Be Brave For The Sake Of The Children
Be Brave For The Sake Of The Children
Your child...has access to a private world that doesn’t include you. They speak a language in code that changes rapidly. They exist with their fingers and minds wrapped around an electronic entranceway to a society in which you have completely relinquished control. They deal with bullying, violence, and childhood hatred in ways that you never had to.
You...spend much of your ever dwindling time cleaning, cooking, holding down one or two jobs, laundry, managing activities, homework, being a spouse, doing the job of two parents, resolving conflicts and simply trying to catch your breath. Maybe there is a minute or two in the day when you get to sit and be still. Maybe not. Regardless of the immense pressure upon you there is one commitment that has been shamefully put at the end of the list, keeping our kids childlike and carefree. Remember the days of playing for hours on end outside with the mosquitoes leaving their welts but we were too busy to care? Now for some reason while we personally covet those days and even long for their return, we settle on giving our adolescents devices that keep them indoors, sitting, angry, and alone.
We... are raising a generation of children absent from the input of adults. How are the youth of today gleaming personal insight and growth from the valuable lessons of those who lived before us if we are not involved? We... have given in to the “wants” of our children beyond our better judgment, allowing them access to things that hinder the positive growth of their hearts and minds. We... have convinced ourselves that this is the natural course of evolution.
Why and how can this be ok?
The neurological development of the brain says when children are in their pre-puberty years, their brains are growing and enlarging with capability. It is clearly a time to get children learning new things. It was found by Dr. Jay Giedd, neuroscientist from the National Institute of Mental Health, that the new cells and connections in the brain will survive and flourish if they are used to learn new positive activities. Those cells and connections that are not used by eleven or twelve years old will wither and die. That’s it, bye bye.
In simpler words, that means if your pre-pubescent teenager is learning to play music, involved with sports, art, chess, or other active hobbies, then those new connections inside of the brain will become permanent forever. They will have more brain to work with! According to Dr. Giedd, if they are purely sitting around playing video games, watching TV, texting, those connections will never survive. How do people not know this simple fact about human development? How is this not guiding every decision we make for our future leaders?
In an article written by Dr. Robert Brooks of Harvard Medical School, he quotes world-renowned psychologist Julius Segal in saying one factor that enables children of misfortune to beat the heavy odds against them is the presence of a charismatic adult, a person with whom they can identify and from whom they gather strength.
How many children/teens are engaged with an adult who truly inspires them when their fingers are wrapped around a cell phone, typing a language in a world in which we have become foreigners? How can we do this if we don’t check their Twitters, Facebooks, text messages, and Instagrams? Doesn’t this make you want to do something? Anything?
And yet we somehow keep stepping further back. We succumb to the difficulty of raising children and let it rule us. We are now more committed to encouraging privacy among our children in an increasingly frightening world than we are to being engaged for their safety.
Is this really okay with all of us? Are we actually happy with the level of torment that occurs between kids, sometimes in a very subtle way, that gets hidden inside of the devices that keep us excluded? We wonder why we haven’t seen the signs before tragedy strikes—but then, if the signs are hidden inside devices that we don’t check, how could we possibly know?
It seems like we are generally afraid. A great friend of mine believes that we have lost our sense of courage. She often says that we have become a self-involved, fear-based society and that this fear keeps us completely separate. It keeps us from standing up for each other, from saying the difficult things that need to be said and from basically helping each other. The fear allows us to let our kids wander around in the cyber world aimlessly filling their growing, beautiful minds with garbage.
Have we decided to sit back and let the parenting just happen? When do we get involved? Being an involved parent and/or caring adult for a child is the hardest job in the planet and makes us go through a whirlwind of emotions that seem scary and unmanageable. Yet, the alternative to feeling the discourse is what we have now, kids who are giving us the rules and who are desensitized to violence.
What do we fear so much?
Are we so intensely afraid of the potential repercussions that we:
- are afraid to see the pain and suffering that goes on between kids and actively resolve these issues?
- are afraid to admit that while the secret to the billon dollar advertising industry is that our brains want to buy the pretty things we see...yet we somehow believe that having our precious children interacting with severe violence and promiscuity will do them no harm?
- are afraid to read every single post and private message of our kids on Facebook, Oovoo, Tumblr, Twitter, and their cellphones and address what we see?
- are afraid to see how out of control the language, sexting, drama, violence, bullying has become?
- are afraid to know the passwords of our children’s accounts and check them regularly to make sure they are protected, happy, and carefree?
- are afraid to shut off violent video games and limit access for the developing minds of our beloved offspring?
- are afraid to limit our children’s access to chemically-laden energy drinks?
- are afraid to teach them how to be positive contributors in their community and world?
- are afraid to actually resolving conflict among children and their tormentors through the use of peer mediation, conflict resolution? Why have we let the bullying problem continue and build up speed in the past three decades? Why haven’t we bounded together and demanded that any adult that is within arm’s reach of our children treat them with dignity and be committed to disallowing any form of cruelty to exist on their watch?
Are we afraid or is it that we are just too tired?
Something has to change. Bullying is at an all-time high with one out of four children in the U.S being targets of bullying by another child. We have one out of five children reporting that they have bullied someone else. The cycle of violent, unkind behavior affects so many children that it now is more of a normal occurrence with that many children affected.
Children are tormented daily by other kids and our system is set up to have zero tolerance but to truly do nothing about it. We either aren’t capable of showing children the positive ways to behave in relationship with each other, or we are too tired.
What can we do to help our children? Why not try to...
- Ask for help from a friend that you trust.
- Demonstrate to the children in your life how to help others.
- Make the time to listen. Really and truly listen.
- Share the information that will help your children be positive, contributing members of society. They will only learn this if you share with them how.
- Pray in any way that connects you with your inner voice.
- Be an adult that cares. So much research has shown that parental warmth or support is key to protecting a child from being a victim and/or a bully.
- Demand that your children give you access to their accounts. If they don’t, be the boss and disconnect them. You cannot keep them safe from things you don’t know about.
- Learn about the food and drinks that you are giving to your children. Balance is key—but over-sugaring, over-food coloring, and over-processed fooding dramatically interferes with learning and managing.
- Teach your kids about the good ol' days of playing.
- Take the TVs and computers out of your children’s bedrooms and let their bodies experience a proper night's sleep.
- Monitor what your children are watching. There are all kinds of parental controls on the TV and computer for you to use.
- Talk with your kids anywhere and every time. No matter how uncomfortable it may make you. If you can’t, find another adult who can.
- Do something to help children find a common ground with each other. Bullying will never stop until we believe in the goodness of each other. There will always be things to decipher, but with enough like-minded people we can spread caring, easily and rapidly.
- Commit to be a formal or informal mentor to the children within your neighborhood, group of friends, church, or even within arm’s reach. All it takes is a smile and caring heart.
Thousands have said before this article, and thousands after will, tell you to dig deep, listen, hear the words that your kid is using, watch their behavior, encourage, guide, provide wisdom, advocate for, support, discipline.
Find a blend of those techniques and use them all or just use one. Pick one on this list and experiment with it. Be brave, for our children’s sake. Then, watch it work.