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Children will listen

By Mary Migliaro
Parent Mentor

Into the Woods was a 1987 musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. “Children Will Listen” is the finale song that should be heard by every parent. It has always resonated with me, and I hope it will with you as well. The moral of the song is that parents should be positive role models for their children. Here is why:

Careful the things you say
Children will listen
Careful the things you do
Children will see
And learn
Guide them along the way
Children will glisten
Children will look to you
For which way to turn
To learn what to be
Careful before you say
“Listen to me.”
Children will listen

My mother used to say, “Do as I say, not as I do.” She meant it in the best way, but you must admit that it does seem strange. Should we not look to our parents to know how to behave?

The inspirational poem, ‘Children Learn What They Live’ was written by Dorothy Law Nolte in 1955. It is not long and is best read in its entirety, but I have selected just a few lines here:

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

Children are like video cameras with legs. They learn more from what you, as a parent, do than from what you say. Your child is clearly a reflection of your ideologies and your inner self. While we are busy teaching them all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.

Most of the time, we worry about what our kids will do tomorrow, yet we forget that they already are someone today. Is your child a true reflection of you and are they what you hoped they would become when they were born?

Here is a list of 3 things that all children learn from their parents.

Aspiring to be an example

Do you remember as a kid wanting to be just like your dad or your mom? Home is the school where kids learn the most. Parents are the book where they learn the best and the worst of habits. The way their parents speak, the way they treat others, the way they react to situations, will be far more powerful than the things they teach them.

Working hard or not

One of the greatest blessings in one’s life can be to grow up learning that money doesn’t grow on trees. Whether you are a hardworking person, self-reliant or not, give your child an impression of both your dignity and dedication. From hard work, one learns discipline, sacrifice, believing in oneself, and this would render value to their lives. Deciding whether the values you want your child to incorporate are positive or negative, totally depends upon you.

Loving oneself

If you want your kids to believe that they are beautiful and worthy, then you need to be comfortable in your own skin. It is as simple as that! The path of self-love is to inspire others with your own strengths and beliefs. Self-love is to prioritize yourself and accept every strength as well as flaws that you have.

So, what can you as a parent do? As explained earlier, children reflect whatever they see. Therefore, choose your words very wisely. Be extra careful about what you do and what you say and try to set a positive example for your little ones. Remember…

Careful the things you say
Children will listen
Careful the things you do
Children will see
And learn

[Mary Migliaro, M.Ed. is an  educator and Parent Mentor. She may be reached,]

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