Teach Our Children Well

P7040080On Monday, I wrote a blog about trying to demonstrate kindness. In it I mentioned some things that I didn’t want children to learn.  Today I wanted to talk more about that and what children should be taught.  The headline of this blog is based on the Crosby, Stills, and Nash song, “Teach Your Children Well.”

There are many ways to raise children and many schools of thought on what to do.  I am no expert but can speak from my own experience as a mother, and learning from those who had children before me, my siblings, friends, parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents.  So here are some of my thoughts of what children need and what we can teach them.

Mainly, they want our time, attention, and love.  This was clearly demonstrated in a commercial that was shown in December. Children were asked what they wanted Santa to bring to them for Christmas.  They gave lists of toys and games and books they wanted.  They were then asked if they’d rather have the gift or time with their parents.

You know what every child said?  Not another fancy toy, not the top-of-the line new gadget, they all wanted time with their parents.  That gave me pause and I hope it does you as well.  Let’s be sure to give them our time and undivided attention.  When they have a question, let’s listen and give an answer; instead of rushing them away with “I’m busy, I don’t have time.”

I try to do my best to listen to all of Ian’s comments, answer his questions, and comfort his fears. I am by no means perfect and do get impatient at times, but I do my best to pay attention each and every time.  When I do stop and focus on him, I learn many things from him.  He has an amazing mind and insightful and loving things to say.

I read a quote earlier this week: “Students who are loved at home come to school to learn, and students who aren’t, come to school to be loved.”  This too made me stop and think.  My prayer is that all children are loved at home, but the sad fact is, many aren’t.  For whatever reason, this happens and that breaks my heart.

I hope and pray that all children can learn at school and pay attention.  I hope that we as parents, teachers, aunts, uncles, friends, etc., can let the children in our lives know that they are loved, that they are special, that they have value, and that they are uniquely and wonderfully made.  I hope that we can teach them love, kindness, forgiveness, patience, self-control, among many other things.  I also hope that we can be good examples for them.

I hope that we also teach them to not bully other children, to care for those in their lives – both people and animals, and that as part of a family we work together and help each other.  I also hope that we teach them that chores are important, hard work is important, to always do their best, and that making mistakes is a part of life.  Losing gracefully is also something that I hope we can teach them.  I hope that we can teach our children that their actions right or wrong do have consequences.

I also hope our children learn to appreciate what they have and don’t take things for granted, that they know some parts of the world don’t have running water or a toilet that flushes, that many children don’t get three meals a day seven days a week, and that they are not entitled to everything that they want.  I hope we can tell our children no when we as parents deem necessary, that they can learn teamwork and to lose gracefully and kindly.  I also hope that we as parents don’t take the games too seriously and make scenes that both embarrass and penalize our children.

The recent story of the affluenza teen shocked me.  From the reports I heard this is what happened.  A young man drove with several friends, he was drunk while driving and several of them were killed.  His defense was that he was so spoiled that he didn’t know right from wrong.  What?  Seriously, a kid wasn’t taught right from wrong?  How could that possibly happen?  What is the thinking behind this? What possible good is it to never discipline your child?

By discipline, I mean taking things away from them, talking about when they disobey, time-outs, having them realize that their actions do have consequences, and the occasional spank (lightly).  I don’t mean violence or terrifying them into submission.  I think we can discipline our children with love and not anger.  We sometimes just have to stop and count to ten before we do.

Regarding this parent who doesn’t discipline, I just don’t get it.  I waited until my 40s to become a parent.  I had plenty of time to see what I wanted for our child and had many discussions with my husband on what we would do and how we would raise our child.  I feel fortunate to have had that.  I am glad that we have set boundaries for our son and have disciplined him with love.

It was a hard few years to get there.  Many days when he was little, I got nothing done but talking to him about how to behave and what was okay and what wasn’t.  It did pay off since we could take him out to eat without total chaos ensuing.  That was a major blessing and one that my grandmother complimented me on.  I will never forget her telling me, “You are really good parents Patti.”  Wow, thanks Grandma.  That meant the world to me.

There are still many things to work on.  Now our battles are with helping around the house, keeping his room clean, ensuring all of his homework is finished each night, and eating vegetables.  At his school, they work on life skills and being kind to each other.  I just love that.

Being a parent is in my opinion the most important job that one will ever have.  Sadly there is so much that we often don’t know when we start.  It truly is on the job training.  I just hope and pray that we can help each other as we go through the parenting adventure.

May we be there for each other.  May we equip our children to be adults who can live on their own with jobs, values, and interests. And may we always remember to love, no matter what.