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Veteran moms share words of wisdom

Saturday, May 11, 2013 - 12:01 am

Editor's note: Eunice Trotter is communications specialist for American Senior Communities, which operates more than 60 senior rehabilitation and memory-care communities in Indiana. She wrote this for The News-Sentinel.

Geneva M. Gilbert was a working single mother decades before the working mom label was coined. She was a meter reader and a factory worker while also rearing six children by herself 70 years ago.

In her home, all hands had to be on deck.

“The children had their chores to do. Each had a job to do,” said Gilbert, 95.

Her children and their children are doing well today. There's always someone dropping in to visit her at Glenbrook Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Center in Fort Wayne, and many will likely be there tomorrow on Mother's Day.

She's lost track of the number of grandchildren she has. “There's so many now,” she said. “They're all good kids.”

How do you rear good kids?

“Take a sincere interest in your children,” Gilbert said. “Let them know you care about them. Then there is a bond that grows and grows from then on out.”

Here is advice from other older mothers who live in American Senior Communities locations across the state:

•“The most important thing is parents should take their children to church, not send them.” — Rose Dudash, 92, of Bethlehem Woods Nursing & Rehabilitation, Fort Wayne.

•“You have to love them and tell them and show them you love them. You can't stick a bottle in your baby's mouth and prop them up. You have to hold them.” — Lora F. Wyatt, 79, Mooresville

•“Teach them to have respect for older people. They're not taught that today. Parents ought to know where their children go, who their friends are and their families.” — Lettie Sweigart, 90, New Castle

•“Spend time with them. Don't always be so busy. Set an example. You don't just say you are done because they're (age) 18 and now you can get on with your life. You have to always be a parent.” — Catherine Blommel, 91, Connersville

•“Have dinner as a family. It means a lot when you have them at the table. You need to start when they are real young.” — Norma Hitchcock, 79, Evansville

•“Make them obey. Take them to church. Have family worship. That never fails.” — Edith Kendall, 91, Indianapolis

•“Talk to them. Be there when they need someone to talk to.” — Nelda Broy, 75, Jeffersonville

“Throw away the video games, but let them be kids. Let them go outside, get some fresh air. They need chores to do at home. It teaches them responsibility. It also teaches them everything is not handed to them on a silver platter.” — Nettie F. Icenogle, 83, Greensburg