As I turn another year older on Thursday I find that–given the events unfolding in the nation–my mind has reflected and reviewed the way my generation was raised and what lessons we should have learned along the way. Clearly not everyone mastered what I consider a few of the foundations for raising responsible children ready to be solid citizens.
I was somewhat taken aback while reading a column in the Sunday newspaper about a black man who chose to reject an offer to work at the UW-Madison for fear that his black sons might not fare well in this city. Instead the man chose to continues his residency in South Carolina where he admits racism runs rampant. That article on top of the news stories that have pained us all as of late–along with reflections on getting another year older–brings me to the thrust of this post.
I am always interested in the backstory to events to better understand how a person gets to the point where they make headlines in the newspaper. I cheer for the national spelling champs and love to read how they prepare for the challenge of spelling words that befuddle even the best of us adults. I applaud the person who makes news for finishing college and getting a degree while overcoming health issues.
But I also pay attention when people make awful headlines and are then found to have dropped out of high school in their sophomore year. Or how a gun was used in a crime by a teenager who housed the weapon in their parent’s home.
Granted I was born in 1962 in a rural county in Wisconsin. Many can say ‘things were much different’ then, and they would be accurate. But only up to a point. There is no reason the same common-sense rules of the road for parenting that my mom and dad employed should not apply today.
I offer a few ideas that either were in place when I was a kid or clearly had no need to ever be addressed because we had a solid family foundation.
- Kids need to be read to from day one. Books need to be in a home and used as an everyday item same as a plate or spoon.
- There is no excuse to miss school expect for sickness.
- Schoolwork is front and center in the evening.
- One may not have lots of money but there can still be an investment made in education. Attending parent/teacher meetings or volunteering at the local school are but two ways to impact a child’s education.
- From the start know who your kids interact with and the quality of people they spend time with when the parent is not around. Alerting them from the start about the quality of friends can be most important.
- Everyday there is a time when all in the family meet for dinner (supper) and no electronic gadgets are allowed at the table. Talk centers on whatever took place in the lives gathered. Fostering good communications skills for the whole family is a most undervalued asset in times of turmoil. (This topic of the importance of dinner time and how it is reflected in books and movies and has shaped our past and needs to continue is a project I have been working on and wish to further develop. At some point I may take a blogging vacation to craft my next writing project.)
- Kids do not smoke in the house.
- No drugs are allowed in the house.
- No guns or other weapons are allowed in the house.
- There is an expectation from Day One that learning is important and respect for oneself and others is never to falter.
- No one even hints at dropping out of high school.
Times change but common-sense does not. Young people who make awful choices need to take their share of responsibility for what happens. But parents need to step up their game and help society create the next generation of adults we would want as our neighbors.