Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A few child-rearing tips: Create traditions, tell stories, and avoid snakes

Last week while my parents were visiting from Chicago, Matt took my Dad out to a friend's cabin so they could camp and fish.  Once they arrived, they called to tell Mom and me that there was a rattlesnake coiled up on the porch.  They also sent a picture.
A few minutes later, they called back to assure us that it had been disposed of.  There is a picture of that, too, but it's disgusting.  I have a somewhat paranoid nature in general as well as a fear of snakes in particular, so you can imagine that I was not happy with the situation.  (And I was SO GLAD that we had decided against them taking the boys along for the trip.)

Last night during family night, we made a summer fun list for the second year in a row, so it's officially a tradition.  You can find all kinds of seasonal bucket lists on Pinterest, scrolled out over a chalkboard-painted wall or made into a decorative garland, but all your kids really need is a pen and paper.  Naturally, one of the first things the boys came up with was the thing I am most loath to support.

Sarah: Ok, think of things you want to do this summer.
Kids: Go to the deer cabin!
Sarah: Put it on the list.
Sarah's internal voice: Over my dead body.

And what's that coiled up next to the rocking chair?  A snake, of course.  "But don't worry, Mom, I put an X over it."

Gather your family every Monday night, and it's a ritual.  Make a summer bucket list every May, and it's a tradition.  Take your kids into the Texas wilderness, and it's this Mom's worst nightmare.

One of my recent favorite reads about raising kids is this New York Times article about telling family stories.  
An excerpt: The more children knew about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem and the more successfully they believed their families functioned. The “Do You Know?” scale turned out to be the best single predictor of children’s emotional health and happiness.

Another is Bruce Feiler's book The Secrets of Happy Families.  It's so good.

Oh, and one more tip.  We are taking a page from the OSHA handbook:

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