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Berdine's Corner

Treat Your Kids to an
Old School Summer

by Deborah Dennard

berdine dennard
Berdine Dillard Dennard

Life Lessons from a Matriarch

L-R:  1974 Deborah Dennard, Berdine Dennard
(age 30, pregnant with Kenney), and Herbert Dennard, Jr.

It is summer again, and the kids are on their summer break. Just watching children takes me back to my own childhood. In many cases, the only thing in common I have with today's children is we had a summer break. I often wonder what happened to the good old days when children were children. I see a few people who are still raising their kids using a chapter from the "old school," but unfortunately, there are not enough. So what changed? In my humble opinion, in many cases, parents changed, not kids. The world is much more dangerous than it was when my brothers and I were being raised; therefore, some "old school" tips are in order.

There are many parents who use the cell phone to keep up with where their children are. This was certainly not a problem for Berdine. When I was a little girl, my mama knew where I was at all times. She knew where I was because we had to ask permission BEFORE we went anywhere, even if it were down the street. In fact, my cousins lived next door to us, and we had to ask permission to go next door. Many times, my mama would have the nerve to say no. She said that people did not want other people's children running in and out of their houses all of the time. Although we didn’t understand it then, as an adult, I know she is right.

Another way my parents protected us was by monitoring what we watched on television. I was raised in the 70s and the 80s, and the media was not nearly as bad as it is now. We all watched the same television. Now this might have been due to the cost of televisions, but we only had two televisions in the house, the one in my parents' room and the one in the den. Nevertheless, because of this, we spent plenty of family time together. We would negotiate with each other about what to watch, and we would watch it as a family. Nowadays, children shut themselves off in their rooms watching violent and very sexual videos, talking on the phone all times of night, and surfing the internet unsupervised. Many children even have their own television set at age three. I have heard many people say that the television gives them a break. Parents now allow the television to raise the children. Some children even have televisions in the car with them now. I often wonder when do parents talk to their children. Time in the car is often the only time that parents have the children’s undivided attention.

Finally, I am so confused about children telling their parents what they don't like to eat. I've actually seen some parents go get the children something else to eat. Have parents really gotten this soft? I don't understand it because my mama held us hostage to the table, forcing us to eat liver, rutabagas, squash, turnips, and a whole lot of other things we hated. Sometimes we would sit there an hour after my parents were done, trying to wait her out. She would finally come back to the table and feed us. She said that these were good for us, and maybe we would acquire a taste for them. I must admit I only acquired a taste for turnips, cabbage, and fish. I still can't stand liver, rutabagas, and squash.

It's summer again. Although we had strict guidelines, we still have great summers as children. We raced each other and played hopscotch, Red Light/Green Light, Mother May I, Hide and Seek, and kickball. Sometimes she would even allow us to put on our bathing suits, and get "skeeted" by the water hose. I challenge all parents to treat your children to an old school summer. Berdine did it, and I thank her for the memories.

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