What’s the Golden Rule of Parenting?

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My first grade class. I’m in the bottom row.

When I was a first grader at Emerson Elementary in Snohomish, WA, our teacher said, “Please, raise your hand if you know the Golden Rule.”

I wasn’t sure what she meant by the “Golden Rule.” She pronounced each word with such emphasis and finality it made me wiggle in my seat because I wasn’t sure what it was — and it sure must be important. I looked around me and everyone’s hand had shot straight up. So, I shyly raised my hand, too. I thought hard and hoped she wouldn’t call on me. My mind raced through all the Bible versus our Mom spouted off at a fast clip each morning. The best I could come up with was from Matthew 5:39, “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.”

After a sigh of relief when the teacher called on someone else, I learned that The Golden Rule was to “treat others how you wished to be treated yourself.” After that revelation, the teacher pulled down the white screen over the green chalkboard, turned off the lights and started up the projector to show us a black and white, approved for school circa 1950s, short film on “The Golden Rule.”

This memory came back to me after reading an article in Psychology Today by Suzanne Gelb Ph.D., J.D. called Good Parenting—It’s Not Complicated: Learning to be the type of parent that your child deserves.

It seems her parenting advice is kind of a Golden Rule itself. Be the parent you would want to have as a parent Here’s an excerpt, but be sure to click on the link above to read it in full detail. It’s worth it and it’s not that long. She gives a list of things we can do to improve.

I just searched for the term “Parenting” in the Books section on a major online platform.

Do you know what I found?

Over 50,000 titles!

This makes me happy… and frustrated. 

Happy, because if you’ve got valuable insights to share—on any topic—writing a book is a beautiful way to do it. (I’ve written 15 books

, myself.)

Frustrated, because… hmm. How do I put this elegantly? 

Let’s try this:

Good parenting is not rocket science—and it shouldn’t require 50,000 books to help parents understand what is required. 

As a parent, your job can be quite simple. 

To care for your child, as you would care for yourself.

The problem is that many grown-ups don’t actually care for themselves in all of the ways that matter. They know how to care for themselves in the basic and fundamental ways—like brushing teeth, washing hair—but not always in the deeper ways, like maintaining emotional health or prioritizing self-respect and self-worth (which invariably translates into making positive choices.) Yes, making positive choices is a form of self-care.

The problem is that many grown-ups never learned how to truly be well-adjusted grown-ups, in large part because their parents or caregivers weren’t equipped to teach them everything they needed to know. So they tend to pass along that “shakiness” to their children, perpetuating the cycle of inadequate parenting and shaky life skills. 

It is heartbreaking, but true. 

This is a problem that 50,000 books are trying to help resolve. 

This is a problem that I have devoted much of my 30-plus-year career in the counseling field to solving, too.

A lot of my early classroom memories are of teachers reading to us after recess, putting our heads down on desks to play a game called “Seven Up” — at  least that is what I think it was called. And those black and white films the school would order. I’d love to see them now. I bet they’d make me laugh with how corny and contrived they were. They did then.

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High school friends.We were all in the Yearbook staff together.

What do you think about the golden rule suggestion in parenting? Do you use it and try to parent differently than your mom and dad?

How to Say Good-bye to Your College Student

Here’s a blast from the past — the year my daughter moved from home to start her college days. It seems like yesterday.

 

Last week I wrote about 7 tips for parents on Move-In Day. At the end I wrote: “I made it through the day without tears–mostly. It was a long, busy and tiring day. When my husband and I stopped for lunch — alone — and I realized that we were truly alone — the tears ran down my cheeks. I wiped them off and prepared myself for battle for the next stop at Target. When, it’s time to say good-bye — well, I’ll tell you how that goes another time.”

Kat during our 6th trip to Target

Kat during our 6th trip to Target

So, how did it go when we said good-bye?

We had planned to stay until Sunday. Move-In day had been Thursday. We wanted to be around for a few days in case she needed us. She wanted us there on Thursday, but by Friday — not so much. It began to make sense for us to leave a day early. We didn’t want to hang out and wait to see if she wanted us around. It didn’t make us feel good and we weren’t enjoying ourselves exploring the city that much. We had a long 11-hour drive ahead of us, too. So we went out for an early morning walk Saturday and talked about how we’d let her know that we felt it was time to leave.

She texted us at 7 a.m. Saturday. 

text from Kat

text from Kat

Okie dokie.

It was time to say good-bye. We walked on over to her dorm. I took a deep breath. I said a prayer to be strong.

“Do not cry. I can do this,” I repeated in my head.

She opened the door, I wanted to say something profound and loving. Something she’d remember — but I said nothing. My husband said a few things and I nodded my head.

I opened my mouth, my voice cracked and wavered. At this point I cannot remember what I was trying to say.

“Mom! Mom! Stop it!” she said. “Don’t!”

She held my face in her hands, like I was the child. “It’s going to be okay.”

A view  during our walk on campus

A view during our walk on campus

Tip 1:  Make it short and quick.

Bill and I walked out of her room into the bright cool air that is Utah. We walked all over campus for two hours, tears running down my cheeks. During the walk, I began to feel better — amazed at what a strong beautiful woman we had raised.

Sage Point dorms at U of U

Sage Point dorms at U of U, the athlete housing for Winter Olympics 2002.

Here’s an update:

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Old school vs. new school parenting

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Me and my big brother.

Which is best? The way we were raised, back when parents weren’t involved and we roamed free all over the countryside? Or, how parents are doing it today, attending every sports and piano practice, totally focused on our children’s every move?

According to Deon Price in an article in the Daily Republic called “This Youth Generation: Is ‘old school’ or ‘new school’ parenting best for raising a child?” he compares the two styles and it’s kind of funny to look at how different they are.

For example, many adults remember when it was okay for teachers to paddle kids at school. (I remember the boys were the ones getting paddled. I don’t really remember that technique used on girls except for one teacher who liked to showboat.) Parents were allowed to do that too, and some used a belt rather than a paddle. Today, I think “Alexa” or a neighbor would call the cops on a parent that whipped a child. My parents weren’t into punishment or maybe my brother and I were just pretty darn good kids.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Speaking with parents, youth and anyone raising children, I pose the question: Does “old school” or “new school” parenting work best for the proper upbringing of a child?

This discussion often gets even deeper when it begins to penetrate the surface into different cultural and socio-economic environments. Parenting styles quite often drastically differ, depending on the generation. What is considered strict old-school “tough love” would be considered excessive or maybe even abusive to some. What some modern parents call nurturing and bonding may be considered babying.

What is obvious is that our environment has changed, which has inevitably affected the way parents deal with their children.

Here are just a few examples:

Having an opinion vs. talking back: New-school parenting supports the gesture of “allowing a child to voice his or her opinion.” Old-school parenting says, “You better know when to hold your tongue or you may lose it.” Or, “Don’t let your mouth write a check that your behind can’t cash.” I believe in a healthy balance between the two. At least explain the reason for your parenting decision and ask if your children have any questions so that there are no misunderstandings.

Butt whipping vs. time-out: Time-out is what new-school parents use to deal with inappropriate behavior by a child. Old-school parents use butt-whipping – and as one parent put it, “You also got a lecture during that whipping.” There is a strong opposition against any physical discipline of a child. Some are simply calling it violence and abuse regardless. That in my personal and professional experience is ridiculous. When progressive discipline is in place, the child’s response will determine the level of discipline that should be applied. As a balanced, responsible parent, it’s good to remember to discipline with love and not anger. Never discipline a child while you are angry. Maybe it’s a good idea for the parent to take a time-out before they decide on a butt-whipping.

“Yes sir” vs. “What”: According to one old-school parent, “Children respond back to their parent(s) and/or elders by saying ‘what?’ In my day, if my dad called one of us and we answered with ‘what?,’ we were in for it.” The new-school style has gotten a little soft when it comes to expecting respect from children. “Yes sir” or “Yes ma’am” when responding to an elder person was mandatory. It’s rare to hear the words sir or ma’am from today’s generation of children.

I remember being outside most of the time as a child. Do you remember that, too? We hiked through the woods hacking a trail with machetes or rode for miles on our bikes to visit friends. Evenings were spent playing a softball game called workup where the older kids dominated and I stayed in the outfield forever. It was boring, but it was the place to be under the street lights. Doing all of this was usually without our parents knowing or caring where we were. We came back to the house when we were hungry.

Whether you prefer old school, new school or a combination, there is no black-and-white, clear right or wrong way of parenting. However, it is wise to discerned how we perform the duties of the most critical role on the planet. Please share your thoughts.

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My kids in a more structured life centered around swimming.

What are your thoughts about old school vs. new school parenting? What style do you most closely follow? 

What happened to May Day celebrations?

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In first grade, my teacher Mrs. Iverson showed us how to make May Day baskets from pink and yellow construction paper. We drew ivy and flowers on the paper baskets with our thick crayons before going up one-by-one to our teacher to get the handle stapled on.

On the way home from school, we walked together picking dandelions and soft lavender-colored clover to fill our baskets.

images-6We took turns “May Daying” the neighbors.

I climbed the steps to Mrs. Fixie’s front door. She was the grandmotherly lady with the neat white bun on top of her head who often gave me home-made oatmeal cookies.

I hung the basket on her doorknob. Then, I rang her doorbell and ran as far as my first-grade legs would take me. I hid behind a hedge and watched her open the front door and scan the neighborhood.

images-9Then, she looked at her doorknob at the paper basket filled with flowering weeds.  A big smile broke across her face.

“Happy May Day!” I yelled jumping up behind the shrubs.

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Where did this fun tradition begin? But, more importantly, where did it go?

Do your kids make May Day baskets in school? Do they surprise your elderly neighbors with baskets of flowers and sunshine on May 1st?images-8

My mom is in an assisted living home two states away. She’ll be getting a delivery from FTD today of a little basket of flowers. The card will read “Happy May Day! Love, ?”

She’ll call and thank me and I’ll say, “I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about!”

She’ll say, “Really? I could have sworn it was you! I wonder who sent me these flowers?”images-7

That’s how we keep our May Day tradition alive. My son sent me a text to wish me “Happy May Day” first thing this morning. My daughter may pick some snap dragons and roses from our back yard and pound on the door tonight after school and her swim meet.

I’ll run outside and won’t be able to contain the smile on my face as I race around the yard trying to catch her.

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Happy May Day, everyone! How do you celebrate May Day? Do your kids make baskets?

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The Computer Room and Our Early Tech

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My current computer.

When we moved into our house in the fall of 1992, I was running a public relations and advertising business from home. My workhorse was the Macintosh IIci computer and the Apple LaserWriter IIf—my first of many Apple computers. There was a fairly new invention called desktop publishing that I thought was so exciting.

I used a modem to send files to a business that turned my computer files into film that would go to a local printer for newsletters, brochures and print ads. My home office was in what is now our guest room. Back then we called it “the computer room,” because unlike today, where I work mostly on a laptop wherever I feel like it — all my work had to be done in that room on the computer.

When I was ready to send a file, I called the business and let them know I was ready to send it. Then we’d both start up our dial-up modems. The file transfer would tie up my computer and could take up to eight hours! So, I’d make the call in the evening when I was done with work and the file transfer would happen overnight.

What seemed so high tech at the time, is ancient by today’s standards. The dial-up modem was pre-internet. I remember visiting a friend who was the first person I knew who used the internet. He was working on creating a website for people to locate and get information about his business. I thought to myself, who on earth is going to their computer to look up a business? What a waste of time! After all, we had phone books and yellow pages for that.

Years later, after there was no computer in the guest room, we still called it the “computer room.” It turned into a TV room and our kids and their friends would hang out there watching a big bulky TV and VCR. Eventually, when the kids got older and I saw my daughter’s friends a little too cozy and flirtatious with my son’s friends, we bought a big screen TV and put it smack in the center of the living room. My kids told me this week that they thought they were responsible for us getting the big flat screen TV. One of them had unplugged the cable from the TV and told us it wouldn’t work anymore!

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My first computer and printer.

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What do you remember about your first technology? How did we work without the internet? 

Where did the year go?

I woke up thinking “it’s June first and where did my year go?” Mostly nowhere is where my year went thanks to falling on the slopes January 2nd. It’s been a long five months of being injured, having surgery and slowly recovering. I looked back at what I was going last year at this time and it was all about being together as a family. 

Here’s my story from one year ago today:

18920581_10213697294890444_4649514921325596156_nThis past weekend, I was in mom heaven. My daughter was at a swim meet an hour away from where my son now lives. We didn’t do anything that special, we got to hang out together. It was one of my favorite weekends in recent memory.

At first, I was worried about how my daughter was going to do at the meet. She had already told us that due to other things going on in her life, her last few weeks of practice were not consistent at all.

I told her, “You can still get a best time and swim well.” 

She thought I was delirious. She was very realistic about what she could do at that point in time. I have to admit that after her first race, I got it. I relaxed about the times and understood that this meet was about being together as a family. It was a small slice of time where we could hang out and enjoy each other’s company. If I had been focused on her times and upset that she wasn’t at her peak fitness, I’d have been so disappointed. Instead, I reflected on being the mom of two almost grown kids that I’m so proud of. And, the fact that they enjoy being with me and each other.

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My daughter getting instructions from her coach.

While we were driving around town, the kids were in the back seat pretending to be little kids elbowing each other. I turned around from the front passenger seat and said, “Children, there’s an imaginary line going down the middle of the car. You can’t cross that line!”

My daughter immediately yelled out, “Mom, Robert crossed the line!”

Later, after fits of laughter, we hung out together in a park, lying on the grass and staring at the green leaves and blue sky.

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The park by the Santa Clara pool.

We shared books, ideas and meals. My son’s vocabulary had us looking up new words and trying to memorize and pronounce them, like “primogeniture.” One of my kids favorite things to do was to copy our faces. My son does an imitation of me, while Kat has perfected her dad’s scowl. It always ended in a burst of laughter and fits of giggles.

The swim meet was exciting with a who’s who in the swimming world in the final heats. I witnessed amazing races and the international flavor was so hopeful and invigorating with countries in attendance including Argentina, Mexico, Japan and China.

It may be the last time we’ll be staying in a hotel with our daughter at a meet. Ever. Her final college season is ahead this fall and she’ll be with her team, not us. I was a little teary-eyed when the weekend flew by and it was time for me to return again to my empty nest.

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My super heroes at the Winchester Mystery House.

What were you doing one year ago today?

5 Must-See Movies for Easter

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I posted this Easter week in 2014. Are there any new movies that have come out since then that you’d add to the list? Or maybe some classics that I missed?

When I was a kid, the major three TV networks aired Holiday Specials. My mom would make popcorn in a big pot on the stove, or if we were lucky, my brother and I’d get to shake the aluminum-foil bursting “Jiffy Pop” right on the electric burner. We’d gather on the sofa or in chairs to watch — get this — as a family – the “Holiday Special.”

Around Halloween, it was Wizard of Oz and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Christmas had a bunch of great ones. My favorite was Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, but we also watched A Charlie Brown Christmas, and my Mom and Dad’s favorite — It’s a Wonderful Life.

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This Easter, I’d love to rekindle the tradition of sitting down with family to watch holiday movies together. Unfortunately, my son’s having a riotous good time at UCSB and my daughter will be off to see Lorde, Lana Del Rey, Beck and Arcade Fire. Yes, she’s going to Coachella!

imgres-13If I can convince my husband, or maybe alone, I’m going to check out Netflix, Apple TV, or Google Movies to watch my list of must-see Easter movies:

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1. The Robe. Starring Richard Burton, Jean Simmons,  and Victor Mature. 1953. Won 2 Oscars.imgres-10
2. The Ten Commandments.  Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter. 1956.  Won 1 Oscar.imgres-14
3. Ben Hur.  Charlton Heston. 1959.  Won 11 oscars.imgres-12
4. Passion of the Christ.  Mel Gibson director. 2004. Not for the faint of heart!imgres-15
and at theaters:

5. God Is Not Dead.  I’m going to see this sometime this week. It’s made my list based on a friend’s recommendation.images-9

Do you have other movies to add to my top five picks? Have you seen all five of these movies?