By Guest Writer: Samuel Lee Bowman
From time to time I’ll have guest writers putting up great posts that will encourage and inspire you. My guest writer today is Sam, my husband and partner in this ministry to grandmothers (and grandfathers). He encourages me and helps me get out these posts to you. I know you’ll get a lot from his input from time to time. So, enjoy. Debbie.
Am I Getting It Right? By Samuel Lee Bowman
As a grandparent raising a grandchild I often ask myself how do I know I’m getting it right this time?
The answer became very clear to me the other day at the kitchen table. Anthony was watching Paw Patrol in the living room as Debbie and I sat down at the kitchen table to do some work. We spread out our computers, opened notebooks, put on our reading glasses and got down to work, talking, typing and making notes. In a little bit the TV went silent and Anthony came walking in with his little plastic play computer, a little notebook he had scrounged up somewhere, his old deactivated iPhone, and an ink pen. He crawled up on the chair between us, put on a pair of reading fake glasses and began typing on his computer, scribbling “notes” in his little book and checking his iPhone, just like we were. We couldn’t help break out in laughter.
Here’s four ideas that will remind you how powerful example is and assure you you’re getting it right.
1. Live the life. The very best thing you can do for your grandchild is live your best life in front of them. If you’re doing this, you’re getting it right. Like sponges they pick up your attitude, your outlook, your lifestyle, your coping skills and your language. They will mimic your words, your inflections and tone. I am reminded how powerful example is every time I’m down south and hear a three year talking in a deep southern drawl. Live the life today you want them to have later and thats the life they will choose when they are older.
2. Involve. If you involve them you know you’re getting it right. Anthony helps us do the dishes, sweep the floor, mow the yard, rake the leaves, move my trucks around, clean the shop and do the laundry. Because Debbie and I both work at home it gives lots of opportunity to expose Anthony to a wide variety of tasks. Because we have fun doing all these things, he thinks work is fun. Since children are absorbing information at a high rate right from birth, you should begin teaching a strong work ethic as early as you can.
3. Major on Relationship. Rules provide boundaries, but major on relationship. I would rather have Anthony obey me because he loves me than because he is afraid of my discipline. I like to compare rules & relationship to M&M’s. The sweet chocolate inside is the relationship; loving and sweet. The hard shell around the outside are the rules that keep the relationship in the right shape. Reverse the proportion and make the rules more important than relationship and you risk having the child eventually try to break away from the rules. Sooner or later they will test the boundaries and discipline will be required. However, lots of love means they have a lot more to lose by breaking the rules. Go with a 3 to 1 relationship to rules ratio and you know you’re getting it right.
4. Teach. Teaching includes telling your grandchildren rules, but mostly its about showing them how to do things. You will be surprised how fast they pick things up and become less of a slowdown for you. Most of us adults need to slow down anyway. The greatest thing about teaching them as you go is it teaches them learning skills, like how to look, listen and think. Something the TV will never do. They are never too young to start learning. Teach early by using a show and tell approach and you know you’re getting it right!
Do you have a great example of how you have seen a child mimic an adult? What task or activity have you used to teach your grandchild a lesson, without actually saying the lesson? We’d love to hear your story.