Thought For Today

I am so glad that you have found this site and I hope you will find encouragement and joy as you read through my thoughts on God, family and life.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Being a part of your child's life.

Having a wonderful time sleeping in a hotel foldout bed.

Today the temperatures have reached summer like heat indexes that are near oppressive in nature.  We as a family are presently visiting Fargo, North Dakota and it has reached in the 90s, which is quite unusual for this far north at this time of year.  On the other side of the coin though, it is nice to have the warmth needed to jumpstart the crops which for some areas being behind in their growth due to the cool temperatures in May.   The crops are just now being planted in this part of the country while just three weeks ago when in southern Texas; we found that they were about to harvest their wheat already.  It is interesting to see what differences there are from North Dakota to Texas. 

Will, Grandpa and I watching a heron in a santuary.
I have to say that it has been fun taking Will and Abby to Fargo and tomorrow we will be visiting Sioux Falls, South Dakota on the way home.  We have been going swimming everyday, visiting the various sites of interest for children and adults alike and tomorrow in Sioux Falls we will be taking the kids to the Science Discovery Center for children. 

Today we drove through downtown Fargo and we saw how they are remodeling the old buildings and making them look as they did when they were first built.  Businesses are starting to move back to the downtown and people are going back to the old style apartments as well, with all the modern conveniences in them of course.  It appears that we as a people want to revisit the old ways and enjoy what our parents and grandparents had with the traditional settings and surroundings.  I noticed that when staying at Maple Grove on the way to Fargo, that they too have rediscovered the old town concept as well.  Their malls have disappeared and the strip mall is not to be found.  They have built a community of small shops in the structure of the old small town shopping store districts.  Parking is diagonal in front of the stores that line both sides of the street and the store fronts remind me of the town of Jackson, Minnesota that I grew up in.  We as a family felt very comfortable shopping and eating in this environment.  It is such an attraction though that we found that the streets were very crowded and people were lined up in front of stores and restaurants to get in.  So, “what is this craving” for the past?

Uncle Stephen playing with Abby and Will.
I walked through one store today in Fargo that used to be an old hardware store; it has now been converted to a bookstore with nick knacks being sold there as well.  I observed that old toys that were popular 50 to 70 years ago are now making a resurgence once again.  Our children were excited to see these toys.  Abby got a harmonica while Will got a paddle boat toy that was originally designed by Leonardo Divinci.   The boat kit was of the design of the old Erector Set requiring Will to put the pieces together as Leonardo had first done. 

This started me thinking about what I have noticed with a trend that concerns me as of late.  Being in education for many years I observed that boys over time are being caught up in technical games such as Game Boys, Nintendo’s and now, computer games.   I noticed that businesses and farmers in the rural areas were and are having more and more difficult challenges in hiring young kids to work on their farms and in their businesses.  Many are caught up in playing these games at home after school and some have progressively substituted reality for the unreal world created by the games themselves.  I have observed that children are spending less and less time outside, whether in playing or working.  Is this a growing problem, I believe it is.  Some of these same children who are now young adults are caught up in these sophisticated computer games that are now monopolizing their time.  It is eating away their desire to form significant relationships in the outside world.
Family eating on the driveway together.

So one might ask, “What does a parent do to stop this downward spiral that they are seeing in their child?”  The answer unfortunately is not an easy one.  Each family has a different set of circumstances.  First, I believe that parents have to find the areas that are causing the greatest amount of concerns.  I stated in an earlier blog post that cutting back on the time that your child spends on the computer and game boys might be one possible avenue, but it isn’t the only answer that is needed.  One must first ask, “Why does my child spend so much time on the computer playing these games?”  Is it due to an addiction or is it something else?  I believe that with all compulsions it is not so much an obsession as one trying to fill an empty space in their life.  One must first ask, as their parent, “Am I doing all that I can to spend quality time with my child?”  Are they playing these games in an attempt to compensate for loneliness and isolation?   If that is the case, then perhaps we as their parent need to spend more time with them?  I see so many parents today taking kids to different events, but they are engrossed in their phones, talking to other adults and/or occupied with various distractions other than taking time to be with their children.

If we then discover as a parent that our priorities need to change in relationship to our child, then I believe that it has to be an event that is enjoyable to the youngster as well.  Sitting down with them and finding out their likes and dislikes are important in knowing what they would see as quality time with you.  On many occasions I have found with our kids, it is not going places that they like, so much as doing simple things with them.  Hide and seek, playing in the sandbox, riding bicycles, going to the park and playing on the Teeter Totter.  For older children obviously their venues for fun change, perhaps it might mean going for a walk with them and listening to them share with you their day.  Another area would be a popular movie as a start, and then going out for a pizza afterwards.  It doesn’t matter so much that the event is spectacular as meaningful.  Anne and I find that the more time we spend with our children, the more we find out what is important to them.  Our family enjoys, at times, going out for an inexpensive outing to a local coffee shop in our town, such as Blue Heron, Acoustic CafĂ© and or Blooming Grounds.  Our children get pop while we sip on our favorite coffee.  When doing these various outings, we take time to listen to Will and Abby tell us what is important to them in their day and they in turn listen to Anne and I talk about what is going on in our lives.   The important thing here again is not so much location as it is in genuinely taking time to visit and listen to them. 

My friend Gerry taking Will on the golf course.
One day a couple of years ago a friend of mine came to visit us at our home.  He is a child psychologist working for a school district some miles away.  When first arriving he was greeted eagerly by our children out on the driveway.  Instead of taking time to first shake hands with Anne and myself, and exchange pleasantries, he stopped when getting out of his car and knelt down and visited with our children first.  I stood back and watched my friend intently listen to what Abby and Will had to say.  I learned from watching him that day that children were just as important to him as adults.  Mike genuinely listened to what each child had to say to him, he really did listen.  He did not just nod his head with a passive gesture and say what the children wanted to hear.  Mike asked them questions about each thing that they brought up.  He listened for their response and gave them his undivided attention.  The children knew that he really cared about what they had to say, and Will and Abby responded with such joy when they came to realize that he really wanted to know more about them and what they had to share.  I thought to myself, here is a man who hasn’t seen my children in several months, but he is now catching up very quickly on the events in their lives.  Will and Abby also in turn responded to what Mike shared with them about himself.  They really wanted to know in turn more about this kind man who took time to listen to them. 

New visitor to our meadow.
So once again, is it events that children crave, I don’t believe so.  Children want adults in their lives to really listen to them and care for them.  I mentioned this once in an earlier blog post about a boy’s ranch that I worked at concerning caring.  Their motto was, “I don’t care how much you know until I know how much you care.”   This is so true for parents, teachers and caregivers today.  Listen to your children and grandchildren, really listen to them and then find ways to spend time with them in the future.  In today’s world many parents are struggling to meet all the demands placed on them during the day.   Like Anne and I have discovered, we frequently have to step back and reevaluate the direction we are going and ask ourselves, “Is what we are doing for the benefit of the overall family?”  If it is not, we first pray and ask God for guidance.  We then sit down and talk about the direction we want to go for us as a family. 

Children are with us for so little time, just ask their grandparents.