Thursday, March 19, 2009

Grown Ups Behaving Badly

Hey humans! (I am specifically addressing shifty strangers here, reader.) I have a real problem with your ethical standards lately, and I'd like to know what has happened to the "it takes a village to raise a child" mindset. Anyone? Anyone?

When my kids and I walk the dog down my street, I find garbage strewn along the gutter. This is obviously trash that people have thrown out their car windows: napkins, soda cans and cups, bottles and paper bags. I am always teaching my kids how important it is to put trash in the trash can, recycle when we are able, and we even go out and clean up the roadsides periodically. Somehow, the trash continues to return.

Recently, someone sideswiped the passenger side of my husband's new car. This happened presumably in a parking lot, because he didn't find it until the other day. There was no note, no indication that the person even stopped to check the damage, which was substantial. (I hate to think they did check and left anyway). Let's just say these types of recurring incidents are beginning to leave a sour taste in my mouth.

My problem is this: while my children are young, they are still willing to listen to me about the importance of personal responsibility, being accountable for our actions, making good choices and fixing our mistakes. But they're growing fast, and can think for themselves. How long until they say, "Hey Mom, why are we working so hard to do the right thing when nobody else does?" My fear is, not long. And that's because I don't really have a good answer.

Parenting is hard, especially if you are very conscious of the type of adults you are attempting to raise. Sure, we can teach by good example, but ultimately, there are only two of us against a whole world of people who seem to be setting bad examples. I suppose most people today feel that if the children aren't theirs, neither is the responsibility to behave well around them. Though everyone seems ready to step up and complain when other people's children are the ones behaving badly.... But I digress.

For now, we do what we can. We take these instances of bad examples (lemons) and turn them into teachable moments (lemonade). My hope is that we will fill our kids' consciousness tanks with the right ideas. Maybe if we can teach them well enough, when the time comes to make choices, they'll make the right ones regardless of whether we're around. This hope is the only thing that keeps me from throwing up my hands in disgusted resignation.

So I'll keep at it, but all this lecturing is thirsty work. Please pass me another pitcher and some ice cubes.


Snowbrush said...

Consider it passed.

jen said...

Thought this post that I read on another blog could be a good answer for if and when your sons ask why should they be setting good examples when others aren't.