Parents learn that 2-year-olds recycle later SOUTHEAST--Sykesville * Eldersburg * Gamber

January 26, 1993|By Maureen Rice | Maureen Rice,Contributing Writer

"You will never know what kind of a job you've done as a parent until your child goes around the corner and you meet him as an adult," said Sandy Queen, in a humorous lecture to adults at Piney Ridge Elementary School.

Ms. Queen is the founder and director of Lifeworks, a Columbia training and consulting firm that specializes in helping people take a better look at their lives through humor, laughter and play.

Ms. Queen had spent a day last week addressing the fourth- and fifth-graders, the present "Just Say No" clubs and next year's members, at Carrolltowne, Piney Ridge, Freedom and Eldersburg Elementary schools. Now she was speaking to the parents and faculty of those students in the host school, Piney Ridge.

Ms. Queen shared anecdotes from her own past, giving insights into pre-adolescent and adolescent fears and attitudes, parental fears and attitudes, strengths and failings of parents and their children -- with a great deal of laughter over a typical parent's weak points.

"Remember what perfect parents we were back in the days before we had kids?" she quipped.

"And how many times have you found yourself telling your kids what your mom used to say and you swore you'd never say that to your kids?

"And remember these words -- 'As God is my witness, no child of mine will ever . . .'?"

While Ms. Queen delivered a virtually nonstop flood of humorous commentary, she made several points that could assist parents of pre-teens. The ages from 10 to 25 are a repetition of the 2-year-old's negativism, she said. The child is again pulling away from parents, away from the family unit, to stand on his own two feet. Wishing for blind obedience won't help, because the child needs to assert himself, and needs to know how to survive as an adult.

Parents need to love the child enough to let that child hate them, she said. Parents need to let the child make his own mistakes, to be strong and pull back the safety net when necessary.

"Your kids may seem to hate you. They will probably tell you so. But the No. 1 fear of adolescence is parental divorce."

Ms. Queen assured the parents that teen-agers still need their parents, but don't want to admit it. Whatever kids need, she assured the parents that they are surely giving it to their children.

"This is the finest group of fourth- and fifth-graders I have seen anywhere on this planet -- that means you've got good teachers, because a kid is only as good as his home environment and his teachers," Ms. Queen told the parents.

"I am entirely serious."

Ms. Queen was invited to speak to the students and parents in a joint venture of the "Just Say No" clubs of the elementary schools, with additional funding from the countywide club. She tailored her talks with children to focus on their perceptions of parents and problems.

"It was very similar with the kids," said Misti Zimmerman, a fifth-grade teacher at Piney Ridge Elementary, "she had us laughing, she had us crying. But before she spoke, only a few kids said they'd tell their parents to come hear her -- and after she spoke about 80 percent were going to make their parents come."

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