It Shouldn’t Be That Difficult

Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.
Robert Fulghum

It doesn’t surprise me that this quote would come from someone who wrote a book called, All I Really Need To Know I learned In Kindergarten. Because children really learn, very early in life, the foundation of what should be most important to the rest of their lives.

Like all parents, I’m sure we made our share of mistakes. Parenting is a learn as you go experience so you do the best you can in situations you never imagined. Some moments require patience and understanding while some are simply common sense. Or should be.

For me, the Fulghum quote falls into the common sense category. It’s just so obvious that it’s painful to watch when it happens, and it happens much too often.

Most parents are big on discipline. They make sure their children say please and thank you. They try and teach them to be independent and they want them to respect their authority. They may punish them for disobeying their directives or not doing well in school. The list goes on.

But Fulghum takes parenting to another level of responsibility that parents sometimes ignore. The impact their own words and actions have on their children.

Are you teaching them what should be most important in their lives or satisfying your own desires because you’re unwilling or too lazy to do what’s right?

Is your language in front of your children what it should be? Children hear everything, even when you think they’re not listening.

Do you show the proper respect to others and ask that they do the same, explaining instead of ignoring or dismissing? Respect comes in many forms. Your lack of discipline should not become theirs. Continued excuses are unacceptable.

Are your prejudices on display in full view of your children? They notice and will react accordingly.

Do you attempt to influence their thoughts and actions instead of allowing them to try and make up their own minds?

Do you allow life to lead them or attempt to lead them through life without consideration for their own thoughts and interests.

Children hear what you say from the back seat of the car, from their rooms, during meals, while you think they’re preoccupied, while you’re on the phone or at the park speaking to your friends. They hear you at games, after games, during school functions and in every situation where your body language speaks louder than your words.

The absorb everything.

They recognize at a very early age what you think is most important and will follow accordingly. In many ways they will pattern their lives based on the influences your show them and the importance you place on certain things, and once it’s ingrained in their DNA, it’s hard to change. Next month or next year is too late.

Then one day they become a little older and you may not like what you see or hear. Discipline becomes a little harder until it’s not possible and then they’re on their own. A reflection of your words and actions.

Common sense stuff, right?

One would think so.

 

 

32 thoughts on “It Shouldn’t Be That Difficult

    1. George Post author

      Lol…I’m sure you haven’t. You seem to approach life with a sense of humor. That’s a great environment for children to be around. Just keep laughing. 😊

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  1. colinandray

    Hi George – I find it quite astounding that raising children is surely the biggest responsibility we will ever have to take on given that our future, and our country’s future, and even our world’s future, will eventually depend on them… and yet we all “wing it”! There is no formal training in it. No test required, and no exams to pass prior to starting a family. We rely on intuition (developed from on what?), which is heavily influenced by the way that we were raised (but that was a generation ago and the world has changed), and fine tuned by what we did not like in our upbringing, plus what are marketed as self-help books on raising children and basic psychology etc.! Why are we surprised when things are not going quite right?

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    1. George Post author

      Perfectly said, Colin. I get that it’s difficult and so much of our own upbringing may influence our approach to parenting, but that’s really not an excuse for what should be obvious behavior. I don’t know if parents get worn out or just are too lazy to do the right thing. I hate to think they’re clueless but it might explain some things. Thanks for your comments.

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  2. colinandray

    I would suggest that parents who rely on the TV and other electronics to entertain their offspring should really reconsider their choices. I would also suggest that when parents decide living a comfortable lifestyle is dependent them both working full time, they should contemplate their options carefully.

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  3. kidsandlifeafter40

    Awesome post! Just in time for summer and the start of 24/7 time with my kids. I try to pay close attention to how I am and, sadly, I am afraid that they have already learned enough for a lifetime of bad habits. Words they cannot un-hear and actions they are already starting to adapt to. Parenting, to me is a day by day, actually, minute by minute lesson for everybody involved. Thanks for the reminder.

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  4. Dale

    It shouldn’t be that difficult indeed. And yet, I, too, know I am guilty of not always setting the right example. Kinda late now, as they are 19 and almost 18 but, hopefully they are still paying attention when I’m not failing!

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  5. Ann Coleman

    Wise words, George! Children watch and hear everything we do, so it’s so much more important that we live our own lives according to the values that we want to instill in our kids than we just preach at them. The best parenting advice I ever heard was to provide the example I wanted my children to follow. I didn’t always live up to that, but I can honestly say I tried, and I learned from my mistakes.

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    1. George Post author

      That’s great advice and we’ve all made parenting mistakes. There’s no avoiding them. I guess the hope is that we keep them to a minimum and hope for the best with our examples…:)

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  6. reocochran

    I think we all need practice as young people, as babysitters, neighbors of younger children and spending time volunteering in church nurseries. I think my parents studied Dr. Benjamin Spock, the pages were well worn for their third child. Lucky me! The oldest!
    I hope that when people consider having children they try to find a good role model or mentor, even if just to talk at work on break. Especially when they may know their own family was dysfunctional. . . Happy belated Father’s Day, George!
    I’m not sure if my comment or two went to awaiting approval, but this is my third one, so it may be “charmed.”

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