Out of these hopeless times, let us guide our children.
I’m not sure about you but watching the news these days is very depressing. Not to take away from the tragedies that occur, it feels like there is always another major natural disaster, another shooting, another kidnapping, another political or celebrity scandal, another murder/suicide, and on and on. I am pretty sure at this point I am desensitized to all the white noise.
I feel so helpless sometimes as a full time working mom of one and wife to a wonderful husband. A simple, everyday family in 2018. I am a law abiding, tax paying basic citizen of the most amazing country in the world. But I do not have millions of dollars to run for office to get my voice heard. I do not have billions to donate to every need of poverty, hunger, homelessness or education. I do not write for a paper that everyone reads, I do not have a radio program that people can hear. There are so many times I cry in my car on the way to and from work when I listen to the latest news going on in the world. I constantly wonder how a simple nobody like me can do anything to affect change.
Here are # 11 suggestions for us little people to “Be the change you wish to see.” – Gandhi
1. Teach Your Children Acceptance
This can be harder than it sounds, but basically it is the essence of philosophy. It is what it is. The sooner a person learns this in life, the more positive their outlook will be. Now I am the first to walk in to a situation and think, “How can I make this better?” There is a time and place to fight change but more often than not, we all need to be better about accepting life the way it rolls out in front of us.
My favorite saying these days is ” SHOULD is the new 4 letter word.” or “SHOULD is a loaded word”. Teach your children that most of the time things are just they way they are and they need to accept it as is. In the same manner we accept the fact that the sky is blue or the grass is green, we need to point out the same for people born with birth defects or that some people are better at different skills than they are. The less we focus on what things SHOULD be, the more peace we will have in our lives and our children will benefit emensley.
2. Talk Up To Your Children
How do you feel when someone you care about always focuses on your weaknesses instead of your strengths? Kids are no different. As parents we have such influence over our little ones, we need to use it safely and kindly. At least once a day, find some reason to give them a compliment no matter how small. When you are working with them with their weaknesses, point out the fact they you love how hard they are trying or practicing. Encourage them to keep trying and never give up. When you go to rave about their strengths, be low key. Help them know it is ok to proud of their accomplishments but not to brag or make others feel like less. No matter how big or small always make an effort to find out the good things about your kids.
3. Vote/ Learn About Government Processes and Teach Your Children About It
One of my biggest pet peeves is listening to people complain about the way things are but when asked if they voted in the last election the answer is a resounding NO. I understand completely that years and years of not getting what they want can turn a person off voting, but you must keep letting your position be known. Many times in state or local elections, the outcome is ultimately decided by less than 1/3 of the population. Not picking any sides here, the last presidential election of 2016 brought more voters to the table. It seems like this was the first time in a long time people truly felt like their voice could make a difference. Teach our children about the importance of supporting local governments. If there is something in your city that needs attention, take your kids to a city meeting and let them know about the issue. It could be a pot hole, a broken toy at a park or areas littered with lots of trash that never gets cleaned up.
4. Show Them To Be Kind to Animals and the Earth
My son was about 4 when we went for a walk after it rained in the morning. Many snails were out along the sidewalks. Without making a big deal of it my son cheerfully went and stomped on 3 snails in a row. I was surprised how sad I became. What did that snail do to you to deserve to die? Well, that’s not exactly a concept a 4 year old could understand but I tried anyway. I don’t remember exactly what I said to him but I just tried to talk to him about the little snail having a life and a family and how we he feel if someone came by and squished me out of nowhere. It seemed to make sense to him. He is now 6 and when we see snails, spiders or any kind of bug or animal we leave them alone, give them space or move them to a safer space. He has learned that animals are a part of the earth and a part of the life cycles and food chains. He even goes so far as to warn his friends not to hurt a rolly polly crossing their path.
To go with that, teach our children to respect the earth. You could go with the typical make sure they recycle and turn off the water when they brush their teeth. But we should do more. Don’t waster resources of any kind. Use both sides of every piece of paper. Use cloth shopping bags instead of plastic. Reuse plastic bags as much as possible. Where possible, have a composite box and replenish the soil in your yard or neighborhood. Pick up trash you see no matter where you are. If someone hasn’t picked it up by now they never will. Keep our world clean. Don’t throw out decent things. If you are done with them, find a church to donate them to. You can try Goodwill or the Salvation Army but a lot of times for these places they have high standards on what they can resale and a good majority of donations get thrown in the trash. Many churches give directly to the people who need it. Leave greenery alone. Let it grow. I see kids all the time kick bushes or pull leaves off of plants and I die a little each time. Greens are our lifeline of oxygen, homes for many types of life and beautify out lives. Let them be.
5. Be Forgiving and Gracious and They Will Learn By Example
This one seems so simple to me but working in retail going on 20 years, I am the minority on this one. Unless otherwise known, teach your kids that mistakes get made and it is not done maliciously. Computers make mistakes as do humans. It is no ones “fault” it just happens. It leads back to the acceptance. So how can they handle these situations? One choice is to yell and scream and call for someone’s head to blame. But what does that get you? The person you are dealing with gets angered or insulted and you still don’t have what you need. How does this choice solve anything? Or you can appreciate that things slip through the cracks and move on. Never has a saying been so true as “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar”. Forgive the situation and graciously move on. That doesn’t mean don’t fight for what you want or need, but do so with the realization that on the other end of the conversation is another human being. We can talk to one another with a spirit of kindness and understanding that will get everyone what they want out of it.
6. Teach Basic Morality and Ethics
In 2018 it seems that somehow a lot of conversations have been lost in the wind. In the efforts to seperate themselves from organized religion for whatever reason, I feel like a lot of parents don’t talk to their kids like their parents used to. Or some parents may feel “I did the same thing when I was that age. How can I tell them it’s not appropriate when I did it myself?” We all did things when we were young but that doesn’t mean that we can’t grow up and realize that it might not have been the best of decisions.
Aside from holding religious beliefs, any society needs boundaries and guidelines that keep everyone safe and happy. We as parents need to help redefine these boundaries at home when our kids are young. It can be simple gestures every day to big examples once in awhile. Our children need to know that things like cheating, stealing, picking fights, and lying are not ok. We need to make it clear to the next generation that how we treat others is of utmost importance. Be trustworthy, keep your friends secrets, don’t gossip, don’t hold grudges, be honest in all dealings, and treat the opposite sex with respect. These small things do matter in this world. Make sure your kids know where you stand on these issues. Don’t expect them to learn these things on their own. Don’t be afraid to discipline them either. You can do so with love and kindness but firmness as well. As parents it is our duty to our children to guide them to have the best life possible and making sure they know what is and is not acceptable is our job.
7. Better Than Some, Not As Good As Others. The Middle is Ok Too!
I will save my expanded thoughts on society’s expectation for everyone to go to college for another post. What I want to point out here is that not everyone is going to be book smart but that doesn’t mean our children are not smart in other ways. Many of the worlds geniuses throughout the ages have not been the greatest students in the classroom. So make sure your kids know it is okay to be a B or C student as long as they are giving it all their efforts. Don’t stress out because your child doesn’t seem to be interested in racing off to college because they have other plans for their life. Isn’t the point of children growing up to become independent and succeed and survive on their own? Let’s revamp the thought process that causes so may young people to have anxiety and depression over this issue because they feel like they have to get straight A’s to be loved, accepted and supported. For me, all I want for my son is for him to be happy and have the life that he wants.
8. Don’t Be Afraid to Make Changes
We can all get to a point when we think the world is on a path and we are helpless to change where it is headed. That is simply not true. Even though it scares us to think of change we have two choices: fight it and wish it didn’t happen or embrace it and adapt as quickly as possible so it becomes the new normal for us. This goes for our children as well. There is so much emphasis on keeping the status quo that when change comes roaring up to our door we never seem to be ready for it. Teach your kids by example. The next time a big change happens in your life, take a deep breath and walk towards it with your head held high ready to take on the challenge. Talk to them about things that can happen in life and make sure they know that it is okay to be scared of what is to come but embrace it none the less.
9. Run for Office
Don’t like the way your community if going? Is there something you think you can do to make your neighborhood a better place? Run for office. The “average” person doesn’t think they could be involved in politics but that is simply not true. Before being a politician became a career path, our elected officials came from all walks of life and you or your child can be one too. Sometimes it is a great benefit for a non-politician to step in to fix things. A fresh new perspective can always change things.
10. Respect Every Type of Job
I have been working in retail for 20 years now and in 2018 it seems as if working in retail is a “dirty” job that lower level people work in. Well, I’m here to tell you that it takes all sorts and “levels” of people to run a society. So my wish is that we can all teach our children to appreciate all of the different jobs that are needed to make our world go ’round. From the garbage man, to the burger flipper, mechanics, philosophers, the retail worker, to doctors and lawyers and on and on. If we didn’t have all the smaller parts to keep our world going the bigger parts have no foundation. When it comes time for your little one to get their first job, don’t be so critical about what they do. It is perfectly honorable to deliver pizzas or scoop ice cream. Any job builds character and teaches us how to learn new skills, listen to authority and responsibility. Even if you have the means to fully support them through high school and college, encourage then to get a part time job somewhere. The earlier they can learn these skills, the better prepared we will be for the real world once we are let out of the gates.
11. Be Grateful Everyday
Find a way to show your children every day something that you are grateful for. Even point to things that may not seem obvious. Running water, food in our cupboards and money in our pockets. There are many in this world that do not have these simple blessings in life. Teaching them while they are young to appreciate the little things will help them as they grow to appreciate all the things that come and go in their lives.
What other ways can we help our children? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. What are you going to do to make this world a better place?