Remember when you were a kid and your parents would tell you stories about what life was like when they were children? This blog post is about bringing back those times.
I remember my parents telling me how one of their friends’ parents had one of the 1st television sets in their village and everyone would go over there to watch the news. I remember my parents writing letters, real letters, to their parents who lived overseas and it would take 3 weeks for them to get a reply back. Calling them would be too expensive; at the time it would cost about 5 dollars per minute so that was only reserved for special occasions.
What is life like for our kids in 2014? They have access to iPads, iPods, computers, Video-on-demand, FaceTime, Skype etcetera. Sure, it is nice for the my parents, now as grandparents, to see our kids via webcam or Facetime. And yes, it is nice that the kids can be entertained with apps on the phone or iPod while waiting for a delayed flight. But what did we used to do when we didn’t have all of that?
We would talk as a family, we would play games (think of a country that starts with a B, take last letter of that country and that will be the first letter of an animal, etc), we would look at license plates and note what country (in Europe) or province (in Canada) they were from. We would play cassette tapes in the car or listen to the radio. We can still do these things with our children, well maybe not listen to cassette tapes in cars. And I know families that make an effort to do so.
In my opinion it is important to keep a kid’s mind occupied and challenged by for example stimulating kids’ imaginations by playing pretend, being physical by playing outside, biking, skating and walking to name a few. Playing in the sprinklers outside in the backyard on hot days is so much fun, even for adults. Board games are a great way to spend quality time as a family while also developing strategic minds. It is important for kids to put away their electronics, but also for the parents to put away their smartphones during that time !
When it comes to possessions, a lot of kids these days have all they could wish for. Between Holiday Season, birthdays, gifts from grandparents and visiting friends it seems they constantly receive presents. Do they really need more? What about teaching our kids about those kids and families that are less fortunate? I have heard of some great ideas of gifts for birthday parties or gifts parents can give their own children. Some kids’ parties suggest to bring 4 dollars for the birthday kid: 2 dollars for the child to buy a gift for themselves, and 2 dollars for a charity of their choosing. Other families ask for donations to a good cause in lieu of a birthday gift.
The most original gift idea I have heard a parent give their child, is by one of my daughter’s friends’ parents. They give their children 10-15 coupons for their birthday. Each coupon may only be used once, and when given to the parent has to be honoured without question. Examples of these coupons are “stay up 15 minutes later”, “go for dessert with parents WITHOUT the other siblings”, “go to movie with mom” just to name a few. And all their kids are excited and look forward to their birthday coupons.
Writing this blog article makes me realize I sound like my parents/grandparents did when I was a child, talking about how it used to be. But looking back now, I think that was a great time. With all the amazing and wonderful things all these new technologies have brought, we have to remember not to let the “old ways” die. A game of “Sorry” or “Monopoly” are still a lot of fun! In the end, apart from the physical gifts the children of this generation seem to receive a lot of, it is our duty as parents to give them the greatest gift of all: becoming a decent human being. Teaching them the gift of respect, of appreciation, of family values and the gift of giving.
Dr Raffi’s suggestions for gifts we can give our children:
1. More real games, less computer/handheld games
2. Have kids write real letters to their classmates, grandparents, siblings
3. Kids birthday ideas: in lieu of gifts, donate to charity
4. Try “Birthday Coupons” as a present for your child