2017. A whole new beginning. And what better time than now to fill the empty space on our website reserved for “Parenting Blog.” I’ve known for a while that, once a month, I’d be posting things to the Parenting Blog. But what is a blog? From looking at lots of them, it seems it can be a lot of different things. It can be advice, observations, a place to report research data, a place to share successes and failures and why. I guess my blog will be all of these things.
So I’d like to start with some observations I’ve been collecting while out and about, hither and yon, in my random trips to various public places. It’s important for you to know that I’m an educator (once and educator, always an educator), and it’s through that lens that I make my observations.
I’m standing in one of two lines waiting to get checked out. I look across at the other line to see if my mine is going to win, or if I’d picked the slower line for the umpteenth time. I was immediately distracted by an adorable little girl with blonde curls standing next to her dad. I stopped caring if my line would win. I was enjoying watching the little girl try to reach high enough to put their purchases on the counter. She did, and she was so proud. Smiling from ear to ear, she looked up at her dad, possibly looking for a “Good job!” or “Way to go!!” But he didn’t. He was busy paying for their items. Before the clerk finished their transaction, he asked the dad if he’d like to purchase one of several candy bars that were on special. The dad said, “Nah. We’ve got enough of that shit at home.” All the while, his adorable, blonde-haired little girl was looking up at him, drinking in his every word, better than chocolate milk could ever be. Dads are the heroes of their little girls. And that never goes away. Some hero.
I continued my errands, winding up at the mall. As I briskly walked toward my destination, I saw in the distance a man holding what appeared to be a very new baby. I was a bit alarmed, but as I drew closer, I saw that the baby girl was being held close in the arms of her father with such care and tenderness that my concern evaporated. I watched as he repeatedly, oh so gently, ran his index finger across her forehead and down her cheek. The look on his face was one of pure love and adoration. She was his daughter, and he was her dad. Her hero.
I walked slower then, wondering how a dad could move from the overwhelming love on the face of the dad with the newborn to the dad of the toddler who thought nothing of swearing in front of her.
Children observe parents’ behaviors as something to be emulated, so they integrate them as acceptable behaviors of their own. Family members are role models. I wonder if the first dad would have had as strong a reaction as I did if his daughter had been the one to respond, “Nah. We’ve got enough of that shit at home.” (His remark was so jolting it was as if someone crashed cymbals next to my head and, like a cartoon character, my head was vibrating back and forth.) Sometimes kids get bad messages unintentionally from good people.
One of the things that’s super important in raising children is consistency. Without it, children become anxious and afraid because they don’t know what to expect. If a person the child has come to trust treats that child with love, respect, and adoration when they’re young and then treats them disrespectfully or unlovingly as they grow older, the child may misinterpret these messages as ones of unacceptance or inadequacy, or perhaps don’t have the self-confidence or coping skills to know that it isn’t necessarily a reflection of them, that they’re not deficient in some way. This is a common occurrence in middle school where a long-time friend suddenly turns away and becomes friends with others, may even become cruel. The child begins to feel they’ve done something wrong, or that they aren’t important, or that they don’t matter anymore. We see this with our students at Safe Haven School where unconditional acceptance and consistency are hallmarks of our program. They are two of the many things our students value about our program. It makes them feel safe and important. They come to know that they matter.
So, what do you think? Have you observed similar scenarios? Do you agree or disagree with my conclusions? Please respond. That’s an important part of a blog.
Thanks for taking the time to become acquainted with this section of our website. Hope you’ll come back often.