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What it Means to Be a Successful Parent: Weighing In on the Apples Seeds

apple_optGrowing up with “do as I say, not as I do” was confusing. When I think back to my childhood (boy, am I’m aging myself), I can remember my parents smoking cigarettes, but forbidding me to ever try; I recall their using inappropriate language but threatening to wash my mouth out with soap if I ever did.  Don’t get me wrong, my parents did a stellar job in raising my brother and I, and we had a wonderful childhood, but perhaps they weren’t paying attention to the fact that we were indeed watching.

We understood at a young age that we shouldn’t model their bad behaviors because the natural instinct for any parent was to protect their children from harm’s way.  They only wanted the best for us, but as children, we only wanted to grow up and be just like them.  So we absorbed it all; a blend of both good and bad traits.

When my children were small, sugary cereals and snacks, fast food, and carbonated drinks were daily indulgences for all of us.  Twinkies, devils dogs, and Hostess cupcakes were family favorites. I reflect back with tremendous remorse (and huge dental bills to show for it) and question myself if it was ignorance, bad parenting, or both.  But in my defense, health and nutrition were not held to the high standard that they are today, and back then every kid seemed to be romping along in happy candy land, on a perpetual sugar high. It was a repeat of my own childhood.

Now with the trendy rise of wellness and fitness consciousness, I have noticed a new generation of parents who are paying closer attention to healthy living. No more apple juice, soda, white bread, or unhealthy snacks.  But they too, are making healthier choices, and living more wholesome lives.  They are leading by example.

The ultimate challenge of  successful parenting is being a positive role model for our children through our actions, because they really do speak louder than words.  Instilling good values is so important but we must demonstrate them, not merely preach them. Teaching them to think for themselves, to make mistakes and learn from them, and be accountable for their actions are only some of the key ingredients for their success.  These are sustaining life skills that they will utilize as they navigate through the world.  Our objective is to prepare them for the many challenges they will face by providing them with the proper tools.

Undoubtedly, parenting is one of the most difficult roles we take on.   There are no tutorials or standard manuals, and there are certainly no guarantees that great parents produce great kids. 

There is no such thing as the “perfect” parent, but if we remember that our children are paying attention and receiving behavioral cues all the time,  perhaps we can modify some of the bad habits they are apt to inherit. Here are some pitfalls; 

  • If you’re a bit messy and your clothes are strewn all over, don’t be surprised that your kids aren’t putting their toys away. It’s not their fault their things don’t have proper homes, it’s yours. Teach them about the benefits of being organized.  It’s an essential tool they will utilize the rest of their lives.
  • If you’re generally harried, disorganized, and struggle with punctuality, your kids are likely to miss the bus or be late for scheduled appointments. Or worse,  just struggle with time-management in their adult lives.
  • If you are a compulsive couch potato, perhaps your child will also prefer TV over other activities.  Likewise, the avid reader will most likely encourage their children to enjoy reading too. Monkey see, monkey do.
  • If you are not eating healthy or exercising regularly, they probably will be less inclined to do so for themselves.
  • If you don’t recruit your family to help and share household responsibilities, they will not learn these skills.
  • If you don’t use kind words and manage your temper, don’t expect your children to respect others.  Don’t be shocked if they don’t play nicely with others.
  • If you don’t set parameters, the lack of discipline might impact their adult life.


Unquestionably, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”  Children are so impressionable, so impress them. You are their role models so model good behavior.  Lead by example.  Plant those good habit seeds early, they will blossom well.

InfluenceThe goal is to nurture and protect your child, yet foster independence and self-esteem.  Teach them well, love them hard, and they will thrive.  As parents, one of the most gratifying jobs is to aid them in reaching their fullest potential.  If you can do that, your work is done.  You will have succeeded.

How would you measure success in your children?  Ever wonder what kind of parents your children will grow up to be? Hmm…that could be very telling.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t make a difference whether our kids turn out to be exact mini versions of ourselves, happy hybrids, or completely unique.  It only matters that they’re good apples.  And the secret to that my friends,  is all in the seeds.




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Skills That Last a Lifetime: Teach Your Children Well

Back to school could mean back to old habits.  If you want to give your child the best possible opportunity for both academic and personal success, teach them fundamental organizational skills, outside the classroom.

In most cases, you can be sure that the A+ student is an organized one.  A student who earns high grades not only has the obvious aptitude, but in addition, probably relies on a particular skill set of organizational tools to manage the work efficiently.

And yes, it starts as early as Kindergarten.  As a parent, you can only provide your child with the necessary tools and teach them how to apply them. Creating independent little thinkers is vital to their development.

Particularly, at the Elementary School level, be there to check their assignments and aid them in completing the tasks.  Avoid doing the work for them. It’s easier said than done, I know, but they can only achieve if they actually learn it. Letting go of your child’s schoolwork is the  “tough love” required for them to grow.

Assign them their own consistent drop off zone to unload their knapsack, (it could be a cubby, shelf, or hook) so you can supervise its contents; fill in particular forms, return signed permission slips for school trips, etc.  Make them responsible for putting things away; snacks, toys, or finished homework.

It is important to designate special homework time and set guidelines.  Implement good study habits early in their schooling.  Most importantly, you must encourage them to be accountable for their own school organization.  Guide, but don’t hover.

Create a positive and dedicated workspace for which they can do their homework (not in front of the TV or on their bed). There’s nothing wrong with having a workspace in the kitchen, so perhaps you can keep an eye on them while you are preparing dinner.  Being supportive from a distance can still be very effective.

Make it fun to organize their school stuff with them, and reward them for knowing where all their stuff is.  You will be surprised how much more pride they will take in their work, when it is indeed theirs.  When they are in control and once they succeed and see results, the lesson has been learned.  Be their motivator, not their drill sergeant.

By the Middle School level, they will need to be prepared each day and be more on top of all their schoolwork and long term projects, without your direct involvement.   They cannot achieve these goals  if they are disorganized.  Submitting homework on time, respecting project deadlines are an integral component of learning how to manage time. Time-management is a challenge they will face their entire lives and so making this a common practice can only strengthen these skills.

Learning how to study well, and being responsible for quality work can only be possible with some keen sense of paper -management.  Keeping a tidy notebook and organized file folders is paramount.  It is most helpful to create a timeline and a visual calendar board so they can see, at a glance, what is on their to do list.

Instilling the values and benefits of being organized is so important. These are sustaining skills to utilize throughout one’s life. By the time they get to the challenges of High School, they will be fully prepared, hopefully operating at their optimal potential.  As parents, this is all we can do to help them excel in their academic careers throughout college and beyond.

So plant those good habit seeds early, they will blossom well.  The goal is to nurture your child,  yet  foster independence and self-esteem.  Teach them well….and they will thrive.

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