Kids - and more kids everywhere. Whether or not you have kids living at home, or adult children, or no children at all; WE are ALL affected by the kids of the world. Raising children is vitally important.
The youth of today WILL be some of the leaders of tomorrow.
The youth of today WILL be our teachers, police officers, our war veterans, our doctors, our lawyers, the business owners, and the administrators and care givers helping us adults when we enter old age.
The youth of today will possibly be the homeless adults of tomorrow, the veterans having issues, parents that can't find work, and even the criminals locked up in prison.
WE ALL have a responsibility to raise kids that can be the LEADERS of communities, states and this great nation. We have a responsibility to nurture kids that will want to do the hard jobs and do them well. We need to raise kids that want to be great teachers to help educate future amazing adults. We have a responsibility to provide an environment that fosters the arts and creativity in children to help their amazing minds reach their full potential. We need to place emphasis on raising children in a healthy and dynamic way.
"It takes a village to raise a child." -African Proverb
I know this to be true. One, I was once a child and two, I have seven children myself.
As a kid, I knew that I anywhere I went, if I mis-behaved any adult would be free to correct me. And as a kid, I respected every adult. No, life wasn't perfect. There were adults in my village that were not honorable. But, that didn't matter. I had a whole village. I had church, school, my neighborhood, my friend's parents, my extended family and of course my parents. Most of them felt it was their duty to correct me when needed along my path. I think I turned out pretty decent. I NEVER had the perfect childhood either. Go figure.
I had good and bad examples. I learned from both. I was nurtured by the good examples. And I was allowed to develop my talents and stretch my brain.
I didn't have a perfect childhood, I didn't get special training or classes, I often got picked last, sometimes I won, sometimes I was alone and scared, sometimes I lost, sometimes I had no friends, my heart got broken and sometimes I got in trouble for things I didn't do and sometimes I actually got away with something. I fought with my siblings, babysat them and thought my parents were unfair. I did have people in my life who loved me and some who didn't. I had a village. I am the product of that village.
When I was very young, racism was very much alive and real. Once I was even told not to play with kids that had a different skin color by one of the adults in my village. That was still an accepted idea at that time. But I saw those same adults treat other adults with different colored skin with respect and I knew we were all the same. Then my grandmother did some research, privately but because she was part of my village we all saw and learned from her; anyway she did some research on different races, read books, prayed and changed her view on this topic. My grandmother was born in the 1920's in the west. I learned from my grandmother we could adapt and learn on some very controversial topics. This same grandmother kept taking classes and learning. Her world went from horses and a few cars to jet airplanes and computers and she kept up with it. She even took language classes. I learned from her to keep my mind busy, learn new things, and stay active. She also served the community a lot in the local hospital and at church. I saw her quilting blankets for the hospital all the time. She was serving others until she was 90 years old and passed away. I learned to serve as a virtue from her.
When I was born, I was left handed. Although most of the adults thought I "should be" right handed. In 1st grade I broke my right arm. The school of course hired a tutor to take care of me even though I insisted I still could right with my left hand. Nope - I wasn't "allowed". And I missed that very important time of the day COLORING. However in 4th grade my teacher was a hippy rebel, she even made us sing "hippy songs" which I still remember to this day. Well my hippy teacher thought it was good to be left handed and even got me left handed scissors. I didn't have bad feelings to the other teachers, but sure my heart was happy with my 4th grade hippy teacher that made a huge difference in my life with teaching me that lefties are awesome, hippy music was fun, and basically learning was fun. She dressed well and taught more than what was in the books.
I always loved to play the piano. I didn't have a teacher once so I asked my granny if she would teach me. She was very talented. She was very blunt and honest with me and said she didn't like kids and wouldn't be able to. She just didn't have the patience to teach piano lessons. The horror..... NOT. My granny was kind and loving and honest. A trait she taught me. She taught me that you can be openly honest and kind. I never held it against her, in fact I loved her even more and admired her. She did obviously have children of her own, that is how she became my granny. She had six children. And she played cello and other instruments, she painted, carved, and made tons of amazing crafts. In fact this granny kept her hobbies up and learning new arts until she died. She stayed busy doing and creating. She in her youth was in an orphanage. She went onto be one of the artists in Disney's movie "Snow White". I learned you are never too old or too limited to develop talents. And I learned you can be honest with yourself and others and still love people.
I had a friend at the age of four. I still know her today. She is my oldest and dearest friend. I spent a lot of time at her house. Her mother was an industrious person, always busy making things. And no matter what, anytime I went to her house, she smiled and said hello. She was a happy person and always had a meal to share. I don't know if I know a happier person. She is getting old now but when I see her, she still has a big smile and says hello. My friends dad was a tease. He teased me non stop. They both made me feel accepted in their home and I was expected to follow the rules, which I did of course. I learned from them how to treat other all the time.
I had a piano teacher, my neighbor. She went above and beyond teaching me the piano. She loved the piano herself and she saw in me greatness when I didn't see it myself. She weekly inspired me. She had loads of patience even when I didn't practice and she encouraged me to excel and strive for my very best. I didn't believe in myself or my talent, but she did even when there were others that could play better than me. She helped me believe in me, the real me. She taught me that if I worked hard I could play the piano well. As a senior in high school I learned to play Brahms Rhapsody in G minor. I learned to keep practicing the rest of my life and the joy of playing an instrument.
I had uncles in my life that not only teased me and played tricks on me, they nurtured my scientific mind and encouraged me to go to college, a university. Which I did to major in Aerospace Engineering.
When I was eight, I got bit by a rattlesnake and I was in the hospital for nearly a week. Adults in my village from the community that knew my dad and from church came to visit me. One of the "old men" snuck me in a milk shake which made my day during the long days at the hospital. They visited me, which was so nice. We didn't have computer games, Game Boys, or much TV at that time. Visitors made the difference. They even played games with me while I was stuck in bed.
In addition to setting a good example for children - your own or in the community; teach them to endure. They also need to learn to work in groups. They can learn the art of negotiation in groups, with their friends or siblings and in school.
Give kids opportunities to make decisions. As small children this starts with choosing their clothes with your help, you might offer two acceptable outfits and let them choose. As they get older, the choices should be more complex. But never make it a do or die situation, they need to LEARN TO MAKE CHOICES. Our job as mentors (parents, family, neighbors and community) is to help teach them how.
Kids need opportunities to speak out and even debate issues. They need to learn to speak with confidence, to look people in the eye and shake hands. They can learn these skills in school, at home, at church and other community programs.
Raising my kids, I was shocked at how many kids in the neighborhood didn't have chores or work to do - or very little and even more shocking was that their friends enjoyed coming and helping my kids do work. The value of work is an important skill for them to gain. Small kids can have chores, be patient with them. I gave my kids chores and at night I went behind them and cleaned up or fixed the job. But they can learn to do a job and do it well.
My mother had eight children of her own. She made most of our food from scratch. She took the small salary that my dad, a police officer, had and raised us all. I guess we didn't have a lot of money, but I never knew it. She was thrifty and industrious. She made clothes for us - especially new dresses for Easter. She made Christmas gifts for us. I have a jewelry box, quilt, and other treasures that were made by my parents. She canned, had a garden and taught me to be self-sufficient. She got us part time jobs to earn money. I weaned animals for farmers, chopped weeds in cotton fields, and babysat. All this before I was twelve years old. I learned to work from my mother who had an endless supply of jobs that we were to do well before we were allowed to play. I knew I could work hard. I could chop wood for the fire place, and move a bale of hay which can weigh about 50 lbs. I also learned to ride horses from my mother, which I love to do. We worked hard and then we played. My mom had us on picnics, horseback riding, camping, and cooking out. She taught us to have a good time with each other. She sacrificed a lot for us. And one time without knowing, she taught me to pray. I went into her room late one night and saw her silently on her knees for a long time. And I knew where she got her strength from. She loved us.
My dad was in the air force, in fact he was in boot camp when I was born. After he served he came home and did a few odd jobs. At one point he owned a janitorial company and I remember helping clean the businesses that hired him. We all pitched in the family business. My dad went to school and then became a police officer and finally he ran for the office of sheriff. My dad was a hard worker. He figured out how to remodel and keep our house that was about 70 years old at the time in good shape. And of course, guess what - we all learned. By the time I was in high school I learned to sheet rock a wall, and do a roof. And when we did that roof, the village showed up to help. We didn't have money to hire people to fix all the stuff a family of ten goes thru, so my dad learned to do a lot. I thought he was a genius. I learned a lot I could do. And my dad loved to travel, so we did and I learned to love the diversity of this country. His favorite and mine was the beach. Most importantly my dad taught me what you focus on grows. He taught me to raise my kids focusing on what I wanted, not what I didn't want. He sacrificed a lot for us. He loved us.
I had tons of bad examples in my life. I'm sure we all do. But these are just a few of the great lessons I had in my life from the people in my village. They all made a difference in who I am today.
Get involved with the youth of today - play games with your children, grandchildren or anyone. My mother-in-law at the age of 92 still plays games with my kids and that that is one of the best memories they have with her. She never lets them win either. When they win, they earn it and they know it.
We all, no matter what, need to make a difference today. The future needs us to. Our village needs us.
We are mothers to other's children. We are teachers. We are extended family. We are examples. We are guardians of virtue and values. We are the story tellers. We are the village.
I am grateful to all the adults in my village that continue to teach me and I am grateful to all the adults watching over my children all over the world. My 2nd child lives in China. She works for a family and spends a lot of time with this family. We got to go visit her. The grandmother assured me they were taking care of my daughter (she is 27 years old) and watching over her. They knew they were her village and wanted me to know they would watch over her and they do.
You can be sure that I watch over the kids I am around. I love them all. And I am excited to see the things the children of this world create. I look forward to the art and the music being created within them. With pride in my community I listen to the younger ones running for political office and standing up for their values and the good of our community. There is good in this world and there is greatness in our children! We are a village and we need each other and we need to watch over and nurture the children.
What are you doing to support your village? What do you think we need to make happen in our communities?
Do you know someone special that makes your village better? If you do, send them a thank you note.
Keep up the good work!