“Children should be seen and not heard.”
That seemed to largely be the mantra when I was growing up. The idea that children were probably too young to understand anything and just needed to be out-of-the-way playing games and keeping quiet!
But all that has changed.
Especially in a technological and social media age when many of us older folks have to embarrassedly and quietly pull a child off to the side to show us how to do something on our latest phone or tablet.
Young people today grow up on technology and social media in ways we could never even dream when we were their age.
We can fight against that or try to control it. Or we can get creative and embrace the reality but help guide our young people to greatness.
BEING A PARENT IS ONE OF THE TOUGHEST JOBS
I don’t have to be a parent to know that. My wife and I lived with two couples in the last year who had children and it is a crazy complicated whirlwind of emotion at times. It is not easy. But it can be great.
For some parents, more often than not parenting can be more a matter of survival than thriving and any hope of finding creative ways to raise your little people into being the world changers you hope that will be one day is often replaced by just trying to make it to the end of the day without killing any of them.
CHOOSE TO BELIEVE
In the past year I heard some inspirational stories of different ways – some small and some much bigger – where some parents I know were engaging with their children to change the world.
Refusing to see their children as those who must be seen and not heard, they have rather invited curiosity and creativity and asked their children how they would like to go about making life better for someone they know who is sick or struggling, or even a poor person they pass on the street.
In fact I started to collect some stories together on my blog to hopefully inspire other parents to borrow from the same ideas or come up with their own.
It began with my friend Sally, who started looking for one thing they could do every week to infect the world with Kindness. On cold days in winter that often looked like making some hot chocolate and some muffins and driving around the neighbourhood to look for homeless people to share it with. On others days it was scarves they had knitted and sandwiches. More than the particular WHAT was the fact that it was the intentional decision to create spaces for doing good deeds on a regular weekly basis.
SPREAD THE LOVE AROUND
As I went back to read over the story of Cayden, the one thing that struck me was the line that said, “I went to pick up Cayden from school and his friend Lucy.”
So once you have sat down with your children and come up with some creative ideas about how to change your part of the world, invite your friends. This is a great way to see the heart for being someone and doing something significant with your life that helps transform the world around you.
Imagine if we could teach our children from a young age that they can make a difference right now. Consider the impact that might have on the world.
THE PARENT, THE CHILD AND THE RESTAURANT BILL
My former boss and his wife Meeghan told us the story of when they went out for a meal with their young son, Justice. After the meal was done, they turned to Justice and said he could look around the restaurant and pick any family he wanted and they would pay for that family’s meal. So essentially they were the ones doing the good deed, but by inviting Justice to make the choice it suddenly started to feel like his good deed. So he picked a family and they went to the front and paid for their bill and the other family’s meal. Then the hardest part happened when they took Justice out without being able to watch the family receive the gift [a further lesson in terms of doing something good in secret].
‘There are a lot of times that people get to thank us or times we get to witness the impact of our sharing. This was a moment that it wasn’t necessary and perhaps more important for us not to need or receive.’ [Meeghan]
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
As a parent who is raising a young child, the hope is that you will give this a try [no matter how young your child is right now]. Find something that is age appropriate and more importantly let your child determine what the act of kindness is. Let it be their idea and you can help ensure that it is safe and practical and then work together at making it happen.
It can be a simple act yet it becomes profound because this will be a story that sticks with your child as it was their idea and they played an active role in it. This will be a story she can tell her class at school or that he can invite his friends to join him with.
As a parent, what creative life lesson have you been able to teach your child, or what practice do you do as a family that you think will help them grow up to think differently and be different from the herd, in a world-changing way?
We would love it if you gave this experiment a try and then came back here and shared how it went in the comments section below.
As we look at parents being creative with their children in seeing the world around them be changed, we can’t help but remember that God did the very same thing for us in sending Jesus. If you would like to hear more about how that went down or how you can get involved, click on the banner below.