Holidays—times of celebration—a time to reflect and look forward. It was especially meaningful for the Coker family as a new page in the book of life opened as Bryce, Kris and Rebecca’s son, joined the ranks as the newest grandchild.
Reflecting upon this new addition to the family, I began to ask the question, “what’s in the future for this young fellow?” I am more than a little concerned with what is happening, almost unnoticed, to our present generation of young people.
When our first grandchild was born we felt confident with the culture and the phrase, “it takes a village to raise a child,” was in the forefront. Unfortunately I do not feel the same sense of confidence with today’s culture and how it will impact Bryce’s future.
The culture we subscribed to 20 years ago is now a sub-culture, and in its place is a philosophy of relativism which is not willing to speak about truth but only “what is true for me.” If history is any guide this philosophy is a symptom of disaster.
The training for Bryce must be addressed by his parents, Kris and Rebecca, and all the people with whom he will come in contact. Moral education, the training of the heart and mind toward the good—involves many things and cannot be left to the culture or even to the educational institutions. Rules, precepts—the do’s and don’ts of life–involve explicit training in good habits. And, it involves the example of adults who, through their daily behavior, show children they take morality seriously. As Saint Paul wrote “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good report, if there is excellence and anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.”
Steve Covey in his book “Seven Habits of Highly Successful People” outlined as one of his habits, ‘start with the end in mind.’ Taking this habit as a starting point ask yourself what do I want my child to be like when they complete high school. Remember the law of the harvest, “you reap what you sow.”
If I could give Bryce a gift, I would call a moratorium on television and computers on weekends and look at nature. I would be sure he played outdoors at home each day. We would go in the backyard at night and search for constellations. We would visit some amazing children in cancer wards. Every night we would read as a family activity. I would try to get him excited about a glowing sunset or something so undramatic as a beehive or a flock of geese in perfect formation. In other words we would create a curiosity and a motivation to observe, explore, discuss and enjoy the miracle of the earth and the law of nature.
As a parent, you start a trip with your child, a trip into the future. Did you know that children are something we send into a future you will not see. I have to ask the question: “What message are you sending?”
While this ‘blog’ is somewhat personal, the thoughts are much more universal. My concern is how our culture is rapidly replacing interpersonal relationships with electronics and technology. The question of what makes people flourish and thrive is gradually being placed on the back shelf. It is critical that we do not let someone else or something else raise our children. It is critical that positive emotions be instilled in the next generation, and the first step in developing a positive psychology on life is engagement in relationships with people. Without these positive relationships negative outcomes begin to happen.
Peace and Grace.