Child rearing focuses on basics

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My wife and I raised three sons in Natchez. They attended Natchez public schools during a time when there was vigorous parental involvement, and the schools ranked highest in the state for academics. A meeting with the teacher entailed attending a PTA meeting. The teachers were wonderful and they had a very positive influence on our children.

My sons earned their achievements and accolades with hard work, a clear focus and a tenacious determination. They earned their high grades and their positions in the honor societies. They earned their merit badges. They earned their nominations to Boys State. They worked to be good athletes; one even becoming a member of the Mississippi All-Star baseball team.

All three attended college and two of them became doctors. Following high school, one attended dental school for 11 years and another attended medical school for 13 years. They are self-motivated and have served as officers in their different professional organizations. They have presented numerous scientific papers, instituted new surgical procedures and one has written two medical text books. They are held in high esteem by their colleagues.

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How did we rear such awesome children?  I have often wondered that myself. I attribute all of their successes to them, not us.  We never criticized them. If they fell short of our expectations, we would discuss it only once with them and then shut up about it. We were not their best friends — we were their parents.

We protected them from disease, injury and from others who would take advantage of them. We encouraged them to achieve in academics, not athletics. However, they were talented and were very successful as young athletes.

Children’s personalities are formed during the first seven years of their lives. This is the time when parents have the most influence on their children. They were born great kids, and it was easy as we tried to form their personalities to the best of our abilities during those formative years.

If I did anything, I believe that I taught them to love science. I am a science guy and it turned out that they too are science guys. We enjoyed discussing things that pertain to science. When they were youngsters, we would talk about things like, “frogs live in or near water and toads live on land.” Over time, we would discuss things like the electrons in the outer shell of a Sodium ion or perhaps a disease process. It was fun for me and fun for them.

Basically, I just drove their bus. We offered them stability, nurturing, guidance, moral and financial support, and they did the rest. Raising our children was the greatest fun that I have ever had. When they left to pursue their collegiate career, I was deeply saddened.

But hey, it’s not over. For now I have young grandchildren and from time-to-time I get to discuss the really important things with them like, “frogs live in water and toads live on land.”

Ed Field

Natchez resident