Parenthood is Definitely Not Like Politics


So we have officially started home schooling. I imagine we’ll share all the reasons for this at some point, but I’m pretty sure the main reason is because…we’re crazy.

One thing I’ve noticed so far about parenthood is that the things our kids most readily pick up from us has nothing to do with the carefully crafted “lessons” we try to put forth. It’s definitely not like a political campaign, where you create an image with stories and photo-ops in order to present a pre-defined message to voters. No, kids aren’t fooled by spin. They see all sides of you, and the lessons they learn from the things you say and do when you don’t think they’re paying attention, well, those seem to be the most sticky.

With Lucy not yet four, we’re starting things very simply. But that’s not to say we haven’t already put a lot of thought into this undertaking, especially when it comes to the “hidden lessons” we might be passing along. I recently read an article that showed how little impact homework has on the test scores of students, even as they are assigned more of it than ever before. When asked why they do it, some teachers admitted that it’s not because they feel it’s necessary, but because parents expect it. I know a family who sends their children to a private preparatory school, and the homework assigned to their seventh grader would make a grad student gag.

It makes me wonder what these schools are really preparing their students for…a life of workaholism, perhaps? It’s not hard to imagine a clear (and probably unintended) lesson being sent here is that you work all day and then go home and work some more.

Kim and I are shooting for a bit more balance. Apart from all the specific knowledge we hope to impart on our children, we hope that the hidden lesson our kids pick up from our efforts is a lifelong love for learning. That learning is not just something you do within pre-determined hours of a day with a break from it during the summer. It remains to be seen how successful we will be, but at least we are intentional about it.

Whether you are a parent, grandparent, teacher, mentor, coach, or a concerned adult, keep in mind that words matter, but not as much as actions. The young people in your life are paying attention to the hidden lessons of your actions more than anything else. While it’s impossible to spot them all, a little mindfulness goes a long way.

Comments

  1. http://m.guardiannews.com/lifeandstyle/2012/jan/19/are-obedient-children-a-good-thing?cat=lifeandstyle&type=article right after I read your blog one of my friends had posted that link. Thought id share because it was along the same lines. :)

    • Wow, great article Anin, so much to think about. Thanks for sharing it!

      My favorite line: “When I ask parents, at the beginning of my lectures, what their long term goals are for the children, I hear words such as ethical, compassionate independent happy and so on. No-one ever says mindlessly compliant.”

  2. Anonymous says:

    This same theme has been weighing heavily on my mind ever since I heard you speak in Houston on September 15th. I do not have children but I have worked closely with children in a daycare for the last four years and the goal there, like most daycares, has always been to educate. We focus on all the basic subjects such as language arts, math, and science, but the real lessons we are teaching are often done so blindly. This revelation came when you were speaking about “imaginary rules” and how we follow them without even knowing the history behind them or where they came from. This got me thinking! As teachers, parents, and adults we impose our own ethics on children, and most of the time we do it unconsciously. Children don’t question us, they’re taught to listen, not to ask why. It is a frightening thought that we so absent-mindedly affect the children we encounter. It is so frightening to me that I’ve decided to present this idea to my staff at our next staff meeting, and with it I will be encouraging them to do exactly as you wrote here, to be more mindful!

    • That’s great, Ashley! Kudos to you for taking this idea and expanding the conversation with your staff. More mindfulness will not only help the kids, but also the teachers as well!

  3. Ashley Angeles says:

    This same theme has been weighing heavily on my mind ever since I heard you speak in Houston on September 15th. I do not have children but I have worked closely with children in a daycare for the last four years and the goal there, like most daycares, has always been to educate. We focus on all the basic subjects such as language arts, math, and science, but the real lessons we are teaching are often done so blindly. This revelation came when you were speaking about “imaginary rules” and how we follow them without even knowing the history behind them or where they came from. This got me thinking! As teachers, parents, and adults we impose our own ethics on children, and most of the time we do it unconsciously. Children don’t question us, they’re taught to listen, not to ask why. It is a frightening thought that we so absent-mindedly affect the children we encounter. It is so frightening to me that I’ve decided to present this idea to my staff at our next staff meeting, and with it I will be encouraging them to do exactly as you wrote here, to be more mindful!

  4. This makes me think of the times I have encountered very young children saying things that would make me blush. They are always listening.