Frequently, I read articles about good parenting, which brings me to this point. I asked myself what I regarded as the best lessons that I have given to my children. Here’s what I think I brought to the table of rearing them.
1. Greetings/Speaking – to those that you meet. Though a small gesture, speaking and saying hello are critically important. To not speak to someone was a cardinal sin in my hometown of Glen Allan, Mississippi. In fact, there is a saying that resonants in my ears today that my Mother taught me probably before I could utter a sound, “It doesn’t cost anything to speak.” By golly, it doesn’t! Oh, I forgot to mention that mandatory salutations (Mr., Miss, Mrs.) and Ma’am or Sir were required for all adults. It was “Miss Collins; Thank you Ma’am.” Anything less than that sent you to the woodshed for punishment. It worked for me so I passed it along to my kiddies.
2. Getting up and going to school – I never realized how that small trait would mean so much. Little did I know that going to school everyday transcended into going to work everyday. That behaviorism embodied a value system; a sense of responsibility. Not that I am a proponent of passing along infectious bacteria, I didn’t let my children stay home for a minor belly ache. They occasionally beat the system, particularly my daughter by getting the school’s nurse to excuse her. Oh well, no one or no system is perfect! Barring them being very ill, they were required to go to school.
3. Manners & Etiquette – Courtesy overtures such as opening the doors for females were and are prerequisites. You know the drill for the rest of the gentlemanly and lady like behaviors that young lads and girls should follow. I tried to lay down a foundation that was ageless, classic, and transferable. Respecting adults and authority were the lay of the land in my house. Monkeyshine at school with the teachers just didn’t work. Education was king. As my Mother always told us kids, “The Teachers got what they are trying to teach you. So you have to go to college and get yours!” That mandate didn’t change from my school days to my children’s. So here again, the advice was passed down.
4. There are a few How To’s that I felt were important to hand down to my crew. How to pray; how to cook; how to clean (their bodies and their room); how to wash clothes, how to read, write, and do arithmetic; how to mind their own business; how to stay out of grown folk’s business … were the top ones. From time to time, I have to give reinforcement reminders. Some things never grow old.
5. Love and honor God and be respectful to your parents. Stay together as siblings and love each other all the days of your life.
Now, there are many other lessons that accompany these; too many to elaborate. Sometimes as parents, we never know what sticks and what doesn’t. We can only do our best; and hope and pray that our children land in a good space.
To my son and daughter, I hope that you read this. Maybe, you’ll give me an “A,” but if not, I passed anyway. You guys turned out to be great adults so much so that I occasionally pat myself on the back. No brags; just facts! In fact, I never wanted my children to be what I wanted them to be, but to become everything that God created them to be. I’m still teaching; they are still my students; and they are still willing to learn and grow. Now, the table has turned. There are many things that they have taught me. We are growing together; we are family! I rest my case!
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