Despite her cheeful good humor, Ida’s memories of her early family life are painful, and for good reason. Her father died when she was a toddler. Her mother remarried, but then died when Ida was four years old. Her stepfather then remarried, leaving Ida to be raised by him and a new stepmother. She told me: “I didn’t care for my childhood life, so I just don’t talk about it. And I try to teach my children lessons that I have learned.”
Ida, 81, emphasizes spending time with children, because it allows for communication to take place. Most important, she urges parents to listen to their children. Bringing back family dinners is one way to make this happen.
When we had our three children, we got involved with them. You’ve got to do things together, and in this day and age, people aren’t doing things together. I feel that children bring their parents together, except for the ones who haven’t got time. You’ve got to give up some of your pleasures, sometimes, in order to spend time with your kids. When the kids are gone from home, then you can do things on your own.
Yeah, what I feel, I have seen it right around here in my neighborhood. Parents aren’t taking time to listen to that child. You have to listen to them. What are their needs? What would they want? What would they like to do? Some parents are always so quick to discipline, give them a time out. No. What you have to do, I feel – is you have to have time for the child. Mom and Dad should sit down and say, “Okay, how did your day go?”
In fact, our dinner table was always that way. “Well, how did your day go?” we’d ask each one separately. Then we would find out exactly how they went through the day, if they were having problems. We had three children and we were living on $30 a week. The kids ate good and we would have cereal for supper at night after they went to bed. But those were the days; Frank and I used to laugh about them. I try to tell my kids: “That was hard times, but we made sure you kids always had a good meal in your tummy before you went to bed.”
We used to have dinner as a family, almost every night. I think it’s very important. You should have it now. Yes, I know people are busy now, so you go to McDonalds, Burger King. All those fast food. All right. But you know something? If that’s what you choose for your dinner, okay, but you sit down, you talk to the child. Did you have anything interesting happen today? What were your stressing points today?” Get feedback from the kids.