Critical Thinking

In the aftermath of last evening’s debate, as well as the two prior debates, I was appalled. I was not surprised, but it was blatantly evident that our society has lost much in simple courtesy and civility.

It is no wonder that our children, as a generation, seem disrespectful. Two candidates for the highest office in the land spent three evenings arguing with each other, interrupting one another, and outright lying to the public as well as about each other.

It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I am a conservative at heart. But the “conservative” candidate is not my idea of a role model. Then again, neither is the liberal candidate. Both have many shortcomings.

Too many of the pertinent issues have been hidden behind all the noise of the campaign. It will take much critical thinking to sort out the wheat from the chaff.

Our children need to be taught how to think critically. They need to be able to sift the noise from the truth and make well-reasoned decisions. Following the crowd – or the polls – without weighing the consequences is destructive.

A national election should be a win-win proposition, with the people choosing between two good candidates, not simply the lesser of two evils.

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.  ~~  II Chronicles 7:14 ( KJV)

God help us.


Differences and Listening

As any parent of more than one child knows, no two children are alike. So while the rules of the house remain constant, the approach of the parent to upholding those rules will vary from child to child.

Children can be rebellious, strong willed, docile, timid, fearless, curious, apathetic and a whole host of other adjectives can apply.  Once you have figured out your child’s temperament, it’s up to you to design the most effective way of directing that child’s energies.

I don't want to!!!



With a strong-willed child, you might offer a challenge. A timid child will perhaps respond better to a solicitation of help.



But with all children, listening to their hearts in what they say and do, acknowledging their personalities, and respecting their differences will yield a more satisfactory outcome.

Let us know in the comments what parenting techniques have worked well for you.

Constancy and Consequences

Last week we talked about children living either up or down to our expectations. But if the child doesn’t know what that expectation is, he/she cannot begin to meet it.

In dealing with our children, we need be sure that the rule is the same tomorrow as it is today. One way to take the rule out of whimsy is to make it a “house rule”.

  • In this house, we do not throw toys. We play with them quietly.
  • In this house, we put things away when we have finished using them.
  • In this house, we always wash our hands and face before coming to the table.

This makes the house the rule maker and takes personality out of the issue.

The key is saying “In this house, we…” instead of “I told you…” or “You have to…”. If you have a strong-willed child (and who doesn’t have at least one?), putting things on an “I versus you” basis is like firing the starting gun for a marathon.

Saying “we” has the psychological advantage of bringing the child into partnership with the parent. Not equal partners, I hasten to add. But partners just the same.  “Let’s clean the supper dishes quickly so we have time for….”works better that “bring the plates to the kitchen”. See the difference?  We have an activity with an attached reward (consequence) in the first instance. In the second, we simply have a chore with no consequence (either positive or negative) attached.


I can’t say it often enough. Every action carries within itself the seed of its own reward or punishment. It is the first law of physics: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

The sooner our children learn action and consequence, the better off they’ll be. It is the knowledge, wisdom, and skill that will carry them through the remainder of their lives successfully.


Speak Softly

My grandmother’s house was my home from the time I was about three til I had nearly completed high school. It was a quiet and orderly house.  We did major chores in the morning and arranged the afternoons for social life or reading or crafts. We rose early to get the days started.

At no time was there yelling or profanity in the home.  When thoroughly provoked I did hear her say to my grandfather “Well, ye gods and little fishes, Ollie.” His strongest epithet was “Hell’s bells, mom.”

Her two rules of conduct were:

  • You will not make a scene to disgrace the family, and
  • I don’t care how you feel; you will put on a pretty face and be nice to the company.

Perhaps she didn’t realize it, but she was creating a pattern for successful living.

Children need a structure, a schedule, standard and unchanging expectations. Yes, I know that limits choices.

Until they are old enough to handle the chaos that is this world, limited choices are a good thing.  I didn’t say to my children “what do you want to wear tomorrow?”  Instead I said “do you want to wear the blue dress or the pink one?”  The simplified choice, which one of two, is good practice for youngsters.

Yelling and raised voices generally lead to louder yelling.  My grandmother had an eyebrow. When it dropped, you immediately left what you were doing that was not approved and started the task you had abandoned. If she reprimanded you, it was in a quiet, disappointed tone of voice. It let you know that you had failed her expectations.

I’m a firm believer in children living either up or down to expectations. When I was teaching, I had a set of twins in one of my classes. Ron (made up name) had always gotten better grades than Don (also made up name), but in my class, the opposite was true. Don put in the effort and earned the better grade. That was because I was new in town and didn’t know the prior expectations, so I expected the best of both of them. Don lived up to my expectations; but Ron was in the habit of skating by on reputation and didn’t perform as well.

All this to say, let your children know that you expect the best of them. Courtesy and civility are always in style. Working up to potential is the best course of action. Facing problems quietly and head on gets them handled more effectively.

The job of a good parent is to make himself/herself obsolete in the child’s life as early as possible. You shouldn’t be having to discipline your teenager as you did when he/she was two. And along those same lines, no good parent stands between a child and the consequences of his own actions.

The sooner children learn that every action carries within itself the seed of its own reward or punishment, the better off they are.

In fact, that’s a lesson we all should review from time to time.



If Your Head Won’t Work…

When you have a young family, mornings can be very hectic. But there are things you can do to preclude the disaster that mornings can be.

We’ve all see that sign that says think_plan_ahead

and giggled at the irony.

But there is truth in that saying.

A good morning starts the night before.

  • Make sure your kitchen and dining room are ready for breakfast before you go to bed.
  • Check the weather forecast and select your wardrobe from top to bottom, putting it on a single hanger at the front of the closet. Undies and accessories can be tucked into a baggie or spent grocery bag and looped onto the hanger. No fuss, no hunt.
  • Things that need to leave the house with you should be organized into a single container – back pack, brief case, cardboard box, whatever fits.

Most people don’t plan to fail. They simply fail to plan.

Or as my sainted grandmother used to say

“If your head won’t work, your heels must.”

Thinking ahead saves unnecessary trips and much frustration.

Have a really good Thursday – first day of Autumn – morning.


Common Sense

As my grandmother used to say “there is nothing so rare as common sense.” More and more, we seem to defer to credentialed “experts” regardless of their capability.

When my eldest was born, a loving neighbor gave me a copy of Dr. Spock’s book Baby and Child Care.  She admonished me that it was for the medical appendix only. Dr. Spock was an unmarried pediatrician who never parented a child. While he had all the credentials,  he had no experience. There is no substitute for experience in the field.

I used the book for recommendations on treating common childhood illnesses and diagnosing such things as measles and chicken pox. At that time, we had no vaccinations against those common childhood illnesses.

My well stocked medicine cabinet contains some really old-fashioned remedies:

  • Band-aids – never be without them – and carry a few in your purse
  • Antibiotic ointment and/or spray – there are several good ones on the market
  • Prid Drawing Salve – will pull splinters, thorns, even shards of glass or metal. Just applprid-group3_0y a dab, cover with bandaid, and wait til morning. This is especially useful if there are pieces too small to see and remove with tweezers.
  • Tweezers for removing the objects above.
  • Rubbing alcohol for sterilizing and dabbing on itching places
  • Hydrogen peroxide for cleaning wounds

Ninety percent of the medical problems I had with my children could be handled with these simple things.   If it was too complicated or severe for these, we made a trip to the clinic or ER.

The important thing to remember in any situation is “do not panic”. Take a deep breath and think. Your common sense will kick in, and you will do the right thing.

Enjoying your children is the best part of parenting.


A New Direction

It has been three years and more since I was active with this blog. It began as a tribute to my grandmother, Lucille Ann Bigler, nee Mankin. It was her teaching and mentoring that led to the publication of As Grandma Says, my devotional gift book published by Harvest House in early 2011.

Then it fell silent. I was unable to locate the missing pieces that I had last written about in June 2013. It seemed that there was nothing more to be said except that they are lost.

It has come to my attention that we have generations of young parents coming up without the practical knowledge that our mothers and grandmothers handed down.

As an example, some years ago my daughter had just delivered her first child and was attempting to breast feed. She was engorged, and the baby was hungry, unable to latch onto the nourishment nature provides. The hospital and breastfeeding experts had no help for her.  At that time, breast shields were out of favor.

When I got there the following day, she and the baby were being dismissed from the hospital. Our first stop on the way home was at the local drug store to find a breast shield which would help the infant and protect the engorged breast.

The first feeding with the breast shield was quite successful, and the baby got enough nourishment that he slept, happily sated, for more than three hours. During that interval, we applied a breast pump to help dis-engorge the breasts and provide a supplemental supply for the refrigerator if needed.

Within forty-eight hours, the engorgement was gone; the breast shield was cleaned and stored; and the baby nursed happily for the remainder of his infancy. All because Grandma knew what to do. And how did Grandma know what to do? Her grandmother had provided the same information to her in similar circumstance.

Grandmas are the common sense keepers of our culture. We know what works because we’ve seen it or done it successfully.

For the foreseeable future, this blog will seek to address some of the common pitfalls of parenting. Trends and fashions come and go. Certain methods are in favor at some points and out of favor at others.

While I will be addressing parenting and educational issues that I see (from the sidelines now), questions are most welcome. Please use the comments for your question and look for a short response there. Who knows? Your question just might become the basis of another post.