What We Teach Our Children Defines Our Future

Hello Friends,

As I was pondering upon what to write for my post this week, I came across this article that I wrote for our local newspaper a few years ago. I  feel that it is still relevant for today and thought that I would reproduce it. There is only one image; the concrete goose that you see here because that is where the story began...

With the world being torn apart by war, children being ripped from their parents, and soldiers being injured and killed daily, the theft of a gray concrete goose lawn ornament seems petty in comparison. But it does point to problems we are facing in our modern world and one that distresses me deeply.

Growing up in a rural Indiana town, I had two wonderful parents who gave me the guidance I needed to face a diverse world. I have been told that one day my dad came home and told my mom that he purchased a "country house" for us for $3,000. It needed a little repair, but it would be perfect for our six member family. When he took my mom to the second floor of the house and she saw a hole in the wall that was large enough to put a small pillow through, she burst into tears. But through hard work and determination, my dad made a home for us that was filled with love, warmth, and solid walls!

It was in this house that I learned many life lessons. I learned that my mom was a good cook because we ate our meals together at home in the kitchen. I learned to pray before each meal. I learned that the meal was not finished until the dishes were cleaned up. I learned that you should say please. I learned that grandparents were to be respected and not put into a nursing home because you were too busy to give them care. I learned that you must give more than just money to your schools and your church - that you must volunteer your time and talent as well. I learned that when people came to your house to visit that you turned off the television and listened to what they had to say. I learned that adults were to be respected and when they were talking, you did not interrupt and you waited until they had finished talking. I learned that even though my brothers were quality athletes, the time we spent together at Thanksgiving and Christmas was more important than a basketball tournament. I learned to put others first. I learned that even though friends are important, my family would always be there for me. I learned that what belonged to others did not belong to me. I learned that I was not entitled to anything unless I worked for it and proved my worthiness.

It saddens me that many children today are not being given the basic moral values we were given when we growing up. It is not unusual to see children throwing temper tantrums in stores because they want a particular toy or food. And sadly, it is not unusual to see parents give their children what they scream for because it is a difficult job to contain a screaming child. I see parents yelling at their children during athletic events because their children did not perform as they thought they should. I see parents so involved in their own jobs that a daily meal together at home is just too much trouble - grabbing something at a local deli or restaurant is easier. I see parents so exhausted from their day at work that in order to grab some much needed rest, they turn on the television babysitter and sit their children in front of it for hours. I hear parents tell their children that if you want something, take it = never mind what happens to the other guy. I see people yell at a food server simply because they didn't bring them exactly what the ordered.

Certainly, the world is a better place in many ways. When I was in high school, the only athletic opportunity a girl had was to be a cheerleader or a member of the pompom squad. Many people were killed in cars because not every automobile was equipped with seat belts. Women and minorities were hardly ever seen in leadership positions or as physicians or lawyers. It is such a miracle to be able to keep in contact with a person with just the touch of a computer button. Many wonderful changes have come to our world. But basic moral principles that should be a guide to us are shifting. This is what concerns me.

As a working mother, I understand how hard it is to work out of the home and continue to be a good parent. I know that I am not perfect. I don't think I can ever give my children what was given to me completely. The world I grew up in is gone and a faster paced one has arrived. But we must continue to remember that what makes our country great is our love for others and a commitment to make the world a better place. We must teach our children that in order to achieve, we must work for it and not feel a sense of entitlement. We must teach our children to be involved in a cause - not for profit, but because it is the right thing to do. Our children must stand up for themselves, but not at the expense of others or simply because they feel it is their right to have what others have. Our children must know that having the best house, the fastest car, the most wonderful vacations, and the coolest clothes should not define a person. Being the most responsible, the most trusted, having the kindest heart and loving family are things that define one's character.

Losing my concrete goose makes me sad. It was given to me by my parents. It brought me many years of smiles.  But what saddens me most is that it was stolen by a person who feels that he or she is entitled to something simply because it was wanted and so therefore theirs to take. Because we have hidden ourselves behind our phones, our ipads, and our computers, the PEOPLE part of who we are become a thing of the past. How many times do we see people sitting next to each other, but not communicating because they are reading what is on the screen in their hands? Conversation is becoming a lost art. Young people do not come to the door to pick each other up; instead they text to say they are in the driveway. When this type of interpersonal contact is removed from our lives, it is no surprise to see that we are seeing more and more children being bullied.

I love my country. I am proud to be an American citizen. But just as I am proud of my three wonderful children, I know they are not perfect. It is my responsibility to teach them how to be strong moral adults. Is it not our responsibility as U.S. citizens to continue to remind each other that we are strong because we are committed to basic values? Our children are our future. Will we have a strong, healthy country in the future? This can only be answered by what we do as parents. Teach your children well. They define you and our great country....

PS - My husband replaced my lost concrete goose the following Christmas. It is still standing and continues to bring me smiles!

Until next time,