How children learn from their parents
Posted in , Sep 17, 2015
Author James Baldwin once said, “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” Looking back, I have found this to be very true. As a child, I was not the best listener, but I did learn valuable lessons by imitating my elders. Is there a lesson you learned as a child, one that stuck with you? For me, there most certainly is.
While in elementary school, I was faced with a dilemma. A classmate and I had our differences, which led to his threatening me. This made going to school very difficult. Then one morning my father decided to tag along. I wasn’t sure what he was planning to do, but I felt safe with him there. When at school, he asked me to identify the boy I was having issues with. Next thing I knew, the three of us were standing at the top of the stairs on the second floor.
My father, the wise man that he was, gave us a lecture. He explained that we needed to find a common ground, resolve our differences and learn to cherish our friendship. It was not so much what he was saying that stuck with me, but that he had proven to be a great example of doing this throughout my life. He had always resolved his differences with others and cherished his relationships.
After his speech, he asked us to shake hands, reconcile and be friends. There we stood, face to face, an African-American and Hispanic boy. We put our differences aside, just as my father had always done, and extended our hands. It was at that moment, that a lifetime friendship formed and a very important lesson was learned.
Author and children’s rights activist, Marian Wright Edelman, wrote “If you as parents cut corners, your children will too. If you lie, they will too. If you spend all your money on yourselves and tithe no portion of it for charities, colleges, churches, synagogues and civic cause, your children won’t either.”
This is a reminder to all elders, that it is our responsibility to teach the next generation right from wrong, not only with our words, but also with our actions. Just as I taught my children this same lesson that my father taught me. What lesson were you taught as a child that you have passed on to others? Please share.
Lord, let our faith-filled life in action be our family legacy; if needed help us to use words.