Friday, September 6, 2019

Building Strong Grandparent – Child Relationships

Nora Rhoades, Family and Youth Development Agent

Grandparent’s Day has been celebrated since 1978 on the first Sunday after Labor Day in the United States. The holiday was proclaimed by former president Jimmy Carter. In his proclamation, he shared how our nation’s progress is a reflection of the wisdom and courage of our founding fathers. He pointed out the nation’s similarity to how a family is guided by its ancestors. Carter went on to explain how our elders have a responsibility to set the moral tone for the family and for passing on values and traditions.

It takes a village to raise a child.
When I reflect upon Grandparent’s Day, this phrase comes to mind. As an elementary student, I remember calling my grandparent with an invite to attend a special classroom celebration. We shared a meal together and enjoyed spending time in conversation and playing games. I was fortunate to have a grandparent close-by to accept my invitation to the party, yet I remember some peers smiling from ear to ear as they escorted a friend from church or their next door neighbor throughout the day’s activities. While the dictionary defines a grandparent as the parent of one’s parent, I to this day acknowledge the strong bonds observed of my peers with their older friend.

Lucky for all children, the benefits of spending quality time with a caring adult with life experience from a generation gone past speaks dividends for development and growth. A child’s brain is a sponge, responding to the environment and people surrounding her. Navigating things not well understood alongside a caring adult helps a child build confidence and develop a sense of purpose. There is no arguing that a parent is a valuable teacher in a child’s life. However, I can’t help but think that part of the Carter Administration’s intention of declaring Grandparent’s Day as a holiday was to mold into our American culture the value of establishing strong, healthy relationships with caring adults outside the parent-child construct. A grandparent –whether declared by your family tree or through genuine mentorship– is an adult whom can help balance the task of raising our future difference makers. After all, it takes a village to raise a child.

My challenge to you…
This Grandparent’s Day, and beyond, I challenge you to focus on being an intentional participant in your intergenerational relationship. Parents are often the conductors of routine in a child’s life. Routines are focused on pattern; they are designed with continuity in mind. I encourage you to elevate a child’s village by building strong, meaningful rituals throughout daily routines to affirm he is loved unconditionally and truly accepted as a unique participant in the pursuit of happiness.

Dr. Becky Bailey, an acclaimed author and educator, describes these valuable practices as I Love You Rituals. In her book referenced below she explains how rituals are connection focused. They’re the glue which holds a routine together. Without rituals, routines become rigid and lame. Routines help individuals of all ages inspire our brains to focus and cooperate. It is through rituals that children build confidence to understand emotions and develop a capacity to overcome challenges and acknowledge triumphs.

Strong rituals are strengths focused. When showing affection through a ritual, grandparent relationships have a unique opportunity to combine the strengths across generational lines. Combining the comfort of communication-past with communication-present provides a strong foundation for lifelong learning. It demonstrates to both the older adult and child that each person has an opportunity to be both the teacher and the learner. These experiences, when placed strategically into the structure of getting through the day, provide an authentic breath of fresh air.

I Love You Rituals are as simple as a special hand shake when you cross paths or a lullaby you sing together to prepare for a good night’s sleep. A virtual meet-up to read a story together on the weekend, a hand-written letter from the mailbox, or a safe, secure empathic hug demonstrating disappointment is okay. It can be joining together in shared verse before digging into your meal or a simple game you play while driving in the car.

Valued rituals inspire both adult and youth to be fully present in the moment. Rituals promote mindfulness, an active and intentional way of being where you are. Essentially, the most important component of a strong ritual is to convey unconditional acceptance and appreciation through a shared experience with a loved one.

“I Love You Rituals are gifts of love you can give your children. Since what you give to others, you strengths in yourself, they are gifts you can give yourself.” – Dr. Becky Bailey

Stop. Take a deep breath. Choose to be intentional this Grandparent’s Day. Your village appreciates you. I am forever grateful for mine.

The Post Rock District of K-State Research and Extension serves Jewell, Lincoln, Mitchell, Osborne, and Smith Counties. Nora Rhoades, Family and Youth Development Agent, may be contacted at or 785-346-2521. Stay connected with “Post Rock Extension” on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Our website is

Content for this article is referenced from “I Love You Rituals” (2000) by Becky A. Bailey, Ph. D.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Dividing Perennials in Fall

Cassie Homan, Horticulture Agent
One of my favorite parts of gardening is dividing plants. It’s so fun and rewarding to get more plants from your existing flower beds. I was recently able to divide and move several flowers and wanted to show how simple the process is. My parents are moving to a new house and leaving behind some beautiful perennials. Over the holiday weekend I dug up some irises, daylilies, and peonies and brought them home with me. Fall is a great time to move these plants and get them established before freezing weather hits.

Perennials are great plants because they are relatively low maintenance and come back year after year. Every three to five years they can be divided to maintain plant vigor. Perennials that bloom in the spring should be divided in late summer or early fall.
For daylilies the division process can be done in a few easy steps. First, dig up the clump of daylilies with a shovel. It works best to lift large sections at once. Second, trim the leaves to a height of 6-8 inches. This makes the plant easier to work with. Next, you want to separate the clump into smaller clumps. You might want to use a sharp, sterile knife or spade. Be sure each division has three to five buds for new shoot production. To keep plants looking full, keep 2-3 plants in one transplant. Lastly, trim a bit off the roots, this will help with regrowth. Now you are ready to transplant! Choose a sunny location and dig a hole 2-3 times the size of the root ball of the plant. Space your plants about 12-18 inches apart, and give them plenty of water.

Dividing irises are very similar to the steps mentioned above for daylilies. Make sure to discard any small, weak, or woody divisions and the center of the plant if it is dead or weaker than the outside. Iris roots are technically underground stems called rhizomes. They grow horizontally at or above ground level. When dividing, each section should contain a few inches of rhizome and a fan of leaves.

For a full list of recommended perennial flowers check out the Prairie Bloom List. These flowers have been trialed and tested by K-State. They are proven to do well in our Kansas climate.

If you would like more details about perennial flowers in your landscape, contact Cassie Homan, Post Rock District Horticulture Agent, at (785)738-3597 or by email at