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Tuesday, February 07, 2006 

Our Nighttime Parenting Ritual

I really hesitated before starting this blog because there are many bright, articulate atheists already blogging out there, but my passion is about children and I have questions on how to raise them with very few role models as my guide. mindgames asked me recently if I had any end of the night rituals, so I thought I'd share a little.

I need the end of the day to be very peaceful. My 1st grader is what Kurcinka calls spirited: a high energy, super sensitive, intense, persistent sweet little girl. The old "die" prayer I grew up with would be the last thing I need to get her to settle down!

So what does an atheist family do? Well, our ritual is pretty mellow. After stories, I turn out the light. I ask if there was anything that bothered her that day (and it is amazing the things she comes up with), so she can put that to rest.* Then I ask about her favorite part of the day, to get her smiling again. I then tell her how special she is to me, and how much I love her.

Usually one of us will do "see you later alligator / in a while crocodile". If she lies quietly with her eyes closed and head on the pillow, I'll sit with her for about ten minutes, stroking her hair, or if she is lucky, rubbing her back or giving her a hand massage.

That's all, a ritual stripped to the essentials of caring, belonging, tenderness and love. It works for us.

Anyone have other bedtime rituals? I'd love to hear about them.


*Recently, I try to start this at dinnertime if I know she's got a lot on her mind.

I think that is a wonderful way for a child to end the day and to show her that she can talk to her mother about the good things and the bad things in her life and to know that YOU will listen and are there for her and not some invisible friend. She can rest assured that she is cared for and loved. I think that is so sweet. You are a good mother. :-)

When my three were little, before bed we would sit together and I would read a chapter of a book with them all around me. (They loved books with continuing chapters.) Then I would tuck each one into their beds and sing each a special little song and I would lay by each of them a couple of minutes. Even though they are all grown they still call me AT LEAST once a day to talk about things happy or sad.

Thanks. :)

As a potential future atheist Dad, I enjoy posts like this.

When our boys are ready for bed, we go into the bedroom and "do little books." The "little books" is a collection of about 12 or 14 very small (maybe 2x2?) books all contained in a little box that's made to look like a bed. All of the stories are short bedtime stories or songs. I got these as a gift while pregnant with my oldest. We started this probably about 2 years ago and we still do it. Even my 17 month old asks for the "little books" when we go into the bedroom.
They each get to pick one, and we read 3 or 4 of them. My oldest has them all memorized now. As soon as we're done with the books, they get put away and they get into bed. My husband takes one boy and I take the other and we lay with them and talk about what they are going to dream about. Then my husband and I switch (they are in the same room) and we usually continue the dream talk (my oldest dreams about a lot!).
Then we say good night!

And then I start my evening routine that begins with a Guinness. :-)

That is so neat that your husband is involved, Cassandra! Mine would just kiss the kids and rub their heads and I would take them off to their rooms while Daddy watched the boob tube! LOL! I think your bedtime ritual is really neat. This is so wonderful to hear these kinds of stories in blogland. I get so weary of the "debating" ...this is definitely positive and refreshing. :-) (I miss my babies!)

Yes - these posts are awesome. I need to influence my kids as much as my fundie husband. At times I find myself like a deer hypnotized by the lights - What do I do? Just reading what others do helps me tremendously. A little off topic - but I'm looking for the pirate song I sang to my kids a couple of times but now have forgotten (it really made them laugh). I found the "Sing a song of sixpence" rhyme has pirate connections... info at snopes.com . And George Harrison has a pirate song - I don't think I've ever heard it.. I'm rambling - Thanks! again.

That is a truly great idea. Us skeptics forget how comforting ritual can be for the very young. Please continue to share your ideas.

stardust, yes, I think it's great that my husband is involved and I know that it's pretty rare. We've been doing it like this since the beginning.

I agree, this is a great topic. Sometimes we get so wrapped up with what's going on out there in the crazy world that reading about things like this help us remember what is important.

Now that my kids are grown now, my family is still most important in my life. By spending time with them when they are young, they will remember that you were there for them when they are adults. :-)

To get away from the crazy crap that goes on at my stardust blog, I also have two other blogs...a literature one and one called Random writings, photography and artwork. The links are at the bottom of my profile if you ever want to stop by and look around. Random Thoughts is more me than Stardust. :-) Stardust can be a bit of a B.

cassandra, share the name of your books, they sound like a great gift.

stardust, we'll know if I'm a good mom after my daughter writes her memoirs :)

mindgames, I'm thinking about counter influences. Haven't heard of the pirate song but we loved How I Became a Pirate from the library.

Freethought: I love kid books! I looked at that one on Amazon and it looks so cute! I still enjoy browsing the children's book sections in bookstores.

mindgames: Here's a couple of links to sites that have kid's pirate songs. Are any of these the one you are looking for? There are so many! Like finding a needle in a haystack probably!

http://www.themeunits.com/Pirates_song.html

http://www.oneloudernyc.com/2005/08/talk-like-pirate-day-genre-of-pirate.html

http://home.comcast.net/~catpjx2/coolmusic.html

freethoughtmom, I've been meaning to post on my boy's blog about these books, mainly as a thank you to the person who gave them to us. I finally got around to looking them up on amazon.com. Here they are, and yes, those are my pictures.
Now, off to blog for my boys. :-)

My great nephew's birthday is this week and I am going to look for these for him! Thanks Cassandra!

The sing a song of sixpence / pirate connection is a hoax by Snopes to test peoples gullibility. See the link at the bottom of the page

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  • I'm the freethoughtmom from New England. Welcome!
  • The word rational means having the ability to reason. Reasoning takes time. Giving yourself the space to think is practically a luxury in our society.

    My father is a logical engineer, my mother a caring nurturer. My handwriting with my dominate hand resembles that of my father, the other, my mother. I feel lucky to have both sides to draw from.
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