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August 31, 2016
Uncategorized

Some Personal Invitations

You know, we just don’t thank you often enough as ValuesParenting members and followers, for your support and for your diligence in prioritizing family and being what we think of as a real movement for strong families, joyful kids, and balanced lifestyles. So thanks!

One way of showing our appreciation is to extend some personal invitations to you. Here are four:

  1. We invite you to subscribe to our 2 Instagram pages (eyrealm_valuesparenting and lindaeyre), to our YouTube channel, and to Linda’s blog. You can also keep up with our latest articles and media with the drop down menu under our names at the top of the ValuesParenting home page.
  2. We invite you to read for free as much as you want from more than half of our books at eyresfreebooks.com.
  3. We invite you to do Joy School this year or to pass this invitation to do Joy School on to others you know—particularly friends or relatives—who have preschoolers and are looking for a low cost way to get them ready socially and emotionally for kindergarten. Also, we invite you to get some help in teaching fundamental values your elementary age kids from Alexander’s Amazing Adventures.
  4. And finally, we invite you to stay in touch and to send us questions or comments any time by commenting on these blog posts.

Thanks for doing the most meaningful thing in the world as we all do our part to save our society one family at a time!

August 31, 2016
Uncategorized

For Gender Equality, Men Should Become More Like Women

As many ValuesParenting followers know, several of our daughters are bloggers, and when you have a public “mommy blog,” you had better have a thick skin because not all your feedback will be positive.

There are trade-offs. On the one hand you may influence others for good, spread good family or marriage or parenting ideas, and give other moms a community where they can commiserate about the ups and downs of raising kids and maybe feel a little less lonely in the process.

But you also open yourself to a lot of criticism and misunderstood motives from those who enjoy judging others and tearing down lifestyles and perspectives that they don’t agree with.

As the husband and dad of family bloggers, I see a lot of this judgment and criticism in the comments, often with words so rude and so anonymous that they would never be said in person or with a name attached.

I usually ignore these, as do Linda and our daughters, but sometimes, truth be told, I read and even enjoy them because the more intelligent comments can give some new perspectives and make me aware of other viewpoints very different from my own.

I saw a comment the other day though, that just couldn’t be ignored—partly because it gives me a good reason reason to say something I’ve been looking for an opportunity to express. The comment went like this:

“The Eyre’s daughters and daughters in law…all seem to be bright, competent women; just think what they could contribute to the larger world if they expanded themselves from being good girls in this family and ventured outside their domestic roles.”

Well, first of all, each of our daughters have expanded themselves far beyond our family and their domestic roles in all sorts of ways. Starting with degrees from places like Wellesley, Boston University, BYU, Harvard, and Columbia, they have gone on to contribute in several professional fields.

But embodied in that critical blog comment there is an erroneous assumption about gender and about contribution that needs to be corrected. The implication is that the way to gender equality is for for women to live life and play roles more like men. To be equal, the reasoning goes, women must do exactly the same things as men and prioritize the things men have traditionally done in society.

Wait a minute: If equality and sameness were actually synonyms, it would mean that, to be equal, a corporate vice president of marketing would have to do exactly the same things as the corporate vice president of research and development. This view ignores the fact that very different people, playing very different roles, can be equal in every important respect.

But the problem with this blog comment is even deeper than that. It assumes that the way to improve a woman’s life—the way for her to find her greatest fulfillment and make her greatest contribution—is to “get out into the world—make money—climb the corporate ladder—succeed professionally.”

What if this was all horribly and totally backwards? What if the greatest fulfillment and joy and the most important contribution was raising children and developing loving and lasting family relationships? And what if everything else in life was supplemental and supportive of those goals.? What if C. S. Lewis was right when he said, “The homemaker is the ultimate career; all other careers exist to support that ultimate career”? What if the more happiness-and-fulfillment-producing thing we could do was not trying to move women toward the traditional roles of man, but to move men toward the traditional roles of women?

I can tell you one thing: No one, on their deathbed has ever said “Oh, how I wish I had spent a little more time at the office with my co workers.” The regrets, and we see them all the time with the Baby Boomer generation we work with, are for not devoting enough time and effort and energy to relationships and to family. For so many, the realization comes too late—that their real legacy is not their professional accomplishments but their familial relationships—their children, their grandchildren, and the time and traditions and love they have built. How they wish they had understood it sooner and devoted themselves more to it.

One of the great ironies of the women’s movement is that as it has focused on making women more like men, more and more men have begun to realize that they actually want to be more like women in the sense of being heavily involved and invested with their kids, devoting themselves to prioritizing and building a strong family, and understanding that their work and careers are not ends in themselves but the means by which they can obtain and support strong families.

More and more men as well as women today get it that if all their thought and effort goes into their job they are missing not only the most joyous part of life but the most lasting part. We are figuring out that it makes more sense to work to live than it does to live to work. Careers are important, but they are a means rather than an end.

So when someone says “Too bad your capable daughters haven’t used their smarts and their talents to make a name for themselves or to reach recognized professional success,” I just say thank goodness they knew there was something more important than that—and thank goodness their husbands knew the same thing. Thank goodness they are trying to work as real partnerships to raise great kids and value their work and careers as the support mechanism for their families.

And by the way, it’s not either-or. Single parents as well as couples can, if it is their goal, find ways to contribute and make a difference in the broader world even as they put their own family first. Most readers know of Saydi’s contributions as a Social Worker and she and Shawni’s photography professions; and you know of Charity’s and Saren’s work in education and Saren’s worldwide organization, Power of Moms. No question they could do more and devote more time and energy to career and profession. And no question that Linda, while she has had a great career as a writer and speaker, could have had a much more extensive music career if she had not made the choice to prioritize her children and her family. And let me go a step further: Each of their husbands (including me) could have made more money and had more titles if we had been willing to put work above family and to think of family supporting the career rather than the other way around. But that is just the point. We choose not to. And it is a choice more people, men and women are making today than ever before.

Is all this a nostalgia for Ozzie and Harriet, for Leave it to Beaver, for the way life was and the rigid roles of men and women in the 50s? Of course not. In a way it is the exact opposite—it is looking to the future rather than to the past—it is recognizing that a type of equal marital partnership, based on commitment and mutual agreement to prioritize children and family solidarity is more possible today than it has ever been before and that the rewards of putting family at the center and seeing all other aspects as support mechanisms are both momentary and long-term.

This is also, by the way, a great framework in which to fit faith. If we see our families—our marriages, our children, and our extended family relationships as the most important and highest priority of our lives—as the goal or “end” for which we are striving, then we are likely to see all other aspects of our lives as the “means” or the support mechanisms that will get us there. So not only is career a means, so are our churches, and our communities, and our schools—and even our hobbies and our passions and our sports and our music.

And of all of these, church and faith is a particularly important “means.” In today’s world, parents, no matter how devoted and how good they are, need an identity larger than themselves, an institution that supports their values and supplements their efforts to teach and guide their children.

Which brings me to another comment on one of our daughter’s blogs—a question actually, that went something like this, “Why are family and faith so overwhelmingly important to your family?” The answer, I think, is simple: Because one is the most important end and the other is the most important means.

August 25, 2016
Uncategorized

Joy School Starts Soon!

It’s a hectic time of year, getting kids back in school and all that goes with it! In the process, don’t forget the preschoolers! (We don’t mean that literally, although we did once leave a kid at a gas station inadvertently and had to double back pretty quickly!)

But don’t leave them out in the sense of not getting them into Joy School! This year’s sample schedule suggests a Joy School group parents’ meeting the week of August 29 and the first Joy School class in the first week of September.

So there is no time to lose. Go to the Joy School order page and get signed up; and remind others in your group to do the same—then you will have time to get organized and ready for the Joy School year.

Good luck, and visit us here often at the VP site during the coming school year!

Best, Richard and Linda.

August 15, 2016
Uncategorized

Joy School Costs Less Than It Did Ten Years Ago

Did you know that Joy School now costs families less than it did 10 years ago—even less than it cost 20 years ago?

How does this happen? How can this popular preschool curriculum—this do-it-yourself-preschool and mothers’ group actually go down in price while everything else is going up? And how can the cost go down even as the curriculum and the materials have just been updated and improved to Joy School 2.0?

The answer is simple: Joy School operates like a co-op with each member family just paying their share, and with the technology of instant downloads of materials and music Joy School costs less to produce than it did back in the days when everything was printed, recorded, and mailed out.

It used to be that a Valuesparenting/Joy School membership cost $50 and a year’s worth of dues allowing access to all materials were well over $100. Now, with Joy School 2.0, the combined cost of membership and all materials is only $150 per family for the entire school year, less than 10% of the average cost of a commercial pre school.

August is the best time to form a Joy School group with the other moms who will rotate as teachers. The earlier you get signed up, the more time you will have to get ready for the Joy School year to begin! Just go to joyschools.com to get signed up.

Thanks for being part of one of the largest and most successful preschool programs in the world! (and certainly the most reasonable).

Richard and Linda

August 1, 2016
10 Best Parenting Ideas

10 Best Parenting Ideas: 8. Mommy Dates and Daddy Dates

While we often think of parenting as a collective thing—as “doing things with our kids”—in actual fact the most real and effective parenting is done individually—one parent with one child. It is this one-on-one time that is the focus of best-parenting-idea-number 8.

So many good parents we know and have observed, both moms and dads, manage to get this one-on-one time through the simple habit and practice of “mommy dates” or “daddy dates.” Often this practice begins with small children, but we have seen it continue to be beneficial and meaningful right up into the teen years.

The basic idea, of course, is to give a child all of your attention and focus during a little outing that could range from a special evening together to picking him up from school to go to lunch together to simply taking her along on a couple of errands.

The best “dates” are the ones where the child gets to decide where you will go so that he feels real ownership in the date and in the relationship. And there is a cumulative relationship-improving benefit is the dates happen regularly. While once a week would be wonderful, once a month may be more realistic. Schedule your date with each child well in advance and put it on a calendar so you both can look forward to it.

Then, when it happens, make the effort to focus all of your attention on that individual child. Ask questions that go beneath the surface. Use the word “feel” in your questions. “How do you feel about a certain class in school, about a particular friend, about the team you are on, about your relationship with your brother…” Avoid the temptation to lecture or advise or judge. Just ask and listen.

Find genuine things to complement the child about—be specific about what you love about him or her.

Keep some kind or record or list of your “dates” with each child, something you can both take pleasure in remembering. One way to do this is to have a simple notebook into which you tape some little tangible reminder of each date—a bit of sagebrush from the hike you went on, the wrapping from the straw you drank your beverage from at the lunch place, the front of the program from the concert. These “daddy date books” can become treasures of personal, bonding memories as the years pass.

Sometimes, particularly if there is a need to have a more extended one-on-one talk about a particular problem or concern, or if there are some behavior problems to sort out or a relationship with a child that has gone a bit sour, there may be need for a longer and more extended mommy or daddy date. In these instances you might consider taking a child one-on-one on a longer trip It could be a business trip (it may be expensive and inconvenient, but it can pay huge dividends) or a long weekend trip, or a hike or campout, or anything else you can conjure up. Just being alone together while traveling allows communication to develop. Don’t push too hard — don’t interrogate. Use the techniques of “active listening,” (paraphrasing back each thing the child says) “ranking,” (how much are you enjoying that English class—from one to ten?). Let topics develop naturally. Be willing to talk about things you’re not particularly interested in. Express your joy in being together. Express your confidence and love and tell the child he is your priority and you are committed to him unconditionally. Be satisfied with small progress. Don’t expect one trip to solve everything.

Work out your own formula and schedule for daddy dates or mommy dates, but have them, and have them regularly. The benefits will last forever!

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