July 19, 2001 Omaha, NE
While resting between tests and treatments to determine possible candidacy for a bone marrow transplant, Karen asked Tom to write these things down for her. She thought a great deal about what her children would need, and indeed what all children need, and needed to express these thoughts:
- Spend at least 15 minutes alone with each child every evening, right before bedtime.
- Listen without interrupting their stories. Listen for the true meaning. Sometimes you will learn of their fears and insecurities as well as their inner strengths. Remember: you can grow with the children — like we already have.
- Always recognize that each one of our children is unique and never compare them no matter how common the situation is.
- Teach them to be independent and follow their own dreams. Parent and peer influence are powerful forces and can prevent them from achieving the capacity to be truly happy.
- Teach them to make well thought-out decisions regarding friends, and especially their life partners. Friendship can be one of the most precious gifts of life. Choose the wrong friend or partner, and the gift is lost for a lifetime.
- Read Read Read! Read to them and with them and listen to them read to you. Education and knowledge will open up doors for a lifetime.
There was an interruption here in her train of thought, when Carrie (Karen’s caseworker in Omaha) came in to check on her. Carrie was wonderful throughout their stay, and was certainly on Karen’s mind as she continued,
- Teach our children the blessings we have in this country and the obligation to help others that comes with it.
- Teach our children the meaning of trust and its role in relationships. Relationships built on trust and honesty will last forever.
- Make sure our children laugh often. They need to laugh and you need to laugh. Remember that you can be child-like without being childish.