I was fortunate to be selected as a Community Columnist for my local newspaper. I thought I would share with you my first column for today’s paper.
Do we teach our children the right life lessons?
By Robert Freedland
As our children have grown, it has been a tradition in our family for us to read them books at bedtime. This is a tradition I wouldn’t deny any parent; it is the opportunity to share wonderful literature and bond with your kids in a meaningful fashion.
Sometimes (or perhaps often) it would be I who would fall asleep first, prompting my son or daughters to prod me in the ribs to wake me up and keep reading. But most times we read stories together, laughed together, and sometimes literally cried together over the sentimental words being shared.
During these evening sessions, lessons often would be learned about life through the eyes of these children’s literature authors.
One of our favorite authors is Sharon Creech whose book “Walk Two Moons” quickly became a favorite. Louis Sachar is another favorite who became more well known when his book “Holes” was put on the big screen.
But we all laughed together when the teachers at “Wayside School” did everything in an upside down fashion. “The Sneeches” from Dr. Seuss became a lesson about not judging people just by whether they had “stars on their bellies” or not. And “The Zax” from Seuss questioned whether we should be stubborn or flexible in dealing with others and whether we can all somehow get along when heading in different directions.
Now that my children are older and our last one is heading off to college soon, I miss those times and wonder if all of those lessons have been learned.
Have we as parents learned our own lessons well enough that we can “teach our children?” Do we demonstrate tolerance when we as a society reject alternative lifestyles and institutionalize second class treatment of some families by passing constitutional amendments to deny them their civil rights?
Do we as parents demonstrate responsibility when we elect legislators that pass endless deficits, entice us with promises of low taxes and then pass on those debts to our grandchildren?
Do we as parents demonstrate maturity when we squander our natural resources and argue over the existence of global warming as the polar icecap melts?
Do we as parents demonstrate empathy to those who have no jobs, no health care, and live in poverty? The most important lesson of all is to avoid judging others until you understand what it would be like to live as they do.
I remember the Indian proverb that Creech referred to in our favorite book: “Don’t judge any man until you have walked two moons in his moccasins.”
I hope my children learned that lesson.
And I hope that all of you who still have the joy of children in your home take the time to read with them. They will learn to enjoy and read books, you will spend important times together, you will share lessons about the world with them, and you may even catch up with your own sleep.
Robert Freedland, a physician, is one of 14 Tribune Community Columnists, whose writing appears on the Sunday Opinion pages.
Wishing all of my friends on the Daily a very wonderful Holiday Season and a New Year filled with political change for the better.