From an early age children learn by mimicking those around them. Essentially this is how we are all taught throughout our lives. The challenge for me and probably for most of us is that we don't always model the best of examples.
I recently pulled into my boy's school for an event. The parking lot like most days was full so we slowly drove around hoping for a spot.
The oldest son noticed many cars parking along the red painted curb. He asked " why are those people parking there?" I wanted to respond... "because those people do not think the rules apply to them" Instead i said "sometimes people follow the example of others, so when one person makes a poor decision to park where they should not, others unfortunately follow that example and make the same mistake." I then continued, " should we park there too?" Thankfully all three shouted, "NO!"
We drove to park on the street where we observed more poor decisions, but eventually found a spot and had a nice walk to the event. Along the way the conversation went something like this...
"Dad, look that car parked in front of the fire hydrant, and that one is parked in a no parking zone." This went on for the duration of our walk, and almost turned into a sort of game.
At this school event we mingled with other parents and students. We chatted about the parking situation, the overcrowding in the classrooms, the 2-3 hours of nightly homework, all the items that I am sure are discussed at every school event across the country.
One particular conversation amongst a small group of parents was quite interesting and very telling. Apparently one mother was quite upset that her young son had been caught cheating on a test. She was beside herself on how he would think such an act was acceptable. She claimed to have raised her children to be better than that.
As the event ended and we all walked to our cars, we saw the same mother and her son getting into their car. Yes it was one of those cars parked in the red zone. Perhaps her desire and intentions were to raise her son to be honest, but her action, no matter how small, have provided examples to the contrary.
So next time we decide to cut in line, park in the wrong area, speed or whatever we all take as minor offense, remember who is watching.
Dad said it's OK to set a good example