Tag: dads

Restoring the childhood we stole from kids

As a society we are pontificating about how to stop school violence. The focus is on shootings at the moment, but there are other forms of harm that are rampant in our schools. In these ‘debates’ the question is often given, “What are your solutions?!” The reality is there is a cost of stealing the soul of childhood from our kids. Shootings, bullying, drug abuse, etc. are symptoms of soul robbery. I humbly recommend the following to help restore childhood. I admit this is very boy focus, as that is where the biggest issues exist.

More art. More play.
As both of these dropped over the course of the last 30 years, look at what also increased. True, this could be correlation not causation, but I doubt that. Art & play help kids process, socialize, and learn. It’s a big part in how they learn to interact with the world they live in. Maybe if we stopped robbing what is the soul of being kids, they may not be maladjusted adults. Over the last 27 years I’ve seen a massive drop in kids abilities for imaginative play and also a drop in their ability to get along with their peers. Art gets increasingly dropped as it’s viewed as non-essential, but it’s a huge part in how we process and communicate. Art is very essential to being human.

Change the narrative on marriages. Champion fatherhood.
The break down of family is a significant contributor to mental health and violence. We are reaping the costs of a coupe generations of broken families and fatherless homes. We need a fresh narrative on marriage that sees its joys and delights. That it can be done, healthy, and amazing. We need dads who are passionate about their families. And we need to view both of those things as good, ideal even. Children are a reflection of us. If they’re more violent, bullying, and destructive, we need to do a better job modeling.

End organized sports for kids. Allow sparing.
Back in the sandlot days kids had to figure out the rules and how to manage play. They created games and had to figure out how to play well together. Yes fights and arguments often happened. Failure is part of learning. What free play allowed was learning interpersonal dynamics. Sparing was a concept used in the summer camp world. It’s play where boys rough house. Dodge ball and other like games were part of this. Yes, it was a dominance and honor thing. Yes fights broke out and people got hurt. But we learned from failure and it helped teach how to manage anger, frustration, aggression, etc. Overly programmed overly protective aspects robbed kids of essential life lessons.

Allow danger. Build steps to manhood.
I remember reading an article that raised the question if we are protecting out kids too much. That they’re losing the ability to weigh the consequences of their actions by not engaging in dangerous endeavors. No one is arguing for negligence, but learning how to manage danger is important. Robbing people of failure can lead to robbing them of success. There was a time when kids could openly play with guns, like cops and robbers. In this kids are processing aspects of justice, human interaction, problem solving, etc. As danger and gun play has decreased, looked at what has also increased. Steps to manhood is another critical need. Many cultures have ceremony that signifies the end of childhood and start of adulthood. Part of this was the understanding that one must mature and become a man. (yes, we need this for women as well.) The cost of the egalitarianism movement is that we sacrificed manhood and have too many boys who can shave. Or worse, they’re aimless not knowing what to do.We are discovering that is dangerous for society.

Let kids be kids
All the above relate to things that have wrecked the soul of childhood. All the things above lead to discussions on how we can bring it back. They are not immediate solutions, but they will have immediate impact. If we followed through on them years ago they’d be in place now. We cannot be shocked by todays outcomes after we’ve essentially robbed kids of their childhood. Let them chase butterflies, get muddy. Let dads culturally be heroes again. Let romance be a husband and wife walking hand in hand in the sunset years of their life. Let kids be kids.

What an NRA rifle range instructor taught me

The slander of the NRA bothers me greatly for a number of reasons. The biggest is the false motives assigned to them. The summer camp I attended had NRA certified instructors man the rifle range. As a boy I loved guns and all things explosive. But from them and other NRA friends I learned more than that.

First and foremost I learned responsibility. This started with the golden rule of marksmanship: Treat every gun as if it’s loaded. This was about not only your safety but the safety of others. It also carried into you’re responsible for what happens when you pull the trigger.

Second, I learned the value of life. One, the value of my own and being aware of what I was doing. Second those around me in conducting myself in such a way that does not put them in danger. Third, care for animals should I choose to hunt. What stood out was the discussion of tracking an animal if you don’t drop it so it does not suffer. Guns were not the Holly Wood Rambo fantasies we have, but a supreme respect for life in all forms.

Third, I learned to respect process. At the range it was about safety, but in other areas of life it became about not forgetting what is important. The purpose of having a process in place is to make sure important things don’t get missed or easily avoidable trouble does not happen. This lesson played out in other areas of my life.

Fourth, excellence matters. It matters in how we aim. It matters in how we operate the weapon. It matters how we care for things. When we stop seeking excellence negative consequences can happen. This moves beyond responsibility to proficiency. Can you be counted on to do the job right and help others. This relates to work ethic and charter. Bulls eyes are not the only place where we need to show excellence.

Fifth, the solemnity of freedom. Freedom comes with a price. While guns are fun to shoot, there is a solemnity to them. This goes beyond my camp instructors to other NRA members I’ve interacted with. Truly, it’s not about the gun. If anything, it is about cherishing that which is most important., the people we love, our neighbors, and our community. A phrase I heard and hear often is “God forbid if you ever have to shoot in defense.” Evil and tyranny are very real and present dangers that each generation must contend with.

What I learned from my NRA friends and instructors was more than just about a gun. Do they love guns, sure. But I learned more about respect for life, liberty and property from them than anything else except the Bible. These were men who deeply loved their families and their country. They were and are honorable men of whom we could use more not less of.