A Verb Too Few Practice: Parent

5 years ago
 
 
By now, everyone who doesn't live on a mountain top somewhere with only their trusty goat companion has heard the news story about Karen Klein, the bus monitor who was bullied mercilessly and to tears by children.   It has brought about a call to action to teach children more about not bullying in schools and an unbelievable show of support for Ms. Klein.

What those kids did is horrible, no doubt.  They should be punished by their parents for treating anyone in the manner shown in the video.  However, I don't think that there should be yet another class teaching them not to bully at school.  I'm pretty sure they hear enough of that these days when they need to be focusing on academics.  This happened not because of any failing on the school's part, but the parents'.

You see, if we don't want our children to treat people, any age, race, or heritage in such a manner, then our kids need to learn respect, kindness, and compassion.  Those things shouldn't have to be taught in school.  Our children should be taught how to read, how to do math, and about Paul Revere in school.  They should learn these basic fundamentals of life at home from us.  We are our children's' first and most influential teachers.

There's a reason why kids who grow up in abusive homes are more likely to be abusive parents.  That's all they know.  Telling a child to "do as I say, not as I do," doesn't work.  Doing right in front of your child and leading by example will.  If you want your child to respect others, to treat them with kindness, to show love, then do it yourself.

Parent isn't just a noun. It's also a verb.  It's the act of raising a child.  Raising a child isn't all cute outfits, and chauffeuring to little league sports, dance lessons, and other activities, or at least it shouldn't be.  It's teaching a child what the word "no" really means.  It's helping him or her to understand that life isn't always fair.  It's teaching them to accept that there are always going to be winners and losers in different things in life and to be gracious either way.  It's showing them how to have compassion for others, to love one another as we've been commanded, to judge not, lest they be judged, to do to others as you would have done to you.  If you want your child to be a good friend, then you have to be a good friend.  Lead by example.  Every once in a while, go out of your way to support someone else.  Be selfless, not selfish.

I'll be honest here.  I am a blunt, snarky person who likes to poke fun at people I like.  Get that though, I poke fun at people I like, hopefully in a manner that isn't hurtful.  I have been known to be rude to people, especially salespeople at stores when my blood sugar is low.  My tolerance for just plain stupid is very low after dealing with the public so much during my adult life.  That said, since Firecracker was born I have tried to be more compassionate and gracious.  Truthfully, it's like they put something in that spinal block in the OR when she was born, because  all I could do was thank my OB, thank the nurses, thank the anesthesiologist, thank everyone.   I'm still and always will be very grateful for the wonderful care we received when Firecracker was born, because these people held both our lives in their hands, and they didn't have to be so nice and quite honestly wonderful.  Maybe it was the sheer joy from everything, but I think the change in manner has carried on to today, twenty weeks later.  I want Firecracker to grow up knowing that she has a mom who'll stand up for her, be her champion, but also is gracious and compassionate, so I pray and work to maintain as much of that joy every day.

It took me thirty years to learn that a healthy family isn't one that berates you and guilts you into doing things.  It took me thirty years to learn that a family that seems healthy on the outside for all appearances and quite honestly in the opinions of the dysfunctional family, isn't when everything is a game of who has the upper hand and can hold things over the heads of others like a Sword of Damocles.  I learned an accepted that those things were true, because that was what I knew from example - at least since I was ten.

Every day I pray that I act in a manner in which I want my daughter to some day emulate.  I pray that she never needs a class to learn not to act like those kids on the bus, because she has already learned that it is wrong from watching B and me in our every day lives.  Too few people practice it as a verb, but to be a good parent, you must parent.

 
 
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