Touching Stories To Guide Your Parenting

Raising Daughters | Parenting Stories


Parenting is a journey enriched by stories—windows into empathy and wisdom. In this episode, Dr. Tim Jordan shares eight touching stories and poems that contain some practical insights into how to parent your children more effectively. Tune in for heartfelt narratives and poetic wisdom, offering guidance for parents. Join us on this conversation for a journey into nurturing and understanding children.

For more of Dr. Jordan’s resources to aid your parenting, go to his website at for links to his 6 books, his online parenting course, and all of his previously published podcasts.

Dr. Jordan’s previous podcast on how to make deposits into your goodwill account with your daughter.

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Touching Stories To Guide Your Parenting

Thanks for stopping by. I was going through a bunch of my old files during the holidays and I found a bunch of old stories I used to tell in my talks years ago that I hadn’t told in a long time. I love these stories and I think they pertain well. Each one has a little kernel of truth or a little bit of parenting advice if you will. I thought for this episode, I would tell you some of those stories and then give you a little bit of commentary at the end of each one.

The “Right” Way

The first one goes like this. It’s called The Little Boy. He stands at the plate with his heart pounding fast. The bases are loaded. The dye has been cast. Mom and dad cannot help him. He stands all alone. A hit at this moment would send his team home. The ball meets the plate, he swings and he misses. There’s a groan from the crowd with some booze and some hisses. A thoughtless voice cries, “Strike out the bum.” Tears fill his eyes. The game’s no longer fun. Open your heart and give him a break for it’s moments like this, a man you can make. Keep this in mind, when you hear someone forget. He’s just a little boy and not a man yet.

I’ve seen so many kids who feel a lot of pressure from their parents when it comes to their activities, their sports, and their grades. I saw a girl in my office not that long ago. She’s in high school and she’s been struggling with her schoolwork. I think she has some learning issues that need to be tested, which she’s going to do. The dad has told her for a long time, half kiddingly but not, that she’s going to college no matter what, because she has told him, “I’m not sure if I even want to go to college. I’m not sure what I want to do.” He said, “You’re going to college or you don’t get my inheritance.” He means it. It’s not a joke, and she’s not taking it as a joke. He also said, “When you go to college, I don’t care what you major in, you can choose that. As long as it adds up to in the end that you can apply to law school.”

That is not an isolated incident. I hear stories of that sort all the time. Pressure on kids. I have a good friend who’s a referee for high school football and basketball. He said, “It’s amazing how awful the parents are. They’re awful to their kids. They’re awful to the coaches. They’re awful to the kids on the other teams. It’s amazing how many parents are screaming and cursing.” He’s at the point now where he wants to quit because it’s not fun because of that. That, by the way, is the number one reason why kids quit youth sports. It’s no longer fun. It’s usually no longer fun because the coach is too into winning. The coach is screaming at the kids or the parents are too intense. They’re just little kids or big kids. Watch your pressure.

The number one reason why kids quit youth sports is it is no longer fun. Share on X

Here’s one of my favorite stories. I’m going to have to read this one. It’s a little bit long, but it is worth it. Once a little boy went to school. One morning when the little boy had been in school for a while, the teacher said, “We’re going to make a picture.” “Good,” thought the little boy, he’d loved to make pictures. He could make all kinds of pictures, lions, tigers, chickens, cows, trains, and boats. He took out his box of crayons and he began to draw, but the teacher said, “Wait, it’s not time to begin.” She waited until everyone was looking.

The teacher said, “We’re going to make flowers.” “Good,” thought the little boy, “I love making flowers.” He began to make beautiful ones with pink, orange, and blue crayons. The teacher said, “Wait, I will show you how.” It was red with a green stem. “There,” said the teacher, “This is the kind of flower you need to make. Now, you may begin.” The little boy looked at the teacher’s drawing, then he looked at his own flower, he liked his flower better than the teacher’s, but he didn’t say this. He just turned his paper over and he made the flower like the teachers. It was red with a green stem.

On another day when the little boy had opened the door from the outside all by himself, the teacher said, “We’re going to make something with clay.” “Good,” thought the little boy, “I love making things with clay.” He can make all kinds of stuff with clay, snakes, snowmen, elephants, mice, cars, and trucks. He began to pull and pinch his ball of clay, but the teacher said, “Wait, it’s not time to begin.” She waited until everyone looked up at her and was ready. “Now,” said the teacher, “We’re going to make a dish.” He thought, “I’d like to make dishes too.” To make some dishes, there were all shapes and all kinds of sizes. The teacher said, “Wait, I will show you how.” She showed everyone how to make one deep dish. “There,” said the teacher, “Now, you may begin.”

The little boy looked at the teacher’s dish and he looked at his own. He liked his dishes a lot better than the teacher’s, but he did not say this. He just rolled his clay back up into a big ball and he made a dish like the teacher’s. It was a deep dish. Pretty soon, the little boy learned to wait and to watch and to make things like the teacher. Pretty soon, he didn’t make things of his own anymore. It then happened, the little boy and his family moved to another house in another city and the little boy had to move to another school.

On the very first day of his new school when he was there, the teacher said, “We’re going to make a picture.” “Good,” thought the little boy. He waited for the teacher to tell him what to do, but the teacher didn’t say anything. She walked around the room. When she came to the little boy, she said, “Don’t you want to make a picture?” “Of course, I do,” said the little boy, “What are we going to make?” “I don’t know until you make it,” said the teacher. “How should I make it?” Asked the little boy. “Anyway you want,” said the teacher. “Any colors?” said the little boy. “Yes, any colors,” said the teacher, “If everyone makes the same picture and uses the same colors, how do we know who made what and what was which?” “I don’t know,” said the little boy. He sat down, thought for a moment, and began to make a red flower with a green stem.

I think too often we do that with kids. We tell them the right way to build something with their legos and the right way to draw a picture. We don’t allow them to do it their way. We don’t follow their lead enough and allow them to use their creativity and their imaginations. I want you to keep that in mind. I want you to allow them to do that in their way and in their style. Otherwise, they do start making things with a green stem and a red flower, like everybody else. We lose a lot. Kids lose their sense of creativity, they lose their imaginations, and they end up not being able to have original thought, which is a hugely important quality for them to go into adulthood with.

Another story. This is a true story. The Bemba tribe of South Africa handles antisocial behaviors in their kids in a very unique way. Not just kids, but adults as well. The person who’s done something wrong is placed in the center of the village. All work stops and everybody forms a large circle around her. One at a time, each person including kids, calls out the good things they’ve noticed that that girl has done in her lifetime. Positive attributes, good deeds, strengths, and kind acts that they’ve noticed that she has done.

This ceremony can take several days until everybody has exhausted their affirmations. There’s not one word about her irresponsible antisocial behavior. At the end of this, there’s a joyous celebration as she is welcomed back into the tribe. This makes her resolve to want to live up to the tribe’s expectations and be that person.

I saw a little girl not too long ago in my office who had been in trouble at school. She’s a powerful little creature, one of the most powerful little girls I’ve ever met. She doesn’t like to be told what to do. She has an autocratic teacher. She’s a little kid. She’s in third grade. There have been a few times when she got into power struggles with the teacher and she was disrespectful, which of course is not okay. The teacher is not respecting her need for control and power, and giving her opportunities to lead and to have some appropriate power.

What she’s been doing to this little girl is now, she’s on here all the time. The little girl doesn’t think the teacher likes her. I don’t think the teacher probably does. I think the little girl is probably right. This is going to sound horrible. A lot of teachers like the kids who sit still, shut up, and listen. They don’t like the kids who are more free-spirited, more independent-minded, and powerful. They’re tougher to deal with, but you have to work with them.

One of the things I suggested to this mom is to tell the teacher to spend some special time with her, maybe before school or after school. To befriend her, to take her under her wing, and let her know, “I care about you.” It’s okay for her to not put up with disrespect. If this little girl goes to school every day thinking the teacher doesn’t like her, the teacher’s probably going to get this little girl’s worst. What she needs is to know that the teacher appreciates who she is and recognizes her need for more control and more power.

Please, Mom And Dad.

Here’s a nice little poem. It’s called Please, Mom and Dad. My hands are small. I don’t mean to spill my milk. My legs are short. Please slow down so I can keep up with you. Don’t slap my hands when I touch something pretty and bright. I just don’t understand. Please look at me when I talk to you. It lets me know you’re listening. My feelings are tender. Don’t nag me all day long. Let me make mistakes without feeling stupid. Don’t expect the bed I make or the pictures I draw to be perfect. Love me for trying. Remember, I’m a child, not a small adult. Sometimes I don’t understand what you’re saying or what you want from me. I love you so much, and please love me for being me and not for the things that I do.

That’s a good reminder to us. Number one, to not parent your kids with an autocratic style, which is full of criticism, judgment, yelling, nagging, and doing things for our kids, but more with the authoritarian style where you respect kids’ needs, if you will. It’s a much healthier model. There’s a lot of research that would back that up. The other thing that I also think about when I hear that poem is that I think too often today we value things like achievement over character. We’re raising a generation of kids to be human doings instead of human beings. Make sure that you’re not doing that with your children.

Here’s one of my favorite poems. It’s called Give Her a Day. What shall you give to one small girl? A glamorous game, a tinsel toy, a Girl Scout knife, a puzzle pack, a train that runs on some curving track, a picture book, or a real-life pet. No, there’s plenty of time for such things yet. Give her a day for her very own. Just one small girl and her dad alone. A walk in the woods, a romp in the park, a fishing trip from dawn to dark. Give her the gift that only you can. That companionship of her old man. Games are outgrown and toys will decay, but she’ll never forget if you give her a day.

I know we all know that we’re supposed to spend time with our kids, but I think sometimes in this busy hectic world, we don’t have time for that in the end because we’re so busy doing other things. It’s been somewhat of a blessing that more parents are able to work from home, at least part-time or full-time. Even if you’re not working from home, we still bring our work home with us way more than we used to because of all the devices that we have and because it’s not okay to do work from home.

It’s not just okay, it’s expected. There are a lot of times when even when we’re with our kids, we’re distracted. We’re not all there. They can tell that when we’re constantly looking at our phones and looking at text messages and things, we’re not fully present. I want you to remember to have a special time with your kids. Special one-on-one time. Create some special dates and some special rituals that you do with that daughter or that son. Do them as often as you can. We don’t have time to take them to Disney World every weekend. It can be small things like taking the dog for a walk with them. Make sure you have long tuck-ins every night, not just some nights, but every night. Establish some fun things you do with each child that pertain to their interests and passions.

Have special one-on-one time with your kids, and do them as often as you can. Share on X

My wife and I call that investing in their goodwill account. How much goodwill is there in your relationship with your daughter, your son, your spouse, your friends, or anybody? One of the best ways to give a deposit into your goodwill account with your daughter is to spend special time. Make sure you create that time and stick with it. Don’t allow the busyness of our everyday lives to interfere with that. Don’t put it at the end of the time like, “I’ll do that if I have time.” Make sure you put that in there somewhere in your schedule so that no matter what, you get to it.

A couple more stories. This is another one of my favorite poems. It’s called To Any Athlete. There are little eyes upon you and they’re watching night and day. There are little ears that quickly take every word you say. There are little hands all eager to do everything you do and the little boy who’s dreaming of the day he’ll be like you. You’re the little fellow’s idol. You’re the wisest of the wise. In his little mind about you, no suspicions ever rise. He believes in you to volley and hold it. All that you can do, he will do and say in your way when he is grown up just like you. There’s a wide-eyed little fellow who believes you’re always right and his ears are always open, and he’s watching day and night. You are setting an example every day in all you do for the little boy who’s waiting to grow up to be like you.

Kids are always watching us. They probably follow suit more with what we do than with what we say. Be very mindful of how you treat your spouse, how you treat your friends, how you treat yourself, and how you treat anybody because they’re watching and they’re learning. There’s a good chance they’re going to mirror it, mimic it, and eventually internalize it. Make sure what they’re internalizing is things that you want them to internalize. Be very conscious of what you’re putting out there.


Raising Daughters | Parenting Stories


Let me give you a quick example. This is going to sound terrible, but I’m not much of a drinker. Never have been. Didn’t drink in high school, didn’t drink hardly at all in college. I’m not a big drinker, even as an adult. When my kids were approaching their middle school years, I made it a point to never drink and drive. Let me clarify that. I’m not a big drinker, but I decided that if we went out to a restaurant with the family or I went to a ball game, I didn’t have even one beer, and then get in the car and drive them home.

I knew when they turned 16 and driving, especially one of my sons who’s very intense, that if he had seen me do that, and I said to him when he went out sometime when he was 16, “Make sure there’s no drinking and driving.” I wanted to be able to look him in the eye and say, “You have never seen me even have one glass of wine or one beer and get behind that wheel.” I want to be able to say that with full integrity. Be very mindful of what you’re modeling.

Peace And Safety Prevail

A couple of more good stories. One of them is from an African tribe called the Maasai Tribe. This is how they greet each other. That tribe is known for being fierce warriors, but they have a very traditional greeting that they do with each other. It’s called Kasserian Ingera, which means, “And how are the children?” That’s their traditional greeting when they see one another, “And how are the children?” The traditional answer is, “All the children are well.” Meaning that peace and safety prevail in our tribe. The priorities of protecting our young are always a priority. They’re always in place Our tribe has not forgotten its reason for being and its responsibilities. It means life is good, it’s vital, and it’s always vital to take care of our young.

Imagine how our country would be different if every time our governors, senators, president, teachers, and every parent asked that question to themselves before they made a decision. Is this in the best interest of our children? What if our greeting to all those people, the senators, leaders, president, and the governor was, “How are the kids? Are they well? What are you doing to ensure that all kids are well? Are you making decisions with the best interests of all children in mind?” I think our leaders would make some much different choices if that was at the top of their list of priorities.” My feeling is it’s not. There are other things that they put way more importance than that. I’d like to see that shift. It can start shifting in our homes as parents make decisions based on what’s in the best interest of our children.

Let me end here with something. I found this old story. It’s taken from a book of the same title. The title is All I Ever Really Needed To Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum. Love this thing. I read that book a long time ago. All I Ever Really Needed To Know, I Learned in Kindergarten. Most of what I need to know about how to live, what to do, and how to be, I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sandbox at nursery school.

These are the things that I learned. Share everything. Play fair. Don’t hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush the toilet. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Live a balanced life. Learn some, think some, draw, paint, sing, dance, play, and work every day. Take a nap every afternoon. When you go out into the world, watch for traffic, hold hands, and stick together. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the plastic cup? The roots go down, the plant goes up, and nobody knows how or why, but we’re all kind of like that. Goldfish, hamsters, white mice, and even the little seed in the plastic cup all die, and so will we someday.

Remember the book about Dick and Jane and the first word you learned, the biggest word of all, everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The golden rule, love, basic sanitation, ecology, politics, and sane living. Think of what a better world it would be if we all and the whole world had cookies and milk at about 3:00 every afternoon and then laid down with our blankies for a nap. If we had a basic policy in our nation and other nations to always put things back where we found them and to clean up our own messes. It is still true. No matter how old you are, when you go out into the world, it’s always best to hold hands and stick together.

Great stories. Stories with lots of wisdom in those pearls of wisdom. It’d be nice if we all would remember those, reread them, read them to our kids, and be very mindful about trying to live our lives with those sorts of messages in mind. Thanks so much for stopping by here. I’m here every week almost always with a new episode. Send any requests you have for topics that are important to you. You’ll find copies of these poems and things on my show notes at the website, I’ll be back here in a week. I appreciate you stopping by and I will see you then. Take care.


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