Monday, December 19, 2011

What does parenting have to do with politics?

It has been a really negative year for everyone politically, you can't even turn on the news without seeing more negativity. Fighting and name calling are becoming par for the course. Our own government is acting more like a class of preschoolers than a leadership body made up of mature adults. Not just one party, but both are playing the "I don't like you, so you can't come to my birthday party" game.
I used to joke that maturity was overrated, but a little bit of maturity wouldn't hurt any of us right now. If you have a truth to speak then by all means speak it, but the minute we resort to including personal attacks and name calling we can no longer consider ourselves responsible adults.

One of my favorite parenting experts is a woman named Susan Stiffelman. She calls her parenting approach Passionate Parenting. She has taught me the futility of power struggles. The more you seek to control another person, the more they resist that control, and the faster you lose the control you seek. 
Perhaps she should expand her book to explain that this applies to every situation, not just our own children. We can all share our views as loudly and even as aggressively as possible, but when we shut them out before they even get a chance to hear it, what is the point of saying it at all?

It has been a year since I made the commitment to remain positive no matter what the situation. I picked a bad year to do it, and as hard as I have tried I still have a very long way to go. Along the way I have had to cut out a lot of activities, going to my much loved locals-only site is just one of those things. Not because anyone there has been unkind to me or attacked me in any way, but because the negativity is not only a physical but an emotional drain.

Those who teach positive living say that it takes five positives to counteract a single negative. If so, then the cloud of negativity hanging over this country is going to take centuries to conquer. Those same experts also teach that we should not focus on what we don't have, but what we do have. Instead of focusing on what is going wrong, we are supposed to focus on what is right. I'm not saying that it is a bad thing to speak your mind or to disagree with what is going on in the government right now. I'm just saying before you complain, see if you can find a way to turn that complaint into positive action.

One thing I have always stressed to my children is that bitching has never solved a single problem. Instead of focusing on the problem, focus first on the lessons we can learn from it and then focus on finding the solution. My children understand this concept, but so few adults seem to these days. Even my children know that smart people use their brains, and the rest resort to calling names. 
What are we teaching our children right now? That is is better to hate than to love? That it is better to complain that to take action? That it is okay to call other people names as long as you don't like them? That anyone who does not agree with you is the enemy?

Children do learn these lessons whether we mean to teach them or not, and it might seem okay to teach them to attack that which they do not like but... there will be times in every child's life when they do not like us. When those lessons come back to us, they sometimes hurt.

One area of our life affects every other. If we insist we are teaching our children respect but can't offer respect to our neighbor or even our president, then we aren't teaching them respect at all. We are teaching them to hate, and we really have no right to be surprised when that hate comes back home. Teach them love and compassion. Teach them to speak their truth respectfully. Teach them to create, not to destroy.


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