I just read an interesting account of an experiment conducted by IKEA, the Swedish furniture company. They asked some children to write a letter to Santa and ask for whatever they wanted. They listed all the usual -- toys and games -- the latest bauble, novelty, knicknack, trinket and must-have trend.
Next they were asked to write a letter to their moms and dads, asking them for whatever they wanted. Each child paused, as if the request were a foreign concept! What? Ask mom and dad for whatever I want?
The results were astounding. But not really. Every child, without exception, made a request involving time with the parent. To play a game, share a meal, enjoy a sport.
When the letters were shared with the parents, there were tears and recognition that what mattered most was time -- their time deposit into their children's everyday lives. Unfortunately that's the gift not every child will get -- for Christmas or any other time. Too many occupations steal the most valued treasure. Occupations with business, friends, colleagues, career advancement, education, internet exploration, television, and even church. Communication is not the problem. But communication with whom? Random chatter with friends, associates, acquaintances on social media? Cyber flirting on cell phone messaging?
There is more than one problem with this scenario. Children emulate what they see. Every action, every word regenerates in a child and carries into adulthood. How we treat each other, what matters most, who is important...
What can you and I do to affect the life of a child who is neglected in this most important part?
Number one: notice. Be aware of the slights and oversights of children in our everyday path. And when you do, "pay" attention. Listen for clues of life at home. Be the supply where you can. Make a difference, even if just to point out to a child the signs of love he's overlooking; like parents who work long hours to give them shelter and nourishing food. Clothes that are warm. A roof over their heads. Brothers and sisters who share a common life. People in books who have changed the world. Answers to questions. Wisdom for all problems. God's love in His book of Wisdom.
That's the job our kindly cafeteria worker, Thaddeus Jeremiah Wisdom. has chosen as a life work: notice the gaps and intercede with Wisdom. No one is a substitute for a parent, so while you have the chance, slow down, look around and "pay" attention. Yes, "pay" with your time. Time spent with your child is the greatest investment you can make in their lives -- in developing a healthy self image, giving them vision for their contribution to society, cultivating their gifts to bring value to their future employers, and fostering godly character and how to recognize them in a future spouse.
Pay attention. Now, that's wisdom.