What We Give to Children and What We Get in Return

From Kinetic Sand to Hatchimals, American parents spend, on average, hundreds of dollars per child on gifts around the holidays. As a mother of a (now adult) daughter, I can say with certainty that this year’s hot toy is likely to be long forgotten by next Christmas.  

Giving a child a toy they’ve been waiting for “forever”, and watching them open it, is delightful.

Knowing that my daughter has sufficient health and education to build a meaningful life, and watching her do so, has been the most fulfilling gift of all. 

Our children are watching us, too, and they feel the effects of how we invest our resources. In a recent interview, former first lady Michelle Obama recounted her experience as an elementary student in a neglected school, warning “Children can tell if you’re not investing in them…This notion that kids don’t know when they’re not being invested in—I’m here to tell you that as a first grader, I felt it.”

The former first lady is not alone in warning us about how we invest, or do not invest, in the next generation of Americans.  For example, a recent report from the Council for a Strong America (a bipartisan nonprofit comprised of law enforcement leaders, retired admirals and generals, business executives, pastors, and prominent coaches and athletes) explains that

“Obesity has long threatened our nation’s health; as the epidemic grows, obesity is posing a threat to our nation’s security as well…obesity disqualifies 31 percent of youth from serving if they so choose. This year, the Army fell short of its recruiting goal for the first time since 2005, and these recruiting challenges will continue unless measures are taken to encourage a healthy lifestyle beginning at a young age.”

The business community is concerned, too. In a report titled Workforce of Today, Workforce of Tomorrow, the Chamber of Commerce Foundation reminds us that

 “Business leaders have long understood the importance of a well-educated workforce to support a strong economy, keep America competitive globally, and ensure a vibrant democracy. And they have long played a leadership role in strengthening the education pipeline so crucial to our economic growth and prosperity. Yet our nation’s K–12 system is falling short in preparing new generations for the ever-changing demands of the 21st century workplace. One root of this problem is that we’ve underestimated the importance of the earliest years of life.”

Additional statistics are outlined in a detailed report from a professor of policy and demography at the University of Southern California. The report explains how demographic changes will lead to

 “A shortage of children, and that will lead to a shortage of workers and taxpayers in the not too distant future. Meanwhile there are way too many older people—that’s most of us—who will be relying on this undersized group of working age people when we reach our retirement years…Our best hope is to cultivate the future abilities of the children already living with us so that society can accomplish more with fewer young people. This means greater investing in our existing children to maximize their capabilities and future earning power.”

The organizations and experts who participate in the Pediatric Moneyball initiative also believe strongly in finding innovative and powerful ways to invest in the health and well-being of our children.

Join us as we raise awareness about the critical importance of healthy children to our future.