What did you learn today?
Parents come to pick up their children. As parents greet their children it is like a mini celebration. They have been apart all day. With younger children, the excitement is almost tangible. You can feel the excitement. With older children, the excitement has worn off. It is as if the young student realizes they have finished a day of work, just like Mom and Dad, and now they just want to go home and relax, just like Mom and Dad. But parents have this desire to communicate with their children so they ask that age old questions, “What did you learn today?” I think they ask this question hoping a dialogue will take place. Instead you get the one word answer, “Nuthin'” So much for a dialogue, right?
There is a new phrase in our culture. It is called ‘social intelligence.’ Meaning you are able to carry on an intelligent conversation with other people. To have that conversation you must know yourself and others. In a Christian context, you encourage the conversation to focus on the other person and their interests. You know to some extent what their interests are and talk somewhat intelligently about their interests. You can relate because you know the successes and the failures.
Let us take a look at our children with this concept in mind. When you ask your youth what did you learn today, you should already know what they are studying in school. To ask a blanket statement you you should expect a blanket response, ‘nuthin’. OK, so what should you do. First, know what your child is studying in math (yes, math). Your first step in this conversation happens before you even ask the question. Yes, you, have to stop saying I am no good in math. I do not get it. Because this allows your child to imitate you, who are the best teacher, to say the same thing. Picture your child sitting in math class, the teacher is explaining a fundamental concept in math, and in the child’s mind is the parent saying I am no good in math. The child begins to think the same way. I will never use this stuff. The child’s mind is now set against math. So what did they learn today, nuthin’.
This principle happens at church every Sunday. You go to Mass to worship God. You hear the readings. Listen to the homily. And now ask yourself, “What did I learn today.” Don’t say it!!! Instead, recognize what you say is being said as the teacher to your children. Before you even go to Mass, look at the readings. Find something in the readings that interests you. Now read the readings again with your child in mind. What would your child find interesting in the readings. I can give you a clue. With the movie trailers and video games available for children many of them focus on kingdoms and rulers and such. Before you even tell them you are going to talk about what is going to be read at mass how about you ask them: If you were king how would you help people? Or the first reading talks about anger and wrath. They may not know wrath so well, but I think they will know anger. Ask your youth when was the last time they were angry and what was it that made them angry. They how can we address anger. In this way, your youth will have these thoughts in mind, so will you, and when you hear the readings at mass and the homily, you can talk about this one more time after mass. By the way, what is seventy times seven? According to the Bible, that is all the time. Isn’t that math easier?
May the Lord bless you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of Holy Spirit, Amen