By Marla Lowder
When I was on a plane this past year, a 6-year-old sitting behind me kept kicking my seat. Now, I fly a lot and this is not unusual, but towards the end of the flight the child starting kicking the armrest and pushing it down. I would put it back up and she kept doing it. I finally put my arm in front of it so she couldn’t push it forward any more. She still kept trying and the parent would just look at her and say, “Don’t do that, they don’t like it.”
That was it and she never apologized to my seatmate or me, which would have made the situation a little better. I often wonder about what this parent was teaching her child and how the girl will be when she grows up.
Every child is different and parents need to learn how to help their children become better people as they grow and build their values. There are a lot of values, too: consistency, tolerance, hard work, generosity, perseverance, honesty, respect, gratitude, service, faith and many more. Values should be taught as early as possible, but as children get older they will start to understand them and their importance in our society.
It seems anymore that the media and individuals are talking about the deterioration of our values. As adults, parents and positive adult role models, we need to teach our youths that if they have strong value system it will affect them and they will have better self-worth, will be able to communicate more effectively, develop respect for others, develop stronger and healthy relationships and have a clearer vision of what they need to do. In other words, these values are the foundation that builds our society as we progress and thrive.
To quote a wise New Zealand judge who worked with young people and adults:“The world does not owe you a living; you owe the world something. You owe it your time, energy and talent . . . You are important, and you are needed.”
This judge’s counsel is over 60 years old. It is just as important for us to hear it today and for us to work with our teens today, whether it is as a parent or a positive adult role model. We need to remember not to be overbearing but to be firm and bold. It is easier on the child if both parents agree early in the child’s life what they feel are the most important standards and values they want to teach and then stick with them. It is also important to find organizations and such to associate with that have close to the standards/values you are trying to teach your children. In the end, though, it is ultimately the responsibility of the parent to teach the child.
4-H is a youth organization for youth K-12 that helps youth learn about certain items of interest to them, but also teaches them life skills. 4-H has a club structure with leaders who are adult volunteers with current background checks. To learn more about the local program, contact Marla Lowder, Tanana District 4-H agent, at 474-2427. You can also check out our web page at www.alaska4h.org/fairbankstanana-district.html. 4-H is a part of the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Alaska Fairbanks.