Tag Archives: changes

Go Play Outside

There are multiple memes and posts floating around social media which compare the youth experiences of older generations to a perceived sense of youth today.  Typically these comparisons highlight the wonder of being outside as compared to an assumption that today’s youth are technology obsessed.

It’s Complicated

It is easy to point to technology as the reason young people do not go out and play as has been the reality for children across the centuries.  While technology does provide options that engage young people, it is important to avoid assuming that this is simply a cause and effect equation.

Fear of outside

A plethora of information has fed concerns of parents since the 80s when public service announcements talked about ‘stranger danger’.  The result has been parents are more reluctant to allow their children to play outside citing multiple concerns including traffic, the possibility of being snatched by a stranger, the attitude of neighbours and more.

Added to these concerns are environmental concerns that have been raised recently including the possibility of getting Lyme disease from tick bites  and the increased risk of getting West Nile virus from mosquito bites  These realities help to feed our fears creating a space in which some are beginning to wonder if we are becoming nature phobic.

Scheduled Kids

The prevalence of scheduled activities has also increased significantly over the years enabling parents to enroll their children in everything from sports to music to science programs and more.  Windsor’s Activity Guide provides opportunities for young people to remain active throughout the summer.  While these opportunities can be beneficial for the development of children, a case has been made that scheduling activities makes it harder for children to engage in creative, spontaneous play.

What is meaningful?

In the end, perhaps the more important question to ask is what is meaningful for young people?  The tools available to today are significantly different from anything experienced previously and young people are finding ways to make meaning through technology, programming and quiet time.  While these opportunities may not fit with how we experienced or understand childhood, that doesn’t necessarily mean young people can’t learn, develop and grow through these opportunities.

The key is balance – ensuring that our children are physically and mentally active in ways that make sense for them.  How does this work in your family?  We want to hear from you. Share your thoughts in the comments.

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/

Graduation Day

Today my kid graduates from secondary school.  There are many parents on my timeline who are acknowledging similar milestones for their kids.  To all of these young people I say Congratulations!

So how does it feel?

The important milestones in life are not celebrate alone.  Birth, entry and graduation from school, weddings, funerals – these are moments which affect families and communities as a whole.  At the centre of these events are individuals who are experiencing changes.  A child anxiously starting kindergarten, a teen wearing cap and gown as they say ‘good bye’ to the routines of high school, a spouse tearfully saying ‘good bye’ to their partner.  Simultaneously, there are those who are directly impacted by the ways life has changed for someone we hold dear.  In fact, a parent may remember far more vividly than the child that first day of kindergarten.  Whether we cried or didn’t, the fact remains, we all had feelings about that moment and these feelings matter.

Graduation Day

To watch our children step up to the platform and receive their diploma signals a significant shift in the lives of the family.  While the diploma might indicate that the child has achieved what is necessary to complete an education program, it also symbolises an expectation that the child has reached a new level of maturity.  When teenagers graduate from high school, the world assumes that they are prepared to make life-decisions.  With that moment, they are expected to decide what happens next.

What are the options?

Secondary school programming begins to explore the options with teenagers beginning in grade 10.  For some this is experienced with anxiety as they assume that failing to make the ‘right’ choice could somehow lead to a disastrous life.  In reality, for decades we have come to recognise that we don’t have to choose a single path: that we can walk a long and winding road, shifting and changing, remaking ourselves at each turn and still live a life we love.

What do you want to be right now?

For years, when asked what I wanted my child to be, I have said ‘happy’.  I believe that the best job in the world is the one that you love and provides you, at a minimum, with sufficient resources to meet your basic needs.  This is something that may change over the course of a lifetime and I would say that is OK.  Of course, this is my opinion.  I would love to hear others.

What do you think?

What are your priorities for your children?  What role do you think parents should play in helping teenagers make decisions after high school graduation?  How will you be there for your child as they navigate through the next stage of their life?

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/

Journeying through life

When they grow up…

What do you want your children to be when they grow up?  Sometimes adults pose this question amongst each other.  The answers provide insights into our priorities, hopes and dreams for our children.  There are some who hope their children will follow in their footsteps.  Some hope they will take on prestigious careers that will give them fame and fortune.  Personally, my hope has always been that my kid will simply be happy.

Career assessments

Today, students are given multiple opportunities throughout their time in school to take aptitude tests that will then provide insights into the kinds of work to which the child is best suited.  The expectation, of course, is that these are useful tools in helping parents and children decide on the kinds of classes they will take in secondary school and the kinds of activities best suited for them.  In Ontario, this process culminates in a “Careers” course taken in grade 10 which is designed to help students explore post-secondary options and the programming required to achieve these.

How realistic is this process?

Unpacking this process, it becomes possible to recognise an expected linear progression from the results of the aptitude tests to the acquisition of skills to the attainment of an appropriate job.  There was a time when this progression was the reality for most.  By the time Generation X (i.e., those born between 1965 and 1981), entered the workforce this process began to shift to the point that it is now expected that long term employment with one company (or even in one industry) is a thing of the past.  Furthermore, thanks largely to technology, it is expected that a majority of children today will actually end up in jobs that don’t even exist yet.

What can parents do?

Parents can begin by reflecting on our own journeys through life.  How often did our paths change?  Why did we make those changes?  What were the consequences of such changes?  By drawing from our own experiences we can help young people feel comfortable about uncertainty.  Regardless of where our children are in the process, we show through our experiences that no single choice will permanently establish our future.  To the extent that we recognise the shifting landscape in which we have come to live, we can help our children be comfortable with the changes and shifts that they will face on their life’s journeys.

What is important is that we keep the lines of communication open, remain willing to learn and patient as we walk with our children through the challenges and changes of living in this millennia.  They don’t have to walk this path alone and neither do we.  On Apr. 29th beginning at 5pm at Essex United we will have our first Thrive! Dinner, an opportunity to gather for food, fellowship and programming that will explore the ways we as parents, teenagers, tweens and children can navigate through the changing landscape of today.  All are welcome to come to the table to be nourished and nourish one another.

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/