Some of Their Happiest Memories
CHILDHOOD is a happy time for most youngsters. It is a time in life when they are usually free from responsibility and worry. They are usually cheerful, brimming with energy and curiosity. But there generalizations end. For with each child the time when he is happiest and the reason for his happiness are as varied as are his circumstances.
For instance, one young man recalls regarding his sixth year of life: “I was the only child and one of my friends had a little sister. After playing with me he could go home and play with his sister. But I had no one to play with. I wanted a sister so badly. Well, when my parents told me we would be having a baby soon, I just knew it was going to be a girl. And I can’t express the happiness I felt when my sister was born. It was what I really wanted and it made me very happy.”
With Other Children and Alone
Most children enjoy playing and being with other children. One young woman remembers: “My happiness as a child was centered on playing outside. We had so much fun. In the winter, we looked forward to the snow. We’d get out the sleds for racing downhill; we’d make snowmen and throw snowballs. Our parents understood this, for if we did something bad, we had to stay indoors. In other seasons, we skipped rope, played jacks, hopscotch, went on treasure hunts, and if it rained, we played house and school inside with our dolls. Those were really happy times!”
Not all children are the same, of course. One may be the only child in a family, not used to having playmates, or he may be one of a large family and like to get away from others to do things on his own. He may be happiest when he can spend quiet periods alone. Here is how a nine-year-old boy, an only child, expressed himself:
“I love to read. First of all, because if we couldn’t read, we couldn’t read the Bible and we wouldn’t know God’s will. So reading is important. But I like reading because it’s quiet. When I read about real-life experiences of other people, I feel like I’m with them. Of course, I like it when Mom, Dad and I go to the beach or up in the mountains. But when I’m alone, I like reading very much.”
Is that true of your children? Have they discovered the joys of serious reading, and the vast world it can unfold to them? Or are they allowed to sit for hours watching television, where all their thinking is done for them, or, worse yet, where violent trends are allowed to develop in their young and impressionable minds?
Pretending, and Developing Talents
Motion pictures have been another source of pleasure for many children. Since they like to pretend, films have provided a means of escape into the world of make-believe. As one woman, who was an only child, expressed it:
“When I was young, I used to go to the movies often and pretend I was the star, mentally doing all the things she had done in the movies. Of course, it wasn’t too long before I was back to myself again. But, at the time, it was fun pretending to be somebody else.” Unfortunately, the current trends in movies provide little that is wholesome for young minds to dwell on or to pattern their lives after.
But, regardless of the trends, the pursuit of natural talents can bring a child much happiness. An eight-year-old girl, who loves to draw, finds pleasure in giving her pictures to others. She exclaimed: “I drew a picture of my mommy and gave it to her. It made me so happy to see her put it in her room. Now, every time I go into her room, I see my picture.” Her face reflected the delight she had.
Encouraging your children to pursue whatever talent they may have can prepare them to serve others and give of themselves later in life.
Time Spent with Parents
Although children like to be with other children, they also want to be with their parents. A parent has but to stop and look down at a young child to appreciate this. He is greeted with a broad grin, as if the child were saying: “I love you. I want to be with you. You make me happy.”
Are you the parent of such a young one? Do you sometimes get annoyed when your child is constantly underfoot? Your annoyance at such times is understandable. But these moments with your children are soon gone. Rapidly youngsters grow up and their childhood is just a memory. So make the most of the time you have with them. It can provide happy memories for both you and them in the future.
Interestingly, some parents think that what makes their children happy is what they can give them. So they surround their youngsters with toys and many things they lacked in their own childhood. This usually fails, however, because material things alone cannot make anyone truly happy, and that includes children. Now, that is not to say that children do not like to receive gifts. They do. But when they are very young, they will often be more content to play with the box the gift came in than with the gift itself. Why so?
It is because they like to use their imagination. To a little boy an ordinary shoe box can become a ship, a plane, a cave or a truck within a matter of minutes. In fact, toys that do everything mechanically leave him nothing to do but watch, and he soon becomes bored. Toys have their place. But they cannot compare to the time and attention given children by their parents.
It is a fact, children crave love and affection, and nothing material can substitute for these qualities. For this reason young ones are often happiest when they are doing things with their parents. It does not have to be anything special. It could be a picnic, a walk in the park or woods, or even a quiet chat. The important thing is that they are together.
Indeed, a wise father realizes that little else can compensate for the love and devotion he gives his children, especially in their formative years. Some well-known men have inherited great wealth and yet never really knew their fathers who left it to them. The man, however, who has memories of good times with his dad feels rich indeed, no matter what his financial condition. And the love and admiration he feels for his father will be reflected in the shine in his eyes and the pride in his voice when he talks about his father. Is that how your sons will feel about you?
For children, any place can seem special if their parents are with them. For instance, a trip to the zoo with his father and brother a year ago stands out to one eight-year-old boy. His eyes lightened up when he described it: “We saw lions, tigers, a giraffe and a big elephant. But oh, I didn’t like the smell of some of them (as he wrinkled up his little nose). I would like to have all of them to play with.” He added: “My daddy said that in God’s new order the animals won’t be in cages. They will be free. I’ll like that!”
Often children appreciate a change of pace in their schedules as much as their parents do. A ten-and-a-half-year-old boy considers a trip the family took to be an outstanding time in his young life. He said:
“Last year we went on vacation to Virginia and Delaware. It was different from the city—a lot of trees and things—it was nice. We stayed in a hotel and ate in the dining room. I really enjoyed that. It was fun having someone wait on you and give you what you ordered. I enjoyed driving to different places and seeing different things and the way other people live.”
But even when families are unable to travel together, they can enjoy happy times that are long treasured. A woman from a Caribbean island remembers: “I was one of seven children and we were very happy, doing things together. Dinner times were especially enjoyable. And after supper we would all gather around my father and he would read a passage to us from the Bible. At other times he would play his fiddle and we would sing and dance. Our happiest times were when company came from other parts of the island and we were allowed to stay up past our bedtime and listen to the grownups talk.”
Parental Training a Blessing
Truly, parents have the key role in training their children. And if they set fine examples, their children will find genuine happiness in serving Jehovah God. For example, one ten-year-old girl, when asked what she enjoyed most, said: “I love to come to the Kingdom Hall more than anything else, because I love Jehovah and I love his people.” Does this not reflect the fine training she received?
Children who receive such training are often motivated by deep concern for others. Thus an eleven-year-old girl whose mother has been one of Jehovah’s witnesses for over two years, but whose father had opposed their Bible study, related this experience:
“I had been thinking about my daddy for a long time. I asked him to come with us to our Bible study meetings a lot of times but he never did. I told him I didn’t want a new daddy in God’s new order and if he didn’t study, he wouldn’t be there. So the happiest day of my life was the day my father came to the Kingdom Hall for the first time.” No present this little girl has received can compare to that happy moment.
What a delight to hear expressions from young people who find reasons to be happy and who are grateful to their parents and their Creator for life! And what a vital role parents have in contributing to that happiness and shaping the lives of their children!