Not Just Another List

Monday, January 5, 2009
If you're like me, you are probably sick of all the "top 10"s and every other assorted list that a new year catalyzes people to make. But my friend S passed along this list of resolutions for parents and it was too good not to share. The reason I love it is because the directives strike the perfect balance of motivating us to be better parents as well as better people in general. The author of the list, Jacque Grillo--an Early Childhood Specialist, Marriage and Family Therapist, and Director of Lone Mountain Children's Center in San Francisco--is going to be featured on The Today Show this week, talking about these resolutions all parents should make in 2009 (The stuff in bold is my emphasis):

1. Resolve that one day each week will be a day without television, videos, computers, and electronics of any sort. Shut the things off. Reclaim your homes.

2. Resist the pressure to become your child's day planner, social secretary and entertainment organizer. Allow for days where nothing is planned. Celebrate boredom! Don't protect your child from a day with nothing to do. Day after day filled with adult-organized activities and events destroys any possibility of creativity or self-discovery. Don't allow your child to become the center of your universe.

3. Play together, fantasize together, and get creative together using only the simplest of materials: old clothes, a cardboard box, crayons, paper and glue. Make-up characters and stories - together.

4. Get out of your child's way. Provide her with time, either alone or with friends, that is largely unsupervised and where an adult will only intervene when the screams reach a high decibel level. Teach them to trust in themselves. Let them make mistakes and experience the consequences. Stop rescuing.

5. Intentionally deny your child something he "really wants". Don't just delay its acquisition but never allow the desired object into your home. Have conversations about the experience of disappointment. Share your own experiences of how it feels to not get something you "really want".

6. Plan a long weekend away for you and your spouse and resist the urge to check in by phone every hour. Trust me -- your children will survive and everyone will benefit.

7. Don't buy into the "more is better" culture. Almost always less is more.

8. Remember what life before children was like. Commit to having a life of your own with your own activities, friends and interests. It's not only good for you but a great model for your children.

9. Worry less. Almost all problems self-resolve in time and the small percentage that don't probably couldn't have been prevented in any case.

10. Have faith in something and share it openly with your children. It can be God, the Universe, Love or the inherent goodness of your fellow man. It's one of the greatest gifts you can pass on to your children.
Tani said...

Great list, thanks for sharing! Particularly like the one about faith.

Tech Addict said...

Oh lord the "reclaim your home" one gets me. I have absolutely no control over my kids love of tv, movies, iphone, video. I know this is my fault but I feel like I have let it go on too long to just take it all away, and how are we supposed to force a ban on the stuff if we use it all the time too? I really want to try I just don't know if it's possible.

Anonymous said...

"Less is more less is more less is more." Maybe if I keep repeating it I will actually do it. "Less is more less is more less is more."

Uma said...

SUCH good advice. Like so much at the beginning of the year I hope to do it all. I know I won't but it's good to have goals!!

Anonymous said...

Almost every single one of these is easier said than done. And while I can vividly see how much better life would be with these resolutions in place I can't bear to start a new year setting myself up to fail. Can we really rid our kids of electronics? Not be their social planner when every other mom is a social planner? Are we really going to worry less and deny our children what they want? Do you know any Indian mom who doesn't worry and who doesn't cave the minute her child wants something? I am betting no. I would like to do these things. BUt let's be realistic.

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