We set examples. We follow examples. Sounds okay so far. Except for the fact that, mostly, we do these things without thinking! We do them on autopilot and think it’s okay because we don’t always get to see the consequences.
My five year old son, Kyle, was safely delivered into the primary school playground and I turned away. Rather naively I though he was the one going to be learning lessons, not me. Two steps later I passed a mom and her young son. They were walking towards the school gate, wrapped up in happy morning conversation.
“I’ll soon be six, won’t I, Mom?” the little lad asked. His proud mom agreed that, yes, he would soon be six.
“And then I’ll be allowed to say bad words. Won’t I, Mom?”
Well! Can you imagine the mother’s face? He hadn’t said this quietly, or hesitantly. He’d said it right out loud, in front of the assembled gathering of other parents and grandparents. Can you imagine her embarrassment!
While she set about putting things right I walked on, trying hard not to smile. After all, that could just as easily have been or my child at another time. Parents need to show some solidarity!
But those words stayed in my mind. I was struck, not by what the little lad had said but by the absolute innocent conviction in his voice.
Someone – someone he trusted totally – had told this little fellow that six was the age when you could say bad words. And it would be all right. So, all right you could happily tell your mom about it!
Why they would tell him such a thing I couldn’t imagine, but … Supposing that same person had told him that six was when you started looking after kids younger than you, or that six was when you said your prayers every night and tried to do one good deed a day? He would have been every bit as convinced – and the world would be better place for it!
It’s all very well just drifting through our children’s life, after all, we have a hundred and one things to do, don’t we. But those innocent words remind up that if we don’t play an active part in teaching our children what is right and wrong – then others will!
So, let’s start setting a good example from the earliest age. And when we choose one to follow ourselves, let’s make it the very best, knowing that the little ones will learn by watching us. The world isn’t short of bad words, but it could certainly do with more good words. Our children are waiting to hear them.