Celebrating March as Women’s History Month

March is celebrated annually as Women’s History Month.  It began back in 1911 when the first international women’s day was held.  In 1980, President Jimmy Carter entered a proclamation declaring the week of March 8, 1980 as Women’s History Week to celebrate all the contributions that women have made.  Seven years later, the U.S. Congress passed a public law authorizing the president to declare the month of March each year as Women’s History Month.

The National Women’s History Alliance selects the theme each year.  For 2019, the theme is “Visionary Women: Champions of Peace & Nonviolence”.  This theme honors "women who have led efforts to end war, violence, and injustice and pioneered the use of nonviolence to change society."

An excellent source of information about women’s history is www.womenshistory.org.   It has an enormous amount of information about events and also features articles, exhibits, and even has tools for students and educators.

I encourage parents to spend time with their children learning more about women in history. Perhaps consider volunteering at your children’s schools or at a community event to promote the importance of women.Women have played vital roles in our families, communities, and governments.Our children must learn more about the contributions of women to truly appreciate them.

Things to do With Your Children to Celebrate Black History Month

The month of February is designated as Black History Month or African-American History Month.  It began as a week-long celebration declared by historian Carl B. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1926 for the week of February 12.  In the April, 1926 edition of The Journal of Negro History, Woodson argued that the perpetual study of the Black race was critical for its survival and prominence:

“If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated. The American Indian left no continuous record. He did not appreciate the value of tradition; and where is he today? The Hebrew keenly appreciated the value of tradition, as is attested by the Bible itself. In spite of worldwide persecution, therefore, he is a great factor in our civilization.”

Initially, the celebration had little support.  However, as years passed, it gained momentum, until ultimately in 1976, when President Gerald Ford gave the presidential stamp of approval for a month-long celebration.   Today, a month is set aside annually to celebrate Black history not only in the United States but also in Canada, Ireland, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

As my blog is geared toward children and literacy, I would like to encourage parents, teachers and others to spend time helping children to learn more about Black history and all the accomplishments that African-Americans have made.  There is quite a bit of information on the internet and specifically for children, I enjoy the Reading Rockets website because it has a variety of information to assist children in learning – from children’s books, events, television and internet programs to online guides and much more. 

Please spend some time on the website to decide what you will plan and do with your children.  Make a commitment to help your children grow in knowledge, understanding, and appreciation.  

For more information, please CLICK HERE.

Explaining Politics to Your Children

It’s February 2019 and already activities are gearing up for the presidential election in November 2020.  At least two persons have launched their presidential bids in the past two weeks.  Soon, more and more people will announce.  I believe that now is a key opportunity to begin discussing with your children what is happening in the political arena and take civics more seriously.   Your children will certainly hear statements made outside the home about various politicians, so why not have them engaged at home first so that they can understand the issues involved in the various campaigns and positions of each politician and political party better.

You may be wondering whether your children are even interested in politics and I think that you will be pleasantly surprised that many of them are.  In an interesting article online at kidshealth.org entitled Talking Politics: What to Say to Your Kids, the results of a survey conducted by it of more than 2,000 children and teens throughout the United States were revealed.  “A whopping 75% of kids and 79% of teens answered ‘yes’ when asked whether they thought that the outcome of an election (presidential) would change their lives. Nearly half of teens surveyed said that they believed they'd had at least some influence on their parents' choice of candidate.” 

The article strongly supports talking with your children about their viewpoints and not being critical of what they have to say.  Provide them with information and discuss various sides of an issue.  This will help them become more analytical and not just rely on a friend’s opinion but actually be able to question why someone has such an opinion and voice their own opinions with confidence.     

The coming presidential election is a hot topic and the more your children understand the issues, the more they can actively participate in discussions and enjoy the learning process.  They may even want to participate and help a candidate.  And, most important of all, when they turn 18 years old, they will want to register to vote because they know their vote matters.

To read the entire article, CLICK HERE.

Teach Your Children About Martin Luther King, Jr.

This Monday January 21 is celebrated as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a federal holiday.  As children will be home from school, I encourage parents to spend time teaching their children about this icon of the civil rights movement. 

To assist you, I have searched the internet and can say that there is an abundance of information about him, but I would like to focus on what is available specifically for children.  At the end of this blog is a list of websites where you can find a plethora of information, including books.   PBS.org has a list of 17 excellent children books about him and others involved in the movement, such as Rosa Parks and Ruby Bridges, a 6 year-old heroine who was the first to integrate a New Orleans school back in 1960.  Spend some time with your children going to a book store to purchase a book or to the public library.  Once your child has a book, sit down and talk with him about it.  Ask questions.  This period of time is of such importance in our history.  You may even learn something new!

The Today Show just posted on its website an article about helping children to learn about King.  Depending on your children’s age groups, there are suggestions as to different types of discussions regarding the various people and issues of the time.  Several short videos are also provided on the webpage that share more interesting facts.

Additional recommendations can be found at the website care.com in an informative article about King.  Consider having your children participate in an art project or volunteer activity all about King and the movement.

Writer Erin Dower provides principles to talk about with your children in the online article 8 MLK Jr. Values to Instill in Your Kids.  I like this article because it gives simple yet profound values taken from King’s life and discusses how children can incorporate these values into their own lives. 

There is so much information available about King and the civil rights movement.  Please enjoy a relaxing day off on Monday, but also include time to help your children learn more about him and the immense reforms that came about because of his leadership and dedication.

Holiday Advertising Aimed at Our Children

I write frequently about helping our children to overcome the negative pressures that often surround them and try to impact them.  Christmas is a few weeks away and advertisers have been doggedly aiming advertisements at our children since at least October.  Here are some suggestions as to how to help your children maneuver around this bombardment, especially during the holiday season:

1.    Use this time as teachable moments.  We as parents will never be able to stop advertisers from advertising, but we can help our children understand what is happening through advertisements.  Oftentimes, we do not think about an item until we see an advertisement.  Then, we can get the feeling as if we cannot live without it!  Advertising is very powerful, so talk with your children about it and the purpose behind it – us spending our money!

2.    Teach your child to be a smart shopper.  Just because you see an advertisement of a particular product does not, in turn, mean that it is the specific product that you must purchase.  If your child does need a particular item or if you would like to buy an item despite of need, make plans about it.  For example, if you would like to purchase a small electronic notebook for your child, discuss it with her.  Research together the different brands and models available.  Compare prices, warranties and ratings.  Impulse shopping can become addictive so teaching your child to be a smart shopper from a young age will help her to grow into a disciplined shopper.

3.    For Christians, Christmas is the season for giving, as God gave His only son to us.  Stress that with your children.  Plan how as a family and individually you and your children can give to others in need.  What community organization needs your help?  Consider volunteering to help others as a family activity and something that you will do throughout the year.

To read more about this subject, please CLICK HERE.

Is There Such a Thing as a Fun and Wholesome Party for Teens?

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
— Matthew 5:13-16

As a parent of two sons who are now adults,  I understand the dilemma that Christian parents are in when it comes to allowing their teenage children to throw parties.  I am a strong proponent of offering our children alternatives, always remembering that we are called to be the salt and the light where ever we are. 

What does it mean when Jesus said that we are the salt of the earth?  Salt has been used for centuries as a preservative for food.  As Christians, we are called to be preservatives of men – to show the world what it means to live a godly life.  Also, salt enhances the taste of food.  We are called to be influencers in the world. 

What does it mean when we are called the light of the world? We are to have our lives shine forth as examples of what it is to be believers and followers of Christ.  We are not to conform ourselves to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of our minds.  Romans 12:2.  We are to set the examples!

How do these scripture verses relate to teenagers and parties?  In many different ways.  As I mentioned in the introductory paragraph, I am a proponent of offering our children alternatives.  When it comes to throwing parties, we should encourage our children to do so in godly ways, always being mindful that we are the salt and light of the world.  So, instead of discouraging them from parties, consider the impact of a wholesome party on all those in attendance.

Teens can have a great time in a wholesome environment but it takes a lot of planning.  Remember that at this age, they are social beings and love to have fun and interact.  Of course, food is critical.  Have a variety of  delicious snacks available.  Even consider an ethnic theme.  For example, I found Mexican food easy to cook and a hit with teens.  Instead of offering alcoholic beverages, have other choices, such as a tasty punch.  Teens love to play games, so have your children search the web for fun games to play.  They know what games they and their friends would like to play – do not force them to play a game that they do not want to. 

Your goal should be to make such an impression on the teens that they will realize that wholesome parties can, indeed, be a lot of fun and want to throw more.  Support your teens to be the salt and light of the world!

Websites where you can find great suggestions for games for wholesome parties:

Grandparents Raising Children

Congress passed a new law that was signed by President Trump on July 9 named The Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act.  It is estimated that there are about 2.6 million grandchildren who are being raised by their grandparents primarily due to the high rise of substance abuse, especially opioid use, by their parents.   The law aims to assist grandparents by providing a one-stop access to resources and services.

Raising grandchildren is a second-go-round for grandparents.  It impacts them not only emotionally but also financially.   One of the main sponsors of the Act was Senator Susan Collins of Maine who said that grandparents are coming to the rescue and providing a loving environment for grandchildren who are often very traumatized.

To read more about the new law, click here.

Some Fun & Interesting Websites for Your Children this Summer

During the summer months, parents struggle to find interesting and creative activities for their children.  The last thing we want them doing is playing mindless video games all day long.  Finding alternatives for them that are fun and still allow them to use the computer can be challenging.  We have done the work for you and found some interesting websites that we believe your children will truly enjoy and learn from:

1.    Science News for Children https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/ - This is an interesting and challenging website full of facts that children will enjoy.

2.     Cool math http://www.coolmath.com/ - There are so many cool math lessons, your children will be amazed.

3.    Is it possible for your child to become a genius? “Make Me a Genius” claims that it can http://www.makemegenius.com/

4.    National Geographic for kids https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/ - This website provides almost everything your child will ever want to know about animals, nature, countries, etc.

5.    Games that help children learn http://thekidzpage.com/ - All kinds of puzzles and other games are featured that will keep your child learning and having fun.

6.    How stuff works https://www.howstuffworks.com/ - This website provides answers to many questions in a variety of areas.  Nothing boring here!

7.    The Old Farmer’s Almanac for Kids  http://www.almanac4kids.com/ - So much fun information for your children that they cannot possibly get bored.

Be Sure To Celebrate the Week of the Young Child: April 16-20, 2018

Every year, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) celebrates young children and learning, and this week April 16-20, 2018 is dedicated to just that.  According to the NAEYC, the reason that a week is set aside annually is “to focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs.”

Local communities throughout the United States hold events for the celebration.  Events vary from a fun hat day to an ice cream social, a parade in a school and even a trip to the mayor’s office.   Importantly, the focus is on young children learning.

In the U. S. Virgin Islands where I live, I always participate in some way.  This year, I will be visiting an elementary school.  I have been asked to read a local  story to children and join in a special hat parade. 

Where ever you reside, please consider volunteering your time and talents to make this a special time for children in your area.  Whenever I visit a classroom or school to participate in an activity, I find that the children are always excited to have a special visitor who thinks they are important.  I am certain that it will be a blessing for you too, as it is for me!

Keep Your Children Active as Activity Works Out the Body and the Brain

The benefits of physical activity on the body are plentiful and well known. The more you move your body, the healthier you will be and the risk of weight related health issues – such as diabetes and heart disease - diminishes. For children, physical activity promotes healthy growth, improves fitness levels, and boosts self-esteem. Did you also know all the benefits exercise can have on a child’s mind?

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), students who are physically active actually had better grades, school performance, memories, and classroom behavior.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services  recommends 60 minutes of physical exercise each day. Many parents mistakenly believe that if their children participate in physical activities, they will have less time for homework and other school assignments and be too tired to perform their best in school.  Importantly, however, the scientific research data does not support this way of thinking.

Physical activity has been a very helpful as well in improving the behavior of children with behavioral disorders.  In a study to determine whether an aerobic cybercycling  physical education curriculum could benefit children who had behavioral health disorders, the findings showed that this type of aerobic physical activity benefitted children significantly.   A cybercycle is a stationary bike - similar to the ones we see at the gym - with a screen to give the illusion of an outdoor environment.   Often children with these disorders are not encouraged to participate in exercising and thus, suffer greatly as a result.

There are so many benefits that come from living an active lifestyle.  Promoting healthy behaviors today guarantees a better life for your children in their future.

For more reading, CLICK HERE or CLICK HERE.

Adding “Thanks” Back into Thanksgiving Day

We will be celebrating Thanksgiving Day this Thursday in America.  It’s a national holiday set aside for us to remember all that we are thankful for.  However, as the child says in this cartoon, God has blessed us immensely so one day a year is certainly not adequate to give thanks!  In this week’s blog, instead of writing about the history of Thanksgiving Day or a similar topic (which you can find in my previous blogs), I have chosen to focus on some Bible scriptures instructing us on giving thanks regularly.  As you enjoy the day with family and friends, I encourage each of you to spend some time reading and practicing these verses as a family:

1 Chronicles 16:24 – “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His love endures forever”

Colossians 3:17 – “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him”

Psalm 95:2 - “Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto Him with psalms”

Psalm 100:4 - “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name”

Psalm 107:1, 8-9 - “O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good: for His mercy endures forever… Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness”

Phil. 4:6 - “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God

Colossians 4:2 – “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful

There are many other Bible verses, but these are extra special to me.  Don’t let this Thanksgiving Day be one filled with just eating, drinking and watching sports.  Spend time thanking the great I Am for all He has blessed you and your family with and then remember to do it again and again each day thereafter!

Support Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.  It was established to honor children fighting cancer and support the development of treatments.  You do not have to know someone with childhood cancer to commemorate or contribute to this extremely worthwhile cause.

There are many ways that you and your children can show support for children affected by cancer, and here are a few:

Volunteer.  There is an abundance of volunteer opportunities to choose from and you should include your children too. If there are any children’s cancer centers or hospitals in your area,  donate your time to read to the patients.  Your children can bring toys to play and spend time with them too.  Consider baking cookies and other sweet treats to pass out to patients, doctors, nurses, and volunteers.  Showing you care by spending your time and having friendly interactions with the patients makes a loving and lasting impression on them.

Donate.  Consider making a monetary donation to a reputable charity, hospital or research lab that strives to benefit the lives of children with cancer. Whether you have $1 or $1,000,000, a donation is always valuable.  Additionally, talk with your children about making a donation too.  Emphasize the goal of the organization or hospital and explain how their donation will benefit it.  By using a portion of their allowance, they can contribute to the cause and help children in need. This teaches them to become more considerate and loving of others and it gives them a sense of accomplishment knowing that their generous deed benefitted someone else.

Another idea is to have a group fundraising event involving food or bake sales, car washes, or even yard sales.

Help a family. If you know a family affected by childhood cancer, there are many ways to assist them.  Consider calling or texting to check up on them and sending hand-written cards with friendly messages.  Make decorating and writing cards a fun family event.  A short message such as “Best wishes from our family to yours. We are always here if you need anything and will continue to pray for you,” can provide comfort in knowing that they are not alone.

Also, volunteering to do chores such as house sitting or lawn mowing can take a lot of extra pressure off adults in the family and give them more time to focus on their loved one in need.

There are so many ways and opportunities for you and your family to commemorate Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.  As Christians, we are called to show our love to others, and what better way than assisting children in need.

How Did Labor Day Start?

In the United States, we will celebrate Labor Day on Monday, September 4.  It is not just a day to pull out the barbecue grill one last time before autumn hits.  It is a very important federal holiday commemorating the Labor Movement of the 19th century that sought to end the poor and unfair treatment of American workers.   Take some time to learn about the history of this holiday and share it with your children because there is quite a lot to learn and commemorate.

In the late 1800s, during the period known as the Industrial Revolution in the United States, the majority of people worked in factories, mills, and mines under unsafe and unsanitary conditions, 7 days a week, 12 hours a day, for very little pay.  Children as young as 5 years old were working as well for less pay than adults.  There was no quality of life in the work place. The only way that workers believed their voices would be heard was through forming unions and taking part in strikes and organized marches.  

The first and arguably the most influential march was held on September 5, 1882 in New York City.  This was the same day that the union, Nobel Order of the Knights of Labor, was planning on meeting in the city, so it decided to invite other unions as well.  About 20,000 workers gave up an entire day’s pay to participate and the march soon turned into a parade.  This was the first parade of many to come.  Over a decade later, in 1896, President Grover Cleveland decided to make the day a national holiday while many states, such as Oregon, New York, Colorado, and Massachusetts, had already recognized the day for several years.

There were some workers who were not allowed to participate in these marches or parades, such as African Americans.  While the Knights of Labor union was race inclusive, African American workers could not be members of the majority of white labor unions.  Despite the racism and aversion by the white workers towards them, African American workers were still able to band together and create unions of their own, one of which was the Colored National Labor Union (CNLU).  The Knights of Labor and the CNLU were some of the most powerful unions at the time.

The Knights of Labor union was almost fully responsible for the first Labor Day celebration and the CNLU was successful in arranging employee benefits and fair wages for its workers.  Unfortunately, the two unions would eventually die out before Labor Day was recognized as a national holiday.

It is important for our children to understand the history behind our national holidays, including this one.  Labor Day is not about barbecues and marking the end of summer- it is about ending the unfair treatment of workers and actually celebrating the innovation and creativity of American workers and the many contributions they have made. 

Celebrate National Women’s Equality Day on August 26

There has been a long history in this country of women fighting inequality, whether it be the start of the feminist movement in the mid-1800s or the women of today demanding equal treatment in the workplace and in politics.  Even with the strides that women have made since the banding together of the Suffragettes, there is still more work to be done.  Importantly, however, we must acknowledge the hard work and sacrifice of many outstanding women, including the following:

1.    Ida B. Wells. This courageous woman played one of the most integral parts in the feminist and civil rights movements. As an African American woman born in 1862 Mississippi, she knew first-hand about discrimination. Her struggles inspired her to create an all-black publication titled The Free Speech, which exposed the inequalities and mistreatment that came with being black in the South. When given the choice to stop her publication or be killed, she did neither.  She moved to the North, and she never stopped production of The Free Speech.

Not only was she disliked by white men at the time, but also some women. When she marched in the 1913 suffrage parade, she was shunned by many of the women involved - some even refusing to march alongside her because she was a woman of color. Through it all, she stayed headstrong and continued to focus on issues that plagued the African American community.  She never gave up the fight. She truly was an exemplary woman and is still a role model for many today!

2.    Patsy Mink. Born in Hawaii in 1927, Patsy grew up to become a lawyer and then became the first Asian American elected to Congress. She was actually the first woman of color to serve in that position. In her time there, she co-authored Title IX, a federal law that prohibits any educational facility from discriminating against a person because of his/her gender.  

3.    Sylvia Mendez.  Sylvia’s father was a Mexican immigrant and her mother was from Puerto Rico.  In the 1940s, when she was a child, schools in California were segregated into “Whites only”, which had better books and curriculum, and “Hispanics”.  To fight this racism, her parents attempted to enroll her and her siblings in a “Whites only” school, but were denied.  They took the matter to court and eventually won.  As a result, the governor of California was forced to desegregate all schools and public places.  Her lawsuit paved the way and was a reference for similar cases, such as the famous Brown v. Board of Education, which brought desegregation to all schools. She is one of the primary reasons that we have integrated classrooms today.

4.    Wilma Mankiller.  Wilma gained notoriety after her very memorable protest at Alcatraz Island alongside other Native Americans who were reclaiming the land in 1969 since the federal government was not using the prison anymore.  She later began working for the Cherokee Nation government as a director of community development and was eventually able to climb up the political ladder and become the first female principle chief of the Cherokee Nation in 1985.

5.    Molly Dewson.  College educated, Molly began her foray into politics in her home state of Massachusetts, where she worked for an organization promoting women’s education, the rights of women in the workplace, and the social advancement of women.  Later, she joined Eleanor Roosevelt to motivate women to vote in the 1932 presidential election for Franklin D. Roosevelt. After his victory, she was instrumental in getting women to be appointed to high government positions, including Secretary of Labor.  

What women inspire you?  Talk with your children about those referred to in my blog and other famous women.

To find out more information about these and other phenomenal women, visit THIS PAGE or CLICK HERE.

Explore Your Own Town or City: Have a Summer Family “Staycation”

I have written previously about taking family vacations during the summer.  However, it may be that you are on a tight budget and a family trip may have moved down the list of priorities this summer.  But, you can still have a vacation with your family without breaking the bank or crossing state lines.

“Staycations” are the perfect alternative to expensive out of town trips.  You might think that you have seen everything in your area, but there are possibly  many hidden gems still waiting to be found and this is the perfect opportunity for you and your family to do just that.  In addition, there usually are a variety of local discounts available from museums, historic sites, and other ‘tourist attractions’.

If you want to leave your home, you could stay at an inexpensive hotel to have the full “vacation experience”.  Many hotels give local residents discounts during the summer.  However, there are plenty of ways to have the luxury feel of a hotel in your own home.  For example, one of the best parts of any good hotel stay is the breakfast spread.  Plan on cooking a big breakfast (the kids can join too!), similar to that of most hotels, and serve it buffet style. Set the table with white tablecloths and a simple centerpiece and enjoy your private, yummy breakfast with the family.

After breakfast, select one or more popular tourist attractions to visit.  Try something new and different.  It may seem silly to be a tourist in your own home, but it can be fun and educational.  One of the main advantages is that you do not have to worry about the cost of transportation because you can drive to each destination in your own vehicle!  Try visiting museums, having a picnic in the park, going backyard camping, or just taking a stroll through the city or town.  In the evening, consider talking the family to a drive-in theater.

You can make a day or a weekend out of it. The schedule is completely up to you because transportation, location and the struggle that comes with being in a new place will not be an issue.  By the end of it all, you and your family will have seen, done, and learned so much about your own community that you never imagined you could.  Who knows? It might even become a family tradition.

Finding the Balance between Your Children’s Activities and Their Well-being

In a prior blog post, I wrote about the importance of having your children participate in a variety of after-school activities and the benefits that doing so provide.  Today, I would like to extend a cautionary note that those activities should enhance their childhood experiences, not inhibit them.  Children who are overexposed to activities can suffer from headaches; feel tired, anxious or depressed; and suffer a drop in their grades.  Here are a few tips on how to have your children involved in extracurriculars, while still giving them the chance to be children:

  1. Time: According to most experts, children should not spend more than 10 to 20 hours a week participating in out of school activities. If they spend any more time than this, they will not have enough time to do their homework, adequately prepare for tests, and be with their families. Choosing activities that meet bi-weekly or monthly could be healthier options for children, rather than those that meet once or several times a week.
     
  2. Request: Before enrolling your children in an extracurricular activity, it is best to ask if they want to join in it. This way, it will be an activity that they want to do, not an activity that they are being forced to do. Also, try not to pressure your children to outdo themselves or anyone else in their respective activities. Never compare what they are doing or not doing with other children.
     
  3. Your schedule: Ask yourself whether you or your spouse have the time to drive them to and from each activity.  Adding too many activities can wreak havoc on your schedule too and cause a lot of stress. 

The balance between school, homework, play, and family time can be difficult.  The important issue is that you try to balance all four, with an emphasis on what works for the family unit as a whole.   No activity should take the place of spending quality time together as a family or put too much stress on family life.

African Americans and Women Played an Important Role in the Fight for American Independence

Tomorrow is the 4th of July or as Americans have come to know it as Independence Day.  It is well known what this day celebrates- our hard fought independence from the British almost 250 years ago - and the many people who played key roles in the fight.  We frequently think of our founding fathers as the central figures in the war.  What many may not know, though, is that there were also African Americans and women who played a critical part in securing our freedom.

Salem Poor is one of those people. He was born in Massachusetts as a slave, but at the age of 22, had saved up a year’s salary so that he could buy his freedom.  Once freed, he enlisted in the army and this would bring him his notoriety only a year later.  Poor was instrumental in the Battle of Bunker Hill- an important battle in the fight for America’s freedom- defeating several British officers and inspiring paintings commemorating the victory.

Also Massachusetts-born was former slave Peter Salem. He was not only an important soldier in the Battle of Bunker Hill, but also in the entire American Revolutionary War.  At the time of his recruitment, the Massachusetts Committee of Safety only recruited free African Americans.  He traded his life as a slave to fight in the army.

Women such as Margaret Corbin also played major roles in the war. Corbin and her husband helped in defending Fort Washington, but when he got injured, she took over, manning the canon. She did not hesitate to take it upon herself to do a job meant for two.

These and many other men and women are often forgotten in history.  But, do not let that happen.  Teach your children about this day and all the different people who risked their lives to fight for a cause they profoundly believed in.  It makes our history much more vibrant and interesting by doing so.

Have the Entire Family Commemorate Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day.  It is a day that has been set aside for us to honor those who have died in the fight to serve and protect our wonderful country. While it is always fun to dust off the grill and invite friends and family over for one of the first barbeques of the season, let us not forget the important sacrifices behind this holiday.

Teach your children about why Memorial Day is celebrated. If explaining the holiday in a child-friendly manner seems difficult for you, there are several articles online that you can use for assistance.  Also, libraries and bookstores have many age appropriate books.  Once your children understand the reasons behind the holiday, participating in activities will be more memorable and heartfelt.

Here are a few examples of activities that the whole family can participate in before or even after you fire up that grill:

  1. Children love crafts. Encourage them to make letters or cards for veterans and families of fallen soldiers.  They can then deliver them to the people whom you know, to veterans’ hospitals or Veterans Affairs offices. Feel free to join in on the fun. Crafting can be a great bonding opportunity and give parents the time to address any unanswered questions about the day and any other activities that are planned. 
     
  2. Visit monuments of fallen soldiers. Some of the most famous in the country are found in Washington D.C.  However, if visiting the nation’s capital is not an option, you can always find graveyards and memorials in or around your town to visit.
     
  3. Carry flowers to honor the fallen.  One of the most appropriate flowers used to pay homage are poppies. In the poem In Flanders’ Fields, poet John McCrae venerated the sacrifice made by those who lost their lives in service during the First World War.  He wrote about poppies being in the fields.  The flower has been associated with war and remembering the fallen.  Explain to your children the history behind the flower and take some to a veterans’ graveyard, memorial, or even to a veteran.
     
  4. Go see a Memorial Day Parade.  Parades can be such fun to watch.  They are not only an excuse to get out of the house, but also a wonderfulopportunity for the entire family to experience a town, city or county coming together to honor and commemorate truly extraordinary people, people who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
     
  5. Observe the National Moment of Remembrance. Since December, 2000, the National Moment of Remembrance has been set to begin at 3 p.m. wherever you are in the country. This is a time to for you to stop whatever you are doing and pay your respects.

There are countless other activities that can be done today.  What is important is that you participate in them together as a family and give honor to those who first honored us.

How Our Love For Our Moms Matures As We Get Older

Today’s blog is a celebration of moms as Mother’s Day is on Sunday.  What more can be said about how wonderful our moms are that has not already been said?    What I would like to focus on is our relationships with our moms. To me, the statement on my blog shows how our views of our mothers change at different ages and is very accurate.

I look at my own relationship with my mother.  Although I never felt that my mother was “annoying”, I have had many of these feelings at different ages.  When I was young, my love for my mother was characterized by an exclamation mark: it was a love for a mother who was the world to me and the center of my universe.  As I got into my teens, I was ready to get out of my mother’s nest and spread my wings. However, after leaving home and living every day in the real world, by my 20s, I knew my mother had been often right.  Now, later in age, I really don’t want to lose my mom.  I spend the major holidays with her and try to stay in contact with her as much as possible.  She can’t travel now because she suffered a stroke, so I visit her.  I am certain that as I get older, I will appreciate and love her even more!

As I look at my sons’ relationships with me, I see the same pattern too.  My sons are now in their 20s, so I get to hear “Mom, you were right.”  But, that was only after years of being “annoying” to them and their wanting to leave the house and spread their wings. 

No matter what stage of life you are at, it is very important to love your mother.  Allow your relationship with your mom to grow and mature, as you do.  Happy Mother’s Day!

Plan A Parent-Child Date Night Every Now and Then

Last week, I wrote about how important it is for parents to have regular date nights away from their children so that they can develop a deep relationship with each other.  Today, I am focusing on a parent having a “date” or “date night” with a child.  Why would such an event be important?  The answer is simple – because it is a special time specifically set aside just for the parent and child to bond.

Each child is unique.  In order to learn what is truly distinctive about your child and the gifts God has given him/her, you need to spend time with each of them apart from your busy day.  As you do, you talk, ask questions, listen without being judgmental, laugh, hold hands and do whatever else makes you both have fun and enjoy each other’s company.  There should be no cell phones, lap tops, or other demands on a parent’s time and attention, as your full concentration should be on spending quality time with your child.   And, you can stay home or go out for an activity; you can go to a free event or an expensive one, such as dining at a fancy restaurant.  You can do them once a month or more frequently.  The choice is yours. 

In her blog, homeschool mom Heather Brown gives very good advice about parent-child dates and makes some creative recommendations about what to do with your child on these “dates”.   To read more, visit this link.