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I still remember the nurses and staff lining the hallways of the Houston hospital as my husband and I were leaving with our two day old daughter. Now, years later, the words they chided, “Your lives will never be the same,” still come to mind. Babies don’t come with instructions, but wonderful support of family and friends helped us through those first months.  
The joys of parenthood far outweigh the challenges; at least I feel that way. Even though we made some mistakes along the way, we always tried to set a positive example for our three children and now our grandchildren. A favorite Ann Landers column I clipped and saved from nearly 15 years ago rings true today. I always share the column during parenting classes. Since I have an upcoming Active Parenting workshop set, I thought it was the perfect time to share some advice from the long time columnist.
The information in the column actually comes from fourth graders. That’s right; eight or nine year old kids giving advice to parents on how to raise children. The honesty of the children is refreshing.  Here are a few of their suggestions:
* Don’t give me everything I ask for. Sometimes, I am just testing you to see how much I can get.
* Keep promises, both good and bad. If you promise a reward, make sure you give it to me. If you promise a punishment, make sure I get that, too.
* Don’t compare me with anybody else, especially if the comparison will hurt somebody’s feelings.
* Let me do as much for myself as I can. That is how I learn. If you do everything for me, I will never be able to do anything for myself.  
* Don’t scream at me. It makes me scream back, and I don’t want to be a screamer. Screamers sound awful.
* Don’t tell lies in front of me or ask me to tell lies to help you out. It makes me think less of you and of myself.
* When you are wrong about something, admit it. It will not hurt my opinion of you. It will make it easier for me to admit it when I am wrong.
I hope you will consider signing up for the Active Parenting@ workshop. The class will be held on four consecutive Thursdays, October 30, November 6, 13, and 20, from 1:30 - 3 p. m. at the Extension Office meeting room. There is a $10 fee to help cover some of the cost of the workbook and other materials. You may call 620-793-1910 to register. Remember, kids don’t come with instructions, so if you would like some guidance in handling real-life parenting dilemmas, consider signing up for the parenting classes today.
Donna Krug is the Family and Consumer Science Agent with K-State Research and Extension – Barton County. You may reach her at (620)793-1910 or