“To what shall I compare this generation.”
Forgive me for saying this, but sometimes I think that parents are much more concerned about their children’s financial and educational success than they are about their spiritual and mental health. I can honestly say this by the amount of stress and anxiety I see in children.
Once upon a time, a child went to school starting in kindergarten. Now he begins at the age of two. Of course, it is because they need to be one step (or crawl) ahead of the others. Kindergarteners were taught their ABC’s and everyone was happy with that. Now, they are expected to read. “Read! Read! Breathe and Read!”
We should all know by now that girls and boys learn differently. We also know that girls learn quicker than boys. But if we don’t know it or can’t accept it then we shouldn’t be amazed at how a fast paced curriculum can drain a boy’s interest in learning! No wonder why so many of our children feel drained, stressed and at the point of breaking! No wonder why more girls graduate from college than boys.
Balance. Balance is another way of saying, “Be wise”. It just seems like we can’t get it right. “We played the flute for you, but you did not dance, we sang a dirge for you but you did not mourn.” Darn! What can we do? What do you expect from me? The secret to balancing one’s life begins by accepting the giver of life! “Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life” (Jn 8:10).
Kids are coming home with five or six hours of homework a night. Family life is suffering because of it. Often parents complain that they have no time to spend with their own children. Homework and the added burden of extracurricular activities have decimated quiet time, down time and family time. It would seem as though the only thing that continues to increase are the daily doses of medication.
I learned a great lesson at the expense of another student. Todd was a fellow student of mine in Imaging Science at RIT. He and I were good friends. But Todd had a big problem: he didn’t have an ounce of faith in God in him. Todd was very intelligent. In fact, the only time I saw him in class was when he had to take an exam. It wasn’t a problem for him; after all, he never got less than a perfect grade! I will never forget the time when he walked into class and noticed that everyone had a “cheat sheet”. He was surprised. We explained to him that the professor was kind enough to allow us the luxury of a cheat sheet. He was bummed. I was happy. I was very jealous of him. I was killing myself in class and trying to stay above water and this guy was a natural genius! Well, he took the exam without a cheat sheet, was the first to finish and got a perfect score! I, on the other hand, got an official Withdrawal form all filled out by my teacher, stapled to my failed exam, and a verbal recommendation from my professor to sign it and leave his class immediately. I never did. I stayed in his class and got a C. Todd got a D. You see, although he received perfect grades in his exams, he got perfect zeros in his lab work, projects and homework. I graduated on time. Todd never graduated.
It’s time that we teach our children priorities. It’s time we tell them what the Lord has been telling us since he created the world: “I know best. Follow me.” Follow me means think like me, speak like me, live like me.
Parents: Pick a school that educates the entire person (heart, mind, body and soul) and not just the intellect. Pick a school that treats you and your children like a person and not like future worker bees. School administrators take pride in telling parents how many of their students go off to College or get accepted in this or that school. But ask them how many of their students kept their faith after graduating? Or the percentage of graduates that remained married after five years? Or how many became priests or nuns? I would ask them if any of their students became canonized saints?
Kids: First and foremost, follow the Lord at all times. Go to Sunday Mass and kept the Sabbath holy. Spend time with your family. Hang out with your family and avoid spending too much time on the Internet. Go bike riding for real rather than on XBOX or on the Wii.
Parents and Kids: Spend time reflecting and meditating on God and life. Get caught up with life and don’t try so hard to catch up with others.