I recently had a flashback to when my girls were younger and I heard not-so-nice words come out of their mouths. We had a discussion about adult words and children’s mouths. You know, the kind of discussion that starts with “We need to talk” and ends with “Because I said so.”
As a parent, I accepted responsibility for my kids’ education the moment they were born; the good and the bad. In this instance, I taught by my bad example. Driving around Hudson County, New Jersey is a challenge in the best of times; at its worst, it does lead to adult words flying towards the windshield. Unfortunately, my little sponges sitting in the back seat soaked it all up. The giggling and snickering from the back seat reminded me to find a better way to express my frustration, but that only worked until the next car cut me off. Then it was time for another discussion.
My kids were raised before the world became R rated. The words that were once only heard on cable television, have now moved into network channels. The pressure on parents today has increased exponentially. How do you raise courteous kids in an increasingly rude world?
I might be a bit prejudiced, but I happen to think that Latino family values are our insurance policy. While most people my age learned a la fuerza del cocotazo we taught our children respect in a gentler manner. When you entered your grandmother’s house, you asked for la bendicion. You learned to do this before you even knew what it meant. You didn’t ask for anything. You knew very well that if you asked for something your mother was going to pinch you; hard. I can’t tell you how many times my grandmother saved me from my mother’s ire. It didn’t matter if you used the wrong fork but God help you if you smelled your food before putting it in your mouth.
My cousins and I were taught to look out for each other in the yard and on the street. We were taught to respect our elders and call them using terms of respect. Naughty words like stupid and jerk did not pass our lips. Dinner was a family event, church was a family event, birthdays were family events; you get my drift. Funny thing is we raised our kids the same way we were raised, although without the cocotazos, and they are turning out to be pretty awesome people.
I leave you with the immortal words of Maria Santos, Que Dios me los bendiga y los favorezca.