“When Mama Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy!”

Many couples are putting their children at the center of the family. This doesn’t sound like a bad thing, after all, aren’t your grandchildren the apple of your eye too? But when parents put their children ahead of  their own needs, ahead of their marriage, it may seem child friendly, but it can lead to complications.

When children are the absolute center of the family, they can grow up without boundaries. This can lead to demanding, entitled kids. Who become demanding, entitled adults. You might have a friend or two who are demanding and they can be difficult to get along with. Can’t they? 

 No one wants their children or grandchildren to turn out to be demanding. Do they? Some acting out might be all right for a child, but future bosses, spouses and friends will probably not be so tolerant. Will they? Furthermore, being the center of the family is too much pressure for most childrenChildren cannot fulfill all their parents‘ emotional needs and it’s not fair to expect them to. Children in this position often feel they need to parent their parents and that’s not their job. Actually, it’s your job to be there for your children when they are parents.

Remind them to make time for themselves, their spouses and friends if you want to be helpful offer to babysit so they can have a date night or weekend getaway, and you’ll get to spend extra time with your grandchildren.  Bob and Jane being the wise parents and grandparents that they are, offered to babysit their grandchildren while Jim and  Lynn went out on the town.  As Lynn was leaving, she told her children to listen to Nana and Pops and then gave them a kiss on the cheek and thanked her parents.

Well, Bob winked at Lynn while reminding her of this old saying,”When Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!” Bob’s point was that couples need to spend time together just the two of  them and keep the romance going.  Now Jim plans romantic surprise date nights at least twice a month and all Lynn has to do is show up . Jim and Lynn are feeling reconnected and Nana and Pops are “Happy Grands.” Jim agrees with Bob “When Mama Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy!

Top Model or Cowboy

The nursery rhyme “Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief ” is a great reminder that we don’t know what the future holds for our grandchildren. We don’t know in what directions our grandchildren will choose to walk.

What we do know is that we are privileged to walk with them along their paths and share in their journey. Who knows, maybe someday one will say, ” I became a famous wardrobe designer because of my Nana cut out swathes of pink for me, and mixed and matched outfits.”

Elizabeth has always been fascinated with fashion. Now her younger sister Amy has become her top model she tries on all of Elizabeth latest creations especially the outfits made in the color pink. My friend Jane who Elizabeth and Amy call Nana always says, Who knows Elizabeth just might become a famous wardrobe designer or the next Coco Channel and Amy might become the next top model pretty in pink.

Jane sees Elizabeth and Amy’s fascination as an opportunity to interact on a most personal level, with them. She buys them books about colors, fabrics, hats, the other day she bought a book about buttons.

They love spending hours pouring over magazines and pictures in book about fashions for girls. It may turn into a career, or it may not; but in the mean time Jane is enjoying the journey. The other day the girls started taking ballet lessons so they just might become famous ballerina who knows. Jane is off to the book store to stock up on books about ballerinas it’s good that Jane has a lot of book cases isn’t it?

Ask any group of children these days what they want to be when they grow up. and their answers will likely range anywhere from astronaut to zookeeper, with lots of layers in between. In these answers, children are expressing their personalities, experiences, and dreams.

This past Sunday my grandson Jeremy wore his coast guard air flight jumper (that is just like his dads) with his black knee-high cow-boy boots to church. When I picked him up he had added a king’s crown and he was carrying my heart-shaped plastic basket with parts of his Lego building set in it. We went out to lunch after church with his good buddy Mr. Joel and Jeremy was the center of attention all eyes where on him. Jeremy was expressing his personality and we had a blast.

Doctor, Lawyer. Indian Chief, Model, Wardrobe Designer, Coast Guard Man, Cowboy or a King what will our grandchildren grow up to be?

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Do You Hear What I Hear? has always been one of my favorite Christmas Carols. I love the soft, gentle notes as they draw out the words:” Do you hear what I hear?” I melt as the violins respond: “A song, a song high above the trees with a voice as big as the sea.” I love this Carol because it is about listening, hearing the sounds of night. The words challenge the heart to hear and know truth. The theme calls us to recognize that moment when truth manifests itself before us. My friend Jane and her husband Bob told me a story about listening. I’m so inspired by it that I want to share it with you. 

Jane was happy to share with me about the wisdom she gleaned from a man who mentored his children in a quiet time each day. His example stressed the importance of sitting quietly, listening to what he called the song of the heart. How many of us listen? How many of us teach our children and grandchildren to stop and listen?

A few years ago Jane and Bob initiated a rest time with their grandchildren. Each year, they go spend time in the summer with them. Following the hectic morning activities, they usually set aside a time in the afternoon to rest. They call it their quiet time, Bob told me that he wished he could have told me that they started having quite time for noble reasons, but he confessed it was out necessity. He started doing it when he found himself tired and needing to regain some strength, he did it for himself. Now it has become a tradition.

Jane and Bob’s story, includes a message for us to take to heart. During an extended visit, she decided to try a quiet time with her grandchildren. After she picked them up at school, she parked the car underneath an oak tree, rolled the window down, and told them, “Now we are going to so something really fun. We are going to have quiet time and listen.”

Expectantly their faces lighted up in anticipation. She explained the plan, and wouldn’t you know it, as soon as she stopped talking, a train went by. They listened. They clearly heard the whistle, the wheels as they clattered on the track, the sounds of the cars clanging together. The children were amazed and excited. When quiet time was over, they had much to talk about.

The next day they tried it again. This time they heard a bird signing and leaves rustling as the wind blew through the trees. About two days later, Jennifer, age four, awoke, Jennifer explained, “I miss my mommy.” Jane asked her what could be done.  “I need a quiet time for a few minutes,” Jennifer replied, “so I can miss her.”

Jane left the room. A few minutes later, Jennifer came down the hall. “I’m done,” she said. Something happened in those few minutes. In the way of a child, Jennifer listened to the song of her heart and was comforted. Perhaps she thought of her mom and her favorite memory. Maybe she cried and sucked her thumb or sang her favorite song. We don’t what transpired in those precious moments, but we like to think that she heard a still, small whisper from a loving God who said, “It is OK. I am here.”

Jane and I enjoy connecting a quiet time to a time of listening to the song of our hearts. We like the results that happen when we encourage our grandchildren to stop and listen, to regather and recenter when they have a need. We are looking forward to adopting and expanding on ways to spend quiet time with them in the future. Jane has four grandchildren and I have two and one on the way. That’s seven children that we can be quiet and listen with. Do you hear what I hear?

In The Kitchen With Grandkids

 You don’t have to teach your grandchildren how to bake a cake like the one in this picture of a Betty Crocker birthday circus cake. All you need to do is teach them a few simply things about cooking and how your kitchen gadgets work.

Here are few suggestions to help you to think about what you and your grandchildren might like to do in your kitchen. I hope you have as much fun as I have had with my friends and family in our kitchens.

  • Let your grandchildren sit next to you while you prepare food and explain what you’re doing and why.
  • Sink Play, wrap your grandchildren in an apron or dish towel and provide lots of utensils. Then stand them safely on a chair and play water games.
  • Inviting your grandchildren to cook with you is a great way to introduce them to a verity of foods even vegetables. Ask them to hold the containers for you and let them help you pour the vegetable into a pan or crock pot. Sometime they get so excited they even eat the vegetables. Isn’t that awesome?
  • Let them make what my friend Jane’s grandchildren call “stuff” they all love mixing the most unlikely ingredients together into a big bowel to make stuff; this is a great way of exercising their creativity.
  • Ask them to clean up the mess with a paper towel
  • Let them wipe the low surfaces with a damp cloth to clean up and be helpful
  • This is one of my favorite suggestions wash paintbrushes in the sink to make rainbow water.
  • Invite  your grandchildren to go to a Strawberry or Blue Berry Farm with you.  Don’t forget to bring along personalized buckets for them.

Let them cook! Encouraging a child to help in the kitchen has benefits for everyone. You’re teaching them about cooking and being independent. When they are old enough they can cook a meal for you!