Living Well

May 29, 2010

Having Fun with our Children and Youth (and Living Well)

I have to confess, I wasn’t a good “player” with my own children as they were growing up.  I was too busy doing what most fathers tend to do in their thirties….focus on earning money, providing for one’s family, and establishing a place in the organization so he can climb the corporate ladder.  It is a time for a lot of men of ongoing justification for not taking time to play…to just remind everyone that they have to earn their way in the world…there is, thus, no time for actually having fun with our children.  The many men who live with this same philosophy as I did are really not helping teach children to live a blessed, balanced, less stressful life…one that has joy in it and helps them learn to live well.    

 Now I am a grandfather and learning how to play.  I am thankful that I have learned it early and not late in my journey.  So I have been thinking about playing and involving myself in my grandchildren’s lives.  In this blog I am simply brainstorming 100 (and more!) ways to be actively involved in the lives of children (and youth) for the purpose of being present with them and helping them to live well while they are young and open to the adventures of life.

The following list is merely my brainstorming some activities that we might enjoy together with children and youth.  Children and youth need adults in their lives as mentors and role models.  This list is not by any means all-inclusive, but you will see with a little imagination, you can add to the activities that will be meaningful to you and a child or youth.  The items cover a range of ages and types of relationships, including mentoring.  Experiencing these together will help them grow into response—able adults because of the potential dialogue and teaching that may come from the shared activities.  I haven’t completed the list myself, but have been playing more and more.  Try them….have fun…and allow them to slow your pace on the corporate ladder as you gain a perspective on what matters in life!

  1. Set mentoring goals together with the child that you are working with.
  2. Undertake career planning or life planning with a young person you mentor.
  3. Converse about what it takes to succeed in life, from character to personal appearance.
  4. Write thank you notes together to people you agree are doing good in your community.
  5. Spend time talking about personal values.
  6. Take time for listening to this young person’s dreams and hopes.
  7. Visit a college, technical school or place of education together to see what the future might provide for the student or just to experience a college campus.
  8. Share about the importance of relationships.
  9. Talk together about the need for balancing all aspects of life.
  10. Talk and learn together about finances.
  11. Discuss the opportunities for networking.  Set a plan for planting and cultivating a network of people.
  12. Take this young person to your workplace.  Share with them what is needed for success in your profession and in life; how to balance them both.
  13. Go to the public library together, just to think about what is available in the learning housed there.
  14. Learn new aspects of computer language and application together.  While the young person may be able to teach you shortcuts or software techniques, you may share about the computer’s relevance to the work world.
  15. Introduce the young person to your friends or be a part of some activity with them.
  16. Talk about living with financial stewardship.
  17. Discuss together the pitfalls of living above personal income level.
  18. Role-play a job interview.
  19. Create or develop a resume.
  20. Visit a museum or historic site and discuss the legacies we have from the individuals honored.
  21. Include the young person in a business luncheon.
  22. Work on a community project together.
  23. Discuss the need for philanthropic attitudes.
  24. Share your personal story of volunteerism in your own community.  Relate why you are actively involved in civic opportunities.
  25. Help this young person find employment that matches their abilities.
  26. Talk about the responsible use of credit cards.
  27. Develop a fitness plan together.
  28. Exercise together.
  29. Talk about healthy life choices.
  30. Help them locate health and life insurance.
  31. Share what you may have learned from a tragedy or difficult time in your life.
  32. Talk about each other’s favorite music and why you like its style, artists and presentation.
  33. Learn a new sport together.
  34. Go to an art museum.
  35. Sip tea or lemonade in a park as you just talk about life.
  36. Design and build something together.
  37. Repair some kind of equipment together.
  38. Take a trip to a new place for both of you.
  39. Go to a movie that appeals to the young person.
  40. Take the young person to a movie that appeals to you.
  41. Together watch a PBS special of some educational value.
  42. Discuss current events, whether locally, nationally, or internationally.  Share together your ideas of why these things occur, how you might solve conflicts or what might be the benefit that comes from these events.
  43. Go camping or hike a wilderness trail.
  44. Make a meal together.
  45. Visit a nursing home several times a year.
  46. Attend church together.
  47. Read a favorite book or new release together and dialogue about it.
  48. Take this young person to a friend’s work site.
  49. Discuss the latest trends in business, fashion, music or culture.
  50. Learn about politics together.
  51. Play on the swing set.
  52. Tumble down a grass-covered hill.
  53. Volunteer to work with a political campaign.
  54. Fund raise for a worthy community agency.  Do a telethon or canvass a neighborhood.
  55. Develop a business plan for a dream company or enterprise.  Share this plan for critique with your local chapter of SCORE (Society of Corporate Officers and Retired Executives).
  56. Visit a friend or family member in the hospital.
  57. Talk about taxes.
  58. Set up an internship in line with the pupil’s abilities.
  59. Lie in the grass and visualize shapes in the clouds as they pass by.
  60. Play blocks together.
  61. Set up an internship that will stretch the young person in new ways.
  62. Attend a community lecture or forum.
  63. Go to the ballet or opera.
  64. Go shopping together for a friend.
  65. Discuss the issues of relationships in marriage.
  66. Talk about the responsibilities of parenting.
  67. Discuss the importance of personal accountability for actions and decisions.
  68. Talk about your own inevitable death and your plans for this event.
  69. Together attend a funeral or wake.
  70. Study a historic figure together.
  71. Talk about building self-esteem and the barriers the pupil encounters in having a healthy picture of themselves.
  72. Talk about prejudice and stereotyping.
  73. Attend a Martin Luther King Jr. celebration together.
  74. Learn together about gender issues.
  75. Volunteer to work with a Hospice Patient.
  76. Discuss sexual responsibility, such as fidelity, integrity and commitment.
  77. Play board games that involve strategy, like Chess.
  78. Play board games just for fun.
  79. Challenge each other with cross word puzzles.
  80. Have the young person write a paper on some topic of leadership or mentoring.  Serve as a teacher in how well the paper communicates an idea, as well as the grammar used.
  81. Color pictures in a coloring book.
  82. Have the young person give a speech.
  83. Get down on the floor and play with the toys the child likes.
  84. Plant a garden together.
  85. Discuss the virtues of patience and persistence.
  86. Visit a farm to talk about planting, tending and the legacy of the earth.
  87. Learn about environmental issues.
  88. Attend an ethnic festival.
  89. Learn a second language together.
  90. Talk about your generation and what their generation expects.
  91. Tell each other clean jokes.
  92. Spend an evening eating popcorn and watching Three Stooges or Little Rascals videos.
  93. Work on building a house with Habitat for Humanity.
  94. Pick up litter in a section of town that needs it.
  95. Let the young person order for everyone at your table while attending a restaurant.
  96. Help someone elderly, disabled or disadvantaged to work around their property.
  97. Take cookies to the neighbors.
  98. Attend a professional sporting event.
  99. Drive around your city, county or region and discuss the heritage and history expressed in its culture.
  100. Purchase, wrap and deliver Christmas presents to a child enrolled in Prison Fellowship’s Project Angel Tree.
  101. Visit a courtroom trial.
  102. Visit a jail or penitentiary to share with inmates (always check with the local authorities in these matters).
  103. Attend an outdoor symphony.
  104. Volunteer time at a children’s home.
  105. Let the young person drive in the driveway of your home.
  106. Go to a carnival or fair.
  107. Pay a young person for chores around the house.
  108. Help the young person open a bank account.
  109. Collect clothing for someone who has lost his or her possessions in a fire.
  110. Work in a soup kitchen on a Holiday.
  111. Try an ethnic food or restaurant in your region.
  112. Wash evening dinner dishes together.
  113. Collaborate on writing an article about leadership or mentoring for possible publication in a newspaper or magazine.
  114. Discuss what it means to be a servant leader and whether it is a real possibility or just a great hope.
  115. Play video games together.
  116. Discuss what real success truly is.
  117. Work on a plan concerning management of time that promotes a balanced lifestyle.
  118. Sing songs together.
  119. Pray together.
  120. Rake leaves in the fall.
  121. Go swimming.
  122. Make S’mores at a campfire in your back yard.
  123. Camp in your backyard in a tent.
  124. Get a pet and make the young person responsible for its care.
  125. Teach the young person to drive.
  126. Play badminton.
  127. Jump rope.
  128. Play basketball together.
  129. Blow bubbles with gum or soap.
  130. Play “I Spy,” a game where one person picks an object and announces, “I see something blue.”  The other person needs to guess what it is until the object is located.
  131. Tell stories with the young person filling in the blanks, such as, “There was a little girl named ______.”  Let the young person put in the name.
  132. Do this until you have a whole story.
  133. Let the young person make up stories to tell you.

Open your mind to all the possibilities of sharing, talking, playing, and living fully together with a child or young person.  Help the next generation to live well by sharing your life now.

Blessings, grace and peace for the days to come.

David Neidert


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