"Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it." - Proverbs 22:6
Not too long ago I was at a holiday function with my husband and our then 16 month old daughter. She was chatting it up (just like her Mommy), whenever someone made the following comment: "Just wait until she starts saying cuss words." Really???!!! I mean seriously???!!!
I'm sure my facial expression said it all and what my expression didn't say, my mouth quickly revealed. "Oh she's not going to cuss." I said firmly and in a tone that could be considered arrogant. The person quipped, "Oh yes she will. She'll hear it on TV or hear you saying it and it will just come out of her mouth." No, no, no!!!
I've been meditating on this moment ever since. I am a 32, almost 33, year old woman who has NEVER cussed at or in front of my parents, grandparents or any other elders. In fact, my brother and 1st cousins have NEVER cussed at or in front of any of the previously mentioned people. Now, I am not saying we are innocent little angels - quite the opposite. We're not perfect and we sin like everyone else. We ARE human...BUT we are human beings who were raised to respect ourselves and our elders!
I don't even recall a moment when my mother or grandmother explicitly said, "Do not cuss at us or anyone else." I just remember the overall theme, respect! And that is EXACTLY how I have been raising my daughter!
You know what? Children will rise to the occasion - for better or for worse. They will meet whatever expectation you set for them. I know this as both a mother and a teacher. They only know what you teach them and expose them to do. Children don't come out of the womb dropping the F bomb! Are you kidding me? A child who does that has learned two things: 1. the word and 2. that it is acceptable to say. I say this without passing judgment. I say this as a mother who is on a mission to raise a God-fearing, God-loving human being who respects herself and others.
Our society is littered with disrespectful behaviors that are deemed "the norm" and "acceptable." I've heard some parents say, "I don't teach my children to say yes ma'am or yes sir. You don't hear anyone talking like that these days." Well you make the choice in how you parent and don't be surprised whenever those choices come back to you in the form of karma - good or bad.
Yes, there are parents who raised their children to be respectful, productive adults, and things didn't turn out quite the way they expected. Due to reasons and influences beyond their control, their children have lost their way. However, I am here to tell you that those people should NEVER lose hope. I've made plenty of mistakes, poor choices that could have gotten me in a heap of trouble if not for the grace of God. But as a 32 year old woman I can honestly tell you that I could always hear and/or see my mother and grandmother uttering those wise words they had always shared, and ultimately, I go back to those teachings and examples they set for me. Like the scripture says, "Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it" (Proverbs 22:6) . As a parent in the 21st century you can choose to go the way of the world or choose to go the way of your heart. Whichever route you take, do me a favor: raise your children; do not let society raise them for you!!!