“Your children are watching”


“Your children are watching” is a parental truism worthy of frequent repetition.

Of course children are always observing and learning from adults, including those who are not their parents.

Perhaps that’s why there has been so much discussion in recent weeks about how parents can educate their children about the value of civil conversations regarding important civic matters in an environment made toxic by Donald Trump.

One problem, among many, of such destructive public figures is that their attitudes, language, and behavior can infect a society.

Children are particularly vulnerable because the vast majority of their learning is through observation, imitation, and experimentation.

All of that means that it is essential that parents, teachers, and other significant adults engage children in just-in-time conversations about what they are observing and learning and offer corrective perspectives and information.

The challenge is to turn the events they see on TV and hear discussed around them into meaningful teachable moments about democracy, the rule of law, and the practice of respectful civic conversations.

The only other option is a generation of young people coming to view recent political events as the new normal.

If that came to be it would be one of Donald Trump’s most destructive and lasting legacies.

6 Responses to ““Your children are watching””

  1. 1 James October 12, 2016 at 7:55 am

    Thank you for your thoughts. I enjoy reading your blog. I even use it at times in my classroom. As much as I agree on your statements about Trump, I’m left with a dilemma as many concerned citizens are. Hillary is not a fantastic alternative, nor is she an individual that I would offer to a classroom of students as a morally superior alternative to Trump. My students see them both quite clearly for who they are. Instead I speak with them about the future and my excitement to see them grow into the future leaders our country desperately needs. Neither Hillary nor Trump are qualified nor should they even be considered as worthy individuals for the most important position in our country.

    • 2 Dennis Sparks October 12, 2016 at 8:33 am

      I appreciate your comment, James. While I do not agree with your premise that there is a moral equivalency between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, nor would I shield children from Hillary’s speeches and debate performances, I respect our right to disagree on such matters. That’s one of the essential attributes of a thriving democracy that I hope parents and educators and other adults underscore with young people.

  2. 3 Kent Peterson October 12, 2016 at 11:01 am

    Many educators and parents are telling me that young people are beginning to believe that hostile talk and threats are acceptable. They are arguing that if someone on television can talk that way, then why can’t they?

    Thanks for the post!

  3. 5 Joellen Killion October 12, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    A colleague recently posted these words from the musical Into the Woods:
    Careful the things you say,
    Children will listen.
    Careful the things you do,
    Children will see.
    And learn.
    Children may not obey,
    But children will listen.
    Children will look to you
    For which way to turn,
    To learn what to be.
    Careful before you say,
    “Listen to me.”
    Children will listen.
    Company: Careful the wish you make,
    Wishes are children.
    Careful the path they take,
    Wishes come true,
    Not free.
    Careful the spell you cast,
    Not just on children.
    Sometimes the spell may last
    Past what you can see
    And turn against you…
    Witch: Careful the tale you tell.
    That is the spell.
    Children will listen..

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