News & Views
from   The Parenting Center at Abington


 Can you identify with these recent observations of a “tuned-in” Mom?

   The sun feels warmer.

   Days seem longer.

   More of the kids’ skin is showing.

   Demands for new shorts, shirts, and swimsuits are loudly presented.

   The word ‘homework’ elicits deep moans.

 There exists in many homes this sense that something is coming…SOON…

 Might it be:

   A. one more snowstorm

   B. a tax refund

   C. summer

   D. the ice cream truck

   You’re guessing C – summer? Is that your final answer??

 CONGRATULATIONS!!! You win a change in routine for your entire family to “enjoy” until September!!!

 SUMMER. This season evokes different images and feelings for each of us – parents and kids. Some of us look forward to the warmer weather and change in schedules. Others may wish we could skip directly to September. The media tells us that summer “should” include combinations of the following:

   fun         leisure      travel         family time

   sun         picnics      reading      rest

   beach      smiles      camp         swimming

 But the daily reality of summer may look more like:

   work            juggling         stress            boredom

   decisions      sweating      time apart      conflict

   change         moving         expenses      more of the usual

 Perhaps your picture of summer contains elements from both lists, plus others. As the summer approaches, how can we meet all of our desires for the summer, while at the same time cope with all of the realities? It may help, as a parent, to try to employ some of the following summer survival strategies.

  Plan shared time together as a family. Whether it is a weeklong family vacation or a weekend picnic at a nearby park, time away from the everyday stresses of home and work can be used as valuable connecting time for your family. According to Jean Illsley Clarke in her book, Connections: The Threads That Strengthen Families, “Feeling connected lets children know they belong.” It is one of the conditions necessary for a child to develop a positive sense of self-esteem. Family meetings or informal discussions can provide opportunities for input from all family members when planning events. Children feel valued and included when we hear and give consideration to their desires. Keep in mind the need to be able to balance everyone’s wishes with the need to be flexible when things come up.

   · Recognize the need to play! Remember summers as a child when it seemed like all you did was play and swim and play some more? As adults, we forget that we can and should still play, especially with our children. The longer days of summer almost beg us to get outdoors and be together. Even if you are not the type to ride a bike or play ball with your children, challenge yourself to find a way to “let go” and “go play!” Resources and ideas are available in local bookstores, or better yet, from your kids!!

   · Remember to laugh! Many times, we can lighten up a situation with humor when we are tempted to “lose it.” Dolores Curran in her book, Traits of a Healthy Family, states that a positive sense of humor helps us to keep things in perspective and works as an antidote to the drudgery and conflict that can arise during the long days of summer. A healthy family is one that is able to laugh with one another and not at one another.

   · Be alert for symptoms of stress in your family. As summer unfolds, observe behavior. Are family members feeling harried, short tempered, distracted, or tense? Are your earlier expectations about summer not meshing with the day-to-day realities? Curran suggests stepping back and asking yourself, “What’s happening here and how can we get ourselves under control?” Are you needing to just take a deep breath to allow yourself to put your family’s life back in perspective? How can you reconnect as a family in a more positive way? Remember, it can take time for some children and adults to adapt to a change in patterns.

  As you plan for and anticipate the summer months, it can help to keep in mind that there is no one “right recipe” for summer. Despite what the culture or media may “decide” for us, each of us as parents and as a family needs to figure out what works best for us. Whether your summer is highlighted with moments of togetherness, fun, and renewal, and/or dotted with moments of frustration, boredom and stress, you can learn to work towards discovering the ways and the time to turn summer into a special and memorable season of family connection.

By Pam Nicholson, MSW, Certified Parenting Educator

June 2001
Vol. 3/Issue 7

A publication from The Parenting Center at Abington
P.O. Box 596, Abington, PA 19001 (215) 576-0586

Printing of this newsletter is courtesy of the Abington Memorial Hospital.

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