Written by: Ed Davies
A few weeks ago, I was waiting to cross the street as I was walking downtown to a meeting. As soon as the traffic cleared, I stepped off the sidewalk not heeding the orange “Do Not Walk” sign flashing across from me. I proceeded to cross the street, absentmindedly ignoring the sign, as so many of us do on a daily basis. Read More
As I took a few steps, I heard over my shoulder, “Not yet, Andy. We have to wait for the walk sign.”
“But he’s walking,” little Andy protested to his mother.
“I know,” she replied. “But you shouldn’t always do what you see other people doing. It’s not always safe.”
In that moment, I hurriedly backpedaled towards the curb. Not because of oncoming traffic crossing Wacker, but because of the onslaught of guilt that rushed over me. I was too embarrassed to look down at little Andy as I stepped back onto the curb, but I did manage a sheepish grin at his mother. She mouthed, “Thank you,” graciously and mercifully letting me off the hook.
Once the light changed and we all walked across the street with me slightly ahead of Andy and his mother, I remembered to walk in a straight line, head up, hands at my side, not talking, and one full arms-length behind the person in front of me. I was determined to set the perfect example for little Andy of how to walk down the street by channeling every rule of walking my Catholic grade school nuns drilled into me one ruler at a time in the school hallways. Thankfully, little Andy and his mom turned down the next corner just two blocks into our journey.
As I continued to walk, that brief encounter was a good reminder for me that our children – whether at home or in the street – are always watching us, learning from us, and most importantly doing and speaking as we do. Therefore, it is incumbent on us as adults, parents or not, to be mindful of how we conduct ourselves in the world.
This is an important component of our work in Power of Fathers; helping our fathers understand their responsibility to their children to present themselves as positive and supportive human beings. That is not always easy for any of us to do, as we deal with the daily stressors in our lives. But if we can teach our dads to manage conflicts better and develop healthy relationships with the mothers of their children, we can go a long way to creating kind children and peaceful communities.
When we exhibit peacefulness, humanity, respect, and forgiveness towards each other, our children learn to treat each other with kindness, respect and empathy. When we speak with civility to each other – even in times of conflict – our children learn to speak to each other with words that build up, instead of tear down. And when we treat our significant others with love and tenderness, our children learn to develop healthy relationships.
Oftentimes the outcomes we want for children start with the actions of parents and adults. Reducing and preventing bullying, violence, at-risk behaviors, and domestic/relationship violence among our youth does not start with youth programs. Our work starts with us, the adults, and the behavior we model for all children. And it can start with a simple step…when the “WALK’ sign flashes of course. (Thanks for the reminder little Andy.)
- What are your ideas or proven approaches or programs for helping adults model appropriate behaviors for children?
- How can we help adults better contribute to reducing and preventing issues that plague our youth?