What kids need–A Rebuttle

This list is making its way around my social media feed right now. I’ve been unable to track down the original writer, so if someone knows who that is, I am happy to properly attribute.

This piece is one of many like it that idealize the “good old days,” and long for a way of life that is not a possibility for most people. For me, these kinds of lists are a wishful thinking waste of time. I’d rather spend our time considering how we make this world better for all our kids by getting them the resources, support, sense of safety and encouragement they need.

Basically, I have thoughts on this. The original is in black. My responses are in red.

I just watched a news person interview a school principal and ask, “What are we missing? What do children need?” He went on and on about mental illness, the Juvenile Justice System, gun control, education reform, blah, blah, blah. Folks, none of that mumbo jumbo makes a lick of sense. 

Really? Mental Illness, gun control, education, juvenile justice is blah, blah, blah? Great. Some of THE most important issues of our time, and we’ve got people reducing it to and dismissing it as mumbo jumbo.

Here is what children need:

1. Children need a mother and a father who love each other and work together as a team.

Who is gonna make this happen? Never mind the 25 percent of American children who live in single-parent homes. Who will take the other seventy percent and get those parents working as a team? Will there be classes? Incentives?

2. Children need a bicycle, neighbors, and cousins.

Awesome. Let’s make sure every kid in America gets a bike when they turn five. That’s a program I can get behind. Who will introduce that bill in Congress? Totally supportive. Not sure what we can do about the neighbors and cousins.

3. Children need a grandma to bake with and a grandpa to take em fishing.

Since grandma and grandpa are often still working, this could be difficult. A program that allows children to adopt grandparents who have the money to retire and engage in these activities would be great. Totally down for that.

4. Children need a church, a Sunday School Class, and a truth telling Preacher.

Yes! Let’s outlaw all sports play on Sunday. Definitely no traveling leagues. And all our businesses–including grocery stores and gas stations–will need to close so that mom and dad can get the kids church. Better background checks and new policies that address sex abuse will also be needed. After the most recent allegations emerging from the SBC, many families will be reluctant to bring their children into such a place. That truth telling preacher thing gets dicey. I think I’m a truth telling preacher, but there are those who think I’m sent by the devil because I’m a woman who preaches.

5. Children need a dinner time with home cooked food, prayer, and conversation.

Let’s shift our economy to one that allows all parents to be home in time for dinner no matter what they do for a living. That would be amazing. Absolutely transformative. Also, we need to institute community cooking lessons as many adults today did not learn to cook when they were growing up.

6. Children need Sunday afternoon football and fried chicken.

This seems like a weird one. Traumatic head injury games as entertainment and artery clogging food? This is what children need?

7. Children need books on tape and coloring pages.

The internet provides both. We’ve got this one covered.

8. Children need summers at the beach and bazooka bubble gum.

Not sure where the bubble gum comes in, but trips to the beach are EXPENSIVE–especially if you live in Indiana or Montana or most of the states in the middle of the country.

9. Children need a trip to Arlington and Fourth of July Fireworks.

Again with the expensive trips. Most towns, however, do put on a fireworks display on the fourth free of charge.

10. Children need fire pits, s’mores, ghost stories, the drive in, and real popcorn.

Why are we throwing shade at microwave popcorn? Who has a drive in anywhere near their home? Ghost stories? Can you say nightmares?

11. Children need discipline from their parents.

Okay, I’ll give you that one. Kids who have clear boundaries set at home and consequences when those boundaries are broken tend to be healthier and happier adults.

12. Children need chores, a job, a way to earn what they want.

Also good ideas.

This piece and so many like it take the best memories of someone who grew up in a place of privilege and create an idealized version of what life should be like for everyone–never taking family structure, economic status or faith background into account. Anyone who doesn’t ascribe to the lifestyle and life choices the writer values is clearly what’s wrong with our kids (and by extension, our country) today.

Struggling families need help–not to be shamed for not gathering at the table for a home cooked meal every night. Something as small as a kid’s bicycle is not in many family budgets–much less a trip to the beach. If we value these experience for kids, then why aren’t we making sure they happen–for all kids? Kids who don’t have a strong family structure or extended family in the area need community. They need a village.

Instead of telling our neighbors how to raise their kids, let’s get to know them. Let’s invite them to OUR house for dinner. Let’s see how we can be part of making things better rather than simply making lists about why things are so much worse.

Rev. Anne Russ is an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA), currently based in New York City. Doubting Believer provides tools and encouragement for the rollercoaster ride of your faith journey. Follow me on Facebook , Instagram and YouTube. You can also follow on TikTok. Get emails to keep up with all that is happening.

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