Did I hear her correctly? OMG! It was earth shattering to say the least. I removed the phone from my ear and just looked at it making sure it really was a phone, and I had not been abducted by aliens. I then asked her to say it again, because I was not sure what I heard, and she told me thank you for raising me the way that you did!

After I picked myself up off of the floor, I brushed myself off and simply said to my daughter, you are welcome; but I only do what is expected of me as a mother.

For parenting to be one of the most natural roles that we assume in life, it can be quite challenging. My parents set a great example for me, so it was only natural that I parent in a similar manner. You know, “Children Learn What They Live,” the poem by Dorothy Law Nolte, which, by the way, is one of my mother’s favorite poems. However, times have changed tremendously, and in order to parent effectively we must adjust and adapt to new ways while trying to hold on to old morals and quality standards of living.

Parenting two children of Generation Z can be just a tad bit much at times! Their generation includes those born between 1996 through 2014. Generation Z’ers are typically very advanced, and, to be honest, quite challenging at times. Just think, these are children who have never lived without the internet, cell phones and other advanced modes of technology. They are extremely sharp, and if they don’t know it, they can look it up in a matter of seconds. They read ebooks, so if you tell them to read and they instantly reach for their smart phone, ipod or ipad, trust them. They probably are reading.  Their idea of catching up with a friend could simply mean sending a few text messages including emoji’s and memes, and they are extremely efficient with multi-tasking.

No one gave me a handbook, so I rely on my parents for suggestions; prayer is very helpful, and I goggle a lot. Occasionally, I’ll seek advice from a family member or friend, and oh, did I mention that prayer helps a lot! Let’s just say there is never a dull moment in our lives.

As we transition into August, preparing to get settled back into school, many of us take this time to celebrate and embrace new beginnings; however, it can also be extremely overwhelming for parents and guardians of children of all ages. Even though I certainly don’t proclaim to be an expert in parenting, I do have quite a few years of experience, and would like to share some tips to keep in mind during the school year.

Make sure your child is continuously reading. Newspapers, novels, comic books, etc. The material they read should not matter as long as it is age and content appropriate. It is also a great idea for parents to read on a regular basis. We are, after all, our children’s first and perhaps greatest role model. There are times when I read the same required reading books assigned to my children. A great rule to follow is always be able and ready to share what you are reading if asked.   

Be a strong advocate for your child. Make sure you keep track of all parent/teacher conferences, Parent Teacher Association, PTA meetings and events, as well as other school-related events. It has been my experience that teachers will make arrangements to meet with you when it is convenient for you; so if you have to work, or have to visit more than one class or school, they will work with you. Most often, teachers want their students to be successful and will go out of their way to make it happen. Attending these meetings will help you to understand school expectations, while you have the opportunity to share your expectations of the school.  

Involve your child in extracurricular activities. Extracurricular activities give students the opportunity to develop their character and personality, as well as skills to help them cope and live a full life. So often, I hear people complain about not having anything to do in our area. We do live in a sparsely populated area; however, there are many activities in which children can become involved, and at a very reasonable cost. My children are very active with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, warren.ces.ncsu.edu/. Warren County Memorial Library also offers fun and educational activities for children. Check with your child’s school for other activities and opportunities for children.

In addition, I think genuinely showing children that we are concerned about their welfare goes far. Explain to your children how much you want them to be successful and develop an action for that success. Developing an action plan can be simple: 1) Ask your child to share goals they may have, or goals they have set in school, 2) Discuss these goals to determine if they are attainable, and steps needed to reach those goals, 3) Create a timetable to do the work.

Finally, it might take a while for everyone to get on board and to stay on track; however, the outcomes will be well worth the effort! Hearing “thank you, mom” from my children is music to my ears. Moms like praise, too!

T.A. Jones is a regular contributor to The Warren Record and the author of “A Summer with No Ice Cream.” She can be reached at terryalstonjones@gmail.com.