Grandma's Pearls

I would like to invite you to join me on a journey. On November 1st, 2003, my mother died of pancreatic cancer. Her passing meant not just that I had lost a cherished family member, or that our community had lost a compassionate human being, but as a grandma she had a plethora of "pearls" on nearly any topic of child rearing, and these were gone with her as well. When I became a pediatrician in 1988, I would tap into her common-sense knowledge on a regular basis. Through the years, I found that many of my pediatric patients' grandparents enjoyed sharing their words of wisdom with me in my office, and I found these pearls especially valuable when I started my own family over ten years ago.

The journey I'm proposing is a shared attempt to capture this vast collection of accumulated wisdom on my blog. "Grandma's Pearl's" will celebrate a very special group of individuals who deserve to have a forum for sharing their hard-earned life lessons with others. It will be a compilation of advice from grandparents from all walks of life...capturing the insights of the grandparent-next-door, to the still-out-in-the workforce grandparent, to more.

My hope is that "Grandma's Pearls" will be a ray of inspiration for both new parents and experienced parents alike. Not a "how-to" manual on baby care, but rather a collection of practical, no-nonsense tips on how to raise good kids. You can share a couple of sentences, a paragraph, or a full-blown story if you'd like. I welcome you to share your pearls of wisdom and wit with the world!

Questions (these are suggestions only)....substitute in "dad, grandfather," etc. where appropriate:

  1. What tips do you (or passed down from your mother, mother-in-law, or grandmother) have on raising caring, happy, responsible, and well-adjusted kids?

  2. What did you (or your mom) do right, and/or what could have been done better?

  3. Was there a transforming moment in your (or your mom's) life that served as a guide in raising children? As a result of this moment, is there a "pearl" to pass on?

  4. Do you have a favorite "grandmotherly" quote that has helped you in parenting your children?

To submit a "pearl" click on:



Saturday, January 27, 2007

Joan and Bert's Story

"One thing we have found difficult to admit is that our grandchildren have terrible manners. They don't make their beds, they aren't cheerful in the mornings, they don't look people in the eye when they are introduced to them, and they never write or call to express thanks for Christmas and birthday presents. How's that for starters? They live in poverty circumstances with a foster mother, but we do spend a lot of time with them out here in California. They do much better when they are with us, but they revert back once they leave. In talking with other grandparents, we are not alone.

The one thing I encourage parents to do is to let their children understand that we live in a society of give and take. It's not a one-sided, "we give...they take." Several of our friends, even the wealthy ones, are appalled at the manners of some of their grandchildren, so manners and common courtesy seem to be a more prevalent problem than we had imagined. Our advice is to keep the children as close to the grandparents as possible. Don't be afraid to stand up for the grandparents' rights in helping them grow up sensibly.

If other grandparents have any ideas for what amounts to long-distance grandparenting, we would love to know."

Friday, January 19, 2007

Lanie's Pearl

The following story was submitted by my dear friend, Lanie Carter. Lanie is known for being the world's first "Professional Grandmother." She started her unique and amazing career many years ago at Scripp's Hospital in La Jolla, California. Lanie is not only a grandmother, but a great-grandmother as well. She has authored books on both parenting and grandparenting, and has recently penned her autobiography. Here is Lanie's pearl:

"At Christmas time 2006, our entire family gathered for Sofia's first Christmas held at my home...the same home we have lived in for 45 years. By a Christmas miracle, Sofia said "mama" for the first time on Christmas Eve.

Tears came to her mother Dayna's eyes as she looked at her mother, my daughter Ellie and Sofia's grandma. As Ellie, tears in her eyes, turned to me, tears were running down my cheeks. I am Sofia's great-grandmother. All I could think of was how different life will be for Sofia being raised a child in the years of 2000 as opposed to the 195o's when her grandma Ellie was born.

So very much has changed, but not that much at all. As John Wooden said in the preceding note, no matter how much has changed, "The most important thing parents can give their child is to love each other." That's where it all begins, no matter what century we're in.

Just think about it..."

John Wooden's Pearl

Isn't it interesting that my first official "pearl" is not from a grandma, but from a grandpa, and a famous one at that!

John Wooden promptly replied to an email that I had sent to him the other day. His pearl was, "The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother."

Thank you Coach the wise age of 96 you certainly have achieved the status of "legend" in our books!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

GrandPA's Pearls

As much as I've wanted to tap into the minds of all the wise grandMAS of the world, I also realize that the wise grandPAS of the world have just as much to contribute. After all, we want to be an equal opportunity blog, correct?

Growing up as one of four kids, our dad was (and still is) a huge sports fan. Our dad taught us from a very young age that life lessons are learned not only in the classroom, but out on the playing field as well. One of our dad's role models has always been John Wooden, the famous UCLA basketball coach who took his team to 10 national titles (7 in a row) back in the 1960's and '70's. John Wooden became a legendary coach by teaching his players the value of lifeskills such as hard work, enthusiasm, friendship, loyalty, cooperation, self-control, alertness, action, determination, fitness, skill, team spirit, poise, confidence, and doing one's personal best.

Coach Wooden has summarized these lifelong attributes in his now-famous "Pyramid of Success." He is a respected author and teacher, and in 2003, published a wonderful children's book based upon his Pyramid of Success entitled, "Inch and Miles: The Journey to Success." This book has since become the backbone for character development in many schools and sports camps nationwide. Your kids will love the story of Inch and Miles, as well as the colorful illustrations!

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Happy New Year

In doing some "winter cleaning" the other day, I came across an old Ann Landers clipping that my mom had given to me shortly after Ms. Landers had passed away. It contained some great parenting pearls collected by the National Institute of Mental Health. One reader said she had placed it in a prominent position on her fridge many years ago, and while now yellowed and brittle with age, the wisdom and common sense are timeless. Here they are:

1. Love abundantly. The most important task is to love and really care about your child. This gives him or her a sense of security, belonging and support.
2. Discipline constructively. Give clear direction and enforce the limits on your child's behavior.
3. Whenever possible, spend time with your children. Play with them, talk to them, teach them to develop a family spirit.
4. Give the needs of your mate top priority. One parent put it this way: "A husband and wife are apt to be successful parents when they put their marriage first. Child-centered households produce neither happy marriages nor happy children."
5. Teach your children right from wrong. They need to be taught basic values and manners so that they will get along well in society. Insist they treat others with kindness, respect, and honesty.
6. Develop mutual respect. Act in a respectful way toward your children. Say "please" and "thank you," and apologize when you are wrong.
7. Listen. Really listen. This means giving your children undivided attention, putting aside your beliefs and feelings, and trying to understand your children's point of view.
8. Offer guidance. Be brief. Don't give speeches. And don't force your opinions on your children.
9. Foster independence. Gradually allow children more freedom and control over their lives.
10. Be realistic. Expect to make mistakes. Be aware that outside influences such as peer pressure will increase as children mature. One parent said, "Don't expect things to go well all the time. Child-rearing has never been easy. It has its sorrows and heartaches, but it also has its rewards and joys. This is what makes it all worthwhile."