I always hear the same comment whenever I tell people that I work with youth. They always laugh, smack me on the back, and make some comment about how they could never work with kids. I'm never quite sure what they mean. Does it mean they don't like kids? Or they don't have the patience? Or that kids are somehow "unreachable" or that they could never invest in them? Since I never know what they mean, I never really know how to respond.
I love working with kids. I really can't think of a better use of time than investing in younger people. If only we valued them as much as _______________.
Working with kids always gives me a unique perspective on parents, even though I may never meet them. Just by watching kids interact and seeing what they value, it's often times identical to the way their parents are. What's that saying, "The apple doesn't fall too far from the tree"?
Sometimes that's a great thing and sometimes it's so discouraging. Lately I've been noticing a trend among some of the kids that's been a little disturbing. We've just been hanging out when all of a sudden they'll see a Obama bumper sticker or an Obama sign and as soon as we notice it, out comes a derogatory remark or some hateful statement from their mouth. The statement wasn't directed just towards Obama but always to the person driving the car or inside the house. I noticed the same thing happen several different times. The worst part about it was that these words came from the kids that have always been looked at as leaders, much like their parents.
Where does this come from? Since when are 12 and 13 year olds this passionate about Politics? Do they form their opinions after studying each candidate and looking at both sides of each issue? Or do they just take on the attitudes and speech that their parents are demonstrating? Most parents don't want to admit that they're the people that have the greatest impact on their kids, passing off the blame to their peers or television. I can show you the stats, regardless of what you think, parents impact kids way beyond the impact their friends or television will ever have.
If you're a parent, be careful what you say. Watch your attitudes. I'm sick of hearing kids who don't know anything of politics speak hate towards any candidate. I'm sick of seeing that characteristic passed down from parents. If you want to raise up little Republicans or Democrats, that's up to you...but do not raise up sons and daughters that speak hate, in seriousness or in humor, towards anybody.
The reason I say this is because most often, politics brings out the worst in people. Whatever you think about Obama being the president for the next four years, I'd be far more concerned about the attitudes and mindsets that you pass down to your children these next four years.
Then there's other kids that get it. This past weekend I went to a birthday party for 2 high school students. There must have been close to 70 students there. It was the party every high school student would want to have. Flyers were posted everywhere and nobody was turned away. The only things that weren't allowed were birthday presents . Instead they had a box in one room where they asked everybody to put whatever money they had. They had planned a while back that they were going to give all of that money to a child in Iraq that needed money for a heart surgery.
They raised a little over 800 dollars and woke me up in the middle of the night to deliver it. They said they couldn't wait to give it away.
Their parents are the same way.
If we're going to pass on hate to our kids, let's at least pass on the hate for things worth hating. Teach them to hate materialism, the love of money, injustice, or the idea that people are the enemy. If we're going to pass on love, let's pass on the love of things worth falling in love with.
We're far too shallow in our desires and in our hatred.