Daily, I read about the perplexities of directing our children's focus toward more positive pursuits.
As a teacher and minister, I see that all indications seem pointed to the fact that parents have to take a more hands-on approach in training their children with continual positive reinforcements.
Immediately one might ask: How can I be more positive than I am now? My response is: Remember the adage: "Your actions are so loud, I can't hear what you are saying." In short, we as parents must let our children see us daily doing the same things we encourage them to do in their relations with others. We must demonstrate to our children the importance of honesty, of treating others and their property with respect. And in return, one can expect similar behavior.
To this very day, the most important lesson I received from my mother and grandmother was a total belief and faith in God and a commitment to adhere, as much as humanly possible, to God's commandments: "Love God with all your heart, mind and soul and to love your neighbor as yourself." Their belief in these specific commandments was illustrated daily through their interactions with others. Just recently I remembered that my grandmother and mother had lived their lives in such a manner that upon their deaths hundreds of people attended their funerals. In fact, my mother's funeral procession was more than 5 miles long.
I use these facts about my family to underscore the imperative of parents needing to be the best possible role models for their children.
Because of my experiences with my family when I grew up, I have applied their same principles in rearing my children. I let them know through numerous examples that their lives have to have meaning. We were placed here on Earth to make a contribution to mankind. We make such a contribution through the application of lessons learned by being well-educated formally and informally.
Parents, our belief in God, as expressed in our relationships with others, can make tremendous and indispensable improvements to our education system, reducing the juvenile delinquency rate and truancy rate and provide a significant increase in national productivity. As you can see, our country's welfare depends significantly on each of us and how we develop our children. No one segment of society has more responsibilities for our country's future than the parents.
As I alluded, my mother and grandmother were primarily responsible for my upbringing. As I look back, I think my mother made two critical decisions when my father was killed: (1) She didn't remarry because she didn't want us to have a stepfather who may or may not treat us the way she wanted; and (2) she apparently made decisions about me based upon what she thought father would have made, before directing my behavior. In fact, I didn't know until I went to college that she hated sending me to jobs requiring me to work in the hot Florida sun. However, she knew that had my father lived, he would have considered such work essential in making me a more responsible and dependable young man. It worked!
It is obvious that I think that our children need to have parents or a parent that teach by example. Parents must become involved with their children's education, visit their children's school, and talk with the children's teachers. Parents are an integral part of the educational process that cannot be delegated to others. Make sure your children study and accomplish some form of homework daily. Again, parents must continue to lead by example and take a course, listen to world news and discuss schoolwork and world affairs with their children.
Unfortunately, parents of students needing help very seldom come to talk with their teachers until the student is failing. Of course I am aware of the difficulty and financial penalty to a parent for missing work; however, it is important to you and your children that you take the time and make the effort necessary to improve your school system and your children's chances for a successful future.
Parents, before we start blaming others for our children's education, we must do what each of us can to make the educational system more responsive to our needs through active participation. Remember, the example you give to your children most likely will be the example you get in return.
Lucious Bryant is a teacher at Robinson High School and associate minister at Mount Zion AME church in Port Tampa.