Monthly Archives: January 2013

Wisdom from Vermont

One of the stops I made on my book tour this summer was Phoenix Books in Burlington, Vermont.  There, next to my poster on the bookstore window, was a poster for another parenting book by Vermonter Vicki Hoefle.  Vicki and … Continue reading

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9 Responses to Wisdom from Vermont

  1. deidra says:

    I remember when I was in 2nd grade. I told my mom I didn’t like what she packed me for lunch and I was going to make my own lunch from now on. She said fine and I made my own lunch every day from that point on. She even mentioned once she thought I made good choices. Sandwich, piece of fruit, celery and carrot sticks.

  2. “letting kids problem-solve, gain trust, and take reasonable risks.”

    yes, Yes, YES! – I love this approach!

  3. Wes says:

    it depends on how you view work. if your view is some type of successor to the puritan work ethic, the work is healthy, purifying, and the path to righteousness/dependence. However, for most people, every hour they spend on the job is an hour their boss get more of their time than they do. We spend out whole lives working. My parents discouraged me from trading the only time I had to be young for minimum wages dollars to buy junk, and I’ll be sure to do the same.

  4. Pingback: Messy, True, But Worth It: Real Duct Tape Parenting Adventures | Vicki Hoefle

  5. Erin says:

    Terrific! We’re raising adults, not children. Friends are shocked that all my kids (6-14) make their own lunches, get their own snacks and drinks, have chores, etc. It’s not hard. You catch them when they’re 2 and they WANT to help, then they’re “sucked in” and can’t help it! My children also know that we will pay for necessities, but anything else (car, cell phone, etc) is THEIR responsibility and we expect them to earn it somehow. Too many adults (in age only) leech off their parents because said parents didn’t want to “make” them do anything responsible.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Erin, sounds as if you might be from Vermont! Or at least read Vicki’s book/ could have written it yourself. Leeching goes on as long as parents let it, and responsibility feels great. Thanks for stopping by.

  6. L.C. says:

    Great post, Heather. My observation comes from a (former) child’s perspective. I’m 23 now.

    I think it’s interesting how Vicki gives doing laundry as an example of something kids should know before age 9. My mother refused to teach me how to do laundry when I asked, which was multiple times throughout my childhood (including a few weeks before I left for college). Her reason? I “should” know how to do laundry at age 17, and she forbade me from even TRYING, because I would probably make a mistake and ruin the whole load. When I arrived on campus three weeks later, I triple-checked the directions on the detergent bottle and washing machine, then pressed the little “start” button…and heaved a huge sigh of relief when I didn’t blow up the machine. I was competent enough to do a load of laundry! Who knew?!

    Additionally, my parents always complained that I was “lazy” and “never did anything around the house.” I specifically remember asking my parents when I was 7 for more chores (I’ll admit it’s because I wanted more allowance. That, and I was tired of being labeled “lazy” even though I worked hard and got straight A’s in school). My parents laughed it off, saying even if I asked to help around the house, I still wouldn’t do it. And on the occasion where I did do chores (like cleaning the bathroom), my parents would often barge in and “correct” whatever I was doing. When they did that, I always slunk back to my room and stayed there, because even if I did “get up and do something,” it was always done wrong. It was better if I just sat in my room and did nothing and listened as my parents complained about how much work they have to do.

    So my message to parents (and myself as a future parent) is that your kids WILL make mistakes doing chores. Maybe they will accidentally tie-dye your laundry, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t ever attempt it. Maybe they will miss a ton of spots while cleaning the bathroom counter, but you can’t expect them to do better if you just yank the sponge out of their hand and tell them what a sloppy job they’re doing. Raising confident children is not about telling them “great job” at every minor achievement. It’s about making them feel like they matter, and that their efforts are needed to sustain the household – not like they’re just some lazy lump who is begrudgingly waited on hand and foot.

    Again, great post. 🙂

  7. Pingback: Interview with Vicki Hoefle: Author of “Duct Tape Parenting,” PLUS a GIVEAWAY! | Abundant Life Children

Modern Memorization

When my grandmother was losing her memory, she still remembered the poetry she had memorized as a girl.  She had no idea who I was (“this is my great friend…(pause) tell me again how we met?”), but out for a … Continue reading

Posted in Parenting with Renegade Rules, Joyful Literacy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

8 Responses to Modern Memorization

  1. Deidra says:

    Great Post. The photo is beautiful. I still know my child hood phone number by heart, random parts of the “Midnight ride of Paul Revere, the lyrics to “Show Me the Way to go Home,” and various other things. I often feel smart phones have made us dumb. Growing up, I probably knew everyone of my friends phone numbers by heart!

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      I just heard on NPR today that it’s a problem when we look up information on our smart phones and find information too fast. We don’t have time to wonder. The radio expert was suggesting that we wait 20 minutes before looking up an answer, pause, and exercise the human brain capacity to WONDER for a while. This is not a problem for me since I don’t have a smart phone…

      Love it that you have snippets of “Paul Revere” and “Show me the Way…” in your head!

  2. Heather – The poems I can recite from memory are the ones that my teacher, Mrs. Kline, had her students memorize in the fifth grade. To no surprise, in my heart she stands head-and-shoulders above the rest of all the other teachers I’ve ever had — and that’s saying a lot. When I was in my 20’s, I made a point of locating her and telling her what being her student meant to me. Needless to way, we both cried (happy tears).

    I agree with the list of items you suggest our children learn, by heart. Sadly, I’ve encountered many adult clients who don’t have a handle on half of it.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Laurie, What a wonderful gift you were given in 5th grade! I’m so glad you told Mrs. Kline. A life gift indeed.

      Teachers out there – can you introduce poetry memorization into your classes? It carries forward.

  3. Fleda Brown says:

    I would never have started writing poems if I hadn’t listened to my father recite them all through my childhood. Nothing is more magical than hearing memorized poems. I am a lousy memorizer. My great loss. I have several lines of hundreds of poems, but I can’t seem to hold a whole one for very long.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      The world is so glad you started writing poems! Thanks to your father. I agree there is something magical about hearing something memorized. I take my kids to the Beach Bards each summer where anyone can tell a story or recite a poem – as long as it’s from memory. Something glorious about that.

  4. Ah, memorization. I lament that it is one of the casualties of the Internet Age, and perhaps one of the negative “unintended consequences” of going electronic.

    I will always memorize important phone numbers because to me nothing would be worse than needing to call a family member or friend in an emergency and not having one’s cellphone available to speed dial the number.

  5. Heather Shumaker says:

    Yes, numbers. I agree it’s important to store vital information in our heads. I never was much good at remembering numbers — words I can remember! I still have trouble remembering my own phone number sometimes (!) but I do have several phone numbers memorized.

    I wonder what our culture’s current lack of memorization is doing to our brains?

Starting an Allowance

I was rather startled to read on several parenting websites that the “standard” allowance these days is considered to be $1 = 1 year of age. Seriously?  That means a five-year-old gets to spend $5 per week and a nine-year-old … Continue reading

Posted in Parenting with Renegade Rules | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

7 Responses to Starting an Allowance

  1. Emily Plank says:

    Hi Heather,

    I love this post! I just finished reading “First National Bank of Dad” (which I have to say, I almost didn’t buy because I was offended by the bias communicated through the title…but it was highly recommended from other like-minded parents). It was a good read, and recommends the same thing you’re suggesting. It also recommends paying interest, which I thought was a very compelling idea – interest to encourage savings, and teach the actual workings behind the financial system. Anyway, thank you!

    Best, Emily

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Thanks for your thoughts, Emily. Parents are a child’s first experience with money and banking. I hadn’t thought of paying interest – my 8-year-old has a bank account that’s supposed to teach that – but the rates are so dismally low right now that the idea of interest barely adds up.

  2. Heather – “I want to teach my children money management, not how to be constant consumers.” I absolutely love your take on this.

    And the fact that, “An allowance is given to teach a child about money. It should be separate from chores.” yes, Yes, YES!

  3. I agree with allowances not being tied to chores. Amounts and when to start giving kids allowances should be on an individual basis and like you said, tailored to where you live.

    The only constant there should be is some sort of savings component that teaches delayed gratification and working toward long term goals. I also think paying interest is a great idea.

    However, interest rates are so incredibly, artificially low that showing a child his ten dollars in a savings account earned a whopping 0.04% last year, which translates to less than one cent, might be so depressing that he/she decides to heck with saving a blows it all on video games or energy drinks.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      I hear you…interest rates are so low they can be meaningless to kids. I think that’s why some parents act as they “bank” themselves and offer a decent savings interest rate so the kids get it. Good point indeed.

Delicious Downtime

I was told by my wonderful blog mentors, that an active blog should appear at least once a week.  Well, I just violated that — on purpose.  It was the holidays and time for some downtime. Our family spent part … Continue reading

Posted in Starlighting Tips, Parenting with Renegade Rules | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

5 Responses to Delicious Downtime

  1. Laurie Buchanan says:

    Heather – “…thoughts need space to wander.” Yes, Yes, YES!

  2. It follows that allowing kids to be kids (giving them plenty of playtime) is valid advice for adults, as well. Glad you took time to recharge your batteries, Heather.

    I suspect that many people who are constantly busy, constantly socializing, constantly doing something, anything, do so because they are afraid to spend time alone to get to know themselves. Or they’ve done that, and don’t like what they discover.

    We could use about six more inches of snow here in southern MN so I can get out and uncover a great story idea while cross-country skiing, too. 🙂