A Dad’s Point-Of-View: Teaching Kids Values
A Dad’s Point-Of-View
by Bruce Sallan
by Bruce Sallan
Paving The Way
Where do our kids get their values? Are you comfortable with the values they learn in public school? How about on MTV, cable or other television stations? Are reality shows actually reality? Do you think modern music teaches them about love and romance? Maybe going to the movies and watching Academy Award winning movies like “Slumdog Millionaire,” or “Departed” will teach them right from wrong? How about the Internet where they see friends post naked pictures of themselves or, if their parents haven’t been smart and restricted their access, they can go to any porn site in the privacy of their own rooms. You get the point. The values of today’s world are certainly questionable.
When I grew up, my parents had little concern about what I watched on television and what I was taught in school (when politics and values were little discussed). They felt comfortable and confident that they could instill in me their own values and religion. It’s a different world now.
Recently I attended a lecture by Dr. Bruce Powell, Head of School at the New Community Jewish High School in West Hills, California and the father of three daughters and one son. His talk was about the challenges of raising teenagers in today’s world. The room was full with parents looking for answers; parents who are struggling with the present day challenges we face raising our teens.
Dr. Powell offered a simple formula that provides outstanding guidance for parents. He gave it the acronym of P.A.V.E., which stands for Parental Actions, Values, and Expectations. While he didn’t address anything mentioned earlier in this column, about the differences in what our kids face today in comparison to times past, his guidance hit home. While simple, it forced each of us, if we were willing, to take a look at ourselves and what we model to our children.
Let’s start with Actions. Dr. Powell’s assertion is that our kids don’t miss anything. Our actions do indeed speak louder than our words. If dad consistently comes home after a difficult day at work, pours himself a drink or two and plops down in front of the television, they notice. If mom is talking on the cell-phone while driving, and buys every designer handbag she can get her hands on, they notice. The language we speak, they hear. The things we eat, they observe. So, when Dr. Powell observed his oldest daughter, now a mom herself, driving somewhat fast and above the speed limit, when asking her to slow down, he had to face her response: “Dad, I’m just driving the way you always did.” Our actions clearly speak loudly to our kids. Period. No excuse.
What Values are we teaching our children? Do we teach them at all? Kids observe how we treat the waiter or waitress. They notice if we cheat on our taxes. They see if we try to take advantage of a salesperson or if we go to church or synagogue. Do we discuss our values with our children? Do we live them out? Again, do we want our children to get their values from their school teachers or from their parents?
And, finally, there’s Expectations. Do your kids know what you expect from them? Is it enough to simply expect good grades? Do they think we care more about their grades or how good of a person they are? Expectations have become sort of taboo nowadays. Our kids need to know what we expect from them. It should be every parent’s desire to raise a child that doesn’t want to disappoint their parent, rather than a child who behaves out of fear of losing a privilege and/or getting punished.
As Dr. Powell said, in their family, disappointing their parents was far greater than any other punishment they may have devised and, in fact, there were no punishments other than their parent’s disapproval in their household. How many of us dole out punishment rather than taking the time to teach our kids our values and holding them to our standards of expectations and actions?
I really like what Dr. Powell said. I’m taking it to heart and working at really thinking about what comes out of my mouth in front of my kids. When my wife and I are stressed with one another, we’re going to strive to keep any bickering behind our closed bedroom door. The only thing I want my kids to see from us is a loving husband and wife. And, finally, I guess I’ll have to throw away the bong pipe, once and for all (just joking!).