From Dr. Jane's Notebook
August: "Get it while you can" before the fall transition
The end of summer provides one last opportunity to do summer things before
we begin a new school year or return to work as usual. The month of August is
about savoring a bit of personal time and taking time-out from our typical
schedules. In the words of the late
Janis Joplin, “get it while you can”. Soon it will be time to help your family
make the transition into autumn with all of its demands.
Here are a few thoughts on how to do that.
- Put family
dinners back on the schedule.
Family dinners help to re-organize the family by providing a forum where
kids and parents can come together at the end of the day.
At the beginning of a new school year, kids and their parents need
opportunities to sit together, talk, and listen to each other. There are
logistics to work out and feelings to be shared. Family dinners are
important opportunities for kids to ask questions, share their experiences
and listen to the conversations of their parents.
- Kids need to
talk and parents need to listen.
The key to good communication with your kids is
your ability to be a good
listener. Kids only communicate when it feels safe to do so. Like most of
us, our kids are sensitive to criticism and they withdraw from conversations
when others are not really interested. Unfortunately, in this age of
multi-tasking and information overload, many of us lose our patience too
quickly. Instead of taking time to focus on the thoughts and feelings that
are being shared with us, we often approach conversations with ready-made
answers and solutions. Like contestants on
Jeopardy, we may interrupt each other, offer answers before
we’ve fully heard the question, and we may be rude to those who speak slowly
(for example, children). To be a great communicator, listen attentively,
show your respect, and give others the opportunity to solve their own
problems by not interjecting your opinion prematurely.
financial goals and strategies.
While it’s not healthy to make children feel anxious about money, it is
healthy to teach them about family finances. As parents, we work hard for
our money and we do our best to provide for our families. But we often
forget to teach our kids about money and how we make financial decisions. As
a result, kids may hear us say “no” to one purchase and “yes” to another
without understanding the rhyme or reason for these choices. Once again, the
dinner table is a great place to teach our kids about life.
- Install a
Family Calendar in your kitchen.
Another way to promote family synchronicity and cooperation is to keep
everyone informed. Toward this end, I recommend a large paper calendar (20”
x 30”) on which everyone can post their plans with color-coded marking pens.
When we can see each other’s plans on paper, the results are better
communication, fewer transportation misunderstandings, reduced chaos and
reduced stress. In addition, the family calendar can prompt conversations
about the events listed and help parents who must travel for work stay
abreast of family activities
During these precious years when our children live under our protective
shelter, they look to us to help navigate time and prepare them for what lies
ahead. Raising children and providing a healthy environment requires structure,
flexibility, and quite a bit of backbone. Like most other things, from time to
time it is necessary to upgrade the way we do things. We have to establish and
re-establish healthy family habits and family routines over and over again when
seasons change, when our children change, and whenever we need to evolve as a
©Copyright, 2011, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.
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