We have been amazed at how much good parenting information is in children’s picture books – books that we hope you are reading everyday to the children in your lives – your own, your class, those you take care of. We will be pointing these parenting gems out to you so that every time you read one of our featured books to a child you will be reminded of the parent you want to be.
Featured Picture Book
I WILL LOVE YOU NO MATTER WHAT by J. Rutland
(Available at your local public library or bookstores, including online stores.)
In I WILL LOVE YOU NO MATTER WHAT, a bluebird named Little Blue is thinking he should run away from home because he doesn’t follow the rules and gets in trouble. He figures his daddy is fed up with him and won’t want him around anymore. “Daddy, … since you probably don’t love me anymore, I’m leaving … for good.” To convince Little Blue this isn’t true Daddy Blue tells him the story of Prince Chirpio, another little bird who also got in trouble as he was seeking adventure and excitement. Prince Chirpio went off one day to “… find a land of excitement where he could make his own rules.” His daddy was very worried about him. “I’ll never stop searching for you, and I’ll never stop loving you.” Chirpio eventually ran out of food and friends. He became hungry, lonely and sad. He wanted to go home, but was afraid his daddy would not want him home. That turned out to not be true. His daddy, King Puffbelly, welcomed him with open wings proving that he would always love Chirpio no matter what. Chirpio’s story taught Baby Blue that his daddy too would love him no matter what – “On fun days and sad days and happy days and mad days….”
The first thing I want to say is about storytelling. I LOVE YOU NO MATTER WHAT is actually two stories – a story about Baby Blue and Daddy Blue and a second story about Prince Chirpio and King Puffbelly. The Chirpio story was told by Daddy Blue to get a point across. Remember this as a way to get things across to your children. Tell them a story to get your point across. Read them stories that get your point across. In a way that is what we are encouraging here at this website – let your telling of stories to your children get some points across that will help you be the parent you want to be. We appreciate your coming back to the blog over and over again. You obviously are determined to be the best parent you can be. What lucky children you have!
Love Should Be Balanced
I have written many times about love and balance and I’m going to write about it once again.
For all those following our blog, you have probably heard about this balance before. When you read it now, see if it means something different to you than when you first read about it. Every time you think about how to balance your love for your kids you can become wiser about it and think of new ways to practice it.
For any one new to this blog, I hope you will agree that balancing your love for your kids is very important. Love that is out of balance hurts children more than it helps them.
Love has two parts. One part means caring for and caring about your kids just because they are who they are. They don’t have to be good at doing things or at following rules to earn this part of your love. They deserve it just because they came into this world.
The other part of love is about teaching your kids to be independent and capable of taking care of themselves. This is the part they do earn every time they learn skills, follow rules or pay consequences for not following rules. They earn this love one step at a time. They make mistakes along the way, but no matter how difficult or slow their path is they deserve to be patiently taught and they deserve to have adults stick with them always expecting them to be successful in the end.
As I have said so many times before, I picture this two-sided love as a teeter-totter. The goal is to keep the teeter-totter suspended in a straight line equally balanced on both sides. On one side, we should load up all the things we say and do that tell children they are important to us no matter what. On the other side, we should pile on all the things we say and do to help children learn what they need to know and be able to do to take care of themselves and become happy and independent adults.
Love and Bad Behavior
Loving no matter what does not mean excusing or ignoring bad behavior. You can love your kids but not love their behavior. To love them in a balanced way you must show them you love them regardless of their behavior while still firmly teaching them and correcting their bad behavior.
Too often we think unconditional love – loving no matter what –means “anything goes.” We think we cannot expect too much of our kids. We want to be sure they feel loved. We think we need to save them from hard things in life like learning in school, doing chores and following rules. The truth is that unconditional love means balancing love no matter what with teaching good behavior and independent skills. Your love does not depend on your child’s success so it is unconditional in that way, but it must always go hand-in-hand with high expectations for good behavior and success in order to be good for kids.
Any parents who grew up in the 60’s and 70’s who are reading this (like my children), think about whether you experienced “anything goes” as a child. If you think you did, you can decide to parent differently and become the parent you want to be. You can be a parent who loves your children no matter what and still has high expectations for their good behavior.
Be sure to read our DECIDE and PRACTICE daily tips for ideas about how to practice balanced love.
Daily Parenting Tip
What kind of parent do you want to be? Or grandparent, teacher or caregiver?
A GREAT one!
You can be exactly that – just “Decide and Practice.”
DECIDE what you are going to think about the kids in your life.
DECIDE what you are going to feel about the kids in your life.
DECIDE how you are going to act with the kids in your life.
Decide: Kids need to be loved in a balanced way.
Practice: Today, start a journal about the two parts of love. (See “And Calm Fell Over the Household.” for more on the two parts of love.) One part means caring for and caring about your kids just because they are who they are. The second part means teaching your kids to be independent and capable of taking care of themselves. Write what this idea means to you and how it fits or doesn’t fit into your life as an adult and as a parent. Begin today and write at least a sentence or two or three every day this month.
Let us know which tips you like the best or any others you think of that you want to pass along to others.
Today’s Decide and Practice daily parenting tip was inspired by our featured picture book, I WILL LOVE YOU NO MATTER WHAT. Read the book to a child in your life each day as a reminder of what you are deciding and practicing that day.
Come back each day for another good parenting decision and how to practice it. (Each day’s activity will also be posted on Daily Parenting Tips page for easy access.)
Read All About It
GROWING UP AGAIN, Jean Illsley Clarke and Connie Dawson
SELF ESTEEM A FAMILY AFFAIR, Jean Illsley Clarke
CONNECTIONS: THE THREADS THAT STRENGTHEN FAMILIES, Jean Illsley Clarke
HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH? Jean Illsley Clarke, Connie Dawson and David Bredehofts
PICK UP YOUR SOCKS, Elizabeth Crary
Surf the Internet:
parent involvement in school
Teachers, this is your place. Read all about how to use this blog in your classroom on the Teacher’s Corner page.
The following are writing prompts and discussion topics based on the blog, Love Your Kids No Matter What, Part I.
- Complete the following sentence. “Teenagers should ….” Write a story that has that idea as the moral of your story. Make the plot and the characters get that point across.
- Do you believe it’s OK to fail? Why or Why not? How do you think your life will be different based on your answer to this question?
- Would you like more time to learn certain things in school? Would you like to be able to move on faster in certain things in school? How do you think your life would be different if you were allowed to learn at you own speed in school?
- What does it mean to love a child no matter what? What if they misbehave?
- Check out the DECIDE AND PRACTICE tips. Many of them can be adapted for a classroom activity and could end with a reflective writing assignment. And, all of them can be helpful to you personally at home and in your classroom.
NOTE: If you prefer that students not be required to write about or discuss themselves, all of these prompts can also be worded to be about someone the student knows. For example, do you know someone (a friend or relative) who believes it’s OK to fail? How about someone who wouldn’t ever accept failure? How do you think these two beliefs affect their lives?