Actions scream louder than words.
So clichéd, but so very true.
You can tell your little dudes all day to be honest and always tell the truth. However, when they see you lie your way out of a speeding ticket, or tell your boss you won’t be coming in that day because you’re *cough* not feeling good, they will learn from your actions and not your lectures.
“You, all right? I learned it by watching you.”
As goofy as that PSA is (and, really, can we take anything seriously when there’s that sort of mustache in frame and it’s not being mocked mercilessly?*), there is a good point buried beneath the moralizing and hippie-hate.
In fact, let’s add on another couple of clichés that might have something to say about the matter: Seeing is believing. Monkey see, monkey do. I’ll believe it when I see it.
Young dudes and dudettes are sponges, by which I mean that they soak up the world around them, internalize what they experience and then squeeze it back out into the world through their own nascent personalities. Not that they’re yellow, with holes in them and live in a pineapple under the sea. Although I would have thought that would be self-evident.
Once they get past toddlerhood, most young dudes and dudettes experience their parents’ words in much the same way that we experience the words of an adult in a Charlie Brown cartoon.
“Waaah, wah-wah waaahh wah-wah wah wah.”
It has about all the semantic content of a bag of broken bricks.
But those eyes. . . Those eyes see everything.** Those ears hear everything.°
And we all know from experience (The one time you say the unmodified frak in front of your young dude, it’s what he’s going to remember and repeat. Again and again. In front of your in-laws.), that they will catch you in a contradiction. There’s no question about it. Do what you warned them not to do and they will call you on it.
Personally, I find the old excuse that we’re allowed to do (whatever it is) because we’re adults to be somewhat lacking in conviction. Lying — for the most part — is wrong no matter the age. It’s only as we get older that we begin to justify as a social necessity the idea of shading the truth.
I mention all this because, right now, I’m having a hard time showing my young dudes the right way to attack life and I fully understand the consequences of blowing this one.
Footnotes & Errata
* No. No, we can’t. That is a seriously scary mustache.
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** Except the pile of freshly laundered, dried and folded clothing at the bottom of the stairs waiting for them to take up and put away.
° Except our voices when we’re asking them to take out the trash, or clean up their room, or to clean out the food mouldering under their bed.