Archive for the ‘parenting’ Category

Recently a friend asked me how she could do a better job getting her three active boys to behave in the car. She described the family’s last car trip. They were hurrying to a church meeting on a school night, but the boys (ages 4 to 10) kept fighting and arguing loudly while she and her husband tried to talk. Finally she lost her temper., which made her husband upset, and there they were, in a  family meltdown. (more…)


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The teen years have a reputation for being the worst years for raising children, but I disagree. A well trained teen can be soooo competent. Take the time my gall bladder nearly blew up and landed me in emergency surgery. (more…)

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How to be a Better Parent in May

On Sundays…don’t forget that quality time with children usually occurs as an unplanned, happy gift. Most consistently it happens in the context of a relaxed atmosphere and LOTS of time.

On Mondays… remember to avoid attacking children when they need correction. You can train yourself to focus on children’s behavior (“Your dirty clothes are on the bathroom floor”) instead of making personal attacks (“You never pick up your dirty clothes. Blah blah blah.”)

On Tuesdays… keep in mind that children’s education is primarily the responsibility of their parents. Schools exist to help parents with the job. Children do best in school when parents and school staff work together as partners.

On Wednesdays…be aware that an allergic child will be less apt to rebel against his special diet if he knows everyone in the family is going to work on helping him feel better. So enlist the family’s help. Separately explain to your other children that helping sick people in the family get well is part of ordinary family love. Then describe how they can help, ask for their suggestions, and emphasize that the cook needs encouragement.

On Thursdays… Make an inventory of each of your children’s special likes and interests. Then use your lists to come up with ideas for individualized incentives to help them establish good work habits doing their chores.

On Fridays… remember that your neighborhood will look nicer if you take a trash bag along with you and fill it as you go whenever you take a walk. Doing this as a family activity will help children develop a sense of their responsibility to their community.

On Saturdays… If you do not attend church or synagogue, it’s a good idea to begin before your children start asking spiritual questions so you will be better prepared to meet their spiritual needs. However, if your children are teens, it’s still not too late to start. In any case, participating in a strong community of faith provides important support to help families grow and marriages flourish.

© Becky Cerling Powers 2002  Publish with Attribution Only www.beckycerlingpowers.wordpress.com


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On Sundays… Don’t forget to include space for play times when you plan the family schedule for this week. Staying home to play with your children nurtures them and builds trust and communication. It can be a great stress reliever for you, too.

On Mondays… Remember that children need lots of warm approval. So try to express your appreciation not only when they do a super job, but also during their awful stages when they do only passably well after being told what to do.

On Tuesdays… Be sure to encourage your children in their efforts in school. Show an interest in their schoolwork and hobbies. Listen to and talk with them. Praise their work and display it.

On Wednesdays… Let your children snack on the salad you plan to serve for supper if they are ravenous during meal preparation. Or else put out a big plate of fruit slices or raw vegetables—carrot and celery sticks, broccoli, cauliflower, green pepper, etc. This will take the edge off their appetites with one of the most nutritious parts of the meal.

On Thursdays… Remember that an allowance is a good tool for teaching children age 9 and older to save and to budget money for different purposes. Children under age 8 or 9 may not have the patience yet to save money or the emotional readiness to make the kinds of decisions required for a simple saving and spending plan.

On Fridays…Be aware that creativity tends to be messy. So teach children how to deal calmly and efficiently with the inevitable messes that are part of the creative process. Show them how to cut paper over a wastebasket or cover working surfaces with newspaper before starting to paint. Let children know that cleaning up after themselves is part of the creative process.

On Saturdays… Keep in mind that children get their first impression of God from their relationship with their parents. Constant unrealistic demands from a parent can have a bad affect on children’s spiritual development, building a sense of failure and false guilt. As adults, these children often reject God as non-existent or view God as a stern, distant being whom they must constantly placate.

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I’ve started writing a biweekly column for The Messenger, a free guide to church-related programs and events in El Paso . My column is called Hope of the Borderland, and I’m publishing faith-based stories from people who live in the El Paso/Juarez borderland region. Here is a story from my friend Espie:

Espie’s Story – By Esperanza Valadez as told to Becky Cerling Powers

 When I first started reading verses from the Bible, my family had 11 people living in El Paso in a two-bedroom, one-bathroom house. There were my five cousins (my father took them in after his brother in Juarez died), my two brothers, me, my father and mother and my aunt. Later my parents had three more children in the same house.

My father was an electrician, and my mother worked at Ft. Bliss in the laundry. They left around 6 a.m. and didn’t get home until about 6 p.m. My aunt took care of all the kids. She was rough. She swore at us a lot. My mother was very quiet, easy going – she didn’t like to argue or discipline the kids. My aunt used to complain about her a lot to my father. She meant well, but it felt like she caused a lot of division between my parents.

During summer vacation my aunt cleaned house every Friday. She brought down all the knick knacks, waxed the wood floor, and thoroughly cleaned everything. So on a typical Friday, she got us up in the morning, swearing at us, “Get up! Hurry up, so you can get the h— out of here.” We’d get up, wash up, eat, and she’d send us out. We’d hear her lock the door. If we tried to come back for lunch, she wouldn’t let us in.

I was about ten. It was hot in El Paso in the summer. (more…)

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 In September 1991, our 17-year-old daughter was living at the dorm and attending classes at New Mexico State University. I sent Jessica a letter to help her recognize manipulative messages and to show her the practical implications of the Christian faith in which we had raised her. Later, with her permission, I gave parts of that letter to several other young women who needed the same guidance. These are excerpts:         

 There’s a little song your grandparents and great-grandparents used to sing called “Gimme a Little Kiss.” It’s a funny ditty about a boy trying to convince a girl to kiss him. I always thought it was cute. A couple of years ago it struck me, though, that this song is a primer on classic manipulative approaches. Both women and men use these tactics to get their way. Sometimes people are unaware, or only dimly aware, of what they are doing – except that, if they’re honest, they’ll admit they’re trying to overcome the other person’s resistance in order to get their own way. People also use these tactics to weasel out of their legitimate responsibilities.

Here’s the song, with the lines numbered for my comments later:

(1)  Gimme a little kiss, will ya huh?

(2) What are you going to miss, will ya huh?

(3)  Gosh oh gee, why do you refuse?

(4)  I can’t see what you’re gonna lose, oh

(5)  Gimme a little squeeze, will ya huh?

(6)  Why do you wanna make me blue?

(7)  I wouldn’t say a word if I was askin’ for the world,

(8) But what’s a little kiss between a fella and his girl? O

(9) Gimme a little kiss, will ya huh?

(10) And I’ll give it right back to you!


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For eight years I wrote a short parenting tips column for The El Paso Scene. The column featured one tip for each day of the week, and I tried to give parents a balance of tips that would address their own priorities & attitudes as well as their children’s physical, social, intellectual and spiritual development. The column was formatted so that parents could easily cut out the column and keep it as a handy reminder through the month. Here is a sampler for the month of October

How to Be a Better Parent in October

On Sundays… Remember to take regular walks for health, perspective and renewal.

On Mondays…Try to avoid the mistake of assuming that anything that belongs to your child is really yours, so you can borrow it without permission or do whatever you please with it. Respect is a two way street. If you want children to learn to respect your property, you must respect theirs and insist that siblings respect it, too.

On Tuesdays… Remember that children need to practice reading aloud every day. So encourage older children to read to younger siblings, and let beginning readers read to anyone in the family with the patience to encourage them.

On Wednesdays… Remember the power of action. Although it’s a temptation to sit and yell “Don’t- don’t-don’t” at children, it only makes you frustrated and hoarse. Children consistently test their parents’ words. So discipline yourself to get up (now! after the first request) and match your words with action. When you are consistently firm without losing your temper, children learn to pay attention.

On Thursdays… Make a list of recipes your family likes, take a few minutes to refer to it each week, and plan a week’s meals before you go to the grocery store. Keep alert for recipes that can easily be made in the crock pot. These few minutes of planning will help keep everyone in the family healthy.

On Fridays…Remember that puppets invite creativity. They stimulate preschoolers’ natural acting ability and encourage older children to devise plots, produce sound effects, design scenery, and create special effects. A lot of household junk can be recycled into puppets.

On Saturdays… Cultivate contentment. It will move your family into a deeper level of gratitude than mere etiquette. Contentment involves recognizing what can and cannot be changed for the better. It means accepting what cannot be changed, changing what can be improved, and concentrating on whatever is positive in a situation.

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