A few days ago I was talking to my oldest child, and he was telling me how he had learned to be kind from me. I took it as a compliment and got all excited, and he then said, "Well it's not like you ever sat down and talked to me about being kind and compassionate, but you showed me through example." I said, "Well isn't that the right way to do it?" and he just shrugged his shoulders and walked away. (Apparently it wasn't a compliment!)
It got me thinking, what IS the right way to teach and guide our children? For my generation, we were taught subordination, obedience and "respect." Respect meant that you would never argue or question an elder- parents, teachers, aunt, uncles, etc. The ones who did have the courage to say and do what they wanted to were the rebellious ones. I think I grew up ok, but it took so long for me to stand up for myself and just feel the power within me. It is because I was always "told" what to do. I am not trying to bash my parents, they did what they knew and I have great respect for raising me the way they did. It's just the way most of us were raised. I became a follower in school and waited for people to make decisions for me and never believed in myself, because it was easy. It has taken me at least three decades of my life to become comfortable in my skin and make decisions on my own. It was always easy to allow others to make the decisions and then blame them if things didn't work out. But I realized the excitement, exhilaration and freedom when making my own decisions and in becoming the master of my own life.
However, kids today have a whole different struggle, they have information at their fingertips. As parent, I think our parenting style has changed also. We want our children to be critical thinkers and leaders, so we encourage them to question us and believe in their own decision. Yet we are sometimes shocked at their independence and confidence.
Are we raising a confused generation? I myself am guilty of this. On one hand I allow my children to speak their mind, give them the independence to make their decisions, yet I will turn around and say to my kids, "Why are you questioning me and talking to me like this, even today I couldn't talk to my parents like that!"
What do we do? Do we raise children who are strong, independent and confident individuals who will not shy away from questioning or telling their elders that they are wrong, and eventually become strong and confident individuals? Or do we prefer children who listen to what we say, walk in the direction we tell them to and are followers? For me and my fellow generations, I think we need better leaders and critical thinkers who can solve the world's problems even if they are doing it while rebelling against us!