The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa on August 31, 1975 · Page 49
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August 31, 1975

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The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa · Page 49

Des Moines, Iowa
Issue Date:
Sunday, August 31, 1975
Page 49
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Page 49 article text (OCR)

There's something special about Small Town, U.S.A.' DES MOUSES SUNDAY REGISTER • August 31,1975/4E DREAMERS Continued from page one son has lowered his sights. He wants to buy a house in Lone Rock, la. It is a special house, he says, and he won't say exactly where it is in Lone Rock because he doesn't want anyone else to buy it first. Except for the bouts of homesickness, however, lowans abroad find life is consumed by the same things that consume lives of lowans in Iowa: Family, work, coping, enjoying. Suzy and Dennis Olsen, for Instance, are busy this summer painting, teaching and awaiting the arrival of their first child. Dennis, who is a printmaker, and two .colleagues run Italy's only workshop or studio where Students can learn and work alongside professional artists. (Each year, some Drake University students are among the 100 or so youths enrolled at the studio.) Cooking lessons 8027, meanwhile, is creating six abstract color compositions for the St. Louis County National Bank in Clayton, Mo. She also gives cooking lessons and conducts drawing classes, in which many Drake students also participate. The Olsens live in an apartment that comprises a charming array of rooms on four different levels. It is centrally located on one of the historic, narrow streets of Florence. But weekends and summers they flee to a rented farmhouse outside Florence. It has no electricity or running water, but it has peacefulness, pleasant afternoons to paint, lots of time to dream. Iowa City And those dreams often are of Iowa City. "But in my dreams, Iowa City becomes more and more changed . . . a lot of new bulldlnp. I'm afraid it won't be the same." Nor, in fact, will Iowa be the same if Bill Helgason ever decides to pack up and leave Paris. (And he may. He already has shipped back to the States all of the tools for his highly technical hobby of making patterns for model steam locomotives — engines one-fourth the site of real ones. It's a hobby, he says, that doesn't really fit crowded cities like Paris.) One violet Bill Helgason today Is manager of methodology of data processing and a special consultant for Banque National de Paris. He works in a big, high-ceilinged office (with but one tiny African violet on the bookshelf) that is not at all like anything in Lone Rock or In Clarion, where he received molt' of bis school- ing. Bill Helgason speaks Russian, French, German and, of course, English. Hli work has taken him to Spain, Italy, Czechotlpvakla, Germany (where be ipent "a year help* ing families escape from East to Weit), Holland, England and France. He has lived in Paris since 1072. Glitter gone He works hard.In kit big office in the big builduii> Behind the big stone facade In the crowded Montmartra area of Pal-to, And he saya ttiat, M far as cities go, Paris Isn't bad, though there really ia very Uttle In Parisian living that attracts him v now that the glitter has worn off. "1 admit that European citlei have it all over Ameri• can cities," he says. "For some reason, American citiea seem ao sterile ... no life in them." On the other hand, he says, "There is still something special about Small Town, U.S.A., that can't be found : anywhere else In the world." He pauses, he lets out a breath slowly, a spark of interest enters his normally laconic voice — and then he talks of farms and Lone Rock. (Rebecca Dorr is a Des Moines-born artist and writer who has lived in Florence andunow lives in Paris.) Suzy Olsen and husband Dennis paint and teach in Florence, Italy. She is working on six color abstractions for a bank, and teaches cooking also. Seeourcompl.tewltctlono ',& 9 Diamond bridal let, l'/2 carat* total weight*, 14 karat gold, $1,275. * Prlc* may vary according to exact diamond weight, i,'* .•*H»v ~S 9 Diamond bridal set, 14 karat gold, $375. Revolving Charge * Zol«$ Custom Chargt,» •aitkAmtrkani • Matter Chary* Am«H<0n 6xpr«« » Oiiwrt Club * Carlt lianch* « loyaway Child benefits from parents' enthusiastic response to his queries CHILDREN Continued from page one Photo by ROBERT J. MODERSOHN Arranging a home 10 the young child can pretty much have free run of It seems to be one favorable condition for an excellent "early educa (plastic refrigerator containers* babyfood jars and covers, shoes, magazines, television arid radio knobf, and the like). There are things to climb, such as chairs, benches, sofas, stairs, as well as materials such as tricycles and scooters to nurture more mature motor skills. In addition to designing a large measure of the child's physical environment, an effective mother sets up guide* lines for her child's behavior. These play a very important role in' his development. She is generally permissive and indulgent; the child is encouraged in the vast majority of his explorations. When the child confronts an interesting or difficult situation, he often turns to his mother for help. Although she usually is working at some chore, she is generally nearby. When he goes to her, she usually — but not always — responds helpfully and enthusiastically, occasionally providing an interesting, naturally related idea. Curiosity These 10-to 30-sejcond interchanges are oriented toward the child's interest of the moment, rather than toward some need or interest of the mother. It is in experiences of this kind that we believe an infant's intrinsic curiosity is effectively expanded by these skillful mothers. At times, under these circumstances, the child will not receive immediate attention. The effective mother'does not always drop what she is doing to attend to a child's request. If the time is obviously inconvenient, she says so, giving the child a realistic sense that the world does not always revolve around him. These mothers rarely spend five-, 10-or 20-mlnute stretches teaching their 1-to 2-year-olds, but they do an enormous amount of teaching "on the fly," and usually at the child's instigation. Although they also may volunteer comments, they primarily react to overtures by the child Effective mothers seem to be people with high levels of Health retreat planned for Coif ax Iowa's first health retreat,, an attempt to teach persons how to get well and stay well, will be Sept. 12 to 14 at the Colfax Interfaith Center. The weekend retreat is being sponsored by Health Horizons, a central Iowa preventive health education organization. Areas to be covered are nutrition, physical condition, stress management, smoking, drinking and drug elimination and lessening of environmental pollution. Special sessions will be on such topics as hypoglycemia, learning disabilities, allergies, transcendental meditation, vegetarianism and yoga. Spreakers will include Dr. Oscar Rasmusson and Dr. William Mauer, both of Chicago, and Dr. Ralph Smiley of Mason City. Opening session is at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 12. Further information may be obtained from Dr. Robert Burns of Des Moines (Telephone 515-288-2181), or by writing to Health Horizons, P.O. Box 386, West Des Moines, la. 50265 or call 615 288-41,21. energy. The work of a young mother without household help is, in spite of modern appliances, very time-and energy-consuming. Yet we have studied families subsisting at a welfare level of Income, with as many aa eight closely spaced children, who are doing as good a job in child- rearing during the early years as the moat advantaged families. Attitudes Although a mother's effectiveness is influenced by her material resources, her attitudes about the following areas are particularly important. general. A woman who is seriously depressed or unhappy about life probably cannot do a good job of getting her young child off to a good start. None of our successful mother* has such attitudes toward life, while some of our unsuccessful mothers do have. • Young children. Some mothers don't really seem to enjoy their children during the l-to-3 age range. They spend as little time as possible with them; when they interact with them, they don't seem to get much pleasure from the experience. Some of our toothers who do poorly fall into this category, others do not. However, all of our successful mothers seem to derive a great deal of pleasure from their children during this age range. • The formative role of the second year of life. Mothers seem to vary considerably in their opinion of the formative role of infancy. We doubt that many of our leaa effective mothers believe strongly that this stage of life haa profound significance for development. On the other hand, not all effective mothers do either. It is our impression that many of our most effective mothers perform excellently without any measurable degree of commitment to the idea that infancy is a crucial period in urea of attention and consideration. • Possessions. There is a fair degree of incompatibility between a strong desire to preserve the contents of one's home and the normal tendency toward non-malicious destructiveness in young children. The mother who is very concerned about her possessions and insists upon leaving breakable items on display during this stage of her child's development is going to have a difficult time. Three possible routes are open to her. She can, by the habitual use of playpens, cribs and gates, physically prevent her child from contacting many items in the home. (We believe this route produces frustration and stunting of curiosity in children.) She may allow the child .the run of the house and attempt to prevent damage by stopping the child with words or actions when he appears about to break something. (This route is often unsuccessful because of the child's limited understanding of words, and the normal development of negativism. At the very best, it results in a mother who is very frequently saying, "No, don't touch that.") Or, she may allow the child to roam and accompany him in an attempt at constant supervision combined with gentle redirection. (This route is very time and energy-consuming, and few moth- era can afford it.) • Housekeeping. Very few of our effective mothers are meticulous housekeepers. A few are, but most of them seem to have accepted the idea that an infant and a spotless home are incompatible. The problem often is aggravated by a husband who insists on a spotless home. The paths a mother of an infant may take to maintain a spotless home are similar to those for the preservation of possessions, and a child's developmentr-They—the pitfalls are similar, seem spontaneously to grant • Safety, Every infant has their infants generous meas- the potential for self-injury. The danger is very real. Again, mothers vary widely in how they deal with danger. Most of the ways that reduce danger carry with them the real possibility of reducing the child's normal curiosity and development. There is some research that suggests that children have more built-in controls than we give them credit for. The work on depth perception by Gibson and Walk (1960), for example, suggests that by the time children begin to crawl, they can -Wilfully discriminate depth, and furthermore are inclined to avoid moving off safe positions and injuring themselves. N • There are certain African tribes that allow their infants access to sharp weapons and utensils, with no apparent serious injuries resulting. Safety It is our impression that infants are generally far more careful about protecting themselves than we think. We do not mean to suggest that no caution need be exercised, but there is a midground in the treatment of the problem of safety. Some mothers are overprotective to the point where they seem to interfere with good development. Let us add a few additional words about the resources necessary for excellent child- rearing. Perhaps the most basic necessary resource is energy. A • second necessary resource is patience. An Infant can be very tiring. He is usually slow in many ways, and this slowness, combined with his comparatively modest learning abilities and his tendency to persist in repetitive behaviors, can torment an adult. Without a deep love for her child, a mother may not be inclined to devote much energy and patience to him. She needs time with the child, but not as much as we would have thought when we began our study. Not only have we observed excellent mothers with half-time jobs, but also, perhaps more im- portant, our effective mothers who are home all day spend less than 10 per cent of their time interacting with their infants. In what we have learned, we find much to be optimistic about. We are convinced that we have witnessed the effective shaping of young lives and nurturing of learning abilities at the most important formative period. We think we have partially unraveled the process. Finally, it seems to us that most American families very much want to give their children an excellent "early education," and that most of them have resources to do so. Book list Here are some books that parents can read for guidance in bringing up young children. Baadle, Murltl — A Child's Mind: How Children L«irn During the Critical Years From Birth to Agi Five. Doubleday. 1970. Brazelton. T. Berry — Infants and Mothers: Difference* In Development. Dell. 1969. Caplan. Frank, editor — The First Twelve Months of Life: Your Baby's Growth Month by Month, edition). Harper 4 Row. 1969. Plaget. Jean — Six Psychological Studies. Random House. 1967. Readings In Human Development. 1974-75. Dushkin. 1974. Twelve to Sixteen: Early Adolescence. Daedalus: Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Fall 1971. Ginsburg, Herbert; and Opper, Sylvia — Piaget's Theory of Intellectual Development: An Introduction. Prentice Hall. 1969. Mimen, Paul H.; Conger, John ).; and Kagan, Jerome — Child Development and Personality (third edition). Harper & Row. 1969. Stone. (.. Joseph; and Church. Joseph — Childhood and Adolescence: A PsychoJogy_oLthe Growing Person (third edition). Random House. 1973. Whiting, Beatrice B., and -Whiting, John W. M. — Children of Six Cultures: A Psycho-cultural Analysis. Harvard University Press. 1974, Harvard guidelines for mothers of infants One result of the Harvard Pre-School Project's study has been the development of guidelines for the use of mothers of infanta between ft and 17 months old. The guidelines that follow are being used in a training program for selected mother! in the Greater Boston area. 1. Provide access to as much of the house as possible, so that the child has maximum opportunity to exercise curiosity and explore his world. 2. Provide a wide range of materials for exploration. You don't have to spend a lot on toys. Children in this range are fascinated by common household objects, such as plastic jars with covers, a big plastic container filled with interesting smaller objects, a baby-proofed kitchen cabinet filled with pots, pans or canned goods. 3. Be available to your child for at least half of his waking hours. You don't have to hover over him constantly, but you should be nearby to provide the attention, support or assistance he may need. If you are available and your child is given access to a large area and a wide variety of materials, it is inevitable that he will make overtures to you. Here, are recommended ways of responding. eAs often as possible, respond promptly and favorably. •Make an effort to understand what the child is trying to do. •Set limits. Do not give in to unreasonable requests. •As often as possible, provide encouragement, enthusiasm and assistance. '•Use words as often as possible (ones your child will understand, or that may be a little hard for him). •Use words to provide a related idea or two. •Do not prolong the episode if the child wants to break it off. Such interchanges will often last less than a minute. •Encourage "pretend" activities. The above practices are related to the child's approaches to the mother. When they Initiate interactions with their children, the effective mothers in the Harvard study usually follow these patterns: •If the child seems bored, the mother will.provide things for him to do. •If the child is misbehaving, the mother will discipline him firmly and consistently. •If the child is trying something new and potentially un- safe, the mother will monitor him rather than stop him (for example, climbing stairs). Children are more careful than most people realize. Here are some practices for mothers to avoid: •Don't cage a child or confine him regularly for long periods. •Don't allow your child to concentrate his energies on you to the point where he spends most of his time following you around or staying near you, especially in the second year of life. •Don't allow tantrums to become habitual. •Don't worry that your child won't love you if you say no from time to time. •Especially from the middle of the second year, when your baby may start being negative, don't try to win every fight with him. •Don't try to prevent your child from cluttering the house. It's an inevitable sign of a healthy, curious baby. •Don't be overprotective and don't overpower your child, Let him do what he wants as often as possible. •Don't take a full-time job, or otherwise make yourself largely unavailable to the baby during this period of his life. •If you can avoid it, don't bore your baby. •Don't worry about the level at which he learns to read, count numbers or say the alphabet. Don't even worry if he's slow to talk, as long as he seems to understand more and more language as he grows. •Don't try to force toilet training. By the time he's 2 or 3, it will be easy to do. • Don't let your baby think the whole world was made just for him. Couples choose August to wed June still rhymes with moon and spoon, but it's losing its appeal for brides. August is now the No. 1 month for weddings, according to Hallmark Cards. In 1973 there were 1,000 more marriages registered In August than in June. Last year there, were 17,000 rfcore marriages in August than in the traditional hitching month. This year it's expected the figure for August weddings will be even higher.

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