The Family Kitchen

1970'sI grew up in the 60’s and 70’s with my teen years in the later.  In my family, we didn’t have contractors to the house when something needed done.  We did it ourselves.  More accurately, my dad did it with me as his right-hand man.  The entire house was carpeted for those chilly  winters because my mother didn’t like cold, bare floors.  She did a lot of vacuuming, but never really cleaned the carpets.  It would have been to have a carpet cleaning service in Birmingham back then.

Having carpets professionally cleaned is important for various reasons.  Vacuuming doesn’t get out all of the dirt.  Then, there’s dust mites and bacteria.  When you have carpeting in the kitchen, spills are unavoidable.  They always seemed to cause a conniption from Mom.  And bathroom carpet?  Do I need to explain that?  Anyway, bacteria and allergens are often trapped in carpet fibers and cause health issues.  My family never seemed to trace it to the carpet.

My little brother was all boy.  One evening, my mother smelled something burning.  Searching the house, she came to the downstairs bathroom and found her four year old crouching by the toilet admiring a funny swirling pattern in the carpet.  He had sprayed hairspray on the carpet and lit it on fire with Dad’s lighter.  What did they do to punish him?  I’d like to say they “wore him out” but he was four and he wasn’t me.  They just yelled at him and made him cry. Then, they forbade anyone from talking about it because he was sensitive and would cry again.  Poor baby.  Moral of the story: If you have a boy in the family, use tile or linoleum.

It’s funny how you spend years and never think about things.  I never knew that having carpet in the kitchen and bathrooms wasn’t normal until I became a real estate agent.  I had shown hundreds of homes to families and then, one day, it dawned on me: None of them had carpeting in those rooms.

Most homes have hardwood flooring throughout, with vinyl or ceramic tile in the kitchen and baths.  Tile is also prevalent in entrance ways and laundry rooms. It’s easy to clean and sanitize.  If there’s carpet, it’s in bedrooms and the den or family room.  Many homes have giant rugs in the middle of the family room that’s easily rolled-up and replaced.

I was kind of surprised that I was in my forties before I realized that carpeting an entire home is not normal.  When I go to visit my mom, there’s still carpet everywhere.  It makes me want to call the carpet cleaners and have the whole two story house cleaned.

My nose is plugging up just thinking about it.







How is raising children here in the twenty teen’s different from when I was growing up?  Sure, things are different.  External things.  Technology has exploded and every family member has at least one personal device.  School work is researched and accomplished on computer.  Entertainment is by computer, handheld or otherwise.  Television has a couple hundred channels and TV as we know it may be on the ropes in a couple years in favor of Netflix and other computer-based forums.  All these compete for kid’s attention.  

Speaking of attention, most kids have the attention of a gnat.  Try having a conversation with one.  Their minds shift gears so fast you would think they’re emulating a NASCAR racer.  While I tried to draw all the knowledge I could out of adults, kids today want to teach us.  And they usually do when it comes to anything tech.

Everything in their life is so fast-paced it can be overwhelming for parents to keep up.  Moms and Dads need to ask themselves, “Who’s in control?”  There are overwhelming influences vying for the attention of the youth.  Teachers now have social and political agendas to pass on to young impressionable minds.  They may not agree with the values their parents are teaching them.  Their peers are a huge influence, convincing them to go with the latest trends or they’re not cool.  There’s pressure to try cigarettes, pot, drugs, alcohol, get tattoos, piercings and other self-destructive things that they’ll regret later in life.  Parents need to be the most prominent influence.

How do they do that?  I believe it’s by limiting outside influences as best they can.  Not to shelter them, but to take enough interest in their lives that the kids know their parents care about how they turn out.  Of course they care, but they need to demonstrate that they do by showing it.  Open communication is a must.  Drawing out perspectives by asking questions to provoke thought is essential. Also, use family activities to consume the children’s time will keep them busy and away from the wrong people.  It’s important to involve kids in what Mom and Dad are in to.  Use that to teach the value of work, play, respect, and especially setting goals for the future.

Kids value reality most of all.  Parents who unconsciously use the motto, “Don’t do as I do, do as I say” will be dismissed and ignored.  Young people place a high premium on integrity.  They will respect a parent who backs up what they teach them by practicing it themselves.  The old saying, “Actions speak louder than words” carries a lot of weight with kids.

Most of all, parents should let their kids earn their trust and reinforce that trust.  Respect works both ways.  A parent who respects their offspring may get some back in return.  It all comes down to good old fashioned parenting.  


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In my last blog, I mentioned collecting the kid’s smart phones for some valuable family time.  Since then, a new craze has taken over the minds of children and adults: Pokemon Go.  Now, we’re a nation obsessed with this latest fad.  Two of my co-workers tried to tell me that I should do it and I dismissed it because I don’t play online games.  They continued, “But you get exercise because you do it while you’re walking!”  “Do you know what I do?” I asked my manager.  “I walk all the time!”  Then, one morning I opened the store and two women from the next storefront were anxious to get in because they had to kill monsters in my lobby.  I thought it was time to check this thing out.

What I discovered were grown adults peering into their phones with the same intensity as teenagers.  They’re totally engaged at the expense of real-world adult oriented things.  Okay, people are getting off the computer and getting outside to play this thing.  They are walking more and maybe shedding a few pounds.  I guess there are benefits to this fad.

But the stories I’ve heard about people walking out in front of cars, walking off a cliff, walking into other pedestrians, running over small children…you get it.  It’s a little concerning and more so if it happens to you.

I know I’m supposed to cover raising children in the 21st century and I am.  The question is, what kind of example are parents setting for their smart-phone wielding kids?  Can a mom or dad take the phone away from the kids to encourage some other activity while their whole world is a five inch screen?  What kind of response will they get?  “What about your smart phone?”

Technology has taken over the family and where there is a place for it, technology shouldn’t take the place of good old-fashioned child rearing.  Let’s take the time to play a game of catch outside with our kids, get them involved with yard work, go swimming and get out the hose and have a water battle.  The kids would love squirting Mom and Dad so much they would forget about tech for awhile.

The point I’m trying to make is parents need to extract themselves from their own little technology world long enough to take an interest in their kids.  Parent them.  Train them.  Teach them proper values of hard work, learning new skills, respect for others and setting goals for the future.

After the important things are done and parents need to focus on something else, there’s always the electronic babysitter!  As for Pokemon Go, play it where there’s no traffic or pedestrians.


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A lot has been written about raising children in the 21st Century.  Times are different.  Paradigms have shifted.  Kids are more influenced by entertainment, social media, marketing, teachers, coaches, activities and the like.  The list goes on and on.

I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s.  Money was scarce in a blue-collar family.  When Mom wanted a home project done, she knew the cheapest contractor was Dad and his little helper, me.  Now days, most people call a contractor like Birmingham Pro Painters.  You can find them at

My parents thought I had it made because I had all the clothes, toys, a great bike and all I could eat.  My dad would tell me stories of his only toy being a cap pistol and my Mom would tell me of her only doll.  I wondered what their parents had growing up.  Perhaps they made their toys out of sticks and stones.  But growing up into a functional adult is not about what a child has, but it’s about something a lot more substantive.

To raise kids to be productive, successful adults, first patents have to be functional themselves.  Parents with a lot of emotional baggage will pass that onto their children.  A lot of people grew up in homes where a parent abused alcohol and drugs and abused their kids as well.  Then, there’s neglect, another kind of abuse.  Parents will bring the emotional scars from their upbringing into the family and those ripples affect the entire household.  It’s important to recognize emotional problems and deal with them before bringing offspring into the world and perpetuating negative issues.  

Getting professional counseling is a big help, from a pastor or a doctor.  The first step is realizing a problem and committing to getting it fixed.  I’ve always believed that if you need help, get help.  There’s nothing embarrassing about that.  

Next, it’s important to raise kids in a loving environment where they are encouraged and affirmed.  Many parents will wait until their kids do something wrong and then punish or browbeat them after never taking the time to teach them how to do it right.  Correction should be gentle at first.  Taking time to train and explain the why’s and how’s of doing something is just as important as teach them how to do it right.  

I believe parents should focus on the positive and encourage their kid’s right behavior and affirm them as valuable family members.  Treat kids to be respectful to their siblings as well as others and think about the consequences of their words and actions.  Family time is crucial.  In today’s fast-paced lifestyle, parents are running kids all over town to sports practices, ballet, recitals, music lessons, busy, busy, busy.  But what about quality family time at home talking about what’s important to them?  Take the time to listen to your kids.  Teach them values.  Have discussions about current events and what they think about things.  And for the love of God, collect the smart phones and turn them off sometimes!  How can a family have a discussion when the kid’s attention is all in social media?

Raising a family is not easy in the 21st century.  But the old-fashioned values of love, respect, communication, encouragement and affirmation will bring lifelong rewards.




As a person with no children, I am of course no expert on child rearing.  I did not even know until recently that you “rear” your children, not “raise” them like everybody says.  According to my source, “you raise chickens.  You rear children.”

Whatever you call it, parents have to do something to develop their offspring into adults.  I’ve always been interested in that, since I may have kids of my own someday.  Being the first-born, when I grew into an adult, I realized that the oldest in the family is the prototype.  Ask any first-born and they will tell you that their parents had no clue as to what they were doing.  So they erred on the side of psycho!

The stress of being thrust into adulthood is often too much for young parents.  Faced with the realization that there is a tiny person who depends on them for everything is often a big wake-up call.  What in the world do we do?  My sister thought she had it all figured out.  She read all the books on child-rearing until she was an “expert.”  She had also been a professional nanny for rich folks.  She had all the classes and certifications and credentials and was was ready to bring young ones into the world.

One day she mentioned that she didn’t believe in corporal punishment.  I asked if she had to wait until her child was promoted to sergeant to punish her.  Not amused, she explained that she would use “time out.”  “How’s that work?” I asked.  This was going to be good.  She said with a haughty demeanor that she would explain to the child that Mommy is very disappointed in her and that her behavior is unacceptable.  She will then go to her room and think about what she did until she is genuinely sorry for how she acted.  “What if it doesn’t work?” I asked.  “Oh, it will work!” Sis explained enthusiastically.  “But what if it doesn’t?” I pressed.  “It will work!” she raised her voice an octave.  She then began to rehearse all the courses and certifications and credentials she’d received and the books she read, their authors, Dr. Spock and all. “Hey, I’m all for time out,” I explained.  “I wish Mom and Dad believed in it.  But what if it doesn’t work?”  Exasperated, she left the room.

The years passed, and my sister gave me three beautiful nieces who are the joy of my heart.  They’re close in age and sometimes very spirited.  Quenching one tirade from the middle one, she told her that if she didn’t be quiet, she was going to get a spanking.  “What bout time-out?” I asked with a smile.  Rolling her eyes, she said, “Please!”

The girls are turning out to be wonderful young women.  The oldest one is a sophomore in college and the other two are in high school.  They are pretty well behaved and surprisingly responsible.  When they get out of line, my sister just has to threaten to take away their smart phones.  That does it.  Being cut off from the world of cyberspace is the worst kind of punishment imaginable.  download

The experts never envisioned smart phones.  Live long and prosper, Dr. Spock!




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This question should stop any normal parent in his/her tracks.  “You want to have what?” would be the knee-jerk reaction.  It’s the 21st Century and times have changed from when we were kids.

Back in the 70’s I had to ask my parents if I could grow my hair long (past my ears, down my back was pushing it).  “All the guys have long hair,” I argued.  They relented and I spent a summer skipping haircuts to make my debut to 9th grade as one of the cool kids.

Now, kids are not asking something they can change with a trip to the hair stylist. Rather, they want to permanently disfigure their faces.  Tattoos and piercings are pretty hard to undo and this generation of youth is not thinking about the future.  If you don’t believe me, just go to any fast food restaurant and see what’s behind the counter.

Today, an kid’s image is about more than just their clothes and hair.  It’s about having the latest smart phone, the coolest first car and following the latest trends.  Trends tend to be set by the fringe-elements of society, however bizarre.  How we appeared in the 70’s reflected what the hippies looked like in the 60’s with a more conservative approach.  Now, kids want to emulate to the fullest whatever the freakazoids are doing on MTV and the internet.

So, be glad your kid asked in the first place instead of coming home with a surprise in her face.  As parents, we need to be prepared for stuff like this and have a list of questions ready.  Some to ask would be, “What kind of people are you trying to identify with?”  Explain that even though facial piercing might be trendy, it was made popular in recent times by drug-users.  If they want to work in a profession that pays more than minimum wage, having an image as a druggie might be a bad idea.  Big-corporation interviewers would see that hole in her face and think she’s an addict and therefore not worth the risk.

Next, “Have you thought this through?”  Even though she wants to do it now, will she regret it in adulthood.  That applies to tattoos as well.  As your child grows and gains weight, that tat is going to stretch and fade.  Invite them to just look at you.  You’re not as thin as you used to be!

Next, and most important, I would advise instilling in your kid a sense of self-worth.  Something like, “You couldn’t be a prettier girl.  Will a nose ring add to your appearance?  When you remove it, how will that hole look?  You don’t need to follow the crowd, you’re beautiful just the way you are.  You are an awesome person.  Don’t follow the trends, set the trends.”  If you would have been affirming your daughter like this all along, she probably wouldn’t be wanting a nose/lip/tongue/eyebrow/navel-ring.  Your son probably wouldn’t want a tattoo either.

Affirming your kids with a great sense of self esteem and instilling a sense of “We” into them will help keep them from freaky influences.  They will understand that in this family, there’s certain things “We” don’t do.  When kids are raised in a loving, stable environment, they may consider how they represent their parents.

We do look to the future.

So You Think You Know What Your Doing…

Raising children is the hardest job you will ever have.  These days the competition for your child’s attention is like trying to heard squirrels.  Do not fret,  because all you need is a bit of direction.

We will get you enough information so you will not feel overwhelmed.  Get ready because we are about to get you started.