By Jay Tucker

 

Do you remember the TV show “Leave it to Beaver?” The terrifically sappy show starring Tony Dow and Jerry Mathers…as the Beaver, is a classic portrait of Americana family in the 1950s. Sure the show was unrealistic. All of the problems of the world were neatly settled in 23 minutes and all done without mussing June’s hair. Ah, if life were just that simple!

One of the most important truths that the show conveyed was that family unity must be achieved by spending time together as a family. Just about every episode of the show showed the family dining together. It was typically during these times in each episode where the problem was presented and mom and dad offered their counsel. Beaver and Wally usually tried to do things their own way at first, but ultimately the parental advice saved the day.

Times have changed, but some things have remained the same. Children still have problems and mom and dad have wisdom to share. Unfortunately, the time together spent over a meal has all but disappeared. Most American families spend more time apart than they do together. We live in a society that makes it necessary for both parents to have full-time jobs. Our children are just as busy. They spend at least seven hours a day in school, come home to do hours of homework, and then rush away to work or to be involved in some club or activity. The time for conversation has been reduced to a few passing words uttered as we get to our next task.

We understand that we can’t quit our jobs and that our children still need to go to school. What about the rest of the day? Here are a few thoughts.

  • Take advantage of the way young people communicate. Learn how to use the text option on your phone. If you absolutely can not be face-to-face with your child, this is an option that can keep you in the loop.

 

  • Make and post a schedule on the front door of when breakfast, lunch, or dinner will be served. Communicate to your child that this is the result of how much you love them and miss them. Encourage them to be there! You’ll be amazed what happens when you request their presence instead of demand it.

 

  • Let your child determine the topics of discussion. Be creative by asking questions that will lead to discussion about what is going on in their lives. For example, if they want to talk about “American Idol” ask them who they most identify with on the show and why.

 

  • Suggest that your child invite a friend to meal time occasionally. Take the time to get to know their friends. (Even if they have several piercings)

 

  • If, at first, your children aren’t very talkative, don’t force them to talk. Let them enter into the conversation on their own time. Trying to force a young person to talk is like trying to eat Jello with a fork.

 

  • Don’t try to be “cool”. Nothing will turn a young person off faster than trying to act their age. Remember that they WANT your wisdom! The have plenty of friends their own age.

 

  • Avoid these phrases at all cost; “You just think you have problems”, “When I was your age”, “One day you will understand”, “Do as I say and not as I do”, and “Because I said so”

 

Communication is a skill that takes lots of practice. Understand that it may not go well at the start. Your child will probably resist your attempts at getting to know them better, especially if talking to each other is a foreign concept. Start small! Begin by telling them that you love them and that you truly want to hear about their day. When they do start talking to you, remember to listen! Resist the urge to butt in with a solution right away. Sometimes all they want is for someone to listen to them.

About the Author

Jay Tucker is fulltime Youth Minister and dad in Florida and author of “The Whole Youth Worker: Advice on Professional, Personal, and Physical Wellness from the Trenches” from Loving Healing Press. You can read more articles by Jay at his website www.BetterYouthMinistry.com·

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25 Responses so far.

  1. 1
    Kimberly says:

    FANTASTIC article! You offered a lot of wonderful suggestions.

    We’re having an “issue” right now with our daughter who wants to go to a friends birthday party/sleep over but the parents are taking the kids to see a PG-13 movie (my daughter is 11) and from what I read is should have been rated “R”. We keep telling our daughter that she cannot go to the movie if that is the final choice. She’s upset with us but we keep telling her we’re not put on this Earth to be her “friend”, we’re here to be her parents and to raise her to be the best person she can be, both personally and socially.

    Needless to say she’s not happy with us right now but I hope some day when she’s older she’ll look back on this and appreciate what we did for her.

    Thanks again for the fabulous article!

  2. 2
    Heidi says:

    Awesome post and I totally agree. We homeschool our children and that does keep the line of communication open a bit more, as we’re together all day.
    We’ve worked with the youth at our church – it’s a fun and rewarding job! Blessings to you in your ministry.

  3. 3
    chinnee says:

    i like this “Suggest that your child invite a friend to meal time occasionally. Take the time to get to know their friends. (Even if they have several piercings)”. haha…i probably send her friends away if i have not read this!

  4. 4

    Great article. I say “Because I said so” all the time! What should I say instead?
    Mine’s only 4 and it’s frustrating to get her to obey.

  5. 5

    My kids are too young for any of this to be an issue yet, but I know in the blink of an eye we will be dealing with these issues.

    Thanks for the tips, I will keep them in mind as they get older.

    BTW, we don’t have all the fancy TV channels but we have one that plays Leave it to Beaver during the day. My son and I have been watching it recently. Sometimes I wish things were that simple and values that true!

  6. 6

    Great Suggestions, Jay!

    Imagine living in the day of Leave it to Beaver, how simple it would all be.

  7. 7

    Wonderful article. Thank you :)

    Just recently, I was reprimanding my daughter who will be turning 4 in a few months’ time and she said to me -“If you say so”. Guess I have been using the familiar phrase – “Because I Say So” a lot :(

  8. 8

    Excellent post. I couldn’t agree more– kids need their parents, and, well, we parents sure need our kids! (I sure do, anyway).

    Your article is very timely. There has been no other moment in history where the need for family unity and love has ever been stronger.

    Thanks for the article. God bless you. 😀

  9. 9
    Angie says:

    What a fantastic article!!

    I teach a class of children ages 10 – 14 at my church on Wednesday nights, and last night’s topic was on the importance of doing things together as a family.

    Your article offers excellent tips. Thank you for posting them!

  10. 10
    Karen says:

    What a wonderful article! We always insisted our kids sit down with us for dinner. I think we are still close now that they live on their own. Parenting takes effort.

  11. 11

    It’s funny how we joke about shows like Leave it to Beaver, but in reality, I think many of us yearn for that kind of family togetherness, at least sometimes. My girls are 6 and 4 so we don’t have a lot of issues yet, but we need to set a good example early in life while we still have the ability to be influential!

    Thanks for the nice article.

  12. 12
    Jay Tucker says:

    Dear Saph@walkwithme

    Thanks for the comments and in response to your question try, “Because, I have done this myself and it worked for me, so I think it will work for you.”

  13. 13

    I like the suggestion of scheduling meals. Far too often do we eat in seperate rooms or different times.

  14. 14
    Jill W says:

    Great article. My daughter is only 23 months old, but we sit at the table (most of the time) to eat & she sits with us. I am determined for this to continue as she gets older. I know our lives will get busier, but I also feel that it’s really important to talk over dinner!

  15. 15
    Connie says:

    With a concise article you sure covered a lot of bases. The suggestion about inviting your child’s friends to your house is one of my favorites.

    I remember when I was growing up that my friends loved to be at my house. It made me feel so much better about my parents because of that. I’m going to implement that right away!

  16. 16
    Kathleen says:

    I loved reading your tips, and I like that you emphasize being open to what your kids are into, rather than trying to be cool and act like their friend.

    Although my son is just 11 months old, we still eat together as a family and I hope it continues through the teen years.

  17. 17
    Alli says:

    Jay,
    These comments are so true! I wish you could do a training with my student’s parents because it would make a difference in their lives. Television and video games seem to be the companion of many children and that is sad. They need their parent’s love, support, listening ear, understanding, time, energy, and everything else!! (until their parent drops on the floor from exhaustion-haha)
    I was lucky enough and still am lucky to have wonderful parents that support and love me. I try to pass that on to my students and will pass that on to my future children!
    Keep up the great work! :)

  18. 18
    Su Chin says:

    Oh dear, I do say the last statement alot.

    But I do agree with what you’ve written. Now… I have to find a way to stick this on my head..so I don’t forget. 😉

  19. 19
    marybeth i says:

    Great article. I always thought I would be the “cool” mom. I am so NOT the cool mom and don’t try to be.

    It is really hard when you work full time, have duties at home, etc.

  20. 20

    Jay, that was a FANTASTIC article! It is full of current and manageable ideas that really are helpful to me. Being a parent is hard enough these days and so often,it seems like we are trying to parent our 21st Century kids using 20th Century info and ideas.

    I cannot wait to read your next article!

  21. 21

    Extremely sound advice! As a Baby Boomer who remembers the tv show quite well, I was raised in a traditional family. My husband and I have been married for 35 years, and have almost always managed to have dinner with our children together when they were growing up. One is married and now has a family of her own. The youngest graduates college this May. It is extremely challenging to raise children and instill good values in them with all the peer pressure surrounding them. I frequently blog of these challenges. Sometimes I long for the “good old days”.

    Thank you for sharing!

  22. 22

    What a wonderful article. Thank You and God Bless.

  23. 23
    Lynne says:

    I agree, communication is everything and the key to a good relationship with our kids. I find it very important to not only ask questions, but to appear interested and make sure to be really listening. You just never know what you might learn!

  24. 24
    Vien says:

    This is by far one of the best articles I’ve read in regards to parenting.

  25. 25
    Stacy says:

    My mom always used to get to know my friends. Still does actually. :)

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