Old School Parenting Tactics I’m Still Clinging To

By Kelly Riibe

Even as a grown-up, my parents continue to teach me a lot. Especially when it comes to parenting and life in general. I call my mom for recipe advice and feedback when it comes to planning a social event or family gathering. My dad is a great resource when it comes to navigating youth sports and introducing fun kids’ games and activities to my youngsters. For as much new advice that I get from my folks, there are a lot of childhood instances from my past that have surpassed the test of time. Therefore, even though I am parenting a different generation, some old school habits are still entrenched in my methods.

Hot Lunches are Always Going to Happen

My mom never packed a lunch for us for school, and I applaud her for it. Mornings are too hectic to fill lunch sacks, and it is the last thing I want to do the night before. I look forward to my quiet hour in the evening, once bedtime for all of my kiddos has finally happened. I do not want to spend those precious sixty minutes making sandwiches and cutting up orange slices. I want to watch season three of Fargo on FX via my DVR or finish reading A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman because it is due back to the library ASAP.

My daughters are ecstatic when life dictates that they bring a packed lunch somewhere. And since I am not in the habit of making them, I find it is actually a tolerable task since I only do it a handful of times a year. It is a real treat for my kiddos to carry their lunchboxes on a field trip or to summer camp, but it is not something that will ever become a habit.

Free Grazing is Not Allowed

I grew up in a household where if you were under the age of 13, you asked permission before getting food out of the fridge or pantry. I have embraced this philosophy at my house. My husband is a great cook and I consider myself to be an above average meal planner, so I do not want my kids to get so full from snacking all day that they do not appreciate eating at meal time. Plus, free grazing can lead to empty milk containers getting left behind in the fridge and stale crackers appearing in the pantry due to the bags not being properly resealed or boxes getting left open by sticky three-year-old fingers.

Tessa has talked about Jessica Seinfeld’s cookbook, Deceptively Delicious, where she addresses this very topic. The author discusses how her kids will ask for snacks while she is in the process of cooking dinner. Her go-to defense is to set out carrots and celery; if the kids are really starving, they should be content to crunch down on some veggies. If they are only hungry for Oreos, well, Mrs. Jerry Seinfeld has just pulled a check-mate to end the snacking game.

I read this cookbook when my oldest was one year old and all of the suggestions in it have really stuck with me when it comes to planning food courses and the overall nutrition habits for my daughters and sons. The cookbook has tons of neat ways to sneak healthy veggies into entrees and adds a whole new meaning to the word “puree.”

Handwritten Notes

My mom and dad always worked hard to make sure my brothers and I were appreciative of others. So when it came to receiving gifts, we were often called on to write thank-you notes. I also saw my mom send out greeting cards with special handwritten messages for birthdays and holidays on a regular basis. This old school practice is something I encourage (and at times order) my kids to do to show others they are thankful for their generosity.

Writing in cursive may be a thing of the past, but it is also a simple way to get quiet time and acknowledge how we feel about others. I am guilty of over indulging on the text messaging, but I also do manage to somewhat frequently put pen to paper. I will always be a big fan of texting, and I love the birthday reminders on Facebook, but there are specific times when a handwritten note really gets the job done best. I strive to show my kids how special it can be to send birthday cards, congrats messages, and get well soons to others in the good old fashioned mail.

My oldest has even ventured into the world of being pen pals with friends that live far away. It is fun to see her get so excited about mail, because I remember being the exact same way as a kid. Too bad for her that nowadays the mail box is mainly only good for being a junk mail magnet or else home to a nasty hornet’s nest. Despite the decline in personal mail, there is still something special about handwritten messages. They are the notes that get saved in cedar chests and trinket boxes, because they are meaningful in a way “you’ve got mail” electronic messages can never be.

Falling back on tradition and old-school ways can at times seem very outdated, but on the flip side it can also feel like going home again. And who wouldn’t want to go back in time on occasion and get excited about mail or converse with classmates about what type of meat is in the lasagna at school?

This post was originally published on Family Footnote


About the Author

Kelly J. Riibe has three kiddos, a husband, a Jack Russell Terrier, and a mildly curbed addiction to Diet Coke. Keeping busy for her involves staying home with her children and also finding work as a freelance writer. She has been published in Nebraska Magazine, Heels on a Farm, The Manifest-Station, BonBon Break,, Living Here Magazine, Black Hills Faces Magazine, and MockMom. She is also the co-writer for the blog: Follow her on Twitter at: @familyfootnote and @KJRiibe.