A meme posted on Facebook the other day highlighted the difference in children from the last generation to this current generation. The earlier generation was running through a wheat field with big smiles on their faces while this generation were seemingly confined to a screen. Then a couple of days ago, the receptionist (who works at the business beside my house) made a point of telling me how much she loved watching my kids spend so much time outside. She said she enjoyed hearing them play and expressed her concern about children these days spending too much time indoors. (I then told her that I was surprised because I often tell them to hush so we don’t disturb the customers who frequent her workplace!)
I agree wholeheartedly with both assessments. I love when my kids are outside and having fun. During the spring, summer and fall, my children basically live outdoors. In the world in which we live, where automation and computers are intertwined in workplaces, our children will require knowledge of screens and how they function. That is just the world in which we live.
The part I don’t agree with is the blame being placed on youth for their desire to watch television, play video games or be active on social media. As for chasing imaginary creatures over a cliff, well, that is a completely different story.
Still, my point is this. The Bible tells us to train a child up in the way he should go and he will not depart from it. There is so much truth in that statement that I cannot even begin to offer an adequate explanation beyond living life in such a way that my children see me as a good role model for when they become adults.
In the world, the ‘experts’ tell us that too much screen time is detrimental to the brain. The nutritionists tell us that obesity rates are through the roof. But that is not enough to change our generation. So what is? To me, the obvious answer is to pray to Jesus and read your Bible.
I’m not an expert. I haven’t completed numerous years of university or done a study on 1,000’s of children but this is what I do know from my own limited experience of four children. First, sleep is extremely important. There is no better health care system than a good sleep. Second, is making sure that the food my children eat includes good nutrition. McDonalds and microwaves are great in a pinch but they lack the overall daily nutritional value that is required to raise a healthy, growing child. If everything you feed them has come from a box or a package, I can tell you they are not eating enough fresh foods!
The next on the list is chores. Give your children chores! I’m not talking about chores that you are going to pay them for, I’m talking about helping the family as a team. For example, taking out the trash, folding laundry, raking the leaves, cutting the lawn, or working on some maintenance project around the house. Helping our children to understand the basics of running a household and working together as a family.
Fourth is to stop serving them and make them wait. It’s good for them. Patience is a virtue but it is a learned virtue. Your job is to teach patience to them. It’s a pain in the butt to do, especially when as a parent, we know handing the child an ipad while we muster cleaning can be so much easier!
Fifth is to become an example to our children. There is an old saying that says a boy will marry his mother and it is very true. In 9 years of marriage I have seen a lot of our parents in us. Some of it isn’t pretty, but in other ways, it offers an important lesson! In other words, you can’t just tell children what to do. One needs to show them. You need to show them how to treat others, eat properly, and how to pursue the things that matter to them.
And lastly, we need to stop blaming technology! The only reason they have those cell phones, ipads and computers is because YOU gave it to them (or, conversely, allowed them to buy it). We need to accept that our responsibility is to train them in the way they should go. We need to also accept that there will be times that we mess that up!
We need to do these things so that we raise a better generation than we were because our dream for our children is that they will become the best they can be. I want to say that we are all doing a good job. I want to say that I have perfected my parenting and my children are awesome and well behaved, polite little boys who always wash their hands after they go pee, but that just wouldn’t be true. That is why it is important to teach them the value of grace both given and received.
That is why my very first response to fixing this generation is to pray to Jesus and read the Bible because the only way I can truly love them sufficiently starts with showing my children how Jesus loved me, even while I was still His enemy. If I can instill that seed in my children’s heart, I can know that when I fail, and do things that I should not, that He is able to turn all things to His glory and honour and praise.