Saturday, September 18, 2010

10 Parenting Tips - Part 1

Over the next three weeks, I will be sharing 10 Parenting Tips from Dr. Kevin Ryan of the School of Education at Boston University. From the BU website, I learned the following abut Dr. Kevin Ryan:

Kevin Ryan is the founder and director emeritus of the Center for the Advancement of Ethics and Character at Boston University. A former high school English teacher, Ryan has taught on the faculties of Stanford University, the University of Chicago, Harvard University, Ohio State University, and the University of Lisbon. He has written and edited eighteen books, among them Moral Education: It Comes with the Territory; Reclaiming Our Schools: A Handbook for Teaching Character, Academics, and Discipline (with Ed Wynne); and Building Character in Schools: Practical Ways to Bring Moral Instruction to Life (with Karen Bohlin). He received the University of Pennsylvania National Educator of the Year Award, the Paideia Society's Award for Educational Excellence, and the Character Education Partnership's Sanford N. McDonnell Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Dr. Ryan's tips are in italics with my follow-up comments in regular print after each tip:

1. Put parenting first. This is hard to do in a world with so many competing demands. Good parents consciously plan and devote time to parenting. They make developing their children’s character their top priority.

Ah, yes, the time factor. Working, taking care of the house, cutting the grass, paying the bills etc., all provide excuses and issues that will take you away from your kids. My solution: do what you need to do to keep your family going and leave the rest until later – even if later means 20 years from now!

By way of example, if the choice is to read with your child or do the dishes …. READ WITH YOUR CHILD! Yes, the dishes need to get done and the house needs to be clean. But the dishes will always be there, while your child WILL grow up and move away (of course, don’t wait 20 years to wash the dishes, but you get the idea!).

(That reminds me – I have about 7 more years to wait before I can refinish the floor of my garage!

2. Review how you spend the hours and days of your week. Think about the amount of time your children spend with you. Plan how you can weave your children into your social life and knit yourself into their lives.  

To be sure that I spend as much as possible with my kids, I try to include at least one of them in everything that I do. Need to go the bank? Somebody is going with me. Headed to the store? At least one whippersnapper is along for the ride. Working in the yard? At least one offspring is there with me, partially to help and to learn the value of hard work and partially to spend time together.

By way of example with their lives, if one of my kids needs to get up at 5:00 a.m. on a Saturday to get to a Cross Country meet, guess who sets the alarm and gets him up? Guess who drives him to the event? Guess who watches the whole event and then brings him home?

Yes, it would be MUCH easier to have him get himself up; have another parent drive; and for me to sleep and then later refinish the garage floor. But, I want to be with him in everything that he does, partially to monitor everything and partially to be involved, so that he knows that he is loved and supported.  

3. Be a good example. Face it: human beings learn primarily through modeling. In fact, you can’t avoid being an example to your children, whether good or bad. Being a good example, then, is probably your most important job.

How many times have I written on this subject? Too many to count. But, know this: YOUR KIDS ARE ALWAYS WATCHING YOU and they will adopt your behaviors as their own. Drink too much? Your kids will probably drink too much when they grow up. Smoke too much? Ditto for your kids someday. Read the Bible each day? Your kids are likely to follow. Have a strong work ethic? Guess who else will have a strong work ethic when they grow up?

Even when you think that your kids are not paying attention, they are watching and learning from you!

(Please come back next week for Part 2)

Paul W. Reeves

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