As a parent, you always have this sense that someone is watching everything that you do.
And, of course, you’re correct.
In my house, nothing that I do escapes the eyes of my two children.
When my daughters were born, I knew that would be a problem. So I tried to be proactive, changing my TV viewing habits and adopting a healthier lifestyle. But there are no perfect parents, and now that the girls are older, they are very much aware of my human foibles.
I cringe whenever I think about all the missteps I made along the way, and I tell them: “Just take the good that your mother taught you and leave the bad. OK?”
They never really respond to that suggestion. So, I take advantage of every opportunity to instill values that I hope will last for generations.
That’s why I’m so concerned about the way things are going with this year’s presidential election.
Every time I hear the name-calling, the hateful rhetoric, the ethnic-bashing, the racially-charged comments, I think about the children in this country and what they must be thinking. I’ve heard some parents say things have gotten so bad that they can no longer let their youngsters watch the presidential debates. What ordinarily would be a great civics lesson is now a national embarrassment.
Many children have been taught that it’s not nice to call people names or to degrade someone because they’re different. They’ve been taught that it’s bad manners to yell at others, and interject while they’re talking. But this presidential election has been all about winning at the expense of common decency. The more impolite you are, the more you’re adored. The children watch and note the hypocrisy.
I’m not saying we can’t disagree, we can’t debate, we can’t hold different opinions. That’s all part of a healthy democracy, and I welcome the diversity of thought. What I don’t like is how nasty and mean people have become in the political arena.
The kids are watching, and some don’t like what they see. Some have told me that they can’t believe the buffoonery that they see exhibited by grown-ups who should know better; candidates acting more like juveniles in a school-yard brawl than national leaders.
It would be easy to just blame the candidates for all the antics and hostility, but parents play a role, too.
Our children are looking at who we choose to support and what behaviors we condone. They’re listening to the words we use and how we talk about other people. The question is: What are they learning about our values?
Though the drama is captivating, we could pay a steep price when it’s all said and done.
So as we get closer to electing the next leader of the free world, please, let’s think about the kids.