Wednesday, July 20, 2011
I live in a community of Amish and Old Order Mennonites. Probably the thing I admire most about them is they know how to raise children. Amish children play loudly, enthusiastically, sweatily, and laugh with happiness constantly ... without anyone telling them how to. They've been allowed to figure out how to be their own people. They know how to be kids. They know what the outdoors is for, and use it well, completely, and without fear. They are also polite, inquisitive, generous, loving and respectful. They know how to work hard, because they get the privilege of contributing to the work of the family as soon as they can toddle. They have the most peace-filled childhoods I've seen, which leads me to believe they must be children and therefore people of great hope. The Amish children I live near, along with my own children, give me hope. But I see a lot of very un-hope-filled and un-hopeful childhood situations. Tonight I am their Lorax. (Yes, I am the Lorax who speaks for the trees, which you seem to be chopping as fast as you please.)
I'm full up to the brim with "children-as-trophy" parenting and "new-relationship-new-chidren" parenting, and "here, they-are-disturbing-me" parenting. Children are people, precious and deserving of our whole being, not just playthings for the days we feel we can spare them some time. They are not made to be quiet, or orderly or thoughtful or patient or still. They were made to be loud, disorderly, jump up and down and run around, squeal, scream, laugh and cry with abandon. They don't break that easily, they are made of resilient stuff, but they need to be cared for with love that never breaks, ever. They wash, and the things that get damaged as they make their way through experiments, adventures, conquests and imagination weren't really that important anyway. They are!
Here's a few rants that boiled up inside of me today. You can add your own to the list too. Christ has a better reality in mind for our children! It's time to be better than we've been... for the sake of our children...
We have lost track what childhood should be, and tried to make it "better". We have succeeded for ourselves and failed our children.
Church, we are in the world AND OF IT, when we program children instead of allowing them to encounter the world/God/each other for themselves.
Church, what if we started daycares for people to come and play with their children? We probably will have to show the parents how to play!
Have you smiled at your children today? Do they know you think their are amazing and worthy of the best of you?
Tears, disappointments, bruises from playing and hearing "no" doesn't hurt children. Being too busy for them does.
We are filling the world with children who don't know what their parent's faces look like, only the back of their heads.
If you don't have time to enjoy your kids, you aren't living right. God does not bless us based on your productivity. No A's for overachievement.
Are we producing children to fulfill some quota/expectation/personal goal, or giving birth to children for God to bless the world through?
Children thrive with average parents, laughter and unconditional love. Super-parenting, "I'm serious!" and overplanning are the enemies of a happy childhood.
We will never run out of ways to love; we will never lack for occasions to love; we will never come up short of people to love as long as the world has kids.
To learn if you are touching anyone with your life, look into the eyes of your kids.
So sad for kids. What happened to fun and being cared for and love? What happened to imagination and playing? What happened to just being a kid?
I predict if we brought back recess and art to schools, we'd see test grades increase and disruptions in classrooms decrease.
Adults stop ruining kids lives by organizing, planning, overthinking, overspending and overgoal-setting for them. Let them be kids, let them skip and jump and run.
This mom believes children should play with toys, stuffed animals, imagine, create, run barefoot, get dirty & NOT need organized to do it.
Slow down, watch the sun set, read books, turn off the electronics, hold hands, talk and tell jokes. Do it for you. Do it for your kids.
Thank God for parents and grandparents and adults everywhere who really care about helping children become exactly who God made them to be.
Posted by Jennifer J Gooding at 9:38 PM