I’m thinking about what kind of people my children will be when they grow up. I think about this often. Mostly because I wonder if I’m doing enough to equip them for their future.
Are we preparing our children to take care of themselves after we’re gone?
In our house, we try to balance technology with activities rooted in fundamental living (growing vegetables, taking care of animals, building things with our hands). Some might call this old fashioned, and I’m okay with that.
Actually, that’s the point.
It’s not that we’re against using technology. But we can easily become addicted to technology and the instant gratification that it provides, and that’s not so good. As a matter of fact, there are many studies that warn us of the affects of too much instant gratification.
So balance is necessary.
There’s also a part of me that wonders what will happen to the next generation if/when the technology they are growing up with is temporarily disrupted or no longer available to them. Are they prepared to handle life without the ease of a microwave dinner or (God forbid) YouTube?
The world is changing at a rapid pace. Becoming more and more evident is a fragility that will eventually affect every system we have put in place. These systems give us comfort and security today, but once they’re gone…what then? Our food system, the way we farm and raise livestock, the electric grid and even the water that we drink are all driven by cheap energy. Cheap energy won’t always be cheap.
You see where I’m going here?
Our grandparents and the generations before them lived self sufficient lives because they knew that to depend on anyone else for their essentials was to put themselves and those they loved at risk. They were frugal because there is nothing guaranteed in this life. There was no instant gratification.
Our children are growing up in a culture that doesn’t remember what it feels like to be without.
It’s a brave new world. But I’m afraid we are losing something very fundamental and very necessary in our pursuit of progress and automation. I believe that if we are not intentional about teaching our kids how to live differently then we are setting them (and their children) up for some serious disadvantages.
Here’s what I mean…
The value of doing things by hand
Mowing the lawn with a push mower. Cutting a board with a hand saw. Fixing a small engine yourself. Washing the car. Kids build confidence and learn eye/hand coordination when they have to do things the hard way. This builds up an understanding for how things are done (and how the world works) that will benefit everything else they do in life.
Writing a letter by hand is intimate. It’s personal. And we’ve lost the art of sharing our soul with other people through the written word. Email doesn’t count. It was meant for quick, impersonal communication. We’ve exchanged authentic connection with each other for something superficial.
How to grow food
Supermarkets have made things so convenient that many of our kids don’t even know it wasn’t long ago most families grew their own food. With the amount of recalls we’ve had over the past couple years and the growing concern over oil (cheap energy) threatening our ability to transport cheap food, those who don’t understand how to grow their own food will be at a disadvantage when the food system we rely on suddenly collapses.
How to patch clothing
We live in a throw away culture, but it wasn’t always that way. Our grandparents knew how to sew, stitch and patch clothing and so should our kids.
How to cook from scratch
A return to common sense food consumption is growing among millennials, and this excites me. Nutrient dense and healthy food is becoming valued again over cheap food. Isn’t it interesting that the rise in cancer and auto-immune disorders correlate to the rise in fast food and packaged meals? Even if supermarkets are around forever, doesn’t it make sense to return to balanced meals prepared with whole and natural ingredients right in the home kitchen?
How to forage for food
How to find edible mushrooms, berries, nuts and flowers were once tribal knowledge. Medicines, ointments and elixirs were made from common plants. I think this kind of knowledge should once again be shared among communities.
How to butcher your own meat
Slaughtering and butchering meat used to be a community event. The men, women and children all played a part in this important tradition. The butchering that was done would set each family up with meat for the whole year. Pigs, chickens and beef oh my!
How to build things
Another part of that tribal knowledge. Need a pole barn? A garage or deck installed? This kind of stuff was taken care of by the homeowner and his kin. The Amish do this well and we could learn a lot from them in this.
How to preserve food
Not only is it important for the next generation to learn how to grow and raise their own food, but they need to know how to preserve it. Canning, fermenting, pickling, curing…for centuries these preservation practices were handed down to the next generation. Why? Because it meant their survival. I think it’s just as vital today as it was then.
The value of authentic faith
In a culture where our kids are encouraged to “speak your own truth” it’s imperative for them to know and understand what real faith looks like. Hopelessness and despair are at an all time high, leaving us with suicide rates and addition stats of the charts. Interesting that in a time where everyone is “connected” online we are the most lonely.
The best place for our children to learn is by seeing faith lived and exercised daily at home. This is the glue that holds everything else together.
I’m sure I’ve missed a few things. Share with me your thoughts on this list. Or better yet, what skills are you intentionally passing down to your children?
I’d love to hear all about it. Share your thoughts and stories with us.