Because we have a Mother’s Day and a Father’s Day in America, people occasionally used to propose a national “Kid’s Day.” But whenever the subject of a special holiday for children came up, someone invariably pointed out that most major holidays revolve around children. And someone always added with a grin: “Every day is Kid’s Day.”
I haven’t heard that argument lately. Maybe those who once believed it have changed their minds. Or had their minds changed for them. Recurring headlines about school shootings and the abuse and trafficking of minors proclaim an underlying message: this most materially blessed generation of kids is, in many ways, the most deprived.
Many have rationalized the impact of our violent, X-rated culture on our children as marginally significant. They point out that we live in a different world today—that average family life is no longer like the ‘50s television shows “Leave It to Beaver” and “Father Knows Best.” Some say it never was. But the mores and values such shows represented could have been the reason that generation’s youth were not as troubled or as troublesome as today’s.
June and Ward’s little Beaver didn’t have to worry about a classmate shooting him with a weapon concealed in baggy pants. His school didn’t need police guards or metal detectors that are common practice in some schools today. Neither did their teachers need to have practice drills in case of an on site shooter. It is a different world—a far more dangerous world—for today’s children.
In the 90s, a television news reporter did an experiment. He showed films made 40 years before to a typical class of young high school students. The films, once used in school to teach manners, depicted scenes such as a family at dinner discussing their day and a boy asking a girl for a date on the phone and later picking her up for the prom. The reporter expected the kids to scoff and jeer at the admittedly syrupy family scenes. Their reaction was quite different. All the kids stared at the films in amazement. Some said they enjoyed them; others were obviously touched emotionally. And all, without exception, said those days would have been a better time in which to grow up. The word they used most often to describe that era was “safe.”
If there were a Kid’s Day, what would be an appropriate gift for this generation that has so much and yet lacks so much? Ten gifts I’d like to see them receive are:
The gift of purpose so they might understand the direction in which they should go.
The gift of courage so they won’t live in fear of the shadows behind them or the person beside them.
The gift of gratitude so they might recognize the ways in which they are blessed.
The gift of prayer so they will draw close to God who promises to draw near to them.
The gift of integrity so they will stand for the right no matter how easy or lucrative the wrong seems.
The gift of contentment so they might recognize when enough is enough.
The gift of compassion so they will never grow callused to the needs of others.
The gift of responsibility so they will graciously shoulder the burdens that come.
The gift of faith, without which, most other gifts would not be possible and with which nothing is impossible.
But most of all I’d like to give them what the Lord wants them to have: “All your children shall be taught by the Lord; and great shall be the peace of your children” (Isa. 54:13 NIV).
Peace. For a generation of children living in fear and longing for a safe place or a safe time, it may be the best gift of all.