Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

August 29, 2013

Gary's World: Invest time in your child's life

By Gary Nelson
Senior staff writer

CROSSVILLE — Labor Day is always associated with the end of summer, cook outs and going back to school. At least when I was a kid, anyway. We didn’t go back to school until the day after Labor Day.

The kids went back to school hot and heavy back then with a full day right off the bat.

It’s a great holiday to spend with family and relax, honoring the contributions of workers and the role they play in our society. I imagine there aren’t too many people — and I mean adults — who even know what Labor Day is for.

“Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country,” according to the United States Department of Labor.

When I think of Labor Day I can’t help but remember a little project my daughter and I worked on together when she was in fifth grade.

About mid-week before the holiday, my daughter came to me and asked, “Dad, what is Labor Day? What’s it for?”

I honestly couldn’t think of good answer other than to say it was a holiday that honored the workforce of our country.

She didn’t really understand exactly what I meant and so I took the opportunity for us both to learn and looked it up with her in the encyclopedia.

Kids, an encyclopedia set is a set of large volumes of books that alphabetically lists all sorts of historically significant subjects and gives information about those subjects. They don’t print them anymore and you have to look up the information on the Internet now.

Anyway, after we looked up the subject, she began to write down the information and I also showed her how to look up the information on the Internet.

We got on the computer at home and searched for Labor Day and she continued to research the project.

She printed out one page and combined the information she got from the encyclopedia and the Internet and wrote it down on a page of loose-leaf paper.

Not only did she do the project to satisfy her own curiosity, but she decided to share it with her class at school and read the report to all of us, the family, who gathered on Labor Day for our annual cookout.

We were all impressed, not only by her doing the project, but her motivation on undertaking such a project on her own just to satisfy her own curiosity.

It makes me feel good when I think back about that day. I could have easily sluffed her question off and given a lame answer and not gotten involved.

However, it’s times like those that provide such a great opportunity to get involved in a child’s life and let them know how much you care about what they are doing.

It also provided a learning opportunity for her and created a foundation of how to write a paper and give a report — skills that every kid needs for high school and college.

A parent’s involvement with their child can make a world of difference. It doesn’t have to be a holiday. By investing your time in your child’s life you are telling that child they are important and are worth something.

I see so many parents who put their children off and don’t even allow them an opportunity to speak their mind or pay attention to them when they do speak.

Parents, you should take advantage of those opportunities. Spend time with your kids, let them talk and give their opinions on matters.

Before you know it they will become adults in our world and be heading off to college, or to work in the world. Our kids learn their behavior and habits from the adults who surround them.

So as you’re firing up the grill for Labor Day and relaxing with your family, don’t forget to make time for the kids. It will be an investment that’s worth a fortune.

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Gary Nelson is a Crossville Chronicle staffwriter. His column is published each Friday. He may be reached at gnelson@crossville-chronicle.com.