I was teaching a Sunday School class of 12-14 year olds who are very tech savvy and engaged in the learning process. They look up scriptures and lesson material on their phones or tablet devices and can take one question asked and turn it into a great lesson. However brilliant their answers and lively discussion of the right things to say, they do not have sufficient life experience to properly digest or process the deeper meanings of topics discussed.
I remember being brilliant and enthusiastic and having all the right answers. Then I grew up, got married, had kids, and lived through a few things. Not so brilliant. Despite brilliance depletion, I still have a lot to share and now I have stories to back up my answers. In preparing the next generation of nurturers, we can be brilliant. All it takes is a little organization and the attitude that it is never too late. Prepare the next generation of nurturers (parents, teachers, caregivers, health care professionals, etc.) by:
1. Start when they are young. Encourage children to explore. Provide opportunities. Invest in their curiosity.
2. Invest in education. Yes they may decide they don’t want to be a golf pro or clarinet virtuoso but the skills they learn can translate into life skills in professions and personal choices that are productive and rewarding.
3. Being on time is important but so is being. We rush and crush too much. As nurturers we need to set the example of priorities by living them ourselves. I don’t regret the times I stopped and listened or hugged or was silent.
4. Invest in spiritual well-being. We can teach children our beliefs and practices but its important to be aware of their beliefs and practices. Are they planting deep roots or just going through the motions to please the adults in their life? Encouraging basics like meditation, prayer, scripture study and doing these with them can help them find and deepen their spirituality.
5. Invest in their physical well-being. Go beyond check-ups and activity schedules. Make sure you set the example and make physical activity a priority. We all should have 60 minutes a day, especially children. Let them set goals, make it part of their home work and don’t punish or demean if they fall short. Tomorrow is a new start.
6. Volunteer your skills with your church, local boy scouts, girl scouts, or school.
7. Future nurturers need to know about financial well-being. Teach them about being responsible, living within their means, and investing wisely. Help them learn about long-term goals as opposed to instant gratification.
8. Encourage compassion. Invest in compassion. Provide service opportunities.
9. Help youth organize their goals into steps. Boy Scout and Girl Scout ranks and badges help with direction and practice. Many churches have youth awards that take time and goal setting.
10. It takes a village, a congregation, a town, a community to raise a nurturer. Every little bit helps. I could not raise my children and help them become nurturers without assistance of many other nurturers: teachers, scout leaders, volunteers, librarians, health care professionals. I am grateful.
May you be blessed in your efforts to nurture future nurturers in nurturing.