Thursday, May 22, 2008

Setting A Good Example

So often we look around and wonder what has happened to manners and character in the younger people around us. I believe the fault does not lie with them but with the people responsible for setting a good example.

Last week I needed to take a refill of medicine to the school for David when I saw one of his teachers with her class outside. I stopped and when she was finished speaking with a student I spoke with her about a few issues. I then turned to head for the front door. The teacher offered to unlock the side door so I wouldn't need to go to the office. I explained that I needed to check in as a visitor. She told me it was ok—I could just slip in. I had to tell her that I needed to the follow the rules. All visitors must check in at the front office. If I couldn't follow the rules, how could I expect David to?

I can't pick and chose the rules I want to follow and the ones that aren't as convinent can't be ignored. I told her that as the adults we are to set a good example, which includes even when they are not around. I really don't think this young teacher had ever thought of it in those terms. She smiled and said that that was very true and I went on my way. I was glad that she hadn't become offended by my straightforward way of speaking.

On the other hand last year I was appalled by a simular situation, with a very different conclusion. David was still at the hospital when we visited him on a Sunday afternoon. They had very strict rules for the children and families to follow during these visits. The only problem was that the rules were not applied on a consistant basis. One rule was that there were to be no balls or other objects thrown and no running around.

This one Sunday there was a very aggressive game of tag—that ran circles around us— and there were at least another four families playing ball, all within sight of the staff. I went to speak to the man in charge since David was having a hard time paying attention to our visit. The man stated "I don't like that rule so when I am here the kids can play ball." I was appalled since he stated this right in front of David. I explained that all the children at the hospital had issues with authority and following rules. That was why they were there. He continued to say they could play as long as he was in charge.

The following morning I spoke with David's therapist, who told us that two young children had been hurt during the games. However, instead of backing up the rule and our right to question the man from the previous day he asked if we felt we were being picked on. What? No we didn't feel this way. What we felt was, how can we expect the children to understand why they won't get in trouble today for breaking this rule, but tomorrow they might. The "it's ok to break the rule as long as you don't get in trouble" idea.

I wasn't very happy with this answer either and promptly went to the head of the center. I was told that due to the incident with the injury they would be speaking to all employees to make sure they would enforce the rule. But, the issue of not all staff enforcing the rules consistantly was never answered.

This also brought to mind an incident with some relatives several years ago who without our knowledge invited friends to our home and served our food without even asking. We would never have been told if I hadn't come home early from work and caught the deception. And deception was exactly what it was and after speaking with the couple it was obvious it was their intention to deceive us. When their guests left we addressed this issue, since much of the food used was to be our dinner that evening. The husband's response was "it's better to beg forgiveness then ask permission." I was appalled!

We knew and liked the guests and would have loved to have invited them when we were there. However this was our home and it was an abuse of our hospitality, as was the raiding of our pantry for snacks and food to shove in their backpacks for the trip home. Even at the time I wondered the lesson they were teaching their young children.
If I am not willing to set the example for my son, how can I expect him to learn by my words only?

No comments: