I was impressed!
Tips for parents – developed by youth. Not only were these tips put together by youth, but were written by young offenders serving time at a Correctional Centre.
What really impressed me was the content of the list of tips. Not only did the list make a lot of sense, but many of the items on the list could have come directly from the Bible. Who said the Bible was no longer relevant? Go ahead and check it out – if you dare.
Some of the suggestions on the list were: keep cool, don’t fly off the handle; bug us a little, be strict; get tough if we’re lying, stealing or being cruel; don’t compromise or be intimidated by us; and, when we need punishment, dish it out, but let us know you still love us even though we let you down. Other tips were: praise us when we deserve it; be honest, tell us the truth, lukewarm answers make us uneasy; and, show us the way, we need to believe in something bigger than ourselves.
Impressed? I certainly was!
Our youth want us to keep them accountable for their actions. However, they want to see those actions in us first. Somehow we want our children to do what we say, not what we do. Whom are we calling delinquent?
Young people want to be shown right from wrong. We have come up with the idea that we should let them find out right from wrong on their own. Our lack of moral teaching by example is leaving our youth helplessly adrift.
Our young people want us to love them. We attempt to demonstrate our love by buying things for them. We spend so much time getting things that we don’t give them what they really want and need – that is us. Our kids need us. They need us to spend time with them. They need both quality and quantity time.
Gordon Elhard, speaking at the Westside Community Interaction Day in January, put it so well when he said that we cannot legislate quality time. It is in the midst of quantity time that quality time breaks out. While we are with our children, we need to let them know we believe in them and love them.
Recently I had the occasion to seek some advice from various service providers in our community. When I asked what were seen as the greatest needs in our community the answers were usually children and youth related. We need to provide something constructive for our youth to do – something they enjoy and is within the bounds of acceptable behavior.
Another need that was clearly identified was the need for young people to learn practical life skills. Skills in making good decisions. It is my belief that the only way anyone will learn good decision making skills is by following someone’s model. The Bible clearly teaches that parents are to teach their children. Children are to be taught when they get up, while walking through the day, and when getting ready for bed. This kind of teaching by example and personal guidance will provide excellent training in decision making.
In a day when our youth receive much negative press, I have much hope. Our youth are creative, ambitious and ready to seize the future. Are we, their mentors, going to prepare them for the future? Believe it or not, they are waiting for us to guide them along the way. Lets not disappoint them.