In thinking about this week's topic, I asked Blake and Chase what they would most like to teach people about?
Blake: "I'd teach people about science and Roblox (the game he's currently into).
Chase: "Basketball." Chase wants to play in the NBA (wink).
Then I asked them, "What do you most want to learn about?"
Blake: "Science and how to be a YouTuber to show people how to play Roblox."
You know the adage, people give what they need? Well it applies here too, people teach what they most want to learn. As I think about it, that's true for me too. What about you?
The concept of being the student and the teacher at each moment in our life was introduced to me by my friend and author Tom Zuba. It's the idea that life is a classroom and there are opportunities to learn and to teach in each moment. We need to be open to both.
How do we think about these concepts in a day and age when people are sharing their every thought and meal on social media? How do we encourage our kids to do both? To find their voices, and also to keep learning? How do we learn to sometimes keep our heads down, keep quiet and learn in a world that is shouting their opinions, often unkindly, all around us?
Here's some thoughts that mostly apply to us as adults, but can be used as we direct and love our kids.
- Take time to learn about something you love. Learn just for the sake of learning. What are you curious about? What questions knock on the door of your heart? What have you always wanted to master? Study, practice, grow. When we do, we model that for our kids, and teach them to do the same. My mom used to take painting classes. I loved staying up at night and watching her paint. She did it just because she wanted to. That taught me I could do the same.
- Find your voice. Has like knocked you down a few times? Have you taken the time to really grow through those events? Have you read a lot or sorted through a difficult topic? Share that with others. Find a way to breathe life and wisdom into those around you. Don't be ashamed of your story. When you share yours, others feel seen and you give them permission to do the same.
- Take the time to be quiet and to do the sorting and the figuring before you share your thoughts. Perspective is so important. Yes, we learn from vulnerability, but be careful to give yourself space to grow and time to gain perspective before sharing just to share. There are topics around Ethan's story I am just now (6 years later) feeling ready to be more open about. Now I can talk about them not from a place of anger, but in love and with perspective. Give yourself room. It's okay not to share everything.
- When you don't know the answer to something, say you don't. Model that for your kids. Whether it's politics or the answer to a math problem, show them you are the student too. Say "I don't know how I feel about that, or how to do that. But I will figure it out and get back to you". Saying we don't know shows we are authentic and thoughtful. It shows we are willing to learn.
- Be observant. Be present. What is life teaching you? We spend so much time in the doing, in the acting and the arranging. Take time to listen. Teach your kids the same. Give them quiet space, time away from screens, loud play and being over scheduled. Learn to tune into and trust your intuition (see week one for suggestions).
- Expose your kids and yourself to new experiences and ideas. We grow when we are outside our comfort zones. Yesterday we went to a Children's Hospital to see a seven year old boy we've known for a long time through the Heart Community. As we walked the halls my boys saw children with disabilities, med poles, NG tubes, wheel chairs etc. Though they have a brother with special needs, they don't see him in a medical setting. Blake remembers Ethan being sick, but Chase doesn't. At first they were a little uncomfortable, but we talked about how each child is different and what a gift it is to have a healthy body. I was so proud of how they jumped right in to play and interact with our friend once we got to his room.
Life is a tremendous classroom.
It's full of joys, pains, unbelievable highs and the deepest, darkest lows.
Soak it all in. Pull it to yourself.
Feel it all, taste it, learn from it.
Let's show our kids that we are here to teach and learn.
That we don't know it all, but that we are committed to learning all we can.