Orange County, CA
Parenting for a Better World
By Jim Sevy | Date Submitted: 01/25/01
A few years ago I was speaking to a friend who had just had a vasectomy. I asked him why he took such a drastic measure and he indicated that, “He just couldn’t bring another child into this world, it's just a horrible place.” When pressed he elaborated, “The wars, violence, dishonesty, look at the news every night, I just couldn’t do it.” He then asked me if my Wife and I were planning to have more than the three children we had at the time. I told him yes. Then I told him that I agreed that the world was sometimes very unpleasant, but that I could not think of a better way to improve the world than to bring perfect, innocent children into the world and raise them up to be the kind of people that would have a positive impact on the world. Granted, this is a tall order. Especially now, some 10 years since that discussion took place, with the world a seemingly worse state, new forms of media telling our children what they should look like and act like.
As a parent, I feel it is my responsibility to raise my children up so that they can think for themselves. To teach them right from wrong. To help them know that they can make a difference by being a good person, and by being willing to stand up for what they believe to be true. I can also teach them how to be polite, to treat others as they would have others treat them. I can teach them how to be compassionate and how to serve their fellow men. I can teach them how to serve their community and their country. Not only can I teach them these things -- I must teach them these things.
The old phrase, “Actions speak louder that words” is very relevant to my ability as a parent to do this teaching. I am always reminding my older children, that no matter what, they are an example to their younger brothers and sisters. Their choice is to either be a good example or a bad example. As I am reminding my children of this, I think about whether I am being a good or bad example at that moment, or what I was being earlier in the day.
My Father taught me many important lessons while I was growing up, in particular, he taught me the value of “Acting” rather than “Re-acting”. In today’s vernacular, he would have told me to be “Pro-active.” Thinking about this while I was growing up, and still today, helps me weather the trials and challenges I face. This was like “teaching me to fish” rather than “feeding me for a day”. Instilling these fundamental values and virtues in our children is our challenge and opportunity. If we can accomplish this, if we can help our children set a course that will lead them to being caring, compassionate, thinking, acting individuals this world will be a better place, and it will continue to get better as they instill their values and virtues in their children, and on and on.
Parenting is the most “activist” thing I, or any of us can do. For us to have the kind of impact I have been describing, we must realize that parenting is what we are doing 24 hours a day. It is not something that we do when we get home from work, or on the weekends, once you are a parent you are constantly teaching by your example. In all aspects of our life our actions teach our children; religious, work, home, leisure. The choices we make minute-to-minute will translate into behaviors in our children. What an awesome responsibility, and what an immense opportunity.
I truly believe that I can make the world a better place by being a good parent. I believe that all parents can make the world a better place. Think about your priorities, think about your choices, think about the kind of example you are setting for your children. If you determine, as I have, that you really do have an impact, make sure that the choices you are making will have the result that you sincerely desire.