Thoughts on Parenting


Father & Daughter

A Glimpse in the Future or a Sign

Young restless teeenagers. Did we get a glimpse in the future of what it is to have teenagers in the house or is this a warning to make sure that we give our children a place they can call home at all times, a place where they can feel loved and where they can feel safe and at peace. Some weeks ago we offered one of our boys’ rooms to a member of our church because he no longer had a place he could call home, a roof over his head  after the earthquake.
I can’t help but being sad to see how our young guest does not seem to have a clue as to what it is to be part of a family. Relatively unaware,  he pops in and out without ever thinking about the rest of the family here. No other consideration it almost seems, not for leaving us in doubt whether or not to include him in the cooking, for the fact that our oldest son generously parted from his room so that he could have a place to withdraw and get back at peace, and he decides late at night to not come home.  Restless.
A child (as that is what he still is) from a broken family with seemingly no father or mother to hang on to. It saddens me even more to realize that there are so many of these out there. Clueless, directionless, because they have basically been neglected by their own (broken) families and our education system is engineering them to think of themselves as the center of the universe, an education system that no longer teaches children to concentrate and go deep.
It is painful to see how much damage parents can cause (also thinking about the damage I may have caused already with my own boys) when children do not feel loved and are neglected. No discipline, no sense of participation, all self-centered if only because that was how to survive from a young age onwards, direction-less,  unsure of their self-worth. I find myself in pain for our young guest.  How can someone raise and maintain a happy family when he has never known one? Of course with the help of God, but as parents should we perhaps not keep in mind that we are not just participating in a family but also peparing the next generations to raise the families of the future? I guess this is something that I may want to reconsider while we try as good as we can to raise our own children. If they follow our example or if our example sets the norm than what an important responsibilty we have for the future to set an example worthy of following: an example of what it means to live according to the priority God, family, community.
It is in these last weeks I am realizing that I need to change, a lot, and that I will need God’s help to do just that. It is in the last weeks that I started to understand how important it is to provide a loving environment and most of all that love also means that you are not going to let your children live out their mistakes. Most of all I am starting to realize that teaching, instructing is best done by providing a leading example His Kingdom is one of power not of words. In that respect I may have a lot to work on and actually need God’s help more than ever. This is why we must be careful in everything we do. Along with loving God and being a godly example by committing ourselves to His commands, we could start by the command of Deuteronomy 6:7-9 regarding teaching our children to do the same, in words and action.

“7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

Instruction so it seems from this verse is of an ongoing nature and can be done at all times – at home, on the road, at night, and in the morning, in word and in action. The Bible thus becomes the foundation in our home, for our family life. By following the principles of these commands, I can  teach our children that worshiping God can and should be constant, not reserved for Sunday mornings or nightly prayers or thanksgivings. Moreover that it comes from the heart and through thoughts, words AND actions.
God, family, community as the paradigm and leading by example as the strategy. An ongoing epiphany so it seems. Where do I start?  This weekend when talking to one of my boys, he expained to me that as a result of my example he and the boys will have a higher chance of becoming a smoker. I guess change is already taking place as for the first time I did not try to argue that with him. Instead  we ended up talking about how I started smoking, he wanted to know whether or not his Oma smoked (and yes  my parents did) and that is where I see how children are being taught at school. I should not feel guilty for my smoking as that was Oma and Opa’s fault, since they smoked. When will he realize that in saying this he already has the perfect escape for any wrong choices he may make when he grows up where he has seen me make them. Children are not taught to take responsibility but to transfer culpa.

Another point of attention for me. As for me, I need to step it up and make sure he sees me making the right choices (and persevere with God’s help) and be a good husband, father, head of the family and a member of the community.

Prayer

Dear God,
Thank you for trusting me with the raising of a child. But I cannot do this on my own strentgth. Forgive me for being a terrible example at times, forgive me for being angry and at times to hard for the boys, forgive me for all those times where I set a bad example as to what it means to be a loving and caring father and husband. In the name of Jesus I ask you to make me into the husband and father you want me to be, with You and Jesus  as my shining examples and guided by Your Holy Spirit, so that we as a family and my sons may become shining examples of Your glory, Your power, Your love, Your compassion, Your grace, Your Wisdom, Your patience, Your goodness, Your caring nature, Your plan for us, and everything else You are that I just forgot.
In the name of Jesus, Amen

Quote of the Day: Ken Robinson on Creativity and how Schools Kill Creativity


“… kids will take a chance. If they don’t know, they’ll have a go. Am I right? They’re not frightened of being wrong. Now, I don’t mean to say that being wrong is the same thing as being creative. What we do know is, if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original. If you’re not prepared to be wrong. And by the time they get to be adults, most kids have lost that capacity. They have become frightened of being wrong. And we run our companies like this, by the way. We stigmatize mistakes. And we’re now running national education systems where mistakes are the worst thing you can make. And the result is that we are educating people out of their creative capacities. Picasso once said this. He said that all children are born artists. The problem is to remain an artist as we grow up. I believe this passionately, that we don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it . Or rather, we get educated out if it. So why is this?



I believe our only hope for the future is to adopt a new conception of human ecology, one in which we start to reconstitute our conception of the richness of human capacity. Our education system has mined our minds in the waythat we strip-mine the earth: for a particular commodity. And for the future, it won’t serve us. We have to rethink the fundamental principles on which we’re educating our children. There was a wonderful quote by Jonas Salk, who said, “If all the insects were to disappear from the earth, within 50 years all life on Earth would end. If all human beings disappeared from the earth, within 50 years all forms of life would flourish.” And he’s right.

What TED celebrates is the gift of the human imagination. We have to be careful now that we use this gift wisely, and that we avert some of the scenarios scenarios that we’ve talked about. And the only way we’ll do it is by seeing our creative capacities for the richness they are, and seeing our children for the hope that they are. And our task is to educate their whole being, so they can face this future.

As a parent  concerned about his children, and more importantly the direction education systems throughout the western world are seemingly heading, the TED talk these quotes were taken from really spoke to me.