Parents are the teachers, not the culture? Is this true in your family?
I recently watched my two children play a game in our driveway called “cross the street. Other than the squirrels, my driveway is not a particularly busy place, but, in their imaginary world, it must have seemed real. My oldest child, who is six, was telling my youngest, who is two, how you safely cross the street. As he gave instructions, his effort to teach my daughter, while precious, needed some guidance. Looking twice to the left and not to the right was not quite all the information she would need. As I watched my son play the role of the teacher, the “crossing the street” game gave a perfect picture of why it is so important for parents to recognize the parents are the teachers, not culture.
Too often we see stories in the media of adults who have neglected their children, or have looked on, and in some cases helped their children and their friends get drunk, high, and have sex. We also hear stories about teachers in the classroom who engage in inappropriate relationships with their students. The question that comes to mind is: who is teaching who? At times, it appears that the youth are teaching adults what is “acceptable” or the “norm.” Adults seem more concerned about “fitting in, being “liked, or “one of the crowd.” More often than we would like to see, parents are not acting like adults, much less parents.
This past spring, because of Alec Baldwin’s celebrity status, we were exposed to his tirade directed at his 11-year old daughter. In the voice mail he left for her, he not only cursed her but also told her how she had humiliated him for the last time. In his anger, he talked to her as if they were the same age. Lindsay Lohan told her father to stay away from her family. Paris Hilton’s family recently pleaded that their daughter did not deserve to go to jail. Does Britney Spears recognize the impact her actions have on her young sons? Actions and reactions from the world of celebrities have inundated classrooms as well as our living rooms.
Are we forgetting how to teach our children to look both ways before they cross the street? Do we as parents recognize that our actions, words, and responses are teaching and shaping our children? What are you teaching your children everyday? Do you recognize what the internet, music, television, friends, teachers, and other adults may be teaching them? Do you take the time to watch, hear, and observe the internet, music, television, friends, teachers, and other adults?
As parents, we must be good teachers taking time to listen, engage, and challenge our “students. Remember your favorite teachers when you were growing up? What was it about them that you liked? In many ways, parenting gives you an opportunity to emulate your favorite teachers. They may have been your parents, a 10th grade history teacher, a best friend, or your spouse. Whoever they were, they made an indelible impression on you. This is what you as a parent must do with your children. You must make a significant investment in the “education of your children; otherwise, it will be the culture that invariably shapes them. It is a challenge: it is time consuming: it requires you to do homework often when you least want to do it. But, it is the greatest investment of your life. If you don’t, how else will they know not to just look one way before crossing the street?
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