Saturday, January 1, 2011

"An Angel Until Age 13"

During my many years as an educator, I have heard statements like:
  • My child was an angel until she turned 13 years old.
  • He wasn't a problem at all until he started running with the wrong crowd.
  • She never gave me a minute's trouble until she started attending that school.
  • He was a perfect child until he started doing drugs.
Each time I heard a similar statement I would think, No, we saw the problem when he was 3 years old.  or We tried to tell you in elementary school there was a problem. 

Many of these parents have focused on obedience of the child.  Did the child ultimately complete the task assigned?  Did the child eventually comply with the request?  I will admit that these questions are important, but not the end all, be all.  Far more important is the attitude with which the child complied with the request.  Obedience may be the sail driving the boat, but attitude is the wind pushing the sail and determining the final destination.

Children are molded or programed early in life.  What we as parents create in our children, comes back to haunt us in their teenage years.  Children have the ability to melt our hearts.  Teenagers have the ability to break them.

A child who completes the requested task while displaying a disrespectful face to the parent is likely to encounter some pretty unpleasant situations as a teenager.  A child who uses disrespectful language or name calling toward a parent will attempt the same strategy toward other authorities as a teenager.  As parents we have the advantage of remembering the child when he or she was cute.  The administrator or law enforcement officer does not have that luxury.

Respectful attitudes and sweet spirits are far more important than completion of a task.
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