Monday, December 17, 2007

Read is a verb

(This is random and opinionated. Just thought I'd give a fair warning...)

I was watching the presidential debates while I was working out the other day. I have tried to tune in as much as possible lately. Yeah, I decided this round that I'd like to be an educated American citizen and vote for the candidate that overall represents my values, not just the leader of my party. No. No one expresses or holds every conviction I do...they are not...ME. And, I'm not currently running for president, so...Anyway, this is not the point of my post.

The question was posed by the mediator that sounded somewhat like this: "U.S. High School students ranked behind 16 other countries in education last year. Why do you think this is happening in our country and as president, what will you do about it?"

Is the answer not obvious to EVERYONE?! I know this will come off opinionated, and that's fine. Am I right? Partially. Do I think I am better than the next guy? No. Am I smarter because I know the answer? Isn't that the point of the mediator's question? The ANSWER is: Many American parents are lazy and do not read to their children while they are young. It's easier to buy them toys, lots and lots of freaking toys, let them stare at the television until their brain cells resemble a pile of mush, plop them in front of computers for hours on end while they get their botox injections and read crap magazines, and then let other people babysit them for extensive amounts of time, ie. babysitters, grandparents, day cares, school teachers, counselors, thinking that they will do the educating.

No, T.V. is not the devil. Computers are not the devil. Daycare is not the devil. Public school is not the devil. Grandparents are not the devil. Botox isn't the devil, except for the fact that animal serum laced with a bacteria is willingly injected into a person's body parts is beyond me...tangent, sorry. Anyway, wasting time can definitely be the devil and buying into the lie that WE as parents are more important than our kids ALL OF THE TIME is a lie. Yes, you need time to yourself, but NOT ALL THE TIME EVERYDAY...why did you have kids?

Some people should not have kids. I am not talking about 'underprivileged' people or overpopulation or stereotypical first cousin jokes. I am talking about people that have kids to simply let their name live on in history or people that just do it because it's the reasonable next step. "Oh, maybe we should have kids since we're getting old."

KIDS ROCK. Kids take quality time and QUANTITY time. Have kids because you treasure LIFE. Have kids because you love God with a holy fear and desire to raise children that make an impact on earth. Have kids because you have so much stinking love in your heart you can't keep it all inside, you just have to share it! But, DO NOT HAVE KIDS TO MAKE YOU LOOK GOOD, because, if you do that but you don't READ TO THEM, you won't look good and you will be doing your kids a disservice...God is the greatest gift you can offer a child. Reading equips them to study more about God and fall deeper in love with Him through His word.

Learning how to read is not an economical issue. Libraries are free. Schools and teachers are only a small portion of the education equation. They are partial 'facilitators' for the hunger for learning that should be birthed at home. Parents who rely on their child's teacher to do all the teaching will always be disappointed, expecting more and more from their child, blaming the system, enrolling their children in more and more programs to 'make' them smarter. The reality is, if we as parents would make reading to our children a priority early on, EVERYDAY, for as much time as we possibly can (we often do one hour-yes, I have 'more' time because I stay at home and home school, but even the busiest parent can make time...finding it will never happen), our children will be better equipped for high school and college and real life.

I worked at a college for 5 years where I had a lot of interaction with students on a social level in the residence halls. Many of the students were well equipped for the intensity of the heightened level of studying necessary for success in college. Some were not. Some were not even equipped with conflict resolution skills when there was roommate drama. Drama.

Our kids are sponges. They watch and listen to us disagree with our spouses. They observe if we honor one another when we disagree or if we get nasty and morph into psycho meanies that lash out in anger. They learn how to disagree from us and they learn how to reconcile, or at least agree to disagree, from us. They watch to see the way we eat and view food. They listen to if we talk negatively about our weight or appearance, and follow suit. They listen to the way we talk to and about other people. They see if we want them to pray and read their Bibles, and if we show them that example or not. They learn what to value from watching us. Just as they are sponges for all that they see, it is true of what they hear. Children are blank tapes. Are our children, the little humans God entrusted to us, (His children really), our 'on loan' most valuable possessions, learning ALL of their life skills and aspirations from digital 'M*ickey Mouse' or Mama, or 'D*ra' or Daddy? We are responsible to make valuable recordings in their lives. So, yes, read! READ. But, also use discernment and wisdom as to what you read. Just because a book is in print or on a 'Best' list, does not mean it is worth your time or theirs. Heck, that's another lesson...teaching them what kind of books are worth their time will teach them to value time, something that one day they will need to read to their children.

By the time January 12th rolled around earlier this year, Noah had heard the whole New Testament, all the Psalms, all of Proverbs, all of Genesis, many other random passages and several other children's books that his big sis enjoys. She even 'read' to him, having learned the books from hearing them repeatedly.

Not one of the candidates brought up the topic of reading to their children...they all got 'political' and started blaming it on the system, on the other 'party', on freedom of choice, blah, blah, blah. We are faced with the freedom to choose...to read or not to read, that is our freedom.

14 comments:

  1. Great post Adrienne! You hit the nail on the head. Everyone is so quick to blame the teachers or the school system, but learning absolutely begins at home. My parents instilled in me a love of reading at an early age. I can't tell you how beneficial that has been, in so many ways, throughout my life. A new President won't fix the problems in our schools, sadly. But each and every parent out there HAS that power, regardless of the talking head in power.

    Bravo to you for posting this, and reminding all of us (myself included) of what's REALLY important.

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  2. Do I ever love your perspective. You should run for president.
    Makes me glad we stressed reading so much with our children. We read to them tons when they were little. They love reading now.

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  3. It's a good rant. I wish I were more diligent to read with my younger kids. I guess it's not too late. I did buy books for Caleigh for Christmas. Yay for me!

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  4. Maybe you should run for presidet. I would vote for you :) Thanks so much for your insight. I think I will read to Michael when he wakes up. :) You bless me.

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  5. teacher5:50 PM

    As a teacher; I have to say that "it takes a village to raise a child"......and "it takes a team to educate one".

    Thanks for the post!

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  6. I AGREE! I had someone call me one day, she was complaining about her daughters grades and handwriting. She said her teacher does not have high enough expectations of her. I said it should not matter what the teachers expectations are, it should matter what you have taught her your expectations are and what her expectations of herself should be (and what you encourage and enforce). I told her she could not just depend on the school to teach her child, that it is her job as a parent to teach her child as well.

    My oldest child is very bright and has never had to struggle with any subject (although she is still in 2nd grade hehe)but we always push her just a little beyond her ability to keep her challenged and motivated. Parents have to teach their children, not just school, but life.

    I think a big part of the problem is parents don't raise their children anymore, they count on others (daycare, teachers,sitters etc.) to and they hope for the best. Thats sad.

    Marla

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  7. Steph G5:40 PM

    RIGHT ON!

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  8. ToriW7:31 AM

    Thank you!! So, so very true and I couldn't agree with you more. Many parents today are so quick to blame-shift when it comes to their own children. Blame the teacher, they didn't teach MY child; blame the church, they didn't reach MY child; blame society, they didn't accept MY child.

    I am a single mother of a 16 year old son. I work 40 hours a week. I homeschool. We raise seeing eye puppies. We read together and on our own - the Bible, the classics and other thought provoking literature. My son likes to play xbox, but would rather read or play the piano, especially the scores from Phantom of the Opera.

    I am not a perfect mother and I fail my son every day. But I made a vow to God when he was four days old that I would raise my son for Him and I will do everything I can to keep that promise.

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom again! May God continue to bless you and your precious family!

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  9. you rock ad. when are you announcing your candidicy?

    if this is offensive than bring it on babe!

    i guess i personally disagree with the 'village' child. yes, educators are UBER important. but parents forget that they are the PRIMARY educator. i don't want a jungle raised child.

    i don't want to spend tax money so that the teachers can teach my children empathy, manners, and how to zip their coat. that is my job. i signed up for it when i paid my hospital bill.

    i'll stop...i'm ranting, and you are much more eloquent at it:0)

    did you buy the bible on cd for noah and em?

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  10. You are absolutely amazing Adrienne! May GOD continue to move in your heart and touch lives.

    Keep speaking the TRUTH!!

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  11. I have to agree with Heidi Jo. I don't think it takes a village to raise a child. It takes a family. Particularly it takes a set of parents. Now I know that not everyone is in the position where they can stay at home (for many reasons) but there has been a shift in our society that encourages parents to relinquish their influence, along with reasonable discipline and control over their children. We have acquiesced our role as primary teacher in their lives. I'm so glad a "village" didn't raise my kids. My husband and I did with the occasional affectionate interactions of other friends and family members.
    I grew up in the situation where my dad's work necessitated a move every two years. My parents provided amazing stability that allowed 4 immensely different children to reach maturity relatively unscathed. It was my parents that kept us secure, in spite of an ever shifting environment. A functional family life is the greatest gift you can give a kid.

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  12. AMEN!! We read to our Kristi a lot, and reading has been from the early months of her life one of her favorite things to do.

    Thanks for the reminder to step up and really be good parents. You're right - unfortunately there are so many people who don't spend time with their kids because they're involved so much in their own worlds. It makes my heart so sad.

    Our prayers for you guys continue. May God bless you this Christmas and give you incredible peace.

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  13. Well, as much as I agree, I am even more convicted.

    As a parent, I am not living up to my potential. I am not making myself completely available to my children. I am being selfish. I am tired and I am overwhelmed and yet, that is not an excuse to not lavishly love my children and pour out attention and time and effort on them.

    I was just complaining to myself how I just want some time alone...5 minutes even. I was angry. I lashed out at one of my kids and I ignored their requests for help for a bit this morning.

    And I decided to read a little online. Came to your site which I haven't been at in a couple of weeks and this is what I read.

    Lord, thank you for using Adrienne to convict me of my sin. I'm sorry for putting my selfish desires first.

    Adrienne, keep on speaking the truth. Keep on allowing the Holy Spirit to guide and direct your thoughts and your words.

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