Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Columns

February 6, 2014

It is important for parents to serve as a positive role model for children

— — I wouldn’t consider myself a crazy health nut. I don’t count my calories. I hate running. I don’t weigh myself and I love to enjoy a sweet treat. However, I have been extremely blessed to be naturally thin and what I would consider in great overall health. Both of my parents are tall and thin and both have always been in good shape, so being in good shape has always played in my favor.

I also grew up extremely active. I played basketball and volleyball throughout middle school and high school and I was always at the barn riding horses and doing some sort of physical labor such as stacking bales of hay and carrying water buckets from one end of the barn to the other.

I will never forget all the complaining I used to do when my mother would have me out in the heat of the summer throwing hay bales, mowing the grass and cleaning stalls. Now I look back and realize how growing up outside in the real world has made me a well- rounded person.

Unlike many of the girls I went to high school with I didn’t go to the mall on the weekends or spend my time watching cartoons on Saturday mornings. Instead I knew how to drive a truck and trailer, a tractor and a dump truck. I knew the difference between a flat-head and Phillips-head screwdriver. I could cook and balance a check-book. 

It honestly makes me sick to see parents being parented by their children. Maybe this is because I grew up with parents who were a little bit older and they didn’t put up with any foolishness to say the least. I grew up respecting my parents and elders and I still do. I hate kids saying “ya, na, yo and whatever,” not to mention the profanity that comes out of some of these children’s mouths.

When I wouldn’t say “yes mam, no mam, no sir, no mam, no thank you or thank you, my mother would turn me right around and make me go back to wherever we were and say it correctly. I learned quickly from being embarrassed a couple of times. It’s very rare that you hear young people saying yes mam and no mam. I barely heard a cuss word growing up and I knew not to say them.

My mother always said, “a little hard work never hurt anybody.” When my sister and I would complain, she would say, “this is what I got y’all for.”

No she really didn’t mean that she used us for labor only, but she raised us to know how to do a little bit of everything and not be some helpless bump on a log when it came to doing things for ourselves. As much as I love my husband pumping the fuel for my car or going outside in the arctic air to start our generator, believe it or not I can do it by myself. My mom said she never needed a son — girls were just as good.

I see so many children and teenagers that are so attached to their cell phones, televisions, video games and their overall appearance that it consumes their lives. Yet the parents let them continue to live their virtual lives without recognizing the harm they are doing to their children. I grew up with very little television.

I have never once played a video game, I didn’t have a cell phone until a week before I left for college and I never consumed myself in taking 30 minutes to put on my make up.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with TV, video games or make-up as long as it comes in some sort of controlled form. What I do believe is that kids are not getting outside enough or learning that a little hard work and using your brain builds character and lessons that you can use for the rest of your life. Such as parallel parking. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen not only women but also men who cannot parallel park. It’s like common sense has gone out the window in this world.

This all goes hand in hand with children not eating correctly and many of them having severe health problems when they are young because many parents do not control or monitor what their children or even themselves eat. Parents need to set the example. If parents don’t eat healthy or have any type of physical fitness, a child does not know any better. And if you ask me people are just doing harm to their children.

Like I stated before I am not a health freak and I don’t believe in all the crazy diets on the market. But providing a good example, making healthy meals and even just going outside and throwing the ball or kicking the ball will help kids be more active. I am always nagging at reporter Greg Jordan and Assistant Managing Editor Charles Owens about eating too many sweets. These two always seem to venture over to the cookies and candies that are brought into the newsroom.

Moderation is key. There is nothing wrong with having cookies and candy but when that’s all you allow your children to eat that’s when it becomes a problem.I don’t have any of my own kids, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know what is good and bad for them.

 Then I hear so many parents complain that they feel bad about making their kids do things like eat healthy or play outside. You don’t feel bad. People often just don’t want to argue with the child and give in easily instead of standing up for what is right. In return we have children that have behavioral issues. They grow up expecting everything to be handed to them. They take everything for granted and they constantly rely on others to do things for them.

I realize that controlling every aspect of a child’s life is nearly impossible and everyone has to make their own mistakes to learn from them, but if we expect our children to grow up and live a normal life in everyday society, we must set an example early in their lives of not only how they should eat, but how they should behave. Parents need to start being the parents and not the children.

Anne Elgin is a Daily Telegraph reporter. Contact her at aeglin@bdtonline.com. 

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