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Parenting | Advice on Behavior, Chores, Conflict, Children without Fathers, and more

“What is placed in the child’s brain during the first 8 years of his life is probably there to stay. 
If you put misinformation into his brain during this period, it is extremely difficult to erase it.” 
In addition, “a newborn child is almost the exact duplicate of a computer,
although superior to one in almost every way.” 
The most receptive age in human life is that of two or three years old.” 

Glenn Doman, a renowned scholar-scientist, came to this conclusion through his research. 
He is quoted in “Too Young to Read?” Life, 27 Nov. 1964, 111; see also 107.  

from Parent...to Child

I gave you life, but I cannot live it for you.
I can teach you things, but I cannot make you learn.
I can give you directions, but I cannot be there to lead you.
I can give you freedom, but I cannot account for it.
I can take you to church, but I cannot make you believe.
I can teach you right from wrong, but I can not always decide for you.
I can buy you beautiful clothes, but I cannot make you beautiful inside.
I can offer you advice, but I cannot take it for you.
I can offer you love, but I cannot force it upon you.
I can teach you of course to share, but I cannot make you unselfish.
I can teach you respect, but I cannot force you to show honor.
I can advise you about friends, but I cannot choose them for you.
I can advise you about chastity, but I cannot make you pure.
I can tell you about the facts of life, but I cannot build your reputation.
I can warn you about the evil influence of drugs, but I cannot say “No” for you.
I can teach you about lofty goals, but I cannot achieve them for you.
I can teach you about kindness, but I cannot force you to be gracious.
I can warn you about sin, but I cannot make your morals.
I can love you as a child of God, but I cannot make your place in God’s family.
I can teach you about Jesus, but I cannot make Jesus your Lord.
I can tell you how to live, but I cannot give you Eternal Life.                                                              
(Author unknown)

Raising Children

  • Make home a place of comfort and safety from the outside world–not a war zone—and your children will want to be there.
  • Set a good example.  Parents are powerful teachers in the lives of their children, as they teach by their example.  Children learn more by what they SEE you do than by what you SAY to them.  What isn’t good for children usually isn’t good for adults, either.
  • Be available when children come home.  Be there when they leave and when they return home.  Be there for them when things go wrong.  
  • Listen…Listen…Listen!   NEVER stop listening!   Listen more than you talk, and really be there.  If you don’t listen when the opportunity arises, you may miss the opportunity.  Spend a lot of time listening with love in your eyes, biting your tongue and zipping your lips–and the communication line will stay open.  Don’t allow distractions—once you turn to the newspaper or TV, you have left them and sent a message that they aren’t important.  
  • Slow down, listen, and care.  Kids don’t ask parents to be super-heroes or have PhD’s in child rearing.  Many just ask parents to look at their eyes when you talk to them.  Do not be distracted, or you will send a message that they aren’t really important.  

  • Regardless of the way you were raised, show your children that you love them.  Be kind and gentle, and control your anger.  Touch them, hug them, and tell them you love them. When 100’s of prison inmates were asked, “What was it that brought you here as inmates of this penitentiary?”  Almost without exception, they answered, “We are here in the state penitentiary because there came a time in our lives when we were made to feel that nobody cared what happened to us.” (source: “Nobody Cared What Happened To Us,” Adam S. Bennion’s personal experience while visiting the Utah State Penitentiary,” related by LDS President Harold B. Lee)

  • Make plans to take each of your children on a 1-on-1 activity. 
  • Be empathetic of their challenges.  Remember how you felt as a child, but don’t pretend you know everything. 

  • Talk to children about things they are interested in, so everyone is more comfortable talking about serious issues.  
  • Attend church as a family.   Religion is very helpful to the entire family.  Children know if their parents have a good relationship with Christ.
  • Plan more family activities.  Children want a stronger bond with parents.  Help them spend more time at home.  Make memories with your children—work together, play together, invite them to help cook meals, and teach them skills.
  • Love your children, and tell them, so they know you love them.  It matters!

    A research project was commenced in the 1940s.  Initially there were 268 men who were attending Harvard University and were periodically studied over their entire lives. Later others, including women, became part of the study. The goal of the original study was to find out about success and happiness. The study showed that college entrance scores and grade averages did not predict either success or happiness in later life.

    This study contains three significant insights for us today.  First, adult happiness had a high correlation with childhood family happiness, especially love and affection from their parents.  Second is the importance of a healthy, stable marriage to lifelong happiness. 

Third is the negative effects of alcohol on marital and lifetime success and happiness. Alcohol abuse touches one-third of families and is involved in one-fourth of hospital admissions.  It plays a major role in death, bad health, and diminished accomplishment. (source:  Decoding Keys to a Healthy Life, http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/20212/02/decoding-keys-to-a-healthy-life/; and George E. Vaillant, Triumphs of Experience: The Men of the Harvard Grant Study (2012), 108–9.)

  • Hold an executive meeting once a week.  In a two-parent family, parents can set aside time each week to review how things are going, resolve family problems and negative feelings, discuss upcoming activities, and set some goals.  (In a single parent family, hold a similar meeting with older children or even a grandparent.)  
  • Read the book "Raising a Secure Child," by Kent Hoffman, Glen Cooper and Bert Powell who have more than 30 years of experience researching and teaching Spokane parents specific strategies on how to bond with their children in order to build a secure attachment.  The focus is really on the parents, versus trying to treat the child. 

    1. Parents need to be bigger, stronger, wiser and kind in their relationship with children.  Children need to know someone is in charge in a really caring and kind way.

    2. All children need a fair amount of soothing and comfort, in a way that is balanced.  If parents help children organize their feelings and soothe them when they are distressed, children learn from that process of how to manage their own emotions.  Children learn this when they are young in relationships, and can carry it throughout their life.

    3. Kids need autonomy or exploration, which starts with babies.  (Autonomy means independence, self-governing)   Parents should become a secure base and safe haven while children go out and explore and come back seeking support. 

    This book helps us see that parenting is not just about a focus on correcting behavior.  Parenting is about seeing the world through a child's eyes, and then also to see yourself.  Instead of focusing on children's behavior, parents can look at the child's behavior as their way of communicating that they have a need, particularly with misbehaviors or dysfunctional behaviors.  If parents can make that shift, which is really a shift to empathy, that will make a profound change in the life of their kiddos. 

    When we see behavior as something that we have to manage, control, or shape, we miss the underlying message about the need that the child has.  Behavior is communication.  All parents struggle somewhere; welcome to the club.  For parents to figure out where they struggle without blaming themselves, that's where the action is.  (Source:  "Family Trust, Spokane therapists circle up parenting advice in new book," by Treva Lina, The Spokesman Review, May 29, 2017)

  • Invite grandparents to some of your family activities.  Grandparents can have a positive influence in the lives of your children.  There is a correlation between grandparent involvement and how their grandchildren treat others.  Grandparents can also have a positive influence in how their grandchildren perform in school, their social development, and their willingness to serve and help others.   
  • Share more about what is going on in your life.  Although parents want to look good to their children, most children want to be included in family situations and problems.  They notice more than you think.    Bradley Ray Wilcox, BYU Professor of Education
  • Teach your family to live within the family income, and set aside money for unexpected expenses.  Don’t confuse wants with needs.  All children need to hear these words:  “We can’t afford it.”   Make all financial decisions jointly with your wife, considering each others’ feelings.   
  • Teach your children to work.  Show them the value of working toward a worthy goal, and the satisfaction of doing their best.
  • Take time to find out what your children are being taught in school, and then correct any information or teaching you feel is false.  Never assume that public schools reinforce the moral and ethical teachings and values taught in your home.  
  • Teach your children everything you know.  Teach them to be honest, hardworking, generous, and respectful.  Work and play together.  Teach them about your life and the lessons you have learned.  Teach them about the dangers of drugs and alcohol and premarital sex.  Read to them and encourage them in school.  Attend their school activities and recitals. Take your children on outings; have frequent one-on-one visits with them; teach them your values; encourage good music, art and literature in your home; tell them you love them and are proud of them. 

  • Nothing gives children more security than seeing how much in love their parents are.  To those fortunate enough to belong to two-parent families, the relationship between those two parents is the most important relationship in the family, and how hard it is worked on is a huge factor in the well-being of the children, the happiness of the parents, and the security felt by all in the household.   Having a strong marriage may be the key to doing well at parenting.  (Richard and Linda Eyre, authors and speakers, http://www.ValuesParenting.com)   

  • Enjoy being a parent.  You don’t have to be perfect as a parent, you simply have to do your best.  Tell your children how thrilled you are to be their mother/father.  Find joy in the journey. 
  • The work you do outside your home will never be as important as the life you live inside your home as a mother or father.
Local Organizations
Additional Resources

Circle of Security
35 W Main
Spokane, WA
The Circle of Security is a relationship based early intervention program designed to enhance attachment security between parents and children.  Secure children exhibit increased empathy, greater self-esteem, better relationships with parents and peers, enhanced school readiness, and an increased capacity to handle emotions more effectively when compared with children who are not secure.  This is an intervention to help parents raise their children with love, warmth, and emotional intelligence.

Washington Parent Help 123