Friday, December 23, 2016

You Can't Judge a Listener by His (or Her) Actions


Earlier this year I was doing a presentation on WWII, based on my book, “All my love, George” for a group of middle schoolers. It was a great group of kids—very attentive and full of questions and comments  
At the end of the presentation I always invite the kids to come up to get a closer look at the original letters the book is based on and other WWII memorabilia that belonged to George. When twelve year-old Levi came up to the table he handed me a piece of paper and said, “I drew this for you while you were talking to us because I know this happened during WWII, too.”
I’d noticed Levi writing or doodling during most of the time I was there, but it didn’t bother me. He wasn’t being disruptive, so what was the harm? I just assumed this wasn’t his ‘thing’. But when I reached out to take the paper from him, it was obvious my assumptions were wrong. I was blown away by the drawing he handed me. It was a drawing of the flag raising at Iwo Jima. I’m not talking about a few scribbles and stick people. It is amazing!
From all appearances Levi had completely tuned me out, but he hadn’t. Just the opposite was true. He was listening as intently as anyone else in the room…maybe even more so than some.
As parents you need to be aware of the fact that like Levi, your children’s listening ability may not be dependent on constant eye-contact and what you consider to be their full attention. Children often have the ability to multi-task without compromising their comprehension
Judging a listener by his or her actions isn’t fair. And much of the time it’s not even justifiable. So before you accuse your child of not paying attention to you or of ignoring you, make sure you know what you are talking about. Instead of assuming, ask them to repeat what you’ve said or answer a question about what you’ve said. That way you’ll know for sure and who knows…you might even end up with an amazing drawing like I did.

Love,

Momma D


PS: My book, “Love, Momma D” is now available in print and e-reader formats from any online or brick and mortar book seller. When you purchase a copy of the book, 20% goes to the MY PEOPLE FUND to help the people of Gatlinburg rebuild their lives.

                            Copyright 2016 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.

                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                          

Friday, December 9, 2016

A Deer For My Mommy


How many times have you sat and watched a movie with your kids—one with a good dose of ‘hidden’ adult humor (clean and otherwise). We assume these comments fly right over the top of our kids’ heads. They don’t get it…or do they?

We pack up our kids and move them to a new house or even city without giving their thoughts and feelings much thought. After all, kids are resilient. They roll with the punches…or do they?

 In other words, kids have a lot more going on in their little heads than we often give them credit for and they are a lot more in-tune to what you are thinking and feeling than you think they are. Oh—and here’s something else you need to know…they care.

I was reminded of how true this is a few weeks ago when my four year-old grandson Reuben, ‘reached out’ to his mom to try to make her feel better…

I need to start by saying that deer hunting is a big deal in my family, but this year’s unusually warm, windy season made it more difficult for hunting than usual. In other words, Reuben’s mom, Olivia, didn’t get her deer. After she had been home from the hunting trip for a couple of days, Reuben asked his mom if she ‘found a deer in the woods’. After hearing her answer of “no”, Reuben got up off the floor and went to his room to play. Or so Olivia thought…

A short while later Reuben came back into the living room carrying a ‘deer’ made of Lego blocks and said, “Now you have a deer, Mommy. I made one for you.”

It wasn’t like Olivia was heartbroken or devastated over not getting a deer this year. That’s just the way it goes. But Reuben doesn’t know that yet. All he knows is that his mommy’s trip didn’t turn out the way she expected or hoped it would and he wanted to make her feel better.

So you see, your kids are conscious of what’s going on around them—conscious and concerned. That’s why it is important for us as parents and grandparents to be equally conscious and concerned about what we expose our children to, how we express ourselves, and our expectations of how they will handle it all.



Love,

Momma D

                            Copyright 2016 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.
                                                                                                                      

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Makings Of A Real Princess

Several years ago a friend of mine, whose little girl received countless compliments on her pretty curls and big brown eyes, actually started ‘correcting’ people when they said things like, “I bet you can get anything you want when you look at someone with those big brown eyes” or “You sure are a pretty little girl." When people said these things, my friend would smile and politely say, “Thank you, but we're really happy she’s such a good listener and helper”, or “She’s also very good girl and that’s what makes her so special.”


I’ve always admired her wisdom in doing that. I’ve also had several reasons to think about what she’s said; including one that happened just a few days ago…

My three year-old granddaughter, Laney, and four year-old niece, Alexis, were having a discussion about who was going to be the queen or princess. When Alexis said she thought she should be the queen, Laney quickly countered with, “I am the queen because I am wearing a very beautiful dress.” Laney’s line of reasoning must have made sense to Alexis, too, because there was no more discussion on the matter and they went right on playing.

The incident was completely innocent and logical as far as Laney and Alexis were concerned. After all, why wouldn’t it make sense? Belle wears yellow, Cinderella wears blue, Sleeping Beauty wears pink, Elsa wears blue, and Merida wears green. Different colors, yes, but they are all fancy and “very beautiful” dresses. But parents, let’s think about something: is that the perception you want your little girls to have when it comes to what it takes to make a princess? And do you want your little boys to think the way a little girl looks is what matters most? Or…

Would you rather your little ones know our ‘princess-ness’ comes from the inside out? Now I’m not saying little girls shouldn’t play princess or dress up like Cinderella and her cohorts (my personal favorite is Merida, if anyone cares). As a matter of fact, each and every one of these colorfully-dressed young ladies can easily and truthfully be described as beautiful on the inside as well as the outside. Belle sees beyond someone’s appearance and looks straight into their heart. Cinderella’s gentle and kind spirit is what makes her so endearing, and Merida’s determination to be recognized for her courage and her intellect take her farther than even she thought possible.

So again—there’s nothing wrong with playing dress-up, wanting to look nice, or even wearing a “very beautiful dress”. Nothing at all…as long as you never fail to impress on your children that these things are just the icing on the cake, so to speak, and that the makings of a real princess are first and foremost, love, courage, truth, kindness, and compassion.

Love,

Momma D

                               Copyright 2016 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.
                                                                                                                                

                

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Thankful For Each Day I Am Called Mom


If you don’t keep up with me on Facebook and Twitter, you might not know that the book, “Love, Momma D”, which is a collection of several of Momma D’s blog posts over the past few years, is due to be released the middle of December (just in time for Christmas).
I was sharing this information with a young mom I spoke to a few days ago at a book signing for one of my other books, which lead to some great conversation. She asked me a few questions about the blog and book and then asked why I chose to write about parenting. It didn’t take me more than a second or two to answer her by saying, “Because our kids deserve the very best we can give them in unconditional love and I want every parent to know that.”
As I was saying those words, my mind immediately went to the post I wrote a couple of years ago called “It’s A Great Day To Be Alive”. I won’t retell the entire story, but in celebration of Thanksgiving, I'll sum it up in just a few sentences by saying:
·         Four year-old Emma was singing Travis Tritt’s It’s a Great Day to be Alive at the top of her lungs…and believed in her heart it truly was.

·         As I listened to her I was thankful she felt that way and hoped and prayed she and my other three children would always know that every day is a great day to be alive when you have the love of God, family, and friends to count on.

·         As parents we need to make sure that our children know that every day is a great day to be alive because of the fact that they are unique and cherished.
We also need to remind ourselves each and every day of how thankful we should be for the blessing of being called Mom and Dad because it’s the absolute best gig there is.

Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours,

Momma D

                           Copyright 2016 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.
                                                                                                                        



Sunday, November 6, 2016

How NOT To Raise Your Kids


I recently read an article that focused on what parents are doing wrong these days when it comes to raising their children. It was well-written and spot-on and I want expound on one of the seven reasons they listed as being the reason children are turning out to be brats (their word, but an accurate one). Reason: Quit bending over backwards trying to make your kids happy. Instead, teach your children that happiness is a state of mind.

Quit apologizing for telling your kids ‘no’ (if you even dare to say it at all). Children need to be told no. They don’t need to get their way all the time. They don’t need to get everything they want. They need to know that ‘no’ is word that makes them more compassionate, kinder, safer, humble, and nicer.

Quit instantly satisfying their every whim and want. They don’t need to be pacified at all cost while waiting in line. They need to learn to wait patiently. They don’t need to expect you to whip through the drive-thru every time they mutter that they are thirsty. They won’t dehydrate. Unless it is an actual emergency, finish what you are doing before retrieving a toy, getting their snack, tying their shoe, etc.. They need to learn to wait their turn.

Quit promising treats in exchange for desired behavior. They need to know good behavior is expected—not something you earn from them if you pay up.

Apologizing for discipline, pacifying their want (NOT their need) for instant gratification, and placing conditions on their behavior are all sure-fire ways to turn a perfectly wonderful little person into a little person who is selfish, spoiled, entitled, lacking in compassion, and feeling incredibly insecure. That’s right—insecure. Children raised in this type of environment will never feel respected or accepted by people who don’t bend over backwards to make them happy (which is everyone other than their parents) and will be severely lacking in knowing how to have a real and sincere relationship.

If you think that sounds too harsh, you’ll get no apologies here. What I am sorry for, though, are all the kids out there who don’t know that “No means no” because it’s a lesson they need to know in order to be able to navigate life successfully.

Love,
Momma D
                        Copyright 2016 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.
                                                                                                                  


Sunday, October 23, 2016

I Made A New Friend!!!!!


I wasn’t able to attend Mackenzie’s first soccer game of the season a few weeks ago, so I called her that evening to see how it went. When she came to the phone I asked, “How did your soccer games go today?” Without missing a beat she replied, “I made a new friend!” She then proceeded to tell me her new friend’s name and a few other pertinent details including that they were both born in the month of July.

I can’t even begin to tell you how proud I am of Mackenzie for her answer to my question because her answer revealed her true heart—a heart that is more concerned about friendship and the socialization aspects of being 8 and playing soccer than it is winning. To Mackenzie, being on a soccer team is about making friends AND learning to play with her peers instead always being the winner and of getting a head start on being in line for a college scholarship.

Parents, if reading this starts your head to nodding and has you saying things like “That’s the way it should be” or “Good job, Mackenzie”, keep up the great work!

If, on the other hand, reading this causes you to shake your head, cringe, and say things like, “If she’s not going to play to win, she shouldn’t even be playing”, or “I’m glad she’s not on my kid’s team”, then shame on you.

First of all, having great social skills and caring more about people than winning is something every parent should want for their kids. Secondly, eight year-old sports teams shouldn’t really be about anything but learning how to be a team-player and how to be a gracious winner and looser. And lastly, college should be the last thing on your mind regarding your eight year-old. Enjoy your kids for who they are now. Don’t miss their childhood by focusing on the future. Trust me when I say that the time passes way to fast without trying to rush it.

The bottom line here is this: Friends are way more important that winning a game of soccer…no matter how old you are. And as a parent, it’s your job to let your kids know it’s perfectly okay for them to feel this way. It’s also job for you to feel this way, too.



Love,

Momma D
                                Copyright 2016 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.
                                                                                                                               


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Something Worth Holding On To


If I had a dime for every time I’ve said one of the following to my kids or grandkids, I’d be a very wealthy woman and I’m sure I wouldn’t be alone because you’d be counting your dimes right along with me.
·         Hold my hand—parking lots are dangerous
·         You have to hold my hand so you don’t get lost
·         If you let go of your balloon we won’t be able to get it back
·         Don’t drop that
·         Make sure you hang on to your book bag so you don’t lose it
·         Hold on tight
As parents we’re all about making sure our kids have a good grip on the tangible things they need to stay safe, have a good time, and learn to be responsible. But what about giving them the emotional/mental/spiritual security they need? Are we as concerned about giving them something to hold on to in that regard as we should be?
For the last few weeks I’ve been sharing with you some of the life-lessons my children said they learned from me. This week’s lesson is the last one I’ll be sharing, but it’s an important one, to be sure. The lesson: The importance of giving your children faith and values.
One of my daughters put it like this, “I loved the way we all took turns praying at the table. It was a way for us to know we all need Jesus.”
Another one of my daughters said, “You taught me how to teach my daughter to know and love Jesus. You didn’t just tell us—you showed us what it really means.”
Giving your children a set of values and a faith to hold on to is important—even scientists and child psychologists agree on this one. Numerous studies show that children whose parents raise them in a home where religion/faith and strong moral character is both practiced and taught are decidedly more confident, possess better social skills, and are overall, more likely to grow up to be law-abiding, compassionate, responsible members of society.
We don’t hesitate to make sure we give our children the hand they need to hold on to when they are too small to navigate parking lots, shopping malls, grocery stores, and crosswalks by themselves, so why not finish the job and make sure we give them what they need to safely navigate life in general?

Love,
Momma D
                             Copyright 2016 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.
                                                                                                                            



Monday, October 10, 2016

Everyone Deserves Kindness

When asked what they had learned from me, all of the kids had something to say in regards to learning to treat others the way you want to be treated. As I thought about some of the ways I had tried to teach them this lesson, many things came to mind, but one incident especially stands out in my mind of how I exampled this attitude to Zach when he was a six year-old little boy who was fiercely protective of his (then) two baby sisters…

Zach was six, Elizabeth was three and Olivia was just over a year-old the day we walked into the grocery store and were ‘confronted’ by an elderly woman who was well-known in our small town. Her name was “Virgie”, and in addition to suffering from dementia, she was living in poverty, completely alone, wandered around town all day long talking to whoever would give her a minute or two of their day. On this particular day "Virgie" was living in the part of her past that included small children. When she saw Olivia in the cart, she took her out quicker than I could bat an eye, and began to pat her back and rock her gently back and forth saying, “You’re my sweet baby. Isn’t my baby sweet?” while I was tying Elizabeth’s shoe.
It took only a second for me to realize Olivia wasn’t scared and that Virgie wasn’t going anywhere. In fact, Olivia was completely unaffected, but nevertheless, I quickly and gently proceeded to take Olivia back while agreeing with “Virgie” that yes, she was a sweet and beautiful baby. Zach, on the other hand, was not nearly as calm or forgiving of the intrusion.
“She’s not your baby, she’s our baby,” he repeated two or three times. “Tell her, Mom, Olivia is our baby. She needs to give her back.”
The whole incident lasted no more than a couple of minutes, but it was time enough to provide a HUGE ‘teachable moment’ and I didn’t want to mess it up. So once Olivia was back in my arms, I moved the kids away from "Virgie" and reassured them  that I wouldn’t have ever allowed her to hurt Olivia. I told them I knew she wasn’t going to because she really did think Olivia was her baby. Elizabeth accepted my words without much comment, but when I asked Zach if he understood, he said something to the effect of “You didn’t want to hurt that lady’s feelings because that's not nice and because you didn’t want her to hurt Olivia.”
Yes, that was pretty much it. In not lashing out at "Virgie" I taught my young son that no one is undeserving of being treated the way we want to be treated. Or in this case, the way I wanted my loved one to be treated.
I knew “Virgie” was harmless and that she posed no risk to my daughter, so by not ‘going off’ on her that day I was able to give her a brief moment of the joy of memories past AND teach the kids what kindness to strangers looks like. I know this isn’t always the case—that we most definitely need to teach our children the whole stranger-danger ‘thing’. But I also know that equally important is our job to be consciously and deliberately teaching our children that everyone deserves to be respected and treated the way we want to be treated…even people who are different from us, because we never know when extending that kind of kindness might be the brightest spot in their day.

Love,
Momma D
                             Copyright 2016 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.
                                                                                                                                



Wednesday, September 28, 2016

We Need More 4x4 Kids and Fewer TV Kids


A few days ago my son, Zach, shared something with me that goes right along with ‘theme’ of sharing with you the life-lessons he and his sisters say they learned from me. This week’s lesson: Hard work never hurt anyone. Here’s what happened…

A worker was repairing the county water district’s broken waterline that runs along some of Zach’s pasture. Zach and five year-old Macy arrived to check the cows and Macy was driving the 4x4.

(For those of you who don’t know what a 4x4 is, it’s an ATV with four wheels. You might know them as gators or pioneers. Or if you can’t relate to that, think golf cart on steroids.) Anyway…

When Zach and Macy stopped to check on the status of the waterline repair, the worker commented that he thought Macy was way too young to be driving the 4x4. Zach smiled and assured the man that she was fine and that they had the situation under control. This didn’t satisfy the guy, though, and he continued to tell Zach why he thought she shouldn’t be doing that. Zach then said, “I suppose you think she’d be better off inside watching television or playing computer games.” The man replied that those things would be safer and better than what she was doing.

At this point Zach told the man he didn’t agree—that he thought the world could use a whole lot more kids on 4x4s instead of having so many kids glued to a screen. He went on to let the man know that he was capable of keeping his daughter safe, that they were making memories together and that equally important was the fact that Macy was learning how to work. And then they went back to doing the job they’d come to do.

A strong work-ethic was something we engraved on the hearts and minds of our children. Our children had chores to do and they were expected to help out on the farm. They were required to buy their own vehicles, insurance, gas, and the ‘family plan’ portion of the cell phone bill. They also worked to pay for their college educations.

Why? Because hard work never hurt anyone and when you work for what you have you have a greater appreciation and respect for those things. Learning the life-lesson of a strong work-ethic snuffs out the diseases of entitlement and laziness—something I see all too often in the current generation of young people.

Macy and her sister Mackenzie have chores to do and are expected to help out on the farm just like their daddy and their aunts did. Why? Because Zach knows hard work never hurt anyone and he wants to make sure his girls know that, too.

I hope you will teach your children to know the same.


Love,

Momma D
                             Copyright 2016 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.




Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Momma and Her Dust Mop


My kids were the fifth generation of my family to call our farm ‘home’. Our house was old, it had its share of creaks and squeaks, but it was that homey kind of comfortable and full of character that proudly displayed its age—including its original hardwood floors and lack of closet space. So what does this have to do with being a better parent? Keep reading and you’ll find out.

When I asked my children what life-lessons they’d learned from me, one of my daughters said she’d (finally) learned why keeping a clean house was so important. I actually laughed out-loud when I read this because I cannot even begin to count the times I got made fun of by John and the kids for dust mopping the floors a few times a day and being the mom that, at the end of the day, had a place for everything and everything in its place.

Hey, when you farm and have kids running in and out of the house all day stuff just naturally gets tracked inside and I’m still not apologizing for wanting to be able to walk around the house on clean floors. So when they made fun of me and gave me a hard time I told them they’d really have something to complain about it I didn’t keep the floors clean, and then kept right on dusting.

And with all the toys, books, and ‘stuff’ that goes along with having four kids, the house would have been in a constant state of chaos—which is something I didn’t want to deal with and something I didn’t want John and the kids to have to deal with, either.

I knew that by keeping the house neat and clean I was doing a lot more than just keeping things neat and clean. I knew I was…

·         Giving my family a place where they could rest comfortably

·         Giving my family a soft and safe place to ‘land’ after being confronted by the chaos of work, school, and the world in general

·         Teaching my kids to take pride (the good kind) in themselves and their surroundings because it is a reflection of who they are on the inside

·         Teaching my kids to respect what it took for John to provide for us and respect for my role as a homemaker

·         Teaching my kids to respect personal property

·         Teaching my kids to be responsible

·         Teaching my kids to be respectful of the rights and feelings of others

·         Teaching my kids to be cooperative and to be team-players

·         Teaching my kids that being organized makes life less stressful (they never had to dig through piles of anything to find what they needed yesterday)

I knew what I was doing back then even though at the time they didn’t. And even though I’ve had to bite my tongue a few times to keep from saying “I told you so,” I can’t tell you how nice it is to know that after all these years and all that dusting and sweeping, and picking up and putting away, they finally get it.

Even though you may think what you say and do is going in one ear and out the other or flying right over the tops of their little heads, I can tell you for sure and for certain that your children are absorbing more than you think they are. So don’t give up. Keep on teaching those life-lessons by doing what you know is best and being the kind of person you want your kids to be and someday just like me you’ll be biting your tongue to keep from saying, “I told you so!”

Love,

Momma D
                          Copyright 2016 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author. 
                                                                                                                          

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Take That, "Island of Misfit Moms"!


As I mentioned last week, I am going to spend the next few weeks sharing what my kids said are the most important life-lessons they learned from me. The reason I decided to do this is because if my kids thought they were important enough to talk about, then chances are your kids do too. So let’s get started…



LESSON #1: Be Yourself:

Depending on how old you are you probably remember when the scrapbooking craze hit. You were either part of the craze, as in you were up to your armpits in stickers, templates, acid-free paper and photographs, or you were a kid surrounded by the same.

You can do the math on this one: four kids + one camera + lots of pictures in those dreadful unsafe albums + a friend who was a scrapbooking consultant = a mom (me) destined to be a scrapbooking whiz/fanatic. Right? Wrong…

I tried. I really did. But it just wasn’t me!

It was fun at first, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that the process wasn’t worth it. Not to me, anyway. I kept trudging along, though—going to scrapping parties now and then and buying stickers and paper to help my pictures tell stories. I guess I thought if I did it enough I would learn to love it. I didn’t.

And then one day it happened—I realized that putting all my precious pictures in plain albums with a basic explanation of who/what/when/where next to it was enough. I was free! Oh, and get this: I wasn’t banished to the island of misfit moms for my rebellion. It felt amazing.

My kids noticed. They even asked why I wasn’t covering the table in paper, stickers, and cut-up pictures in my ‘spare time’ (what was that?). I told them it just wasn’t me and that I wasn’t going to do something I didn’t like to do just because everyone else was doing it.

This little lesson in being myself served my two oldest daughters well a few years later when all their friends started playing basketball. They tried it but found out it wasn’t for them and quit after one season. Being themselves meant they didn’t get invited to several events. It even cost them some friends, but they found new friends who shared the same interests they had and moved on.

My son and youngest daughter—both of whom had similar experiences—said being yourself was an important lesson they learned from me.

It warms this momma’s heart to know they really were paying attention to what I did and all those times I said things like, “God don’t make no junk”, “You were made to be you and nobody else”, and “I love you just because you’re you” really did sink in.

Your heart can be all warm and fuzzy, too, when you live and speak the life-lesson that gives your kids the confidence to be themselves.



Love,

Momma D
            Copyright 2016 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.





                                  
                                                                             






Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Choclate Milk and Playdough Really Do Have Something in Common...No, Really


A few days ago while Emma and Essie were here visiting, Emma asked Essie whether she wanted chocolate milk or water to drink with her breakfast. Essie’s answer was “Choca-choca” (you can guess what that is). But immediately after that she said, “Bye-bye playdough.”
What? What do chocolate milk and playdough have to do with each other? The answer: Absolutely nothing except that the bucket of playdough and shape cutters was sitting on top of the refrigerator. And as we all know the refrigerator is home to the chocolate milk. So yah, the two actually do go together in a random, 2 year-old kind of way.
But let’s face it, it makes you wonder just how much of what you say your kids actually take in. And I bet you’ve had moments when you think you’ve messed up what would have otherwise been a completely normal and wonderful person. Am I right? Of course I am! You’re a parent and unfortunately those things come with the job.
Thankfully, though, more times than not your doubts and concerns are unfounded, your kids are no worse for the wear, and they will turn out just fine. Trust me, I know because I asked my own four what they had heard (literally and figuratively) from me growing up and I was more than pleased with the answers I received. So…
For the next few weeks I’m going to share their answers with you as an encouragement to not give up…to not quit making the most valuable and important investment you will ever make. The investment of yourself into the lives of your children.
That’s all for today—nothing really profound—just a reminder to not give up. Oh, and a suggestion that you spend some time between now and next week thinking about:
·         What messages and life-lessons you want to give your children
·         Whether or not your delivery method is effective
·         How you would respond if you were on their end of things
·         What you can do to make the message clearer and more authentic

Love,
Momma D

P.S. Their answers were also very similar, so if nothing else, I at least get an A for consistency.
                             Copyright 2016 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.
                                                                                                                          

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Pass the Potatoes...and the Memories, Please


You can’t turn on the television, surf the web, pick up a newspaper, or even have a conversation these days without hearing or reading someone’s thoughts on why the world, aka, society, is in the shape it is in. And with this being an election year, we’re also hearing whose fault it is.

I’m going to go out on a limb, however, and say that politics, per se, has little or nothing to do with most of the issues we’re dealing with. Instead, I’m going to suggest that most of society’s problems can be traced back to the breakdown of the family.

Now you know Momma D is all about family, so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that I want to talk about what it takes to keep your family from suffering from a breakdown. But instead of just telling you what I think, I asked four people whose opinions I value to share their thoughts on the subject of family meal times—something that is a valuable tool for a healthy family. I value their opinions because they basically tell me how well I did (or didn’t) do my job. That’s right…today you’re going to hear directly from Zach, Elizabeth, Olivia, and Emma.

In answer to the question, “What are your most vivid mealtime memories as a family?” this is what they had to say…

Zach: “I always liked my birthday meal—popcorn shrimp. I also liked it when you fixed roast on Sunday because if Dad wasn’t working we’d listen to the Marty Robbins cassette while you cooked. I remember the huge family dinners with everyone at Granny’s house, too. But my favorite mealtime memories are the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches you’d fix me and dad to eat when we would go out to cut wood. We’d sit in the woods—eating those sandwiches and talking about whatever.

Elizabeth: I loved how we were all just there together and you guys had each of us tell you what happened at school that day. And I loved the fact that 95% or more of our meals were home cooked (and cooked from what we’d raised).

Olivia: I loved that we all sat down together to eat. I also like that we ate what you fixed or we didn’t eat. I use that same rule for my family. We eat as a family and the TV is off. I also loved the way we all took turns praying for our meal instead of the same person doing it every night.

Emma: I loved the fact that we were all there together—eating and talking. When Dad wasn’t at work and it was all six of us was the best. I also remember the cloth napkins with all the little vegetables on them. I felt special when we used them.

Did you notice there was no mention of fancy foods or dishes, restaurants, being left alone to text, play video games, or watch TV, or about which burger combo they liked best. No, their memories were all about talking…listening…sharing…praying…just being together.

What did you learn from my kids? I hope you learned that your children crave and need the sense of belonging, nurturing, and security that only comes from being a family that talks, listens, shares, prays, and enjoys ‘just’ being together. So please, for your family’s sake and for the sake of society, make dinner time family time.


            Love,

            Momma D
                                Copyright 2016 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.
                                                                                  








Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Ellen Tebbits Philosphy of Friendship


One of my favorite books as a child was Beverly Cleary’s “Ellen Tebbits”. If you haven’t read the book, you should…soon. If your children haven’t read the book, they should…soon. You can even read it together!

Anyway…Ellen, the book’s main character, is missing her best friend who recently moved away and is terrified one of the girls in her dance class is going to discover her horrible, terrible secret—that she has to wear long underwear. Or even worse, her secret might be discovered by Otis Spofford—the ornery boy in her class who just happens to be her dance teacher’s son. But then she meets the new girl—Austine. And as luck would have it, Austine shares Ellen’s secret—her mother makes her wear long underwear, too!

Throughout the book Ellen and Austine share secrets, go on a few adventures, learn how to compromise, share, embrace each other’s differences, and they learn that friendship is about honesty, communication, and forgiveness. In short, they learn how to be and have a best friend.

The best part about this story, however—or the one I want draw your attention to—is this: Ellen and Austine were allowed to navigate their friendship and solve their problems without their parents interfering and intervening in their struggles. There were no threats of law suits, no demands for mediation and no taking it to someone like Judge Judy (which actually happens from time to time).

Ellen and Austine didn’t ask for or ‘need’ that kind of help intervention. They worked things out on their own…well, sort of. I know I’m reading between the lines on this one, but I’m going to go out a pretty sturdy limb and say that Ellen and Austine were able to work out their own problems because of the integrity and principled character they were exposed to at home, at school, and even in Mrs. Spofford’s School of Dance.

Because this book was written in the early 50s these things (integrity and principles) were assumed to be part of a child’s home life. It was assumed that the girls would be able to work things out given the time and opportunity to do so. Unfortunately that’s often not the case these days. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

As parents you have both the right and responsibility to blanket your children with an atmosphere of integrity, compassion, kindness, humility, and a heart that isn’t too proud to forgive. Another way to put it is like this: As parents one of your goals should be to parent in such a way that your children’s ability to handle the ups and downs of friendship honorably will be ‘automatic’ because that’s just the kind of person they are. AND the reason they’re that kind of person is because that’s the kind of person YOU are.

Friendships—especially between children and a double-dose of ‘especially’ when it comes to girls—are full of ups and downs. But if parents do their job like Ellen and Austine’s parents obviously did, we’ll soon discover we don’t have a need for certain types of reality shows (and I use the word ‘reality’ loosely). I think you know which ones I mean. J


Copyright 2016 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.


Love,

Momma D

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

New School Year Blues and Yahoos!

FYI: This week's post is more or less a repeat of one I did about this time last year. I'm not being lazy. I just think it's a message worth repeating...

My social media is plastered with pictures from friends who are young parents--pictures of their children's first day of school. And you know what? I LOVE it!

The pictures bring back years of wonderful memories of my children's first days of school. But they also brings back memories of school supplies (and lots of them) and of the 'blues and yahoos' that went with the start of each new year of learning.

With four kids the start of a new school year was quite an undertaking and let’s just say Wal-Mart was glad to see me coming. But I didn’t mind. In fact, I had as much fun watching and helping them pick out what they needed and wanted (within reason) as they did. There’s just something about starting something new that gives you energy and hope.

The kids hoped they got certain teachers. Sometimes they did…and sometimes they didn’t.

The kids hoped they were in the same homeroom as their best friends. Sometimes they were…and sometimes they weren’t.

The kids hoped their school ID pictures would look halfway decent instead of like a mug shot. Sometimes they did…and sometimes, well, you know the drill.

With each new school year came both blues and yahoos. But then life is like that, isn’t it?
After all, it’s really not the end of the world if they don't always get the teacher they wanted. They’re still going to learn what they are supposed to learn. And the world really won't stop turning if your child isn’t in the same homeroom or lunch period as their best friend—I promise. The ID pictures? Sorry, no guarantee on that one, either. I mean is there anyone who can take a good picture when you have all of ten seconds to step into place and say ‘cheese’ before the weird guy behind the camera takes one shot and hollers “Next!”?

As parents we know these things aren’t worth stressing over, but our kids don’t—not yet anyway. That’s where you come in. It’s your job to teach them to take things as they come and make the best of them—to instill in your children a sense of resiliency.

Children who are resilient have better social skills, have a stronger sense of self-confidence, are less likely to be bullied or to be a bully, and have must stronger coping skills when it comes to things that really should be considered as a struggle or disappointment. What’s more, studies show that resilient children turn into resilient adults.

So…as the new school year approaches, don’t feel bad about telling your child they have to choose a $15 dollar back pack instead of a $50 one. And don’t let them whine and moan because they have first lunch period instead of third like ‘everyone’ else does. They’ll get over it…and be better people for it.

Love,
Momma D

                              Copyright 2016 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.
                                                                                                                             

           

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Life is Kind of Like a Game of Red-Light...Green-Light


     Mack and Macy know that part of my daily routine includes taking a walk—usually around our neighborhood. They enjoy going along—talking, walking, and especially running ahead to the next street crossing. Both girls know to wait—not to cross the street until I get there so we can cross together.

     When I think about their running ahead…waiting…running ahead again...and waiting again, I think about how similar our walk is (or should be) to how we raise our children.

     As parents we need to equip our children with the ability, confidence, and strength (physical and emotional) to ‘run ahead’ and experience life independently, yet still within our reach for those moments when they need our help, our hugs, our guidance, and for us to set boundaries for them. And when they come to a crossroads in life, they need to know a) to wait for us to help prepare them for it and b) to know when it’s safe to ‘run ahead’ again.

     There are also times when Macy will run ahead but Mack won’t. She’ll stay behind; holding my hand and talking about whatever is on her mind. These times are equally important. These are the times we need to fully embrace and make the absolute most of. These are the times we need to be listening, talking, sharing, teaching, cheering, and reassuring. In other words, these are the times we need to be heavily investing in the most precious commodity on earth.

     So whether your children are running ahead of you and exploring life on their own or walking beside you; learning as they go, it’s up to you to be the parent that provides the kind of environment and unconditional love and acceptance that makes it all possible.



Love,

Momma D
                           Copyright 2016 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.
                                                                                                                                



Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Love is About More than Mashed Potatoes


Late last night my son Zach tagged me in a comment he made on Facebook. It was his answer to a picture with a caption asking people to name the food(s) they thought their grandma cooked better than anyone else. Here is his comment: Granny Great’s rolls and wilted lettuce. Best in the world. Am I right, Darla Noble?

Zach was referencing my Granny (his great-grandmother). Granny was known for many things—including the fact that she was an amazing cook. It wasn’t just the fact that she was a great cook, but it was why she was a great cook. You could literally taste the love and care that went into everything she cooked even though she did it all so effortlessly. It was just part of what made her…Granny. While I was replying to Zach’s comment I was giggling because for some reason just a day or two prior to this I had randomly recalled another memory about Zach, Granny, and her cooking…

As soon as we got to church every Sunday the kids ran straight to Granny. On this particular Sunday Granny said she’d cooked a pot of chicken and dumplings for lunch and asked if we wanted to come eat with her. Of course we said yes. Now in our family, if you have chicken and dumplings you have mashed potatoes to go with them. But when Granny went to peel the potatoes she discovered the potatoes were bad—all except two. What to do? She had a small box of instant potatoes she used for thickening soup, so she just added some of them to the two potatoes to make enough for everyone. No big deal, right? WRONG!

Zach, who was ten or eleven years old at the time, happened to pass through the kitchen just in time to see Granny mixing the instant potatoes into the real ones. He couldn’t believe his eyes! His Granny Great, the absolute best cook in the whole world…the Granny who loved us more than anything was feeding him “fake potatoes”! What was the world coming to? His reaction was a mixture of shock, disbelief, and yes, even disappointment. It actually took Granny a few minutes to explain what she was doing and why and to assure him that she was still the same Granny he knew and loved. Zach knew that Granny’s cooking skills was only one of the ways Granny expressed her love for us, but it was also one of her best ways. So when she ‘cheated’ he took it personally.

I’m happy to report that by the end of the day we were all laughing about it, and that night at Bible study she and Zach even shared the story with our friends at church. I’m also happy to report that Zach and Granny laughed and smiled about a lot of other things for several years to come—including him making her a great-great grandma twice before she passed away.

So what do instant mashed potatoes and cooking skills have to do with parenting?

We all have one or two things we do that stand out to our children and grandchildren—things we do (or say) that they view as expressions of our love for them. And we have a responsibility to make sure we don’t disappoint our loved ones by giving them cause to think our actions are anything less than genuine and sincere.

If you asked your children what they associate your love with, what would they say?



Love,

Momma D

                        Copyright 2016 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.
                                                                                                                               





Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Compliments Aren't Meant To Be Hidden


I was ten years old when Helen, a middle-aged woman, came up to me after church one Sunday and said, “If you want to know what you are going to look like some day, just look at your grandmother because you’re the spitting image of her.”

Now I really loved my Granny. I still do even though she’s no longer living. And Helen was right—I do look like her and am very much like her in several other ways, as well, and I’m proud and thankful for it. But when she said that, I looked over to where Granny was standing and thought, “Yikes! I don’t ever want to look like that!” (‘That’ being graying hair, a few age spots, and skin that had more lines and wrinkles than I ever thought I would care to have)

I’m also sure the look on my face told Helen I didn’t think her comment was the least bit complimentary. But then again, I doubt it, because she didn’t think she’d said anything wrong. And she hadn’t…not really. It wasn’t what she had said, but rather how she had said it.

As parents we need to be careful that we don’t ‘pull a Helen’ by making observations and comments that are meant to be beneficial or complimentary…but aren’t. For example:

When your son comes out all dressed up to attend your niece’s wedding, don’t say, “Wow, you look great! It’s too bad you don’t look that nice every day.”

Or if you are fortunate enough to have a teenage daughter who isn’t obsessed with wearing tons of makeup and trying to dress like whoever girls are imitating at the time, don’t ‘compliment’ her by saying, “I’m so glad you aren’t worried about how you look.”

Another example of this would be saying something like, “I didn’t expect you to be able to do it, but at least you tried.”

Do you see how easily it would be for a child or teenager hearing those words to interpret these comments negatively…even though that’s not your intention? I sure hope so. That’s why it is so very important for you to choose your words carefully and make sure they convey the message you want to send.

If Helen were to say those words to me today I would hug her and thank her for paying me such a great compliment. But that’s because I’m no longer ten and I now have the wisdom and capability to ‘read between the lines’ in order to understand the real meaning of what is being said. Someday your kids will be able to do the same, but between now and then it is up to you to speak to them in such a way that they will even want to listen to you when they finally get there.



Love,

Momma D


                           Copyright 2016 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.
                                                                              

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Putting All Your Eggs In The Right Basket


Lately I’ve been noticing that too many parents are concerned about the wrong things when it comes to influencing and managing their children’s lives. For example…

I was recently welcoming a seven year-old to an overnight summer camp and was told by his parents that he wasn’t allowed to have cinnamon rolls for breakfast the next morning like the rest of the kids because he had to drink a GALLON of protein drink in order to be able to make weigh-ins for a wrestling match a few hours after that.

Now it’s all well and good for your kids to be involved in activities like this, but the message that winning at all costs is more important than having fun with your friends and being a normal kid who scarfs down an ooey-gooey cinnamon roll once in a while, isn’t the message we should be sending.

As parents we need to care more about who our kids are than what our kids are. Instead of micro-managing and obsessing over whether or not they win first place in the science fair or are one of the popular kids, we need to take a more active approach to helping shape their character. Instead of doing whatever it takes to make sure they make the cheerleading squad or first chair in band, we need to make sure they know being THE best isn't always important or possible and that they have the integrity to not bully their peers.

Parents, your job isn’t to raise great kids. Your job is to raise your kids to be great adults. And in case you are wondering, great adults aren’t defined by science fair projects and high school football scores. Great adults are those that are honest, compassionate, hard-working, wise with their finances, respectful of authority and the feelings of others, and confident of their abilities and self-worth.

Influencing and managing your children’s character is going to require you to be intentional and relational with your children. Most of all, it requires you to model these behaviors because even when your children don’t appear to be listening, or really aren’t listening, you can bet they are watching every move you make.

So…when deciding what matters and what doesn’t when it comes to where you focus your parenting energy, remember this: If the ‘thing’ you are stressing over isn’t going to directly affect their twenty-one year-old self or who they are from the inside out, you’re probably putting your eggs in the wrong basket.



Love,

Momma D
                          Copyright 2016 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.