The Parent’s Notebook

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Keeping the Children’s Spirit Alive
As the 2010-2011 school term begins, I am examining ways in which I can contribute to students in a way that’s meaningful to me and them. On a current mission to link passion and purpose, I’m looking again at the issue of self-esteem, convinced that parents must send children to school with a sense of being emotionally secure with their excitement about exploring and learning still intact. I’m convinced that if we, adults and parents who interact with children from infancy would commit to allowing them to be…..to discover themselves – to learn to negotiate their environment – they will gain the self-confidence that will allow them to navigate and succeed in the school system and life.
My parents, like most parents, were proud of my grades and didn’t get too uptight about the Cs I constantly received in Conduct (I talked too much).  My mother really bragged when I passed an intercollegiate entrance exam while in the ninth grade allowing me to enter college after completing the 10th grade.  Her bubble burst when I became pregnant that year.  While their attention was on my grades, no one thought to check on the emotional turmoil caused by the weekly drunken tirades of my father.  As an adult I forgave my father when I understood and empathized with his emotional trauma from childhood not knowing who his father was until he was a grown man.  Had there been a safe space for me to unload the inner turmoil, the fact that I prayed each Friday night when my father returned home for God to please let me sleep through the night.  That I always woke up minutes before he’d arrive and hear the cursing, the threats and run with my mother to a neighbor’s house. While I continued to successfully pass tests, my ability to make constructive choices came only after clearing the trauma many years later.
What’s the emotional temperature in your home?  Is there anger, abusive language or acts, put downs, constant criticism? Do you tell the child what he or she does right?  Do you give toddlers the freedom to explore without yelling No! Stop! Or worse yet spanking?  Do you observe and comment on the skills demonstrated by the child, looking for something to compliment daily? Does your child have a role to play in home management?  I recently noticed that when I take on a new project, I create easier ways to do it.  It occurred to me that children need to do more in order to stir their creative juices and gain confidence in their capability….there’s a lot to be learned by  doing.
I’m constantly being blown away by the lessons two of my grandchildren Azana, 24 months and Hadassah 14 months teach me regularly.  Debbie, Azana’s mom and I were talking while I was sweeping the sidewalk.  Azana turned and went inside and brought me the dust pan without being asked.  She saw the trash and knew what was needed.  She has a reputation of demanding her own way.  One day she was climbing the book shelves.  Afraid that she would fall, I yelled her name.  She stopped abruptly – legs in climbing position and stayed perfectly still – much like an insect when they realize they’re about to be swatted.  I witnessed Hadassah’s show of determination when she was three months old, not yet sitting up.  She was crying for her mother who was in another room.  As I started taking her out, she was trying to get to the floor as if saying, “Just put me down, I’ll go myself”. Now that she’s walking, she’s constantly moving.  She brings books to be read and points to shapes.  She follows the instructions “Touch your head…toes”.  Both she and Azana are movers, Azana dancing with creative movement and Hadassah starts bouncing  or tapping and swirling at the sound of any rhythmic sound.  While both are very determined little girls, their parents are gathering distractions to divert them when needed.  I give them props for not destroying their spirit.
The ball is in our court.  In Dr. Joy’s  book “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome” we learned how some of our child-rearing practices were once necessary to protect our children during slavery.  Now we need to revisit our responses to behavior to see if it’s about our being the master or about our convenience.    We may have unwittingly become the slave masters.  It’s time to liberate our children.  It’s time to give their growth and development priority.

Keeping the Children’s Spirit AliveAs the 2010-2011 school term begins, I am examining ways in which I can contribute to students in a way that’s meaningful to me and them. On a current mission to link passion and purpose, I’m looking again at the issue of self-esteem, convinced that parents must send children to school with a sense of being emotionally secure with their excitement about exploring and learning still intact. I’m convinced that if we, adults and parents who interact with children from infancy would commit to allowing them to be…..to discover themselves – to learn to negotiate their environment – they will gain the self-confidence that will allow them to navigate and succeed in the school system and life.  My parents, like most parents, were proud of my grades and didn’t get too uptight about the Cs I constantly received in Conduct (I talked too much).  My mother really bragged when I passed an intercollegiate entrance exam while in the ninth grade allowing me to enter college after completing the 10th grade.  Her bubble burst when I became pregnant that year.  While their attention was on my grades, no one thought to check on the emotional turmoil caused by the weekly drunken tirades of my father.  As an adult I forgave my father when I understood and empathized with his emotional trauma from childhood not knowing who his father was until he was a grown man.  Had there been a safe space for me to unload the inner turmoil, the fact that I prayed each Friday night when my father returned home for God to please let me sleep through the night.  That I always woke up minutes before he’d arrive and hear the cursing, the threats and run with my mother to a neighbor’s house. While I continued to successfully pass tests, my ability to make constructive choices came only after clearing the trauma many years later.  What’s the emotional temperature in your home?  Is there anger, abusive language or acts, put downs, constant criticism? Do you tell the child what he or she does right?  Do you give toddlers the freedom to explore without yelling No! Stop! Or worse yet spanking?  Do you observe and comment on the skills demonstrated by the child, looking for something to compliment daily? Does your child have a role to play in home management?  I recently noticed that when I take on a new project, I create easier ways to do it.  It occurred to me that children need to do more in order to stir their creative juices and gain confidence in their capability….there’s a lot to be learned by  doing.I’m constantly being blown away by the lessons two of my grandchildren Azana, 24 months and Hadassah 14 months teach me regularly.  Debbie, Azana’s mom and I were talking while I was sweeping the sidewalk.  Azana turned and went inside and brought me the dust pan without being asked.  She saw the trash and knew what was needed.  She has a reputation of demanding her own way.  One day she was climbing the book shelves.  Afraid that she would fall, I yelled her name.  She stopped abruptly – legs in climbing position and stayed perfectly still – much like an insect when they realize they’re about to be swatted.  I witnessed Hadassah’s show of determination when she was three months old, not yet sitting up.  She was crying for her mother who was in another room.  As I started taking her out, she was trying to get to the floor as if saying, “Just put me down, I’ll go myself”. Now that she’s walking, she’s constantly moving.  She brings books to be read and points to shapes.  She follows the instructions “Touch your head…toes”.  Both she and Azana are movers, Azana dancing with creative movement and Hadassah starts bouncing  or tapping and swirling at the sound of any rhythmic sound.  While both are very determined little girls, their parents are gathering distractions to divert them when needed.  I give them props for not destroying their spirit.The ball is in our court.  In Dr. Joy’s  book “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome” we learned how some of our child-rearing practices were once necessary to protect our children during slavery.  Now we need to revisit our responses to behavior to see if it’s about our being the master or about our convenience.    We may have unwittingly become the slave masters.  It’s time to liberate our children.  It’s time to give their growth and development priority.