1. “Race doesn’t matter.” The concept of “race” – that we can accurately determine one’s intelligence, ability, habits, attitudes or destiny based on their biological racial designation – is a lie and illusion. One’s biology does not determine any of these things which are mostly influenced by culture, observation and education. However “racism” is real. So it is more appropriate to teach our children not to judge people on anything but their deeds and actions and to do so on a case-by-case basis. At the same time, we must teach them that racism/sexism/class exploitation, and the brutality, prejudice, discrimination and injustice that accompanies them, does exist, and we should prepare them to identify and challenge these societal vices.
2. “Money is the root of all evil.” In fact, money is a measurement of purchasing power, a tool, and something we need in this system to provide for our basic necessities and luxuries. It is also a symbol of our material wealth. But it is not the root of all evil. The person that created this myth most likely didn’t want poor people to eliminate their poverty and acquire power. Ignorance, vanity, greed, competitiveness, selfishness, arrogance, a false sense of entitlement, avarice, insecurity, and jealously are far more accurate candidates for being the “roots of all evil.” Given this, perhaps we should teach our children that a. money is necessary in our modern economy b. having more of it will provide them with more options in terms of residence, education, food, clothing, entrepreneurship, political power, etc. So they should make plans to acquire it legitimately, budget and invest it wisely, and use it to provide relief to others. But they certainly should not fear, trivialize, or disdain it.
3. “Get a good education so you can get a good job.” It is true that a person with a college degree is more likely to earn a million dollars than a person without one. It is also true that a college education is highly regarded as one way to create more options for oneself. However, the purpose of formal or informal education is not to get a good job, but to primarily develop important contacts/networks, develop successful habits/attitudes, and to learn specific skills/knowledge that will enable a person to effectively pursue his/her goals. As a secondary consideration, we seek education to acquire the credentials for upward mobility. What one does with these credentials, habits, skills, knowledge and networks is their choice, but we must urge our children to use these resources to understand, create, own, run, influence, and control things in their environment. This is the basis of power.
4. “You must vote; it is your civic responsibility and our people died for this right.” Voting might be the powerful demonstration of citizenship we believe it to be if: candidates, the political structure the press and the electoral process were not controlled by corporations, the electoral college did not exist, and money in general did not affect the process. However, all of the above conditions exist, a fact that compromises our political options, our exposure to political ideas, and our vote. Our civic responsibility is to take actions that support humane policies, laws, options and consequences for citizens and to challenge those that don’t. How people choose to do that is another question. We would do more to help our children by teaching them how voting is compromised by money/corporations, how to intelligently research and identify candidates that align with their issues and interests, how to advocate for social causes, and how to amass economic, technological, and institutional power so that they don’t solely depend on politicians.
5. “Choose a partner that will love you the way you deserve to be loved.” This advice contains a kernel of truth, but so much more important information is omitted. In addition, a partner should be someone you are attracted to, can confide in, talk to, find refuge in, receive sound advice from, and whose skills, maturity, knowledge, habits and attitudes contribute significantly to your own peace and larger goals. They should respect you and your feelings, but also be able to challenge and correct you when necessary. When such things are in place, two people are “equally yoked.” Too many marriages, relationships and families have died brutal deaths because people failed to take these things into consideration, and focused too much on subjective feelings, and pleasure alone.
6. “Do as I say, not as I do.” Our actions and behaviors are far better teachers than our words. If we want our children to respect us, we must do our best to make our actions consistent with our words. Mixed messages only serve to undermine a solid relationship with our children, and they cause our children to distrust our advice and teaching. Besides, if there is a major difference between what we tell them and what we do, we are in essence, hypocrites anyway, unworthy of respect or emulation.
7. “I brought you in this world, and I’ll take you out.” Sounds strong and authoritative, but this saying is actually self-defeating and counterproductive. As parents, our role is to provide reasonable boundaries, provide direction, basic necessities, and sound habits and attitudes. It is far more appropriate to take the position that “I brought you in this world, and I will do everything I can to help you navigate it successfully.” A good parent should also provide discipline when appropriate, but never be a bully.
8. “No matter how disrespectful, irresponsible, and disobedient you are, I will still provide you with gifts to demonstrate my love for you.” Ok, we don’t actually…”; Read full post on Authors site
Author – Agyei Tyehimba