Hey all you parents out there – let me ask you a question. Your kids, they have a natural tendency to be good, right? Like, they are little angels, right, from the very first moment they take a breath, yeah? They come forth to this earth with this nature, right – the natural instinct to be obedient, uh huh, correct? Those precious little wee ones, they have a natural tendency to be clean too, yes? And right out the womb, they are respectful – of everyone, right?
Do you really believe all that?
Kids are good when they are taught to be good. And kids can be bad even when they have been taught to be good.
Kids are obedient when they are taught to be obedient. And, kids can be disobedient even when they have been taught to be obedient.
Kids are clean when they have been cleaned, or have been taught to clean themselves. And kids are rarely clean, like, truly, completely clean – for very long.
Kids are respectful when they have been taught to be respectful. And, before they are able to be respectful of others, their primary concern is generally really only focused on themselves. Parents rarely fault kids for this – but rather, parents tend to be patient, and they teach kids to see the good in others, and to be thankful for everything they have, and to be respectful of others.
Babies don’t just automatically have all those things at the front of their minds – they have the capacity for lessons and learning of respect and such, but when they are first born, they are undeveloped. Which is part of why we love kids, right?
Because the etchings on that clean slate of life, we know, will be interesting, will be lovely in our eyes and in the eyes of many others, and because we want that – for them – the chance to grow, and develop, and grow up. We also want to impact their lives positively, and interestingly, but we hope to see, and be directly involved in, the shaping of their lives.
Or, maybe I don’t even know what I’m writing about – I mean, hey – I don’t have any children of my own. I’ve stood before thousands of them, and taught – provided instruction, sometimes entertaining instruction – but none have been my own. They have caused me to feel like what I imagine having a wee one, or a growing child of my own might feel like – but that’s just not the same. I’ve never had a kid.
So, does that make all the above wrong, per se? No – I don’t think so. I hope not – because the above I have actually found to be true. So, what’s right about it?
Well, parenting might not be the same for everybody – but there are similarities, across all kids I suspect. General parental guidelines, yes? And, recently I’ve been struck by how there are certain things about kids that are the same even across cultures – like, vastly different cultures.
Kids get dirty easy. All kids – everywhere I’ve seen. It’s just a fact. They do.
Kids are cute. Not all kids everywhere – but every culture has cute kids. Many of them.
Kids are fairly easy to forgive. In every culture I’ve seen – it’s true – we want to give a kid a break – as in, forgive them for their error(s).
Parents can impose on kids not their own the expectations they have of their own kids.
Kids are equipped with an innocence that parents and other adults want desperately to preserve.
And perhaps the one most universal factor of all – across cultures, and across age groups (which means this must also be true of young adults, old adults, and older adults – across the entire spectrum – it’s this: that, kids (and everybody) learn(s) best when they are learning from what they are doing when they are playing.
Yes, play is the key.
Recreation is the answer.
You wanna teach somebody a lesson? Here’s how you do it –
Put lessons in the context of play, – of recreation, – of game, or, – of sports…
Just think how many sports clichés we could have!.
Just think how many trite little sports and recreation sayings we would use – every day.
Just once, we might imagine a sports metaphor.
And think back to the number of lessons you learned, while you were playing…
So – long story, short – no.
Long story just a little bit longer…
Responsible parenting today still means letting your kids play; it means letting them go out and play; it means teaching them how to play!!
For our lives are shaped the greatest, when they are alive at recreation, sports, and play…
Don’t ever forget it.
By Dr. Rodney J. Blackman
Dr. Rodney J. Blackman is the Chair of Recreation Management at the United States Sports Academy, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.