Thursday, January 21, 2010

Is Parenting Easier than Driving?

Have you ever noticed that we put more work into learning to drive than we do into learning to be good parents? Most of us take the job seriously but don't really seek out any kind of training (other than the school of hard knocks). But why? Why would we not want to learn as much as possible about teaching and helping our kids when there is a wealth of information available?
It was this blog that helped me discover a very useful tool. A friend and fellow member of our church read my blog. She is the mother of three all under the age of four. She sent me a message praising the blog as a good way to reach out to others for advice (i.e. help) and she shared that when they had their first little one her husband and her attended a parenting class offered by our church.
This got me thinking and searching. It turns out that the parenting class is an effort funded by the Kronkosky Charitable Foundation and it is offered by many non-profits throughout San Antonio and Texas in both English and Spanish (I'm sure that if this exact class is not available in your area other positive parenting classes are). So I signed us up for the first class available.
Last night we attended our second night of Precious Minds, New Connections parenting classes and I have to say that this is a great tool indeed. This particular class is taught by two seasoned moms who are also educators and very easy going. Yes, some of the material is information we're already familiar with like Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs or Erikson's Developmental Stages (ever heard of a mid-life crisis) BUT it is good to review and even better to learn how to apply these theories to help you parent better.
This class teaches us parents how to understand our child or children well enough to determine how to best help them develop into stable adults. In reality, if we listen carefully and are open minded we can even pick-up great tips on how to improve our social interactions with almost everyone including our spouses.
Most of the Precious Minds, New Connections parenting classes provide free child care during the class time and snacks & refreshments during class. You can find a class by checking with your church or synagogue or other non-profits. You may also find a class by searching online.
I highly recommend that every parent of a child four and under take this class or another comparable positive parenting class. It will be worth your time and you might meet some other parents who share your concerns and your goals. I'm looking forward to our other six classes and hope to use these tools for years to come as I trek through parenthood.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Letter to my Daughter

Hija mía (Daughter of mine),
On a cold rainy day I sit in a coffee house during my lunch hour wishing I could be home with you. Happy that you are home with daddy and that he is sharing his love and patience with you as he trys his best to teach and comfort you. I think about how you smile at the mention of papi and are almost always ready with a hug and kiss for him. I try hard not to get too emotional thinking that it should be me home with you and remember to be grateful that regardless of traditional roles you are home with a parent who loves and cares for you.

Funny how before you came into our lives we had a plan but it wasn’t until you were actually here that we realized that our plans need more tweaking and a lot more flexibility. Some day when you are grown and have your own children perhaps you will read this letter and you will understand that being a parent is hard and that right or wrong your papi and I always tried our best to give you a sense of self, strength, and opportunities. I also hope that our friendship and love will make us for these hours I have to miss with you.

Although you are not quite 2 years old yet your papi and I are already looking at the future thinking about your education. We want you to have it all and to learn to not just speak our/your native language but to understand and love your roots and culture. Like us you will straddle two worlds sometimes owning both and other times neither. By birth you are American but your blood is a mixture of those ancient people, European and Native, that have blended traditions and faith and formed our beautiful neighbor- Mexico.

Through your veins courses the wisdom and pain of past civilizations. Your blood is rich with culture and your roots are strong. That said, we hope your footsteps in this country are steady and full of purpose for you’re walking in your home. May you find or make paths in the USA but not forget your blood.

Papi and I worry about how to give you the gift of a second and maybe third language. We know that the world is so much larger than our own neighborhoods and want you to be a citizen of the world so what better way to help you on that path than through language. Of course since you are but a little toddler we also worry about everyday things like keeping you healthy and growing strong but we can already see how bright you are and we are sure we can handle the little stuff now so we have leaped into the bigger issues like education, language, travel, etc.

I guess the real reason for this letter is to share my intent. I want to tell you and the world what our hopes and goals are for you and therefore be even more accountable. Understanding that our faith asks us to put things in God’s hands we are sure that someway somehow we will find the opportunities needed to give you all we can. We are eagerly on a journey that will shape us all and if you hold on for the ride and forgive us our stumbles we are sure the world will be better because you are in it.

Con mucho amor,
Tú mami

Monday, January 11, 2010

Raising a Bilingual Child

Have you ever stumbled upon a great resource and felt the need to share it with the world? I just did and I’m about to share. Some of you may know that my husband and I are raising a bilingual / bicultural child. She is only 22 months old so we are well aware we have a long road ahead of us regarding her language skills therefore I am always on the look-out for good resources and Google is my favorite way to find them.
Our story in brief:
I grew up speaking, reading and writing Spanish at home because my parents were both natives of Mexico and Spanish was their preferred language. They are both educated and made it a point to work hard to maintain the use of the minority language at home with both my brother and I. That said, we were born, raised and educated in the US so our constant daily influence was English. I am fully bilingual and these skills have served me well throughout school and work but I recognize that it was through my parent’s constant effort that I acquired this very useful tool and want to give my daughter the same gift they gave me. My husband understands Spanish well enough but his skill level is much more conversational. He is fully supportive but both he and I speak predominately English to each other. This worries me. It worries me because I don’t feel that we expose her enough to the “minority” language and therefore I wonder if we will succeed in raising her bilingually.
For this reason I have been researching online. I’m looking for support and tools and just last week I came across a GREAT resource: Multilingual Living Magazine. It is an online magazine that needs our support! The writers are passionate volunteers and the content is excellent. They can be found on the website. The site is also very useful and full of great information, tips, links to blogs etc. Our lives are enriched by information and I hope you find this site as valuable as we do. May it contribute to your journeys.
All the best,

Lilli, Jb, & Gaby