Education was never really pushed with my family or my spouses, which, now that i am grown up, i could strangle my parents/in law… Can you tell me how you talk to your kids to get it through to them that it’s not really an option, that further education is expected. or have they figured that out themselves?

We are really lucky that both Dave and I grew up in families where education and college was never questioned, simply expected. The focus was on what grades would get us into which colleges and where we would go. I’m so grateful my kids are surrounded by relatives and friends who don’t ever think of another option. BUT if that is not the case in your family and you want it to be, you can make it a focus! These are some things Dave and I do to show our kids how important education is in our family:

1) We make homework a priority. I try my darnedest to make myself available to help with any reports or assignments at night BUT there’s such a fine balance between helping them do things and taking over (especially in elementary school).  I helped my older kids a lot more than I do my younger ones because I’ve realized the more they do on their own the more they will learn (duh, right?).  To me it is a proud moment to see my kids’ work displayed that is so obviously their hard work right there in a sea of reports or art projects you can tell the mom actually did.  More on not getting too involved here.

2) I make sure I’m always in close contact with my children’s teachers. I haven’t been so hot at this in jr. high and high school, but this year I have all the teachers email addresses and they are pleased as punch to answer any extra questions or concerns we may have. I really don’t email them much…I feel like it’s important by the time kids get to high school to be able to maneuver and manage their own grades. But every so often I need to intervene to help when I see a grade floundering and said-child doesn’t know what in the world to do about it. I have realized that teachers enjoy having parents who are engaged and at least aware of things that are going on in school. I want to help my kids really understand how to study and how to learn which is something that isn’t really guaranteed by just going to school.  Power of Moms has a great program to help with helping kids manage homework here.

3) I go through my little girls’ backpacks with them to help them sort things out (especially Lucy) to help them keep their things situated.

4) We have this awesome thing here called “Campus Portal” where we can all (students and parents) check grades any time.  So we do.  All the time.  We make it a big focus.  And we always explain why we care so much. 

5)  We talk about college all the time.  I helped Max hang all these college flags in his room to help him think about it more.  2012-01-18winter43300
Ok so they’re really mostly just fav. sports teams but some represent colleges and I’m all about that.  (More about Max’s room here.)

Now, I have to back up and say that I know a lot of people who have not gone to college.  Many of them have their own businesses and are doing just fine.  But Dave and I hope to push the higher education thing because we feel like it opens options.  And we want our kids to have a lot of them.

I’m sure there are a bazillion good ideas out there to help make education a priority.  Please share if you have good ones!

Did you/do you have any pouters? If so, how did you deal with that? I have a boy that gets this really grumpy face and pouts at the drop of a hat. He drags it on way too long and often storms into his room or hides somewhere. I really don’t want his social skills to suffer from his pouting, or worse…his future wife!

Yes, I think every family has pouters.  I think the best thing is the “no tolerance” thing.  “You can pout all you want in your room away from anyone else, but we do not ever put on that face outside of your bedroom.”  Period.  Then follow through.  The job jar always works great for a good consequence too.  Man have I mentioned how much I love that thing?  Have them stand on their head or put their nose in a corner…whatever the consequence for pouting, just make sure it’s something you can really hold strong to and follow through.  That’s the most important part.

Sometimes, in the middle of a pouting episode, it’s important to remember that all this parenting stuff doesn’t need to be so darn serious though.  I think probably the quick fix that works the very best is just to mimic the pouter.  Usually makes everyone break out laughing and the pouting is forgotten.

Humor is so important in parenting.  That’s why I love the funny additions to our job jar.  Plus I sure liked getting my feet rubbed as a consequence for one of the kids the other day 😉

What do you do when the kids misbehave right before bed or right before you have to leave and you are already late, or in the car, etc? It seems like those are the times I need a quick emotionless consequence, but I can’t think of how to make this work.

{this was after the “job jar” post…link above}

I’m telling you, that “Love and Logic” book
has worked miracles for me in things like this.  The biggest thing I remember reading is that if you’re in a hurry or you are gone from home where the regular consequence would be, you tell the acting-up child there will be a consequence but that you still need to figure out what it will be.  Calmly tell them you will let them know when you get home.  The trick with this is that you have to really do it or no one will believe you.  But I have tried it several times and it sure makes them nervous as to what their consequence will be.

I remind myself over, and over, and over again that getting mad doesn’t help anything.  Being that “durable object” (my sister Saydi’s great wisdom) with no emotion involved and calmly saying things like, “I’m sorry you made that decision” or, “darn it, it’s too bad you’ll have to pick another job from the job jar,” (or go to your room, or whatever) but following through with consequences is such a good thing.  It is SO hard to do in the heat of the moment though!

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  1. I have an intense pouter (Ana) and when she was ages 3-9ish, we would let her pout for a few minutes to release the tension, then go check on her and have a very mock-serious discussion during which we would accuse her of swallowing "angers" which could only be removed by grabbing them out of her belly and armpits (aka tickling). We would look in her mouth to make sure they were all gone (aka if she still had a pout on her face). After awhile, we could catch her before she started pouting by asking if she was swallowing "angers". Our big issue with Ana is that she gets emotional and dramatic before she has time to think things out. When we suggest that she is having a physical/emotional reaction to something (the "angers") rather than a mental/spiritual reaction (calmness, discussion), she can keep the drama in check. Making a silly connection both diffused the situation and gave us a way in to talk about it. It only took a few months and the pouting decreased dramatically.

    Now that Ana is in the preteen years, we are getting a rise of pouting just a bit,but she hates being tickled even more, so we still suggest she swallowed angers and it always at least puts a smile on her face.

    Wouldn't work for every kid of course, but I think it could work for a younger kids. If tickling isn't realistic, even just the discussion of how we can feel disappointed or angry, but we don't have to let it overtake our whole body can be helpful for kids to recognize the effect of emotional reactions.

  2. One thing that I have found with some of my girls is that they and I both have the same temperament SO when one is not in the best of moods she knows which buttons to push. She also can get defensive….SOOOooooo we have found that if we can't both be ready to talk then we need to wait 30 minutes and then we talk….that way we are both calm and can talk about it without hurting each other (last thing ANY parent wants to do) It has made our relationships stronger. This actually works with all 5 of my teen girls. My 6 year old frequents the corner or has to write her alphabet 10 times. Her writing is BEAUTIFUL now. Biggest thing is I am always available and honest…we start conversations young and they know they can come to me about anything…REALLY helps in the teen years!! =)

  3. As for education: I definately want my children to get further education past high school. You have to in this modern world. I would expect that would be college in more cases than not, but if I have a child that really wants to learn a specific skill/trade that they think they would be successful in and could provide themselves a good living, then I'm not going to push college at all costs.

    Traditional four year college isn't for *everybody*. I've come to realize that I'd rather have my child have a great job/career that they enjoy and can support themselves well rather than a child that goes to college for some (for lack of a better word) "fluff" degree that really doesn't contribute to them getting a great, secure job/career. Lots of kids go to college only to not be better off for it because they education was in something not really marketable.

    If parents want to pay for their child to just "have that experience", that's fine. But if I'm paying for most of those expenses I personally don't want it to be a time of just taking random classes in a random major that won't really serve them much other than saying "I graduated from college". It's just too expensive for that. I'll hopefully be able to encourage them to have a specific plan post-graduation in mind with their schooling or help them find ways to get the skills they need to accomplish another worthy occupation should it not involve "needing" a college degree.

  4. I couldn't agree more with Katy's comment above!

    My husband and I both went to college. All along my husband wanted a career in something else (that doesn't require a college degree). After college he ended up getting a job in that field and now he has a job he LOVES plus we're paying hundreds in student loans every month. Just a thought…

    Also, a high degree isn't necessarily going to equal marital happiness, success, or anything else other than possibly a job in what you majored in. I just sat and listened to a friend cry last night about her workaholic husband who is never home, traveling all the time, etc. and how heartbreaking it has been to her marriage. For that reason she isn't pushing her kids as hard to get these graduate school type careers.

    Say your son wanted a career as a fireman or a police officer or something else noble but that didn't require a graduate degree…would you encourage him in following that dream?

    (I'm not feeling as confrontational as this maybe sounded, he he, it did turn out sounding that way though!)

  5. Hi Shawni –

    I have a question and I hope you will answer it on your blog. I mean no disrespect and hope you understand that, but I am truly confused.

    I asked the question a while ago whether you approved of the polygamist lifestyle as portrayed in the TV show Sister Wives. You said you had never seen the show and had no idea what religion they were – certainly not LDS and that your religion did not approve.

    Sister Wives is actually on now – Sunday nights at 9PM on The Learning Channel (TLC). They were just discussing their religion and used terms like "Heavenly Father", Missions, etc. Same terms you use. They claim to be fundamentalist Mormons.

    My question – would they be accepted into YOUR LDS church? Lets say that the husband, his 4 wives and their 25 kids showed up on a Sunday morning for church acting like a Mormon in good standing. What would the reaction be?

    How can you totally deny all knowledge of them and claim to shun that type of practice, when they sit there on TV saying they are Mormons?

    Please help me understand.

  6. Man lots to think about…thanks for very insightful comments! A lot of interesting additional questions too. Some of them will take a lot more time than I have right now, but I am actually going to add one of these to this post because I meant to but I ran out of time. Tiffany and Katy, I couldn't agree more. Dave and I plan to expect that our kids will go to college. It's what we were always taught so it's so natural for us. BUT if they choose to do something different we will support them in that. We were all brought up with college as an expectation in my family and as of right now one of my brothers has not graduated. I don't know if he ever will. He and his family are happy as can be with what they are doing. Who knows what these kids of ours will end up becoming. My biggest concern is that they are happy in life. Some may be more free-spirited. Some may be more driven. I just want to give them all the experiences I know how, and college was one of the biggest learning experiences I've had. But as I "grow up" I have realized that although there are things I cling on for dear life "because I did them my kids just HAVE to"…I tend to let myself believe that just because they were perfect for me, they will inevitably be perfect for them as well. But I hope that as they grow and become more and more themselves, that I will always be able to step back and realize my answers won't necessarily be theirs. I hope Dave and I can support them in any path they choose that they feel will bring them happiness. I don't know if that makes sense, I'm tired! More later.

    Thanks again for the insightful questions and comments…love them.

  7. Shawni, is it true that if you complete a mission the Mormon church picks up all of your college tuition?

    That would explain a lot- not that you wouldn't still encourage your kids to go to college, but you wouldn't care if they just went "for the experience" – and never ended up using their degree for anything.

    Particularly the girls – who, like you and your sisters, were/are encouraged to go to a prestigious, expensive college, then encouraged to stay home and have lots and lots of kids.

    Not a great use of the tuition money – IF it's paid for out of pocket. If the Church pays for it, then what the heck, right?

  8. TazLady, the church does not pay for missions or college. We pay for all that. Hence the "savings" part of our money system in our family. They are saving up for missions and college and other things that come their way. (That's what we did growing up too.) Dave and I are also saving diligently so that we can help them get to college some day. We still haven't decided what part we will pay for and what they will pay for, but they know when they put aside those savings each week that it will go toward something that will help them in the future. Something bigger than a new pair of cool jeans or a new computer game.

    I love helping kids think about college because it is a great way to expand their minds into doing a lot of other htings…student government, student service hours, doing extracurricular things, etc. all help to get into college, and help get scholarships as well.

    They/we may not be able to afford a prestigious college, but we are all working hard to make sure that college of any kind is an option for them. There are all kinds of scholarships and financial aid options out there if you know where to look.

    I do not believe that college is only for those who want a big, great career. I think college gives kids an experience that will change them. It opens them up to new ideas and ways of thinking. It expands the mind. Sure, you can expand your mind in many ways, but college sure is a great one.

    I think having a good education is one of the very best things you can give your children. A college degree certainly does not go to waste raising children in my book. I'm so sad that our society sometimes does not seem to see that. We are raising the future. Education is an essential part of that.

  9. My mistake, Shawni, I thought college tuition was paid for if they completed a mission. It's not a bad idea since the missions are sometimes difficult.

    Agreed about college being a great idea to enrich the minds of our youth. It's just that not everyone has the luxury of providing that for their children. I know I wouldn't want my son to be stuck paying thousands of dollars in student loans just for "enriching his mind". Surely there are cheaper ways to do that than 4 years of college.

    Also, I'm disappointed to see that you deleted the comment asking about diversity and the gay and lesbian community. I was curious to see your response to that.

  10. HI Shawni…I have a question for you while we're on the topic of education. Especially since your oldest children are at the point in their education that I have a question on.

    A few months ago I had a conversation with a friend who said she will not place her children in honors classes, even if they are accepted. I was surprised by her comment, but her reasoning is a good one. She was in all honors classes in HS but was not accepted to her first choice university (BYU) because BYU did not look at her weighted GPA. She thinks if she hadn't taken the honors classes that she would've been accepted. Makes sense to me.

    My husband and I were in honors classes and accepted to BYU so we have a different experience, but I think there is truth to what my friend said. How are you handling this with your older children?

  11. Totally agreed that there are cheaper ways to expand your mind and I definitely don't want to push expensive colleges unless we can get financial aid and/or scholarships. I'm just so grateful both dave and I had great examples of saving in life so that we can save up for things that are important for future…no matter what it is.

    I didn't delete that comment…the author must have. I thought it was a great question though. The sister wives one too…although I have to run I wanted to say that polygamists would be welcomed to come to the Mormon church if they showed up and wanted to come. Anyone is welcome to come worship with us and find out more about what we believe. But to actually become a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints you can't have more than one wife. I have not seen that show but Fundamentalist Mormonism is a religion that still believes in polygamy, something that was done away with in the Mormon church since 1890. Hope that helps…

  12. Oh and Jaclyn, we have come up against that question a whole bunch with honors classes. Max has opted out of one of his honors classes because of a teacher conflict but he's still in his honors science class. It's a hard thing that they don't weight them at a lot of colleges because I think when you get a good teacher kids can be pushed so much more in honors classes. That said, Elle hasn't ever made it into honors classes but is really excelling in the regular ones so that works for her. We'll see what happens with Grace…

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