There is a famous song that correctly and passionately states that “the children are our future teach them well and let them lead the way” (Whitney Houston, Greatest Love of All, 1985). This profound observation and decree is so very true and it is what we will all need to change our children’s futures, all children’s futures. If we are truly committed to a better world, society, and country it starts with us first and then our children. As I mentioned in my previous article I am not just referencing the children in your life I am referencing all children. So what does it mean to teach them well? Of course the simple answer is common sense but it’s not that simple anymore. Depending on the child, the circumstances, the relationship you’ve already established or haven’t established, etc will determine how you will proceed in teaching them well. However, below is a list of places to start no matter what the situation is. Simply put these are things that are universal and can transcend so many areas of a relationship. Many times like any good thing they will have to be done over and over again. Please do not feel like you have to complete these things in order, because you don’t you just have to take them and try them. Remember the key to saving our kids is our commitment to ourselves and then to them fully.
• Get down on their level
Those of us who have children know exactly what this means. It means taking time to get down and play with them, do what they say, allow them to be in charge. Of course like so many parents once a child reaches a certain age I thought this method no longer applied. My daughter quickly reminded me that I was incorrect. It was she and I for a while so a lot of the time she didn't have any one to play with. Getting down with her seemed like such a chore now that she was older. But as I began to allow myself to do it I realized just how much it mattered to her and me. She revealed things to me through these times that I believe I would not have otherwise known. Now that she is a pre teen I still get down on her level. Whether that’s playing a game that she loves, watching the shows she loves, inviting her friends over and hanging with them asking questions listening to their stories, complaints, beliefs, fears, joys, concerns, etc. All of this has to be done sincerely and genuinely. They love it. She loves it and I love it. It’s a far less stressful approach to building bonds and breaking through the technological age as well.
• Be the change
I know we have heard this before it is after all a very famous saying. “Be the change you want to see in the world” (Gandhi). I agree but I believe it starts in the home and then can transfer outside the home. It becomes a part of who you are. Since we are dealing with children, as many of us have figured out children hear half of what you say but see and imitate ALL of what you do. So when you are ready for a change or a change is needed. More often than not you will have to model that change, become that change and stick to that change within yourself. Children need to be lead. Let me say that again children need to be lead. They actually crave it; you don’t believe me try this little experiment. Change something in your home that has been going a certain way for years then watch as others in your home begin to notice the change and voice their feelings about it. More than likely you will find those who are thrown off because this change occurs and they only want it to go back because it’s been that way for a while. This is a great experiment to illustrate that this change will not be easy for anyone involved. The great thing about though is that it can be done and it’s worth it. So be the change, if you want dishes done a certain way, show them (again), if you want things in a certain order put them in that order. The great thing about it is that not only are you modeling the change but you are illustrating it as well. Children love when we practice what we preach.
• Allow plenty of One on One time
This one is easy as well, I know our schedules are busy but with what really? The truth is no one schedule should be to full for the lives that need it most and those lives are our kids. Investing one on one time doesn't always mean a planned outing, or shopping or things like that. This simply means allow time for them to know you and you to know them. Quality time is overrated because it makes you feel like you have to meet a certain criterion in order for it to be considered “quality time”. But allowing plenty of one on one time is just that. Simple and easy and it’s what fits your lifestyle and your needs as well as the child’s needs. Remember you have to take care of you first so plenty of one on one time is for you as much as it is for the child.
Again this is just a small guide as we continue on this journey with one another I will provide more and please feel free to leave a comment with things you have learned or feel the rest of us can benefit from. I can tell you from experience just a small act of kindness goes a long way. Think about how it feels when kindness is shown to you and amplify by ten once you do the same in the life of a child. Let’s make a difference together.