The gift giving season does not need to end with the Christmas season. There are gifts that we can give our children every day of their lives. These are gifts that cannot be bought, but come from the heart.
Many years ago I attended a national 4-H meeting and one of my favorite speakers spoke about how we must provide gifts for our children to help them survive and move into the next phase of their young adult life. Sue Miller listed the following ten gifts that she believed we need to give to our children:
1. The joy of learning. My wish for our youth is that they never stop learning. As adults we must continue to encourage our children to listen to others and learn from them. Teachers and all those who are interested in our children’s well-being have a gift to share.
2. The gift of hope. We need to give our children a positive vision of what the future holds. We need to give them hope in a world that weighs a little too heavy on the negative. I have always thought that if there were a fifth “H” in the 4-H pledge it would be “Hope.”
3. The gift of communication. We must learn to communicate with our spouse and with our children. Communication involves listening and then responding and then listening again. We also need to teach our youth the value of communicating with friends and neighbors.
4. The gift of laughter. Experts say we need to laugh 15 times a day to stay healthy. Laughter can aid the healing process. If we can teach our children to laugh and even to laugh at themselves, the world would be a happier place.
5. The gift of uniqueness. Let’s teach our children to be themselves. Everyone is a unique individual. We do need role models, but we do not need our children to be just like “so-and-so”.
6. The gift of flexibility. In this fast changing world, we need to teach youth to be able to adapt. They need to try new things and learn new things. Today is different than yesterday. There is almost always another way to complete a project.
7. The gift of balance. We all need a good balance of work and play, a balance of silence and noise, a balance of being tough and of being soft. Maybe as grown-ups we need to go fly a kite or play a game of dominos with our children?
8. The gift of justice. A child’s freedom begins as he grows older. He can choose friends and he can choose to make noise, but he must also learn that others have rights that must be respected. We can teach that it is acceptable to stand for what we believe in and still respect another person’s point of view.
9. The gift of spirituality. We need time to get to know ourselves in today’s busy lifestyle. Preschoolers may be given “time out” to think about what has happened. Do young adults need the same thing?
10. The gift of love. How do we teach our children to love? Mother Teresa said, “Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest to you”. What can you do today to make another person’s life a little better?
Berny Unruh is the 4-H and youth development extension agent in Barton County. She is a guest columnist for the Great Bend Tribune. She can be reached at 620-793-1910 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.