The Children Are Watching


Friends, I think it’s time we sit down and have a chat. Maybe pour yourself a cup of coffee because I’d like this to be civil; maybe even light-hearted. The reality is we are long over due to say some things that need to be said.

There is a problem in our nation. We are not safe. WAIT! Before you turn away – this is not about guns. This is not about Democrats or Republicans or #metoo. This is about you and me and the generation of children watching us.

We have become an angry, rude bunch of people. We say things online we would never say to someone’s face. We scream and yell at our televisions and we watch “news” programs where people scream and yell.

The children are watching. They’re learning.

They are watching us shake our fists and scream profanity when we don’t agree with each other.

They are watching when we honk our horns at people in the car line at school.

They see us when we speed around the car stopped to let a child cross at a cross walk.

They hear the slander we utter under our breath about the family ahead of us in the grocery store check out.

They are listening when we gossip on our phones about the teen that got in trouble last weekend.

Our kids are paying attention and they are learning. That’s what kids do, you know. We like to joke and say, “Do as I say and not as I do” but it’s not a joke anymore. Our kids have learned from our behaviors and they are acting them out.

They act them out in the cafeteria when the boy ahead of them fumbles to pay for his lunch, dropping his quarters on the floor. They act them out in class when the girl next to them smells bad because there’s not a mom at home to teach her proper hygiene. They show what they’ve learned when they don’t go and sit by the lonely. They mimic our actions on the soccer field, the baseball diamond, the football field, the dance floor, the band room….everywhere they go.

Have you ever had one of those moments when you said something and thought, “Oh my word, I sound like my mother/father!”?

Our kids don’t even realize how much they sound like us. They are not old enough or mature enough to put it together yet but they do; they sound just like us.

So when we question how our nation has come to a place where kids could bully and ridicule and mock and kill, we need to take a long hard look in the mirror. If we want to be a community of kindness and love it has to start from within. We can’t say “those people” anymore. We have to say, “I will be the change.”

Listen, I get it. Some mornings are rough. Nothing goes according to plan, you are running late for work, you have bills piled up at home, and have no idea what you’re going to fix for dinner tonight. The stress of getting the kids to school with a mind load like that is immense. But honking at kids getting out of cars, speeding around vehicles letting teachers cross from the parking lot to the school sidewalk, flipping off parents you think aren’t going fast enough…it’s not okay.

I know know the cost of the private lessons and the time committed to make sure your kid is the best on the team. I know what’s involved in making sure they will stand out to college recruiters and coaches and directors. Yelling at the kid who isn’t “up to par” is not okay. Making fun of the ones who don’t run as fast, often fall down, play the wrong notes, miss the last step…it’s just mean.

I understand we are rushed in the grocery store. We have lists a mile long and we have to get dinner on the table and our kids to all their practices and lessons in the next two hours. But pretending you don’t know the mom you were home room mom with for three years is rude. It takes two seconds to smile and say hello. Being harsh with the checker because he’s not scanning fast enough isn’t acceptable.  Kindness takes very little time and it costs you nothing.

And the children are watching.

This is not written to shame and point fingers out at my community without pointing a finger back at myself. I have been guilty of heavy sighs and muttered comments. I have said snarky things about others in front of my kids. I’ve driven too fast in school zones and been inpatient in car line. This is not a you and yours problem – it’s an us problem.

Let’s start today with a deep breathe and a prayer. Let’s ask God to remind us of the grace and mercy he shows us every single day so that we might show grace and mercy to others. Let’s build each other up with kindness and smiles and gentle affirmations.

The children are watching.

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