Thursday, January 24, 2019

No Parent Wants to See Their Child Do the Wrong Thing

It's extremely humbling to be a parent. None of us want to see our children err, and we also don't want to see our children hurt. That's why we spend so much time working to well educate and support our children so they learn well and live well.

As a child in a big family, I watched my parents as children in our family and neighborhood made mistakes. I saw their worry and their efforts to turn problems into opportunities for betterment. During these ordeals, I learned a valuable lesson which was never to say never which means that when other people's children err, reserve judgement or criticism because it could be your child doing the wrong thing next time.

Every kid makes mistakes and acts with error, hurt, and disrespect from time to time. Some children do this more than others for all kinds of reasons. It's very challenging when your children do the wrong things, and our job as parents is to try to prevent this kind of behavior as much as possible--we don't want our children to make hurtful mistakes, disrespect others, or do the wrong thing.

We also have to support one another as parents and teachers in times good and bad. I have found that when you take the small infractions seriously, you're more likely to avoid the great and lasting problems later on. Small problems are warning signs and opportunity for positive change and teaching. For example, teasing by young children is an opportunity to teach them about positive, respectful language. That happened yesterday in the school house. Some children were teasing others with hurtful words. One brave boy spoke up about it, and I was able to say to all of them that we don't accept or use that kind of hurtful talk, it's never acceptable at our school. Similarly prejudicial talk is met with teaching right away--in our school everyone has a right to be who they are, and no one has to endure prejudicial comments and talk. The same is true in my home.

Anticipating problems can help us to support our children's good choices and good behavior. For example, parents of teens and college students know the problems that drugs and alcohol can create--we have read the stories in the paper about teens and young adults who have met grave circumstances and even death due to substance abuse. As much as possible we have to work with our neighbors, friends, and local organizations to work against this dangerous behavior. Also we know that to be busy and active with positive people and events helps children to live good lives, that's why positive investments of time and support for sports teams, cultural activities, religious groups, the arts, and service work can help your child to be a more positive and healthy person. Warm welcoming positive homes, good education, exposure to diverse situations/experiences, and lots of talk and conversation helps too. In our home as children we often discussed the stories in the news which gave us a chance to talk about potential risks, problems, and behaviors that create challenge, struggle, and worse.

No family, school, or other group is without their challenges, errors, or problems. No parent wants their child to do the wrong thing. That's why it's important to do what we can to educate our children well and give them the tools they need to navigate life in positive, enriching ways for themselves and others. We need one another's support, wisdom, and leadership to do this work well. And when our children do err, we need to be there to support them and help them learn from their errors.

As a mom and teacher, I'll be thinking about this in the days ahead. I'll be thinking about how I can best support my children and students to build their awareness, knowledge, will, and investment in doing what is right and good for themselves and the greater community. Onward.