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"Each of us must come to care about everyone else's children. We must recognize that the well being of our own children is intimately linked to the well being of all other people's children. After all, when one of our children needs life-saving surgery, someone else's child will perform it. When one of our children is harmed by violence, someone else's child will commit it. The good life for our own children can be secured only if it is also secured for all other people's children. But to work for the well being of all children is not just a practical matter-- it is also right!" - Lilian G. Katz, Phd.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

3 R's for Parents

"Here's a new set of three R's for busy parents
December 27, 2006
Remember the three R's for learning ... Reading, 'Riting and 'Rithmetic?

These three R's are the tried-and-true foundation of academic success and are all needed for virtually any career path. They stimulate and develop both sides of our brain, teach the fundamentals of how the world works, and allow us to create, express, and offer our own original ideas.

Well, I have my own three R's for parents, three R's that form the foundation of successful parenting and allow moms and dads to create, express and offer all of their unique gifts to their children. They are: Rest, Reflect and Refuel.

•Rest. What was the average number of hours you slept the last three nights? Was it eight? I'm guessing it was more like five. We simply cannot function at or even near our best on substandard sleep, and yet we continue to try to shortchange our bodies of this vital time for restoration. Physical healing, sharpness of mind, and creativity all require a rested body. True, young kids deprive us of good sleep for many a night. But it is important to establish good sleep habits for everyone in the household, as soon as possible, and to re-establish these patterns when life gets us off our schedule temporarily.

•Reflect. We are so busy doing the parenting thing that we don't have enough time to stop and think about what we are doing. Between work, laundry, soccer practice, homework, dinner, etc., etc., we often feel accomplished if we just get through the day. I consider it a successful day if I get a vegetable into each of my kids before bedtime. And yet getting kids to eat, and to school, and homework finished, are only the basics. When do we, as parents, have time to reflect on our decisions, our goals for our children, what we are modeling to them in our relationships, and our own personal growth?

I see many couples who, after years of being wonderful parents, doing "all the right things," now find themselves empty and modeling fighting and divorce to their children. Healthy individuals and healthy relationships require time to reflect, to think about the internal important things. How am I living my life? Why was I angry before? Do I like how I divide my time between work and home? How have I really been feeling lately, physically and emotionally? How has my partner really been feeling lately, physically and emotionally? How's my spiritual life? How's my mental life? Do I have the same goals today as five, 10 or 20 years ago?

We need private, uninterrupted time to ask ourselves these essential questions. If the answers are scary, all the more reason to listen to that inner voice and spend time with ourselves.

•Refuel. When's the last time you did something just for yourself? Parents need refueling every single day. Their output is great and they get depleted. The supply of energy seems limitless, but we are so used to running on empty that we don't even realize just how depleted we are.

How are your relationships outside of the family? Seen your closest friends lately? How long has that half-read book been sitting on the nightstand? Is that treadmill still being used as a clothes rack or have you carved out time just for yourself to replenish your energy levels? How many cross-stitch patterns are unfinished in your craft bin?

We need to do those things that simply give us pleasure. It's economics. If I deplete the bank account, I have to put money back in or I'll bounce checks. If we don't refuel, we bounce emotional checks. We snap, get sick, feel depressed, and cannot offer to our children all that we have to give. If you want to do what's best for your children, then Rest, Reflect and Refuel yourself first.

How's that for a New Year's resolution?

Dr. Rachel Bryant is a licensed psychologist in private practice in the Southern Tier. The Star-Gazette will forward comments and questions. Send them to: Star-Gazette, Attn: Features Department, 201 Baldwin St., P.O. Box 285, Elmira, NY 14902. "

Hmmmmm.... It is a nice concept, but I am not sure it is possible...