I was lucky growing up. I was raised by loving parents who have now been married 45 years. I was raised to respect family, and to give more than take. My dad was my brother’s little league coach in a time when baseball was about fun, not traveling, squeezing as many games into a weekend as possible, and wearing kids down to the point of burn out. My mom volunteered as room mother in my classes. They both attended every game I cheered in, every dance recital. We played catch in the back yard, swam in our above ground pool and played board games.
I remember my mom always telling my brother and me stories and showing us ways to have compassion for others. We were raised in the “status” community and school system of our area. It was a small affluent community. The people who had a little money seemed to run everything. Our dad was a blue collar government worker, so my brother and I were ranked accordingly. It bothered us then, but looking back now, I realize the character it built. Our parents reinforced our self esteem and values when we had our doubts. We learned to take criticism. My little brother was always better at sticking up for himself than I was. I only seemed to find my voice when others were being picked on, which happened a lot in our school. We learned that many times the stuck up, insecure, snobby, mean kids were the direct descendants of insecure asshole parents. Growing up seeing how the parents chose to behave made me realize how I didn’t want to when I grew up.
The world is so much different when I was young. Everyone is so preoccupied with their electronics and being “plugged in” that we are losing our families. We are busier posting pics on our walls about our families than spending quality time together. We plug the kids into a movie or video game to just get one thing done….then before we know it, two hours have gone by and sure, we may have accomplished a few extra chores, but for what?
We are losing our “talk time.” We are losing our connections. We are losing the chance to pass skills down to our children. Our children are being raised indoors with no skills other than pushing buttons. Our children have become entitled and spoiled, needing to be emphatically entertained by us or they quickly lose interest in anything and everything we try to create. We are not teaching by example, we are letting movies and tv shows instill values in our children. We are teaching our children how to protect themselves from a bully, but are we teaching them how NOT to be a bully?
Are we teaching our children the value of our aging relatives? Are we teaching them to dream big? Are we teaching them to try, even though they may fail? Because trying and failing is LIVING, and so much better than never trying at all. Are we teaching our children to give without reservation, rather than ask “What’s in it for me?” Are we teaching our children to tell the truth, no matter what?
I have these questions and so many more. The answers don’t come from a screen. They come from face to face time. They come in true conversation about their day. They come in laughter at the dinner table. They come when you put down your laptop, tablet or phone and REALLY listen. They come when you keep trying to get through even though you never have any luck, until that one day when they finally open up just a little.
I plan on working on my questions one by one, slowly but surely, because I want my kids to live to their fullest potential, whatever that may be. I want them to have compassion and passion, and not be led by fear. Even if I only get 10 days a month to teach them and set examples for them.