“Buddy the Elf! What’s your favorite color?”
We have been doing this for a while now. We let the three kids take turns answering our ground line and they get to say: “Buddy the Elf! What’s your favorite color?” They love it. No one has our ground line phone number besides salespeople and cold callers of other sorts. My husband and I have no interest in talking to any of them, so we are letting the kids have some harmless fun. They know if the caller does not just hang up initially, they are to say: “Do I know you?” There has only been one time so far when the salesperson was being a bit aggressive. I listened to my son on the phone. The salesperson repeated my name to him and asked him if I was available. My son told them that no, I was not. When the salesperson continued speaking my son said: “I am very sorry, but we are not interested. Have a nice day.” Then he hung up the phone. I was so proud I could burst.
Yes, our children do mirror our behavior. They do the things that they see us do and not the things that we tell them to. Children are growing up faster and faster these days though, and with two nearly-ten-year-olds and an eight year old (who thinks that she is twenty), I know that they are not just mimicking the behavior of my husband and I. They are mirroring every influence that we expose them to. If they like, a character in a show, or a boy band, or an older cousin, or a friend of yours…they will pick up on their behavior.
So this is a big glaring neon warning to me: “Be careful, who you expose your kids to!” I remember my friend Karrie telling me about this a long time ago, when her daughter was five or six. She said that within the span of about a month her daughter was developing a really snotty disrespectful way of addressing grown-ups, and Karrie couldn’t figure out why. One day she walked into her daughter’s bedroom. Her daughter was watching the show “iCarly”. She stood there watching for a couple of moments, and then it just clicked, her daughter was mimicking the behavior of the snotty little teenaged character. Of course as soon as my friend stopped letting her daughter watch that show the behavior stopped. I have NEVER let my kids watch it regularly. We allow no “snotty teenager shows” in our house.
I don’t understand why the makers of these shows think that it is okay to propagate the idea that adults are all morons and kids don’t owe them a monochrome of respect. It’s even more difficult for me to understand why any parent would want their child to watch it. When my kids are polite and respectful around strangers, it absolutely makes my day, my week, maybe my life. I know that my kids are going to have an advantage when they go out there and start making their own way in the world. My children will get jobs because they have been taught to work hard, and speak intelligently, and treat people with respect, and for goodness sakes to stand up straight!
The majority of children are not being taught these things in schools. I promise. It is up to us as parents, along with the help of our network of friends and family, to give our children the tools that they need to be successful in life. I have to say that I think the number one key to accomplishing that task is teaching our kids to respect other people. Kindness, and empathy, and charity are not values that society is currently giving adequate attention to. I know that I have the power to change that fact. If I can manage to instill in my children these precious values, I know that I can make a difference. It’s not easy, but it’s important, maybe the most important thing that I will ever do in my life. So I keep on working at it, every day.