My Parenting Resolution for 2020 is Academic Accountability

Each January, I announce to my children that we are having a meeting. All four of them file into the dining room and slink into a chair, some eyes are rolling, some are whimpering and whining on the way to their seats, in anticipation. The oldest with his extra years of wisdom has the mentality of "let's just listen and get it over with". It is the annual event of "what needs to change because it made me crazy last year" family meeting.

This year's theme is Academic Accountability. I would love to change my children's habits of leaving dishes where they don't belong or brushing the dog more. ( I could go on and on) But you don't want to overwhelm them with too many changes, because kids are pretty set in their ways and if you try to change everything you have been doing for years, it's all going to be ineffective and you will have even more chaos in your house than you did before.Changes need to be made slowly and only a few at a time. I have learned that I tend to be overambitious in my changes, hoping that I will go from a messy house, kids screaming at each other, dog barking to my children coming home to milk and cookies and elevator music on throughout our sparkling clean house. But after 15 years of parenting, I have given up on that idea and I will almost settle for just getting my youngest son to stop peeing on the toilet seat despite the fact that I have told him 4 million times how to avoid this. I would indeed be thrilled with that change!

This year's major parenting resolution for me is to better help my children achieve the best grades they can. When I say that, I am not holding them to getting straight A's, which I know each of them can do, but I am for the most part asking for A's and B's. This past fall, I had 3 of my children begin a very big school transition, one went into first grade, one went into middle school, and my oldest began his first year in high school. Each of them ending up with report cards that could have been a whole lot better, and were much worse than the year before, which I anticipated slightly with the big change of a new school and a new system. This is not to say that I have not already been checking their grades and monitoring their school and homework, but I need to do a better job at it and stop allowing them to skate by in some ways.

I am lucky enough to be a stay at home mother who can devote the time needed to this, because this is not as easy as some may think. Between my 4 kids, they have 16 teachers. Each teacher has their own website, or blog or something they want me to check, usually daily or weekly. I also have one child with ADHD so a structured plan is helpful for him. A great tool my school district provides is a website that my middle school and high school students are able to check on their assignments and grades. This enables me to monitor their weekly progress, test scores, missing assignments, due dates, upcoming tests etc. This is an invaluable tool that I need to utilize more for their best interest. I noticed that my children's major problem was missing assignments. My children are very smart, my two oldest are each taking one honors course this year, but they fail to understand the consequences of not turning in an assignment in and what it can do to their grades. They often say things like "it's just 10 points". Yet at the end of the grading period they have missed 7 assignments for 10 points, they are now down 70 points. One of my children does extremely well on tests, but fails to turn in notes or writing assignments. I explained to him that he got a 90 percent on a test that he worked hard on, but wasted it basically because he was missing a 100 point essay!

Therefore, I vow to be more effective in my parenting methods as far as being their academic supporter and advocate for the year. I will do a better job of making sure everyone sits down to do their homework after school and not putting it off until "later" or after dinner because in my house this is code for "it's never going to happen". I will implement a new system in my house that makes them understand that their education and schooling is our number one priority. Which means that if they show a missing assignment on the website, they have no privileges until it is turned in. No video or computer games, no cell phones or texting friends, no free time on weekends until it is completed and I have seen it. I will no longer fall for the line, "yeah I did it, I'll turn it in next week". My children already are not allowed to play video or computer games on school nights because they need to focus on their homework and cleaning up after themselves and taking care of their pet. When video games are allowed on school nights, there is always fighting and crying to share games in a short amount of time and they rush through homework I have found. So when the weekend comes they are starved for screen time, so weekend game time is pretty important to them. We are a family who loves our games so I think this will work as long as my husband and I keep it up. I will also be making sure that each and every one of my kids reads every school night before bed for at least 20 minutes up to 30 minutes for the older ones. Even though I model this behavior by reading several books a week and my kids are all exceptional readers, I don't think they read often enough anymore now that they are older.

Our Parenting Resolution for 2020 is " Academic Accountability".
1. No missing assignments or homework not turned in on time or no privileges until it is completed & turned in!
2. They must study for all upcoming tests. (Even if they know everything already, which is what they will say)
3. Everyone must read Monday-Thursday Nights for 20-30 minutes before they go to bed and keep track with a reading log. (Which are needed for school for almost all kids)
4. They are to do their very best work, no more sloppy writing to finish quickly.
5. They are to be responsible for their work, keeping track of their books, backpacks, library books, checking assignments, knowing when their homework is due and bringing home the required items needed to do their homework or projects. If not they will have one weekend day of privileges and screen time taken away.

It is my parenting resolution but also a resolution for each child as well. It is showing them that they need to be accountable for their education. It will teach them that missing assignments are unacceptable even one time. It is hard enough to get an A turning in all your assignments, because no one is perfect. I hope they learn that they need to be accountable for their stuff and their lives and responsibilities and that they can count on me to support them and guide them, but I won't be enabling them and doing things for them or making excuses for them why they didn't have time to get things done on time. I will make their education my number one priority in hopes that they follow my lead and make it their number one priority for the rest of their school years. When they go on to college, these habits will be beneficial to their academic success and survival. When they have careers they will understand that not completing all your work or slacking off is unacceptable and it negates any hard work you did on other tasks. You need to be consistent in your work or whatever you do in life because you are just making things harder on yourself by selling yourself short. I encourage my children to not only learn as much as they can in school, but to dream big and be something in this life that will help others or change the world. I hope that one day my hard work and sacrifices pay off for them which will be a reward beyond measure and that I will eventually have a clean toilet seat!

Turning Negative Parenting into Positive Parenting

Since we are not handed a magical how-to-book when we bring our children home from the hospital, all we really have to go by is what we were taught in our childhood homes. I believe my parents did a lot more right than wrong, but there were a few things I believe I have improved upon.

Yelling. My mom was a yeller. My brother, sister and I loved to fling the couch pillows all over the living room floor. Squeals of laughter tended to soon turn into yelling at each other, as we tried to navigate the 'bridge' over the hot lave. Mom would enter the room calm. At first, she would tell us to quite down and clean up. In typical kid fashion, we ignored her. To gain our attention she began to yell at us and eventually we were sent to our rooms, while she cleaned up.

Getting down to their eye level and speaking clearly. The hot lava game is a favorite with my kids as well and sometimes the kids get out of control. I come into the room same as my mom, but I walk over to the kids and get down on my knees. I look directly at them and firmly tell them what my expectations are and what the consequence to not listening will be. This may take a time or two, but I never lose my cool and they clean up their mess.

You are grounded. Growing up we were grounded from television, to our rooms, to our yard-you name it and we've been grounded from it. My parents would ground us for a week or more at a time. We were usually ungrounded within a day, because we knew if we whined enough they would give in.

Mean what you say. As a mom, I get the immediate result I can get from uttering the words, 'you are grounded.' The truth is, we knew we could press our mom until she would cave. I believe grounding is a good tool, but how I changed it up is with realistic time frames. If I warn my six year old he will be grounded from his Wii for the rest of the night, I know I can follow through. He learns mom means what she says, so next time I might say two days and he believes me.

What To Do With Used Baby Clothes: Some Ideas In Dealing With Your Children's Outgrown Wardrobe

Babies outgrow their clothes extremely quickly, especially in their first one year of life. Parents often find that they are shopping for new attire every few months, unless they have purposely bought clothes that are a size bigger for their child.

Even so, babies clothes are rarely worn out and are still in usable condition. On top of that, they tend to accumulate and take up space at home. Here are some note-worthy options of dealing with the baby clothe pile-up.

Keep them in the store.

If you are planning on siblings for your child, you should not dispose of baby's apparel as yet. Keeping clothes for younger siblings is a sure-fire way to save money. An expanding family means an expanding budget.

Keep your baby's clothes in zip-lock bags and label them according to their age groups. You may specify the appropriate seasons for wearing them too, if you are living in a country that experiences the four seasons. This keeps the clothes clean and in order for easy access when number two or three or four or even five comes along. Stash the zip lock bags into a plastic box and label that box too, just for easy reference. Arranging them in age order saves you the trouble of retrieving them later.

Lend or give them away to your peers.

If you have siblings, close relatives, friends or colleagues who are in the family way, you can help alleviate their financial burden by lending your baby's clothes to them (if you want them back) or giving it to them.

Just make sure they do not mind receiving hand-me-downs. Most parents would not but there are those who are particular about buying new goodies for their own babies.

Donate them to charity.

The orphan population is growing exponentially around the world. Run a Google search for orphanages and adoption agencies and you would know that there are children as young as infants who are no where near as fortunate as your child. Donating to the nearby orphanage or shelter for single mothers is a praiseworthy charity act that will bring blessings to your family.

Alternatively you can contact international orphan networks like Islamic Relief, CARE, Red Cross and the Salvation Army, to name a few, to help clothe a less fortunate child.

Sell them as second hand clothes

Here is a way to earn some return on all those baby clothes you purchased for your growing child. You can opt to sell clothes online through eBay or other second hand exchange sites. You can even set up your own personal site yourself and manage your second hand store from your own home.

If there are second hand stores in your area, pay a visit to them to understand their exchange policies. Selling them to these type of stores is also a possibility.

Dispose of them!

If baby's clothes just happen to be a little too worn out, faded, with a few missing buttons, an elastic band that is too loose and / or displays a little too many food stains, or other stains for that matter, it is probably best to bin it.

There is no profiting from such grub. It would be highly likely that recipients of these apparel would also discard of them, after overcoming the feeling of distaste.

Baby clothes can be of abundance at home as baby outgrows outfit after outfit. In fact, they may even begin to clutter your home. Do not despair – there are plenty of ways to deal with the growing wardrobe of tiny clothes. See which one fits you best and you will soon be rid of baby apparel blues and pinks.

Planning a Great Family Trip to Pennsylvania

There are so many great places to . Many of these places are learning experiences. You can take as little as a week, and fit in a multitude of sight-seeing adventures!

AMISH COUNTRY
This is a great learning experience for kids to teach them about different cultures. Amish Country is very peaceful and productive with miles of cornfields, cows and covered buggies about. There are tours you can take of Amish school houses, houses, farms and learn about the Amish Customs and way of life. You can also just drive around Amish country and see first hand the big old houses, buggies, farmers working in the field with their kids and old fashioned clothing. We stopped to ask directions at one Amish person’s farmhouse and he was so friendly, he talked with us a while and invited us into his barn. He had rows of cows and 3 boys who were dirty from working and playing in the fields. It’s great for kids to see first hand how the Amish don’t use electricity, grow their own food and dress modestly as to not draw attention to themselves. One you’re finished touring Amish Country, it’s great to stop at one of their restaurants. We stopped at a Amish Restaurant which was on our path and it was very modestly decorated, with great homemade food! It was also a way to interact with Amish folks. I especially loved the prayer table matts set at each table. Such a different culture from our own, so peaceful and such a great learning experience!

PHILADELPHIA
Philadelphia was also a great learning experience for the kids and a lot of fun for everyone. Everyone took away something else from this great City. My husband loved the Rocky steps, and how the streets were laid out so easily for driving. I loved the artistic side roads with amazing graffiti filled walls and amazing mosaics about. The kids loved riding on the top of the bus for the bus tours and the LOVE sign at night! You can also visit the Liberty Bell, which is quite a photo opportunity, as well as another great learning experience! Across the road from the Liberty Bell is the room where the Declaration of Independence was Signed. Only a short while away from these great historical locations is where Betsy Ross lived. Ben Franklin is also mentioned frequently on the tour as it was his hometown. Lots of history, culture, art and great food! A definite stop on your Pennsylvania tour!

GETTYSBURG
Gettysburg is a place my parents had taken me when I was a kid and on my family Pennsylvania trip, I made this a stop. I definitely wanted my kids to know the history of this place. Gettysburg is very haunting with so much history involving the Civil War. There are numerous tours you can take, seeing firsthand civil war clothing, guns, and soldier belongings. You can also visit the Gettysburg National Cemetary and see where President Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address. Great history lessons about for the kids and very interesting for the parents alike. I took such beautiful pictures of the kids in this historical and beautiful graveyard and caught them being mesmerized by the sights! Amazing stuff and definitely a stop I would recommend.

HERSHEY PARK/SESAME PLACE
Hershey Park I would suggest more for older kids. I went with kids and the youngest wasn’t able to go on a lot of rides. We actually went around separately, so we could go on the kiddie rides, while the older kids went with my husband and went on the older kids rides. When we had to meet up again, we actually lost them & it was quite frightening. This park is HUGE, keep this in mind. It’s a lot of fun if your kids are close in age and there are a ton of rides. You can also go to the Chocolate factory and get a tour of the place they make Hershey Chocolate and get the history of the company. This was a lot of fun for the kids and there was a lot to see here. Overall, a good experience, minus the difficulties for the younger age child set. If you have younger kids you can go to Sesame Place, which was also a lot of fun for us all and even the older kids enjoyed this park. It’s also very crowded here. This park is broken up into a water park and a ride park. These parks are a lot of fun for the kids and a real highlight for them. I would recommend them as it is a little different from all the historical tours.

There are even more places to visit in Pennsylvania, but I tried to highlight the places I knew of and hope it can help you plan a terrific and memorable trip for your family! Truly it was one of the most memorable and fun trips my family has ever been on.

Parenting Strategies: Making Sure Our Son Behaves in Public

After a long week at work, my wife and I love going out on Friday and Saturday nights to enjoy some time together. We always bring our son with us so we can spend that time together as a family. It gets very hard to relax, though, when things go wrong in the restaurant. We often see kids misbehaving. While we understand that young kids will act up in public, it bothers us to see their parents allow it. We will not allow our son to act up at home, let alone in public.

Recent outing

In mid-September 2012, we decided to enjoy a Friday night out. We went to a new sports grille that just opened in our neighborhood. We got there early, so it was not yet crowded. We had a chance to look around and see the game room. We sat near the game room thinking we might play a few games after we eat. We changed our minds quickly when two families came in together. The kids ran straight for the game room, and the parents all sat down and began to drink.

Kids misbehaving

We knew to expect noise in a sports grille but not the kind of noise we heard. The kids kept running right past us back and forth to their tables and screaming as loudly as they could. We could hear their screams just as well from the game room. I finally got tired of the noise, so I went in to see what they were doing. Two boys were sword fighting with the pool cues, and the other two were wrestling for the pile of quarters on the table.

Parents doing nothing

I tried to let the parents know about their kids, but they ignored me and went about their business. No other adults seemed to care, either. The adult in the game room with the kids kept reading his newspaper. At least by this point, we had finished our meal and were ready to leave, so I decided not to push the issue any further. I had tried.

Make sure our son behaves

We would never allow our son to misbehave in any way. We go to restaurants to relax and enjoy ourselves. We respect those around us enough to keep our son quiet. We engage him in our conversations and do not use the game rooms as dumping grounds and ignore their behavior. I will usually go to the game room with him and play together. We do allow him to talk too loudly or run through the aisles. If he does, we remind him that other people do not want to hear it. Continued misbehavior brings penalties. We have no trouble correcting him in public and then discussing matters with him at home.

Compliments received

One night when I was very young, my mother took my five brothers and me out to eat. A lady complimented her on how well we behaved even without our father there. We knew to behave or Mom would discipline us right then; we would then get to talk with Dad when he got home. My wife and I expect the same behavior from our own son, and we have received similar compliments. We enjoy hearing them, and we have given them to other parents as well. However, we teach our son to behave not to hear the raves but to show respect for people around him who want to relax after working all week – just as we do. Even he agrees that parents need to make sure their kids behave in public.

Grandma Gives Three Old Fashioned Parenting Rules a Fail

Not all old fashioned parenting rules work. Some get a fail from this Grandma. Either they don't make sense in the modern world or they never made sense at all. Some rules might not fit your personal parenting style. Others are just plain cruel. Parenting is not a dictatorship. It's about raising kids who are mentally and physically sound. Just because your parents or grandparents subscribed to these three rules, doesn't mean they'll work for you.

  1.  My way or the highway. This policy is a great way to drive your kids right out of the house. That might sound good if they're teenagers. Problem is, you might drive them out before they're prepared to be on their own. Giving kids the tools they need to survive in the adult world means letting them make occasional bad choices. That's how they learn. (Just like you did.) Remember that? So give advice, but unless they're making dangerous choices, let them give their ideas a test run.
  2.  Don't speak unless you're spoken to. Where do I begin? Do you want to raise kids who are complete social misfits? These days, socialization is a ladder to success. How will your kids learn to socialize if you don't let them speak their minds? How will they ever think for themselves if you're always lording it over them? Your right to free speech is important. Theirs is no less important. We all have an opinion. Don't teach kids to be afraid of theirs.
  3.  Spare the rod and spoil the child. In a sense, I agree with this statement. I just think the meaning of the rod was misinterpreted. Shepherds used rods to guide their sheep, not to pound on them. After all, a dead sheep produces no wool. In the same respect, a bruised and battered child has no hope for their future. Stop keeping your child down by beating them into submission. Work to build them up. Use the rod and staff to guide them through life. It's a rocky road. They need someone they can trust to lead the way. They don't need someone who pummels them for every wrong move.

On a personal note:

I was raised by two of these rules. My parents had good intentions, but they parented just as their parents did. I don't blame my parents, I blame the rules they were taught. Yes, I came out alright. It did, however, take me a considerable amount of time to conquer a couple of issues.

*I went through a period where I had trouble making good decisions. Could it be that's because I never was allowed to practice? Once I gained the privilege of deciding my path in life, I had no sense of direction. There was nobody to tell me what to do. I'd never been allowed independent thought. Luckily, I've found my way. Unfortunately, it wasn't without a lot of unnecessary stumbling.

*As a young adult, I had a truly difficult time speaking my mind without considering who I was speaking to. Why is that so bad? Well, shouldn't your opinion be the same, no matter who you're addressing? To this day, I have a hard time in social situations. I never really had any conversational practice as a child. I'm taking the social falls now that I should have taken then, as practice for adult life.

There is some merit in these old fashioned parenting rules. They sound great on the surface. If you delve deeper, though, you'll find there are many flaws. Do you want your kids to fear you or respect you? There is a huge difference. To gain respect, you must first give it. That old fashioned rule is a keeper.

Using Description to Name a New Baby Boy: Modern Day Names Lack the Meanings Attached to Ancient Names

The Greek meaning of the name Ambrose is divine, or immortal, not a bad moniker to attach to a new baby boy for whom much is hoped. Expectations for a boy named Brian, or Alexander could entail great accomplishments, as those names have Celtic and Greek roots which translate to strong, and defender of men, respectively. Everyone has heard of Alexander the Great!

Just the first few letters of the traditional American alphabet reveal the beginnings of names connected to the virtues of strength and character, connections to nature, a happy life style, and holiness. Many of these have Biblical roots and meanings understood in Greek, Hebrew, Celtic, and Germanic languages.

Examples of Rooted Names for a Baby Boy

  • Aaron = meaning Enlightener, is rooted in Hebrew
  • Adolph = Noble Wolf (Danish, Dutch, German roots); spelling can vary with Adolf, or Adolphe (French roots), and Adolfo (Italian/Spanish roots), and Adolphus (Latin roots)
  • Andrew = Manly (Greek); Andres (Spanish); Andre (French); Andrea (Italian)
  • Arthur = Valor, Strength, Nobility (Celtic)
  • Avery = Courageous (Germanic)
  • Everard = Strong As A Boar (Germanic)
  • Ezekiel = God Gives Strength (Hebrew)
  • Fergus = Manly Strength (Celtic)

Interestingly, the name Benedict was not originally associated with acts of a traitor. It means blessed. In French, it is Benoit, and the Spanish version is Benito.

Many Male Names Have Likenesses to Nature

  • Arnold = Eagle Power
  • Ashley = Dweller Among Ash Trees
  • Athelstan = Noble Stone or Jewel
  • Bartholomew = Son Of Furrows
  • Bertram = Bright Raven
  • Caleb = Dog, for Loyal
  • Clive = Cliff Dweller
  • Craig = Crag Dweller
  • Cyrus = The Sun

Male Names of High Elevation

  • Abner = Father of Light
  • Abraham = Exalted Father of Multitudes
  • Aurelius = The Golden One
  • Basil = Kingly
  • Conrad = Bold Counsel
  • Dan = Judge
  • Donald = World Chief
  • Eldred = Mature Counsel
  • Eleazar = God Has Helper
  • Eli = The Highest One
  • Emery = Work Ruler
  • Ethelred = Noble Council
  • Eric = Honorable King

Some names for new baby boys would bestow meanings of a happy and rich existence. For instance:

  • Felix = Happy, Fortunate
  • Eustace = Good Harvest
  • Eugene = Well Born
  • Erasmus = Lovable
  • Ephraim = Doubly Fruitful
  • Eneas = Praiseworthy
  • Eliot = God's Gift
  • Edwin = Rich Friend
  • Darius = Wealthy
  • Cuthbert = Notably Brilliant
  • Alan = Handsome

Baby Boy Names to Avoid

Smallness, infirmities, or darkness are attached to a number of baby boy names. Ecstatic parents of a newborn might want to steer clear of them if they know before-hand of the connotations of these choices. They include:

  • Elvin = Of The Elves
  • Douglas = Dark
  • Claude = Lame
  • Cecil = Blind
  • Calvin = Bald
  • Aubrey = Elf Ruler
  • Amos = Burden

Baby Boy Names of Color

Many names relate to colors and hues of nature. Several of them are:

  • Adam = Red; Man Of Red Earth
  • Alban = White
  • Boyd = Yellow-haired
  • Duncan = Brown Warrior

Parents looking to attach military, or battle-worthy names to new baby boys might consider the following:

  • Alaric = All Ruler
  • Alexis = Defender
  • Alger = Noble Spear
  • Cedric = War Chief
  • Edgar = Rich Spear, for Warrior
  • Egbert = Bright Sword, for skilled swordsman

For parents seeking names with direct meanings involving the peaceful side of human nature, there are these:

  • Frederick = Peace Ruler
  • Franklin = Freeman
  • Ezra = Helper
  • Ethan = Firmness
  • Enoch = Dedicated
  • Edmund = Rich Protector
  • Curtis = Courteous
  • Clement = Merciful
  • Burgess = Citizen
  • Asa = Healer

What's in a name? Quite a lot, it would seem.

Resource: The 1966 edition of the Funk & Wagnalls Standard College Dictionary, copyrighted by The Reader's Digest Association, Inc., and entitled The Reader's Digest Great Encyclopedic Dictionary (with special supplements); Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 66-21606.

Rankings of popular baby names by gender, by state, and by year may be found on the Social Security Administration website. The rankings include individual entries for names with like pronunciations which can be spelled a number of different ways, such as Caitlin and Kaitlynn, etc.

The SSA originated the popular baby names site from an idea for name distribution submitted by Michael W. Shackleford in 1997.

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