» HEY, PARENTS, let’s take a look at some of life’s important subjects, shall we? You know: I’m talking about some of those touchy, taboo or uncomfortable issues that people tend to disregard, push aside or hope that someone else somewhere down the line will do a tremendous job of sharing with our children.
How about money issues? That’s often a hot-button subject. What’s the best way to teach our children about money? Should we just ignore the topic altogether and let them find out on their own? Should we sit back and watch as little Johnny finances his very first car at a 33-percent interest rate or watch young Jane max out every credit card she gets her hands on during her first year of college? We could easily turn a deaf ear — or a cold shoulder — to their defaulted loans and their nonexistent savings habits. And we could simply watch as they plunge into a wearisome life of endless debt and IOUs.
Or, we, as effective parents and teachers, could be good role models and show our kids the wisest and best ways to manage finances, stay out of debt and make a comfortable living and a nice retirement. I’m guessing that most moms and dads would choose to address the topic of money so their children could enjoy successful, productive lives, rather than stay silent, allowing their own flesh and blood to solely “learn from their mistakes.”
It seems that some families might have already taken up this let-someone-else-teach-them philosophy, as there is growing evidence of a lack of common sense in our nation’s youth.
So what about sex, then? Yes, I said it. There’s another topic to make someone squirm in his or her chair. What’s the best way to educate our youngsters about intimate, physical relationships? Play dumb? Hide everything that possibly has anything to do with intimacy? Hope and pray that our kids happen to learn something appropriate and respectable from books, television shows, movies, video games, peers or even complete strangers? I suppose we could leave it all up to today’s school systems, common core curriculum and political correctness.
It seems that some families might have already taken up this let-someone-else-teach-them philosophy, as there is growing evidence of a lack of common sense in our nation’s youth regarding healthy relationships (physical and emotional). Shall I point out the numerous reality shows that feature teenagers having babies? Do we need to look at the statistics on STDs in our nation? Do we need to discuss how “sexting” and other lewd behaviors have just about become “the norm” in our society for adolescents as young as just 8 or 9 years old?
Realizing that the topic of sexual intercourse could potentially mean life or death for a loved one, I would imagine that having meaningful conversations with our children is the most effective option. We all want our kids to feel loved and wanted so they don’t seek out lesser or inappropriate substitutions. And we all want our kids to know real love and happiness and experience the blessings of commitment and family.
Honestly, it’s ludicrous to think that any parent would hide or ignore important life topics from kids while simultaneously expecting them to figure things out on their own … and to do it successfully and safely, at that. It’s even worse when some parents don’t address these subjects or don’t correct (or punish) their children because they’re afraid that they will somehow lose the children’s love.
So, let me get this straight: Letting a child do whatever he or she wants is somehow equated to love? If you believe that, you’ve got it all wrong. Your child does not have to like you every minute of every day. He or she will get over the disappointments, the failures and the punishments, but he or she will not get over the effects of being ignored or being left to “figure things out” on his or her own.
Does anyone remember Lord of the Flies, perhaps, in which the children did whatever they pleased and succumbed to the innate impulse of gratifying their immediate desires? Yeah. That didn’t turn out so well.
Is that how our brightest and best teachers teach? By NOT discussing their subjects? By pretending a topic doesn’t exist? Do educators spend their time NOT requiring their students to work through ideas, terms, emotions and decisions? Do they discourage our children from being informed and prepared before drop-kicking them out of the nest into the “real world?”
No, teachers show examples and non-examples. They state, restate and reiterate. And they do their best to protect children from being uninformed and unprepared. They know that a child left to do his or her will is most likely in danger. Does anyone remember Lord of the Flies, perhaps, in which the children did whatever they pleased and succumbed to the innate impulse of gratifying their immediate desires? Yeah. That didn’t turn out so well.
I guess my job as a professor would have been much easier if I had taken the silent observer route. And I’m not talking about the idea of “unschooling,” in which children are allowed to learn through various experiences that they choose or that present themselves. I’m talking about getting up in front of the classroom and simply saying nothing. No notes. No lesson plans. No quizzes. No grades. I would just close my eyes and hope that my students would somehow absorb what they needed to know and wouldn’t get hurt along the way.
That’s the exact opposite of what my years of training taught me. Children learn idiosyncratically and teachers need to provide a range of guided educational opportunities in order to foster true learning and achieve depth of knowledge and understanding, rather than just breadth. And it’s the same with parenting. If we close our eyes and let our children do whatever they please, the outcome will not be favorable. We need to provide a variety of purposeful learning opportunities in order to help our kids safely and successfully face — and manage — life’s toughest challenges.
Apparently, some people believe that having a firearm and carrying it with me puts my children in danger and teaches them to be violent. Well, I believe the contrary.
So, what about the topic of firearms, then? There’s another doozie, right? Well, I’ve actually been told many times that I am a terrible parent for exercising my Second Amendment rights and for being a responsibly armed American. Apparently, some people believe that having a firearm and carrying it with me puts my children in danger and teaches them to be violent. Well, I believe the contrary. I love my children dearly, and I teach them. I teach them to use good manners, eat their vegetables, brush and floss their teeth, and look both ways before they cross the street, just like any other good parent would. And I teach my children to respect guns.
Just like with any other important issue in life, no one can teach about responsible gun ownership by ignoring firearms or pretending they aren’t there. That simply makes a firearm “taboo,” and, ultimately, even more interesting to little ones. It’s important to address the topic. Talk to your children. Guide them. Teach them! You don’t want them attempting to figure this out on their own.
Depending on their ages and on their levels of understanding, my husband and I have purposeful, valuable and meaningful discussions with our children about safety and personal protection. We teach them the basic firearms safety rules over and over — and over — again. We share real stories about bad people, helpful law enforcement officers, negligent shootings and responsible gun ownership.
We also teach our kids how to safely, confidently and proficiently shoot a gun. And as role models who practice what we preach, we make sure to provide and use teachable moments so our children can see the good and the bad, recognize the truths from the lies … and continue to develop safe and responsible habits, even where we’re not around.
Our society doesn’t need disconnected, uninformed individuals who constantly point fingers and place blame.
I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t want to ignore the topic of firearms and let my kids find out about guns on their own. And I don’t want them to learn everything they’ll ever know about guns from books, television shows, movies, video games, peers or complete strangers, either. So, for all of those people who believe that guns are dangerous, I say: They are, but only if you use them in a dangerous way. And for those who think that children would be better off not ever being exposed to firearms, I repeat: We cannot expect our kids to understand a topic by sweeping it under the rug.
Bottom line? It’s about education, not isolation.
Life’s big, important issues are just way too significant to be put on the proverbial back burner or be entrusted to other people. Letting our children “learn from their mistakes” should not be the mantra for every touchy topic they encounter. We must prepare our children for the world that awaits them … and that includes the good, the bad and the ugly. And along with that, we must prepare our children for their own personal protection and self-defense.
Our society doesn’t need disconnected, uninformed individuals who constantly point fingers and place blame. We need cultivated and enriched citizens who will stand up for our Second Amendment rights, continue to further our cause and teach their children these important topics as well.