Sunday, May 5, 2013


We've loved the last year and a half that we've had with this wonderful panel of parents to share advice with us. We've decided to give the group a rest but who knows, maybe we'll be back someday with more questions. :) We feel it has been an extremely beneficial project for us and for others. We hope it has benefited you.

A few parents wanted to share some last comments:

Brianne (and Spencer)
I know it is hard, hard work parenting, but I would go back to those days in a heartbeat.  They grow up far to fast, and keeping house alone is no fun, even if it does stay clean.

Daniel and Marissa
Always speak in the positive. If you criticize make sure it's the action the child is doing, not the child themselves.  Remind them of the kind, goodly deeds they have done. It makes them feel like you remembered them in days gone by, and their deeds are real good and noticed.  People should remember the good others do, and throw away the mistakes which really aren't intentional; the circumstances in the past happened too quickly for them to respond in a righteous manner.  Don't be afraid to tell stories of your own experiences. And do tell stories of other people. Hey, each one of us makes plenty of mistakes, but we must learn from them.  Look forward to the end goal of our existence. Talk to your children not as a father, but talk like your Bishop would talk to them, controlled. And if you're a woman, talk like the Relief Society Pres. would talk to them. It's necessary to talk, but not to allow your feelings to do the talking.

Daniel (and Barbara)
We appreciate your project.  You have done a lot of work.  It was fun reading the other comments.  I agreed with just about all of them.  It looks like other people have great kids too.

Karen and Lance
We never had an instruction book, we just mostly winged it. Hope the advice will help you better.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Dad and His Daughters

Question: What did Dad do to enrich his relationship with his daughters, and how do you think this affected them?


Kenneth (and Catherine)

The most meaningful and impactful thing I did with my daughters (and sons) was to have a personal interview each fast day with each of our children.  They still talk about those special times together when I had them offer a kneeling prayer as I listened to what they prayed about and then we discussed what was happening in their lives and then I offered a kneeling prayer at the end of the interview and prayed about what the Spirit directed that they needed.  They now do this with our grandchildren in their families.   I also gave them father's blessing when they returned to school and on other special occasions such as then they were married and went on missions, etc.

Brad (and Cynthia)
I was always blessed to have a good relationship with my three daughters. I think I did not feel the pressure was on me like it was with my son. I was more relaxed and could just enjoy them. However there are some things that helped. One, I enjoy being with women. I am never feeling competitive with them. Two, I am a psychiatrist and it was always easy to talk about anything with them. Three, their mother and I were never at odds or disagreement regarding the rules. They could never play one against the other. I had total respect for their mother who deserved it in every way. Four, when my children were young, I was new to the gospel and within 18 months was made a high priest and called into a bishopric. This forced me to work hard at understanding what Heavenly Father expected of me as a father and  husband. I did not just want to be a member of the church, but to be a good member of the church. I wanted to know my responsibilities which included to my children. And I had been blessed with mature and educated parents who sacrificed much to educate themselves and bring their family from relative poverty to a situation where you did not spend your life scratching out a living and were in a position to give something back. So the gospel taken seriously and good parenting form my childhood certainly played a big role. Five, I loved holding interviews with my children which I did formally and informally. Six, I believe that I was someone my children could trust. I kept my promises to them and I was consistent in discipline. They knew they were important and loved. I believe if you were to ask my daughters today they would tell you that I am always available to be their parent.

Daniel (and Barbara)
Other than being their greatest fan, next to their mother, in all their activities, I had a wonderful time taking walks and hikes with them.  There we could talk and I could listen.  I remember one daughter really liked to walk in the rain.  With this same daughter I walked from Lincoln's Monument on the Washington D.C. Mall to the Capitol building.  That wouldn't have been so bad, but she had a muscle spasm in her foot.  We still saw a lot of things and  enjoyed D.C.  We also went to New York and saw the Statue of Liberty.   I also had a great experience being a chaperone on a choir tour with her in Southern California and Disneyland.  I was asked to go to replace someone who couldn't go because the leaders knew my daughter wouldn't be embarrassed having me around.

We have three daughters; I've talked about one.  I had similar experiences with the others.  One went to Scandinavia with us on an Orchestra & Choir Tour to Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark .   She was in the orchestra.  It was a great trip.  This daughter was really interested in art and we would make a beeline for the museums, even though she didn't have much free time.

The other daughter asked me to go on a choir tour with her to Disneyland in Florida.  Then later we went to New York City and walked Manhattan Island and went to the Royal Ballet at the Met.  We saw many other things in New England.

As you can see, I've had special times with our daughters.  We still have special relationships and have fun doing special activities.  .The  most fun are usually hikes and walking of some sort.  As a family we took a special trip to Canada to Jasper National Park.  On the way we were able to all attend the open house of the Cardston Temple.  We will all remember that.

The trips we took back east were in conjunction with my employment.  When I would be require to be in Rhode Island, I'd double that with one of my children that was near H.S. graduation.  Our other trips as a family were in a '78 Ford Super Cab.  We camped out a lot.  With planning and time, we were able to go many places without spending a lot of money.

Brianne (and Spencer)
Dad was a friend to the girls.  When they told him about things they were working on he would say "that's really neat!"  He would listen to them, help them with projects in small ways, drive them, and tell them they looked cute.

If Mom was really on their case, or friends made them blue, he would take them for a soft ice cream.  This sometimes made Mom crazy, but in hind sight it was brilliant.  They didn't do anything awful to show Mom they were independent, cause they didn't want to disappoint Dad.  He didn't even talk about the dispute, didn't undermine Mom, just let the girls know he loved them.

I think it is a very powerful thing for a girl to have a Dad who admires her and gives her positive attention! 

It means she isn't starved for male affection when she gets to Jr. High and doesn't fall for boys who flatter to get their way.

Marsha (and Richard)
My husband and I were raised in the era when there was more of a separation of roles.  He took full responsibility for the support of the family and I took full responsibility for the care of the children, meals, family needs, etc.  He worked hard but was always home for both breakfast and dinner and never brought work home with him.  I think having him there for all the meals helped him keep in touch with what was happening in the children’s lives.  He was always interested in all I had to share which kept him informed and up-to-date on their needs and activities.

Dad has always been both the authoritarian and the “fun one”. He mixed high expectations of behavior with wrestling, tickling and being sure we did some fun things together as a family.  He used his vacations to take the family on trips to extended family, taught everyone to ski (his specialty), held family home evenings and led scripture study. 

With young children he just played with them.  As the girls grew they probably best remember feeling their father’s love and devotion by the time he spent with them skiing, taking a couple of major hikes, daddy daughter outings and events, etc.  He’s not one to get into deep conversation but he hired some of the girls to work at his company which gave him one on one time with them traveling to and from work in the summer time.  Seeing him in the work environment helped them to admire their father as they caught glimpses of him overseeing a large company.  He also worked side by side with them in the yard each Saturday.  Teaching them to work was a high priority.  Both boys and girls did yard work.

He demonstrated his love of the Lord and his devotion to Him by the total commitment he had to our church and his church responsibilities.  He served well and created for them a name they could be proud of. We were part of a loving and supportive environment with many friends who served as additional role models.

Dad attended their events, admired their talents and generally just loved them. Off and on he held monthly interviews with them to see how they were feeling about life and listened to the general conversations that I held with the girls. 

He carried the burdens of financial struggles cheerfully, safeguarding the children from the worries of our ups and downs and has the most optiministic outlook on life.  I know he has motivated all our children to reach for their dreams through his own example and encouragement. He is a man of vision.

Now as our children are all launched into homes of their own, he is a business counselor to many, has helped some get started in businesses of their own and has been a good business consultant.  He prays for them diligently and trusts them to manage their own lives effectively and they do. 

Dad loves his kids and I think they all know it.  He gives hugs, encouragement and praise generously. He is not intimately involved in their lives but trusts them as he prays for them daily and cares about them deeply.  He has been a strong role model. He always honored women in his speech and actions. I am sure that helped his daughters to know how they should expect to be treated.

Our daughters have grown up to be confident, capable women who know how to work, show a lot of initiative and are not afraid to tackle a task. They are deeply religious, living to the high standards of their faith.  They are very aware of the needs and feelings of others and because they know how to work hard and manage tasks, they are able to serve others well. They join their husbands in a deep commitment to their children and family life and put family first in their lives. Each made her way through the challenges of teenage years, developing individual talents while keeping standards and beliefs in tact and married admirable men.  I feel the security they felt in their father’s love and vision helped them to reach for high goals both in education and marriage and now in moving forward in such positive directions.

Karen and Lance
Dad plays and writes music, so practicing song girl routines with the piano worked well as they had a picture window to look at as if it were a mirror, in the evening. The girls were much better with Dad than their friends with their dads. They liked him and were pretty close to him. As we bring up memories they always mention him and the things they would do together. There never seemed to be any resentment from them. Dad was an Elementary School Principal and he had a chance to take them to his school for Summer School. They all rode together and were able to talk about things and play games on the way. This was an extra for them all. Dad would try to get the girls to sing at home and take them on Father Daughter outings. Make it something special and have fun.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Teaching Kids to Work

Question: How did you help your kids learn to enjoy work? How did you schedule this training into busy family life?

Brianne (and Spencer)
The same way I enjoy work: worked along side them , or nearby (always when they were preschoolers);  let them know their contribution really helped; played music, planned a treat or activity for when the work was done; and let them know I would repay the favor when they needed me to pitch in.
Things that didn't work so well - chore charts where the reward was too long coming - I never managed those well.  Little immediate appreciations worked better.

It wasn't hard to schedule, cause I really couldn't do everything and needed their help.  One child really liked having company over and would pitch to get the house ready.  I think they liked having a reason for what needed doing.  Let's weed & then we can pick out some flowers to plant.  We don't want germs living in our bathroom, or spiders crawling in our unmade beds do we?

When they were little we made up silly games - kids aren't judgmental about the goofy things you come up with. Simple games like when the music stops everyone stop working, freeze and make a funny face (we can't do it again until everyone is working hard).  Or pretend like the sponge is a race car going round and round inside the bathroom sink.  

One favorite game that went on for years was trying to deliver the laundry to the appropriate room or drawer as Mom folded the clothes - without Dad catching you.  Dad was busy doing sorting bills or something, but he would walk by every few minutes and say, "Halt who goes there?" and if they got caught the kids would make up some cover story as they smuggled the clothes past the German Army.

Karen and Lance
We don't know if anyone really enjoys working for work's sake. We just let them know that when it's done a person can be happy it's done and that's the joy that you get. Some work is not that "fun" and no one can make it seem that way. Our children worked on Peach farms and Apricot farms, cutting the fruit in half, and made 10 cents a tray. They also pulled weeds at a tennis club. Some worked at the mall, in our town, doing fast food and also working at a department store, other jobs were yard work. Some of these jobs could be enjoyable and some not. They started working at 16 years of age, in the summer. They were able to save for college and help us get them through financially. They were on ball teams and Cheer teams so they had to work pretty hard. The temperature was 100+ in the summer and most of the work was outdoors.

During the year they just went to school and took care of other duties like homework, and practice times. During the school year they were early risers as they attended an early morning church class. So they were pretty tired by the end of the day and didn't have time to get into trouble.

Cynthia (and Brad)
I am not sure they ever did learn to love work while they were kids, except my son. We forced him to take a job at age 12 at a local plant nursery. At first he hated it. but then he started looking at his savings account book, and became fascinated. We could hardly ever get him to spend any of his money. When he left on his mission he had $6,000, and that was in 1983. Quite a sum for those days.

Our daughters all worked at a childcare center, local fast food, etc. It taught them that was not what they wanted to do for the rest of their lives, and that an education was the solution.

In adulthood, all have come back to us and told us that they are grateful that we taught them how to keep their house clean, do the laundry, and yard work, and to hold down a job.  It just takes a very strong set of parents to endure all the griping. I just tried to keep a cheerful attitude and give some rewards along the way. But they WERE going to work. There was no option at our house.  It truly does take more time to make your kids do the work, and repeat it when they do a lousy job, than it does to do it yourself. I never spent much time agonizing about whether they were happy about it.

Kenneth and Catherine
We involved our children in home and yard work which we generally did together with specific cleaning and weeding assignments.  We scheduled this during our weekly Sunday evening family council sessions.

Daniel and Barbara
We played with our children after the work was done.  Each had chores and was expected to do them.  We didn't have money for allowances, so we couldn't bribe them.  We were raised this way and it worked.

When we worked, we had a goal to have an activity afterwards.  We would have fun together after working to complete chores and projects. Chores were not negotiable.  Children were expected to do their share. Sometimes we would have to work with them to get some jobs completed.

Marsha (and Richard)
Work is a very necessary part of life and is a part of every day.  Children who learn to work and love the sense of accomplishment it brings will be much happier and more productive throughout their lives.

We generally had the approach of working first and then playing.  There were tasks that had to be done every day before school or play and when necessary, after school before play and for sure on Saturdays.  It wasn’t really a matter of what we wanted to do but just what needed to be done.  The best way to teach a child to love to work is to love it yourself and be an example of that.  Taking great satisfaction in the results is an important step.  Stand back with a child and admire the results.  We followed Stephen Covey’s advice in helping a child to “own” the work they are assigned.  When they feel it is their responsibility and they can occasionally direct others in accomplishing the task they learn to see what needs to be done. We felt that training a child was best accomplished by having him/her work by our side for some time, then possibly working by their side. 

Too many other activities seem to be crowding out some of these more important family responsibilities, as children have become the focus of attention and time commitments.  When we were raising children the focus was more on the functioning of the home and family. When a child feels he/she is contributing to the total welfare of the family, he is more inclined to measure up to his responsibilities.

All of this takes great self discipline on the part of the parent.  The more structured the routine of the family, the easier it is to manage the work to be done. Children are more secure with structure and fewer decisions need to be made each day when there is a strong routine.

Of course, there needs to be time for play and fun with the family.  My son once said he admires families who can work hard, then play hard.

Next week's question:
What did Dad do to enrich his relationship with his daughters, and how do you think this affected them?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Disciplining Young Kids

Question: How did you gauge what discipline was age-appropriate for your young preschool age children, and how did you discipline without damaging your relationship or your child's feeling of being valued?


"The big key (which takes a great deal of self-mastery on the part of the parent) is to follow through consistently without getting angry."

"Teaching is often a better approach than discipline, especially discipline administered in anger or frustration."

"If we give praise more often than criticism, they often will change their approach....Often a misbehaving child has a low emotional bank account."

"The biggest mistake most parents make is 'nagging' the child.  It is best to just let the child make his choices and experience the consequences."

"Does the child in trouble get some kind of kudos for other things they are doing right? Sometimes bad attention is just as good to them as good attention, so try to sort that out for yourself."

"When they were very young when they misbehaved we let them know we were unhappy with them. We were consistent."

"I know that 'reasoning' is only effective with the first five words. After that it becomes 'blah blah blah'  The nagging and begging was ignored..."

"I did try to let them know that I did not hold a grudge after the discipline was over and we were beginning again, with a clean slate."


Marsha and Richard
This is an important issue since as parents we reflect a child’s self-image, which can have lasting consequences either good or bad.  Children are so different.  Some take direction very well and are anxious to please while others struggle with being directed by others.

Our best approach was to try our best to structure positive and negative consequences that fit the situation.  The big key (which takes a great deal of self-mastery on the part of the parent) is to follow through consistently without getting angry.  For example, if a child doesn’t finish his work by a deadline, he is not free to play that day, or if he does not eat his meal he is not allowed to have a snack before the next meal.  The best response when they are hungry and want to eat is, no, when we don’t eat our meals, we don’t have snacks and stick to it.  The natural consequence is that the child is hungry.  This is just an example and may not be one you would want to use but again the key is to be pleasant so the child knows he/she has made that choice himself.

Young children are learning and need a lot of guidance. Teaching is often a better approach than discipline, especially discipline administered in anger or frustration.  Consequences are part of teaching.  Children can be trained and are capable of more than we usually expect but the Spirit will direct best when dealing with each different personality.

To preserve self-esteem we tried to use praise more than punishment.  We focused on what the children did well and overlooked minor indiscretions.  Children naturally want to please.  However, children also want our attention and they can often accomplish this best by negative behavior.  If we give praise more often than criticism, they often will change their approach. Often a misbehaving child has a low emotional bank account.  Spending special time and attention on him/her when discipline is not a factor sometimes helps to fill that emotional bank account.

Children must learn to be obedient but also feel loved and respected.  Again, making only rules that mattered and sticking to them, letting the natural consequences be the teacher best did that.  The biggest mistake most parents make is “nagging” the child.  It is best to just let the child make his choices and experience the consequences.  Sometimes that inconveniences the whole family but it is a good teacher.

Karen (and Lance)
If you worry a lot about how your child will feel while being disciplined then we think that sometimes that has to be considered, but don't let it interfere with the discipline. Think, if you have time, before you react. Can it be talked about or is it important to take action now. They need to know what is right and wrong. If the child is hurting another child maybe they can be taken to another room and be talked to, so that the other child will not have the "ha ha you got in trouble" look or attitude. So many times we had to say, "be soft" and to stop when they were mauling a baby, ready to hit someone with something, or whatever. Many times children don't understand what is appropriate at the time or that something they have or do will hurt someone else. Sometimes they are very "smart" to the situation and figure out how to get away with something. We didn't have a class or book telling us how to do these things, but we got a little softer on the younger children as they came along. Sometimes they are just jealous of the other child and want attention. Try to sort this out for yourself and see if the other child is getting more attention for something. Does the child in trouble get some kind of kudos for other things they are doing right. Sometimes bad attention is just as good to them as good attention, so try to sort that out for yourself. Our children were not perfect, but they grew up to be good people. Just don't be too soft on them or they will think the whole world is like that and they need to know the ups and downs to survive. Hope this helps a little.

Follow-up question:
I've noticed a lot of people get softer on their younger children than they were on the oldest couple of kids. Why do you think that is?

"Things" they do don't matter as much as we mature. I remember some of them saying that they never got to do that. . . when one of the younger ones was "doing it" whatever it was.

Daniel and Barbara
Elder Ted Callister simplified our philosophy in raising our children. 1.  We entrusted them with responsibility.  2.  We had high expectations.  3.  We trained and supported them to meet  those expectations.

When they were very young when they misbehaved we let them know we were unhappy with them. We were consistent.  If they were noisy in church, we took them out and held them.  In church they had more freedom after the sacrement to draw or read, as long as they were quiet and not disturbing anyone.  They usually chose the freedom.  They knew their limits and their consequences.  We were lucky; they usually made the right decisions. 

I may have spanked each child maybe once, while young, but not more.  Some were not spanked.  The spank was one swat to the butt, not hard enough to hurt, but to show displeasure.
Our children seem to have more problems with their kids. "Time out" seems to work with them.

I remember one day I was disobedient.  Mom sat me on a stool in front of the clock on the stove.  I had to watch it for 15 minutes.  When the time was up, I was ready to go to bed.  I also remember her coming after me with a broom.  That was fun; she couldn't catch me.

Cynthia (and Brad)
This one is way too complicated for me. I came from the old school, where, if a child was naughty, they got a swat on the behind after one warning. Or they were in time out on their bed, and no getting off until mom said so. Of course the time was gauged by the age. I know that "reasoning" is only effective with the first five words. After that it becomes " blah blah blah"  The nagging anad begging was ignored, such as at the grocery check out candy counter. I prepared them ahead of time, telling them that we were not going to buy candy, etc. so don't ask. But I did try to let them know that I did not hold a grudge after the discipline was over and we were beginning again, with a clean slate.

Next week's question:
How did you help your kids learn to enjoy work? How did you schedule this training into busy family life?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Staying Balanced/Happy/Relaxed as Parents

Question: What did you do on a regular basis that kept you balanced/happy/relaxed while raising kids?


Date nights and short getaways
Temple visits
Yard work
Family council to help with planning/organization
Parenting books to help get realistic expectations
Activities like the symphony, book club, etc.
Not enrolling the kids in too many things at once
Mom not working unless absolutely necessary


Daniel and Barbara
Sometimes NONE of the adjectives of "balanced, happy, relaxed" were achieved.  Other times participation in book club and musical events made for happy, satisfying times for me.  For my husband, fishing or an occasional campout with our boys would help alleviate the stress of busy, challenging times.  His attitude of "Do your best and don't worry about the rest," helped bring sense to our lives.

Kenneth and Catherine
We enjoyed going to plays and to the symphony on a regular basis but the most important thing we have done is go to the temple at least monthly.  That is the key to maintaining a balanced/happy/relaxed relationship while raising our children.  We also held family council each Sunday  evening where we reviewed the next weeks schedule with each family member and felt like we all had our acts together.

Mary and Robert
Are you kidding???  We haven't been balanced, relaxed or sane since our first child turned 2.  In all seriousness though, we have mostly just been each other's friend.  We have date night without fail every week.  We also plan a "mini-moon" every so often.  We play a lot.  We have always looked for another couple to enjoy some of our activities. We like to go to movies, play games, attend plays and concerts.  Time away together has been and to a great degree still is our best advice for any young couple. 

Abigail (and Martin)
When the  kids were young, we had family movie night  My husband would make the kids guess what movie he had hidden behind his back.  We would have root beer, pizza and popcorn right in front of the TV.  After the show was over, we let the credits scroll by as our youngest did crazy dances to the music.

When the kids were older, they were busy so we didn't always have family dinner on week nights.  However, Sunday was a special day that we did eat together almost every week.  It has always been a special meal with food not typically served during the week.

Jane (and Samuel)
I don't know if we did anything on a regular basis to keep us relaxed....Well we did have date nights...not every week but once or twice a month.  We went to the temple once a month.  I often had a gym membership and went 2 or 3 times a week or walked at least.  My husband has always worked in the yard, digging, planting, moving and building stuff. "Holes don't talk back." I have had periods of time when I did yoga pretty regularly when I didn't go to a gym.  We have tried to take one or two night get away trips once or twice a year.  During a really hard time right after our son got out of the hospital after a 5 month stay I skiied with the "Newcomers Club" once a week.  a lesson in the morning and free skiing alone in the afternoon.  Not worrying about anyone or herding anyone or being hurried or herded by anyone. That was a winter with a bad inversion but once a week I was above it all and the sun was shining and the sky was blue.

I also read a lot of parenting books that reminded me what was developmentally appropriate so I didn't expect my kids to be perfect or all grown up before it was possible...although perhaps sometimes I thought they were more ready than they when we let our 15 year old daughters go on European tours with high school groups or student exchanges.  Now that I am older and have been a social worker for a lot of years I think I might have been a bit naive sometimes.  We were blessed that our kids made it through the freedom we tried to give them.  They didn't have to break away from us because we let them go and fortunately they all came back and seem to still love and respect us.

Cynthia (and Brad)
I am not sure that we did have a regular answer to keeping balanced, happy, relaxed. We just had to try to keep focused on the end result, rather than day to day solutions. Mainly it was a philosopy. We did not enroll our children in multiple activities. There were usually two kinds for each child: church activities--YMYW, scouting, seminary, church dances, stake youth conference, girls camp. Those were not options, but our kids always loved these, so there was no problem. Our girls even loved girls camp, the kind where you slept in tents, no electricity, no running water,  and cooking over a campfire. None of the pampered stuff that the girls have now.Then they usually had one other, such as a school activity: school newspaper, choir, dance group, etc. No one seemed interested in sports, probably because we didn't emphasize it because we did not want a family commitment to all the time and effort.

But our life was very busy, due to my husband's career and our church callings and the callings our children had. Here is what we are very thankful for: my husband and I, through great sacrifice, made our way through medical school , internship, and residency, plus a mandatory stint in the army, so when the children came along, I was a stay at home mom. I know times have changed now, but I cannot emphasize enough how important that was to the success of our children in their growing up years. THEY NEED THEIR MOM TO BE HOME WITH THEM AND TO BE THERE WHEN THEY GET HOME FROM SCHOOL, not a frazzled, worn out one. But sometimes there is no choice. But a very nice house, car, clothes, etc. are not necessities. Those can come later. Nothing can substitute for a mom at home. I had to teach school for the first six months of my first child's life-it couldn't be helped. But I wish it could have been another way, because I missed a lot and she probably did too. Then I did work in an office when our fourth child was a junior in high school to help pay college and mission bills. But she got along fine and no harm done. But when the kids are little--I say no way if it can be helped.

Next week's question: How did you gauge what discipline was age-appropriate for your young preschool age children, and how did you discipline without damaging your relationship or your child's feeling of being valued?