How to Give Your Child a Cultural Education

cultural education

cultural educationIf you asked your kids what culture is, would they know? Today’s society seems to have little focus when it comes to cultural education; however, understanding culture of all types is necessary for a child’s social and academic development. This is an area your kids might not learn at school, so consider doing it yourself. The following includes timeless cultural influences and what you and your child can do to learn about them together.

Performing Arts

The symphony. The opera. The theater. Dance. Stand-up comedy. Concerts. The performing arts are a part of culture that flourishes in the best of times and survives the worst. The reason is simple: people love to watch performances.

If you child is into music, take him or her to the symphony to hear classical music, and then discuss how it has influenced today’s music. Then, you can compare and contrast it with a concert of his or her choice to continue the lesson.

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The Story of Your Life Is Your Legacy

Dear Mr. Dad: My father died when he was 48. He was a great dad, affectionate, playful, and a fine role model. And he had life insurance so the family was provided for. But when my brother and sister and I were going through his stuff after the funeral, we realized that we barely knew him. He was always interested in our lives, but almost never told us anything about his own—the things he did as a kid, what he liked, or anything. I’m 47 now—just a year younger than my dad’s age when he died—and I’m very involved in my children’s life. But I don’t want to make the same mistake my father did. How can I be sure my kids will know me after I’m gone?

A: Although both of my parents are, thankfully, still alive, I’ve been thinking about this exact thing for quite some time, and I know we’re not the only ones. As parents (and especially as dads), when we talk about providing for our children, the discussions tend to focus on the financial—insurance, college savings, and so on—and we overlook the kind of intangibles you mentioned. But giving our children the knowledge of who we are, our life experiences, our triumphs, our failures, our family history, and our personal philosophy is a gift that’s just as important as money. Maybe even more so.

Just think of all the knowledge we have about our kids: We know how much they weighed when they were born, when they rolled over, when they took their first steps, the name of their favorite stuffie, who their friends are, what size shoes they wear, whether they wet the bed or not, who their favorite—and least favorite—teachers are, what they like to read, the trouble they got into, and the story behind every scar—real or imagined.

But how much do our kids know about us? Probably not a whole lot. And that’s a mistake. By not telling them about ourselves—where we came from and how we became who we are—we’re doing them a tremendous disservice. At the very least, our stories can bring us closer together. Stories let them know that we’re not just lecturing them about life, that we’ve actually lived it, that we’ve had experiences that are similar to theirs, and that we really understand them.

Just to be clear, this is not about teachable moments or being a good role model. There’s definitely a place for both, but this isn’t it. This is simply about introducing our inner selves to our children. The first step towards that goal is to remind ourselves of our stories. What was life like when you were growing up? What were your earliest memories? What were your favorite subjects in school? How did it feel when your first romantic relationship ended?

Kids absolutely love these stories—especially the ones where you’re less than perfect. Mine, for example, still enjoy hearing about when I got caught shoplifting in 3rd grade, the many times I got my butt paddled in the principal’s office as punishment for a variety of misdeeds, or when I tried to force-feed a pet sand dollar ground beef because someone had told me it needed protein.

Write down as many of your stories as you can think of. You might even want to start a blog. And remember, it’s not always about the past. The experiences you have right now—things as mundane as what you did at work today—are all part of your living legacy.

Lessons Learned After Adopting a Child from Ethiopia

Claude Knobler, author of More Love (Less Panic).
Topic:
Lessons learned about life and parenting after adopting a child from Ethiopia.
Issues: The difference between influence and control; why worrying doesn’t help; how less than perfect may be perfect enough; learning perspective from a piñata and mushy food.

Love is Not Enough + More Love (Less Panic)

Jenny Lexhed, author of Love is Not Enough.
Topic:
A mother’s memoir of autism, madness, and hope.
Issues: Coping with a child’s autism diagnosis; trying to find the best treatment among competing theories and approaches; the importance of taking breaks, getting enough sleep, and self-care.

Claude Knobler, author of More Love (Less Panic).
Topic:
Lessons learned about life and parenting after adopting a child from Ethiopia.
Issues: The difference between influence and control; why worrying doesn’t help; how less than perfect may be perfect enough; learning perspective from a piñata and mushy food.

 3 Bonding Activities for Preteens & Dads

dad-preteen bonding

dad-preteen bondingAs your kids grow closer to their preteen years, it might be difficult to find sustainable ways to connect and bond. Your preteens are asserting their independence and likely vocalizing their opinions on clothing, television choices and the friends that they prefer. Dads might struggle with trying to find a middle ground during this transition, but it is important to stay involved to provide them with the love, guidance and support that they need. Bonding over activities is the best way to create a dialogue with preteens.

Skiing

Preteens who enjoy adventure will definitely love to go skiing. Skiing is an activity that will offer the opportunity to bond on the slopes as well as provide some downtime when you head back to the lodge. As you and your tween ski together, you can converse about the beauty of the terrain and share a few moments when you are riding the ski lift together.

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