Teachable Moments – Talking about 9/11…or not

Parenting is all about teachable moments . . . taking moments as they naturally come and use them to teach a lesson about life.  Once, my now 8-year old son asked me why don’t you sell your car and buy a convertible?  So we had a talk about how money is made/earned, supply and demand, and depreciation . . . all on a level that he could understand.  Whether that lesson actually stuck is a separate question.

Somehow, we’ve managed to make it through the last few weeks without being bombarded by stories and images of September 11, 2001.  This means that our kids’ views of the event haven’t been shaped by the media coverage or political speeches.  It seems like a teachable moment.  The lesson outline is still forming in my mind.  There are countless resources available online to talk to kids about it.  But that assumes that you’ve decided to teach them about it.

If you have children who have only known a post-9/11 America, have you chosen to talk to them about what happened that day and since?  Why or why not?  If you have, what was the one take-away lesson you try to impress on them?


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Like a cup of cool water

glasswaterSometimes, it’s good not to be in control.  But.  This.  Is.  Not.  My.  Nature.

I could rightly be accused of being a control freak.  (I prefer to think of it as planned independence.)  That’s my default.  I don’t like feeling hemmed in.  I always want options.  I like flexibility.  I want to be independent.  I want to decide my own fate.

For example, I don’t carpool to work.  If I need to run an errand during lunch or after work, I don’t want to be limited just because I rode with someone that day.  Or, I don’t want every detail of a vacation to be planned because I wouldn’t want to become enslaved to the itinerary. Continue reading


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Hello, Stranger! Can I brighten your day?

brighten-your-dayI’m looking for some help with an experiment.

Have you ever noticed that some people have a way of making a room darker just by entering it?  There’s something about their personality, attitude, or outlook on life that makes you wish you were somewhere else.

Then there are people that can make almost any situation better simply by being present.  Sometimes it’s their demeanor.  Sometimes it what they say, what they do, or the expression on their face.  Whatever it was, they made your day better simply because your paths crossed.

Here’s where I could use your help:  Please share your ideas on how to brighten the day of a stranger. How would you make their day better?

Or:  If a complete stranger came up to you, what could they say to you or do for you right then and there that would make your day better — a little bit brighter?

I’m looking for ideas that are small enough that just about anyone could do it, but noteworthy enough that the other person would probably remember it at the end of their day and maybe even tell a friend about it.

Please post your comments here on this blog so others can join in on the discussion. Thanks!


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WitnessSome books take me for a wild ride in my imagination to other worlds, times, experiences, and place.  Other books fill my head with new information.  Some books proverbially rock my world and cause me to rethink what I thought I already knew.

Witness doesn’t quite fit into any of those categories for me.  It’s a familiar story with familiar characters.  Yet it has been an incredibly insightful book for me — not because of the story itself.  Instead, it is the way the main character tells her story that makes this book well-worth reading.  And it’s a quick read, too!  (Keep reading . . . no spoilers.) Continue reading

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Econ 101 with a 6-year old

If you’ve read my blog lately, you know that I’ve been sharing a few of the conversations that I’ve had with our six year old son.  All three of these conversations happened in the same afternoon, running errands around town.  One of those conversations was about economics.

Jeep with doors offJust a bit of background:  My son has a thing for cars and other vehicles that look different.  Convertibles.  Monster trucks.  Garbage trucks.  He notices them.  Points out how awesome that pickup truck is — the one that you need a stepladder to get into.  Reminds us how he wants me to buy a convertible.  You get the idea.

We were sitting at an intersection when he noticed a Jeep Wrangler go by with its doors off.

Him:  Why do Jeeps sometimes have their doors off?

Me:  Because people sometimes like to drive with their doors off.

Yeah, but why can’t we?

Oh, because Jeeps are especially made so that their doors can be removed.

(Several seconds of silence . . . the kind of silence that tells you there’s another question coming soon.) Continue reading

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Conversations with a 6-year old (Part Deux)

Seal of the President of the United States of AmericaSometimes kids ask questions that suggest insight and perspective beyond their years.  Just a few days ago, our six year old asked me about politics.  We were driving around town, and I was listening to NPR.  They were reporting on a speech that President Obama had given earlier that day.  That spawned a conversation about politics, term limits, and elections.  Here’s a part of that conversation.

Him: Dad, Barack Obama is our president now, right?  Who was our president before him?

Me: Yeah.  Before Barack Obama, George W. Bush was our president.

Why didn’t we vote for Barack Obama? Continue reading

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Conversations with a 6-year old

Jesus is coming

Kids say the darnedest things . . . or so the saying goes. This week, I had a few interesting conversations with my 6-year old where he brought up some things that made me go hmm. Here’s one of those conversations.

We were out shopping for a birthday gift for my 4-year old daughter. A few miles from where we live, there’s a billboard along the highway that boldly proclaims Jesus Is Coming.

Him: Why is that sign there?

Me: What sign? Continue reading

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