My dad spent a considerable sum of money every month to send me to a Catholic grade school in Northeast Philadelphia in the 1980s. It was a decent working class institution. Our first subject in the morning was Religion. It went downhill from there. Discipline was emphasized. Actually, it was shoved down our throats. To tell you the truth, I was so bored that I, the eventual valedictorian when I graduated eighth grade, became a troublemaker. Wow, did I make trouble.
He spent all that money in the hopes of giving me a decent education yet, at home, he:
- drank a dozen cans of beer per evening;
- parked himself on the couch all evening without engaging in any kind of physical exercise;
- lectured me on the evils of government yet went to his federal government job five or six days per week;
- used intimidation and violence to get what he wanted from me and others.
Despite him spending his hard-earned cash on an education for me, his powerful example taught me a raft of debilitating beliefs that, to this day, interfere with my ability to achieve my goals, including that:
- you have to do a job you hate for thirty to forty years just to put food on the table;
- you can not live your principles and in fact may have to live their opposite;
- making everyone around you miserable is acceptable;
- violence and intimidation are legitimate ways to get what you want;
- that I was not worthy of love and success;
- your body is not to be cared for but to be abused with alcohol, tobacco, zero exercise and excessive eating.
Do you have kids? What kind of an education do you want to give them? What kind of an education are you actually giving them? Think about that for a minute and see if you can make a plan to close the gap, even if just a little. Your example, as the above video illustrates, is so much more powerful than your $25,000 per year private school, the summer camp, the scout troop or the martial arts classes.
I’m a dad now. My son is 7. I’ve realized that there is nothing more effective than my example to him – and it’s not something I can fake. I can read him a million books. I can send him to the best classes and buy him all the video games he wants. But there is nothing that has a greater impact on his life than the time I give him and the example I provide for him. Here’s how I make an effort to be a good example:
- I am extremely slow to anger.
- I wake early and work hard.
- I read a lot.
- I invite him to exercise with me.
- I am very patient with him.
- I make deals with him instead of using violence, intimidation or “Because I said so!” to get what I want.
By no means am I perfect. For example, just this afternoon I lost my temper with my son when he refused to eat an especially delicious and wholesome lunch, one that he previously told me he enjoyed. And, while I was writing this article, I rudely told him to be quiet.
Being a mom or dad is not easy. It is extremely challenging. Not only do you have to teach the right things but you have to be the right things. “Do as I say and not as I do,” is just another bad example. Translated, the lesson to your kids is that just nine words enable you to be a hypocrite and smile about it.
On a positive note, consider the above video. Consider the impact of one old woman. At this woman’s age, my maternal grandmother kicked me out of my grandparents’ home because I turned on a radio! Her example is all the more impressive given the comparison.
The children of today are the next generation. Their purchasing decisions, their behaviors and worldview will determine the progress of civilization and liberty in the near future. What are you doing to be a good example to children, be they yours or someone else’s? What good examples have you come across in others?
How are you working on being a better example to your children? Share your ideas and plans in the comments so we can all learn from them.