Do you wish you could inject your children with character and depth? Get motivated and gather some tips on helping your sons and daughters live worthwhile lives of purpose and gratitude.
People in the old days—the days of the covered wagons and bows and arrows—lived lives that required hard, physical labor in order to stay alive. Even the children had many tasks such as gathering eggs, milking cows, and harvesting (by hand) fruits and vegetables from the family garden. Often, the children had to forego schooling and play time due to overwhelming needs or crises. Many a mother and father felt the sadness and twinge of helpless guilt over their sons and daughters laying down too early the freedom and imaginative jaunting that outlines childhood and, too soon, taking up the drudgery and relentless demands of adult life. And yet they were still children. And, they rose to the occasion splendidly.
And what of our children in these modern days? What does their world entail? Video games, internet chats, attitudes of entitlement, rebellion? We have created an atmosphere, a sub-culture, even a society where children are so protected and coddled that, well after they have grown in body into men and women, they still view themselves as dependent children. And why not? What have they actually accomplished by the time they are 16 or even 18? Good grades? A budding social calendar? But in what real events have they participated?
Have they learned compassion by caring for an ailing grandparent? Have they understood sharing and sacrifice by giving up a personal expenditure in order to help feed a hungry child living in a country far away from their own? Have they gained a sense of belonging by diligently working around the house because they correctly view it as partly theirs? Have they become thankful by befriending a sick child living what’s left of his life at the hospital?
Chances are, probably not. And we wonder why our children are running around without purpose, looking for a group to which to belong, mocking those who are weak, ignoring those who are ill, and rebelling against any form of authority.
Consider other cultures with longstanding rites of passage where children cross over into adulthood and then are treated as such. In most other cultures, children begin meaningful work at very young ages. They take on adult responsibilities in their early teen years, often including marriage.
Our children can do far more than that for which we give them credit. They have the skill and energy for much more than video games and mall jaunting. Why not expect more from them? Set them on the map as productive citizens, capable and worthwhile. Give them the freedom to live lives of meaning and true inner pleasure—the kind that comes from doing something you didn’t know you could. And doing it well.
We as parents can locate real situations that need a solution, read people that need interactions, and real issues that need consideration. Then, we can turn our young sons and daughters loose and cheer them on as they make fresh decisions and pound out wonderful character traits in the crucible of real life.
Published in: Family