A big journey
“Childhood isn’t just something we ‘get through.’ It’s a big journey, and it’s one we’ve all taken. Most likely, though, we’ve forgotten how much we had to learn along the way about ourselves and others.” — Fred Rogers
One of the most sobering things about being around children is the realization that everything we do teaches them something, whether we intend it or not. It’s been my experience (backed by research) that children imitate the actions of adults far more than they listen to their words. This is the reason Fred Rogers was determined to make children’s television his personal ministry.
Do you ever get annoyed with yourself? I do, and I frequently berate myself aloud when I lose something or miss an exit or spill something messy. “I am so stupid! Why did I do that?” I somehow had the idea that it was OK to call myself stupid, even if I should never do that to anyone else. But one day as I was chastising myself in front of my sons, I had a horrifying realization: I am teaching my children how they should treat themselves if they make a mistake.
I wish I could say this taught me to keep my mouth shut; it didn’t. At least it did cause me to think more about what I said and did while children were watching. All of us, whether we are parents or not, have the opportunity to change the world in small ways every time we give children an example of behavior that is healthy, respectful, compassionate and honest. We are their unofficial guides through the journey of childhood. Let’s do our best to lead them in helpful and happy ways.