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Children Learn
By Example
Written Sunday 09/12/04 by Joseph Rossini

Children come into this world as helpless and dependent individuals with overwhelming needs. Those infants who enter our world to loving and responsible parents, who have planned to have children and can’t wait to nurture them, are indeed among the fortunate individuals to arrive to planet earth. I am not an expert on this topic and have no idea on the statistics regarding the fortunate individuals described above. However, my gut tells me that the percentage entering the worldwide population under these circumstances is far too low.

In order to be employed at many jobs in most industrialized nations, there are licensing tests and certificates issued to prove that you are qualified to perform the skills and functions of the profession. In the United States you need to attend schools and pass board tests to become a doctor, lawyer, accountant, stock broker, realtor, electrician, hairdresser, optician as well as a multitude of different jobs. This is done to protect the consumer from shoddy advice or services. However, there are absolutely no training requirements, boards, tests or certifications for becoming a parent. Individuals seem to learn most of their parenting skills from their own parent’s example. Thus, we can only hope as a society that the examples being set are good ones.

Since parents have the greatest early influence on a child’s vocabulary; early skill levels; exposure to learning; attitude; values; etc., children are constantly absorbing the examples set by their parents. Thus, a lesson to be learned is that your children watch and see everything you are doing in their presence. Your actions – good or bad will more than likely have a profound influence on your children’s behavior during the course of their lives.

Most young children prior to being exposed to the outside forces of adolescence seem to have a great desire to please their parents. They want to do what their parents do, and say what their parents say. They yearn for positive recognition for their actions from their parents and older siblings. Thus, if parents are setting good examples and children mimic those good examples, a win-win situation is in the making.

As I was growing up as a young child, my Dad wasn’t one to shower his children with lots of hugs and affection. Mom always compensated with an overabundance of affection, nurturing, and time invested teaching her children. Her affection was genuine and there wasn’t any sacrifice she wouldn’t make for her children. She set an excellent example of motherhood. However, Dad also contributed generously to the future success and happiness of his children. By his own example he provided his children with the priceless values of the “Greatest Generation.” Hard work, honesty, loyalty, generosity and being a person you could always count on! Thus, short on words and affection but long on setting a solid example of a caring father.

My own example above was not an anomaly. The majority of my closest friends seemed to grow up in similar households. They learned from their parents just as their parents learned from their grandparents. This powerful chain of learning by example can probably go back for generations if you were able to research it properly.

Now I admit that this lesson to be learned this week does not break any new ground in the advancement of psychology. However, we all need to be reminded from time to time that our behavior as parents has a profound impact on the lives of our children. We need to be conscious of our own behavior and examples we are setting in our households. Are you passing down the precious values of the “Greatest Generation,” like hard work, honesty, loyalty and generosity? Are you the role model and the type of individual that you would like your children to grow up and become? Would you want your children to be the same type of parent that you have been? Your answers to these questions and more – will determine what Lessons Can Be Learned from this week’s article.

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