I get a lot of grief, as many of us parents often do. Especially now, as I have that "sit down" with the kids about expected behavior, grades and other related items at the start of another school year. I'm often reminded of my youth. Which wasn't long ago, but it sure is starting to feel like another lifetime. When you're a kid, the start of another school year is taken with great bitter sweetness.As my oldest often quips, catching up with his friends is something to look forward to. However, the new load of school work and full complement of books in the formerly empty backpack is taken with great dread.

What I never expected, was that someday I'd been in a spot and place where I have to give my children some of the same guidance I was given as a young man by my parents and other caring adults. This part of parenting is where I feel I often stand on shaky soil. I know what to say, often it's in how it's said and when it's said that's my biggest stumbling block.

For example, it's not a good time to give the boys a sincere talk about what you expect out of them in the new school year when I'm distracted or they're off focus doing something other than paying full attention.

Seems simple enough. Well, it's not. Finding that time to just be in each other's world and give undivided attention is about as easy as finding the pearl in that one oyster in the

Atlantic. It's also not a good thing to give the kids a sit down and talk about what you want from them without finding out what they want from you. When kids find you are involving yourself in the process, they often have more of a buy in attitude.

Put simply, you can see they're willing to take the advice you hand out and, wonder of wonders, actually use it. When I take the "I say" and "you do" approach, I often get some buy in for a while. Usually it comes out of fear, but after a while it loses its luster. Kids, like adults, want to know what we're willing to take ownership of in their new school year.

When I first realized this, I started to get my back up. What should I own? It's your school, your work, you need to do it and take care of your business.

That approach isolates, I've discovered. Instead, what I've worked on is being available to them, to help do ("not do" as they would prefer) their homework. To listen to them after they've had a rough day. To offer some advice about a particular problem or situation they may be going through. This and much more.

I've mentioned several months ago, through the pages, that parenting is a daily game not unlike baseball. It plays most nights spring through fall, and you've got to get the field each night with your best.

Kids are watching, and it can't be said enough that if we want good kids than it only serves as obvious that we do the best job as parents. Teachers need a lift to. Their jobs are tough enough, when we put the hours in after the classroom closes for the day, the dividend pays when the school bell rings again.

Here's some advice I was given, but rarely took as a young man. I discovered how wrong I was, and now have the fun task of going through the process of paying forward good advice to my two. Here's hoping that they take what I didn't a while ago. If you're a younger reader, here's a few pointers that can't be said enough. Don't let the start of school stress you out. Transition from summer fun to falling back into the books is a shock to the system. Break down each item and task and what's required to get things done by making priorities. Using lists and keeping on track will greatly reduce, if not eliminate, any pressure you may be going through.

Pay attention, stay away from the "drama" in the school room. There's always someone getting involved in something they shouldn't be doing. I'm not suggesting it's anything really bad, but by avoiding these little diversions in class (and if you're a student you know what I'm talking about) you will make out in the end.

Keep active after school. If you don't have an extracurricular activity going on, look into one. A sound body makes for a sound mind. A quote from President Kennedy. Absolutely true.

Help someone. Chances are there's someone in your class that can learn from you. When you help someone else learn, you get something back from that. Work on projects well before they're due, and break them down into small chunks. You'll be glad and prepared when it's due.

If you employ these simple tactics, and are kind and courteous to others you're school year, and your life, will go well. Sure there'll be bumps along the way, but overall you'll be living right.

Now, I'm not necessarily qualified to give you this good advice, but I will pass it on by those who gave it to me. I eventually took it, and was relieved once I did. It can't be said enough that taking good advice sooner than later is another good thing to keep in mind. Make it a great year and reach for your full potential academically and otherwise this 07 and 08.

See ya around town.

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