“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” ― C.S. Lewis
Research of every kind indicates that constant media intake, lack of outside time, over-entertainment, too much exposure to sexual material and immoral values at an early age, and many other of the ills of our age are destroying the souls of children. Many are being pushed and pulled, dragged from one activity to another, and forced to fit into the time boxes convenient to adults. This stress is wreaking havoc on a generation of children who show the evidence of adult illnesses at early ages, small vocabularies, vastly growing obesity levels, and so much more.
Children are starving for real life and drowning in the midst of an empty one. The old fashioned way of raising children seems to be the healthiest way to raise emotionally, intellectually, physically, and spiritually resilient children. Children are natural imitators, so we must fill their lives and minds with worthy people and ideas, with heroes to imitate, so they can practice what they will be when they grow up.
May our children not grow up to imitate addiction to the computer. May they not learn passivity displayed by adults ignoring their needs while paying too much attention to Facebook, blogs, and cell phones. May they not copy the habit as they observe parents dwelling hour after hour in front of impersonal machines, while neglecting to honor and invest in real time relationships.
Sarah, my oldest daughter, often speaks about what it means to have a soul thoroughly alive. She describes rooms in the soul and heart that need to be attended to, in order for beauty, intelligence, creativity, emotional health, a sense of a joyfully fulfilling life to grow. These are truly fundamental needs which must be met in order for a person to flourish.
Children's brains are being robbed of intellectual exercise because they are not doing the things that children have done throughout history. Children need lots of freedom and time to use their imaginations, in order to synthesize all they are learning and thinking about. They need to be read to, and to have their brains filled with moral strength, values, and stories that inspire.
When they are constantly entertained by media, their brains actually become clinically slowed down, because they are overstimulated. A child's undeveloped eyes and brain cannot deal with too much visual stimulation, so the brain actually shuts down in areas when bombarded. Because they are deprived of what their bodies and brains are designed to have--rest, free play, curiosity, interaction with real people and real experiences, problems to solve, fairy tales to spur their imaginations--there is a diminishing of long term emotional, spiritual, and mental health. Unfortunately, most children are not given the freedom to exercise life choices in the oxygen of creative play, and have forgotten how to exist without constant entertainment.
Children need to be outdoors. They need time to be bored so that they will have to figure out how to occupy their time creatively.
They need to be around books, to have lots and lots of imaginative stories read to them and then have time to pretend the stories. They need lots of time with adults so that they can pattern their values and manners and relationships after mature people, rather than always being in the company of immature children or media images which display violence, foolishness, and questionable values.
Children will reflect their environment. Excellence and creativity are the result of a life well-ordered and planned--intentional living out of what is real, true, acceptable, and good.
May all children be blessed with the gift of play, imagination, free time and the space to be outdoors to explore. May they wonder at the marvels of God's creation. May they have the treasure of real human beings who hold their hands while exploring the world, who rock them to sleep and sing them real songs and scratch their backs at bedtime and tell them their own love stories. And may they daily hear the words of their creator God, marvel at His excellence, and grow to love Him with all of their hearts.