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:



Monday, October 22, 2007

Foster Dad

Jamie Jones M.D. was one of the original inspirations for this blog. Not only has he raised numerous foster children, but he raised them as a single dad. Through the years, I've listened to his many stories of wisdom about raising his kids, and now his many grandchildren. Here are a couple of his pearls...

Teenage Lies:
“Dad, I’m so sorry I’m late. Honestly, we were at the dance and left in plenty of time to get everyone home by their curfews, but on the way home we got a flat tire. We couldn’t really see very well in the dark, and no one had a flash light. We finally felt our way around the trunk, got out the spare and then realized Jack didn’t have a spare to use. So we called Triple A, waited for them to come, which took forever, then had to drive the girls home first and the other kids and I’m the last before Sam headed home.”
“Son, you’re not telling the truth.”
“What gives dad? I’m telling you the truth.”
“Son, I don’t know you are lying, but you know you are. No one who is telling the truth goes into all that detail. Truth tellers just say we got a flat tire, but all the additions you make tell me that even though I don’t know you are lying, you know you are lying and you are trying to cover up something.”

I have had several foster children. Each time a new child arrived, I had to integrate them into our family and try to get them interested in some pretty unusual interests: mine. Often the stereotyped interests, at least for guys, are pretty basic: sports and cars. But I have an interest in art and theater, and being on a resident’s salary meant that my kids needed to go with me if those interests were to be allowed. So whenever we went on vacation, we’d visit the local art museums. This is how my kids would earn trip money. We’d enter the museum and for every painting that they knew the painter, they’d get a quarter. If they knew the country of the painter—another quarter, and if they knew the type of painting, impressionism etc., they’d get another quarter. If they didn’t know the answer, they lost a nickel. As you well know, most museums have several works by an artist close to each other. So even without a trained eye, after seeing one painting and learning the country and epoch, the rest is an easy redundancy. When the kids didn’t know the work, I’d have the opportunity to describe it. Sure, the child might have lost 15 cents, but then could gain it back and then some with the other paintings nearby. I did this for years and my kids would always love to go to the museum. Sure, at first, it was because they earned money, but gradually they ended up becoming familiar with so many of the paintings, and over time they’d ask to go to the museums without any mention of allowance. As the years progressed I’d change the deal, a nickel for each they knew, a quarter off for ones they missed. They all ended up with quite an appreciation of art. Now, years later, often when we visit cities, our first stop is a museum. My kids are all adults now, but now their kids are busy earning their trip allowances in the art museums!