The title of Sharon’s article is: ‘Teaching our kids life literacy – we owe it to them’, and she’s writing about meeting some adults who are working to provide positive role models for kids in suburbs with hardcore, intergenerational unemployment.
Immediately my thoughts turned to my own children, then I realised the operative word is ‘our’; how do we define who are ‘our’ kids?
Much has been written and said about the modern disintegration of the networks which used to give kids access to a range of adult role models beyond their parents.
Kim and I work hard to ensure our children are exposed to our adult friends and extended family, because we see how important it is for them to experience those interactions, and we see how much they latch on to and emulate the behaviours of other adults, beyond mum and dad.
I see direct evidence that exposure to adult company has helped Lily’s growth.
It also points the other way. We have a responsibility to model positive behaviours for each other’s kids. There is a modern taboo about intruding in any way on another person’s parenting. Intervening in the behaviour of someone else’s child can feel like stepping into a mine-field. We all have such different approaches to setting and enforcing boundaries.
However, it’s important we do set boundaries. It’s not that hard to let a child know where the boundary is, in a way that’s supportive, relatively unintrusive, and without implying any criticism of them or their parents. Doing nothing is a cop-out. If we see a child hurting another child, or snatching a toy, and we say nothing, we are tacitly condoning that behaviour.