Posts

A conversation tonight with my youngest son that revealed what he was thinking:

[After not seeing me go to work for days.]

Son: You still have your job, right?

Me: Yeah, dude. I’m working from home. Remember?

Son: So you still get paid, right?

Me: Yeah, I do.

Son: What about Mom?

Me: She found out today that they are going to start making cuts.

Son: Are we going to be able to keep our utilities and stuff on?

Me: I think we have that stuff worked out right now.

Son: What about people that work at a restaurant and the restaurant closes?

Me: They lose their job. There’s gonna be a lot of people with serious needs.

Son: So they don’t make money, but they still have to pay their bills?

Me: Yeah, man…

Son: [Pauses and Thinks] This is like, apocalyptic stuff!

Me: It’s the unknown, but we’ll face it as a family. We go through the good together…

Son: ….and the bad.

A conversation not ten minutes later with my oldest son that revealed his heart:

[Cook at a local restaurant.]

Son: Hey, can I talk to you?

Me: Sure!

Son: So tomorrow will be our last regular day at the restaurant.

Me: Then what? You guys closing too?

Son: Take-out will be open. I’m okay because I cook. Fifty servers will be out of work.

Me: Ugh. Man. What are you thinking?

Son: I want to help them, but I don’t know the best way to do it.

[What followed was a conversation about the best ways to help the people he cared about. We talked about helping a lot of people a little, versus, helping a few people a lot. We talked about how to find out who will be hurt by this the most. We talked over his budget and discussed how much he wanted to spend and about whether he should buy food or buy gift cards. We talked about how he wanted to help anonymously.]

Son: So, I’m just gonna buy gift cards and talk to the front of the house manager.

Me: Find out who will be jammed up the most? Maybe single moms with kids?

Son: Yeah, I’ll have the manager give them the cards. Then they can buy food they like.

Me: Very cool that you are getting outside yourself and thinking about other people.

Son: I just wanna help out… these people are my work family.

Me: If you get a chance, talk to your little brother…

Have age-appropriate conversations with your kids. Be honest. Be real. Be a good listener. Their mind and heart might be “between the lines” (like my youngest son’s underlying fear.) They might want to know what is going on and need help processing it. They may need hope. They may just need to vent. They may want to talk about helping other people during these difficult times.

I was fortunate tonight that my two sons came to me. That won’t always happen. Don’t wait for them to start a conversation.

Emphasize that this will be challenging but this will pass. Reinforce the idea that we are a family and we are in this together, no matter what. Encourage them to think outside of themselves and consider how they can help other people.

We are all connected.

This is an opportunity for your kids to learn valuable life lessons and develop character. This is an opportunity for you to connect with your kids. Be available. Be a good listener. Be their guide.

*For more parenting resources, including COVID-19 specificresources, go toFirstthings.org.

As a parent, you might be in too much of a hurry if:

  • You talk on the phone when your child tells you about their day;
  • Your kids eat most meals in the car;
  • You dress your child when she can dress herself – buttoning, zipping, finding her coat, etc;
  • Your child constantly hears, “Are you ready?” or “Hurry up!”;
  • Your child never completes a project at play time;
  • You don’t have time to read to your child or let him/her read to you; and
  • You don’t have enough time to talk with and listen to him/her.

Why does this matter? All of these activities help your child develop fine motor skills critical for reading and writing.

“In order for a child to develop holistically, fine motor skills are very important,” says Lu Lewis, early childhood educator. “When you slow down and allow your child to do the activities listed above, you allow him to learn eye-hand coordination. His hands and eyes learn to work together. For example, when you give a child something to cut out, their eyes see what you want them to cut and their hands cut what their eyes see.”

Even simple things like a baby grasping for an object is a fine motor skill.

When a parent always gives the rattle to the baby, it robs them of an opportunity to learn this skill.

“A mom once asked me if it was bad if she didn’t play with her child all the time,” Lewis says. “In today’s society, I think many people believe they are not being good parents if they are not always entertaining their child. The truth is your child needs to play for a period of time with an object in order to complete a play cycle and concentrate to the point that it is etched into their long-term memory. Many educators see children in their classroom who are always dependent on an adult to complete a project for them because they have never completed a project by themselves.”

Believe it or not, helping your child develop fine motor skills is not complicated.

Just including your child in your day can help develop these skills. Folding laundry, talking with your child as you cook, letting him walk with you to the mailbox and allowing him to open the mailbox and grab the mail, asking him to get a pan or utensil for you, and allowing him to play in the tub with toys are all activities that help to naturally develop these necessary skills.

“Most parents I work with really want their child to do well,” Lewis says. “Sometimes parents do things they believe are helping their child when they are actually hindering their development. The number one thing I would tell parents is to slow down, relax and let your child truly experience life.”

In addition to including your child in your daily activities, Lewis encourages parents to:

  • Walk with your child down the street and count bricks or pick dandelions.
  • Encourage them to sit at the kitchen table while you fix dinner and string beads or sort blocks by color instead of watching television or playing on the computer.
  • Incorporate time for your child to play every day.

“Learning is a human endeavor,” Lewis says. “It takes place from one human to another and it requires your most precious commodity, time.”

For more insight on parenting, download our E-book “4 ways to stay connected after Baby” Download Here

Looking for more? Check out this episode of JulieB TV on this topic!

When you think about celebrating the holidays, what comes to mind? Baking gingerbread men with your children? Taking the entire family to cut down the family tree the day after Thanksgiving? Or maybe, it’s the extended family progressive dinner that takes place every Christmas Eve.

“Traditions are often what make the holidays meaningful,” says Dr. Susan Hickman, clinical psychologist. “They are like the support beams for a building, communicating to children that in all the rush and seemingly randomness of our lives, there are still some things we hold sacred which remain relatively unchanged over the years.”

These annual celebrations create memories and bring generations together. They give families a structure around which to organize time and events since people are much more likely to take family photos and “rehearse” what transpired as they look back on the photographs and videos.

In an informal survey, we asked about meaningful traditions. Here are a few of the responses.

Many years ago, Betty Bergin began collecting antique crystal candlesticks – one for each of her four children. As children have started their own families, the Bergins have loved finding the crystal treasure that best represents each new addition to the family. Every Christmas Day, the candlesticks fill the center of their Christmas table. When their oldest son found his life mate, he announced it by giving them a crystal candlestick.

“What a precious memory that is to me, that at 31, he saw value in our tradition,” says Bergin.

“My favorite holiday tradition as a child was getting to open one present on Christmas Eve,” says Anne Hooser. “It was the same gift every year – a brand new nightgown. I remember when I was in my late twenties and had not been home for Christmas in many years, my mother sent me a present to be ‘opened Christmas Eve.’ It was a brand new nightgown! When I opened it up I just felt loved.”

For more than 50 years, Lorena Garza Gonzalez’s family has re-enacted the journey of Joseph and Mary in the traditional Mexican “Posada.” Now their children and friends of all ethnic backgrounds and ages help, share and sing to celebrate the occasion, which is followed with tamales, menudo, frijoles borrachos, and many sweet-pleasers.

“Traditions are so important in family,” says Gonzalez. “This is one I hope my children will continue for years to come.”

Special celebrations give families the time and place to discuss what is important to them.

“We often hear people talk about wanting to avoid getting into any discussions that might create conflict at these types of gatherings,” Hickman says. “Some of the best family discussions I can recall occurred during our holiday traditional celebrations. Sometimes there was conflict, but conflict isn’t always bad. Just because people disagree doesn’t mean it has to escalate into a fight or that you don’t love each other. In fact, when children see family members handle conflict appropriately, it is a great lesson for them.”

Consider ways you can incorporate holiday traditions, whether old or new, into your celebrations. It just might keep you focused on the things that really matter. For every family the traditions are different, but they all allow for a greater sense of shared identity and meaning. There is something very comforting about being able to think ahead and anticipate participating in a longstanding family tradition.