Teach Ourselves so That We Can Teach Our Kids
I’ve learned a lot about being a parent over the last 8 years. As many of you know, there are always little revelations still waiting around the corner. It was just 2 days ago that I had one of these epiphanies.
I was watching one of my favorite movies, Blast From the Past. If you’re familiar with it, you’ll know that a couple and their newborn baby, Adam, go into hiding in their fallout shelter in the 1960s and are locked inside for 35 years. They raise their son in the shelter with their 1960s knowledge and pop culture, having no contact with the outside world.
I’ve probably seen Blast From the Past 50 times, but hadn’t watched it recently. Two days ago I watched it for the first time since my son, Truett, was born 7 months ago. Boy did I have an epiphany.
What 1960s Parents Knew
I saw a typical day in this 1960s family: the father home schools Adam; on different days of the week they study French, German, Latin, English, Chemistry, and Geography. Adam takes boxing lessons from his father. He takes a dance lesson from his mother every day. He learns perfect table manners in case he ever “dines at the White House with the President.”
I marveled that 2 ordinary people could provide a child with such an enriched education in not only academics, but life, with absolutely no help! No tutors, no internet, no public school.
I felt envious all at once of this fictional family; I wished that my husband and I could provide the same kind of upbringing for our children.
My husband does not know boxing, which is why we pay a Tae Kwon Do school to teach Hannah self defense. We don’t home school Hannah, which is why she goes to public school for 6 hours a day. I don’t know how to ballroom dance, which is why the kids won’t know how to do it unless we sign them up for dance classes.
I always wanted to learn piano as a child, but the lessons were too expensive. My family barely had enough for groceries. Frills (such as learning anything that wasn’t taught at public school) just weren’t in the budget.
My husband has been teaching himself to play piano from books off and on over the years. He can play bits and pieces of songs, but rarely has the time to study or practice.
I’d love to teach our kids piano, and think music is something that can enrich everyone’s life. Sadly, they won’t be learning it from us. If we want them to learn piano, we’ll be paying someone else to teach them and losing 2 hours a week of time with our children while they are at lessons.
Someone Forgot to Teach Us
Why don’t we know the things that our children should be learning from us? Why didn’t our parents teach us these things they surely learned from their parents?
At what point did it become acceptable to stop training your children in the necessary skills for life, such as cooking, sewing, mechanics and repair, manners, languages, self defense? What about the arts which make us well-rounded as people: music, drawing, painting?
What about caring for children? Is it acceptable that new parents have to learn to care for their babies from reading books and taking parenting classes?
Why weren’t they taught how to care for their families by their parents? Isn’t THAT the most important thing we parents can give to our children – knowledge of how to care for your loved ones? I hope desperately that if our children learn nothing else from us, they will learn to raise their children properly and care for their families.
Is it the skills that are really that important? If so, I could just sign them up for every class imaginable. Or is it more important that they learn these things from us, their parents? Is it more meaningful to be taught by the people who brought you into the world and are responsible for growing you into an adult?
I think that’s what having children is really about. We’re creating our legacy to leave behind. These children will one day be all that is left of us. I want them to take some of us with them and incorporate our influences into who they become, not just some of the 2nd grade teacher and the piano teacher and the gym teacher!
In the meantime, I’ve realized that the things I lament not being able to pass on to my kids are things I lament not knowing myself. The only way to fix that is to learn them! I scrutinize how I use my time in a completely different way now. What is more important, getting the garage cleaned out, or spending time to educate myself better so that I can train my children?
My job is to be a parent and I want to be the best at my job. That means it’s time for me to examine what kind of parent I truly wish to be and spend the time to become just that. We need to teach ourselves so that we can teach our kids!
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