Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The stories we tell about family

A few nights ago, I pulled out our family photo albums and had my son look through them with me. As a long-time scrapbooker, I am very proud of our family photo albums. I spend countless hours connecting the photos to the story of the event and the result is that the albums tend to read more like a story. They also tend to spark memories.

And that was my goal: To share memories with my son. 

While it is true that we focused on photo albums in which he is the main star, I do intend to go back in time a bit and show him the albums from before he was born. In other words, I want him to start hearing our family stories.

Of course, I don't want him to hear those stories just from me - I definitely want other family members to start sharing our family history more often. The time my Grandmother had to wear green underwear, the time my Dad got picked up by the police from elementary school (there was an issue with the road), the time my Mom had to sit through sex education class with a nun as her teacher...these are all the stories that I want passed on to my son. 

Because even if we don't think he is listening, he is getting something from them. Most teens and young adults can tell their family stories and - even better - they are able to get some nugget of wisdom from them later on in life. 

How cool is that?

I think there is room for storytelling in everyday life, but I am also looking forward to the holidays and a chance to hear a little more about the past.

What family stories do you enjoy telling your children? Tell me in the comments.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Eating with single children

My wonderful husband was recently at a conference for work, and throughout the week, I noticed something strange happening to the dinners my son and I shared. To start, they went faster - we ended up eating leftovers several times throughout the week so that I didn't have to cook as often. I also broke out more games to play at the table (maybe I was trying to distract us from missing my husband). Finally, they seemed slightly more boring, as I was trying to cater to my son's tastes that week.

When my husband returned, I made a dish that he and I enjoy, but my son does not. (Our son had an alternative option that night.) All of this made me wonder if we should be thinking about our dinner choices more.

I did an exercise a few years ago in which I made 100 new-to-us recipes and added the dishes that we all liked to our meal planning. There were not a lot of them that got added, but it did open up some possibilities for us. Most of the dishes that we added were pretty healthy.

And that last piece of information is important, because families with single children tend to make less healthy eating decisions. There's no specific reasons why that seems to be the case, but I know that I have a tendency to spoil my only child a bit, and I could see how that would easily get out of control with food.

I guess all of this is just another reason for me to review my son's caloric intake over the given week - looking at the total of the meals he gets at both home and school and to make sure we are introducing new foods wherever we can. (Sometimes he is open to it; sometimes he is not.)

What tricks do you have to keep your dinners healthy? Share with me in the comments.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Self-worth comes from Moms

I have a lot to thank my Mom for: My wit, my superior planning skills, my grit, my love of dresses with pockets.... There are a lot of lessons she taught me over the years - even if they were ones that I picked up on while just watching her.

I now have one more item to add to that ever expansive list: My sense of self-worth. It turns out that Moms are the ones who feed our sense of importance when we are young - even acting as a buffer to protect us from negative forces

That's a lot of pressure to put on Moms (what else is new?), but ultimately very good to know.

I tell my son that he is important and how much he matters to our family and the world. I tell my son that he is capable of so many wonderful things in his lifetime. It's nice to know that my cheerleading will eventually stick with him and feed into his sense of self worth when he gets to those bumpier teenage years.

I am sure there is a balance item to consider: As in, not over-feeding your child's sense of self worth. There is the reality that our children are not good at everything, but there are always areas of life that they are exceptional at. Highlighting the good parts is key to preventing long-term relationship issues, and negative self thoughts as they enter young adulthood.

So, thank you, Mom, for always reminding me that I am worthy and loved.

Who helps lift you up when you need it? Share with me in the comments.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Looping parents into education plans

Our son's school recently completed the fall parent-teacher conferences that give us some insight into what the teachers plan to cover over the course of the year and any areas we need to help address at home. There was an interesting spin on the discussions this year, as the conference was led by our son.

While the teachers floated around the room, my son walked my husband and I through a self-evaluation of what he has been working on and what he thinks he needs to improve upon. Two of his three teachers came over at some point (one just to observe and the other to chime in about how well he is doing with reading), but the majority of the conference was handled with my son in charge of the conversation.

It was reassuring to know that he understood what he was doing this year, and the self-evaluation bit was fascinating. The teachers made it clear that if we wanted a more traditional discussion, they would schedule that as well.

I've chatted with my son's teachers before about how they address different skill levels in the classroom. It's not an easy task, but I know they have strategies to help with students at every level. Does this mean that my son gets individualized learning? Not really. But I am comfortable with the work that he is doing and am not anywhere near a point to take control of his education through home schooling

I have several friends who home school their children and love it - especially because they are able to tailor the work for each child and still meet the standards of each grade level. I'm not sure I have the patience for all that and I am positive my son doesn't want me to be his full-time teacher.

I know that school selection is not an easy choice for any parent - we all want what is best for our child in the long run. But we also need to make sure we are meeting everyone's needs - being both a parent and full-time educator is a big job. 

Are you happy with your child's school? What would you change? Talk about it in the comments.