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Friday, November 16, 2007

The future is predetermined by the character of those who shape it.

What does the future hold? This is one of those questions that has echoed from one generation to another. Stock markets rally and fall according to what we think the future may be. Politicians attempt to foresee the future in an effort to win favor among the people. So what does the future hold? And why do we agonize over it's unknown paths? I propose that parents dictate the future. That's right, parents hold in their grasp the key to the future.

As a parent you yoke yourself to the responsibilities of defining another persons character, personality, and attitude. As that life grows and its experiences solidified what ever perceptions, beliefs, and convictions the parent taught will in no small fashion shape the future. As a parent models life, so shall the future be predetermined. Parenting is no small task. Nor, should we ever underestimate the importance this special relationship between parent and child holds. But parents do underestimate and belittle this role every day. Why? We, as parents, sale out our children's futures because we are over fatigued, overworked and overwhelmed with our own day to day lives. How do we bring these two worlds together? We have financial responsibilities that we must fulfil. And, if you accept the argument of the importance your parenting has on society, you should also agree that this role is as big, if not bigger than the financial commitments. How do we accomplish both when we are exhausted?

Parents forget their most valued tool; communication. In the youth program I work in we ask parents "when was the last time you told your child you loved them?" At first I was shocked by the number of parents that could not remember when the last time they told their child how much they cared about them. This simple yet elusive comment has been just one of the many overlooked and under stated verses between parent and child. There is no excuse, and it comes to no surprise when children begin to act like monsters. Many think that this is not an issue to worry about. I beg to differ, GREATLY. It is staggering to me to see the growing damage parents are having on the future of our global society. Of course we would like to blame everyone else, but the reality is that the madness started at home. Maybe I should not use the term home, more like the house they lived in.

If your a parent reading this, when was the last time you told your child how much you cared about them? When was the last time you just sat down and let them talk about whatever they wanted to. Yea, sometimes it is hard to relate, but that is your job. Remember, some one is going to listen to them, and it maybe the person of your nightmares.



storyteller said...

As always, you raise awareness of important matters for all ... not just parents, but I hope parents WILL take heed for they do wield more influence in their children's lives than others. It DOES take a village, and we each have important roles to play.

I remember growing up in a community where I knew if I messed up, my parents would know before I arrived home (because a neighbor would tell them and be believed). I would be held accountable for my actions ... sometimes more fervently than seemed necessary to me at the time, but I did become a "responsible" individual and I know their discipline measures grew out of love and concern ... even though they didn't tell me often they loved me.

Dad demonstrated his love by supporting the family as a maintenance electrician in a "rubber molding plant" (a dirty job that ultimately gave him cancer & caused him to die much too young, but one he was exceedingly grateful to have since he'd spent several years ill and out of work before & after my birth). He spent what time he could at home being "present" with us ... demonstrating kindness and concern for all in his everyday actions.

Mom showed her love by keeping the home ... cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, and serving in the PTA & church organizations ... giving back to the community that kept the family afloat when my dad was ill and out of work when we were tiny kids.

We did things together as a family ... ate meals around the table with the radio off (praying before each and listening to my dad read haltingly from the Bible after ... his family needed him on the farm in Kansas so he only attended school through the 7th grade ... but he read to learn throughout his life), played "catch" in the back yard and pinochle around the kitchen table, watched the 9" TV screen (we acquired when I was 8) together, went to church on Sundays together after which visited with extended family members weekly. In those days everything closed down on Sundays, so it became a day of rest for all.

There were lessons my parents didn't teach me ... about being as good to myself as I was to others, setting appropriate boundaries and making them stick, accepting our feelings as real & necessary feedback in shaping our lives, allowing the stages of grief to exist and be worked through, etc ... but I don't think they knew how to do these things for themselves, so it wasn't possible for them to teach us.

When we know better, we do better. I'm reminded of a quote I heard somewhere that runs through my head in times like this ... it's something like "We were so busy giving our kids what we didn't have that we forgot to give them what we did." For me ... (as with most things) ... it's about finding BALANCE, recognizing the results of our actions reflected in the behavior & attitudes of the children with whom we come into contact, owning our part and making adjustments for the next encounter, and practicing THE FOUR AGREEMENTS as presented by Don Miguel Ruiz. Simple ... though not necessarily easy.

One last thing. As a teacher, I was often asked by parents how they could help their kids improve school performance. The only things that consistently show up in the research as helpful are:
--eating regular meals together around a table with the TV off (conversation ensues, communication skills of listening and speaking develop, and everyone learns about the members of the family facilitating cohesion)
-- reading aloud with your children regularly and letting them see YOU read for pleasure

Now that I'm retired I would add ... praying for your kids daily surrounds them with loving protection even when you're not present. Read Larry Dossey on the subject of Prayer if you don't believe me.

You asked ... :)

Talking Bear said...

ST, Thanks for your feedback. It made me think of some correlated issues with the research you referred to. I was wondering about the cognitive effects of spending time with children during meals. There is a not so subliminal message to turning everything off except the interrelation dynamics you mentioned. You matter enough to……., this is a huge message for any one of us.

I loved “The Four Agreements”. It was “gifted” to me by a PhD friend of mine while we were traveling around the country. During the same trip I read “The Secret” and the “The little Gold book of Yes attitude.” It is very easy to read when one spends a lot of nights in a hotel room. Anyway, thanks again for the wonderful and insightful feed back, TB

storyteller said...

You're quite welcome. One fact of retirement is that the intellectual stimulation of regular contact with others who care about kids, parents, the future of our society, the fate of the world, the state of education, etc. drops off significantly! So it's good to find another passionate soul "on the lines" so to speak ... stirring up the waters ... encouraging thought and action on issues of consequence (even if we have to crawl into a dark bear cave to so so) LOL

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