Tag: kids

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.

Do kids really matter?

12000854_10207475688481539_6145221748530090797_oIt may seem odd to raise this question, but it’s one I think needs to be raised. We often say “Of course kids matter!” Though I wonder if our actions line up with that. For my boyz, today is the first day of school. With the coming of the first day of school I see many parent’s excited that the kids are gone, others who don’t care, and a minority who prefer our kids at home, but are not able to do that. The first day leaves me with an uneasy feeling.

Kids aren’t pets
Throughout my years working with kids I see a sad and growing trend. If a kid is not causing trouble or being too annoying, they’re essentially left alone. Kids aren’t pets. They take work. Painstaking, drive you up the wall at times, work. As parents we are either intentionally engaged or we’re in trouble and don’t know it. I honestly think it is that clear of a binary. Kids need us to be intentionally engaged in their lives. Too often we as parents approach teachers as a hairdresser for our poodle who can do no wrong. Let us be honest, your kids nor mine are perfect.

Teachers aren’t parents
A teacher’s job is to educate our kids. Our job is to parent them. In the realm of education I see two frustrated groups: parents and teachers. What I find interesting is how much agreement there often is on the frustrations, yet they exist. Both are frustrated with the system. One party has the power to change it. That’s right, we as parents. We expect things of teachers that kids really need from us as parents, and we often question a teachers ability, when they actually agree with us on things. Teachers are professionals and they’re good and bad teachers. Growing are tapped out and apathetic teachers because…

Politicians aren’t teachers
The goal of education is the reach in retrospect the goalposts constantly changing before them. Honestly, sometimes our kids getting an education is by chance of a skilled teacher educating despite the system. We’re all affright about the status of education, and so politicians jump in to regulate. Here is an idea: why not let teachers do the job they’re trained for? Politicians are not trained educators. We would think it crazy for state legislatures to dictate how a football team should operate and play the game. Yet, we do that with teachers all the time. Why?

Empty chairs aren’t helpful
There are too many empty chairs that should be occupied by parents. Sadly, the parents who often show up are not always the ones who need to. Showing up matters. If more of us parents were informed about how things work, things would be different and better for our kids. This would make it better for teachers. We’d likelier be on the same team. Teachers may even start enjoying the job that they love again. I too often see and hear about empty chairs at parent meetings,teacher conferences, workshops, etc.

The bottom line:
Parents, we are the key. This year and the coming election cycle, can we change the discussion on education? If kids really do matter, then let us ask our politicians, ESPECIALLY state legislators, how they can get out of teacher’s way and let them do their job. If kids really do matter, let us fill those empty chairs and realize teachers are neighbors with us and not a commodity for us. We say kids really matter, then let us act on it. After all, we can.

Manic Monday: Appreciate the little things…

Monday is a huge day in my household. It’s garbage truck day… Seriously.

I smile at people’s reaction to what has become bigger than football at our house. (Of note pretty much anything that makes your kids smile makes you smile- other than fine china being dropped and shattering in slow motion.) The oft-repeated phrase “you need a life.” is stated. Ok, here’s the lesson…

Kids appreciate the little things in life. What we take for granted, they see as wonders of science. The garbage truck has what every boy loves: horsepower, noise, banging sounds and it’s big. (The garbage truck is also a significant support actor in the movie Toy Story 3,)

Imagine a world without garbage trucks, plumbing, electricity or Toy Story 3, and you’ll gain an appreciation for what we consider a little thing in life.

(especially on Monday)

Manic Monday: The little things unplugged

I’ve been choosing one day a week to be unplugged. This is starting to turn into unplugged times throughout the day. This leads me to a few thoughts:

1) We’re human and not machines. Technology is helpful, but natural and organic life moments cannot be replicated.

2) starting to unplug will drive you nuts. What I found is the nuts part is often lots of ideas and creativity wanting to get out… It’s as if some ideas are scared of tech. Yes, that’s an anthropomorphism, but it’s true. (Especially for art.)

3) You’ll play more when unplugged, be more relaxed from lack of bleak news, and you’ll be a little stir crazy resulting in more housework done and a happier wife.

4) You’ll discover in rest moments that God really did give life as a gift to be enjoyed. The irony? That busyness can hide life. Rest moments should not be invested in busyness, and must be weekly.

If God, who is omni- you name it, took a day to rest; who are we, who are mortal and finite, to not do the same?

Take time an plan out your rest moments for the week!

(especially on Mondays)

Why not Wednesday? Looking back to look forward

We all had dreams and passions throughout life. We sometimes were even criticized for them, and then slowly walked away from those core dreams or passions. They’re important, they are part of who we are. Take time to stop and smell the roses. Think through these questions:

1) What was I most passionate about as a child….as a teen…as a college student…?

2) Have I lost those passions or dreams? Why or why not?

3) Should I bring back that passion? (Maybe how it looks is vastly different then our first idea, but the essence and passion is still there to grab a hold of.)

First loves are an important thing. We can easy lose our grip on what is core to who we are. We never know what will trigger this though process. For me, it was reading a book. As I was reading it, I kept asking why it struck such a huge core. Well, the things discussed were core to my passion as a teenager. It’s refreshing to bring that back.

Bottom line:

Stop and smell the roses, reflect on past dreams and passions. They will fuel future and current challenges you are facing.