Category Archives: Parenting Trends

Making Reading Fun

By: Davida Grant

Reading is a big deal in my house, and not only for the obvious reason (I want literate kids!).  Books can expose children to uncharted creativity.  I say uncharted because the images a child creates from reading may be the first of its kind, at least for that child.  And aren’t creativity and imagination the catalyst for the exciting products and inventions we enjoy on a daily basis?  So, I encourage all parents to engage their children in reading activities at a young age to develop and hone these important skills.

This past weekend, my stepson Frankie (6-years old) was with us and I asked him to read a few books to Simone.  He was literally distraught.  It was the absolute last thing in the world he wanted to do.  Once he figured out, and quickly, that this was not an optional activity, he got with the program and began reading the first book.  It was about going to the doctor.  After a few pages, I could tell he wasn’t comprehending anything and wasn’t having fun AT ALL.  So I decided to shake things up.  After each page, I started asking questions, relating the character’s (Fozzie Bear) experience to Frankie and Simone’s experiences when they visit the doctor.  Frankie started to perk up.  He showed me where his doctor puts the stethoscope, how his doctor checks his temperature, and on and on.  The more we talked, the more and more excited Frankie became.  He wanted to continue reading to see what else Fozzie Bear experienced.  Of course, Simone couldn’t be outdone.  She had to join in and tell us every random thing she could think of related to her doctor and she told us over and over.

Once we finished the first book, I decided to read them the second book.  I read it with great feeling and expression.  Anytime the book described an activity, I demonstrated it.  The kids loved it.  At one point, the book described a band comprised of a drum and horn and I started beating on the table and making sounds.  Frankie and Simone joined in, making up their own versions.  We started dancing and jumping around.  When I finished reading the book, the kids were full of giggles and smiles.  “That was fun,” Frankie said.  And it was. 

How do you make reading fun?

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Who Are My Daughter’s Role Models?

By:  Davida Grant

This week Beyonce released a new album and it sparked a number of interesting conversations with friends and associates about what music is appropriate for our children.  While we focused quite a bit on her album’s naughty lyrics, our conversations quickly morphed into who are the “role models” for our children, especially our girls.

The term “role model” apparently has many meanings.  I was frankly shocked at the divergent views my friends and I have on the meaning of this term.  So, being the analytical person I am, I had to dig in and figure out what a “role model” means to me.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines role model as “A person whose behavior serves as a model for another person.”  While I generally agree with this, I think there’s more to it.  This definition implies that anyone can be a role model simply by examining what they do.  What about their ideals and values?  What about their motivations?  These things are not always readily apparent.  Don’t they matter?  Aren’t they equally as important?  What about when an individual messes up in a profound way?  Is he or she no longer qualified to be a “role model?”

Many look to celebrities, politicians, and other public figures as role models.  Do I?  If I do, is that fair?  Do I want individuals with whom I have had no interaction to serve as role models for my daughter?

After much reflection, I know where I stand.  I am my daughter’s primary role model and I embrace that.  It is my responsibility to make sure that my behavior reflects the values I hold dear.  I don’t want Simone to learn what it means to be a mother, sister, wife, friend, businesswoman, or Christian from others.  I don’t want her to learn what it means to have self-esteem, confidence, and integrity from Beyonce, Michelle Obama, Oprah or any other “public figure.”  I want her to learn these things from me because I can give her the appropriate context. 

Can I teach her everything? Of course not.  I know without question that I don’t embody all the qualities I cherish and want to instill in my daughter.  Thankfully, I am surrounded by women that can supplement what I teach my daughter.  What I lack, she’ll learn firsthand from them.   Simone will learn from my mom and Cledra what it means to be a fighter, when all the odds are against you.   Simone will learn from Andrea what it means to be genuine.  She’ll learn from Roslyn what it means to be sisterly.  Sherri will teach her how to work a room with style and flair, even when you don’t want to be there.  Wilma will teach her what it means to put Christ first, always. I will make sure that baby girl NEVER has to look to strangers as an example of what it means to be a woman.

What about you?  Who are your children’s role models?  Do we rely too much on strangers to serve as role models for our kids? 

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I Won’t Be an Outsider in my Kid’s World

By:  Davida Grant

Has a friend or acquaintance ever said something to you about child-rearing that made you say, “Wow, I never thought of it that way?”  That happened to me this morning.

My bestie and I were catching up and he shared that his 9-year old badgers him everyday for a cellphone.  We chatted about that and how difficult it is to be patient with our kids, especially when they want us to see things their way.  I  shared that this “patience” thing is more challenging than I could have ever imagined, and often sends me in a tailspin.  Baby girl will call my name a thousand times to tell me the same thing over and over again.  After about the 20th time, I’ve had it and I can sometimes be a bit snippy with her.  Case in point, on our way to school this morning, Simone pointed out every single pumpkin in sight.  Now, being the Fall season and all, every few houses had a pumpkin on the stoop.  Every 2 seconds, Simone alerted me to the fact that she saw another pumpkin, to which I had to offer some type of response immediately or she’d call my name incessantly.

I shared this with my bestie and he said, “why don’t you just join in. Pick out the pumpkins you see.  It could be fun and even more you’re no longer an outsider to her world, but a participant.”  This really struck a chord in me.  Yes I participate in many Simone-initiated activities, but never with the view of being “a part of her world.”  It’s more like, I’ll join in if I feel like it or if it the activity seems fun.  And if not, I simply sit back and watch her have fun in “her world.”  Today’s conversation highlighted that I have yet to fully grasp the notion that my day-to-day existence is no longer about me.  It’s really all about my kids.  I have to get better at seeing the world through their eyes, and making sure that I’m an active and consistent participant in “their world.”

I’m sort of excited to see if this new found perspective materially improves my patience.  If I consistently participate in “Simone’s world,” won’t our interaction diffuse the rising irritation and impatience I feel when she peppers me with questions or repeatedly tries to get my attention?  I suspect the answer is a resounding yes.  We’ll see.  

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There’s a Teacher in All of Us

Simone at SED

By:  Davida Grant

Simone’s preschool class is tackling the alphabet.   Baby girl already knows the ABC song, and can sing it with great feeling and enthusiasm.  If you point to an individual letter, there’s even a good chance she’ll get it right.  Truth is, she really doesn’t know most of the letters.  My baby has mastered the art of guessing.  I wonder who she takes that after.

I am a strong believer that parents should reinforce what their kids learn in school.  When Simone’s teacher advised that we should work with Simone on identifying lower case letters, I thought it would be a piece a cake.  I reasoned that Simone hadn’t mastered the skill because she didn’t have sufficient one-on-one time with her teachers.  Uhhhhhhh, not exactly.  I quickly surmised that it’s going to take a boat load of repetitious activity for Simone to learn her letters.  Oh how I long for the days when all I did was read Simone two books before bed. 

I was not prepared for the amount of work, or maybe I should say effort, involved in educating a child.  Simone and I will spend 30 minutes reviewing three letters.  We’ll go over and over and over them and when we finish, I’m convinced Simone has it. We celebrate with high fives, lots of “good jobs,” even a happy dance.  Then, literally five minutes later, I’ll ask her to identify one of the letters – say the letter c – and she’ll look at it and say, “I don’t know.”  How do teachers do it day in and day out with 20+ preschoolers, all at different stages of pre-literacy development?   God bless them!!!  I now know without a shadow of doubt that “teaching” academics is not part of my skill set.  It does not come naturally and it really is a bear.  If I could find a way to completely hand this off to my hubby, who by the way often conveniently disappears from the room when Simone and I begin an alphabet “teaching” session, I most certainly would. He thinks he’s slick.

On a serious note, as I reflected on this particular journey with Simone, I started thinking about all the things I am good at in terms of “teaching.”  I teach baby girl how to be courteous.  I teach her what it means to be a lady.  I teach her what it means to be beautiful, inside and out.  I teach her how to show love.  I teach her how a wife should treat her husband.  So, even though I may struggle with “teaching” her academics, I excel (yep, I am tooting my own horn) at “teaching” baby girl so many others things, things that are equally important to her growth and development.   I’m happy to say that I too wear the moniker “teacher” and Simone is and always will be my star pupil.  

Oh, and as far as continuing to do my part to reinforce Simone’s academic learning at home, in the words of Olivia Pope, “It’s handled.” 

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Filed under Education, Parenting Trends

Parental Roles: Who does what?

By:  Davida Grant

My husband, bless his heart, is something else.  Yesterday, he picked up baby girl from preschool and sent me a not so friendly text asking which coat was hers and then questioned why I hadn’t written her name in the coat.  My first reaction was, “how can you possibly not know what your daughter’s coat looks like.”  Once I set him straight, and mommies you know exactly what I mean when I say “set him straight,” I started thinking about roles.  I know every family is different, but are there some roles that naturally fall to mommies and others to daddies?  Hmmm.

So if you’ve read any of my prior posts, you know that I often reference the “super mommy cape.”  And let me say that I put that bad boy on just about every day.  In my household, I handle the majority of the kid-related tasks for our family.  This includes cooking, bathing, reading, dressing, shopping for clothing and other kid-related items, setting doctor appointments, taking kids to appointments, communicating with teachers, washing the kids clothes…Okay let me just stop there.  Now, I’m not suggesting that my husband does none of these things.  He does, but I am the primary in all of these areas and if I had to be honest, I think my husband not only wants it that way but expects it to be that way.  He views that as the “mommy” role.

So what is the “daddy” role?  Well, he is a fantastic provider and he wholeheartedly accepts this role.  He wants to know that the kids and I have everything we need and is quick to give me money to handle all of the “tasks” previously mentioned.  Interestingly, he rarely thinks to just handle one of the tasks himself.  I must make the suggestion.  My husband is Mr. Solution.  He enjoys “fixing” things and happily accepts this role.  For example, a few weeks ago I was struggling to get the kids ready in the morning and leave the house on time.  I seemed to be late everyday no matter what I did.  So Mr. Solution reviewed my morning routine with me and identified the areas where I could shave off some time if I made an adjustment here or there.  I have to admit his suggestions were great.  But again, interestingly, my husband never considered helping me implement those changes to make my mornings run smoother and faster.  And perhaps what’s even more interesting is that I didn’t question his failure to do so.  Instead, I just assumed “my role” and did it.

As I write this post, I can’t help but wonder if my experience is the norm.  There really is no guidebook here, right?  I mean is my husband wrong for not taking on additional roles regarding the kids?  My husband helps and I’m grateful for what he does, but could he do more, yes?  Am I wrong for assuming the primary role and letting him off the hook if you will?  If he offered to do more, how would I take it?  I’d like to say I’d embrace it with open arms, but if I’m being honest, I have to admit that I like being the hands on parent.  I need to know EVERYTHING that’s going on with my kids.  My husband, not so much.

Any who, this is just food for thought.  What are the roles in your family?  Please share.

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