6 Standards This Nation Imparts On Our Children
Now more than any time in my life, I think about Nazi Germany. I ponder the direction our “National Legacy” has taken. How will it affect the young minds waiting to become leaders?
The rhetoric of our political campaign haunts me. Children throughout this country witness the raucous noise of politics in the background of their lives.
Behind the news clips on the television each morning, noon, and night I picture young children in uniform marching in Germany before WWII.
I ponder the hatred taught to German children in every facet of their lives. How did they feel as their country began to divide its people into categories?
There are some disturbing similarities in a segment of the population in the United States. I have witnessed blatant racism in people as we move toward a new election.
WWII remained a vivid memory for the parents of my generation as they raised their children. There were non-negotiable standards they demanded of all of us kids.
You were corrected by other mothers if they caught you being naughty when your mom wasn’t looking.
The standards were high, and we were expected to honor them.
Our National Legacy Must Promote Respect For All
“Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners.”
― Laurence Sterne
Merriam-Webster defines respect as “a feeling of admiring someone or something that is good, valuable, important, etc.; a feeling or understanding that someone or something is important or serious.”
Is it any wonder the Greatest Generation demanded honor, esteem, and reverence from all of us kids? My mother would be so embarrassed by the rhetoric of those who command the news today.
Mom would hate the words chosen by those who dominate the news today.
As a nation, we need to teach our children:
- They are not our equals. We deserve their respect, but we can never forget we must earn it.
- Adults are in alignment when it comes to showing respect to all. A child can’t learn to be respectful if the adults act like bullies.
- The lesson begins with teaching children that everyone should say “please and thank you.”
- We must show each other respect regardless of race, religion, or political affiliation, so our children understand the meaning of the word respect.
- It’s critical that we display consistent behavior in front of children. It’s never acceptable to demand respect from them and then immediately turn around and degrade another adult.
- When we witness anyone who is disrespectful in front of a child, whether in person or through the media, we need to discuss it with the child, so they understand we don’t condone the behavior.
How can we hope to teach our children to honor others when we subject them to visions of street violence?
It doesn’t matter what causes the violence. It might be the result of alleged police brutality or unruly patrons or protesters at a political rally.
Whatever the cause of inappropriate behavior, our children need to understand it is never acceptable to behave badly.
It’s not that difficult to teach a child to behave properly at home and in public:
- Model the behavior you wish your children to exhibit.
- Talk to them about improper behavior exhibited by others in public or on the media.
- Ask them how they felt when they saw the protesters tip over the car.
- Hold your child and yourself accountable. Apologize when you cross the line.
- Monitor the number of hours kids listen to social media and television.
- Involve your children in activities with a minimal possibility of witnessing unacceptable behavior.
From Merriam-Webster: manners pl personal conduct or behavior as evaluated by an accepted standard of appropriateness for a social or professional setting
I find it difficult to talk about proper behavior in a world that suddenly appears to have no regard for the foundational lessons I learned as a child.
We haven’t lost “please” and “thank you” yet, but we continue to exhibit behavior contrary to the rest of the lessons I learned as a child.
If we hope to regain a more gentle and respectful nation of people, we need to teach our children some basic manners:
- Don’t interrupt when someone else is speaking.
- Sit up straight.
- Stop making rude comments.
- Always compliment someone who does something nice for you.
- Avoid embellishing on the truth or facts if you’re uncertain.
- No name calling.
- Shake hands when introduced.
- Acknowledge a compliment paid to you.
- Show respect for the opinions of others, even if you don’t agree.
- Remain seated at the table until everyone finishes eating.
- Chew with your mouth closed.
- Keep your mouth closed if you don’t have anything positive to say.
I Demand a Certain Level of Integrity In My Children and In This Nation’s Legacy For Future Generations:
It appears we are now more confused by the meaning of the word integrity, making it difficult to share those values with our children.
Do we follow a complicated set of rules based on the moral considerations of distinct groups of people? Or, do you prefer to teach integrity to your child as simply doing the right thing because it’s the “right thing” to do?
Grandpa Burton impressed on me that I should be trustworthy. He insisted I maintain a set of high moral principles and that I give no one reason to distrust me based on my words or actions.
Can we hope for any higher standards for our children?
Integrity means many things:
- High Moral Principles
- Doing the Right Thing
- Good Character
- A Code of Honor
These must be the characteristics of the person who leads this great nation. We should not only expect these attributes; we should demand them.
As a child, I learned that honor was synonymous with respect and distinction.
We “honored” our service men and women who died in the wars fought.
It’s still important to honor those who passed from this world.
Honor is the reward we receive when we accomplish something of value to others.
I learned there was no honor in shaming others, acting irresponsibly, or causing trouble at home or in the classroom.
Consequences hurt when my actions were considered less than honorable. I felt shame and isolation if I didn’t live up to the values my elders set for me.
I taught my children to show consideration to those who achieved recognition for good work and good deeds. That was the underlying meaning of honor.
I’ve said this before: Whether you cheer or jeer at the antics some of our politicians have been exhibiting, you are providing a clear message to your children. Be extremely cautious because they are absorbing your attitudes of what you consider honorable or unacceptable.
We will never all agree on the interpretations of the principles our founding fathers intended when they wrote the Constitution.
That doesn’t mean we have a right to ignore the principles this nation should follow. We are a society that stumbles, corrects, and stands again for what is righteous. That’s the National Legacy I’ve grown accustomed to.
Can we hope to mold the future leaders of this country if we ignore those principles?
Are we allowed because of our freedoms to stomp on the values men and women have spilled blood to protect?
It’s time we sit back and determine what we want to see for the rest of this decade in America.
We need to review the six qualities through which our national attitude impacts our children and convince them to make wise choices.
We developed a system of checks and balances through our three branches of government to protect us from any abuse of power. Our intent was never to cripple our government. And yet, that is the goal of opposing factions.
Our children must receive an adequate education to enable them to understand these qualities and incorporate them into their lives.
It is and always has been your responsibility to teach your child:
It is the responsibility of this great nation and its leaders to exhibit the same qualities we demand of our children. What National Legacy do you believe we owe our children?
“He, therefore, is the truest friend to the liberty of this country who tries most to promote its virtue, and who, so far as his power and influence extend, will not suffer a man to be chosen into any office of power and trust who is not a wise and virtuous man….The sum of all is, if we would most truly enjoy this gift of Heaven, let us become a virtuous people.”
Our hope for the future rests in the lessons we impart to our children. Make them matter.