This song of the same title as my post, by Whitney Houston is one of my favourites – I have loved it since I was in high school and still do. There are two lines in the song which I found poignant back then and still do. I think it applies so much more considering what is happening in the world around us. The lines I’m referring to are:
I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
If we teach each new generation well, it may help to lessen the problems we are currently experiencing. If we would like to see more compassion, we must teach our children how to be compassionate. If we would like to see more tolerance, we need to teach our children tolerance. If we’d like there to be more love and understanding then we must also teach it.
But teaching the next generation also means to lead by example. Children are not born to hate, to be sexist, racist or have prejudice – these things are taught/ learned. Not always directly but also indirectly by actions, by words spoken, jokes, etc. Children are sponges and pick up a lot more than we realise. Just watch how a young toddler can parody or copy an older sibling, parent or influential adult along with tone of voice, hand gestures and facial expressions. Children learn more from the person you are everyday rather than from the words you say.
When you observe young children play, they seem to only see another child to play with – not race, social status or skin colour. They may notice that another child has different skin, eyes or hair colour colour but that doesn’t stop them from playing with the other child. We also should be mindful of how we speak to children about someone else’s appearance. I often ask my daughter if she thinks that it’s a good thing that people look different to each other because it would be pretty boring if we all looked the same… and she agrees! It is refreshing to watch children play unconcerned by their differences. Sometimes, we can learn a lesson or two from children.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone could have that childlike innocence and take people at face value rather than placing our prejudices upon them. By no means do I think that this doesn’t happen in society currently but I feel that it doesn’t happen enough. It’s a hard job being a parent, trying to teach our children to be considerate, caring and compassionate human beings. I’ll be the first to put my hand up and admit that I don’t always get it right but I read something that said ‘the only person you should try to be better than, is the person you were yesterday’. I find that comforting as nobody is perfect and it seems like sage advice to try to be better than you were yesterday, not anybody else – a new and improved you…wouldn’t you agree?