"We touch the future based on how we interact with and what we model with our children."
Part 2. After interviewing 40 children, (36 in the first group, and 4 more this past week), I came to a frontier beyond what Art Linkletter dubbed "Kids Say the Darnest Things." Our kids also say the "most beautiful things, the most relevant things, the most useful things" in helping us return to the heart's wisdom. Our children have much they wish we knew. This was as true yesterday, as it is today.
An example from the past. Twenty-three years ago, our daughter demonstrated we, as parents, had much to learn. As my husband walked through the front door, with a bit of an uncharacteristic growl in his tone, our toddler watched him harrumph around the kitchen, his arm, in a newly acquired sling. He told the two of us: "I was so stupid! I slipped on the ice in Denver, and did this to my arm." As she patiently listened, our little one quietly crawled up onto the seat of our green armchair, beckoning her father over to her. Face to face, she threw her three year-old arms around his neck, gave him a kiss on the cheek and inquired: "Daddy, do you think you can forgive yourself?" She broke the spell. Unable to resist her innocent wisdom, he broke into laughter, and said: "You're right. I need to forgive myself, for sure." The incident has become part of our family lexicon, not only about self-forgiveness, but about how attuned our children are. We would do well to pay attention.
It's been said that "It takes a village to raise a child." As villagers, what are we discovering from the children in our midst? The following responses from children I met during this survey, of their world, give hints of what our youth wish we knew. Note, please, that I have altered names to protect anonymity.
"What do you wish grown-ups knew?"
Amy, age 3: "Everyday, please, cuddles and marshmallows, please!"
Jerry, age 4: "When daddies get so mad their heads could blow up!
Singing makes your head blown up better.!
Oh, also, we need stories, too!"
How wise, Jerry. Kids need stories to build inner images. Without imaginal play, with a loving caregiver, we are sunk. According to renowned childhood development expert, Joseph Chilton Pearce "...Play is the single most important factor in forwarding healthy growth and development." The "future of our world depends more on the stories we tell ourselves than the wars we fight." If you think about it, our storytelling, for good or bad, also determines whether we go into battle or not. But, then, that's another story! Let's return to what our children are saying:
Annie, age 5: "They need to send my new baby brother back where he came
from! He cries too much. Then they could play with me
and we'd all be happy and Mommy would get to sleep with me...
It's a lot of work to be a big sister. No one told me about this
part. I'm pooped! My brother poops a lot. Yuk!"
Alexi, age 5: "Little kids need grandpas. Mine comes back to see me
sometimes, but I can't tell anyone." (To 'why is that?')
"...I told them the first time he came after the 'funeraling'
but they told me not to make things up. He really did
come to see me and winked. It made me feel better.
Big people should believe you. Maybe grandpa would
come see them, too, and then they'd feel better."
Andy, age 8: "My dad shouldn't worry so much. I'm scared he'll get sick.
I don't want to move, but it's O.K. with me if my dad doesn't have to worry about his job. My head hurts when he worries..."
Marlee, age 10: "Moms should know when their kids are lonely and sad,
like the boy in "Where the Wild Things Are." Only we can't
go away like he did. Moms need to throw away their phones.
O.K., that's dumb. But they need to unplug it. Moms need
to rest, and not stress us out."
Mary Jo, age 15: "I wish parents knew how hard we try to get good
grades, and make them happy. When I get a 'B' they don't
say anything, not like when I get 'A's. I worry I won't get into a
good school, and then there'll be more fighting. I wish parents
would just stop fighting. Or, at least remember their kids are
listening. There should be a 'parent pill,' where they could
learn to 'chill.' That would be 'rad.' Oh, also, I think dads
should be nicer to the mother, even if they are divorced.
It makes us feel bad when they are mean to our moms."
Brad, age 14: "Dads should be more than tourists in our lives. I wish
They knew we're not trying to give them a hard time.
O.K., so they probably think we're pushing them away.
But we need to know they're there when things get dicey.
I wish they knew everything is moving too fast out there for us.
I wish they knew they need to turn off the news. Like
the Fort Hood massacre thing is terrible; hearing it over and
over is too much."
Jeremy, age 16: "I wish parents knew we worry about them. When they
lose their job, we don't need to go to the big-buck places.
It probably sounds 'cheesy,' but it would be awesome to just sit
and just play board games, and have popcorn. That's
cheap if you make it yourself."
Vital Implications. Kids are pointing to the importance of connection. How wise they are. Both the University of Arizona and Colorado's Heart Math Institute have found that the electromagnetic energy from the heart is 60 times greater than the brain. So, as Pearce, and earlier, Rudolf Steiner pointed out long ago, "The heart is more than a pump." MacLean's research found that when the head, heart, and actions are in harmony, there is 'ease', not discord. Our worry throws us out of sync and our kids feel it. If we are not at one with ourselves, we cannot be with others. Our task is to build coherence, connection and bridges.
Our Roles in Their Development. Our kids are wired to learn, to explore new frontiers, and build a structure of knowledge about their new experience. But to do so optimally, kids need to maintain connection with us providing warmth, safety and encouragement to let them evolve. Their job is not to make us happy, or become who we think they should be. Their job is to discover what it is that brings them to their greatest sense of aliveness. Ours is to clear the path, insure their safety, and to love them into who they are most naturally, that they might flourish in the world, that the world might love them as we do.
So much more to say, so little room. What do the children in your life wish you knew? What's their greatest joy today? Are you up to date with their evolving answers? And, while we're at it, what do you wish our children knew from us? Let us hear from you. Kindly forward this to anyone you know who has contact with kids. Please click on Become a Fan to receive weekly notices, or follow me on Facebook.