When our children come to us for advice, it is important our actions measure up to what we are telling them.
When our children come to us for advice, it is important our actions measure up to what we are telling them.

We are setting the wrong example for our youth

EVERYWHERE we look we see politicians devoid of honesty, empathy and compassion attacking one another and acting in inconsiderate ways — ways that have serious implications for our social fabric and collective future.

Their behaviours fly in the face of all the values we as parents and educators have sought to instil in our children.

No wonder our children and young people are rising up! How furious they must be with our double standards.

From their first years of life we are developing in children a sense of right and wrong, encouraging them to share, co-operate, communicate with care, be kind to living things and to one another.

Social justice agendas and anti-bullying programs permeate our schools, and children’s behaviour is guided and managed constantly. Yet, somehow in our society the expectations we place on children are not being placed on leaders.

Somehow the values we demand our young people live by are forgotten by adults.

We are living in a time where fake news, bullying, gaslighting, lying and fear are normalised. Many deem these effective political and interpersonal strategies.

How do we show our children and young people what a caring community looks like when tenderness, empathy, and connection are not visible or valued?

I read this week about a franchise of restaurants in California. These cafes, aptly named “Cafe Gratitude”, seek to be places where ‘love is served’, and where people can come to celebrate connection (as well as good food).

For every ‘love bowl’ purchased, they provide a free meal to a homeless person. While customers wait for their food they are encouraged to respond to a question, like ‘what inspires your creativity?’ or ‘what makes you smile?’

Their motto is ‘love, serve, remember’ and their mission is to remind people to be loving, generous and grateful.

Imagine if our schools, universities and governments sought to have such mottos and missions and be such places – places of service, health and sustainability, asking and contemplating life-giving questions.

As a parent and educator, I want to be more mindful of the environment I am creating and contributing to. I want to create places where love is served.

Individually and collectively we need to think about the examples we are setting for our children and young people.