Monthly Archives: October 2012

Choice

One of the parenting basics that we all learn when our children are young is to offer them limited choices.  “Would you like to wear these red socks today or the yellow ones?”  “You need to hold my hand.  Which hand would you like to hold?”

These simple opportunities for our children to be a part of the process provides them the chance to feel like they do have a say in some matters, preparing them for making choices that will become more complicated as they grow older.

As parents, we have the opportunity to model for our children ways in which we, as individuals and as families, weigh and make our decisions that influence our lives.

One of them is making sure we participate every year exercising our right to vote.  Next week, November 6th, is Election Day, 2012.

This year happens to be a national election voting for the President of the United States as well as those running for state and national Congressional seats.   But there are also local community issues like the ones in La Crosse – referendums for a new elementary school for the North Side.  Parents and community people are working hard to get the word out about why they feel this is an important option for the North Side and all of La Crosse. Another educational initiative is Western Technical College’s referendum for improving facilities and acquiring and improving properties.

It is up to us, as parents and involved citizens, to learn the issues, both local and national and let our children see us making a difference by voting – by making a choice.

Taking your children,  from an early age, to observe you voting is a powerful lesson in  our individual rights as citizens.  In Wisconsin, there is early voting through Friday, November 2nd – a convenience for parents especially with young children in tow, to avoid the crowds on Election Day.

Our children are watching and learning from us.  Let’s make the right choice.  Let’s all go and vote!

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Under the table

I was sitting on the dining room floor, going through some things stored in a low compartment of our very old buffet when a small item rolled out and under the dining room table.  I crawled under the table to retrieve it before  our dog,Tootsie, could grab it and run.  And once there, I realized – how long has it been since I’ve sat under a dining room table?

Memories of being four years old flooded my mind.  I absolutely remember spending time sitting under our big table at home when I was young.  It was such a quiet space – the perfect spot to sometimes listen to my mom as she talked on the telephone – to just “be” –  inconspicuous.

With the long, fancy, lace tablecloth hanging down, that my mom often had covering the table, it was a place that offered me the calmness and solitude I sometimes looked for in our noisy family of six children.  I would bring a treasure or two in with me and be alone with my imagination, my time.

Tootsie came and joined me under the table today, a look of puzzlement on her face.  Why in the world was I just sitting in such a place – one she often claims as her own?

I’m so glad I got to sit under the table today.  It  reaffirmed for me what I’ve known right along, the magic that exists for children when there is a cozy spot that meets their needs, to think of as their own special place.

Cozy spots are sometimes best when they are discovered by a child on his own.  I may have mentioned in previous posts young Natalie whose “office” was in the corner behind her dad’s favorite chair.  That’s where she would go when she wanted time to be by herself.

Allowing our children to claim their quiet spots can help to build their appreciation and recognize their need to find time for themselves – to use it as a way to refresh and refuel.  In our fast-paced world today, all of us need some place or habits that personally speak to us in a way that restores.

On Tuesday, November 13th from 6 PM – 7:30 PM at The Parenting Place, Patti Correll-Syring and I will share ways to help your children find their restful point, relax, restore harmony, find the quiet spot in their hearts.

We think it will be a peaceful evening.  Come join us and discover some simple ways to mend/prevent your child’s upsets by being more aware of what you can do and understand.

There might even be a table for you to sit under.

For more information on the Make & Take (Away the Tears)  workshop or to register, call The Parenting Place, 784-8125.  Limited child care is provided.

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Malala

It’s almost impossible to believe, in our own take-for-granted, everyday life that we would ever be faced with being forbidden to attend school – to be denied access to an education, to generate new ideas and develop critical thinking.  But in many places in the world, this is very much the case.

Recent news has shocked and saddened people everywhere with the shooting of a young Pakistani school girl.

Malala Yousafzai is a 14-year-old ninth grade student from the Swat district of Pakistan.  She was shot in the head last week by the Taliban because of her courageous, outspoken fight for the right for her and all girls to be allowed to attend school and receive an education.

It is so humbling to think of the maturity, accomplishments and conviction of someone so young as Malala.  By the age of eleven, she was writing about the practices of the Taliban against the residents of her city in a journal for the BBC under a pseudonym.  She has become a role model for the 22 million girls worldwide who are not able to attend school.  Malala was awarded one of her country’s highest honors for civilians for her bravery .

Malala is alive but in critical condition.  If she lives, the Taliban has vowed to hunt her down.

But she has already inspired so many young girls in her country, in many countries and now I hope in our country. For if we are going to have teen idols, here’s a true one for all of us, as parents and teachers, to admire, introduce, and promote to our daughters – and our sons.

Malala – beautiful, intelligent, courageous.  Keep fighting.

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Okay, let’s eat

Stacy Shapiro is a friend of mine and a friend of The Parenting Place.  She has shared her time and expertise generously over the years by presenting workshops at The Parenting Place for our participating families.  She believes in families and in helping them to define and recognize their strengths.

On Thursday, October 18th at Viterbo University, the Reinhart Center, Room 107, there will be a free workshop, Creating an Ethical Culture …At Home.  The workshop will be facilitated by Rick Kyte, Director of the D.B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics in Leadership and Stacy Shapiro of Shapiro Strategies. 

Attendees of the workshop will learn how to encourage their children to be their best selves, explore the moral development of children at different ages, hear techniques for raising good children in a challenging culture, and practical ideas to share with their families at home.

If you would like to attend this free workshop, you can register at ethics@viterbo.edu or telephone (608) 796-3704.

It should be a very interesting and informative evening.

When we think about encouraging our children to be their best selves, we can only think that means trying to be our own best selves for them.  Our children are taking their cues from us.  The way we live our life is being carefully observed and often scrutinized by our children everyday.  As parents we have the opportunity as well as the responsibility to provide our children with a strong sense of what our family believes in,  what makes us unique, and what connects us to each other.

One of the ways  that we can make this happen is by making family meals together a priority.

According to an article in the June 25,2012 Christian Science Monitor, Back to the Dinner Table, ” Today, frequent family dinners – the magic number seems to be at least five times a week –  are associated with lower teen use of alcohol, tobacco and marijuana; lower risk of obesity, eating disorders and teen pregnancy; and improved nutrition, physical and mental health, grades and relationships with parents.”

Wow!  All that while actually having a good time.  Especially if we use these occasions to be really present, to talk, to ask questions, to listen to each other, to laugh, and to make memories.

Which brings me to my next announcement – The Parenting Place’s Fundraiser – Dine to Donate – at Perkins Restaurant, 9428 Hwy 16 in Onalaska, Wednesday, October 17th between 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM.

Now – here is a perfect opportunity for families to have an outing for dinner (and remember, Perkins serves breakfast all day, which I love!) as well as support The Parenting Place and the free parenting programs we offer at the same time.

Just bring in the coupon from The Parenting Place’s Building Blocks or print it from The Parenting Place Facebook page.  One coupon per party and The Parenting Place receives 20%  of the bill.

We can do that together – can’t we?  Help us while enjoying a good meal together and being a part of that evening’s “families eating together”.

Hope to see you there!

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Ah, rhythm

Sitting at Culvers on the South side this past weekend, I saw a mom waiting outside at a picnic table, holding a very young infant.  As she sat watching for her family to meet up with her, she swayed – side to side, side to side – in the rhythmic, soothing motion, so natural to almost anyone who holds a baby in their arms.

A few tables away from me, inside, was a grandma and grandpa with their one-year-old granddaughter, sitting, and entertaining all around her from her highchair.

When Grandma took the little girl out to go to the washroom to clean up sticky hands and face, there was no going back into the highchair again, upon their return.  She fussed and screeched and her Grandma stood, confidently and naturally,  holding her and swaying, side to side, as the distressed little one relaxed and calmed down.

Ah, rhythm – it permeates all of our lives, and most certainly the lives of parents.  From the calming rocking motions with our babies, to the gentle pat, pat, patting on a child’s back, to the singsong rhythm of so many childhood verses and finger plays, children respond positively to the sense of rhythm.

When we have rhythm in our day, our week, our month,  it means we are providing a smooth, gentle, harmonious flow of activities – a schedule that is responsive, natural and comforting.

When parents are frustrated with behavior at home, I often ask them about their schedules, about the balance and routine in their family.  All of us need to sometimes take a rhythm check to get back on track again. For when we are experiencing rhythm, it is palpable and we can feel it.

As summer changes to fall and fall to winter and winter to spring,  we observe the rhythm of the year personified. And as the seasons change, so do all of us make our own adjustments in our routines and choices, to begin a new tempo for the season at hand.

Rhythm of the year shares the appreciation of seasonal holidays that are significant to families and a vital part of their yearly tapestry of events.  Two favorite events that are always a part of the rhythm of Autumn for me are the Pumpkin Patch and The Parenting Place’s Costume Swap.

On Friday, October 5th, The Parenting Place Play Shoppe will meet at Grandpa’s Garden, N2533 Hwy OA, Barre WI. For $4.00, we will be able to choose a pumpkin from the patch as well as enjoy a wagon ride, games and activities.  We will meet up there at 9:30 AM.

On Saturday, October 13th, from 9:00AM to 11:00PM, The Parenting Place will hold its annual Costume Swap at 1500 Green Bay Street.  Starting this week, gently used costumes can be dropped off at The Parenting Place and a coupon will be given to be brought with you on the 13th, when you will get to choose a different costume, plus enjoy fun crafts, activities and refreshments.  Even if your child already has a new costume picked out, it’s fun to have extras just for pretend dramatic play.

I wish all of you time to appreciate the rhythm of your family life, to let it lead and comfort you in harmony and delight.

If you have any questions about the Pumpkin Patch or The Costume Swap, give me a call at The Parenting Place, 784-8125.

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