How Will Our Children Remember 2020 and What Lessons Will They Learn Going Forward?
It’s been a time of our lives, hasn’t it?
But, we adults have the skill sets, well, most of us do, through our life experiences, to navigate what life throws our way.
With children, it’s another story. They’re still learning through experience and what is modeled to them, how to overcome, digest and process what life hands them; the good and the not so good.
I am a bit of two minds here. 2020 is sort of a double-edged sword. If children are cosseted too much and over protected from life’s sometimes harsh realities, they never develop the ability to deal with anything that is unpleasant, scary, or unfamiliar. And that, to parody Martha Stewart, is NOT a good thing.
On the other hand, if they are allowed to experience these things with the knowledge, comfort and security that the adults surrounding them are doing their best to see that they will be safe, children are then permitted to negotiate sometimes tough terrain, building a resiliency that will serve them well in life. They can be taught that life is a blending of good times and not so good, but a cheerful attitude of positivity and glass half full instead of half empty, is a start.
Everything that happens in one’s life is not within our direct control, but what IS within our control is how we react to life’s challenges and the choices that flow from it.
Think of Hansel and Gretel: Not such a good start there. Starvation looms. Sent off in the woods to perish…by a parent. And they are certainly on to the step mother from the get go as they try to find their way back by means of pebbles etc., but the drops they use as a return trail are pieces of bread. Not such a good idea as the bread is eaten by birds.
All that glitters is not gold as they discover nibbling on the candy house of a kindly old crone (witch) who invites them in for refreshments. But, Hansel and Gretel ARE the refreshments! Gretel s made to toil and work and Hansel is being prepared as the fatted calf for a delightful dinner by the crone.
Now many may think this story by the Brother Grimm is more than grim, it’s scary! You bet it is. But Hansel and Gretel overcome. They use their ingenuity, stick together and rid themselves of the witch and SHE becomes a cooked goose.
They also discover that the gingerbread boys and girls that cover the crone’s house were put under a spell by the now demised denizen of demons and they are returned to live boys and girls.
And, as for Hansel and Gretel, they return to a repentant father who was himself under a sort of spell, as he listened to his new wife’s promptings urging him to abandon the children instead of finding another way to save them ALL from hunger.
What do children learn from all of this? Parents are not perfect? Adults can be evil? Life is not fair? Maybe. But they also learn that they are stronger than they think, They can stand up to evil and overcome it if they stand together. Forgiveness is a good thing in families, as in second chances. Goodness is rewarded more often than we think and evil is likewise often punished.
And so we come to 2020. What will our children learn? This is definitely a hard time with a pandemic resetting normality on so many levels. It has become the year of adjustments. But so was the Great Depression and World War II for the Greatest Generation that was also tested.
The culture that children grow up in can have a huge determining factor in outcomes for young ones. I’m fairly certain that other parents at that time had pretty much the same values for their children and the same aspirations.
What did your parents emphasize to you in your growing up years? The importance of education, personal responsibility, character counts, honesty is the best policy, hard work reaps rewards, set goals, always try to better yourself, save for a rainy day, kindness counts and always treat someone as you would want to be treated. were probably taught to you at home and emphasized in communities and your neighborhood; and in many of the stories that you read.
Today, things in our culture seem a bit up ended; well, maybe VERY upended. But, TIME is the great leveler and history is as well. It determines what has merit and what is dross, in hindsight.
The Grimm Brothers are STILL read today; published in 1812, some 208 years ago, they are still going strong. Our country is 244 years old; a drop in the bucket in terms of a learning curve.
Like Hansel and Gretel, our children will learn through their falls and rises and overcoming…if we let them and help them as they do. And, I believe our country will learn and become stronger as well.
And children’s literature, where learning by example is part of the curve, as well as comforting and “imagineering,” as Disney called it, can help young readers navigate 2020 and beyond.
Listen to this song sung by John Denver and written by David Pomeranz, called “It’s in Every One of Us.”
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