By Vera Hogan
Editor’s note: This exclusive Midweek series, The Generation Gap, features opinions from area residents of differing generations. This week’s comments are from Sally Rummel, 62, a freelance writer for the Tri-County Times and member of the Baby Boomer generation. She and her husband, Mark, have two adult children and two grandchildren. Alicia McKay, 28, is the owner/venue coordinator at The Oakley, a wedding venue in Rose Township. She and her husband, Kevin, are still newlyweds and have not started a family.
The best things a mother can teach her children are to have faith in God, so that her kids will grow up understanding a ‘bigger picture’ of life than just the earthly things they can touch and feel. That faith will keep them on a ‘steady keel’ throughout their lives and will teach them their absolute value in this world.
Also, moms should teach their kids through actions and words that kindness and empathy are more important than getting your own way and being selfish.
Boundaries and structure are important, too. Kids want to know what their limits are, and will do better in life if they have a firm grasp on what they can and cannot do. Routines, traditions and expectations give kids solid footing and firm ground to stand on when their world starts ‘shaking.’
Teaching kids how to value money by giving them experience with it at a young age is helpful, too. Teach them how to work and be productive by giving them age-appropriate chores that make them feel like a valued member of your family.
One of the worst things a mother can do is be a poor role model of being an adult. Kids are ‘sponges’ and will model what they see. Never, ever, bad-mouth your kids’ father, whether you’re still married or not. Show your kids what it’s like to have a relationship where you care more about that other person than you do yourself.
I think one of the best things parents can teach their children is acceptance, whether it’s of themselves or of other people. Kids are under a lot of pressure to be perfect, but perfect is subjective.
Teach children to love themselves and it will make it easier for them to accept and embrace others. They will grow from embracing differences and learn how to appreciate that people are not cookie cutter. We all learn, look and think differently. When kids choose acceptance over tolerance, they open the window of opportunity to learn about people who may be unique from them.
One of the worst things that parents can teach their children is that they have a specific path they are “supposed to” follow. Life isn’t a template of right or wrong — everyone has their own individual timeline, goals and talents. It may take some kids longer than others to figure out what they’re good at or who they are, and that’s okay.