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What My Cats Have Reminded Me About Parenting

What My Cats Have Reminded Me About Parenting

I grew up a dog lover and have owned several of dogs over the years. My favorite was an adorable Cocker Spaniel named Agatha. I never really liked cats – a little too aloof and independent for my likes.

Yet now going on three years, I’ve been the owner of two tabbies a brother and sister – one gray and one ginger. Since adopting them, I’ve found them fascinating and exotic animals to watch and engage with. And yes, I love my tabbies.

Here are some of the things my cats have taught me about parenting

Forgiveness. Cats have short memories and don’t hold grudges. I’ve seen my tabbies get in some angry hissing, growling and pawing brawls yet a few minutes later they’re cuddled together in their bed. If only we could learn to forgive so quickly.

In humans, chronic anger has been linked to a decline in lung function. A forgiving nature helps to lower blood pressure and reduce anxiety. People who also forgive tend to have higher self-esteem.

Practicing forgiveness helps us more than the offending person. Forgiveness is a life skill we want to model for our children so they can practice it in their own lives.

Communication. Cats are skilled communicators. They speak to other cats and us (humans) in three different ways. Unless you’ve been living in Bikini Bottom, we’re all familiar with meowing but did you know it’s almost exclusively reserved for humans? Newborn kittens will meow to communicate needs to their mother.

To make sure they get our attention, especially when they need something, cats will meow at the same frequency as a baby’s crying. Now how’s that for getting our attention?

Cats also use their body language and scent glands to communicate with each other. And of course, we can’t forget purring. It’s generally understood purring reflects a cats contentment.

Purring doesn’t just benefit your cat, purring has been shown to uplift your mood while at the same time lowering your blood pressure. Having a cat can actually be good for heart health and overall wellness.

Cats remind me of the importance of good, clear communication. Communication includes both verbal and non-verbal messages.

Rest. Cats listen to their bodies. They don’t push themselves beyond what their physically capable. They get plenty of rest to the face the day’s challenges. Why would it be different for us – the advanced species?

As a nation, we are getting less and less sleep. A recent Gallup poll found we average just 6.8 hours a night, less than the doctor-recommended 7 to 9 hours. One of the biggest reasons for this decline in sleep is the high technology that allows us to work and play 24/7. This decrease has had adverse effects on our health.

There’s evidence we can benefit from catnaps, too. A study involving about 24,000 people shows regular nappers are 37% less likely to die from heart disease than people who only nap occasionally. You’ll have more patience and energy to deal with a troublesome toddler when you’re well rested.

Thoughtful. If your cat (especially if they’re female) ventures outdoors they’re probably showering you with gifts of dead birds or mice. It’s estimated cats kill billions of small animals every year in just the United States.

This doesn’t make cats evil killers they’re just doing what comes naturally, i.e. following their instincts. In the wild, mother cats teach their young how to eat their food by bringing home dead or injured prey.

Domestic cats are no different. But in this modern age of spayed domestic cats, many female felines have no young to whom they need to pass on their hunting wisdom. By leaving us a dead bird or mouse, your cat is acting on its natural role as a mother and teacher. As a cat owner, we are her surrogate family. She knows we don’t have the skills to catch that yummy bird or scrumptious mouse on our own.

Giving our children an occasional gift is a good idea. It lets them know you’re thinking of them. Just make sure you’re doing it from thoughtfulness and not buying your child’s affection or your own forgiveness for not being there in your child’s life.

Flexibility. Cats have this way of holding a paw in the air ever so long as if deciding what their next move should be. Cats remind me to be flexible and your most firm plans can change on a moment’s notice especially if you have children.

Affectionate. I thought cats were aloof and unemotional – I was wrong. Cats show us affection using a combination of body language, postures and vocalizations. It’s important to understand not all of these demonstrations of love are in the way we would express them to our family members. Some of these demos include:

  • Tummy Flashing. Showing you their belly indicating they trust and are comfortable around you. You have my permission to try this in your living room.


  • Head Bunting. While you probably wouldn’t want to bunt heads with your significant other or child, when cats do it they are depositing their facial pheromones. Their way of claiming us as their own.


  • Cat Bites. Cats originated the love bite. When your cat playfully nibbles on you, it just another way to show they like you. While your teenager may not appreciate or want a love bite your significant other might but that’s a subject for another article.

Just remember, like some of us humans, cats are quirky and finicky creatures. Like people who are different from us, it’s important to invest time and energy to increase your understanding of their behavior and bring peace and harmony to your relationship.

The Importance Of Educating Today’s Parents

The Importance Of Educating Today’s Parents

Although most parents would agree that their children are more important than their job, most usually get more on-the-job training than they do as a parent. As a Mother of seven once said, “The love is instinctual but the skills are not.”


A 1990 study by fifteen of the nation’s largest youth organizations found that the United States has done poorly in solving the problems affecting today’s youth. There was broad agreement that the number-one solution to these problems was . . . better parents. As a result of their findings, the final report calls for a massive increase in parent education.

President Bush then released a statement of six national goals for education. The number-one goal states that “by the year 2000, all children in America will start school ready to learn.” To attain this goal “parents will have access to the training and support they need.”
President Bush’s comments represent a movement in thinking which places more value on the importance of a parent’s role in preparing children for school and life. It is encouraging to see that there is a growing awareness that families need support and education . . . in order to strengthen parents’ skills and prevent future problems.


In the past, when parents had questions about child-rearing they would usually have an extended family member close by to ask advice. While some parents may have family close by, many admit that their elders’ advice on child-rearing often differs from current parenting information or their preferred style. This is a result of changes in our society over the past few decades:

Children are no longer “needed” to work side by side with their parents, like farmers’ children of the past. This helped children feel they had something important to contribute and taught them basic responsibility and life-management skills. Today, children search for ways to belong in the family and with peers, sometimes in unhealthy ways.

Superior/inferior family relationships are no longer being modeled by mothers and fathers. Women have equal rights and children feel equally unwilling to accept an inferior, submissive role in life. This change is healthy, in that all people do have a right to be treated with respect and dignity. It leaves many parents, however, with few role models or practical skills for achieving this goal.

Early on, children are being taught that they have rights: to their bodies, their feelings, and to be treated by others with dignity as a worthwhile human being.

As a result, power-and-control parenting techniques are no longer effective, because parents “talk down” to “inferior” children. This style, therefore, inherently violates a child’s right to be treated with respect, children recognize this, rebel and lose respect for the controlling parent. As our society became more affluent, many parents became more permissive and over-indulgent. Their children often grew up thinking the world owed them a living and they used their energy trying to get out of responsibilities.

Children are facing issues previous generations never had to face. It is important for parents to listen and communicate in open, respectful ways, so their children will feel safe in discussing their problems and feelings.

Although some of these societal changes have brought about positive results, they have left parents with few clear guidelines for how to raise this new generation of children into responsible adults.


What it Isn’t . . .

Parent education does not focus on what parents are doing wrong or advocate never disciplining children, as many parents assume. It provides new options to parents and encourages them to respect their own rights, as well as their children’s.

Attending a parenting class is not a reflection of being a “bad” parent . . . it is an indication of a parent’s commitment to his/her children and role as a parent. The classes are not just for parents who are having severe problems with their children’s behavior. Many parents who attend classes want to feel more confident of their parenting and are looking for ways to prevent future problems and help their family get along cooperatively.

What it Is . . .

The most effective parenting classes are small, personal groups which provide opportunities for interaction among parents, practice of concepts and techniques learned, and individualized problem solving. Like most new skills, parents can benefit from ongoing reinforcement of what they have learned. Follow-up parent discussion groups, where parents can meet with others who have taken the class, provide an opportunity to continue applying the concepts to new situations.


Although professionals often recommend parenting classes, there are several issues which seem to prevent parents from joining these groups: finding a class, making the time commitment, and cost. All three really boil down to the underlying issue of priorities. If a parent looks at how much time and money he/she spends on business seminars, golf lessons, weekly fast food, or vacations, it makes sense to place a priority on attending a parenting class, which usually costs less than all of these! Parenting classes are an investment in your personal growth, your child’s future, and in future generations. Consider doing your part to make this world a better place for everyone’s children. Read a parenting book that gives trustworthy, accurate advice or check out your community’s resources for local parenting classes.