Sunday, April 25, 2004



Beth Uale, Hawaii Mother of the Year and music instructor, says music has been fundamental in keeping her family close.

Choicest blessings

Beth Uale mothers her kids
with lots of love and hugs

Patience, love, compassion are a few qualities a good mother possesses. Beth Uale might also add an ounce of creativity -- the ability to change plans and compromise so everyone wins. She was recently named Hawaii Mother of the Year and will represent the state at the 2004 National American Mother Awards, to be held Tuesday through May 1, in Puerto Rico.

She'll spend the next year promoting motherhood, and the timing couldn't be better. "Families are not revered as they used to be," she said. "So, it's nice to win an award for being a mother.

Uale, who has four adult children, said, "My choicest blessings have come as a result of my decision to be a mom."

UALE MAJORED in music at BYU-Hawaii, where she met her husband Bode Uale. But even before entering college, she knew any career would have to coincide with motherhood.

"I knew that music would be the easiest career to pursue if I wanted to be a mom," Beth Uale said. "I have always been grateful for that decision because music has been the second-greatest influence in keeping our family together, the first being our church membership," she said.

"I have been able to involve my children and my husband in many of the choirs that I direct, and our family enjoys singing together."

Uale has taught music in public and private schools for 13 years. She also runs a music studio out of her house, where she has taught piano and vocal lessons for 19 years. "It enabled me to keep an eye on my children in the afternoons, at the same time helping to keep our family financially stable."

One of the best ways for people to demonstrate love for their family, she feels, is by giving them your time.

"I believe that it is one of the ways to keep children on the right path," she said. "My children know that when I have free time, I want to spend it as a family. I always let them know that I love them for their own personality and their strengths, and I give them hugs and kisses, even now that they're older."

Family values were reinforced by the Mormon church. And of course, Beth had a lot of help at home.

"I'd love to say that everything was 50-50," said Bode Uale. "But, she took the lead and I followed. We always made sure that we were on the same page. The main thing was consistency. The kids knew that if Mom said no, they didn't need to bother to ask dad."

In a 1991 picture above, the Uales are, clockwise from left: Justin, age 6; Andria, age 10; Beth; Bode; Crichton, age 11; and Travis, age 4.

PARENTS OFTEN encounter problems when their children hit their rebellious teen years, and may consider Uale lucky to have such well-adjusted children. Uale's 24-year-old son Crichton is studying at Aichi University in Japan. Andria, 23, is a missionary in Venezuela. Justin, 19, is also a full-time missionary. Travis, 17, is a Kamehameha Schools student.

But luck had little to do with keeping her brood in check. Setting family rules helped the children understand what was expected of them from kindergarten age. "We always had certain expectations," Uale said.

"If you don't start early and lose control, it's hard to get it back. Most parents don't understand that until it's too late. They end up with 12- and 13-year-olds ruling the household," Uale said.

Teaching values began with not caving in to the childrens' demands for instant gratification. "When the children want-ed a Playstation, we told them that it was a 'want' and not a 'need,' so they had to earn their own money from their paper route to get it.

"When they asked if we could upgrade their system, same answer; so they had to trade in their system and earn more money to get a new one. This helped them to learn to work hard for things they wanted."

As her children hit adolescence, they learned they needed to give 24-hour notice before going out with friends. "I wanted to know where they were going ... who they would be with," Uale said.

In spite of the strict rules, she said, "the kids felt very comfortable bringing friends home."

The biggest battle for most parents is the introduction of outside values and peer pressure, but the Uales adjusted by meeting their kids halfway.

"One of my children was invited to go out on a boating cruise right after the prom that would involve an all-night excursion. Even though we were told that adults would be coordinating the event, we didn't feel comfortable with the idea, and said no.

"In order to help our child feel like we weren't trying to take away all fun activities, we opted to have an after-prom party at our house on the same night, and any friends would be welcome. This was a good alternative and we were able to provide games, movies, an ice cream sundae bar and a more protected environment."

Uale also realized early that "different people operate in different ways," so she adjusted her means of discipline. Her eldest son enjoyed going out, so he would lose activity privileges. For others, she just needed to raise her voice. "We try hard to make our house a house of love by resolving differences right away," she said.

The family enjoys Beth's piano playing in 1991.

UALE WORKS with other youths as well. She is the young women's president for girls 12 to 18 at her church, teaches music at Jefferson Elementary School and works with the Hawaii Opera Chorus.

Uale is also involved with the Boy Scouts of America, the Hawaii Music Educators Association and the American Choral Directors Association.

"I enjoy seeing (children) grow and mature, get to a point in their lives where the things that they have learned have meaning," she said.

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