This is the point at which the rubber meets the road. Now that I have some defined goals of what I hope kids learn, what can adults do to model these behaviors for any children in their life? Because this isn’t just for parents, it’s for aunts and uncles, grandmas and grandpas, cousins, honorary aunts, and who knows who else.
I’m brainstorming here, so these items will range from micro to macro, mundane to magnificent gestures. They’re also a combination of things adults should do and things adults should do with kids.
You’re not always the center of everyone’s universe, hon
- My example from the last post of getting out of the way of emergency vehicles
- Postponing something you wanted to do for someone else’s sake
- Letting people get in line in front of you at the store
- Waiting patiently for people to finish/do something
- Compare importance of things (e.g., getting dessert vs. getting food for someone who has none or watching another TV show vs. helping clean up)
Repairing the world
- Give money to charities that help others, as well as to the arts/culture
- Volunteer time in the community (Neighborhood Watch, litter pickup)
- Reduce, reuse, recycle
- Less consumerism (oh man, we need to work on this one)
- Help friends/family/mishpoche who need it
- Pay attention to politics and news and vote in every election
Be excellent to each other
- Be polite to people even under trying circumstances (e.g., the sales clerk who can’t quite manage to ring you up)
- Say “hello” or “good morning”
- Smile at people who smile at you
- Apologizing when you’ve done something wrong or hurt someone’s feelings
- Recognizing other people’s emotions, showing empathy and sympathy
- Model reasonable discussion of emotional issues
- Be willing to say “I don’t know. Let’s see if we can find out!” in answer to questions
- Ask questions. Consider aloud things like possible biases and misunderstandings
- Discuss motivations of characters in books/TV/movies
- Don’t repeat political rhetoric, get deeper into the issues
Yup, that’s quite the list and it’s only scratching the surface, methinks. Yikes. I mentioned the not being perfect thing, right? I’m not going to bore you by listing exactly which of these we do now and which we don’t, because that’s kind of not the point. We do some. Not enough, I’m sure.
I think these are good aspirations, though. Always better to aim high! What do you think?