Kids. They can make you laugh one minute and make you want to choke them the next, but you always love them. Parents are not perfect – I know I am not – but we owe it to our kids to give them the best tools possible, so they flourish and ultimately build a better world than they are getting handed to them. I believe it is long past time that we, as a society, get our kids involved.
Before I go any further I must note that I have boys; as such, this will seem slanted to boy subjects, but the intent is without gender.
So what do I mean by “get our kids involved”? I promise you I don’t mean sports. I have zero problems with youth sports (pro sports are another story). Youth sports can be great; but, it also the first thing people think of when it comes to ‘getting kids involved” and as such, it is it is well represented. In fact, some parents take the whole youth sports thing too far. You can see this on YouTube with videos of parents fighting in the stands or screaming at the referee’s.
So what do I mean by involved? This is a gun website and I would be remiss if I didn’t include firearms related activities in my list, but let’s look at the bigger picture. What skills do you have that are worth passing down? We are trying to make responsible adults, but in our quest for advancement we (society) have cast some critical skills aside for the new and shiny promise of technology. We have a real opportunity to ensure skills and traits that are worthy of processing are passed down.
To see a prime example of this casting aside skill based teaching one only needs to look for a shop class in middle school. A mere 25 years ago I was twelve years old and in wood shop. My teacher was a war veteran; gruff and old he didn’t suffer fools, but he also knew how to teach and when to give praise. At the time I didn’t know it, but looking back, I learned a lot about life from Mr. Gosney. He ran his shop class like it was his own company and we were his workers – his team. He made sure we knew how and when to do the task and he offered praise when earned, but only when truly warranted. We got no award for participation. Now shop class is becoming a faint memory in a lot of school districts, turned away by lack of budget, fear of liable, a drive toward tech and sadly, a cultural disdain for making a living with your hands.
But teaching our kids well isn’t limited to woodworking; if you shoot (I presume you do since you are reading this blog) and you think your kids are ready, then show them how. I welded up a simple metal target for my kids to shoot with a pellet gun (no BB’s) and then a 22LR rifle. It offers a great opportunity to teach them patience, marksmanship and most important – gun safety. As an added bonus they’ll create memories that will last a life time.
But you need not stop there. If you like to garden, that is a wonderful thing to pass on (and is a subject I wish I knew more about). You say your passion is sewing; then pass it one. Take them fishing. Take them mountain biking and go camping. Show them how to fell a tree, split a log and build a fire. Teach them how to unplug a toilet that is stopped up and show them how to clean a floor. Let them get dirty helping you change the oil in your car and cleaning the gutters.
Show them how to treat their spouse with love and respect!
The list of constructive, tangible, and valuable skills you can get their little minds engaged in is virtually endless. It never ceases to amaze me when a grown ass man is bewildered by my ability to fix a basic plumbing problem, mend a fence or replace an electrical outlet. I wonder about their childhood; which leads me to wonder about the future of a today’s youth.
Of course I am not suggesting you keep them from being kids. My kids play outside, ride bikes and even play mom and dad approved video games. They are average kids. But ultimately you are the parent; not the electronic device you purchased and not the neighbor you left them with. You have to be willing to make (and standby) a decision you know they will hate! You have to say NO and break their hearts sometime. You need to be willing to teach them what you know, and to teach them well.
In my job I get to see a lot of resumes and interview candidates. We see a growing number of college graduates that honestly believe they are entitled to some great job with a huge salary just because they have a new degree. It is becoming an epidemic; but, they grew up being told college will get them a good paying job. Anyone over 30 realizes this is not the case. Were they taught the value of hard work? The necessity of experience? Have they ever heard the word NO? Getting your kids involved and teaching them other skills makes them a deeper individual, a better asset in the job market and ultimately, a better member of society.
I’ll end this diatribe with some questions for all the parents out there.
What are you doing to get your kids more involved and become better adults? Are you raising someone with a multitude of usable skills? Will they be self-sufficient and not afraid to put in the time and effort to do what is right? Will they be better prepared to lead tomorrow and raise their own kids?