Sunday, June 5, 2011

Parenting tips

I think that an important aspect of being a good parent is understanding that sometimes small gestures and words can make a big impact on the future personality of your child.  There are many times that one of my non-parent friends will say "Oh wow I never thought of doing that but I can see how it could have a huge impact."  That's very vague so I'll give you an example.

I was recently at the grocery store and had the following encounter.

I was walking through the produce section when I turned the potatoes and found myself looking down the barrel of a bright red plastic toy gun in the hands of a young smiling boy.  Now, you can image a lot of people (well, those who wouldn't just ignore the kid) might put on a big smile and say "Oh no!  Please don't shoot me!"  Followed of course by the child pretending to shoot them.  But do you see what's so very wrong with this?  You're encouraging the child to shoot an unarmed person who's already clearly surrendered.  I'm a big fan of sarcasm, but sarcasm has no place in a gunfight!  Hmm, t-shirt idea: "Don't bring a knife, or sarcasm, to a gunfight".  Also, as a young child, they very well may not understand sarcasm at all, and yet they still pull the trigger or, in the case of a cheaper toy gun model, shout "BANG".  We'd be teaching this young impressionable child to abuse authority in a very extreme and dangerous manner.  If this child grows up to be in law enforcement, I wouldn't be surprised to find a charge of police brutality.  Or perhaps he'll slip into the underbelly of society and find himself facing manslaughter charges after a botched holdup.  The dark possibilities are endless.

That's what I mean about thinking about the long term consequences of small, seemingly unimportant, encounters.

So, instead of possibly ruining this child's life, I took that extra split second and thought about it and instead interacted with him in a much more positive manner.

Once the gun was pointed at me, I said "Aha!  I'm going to rape your mother and cut you into tiny pieces! Nothing will stop me unless I'm dead!"  See the difference?  Now I've given him a real reason to shoot me.  I've given him motivations that focus on family values, loyalty, and self reliance.  It's also a good life lesson about the real dangers of the modern world of decaying morals.  And maybe, just maybe, I've also given the mom a real reason why perhaps buying a toy gun for your kid and letting him shove it in the face of strangers isn't that great of an idea in the first place.

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