One of the most compelling commandments in the Old Testament is the Shema: “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your…strength.” While little information is given about Jesus’ boyhood, we are told that “Jesus grew in stature,” (his body followed the prescribed growth for his age). God has designed us to mature physically, mentally and spiritually from simple to complex.Take a minute and ponder the amazing human body. Two cells unite in an instant, millions of cells begin to divide, multiply and form a new human life! A baby in utero is well situated to survive in a thermostatically and nutritionally controlled environment. However, all that changes at the moment of birth, when this same baby is now able to survive outside the cozy confines of the womb.If that doesn’t “WOW” you, consider the incredible journey an infant will make towards independence. Beginning with strengthening his neck muscles so he can lift his head to using his arms for pushing up, from sitting to crawling to standing up, walking and running, this little person experiences phenomenal growth! In addition, nerves and muscles grow preparing for a variety of skills. For example, the muscles in and around a child’s eyes change from their newborn unfocused state to being able to accomplish the specialized task of contracting, dilating and managing a very controlled 360o range of motion in order that he can be ready to recognize letters and words at 3, 4, or 5 years of age. When born, the doctor checks an infant’s ability to grasp and step. These actions reflect a healthy nervous system. These tasks are accomplished with the assistance of strong capable hands. Left alone the infant could not support his/her weight because of the lack of muscle strength and gross motor integration skills. Amazingly in one year’s time the integration has happened and walking begins. Given another 20 years with lots of training and we could be looking at a marathon runner, an Olympic ice skater, or a major league athlete.The Psalmist said it quite well, “I will give thanks to Thee for I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” (Ps. 139:14). From toddler to teen, physical growth and the mastering of skills and strength have always been a means of measuring physical maturity. A toddler may have the freedom to enjoy blanket time outdoors while his older siblings do yard work, but in 12 years that same child will be able to command the riding mower around that same yard. Allowing your toddler to pour himself a glass of milk would be unwise, but by age 12, your pre-teen is capable of not only picking lemons, but squeezing them and making ice-cold lemonade to deliver to you on a hot summer day.Speaking of those “lazy-hazy” days of summer, now is the time to prepare and take the time to consider the activities that will help your children continue their growth as they march toward adulthood. As moms we tend to take our children’s social and physical activities so seriously that we fill their days full with sports and lessons, leaving little to no down time. Kids need time to think, and yes, even time for a little daydreaming. Allow them to take on a project, giving them the opportunity to test their strengths and skills, even though we may deem the project a waste of time. Are you thinking, “Is she suggesting that I plan time each day for my children to do absolutely nothing?!” “Yes! That’s exactly what I’m suggesting!” One author stated, “Growing up, my social media was called ‘outdoors.’”
Patricia Lentz shares:
One day I was going shopping to look for a new couch and thought my five 5 children would want to go along. However, as my boys dawdled through their chores I began to realize not only would it not be fun to have them along, but, most likely, they would not enjoy the process.
After giving the boys instructions to get their backpack, I also gave them a snack and a list of items to place in the pack, then on my way to the furniture store, I dropped them off at a local hiking trail. After several strong admonitions regarding safety, respect for nature and one-another, I told them, “meet me right back here in 3 hours.” Lest you are panicking, the boys were 15, 13, and 7 and very familiar with the trail and also characterized by being responsible. Plus I somehow convinced myself that Mary and Joseph didn’t miss Jesus for 3 days, certainly my boys could enjoy some unsupervised freedom for 3 hours! At any rate, my little experiment worked so well it became a great Saturday activity for many years.
Part of our job as parents is to be wise planners of our children’s activities, keeping in mind that someday they will actually move out on their own. Therefore in preparing for that eventuality, there are skills we want them to be working on. What skills would you like to have your children master before they leave home? Have you considered the importance of teaching them to cook or BBQ; how to fill out a job application; and even preparing them to handle going for and through a job interview? Summer is also a great time to teach children age appropriate, specialized chores such as washing windows, doing the family laundry, grocery shipping…things that during the school year, there just doesn’t seem to be enough time, yet skills they will need to learn. Check out the bookWhat Every Child Should Know Along the Way at the growingfamiliesusa.com website.
Summer is a good time to limit the use of those computer games and ‘i’-anything. Tuck them away for special occasions or at least have them ‘earn time’ to spend on them by providing some ‘hard work and sweat’ on a family project that will be teaching valuable skills in the process. Being stewards of their physical growth and associated activities is as important as watching out for their growth spiritually and intellectually. Be creative and have fun!