Our Kids Need Definition
As parents, we need to help our children master skills beyond those in the virtual world.
When my daughter arrived from China I knew that self esteem was going to be an issue. She was abandoned by the people who brought her into the world - a really tough situation - so the psychologist in me summoned the advice from all the great theorists.
I knew I had to help her define herself.
First, I took her into our family and we all worked to love her unconditionally. Then I took her to church to learn about Jesus because of our belief system. I gave it to her.
Then I began with her deficits. She didn’t speak until she was 4 years of age; she never crawled so her speech was delayed.
That is what happens when you don’t develop in the correct order. I took her to a “Mommy and Me” gym class. She loved it and today she is a team gymnast.
Next, I bought her a teeny, tiny violin because she would open my case and play with my violin. She began to play and then took lessons. Some of the early efforts in lessons were less than perfect, but her teacher hung in there with her. She now plays in the Youth Orchestra of Bucks County. She is a musician.
Our family invests in academics and we work hard at homework and projects together. She is a scholar.
She adores visual art and will spend literally hours cutting items out of magazines and working with paints and watercolors. She longs to sculpt and so this summer she will be tutored in this area. She is an artist.
And so it goes.
My children, collectively, do not spend more than a few hours per week in front of a TV or computer unless it is for schoolwork. There is no TV or computer in either of their rooms and a cell phone won’t arrive on the scene until driving begins.
However, our media is selling a bill of goods to our children that you cannot take to the bank. The Bank of Self Esteem that is. There are role models out there, poor ones at that. You know who they are – their pictures are heavily air-brushed and their voices are either enhanced or dubbed in. My son can actually tell when audio tuning is in full throttle.
Unfortunately, by the time our children get to late adolescence or emerging adulthood, they will realize that they are not going to be famous, or a super athlete or win the lottery and – BAM! - reality hits and they have hung all of their hopes and dreams on something that is conjured.
So they retreat, once again into their video worlds where they can create their own reality and be the ruler of their world. This is fantasy and it is robbing us of productive citizens. Don’t play “Guitar Hero,” get a guitar and invest the effort and the time to actually master it. Don’t ply the Wii incessantly, go out and actually go bowling.
A must-read for the parent today are two books: “Boys Adrift” and "Girls on the Edge.” They are written by Leonard Sax and are worth the effort to acquire and really study.
We must help our children define themselves in regard to whatever it is that they are capable of excelling at.
You don’t have to be famous all over the world; your own backyard is sufficient. Sometimes that is the best, because someone you know will actually recognize you and what you stand for. Wrap your Merriam-Webster around that!