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Letter: Set example; children constantly watching

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Note: The statements, views, and opinions contained in this letter to the editor are those of the author and are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect, the opinions of The Republic.

From: Danny Burton


Received: Oct. 30

In these trying times, one of our concerns is that we’re watched by our government. We should be concerned about this, but it’s puzzling that we give little thought about sharing potentially damaging information about ourselves online, every day via social networking.

Neither do we care or realize that there are other eyes watching us in real life every day.

Those eyes are those of children, big or small, yours or not. At some point most every day our chances of encountering those eyes are quite good.

In the daily grind, it’s easy to forget that we’re being watched by the children in our society. We forget that our words and deeds have an effect upon those watching us. We forget that we are their teachers, whether we wish it or not. And we forget, for better or worse, that what those eyes see will head straight to the brain. At that point, a child will imitate what he or she sees.

For example, take a child with you to a place where adults behave like children (most any sporting event) and you will certainly have a teaching moment for that child, unless you’re behaving like so many others.

That teaching moment should begin long before a child spends much time in public. It should begin at home. A parent/caregiver is the first human those young eyes will see and imitate. It would be in everyone’s best interest, from that child to society at large, for that child to be exposed to the type of activity that will enable him or her to survive, thrive and excel in the real world.

I understand that there are plenty of parents who have done or are doing their best to raise a child, yet sometimes that child will be determined to go their own way. This certainly isn’t directed at them or anyone else in particular. Instead it’s for everyone in every community, from the movers and shakers to those with no home, power or hope. We are all being watched by all kids we encounter.

It seems to me that this should be equally important as the notion that our government and many merchants are watching us. I’m not fond of a credit card company tracking my movement across town. I’m certainly not crazy about my government searching my correspondence for whatever reasons it manufactures. But I certainly don’t relish the idea that a child will mimic me after I yell, “Kill the umpire!”

This business of being watched is nothing new for me, a father of two, grandfather of two more. But recently it has been brought home by a 4-year-old boy, who discovers new activities daily. He steps up to bat like a big leaguer. An intense sprint car racing fan, he pretends to be any racer at any race track. He’s watching not just his family, but others he encounters, either in public or even online. And he’s absorbing everything he sees or hears.

I’m not naive enough to think that kids can be protected from negative words and behavior. We can’t prevent that, but our goal should be that they not learn bad habits from us. We can set an example that kids, ours or others, will remember in the future. We must remember that children are not merely looking at what we do; they see what we do. And they don’t merely hear; they listen — whether we realize it or not.

We owe it to them to be at our best. It’s the least we can do.

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