By Loraine Debnam
The school term has ended and some parents and grandparents are lucky enough to have more time to spend with their precious young people. The learning still happens but the lessons are just a bit different. Love of learning is built into family life. Of course, when our children are very young, we seem to worry more about discipline than love of learning. But I have never found a young person who is passionately involved and interested in some particular thing to be a discipline problem.
Our children need to see that we are open to new ideas and new concepts. Sometimes our sharing becomes a springboard for fresh new perspectives. Family history is always an opening for a discussion topic which sparks a lively interest. (My grandson was amazed to hear that most families only had one television and did not even own a computer when his mom was a little girl.)
Children learn by the example we set so we need to ensure that they will do well by what they are seeing in us. Love of learning fosters characteristics which are invaluable life skills. How to think independently, make decisions, manage finances, and deal with any resulting consequences are not text book courses. They occur as a building process over childhood and young adulthood so that by the time our children reach their late teens they have a firm foundation and framework around which to build their lives.
We must guard against pulling the supports from underneath them by stepping in and taking over when it really isn’t necessary. Isn’t it better that we love and encourage them when they need it than to do everything for them until they leave home to try to do it on their own? Which lessons (as adults) do we remember most clearly? Many of us remember those particular events in which we made mistakes that we had to deal with and could not shift to anyone else. Although there is nothing wrong with seeking advice and counseling, we still had to solve the problem ourselves.
It begins with them seeing how we treat each other – respect, cooperation, and caring are not part of our DNA – these are learned. This framework then expands to others around us; neighbors, friends, our community, other cultures, the environment and even animals. If we share our thoughts and ideas with our young people and listen to their responses, we will find the keys to their personalities and behavior hidden there. At those times when our children delight us with their insight into human nature and make us proud by their accomplishments, we may be doubly proud to know that we have received the reward given to parents and grandparents who are demonstrating a love of learning that has been passed on to another generation. Blues musician B.B. King said that “the beautiful thing about learning is that nobody can take it away from you.” It’s a gift we can give our young people at no cost!