Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people. Luke 2:52
This school year has been marked by sickness. With two strains of the flu hitting in the fall, many schools were finding it difficult to have class. As we move through the winter months it appears that strep is now taking its toll. I called Urgent Care the other day to see what the wait time was; they told me four hours! We know the health of our children is important, but I am not just talking about physical health. I am finding that for most parents the social, mental and emotional health of their children is vital!
The mosaic generation (15 and younger) is digitally native. This means that we, as parents, are fighting for the attention of our kids away from YouTube, Netflix and the Internet in general. While these can be entertaining and educational, they can also be irrevocably altering the mental, emotional and/or the social health of our children. We are in a dogfight just as the Bible tells us. Here are seven vital signs to check with those under your care. Are they healthy or on life support?
- Is there a "can do" spirit evident? Far too often kids today are heard saying "I can't." While I believe in teaching a healthy respect for ability, attitude is what makes the difference. If you keep saying negative things you and everyone else will begin to believe that sentiment. Hold your head up and stay positive!
- Is ownership of action evident? A sign of maturity and social success is being able to take responsibility for one's actions. We have been patterned to blame someone or something else for everything bad that happens. However, we are quick to take credit if it is something for which we might receive praise or an award. The easy path is to blame others. The successful path is to take ownership of your words and actions.
- Are there any signs of keeping promises? It has been said that at the end of the day all a man really has is the value of his word. If you make a promise, keep it. If you even hinted that you committed to doing something, then honor your word. We live in a disposable culture, which throws away everything that has a little age, rust, dust or difficulty. From toys to tablets and marriages to machinery we toss it away. Keep your word. Mean what you say.
- Do you hear "please and thank you"? Where have these phrases gone today? I hear demands more than requests. We need to teach one another and especially our children that using please and thank you is NORMAL behavior. Letting the girls go first. Holding the door for women. Showing respect for yourself and others. Everything you have and have on is a result of someone else. Showing gratitude is an honorable item. These are all apart of social lessons we are losing. The cost will be our civilized culture as well.
- Can the child focus their attention? I tell my ball players every play to be ready. Boys needs to learn to listen and look others in the eyes. Just like being focused on the play for personal safety and success, staying engaged in class will reap benefits. Looking your teacher in the eye will shock them in a good way. Listening to what your "girlfriend" has to say is a critical skill to master. I know girls talk A LOT, but this will make such a difference in relationships.
- Is there evidence of an ability to communicate by the boys? Boys and men tend to shorten up their answers. Psychologists have noted men use about 12,000 words a day compared to the 24,000+ women do. My son, when asked about his day at school, has learned to say more than, "Fine." Teaching boys to express their thoughts and feelings is not making them girls. It is making them successful men. Former generations prided themselves on being able to tell stories – some true and some not. The point is they could communicate. In our perverse generation, boys are being molested and bullied. They are threatened if they talk and if they tell the truth they will be harmed further. Our boys must learn to tell the truth. They are not "ratting out" their friends. They are engaging in a timeless honor system of truthfulness.
- What is the state of nutrition and exercise? America is one the most obese nations in the world. America is also one of the highest nations with eating disorders. Junk food is tempting, but should be resisted or at least moderated. The gaming generation has created a problem with boys who do not "play" actively enough. Drink water, not soda pop. Eat fruit, not fruit flavored items. Go for a run. DO something.
If our kids are going to compete on higher, and different, levels than Little League or Kids Inc., we must teach them how. Hopefully, this has given you a few ideas.
Summers is the lead pastor at Coulter Road Baptist Church in Amarillo, TX. He and his wife, Dulcie, have two children: Samuel and Isabella. To read more from Summers, please visit his personal blog at http://intersect.us or follow him on Twitter @aaronwsummers.