Parking Lot Rules & 75 Other Ideas for Raising Amazing Children

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9780345503732: Parking Lot Rules & 75 Other Ideas for Raising Amazing Children
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How do you raise amazing children? How do you teach them to be kind and honest, insightful and inquisitive, athletic and curious, loving and thoughtful? How do you give your child the courage to be a good sport, a good sibling, a good friend, a good person?

When Tom Sturges became a father, he wanted to be the greatest father who ever walked the earth. “I wanted to be so much more than a casual observer of my son’s life as it went by me.” So Sturges asked a lot of questions. He picked up ideas, advice, and tips from parents, grandparents, even rock stars and sports legends–anyone who had unique insights to share. The result is this practical, inspiring “rule book” for raising healthy, happy, safe, cherished children. Philosophical, sensible, and empowering, these 76 ideas subscribe to a simple premise: It is impossible to respect a child too much, but it is worth the effort to try. The rules are organized into seven fields, arranged by subject, and will help parents, mentors, coaches, and anyone who has children, to deal with an array of situations in a kind, respectful, and encouraging way.

· EVERYDAY: Let your children feel welcome and loved from the first moment he or she walks into a room. “Smile When You See Him” (rule #4) and leave no doubt that, at that moment, your child is the most important person in your world.
· COMMUNICATING: Since yelling parents intimidate, and a calm tone inspires, “When You Get Upset, Whisper” (rule #22) –and make sure your message is heard.
· MANNERS MATTERS: Follow “The Bill Walton Rule,” (rule #34) and if you can’t be on time, be early.
· NO LOST CHILDREN: When a family or group travels together, obey “The Caboose Rule” (rule #43) by assigning an adult or older child to keep up the rear–and ensure that no little ones lag behind.
· DISCIPLINES AND PUNISHMENTS: “The 10-Second Rule” (rule #49) prescribes the minimum amount of time you should wait before thinking about punishing your child for that D in English.
· PAIN HAPPENS, NOW WHAT?: After your child experiences a little cut, bump, or scrape, say “Squeeze My Hand as Much as It Hurts” (rule #62); it is remarkable how their being able to “show” you will help to ease his or her pain.
· PLAY SPORTS, PERIOD: When your children accomplish something great in their sports, using “The ESPN Rule,” (rule #67) tell the story in intimate detail and fill them with the belief that they can do it again and again.

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About the Author:

Tom Sturges is a mentor, teacher, coach, and volunteer, and the father of two sons, now ages ten and sixteen. He is Executive Vice President and Head of Creative for Universal Music Publishing Group.

Many of the ideas in Parking Lot Rules were nuanced and matured while he mentored a group of 32 at-risk children at a South Central Los Angeles public school. He received commendations from several civic and national leaders for these years of volunteerism and this story will be told in the forthcoming documentary, Witness To A Dream.

Tom also created a learning program that develops creativity in children via the writing of lyrics, melodies and recording the finished songs. Every Idea Is A Good Idea has been an integral element of the MBUSD Gate Program for five of the last six years, reaching more than 360 students. Tom also teaches The Music Business Now at UCLA Extension, a course central to the UCLA-E Music Business Certificate Program.

Sturges, who lives in Manhattan Beach, California, is a golfer, and an inventor and the son of legendary writer & director Preston Sturges. He is also the President of the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Academy Of Recording Arts & Sciences.

Parking Lot Rules & 75 Other Ideas For Raising Amazing Children is his first book.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter 1

EVERY DAY

Parenting is a full-time, twenty-four-hour-a-day collection of duties, obligations, privileges, and promises. It is a series of steps we take every day to protect, defend, educate, nurture, sympathize with, mentor, feed, drive around, cheer for, and provide whatever else is needed for our children at any particular moment.

Our children, in turn, agree to let us do these many things for them. The relationship between us and our children is not equal, and not necessarily balanced, either.

Our first responsibility as parents is to get our children through each and every day of their lives healthy and happy and confident in the fairness of the world around them.

Here are some ideas to keep your children safe, healthy, respected, and cherished, every single day.
#1

PARKING LOT RULES

In a world inhabited by cars the size of small houses, the parking lot can be an incredibly dangerous place. Children are often distracted and unaware of the chaos going on around them-the dangers of getting from the car to the store and back.

The drivers of the SUVs rumbling by are likewise in another world: watching their own children, talking on their cell-phones, listening to the radio, organizing for their next stop, just as you are probably doing. Will they triple-check the rearview mirror as they back out? You hope so, but maybe not. The last thing they are looking for is your children.

Teach your children Parking Lot Rules, that they need to be right next to you always and whenever you are in a parking lot. There is to be no trailing behind. No racing ahead. No exceptions. Right next to you.

The moment you near a parking lot, either to or from the car, call out "Parking Lot Rules" and your children will know that they absolutely must be by your side. If they have toys in their hands, or Game Boys, or PSPs, or (if you're lucky) a good book, it gets put away that instant.

Nothing is more important than their walking next to you, holding your hand, and safely getting back and forth from the car.

This rule can apply in other situations as well. There will be times when you perceive a danger that your children have missed: perhaps raised voices or the sound of broken glass or a stranger acting erratically. If you call out to your children to watch out for the danger, you simply call more attention to yourself and the vulnerability of your situation.

Instead shout out "Parking Lot Rules." Your children will know instantly and instinctively that they need to be by your side, that instant, no questions asked.
#2

FINGERS FINGERS

Getting in and out of the car-which happens a million times during childhood-can be dangerous for children if they are not paying attention, and especially as the car door is closing. This is often the precise instant that they reach for you, or push their sister, or drop a toy and go to rescue it.

As you are about to close the door, call out "Fingers fingers," and teach your children that this means that they should pull their hands back instantly, and protect their fingers.

Your children will soon become accustomed to heeding your warning and will instinctively protect themselves and their beautiful hands. This rule will also remind you to take one last look before you shut the car door.

There is no feeling worse than closing a car door on fingers, whether your children's or someone else's.

Once the injury starts to heal up-and the bruises fade, and the cast comes off, and the new nail grows in-you will have to suffer through the retelling of the story for exactly as long as the rest of your life. It will become a milestone of their childhood, and a millstone of your parenting.

A little warning can make all the difference and give your children that extra second that they just might need to pull fingers out of danger.

#3

GROW THE TREE YOU GOT

Imagine that there is a tree growing in a front yard somewhere. Imagine that it is a tree born of one of the most magnificent oak tree strains in the world, the Kentucky black oak. But then imagine that the man who owns this particular house does not care for the beautiful oak. He always wanted an Australian acacia growing in his front yard.

So he does not appreciate the amazing tree. He hardly notices how it shoots into the sky, filling the air with the musky scent of amber and coal. He does not see its branches seeking the freedom of the clouds. He does not know and does not care that its massive roots feed younger and smaller trees nearby.

When the oak fails to yield the occasional purple blooms that the acacia would have given, he is dismissive of the shade it provides. When the wind blowing through the leaves of the oak does not whistle the susurrus of the acacia that he remembers from his youth, he stands deaf to the birds who twitter as they make their home in the oak's wide branches. When the oak scrapes the front of his house trying to survive a vicious windstorm he is unforgiving and cuts off the branch.

The oak cannot do enough to please the man, and soon the man does not even see the magnificent tree when he comes home. There is a gift waiting for him in his front yard every single day but he does not notice it.

What has this to do with the raising of amazing children?

Parents often visualize a whole scenario of activities that will take place when their children finally arrive. Two very dear friends of mine were no different in this regard.

Edgar and Sonya had tried for many years to have children. Every attempt brought more expectations, and every failure somehow doubled those expectations. Finally they were rewarded with a son. Patrick was several weeks early, but survived to become a healthy young man.

My friends pictured Patrick as an athletic boy, given to prowess in any sport to which he set his mind, with great hand-eye coordination. He was sure to be the high school jock his dad had almost become. From the earliest days his room was filled with balls and bats, while posters of his father's sports heroes fought for wall space next to Barney, Rugrats, and Teletubbies.

The weight of the parents' dreams must have been overwhelming for Patrick. Although he did try soccer and baseball for one season each, it turned out that he was not very athletic. Patrick could not throw or kick a ball and could not have cared less.

By the time he was eleven, Patrick was going out of his way to avoid any discussion about sports. If it involved a ball or bat or glove or puck, he wanted no part of it.

Pretty soon the only sound you could hear around the house, at least when the talk turned to athletics, was the father looking at his son and letting out a long and noticeable sigh. Patrick was forced to wear this mantle of failure, especially around his father. As a result, father and son never had a chance to become friends. To this day they maintain a polite but very distant relationship.

Patrick's dad had his heart set on raising an Olympian, and so missed out on raising the painter and storyteller his son turned out to be.

If there is a lesson here for parents, it is that we must recognize the innate gifts and individual talents that each child possesses. We must separate our own expectations from those of our children and give them a great life based on who and what they are, not who or what we had always hoped they would be.

Oak, acacia, redwood, or pine. Athlete, dancer, artist, or scholar.

Grow the tree you got.
#4

SMILE WHEN YOU SEE THEM

The Nancy Armato Rule

Antonina's mother, Nancy Armato, is the ultimate child greeter. She smiles and beams and bursts with pride at the sight of her three children and her six grandchildren. No child who enters her home has any doubt whatsoever that he or she is completely welcome-there is no room for doubt.

Grandma Nancy's hugs, kisses, compliments, questions about a new toy or shoes, recognition of a sterling report card, or her recalling a goal in a recent soccer game-all are part of her fabulous greeting. Every child gets his moment.

The children around her respond in kind. They feel so loved and welcomed by her that it literally and physically changes them. They open to her like roses bathed in the warmth of the morning sun. She adds a patina of grace to their lives when each one realizes they have given her reason to smile.

Watch your son walk into a room. What is the first thing he does?

He looks around at the faces watching him walk in. He is instinctively searching for the visual cues that tell him that he is welcome and a part of the family, that he is loved and wanted, and that he was missed while he was gone.

The easiest and simplest way to give him the approval and welcome he seeks is to smile when you see him. A smile instantly sets him at ease. A smile says, "Yes, I love you."

A frown, or only a grunt of recognition, faint praise, or sheer disinterest, sends a message of dismissal.

Let your son feel welcome from the first moment he sees you. Let him know that he is loved and important to you, always and forever. When you see him, smile, and leave no doubt that at that moment he is the most important person in your world.
#5

ONCE SEEN, NEVER UNSEEN

When I was only nine years old, and living with my mom and my brother in the Hollywood Hills of California, our traditional Sunday dinner was interrupted by the sound of screeching tires and a huge explosion.

We raced outside to see that two cars had collided head-on in the middle of Franklin Avenue. Hubcaps were still spinning on the pavement as we ran over to see if we could help. A fire was just starting in the Volkswagen, and the other car was on its roof. My mom was five feet, five inches tall and weighed a hundred pounds at the most, but she somehow found the strength to pull the passenger, a six- two man, out of the burning VW and drag him twe...

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9780345503787: Parking Lot Rules & 75 Other Ideas for Raising Amazing Children

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