29 July 2013

It's Not Just for Teens...

This week, I wanted to talk about something that was posted on Facebook.  You know how it goes.  People post things, and if you like that post, you have the option of sharing it with your friends.  And although I understand what is being said in this small post, I was a little miffed by it.  I posted it up top, so please read and I'll tell you what I think.  

Now the fact that this article had no author sent up a red flag.  Is this for real? or just a phoney baloney fake aimed to get a reaction. I did some research and found this on the Huffington Post website.  It said, " According to a 2010 post on the newspaper's website (the Pierce County Tribune), staff members came across a clipping with a letter from Judge Phillip B. Gilliam of Denver, Colo., published on Dec. 17, 1959. The website seems to suggest that the letter originally appeared in theSouth Bend Tribune a few weeks earlier. The full text of what may be the original letter can be found on the Pierce County Tribune's website and it ends with different words than those presently circulating on the web but essentially says the same thing.  Basically, stop your whining and do something productive.  

Okay then...so the article is legimate.  So going back to it, what do I think is wrong with it?  I guess I found it somewhat hypocritical ...kind of a "do as I say, and not as I do".  As a parent, I think it's really important for us to understand that our children don't just have lives of their own. They don't just "turn out" the way they are.  Chances are, if we are agreeing with the letter above, then we have,  somewhere along the line,  missed teaching a lesson to our children somewhere along with road. 

There are many, many youth that are doing a LOT to change the world. For example,  nephew is just returning from a month in Armenia with a group of kids his age.  They have been volunteering their time and talents at an orphanage there.  How many of us adults can say that when we were younger we volunteered a month of our time?  (or can we say that now?) And why did they do this?  Most assuredly, you can bet that their parents were behind them teaching them the importance of giving back to their community. 

Last year I learned about Malala Yousefzai, a 14 year old Pakistani girl that was shot in the head because she dared to want an education.  Obviously, she learned the importance of learning from her father who is  a teacher.  I don't know if you've followed her story, but this is one courageous, unstoppable young woman.  Despite the fact that she almost died, she is out there today, speaking on behalf of those that are repressed and kept from reaching their full potential by being denied an education.

These are just two examples.  I'm not saying that ALL kids are doing things to help themselves and their communities, but many are.   Yet how any of us are doing all that WE can do to make the world a better place?  Or even making our communities better?  I've never been one to look down on the younger generation.  Our kids are a product of their environments.  Just like hatred, bigotry and intolerance are learned, so is complacency.   And so are compassion, caring, sharing, love, tolerance and kindness.  

So let's go through this:   The judge says, mow the lawn, wash the windows, learn to cook, build a raft, get a job, visit the sick, study your lessons and after you've finished, read a book. Some of this I agree with.  When I was growing up, Saturday meant chores day.  My job was to dust (and let me tell you, I'm not a fan of dusting to this day!)  But as children, we knew that mom couldn't do it all, so Saturday was our day to pitch in and help around the house.  As we got older, our chores broadened to include more things.  And if we wanted to do anything on Saturday night with our friends, you'd better believe our chores had to be done.  At a young age, if we include our children in small family activities, I think they grow up feeling that they are an integral part of the family.  That their contribution to the family unit as a whole, however small they may be, is important. 

As far as visiting the sick, I know this article is meant for teens, but seriously, unless we as parents have raised our children with caring and compassionate hearts, this just ain't gonna happen!  Think back -- when was the last time that WE visited the sick?  And it doesn't have to be "sick" as in physical sickness, but what about someone that spiritually sick.  Did we bring Christ's love to that person?  What about the homeless?  Do you teach your children that they are just God's children as well? or do we avoid contact, hold your purse tighter, tell your kids not to look and move on?  If the latter is true, then don't expect your children to grow up visiting the sick.  If it's a foreign concept to you, it's going to a foreign concept to them.  

Now building a raft?  I don't know about that one, but the concept is to be creative.  I think it's so important to be creative.  Challenge our minds to start something and see it through despite it's floatability. So I agree!  But again, it's up to us parents to instill in our children that creativity.  Children are naturally curious.  When they ask us questions, even if they seem over the top, rather than brush the question aside with an "I don't know" or "You're asking too many questions, don't you have something to do?", what if we answered them with "I don't know anything about raft building, but we can find out!" and then help them see it through.  If they're young, take a trip to the library.  Find books with pictures, show them.  If they want to look on the internet, sit with them, learn alongside them.  This shows them that 1) you value their curiosity and praise them for it.  2)  you want to spend time with them, and 3) that the chances of you ever building a raft are totally remote, but it's good to have knowledge about this because you an apply it's principles to other projects that may come up in life. Knowledge is power...and the more you know, the more you know!

Study your lessons and read a book.  Now this one we know has to happen.  Studying lessons is important, but telling your kid to read a book AFTER he's just finished studying? Good luck with that.  BUT it can happen if at a young age we, as parents, have set the example of the importance of reading for enjoyment.  Now this is a hard one because now we have recordings of books that kids listen to.  With all the time on facebook and playing Candy Crush Saga, (I admit...I'm hooked!) who has time for reading?  Right?  But reading for enjoyment is such a great escape.  If we as parents can be the example on this one, we are furthering our child's abilities greatly.  The best way, I've found, to go about this is to introduce your children to books at a super early age.  I'm talking about when they can't yet read.  When they are infants.  Those little board books made for their little hands.  Yes, they can't flip the page, and yes, they will just put it in their mouths.  But that's what these types of books are intended for.  Lots of colors and pictures, and a book that your baby can call his/her own.  The act of putting your child in your lap and flipping through this little 5" square of colors and shapes, the action of flipping the page for a new surprise.  All of this translates into "Books are magic!"  And then when they get older, regular trips to the library with their own library card.  Find out when they have story time at the library, and take them to it.  I know what you're thinking, "Who has time for that?"  I know, we're all busy.  But when you take your child to story time at the library, you get to look around for books that interest you too...and then guess what? your child gets to see that Mommy or Daddy like reading. "I want to be like them!  I have my own books too!"  etc.  Make time.  Cut out some of the other stuff.  If you're taking the kids to McDonalds or Starbucks, make a quick 10 minute stop at the library along the way.  Bottom line...if we want your children to be good readers, they need to see US reading and putting importance on it as well.

Your town does not owe you recreational facilities and your parents do not owe you fun. This has a lot to do with what I mentioned above.  If we can encourage creativity in our children, and the love of reading, they will never be bored.  This is the bad part about having your TV be your babysitter -- it stunts creative play.  Here's a good example. when I used to teach kindergarten and first grade, we'd start off the school year with all kinds of great stories, projects, activites, imaginative play, etc.  Come Christmas, some of my students would get play stations or game entertainment systems for gifts.  After that, their creativity and interest would come to a slow and miserable halt.  All they could think about what beating the next level and bonus points.  Creative play...what's that?  Homework would come in with minimal effort.  I could always tell which child received this "gift" because of the huge change. And these would be the kids that would be "bored" much faster than the rest.  Just something to think about when you're picking out this year's Christmas gifts for your child.

Okay, telling your child that you owe the world your time and talent so no one will be at war in sickness or lonely again?  Is this judge a parent?  That's putting so much pressure on our child. Rather than looking to our children for this, let's look at ourselves.  Are we doing everything we can to make the world a better place?  If we don't want the world to be at war, are we doing everything we can to instill peace?  Is our homelife peaceful?  Are WE living peace?  Are we helping our children to look at those that are sick, lonely, and homeless and teaching them that we are all God's children, and we all belong to one another?  Or are we telling them, "See that man there?  He didn't study and listen to his parents, and look what happened to him?"  I've heard that.  As a note, during our In His Shoes homeless outreach, we have met many educated people on the street.  We have regularly provided meals for a homeless man who is an MIT graduate from Ghana living in a box on the street.  A very sweet young man who has the misfortune of being born with a stutter,  he's educated, but "not employable" and is trying to work himself back into a normal life.  So you see what I'm saying.  Every story is different and it's not up to us to judge.

And finally the grow up and stop being a crybaby part.  We  don't need to tell our children to grow up.  They grow up too fast anyway.  In this day and age with the movies and TV that's out there, they are learning way more about "adult" subjects than is appropriate (in my opinion) for their age.  And while "crybabies" can be annoying, I think it's so important to hear our children, and be in tune to their sorrows and sadness.  Because our children are growing up in a society that is so fast paced, with peer pressure and you tube, and the world at their fingertips, being a parent can be challenging.  Do we know what our children are looking at on the computer?  Do we know what's going on in their lives?  When was the last time we asked our child who his friends are?  Do we know our child's friend's parents?  It's a fine line, I know.  We don't want to be the cop, but we can find this out in a loving way.  Sitting down together as a family at dinner is a great time to do this.  In my family, it was the one time during the day that we could all four of us sit down together and thank God for what we had, and discuss our day.  We would learn so much at that time.  By giving our children the time to talk, and giving them our full attention, we pick up on so much that is going on in their lives. In a relaxed atmosphere, they are more at ease to open up to sharing what is happening in their day to day lives. When we provide the stability of a sacred home life filled with God's love and compassion, we set a foundation for our children to reach their full potential of making the change that we wish to be a part of in this world.  We can do it...together...with our children.  

On a separate note, special thanks to all of you who are supporting us with your kind donations for Team In Her Shoes' participation in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.  We'll be walking 39.3 miles to raise money for breast cancer research and provide mammograms to women who can't afford it.  
If you would like to partner with us, please visit our webpage at www.avonwalk.org/goto/inher shoes

Still smiling after 39.3 miles.  My husband Ned and a whole bunch of our friends and
family greeted us at the finish line.  I am a 2 x breast cancer survivor!

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