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Raising children? Have to deal with someone else's? Considering a family?Let's talk kids!Claudia Quigg hosts this weekly reflection on best practices, experiences, and research related to child rearing and parenting. Thursdays at 12:50 PM and 7:50 PM

A Firm Foundation

Each morning my little dog and I venture out in our neighborhood for a brisk walk.  She employs her excellent nose to read messages from other dogs, and I try to notice things a little higher up.

Yesterday for the first time I noticed each home’s foundation.  These foundations are primarily concrete of a non-descript color, so as not to take anything away from the lovely paint and siding colors and architectural details of the homes. 

And yet, an engineer would say that foundations enable houses to withstand the ravages of weather and time.  While the foundation is not a thing of beauty, every builder knows it’s essential to the house’s function.

In the same way, in constructing kids, as in constructing houses, it’s the foundation that assures long-term health and survivability.

While a home’s foundation is made of hard building materials, a child’s foundation is built of elements which are less concrete but surely as critical.  A child’s foundation is based on daily routines, family assurances, and family expectations.

The daily routine is the structure that provides a sense of how the world works. A somewhat predictable schedule in the life of a child enables him to relax and not worry about what will happen next. 

Family assurances include central beliefs parents pass along to children in both words and actions.  Parents build this assurance in their children each time they remind them that losing a game or being shunned by a friend isn’t the end of the world. 

Finally, the expectations parents have for their kids lays a cornerstone for their optimal development.  When parents expect their kids to treat others with respect or to do their best at every task, they equip them for the life of their dreams. 

The foundation of family life isn’t glamorous, but paint and shutters don’t keep a house standing in a harsh wind.  The foundation is the most critical things parents build in their children, and it will remain standing in their hearts and minds long after those more attractive features are long gone.

Claudia Quigg is the Executive Director of Baby TALK and writes the Let's Talk Kids parenting segment and column that honor the expertise parents have about their own children and explores issues that are universal for families. From toilet training and sibling rivalry to establishing family values, Claudia Quigg provides thoughtful and accessible insights that are meaningful to families' needs.
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