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Teach Your Children

Teach Your Children

So I was chatting in the car the other day with my housekeeper of 18 years, Miriam, while driving her to the bus stop after work, something I often do just to pick up on the happenings. Miriam has seen me at my best, at my worst, and everything in between. She knows my circumstances very well.

As usual the conversation stays within the comfortable boundaries of our children and the family and whatever, eventually asking about my little one, the one I don’t see very often, the tip of my heart. Miriam has seen me cry many times when my little girl was hurting and I was relegated to being a helpless bystander. Miriam was quiet for a minute, staring out of the window. And then she turns to me and drops the bombshell. “You know Leon” she says “I am a mother, and I know that mothers teach their daughters how to behave towards men in a relationship by setting an example, not through their words”.

It made me think deep and far and wide. Going back many years to when my first wife sat me down and explained to me that our children comes first and the divorce second. Today I can see the results of that advice playing out in my (now-) adult children being in strong and stable relationships.

Miriam continues: “She must realise that if she treats the men in her relationships like s**t, she is silently teaching her daughter that that is the way men and her future husband must be treated. Her actions speak louder than her words”. And, as if on queue, on the radio a song started playing. There are several verses in the song that go “Teach your children well” and it continues “Teach your children what you believe in”. As we continued on the way to the bus stop the lyrics of this song kept repeating in my mind. We were silent for the rest of the trip.

For those who can’t remember the words of the song “Teach Your Children” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, I will repeat some of it below. Graham Nash wrote this song. The lyrics deal with the often difficult relationship he had with his father, who spent time in prison. During a subsequent visit to an art gallery, Nash told the news website Truthdig: “… I began to realize that what I’d just written [‘Teach Your Children’] was actually true, that if we don’t start teaching our children a better way of dealing with each other we’re f–ked and humanity itself is in great danger.”

Rob Grunewald, an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank in Minneapolis, spoke many years ago about the gains young children can make in their cognitive and educational performance when they participate in quality early childhood development programs. And in my experience the parents whether single or married drives that programme, minute by minute, day by day, through the behaviour they demonstrate towards their spouses and ex’s.

If you read this I encourage you to consider your behaviour through the eyes of your most precious children, and not through the tainted lenses of your own hurt, failures and disappointments.

Teach your children well

Don't you ever ask them why, if they told you, you will cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.

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