Tag Archives: values

To Our Grandchildren – The Secret of Before Time Started

When I grew up (my oldest granddaughter says, “before time started”) communities were less diverse than today.  Before time started, you could walk house to house, farm to farm, and not find an ounce of difference in the values people held dear to their hearts.  The values held in the home were reinforced down the street at Uncle Elmer’s house, Mrs. Cotton’s house, Lott’s Grocery, or in the public library.  The only diversity was some ate salt on their watermelon and some did not.  Values were taught in the home and reinforced up and down the street, church to school, and from the courthouse to the local bank.  Unfortunately, that is seldom true anymore.

Today, more often than not, we do not know our neighbors down the street; therefore, we can no longer be sure the person three doors down has the same values as we do, or has values at all.  It is a sad commentary on our society, but we can no longer trust our children to the neighbourhood for safe keeping – physically or morally.  We have grown too isolated and distant for such trust.  On top of that, time has become an issue.   Regardless of the makeup of the neighbourhood, it is ultimately the responsibility of parents and grandparents to make time to instill and reinforce family values.  However, we live in a society where the best intentions are often hogtied by a rush rush world.  Everyone is in such a hurry – work, ball games, dance, school activities, etc. – that there is little room for quality family time.  It becomes increasingly difficult to consistently reinforce the family values we hold so dear.  Values become the little things we push aside or overlook “just this time” for the sake of speeding to the next event in our busy lives.  Time gets away from us, and before we know it our children are grown and out on their own.  All that is left is our prayers that the values we taught them were enough, and nothing important was overlooked.  You never know, and it can drive you crazy wondering, especially if you are a grandparent where time has begun to speed by faster and faster.

Chasing time is fruitless; you can never win, but you can slow it down.  I slow it down by imagining a time warp in which my grandchildren are sitting around my table.  Except in this time warp, there is not a video game, cell phone, or television to cut into our time.  In my time warp, we conduct ourselves like families did before time started; we talk, laugh, and share one another.  I know that sounds crazy, and I realize this is not cool in the eyes of my grandchildren, but their definition of “cool” came along after time started, so it does not apply to grandfathers, like me, who think of water bubbling from a spring when the word is used.

Oh, yes, here they come!  Come in Nate, Kalyn, Mya, Kayden, Collier, and Pace, and sit with Mawmaw and me.  We are going on a journey.  No, not Disney World, but a journey much more important.  We are going back to a place before time started – a place where values and wisdom were handed down from parents and grandparents and reinforced daily in the community.  We are going back to a time when children ran and played, and parents prayed they did not grow up too fast.  No, Kalyn, we did not ride in horse drawn buggies, but I have on a special occasion or two.  Yes, we had electricity and running water, but most of all we had time for each other.

Yes, Nate, I understand it is stuff nobody wants to hear, yet, it is more relevant than Facebook, Snapchat, or video games.  Yes, Kalyn, “before time started” people actually talked to each other about such things as right and wrong, good manners, and proper etiquette.  No, Mya, they did not text; they used their fingers and hands to hold up one another.  Did they dance?  Oh my, yes, Kayden, they danced, and they sang, and you won’t believe this, but they did so in their homes – as a family.  Were there trees back then?  Yes, Collier, there were trees – great, strong trees.  Trees that gave their limbs to cradles, and one tree that carried a lamb on its shoulders at a place called Galilee.  Why?  Pace, I am so glad you asked.  The answer is so simple – love.  You see, the one thing we have in common with God is love, and before time started, people loved one another, and they didn’t care if someone thought that was cool or not.

Before time started, family was the coolest thing in the world; it was the world.  There was no escaping it; you were inundated with it at the dinner and supper table, reminded of it when working on rooftops or in the fields, and bathed in it every minute and hour of the day.  The wisdom and values conveyed through family was the only road map people needed to find happiness if they were wise enough to follow it.  Like today, life did not come with an instruction book, but way back before time started, it began with a family, and for those who listened and worked at it, that was all they needed.

So, boys and girls, listen close!  Mawmaw and Pawpaw are going to take you on a trip.  We are going to whisper to you the secrets of the place called Before Time Started.  A place where all cool parents and grandparents made time to teach boys and girls how to be good people.  A place where boys and girls were taught values that turned boys into gentlemen and girls into ladies.  So, everyone close your eyes and grab a hand, and we will travel to Before Time Started to learn the secret so many have forgotten.

The Secret of Before Time Started

The greatest influence on the world is what we teach our children at home:

  1. Hold the door open for others to enter a building – especially for ladies and the elderly;
  2. Say “Thank you” when given a compliment, gift, or an act of kindness;
  3. Say “Yes, mam” or “No, mam,” and “Yes, sir” or “No, sir – especially to your parents and elders, or as a sign of respect for anyone deserving. No, you do not have to do this, but it is the right thing to do;
  4. Granddaughters, be confident in yourself. You are as good, smart, and capable as any man.  Never sell yourself short because you are a woman or to please a man;
  5. Grandsons, stand and offer a lady or the elderly your seat on a crowded bus or in a crowded room;
  6. Learn to see, listen, and respect people through the eyes and ears of a blind man;
  7. Never talk down to people. It is rude and makes you appear arrogant and a fool;
  8. Granddaughters, always act like a lady. A woman is God’s symbol of beauty and pose in the world.  It is a daunting task at best, but in his eyes and the eyes of the world be deserving and carry yourself above the reproach of others;
  9. Grandsons, treating women, children, or animals with cruelty is never okay;
  10. If invited to dinner or supper, always compliment the food; if you don’t like the food, keep it to yourself;
  11. Never talk over someone during a conversation. The rule is simple:  I listen when you talk – you listen when I talk;
  12. Surround yourself with people of character with greater skills than your own;
  13. Be a leader, but remember sometimes it takes more courage to follow;
  14. Always leave the trail behind you better than you found it;
  15. Granddaughters, smile often. God made a woman’s smile to heal the world.  Her smile is intended to melt the hearts of men, reassure her children, and light the darkest day;
  16. Grandsons, to become a man, know your heart, put the needs of others before yours, trust in family, and have faith in God – everything else you need will fall into place;
  17. Don’t procrastinate, but take your time when making important decisions;
  18. Not everybody will like you. That is their problem; don’t make it yours;
  19. Embrace those less fortunate. Not everyone is dealt the same cards in life;
  20. Find a hobby! Find something you enjoy in life and do it – don’t worry about being good or bad – just do it!
  21. Being there for others is important, but do not forget yourself. Take time to do the things that are important to you;
  22. Public profanity or profanity as a part of your everyday language is never acceptable. It hurts the ears of ladies and children.  It instills a sense of false bravado.  It demeans your value;
  23. Your word is your honor. Guard your words closely.  Once your integrity is compromised, there is no going back;
  24. If you agree to work for a man for a dollar, give him your best. Work for him as though he was paying you double;
  25. There is nothing wrong with wanting more, but first, always be thankful for what you have;
  26. Granddaughters, walk beside your husband, but never compete with him;
  27. Grandsons, love and be proud of your wife. She is your backbone;
  28. Eat, drink, and have a blast in life, but take care not to lose your soul, waste your mind, or wreck your body in the process. Moderation is the key;
  29. Admit it when you are wrong. Everybody knows it, so own up and move on.  Sometimes saying “I am sorry” is your best play;
  30. Do not take yourself too seriously. Start and end your day by looking in the mirror and having a good laugh;
  31. Read at least thirty minutes every day;
  32. Look for the good in all men, but choose carefully to whom you expose your back;
  33. Good manners, kindness, and treating others the way you want to be treated as well as the way God intended people to treat each other is the greatest of God’s commandments – never take it lightly or for granted! Practice it daily!

Finally, the best advice I can offer is this:  bathe daily, use deodorant after you shower, brush your teeth after you eat, wear fresh clothes daily, respect your mama and daddy, treat everyone with kindness, talk gibberish to babies and animals, pray daily for strength and courage, leave judgement to God, be your own person, and be humble.  To be a man or a woman, you must stand for what you believe, fight for what you love, and treat with kindness all that falls under the spread of your wings.

Children, these are the secrets people knew and lived by before time started – secrets that enable us to live together and respect one another.  Before time started, these truths and values were passed from generation to generation until somehow, they became lost along the way.  In each of you is the light to bring these simple truths and values back to the world.  It is our prayer you will not keep these secrets to yourself, but will live by them and pass them to your children and grandchildren who in their time will pass them to theirs until a day comes when how to live together in peace and respect for one another is no longer a secret, and the world is turned upright once again.

Our love and prayers always, Mawmaw and Pawpaw.

Jl

©Jack Linton, June 12, 2017

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Are Schools Really to Blame? The Truth About 5 Issues Blamed on Schools

I guess it is because I am a former educator, but I get angry and tired of hearing schools continually blamed for things they have little control over. I know there are issues where schools deserve the blame, but there is also a lot of undeserved blame going around. Recently I read an article about the child obesity epidemic in this country, and as expected the article placed a major part of the blame on poor diets in school cafeterias. I don’t discount that school breakfast and lunch menus have not always been the most nutritious, but I do have doubts as to the extent of their contribution to child obesity. Counting my years as a student in grade school and high school, as a teacher, and school administrator, I ate in school cafeterias for over 50 years, and I can honestly say that in spite of what the nutrition gurus say about school lunches, my weight problem has little to do with what I ate in school cafeterias. I wish it was that easy, but the real villain is the overweight person standing in front of me when I look in the mirror. I want all nutrition experts, health junkies, carb fighters, and food conspiracy lovers to listen closely for a minute; my weight problem and the weight problems of the vast majority of school children was not caused by eating tiny 1 ounce servings of bread, 2 ounce servings of vegetables and carbs and, and 2 ounce servings of meat or a meat alternative protein in the school cafeteria nor was it caused by the slightly larger servings of hamburgers, pizza and French fries served by school cafeterias. I agree that the 180 lunches and maybe 180 breakfasts a child eats in a school cafeteria in a school year have not always been the healthiest meals, but school cafeteria food is a minor contributor at best to child obesity. Like me, the major reason most children are overweight is the second and third servings of mama’s home cooking along with the candy bars, chips with salsa, cakes, cookies, sodas, and popcorn eaten after school or between meals while sitting in front of the television. Unfortunately, sitting in front of the television is the only consistent exercise most children experience (myself included) and that coupled with all the junk food they consume outside of school is the major reason behind child obesity as well as adult obesity. School lunches may be a contributing factor, but more likely, school lunches are just another easy target on the blame list for schools.

Please, do not get me wrong, I am all for children eating healthy, but it is time to get off the “let’s blame schools” bandwagon. Today, if there is a problem with something in society, the politically correct response is to point the blame finger at schools. Schools are continually taking left jabs to the forehead, right hooks to the jaw, sucker punches to the gut, and kicks to the groin. The list of societal ills blamed on schools grows every year. Schools are to blame for childhood obesity (cafeteria lunches); schools are to blame for the lack of discipline and bad behavior in kids (poor classroom discipline and removing the paddle); schools are to blame for the decline of the moral fiber of our nation (prayer removed from school); schools are to blame for the academic decline of our nation (poor performance as compared to other countries); and schools are to blame for students hating school and not valuing an education (school dropouts). I am sure I am leaving something out, but that is enough to make anyone with any common sense shake their head in disbelief.

Schools absolutely have problems that need fixing, but schools are not responsible for all the problems we are facing in this country. In most cases, the problems schools are blamed for are a symptom of bigger problems in society. Obesity for example is a nationwide problem wrapped in our addiction to junk food and lack of physical activity, so why not pick on the junk food companies and television and cable networks and leave schools alone? That won’t happen because the big boys will come out swinging whereas the mild mannered little schools will meekly offer the other cheek when the blame is dished out. Regrettably, the blame game escalates each year, and until a miracle happens or there is a major revolt by educators, it will continue to do so. If you need evidence, take a look at the following issues blamed on schools by society, the media, the politicians, and anyone else in need of a whipping boy:

  1. Schools are to blame for childhood obesity: (Even though I have addressed this one, here are a few more items you may wish to consider about the relationship of child obesity to the food served in school cafeterias) The real problem is not the combined 360 breakfasts and lunches a child may eat at school during a school year, but rather the 735 breakfasts, lunches, and dinners the child eats at home; the 365 days of between meals snacks the child eats at home; and the 365 days of sitting at home in front of a television with no physical activity other than operating a game control or TV remote. To put it bluntly, child obesity is impacted most by lack of physical activity at home as well as the endless supply of junk food children eat at home.
  2. Schools are to blame for student bad behavior: There are those who believe that poor school behavior can be linked to poor behavior in society. They reason if kids were taught in school to respect others, they would be better equipped to respect the law and other people when they finish school. Also, they argue that there would be fewer prison inmates if schools taught children the value of an education and to stay in school. Some people even claim society began its decline when corporal punishment (the paddle) was removed from schools, but the biggest reason for the overall decline in civil behavior in our society has little to do with our schools. The decline is more likely due to the transfer of parental responsibilities from the home to the schoolhouse. The lack of discipline in society today is a direct reflection of the tolerance level of parents/guardians and what they are teaching or not teaching their children at home. Although schools do their best to be surrogate parents, schools cannot replace the parenting children need at home to become productive well-adjusted citizens. Parents cannot abdicate their responsibilities and expect all to turn out well. It doesn’t work that way – never has and never will.
  3. Schools are to blame for the decline of the moral fiber of our nation:  “Our schools and society went to hell in a hand basket when they took prayer out of the schools.” For years, I have heard that statement almost word for word from well-meaning people, but contrary to popular misconception, children can pray in school. The reason children do not pray in school is not because they can’t, but because they do not pray at home. Any child can pray in school; it is a personal choice that is supported by the Constitution of the United States that cannot be denied by the courts, the government, or the political or personal ideologies of others. Prayer resides in the heart and soul of each individual and cannot be removed without consent of the individual; therefore, prayer can never be removed from school as long as it is embedded in the values instilled in the home. The moral fiber of a nation begins with mama and daddy, not with laws, policies or government and its institutions. Schools simply imitate the society in which they exist. For example, schools are a direct reflection of our society’s judgmental approach to life rather than an approach of compassion and understanding. In today’s society we are quick to judge anyone who does not think as we do, believe as we do, or live the life style we do. This same judgmental attitude is rocking our kids to the core in our schools. Judging of others breeds distrust, intolerance, contempt, and shallowness, which can be seen in such forms as bullying and social cliques in our schools. I agree prayer in school may help with such issues, but the answer to the moral concerns in society and our schools begins with parents teaching moral values and praying with their children at home. The moral foundation of society is founded and nurtured in the home, not necessarily in the school.
  4. Schools are to blame for the academic decline of our nation: No matter what the profession, there are individuals within the profession who need to do a better job or find a new profession, and the teaching profession is no different. However, overall teachers do a remarkable job considering the obstacles they face, but regardless of how competent a teacher is and how hard the teacher works, academic success begins at home. There are too many parents who are spectators in the education of their children; they depend exclusively on the teacher to educate their children. However, educating a child is not a spectator sport. Parents cannot be content to watch from the sidelines; they must get involved. The value of an education must be taught and reinforced in the home as well as at school. Children with parents who value education have the greatest chance at academic success because the parents make sure their children are in school when the school doors are open. Over the years, one thing I have noticed over and over again is that the children of parents who make sure they get to school on time and stay in school throughout the school day are more likely to do well in school. Teachers cannot teach a child if the child is not in school. However, it is common for the teacher to be blamed for the child’s habitual absence from school and poor academic performance – the teacher doesn’t like my child, the teacher is out to get my child, the teacher doesn’t know how to teach, the teacher has class favorites or the teacher grades unfairly. Rarely is it ever the child’s or the parent’s fault. Parents need to stop and think before laying all the blame on the teacher; they need to quit reasoning like a child, put on their big boy and girl pants and start using the reasoning skills of an adult.   If a child is doing poorly in school, it is most likely due to the child not coming to school, not doing the work when in school, not putting enough time into the work or the child needs extra help.
  5. Schools are to blame for students not liking school:  When children enter kindergarten, they come with an open mind eager and ready to absorb any and everything. They are like sponges; they cannot get enough. They want to be in school, and they enjoy school. Unfortunately, all children do not maintain their love for school. Why? Sometimes it is the fault of the school – a bad experience with a teacher, lack of success in the classroom, or lessons with no relevancy to the child’s life. Sometimes it is the parents fault – siding with the child against the teacher, continuously speaking negatively about the school or teachers, lack of interest in how their child is doing in school or too busy to pay attention to how their child is doing in school. Also, sometimes the fault lies with the student – they insist school is not cool, they think school is boring or they feel school is not fun. Guess what kiddos and parents, life is not always cool, easy or fun, and it is never too early for children to start learning that lesson at home as well as in school. It is better they find it out while in school and living at home than when they finish school and get out on their own. Granted, teachers should do their best to make learning as relevant and fun as possible, but that does not necessarily mean that school has to always be entertaining. The bottom line is that kids go to school to learn, and learning will quite often be less enjoyable than sitting in front of their Xbox, Play Station or playing some mind riveting game such as Angry Bird or Zombie Zappers on their tablet. Children need to be taught that school is their job regardless of whether or not it is entertaining, and that doing their best is the expectation for that job. However, for children to make that connection, parents must begin teaching that lesson at an early age at home. Parents must teach their children that school is important, and that going to school is not an option to be discussed or debated. There is nothing wrong with a child being told they are going to school whether they like it or not. Of course, teaching them early is the key. Parents cannot wait until middle school or high school to take an interest and try to teach the importance of an education; if they do, it is too late.

To address these five issues with any hope of bringing about change, the key is to begin at home. However, many people refuse to believe that, especially when it is much easier and cleaner to blame schools. The blame pointers have few qualms about pointing fingers at schools or teachers and painting them as scapegoats for society’s ills. Why? The answer is simple; schools (teachers and school administrators) rarely fight back. They are easy targets who rarely stand up for themselves, so they continually get kicked around since society knows they will meekly nurse their bruises and quietly go about their business of teaching, loving, mentoring, and parenting the kids they teach. Schools are certainly not without blame, but the blame thrown at schools is quite often a symptom of a greater root problem; a root problem that most often can be traced back to the home.

JL

 

©Jack Linton, October 18, 2014