My heart is breaking for the souls of our children. And, yes, there might be a negative reaction from readers on what I need to say on this topic. [Updated 3/2019]
I need to speak the truth, for what is the use of a blog if not to influence our culture? Please do not confuse this with me thinking I have all the answers. I know I don’t, but there is so much trouble ahead for the children, families and for our country if we don’t purposefully attend to this in our homes.
Parents, how are your young children entertained? Are they allowed to run and play outside, climb trees, catch frogs and bugs in the backyard or get dirty?
Many, if not most, kids today are growing up in a world where they don’t have time to rest, curl up with a good book, build things, or problem-solve face to face with real live people.
Many are being hurriedly stuffed into a car-seat and shuttled on the freeway from one class to another so that our ‘prodigies’ can be well-rounded or find their giftedness, and yet their thirsty hearts and very souls are drying up.
Their young years are being wedged and crammed into the adult’s idea of time slots.
I heard one young mother ahead of me in the grocery line loudly declare that she gave her 3 children iPads for the car. She wanted to keep them quiet so she could listen to her music as she chauffeured them around.
What sparked me to write was this photo which appears on a Fisher-Price ad with these words: “Today’s toddlers embrace touch-screen technology… just like their parents. The old adage ‘like mother/father like daughter/son’ rings true.”
The Performance-Driven Life
Could it be that constantly being indoors or in the car, media exposure to immoral values at an early age, lack of consistent routine, constant over-stimulation by electronic entertainment, and attempting to make kids into little adults is destroying the hearts and souls of our children?
It is thought that parents can actually cause childhood depression by expecting too much of our young people. I believe it!
Are we so busy and so in need of something new to strive for and to do that we have forgotten the purposeful quiet times of being at home with no where to go and restful peace?
The stress and anxiety of a performance-driven young life is leading to obesity, depression, insecurity, anger, and emotional illnesses.
Many teens today have never experienced the gift of a carefree early childhood and as parents one day (without turning to God for answers) will NOT be able to supply it to their own children.
“This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.'” ~Jeremiah 6: 16
It only takes one, possibly two generations for the wonderful old ways of bringing up children to be lost. These old ways would largely seem to be the time-tested way to raise strong, healthy children.
- Emotionally available parents
- Clearly defined limits and guidance
- Balanced nutrition and adequate sleep
- Movement and outdoors
- Creative play, social interaction, opportunities for unstructured times and boredom
Building these foundations take years of consistent input and planning – intentional living and prayer for guidance by conscientious parents. It just will not happen when children are addicted to the cultural norms as seen on the internet and the television.
“The childhood shows the man
As morning shows the day.”
~John Milton, Paradise Regained
Bored Time Is Well Spent
Children are intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, and physically fed through imaginative play, outdoors and fresh air, free time – yes, even some bored time – so they can develop skills to use it wisely.
Children need time for inner strength and wholeness to form. Time to listen to the wind in the leaves, birds, rain on the roof, or simply feel the warmth of the sun on their shoulders with a good book.
Time to swing real high for the sheer joy of it and to explore God’s creation in all its grandeur.
Little people are studious imitators of others and will naturally mirror what they are exposed to, so it is essential that we fill their days with ideas, adults, and heroes worthy of imitation.
Children Dream In Pre-Play
Both boys and girls need to dream, and to use a phrase, ‘pre-play’ what they want be and do when they grow up.
Children Need Downtime
“Almost certainly, downtime lets the brain go over experiences it’s had, solidify them, and turn them into permanent long-term memories,” said Loren Frank, professor at the University of California, San Francisco, where he specializes in studies on learning and memory. He said he believed that when the brain is constantly stimulated, “you prevent this learning process.”
Other studies found that people learned significantly better after a walk in nature than after a walk in a dense urban environment, suggesting that processing a barrage of information leaves people fatigued. (source)
Historical, Societal Changes
A British neuroscientist warned that Internet use may be rewiring our children’s brains leading to attention deficits making reading more difficult and the possibility that children are growing up more detached from other people.
Historically, societal changes have been in musical taste and style of dress.
Now change has to do with technology and the use of technology to deal with social relations, and it is stealing the very lifeblood out of our relationships!
Children are starving for real life experiences and relationships and are forgetting how to live when bombarded by the emptiness of media and its constant pull and addiction.
“I think children need the same protection and nurturing. Children’s brains are being robbed of intellectual exercise because they are not doing the things that children have done through out history. Children need lots of time to have alone-time-imagination–to synthesize all that they are learning and thinking about in their worlds. Children need to be read to, and to have their brains filled with moral strength, values and stories that inspire.”
~Sally Clarkson, The Mission of Motherhood
Children need lots of time with parents and other mature adults so that they can integrate their values and manners.
Wholesome Book Lists For Growing Your Library
Our children need to have wholesome books available and have lots and lots of imaginative stories read to them and then have time to play act or narrate the stories, sometimes over and over to grasp the deeper meanings.
- 100+ Whole-Hearted Books To Fight Back the Culture
- 25 Beloved, Time-Tested Read Alouds For Young Children
- Character-Building Book Resources For Raising Girls
It is my prayer that we will give our children an rich investment into their lives, to hold them close, rock them to sleep, sing and dance with them, answer their myriad of questions and uphold their innocence and purity so they can process this world they’ve been given. Mostly, may we point them to the Savior, read them His Word, and draw them into His reality by being authentic, transparent caring parents to them on this journey called life.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” ~Matt. 11:28
All images are by Jim Daly, one of our favorite artists.