Five Tips For Parents (Without Time Machines)

Gosh- if only we had a time machine.

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A place where you could go back in time and fix things that went wrong. I love some of the movies that do this. Back to the Future. Hot Tub Time Machine. Somewhere in Time. The Terminator. Go back and fix the wrong and change history.

But for now with raising kids you get one chance. ONE CHANCE. So don’t screw it up!

I certainly could have done better. More books- less sports. More one on one. Put more emphasis on the “soft side” of life. Better faith leader. More time less work.  I had MANY unflattering moments where I lost my cool, lacked self-control or did something incredibly stupid that I wish I could have taken back.

The problem is that you can’t start over. They can’t unforget things.  We can’t change time like the time travelers.

But we did do some things right. And these things had an impact on our kids lives. They really made a difference.  And it helped form the way that my children see the world. We were not perfect, but have some things that went well.  Here are a few of the highlights:

Hard Work: The only place a child will learn (at least in the U.S.) to work hard is at home. My father taught me that lesson and we did our best to teach it to our children. You need to work to get what you want. Nothing will be handed to you. You have to work for it. This requires sweat and effort. Get your kids off the couch and make them work. If they understand what hard work looks like, they will be a contributor. They will be a good citizen.  They will be able to make a difference in the world. It’s your responsibility- not theirs.

Value of Money: The best thing we did for our kids is to have little money.  This was really a circumstance- but it had great power.  They did not get everything they wanted. They understood that wants are not needs. We raised them in a very modest lifestyle that allowed them to see that money is earned and not picked off a tree in the backyard. Kathy would gather the pennies and roll them and take them to the bank. They knew about the value of money. They learned how to save.  I don’t know how you can raise children in an affluent houshold and get this message across.

Good Grades: We instilled a culture of excellence in school work. I did not give my kids the choice to go to college. Why in the world would you do that? Ask a child if he wants to continue the seeming misery of school work? Seems like most would take the easy route. That’s not parenting. We had our own grading system and we rewarded good grades and good reports from school. Just like the workplace- right? Why would you NOT do this for your kids?

Tradition: We always worked to create things that were uniquely ours. Family traditions. We created traditions that were only ours. Don’t overlook the power here. Children love this. They crave structure and predictability. They thrive in it. Create a rhythm to their lives. Give them something that is uniquely for your family. Even silly stuff. They will remember even the smallest details. Make it your family’s own. Big power here.

Competition: We encouraged our children to compete in sports, arts, activities and other areas. The world will make them compete. By sheltering them or ignoring this fact you may be setting them up for failure. Competition can be ugly and daunting for a parent. But YOU need to get them ready. This is your job.  No one else will do this.

There are more to this list but this is a few majors. The point is- you have to be an active parent. It’s not an easy job. But you can’t jump in the time machine. You can’t change it once it’s done. Don’t have regrets. Do the very best you can. Push your children. They are not your buddies. They want instruction. They want structure. Give them what they need to thrive. You can’t go back. No “do over” here!

So what do your think?  I know many would love the time machine but we can’t go back. One time.  One chance.  Do you agree?  Click on “Leave a Message” and tell me what you think!

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The Jewish Wedding: Families and Tradition

Kathy and I had the pleasure of attending a wedding a couple of weeks ago.  The wedding was stunningly beautiful and dripping with the sweetness of tradition and family.  See this was a Jewish wedding and there is no wedding ceremony and celebration that I have experienced that is like a Jewish wedding.  Every part of the ceremony and celebration is rich in tradition and symbolism.  The Jewish wedding celebration is truly a family event that brings in relatives from all over the country providing:

An opportunity to reconnect with family.

An opportunity to strengthen the bonds to each other.

An opportunity to be in community together.

An opportunity to have fun as a family.

Frankfort Lighthouse- Wikipedia

Frankfort Lighthouse- Wikipedia

There is an incredible amount of power in the Jewish traditions that is harnessed in the strong bonds of family.  Although there is certainly exclusivity, the Jews have managed to stay bonded together even in the face of the mixing bowl of the United States.  This bond of ethnicity is a powerful propellant.  To be Jewish means to take care of your own.  Provide opportunities for the youngsters and offer deep respect for your elders.  This power, I believe, we loose in our hunger to assimilate here in the U.S.

How can we reconnect with this power?

Take every opportunity to celebrate your ethnic roots.  As a family, we sing a Polish birthday song called Sto Lat.  I learned it from my father and we have continued to sing Sto Lat at all of our family birthday celebrations after the traditional American happy birthday song.  We continue singing after everyone else has stopped- in Polish- as a tribute to our family heritage.  I feel like its our way of saying- this is our family and this is our tradition. There is also some exclusivity here.  Our family, our heritage, and our tradition.  We have sung Sto Lat loud and proud in restaurants and housefuls of friends outside of our family.  I suspect my children will continue this with their children, and so on it goes.

As I write this, I am sitting in a bed and breakfast enjoying some R&R in Frankfort, Michigan.  Every year at the 4th of July we would travel as a family and vacation here for the 4th holiday.  So many great memories here.  They flood back as we have visited the places we went years ago.  Another sweet tradition for our family.  Traditions and family are powerful.  If you don’t leverage these two forces you are missing a great opportunity to bind your family together and harness the power of the family unit.  As a group you can do much more good than on your own.  A family can be unstoppable. Tap into this power.

Happy Father’s Day and….Mazel tov!

What are some of your family traditions?  Do you celebrate your culture or do you hide it?  Click on comments and tell us your story!