I was recently on a blog site. The moms on the site were discussing the newest and most debatable topic of today: Gun control. One mom stated that her son of only 12 years old wanted to walk out in solidarity with his classmates during the “National School Walk Out Day” promoted by the Parkland survivors and victims of the nation’s most recent mass shooting. She proceeded to explain, proudly, that when her son asked her if it was okay for him to walk out she asked him the following questions, “Why do you want the change? What kind of change do you want? Do you want it at the federal level, state level, or the local level? Do you know how many persons die from gun violence each year? Do you know anything about the second amendment? Why do you not support it? What language is in the amendment that makes you believe we need to change it?” She then exclaimed that when her son could not answer the questions she told him, “Well then, you cannot walk out. If you don’t know what you are walking out for, then you should not walk out at all.” In reading her answer, I literally just shook my head in absolute horror. Not because I disagreed with her for not allowing her son to walk out due to his lack of education on the topic, or even that she did not support an issue that I do. I cringed more because of how proud she was in turning her son away from an issue that he felt passionate about. Instead of allowing him to form his own opinions and values, she shut him down and gave him her opinion and her values. She was the adult. He was the child. She was right. He was wrong. She was smarter than him so simply his opinions and thoughts on the matter did not actually matter at all. So in my opinion, this is the lesson she just taught her son.
As a mommy I work really hard to ensure that my daughter and sons develop strong morals and values, that they understand the difference between right and wrong, and understand what is respectful and what is not. At the same time, I also try really hard to not just push my values on them. I want them to develop their own values of what they agree with or disagree with.
I will admit, this is not an easy juggling act. In fact, sometimes, these things completely contradict. My babes are simply too young right now to understand some of the values I have, yet I decided to take my 4-year old daughter with me to the Women's March, as well as to the Never Again Rally and March. Both of these events promoted much bigger ideas and values than my 4-year old daughter can comprehend. Prior to the events, I simply told her, “You won’t understand why I am marching today but just know its because I believe in something bigger than myself, and I want you to know that. That is why you are here with me.” Even that, I am not too sure she understood, but I took her anyways. She walked away from both of those events with chants that stick with her. She now sings them around the house, loudly and proudly. In fact, she has taught them to her twin brothers who now all scream, “Tell me what democracy looks like...This is what democracy looks like.” Its cute, but I wonder, will they only believe in something because I believe in it? Or will they one day believe in it, because they believe in it and not because I told them it was right. I can honestly say, this is a daily struggle for me.
Even at 3 and 4 years old I try to make sure they are forming their own thoughts and opinions about life and their behaviors. For example. My twin boys get mad and immediately result to kicking. It is easy to tell them they were wrong and send them off to their room without explanation. Instead I try to help them to figure it out on their own. I ask them, “Why did you kick me? Do you think that was nice? How would you feel if I did it to you? How do you think I feel? What would you want me to say to you if I kicked you?” Almost always, this conversation leads them to apologizing on their own and realizing that they should have never violated me in such a way. They still end up with a consequence because ultimately kicking is never okay, but I also want to teach them to make that decision on their own. To know when to say sorry. To know that it is never okay to violate someone physically. And simply how to be a better human being when they are angry.
I know this will get more difficult as they get older. They will likely begin to form their own opinions and thoughts that don’t agree with my opinions and thoughts. Our values may not align, and I may feel the need to tell them. I go back to the mother earlier I described in this post. I think about what if my kids want to walk out on an issue that I don’t agree with, but I want to support them in forming their own opinions, thoughts and values. What would that look like? I think it would look more like a conversation, maybe I would include questions that they can’t answer but then tell them “If you research it and can answer my questions then I will let you do it.” I am not sure if that would work, or even if I would feel comfortable with them doing something that makes me uncomfortable, but it is a good starting point to not shut them down. To help them form their own thoughts and opinions. It’s a good starting point to raising a child who just doesn’t believe something because their parents believe it.
For now, I will say, I will continue to work hard towards raising kids with good morals and values, while allowing them to believe something because they believe it and not because their mommy said so. It is my hope by doing so, I will raise amazing little human beings with good values and morals and who have a mind of their own.
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About: LC is a mother of three little ones including a daughter who is only 15 months older than her twin sons. She is also an educator and has recently opened a business with her husband, known as Irie Outfitters. Irie Outfitters is a brand dedicated to parents of little ones. Products and clothing are sold both on amazon and through the irieoutfitters website. If you are interested in becoming part of the their amazon deals and reviews club click on the following link: https://www.irieoutfitters.net/pages/deals-and-review-club.