I walked past a family in the mall the other day and overheard the mother say to her child, "See that policeman over there? If you don't stop this ridiculous behavior, I am going to get him to come over here and sort you out!"
It is very important that your kids feel safe at all times. If they think those in authority are there to only issue punishment, our kids will not know where to turn for protection when you, the parent, are not there to provide it.
Our attitudes are most influenced by the attitudes of our parents. Here are some common scenarios:
- If we say, "Well, I didn't do any good at school, and I turned out all right," we may well be giving our child the impression that there is no need to work hard. We could be robbing them of the satisfaction of pushing themselves to achieve their full potential.
- If we say, "Just don't get caught," we are giving our kids the idea that breaking the law, cheating, or being dishonest in any way is OK, just as long as we can get away with it. It is not wrong until we get caught. When we get caught it is just bad luck.
- If we say, "White lies are OK," we are saying everyone twists the truth sometimes. Twisting the truth seems to be different than flat out lying, when this is not the case. In fact, as long as we do not represent the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth we are being dishonest.
- If we say, "It doesn't matter if we a) knock things off the clothing racks in a store, b) put frozen foods we don't want on another shelf on the way to the check out, or c) leave shopping carts in the middle of the parking lot BECAUSE it is the job of the employees to pick up after us," we are teaching our children that others are there for our convenience. Quite frankly, we are being lazy and showing that we are very self-centered.
- If we damage someone's property or belongings, like backing into someone's car, and we fail to leave our particulars for the owner to contact us, and we leave the scene, we are really showing our kids that we are irresponsible and that such behavior doesn't really matter.
Respecting ourselves, others and others' stuff is a very fine attribute. When we are dishonest, others lose trust in us and that is very, very hard to recapture.
Written by Sally Burgess