By Scott Westerman
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“Love me, feed me, keep me healthy, teach me how I can do the same thing for others.” – Hudson Scott Westerman
Well, Hudson didn’t exactly say that. He’s just past one and is still working on “mama”, “dada” “Dumbledore” and “eat’. But isn’t that the essence of what life is really all about?
Love me – We aren’t born with hate. It’s a learned behavior. We hate people who don’t believe what we believe. We hate people who are different than we are. We hate people who won’t do what we want them to do. There is only one thing we can do to soften and eliminate hatred. Model the opposite behavior. That can be a challenge. Distrust and dislike are burned into our brains by our own life experience. It’s hard to change that. Our best hope for the future is a generation that seeks solutions that create a better existence for everyone. If that’s what you want, walk the talk. The most important lesson parenting has taught me is that there are only two things you can do to raise great kids: Model the behaviors you expect and love them. That doesn’t guarantee a good outcome, but our own character is the only thing we can control. This law applies to all relationships. If your intentions are in the right place and the other person ends up in the wrong place, it’s not your fault.
Feed me – “Hunger and conflict go hand in hand,” writes former Clinton National Security Adviser Samuel Berger. “Empty stomachs breed panic and desperation.” And desperation feeds everything from crime to regime change. What would the world be like if poverty was something we read about only in the history books? Here’s the personal corollary: What you put into your body will directly impact the quality and quantity of your life. How you manage your resources will determine how well you will fare when the going gets rough.
Keep me healthy – Do we have a moral obligation to help heal the sick? Is health care an entitlement or a commodity? Are we practicing healthy behaviors, or are we on our way to becoming patients of our own making? Whatever the answers are to these three questions, our children will likely mirror.
Teach me how I can do the same thing for others – This last thing happens automatically. We are born without prejudice. Intolerance, ignorance, violence and hate are all things that we create by action or inaction. We are role models, whether we like it or not. Others will be influenced by what we say and do. The next generation will be a reflection of who we are. We expect our children to be responsible for their actions. We expect them to be tolerant, considerate and empathetic. We expect them to keep their space in at least as good condition as it was when they walked in the room. Personal responsibility, compassion and the desire to leave the world in better shape then we found it. If we want others to do it, we must do it, too.
The wonderful thing about a child is their ability to see the world as it is. They are born without the fear of saying, “Love me, feed me, keep me healthy and teach me how I can do the same for others.” It’s what happens after they come into the world that either amplifies it or changes it.
Perhaps they are our role models after all.
Have a great week!
Feedback always welcome to firstname.lastname@example.org.