I’d settle for no fighting in the family room before 7 AM, but the dream of a better world is not a bad one, it just needs to be broken down a little so we can do our own part. My dream is that my children will grow into adults who see our own country with gratitude and the rest of the world with wonder and appreciation. I sincerely hope I am becoming that person as well. Then maybe I will have done a small but important thing in making the world a better place. Here is what I think will help my kids (and me) get there.
Is that how you speak to your mother?
This one is not popular right now. My sense is that some people see respect for authority the same as subjugation or being demeaned. That is untrue. Learning to be respectful even if you don’t understand or agree is a trait the world could use right now. Imagine how much more civil our political world would be! Imagine if countries did it. So we don’t shy away from demanding respect in our house. Respect is not about familiarity. All people have innate value and we are learning to respect that. Traveling with my kids and teaching them to respect the cultures and people we meet will make my kids and the world better.
Don't lie to me.
I think the more inherently honest a person is, the more they will affect the world for the better. Kids lie for the same reason adults do, they think it will get them out of trouble or further their own desires. Telling the truth takes courage and faith. The courage to face what ever punishment may come your way and faith that the good of telling the truth is better then the bad of missing out. It is true that they best learn this lesson through the example of people around them. No pressure parents. Willingness to speak the truth will mean people who are courageous enough to speak up when they see injustice in the world. Mahatma Gandhi, William Wilberforce, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa just to name a few who have stood up for the truth. How dreamy to take my kids to visit those memorials!
How does it do that?
Kids are naturally curious. The big challenge is to not squash it when it is inconvenient at times. I mean what mother has not nearly ripped her ears off after the 5 millionth “why” question? We have chosen to limit devices/screens as they seem to suck the curiosity out of kids, but we do look for toys, games and books that help. Try the Little Passports products if you want help sparking those imaginations. We also use family time to ask questions that encourage them to wonder about the world around them. It is surprising what they already know (or think they do) about other countries, science, nature, faith, mathematics, and then encourage questions. Time to explore the physical world around them with as minimal interference as possible also helps keep those brains churning. Curious people look at differences as opportunities to learn, not as reasons to fear.
If you do it right the first time...
Doing the work that needs to be done and doing it well. I will give more credit to my husband on this one, although I wholeheartedly believe in the trait, he excels in it. There is both virtue and reward in hard work. I hope my children grow to understand how persistence at doing good work will improve their family, their community, their culture and even the world at large. It is all any of us can do and how much better would the world be if we all did our part to the best of our abilities? Seeing that hard work is what people do all over the world and that we live pretty easy lives helps my kids gain some perspective when they want to complain about putting dishes away.
Ninjas Never Quit
This is one my kids are teaching me as much as I am teaching them. The ninja part is from a cartoon they watch, but they have taken it to heart (not all screen time is bad). Quite literally they are over halfway to earning their black belts in Taekwondo. I also use the same idea to help them persist at homework and piano lessons. After one of them looses a soccer game, we talk about how we can learn and grow, so we can come back and be better next time. Their lives will be mostly about what they do with or about the hard things that they are sure to face.
If you, as Ms. Whitney Houston, believe the children are the future, then it is important to give them the tools to improve the world. Then they can become world citizens able to do some good.