With the violence and sexual content that our children are exposed to in the media, how do we persuade them to take a different path in life?

With the violence and sexual content that our children are exposed to in the media, how do we persuade them to take a different path in life? Instead of working towards becoming a lawyer, doctor or politician, our children now have dreams of instant fame. With images of models, musicians and athletes flooding our televisions and our children’s minds, many of them have a false perception of “The Real World”. With education in the backseat and status in the forefront, our future leaders of tomorrow will not have the sense to lead themselves let alone others.

As parents, we often over extend ourselves for our children. Hundreds of dollars are spent on fashionable clothes, the latest technology and extra-curricular activities in an effort to keep them well rounded. We support them, get excited with them and unknowingly glamorize the same things that we criticize the media for exposing our children to. We do not want our children watching explicit videos yet we buy them concert tickets, t-shirts and CDs from those same artists. We stress that education is more important than a career in sports but dip into our savings to purchase jerseys and sneakers of their favorite athletes and let them skip a night of studying to play in a little league game. There is no wonder as to why our children do not take us seriously.

Most adults have dreams that never became a reality. Once we have children we unconsciously start to live our lives through them. Our failed football career becomes their first football at the age of one. That dance career that leaped into the shadows of everyday life becomes their first ballet lesson as soon as they are able to stand. A mother’s failed dream of singing in the opera becomes the rigorous training and practice associated with singing in a traveling children’s choir.

Sometimes our children’s actions are a mere replica of our home. An aggressive child usually comes from a background of domestic violence or parents with tumultuous relationship. By observation, he has learned this is model behavior from the people he looks up to the most. Although, a two-parent family has been proven to produce well balanced children. A broken family does far more damage than one ran by a single- parent who is instilling acceptable morals and values. How can we get upset when our child goes to school and fights if that is the way that problems are solved at home? It is hypocritical to expect anything more from our children than what we are displaying to them. How can we teach our children to stand up for themselves and not be bullied if we stay and allow our husband or wife to abuse us?

As with anything, we must paint the whole picture for our children. Let’s face it, to them we are ancient and know nothing at all. The world has changed and nothing that happened in our lives is relevant to theirs as they see it. So, when we are trying to relate to them we must find a way to get on their level and make them understand. Proving our point with examples is also critical. We have to get their attention if we want to save them.

Show them someone they are familiar with that has gotten their education and was able to live out their dreams. If it is someone you know personally, let them talk to that person. If you do not know anyone, do your research and have your facts. Find someone that your child looks up to or has an interest in and tell their story. Make sure they know nothing in life is as easy as it seems. Be consistent and live by what you say.

It is easy to blame our children when they make mistakes due to their lack of experience in life. However, it is difficult to admit that somehow we play a role in it and are at fault as well. Once we can admit our mistakes, we can prevent our children from making them. Setting good examples is the key to good parenting. They are us and we are them. So, the next time we are handing our punishments we must stop and ask ourselves, is it them or is it us?