of thin air on the brain.
Happy Failing Forward,
PS Want to help your kids have less stress and more success at home and school? CLICK HERE to get a copy of our book, The Resiliency Toolkit: A Busy Parent’s Guide to Raising Happy, Confident, Successful Children.
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