Sorry…But I Can’t Do That

Someone recently said to me “I like reading your blog-very informative and you make me think about things that I often overlook or don’t see clearly.” “Thank you,” says me. Then this person went on to say “but can’t you, sometimes, write about funny things”. I said, “Sorry, but I can’t do that”. I guess for a couple of reasons: a) I’m a spontaneous funny kind of guy. I see something in my minds eye and the visual makes me laugh. It could be anything and b)for me to sit and create something that I think others will find funny, sorry, I can’t do that. Too often we laugh at things-anything-just so that we can be distracted from what is happening in front of us. We get overwhelmed-we laugh. When things get crazy-we laugh. When we get stressed-we laugh. Much of the time we laugh at things that aren’t really funny but it just feels good to not take things so seriously all the time. Yes-I get that.

Perhaps it’s the light speed at which time is moving by me. It seems that the older I get and the more invested I get in working to produce change for the better the more needs to be done and there is less time to do it in. Maybe when the list gets shorter I’ll laugh more.

Lately I have been reading about and researching the role or non-role parents have taken in the lives of their children and it is not difficult to see and understand why we have become such a violent world. I look straight at parents. Some will say that it isn’t all the parents fault. This isn’t about fault or finger pointing it is about recognising what we are not doing well and understanding that it can be and needs to be done better-much better.

It’s time for parents to grow up and become more accepting of their leadership role and to be role models. That is really not happening in a good number of cases. It’s also time for parents to accept the responsibility that comes with being a mentor and a teacher to their kids. If they can’t do that or are not prepared to do that then perhaps they should not have helped to create another life. That’s fairly straight forward I think. This society has become so money focused and so egocentric that we have completely forgotten about the messages we are sending our kids by our attitudes and behaviour. I’ve said before that not all parents need a slap and a wake up call. There are some brilliant parents out there both co-parenting and acting as single parents doing an outstanding job of introducing their children to the realm of adolescence and early adulthood. Unfortunately there are not enough of them to turn this ugly tide of entitlement and political correctness.

The more I research and listen to the experts and read about their findings the more I am convinced that the major source of our current concerns about our kids and the violence they not only face each day but the bullying and the fear mongering they themselves create each day is preventable and quite simple in its origin.

Where am I going with this? I would guesstimate that an overwhelming cause of this originates with how we educate our kids. Our educational system is truly broken and yet very few want to admit it or have anything to do with correcting it. Ever so slowly many social psychologists/researchers are reluctantly beginning to confirm these findings. The stumbling blocks are Boards of Education and the organisations who are behind the private education business which, by the way, is a huge money maker and subsidised by our governments using tax payer dollars.

 Much of our children’s anger, frustration, depression, confusion, frequent demonstrations of a lack of self-control and disinterest in furthering their educations comes directly from two sources:

1. the very system that is in charge of delivering an up to date, relevant, interesting and innovative learning experience for our kids falls woefully short when providing any of those necessities in our educational system and

2. a lack of any great organised pressure from parents who need to demand a better system which is more in touch with, not only the needs of future employers but also the real needs of their own children. By the time our children get half way through their university programs much of what they have learned will be out of date bordering on the edge of being useless. This useless information, however, comes at a very high price.

Parents need to wake up and get involved in their children’s lives before it is too late to do so. They need to add their voices to the growing numbers who recognise that the heart of our societies problems with violence and mental health problems are not about anything other than a poorly operated and maintained educational system that is still greatly influenced by people who are unwilling to consider that they are out of touch and date.

Video done by Grant Lichtman. If you are a parent,single parent or grandparents this video is a must see for you in order to understand the tremendous importance of revamping the educational system. We need to change the way our children learn. We cannot be of help to them if we are not understanding what the issues are and how to work within the 21st century.

Anyways, that’s how I see it–all the best, Jim

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Who Needs This More . . .The Kids Or The Parents?

I honestly don’t remember where I first heard these words but I certainly have seen the truth of it born out—‘They learn what they live; they say what they hear and they do what they see.’

These are such trying times, confusing times, very frustrating but more than anything they are times during which the true colours of parents is really put to the test. Unfortunately it is a test that parents across the board are failing and by a significant measure. Not so long ago parents knew their role and accepted the ‘job’ and ‘privilege’ of being a parent. This cannot be said of the vast majority of parents today. By all means there are many parents who are dedicated, loving, caring and ready to accept the responsibility of guiding a young life to adulthood. But there are many more who are not ready to do that, many who really have no interest in providing the guidance and the stewardship required, many who just walk away not wanting to be a parent at all and still others who want to be their child’s best friend instead. Obviously none of these choices is acceptable.

When we listen or watch the news all we seem to hear are stories about mass murders, people hurting or killing other people over a parking spot at the local department store, rapes and assaults, robberies, people disposing of other people by tossing them in an incinerator that is meant to dispose of animal carcasses and on and on goes the list. When we look at the perpetrators in these crimes more often than not we will hear about a young man who flipped out or just felt as though he was entitled somehow for some reason to do what he did. Where does this thinking come come from? How do they feel that it’s OK to walk into a club and murder 50 innocent people. Whether you agree with their life style is irrelevant. They have the right to love who they wish.

My feeling is that this thinking and behaviour comes from 30 years of parents getting away from or simply not understanding what is required of them as parents. They either don’t want to be ‘that’ parent or they don’t know how to be ‘that’ parent mostly because they, themselves, were never taught the relevance of the 7 basic life lessons which are critically important to any child’s development as a functioning human being. These 7 principles are paramount to living in a civilised, individual and self-actualised society which is demonstrated by its citizens living these principles on a day to day basis. We are light years from achieving this most important goal and without this learning necessity the rest of our education is window dressing. We have demonstrated that as well. I want to go with the ‘don’t know how to be ‘that’ parent’ option.  I buy into the axiom that says: “you can’t know what you don’t know”. For me it is: “You can’t teach what you don’t know” and if you have never been taught these 7 principles how would you know to teach them to your kids?

The title asks the question: “Who Needs This More . . . The Kids Or The Parent”? My answer to this question is both need it. Parents need to accept the fact that they don’t know this stuff and need to if they are going to be competent parents. The kids need to shut up and listen because they know little if any of these 7 ‘Life Lessons’ and need to if they are going to survive not to mention the importance of passing this knowledge along to their kids.

Here are the 7 basic life lessons they need to know: (From the poem by Dorothy Law Nolte)

1.  If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.

2. If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive (fear stifles enthusiasm and positive risk taking therefor growth doesn’t happen or at least is much more stymied).

3. If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence (most kids crave encouragement-it’s like a drug to them-strong and powerful. However, be sure to use encouragement and not praise).

4. If children live with acceptance, they learn to love. (not just their own acceptance but also the acceptance of others for who they are in the world. Many less club shootings too).

5. If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.

6. If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.

7. If children live with fairness, they learn justice (they also gain trust in the system).

These are the top 7 Life Lessons parents need to be teaching and discussing with their kids. Do this and we will ALL have a much better quality of life with less fear and anger and more love and respect for each other. A great trade off if you ask me.

Anyways, that’s how I see it, Jim

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It’s Free To Our Children But Priceless Concerning The Giver: What Is It?

Grandparents With Family

“I fear the day technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots”–Albert Einstein

I doubt most folks have any idea of what ‘it’is. It is not a new gadget or piece of technology. Actually it is only found in people who are about 60 years old and older. It is not generated by a computer and computers can’t make it. It isn’t taught in schools but kids could benefit immensely from this and it is free to them. It is, arguably, one of the most important things that many kids of this day lack. The giver, however, spent a lifetime gathering this and in so many instances it has been found to go beyond any stated or quantified value. It is truly priceless.

‘It’ is knowledge, information and experience.

It is true that computers have done much to add to science, space travel, medicine, education, architecture and design and so on. The list is very long and very impressive. What I suggest is this: While computers have changed our lives dramatically they have also, inadvertently, created less need for what we used to call human interaction. Life has sped up considerably and many are having a hard time keeping up. Along with this diminished need for human interaction we don’t have time for the age old practice of sharing wisdom and insight through conversation. This sharing was often referred to as the ultimate education.

Grandparents, who are our true teachers, used to be treated with reverence and respect for what they had experienced and for what they had survived. Many of our 20th century cultures revered their elders and respected their wisdom. Our elders knew and understood how to live in harmony with others. They understood the unwritten guidelines that kept us functioning as a large community. Today we seem to lack that same clarity and our vision has changed. Interestingly enough that has been coincidental with the lack of respect paid older folks and the messages they bring from another time. Where their words meant much they mean little today. Families don’t seem to have the time to spend with their elders anymore. More than many are in a rush to put good old dad or mom or both in nice comfortable homes for their own good. They tell us that it is in our best interests and that we can be with others of like circumstances. We are not seen or known for our learned wisdoms and our experiences are no longer sought or valued.

The seniors of this day understand the intricacies and the nuances of human life and what it is like to love, to hurt, to witness joy. They get the inner value of rolling up your sleeves and hard work. They learned how to adapt to an ever changing world filled with hardship because they had to or perish. They know about the lessons connected to being successful or not being successful and how to deal with disappointment. They didn’t run to the doctor’s office looking for a script. They learned how to deal with this stuff. They internalized the idea that you had to work and sacrifice for all you wanted and needed but the rewards were great and built character. They didn’t trade their future for their want in the present. They are the living proof that human beings can survive almost anything including loss and tragedy which are part of life. Todays’ computer cannot help us with these events because it cannot feel.

As important as seniors are we are allowing them to slip away from us in the trade off that is called progress. Parents used to live with their families in their retirement. They could share their wisdom with grand kids around the dinner table and on the porch. Now families don’t invite mom and dad or grandma and grandpa to come live with them-at least not often. Not many have time for us now. Not only have we become irrelevant but so has our message and so we are placed with other ‘old’ people in assisted living communities. The tragedy to that is all our knowledge,information and insights we have gained are never shared with those who need them the most. Those would be our grandchildren. They have become or are in the process of becoming Einstein’s greatest fear and concern–‘a generation of idiots’. Granted many of our grandchildren have become extremely good at utilizing their technological skills but that’s a one-trick pony. Outside of that realm they seem to demonstrate little in terms of ‘living in community and harmony’ with others. I believe that is what Einstein meant when he spoke about ‘idiots’. They are not stupid but rather ill-informed and ill-prepared to live amongst their peers in harmony and a sense of community.

Computers and technology have enriched our lives. We have built amazing things and discovered many more. But in doing so they have created a society that requires or encourages less human interaction. At a time when so many of our kids are struggling with hopelessness, fear, depression, suicidal ideation and a lack of direction regarding their futures I would think that this information and potential leadership would be sorely needed and sought after. I am concerned that this oversight will cost us much if we don’t tap into the treasure chest that is filled with our seniors experience. Our children need to re-evaluate the importance of learning what we seniors know about life and living. This is the stuff that can’t be taught in schools. It is up to our children to help our grand children understand that not everything of value comes out of a box that has no soul. These are the important messages and lessons concerning life and what it is all about. The circle of life isn’t about stages we go through. It is about the decisions we make to pass on the knowledge we have gained so that the next generation can benefit and do the same for their kids. This is the circle of life as I understand it and it is or can be infinite.

Anyways,that’s how I see it–Jim

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Brand New Blueprint For Learning