I am the mother of three kids: two girls and a boy. We are a tight knit family, as we are very involved parents to very nice, though sometimes challenging children. However, this challenge we could have done without. Recently our seven year old boy dropped an “N-bomb” at school. Although he appeared not to mean it in an angry way, the little black kid in his class (his friend) was wounded. His teacher called us in to discuss the matter with us and our son. He was clearly deeply humiliated. He had already had a discussion with “Peter” and apologized to him. I was disappointed and angry with him. His father, on the other hand was much more upset than I was. On the drive home he unleashed on him: “what’s wrong with you anyway?” And “where did you learn to talk like that? Certainly not from us!” And on and on. He went to bed early that night and nothing more was said. My question is, how much influence do his friends have on him? Will his teachers think of us as drooling racists, teaching our kids such human disrespect at home? Does he not know right from wrong? Do we have to isolate him from bad influences for the rest of his in-school life?
You are worried about the wrong thing. You are scared that your son will exhibit improper behaviors regardless of y’alls teachings. Hopefully these poor behaviors will be few and far between. However, based on our own experiences in growing up, we both know there are things we have done that our parents would have objected to. The real concern is when our kids screw up and we don’t know about it. When our kids mess up, it is the perfect opportunity to teach them right from wrong.
You asked, “Does he not know right from wrong”? The real answer is: usually, but not always. Our lives are full of lessons, and sometimes we have to learn by screwing up, and suffering the proper accountability. Obviously this includes positive reinforcement for good behavior as well. The brains of children are not fully developed, and as good parents, it’s our duty to teach them and help them develop. Remember that kinda scary soft spot on the head of your newborn? I like to think that older kids have a soft, undeveloped spot in their head.
As for isolating him, it’s just not possible. We can be selective about some of his friends, but the reality is: we need to empower them to know right from wrong when they are away from us. [See: the scary days when your daughter starts dating]. So the reality is this: when our kids mess up, it is the perfect opportunity to teach them. Parents long for easy behaviors to deal with. Personally, I long for opportunities to teach my kids so they’ll turn out okay.