Category Archives: Diversity and Culture

Helping Teens Build Character, Part Two (Guest: Barbara A. Lewis)

Radio-style Interview, The Changing Behavior NetworkCharacter does count. In this second of a two-part interview from our archives, former educator and skilled author, Barbara Lewis, helps us gain more insight into ways to help teens identify and strengthen traits of character.

………………………………………….

Barbara A. Lewis, Helping Teens Buuild CharacterSome character traits are optional. For instance, we can choose to be thrifty, punctual or curious. But other traits, like honesty and a respect for life, are absolutely necessary for a society to survive and thrive. It’s that important.

So if character counts, we would do our children a great service by teaching them early how much it does count, wouldn’t we? As teens begin to grow into adults, it’s especially important they develop positive traits of character and practice them regularly in the real world.

What Do You Stand For?, Barbara LewisAuthor, educator, and guest on this program, Barbara A. Lewis, believes strongly that young people need to know not only what they stand for, but how they should put it into action. In fact, that’s the title of Barbara’s book for and about teens, What Do You Stand For? A Guide for Building Character. In this second of a two-part program, Barbara will share her insights on character development and how to share it with teens.

Barbara has won many honors and awards as both an author and an educator. She and her work have been featured often in print and broadcast media, including Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, Family Circle, “CBS This Morning,” “CBS World News,” and CNN. (24:29)

http://www.BarbaraALewis.com

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Target as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK


(START/STOP Audio)

Helping Teens Build Character, Part One (Guest: Barbara A. Lewis)

 

Radio-style Interview, The Changing Behavior NetworkCharacter does count. In this two-part interview from our archives, former educator and skilled author, Barbara Lewis, helps us gain more insight into ways to help teens identify and strengthen traits of character.

………………………………………….

Barbara A. LewisSome character traits are optional. For instance, we can choose to be thrifty, punctual or curious. But other traits, like honesty and a respect for life, are absolutely necessary for a society to survive and thrive. It’s that important.

So if character counts, we would do our children a great service by teaching them early how much it does count, wouldn’t we? As teens begin to grow into adults, it’s especially important they develop positive traits of character and practice them regularly in the real world.

What Do You Stand For?, Barbara LewisAuthor, educator, and guest on this program, Barbara A. Lewis, believes strongly that young people need to know not only what they stand for, but how they should put it into action. In fact, that’s the title of Barbara’s book for and about teens, What Do You Stand For? A Guide for Building Character. In this two-part program, Barbara will share her insights on character development and how to share it with teens.

Barbara has won many honors and awards as both an author and an educator. She and her work have been featured often in print and broadcast media, including Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, Family Circle, “CBS This Morning,” “CBS World News,” and CNN. (20:16)

http://www.BarbaraALewis.com

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Target as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK


(START/STOP Audio)

The Tablecloth: A Story for the Christmas Season

BTLifesMoments
Jim Gentil, my friend in Austin, Texas, published this story about ten years ago in his online newsletter, The Power of Positive Living. It captures the essence of the Christmas season. It was originally written by Howard C. Schade under the title of “The Ivory and Gold Tablecloth.” May this story from our archives bless your soul, as it has mine. –JDS

…………………………………………..

At Christmas time, men and women everywhere gather in their churches to wonder anew at the greatest miracle the world has ever known. But the story I like best to recall was not a huge miracle — not exactly.

It happened to a pastor who was very young. His church was very old. Once, long ago, it had flourished. Famous men had preached from its pulpit and prayed before its altar. Rich and poor alike had worshipped there and built it beautifully. Now, the good days had passed from the section of town where it stood.

But the pastor and his young wife believed in their run-down-church. They felt that, with hard work and lots of faith they could get it in shape. Together they went to work.

The Storm

stormBut, late in December, a severe story whipped through the river valley; the worst blow fell on the church. A huge chunk of rain-soaked plaster fell out of the inside wall just behind the altar. Sorrowfully the pastor and his wife swept away the mess, but they could not hide the ragged hole.

The pastor looked at it and had to remind himself quickly, “Thy will be done!” But his wife wept, “Christmas is only two days away!”

That afternoon the dispirited couple attended an auction held for the benefit of a youth group. The auctioneer opened a box and shook out of its folds a gloriously beautiful, very ornately sewn, gold and ivory lace tablecloth.

It was a magnificent item, nearly 15 feet long. But it, too, dated from a long vanished era. Who had any use for such a thing today. There were a few half-hearted bids, then the pastor was seized with what he thought was a great idea.

He bid it in for $6.50.

He carried the glorious gold and ivory lace cloth back to the church and very carefully put it up on the wall behind the altar. It completely hid the hole! And the extraordinary beauty of its shimmering handwork cast a fine, holiday glow over the chancel.

It was a great triumph. Happily, he went back to preparing his Christmas sermon.

The Woman in the Cold

busstopJust before noon on the day of Christmas Eve, as the pastor was opening the church, he noticed a woman standing in the cold at the bus stop.

“The bus won’t be here for 40 minutes!” he called, inviting her into the church to get warm.

She told him she had come from the city that morning to be interviewed for a job as governess to the children of one of the wealthy families in town, but she had been turned down. As a Jewish war refugee, her English was imperfect.

The woman sat down in a pew and chafed her hands and rested. After a while, she dropped her head and prayed.

She then looked up and saw the great gold and ivory cloth. She rose suddenly and walked up the steps of the chancel.

She looked a the beautiful tablecloth with with remembering eyes.

“It is Mine!”

The pastor smiled and started to tell her about the storm damage, but she didn’t seem to listen. She took up a fold of the cloth and lovingly rubbed it between her fingers as tears welled in her kind eyes.

But they were happy tears of recognition.

“It is mine!” she said. “It is my banquet cloth!” She lifted up a corner and showed the surprised pastor that there were initials monogrammed on it.

“My husband had the cloth made especially for me in Brussels! There could not be another like it.”

For the next few minutes the woman and the pastor talked excitedly together. She explained that she was Viennese, and that, in being Jews, she and her husband wanted to flee from the Nazis. They were advised to go separately. Her husband put her on a train for Switzerland. They planned that he would join her as soon as he could arrange to ship their household goods across the border.

But she never saw him again. Later, she heard he had died in a concentration camp.

“I have always felt it was my fault to leave without him,” she said. “Perhaps these years of wandering have been my punishment.”

The pastor tried to comfort her and urged her to take the beautiful cloth with her. But she refused saying, “No, no, the cloth has found its way to you. You need it. It has purpose here; I want you to have it. I am happy knowing you have it.”

She gazed lovingly up at the magnificent gold and ivory lace cloth, then quietly went away.

The Repairman

As the church began to fill on Christmas Eve, it was clear that the magnificent cloth was going to be a great success. It has been skillfully designed to look its best by candlelight.

The glorious gold and ivory lace cloth actually glowed in the candlelight. It cast lovely fine designs on the walls and ceilings of the church. Everyone looked around in wonderment, and a tranquil ambiance was cast over all.

After the service, the pastor stood at the doorway. Many people told him the church looked more beautiful than ever before.

chimesFrom the generous donations that were given, a few days later the pastor had the local jeweler, who was also the clock-and-watch repairman, come to repair the church chimes.

The repairman’s gentle middle-aged face drew into a look of great astonishment! As if in a trance, he walked right up to the beautiful cloth and looked upon it intently.

“It is strange,” he said in his soft accent. “Many years ago, my wife, God rest her, and I owned such a cloth. My wife put it on the table (and here he gave a big smile) for holidays and when the Rabbi came to dinner.”

Reunited

The pastor suddenly became very excited. He told the jeweler about the woman who had been in the church to get warm, saw the cloth, and recognized it to be hers.

The startled jeweler clutched the pastor’s arm. “Can it be?” he said, through desperate tears.

Together the two got in touch with the family who had interviewed the woman for the governess position and got her address. Then they both drove to the city.

The jeweler knocked on the heavy, weathered door. As it opened, there stood his beloved wife. The many years of separation were immediately washed away by their blissful tears. They held each other in loving embraces, never to be parted again.

Purpose in the Storm

True love seems to find a way. To all who hear or read this story, the joyful purpose of the storm was to knock a hole in the wall of the church.

So, Dear Ones, the next time something knocks a hole in your dreams or your goals, just remember to have enough faith and enough belief in those dreams and goals to lovingly and creatively hang your own brilliant lace cloth over the temporary mar.

Then watch the miracles come. ###

The Harder You Work, the Bigger the Snowman (Michael Byron Smith)

As we prepare for the winter season, Michael Byron Smith has some great ideas about how families can share the best of cold-weather times with their children. This article, “The Harder You Work, the Bigger the Snowman,” comes from our archives.
………………………………….

There is no school equal to a decent home, and no teacher equal to a virtuous parent.

Mahatma Gandhi

The Power of Dadhood, Michael Byron SmithIt starts around October. People, almost exclusively adults, start complaining about the onset of winter. I understand their point of view. Their focus centers on being cold, dealing with icy roads and often dreary weather. I don’t like those things either, but not enough to worry or complain about them.

Few of us have to be in the cold air longer than it takes to walk from our toasty car to our toasty home or office, at least not often. Slippery roads are a nuisance, but where I live in the Midwest, there may be only 10-15 days all winter when the roads are seriously snowy or icy for part of a day. In more northern states, they really know how to deal with their more frequent snowy days and they do it efficiently. There isn’t much you can do about dreary days, but I’ve seen dreary days in every season. With those realities said, I believe any adult that doesn’t like winter has the right to complain about it or move to a warmer climate. But it is also my opinion that children who are raised in areas that have seasons are advantaged in experiences and learning.

The Power of Dadhood, Michael Byron SmithNow I admit that winter comes in last in my list of favorite seasons. Spring, fall, summer, then winter is how I rank the seasons. But I LOVE seasons! In winter, I thoroughly enjoy watching the snow fall while I sit by a fire. And there is certainly beauty in winter if simply a red cardinal resting on a branch with a snowy background.

One of my favorite sensations ever was at my farmhouse in the country, waking in the morning after a heavy snowfall had blanketed the earth the night before. The wind was completely still in the bright morning sunshine. I walked outside and it was the most profound silence I have ever experienced. It was as if the snow had muffled every possible sound, except the squeaky sound of my boots sinking in the snow. The scene was truly a Norman Rockwell painting.

I accept winter and look for those experiences that only winter can provide. This brings me back to children. You rarely hear them complain about winter. They pray for snow and run around outside so much they don’t get cold. When they come in, a little hot chocolate will put the exclamation point on a fun and memorable kid experience. I have many memories of playing outside with friends, coming in with my hands so numb that the cold water from the tap felt warm, and I loved it!

You can join in the fun with them. Have a snowball fight or take them on a hike in the woods. The exercise and cooler weather make it comfortable and invigorating with views no longer obstructed with leaves. And you can sneak in a few life lessons occasionally using tricky little metaphors that may stick with them longer than a boring lecture.

Teachable Moments in Winter
The Power of Dadhood, Michael Byron SmithBuild a snowman with your children. Maybe you can have a competition for the best snowman. The teachable moment may be, ‘the more you work on your snowman the bigger and better he will be–just like anything else you will ever do’. But working hard isn’t the entire answer to success. You have to work smart also. It’s impossible to make a good snowman with very dry snow, even if you work very hard at it. With a little patience, a warmer sunny day will melt the snow wet enough to be able to build your snowman. The teachable moment: Patience and smarts will often save you a lot of time and effort with better results.

Go sledding with your children. Find a nice long hill and feel the thrill of zooming down. If they want to ride down again, they will have to trudge up the hill. The first ride down is free, after that they will have to work to experience it again. Going down is easy. Going up is work! The teachable moment: Nothing worthwhile is really free. There is always effort required by someone. The only ones who sled down for free are those that don’t have the strength and need the help of others to get back on top. Which of those would you rather be?

Not only are there life lessons to teach, but there are science lessons that will be remembered when they are in school. Take your children ice skating. Skating is best when there is very little friction, allowing them to glide effortlessly. But when they need to stop, they want some of that friction back so they dig into the ice. Friction is like fire. It can save your life or ruin it. How people use it makes all the difference!

Some history lessons can be best expressed in the winter. The strength of our forefathers and ancestors can be demonstrated, when there were no furnaces to warm them up with a push of a button; or when their home was a teepee or mud hut. No snowplows helped them out. Grocery stores were rarely nearby and food had to be grown or hunted. Traveling for just thirty miles would take half a day or more and the only heat was from the horse if you were lucky enough to have one. Not until one thinks about how tough conditions were for others in the past will they understand and appreciate the fortune they have today.

The Power of Dadhood, Michael Byron SmithBut maybe the most important of all these moments, whether you stop to teach or not, is to be actively engaged with your children, having fun, creating everlasting memories, and making connections to them that will serve both you and them forever. I already mentioned a couple of winter activities, but there are others you can enjoy with your kids including baking things together, movie nights, reading books, crafts, snowball fights, going to sporting events, and so much more.

Take advantage of every opportunity
I wish everyone a great winter season! Make the best of every day no matter the season, and never miss a chance for a teachable moment for your children. And for you older folks out there who hate winter, just think about how fast time passes for us! It’ll be spring before you know it; the recent contrast of winter causing it to be even more appreciated. I can almost see the tulips and crocuses popping through the ground already. Another teachable moment! ###

Article and photographs by Michael Byron Smith, author of The Power of Dadhood [website]
“Helping Fathers to be Dads” blog

 

Teaching Kids Happiness and Innovation (Guest: Mike Ferry)

BTRadioIntWhat is it, really, that creates and sustains happiness in ourselves and in our children? Listen in to this program from our archives as Mike Ferry, banking on his research and experience in working with young people, offers valuable insights into this important and fascinating topic.

………………………………………..

Some define happiness as a positive by-product of success. In other words, if you are successful enough, you’ll be happy.

Teaching Kids Happiness and InnovationBut that definition doesn’t square with the fact that there are plenty of folks who have the appearance of success, yet they are NOT happy. Evidence and research at this point indicate precisely the opposite position: Happy people tend to be successful people, and they conduct their lives and relationships in a manner that is sustainable and consistent with their closest-held values.

Author and teacher, Mike Ferry, defines happiness as an optimistic, communal and disciplined perspective on life. Every part of that definition makes sense; it’s worth sharing with our children as a major lesson in life.

Happiness and Innovation Mike FerryIn this valuable and informative program, Mike discusses authentic happiness and how it can be combined with innovation and a growth mindset to give our children a strong base, a platform for managing life in a world containing more than its share of challenges. Mike’s here also to suggest how we can encourage our kids to develop and demonstrate other valuable attributes like gratitude, perseverance, mindfulness, purpose, tolerance, collaboration, faith and creativity. All of these will contribute to their happiness and a life well-lived.

Mike’s in-depth research and his years as a middle school teacher and father of four all come together in a book that’s the focus of this program. It’s entitled, Teaching Happiness and Innovation. (28:50)

http://www.happinessandinnovation.com

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Link as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK


(START/STOP Audio)

Building Character Using Analogies from Nature (Guest: Barbara A. Lewis)

The Changing Behavior NetworkCharacter counts, and it always will. Barbara Lewis, nationally acclaimed educator and author of Building Character with True Stories from Nature, shares some excellent ways to teach principles of character using examples from animals and plants. From our archives we present, “Building Character Using Analogies from Nature.”

…………………………..

Sometimes the best lessons in life are best NOT taught directly. Telling Tommy how he needs to be more helpful like his sister might only create resentment toward her with no change in his willingness to help others. So how do we effectively encourage desired behaviors and habits in youngsters like Tommy?

Teaching Positive Character Traits

Our guest on this program, Barbara A. Lewis, will show us a better way to emphasize and teach positive character traits by using analogies, true stories from the behaviors of animals (and even plants).

Since children are naturally drawn to stories and to animals, they not only attend to these analogies, they are stimulated to exercise higher-level thinking skills and, best of all, apply the message. Result: Moral development is enhanced, and youngsters are motivated to create positive changes in a natural and comfortable way.

Listen in as Barbara shares some stimulating and intriguing examples of what animals and plants can teach us about character.

Barbara A. Lewis

Barbara has earned national acclaim and many honors and awards for her work as a teacher and as an author. She encourages youngsters to apply their skills in solving real problems. In fact, while Barbara was a teacher at Jackson Elementary School in Salt Lake City, her students were deeply involved in numerous civic and environmental projects, garnering ten national awards, including two presentations of the President’s Environmental Youth Award.

Prominent print and broadcast media, including Newsweek, Family Circle, “CBS World News” and CNN, have featured Barbara and her work. The book we are featuring, written for parents and educators, is Building Character with True Stories from Nature. The book is published by Free Spirit Publishing. (26:22)

www.BarbaraALewis.com

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Link as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK


(START/STOP Audio)

Technology, Our Children, and Social Connections (Guest: Danielle Lindner)

BTRadioInt-300x75-300x75All parents want their children to grow up to become happy, healthy adults that love their work, their families, and their relationships. But there’s a concern: How do they develop and maintain needed skills for those important relationships in life? This program is about technology, our children, and social connections.

If you take a moment to reflect on it, this really is an ongoing concern facing our children and teens today.

Danielle Linder, The Changing Behavior NetworkSocial Connections

Yes, we’re talking about social connections, the old-fashioned way: person-to-person and face-to-face. Of course, some youngsters will be better at it than others because it’s a skill like many other skills. But, if our children do all of their networking using techno devices, what happens to their face-to-face capability? How might it affect them on the job, in marriage, as a parent, or as a friend later on?

Our Guest: Danielle Lindner

Our guest on this program, Danielle Lindner, strongly believes we should address these issues now rather than later. Listen in as Danielle points out her concerns and how we can help our children understand and act on the value of improved face-to-face interaction with friends, family and others.

DLinderbookA teacher, trainer and educator, Danielle has extensive experience in both the public and private school settings. Seeing a need for an enriching, challenging and socially-engaging program for young people focusing on a scaffolding approach to learning and a strong character education curriculum, she founded The London Day School and Kindergarten Enrichment Academies in Florham Park, New Jersey.

Danielle has written a number of books for children that carry a focus on character education. (The book shown here is Tango: The Little Turtle Who Was Afraid to Go to School.) Danielle is a contributor to the Huffington Post and other publications, and she was named a Top 25 Leading Women Entrepreneur by the New Jersey Chapter of Leading Women Entrepreneurs and Business Owners. (25:32)

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Link as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK


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BONUS: Here’s an excellent article on this from Danielle. It certainly relates to this topic. It’s entitled, “The Joys of Being Bored.” [link]

Make Memories: Work and Play with Your Family (Christy Monson)

CMonsonphotoThis past summer, my husband and I hosted a reunion of his childhood cousins. As kids, these wonderful people loved being together. Some of their families lived in Idaho and some in central California. The parents made a special effort to spend time with extended family, even though they didn’t live close. Every summer the cousins worked together on one farm or another, weeding, feeding livestock and irrigating.

Eventually everyone grew up and went their separate ways. They became doctors, international business men, teachers, and engineers in many walks of life. They saw each other at weddings and funerals, if their busy schedules permitted.

As they reached retirement age, they felt the need to reconnect. At the reunion this summer, they spent three wonderful days reminiscing and getting reacquainted with each other.

Family Talk BookSome of the memories they shared were of a crabby uncle, but most of the stories were told about work and play with hard-driving parents, struggling to eke out a living. No one focused on the barn being full of hay or the price of the potatoes each year. They remembered the time they spent together, filling the irrigation ditches, chasing an errant calf or eating pancakes until they were about to burst.

They talked about the ball games they won, the horses they rode, and the pranks they played on each other. Their reminiscence was about the pleasure they experienced in interacting with each other as kids—their communication and relationships.

Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity, but in doing it.

Greg Anderson

 

The parents of these cousins are not with us anymore, but here are some of the principles we can take away from their child-rearing practices:

1. Spend time with your kids
2. Work and play together
3. Give them a sense of family
4. Enjoy your extended family

 

Most of us don’t have to fill the irrigation ditches or milk the cows anymore. Life has changed. But we can still build relationships with our children through work and play.

A happy family is but an earlier heaven.

George Bernard Shaw

 

As adults what do you remember of your youth? What memories mean the most to you? ###

Christy Monson has an M.S. in Counseling Psychology and Marriage & Family Therapy from University of Nevada at Las Vegas, and established a successful counseling practice in Las Vegas, Nevada. Check out her informative website [link].

 

Envy: Learning to Manage a Powerful Emotion as We Grow (Dr. Josh Gressel)

BTRadioInt-300x75Envy is a valid emotion, yet no one seems to want to claim it. At least that’s the way it appears. Consequently, we might try to hide envy as best we can, yet it often causes us trouble.

So why is one of the Seven Deadly Sins and the subject of one of the Ten Commandments such a mystery? What is envy, and what do we do about it? That’s the topic of this program.

JGresselphotoOur guest on this program, psychologist Dr. Josh Gressel, describes envy as “the neglected emotional stepchild of our inner world.” Managing issues of envy as they affect adults, children, teens and families involves having a “new experience with an old problem.” In the process, we can learn to embrace the emotion as we do the others, while we take a step at becoming even more capable of dealing with life as it comes.

In this interview, Dr. Gressel discusses with Dr. Sutton not only how envy can be identified and addressed, but how it can have faces that are easy to miss. It’s not just the envy of others that causes struggle; the inciting of envy can create pr0blems. Then there’s the youngster or adult who deliberately performs less than their best for fear them might be envied. How costly might that be?

JGresselbookListen in, also, as the subject of “shadenfreude” is discussed. We have no word for it in English, but perhaps we should. Shadenfreude is the practice of finding joy in the misfortune of others, especially when they tumble from high places.

This program just might have you saying, “Yeah … I never thought of it that way, but it really makes sense!”

Josh Gressel is a clinical psychologist practicing in the San Francisco Bay area. He is a student of Jewish mysticism and seeks to integrate spiritual and psychological truths in his work with patients. He’s the author of the book we are featuring on this program. The title of this work is, Embracing Envy: Finding the Spiritual Treasure in Our Most Shameful Emotion. (29:05)

http://www.joshgressel.com

To download a free article from Dr. Gressel entitled, “Five Things to Do When You Feel Envious,” CLICK HERE or go to the Free Articles from Our Experts tab above.

 

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Link as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK


(START/STOP Audio)

The Harder You Work, The Bigger the Snowman (Michael Byron Smith)

There is no school equal to a decent home and no teacher equal to a virtuous parent.

Mahatma Gandhi

It starts around October. People, almost exclusively adults, start complaining about the onset of winter. I understand their point of view. Their focus centers on being cold, dealing with icy roads and often dreary weather. I don’t like those things either, but not enough to worry or complain about them.

Few of us have to be in the cold air longer than it takes to walk from our toasty car to our toasty home or office, at least not often. Slippery roads are a nuisance, but where I live in the Midwest, there may be only 10-15 days all winter when the roads are seriously snowy or icy for part of a day. In more northern states, they really know how to deal with their more frequent snowy days and they do it efficiently. There isn’t much you can do about dreary days, but I’ve seen dreary days in every season. With those realities said, I believe any adult that doesn’t like winter has the right to complain about it or move to a warmer climate. But it is also my opinion that children who are raised in areas that have seasons are advantaged in experiences and learning.

Cardinal in WInterNow I admit that winter comes in last in my list of favorite seasons. Spring, fall, summer, then winter is how I rank the seasons. But I LOVE seasons! In winter, I thoroughly enjoy watching the snow fall while I sit by a fire. And there is certainly beauty in winter if simply a red cardinal resting on a branch with a snowy background.

One of my favorite sensations ever was at my farmhouse in the country, waking in the morning after a heavy snowfall had blanketed the earth the night before. The wind was completely still in the bright morning sunshine. I walked outside and it was the most profound silence I have ever experienced. It was as if the snow had muffled every possible sound, except the squeaky sound of my boots sinking in the snow. The scene was truly a Norman Rockwell painting.

I accept winter and look for those experiences that only winter can provide. This brings me back to children. You rarely hear them complain about winter. They pray for snow and run around outside so much they don’t get cold. When they come in, a little hot chocolate will put the exclamation point on a fun and memorable kid experience. I have many memories of playing outside with friends, coming in with my hands so numb that the cold water from the tap felt warm, and I loved it!

You can join in the fun with them. Have a snowball fight or take them on a hike in the woods. The exercise and cooler weather make it comfortable and invigorating with views no longer obstructed with leaves. And you can sneak in a few life lessons occasionally using tricky little metaphors that may stick with them longer than a boring lecture.

Teachable Moments in Winter
Build a snowman with your children. Maybe you can have a competition for the best snowman. The teachable moment may be, ‘the more you work on your snowman the bigger and better he will be–just like anything else you will ever do’. But working hard isn’t the entire answer to success. You have to work smart also. It’s impossible to make a good snowman with very dry snow, even if you work very hard at it. With a little patience, a warmer sunny day will melt the snow wet enough to be able to build your snowman. The teachable moment: Patience and smarts will often save you a lot of time and effort with better results.

Go sledding with your children. Find a nice long hill and feel the thrill of zooming down. If they want to ride down again, they will have to trudge up the hill. The first ride down is free, after that they will have to work to experience it again. Going down is easy. Going up is work! The teachable moment: Nothing worthwhile is really free. There is always effort required by someone. The only ones who sled down for free are those that don’t have the strength and need the help of others to get back on top. Which of those would you rather be?

Not only are there life lessons to teach, but there are science lessons that will be remembered when they are in school. Take your children ice skating. Skating is best when there is very little friction, allowing them to glide effortlessly. But when they need to stop, they want some of that friction back so they dig into the ice. Friction is like fire. It can save your life or ruin it. How people use it makes all the difference!

Some history lessons can be best expressed in the winter. The strength of our forefathers and ancestors can be demonstrated, when there were no furnaces to warm them up with a push of a button; or when their home was a teepee or mud hut. No snowplows helped them out. Grocery stores were rarely nearby and food had to be grown or hunted. Traveling for just thirty miles would take half a day or more and the only heat was from the horse if you were lucky enough to have one. Not until one thinks about how tough conditions were for others in the past will they understand and appreciate the fortune they have today.

But maybe the most important of all these moments, whether you stop to teach or not, is to be actively engaged with your children, having fun, creating everlasting memories, and making connections to them that will serve both you and them forever. I already mentioned a couple of winter activities, but there are others you can enjoy with your kids including baking things together, movie nights, reading books, crafts, snowball fights, going to sporting events, and so much more.

Take advantage of every opportunity
I wish everyone a great winter season! Make the best of every day no matter the season, and never miss a chance for a teachable moment for your children. And for you older folks out there who hate winter, just think about how fast time passes for us! It’ll be spring before you know it; the recent contrast of winter causing it to be even more appreciated. I can almost see the tulips and crocuses popping through the ground already. Another teachable moment! ###

Article and photographs by Michael Byron Smith, author of The Power of Dadhood [website]
“Helping Fathers to be Dads” blog