Sometimes it’s not that easy to be a conscious parent. Being aware, awakened and ever mindful of what we teach our children is not always easy and since I am not perfect; I make my fair share of mistakes. Where the whole” lead by positive example” philosophy gets tricky, however, is not so much about what my husband and I teach them; but more about what others do. Every single thing our children learn from others makes an impact and while, as a parent, I cannot (and would not want to) possibly control everything; there comes certain times when I must step in and draw the line.
Usually, it’s in these moments that I am often a lone parent; the one the teachers and maybe even other parents are at best calling overly sensitive and at worst calling a pain is the a**! One such moment came up recently and I stood alone to shed light on what I hope will make a difference in the future; I know it will for my kids and I’m writing this article to reach more parents so perhaps that difference will gain in momentum. Here’s how my moment came to be.
I have this funny little theory that if we teach our kids primarily about positive, uplifting historical figures and events at a young age (preschool and elementary school), as opposed to the negative ones, that they will not only be influenced by them; but they will not become desensitized to the often horrific violent atrocities that make up human history (which seemed to be the focus of what I learned in school). When you teach children about the evils of war, the appalling deeds of dictators and the utter suffering of humanity throughout time when they are too young to fully comprehend the scope of what they are learning one of two outcomes will occur; they will either be completely terrified or utterly fascinated. Kids who have barely been alive for a decade cannot possibly handle the scope of what the world went through in the time of Hitler or how the affects of American slavery has made an imprint for generations. How could they? All these tender young souls are truly equipped to deal with is that which makes them feel good; so if something they learn does not do that they will either be scared of it or invent a way to make it feel good (usually by being entertaining).
Kids are super sensitive and they truly absorb like a sponge. What we shed light on through early education matters more than many understand. It forms the basis for their subconscious beliefs and has affects that will have an influence throughout the rest of their lives. It is vital to be mindful of this when teaching subjects that involve violence in any form. History or Social Studies tends to be a topic where, when examining our past, the subject matter often contains violent events, circumstances or situations. While understanding the dark side of our past may make us appreciate the light even more; it must be done with consideration for its audience. Kids are bombarded with aspects of violence every single day; from television and video games to books and bullying. We have an opportunity to make a change that could set a new course for our future; we can choose to focus on the light.
My 10 year old son’s class has had several independent study projects in Social Studies this year. These types of projects are a wonderful way to learn about doing research, writing, creating a Powerpoint presentation and discovering historical events. However, being that they are independent study, it’s important to examine the impact of what they may be exposed to during their research. The first of these projects was an ABC Civil War Book that required a slide for each letter about something related to the Civil War. I am not a fan of studying about war and my son did not really want to either. We worked together to make it a positive experience, not using any battles, weapons or violent terms throughout the book and focusing instead on Civil War terms that related to the abolishment of slavery. It struck me, as he finished his book, what about other kids who just went on the Internet and Googled the Civil War; what were they possibly seeing? Is anybody helping them understand the magnitude of what they find? I tried not to think about it but I could not stop.
A few weeks later, it was time for another project. It was called a Human Museum and the concept is great. Kids would study a historical figure of their choice and write a brief report about it. They would also draw the figure on a poster board with a large hole at the top to place their heads. Than all the parents, teachers and many students would visit the Human Museum and listen to all the reports. My son asked to be Jeff Kinney (author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid); he’s a favorite of my son because he’d like to be an author and illustrator in that style some day. He was told no by his teacher because the she felt it was not a historical figure and I understood that.
My son was disappointed because the teacher of the other 5th grade class was letting students use modern pop culture people for their topics (like the creator of Ugly Dolls). I told him to let it go and pick another one. He then shared another concern with me; he did not understand why he could not profile somebody influential to him when other kids were being allowed to profile Hitler. I told him that while I prefer he not write about Hitler, that he was considered a historical figure and appropriate for study by mane (just not us, not at 10 years old with independent research). We chose to pick a positive influence instead of a negative one and went with Gandhi.
The day of the Human Museum arrived. My son was excited to tell others about Gandhi and how he changed history in a peaceful manner. At the bus stop that morning, he asked me an odd question about Al Capone; “isn’t Al Capone a real criminal mom?” I said yes and asked how he heard of him. It seems there is a book series popular for kids his age in which Al Capone is a character (not to judge but that seems like a pathetic choice for a book geared towards young children). I explained that he was actually a real person who committed terrible crimes and that his character in that book made him seem like something he was not. He then told me that a couple of the kids were profiling Al Capone in the Human Museum because they liked his character in the book. I was stunned. While I would not encourage my 10 year old to voluntarily study Hitler, I understood why the teacher allowed it. But Al Capone, a convicted criminal? I wondered if they would allow a modern day criminal as well (like ? I also feared that the children giving these reports would do so in a manner that would not convey the profoundly painful impact these people had.
I was unfortunately right. When I attended the Human Museum, I listened to my son’s sweet friend talk about Hitler the same way I hear kids talk about Sponge Bob; like he was a fictional character from some cartoon. He was desensitized. Something occurred to me though, the kids (which were most of them) that chose a favorite sports hero or a positively influential person seemed so happy giving their reports, they were engaged and there was a real connection to their report. I decided to share this experience with the teacher and principal along with my concern and idea.
I contacted the principal and teacher, giving them my idea to make this project something truly outstanding by simply changing the parameters to more positive historical influences instead of violent ones; but they were not interested. When I talked about it with other parents, I frequently heard things like “they have to learn it sometime”. I did, however, hear of another school in this district whose teacher did the same project; this teacher told the kids to portray any positive person that influenced them. There is hope and I cling to it because I believe we can do better. I believe we can fill our children’s hearts and minds at ender young ages with positivity and that it will make a difference. I believe changes like this can actually have an impact on our future, perhaps leading to less violence and more inspiration. And finally, I believe there are more parents out there like me, who believe that Positive Lessons Make Enlightened Kids! If you are one of them, please visit my web page and contact me (www.ginasendef.com); perhaps together we can we can find a way to make a change for the better and help our kids along the way.
Gina Sendef is a independent Spiritual Self-Help Author and Angel Intuitive. Writing is her life long passion. Her soon to be self-published first book, “Truth Works, Divine Life Lessons for Kids of all Ages”, is a self-help book geared towards reading age children, teens and young adults. The premise for Truth Works is to undo harmful affects that exisit when our children are taught traditional life lessons like “life is not fair” or “money is the root of all evil”. The goal of the book is to undo this programming at a young age, ensuring the subconscious belief system for our children is optimistic, safe and secure. When we address these destructive beliefs in childhood and expose their false nature, they cannot reside in our subconscious minds for a lifetime as the basis for our beliefs. We are left with the pure, positive and absolute spiritual TRUTH. She created Angel Works as a means to work with the positive and loving energy of the angels to provide people with guidance that will improve their health, uncover their life’s purpose, enrich their relationships and enhance their lives.
Read more from VividLife.me bloggers:
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve worked with Mums about their overwhelming feelings of guilt – whether they are working Mums, stay at home Mums or part-time Mums. Women seem to be programmed with it and it just holds us all back, keeps us stuck and is really anger turned in on ourselves as we find it difficult to ask for help, delegate parenting jobs or share our needs with others. It’s also about wanting to be a perfect parent – who only exists in Hollywood film I’m afraid!
Part 1- Heart opening experiences in Greece lead to illumination of my life purpose. I was recently touched by something Iyanla Vanzant and Oprah Winfrey had talked about on Oprah’s Lifeclass Webcast. They were talking to a woman who had been working on her spiritual practices to further awaken herself and felt that her husband was not keeping up with her on her path. I immediately felt a connection to this because I had been in the same place as her not long ago. I loved what Iyanla and Oprah had said to her which was to first, keep doing the work and then the answer to whether she should stay with her husband would become obvious.