For kids, summertime is one of the most anticipated times of the year. School is finally over. Kids finally have enough time to have fun. Parents also anticipate this time of year because they do not have to worry about the daily hustle of sending kids to school.
One of my daughters shouted, “Yes! We are free!”
And I somehow had the same sentiment. Then I pondered on the word “freedom”.
Freedom is something so precious that men are willing to die for it. In the course of history, we have learned how high the price of freedom can be. Today, in a world of technology and ease, do we really appreciate freedom? Or do we regard ourselves as so entitled to freedom that we are not willing to pay the price of being free.
We closely relate freedom to independence and self-reliance. So this summer, let’s give our children opportunities to be self-reliant. There are core aspects in life wherein we can work with our children to teach them this principle.
Upon waking up in the morning, let’s encourage them to pray and read the scriptures. These steps can greatly affect how their testimony will grow. We can have them start on keeping a journal. Encourage them to share their testimony by writing to friends and family who are not members of the church. These are opportunities for them to feel the Holy Ghost. We can teach them to recognize the promptings of the Holy Ghost by telling them that the warm, comforting feeling they have after doing good is the Spirit of the Lord working in them. This is a confirmation and an assurance to them that what they are doing is pleasing in the eyes of the Lord. This same warm, comfortable feeling will help them understand what is expected of them as children of God. Once they develop this sensitivity to the Spirit, they can then act on the promptings even if they are on their own. The time they spend doing these types of activities will help them know for themselves the beauty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and develop a desire to share it with others.
Wake them up early. There is a tendency that to get out of bed late when there is no pressure to go to school in time for the first class. Make sure there is still a specific time for waking up. This will keep their body clocks in check. Involve them in household chores. They can no longer pull the “I need time to study” or “I need time to get my project done” trick to get away. Assign specific tasks for them to accomplish. Make sure that you measure their progress in their tasks.
Sports is also a great way for them to spend the summer hours. Let your children take advantage of opportunities to move and stretch their muscles. Help them get out of their comfort zones and push themselves to do more. We can also teach our children about eating right. Let us develop in them a sense of responsibility for the gift of their mortal bodies. As the old adage says, “health is wealth”. Having our children take care of their bodies is a great investment.
With an increasing number of depression cases among the young, there is a great need to increase stability in the emotional health of children. Service is one effective way to address this. During the summer days, give children opportunities to serve. When they serve others they will triumph over the tendency to feel self-pity. They will not feel defeated despite the pressures of their days because they will see that they are capable of helping others. This is power – power over feelings of inadequacy, power over the wiles of Satan to make them think they are worthless. Work with them on service projects, however simple they are. Compliment their efforts, however small, and celebrate their little victories. Matthew 10:39 teaches “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” Once they develop a sense of service to others, they will be happy people set to be winners in life.
It is never too early to teach our children temporal stability, even at a young age. Teach them principles of hard work and give them opportunities to earn. Awaken their entrepreneurial spirit. Help them start a business. Train them on basic accounting. Give them accountability over what they earn by teaching them how to budget. Teach them how to pay tithes and offerings. Make them save for things they want to have instead of giving them money to buy what they want. If kids understand that they can actually earn, they will have a head start towards a life of financial independence. They will not fall into an attitude of entitlement.
Children have minds that are very impressionable. They absorb information so fast while they are young. Let us take advantage of the summer months to teach them self-reliance. Build in them a strong foundation of independence. We must invest time, effort and resources for our children while they are in their youth. As they grow up they will have the initiative to learn what they have to learn, do what they have to do and be who they can become. That is what true freedom is – “to act and not to be acted upon.” They will grow to be responsible citizens who contribute instead of just getting and receiving. They will be leaders – first of themselves, then eventually they will be able to lead others. And if they are ever asked how they do it, they will answer,
“One summer when I was a kid, my parents taught me how to be self-reliant…”