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The American Mind

Keeping your kids off the evening news

William Hillman

(12/2015) Respect. Aretha Franklin sang for it. Mohammad Ali fought for it. And today we donít have enough of it.

Recently there was a video making the rounds on all the news stations. In this video, a girl is forcibly dragged out of her school desk by a security guard. This sent the country into tremors once again with the allegations of police brutality, racism, profiling, etc.

One commentator made the point that the system was rigged and had failed this girl. I agree, the system has failed her. Before I go into why on my thoughts on it, let me say I donít know this girl. I donít know anything about her background or where she is from. All I know is what was on the video. Therefore, my comments are limited to what I saw on the video. Iíll also make some assumptions about her background and if these assumptions are wrong, I apologize.

It was not the security guard's fault. He was dealing with the situation that presented itself the best way he knew. First, the teacher could not deal with the situation and called the principal. The principal could not get the girl to comply and called the security guard. The security guard made her comply.

According to google, the average US salary of a teacher is $45,000. The average salary of a principal is $92,000. The average salary of a security guard is $24,000. Who are these teachers and principles that we entrust with our kids, yet, have no control over them? The teacher and the principal were incapable of performing their job. And with great protest we blame the situation on the security guard. As we know, blame always rolls downhill.

But the real blame doesnít lie with the teachers, the principal, or the security guard. This is a situation where the girl in question appears to have no respect for anyone. Lack of respect starts at home.

Respect is something that should be instilled in children, with love, starting at a young age. If they donít learn it from their parents and family, they might end up learning it from the end of a stick later in life.

Teaching your children to be respectful is not an easy thing. Trust me, I know this. Children are basically feral animals whose natural desire is to stay wild. And they will fight you every step of the way.

My oldest child, who today is mostly civilized, has a very hard time accepting the fact that he is a child and therefore of a different class than adults. When told itís bedtime he says, "Itís not fair, you get to stay up and I have to go to bed!"

In this age, itís not easy to be a parent fighting this battle. All the signals children get are the opposite of respect. In many of the TV shows geared towards children, adults play the fools. In school, many of their peerís parents have given up on teaching respect or never started. I canít tell you how it kills me when a kid walks up and addresses me by my first name. Or when my childrenís mateís parents insist my child calls them by their first name. What is going on with these parents? Donít get me started on "please" and "thank you."

Our job is not to be friends with our children, but to raise them to respect others and themselves. If we are successful, you will have more than a friend, you will have someone who loves and respects you. Otherwise, they still will not be your friend because they will never respect you.

Honestly, itís not very difficult to raise your children to be good people. All the studies and books that have ever been written on the subject can be summed up in a few rules of thumb. You want to give your child a shot at a happy life, then here you go. Just a warning, many of these rules are very politically incorrect:

1. Children need a father and mother- This may seem like common sense, but today more than half of children are born into a single-parent family. Boys especially need fathers. If you want to read more on this topic, go to the library and find an old book called "Iron John."

2. Have a religion- Children who grow up believing in nothing will turn into adults who believe in anything. Religion is a very powerful social binding. Believing in a higher power brings humility and hope. Your kids might not be very religious as they grow older, but having that religious card in their back pocket when life look hopeless, may just save their lives.

3. Have a meal together as a family several times a week, if not every night- And keep the TV off. This point cannot be emphasized enough. Kids whose families regularly eat together on average do better in school, and are less likely to get involved in drugs. Thereís a reason why sharing meals is so important in many religions. This is a time when bonds are created. Stories and the dayís events are shared, and most importantly, are listened to. At no other point will you spend as much direct-interaction time with your children and spouse as at the dining table.

4. Have your child involved in some sort of team or regular group activities- They donít have to be the best or the star player. They don't even have to be good. They do need to learn to be a member of the team. They also need to learn how to win, and more importantly how to lose. While on the subject, coaches, please donít give out those God-awful participation trophies. Trophies are for winning. If you want to give the kids something, give them the practice balls they used during the season, or maybe a hat with the league name on it, but can we just please do away with the participation trophies?

5. Insist on good manners and proper respect for others- The best way to teach manners and respect is by example.

6. Know who your children are hanging out with - Their peers can have a lot of influence on them.

I give no guarantee, but these simple rules will help to give our children a fighting chance of staying off the evening news.

Read other articles by Bill Hillman