Did you know that there is a resource for imparting wisdom that we often overlook? It is the use of books and literature in our homes to subtly set the stage for a conversation about a topic that we’d like to explore. As I mentioned in a previous blogpost, having a weekly family meeting that includes reading a short book or a chapter of a longer book provides the opportunity to share family values or open a discussion. family-meetings-recipe-for-success.html
Books and stories provide the opportunity to visit a culture that we know little about, and widen our view of the world. Ann Patchett, renowned American author has said, “Reading fiction not only develops our imagination and creativity, it gives us the skills to be alone. It gives us the ability to feel empathy for people we've never met, living lives we couldn't possibly experience for ourselves, because the book puts us inside the character's skin.”
In addition, the most recent market research on how to sharpen our brain suggests that the easiest and most time-tested method is . . . READING! The very nature of reading encourages the brain to work harder and better. Typically, when we read, we have more time to think. Reading gives us a unique pause button for comprehension and insight. With oral language—when we watch a film or listen to an audio story—we don’t press pause.
This is especially true for anyone who struggles with reading. Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University studied children ages eight to ten who were below-average readers. One hundred hours of remedial reading classes significantly improved the quality of their brains’ white matter—the tissue that carries signals between areas of gray matter, where information is processed. The researchers’ concluded that the brains of these children had begun to rewire themselves in ways that could benefit the entire brain, not only the reading-centric temporal cortex.
So, if you still have a present to buy for your child, a grandchild or a favorite niece or nephew, consider buying a book and read it to them, if you can. In the case that you have already purchased all of your holiday gifts, consider doing this for an upcoming birthday or other occasion. If you need some book suggestions, here is a list of some of my favorites that I have read to my children and students over the years.https://tinyurl.com/2p83c24j
And for parents, consider giving them 7 Gifts to Give Your Child: Parenting That Will Touch Their Future as a present to allow them to discover more wisdom for themselves. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09L7KS5VH
Once our adult children become parents, we naturally want to develop and nurture healthy, loving and enjoyable relationships with our grandchildren. Grandparenting can be our second chance to give what we missed giving the first time around. What greater legacy could there be than leaving one of love for our grandchildren? Grandparenting experts Tim and Darcy Kimmel, authors of Extreme Grandparenting have said, "We are the link to the past, the anchor to the present and the bridge to the future."
Currently, my husband and I are reading Doing Life With Your Adult Children--Keep Your Mouth Shut & The Welcome Mat Out by Jim Burns and we have discovered a great deal of wisdom throughout this book on topics such as:
One of the most interesting chapters for me was "Being a Grandparent May Be Your Biggest Legacy. I especially enjoyed the suggestions on connecting with and influencing our grandkids. The list below is adapted from Chapter 9 of Jim Burns' book.
If you are trying to figure out what gift to give your child, grandchild, niece or nephew--consider gifting an experience/the gift of time.
What would get the recipient of your gift excited? Maybe it is a day spent at a wonderful museum with interactive exhibits about outer space, art, animals or construction. It may be a special meal out with mom and dad and no other siblings. Perhaps it is going on a train ride to discover a new place. Maybe it is going camping and fishing or attending a concert. How about learning a new skill like painting, using a potter's wheel, snowboarding or gardening? Maybe it a plane ticket to fly to visit you during spring break. The possibilities are endless and limited only by your imagination.
One of the experiences that I remember as a child is from my recently released book: www.coachmyrna.org/7-gifts-to-give-your-child.html
All of us fall into the habit of purchasing lots of gifts for birthdays and holidays. We do so to express our love, but often what our child really wants most is to spend time together. I remember when my parents purchased two season passes to a series of cultural events. Each month, one of my siblings or I went with one parent to experience a string quartet or hear highlights from a musical performance of H.M.S. Pinafore. It meant getting dressed up and having time alone with my mom or dad. In addition, there was the opportunity to go backstage and meet the performers, see their costumes or instruments up close, and get them to sign the program. The memories of these evenings far outlasted any toy that I received.
I want to re-share a post from a few years ago because it has an important message for all of us as parents, grandparents and even aunts, uncles and other family members. I am not the author of this post but as a teacher for over 20 years, the truth of these words are so powerful.
Dear Parents & Grandparents,
I know at this time of year the sounds, smells and decorations of Christmas are everywhere. As a parent, there is pressure to make a perfect, magical experience. You want to create lasting memories and give your children the best gifts possible. Sometimes that means a lot of stress on you to get everything done. You may wonder how you can afford to buy all that their hearts’ desires or how you will possibly have enough time to fit everything in.
I want to tell you a secret. Every January, when your children come back to school, they tell me all about the Christmas holidays. I hear about the day that everyone stayed in their pajamas and watched favorite movies. They tell me about walking together in the freezing cold to get something at McDonalds. They remember driving around looking at the best decorated houses and having hot cocoa afterwards.
I hear about the morning that you didn’t have to go to work and how everyone snuggled together in your bed. Or about the days that they stayed at Grandma’s until you came back from work. They tell me about visiting cousins that they haven’t seen for a long time and how they stayed in a hotel with a pool. Sometimes, I hear about how they visited friends on New Year’s Eve and they got to stay awake until midnight. Or how it snowed and everyone had a huge snowball fight!
Usually they mention their presents, but for them Christmas is about you and your love, time, routines and feeling safe. You are their favorite gift!
(adapted from an Instagram post)
If you have adult children who are parents, consider giving them "7 Gifts to Give Your Child--Parenting That Will Touch Their Future" as a gift this year. www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09L7KS5VH